Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Our original plans for the evening got canceled. We were supposed to go to a child friendly party with friends. Unfortunately the hosting family was not feeling well. So we came up with plan B.

Plan B consisted of finger foods for dinner served on the coffee table while watching football. This is a huge treat for our family. We never sit anywhere but the eat in island and we very rarely watch TV during a meal. Everyone took baths before dinner so we had pajama dinner. Another big treat.

After dinner we went outside to pop poppers. Once we came inside we had a conga line and were basically silly for a while. Then we toasted in the New Year with sparkling grape juice. Then we sent the littles to bed. The bigs stayed up and played rummy, five card draw, and yahtzee before calling it a night.

The kids attempted a sleepover again. Again, it failed miserably and everyone is now quietly sleeping in their own beds.

2009 was an interesting year at our house. Here's hoping 2010 is a great year for everyone.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Newest Form of Torture

Water boarding might have been outlawed but I have found a new form of torture that would break even the most determined person.

Taking my four children to the grocery store! Oh. My. Goodness! I would honestly prefer having sharp objects driven under my nails while simultaneously feeling like I was drowning to the experience from today.

We had a short list. It should have been a quick trip to pick up the 15 or so items we needed. The first 20-30 minutes weren't so bad. But it quickly went downhill from there. By the time we left I felt like my head just might explode if one more person asked for or complained about one more thing! By that point I would have agreed to anything, answered any question, and probably confessed to all kinds of crimes I had not committed if someone had told me they could make my children stop acting like crazy, whining, demanding alien children.

It didn't help that the Charlotte and Rehm convinced me to let them take allowance with them. Rehm was pointing out everything from bolillos to doughnuts to shampoo to pencil sharpeners to Charlotte. Charlotte actually had no clue how much money she had. Rehm in reality had about 5 times as much money as Charlotte. The twins had no money. Arg!

Rehm and Charlotte both decided they wanted chap stick. Easy enough. We found a package containing three sticks that had a dollar off coupon. We made a deal, Rehm would pay for one, Charlotte would pay for one, and I would buy one for Ruby and Eliza Claire to share (since there is no way I was going to trust them with a chap stick it would live in my bathroom). As soon as this was all settled Charlotte decided she didn't want chap stick after all. So now, I got to buy to sticks for the twins and Rehm was still committed to one.

Charlotte then informs me that she doesn't actually know how much money she has. She has not counted it. When asked why not she tells me she doesn't know how. Rehm apparently was supposed to help her and didn't. She of course is telling me this while commencing to sit down on the floor unzip her wallet and try to count it. In the middle of the store! I explain to her that is not an option. It is her responsibility to know how much money she has before arriving at the store. The twins are running like savages up and down the aisle, Rehm is smirking and all the other shoppers are giving me dirty looks!

We finally emerged from the grocery store with Charlotte the proud owner of a Nerd rope, Rehm the proud owner of chap stick, a Nerd rope and markers. Charlotte has 10 cents to her name and Rehm has maybe 50. I am barely holding on to my sanity by a very, very thin thread.

So the next time you see a parent being a bit short and/or loud with their children in the grocery store and said children are not being quiet, meek, little angels. Please, try to reserve your judgment and assume the poor parent made the mistake of letting at least one of those children bring allowance to the store.

Someone please shoot me if I even think of taking them all to the store again!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Latest in Cat Fashion

You can't really see the color here but can see how they fit

No, those are not painted nails on the cats - I don't have that much time on my hands. They are Soft Paws. They are plastic tips that glue on their clipped claws to keep them from destroying things like my leather recliner that is sporting a few small nicks and now, a lovely cat deterrent. Since Phineas and Isabella look so much a like, I purposely ordered a package that had two different colors to give everyone another easy way to know who was who.

The package cost $22 including shipping. There are enough tips for five applications, since I'm not putting them on the claws up on the side of their paw, otherwise it would be enough for four applications. They are supposed to stay on four to six weeks. We will see if they really do.

I waited several weeks to put them on as I wanted the cats to get less skittish and more used to me messing with their paws. I've been making an effort to massage their paws and clip their claws with some frequency.

I applied the soft paws without any help. I waited until the cats were snoozing and the children were quiet (watching TV). I got three or four on each cat before they got feed up with me. But over the course of an hour I got them all on. Phineas has tried to bite his off a few times but seems to be getting used to them. Isabella doesn't seem to mind them, though maybe the cake incident is her way of telling me what she really thinks. It was funny to watch them try to climb their scratching post last night, it took a bit of adjusting since they didn't have the same traction as before.

