Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ending the Year on a Thankful Note

It's sad how, at times, it takes a less-than-pleasant situation to remind us of just how blessed we are.

Yesterday, Atticus and I were in a car accident. We are both fine, thank the Lord, but I am quite sore today and feel shaken by the whole thing. Atticus insists he feels fine, which I don't doubt, as his little body is much more rubbery and bendable than mine.

I had picked up my little guy from a friend's house, way across town. The weather was absolutely horrid--very snowy, slippery, poor visibility and windy. The highway was a disaster with cars in the ditches, so I chose to take the "slow" way through town to get us home safely.

For most of the way, I was driving safely behind a red minivan, which had a little tiny baby and two toddlers in the middle row. There was a Volkswagen behind me, staying at a very safe distance and traveling slowly. I felt quite safe there, ensconced between 2 "Mommy cars."

But, wouldn't you know it, some stupid teenage boy whipped into the space behind me and tailgated me. Of course, a short distance later a light turned red. I came to a slow, steady stop, leaving at least 2 car lengths in front of me. And the boy behind me decided to stop in a much shorter time/frame and distance.

Watching a car come careening up behind you, unable to stop, in your rear view mirror moments before the accident is an unpleasant thing. "Atticus, we're going to get hit, hold on," I told my little guy. My entire body tensed as I was watching both Atticus and the car in the rear view mirror.

Thank the Lord I left the space in front of me, because I didn't hit the gal in front of me with the infant and two toddlers.

"Cool! That was like bumper cars!" Atticus announced. He was fine, and not even shaken up. I'm glad that I had him in the car, as Hatfield would have been terrified and likely hysterical.

We pulled onto the less busy, but still well-travelled, side road. I immediately called the police (thank God I had the Mister's cell phone, as I don't have one for myself.) The kid got out to look at the damage while I was on the phone. When I got out, he said, "Why don't you give me your info so we can get out of here." I explained that I already called and was going to wait for the police. "This is my husband's company car, and we're required to have a police report."

The kid was not happy. I wasn't about to inspect damage under a snow covered bumper in a blizzard with busy traffic, so I went back to the van.

The office was super nice, very young (and cute! It's always a plus when a cute officer arrives) and came back twice to my van just to check on Atticus. He was so concerned that there was a child in my car.

Fortunately, the entire process did not take long and we were soon on our way again. Shaking, I drove home slowly. The Mister was so sweet and had ordered pizza so I didn't have to cook dinner. The kids all gave me huge hugs. Atticus took it all like a champ.

As part of my New Year's Resolution, I am also going to get off my "No Cell Phone" high horse and get one. That kid was so pissed that I had called the police that I doubt I would have been able to convince him to had I not had a phone available to me.

On this last day of our year, I am feeling SO thankful for my family's health and safety. And we're all wishing you and your family a very safe and healthy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Completed: Alcove-ification 2008

The overly cluttered, horrifically messy and utterly hopeless Front Hall Closet has
left the building.

A neat and tidy, seating alcove has taken over.



The Mister did a great job painting. Thank you, hon! The first picture has horrid lighting, but you can get a feel for the color in the latter photos. I was so thankful that he was on board with the yummy avocado color I chose. NOT the avocado from the 70s, and NOT the color of the avocado skin. But the yummy, delectable green of a perfectly ripe, soft yet firm, avocado. The color of the most perfect God-given food of all.

I did buy the red metal shelf from Hobby Lobby. I bought the most banged up one I could find. I'm tired of decorating with things that look like they are fresh out of the store. I like things with character, history, a story.

The water bottle on the left is an antique seltzer bottle from the North Side Bottling Works of Wausau, Wisconsin. The sampler has a sweet poem about learning. The pewter candlestick holder is a gift to my mother from my father. The books are all old and treasured. The black and white photo my grandparents in their early 20s, the Mother-of-Pearl frame purchased by my grandmother while in her 20s.


My dad built this bench years ago. It's been grey and later beige. We painted it barn red and then distressed it. The wooden box is an antique milk bottle box from the Kitsap County (Washington State) dairy. I bought it for $5 at a garage sale when I lived in Tacoma, and I've dragged it along with me on 6 moves.

I feel so feng shui (spelling?) when I now walk into my front hall. No longer am I greeted by a huge wall of dark doors. Nor do I dreak opening the door and having a huge mess tumble out. No longer will I holler at the Mister and children for leaving the closet doors open with the front door open for the entire neighborhood to gape at the atrocity that was the Front Hall Closet.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Is there a doctor in the house?

