Saturday, May 28, 2011

Two Kisses For Maddy

No, this is not a book review blog.  However, I am writing 2 posts in a row about books that I have read.  Funny thing is, as a teacher AND a mother of 4 little ones, I never thought I would get through 2 whole books in the month of May!!!

The last book I reviewed I read because it was our book club book. Usually, I read one book a month and that's the one. I almost never get around to the stack of books that are on MY list of books to read.

Our book club meets at Borders and last week they had an awesome 50% off coupon that my friend (and book club buddy), Lori, made sure that she forwarded to me before we left. I wasn't sure what I was going to buy. I was back and forth about a couple things for the kids. I thought about buying next month's book club book but I knew I wouldn't be going to book club so I don't think I am going to read it. Then...I walked past a table with some assorted books about fathers on it. There, on the table, was the book "Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love" by Matt Logelin.

I have followed Matt's blog,  matt, liz and madeline, for about 2 years now.  I've been a silent follower but an avid follower.  Their story is heartbreaking.  I won't get into it too much here because you can head on over to the blog and read what happened in Matt's words.  I've shed a lot of tears for Matt, Liz and Madeline even though I have never met them.  

When I held the book in my hand at Borders, I knew I wouldn't put it back in the pile. I knew I would buy it.  Besides, I had a 50% off coupon!  The thing I wasn't so sure about was if I would read it or not.  I didn't feel like being sad or crying.  I was pretty sure that the book would make me bawl my eyes out.  I didn't care if I read it or not, though - I had to buy it just to have it.

After book club, I curled up in my bed trying to pick a book from MY pile that I would read because I wasn't going to read the book club book.  I picked up my new copy of  "Two Kisses For Maddy" and told myself that I would just look at the pictures (all of which I had seen before) and maybe read a couple pages.  75 pages later I was reading the part of the book that I knew would bring me to tears...and it did but not nearly as bad as I expected.

Matt has a way of telling his story so honestly and with this "it sucks and I'm miserable but it's not all about me" attitude that shows what an amazing father he is and how much he loved Liz.  The things that he has done in Liz's memory are amazing accomplishments!  Check out the Liz Logelin Foundation!

I cried less than I thought I would and laughed more than I expected to.  I also put the book down (finished) in 3 days...even though I had no intention of really reading it...and I felt "closer" to Matt and Maddy after reading it.

I don't deal well with death.  I avoid thinking about it and when I am faced with it I usually don't do so well.  I read "A Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didon - or I should say I tried to read it.  I couldn't do it.  It was very different from Matt's book, though.  Joan wrote with less hope and more dread.  Matt writes with a lot of hurt and pain but also with a lot of love and plans for the future.

I doubt this book is for everyone.  It's sad.  It's also very raw - it's descriptive and leaves you with pictures in your head that you won't be able to shake right away.  It's also got a few swear words in it.  I read reviews from a few people who complained about Matt's language which kind of made me laugh.  Like he wrote the book for them or something!  I didn't find Matt's language to be a problem.  Yes, he says fuck a few times...or maybe more than a few times...but I think I would too if I was going through what he is going through.  In general, I don't swear much but I didn't feel like the swearing took away from the book at all - if anything, it made it feel more real.

All in all ~ I would highly recommend this book IF you like real life stories and can handle a sad story.  I hate to say it because I feel like it is a little insensitive to Matt (not that he is reading this but still) it also made me appreciate what I have more and made my problems feel so insignificant.  I know that I will continue to read about Matt and Maddy on the blog and can't wait to hear more about their journeys.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day After Night by Anita Diamant

Monday was book club.  I needed book club.  I couldn't wait for book club and I am SO sad that I'm going to miss next month's book club!  (Even though I'm super excited about the reason I'm not going to be at book club!)  The book was "Day After Night" by Anita Diamant.  Here's a little bit about the book from the author:

I read "The Red Tent" which Anita also wrote.  In fact, it is one of my all time favorite books.  Seriously.  I'm not sure what exactly it is about the book that I loved so much but I couldn't put it down.  I wanted to know what happened next to every character and I loved recognizing bits of a story I was already familiar with but hearing it from a totally different perspective.  I've also developed a fondness for historical fiction and both of these books fall into that category (at least I think they do).  If you haven't read "The Red Tent" I HIGHLY recommend it.  "Day After Night" on the other hand...

