Monday, November 30, 2009

Traditions and Tornadoes

Whew! I am ready for today. It's Monday and that means that I will be getting my yoga on, while the cleaners are cleaning my filthy house that screams my-kids-were-home-all-week-last-week, and my children are going back to school! Can I get a whoot-whoot?!

I was really excited to have the kids home last week and thought it would be great if we just spent time together without having friends over and sleepovers and things of that nature. You know, we'd all sit by the fire (although I have no fire place), while I embroidered (even though I don't know how), the kids sang songs together (without fighting over what song) and Daddy read long chapters out of War and Peace (but I guess he would have to be home to do that?!) as snow sprinkled outside (since it snows here, once every 100 years).

I never claimed to be deeply seeded in reality. What can I say, I'm delusional an unrealistic dreamer.

So our week looked nothing like that, but it was nice to have the kids home. Most of the time.

This year our Holidays have looked different than years past. Some of our favorite traditions didn't happen. At Halloween we have carved pumpkins every year since we got married. This year we didn't and boy, did the kids remember. I also cook every year for Thanksgiving. Have for the past 7 years. Not this year. This year we went to some friends house and I brought a few sides and a homemade apple pie that one of my children stepped on getting into the car, but we won't talk about that... The kids had a blast with some of their favorite friends, dinner was amazing and we all had a fabulous time.

Just not at our house. While missing some of these things doesn't sound like that big of a deal, it has really been bothering me.

Part of the problem is that we are busy and it's really hard to fit everything in. The bigger problem dilemma is THE TRYING TWO-YEAR OLD DOUBLE TROUBLE TWINS!

Seriously, friends, they are e-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-n-g. I remember when they were little and everyone always said, "Oh, it gets so much easier..." Well, I have one word for you well meaning people.


Okay, so maybe that was 2 words.

It is SO not easier. Now they talk, walk -make that RUN, fuss, fight, and have attitude, opinions and more personality than I know what to do with. They think they are 16 and are so spoiled by all of us, it is frightening. And they are two. Two and three have always been hard ages around this joint. Getting anything done with the two tornadoes is very difficult.

Very. Difficult.

So while I am sad and bothered that we haven't done some of our annual things, I just keep reminding myself that this is where we are right now in life. The tornadoes won't always be spinning all over the place and in different directions (please, please, please let this be true Lord. Please.) And while we haven't done all our yearly traditions, we have done many of them.

And the traditions aren't really the point, it's the memories right? Boy are we making some memories. Oh, we are making memories.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Da-da-da-da-da Dora to the rescue!

As the twins progress through toddlerhood, it becomes more obvious how different my parenting has become since the boys were toddlers. Drastically different.

When Caleb and Luke were toddlers, they were fascinated with the television. It didn't matter what was on, the Today Show, The View, Sesame Street...they would watch it. So I have always (and still am) very careful about how much television they get to watch. I'm not really a tv kinda mom. I'm much more of a 'go-outside-and-run-until-you-have-no-more-energy' kinda mom. We have bikes, scooters, neighbor kids, swings, a tree house, small neighborhood, and a great backyard - so go outside and enjoy it!

And that is how I parent the boys.
The girlies are a whole 'nother story...

I have been trying to get them to sit down and watch a 'show' for the past 6 months. They are 2 1/2, the boys were watching tv when they were 6 months old! But the sisters have had no interest. None-what-s0-ever. Until now...
I didn't even know we owned Cinderella, but apparently we do on VHS! Have no idea where we got that or how old it is. The girls were fascinated/terrified.
Dora, on the other hand, is their absolute favorite. They love her, Boots and Swiper! Granted they won't sit and watch a whole show, but they do sit for a period of time so that I can at least get something small done. While I have no desire to have tv junkie kids, it is really nice to have them sit quietly for a few minutes so that I can clean up the messes that they've been making all morning!

And though they may not be tv junkies, they are definitely Dora junkies!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Fabulous Weekend in Review

The Love and I went to the Family Life Weekend to Remember last weekend and it was so needed!! We go on dates at least every other weekend and try to connect as much as possible, but we don't spend time talking about our marriage and the direction that it is going in very often. The Weekend to Remember offered us time to really refocus and redirect both our marriage and our parenting. So glad we went and highly recommend it to anyone. There are lots of marriage conferences out there, but Family Life really has an amazing ministry going. Their speakers were wise, funny and authentic. Yep, this was our second time going and I think we may have gotten more out of it than we did the first time. Check them out and be blessed!