What's the name of that medical condition where a person, even though she has HUGE projects already in front of herself,

(Our disgraceful kitchen table)

(Family Room Horrific View #1)

(Family Room, Horrific View #2)

decides to take on an even BIGGER project to add to the already HUGE mess?

(The empty and awaiting project: Front Hall Closet Alcove-ification 2008)
(Am I the only one out there who names projects?)
(Sorry for the wonky picture. We do not have a large black line dividing our front hall closet in half, nor does it levitate about a grey surface)


(The LARGE pile of our now displaced winter coats)

because I'm in need of some treatment for this medical condition. Is there a support group somewhere?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

On the 12th Day of Christmas

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Twelve months of family memories.

In January, Paloma learned that a person runs into walls should they chose to wear a hat entirely over their head (yup! I'm that kind of mom who lets her kids hurt themselves to learn the lesson).

In February, our two Haitian Valentines melted our hearts with this pic.

In March, Hattie dolled up for her Pom & Dance recital.

In April, the Mister and Josh (aka The Chipmunk Hero) joined up to build the kayak.

In May, the kids kicked up some dust in the Green Bay Marathon Children's Race (it is *so* Atticus to be winking while having his photo taken.)

In June, we noshed on strawberries straight from the garden.

And my dear Mom and Melanie held an adoption shower for me (because we were so sure we'd be getting the boys in July/August).

In July, Camp Chamorro was founded.

where our days always went swimmingly.


In August, Miss Paloma turned THREE

and the Mrs. outsmarted those rat-bastard squirrels.

In September, we seriously broke some child labor laws.
(shucking edamame is hard work, evidenced by Pona's dramatic act of wiping the sweat from her brow)

(mixing concrete and paving our front stone walkaway. During a homeschool day. Which probably is breaking a child labor law out there somewhere. And maybe a truancy law as well. We like to live on the edge.)

In October, Atticus was chillin'


and Lil Sis hitched a ride from Big Sis.

In November, our boys were growing bigger and cuter by the day



and our family grew by two satellite dishes


In December, we said "So Long!" to the '70's

and chopped down our Christmas tree. Yes, Hattie is running around with a handsaw, but it's probably because she was scared of Jihad Atticus. Can you blame her?


So, for the final recap:

12 Months of Memories
11 Paws to Track in Snow and Ice
10 Things of Which I am Proud
9 More Days of Gluttony
8 Holiday Traditions
7 Somethuns Missing
6 Inches of Fluffy White Snow
5 Original Series Nancy Drews
(4) 2 DNA tests in the Maryland Lab ( news so big who cares if it's not an accurate '4!')
3 Very Special Gifts from Granny and Papa
2 Perfectly Accurate Haitian Passports and
1 Heirloom Ring

From our home to yours, we wish you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the 11th Day of Christmas

On the 11th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:


Wanda "I'll never Wander because I'm too busy trying to herd you"
the Border Collie (4 legs)



Trixie Belle "Watch it or I'll tear your face off" the Papillion (4 legs)


Ernie "If you try and call me Tripod, my owner will beat you down"
the Wonder Beagle (3 legs)



11 paws tracking in snow and ice.

I don't know which is more difficult to train: our 3 dogs to use the kitchen door/garage entrance (so all the snow and ice are tracked onto easy-to-clean vinyl) or my 3 kids and Mister to actually use the kitchen door to let the fur beasts in and out.

On the 10th Day of Christmas

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

10 things of which I am proud.

The year's end and accompanying holidays, while wonderful, can also bring out one's insecurities. It certainly does mine. I spend way too much time feeling ashamed or stupid about things. Whether it's reflecting on serious things like goals I never met or vices I never kicked, or feeling guilty about silly things like my outdoor lights were never hung or my kids never sat on Santa's lap, it's easy to feel kind of 'less-than' in the holiday season.

So, today I am going to make a list of things I'm proud of. I don't mean this in a haughty or better-than-thou way. But we all have things in our lives that we should be PROUD of. It's good to be humble, yes, but it's also good to recognize valued things in our lives as well--both for the person doing the recognizing, and those on the receiving end of it. So here goes:

1) I am proud of my Mister. He's the hardest-working man I know. And he never complains about his responsibilities. I'm proud of the way he loves us so much. I'm proud of the way that he adopted my daughter and loves ALL of our children the same, even though they are not all biologically his. I am proud of the way he truly does not give a rip about what others think. He inspires me and pushes me to acheive more than I ever thought possible. I'm proud of the way he threw himself head-first into Cross Fit and the huge changes he's made so far.

