Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

From our family to yours.....

Happy New Year!

Thank you for blessing us with your friendship in 2012.

We look forward to entertaining you all more in 2013.

(Let's hope it doesn't involve loose snakes in the house or wild boar heads to be transported or other such boyish icky things and more things like...wait, that is my life.  Okay, stay tuned in 2013 for more of THOSE stories.  Pass the coffee....)

Friday, December 28, 2012

LEGOs in the Oven

Over here we are on Christmas break.  This means that I stay awake until one in the morning finishing the latest book I have been reading and then waking up to boys staring at me saying something like, "Can you make us waffles again this morning?" at a time in the morning that I wished they would be awake at for a school week but never are.

I am a wee bit tired this week.

But the waffles I have been making? Awesome!  Except that they call for egg whites and I don't have  hand mixer and have you ever tried to get stiff egg whites without a beater?

Don't try.

Mine are sloppy at best.

Which begs to awesome would those waffles be if I made them with a hand mixer?

Pretty amazingly awesome, I think.

Because I am determined to tell you about the lego in the oven and did not look on amazon for a hand mixer.  That is dedication to a post, let me tell you.

S3 really wanted an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas.  They only make them in pink and while I had lots of suggestions of getting one and letting him decorate it with duct tape I just could see the duct tape melting and the smell and the mess and yuck.  So for Christmas I got him some baking mixes, measuring cups I am even jealous of, measuring spoons, spatula, spoon and an apron.

Then I promptly forgot to get a photo.

Further evidence I am sleepy.

Today he made up some sugar cookies from a box mix.  Because sugar cookies are a fine breakfast food on Christmas break when Mama won't make waffles.  In his joy at baking he dropped some legos he had been working on onto the table in the kitchen that we use as an island.  When he pulled the hot cookie sheet out of the oven and set it on the table, it landed right on the lego.

If a hot pan is put upon a lego, said lego will stick to it.

I do not recall seeing any WARNING ad on the Lego box about this so I thought I would inform you all of this danger.  I am just trying my best to keep you safe.

S3 slid the cookie sheet back into the oven with the still suck lego on it and as he went to shut the oven he said, "Um, Mama, there's a lego in the oven."

That has never happened before but now that I think back on it all, I wonder how it never has.

I immediately shut the oven off and stood there for a moment wondering what to do next.  Keep in mind I only had a half of cup of coffee in me...which makes me wonder how I ever ended up agreeing to baking cookies with him in the morning if all I had had to drink was half a cup of coffee.

I could see my near future ahead...all the baking and fixing of food I have yet to do for even more Christmas parties we have to attend and all of the food smelling of burnt plastic.  It wasn't a pretty picture.  Or a good smell.

And then I thought (and I know this will shock you all at my brilliance) "I know! Take it out of the oven!"

So I grabbed a pair of tongs (which the boys call thongs and one day that will not be funny but right now it still is) and pulled the still solid but very mushy blue lego out of the oven.

It slid from the tongs/thongs and fell to the kitchen floor in a melted mess.

But then it was quickly solid enough to just toss in the garbage.

There could have been lots of way to tell you this story.  I could have told you the garbage started on fire from the smoldering lego.  The lego burst into flames when I pulled it out of the oven.  Lots of drama.

But none of that happened.  S3 just put the cookies back in the oven, turned it on and we waited for the smell too good to just be box mix sugar cookies to finish baking.

Then all the boys went outside to snow board down our itty bitty hill on our light covering of snow so I blogged you this story.  With only one cup of coffee in my system.

Welcome to our Christmas break.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Puking and Finding Joy

The date has been changed a few times but it was finally TODAY.

I had it written on the calendar, complete with lots of circles to make it stand out more.

Because S1 is home-schooled now, I had a family happily agree to have him hang out with him all day.

The weather looked to be great.

Our dinner was completely made and ready for when I returned home later that day.

I woke with my very first alarm today and nearly skipped to the shower.

Girl Day

Oh, how I have missed these ladies I meet with!  How I have been longing to do something "normal" for me since pulling S1 out of school.  With the hustle and bustle of things I don't really want to do I was so excited to curl up in the oversized leather chair, coffee in hand, crackling fire in front of me and soak up the time with my friends.  I thrilled over the conversations we would share and had a notebook and my favorite pen ready to take notes.

S4 had to be called three times before he struggled to make it down the steps.  He wailed through the morning that his legs hurt and he couldn't walk.

I thought he was faking for a home day but he looked sick and that bothered me.

I fired off numerous texts back and forth with Sue trying to figure out what to do.

Then S4 sat in front of the toilet sure he would puke.

I continued to get ready to go.  Why, why, why today?  Today of all days?

But it didn't take too much longer for me to call it, we had to stay home.

S1 was crushed.  I think he was as ready for a break from me as I was of him.  And we have been doing well together — we just needed to be separated for a while.

I dropped the other two off at school.  S4's teacher assured me that the flu was going around and seven kids were missing from her class the day before.  We couldn't reach the family S1 was going to stay with for the day on the phone so we stopped by.  And, bless their hearts, they told us that since his visit was written in ink they weren't going to change it and S1 all but ran to get his school books and couldn't stop grinning - this family has 16 kids (yes, 16, all theirs together) and most are boys.  I have no doubt he won't miss me a bit.

S4 and I arrived home and he immediately headed to the bathroom where he puked and puked and puked some more.

It was a good thing we cancelled our plans.

S4 told me I could go.  He'd just stay home.  My little six year old just broke my heart with that.

But how is that in doing what is right that I am still sad?  I sort of just want to stomp my feet and cry and be all ugly about missing out on what I had planned.

It's hard to choose joy.  To say, "Okay, why was it so important for me to stay home today?" and look for the JOY in that.


I need to choose it.

But right now all I am thinking is that it's a good thing that I have peanut butter balls hidden in the fridge and a large supply of good coffee and creamer.  I've never looked this nice to take care of a sick kiddo and clean house.

Thanks for listening to me whine.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A First Grader Was Here

I found it odd that S4 was quizzing me on when I made my bed - which I am going to be honest and say it's usually when I am going to bed.  I mean, I might make it in the morning by just pulling the blankets up but not actually tucking it in and fluffing pillows.

