Thursday, February 28, 2013

Drive Safe, Ride Safe

One of my biggest fears as the boys get older is the day that they will take the keys and drive themselves.

Who forgets when they get their license?  Or the first time they are alone behind the wheel?

Or their first accident?

I want to do whatever I can to help my boys avoid having an accident and Kelly, who sent me the video Roadworthy, said that it had made her boys (she has four too!) better RIDERS.

That sounded great to me.  What better time to teach them then before they ever get the keys?

I told S1 and S2 that they had to actively watch this movie.  S2 took it very seriously and even wrote down notes.

I did not expect that my husband and I would learn anything.  

Was I ever wrong!

It's a driving instructional video so you expect it to be what it is.  But it did a great job of explaining things.  It explained why the information given to us was important.  It told you what to look for when riding or driving.  It made a point of telling you this was important business ("When is your teenager ready to drive?  When you feel they can be trusted with a two thousand pound missile.")

It gave you fact advice like this....

What I appreciated here is that it tells you "You can die" but it doesn't make it so scary that you don't want to get behind the wheel.  You need to have a healthy balance and I think Mike pulled it off here.

The day after watching this, my husband was texting me to see if I had tightened my seat belt and adjusted my mirrors.  

And he wasn't joking.

I was curious what my two oldest boys, one just (gulp) two years from driving and one just nearly eleven years old.  Here is what they had to say, in their exact words...

S1 - "It was pretty cool how all the steps were to be better driver and other kids are in teh same boat as me as far as ways they want to do it and stuff and it takes practice.  It was cool about how to hold a steering wheel - I didn't know about that - and that your side mirror, when you go and turn, and if it's just a little bit past it you will be fine when turning."

He thinks it's more parent based and not kid based but he thinks that his friends should watch this video "just so they know all the steps and everything".

S2 - "What I liked was how they taught it.  They demonstrated it because they were in a real car, and they showed models and they had toy little cars.  What I learned was, how to turn a car so I won't hit anything, you have to have your right or left mirror past the object you will pass or turn on.  It taught you all these safety precautions, how to prevent having accidents.  It told me a lot about how to be a good driver when I can drive, like listen to my mom and dad and pull your seat belt up and make sure your mirrors are in the right position. And what to do if you are going to be an accident."

(I secretly want the page where he took notes because it really says, "Listen to my mom and dad."  That's framable.)

I really cannot recommend this video enough.  I am going to be passing it around to S1's friends parents so they can watch it with their soon to be drivers.  It doesn't hurt at all to have them looking and aware NOW before they ever begin driving. Take a moment to check out their site

In their Order Shop they have many items, this video for twenty dollars (money well spent!) and curriculum for large groups as well. 

Check it out - it's never too early to begin teaching our children safety!

I want to personally thank Kelly Cusick who sent this to me on a whim after asking my husband questions about what it was like to drive a semi truck (he still thinks that would be a great video) and caring enough to email me so we could have a nice email exchange.  She was ever so patient with me as our dvd player broke the week this arrived (you cannot make this stuff up), then we had Christmas and then we simply forgot.  It was never my intention to be so long in posting this.  

Had Kelly not asked if I would blog about this, I would have anyway.  I was that impressed, and she was that kind. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

When You Have A Teenage Brother

When you have a teenage brother, you suddenly have someone else who bosses you around.

He wants to look at the computer and do boring things like work in his shop and read books.

He is strong enough to pick you up and pummel you to the ground.

He controls the tv remote and hoards it at all times.  Cartoons are not his idea of good tv.

But every once in has to put him in his place.

And so, my two youngest cooked up a grand plan.

While their brother was laying on his bed reading, they opened the window above the kitchen roof and grabbed a handful of snow.

This snow storm is perfect packing snow.

Then they quietly creeped into his bedroom where he keeps a sheet over his bed so he has his own 'man cave' and hit him smack dab in the middle of his cheek with a snow ball.

Then they ran screaming like the dickens down the steps and behind me.

I probably shouldn't laugh, probably shouldn't post this, but it was too stinking funny not to.

It was funny when they tossed a snowball at him when he was taking too long in the bathroom too.  But then I had to tell them to stop for good and use my mean face.

Still, I found it hilarious.

And, maybe, down deep, the teenager is proud of his brothers impressive scheming and delivery.