2) I am proud of my Hattie. She's the nicest 10-year old girl I know. Hattie is happy to make the most out of whatever she is doing. She does not complain when we go to someone's house, and there are only 4 and 2 year old children to play with. She jumps right in and joins the fun. She's my Activity Director around our house, and I'm proud of her.

3) I am proud of Atticus. He works so hard at school and truly wants to learn. I'm proud that he learned how to read this year! And I'm proud that I taught him how to read. I was VERY intimidated and scared at the thought of teaching a child how to read. But we did it! I'm proud to have a son who looks (and acts and postures) exactly like his father.


4) I am proud of Paloma. I am proud that we made it through her second year of life (because somedays I didn't think I would). I am proud at her fierce independence, because although I know it makes for some rather trying times during her third year of life, it's a great trait for a young adult woman to possesss. I am especially proud that even though this child CANNOT read, she can tell you which present goes to whom under our Christmas tree for every single present.

5) I am so proud to be my mother's daughter. My mother is an amazing woman. She was widowed at the age of 41 with 3 children. She had always stayed home with us and had not been in the workforce for 17 years. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and fear she must have felt. But, as children, we never once were scared or felt unsafe. We never once worried about our security. We did not question tomorrow. She held it together for us, and we all turned out despite many people thinking to the contrary. My sister and I married great guys. My brother works hard and is going to college in January. She taught me the true importance of children in one's lives when she once said, "Thank God I have you children, because at the end of the day, your children are all who matter." And she's right. Which is why I pour everything I have into my kids, even when some think I should leave more for myself (what do they know, anyway, right?)

6) I am proud of the way the Mister and I choose to live our life. We are very well aware that to some we are considered to be more of the "fly by the seat of our pants" sort of un-planners. Actually, we plan quite a bit. I think we're just a less risk-adverse. When my Dad died at such a young age, I realized that you only get ONE shot at life here on Earth. And time is not our friend. So I think that is why we are more willing to jump into things. It's why I love having a home full of children and pets and craziness and chaos. I know that my home is loud. I know that most think it is too small for a family of our size. But I'm proud that we try to live a life aligned with our values.

7) I am proud that we are a homeschooling family. It certainly is not the "easy" way to educate your children. I'm proud of how much my children like to learn. I'm proud that my oldest daughter reads Shakespeare and fought her way through 3rd grade math (for 20 months) and came out with a solid foundation. I'm proud of the way Atticus remembers the stories we read and how just last night he said, "Mom, that guy is just like the puppet king we read about!" I'm proud of how Paloma always wants to do her school and be like the big kids. I'm proud that on the bad days, I don't drink before 5 pm or join the circus. I'm proud that the Mister is so proud of us and supports me unconditionally in our children's education.

8) I am proud that I am a vegetarian. It's not an easy thing to be vegetarian in Wisconsin. People think there is something *wrong* with you. And most people assume it is only because you are some Nutty animal rights activist and think that meat is murder (which I do, but it wasn't my main decision for returning to this lifestyle.) Either way, I'm proud I returned to this. It certainly isn't easy. But I'm proud of how clean my body feels--how clear my skin is, how much energy I have-- and I'm proud at what a positive global impact a vegetarian lifestyle creates.

9) I am proud that we have 3 dogs and 2 cats. Even if it means there is a *lot* of animal hair and dander in my house. Even if it means that I freakin' vacuum twice a day. Even if it means that we spend an unGodly sum of money of pet food and vet bills. I am proud that we adopted from the animal shelter, took in barn cats and gave shelter to a diva dog. I am proud of the love my children receive from these sweet beasts and what a lesson in responsibility it is for them.

10) I am proud that I now call myself a runner. This was every bit a as big a mental hurdle to overcome as it was a physical obstacle. I'm glad I slogged through it even when I never thought I'd be able to run for 10 minutes straight. I'm proud that I've run through rain, sleet, snow and billion temperature/high humidity conditions. I'm proud that I run in my old grungy sweats that most runners wouldn't be caught dead in. I'm proud that I am going to run a half-marathon in the New Year, although I'm seriously questioning my sanity in that decision.

Wow! What a feeling of self-worth that comes along with listing the things of which you are proud. So, come on now. All of you out there feeling "less than" because your homes are not holiday picture perfect or your kids are out of control or you just feel low, give this a try. Even if you don't think you can come up with 10 things now, I promise you that you can. Give it a try :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

On the 9th Day of Christmas

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:


Nine more days of gluttony.