I've started awful books and I NEVER finish them.  I finished this one which means it isn't awful.  It just didn't thrill me.  I really wanted to feel an emotional connection to any of the characters but the story seemed to move from one character to another so quickly and I couldn't keep track of who had what experiences from one night of reading to the next.  I never did develop that connection to any of the characters.

I've read/learned a lot about the holocaust.  I did a semester long project about Auschwitz when I was in college.  My roommate was doing her project on Anti-Nazi War Propaganda.  I remember her discovering Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans along with The White Rose non-violent resistance group.   I thought I knew just about everything and every horrible detail about the holocaust.  I am amazed that I never thought of or ran across any information about what happened to the Jewish people AFTER the war and AFTER the concentration camps were liberated.

That is what "Day After Night" is about - Zorah, Shayndel, Leonie and Tedi are all Jewish survivors of the holocaust.  The weren't all in the concentration camps and they all have very different stories but they become friends in Atlit (the internment camp that they are in while waiting to gain entrance into Palestine).  The book tells you each girl's story but not all upfront.  I did like that aspect of the book.  Each story was told at a time in the book when you needed to know it.

In general, we all had about the same feelings about the book.  It was kind of hard to get into and we weren't "in love" with it but we did finish it (or were going to finish it) because we wanted to find out how it ended.

I gave it 2 stars on Goodreads.  2 stars means "it was ok" and that is exactly how I feel.  I wouldn't tell anyone to run out and read it but I can't say that I regret reading it.

(PS - I can't wait to tell you about the book I'm reading now but I'm waiting until I finish it!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Crawling out of a hole . . .

I've been in a bit of a funk lately.  The weather SUCKS!  It totally makes me want to crawl into bed and stay there until the sun comes out...well, the sun is out today.  So, here I am trying desperately to find some motivation somewhere to get something done.  I think the best thing for me to do would be to get the heck outta my house.  We have been pretty much stuck inside the house for a week - it's time to get out and have some fun!

I'm hoping that we will be able to go up to my mom and dad's house and the kids can run around in the back yard for a few hours.  I am thinking that after naps we can maybe head up.   Then I'll be able to take some pictures!  I miss using my camera - but there are only so many times you can take pictures of kids eating in high chairs or sitting on the couch watching a movie...I need to get a little more creative with my kiddos when we are stuck in the house...but like I said, I've been in a bit of a funk lately.

It's not looking like the weather will get much better, either...that is if you believe what you read.  It's not just the weather that is causing my funk, though.  I need a bigger house.  Being stuck inside the house because of the yucky weather has made me realize that I need a bigger house sooner than I thought I would need a bigger house.  We actually went for a pre approval yesterday so that we can start figuring out what kind of house we can get.  We are totally aware that the number they give us for a pre approval is NOT necessarily the number we can afford...but it's nice to know if what we think we can afford is what we can get.

The only other problem that I see is us selling the house.  We have BIG plans for the side yard...a patio and some pretty plants...but will it be enough for someone to over look the cramped bedrooms?  (which really looked cramped with 2 beds in one and 2 cribs in the other!)  I mean you would think they would see it as, "Wow, these people really do just need a bigger house!"  but I'm sure that it will also look like, "Wow, this is a small room!"  I can't worry about that yet, though.  We still have a couple rooms we want to paint and a bunch of toys we are going to relocate until we get a new house and all of that jazz.  Having bought the lot next door, though, we now can offer someone a garage as well as a nice big yard.