An added bonus that I would never have paid for, or gone to the hassle for is how cute they are. The girls love them and want to know what other colors they come in. It has only been 24 hours but as of now I'd say we will be purchasing these regularly in the future.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

White Elephant Gift Review

Michael received the Turn Your Drink Can into a Bottle Tops at a white elephant gift exchange at work. Yes, they are "as seen on TV." No, I'm not really sure what the point is beyond having something for people to buy for white elephant exchanges.

The kids, Rehm especially, were very intrigued with these. After determining that Michael intended to keep them, I decided to try them for the sole purpose of doing a product review here on the blog. Michael took some of them to work with him. He says he hasn't tried them yet. He is waiting until there are more people in the office.

As I told Michael, before trying them, I expect that while goofey and not really necessary that they would probably come in handy as I like to set an unfinished drink in the fridge and they would cut down on the spillage if knocked over. I also admitted that since I take a drink in the car with me they would probably be useful for transporting the drink around with me on the occasions where I don't finish it during the drive. Then, I admitted that they were so goofy and I'd feel like such a dork using them that I would probably let that outweigh their usefulness and not use them.

Did I mention that my husband just said he was waiting for more people to be in the office before trying them?

I did try one this week. It did snap easily onto the can as promised. It did keep my soda from spilling, even when Rehm turned it completely upside down. It did come off easily by simply just squeezing the can as advertised. I did feel like a complete dork the entire time it was on my can and I have not used one since. The kids were completely fascinated with the blasted thing the whole time I was using it.

Would I buy this product for myself? No. Would I buy it for a gift? Only if it were a gag. Could this product be useful? Yes. If you would like to try one, we have twelve, let me know and I'll get one to you.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Christmas Heroes

I won't promise that these will be the last Christmas Hero videos because Rehm and Charlotte have a couple of more in the works.

This is the little girls singing Away in a Manger. Toward the end you notice them getting distracted and hear the cats. The cats had decided it was time to wrestle.

This is Jingle Bells. I love that they know the words to Away in a Manger better than Jingle bells. It really does my heart good and somewhat offsets the fact that Rehm now refuses to sing Away in a Manger at all. He says he hates that song because it is too slow.

The Cat Who Stole Christmas

All I have done this week is laundry, cooking and more cooking. Last night I mentioned that maybe I wouldn't make Christmas Cake this year. That idea was met with very stony silence from my wonderful husband. When I remarked about his silence being my answer he said he was still trying to comprehend the idea. Nothing more was said about the cake.

Today a neighbor called and invited all four of the kids over to play. I took that opportunity to make the cakes (red velvet and white cake marbled together). They turned out perfect. I had them cooling on the counter in the kitchen. They weren't completely cool when I needed to run to the post office. To keep the cats out of them, not that I was actually concerned about them getting into the cake, I covered them with dishtowels and went on my merry way.

When we got home, I went in the kitchen for something and noticed cake crumbs coming out from under the dish towels. I was concerned but not overly. Then I lifted the dish towel and saw the complete damage. Isabella had apparently decided to walk on, lay on and eat the cakes. All three layers were ruined. Did I mention I had seriously considered not making cake this year? Did I mention the cat might need a new home?

OK, so I'm not 100% sure it was Isabella. I didn't actually see her do it. She didn't have crumbs on her cute little black nose. But I did catch her on the counter again after that. I think she was trying to get back to the cake. I think this was her pay back for her new look I gave her yesterday.

Side note here: For all of you who have received baked goods from me, I promise the cats don't usually roam the counters. My trusty spray bottle is doing a good job of teaching them they are not allowed up there. Apparently Christmas Cake was just too tempting.

For those of you who don't know, Christmas Cake is a marbled red velvet/white cake with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting. I've been told that it "tastes like Christmas."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Cards

I finally got around to designing our Christmas cards last week. I had taken the pictures the weekend of Thanksgiving but had not had time to sit down and go through the 100+ pictures to find the picture. I knew with ordering cards online (I use Winkflash as they are cheap, fast and good) on the 18th I ran the risk of not getting them out anywhere near on time.

The cards were in the mail box when we got home from the grocery store this afternoon. After baking Christmas Cake, Sugar Cake and Jalapeno Cheese bread I decided to tackle the cards. I finished printing the labels, stuffed, addressed, return addressed and stamped them. Rehm came along and I gave him the job of licking all the envelopes. About 20 envelopes in, he remarked on how bad they tasted. I told him to feel free to get a drink of water. This is why we had kids, right? To help with the really tasty jobs in life. About 20 more cards in he remarked, "you know this really isn't that much fun." I commiserated with him and told him to "keep on licking" we had to hurry if we were going to get them in the mail today. That was enough of a challenge to keep him motivated.