But S4 wanted to know and he was quite adamant about it so this morning I pulled the blankets up but sorta left them messy so he could make my bed without much effort.

Considering he doesn't make his own bed this sort of had me puzzled.

Later today S4 came hollering for me through the house.  When he found me in the laundry room he just said, "Oh" and ran off.

I found it odd he didn't actually need to tattle on his brothers or need something so I tracked him down and found him singing happily in our bedroom, pulling all our blankets off the bed.

I smiled and left him to it.

He made our bed all right.  He pulled all our blankets off and made special care to put them all back on.  Since for some reason the blankets seemed to hang off the sides a lot when he was done, he did a dramatic folding on the sides so it looked super pretty.

He then left his "calling card" on the book I am reading.

I don't care how messy that bed looks, we are sleeping in it.  I don't think anyone other than my mom - or the rare hotel we stay in - has ever made our bed for me.

Besides, who could be cuter than this first grader????

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sock Drama

Disclaimer: Even if you all hate this post I am going to love it always.

I think we have established that I don't like to fold socks.

At all.

But this whole sock thing is sort of taking on a life of its own so I decided, it's time.

We must fold the socks.

I decided this because my husband has been making rude comments about finding his own socks and S4 broke down wailing about never having socks and S3 has just given up and wears shoes with no socks - resulting in the stinkiest shoes that I bleach clean and yet they still stink (he also wears sweatpants, a Red Wings shirt and a camouflage belt around said Red Wings shirt - he has his own style).  And the socks are next to my glass Christmas village and it would be good to try to protect it from boys searching the basket for socks.

S2 had called home from school an hour before it was done too sick to carry on his school day (we are battling strep — again) so I had taken S3 and S4 home with me too.  They were glad I did because I had been making cookies and they arrived home to eat four a piece. They were glad I saved them from certain starvation.

After a Monopoly game gone bad (in S3 an S4's rules you can ROB THE BANK - who ARE these children??? I blame their father.) I went and got the big basket of socks and brought it into the living room.  I plopped it with a thud to the floor.

Their eyes were huge.

"We have to fold socks?"

I nodded.

"How many?' they whimpered.

"All of them," I answered brightly.

This was their reaction.

Being the wonderful caring mother I am, I took a photo.

I wanted to get another one to show you just how much they were in disbelief of my cruelty but they would have none of that.  But this photo really shows what they thought of folding socks.

I put in Despicable Me, which we had just received from Netflix (because if we had minions we wouldn't need to fold socks) and then I sat on the floor next to them and the three of us folded socks.

We laughed and giggled through the whole movie.

When we done, every sock was folded, every unmatched sock or sock with a hole was thrown away, and life just seemed brighter and happier.

So much so that the boys decided to take retribution on their brothers (who wash and fold their own socks now) who did not help them (S2's sickness is no excuse).  They made scopes for their Nerf Guns and they had no mercy.

It was actually a super fun afternoon.

And now my husband can hopefully quit his belly achin'. :)

How to REALLY Decorate a Christmas Tree

I rarely get on Pinterest because, as I have told you lots of times, crafts escape me.

And I want all the clothes.

But I would never fit in them because I would eat all the food pinned.


I was looking at all the beautiful Christmas decorations they have.  All the mantels done up bright.  All the trees that look too beautiful to be real.

How do they do that?

Because this is how it is at our house....

We got our tree the day after Thanksgiving.

S2 said "Look happy" so S4 closed his eyes. Go figure.

We just decorated it last night - December 4th.  Never mind how long it took us.  Jake was out of town for work and I figured that was definitely the best night to tear the house apart looking for Christmas decorations. It also happened to be the day that S2 was home from school with strep - again - and since I didn't know if I would have to run him in to the doctor's I kept S3 and S4 home too.

First we had to enter our spare bedroom to get our Christmas stuff out.  We have this old room that is beyond bad repair so we use it for storage.  With no enclosed out buildings (other than the chicken coop) and no basement to speak of, this room is our catch all.  To enter it you must shove aside a million things that should be gotten rid of but you just haven't.  Earlier in the year I had this room cleaned, but the bags of clothes headed to Goodwill got split open and spread all over.  Then a bed fell to pieces and all those pieces are still in the room - along with the mattress.  All the furniture that is too large for our small rooms now that there are six of's all in this room.

We got out the tree lights - brand new ones so no worries about them not working - and managed to get them tangled in a knot every two times around the tree.

The ornaments were taken of by the boys two years ago and to say they were in a scary state would be an understatement.  Last year we got a white pine tree and it looked like a friendly furry monster but it couldn't hold a single ornament.  The ornaments were a huge deal as we pulled them out and tried finding them all.

S2 thought he found the mother load of ornaments.  He found my wedding dress instead.  See, it's a spare room that holds all.

It didn't take long before S4 realized EVERYONE had more ornaments than he did and he began to cry.

At this point, S1 had all the drama he could take and he got up from his spot on the couch where he was putting wire on all the ornaments so we could hang them and he wandered out to his shop for awhile.

S4 went up to the spare room to find, he was certain, a box of ornaments that were JUST his ornaments and instead found a bag full of stuffed animals I had taken from him a year or so ago and had hidden but not gotten rid of in case the trauma of missing stuffed animals was too much for him.  When he only mildly missed them I promptly forgot about them.  S4 forgot about ornaments as he had a happy stuffed animal reunion and had to reintroduce all 15 animals to the family.

So now I have spilled boxes of empty ornament boxes, stuffed animals abounding, half my fall stuff in a pile because I haven't lugged that up to the spare room yet and the boys decided I need to have the village out too.  Up the stairs they ran, and then they promptly dropped the boxes on the ground.

I have no idea how the village gate has broken.

I was continuing to try to be cheery and keep the Christmas music going but I could feel my patience loosing grip.

We left the mess where it was and every one of us was in bed by eight that night.  In the morning, I awoke to a mess wherever I looked.  But at least the tree was decorated.

I paused to admire it and then tilted my head one way.

Tilted my head the other way.

Stood in a different section of the living room.

Nope.  That tree is definitely crooked.

Sorry for the weird look to the photo, the light was too bright and I had to over compensate for that.