Anyone have a St. Joseph statue I can bury?  I'm telling you that every time we talk about moving selling our house is the biggest worry I have.  After all, everyone keeps saying it's a buyer's market - but what if you are buying AND selling?  Does it just even out then?  No wonder I haven't been sleeping well and have been in a funk lately!  hehehe

I'm off to enjoy today, though - because the rain is coming back tomorrow!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Date Night Documented

Okay ~ so I don't actually have any pictures of Jerry and I on our date and I didn't take my camera (although I REALLY wanted to but I figured people would be looking at me like I was CRAZY if I started taking pictures of my food with a big old DSLR camera).  However, I did use my phone to catch some shots.  I apologize for the quality of the pics - I can't wait to get my new phone in 10 or so days!!!  It will have a much better camera - and all of a sudden that matters to me!  hehehe

So...we had talked about going to Kennywood but decided the weather wasn't reliable enough so we passed on that idea earlier in the day - of course, I'm convinced that is why we had such beautiful weather until after 10pm that night.  :)

Wondering what we ended up doing?  Well...I'm going to tell you and show you the BlackBerry pics I took!  :)

We ended up going to The Carlton Restaurant for dinner.  I picked the restaurant for 3 reasons.  First, it was in our Entertainment Book - so we would get $19.99 off our dinner!  (I think they are called Enjoy Books now...but I still call them Entertainment Books).  Second, the website was pretty intriguing.  I was interested in the fact that they don't have a set menu and that they are a DiRoNA restaurant....which I had no idea what a DiRoNA restaurant was until I looked it up.  Finally, the website had a link where you can go and purchase gift certificates online for your meal through Giant Eagle and get fuel perks!  You can just print the gift certificates out at home and take them with you.  Worked perfectly and we racked up $.20 off a gallon of gas while we enjoyed a great meal!

Speaking of a great meal, it was by far one of the best that Jerry and I have had in a long time.  It could be because we didn't have to worry about feeding anyone while trying to eat.  It could be because the food was actually the right temperature instead of room temperature.  Maybe it was the fact that we didn't have to stop eating to get someone a drink or a fork or the ketchup...that could be it, too.  I know one thing for sure, though, the food was amazing that that was exactly what we were hoping.

Our dinner started off with a bottle of wine:

We were going to get a glass each and then decided to just go ahead and get a bottle.  Once our waitress knew that, she offered to bring us a larger wine list.  They have a larger "by the bottle" selection than "by the glass".  So we said we would love to look at it and she returned with an iPad!  Loaded up with the wine list, it was organized by country and color.  We went for the American Other Reds and chose the Orin Swift: Abstract.  Totally AMAZING!!!

Next was our appetizer:  Artichoke Flatbread

Flatbread topped with some kind of creamy goodness, bacon (but not just regular bacon - this was the best bacon I've ever had!), artichoke hearts, arugula and pine nuts.  Yummy.

Then we both had salads - they actually shredded the hard boiled egg - it was nice because it made handling the yolk a lot easier.

Then our main courses:  Prime Rib for me and Swordfish and Scallop BLT for Jerry.

They were both absolutely DELICIOUS!  Of course, I tried a bite or two of Jerry's dinner and he had a couple bites of mine, too.  The horseradish sauce that came with my prime rib was amazing - I told Jerry I could have just slurped it up with a straw!

We even had dessert:  Chocolate Decadence, Espresso for Jerry and Cappuccino for me.

After dinner we headed to The Rivers Casino and lost a little money...not too much because Jerry accidentally left his MAC card in the ATM machine when he took money out before our excursion.  I left my MAC card in the car (because then I wouldn't be tempted to use it).   It was all good, though.  We met our friend at the Drum Bar and had a few drinks and did some MAJOR people watching - it's been a long time since I've seen so many interesting and different people in one place!  We didn't win the new Cadillac that they were giving away at 11 so we headed home.  We stopped at Donut Connection and got donuts for the kids for breakfast and coffees for us.

The kids were sound asleep when we got home and Mom and Dad (aka the babysitters) were almost asleep themselves!