At 4:40 we had 99 cards ready to go in the mail. I covered the cooling cakes with dish towels to keep the cats out, loaded everyone in the van, and made it to the post office with five minutes to spare. I can not believe that I got most of the cards out before Christmas. I really didn't think it was possible. I still have about 20 cards that I need to find addresses for. Those will have to wait until Saturday. Oh well, I still call it success. If only the Christmas Cake had survived my trip to the post office it would have been a really good day!

Are you on the Christmas card list? If you haven't received a card within a week and want to, let me know and I'll send one your way, and make sure you are on the list for next year as well.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Maniacs

This took several takes and this was the best of the bunch. It is a little shaky because I was trying to direct and shoot the video at the same time, sorry. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

This is our one and only Christmas tree this year. I blame the cats for us not putting up a big tree. But honestly life has just been too crazy lately for me to be able to deal with dragging out the tree, and boxes of ornaments and all the other decorations.

This is my compromise. When we went to buy the tree I thought the three foot tree was too dinky but was concerned the four foot tree wouldn't fit in the space. I gambled and bought the four foot tree. I was right it was too tall. Luckily a few whacks with the hack saw and voila it now fits!

For the first week it was up there were no ornaments and it never got turned on because I couldn't reach the plug with out dragging out a stool. The ornaments on it are just the ones the kids have come home with from school and activities. I still haven't pulled anything out. With the lights on and the presents around it it doesn't look too dinky in pictures, but in real life it is still pretty sad. Luckily it is enough to pacify the kids and mitigate my guilt about not really decorating this year.

Someone please remind me to find the stockings before the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve. I know they are stored in Rehm's closet and don't want to be trying to find them while trying not to wake him.


PS. Yes Mom, I need to dig out a Christmas tree skirt as well.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Eliza Claire's Christmas Special

Not to be outdone by her sister, Eliza Claire also wanted to sing Go Tell it on the Mountain but had to add something extra to her rendition. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Chapel Practice

Eliza Claire and her friend Lincoln ggetting ready for Chrismas chapel
practice - the show is tomorrow. Her class is going to be the sheep. I
think Ruby's class is going to be shepherds.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ruby's Christmas Special

This is Ruby singing Go Tell it on the Mountain - one of my favorite Chirstmas heroes (by heroes, I mean carols, but at the moment I'm choosing to use Eliza Claire's terminology).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Taking matters into her own hands

Alternately titled: Getting the last word.

Ruby asked me to move these things out of her room at bedtime, after lights out. I told her we would do it on the morning. Apparently, that was not a good enough answer as she moved them into the doorway of my room!

I think there is a little more to Ruby's message to me than "see I did it myself." I think she wanted to make sure I knew she was annoyed by my answer. Maybe not, but it is Ruby we are talking about.

So is this progress over pitching a fit? I wonder what she would do if I moved them back in her room for her to find in the morning? That just might make her head explode.

Edited to add: The first thing Ruby said to me this morning was, "did you see that I moved the things out of my room?" Yeah, I saw that! It was kind of hard to miss since, you know, I couldn't even walk in my room to go to bed with out falling all over it.

My suspicions were confirmed, she was making much more of a statement and not just moving things out of her room. And she wanted to make sure I heard that non-vocal statement loud and clear. Makes me wish I had moved all of it back in her room last night.

If this is what she does at three, just imagine life at my house in about 10 years.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

A first

Ruby and Eliza Claire went to the movie theater for the first time today. And Charlotte got to see and sit with her good friend Sloan from school. Much fun was had by all.

Ruby and Eliza Claire called the previews commercials. When the previews were over, they thought it was time to leave. They wanted to know why it was so dark. It was so cute to see them take it all in.

When the frogs jumped in the water at one point in the movie, Eliza Claire announced loudly, "frogs are really good swimmers" in her very matter of fact way. In the next scene when one of the frogs says "it's not slime, it's mucus!" for about the third time Rehm, pipes up with, "and it necessary to keep them alive!" Ah, my little budding scientists!

At another point in the movie, something unexpected happened and both Ruby and Charlotte screamed. It was too cute!