While we were on our weekend, my stepmom came and took care of the Darlings. We are so blessed to have family close by to come and love on our kids while we are gone. The kids had fun and Gigi went home worn out!

When we got home yesterday I wanted to go down to The Missions. This is going to be the location for our next family photos that we are having taken next weekend. My goal was to head down there and let the kids have a practice run for next week. Family photos are always stressful, but even more so when there are 4 little kids. The boys can be bribed, so I'm not so worried about them. The girls on the other hand...

I just have to remember, "it is what it is" and these photos are indicative of where we are and I will look back on them in 20 years and think it is adorable that no one is looking, Daddy looks irritated and I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown.


Anyway, it was a gorgeous afternoon and we all had a great time! Here are a few photos (literally few, since I took 200!!) of our trip:

The brothers and Lily Kate. Ella, as usual, MIA. That girl is on the move. With or without the rest of us. Thankfully we took my sister and she spent most of the time chasing her down.

My little people!!

This is a little better, at least they are all facing the same direction!

Brothers!! I was telling Caleb this morning how lucky he is to have a little brother. He agrees...most of the time!

The kids with Aunt Carami! They have loved having her live with us and are really going to take it hard when she leaves this winter.

Um, all I asked was for them to please line up and smile. THIS is what I got...

Then this. Drama. Until this...

Fruit snacks save the day. I should probably bring a couple of boxes of fruit snacks for next weekend.

I really, really, really, really hope that our family pictures next week go way better!

Friday, November 20, 2009

While we on the topic of all the things I'm not...

I'm also not a seamstress. And unlike coupon clipping, I really wish I could sew better than I do. Part of the art of sewing is measurements and I'm really bad at math. Another part of the art is direction following. And, yes, I'm terrible at that as well.

Gee, I wonder why I'm not a good seamstress.

I wanted to cover some chairs for the kids playroom and here is my very feeble attempt:



Good enough for a playroom huh?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Frugal is not my middle name

I have a confession to make. And you can keep reading because, no, it's not about another one of my very personal issues.

My confession is that I'm not a thrifty person. I don't clip coupons, scour through the Sunday paper or peruse different stores for the best deal. And until yesterday, that used to bother me.

Recently I was with some friends who were talking about coupons, web-coupons, CVS deals, Walgreens deals and money saving blogs. They don't pay for toiletries, save $40 bucks with coupons at the grocery store and try to keep their grocery bill at $60 a week! Seriously.

I started feeling really bad about my spending habits, my lack of coupon use and my general non-frugal personality. Really bad about myself. I spend 3 times that (literally!) at the grocery store, very rarely look at a sale ads and tend to forget my coupons at home most of the time.

Mercy, did I look pathetic next to these thrifty ladies.

So I came home and told Joseph that I was going to start clipping coupons, we weren't going to buy anything without a coupon, we weren't eating out ever again, we were going to live frugally and I was going to make it my mission to hunt for the best deal. We were going to get our veggies out of the grocery trash and our bread from the throw out bin at the bread store. We weren't spending any money at Christmas and I was going to handmake everything - homemade meals every night and I was even going to make Titan's dog food.

And as usual, he looked at me oddly and said something like, "That sounds like a lot of work, but if that's what you want to do..." and then went back to FB.

So I began my mission: Frugal Living. And for the past week, I attempted that.

I bought the Target brand diapers even though I am a Pampers Cruisers snob because there was a coupon for a dollar off. (The twins still wear diapers/pull-ups and nap time and bed time.) I also bought the Target brand pull-ups and wipes for the same reason. On that trip I got 3 packages of wipes, 1 package of diapers and pull-ups and 2 Buddy bar soaps for $18. Less than the amount of money I would normally spend on 1 pack of diapers! Pretty awesome huh? Oh, yeah, I'm thrifty!

And while I was glad to get a good deal, that was a lot of work. Really. It took me forever to find the coupons, I ran out of printer ink printing them (and really don't know how to hand make printer ink!) and while in Target the kids all had to go to the bathroom, and none went at the same time. The whole thing was exhausting.