Yesterday, I had a hilarious day at work and Alicia and I maintained genius status all day long.  We fully believe this is due to the fact she brought peanut butter cups to work for us.

When I arrived home, it sorta all fell apart.

Our area was bound to get a snow storm - again - but the boys already had a random day off so there was no fear of a snow day that would add to our summertime days in school to make it up. Knowing there was no school the next day had a celebratory feel to the air.  I picked up the mail and there was a notice that they were canceling our home owners insurance due to lack of payment.

Um, what?

Called immediately, they told me to call the bank, called the bank and their exact words were, "I am so sorry.  We dropped the ball on this."  We had switched our home loan this summer, our insurance had come due and since we did not have an escrow account, the bank wasn't paying it but we weren't getting a notification of payment either.  We did get the cancellation notice.

So, I'm on the phone with like the fifth person in a row giving them all my information when I get switched to someone new - again.  I had begun to go through all my information - again - and none of my words were coming out correctly.  Perhaps I was in shock.  Cancellation Notice when you haven't been late on a payment sorta does that.  S4 was handing me a lego block and pointing to it because he needed my nails (he has claws) to take it apart.  I paused.  The woman on the other end seemed a bit irritated.  "I'm sorry," I blurted out, "I just returned home from work to this notice, my brain has completely shut off for the day and I haven't even had time to make my afternoon cup of coffee yet."

That. Changed. Everything.

Even more so when she read my email address.  "Life with four boys?  Oh my!"

She was efficient and quick and had me all set up in no time so this never happens again and I don't have to pay the full amount up front - considering I did not know about it - and I nearly hugged her.

No sooner did I get off the phone with her and bill payment center when my husband, who called and texted me a few times in this time span, called.  I rattled off the whole story.  He said, "Hey, can you watch the news for me?"

"I haven't even had time to turn the tv on!"

"Well, now you can.  Oh, and hey, did you find S3's glasses?  I read on facebook he lost them."

It's a good thing he wasn't home.  Instead I said, "No, I haven't so much as PEED yet because I have been on the phone for AN HOUR getting our home owners insurance saved!"

It was then my husband told me that he had the day off of work the next day.  I cheered! I had no work, the boys had no school, this was perfection on my rapidly deteriorating evening. Then he told me he would have the whole day to plow snow.

But he didn't ask for anything else then.

The boys and I then, after I made a HUGE mug of coffee, cuddled in the living room and watched Brave.  When we were done watching it, I looked out the window to a winter wonderland.  Seriously, this storm was not messing around.

I went to get on my computer to check the radar and the computer would not connect.  At all.  Nothing.  I did all those "do this before you call" things and nada.

So I called our AMAZING internet provider. We spent the next two hours calling each other back and forth and finally just giving up.  They ominously said, "I'm afraid we'll have to put a ticket in for this."

I really need a stack of peanut butter cups in my house to bring awesome to my house whenever I need it.

This morning, at 8:30 as I was making pancakes and waffles and smokey links, I received a phone call. My honey had been gone since half past midnight plowing.  But it wasn't him, it was our internet provider saying he was nearly at our home.

I greeted him in my pajamas and uncombed hair.  I had had just enough time to literally take all my stacks of papers and put them on another table and brush my teeth.  I didn't even have a full cup of coffee in me yet.

It took mere moments for him to go from being confused to looking around to realizing that our internet box had literally fallen off our house due to ice falling on it and the wires had literally burned.  In less than half an hour he had us up and running again.

Much later in the day, when my husband arrived home from plowing just in time for dinner, I made a dramatic sweeping motion with my arm and slight curtsy.  "Welcome to your home in daylight!" I declared.

He wrapped me in a hug and kissed me, telling me he was glad he was home.  Asking me if I was glad he had made money today on his day off.

And I shrug.

"Remember when we were broke?"

I nod.  I remember it all too well because it wasn't that long ago.  I remember emptying any place that I may have any cash at all just to put a little gas in the tank and food on the table.  I still feel the icy fingers of fear encircle me from time to time.

"This is better than broke, isn't it?" he asked me.  I nod and smile and am thankful a million times over for my hard working husband.

It all sort of puts a lot of things in perspective for me.

It was a bunch of minor things that were making me irritated.  Exhausted really.  Alicia texted me that morning saying that her electric was out (due to the snow taking out power lines), and here I just had my internet out.  And what if our house had burned like my friend with five kiddos whose house just burned and had stopped in to chat yesterday?