I worked all day today to put the final touches on everything.  I must have done a pretty good job because S1 kept wandering into the kitchen to grab more pistachios and would say, "Wow, you really have been busy today!"  My wedding ring was stuck to my ring finger in pine sap but the chandelier in the dining room loaded with tiny pine branches sure looked pretty.

I'll spare you the amount of pine needles I vacuumed.  I think that due to the drought this year the tree is brittle and too dry.  Let's just say "shedding" is a nice word for my poor tree that is crooked but the fullest and biggest we have ever purchased.

It is in this context that I looked on Pinterest.  Really?  Really FAMILIES have beautiful picture worthy Christmas decorated homes like that?

Cuz I have a crooked tree with not enough of S4's ornaments in a not too clean house.  But this is Christmas to us.  And I guess I'll take it.  Because I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mama Just Didn't Know Any Better

S4 stumbled into the house, wailing.  The bus had just dropped him off and his arrival home would easily be labeled as dramatic.

"What's wrong?" I asked him, fully concerned something horrific had happened to him.

"He just fooled you and he's not really sick and you just didn't know that and if he gets to stay home I want to stay home from school too!" he wailed.

"He" is S2.

Today, after I had dropped the boys off at school, picked S1 up from an overnight, ran a few errands, got an extra shot in my coffee at Biggby and arrived home exhausted, the phone rang.

Can you tell who is excited for coffee and who isn't awake yet?

"Denise?  It's the school.  We've got a sick one up here."

And off I was again.  All this before eleven today.

But S4 took a different take on all this.  He was convinced that his brother was faking.  When he found out that S2 was laying on the couch watching Ted Nugent videos, he gave me a look like, "You have got to be kidding me.  You thought he was sick enough to come home?"

When I picked up S2 from school, I was one parent of seven there to pick up sick kiddos.  But apparently I should have checked with S4 first.

S4 is currently outside doing chores.  He is spraying the house window with the hose so that his brother will be distracted from watching hunting videos while he has to do his chores.

And such is the state of our home this evening.

S4 just can not believe his Mama didn't know any better.  I sure hope he forgives me soon.  I don't think he is going to forget this any time soon.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Reason's To Be Late To School

This morning, five minutes AFTER the time we were supposed to be leaving for school, S4 began what I could immediately tell would be a long story on how the red gloves on the floor were so cool because he could wear them OR I could wear them.

So I do the whole "look at me...We. Are. Late."  This has to be carried out with the greatest of care because if it is too emotional, he will burst into tears and then we will be even later.

The ladies working the cross walk at school have gotten to the point that they cheer when we are on time.

Not. Even. Joking.

But the best, the BEST reason we have been late to school lately is this jewel of a story....

Some well meaning teacher at Word of Life gave S4 an airplane.  You know whose cheap ones you buy flat and then slide the pieces into?  They are sorta made of foam?  Those.

Sorta like this but not this one - thanks Google Image.

They were ready for school early (SHOCK!) and had run outside to play.  Because it was a work day for me, I was still flying around getting ready.  S4 brought out his little airplane and S2 had a brilliant plan.

I'll let you pause a moment to think about what could possible be a brilliant idea.......…

Our kitchen on the house is a lean to built on ancient million years ago.  Our entire house was built so long ago that it doesn't have year — seriously.  And at some point they added the lean to kitchen.  The roof dips low and that roof had caught S2's eye.

"Let's fly the airplane over the kitchen.  It will look SO cool!" he suggested.

Since S2 has the best football throwing arm of the three of them, S2 threw the airplane.

It landed on the roof.

And it did not fly off.

S4 burst into tears.  S2 knew he was going to be in trouble for this one so he thought up a brilliant idea. Hockey sticks are long and have a sorta hook on sticks could get this airplane down.

Meanwhile, I am in the house thinking they are being so super good getting ready for school.  Imagine my surprise when I heard THUMP on the roof.

Do you think I could pull those boys away from rescuing the airplane?  No.  We ran to classes explaining that they had tried to get an airplane off the roof with hockey sticks and everyone stared at us for a moment and then just laughed because that pretty much figures with us.

That night I had forgotten about the hockey stick and airplane incident.  Being cold and ever so tired, I decided to take an early shower.  As I was lathering my hair in shampoo I heard the door slam.  Then I heard running feet on the upstairs steps.  Then I heard "thump, thunk, thump".  The dog began to bark. The feet ran down the steps.  The door slammed.

And then it started all over again.

No one heard my "Hey, what's going on?" shout from the shower.

When I got out of the shower, dripping wet, wrapped in the towel, three little boys filed into the house. "What was going on out there?" I asked.

S2 shrugged.  "We were just playing football."

"Yah," S3 agreed too quickly.

"Why was the dog barking?" I asked.

"The dog barked?" S2 asked blankly.

"Why were you running upstairs?  And going in and out of the house?" I drilled.

"Um, I don't know," S2 said slowly.  I had him pegged as the ring leader.

"I feel you are not telling me something."  I gave them all that mean, hard mom look which I must have mastered because, lets face it, it's hard to take someone seriously when they are wrapped in a green towel with a pink towel turban on top of her head.

S4 caved.  "We threw the football to get my airplane," he squeaked out.  He held up the recovered airplane for me to see.

"How did you do that?"

"Well," S2 began, all nonchalant like it was no big deal, "We just threw the football on the roof to get the plane down."

A light went on in my head.  "You went upstairs and threw it out the window."

S4 nodded solemnly.  He was certain I would take the airplane away now.  Tears were forming in his eyes.

S3 was not admitting to anything.  He was willing to let his brothers get in all the trouble and make a clear get away on this.

The three boys had run upstairs, opened the upstairs window over the kitchen, leaned out the window and thrown the football towards the airplane, attempting to hit the airplane to get it to move and fall off the roof.

It took a lot of tries.

S1 wandered in the front door about this time.  "What's going on?" he asked, looking us all over.  S2 tossing his football from hand to hand.  S3's eyes huge and his feet fidgety.  S4's head hung low with tears dripping down his face.  Mama in a towel in the middle of the room.

"Where have you been?" I demanded.

"I was in my shop.  Why?" he asked, thinking he should have stayed there.