As the week went on, I was spending all this time looking for coupons and deals and not finding any coupons for anything that I actually needed. Whew, it really started to take up a lot of time.

Then I decided that, FOR ME, it is not worth my time. There are lots of other things I would rather be doing. I don't get a thrill searching for the deal, I found it to be more of a hassle. It took up lots of my time and to be honest - I don't want to hunt bargains on spaghetti sauce in my (very limited) spare time. And that is my personal choice that my husband is supportive of. That man is less thrifty than me! He hates shopping around at different stores for a bargain. His motto that he is always spouting off to me is, "Time is money, money is time. I can always make more money, but I can't make more time."

By nature I'm not a thrifty person. Case in point: Yesterday I went to find something for us to wear for our family pictures. I'm sure I had something at home that I could make work, but I had a specific idea in mind and knew we didn't have that here. I am sure that my thrifty friends would never go out and buy new outfits. Sheesh, some of these blogs I was reading were giving ideas on how to spend $0 at Christmas. I don't want to spend $0 at Christmas.

It's really all about moderation is my conclusion. I sell the kids old clothes to make money for new ones. That's resourceful, huh? And I shop the commissary for meat (can't beat the prices!), Walmart for groceries (can't beat the prices!) and HEB for fruit - because the other two places have nasty produce. I used some store coupons at the commissary yesterday and saved $18 on things we actually use, so I didn't clip the coupons and the lady handed me the coupons and told me to use them. Points for heeding good advice huh?

Bottom line: I buy toiletries, is that really worth beating myself up about?


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Things that make me laugh

Everytime I read my blog entry from yesterday I laugh. Really hard. And not just because of the story, but because how surprised everyone has been that I would share that kind of detail.

Hehehe! I love it! I love being shocking! Really, I do.

Yesterday I did some yoga to help stretch out my very tight muscles. Today, the plan was to start my Jillian workout. I say, 'was' because that plan went out the window when I woke up and felt tired and sore. I think it would be good for my body to take some time off from the gym and rest.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what it means to rest. Instead of going to the gym, I steam cleaned all the carpets in the house. It wasn't rest, but it was therapeutic.

I have some pictures of the race that I will post soon. Until then, here are some pictures of my silly girlies - mercy, I love them! (BTW - do you think they're identical?)


Monday, November 16, 2009

13 Thing I learned from my half marathon experience...

  1. I now know why most runners are glad that they don't have menstrual cycles. Especially ones that start the day before the race. Um, yeah, 'nuff said.
  2. (and if you thought #1 was more information than you wanted to know...) Vaginal yeast infections, very bad ones, that arrive the day before the big race equal NOT fun. Especially when you will be sweating for 2+ hours. More than 'nuff said!
  3. Signs that people make and hold up are very important and motivating. My two favorite from yesterday were, "Pain is temporary, pride lasts a lifetime" and "Philippians 4:13 - Pound the pavement!"
  4. It is very important to maintain speed and concentration during mile 7 and not be distracted by the man dressed in a Malibu Rum Bottle passing you. One should NOT, I repeat NOT, try to catch him. You will pay for it at mile 9.
  5. Diarrhea at mile 5 HAS to be dealt with. Immediately. Even if the line to the bathroom is long, just be thankful that there is toilet paper. WAY more than 'nuff said!!!
  6. Running in 72 degrees with high humidity feels way hotter than it sounds. Way, way, way hotter. Especially when you have been training for long runs in 50 degree weather.
  7. The volunteers handing out water and GU, ROCK! Their smiles and encouragement help keep you going.
  8. Since your time sucks anyway, it is important to stop and say hi to your family when you see them there cheering you on! But when your husband says, "Are you just going to stand here and chat or are you going to finish the race?" - you have to assume bonding time is over. Oh, and be prepared for the girls to scream for you when you leave.
  9. If you have to get up at 4:30 in the morning to drive to a race, you may as well do it with your running buddies. Unless they are morning people. Then you just try to close your eyes and block them out as much as possible. They'll get the hint!
  10. Since your time sucks anyway, you may as well grab that beer that is being handed to you at mile 6. You will regret it if you don't.
  11. When you feel like quitting, glance over at the guy in the wheelchair and SUCK IT UP. What a blessing that you can run.
  12. There will be many, many, many times during the race that you questions your own sanity. The theme, "It seemed like a good idea at the time.." rings so true!!
  13. Crossing that finish line felt amazing, having friends to do it with was even more amazing and knowing that my family was there and proud of me was incredible. Then all the congrats I got from my FB friends was icing on an already yummy cake!