And my husband.  Who can complain about such a hard working man as he?  A man who loves us all so greatly? Yet sometimes I do.

Perspective people.  We need a new one once in awhile.

It doesn't change the fact that the boys are insane today and that I will have to bake cookies to bring peace back into our house.  Cookies solve everything minor, correct?

I hope so.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Being Married to Me...

...Must be Awesome.

I mean, really.

Sunday night, after I made - from scratch - Belgium waffles, my husband pushed his plate away, wiped his face and said, "Hey, can you make me a BLT for work tomorrow?  Uh, make that two BLT's."

Now, there is a might bit of a story behind this.  He tells me how to make a sandwich, I somehow mess it up, he tells me what I did wrong, I either cry or say "Make your own dang sandwich yourself!" and storm away from the kitchen.

See? AWESOME to be married to me!  I'm always adding suspense to the mix.  It keeps things interesting.  I mean, we can NOT have boring.

Back to the BLT's.

"Do you trust me?" I ask, arching my eyebrow at him.

"Yah, just make it with mayonnaise, a little pepper and the bacon, lettuce tomato." He did not catch the arching eyebrow.

"You want cheese?"

"No.  It's called a B. L. T."

"Want me to put some avocado on it?" (Because that is really yummy, I might add.  Just helping out.)

"No! It's a BLT.  You just need the bacon, the lettuce and the tomato."

"And mayonnaise."

"Yes.  And a little pepper."

"But there isn't any M in BLT.  You can see where one could be confused."

"There is no B for bread but you make it with bread anyhow."

"Technically, there is a B.  You could B it to the second for BLT."

Silence.  (That rarely happens, by the way.) Then, "There isn't a letter for toast.  And you make it with toast."

"No.  There IS a T.  So you could take the T to the second."

"Well, don't you have all the answers tonight?"  He stands up.  He knows he has been beat.  He goes to get his coat to fetch S1 from church.  "So, can you make me two BLT's?"

"Just bacon, lettuce and tomato?"

"And mayonnaise with a little pepper," he adds, his voice suddenly sounding very tired.

"I can try." I smile brightly at him, to reassure him of my great intentions and brilliance and just plain awesomeness.

He sighed heavily. "Please," he adds, as he walks out the door.

I waved goodbye to him and then scurried for the computer because, come on, this is a GREAT blog post.

See?  Being married to me is AWESOME.

I must be feeling REALLY awesome to add this silly photo! 
It seemed to fit the post.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Card Therapy

"So," I asked casually, "You wanna play some cards?"

My husband is home today after working a million and a half hours in five days (or so it felt) and then plowing snow all weekend.  He can never be accused of not being a hard worker.

The sun was shining, we were home, the boys were watching tv and I didn't feel like cleaning the kitchen so I posed the question to my husband.

Back before we had cable this was how we spent many a night.  We have played innumerable amount of games of cards and they all seem to go the same way.  As this one did.

He shuffled the cards and I cleared a chair of all the snow stuff and back pack and shoes and I don't know how old bag of popcorn so I could sit at the table.  I sipped my coffee.  I admired the sunshine.  I took apart two legos for S4.  And finally, my husband decided the cards had been shuffled enough.

We decided to play Rummy.  As the game progressed and he picked up the WHOLE STINKING PILE, I only had only one set down.  It included a Joker.  He cried the injustice that I would have a Joker.  We ended the hand with him at 115, me 60.

"Let's play one more hand," he said, grinning.

I swiftly dealt out the cards, giving him time only to swallow one large gulp of coffee.  The hand was over nearly as soon as it had begun, I had 75, he had scored minus 25.

He flung his cards down.  "Who's idea was this?" he hollers loudly.

I shrug and grin as he shuffles the cards.  "One more," he says and his eyes take on a determined glint.

The hand is vicious.  I try my best sneak, which is basically just me crying injustice and changing my cards and he hollering, "Did you think I just fell off the turnip truck?" and I come back with, "Well, you were wearing a poncho and sombrero yesterday so maybe you don't know this game yet."

He really was.  And so was I.  We had a Fiesta dinner at our church last night.

It's a nail biter.  We play card for card.  We both get great runs.  But in the end, I go out.  And the end score is Husband at 225 and me at 255.

I try not to gloat.  I really do.