I turned back to the other three.  "That was NOT a wise idea."  I could see them holding up the window — it doesn't stay up on its own — while they leaned far out the window to toss out the football.  "No football till you play with Daddy," I added.

The three nodded solemnly.  I headed for the bedroom to get dressed, S1 hung around to get S2's story.

Really, why am I exhausted at the end of the day?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Need An Assistant

I had just returned from my first ever trip to Costco.  We were out of everything...except pancake batter and coffee...and in all the busyness of the day, I realized I had forgotten to eat and was happy to pour myself a bowl of cereal.  Milk really is a wonderful thing to have in the house.

The phone rang and a child called out, "Toll Free!" so I poured on the milk and stepped over boxes and shoes and toys to get to the table to work on our puzzle that we have been working on all week and just cannot seem to finish.

The answering machine began to record the message of a girl saying, "Calling for Denise.  This is Republic Waste Services, we have received the receipt of the bill we sent you in a sealed, stamped envelope.  You filled out the receipt but we did not receive form of payment."

I answered the phone.

Yah, I really did make out a bill, seal the envelope, stamp it and drive it down to the post office to be sent without EVER making out the check.

I apologized and tried to get her to laugh about it but apparently it was not as funny to her as it was to me.

These past weeks have just been like that for me.  I cannot remember what day it is for anything.  I cannot keep weeks straight.  I have overbooked myself three times now and I hate saying, "I am really sorry, but I just realized that that is the same day that we are doing this...."


The best one was when I received an email saying, "See you Friday!" and I responded with, "Where do we meet on Thursday?"  Because "SEE YOU FRIDAY" was in bright blue, huge font and I was responding to that email.

The house is a mess.  I have no idea what to make for dinner.  My children nearly cried in joy when I brought home groceries.  I still have Christmas letters to write.  Christmas shopping to do.  Parties to attend.  Kid's homework to work on.  Books to read and books I want to read.  Blogging, how I miss it!

So I decided I needed an assistant.

Here is the thing - NO ONE wants to be my assistant.  They know if they were my assistant they would need an assistant to assist them assisting me.

How sad is that?

So I decided....

I need minions

They are cute, the make no sense and they can accomplish great feats.  They are happy to live underground and they always seem giggly silly happy.

Yes, I need minions.

Anyone else with me on this one?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Insane is My New Name

Forewarning...I am writing this with only half a cup of coffee in my system

S3 and S4 have been on this kick lately...either they fight like no one else or they are adorable like no one else.


They arrive home from school and help each other get a glass, milk and cookie.  Best of buds.  They decide to go outside to toss the football back and forth.  Within five minutes they are screaming at each other, wrestling the other to the ground, shoving and pushing each other around.  Did I mention screaming?, it bears repeating. 

Because I continue to say, "You two are brothers and you will be FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE so figure this out", I try to let them hash it out themselves.  I cringe through the exchange and every once in awhile I have to separate them because they need to be separated.

At night, when they have gone to bed (finally), I sit down, hold my head in my hands and want to cry.  I am emotionally and physically exhausted.  I peer through my fingers at my husband and groan, "They are driving me insane....."

He laughs.

I am serious.

Last week the three youngest boys announced they are going to be in the church Christmas program.  Daddy said they could. Mama was going to make sure they weren't because she didn't want to do the practice running.  Daddy won.

The Christmas Play is a Spelling Bee Musical.  We have a cd.

We must listen to the cd because the boys need to know the songs and their lines.

So, we get in the suburban and the Christmas musical cd in on and singing "S P E L L I N G B E E" all happy high-pitched kid like.  You parents know what I mean.  It hurts your ears it is so high-pitched, happy, scrape your fingernail along the chalkboard sounding.  And the music is so loud as to soak into them that they might absorb the words.  They need to know every song, every line and all their friends lines too.

Today, I am listening to this super happy high-pitched singing and actually missed the moments that all I had to do is deal with them fighting over who hit who with a wad of paper or stole the others hat.

This morning I had only time to suck down a half a cup of coffee as I was walking out the door and had no time to make myself coffee for the ride, I am certain that has to do with some of my insanity at the moment.  However, if you see me with my head twitching to some weird beat and my eyes buggy eyed out and me singing in a chant sort of way, "Be nice, S P E L L I N G B E E, be nice, S P E L L I N G B E E," you will understand why.

Place coffee in my hand.

Perhapes consider kidnapping me.

And pray I make it through this current phase in our lives. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I'm Good!

S4 went outside to feed his bunny - Whiskers Gray - and was gone a long time.  Long enough that I began searching for him.  I looked out the front window, nearest his bunny cage, and didn't see him.  I did catch a flash and I watched him fly on his bike down a hill and land in a pile of leaves.

I did what any mother with a blog would do.

I grabbed my flipcam.

All the laughing behind me are his brothers who could not believe that S4 would attempt this trick on his own.

After this fall, he jumped up...and tried it all over again.

When he would land, he would lay there a second, shake himself off and give a thumbs up - "I'm Good!" he declared.

His brothers couldn't let him have all this fun on his own so they all ran outside, got on their bikes, and joined in S4's game.  He made a video of that - it's shaky but a hilarious 30 seconds and you can watch it here.

After a few turns for all the boys, I called them in.

"Ah, mama, we're having fun," they moaned.

"I do not feel like driving to the med center with one of you needing stitches or because you have a broken bone," I answered bluntly.

And so they decided Mama was right, even if she wasn't any fun, and we had dinner instead.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why We Pulled Our Son Out Of School

"Mama, I want to be home schooled," my 13 year old son told me as just he and I drove to visit my brother and sister in law's new home.

The news came as a shock.

Okay, maybe not a total shock but a shock just the same.  Last year we had a few issues at school, I blogged about those, and he had said in passing he wished he were home schooled but this year is the first year he is in junior high.  This is the first year he changes classes and he really likes changing classes and he likes all his teachers.  His grades are great.  He has a close group of friends and he gets along easily with everyone.  He finished his first year at football, loved it and all the comrade of the game.

And now S1 was telling me he wanted to be home schooled.

He had asked last year and we had shrugged it off.  But this night, after he had taken that deep breath and told me, he went on to explain what he would like to study, how it could work and then, then he stabbed my heart with, "I'm really sorry I am asking you to do so much work for me, Mama, but I think it's that important."