About an hour into the movie all three girls had to go to the restroom. In leaving, Ruby got loud and that turned into a full fledged fit in the restroom. One lady in the restroom, probably in her
40s, thought it was pretty funny especially how Ruby didn't like any of the choices she was being given. Another lady, in her 80s, was not amused and kept giving me dirty looks. After about 5 minutes, and sending the other girls back into the theater, she decided to go potty and quit screaming so we could go back in. Of course, we had missed a couple of pivotal scenes.

All in all, they enjoyed the experience, though a few scenes scared Eliza Claire a bit. If you ask her she'll tell you she didn't like it, but she really did.


PS. In case you can't see it in the picture, we saw the Princess and the Frog. It was a very cute movie and all six of us enjoyed it. There were a few comments here and there aimed at the adults that didn't add anything to the movie that I thought should have been left out. There were a few scenes that really scared the little girls but it wasn't, too much. Everyone from age 3 to almost 40 enjoyed the movie. Rehm has already asked if we can buy it when the DVD comes out.

Friday, December 11, 2009


It is exactly two weeks before Christmas and I am not ready! I have no presents. I have no Christmas tree! I have no indoor decorations. I have no Christmas cards ordered! I barely have a list! Can you tell all of this is starting to bother me, just a little bit?

How did this happen? I'm usually such a good planner? How did Christmas sneak up on me this year? It isn't like the date changes or anything.

Ack! I guess I know what I should go do now...

Here's hoping my children don't actually look like this on Christmas morning!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I bought dried dates at the grocery store this week. Can you buy dates
that aren't dried? I honestly don't know. This is my first foray into
the date world. I'm not even sure why I bought them.

This afternoon I was packing Ruby and Eliza Claire's snack fir school
tomorrow while Rehm worked on homework. He looked up and saw me
putting dates in baggies.

Rehm: What are those?

Me: Dates

Rehm: Are they good?

Me: I don't know. I've never had one.

Rehm: you haven't? So why don't you try it?

Me: do you want one?

Rehm: No, that's ok, you can try them and tell me if they're good.

Me: I'll try them when you do.

Rehm: I'm not trying them!

About this time Ruby walks in the kitchen

Ruby: What are those?

Me: Dates. Would you like to try one?

Ruby: Sure!

Me: How is it?

Ruby: Yummy!

Then Eliza Claire and Charlotte walk in and want to know what Ruby is
eating. They also both try them. Neither like them. All the girls
leave. Rehm looks at me and asks, "so are you going to try one now?"
My reply, "are you?"

Yeah, I know I should have tried the date and pretended to like it.
Those of you who know me well enough to know my food issues
understand. I'm not sure tring it and running to the bathroom to puke
would have been any better of an example. Knowing me there was at
least a 50% chance of thar outcome. Oh well, maybe the next new food
will inspire me to taste it.

And yes, I felt like I was in an old life cereal commercial. I'm so
glad I'm raising at least one Mikey.


Saturday, December 05, 2009

God in the Details

Sometimes I think the mundane things about my life are too small to be on God's RADAR screen. I'll think God is just there for the big things - job loss, death, serious illness, etc. But then I'm reminded that he tells me that he knows the number of hairs on my head and that I am more important than the flowers (yeah, I'm paraphrasing here because I'm too lazy to go look up the scripture and I hate to admit no longer have these memorized). If how many hairs are on my head matters then the details and mundane parts of my life must matter too.

Last week is a great example. The kids were gone with Grandma and Michael to the Chuy's parade. My parents were both in the house doing stuff. I went out in the yard to spend some time with the dog. He was not doing well at all and I just wanted to spend some quiet time with him. I sat there for about 10 minutes just hanging out with the dog. Then I noticed a drip coming from a pipe on the house. I knew immediately that this was not a good thing. I knew that Michael and my dad had replaced hoses on the washer the day before and there is a drain pipe in the floor under them. So I wondered if one of the new hoses was not tight and leaking. My other thought was the water heater that we knew was on its last legs and going to need replacing soon.

I took a picture of it and texted it to Michael asking him if he knew where the other end of this pipe was. Well, I thought it was Michael. The response I got back said "Dallas says it is either the condensation pipe for the A/C or the water heater." I was confused until I looked and realized I'd texted my sister in law, Cathi, instead of my husband. I then texted my husband and headed upstairs to check the washer and water heater. When I opened the door to the water heater, there was an inch or so of water sitting in the pan. It was leaking! It was within an inch of leaking out of the pan. I have a two story house and the water heater is upstairs. Another day or two and I would have had a big mess.

Michael and Dad replaced the water heater and all is good.