And there you have it my friends! I had high hopes that I could run this puppy in 2 hours based on my long run paces. I really thought I could do it. But due to my (ahem) circumstances alas I wasn't feeling the greatest and had to make a couple of potty stops along the way and that slowed me down. 2009 San Antonio RnR time: 2:16

While I will not let this time define me, I will beat it!!!

I have already begun looking at the location for my next half...anyone want to join me? It is way more fun to run with friends...


Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm running a half marathon tomorrow - AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

In 24 hours I will be nervously standing at the start line with 35,000 other people at the San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon.

And I am petrified.

Along with excited, anxious, overwhelmed, proud and a host of other feelings.

I remember 15 months ago, when I decided that I wanted to run a half marathon. At the time it seemed like such a dream. The twins had just turned a year old and I decided it was time to go back to the gym after almost 2 years of little to no exercise. We joined the local Y and I felt very good about leaving the kids in their amazing childcare. The kids loved going to the Y, it's really close to our house, brand new and clean, I had time to go and suddenly there was nothing stopping me from going to the gym. And that was the start of this journey.

I remember the first time I ran for 7 minutes straight. It felt amazing and I was so proud of myself. My next goal was 12 minutes, then a mile (yes, at first my mile took longer than 12 minutes!), then 2 miles, then 3... I was so shocked and proud that I could run 3 miles.

So I took the next step. There was this trekking class at the gym with all these girls who were real runners. Real runners. They ran fast and they ran intervals, sprints, 4x400's, repeats and they were real runners. I was so intimidated, but I joined one day. And that first day of class I ran 4 miles, longer than I had ever run. My new 'real runner' friends encouraged me the whole way. While they had run faster and farther than me, they still encouraged me in my accomplishment.

I kept running with these girls, signed up for my first half marathon and started training. Well, I got injured. My knees don't love to run. So I had to quit for 8 weeks. No running. Not getting to do that race was so hard. I felt like such a failure. A feeling I struggle with all too often and a word I use to define myself all too often.

So after taking lots of time off, I started to run again. Very slowly. 1 minute running, 3 minutes walking. While my knees weren't hurting, my ego was. But I kept at it until it felt good to run a mile. Then 2, then 3 and then I joined my 'real runner' friends again.

I, very nervously, signed up for the San Antonio Rock and Roll. It took me a long time to sign up because I was scared. Scared that I would have to quit and then feel like a failure...again. I'm sick of feeling like a failure. I'm sick of being a quitter. When things get tough...I quit. And there have only been 2 exceptions, being a wife and being a mom. I can't quit those. Everything else though, as soon as obstacles are in my way, I fold.

There have been obstacles in training for this race. I have had issues with my knee's, my piriformis (didn't even know what/where that was until it started killing me!), and the training schedule has been hard because my husband is a Resident and his schedule is erratic and because I have 4 little people that call me mom and because of soccer and schedules And I have been frustrated and overwhelmed and felt hopeless.

But I have refused to quit.

In many ways, this is more emotional for me than it is physical. At 32, I am still learning who I am and who I want to be.

And I want to be someone who finishes.

A couple of weeks ago I ran 9 miles. I got up early (something I hate to do), ran in the cold (something I hate to do), ran hills (something my knees hate to do), but did all of it anyway. I had a time in my head that I had hoped to finish in and I beat that time by 2 and a half minute. Doesn't sound like a lot, but in the running world, that's pretty good.

I was so proud of myself I cried. Sobbed on the side of the road like a crazy freak. I don't know how to say this without totally sounding selfish, but I did something that was all about me. No one else was depending on me to run, or needed me to do it, or had I committed to run for. NO ONE. It was just because I had set out to do it. There were hard parts to my run, but I didn't quit. I finished. Gosh, how often do I ever get to finish something I start as a mom and wife. That is just impossible to do and the feeling overwhelmed me.

And tomorrow I will know a whole different level of 'finish'.

There are so many things about tomorrow that have me nervous, at the top of the list is a number. The magical number that I would like to finish the race in. I am constantly reminding myself that I'm not defined by a number, this is my first race and have fun. Did you hear that self?