What could make our son want out of school so badly?

He wants out because he is watching his friends, the friends he has grown up with and hung out with and we have had here at our home and he has gone to their home, suddenly more interested in sex and pornography.  They tell him he won't make it out of school without having sex.  They continually make sexual gestures.  Some of the older kids will rub up against him (as he says) in an "odd way" just to make him blush.  The way the boys talk to and about the girls disgust him.  He is afraid that if he stays in that environment, he will change and be just like them.  He thinks it will start slowly that he will not become aware of the change until one day he realizes he has become what he never wanted to be.

He doesn't want to leave his good friends behind but he knows enough that he needs out.

Throw in there some kids who are disruptive and stall class after class which in turn has him bringing home homework to work on until ten at night and anyone could understand how fed up he is with it all.  He wants better for himself.

On the day we went to the principal to let them know this would be his last day, S1 had written a letter explaining why he was leaving in hopes that morale could improve and it could be better for his friends left behind.  We never even had to leave it behind because the principal talked with us and was completely encouraging - not like he could have changed our minds - but still, encouraging.  I appreciated his words to us greatly.

"Until kids home lives change, it's pretty hard to change the school atmosphere," the principal explained to us.

All our back and forth trying to decide this seemed to be covered in peace when we finally said, "Okay, we are pulling you out."  It was as if a burden has been lifted from our sons shoulders.  His excitement is evident.  We had to keep reminding him to not talk with others about it while we figured it all out but that was impossible for him.  The joy he has now is something I had not realized was gone until it returned.  It does our hearts a great deal of good.

I have to admit, this new adventure has me scared to death.  "Totally freaking out" is how I describe it.  I am suddenly responsible for his learning.  Yes, he has to do the work but I have to hold him to it and that is overwhelming, I am not going to lie.

This also made me realize just how selfish I am.  Here I have reached this place in my life where life seems good.  I love love love my job at the library.  My passion for Praise and Coffee is deep.  I enjoy writing for the Kalamazoo Women's Magazine.  I enjoy meeting with friends for coffee and heading off to write an article.  I love my boys, I love my boys being home, but I had reached that point where I could see how it was nice to drop them off at school to get other things done too.  I really liked the way my life was going.

And now I am not sure how it's going to look.

But my son is more important than all that.  All my boys are.  And it's most important to us to do what is most important for our boys.  Doesn't mean I am not 'freaking out', doesn't mean we have it figured out, doesn't mean I don't like our little school (any long time readers know how much I love our little school - and the other three boys we are happy to leave in that school) but I would be lying if I didn't say I was a little excited too.  Some weird part of me lays in bed at night and thinks, "We can start with a study of the pilgrims and we could read that Plymouth Plantation book!"

It does mean I covet your prayers.  It does mean I am taking all kinds of advice.

It does mean I'll be having some interesting blog posts soon, I am certain.
We are so proud of the young man you are becoming, Andrew! Love you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When Dave Ramsey Promotes Your Blog Post

When Dave Ramsey promotes your blog post....

You will get a message from a stranger that reads, "Be prepared for your blog to blow up. Dave Ramsey just posted your blog on his Facebook page."

And you will thrill over 1,500 people looking at your blog and think,"Wow!  How cool of him!"

Then you will notice your phone making all sorts of vibrations and jingles.  For grins you will peek at your blog, not expecting much, and see that you have TWENTY-NINE THOUSAND people clicked your blog and you have 82 comments waiting to be confirmed.

You'll head home, mind spinning, with your sick with strep child.  You will tell your husband who won't believe you.  You'll be glad he happened to have a half day so he can look at the screen with you.

Tonight, as I head to bed, I have had SIXTY-FIVE THOUSAND, three hundred and forty hits on my blog.


On Dave Ramsey's Facebook page, the post had 4,192 likes, 331 comments and 709 shares.

Mind. Is. Blown.

Now would also probably be a good time to say I don't know what Marijuana (also, had no idea how to spell it) looks like, I do know what maple leaves look like - and those are the leaves on my blog background.  The leaves look like camouflage, my boys favorite color.

You all have been wonderfully kind to me.  I fully plan to read your messages all the way through, a lot of you had great idea for us about the envelope system. Almost everyone was encouraging and cheering us on.  Thank you.

But I just wanted to officially say THANK YOU to Dave.  I don't know if he will read this or not, but you surely made our family's day a ton of fun.  We giggled and laughed and my head cannot wrap around the amount of people you introduced me to today.

I find it even more hilarious because I disliked you so much.  My friends I complained to have been laughing hysterically about that today.

But thank you.  From the bottom of my bloggy heart, thank you.

Oh, and sorry for disliking you — at first.

More than that, thank you for giving us basic steps to achieve Financial Peace.

Why I Dislike Dave Ramsey

My husband is a big fan of Dave Ramsey.  He can quote him.

I am not. I tend to loath him.

My husband has tried to talk me into going to the Financial Peace classes and I am always dragging my feet.  Seriously? 13 weeks of talking about MONEY? I think this is some sort of cruel torture.

When our church had yet another Financial Peace class offered, I knew that Jake would ask me again, I would give him "the look" and tout a million reasons why we couldn't or didn't need to but then I thought about how happy he would be.  I found out some of my best friends were taking the class - one of my friends is a therapist and she and her husband signed up - so I figured this would be a good class to take.

We would require therapy and Renee would know why so that would help.

Jake's eyes shown brightly as I dropped the check in the offering plate.  He was nearly walking on air.  He finally was going to get me to change.

I had a pit in my stomach for weeks leading up to class one.

When class one rolled around, I let everyone know just how much I was dreading this.  You see, Jake has always wanted to be a millionaire.  And then he married me...and we promptly had four boys.  That sorta is a "money hit".  He has planned our lives around much of what he has learned from Dave over the years listening to his radio program.  He can literally quote his answers before Dave gets to it.  I am the one who pays all the bills.  I balance the checkbook and we have this system - I pay it, he doesn't see it and we all get along grandly.

That was all about to change.

At the end of Class One, Jake was nearly jumping up and down with joy.  "We get to budget, won't this be fun?"

Kill. Me. Now.