Nine more days of

Christmas cookies


cakes

fudge

and pies

expanding the inches on my

hips

belly

butt

and thighs.
Because, of course, once Jan. 1st is here,
no grain of sugar shall pass these lips,
and I shall religiously train for that half marathon in May.

Of course.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the 8th Day of Christmas

On the 8th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

8 Holiday Traditions.


1) We put up the Children's Tree in the family room each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I find that if it is a late Thanksgiving like this year, it's a fun way to really jump into the Holiday Spirit. If it it an early Thanksgiving like last year, I find the tree to be a huge dust magnet and tear that sucker down on the morning of Dec. 26th.


2) We make a ton of fudge in 6 different varieties and send it out to all the grandparents and great-grandparents.



3) Mom spends a LOT of time perfecting the holiday newsletter and selecting photos for the 5 Frozen Chamorro Christmas Card. Call me a geek. Or hate me. But I love it!!

Then we wrap the laundry room door in Christmas wrapping paper and hang all of our Christmas Cards on for all to see. This is one of the kids' favorite activities.

4) Tom and Jerry help us wrap Santa gifts.


Each year, the Mister whips up some totally warm, decadent and super strong Tom 'n Jerry's to give us fortitude to wrap the Santa gifts. We watch a funny movie and watch our wrapping skills decrease as we increase our intake of the Tom and Jerry's.

5) On the morning of the 23rd, the Mister asks me what the budget is for a gift to me from the kids and him. Granted, it hasn't happened yet this year because we're not at the 23rd, but my Magic 8-Ball states, "All signs point to yes."


6) The Mister stays up the entire night of the 23rd making Cinnabons to give to our famiy and friends on Christmas Eve. Cinnabons, people. Rich, warm, gooey. I am a lucky, lucky wife.


7) Each year, we buy the kids brand-new jammies and it is the only gift they open at home on Christmas Eve. Many of our jammies are hand-me-downs or sweats, so it's a real treat to get soft, new jammies each year.


8) We always wake up in our own home on Christmas morning. While we are still blessed with children young enough to believe in the magical wonders of Santa, I'm keeping us at home to revel in the sweet, cozy glory of the moment. We wake up in our new jammies, light up the Children's Tree and open gifts. The Mister then spends a gazillion hours taking toys out of boxes and inserting batteries, reading directions, and teaching the nuances of how to operate each toy. The Mrs. brews coffee, whips hot cocoa and heats up the Cinnabons. We are gifted with so few of these special Christmases in a lifetime, and I'm not going to take them for granted.


So there you have it, 8 of our favorite holiday traditions. We'd love to hear some of yours!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the 7th Day of Christmas

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:



Seven Somethuns Missing

Every day, little Paloma takes my hand and drags me into the living room where Mom's "Pretty Tree" resides (the real tree decorated with all the heirloom or breakable ornaments).

Every day, she exclaims, "Maaa--aahhhmmm, Somthun's Missing!" as she looks up expectantly at me.

"The Star! The star is missing from the tree!"

In Paloma's world, every tree should have a star. The sweet angel atop my pretty tree simply doesn't cut it.

It's not just stars that Paloma is quick to notice missing. This afternoon I pulled my girl all about our neighborhood on a sled ride. "Hey Mom!" she'd holler. "Somethun's Missing on that tree! It's missing a bird's nest!" or "It's missing a squirrel house!"

Moments like these make my mothering heart swell with love and adoration to the point where I am quite certain it will burst. I just want to scoop my little one up in my arms and squish her sweet face with big smoochy kisses.

I love moments like those. Moments like those are what I live for.

So, in the spirit of my littlest, on this 7th Day of Christmas, I shall reserve it for Seven Somethuns Missing.

Namely, the 7 addresses necessary to mail out my remaining 7 Christmas cards.

So:

Frankie and Clarice
T.J and Norma
Eric C.
Steve and MaryAnne
Jerry L.
Geoff and Luzville
and
RaiAnne C.

You all are officially put on notice that we are desperately seeking your addresses! Please leave a comment for us with it, and I promise not to publish it for all to see.

To recap:

Seven Somethuns Missing,
Six Inches of Fluffy White Snow
Five Original Series Nancy Drew's,

Four -- Two DNA tests at the Maryland Lab (who care's if it isn't four? This news is too big not to include!)