All in all - it was a great night!  I can't see us going to the Casino again any time wasn't really our thing...but we will be going back to The Carlton as soon as we can!

Hope you all did something fun this weekend, too!

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Budding Baseball Star

Nate playing catch

Tee Ball is hysterical!  I usually don’t get to watch the games because I am busy chasing the twins or Danika around to make sure they don’t:

1) Run onto the field
2) Hit someone with a rock
3) Steal someone’s cell phone or
4) Try to drink someone’s water…

At least those are the things I was trying to prevent them from doing at Thursday’s game.

In Tee Ball, no one wins.  Everyone bats 3 times and everyone runs all the bases.  When the last batter is up they all run home and feel like winners.  Nate really does feel like a winner.  He tells me after every game that his team won (even though no one keeps score) and that he hit 3 homeruns because he ran home 3 times.  He is very proud that he is playing and even more proud that he is playing for a team sponsored by the Police.  Smile

I’ve noticed a change in him in the last week.  I’m not sure where it came from and I don’t always notice it but he seems more mature to me these days.  Like I said, though, not always…we still have to tell him not to hit his sister or tease the babies and he still whines a great deal.  There are other things, though, that make me think my baby is growing up a little bit.  He got dressed all by himself this morning.  He slept in his bed all night the last 2 nights.  He’s even been following directions after I ask him 3 times instead of 5.  It’s an improvement to say the least!

It could be because they’ve been able to go outside and run off some of that pent up energy.  It could be because we’ve been talking to him a lot about being more grown up and responsible because he will start Kindergarten in the fall.  Maybe it is just his time to mature a little.  Whatever the case, I’m thrilled that we are getting a little bit of a break with his behavior lightening up a bit.  For a little while, I thought he was going to give us a really tough time.  His teacher must have been right, though, he was going through a stage…I’ve already noticed the change and I’m liking this new Nate.  I guess this is where I can say he goes from Preschooler to School Aged kiddo.  He’s ready…am I? 

Okay - I'll admit it...

One of the things that I kind of try to make sure I never (or very rarely do) is complain about my husband.  There are a lot of reasons for this.  First of all, I love my husband and I would hate for anyone to have a bad opinion of him just because he did something little that annoyed me.  Secondly, I want to be supportive and not counterproductive when it comes to our relationship.  I really and truly want us to be a team and I don't want to start blaming each other for things that don't get done - because, let's face it, we ALWAYS have things that don't get done.  Every night before we head up the stairs, I can think of at least 5 or 6 things I could do before going to bed . . . or 5 or 6 things Jerry could do before going to bed.  Truth is, we can only do so much and some days I do more and other days he does's not worth keeping score.

The last reason I don't like to complain about my husband is because he is a good guy.  I lucked out.  I managed to marry a guy who still finds me as attractive has he did before we got married and lets me know it all the time.  I managed to marry a guy who wants to be with his family and loves his children.  I managed to marry a guy who gives me everything I need and just about everything that I want, too!

All that being said, he is not perfect.  Lately, we have been at each other's throats and miserable.  We realized the other day that it has been almost 3 months since we went somewhere together without the kids.  3 MONTHS!!!  90 days!!!  No wonder we feel like we are in such a rut and could barely stand to be in the same room with each other!  It all came to an ugly head this week and I ended up losing it on him.  He surprised the heck out of me by losing it on me, too.  In 7 years . . . this was the first really big fight we had where we were both angry and loud!

I don't want to make a habit of it because I was emotionally drained and felt like sleeping for the rest of the day.  I can't say it was fun and I certainly didn't feel good about it.  However, it helped.  Strange as it may seem, we are both happier now that we yelled at each other and fought (and forgave each other and "made-up") than we were when we weren't talking about what had bothered us.