Jake was working a ton and I was sitting at football practice at the time so I committed to this, "If I am going to take this class, I am doing it all the way".  I read the book.  It is lined with my smart aleck comments.  I read it very critically.  Very very critically.

I did all the homework.  And about three weeks in I looked at Jake and said, "Hey, you wanted to take this class, we better get busy and actually DO this class," and so began the first budget meeting.

It went better than I thought it would.

We didn't even fight.

Did you read that last line?  We. Didn't. Even. Fight.  Jake pretty much nearly had a heart attack when he heard our grocery bill until he realized we were living on five dollars a day per person for our entire grocery bill.  If anything, he might have admired me a little.  At least I hope so.

People would see me with the Dave Ramsey book and cringe.  Then they would say, totally shocked, "You are taking that class?"  I would nod. "What do you think?" they would immediately ask because they knew I would tell them exactly what I thought.

I told them I was shockingly enjoying it.

We finished the class Sunday night.  It was a nine week class, but some friends who have taken it before are hoping to get one of the videos from the 13 week class videos for us to watch because they enjoyed it so much.

I am not a fan of the envelope system because it's hard to put the cash in an envelope so you can put it back in the bank so then you can pay a bill.  We don't like that at all so we are trying to figure that out.  But as far as us sitting down and talking about our money, well, I never thought I would end a conversation about money and bills with my husband and actually grin when we were done.  We talk about money and for the first time in 15 years it is not a stress or argue point for us.

I recently sent a text to him that read, "I just finished paying bills and actually missed you while I worked on them. What have you done to me??????"  

We have a long ways to go yet, but at least we are aware of WHERE we are going.  I have informed my husband we are not going to become one of those crazy people either....I think enough of you out there know what I mean by that.

Which gets me to my point...why I dislike Dave Ramsey.

I dislike Dave Ramsey because after all this time of loathing him, I actually found out that he isn't all that bad.  The things that my husband would say, "Dave Ramsey said we should do this and this..." well, he DID say you should do those things after you did a bunch of other steps that we hadn't completed yet.  I read the book and found that out and I might have pounced on my husband about it.

Not like I didn't have years of pent up anger or anything on that subject.

As it turns out, we didn't need therapy.  We took the class with a genius with money (who happens to be the therapist's father), one of my best friends who went through a job change and host of others and we actually had a good time.

So, again, why I dislike Dave Ramsey....

Because now I have to eat a ton of crow.

I mean, like a ton of crow.  Because our pastor asked us - um, yes, US - to 
teach the next class.

I feel this is Dave getting back at me somehow.

Anyhow, I never ever ever ever ever thought I would say this, but, if you would like a good class on money, look at Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.  I actually recommend it.  A lot.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sick Day

We were awoken at some time of the night with S2 at our door.  "I can't sleep!" he tried to sob but his voice sounded all funky.

He took a shower and then crawled onto the couch and fell asleep.  Jake awoke early and checked his forehead.  "He's got a fever," he told me, "I think he is pretty sick."

I woke up just before my alarm went off and had a splitting headache.  I tried to turn the alarm off before it went off and split my head in two...but I was a few seconds late and couldn't get it turned off before it began to ring.  I pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep.

Before my "you must be moving at this time" alarm went off, I was awoken to a cough that sounded like it hurt all the way into someone's toes.  S4 began to wail, which made him cough some more, which made him wail, which made him cough.  He crawled into bed next to me.  "I think I am sick!" cough cough cough cough cough sniff "Really really sick!"

My head wouldn't stop pounding.  S4 crawled into the chair and fell asleep and I went back to sleep too.  It was if there were bricks on my eyelids.

When my alarm for, "If this rings, you are late!" went off, I got up.  I stumbled to the kitchen, turning lights off as I did and took two tylenol.  I poured out cough medicine for S4.  I poured out medicine for S2.  I checked with S3, "I feel fine," he attempted to smile at me but I think I might have looked alien like.  S1, who has been suffering a cold all weekend, slept on.

I made an executive decision.  I emailed all the teachers and told them the boys were sick.  And then I went back to bed.

After just a half hour nap, the tylenol could be felt to be working - the pain was there but I felt human again - and we began our day.

S1 sniffing and blowing his nose so it sounds like he is calling in a herd of elk.

S2 curled up on the couch, freezing cold, clearly miserable.

S3 happy to be home, playing his leapster.

S4 lining all his stuffed animals around him, coughing so it sounds like his lungs might get coughed up, and then going back to play with his toys.  But thankfully he didn't puke here.

S1 got busy with some homework, S3 and S4 had homework emailed to me and they sat down to get to work, S2 didn't move from the couch.

It wasn't long before S4 was sobbing, his head on the table, "I will never ever ever ever be able to count by five's! Never!"

He then fell back asleep when sent to bed. I got some mucinex in him and saw a marked improvement.

But S2 had to be taken to the doctor's because I was pretty confident he had strep.  He had the swollen tonsils and I could see the first puss pocket appear.  The doctor confirmed it and we headed home.

But not before a stop at our happy place.

His smile is bright, but you can see in his eyes how sick he felt.  When we got home, he went right back onto the couch with every blanket he could find.

And so, my dear friends, is how my Monday went.  How is yours?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Let's Revisit Jake's Colonoscopy

One year ago today, I wrote the post about my husband and his Colonoscopy.  

Since this post published, we have retold this story too many times to count.  It is one of our favorites and people usually laugh hysterically through the whole thing.  So, since it's so popular and I love my husband so very much, I am reposting it today.

Read the whole story here....

But don't have a drink in your hand because you will drop it or spit it out in laughter.  I guarantee you.

While this date is circled on my calendar so we can giggle about it and celebrate we aren't reliving it, a week ago we watched this funny bit by Jeff Foxworthy and had to share.  Jake, puzzled, said, "He must not have been very drugged up".  He still forgets we asked to have him drugged to not remember anything.

For an update of how Jake is doing a year later....

We have slowly added coffee back to his daily life.  We started slow, then we added it once a week and now we have gotten to where he has a cup in the morning and very rarely one at night.  He used to drink two pots of coffee for sure a day, sometimes more.  As long as he remembers his medicine, the heartburn is gone.  But the key is remembering the medicine.  He has the hardest time remember he needs to take it every day because I think he just wants to think he will be fine without it...until the heartburn takes over and causes all kinds of pain again.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Celsius Versus Fahrenheit

It's funny how a little thing you didn't notice before can be gone and WHAM, you miss it like crazy.