He taps his cup on the table. "Hey, this is out of coffee."  He stands and hollers for S1 to be ready for him to take him to youth group.  "Who's idea was it to play more than one hand?' he mutters to himself as he shrugs on his coat.

He kisses my cheek as he walks out the door.

And when he gets home, we'll play cards some more.

We may sound like we need therapy when we play cards together but I tell you what, nothing makes us laugh more when we are done with the game.

It's little moments like this that I treasure.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What I Learn At Dinner Time

Dinner times are always interesting.  Even when they are boring dinners, I can usually walk away with something new I've learned about the boys.

Okay, I guess we don't have boring dinner times.

Tonight we were talking about mail and mail delivery and S3 asked us what days WE get mail.  "Every day. Except Sundays." Jake and I said in unison.

S2 began to snicker.

S3 nearly spit out his food - and that is saying something because he literally took half the pan of fried potatoes for himself at dinner tonight.  I think he has hit a growth spurt. 

S1, being the eldest and wisest and most knowledgable, felt he should explain.  "If you had been S3 and S4, they would be saying 'jinx' to each other.  And they have their own jinx saying."

S3 began laughing hysterically, hardly able to speak as he rattled off so quickly I am not even sure if I am typing it correctly..."Jinx, double jinx, triple jinx, rainbow jinx, you can't go pee or talk for the rest of the day until someone says your name five times."

"What?' Jake asked.

"It's just something we made up.  I learned it at school," S3 explained.  "I learned to be real good at jinxing people."

"Well," Jake said, "I'm glad you are learning something good at school."

"Yah!" S3 agreed emphatically, happy someone understood the importance of what he has learned, "I mean, otherwise I would have to learn something not important like, like, like multiplication.  Yuck!  This is better."

And that's when my husband broke out into song, "There is no good in an evil hearted woman..." and S1 joined in, Word. For. Word.

The conversation went back to what they thought was important to learn at school versus what they actually have to learn at school.  That was interesting...

Dinner was ending and so I said, "Boys, you all need a shower tonight."  They are on mid-winter break and they feel that means a break in bathing, I have noticed.

Groans all around from all the boys and then my very supportive husband said, "I've heard it said and it's probably true...."

"Husband!" I warned him, to no avail, as it never is every time he does this.  The boys were all snickering.  They know the drill.

He continued. "That too much bathing..." he paused and the boys joined in, "It will weaken you."

I rolled my eyes, as I always do, and the boys all began to laugh.  "You don't want us to be weak, Mama!" they declared.

I gave up.  Seriously, when I am going against five of them I have to pick my battles.  And they were arguing they bathed two days ago and that should be good enough.

But after they were done clearing the table (which involves numerous wrestling matches, who knew?) they marched off to the shower to "get weak."

In case you don't know why they would begin singing "There is no good in an evil hearted woman", here is the song....or you can just ask my boys to sing it word for word.  Not anything they learned in school but feel they should have.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Perfect Thing

It was snowing.


The wind was howling.  I was exhausted. Leaving work, I stopped to drop something off at a friends home and took off down the dirt roads to head for home.

What I didn't expect were drifts that came half way up my suburban door.  That I would be gripping the steering wheel trying to drive fast enough to get through the drifted snow without crashing into a tree.

I rarely am really scared driving.  This was one time I was.

The boys were fighting in the back.  S3 had rested his arm next to S4's head and S4 was crying the injustice while S3 claimed he wasn't doing anything.  S2 didn't want anyone to touch him.  S1 was singing with the radio.

I have never been so happy to get home.

I literally pulled my hood up on my coat to get the mail, it was so windy.  I caught glimpse of a card addressed to me.  When we got into the house, I dropped the mail on the table.  The boys demanded my attention.  My husband was calling me to get road conditions. I was attempting to pull together a meal to feed everyone.

I wanted to crawl into bed and sleep until spring with no one disturbing me.

I plopped down in a chair at the table and suddenly remembered I had a card.

Intrigued, I slit opened the envelope to find myself laughing hysterically at a birthday card.  Is it my birthday? No. And the person who sent me this card knew that well enough, she also knew the card was too perfect not to send to me.

It was perfect timing.  It brought a smile to my heart and for a moment I was transported to the beach with her laughing over the card.

Perfectly. Timed.