I'm sure that there is a happy medium between walking on eggshells and screaming at each other - but we don't always have the luxury of talking to each other and opening the lines of communication as much as we would if we didn't have 4 kids ages 5 and under.  It's not something to take lightly, though - we have to figure out some way to do it.  Maybe it means more Date Nights than one every 3 months (we are going out tomorrow)!  Maybe it means making sure that we go to bed at the same time and spend 15 minutes a night just talking to each other.  Maybe it just means having a night a week where we don't watch TV or get on the computer.  I'm not sure what will work but I do know that we will work!  Love ya, Babe!

Any suggestions?  What do you do when you feel like parenting is starting to take away from your marriage?

Monday, May 9, 2011

5 days w/o a post - Picture post to catch you up!

Well...I've been busy!

First, we painted the kitchen.

Before picture of DH's plaster job...we had some water damage in that corner and had to do some patch work before the painting.

From inside the kitchen out into the entry - before picture

After picture of the corner

After picture into the entry way . . . my kitchen is almost too small to get a good picture.  :(

After picture of the back you can see the colors we picked

The ceiling is Antique Beige.  The walls are Truly Olive and the trim is Dark Olive (although it looks more brownish than greenish).  My new kitchen colors make me feel so much more grown up than the previous Barney purple trim!  I LOVE them and it was EXACTLY what I wanted for Mother's Day.  :)

Other than the painting (which is REALLY what I wanted for Mother's Day...I told DH that and he actually LISTENED!), I got a new book.  A photography book - kind of a field guide for the Nikon D5000.  :)  I already knew most of the stuff in the first chapter but I can't wait to learn some new tricks!

We also had 2 parties to keep us busy this weekend!  First up was Jerry's Birthday on Friday.  We had a little party with the kids and my parents and sister and niece.  Here's a few shots from that:

Good time was had by all!

Then, Saturday was Opening Day for Tee Ball.

All I have to say is that it was an adventure.  In the morning, like 9 o'clock in the morning, they took team and individual pictures.  Then we went home and waited for our game.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day.  Not too hot but sunny and breezy.  Perfect for being outside in a hoodie or some long sleeves.  That is until they started announcing the teams.  That's when the dark clouds rolled in.  That's when the lightening siren started going off to let the little ones know that holding a metal bat in a big empty field may not be a good idea.  That's when the sky opened up and we got SOAKED!  :)  Luckily, I was able to get back to the car with the twins and Danika before it really started coming down.  I got them in and got soaking wet trying to buckle and fold up the stroller.  Then I drove up to the pavilion where Nate's coach had him hanging out.  About 20 minutes after it started, the rain stopped and it was nice out again but too wet for a game.  :(  Here are some pics of Opening Day, though!

Then, yesterday, which was also Mother's Day, we celebrated my nephew's 4th birthday along with DH's birthday with his mom and dad, sister and niece also stopped by because it WAS Mother's Day!  hehehe  Here's some shots of that beautiful day!

So there you have it...what's been going on since I last posted!  I'm sure the next post will have more words than pictures!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, too!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One of those movies only I remember...

Growing up we didn't have a garbage disposal at home.  We scraped our plates into the garbage can and had a little strainer in our sink to catch any stray food that we missed.

We did get a dishwasher at some point but I don't remember when.  I remember not having it and then I remember having it but I can't remember how old I was when we got it.

When I moved in with Jerry, after we got married, I had no idea what the rules were about using a garbage disposal.  I had no idea what I could or couldn't put into it.  I was so excited that I would be able to rinse the dishes into the sink and just turn the disposal on and that would be that - no stinky garbage until Nate came along!  Even though I loved my garbage disposal, I always had a bit of anxiety involved with turning it on.  I knew exactly why the first time I flipped the switch.  It was like a flashback and it all stemmed from a movie I remember watching as a kid.

Now - fess up - anyone ever heard of The Incredible Shrinking Woman before watching this clip?

I swear I think of this scene EVERY stinkin' time I turn on my garbage disposal...EVERY time.  That's probably 4 or 5 times a day.   I think of Lily Tomlin stuck in a garbage disposal 4 or 5 times a day.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Lily Tomlin but thinking about anyone getting egg yolks dumped on their head makes me gag a little.  Is it any wonder I hate doing dishes and usually beg Jerry to clean the kitchen after dinner?  (which he almost ALWAYS does)

80s movies are awesome...any you still think of frequently?