Thus is the experience of the temperature thingy in my rear view mirror in my suburban.

All of the sudden, I glanced up at my thermometer and it was blank.  Blank.  How can I drive safely if I don't know the temperature? I pushed the little button on my rear view mirror and it went to Celsuius.  I pushed it again and went blank.

I called my husband and asked him to fix it.

He drove it that night and fiddled with it and it my Fahrenheit reading is just gone.

"You should just learn to figure out the Celsius temperature," he told me.  "It's simple.  You just take the temp, multiply it by nine, divide it by five and then add 32.  Simple."


He expects me to do this on limited amount of coffee first thing in the morning?

I can't figure out a math problem every time I need to know the makes my head hurt.

I suppose I could look at this from the view that he believes his I could actually spout this information out all the time at any moment.  But reality hits you hard, bro.

The other sad thing about my thermometer being stuck in Celsius mode is that if my thermometer reads Minus Four (as it did this week), I actually feel like it is really minus four out.

And what is minus four times nine?

I. Don't. Know. (see me banging my head on the table???)

I sum up this rambling post with this thought...

I think this winter is going to be a very cold one for me.  I am going to look at that thermometer and it's going to read minus 40 this winter, I am sure of it.  And I will believe it is minus forty and want to cry about it but I'll be afraid to let the tears fall for fear they will freeze to my face and my eyeballs will turn to ice cubes.  I'm going to be very very very very very cold this winter.

On the plus side, I will feel like I can take on adversity if I can withstand minus forty degree temps.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Childbirth Isn't Bad At All

This was too much for a facebook post so you get a hurried - very hurried - blog post.

My husband likes to tease....alllllllllllllllll the time.

One of the many things he teases about regularly is childbirth.

He get's a sliver and says, "It's worse than childbirth!"

I glare.

The boys giggle because Daddy is getting "the mean mama" look.

But today?

Today S1 is hanging out outside with his Daddy as they work on plow trucks, a very manly thing to do.  They came in to wash hands and brought up a time Daddy had burnt his hand pretty badly.

"THAT," Jake said, "Was worse than childbirth."

I glared.

S1 paused then said seriously - very seriously - "I bet it was.  I mean, women want to go through childbirth again but you never are going to burn your hand like that again so it must have been worse than childbirth."


My husband is as proud as can be at this statement.

"Good point! Good point!" he laughs as he slaps my son on the back.

I don't know who to disown.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DownEast Basics

When I visited Becca in Arizona (a moment while I lament how much I miss her......), she took me to this adorable store called Downeast Basics.

Because Becca is brilliant, truly really brilliant, she told me it was a great thing that I was buying the stack of clothes I had to shove into my carry on because then I would know what sizes I would need when I reordered something.

Brilliant, that Becca.

These cami's were on sale.  I really wanted one in red, but it wasn't in my size.  So I purchased one in a light brownish color (it's not really brown, not really tan).

I thought it would be cute layered under clothes because this cami is loooooooong.

What I did not expect was loving how this cami dressed everything I wear up so much that I am literally washing it a few times a week just to keep wearing it.

So I was pretty excited when I received an email from Downeast Basics letting me know that they were having a big ol' Happy 21st birthday sale.

I squealed a little.

And quickly ordered two more cami's.

They only have them in black and in white but I am happy with anything at this point.  And I hope they make them for forever and ever and ever amen.

If lace isn't your thing (I know, it's hard to see white on white but that is lace at the bottom), they have plain colored cami's too.  Just as long.  I have one of those too.

In the lace cami I needed to order x-large.  I usually wear a size medium.  So, I'll mention it again, Becca was brilliant to tell me to buy it so I knew what size to order later.

Studio Jewel recently mentioned them in a blog as well.

I'm telling you, these are such a great addition to your wardrobe.

So, don't miss the sale!

(This blog post is my own thoughts.  Downeast Basic's doesn't even know I exist.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Can NOT Wait For Monday

Those who know me well know that I do not like Monday's at all.  Not. At. All.

Those who know me really well know I do not like Sunday's much either.  Not much at all.

But this week?

I can not wait for Monday.

Saturday was our last football game.  S2 stormed onto the field, played the game and lost.

It was tough.

It was also as windy as could be.  We have battled rain, enjoyed sunshine, had our eyeballs frozen and everything in between.  But now it is over.

That won't seem real until I am not driving to school every evening for practice.

I couldn't wait for Saturday night.  I had dinner on the grill all planned.  A movie to curl up with my honey over.  I could see popcorn in my near future.  A "hooray! we can slow down now that football is over" night if ever there was one.  I had been looking forward to this night for about eight weeks or so.

As it was, my husband made plans without consulting me.  Our good friends we haven't gotten together with in forever and ever called to see if we wanted to see a movie their church was playing. A movie we have already watched called Monumental. It's a great movie, I was happy to watch it again, just not THAT night, not THAT far from my snug little farmhouse.  Jake told me we had not watched the movie before until I reiterated to him the entire movie, what we were doing before we went to the movie, where we watched the movie at (our church) and mentioned the fact that S4 had been covered in dirt and barefoot that night we watched Monumental at our church during the summer.

He could hardly remember this and so he had made the plans and didn't want to back out of them.

And I, being the mature person I am, did something out of character.  Something low.  I looked at my husband and said to him, "How is it I married you?  I would be happily snug at home tonight as my introvert self but oh no, I had to marry YOU, Mr. Social!!!"

He gave me a loud kiss.  "I'm good for you."

He is.

But not on this day.

We hurried through dinner.  I suffered the pain that MSU lost their game agains U of M and S2 cheered - how as a mother have a raised a son who cannot cheer the great MSU team?  It's like a mom failure or something - and went to the unfamiliar church to watch a movie my husband than remembered and then joined them for ice cream.

We arrived home exhausted and still my husband needed to give the boys haircuts.

I curled up into bed and fell asleep.  Oh, sleep, how I miss you!

Sunday I awoke to the smell of coffee.  Fresh brewed coffee is such a wonderful smell when you didn't brew it yourself.  My husband had picked up these amazing cinnamon rolls at Weicks the day before and I could hear him opening the package and warming up a roll.

I smiled in complete blissful love.  My darling husband was making me breakfast in bed.

How was I ever so blessed to marry such a wonderful guy?

I didn't want to ruin the surprise so I snuggled in bed and closed my eyes when I heard him headed my way.  He entered the bedroom, that love of my life.  It was so difficult to act asleep when all I wanted to do was grin or throw my arms around him and tell him how wonderful he is.  But if I did either of those things I would startle him and he would spill my coffee and we cannot spill coffee.

My husband walked around the bed and...grabbed his phone.

Grabbed his phone and walked away to the dining room where I heard the fork hit the plate of his warmed up cinnamon roll.

I figured he was just being sweet and didn't want to wake me up, just let me sleep in.  I mean, I didn't even know I wanted breakfast in bed until I was apparently not getting any.  I couldn't resist texting him though.  "You would rather spend your morning with youtube than with me?"

He ended up bringing me coffee to bed.

When we got up all we did was run.  We ran to church where we rushed out as soon as our pastor said "You are dismissed."  We drove like the wind to arrive home and quickly grab some clothes to change into that somehow we forgot as we ran back out the door.  Time home?  Five minutes.

We pushed a little past the speed limit to arrive at my husband's mom's home where we had one hour to eat dinner and then make ourselves look great because we were getting family photos taken.  We have never ever had family photos taken and the photographer was great and cheery so we really can't wait to see how the photos turned out.

We had half an hour after pictures to visit before we had to run to Jake's office, grab his paperwork, hurry to the dollar store to pick something up we had forgotten we needed for church and then hurry home where I had fifteen minutes.

In fifteen minutes I made a pot of coffee and loaded the dishwasher.  As i was headed out the door, I spilled my entire cup of coffee all over the stove.

We jumped in the suburban and hurried off to church.  Jake had left with S1 to make sure he got him to youth group on time.  It was then I realized we had forgotten a child.

Yes, you read that correctly.

We hadn't even made it a mile down the road when my call to double check with my husband that he did in fact have S2 with him only to hear he did not.  S2?  He heard me holler.  He heard me leave.  He knew I would be back for him.

Grrrr.  What a stinker.

We arrived to church where we had our Dave Ramsey class while the boys battled a real live bat.

Yes, you read that correctly too.

They thought it was so cool.  They hope the bat continues to live in the church.

My husband stayed at church for a meeting.  I took four boys boys home, three of which were so exhausted they were fighting and crying.

The smell of a dead mouse hidden somewhere in the house greeted me as I walked in the door at eight fifteen at night.

Monday the boys get to sit at school.  I get to sit at work.

Monday night we get to stay home all night for the first time in about eight weeks with no practice to run to.

i can't wait for Monday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Call For Mrs. Dykstra

I don't get very many phone calls.  And, no, my phone doesn't look like this but wouldn't a phone like this be so cool?  Especially if it were turquoise.


As I was saying, I don't get phone calls very often.  I'm just not much of a chat on the phone sort of gal. Unless I am chatting with the Farmer's Wife.  But lately, my phone rings in the morning and I know exactly who it is.

I get a sick feeling in my stomach.

I carefully pick up the phone, I cringe at the name, my face wrinkles in pain as I tentatively answer, "Hello?"

And it's the school, the office gals, whom I love.

These are the conversations I have had with them....

"Um, Denise, you need to come over to the school.  Your son's toe...yah, you just need to come over and see it."  S3 had kicked the soccer ball with his summer shoes on and literally tore the top layer of the bottom of his big toe right off.  It was just flapping in the wind.  I asked for bandages and got it taken care of in no time flat.  

"We're sorry to call," they said, "But we knew you were right across the road and would want to see it."

They are right, I did want to see it and I was glad they called me.

Another call...

"Denise? Your son just threw up."

S4 had a cough and I am quite certain that his cough that morning was the cause of his throw up because I ran to pick him up (this was the day I was unshowered and looking "rough" was a nice way to describe my appearance) and he then proceeded to eat a huge plate of macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.

Another call...

"This is the office.  Uh, your son has poison ivy all over his leg.  We just need to know if we can put something on it so it doesn't itch so much."

As it turned out, they didn't have calamine lotion so I ran to the store, got that and anti itch lotion and dropped it off at school.  I had a little ivy dry and we poured that over his leg, the leg that hadn't been mentioned at all all weekend.  The added bonus of the ivy dry?  It looked like his skin was peeling off his leg and it was So. Cool.  Or so I hear.

The craziest call was this...

"Denise? The school.  Somehow your son has had an accident.  He is going to need all new clothes."

I couldn't hardly believe this one.  And on this particular day, I was at work all alone so I couldn't just leave the library open and run home and get clothes and return.

But I did have the suburban and we have been pretty much living in it with football season and all.  I quick climbed all over the seats (in a dress, mind you) and found enough half eaten food and half drinken water bottles to live on for a week as well as numerous shirts, a pair of clean folded socks (we don't even have those at home!) and, oddly enough, a pull up.

As it turns out, this son of mine had an apple and brought it in the bathroom when he had to go pee.  Why, I don't know.  He doesn't know.  Anyhow, he didn't want to put the apple down in the bathroom (thank goodness he thought that much through) but he couldn't just undo his pants so he just unzipped his pants like big boys do and pulled out his "pee-er thing" (as he calls it) but his pee-er thing didn't get out far enough and pee went  e v e r y w h e r e.  

I don't think that word "everywhere" is even strong enough.

Daddy happend to be getting out of work early so I frantically called him, grabbed my son from the school sick room, had him run for the suburban in his long tshirt he got from someone at school, got him into the library and a movie turned on for him with one minute to spare before opening time.

Daddy arrived a few minutes later and saved the day with new pants and underware.

I tell ya, I never know what the school is going to call for.

I am just thankful they always do call me, and I am so thankful I have those office women to help me out this school season. 

But just once, I'd love a call like this...

"Denise? It's the school.  You're boys have no injuries or sickness today.  We just thought you'd like to celebrate that."

Of course, then we would probably jinx ourselves. 

(Thank you Chris and Regina for taking such good care of us!)