But here is the thing, I never sit in the back yard. I especially, never sit in the back yard facing the house. There is absolutely no reason I should have been there that day, sitting there to see the pipe dripping. I could look at it as a fluke, or fate. But I choose to believe that God aligned things such that I would see that drip that morning. I guess he knew the stress of a water heater leaking on the second floor of the house would have sent me over the edge and straight to the loony bin! I choose to believe that God is in the details of my life. That even the small things that happen to me matter to Him. And I am so thankful He watches over me an my family.


Friday, December 04, 2009

Torture or Treat?

This week has been a crazy, busy week. Everything that could be going on this week is. From a major event at church (post and pictures to come), to co-oping at the preschool, to work parties for both Michael and I on the same night, to hosting a chicken stew tomorrow. It is a busy week.

Today was scheduled to be my cleaning/cooking day to get ready for the chicken stew. Given how crazy the week has been so far my house is a mess and I've not had a chance to get started on the prep for the stew. Luckily, I've stayed on top of laundry and already done the shopping for the stew but that is it. Today's to do list is very long. It started with needing to run a few errands. We needed cat food and glitter glue. Yeah, I know it sounds crazy that getting glitter glue was high enough on the list to be one of the early errands of the day. It is actually for work and I have to have it on Sunday. I knew if I didn't get it this morning I would likely forget it and that would be a big problem for the 60 or so children planning to make angel ornaments Sunday morning.

We did the pet store run first and then hit Michaels for the glue. When we walked back to the car I noticed this.

Yep, that would be a screw in my front passenger tire. While I was not losing pressure in the tire (love being able to see that while driving) I knew it needed to be fixed sooner rather than later. And knowing how difficult doing anything with the tires on my van is I knew I would have to take it to the dealership and it would take hours to fix. I didn't want to wait until Monday to deal with it as I knew that would stress me out to no end. I knew just not driving the van until Monday was also not a choice as it is the only vehicle we own that all six of us can get in at one time. And I knew we would want to go somewhere over the next 72 hours together. I knew fixing it on Saturday was going to be as bad or worse than fixing it today as the chicken stew is tomorrow!

So I bit the bullet decided to fix it today. My original plan was to find someone from school that the big kids could go home with and just bring the littles with me. I couldn't get ahold of the friend. So I called my mother-in-law for help. She graciously agreed to have the littles stay with her and have my father-in-law pick up the bigs. So I could wait for the van without having to try to pacify children. The good with the van is the screw had not completely punctured the tire and it could be repaired and the airbag light that is on and needs a sensor repaired is covered under warrenty. The bad news is there was a nail in one of the back tires and both back tires were worn enough they needed to be replaced.

So here I sit two plus hours later. I've had a nap. I've surfed the web. I've read part of a book. I'm now blogging. I probably have another hour or more before the van is finished. My house is still a disaster and none of the cooking has been started for tomorrow. I will definitely have a long night in front of me but for right now I'm thinking that silly screw was a treat as it allowed me the first "me" time I've had in several weeks!

Jenn who is so very grateful for in-laws who will watch children while I wait for the van!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ack! Two Weeks! The pictures

Ack! Two Weeks!

I can not believe it has been two weeks since I last blogged!  It hasn't been due to lack of subject matter, that is for sure. Things have been as crazy as they normally are - maybe crazier

It literally makes me a bit crazy when I go even a few days without blogging. So what happened?

Part of the problem is our current computer situation. My laptop is now a desktop. The screen on the laptop is useless. The kids desktop was useless so the solution was to hook a monitor to the laptop and make them a new desktop. Unfortunately that means I now have a desktop, too and I have to share it with the kiddos.

Then ther is just the crazy life we seem to have. My parents were here for two weeks. There was a major holiday - I have lots of yummy recipes to share. We got and assembled a new playscape. The water heater went out.  The cats had parasites and had to be treated - giving meds to a cat is a horrendous job. Doing it to two cats without help, I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. The dog has been having issues. And half the family (me, Charlotte, and Michael) has been sick.

Yeah, there are several blog posts to be created from the last two weeks. Hopefully I'll get around to it soon. This week is crazy. So dont expect too much too soon.   I'll do my best but I make no promises.

I'm testing blogging by email as I can't use blogger on my iPhone and I'm too lazy and cold to get out of bed and go sit at my "desktop" to blog. Now if Santa would only bring me a new laptop, I might be back to regular blogging business.


PS. I'm on my third try with this post. Getting the pictures and formatting right has a learning curve. It would have been quicker and easier to use the silly "desktop."