Mother Nature . . . it's MAY

I have so much I need to do and zero motivation...the culprit is - Mother Nature!

For as long as I can remember I've known the whole "April Showers bring May Flowers" rhyme.

I get it.  It rains in April.  And boy did it rain in April.

I also understand that it is only May 4th and that Mother Nature may need a couple days to get her month straight - similar to how I wrote 2010 on checks until the second or third week in January this year - but enough is enough!

There isn't even really any sunshine in our near future . . . or at least there wasn't last night when I checked.  Rain and 64ish temps just don't bring up thoughts of May...more like thoughts of October.

If I could lodge a formal complaint I would - but I'm sure that everyone else would, too.  Even the people who I know who aren't very fond of summer and hot weather are complaining about the rain.  It's all that people are talking about these days.  I keep trying to put the winter clothes away but have to keep digging through the boxes for long sleeves and long pants.  We are waiting for the weather to "lighten up" so that we can start doing things in the garden and I'm sure that the weather will push back the landscapers' projects and make it even longer until they can get started on our yard - which I'm SO excited for!  We already talked with them about how they can't plant the grass until the end of the month anyway because they don't want it to wash away.

The worst part of the whole thing is that I really feel like Mother Nature has been teasing the kids.  They know that the weather should be warming up.  We even had a few days where they have been able to go outside but we have been stuck inside because of weather more often than not...

So, I'll add one more rhyme I've known for as long as I can remember, "Rain, Rain go away.  Come again another day.  Nate and Danika want to play.  Rain, Rain go away!"  Pretty Please!

Mommy, can we go outside?  Mommy, can we go outside?  MOMMY, CAN WE GO OUTSIDE!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

TV free day?

My friend (in real life), Christine, does TV free Mondays at her house.  I turned the TV off at 8:30 - right after Nate left for school and am thinking about leaving it off all's only 9:24 right now and it's taken this long to get the crying to stop - which is ridiculous - and EVERY toy is out of the toy boxes (yes, we have 4) and on the floor.  I'm thinking we need TV free days just so my kids learn that they don't NEED the TV.

Truth of the matter is, I'm not totally against the kids watching TV as long as it is age appropriate.  I won't lie, there are times when the TV has literally saved me on occasion.  I have 4 small children.  I am home alone most days.  I need to do things other than play with Little People and stack blocks.  Not that I wouldn't love to do that all day with them but we have to eat and I'm the only one who can cook lunch!

Now - we are Nick Jr.'s some of the kid's favorites:

Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends

Little Bear - it's like Prozac for little ones

Little Bill

Wow Wow Wubbzy

Yo Gabba Gabba - yes, the music sticks in your head and you want to scream but the kids love it!

I would like to add my favorites, too -

Blue's Clues - but with Steve (sorry Joe)

Max and Ruby 

The Upside Down Show
 Although I would rather not watch them . . . we also end up watching The Fresh Beat Band and Dino Dan every once in a while, too.

DVDs are big here, too.  I'll admit that I have put on a Baby Einstein here and there and all 4 kids will sit and watch them.  I don't know why but the 5 and 4 year old STILL love them - maybe it reminds them of when they were babies because of the music?

All that being said - I think I need TV free days.  My kids need to learn how to play with each other and I need a break from all the noise the TV brings with it.

I think it is something I'm going to start this week - one day (today - Monday) a week we are going to leave the TV off...I doubt Jerry will go for it once the kids go to bed but I'm hoping I can get him on board for until they go to bed.  Then in the summer, I may try for 2 days a week...shouldn't be too hard once we get outside!

Any tips would be greatly appreciated.  What do you do with your kids when the TV isn't on?  More specifically, what do you do with your TODDLERS when the TV is off?

Wish me luck!