Three Special Gifts from Granny and Papa
,
Two Perfectly Accurate Haitian Passports and

One Heirloom Ring

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the 6th Day of Christmas

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

(our backyard)

Six inches of fluffy white snow!


(and still counting!)

Winters in Wisconsin may get long, grey and dreary come February and beyond, but there is nothing more magical than a sparkling white Christmas. Looking at our forecast, we are certain we will be celebrating our Savior's birth in a Winter Wonderland.

What an incredible gift, indeed.

To recap:

Six Inches of Fluffy White Snow
Five Original Series Nancy Drew's,

Four -- Two DNA tests at the Maryland Lab (who care's if it isn't four? This news is too big not to include!)

Three Special Gifts from Granny and Papa
,
Two Perfectly Accurate Haitian Passports and

One Heirloom Ring

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the 5th Day of Christmas

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:


Five Original Series Nancy Drew's

Aren't they a beaut? "St. Nick" found them for Hatfield at an antique store in Door County. All five are of the original early series, where every book has 25 chapters instead of the 20. Ned Nickerson's name was also experimented with during this time: Ted Nickerson, Ted Dickerson, Dick Dickerson. Good thing he's such a steady guy, otherwise he may have wound up with a serious identity crises.

Don't you love the different colors on the book tops? They sure don't make them like this anymore.

Hatfield and I read 2 chapters out of the original Nancy Drew Series every night. I once blogged about it here. It's special time the two of share, alone, sharing something we both love. It's our tradition.

Tradition should never be undervalued. Every family should have their own traditions, indeed. But I also think it is very important for each individual parent to develop a tradition with each individual child. Something special and unique just for the two of them.

Hatfield and I have our Nancy Drew. And every night, after we read Nancy Drew, the Mister tucks Hatfield in and shares 3 funny stories or jokes with her. Sometimes the stories are from his childhood (quite often they are escapades about having to help with the chickens his father raised). Sometimes they are about his day. And sometimes I'll catch him perusing the Internet for "clean" and "age-appropriate" jokes to share with Hattie.

They also share a tradition of helping each other with their CrossFit fitness program. Each night, they help each other strive to do a perfect full pull-up, and they take turns timing each other in their workouts. It's not merely a habit, because it is something they both love and enjoy and want to share with each other. The Mister laments when he is away on business, "It's just not fun without Hattie."

Atticus and Cliff share Man Day every Saturday morning with Boppa and Uncle Fred. It is their father/son male bonding time. They rarely miss it, and I feel that it is so important I refuse to sign up Atticus for any event that occurs on Saturday mornings (like some soccer or baseball leagues). And anytime the Mister goes to a "Man Store," (aka the hardware store), Atticus gleefully joins him, and they get a treat at a gas station somewhere along the way.

Atticus and I share the violin together. I now have my own violin and am learning alongside of him each week. Each morning we practice together, offering encouragement and advice. On our drives to and from the studio, Atticus asks zillions of questions and I am stumped and perplexed zillions of times. We both love these times together, and we each feel "off" when we can't have our violin time.

And our Miss Paloma. Due to her young age, we are just working on creating traditions with her. They don't happen overnight, and it must be something that both parties truly enjoy. It's not dragging the child along on Mom or Dad's favorite activity, and it's not Mom or Dad tagging along, watching the child with theirs. Those are all fine things, nothing wrong with them, but I think it lacks those special bonds and interests that create tradition.

So now our fun is to enjoy watching Paloma grow. To see new traits and interests emerge. To find ourselves enjoying and falling in love with those same traits and interests.

To build tradition is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of parenthood. I feel blessed when sharing these times with Hattie and Atticus, and I feel absolute giddy at the thought of all the traditions to be built with Paloma, Keenan and Miles.

So, to recap:

Five Original Series Nancy Drew's,
Four -- Two DNA tests at the Maryland Lab (who care's if it isn't four? This news is too big not to include!)

Three Special Gifts from Granny and Papa
,
Two Perfectly Accurate Haitian Passports and

One Heirloom Ring

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the 4th Day of Christmas

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:



Two DNA tests at the lab in Maryland!!!

And this time it is ACTUALLY LEGIT! I spoke to Miss Samantha, my BFF at the BRT labs, and she confirmed that yes indeed she was holding the sample envelope as we spoke! She said to call back on Dec. 31st to see if the results are in.

WHOOHOOHOOOHOOOHOOOHOOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!


I am too excited to even recap.