Never underestimate the power of kindness.  Or a simply good laugh.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We Are Eating Road Kill for Dinner


I am actually writing this.

The only reason I am even sharing this story is because tomorrow the boys are going to school and sharing it with everyone so I might as well do damage control now.

Yes, tonight we are having road kill for dinner.

This was on the Today show a year or so ago and it made me laugh.  Didn't think it would come true.

Here is how it happened.

S1 and I were returning home from a run to the little town next to us for feed and a few groceries.  As we were pulling into the driveway, I commented on the squirrel that had been hit and was now dead in the road by our mailbox.

S1 has been wanting another squirrel tail and I told him — can you believe I said such a thing? - "It's fresh so go grab it."

So I am in the house cooking the chili I plan on having for dinner when S1 comes to the door, big limp squirrel in hand.

"Mama, I know this sounds really redneck and I know it would be a blog post and all that, but, well, this squirrel is really fresh.  Like still warm.  And it only got hit in the head here.  It's a big one and it sure would be good for dinner.  I know it would be road kill," he shrugs, "but it's good road kill."

So what did I do?

I got out the crock pot.

When his brothers arrived home from school, the thought we were joking when we said road kill was for dinner.  And when they finally believed us, they went whooping and hollering through the house.  

They are truly ecstatic.

I, for one, was not going to share this story with the world.  But looking at these four boys drooling over the cooking squirrel in the crock pot, I figure I had better get it out there now.

I am literally hanging my head in my hands not believing I will be publishing "publish".

Also, I will be having chili for dinner.  Made from store bought meat. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day Blizzard

Two years ago we were bombarded with snow.

My husband, working road construction in the summer and plowing in the winter, had been gone for HOURS (I think it was close to a full 24 hours, but I cannot remember exactly) with this blizzard (it was really deemed a blizzard) and when he returned home, this happened.....

My husband watches the video over and over again.

It's the little things, sometimes, that make the biggest impression on your heart.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Warts Are My BFF's

At school, S4 does "Happy Mail".  They write notes to each other saying what the other did to be a good friend.  S4 has rather taken to this and he likes writing me notes.  I have a collection of them now, all with the special drawn stamp on them, and I hope I don't loose them because they are really precious.

And hilarious.

His notes began asking me when we could get his warts removed.


He had had one frozen off his right hand a few years ago, it came back and it brought friends.

We had tried the duct tape trick but the side of your hand is a pretty tricky place to keep a piece of duct tape.  S4 counted up seven warts he needed to get removed so we made an appointment.

Days before the appointment, he declared, "My warts are my bff's!"

"What?" I laughed.

"My bff's!" he said again.

"Your big fat friends?" S3 asked curiously.

Their daddy nearly keeled over in laughter at that one.

Great, now they will keep repeating it.

S4 sobered, "How will I know my right hand from my left hand?" he asked.

We told him he would figure it out.

When we went to the doctor, he grinned like a crazy boy, happy to have a day with his mama.  He figured he needed an alligator and angry bird slippers to get through this ordeal.  I got him the alligator and surprised him with it when I picked him up from school that day.

The doctor, who has known us and taken care of the boys since S1 was only one year old, asked him if he was ready,  He was...

Until they began.  His warts were rather large and we ended up freezing NINE of them.  Seven were on one hand.  Huge tears dripped from his face.  He reached for my hand and squeezed it hard.

My poor baby.

I totally should have gotten him those angry bird slippers too.

We left the doctor's office with five stickers in hand, the Doctor said anyone who had that many warts removed deserved every Angry Bird sticker she had. 

And then we went for Biggby coffee.

He keeps looking at the warts, seeing if they are falling off or not.  He had me take a photo of every single one of them that night so he can remember them when he is older.  I find that an odd request...

But they are his bff's.

Side note-

The doctor told us a story of a boy who needed a wart removed in the middle of his hand.  When his mom went to use the restroom, she asked him if he was ready to get his wart removed and he shrugged sadly.  "What's wrong? she asked.

The boy pointed to the wart tenderly.  "Well, because we live in Michigan, when someone would ask me where I live, I would just hold up my hand and point to my wart.  It's, well, it's kinda like my home."

When the mother returned the doctor said, "You do realize that when we remove his wart it will be like removing his hometown?"

They removed it anyhow.

I Wasn't Made For Winter

This sums me up perfectly.

Totally perfectly.


47 Days Until Spring