I definitely think that I will have fun. I'm running with my girls from the gym and am in the same corral as 2 of them. We're going down in a limo and have some VIP pass so will get dropped off at the race line! How cool is that?! And this is supposed to be a really FUN race. 26 bands along the race course and Joseph is bringing the kids to cheer me on - they are so excited. When I got home from my 10 mile run last week Caleb said, "I'm so proud of you mom!" He's told everyone at school and in the neighborhood that I am running a marathon. I love that kid!

So I'm filling my IPOD with rockin' tunes, getting my Garmin charged and preparing myself to take it all in and have fun! There probably won't be many pictures because my man will have his hands full with the kids (and he's terrible with the camera!) but if there are I will post them.

I've never run farther than 10 miles, so I'm hoping that sheer determination and adrenaline will carry me that last 3.1 miles. If you think about it, please say a prayer for me!

I'm sooooooooooooooooooooo excited!!!!!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

This is one of my favorite annual things we do as a family. Joseph and I have been participating in Operation Christmas Child since before we had children and over the years it has been fun watching the kids progress in their understanding of OCC.

Each year we get 1 box per child and let the kids pick out things that they think their "friend" would like. In the past we've had many years where the boys cried because they weren't getting anything, but this year was the first year that the boys didn't ask for a thing and were SO excited about getting something for their little friend. Caleb has such a tender heart and cried a couple of times for these kids who have nothing. Heart felt compassion and gratefulness are two characteristics that I want my children to have, but are really hard to teach. And I love it when God gives me a glimpse into their hearts and into what He is doing in their little lives. Love it!

Caleb took great care in packing his box and writing his letter. He really wanted to put a camera in the box so that it would record the kids faces when they opened the box! Once Luke saw Caleb writing a letter he wanted to write one too. Then he drew two pictures, one of a sad little boy and then one of a happy boy with a present! So cute!!

Above are some pictures of our evening. Check out the letter that Caleb wrote all by himself. He even referenced his favorite verse. I wrote it out for him while he dictated it. I didn't even know he knew that verse, but it is definitely one that I will remind him is his favorite!

We included a picture and our address in hopes that maybe we will hear from these kids. We also prayed over these boxes and hope that they will bring joy and Jesus to some sweet children!!

If you haven't participated in OCC before, check it out. It has been a great opportunity to teach my kids while taking care of and loving on anothers!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pumpkin Patch - Take 2

Remember how I told you that we had to go to a second pumpkin patch to get a family picture? Well here are the photo's from that day:

See this little face Lily Kate is making? That's her, "What? Are you talking to me? I may or may not listen to you, I'm thinking about it."

Ella on top, Little Kate on the bottom

(top & bottom) Ella Grace

Fun Fall Day!!

Monday, November 09, 2009

My favorite problem!

(To the tune of how do you solve a problem like Maria)
He climbs a tree and scrapes his knee
His jeans have got a tear
He waltzes on the soccer fields
And whistles to the air
And underneath his bed
He has candy wrappers hiding there
I even heard him singing in the bathtub

He's always last in the car
But his penitence is real
He's always late for everything
Except for every meal
I hate to have to say it
But I very firmly feel
Lukie IS an asset to the Mad House!

I'd like to say a word in his behalf
Lukie makes me laugh

How do you solve a problem like Luke Mad?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Luke Mad?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell him
Many a thing he ought to understand
But how do you make him stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Luke Mad?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

When I'm with him I'm confused
Out of focus and bemused
And I never know exactly where I am
Unpredictable as weather
He's as flighty as a feather
He's a darling! He's a demon! He's a lamb!

He'd outpester any pest
Drive a hornet from its nest
He could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl
He is gentle! He is wild!
He's a riddle! He's a child!
He's a headache! He's an angel!
He's a boy!

How do you solve a problem like Luke Mad?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Luke Mad?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell him
Many a thing he ought to understand
But how do you make him stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Luke Mad?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?


Monday, November 02, 2009

The Patch

A couple of weekends ago we went on our annual trip to the pumpkin patch with some friends from our Sunday school class. We have gone to the same patch for the past couple of years and were excited to try a new one this year. It was a beautiful morning and we had a great time. Here are some pictures from our outing: