Thursday, January 29, 2009

Preschools

As I'm sitting here listening to cheesy elevator jazz while on hold with my insurance company (AGAIN!), I thought I would update my blog. Don't worry. This post will not encompass the most recent problems I'm having with our insurance company. It's way too fresh and I'm still much too irritated to even go there.

Anyway, did you know that if you are going to enroll your 3-year old in preschool for the Fall of 2009 that most open enrollments begin Monday? As in, this coming Monday, February 2...which is 4 days from now. I had no idea.

From talking with my mom friends and reading some of the other mom blogs out there, I knew that the deadline was soon, but I had no clue how soon! I googled preschools in our area this morning and obtained quite the lengthy list. I proceeded to look up the ones with websites and narrowed it down to four that seemed appropriate for our needs.

Then, at about 8:15 a.m., I began calling the remaining preschools on my list that did not have websites. After two of those calls (one with a woman whom I could not understand a single word she spoke and another with a woman who couldn't even tell me what days their preschool had classes), I decided that Allie will most definitely not be attending a preschool without a website.
So, with that conclusion under my belt, I took another look at the four preschools with websites and narrowed my list down to the two I most want to visit.

We had our first visit late this morning and Allie was completely thrilled with the notion of attending school. In fact, she wanted to join the action right away and it proved difficult to convince her that we were only visiting and would not be staying. Zach was his normal, loud, tantrum-throwing self. He wasn't too happy about sitting in the stroller and the Goldfish crackers I brought for snacks only lasted through about two questions with the preschool director. So, after only a twenty minute visit, we left with all the paperwork and registration materials.

I think Allie would enjoy this first preschool. They were incredibly clean and organized. I was especially impressed by their thorough curriculum and attention to detail. They even had a little coloring book they gave to Allie that explained the idea of preschool in a way she could easily understand. Lastly, they are pretty affordable for the 2 day per week program we're interested in.

But, of course, I did have a few concerns. First of all, the classrooms were teeny tiny. I mean, I couldn't believe they actually crammed 16-20 kids into each classroom. In addition, the rooms were so packed full of other things that it made me even a bit nervous and claustrophobic. My other concern is teacher-student ratio. Each class has 1 teacher and 1 helper (and I have no idea what a good ratio is, but 1 teacher per 10 kids seems a little overwhelming to me).

We have our second preschool visit tomorrow afternoon and I'm especially looking forward to this visit because it comes highly recommended from a friend at the MOPS group I used to attend. One negative already is that it is more expensive. However, as I was looking at their website, I realized that class sizes are limited to 16-18 students and they have 3 MN certified teachers per class. In addition, they list the size of their facility in square footage and it is definitely far roomier than the preschool we visited this morning. Lastly, it is much closer than the preschool we visited this morning. So, I'm really hoping our visit tomorrow goes well. I'll let you know what we decide soon (seeing as we only have until Monday to make this decision!).

If you have any tips on finding a preschool, please leave me a comment!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Weight-Loss Wednesday

In an effort to chronicle my experience with Operation Weight-Loss 2009, in addition to making a fervent attempt to not bore my faithful blog readers with too many posts focusing on my battle with the bulge, I have decided to institute "Weight-Loss Wednesday."

Why Wednesday, you ask? Well, for one, the title "Weight-Loss Wednesday" has a nice poetic ring to it, don't you think? And, more importantly, I have picked Tuesday as my weekly weigh-in day, so it only seems natural to follow up my weekly weigh-in with a post on the following day reflecting upon that current week of weight-loss.

In each post, I intend to cover the following:

  • Amount of weight lost or (*gasp*--may it not be so!) gained during the previous week
  • Total amount of weight lost or gained since the beginning of Operation Weight-Loss 2009
  • One accomplishment reached over the week
  • One improvement needed for the next week
  • Sharing tips, products, advice, etc. that I have found helpful during the week.
So, without further adieu, I bring you the first installment of "Weight-Loss Wednesday":




Operation Weight Loss 2009: Week 3 (1/20/09-1/26/09)

Weight Lost this Week: -2.2 pounds

Total Weight Lost to Date: -9.2 pounds

Accomplishments:

I have been following the Weight Watcher's diet plan which means I am allotted a certain amount of points to consume per day. In addition, each week I am allotted 30 additional points to use at my discretion. I am happy to report that I stayed within my point value every day this past week and I didn't even really feel overly hungry or deprived...meaning, I have been overall making much better food choices for myself. In addition, I did not use my extra 30 points-yay! It has been my goal all along to pretend like I don't really have those points so that I can save them and only use them in case of emergency (ok...so I'm not sure what classifies as a food emergency, but when I have one, I'll be sure to let you know!).

Improvements:

I have finally come to the realization that if I am serious about losing weight and remaining healthy, it cannot be done apart from exercise. Oooowwww....it actually pains me a little bit to write those words. I hate exercising...with a passion!

I've heard and read countless stories of people who have lost massive amounts of weight who, at the beginning of their weight loss journeys, have shared in my passionate hatred for the e-word, but upon doing what it takes to lose all that weight are now in LOVE with exercising. In fact, I met a woman last night at my Weight Watcher's meeting who has lost 45 pounds over the past year. She promised me that she lived her entire life abhorring all forms of exercise, and now, a year later, she is training for a 5K and her husband can barely coax her away from her time at the gym. Wow.

Since such a love for something I so passionately hate seems completely unattainable to me at the present moment, I have decided to start out small. I have committed to 30 minutes of the treadmill for 5 days this week. My plan is to do it at 6 a.m. before the kids wake up in the morning. And, my incentive (because I don't think there is any possible way I would be able to drag my butt out of bed at 6 a.m. in the morning to do something I absolutely hate without an incentive) is that I get to watch episodes of "The Office" during my time on the treadmill with our mini DVD player and headphones (which cuts down on the noise so I hopefully do not wake the kids up too early).

Fun Tip of the Week:

My new favorite product is -

As I was perusing the ice cream section at the grocery store, ogling over all the goodies that are now off-limits to me, I noticed a slender middle-aged woman who had at least 10 of these containers of Edy's Frozen Yogurt Blends in her cart and was continuing to load more in (they were all on sale...2 for $5, I think).

So, naturally, I asked her if she thought they tasted any good. At first, she looked at me like I was a crazed lunatic for approaching her in the middle of the grocery store, but when she realized I was actually genuinely interested and awaiting her answer, she went on to rave about this product. She advised me to start with a scoop of the vanilla fat free variety, add skim milk, blend in strawberries and other mixed berries to produce a heavenly smoothie. Since she had every single one of the Vanilla Fat Free containers that the grocery store had stocked in her cart, she kindly handed me one of hers to try. She also advised me NOT to purchase the sugar-free varieties-something about them tasting completely nasty.

Anyway, Ben and I tried out her suggestion a few nights later and...it was indeed heavenly. This definitely quenched my sweet tooth and it only cost me 2 Weight Watcher's points! Since then, I've also tried the Chocolate Vanilla swirl and enjoy that as well.

Well, that about wraps it up for my first "Weight-Loss Wednesday!" If you have anything to add (any suggestions, questions, tips, fun cool products) leave me a comment. Until next Wednesday....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Photographic Evidence...

that bath time with Daddy is WAY more fun than bath time with Mommy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Weekend Project

Well, another weekend has come and gone and Monday is here again. Isn't it amazing how it always seems Saturday and Sunday fly by so much quicker than any other two consecutive days in the week? The only exception to this two-day rule is of course when you're on vacation...then it seems that a whole week can whizz by in the blink of an eye!

Anyway, we had a fun weekend, as always. I was actually able to get caught up on all the cleaning and laundry before Saturday hit, so we were able to enjoy the majority of the weekend mostly chore-free: the only exception is of course the general day-to-day chores like dishes, cleaning up spilled milk, sweeping up crushed Cheerios, you know what I mean.

Saturday we braved the below-zero temps (yes, we were in the negatives again) to run some errands at Target and Rainbow. Ben was convinced that Zach was not feeling well because he threw a continual hysterical fit all throughout both stores: back arching, wailing, screaming, tears...he pulled out all the stops. I assured Ben that there was absolutely nothing wrong with Zach and that this was just his general state of being upon entering into a shopping establishment. Ben stared at me in disbelief and insisted that Zach had to be coming down with something. Ben did in fact relinquish his diagnosis when we arrived home, took Zach's coat off, and he toddled off into his bedroom to play happily without any screams, wails, or cries for the next half hour and then proceeded to eat all of his lunch followed by a thorough afternoon nap.

Saturday afternoon during the kids' naps Ben finally had the opportunity to finish his current wood working project (actually, I also believe this to be his first wood working project for our house) that he began a few weeks ago.
A little background: For months I've complained that the boot bench inside our back entry door just isn't large enough and doesn't fit quite right into the tiny space of an entry way we have. I purchased this previous bench in the closet organization section at Wal-Mart a few years ago and it has served us well, but it was definitely time for it to go.

So, after many hours of measuring, sawing, drilling, sanding, staining, and varnishing, Ben replaced our poor excuse for a boot bench with this:


Yay! I'm so excited about our new boot bench! Look at how perfectly it fits and how the stain matches so well to our kitchen cabinetry. I'm also supposed to point out that the bench is constructed of high quality wood and in addition to being completely level, there are no gaps in between the pieces of wood. And, I think I'm also required to mention something about how the screws that hold the bench together are completely invisible to the naked eye. Cool, huh?

I'm so proud of our boot bench, but even more so I'm proud of who constructed it! Way to go honey!

(Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the boot bench construction process, so you'll just have to settle for this one, which is pretty darn cute if you ask me.)

Hmm. Now. Let's see. For your next project dear, I'm thinking I could really use a better bookshelf in our office/studio.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Visit to the Children's Museum

Our family visit to the Minnesota Children's Museum was an on-the-whim-outing we decided upon over breakfast last Saturday morning. The negative 20 degree weather had kept the kids cooped up inside the house for most of the week and as Ben and I listened to their squeals and screams in between bites of cheerios while also watching in disbelief as their bottoms kept bouncing up and down in their seats, we realized our desperate need for a place where these hyper, cabin-fevered kids could run off some of their pent-up energy.

I realize that this post is already one week late...mostly due to the fact that I have been lazy about downloading the pictures from our camera onto our main computer downstairs. So, tonight when I mentioned I wanted to post the pictures from our outing, Ben kindly volunteered to take the camera downstairs and download all the pictures while I finished up the laundry. Great! Until, I went downstairs to sort through the pictures on the computer and discovered that more than half of them were missing, in addition to some other pictures I had taken of the kids throughout the week. No big deal, I thought, I could just get the camera from upstairs myself and download the missing ones. So, when I went upstairs and turned on the camera only to see the "No Image" message, you can imagine my disappointment and slight annoyance. The "missing" pictures are now officially the "deleted" pictures. Which is definitely a bummer because I had some great pictures of Zach actually smiling (for some reason it is a lot more difficult to get Zach to smile for the camera than Allie!) and a few pictures of Ben grilling steaks in the subzero weather surrounded by snow. Bummer.

Well, fortunately for this blog post some pictures of our fun Saturday at the Children's Museum did survive. We all had a blast and the kids had more than enough opportunity to burn off all that hyperactivity by running, jumping, playing, screaming, running some more, exploring, finger painting, face painting, continued running, playing with water, rolling balls, crawling, climbing..............

However, at the end of this post, to enjoy the full effect, just imagine Ben in black Carhartts and a green stocking hat with a snow shovel in one hand and a plate of steaks in the other while standing next to a steaming black and silver Weber grill.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Day

Yesterday after our mall outing and naptime, I thought it would be fun for us to watch some of the inaugural festivities on T.V. So, all three of us cozied up in the big chair in the living room underneath a fleece blanket while I flipped on the television, excited to see that we were going to witness the inaugural parade. Allie was also immediately enthusiastic upon seeing the first marching band whip up their instruments, loudly proclaiming one patriotic tune after another. Zach showed us his excitement as well by extending a chubby little finger toward the television while uttering the words "guck, guck" (translation: truck! truck! explanation: anything with 4 wheels that moves is classified in the truck category to Zach) whenever a new float, fire engine, or limo came into view.


Of course Allie's excitement increased dramatically when the television camera panned over to Barack Obama and his family. "That's Barack Obama, Mom! Look! And, look at those little girls...who are they?!" We talked about how Barack Obama is also a Daddy and has two little girls of his very own. I pointed out Michelle Obama, the little girls' mommy, and Allie oogled over her sparkly dress.


The next question shouldn't have come as a big surprise to me because in the many months leading up to the 2008 presidential election we didn't see or hear much about Barack Obama without subsequently hearing or seeing something about John McCain.


"Where's John McCain, Mom?" I answered something to the effect of how Barack Obama got the most votes in the election a few months ago, making him our new President, not John McCain.


"But, Mom," Allie continued, "You didn't vote for Barack Obama."


"I know, sweetie," I responded, "But God knew better than Mommy and saw fit to give the job of President to Barack Obama."


"So, that's ok?"


"Yep, Allie. It's more than ok because God has a plan for our country and is going to use Barack Obama to accomplish that plan."


"I like parades, Mom."


So, we continued watching the parade as I tried my best to freeze the moment in time, knowing that one day we'll all most likely reminisce about where we were on this historic inauguration day, until my thoughts were interrupted by the continuous questioning of a very inquisitive three-year old.


"What do they do after the parade, Mom?"


"Well, I think they'll probably all get ready for the Inauguration Ball."


"THE BALL!" Allie exclaimed amidst a gasp of pure elation, "Like in Cinderella?! Will the mommy have a beautiful dress? Will there be dancing? A PRINCE?......................."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Free Cosmetic Giveaway!

There's nothing like free stuff to lift the gloomy disposition that comes along with my aforementioned hatred of the month of January (see my previous posts if you don't know what I'm talking about). I am happy to declare that I am finally emerging from this dismal funk due partly in fact to our cost-free outing to the mall this morning. Usually "cost-free" implies leaving the mall empty-handed, but not so today, friends, NOT SO!

This morning, after waiting in a 20 minute line at Herberger's while the kid's munched on goldfish crackers and fruit snacks as I chatted happily away with the giddy women waiting in the same line as me, I emerged from the department store clutching onto this:



A full size bottle of Ralph Lauren Romance Shower Gel that retails for around $37.50. I have never indulged in Ralph Lauren Romance Shower Gel for the very reason that it costs $37.50, but thanks to a national class action cosmetics lawsuit settlement (the lady behind me in line said the lawsuit had something to do with cosmetics' companies using fixed prices or something like that), I will be showering in divine heavenly bliss for the next several weeks.

Although I picked the Ralph Lauren Romance Shower Gel, there are several brand name hand creams, lotions, skin care products, and perfumes all available for FREE over the next week while supplies last! All you have to do is go to the cosmetic counter at one of the participating department stores, request your free cosmetic product, sign your name, and you too can leave with a full size bottle of whatever you choose in hand. To get more information regarding the cosmetics settlement and participating department stores, you can read this article.

After today, it became quite obvious to me that I was not the only woman in dire need of a January pick-me-up. Usually the mall in the middle of January is full of half-asleep, grumpy, crabby, teeth-chattering shoppers (admittedly, I am one of them), but today proved to be a complete opposite experience. Total strangers were laughing and chatting with each other while waiting in line, eager to discover what free cosmetic product they would get to choose from. Babies and preschoolers were throwing loud and massive fits while waiting in their strollers in line and the moms, in addition to all the other women surrounding them in line, just didn't let it phase them one bit (I know...I was one of those moms), keeping their smiles and cheerful spirits despite the unpleasant hysterics.

So, on behalf of the few hundred women whom I waited in line alongside this morning at Herberger's, I say: "Thank you, cosmetic companies...even though you most likely continually ripped all of us off throughout the past ten years by way over charging us for your beauty products, your free giveaway made all of us women feel a little more special today."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Operation Weight Loss Update

Wow...has it really been Wednesday since I've last posted? I've been on such a blogging roll lately and now it seems I've come to "the wall." Kind of like everything else in my life once January hits. Does anyone else feel that way? Let me rephrase that: Does anyone else living in the land of dreary sunless days, complete with every living thing covered in snow, ice, and other wintry muck, where the word "balmy" takes on a whole new meaning when the high temperature of the day finally reaches back into the single digits, feel that way? If not, please don't comment. Leave me to my delusion that I am not alone in this whole "I hate January" soapbox I've been preaching on for the past two weeks.

Anyway, despite my complete lack of motivation during this most hated of all months, I'm proud to admit that I've been channeling what's left of my somewhat missing motivational skills and slant toward perfectionism to my whole Weight-Watchers-lose-weight-get-healthy goal. That is one area in my life that, shockingly enough, I can actually say I've been quite successful on over the past couple weeks. Plus, this whole eating healthy thing is proving to be a lot easier than I originally thought. (Shameful Disclaimer--I'm failing miserably not doing so great on the whole excercise thing...so in light of my current mood, we'll just stay focused on the positives here.) So, since compiling lists always brightens my mood, following is my surprising, yet pleasant discoveries upon venturing into this whole new realm of eating healthy:

  • There are lots of foods that Weight Watcher's deems worth 0 points. Things like carrots, lettuce, green beans, a tablespoon of barbecue sauce, etc. Anyway, I have found it extremely exciting when I discover a new food with a point value of 0. Like, for instance, the other day when I thought I was going to have to eat my salad completely naked, but then subsequently discovered the point value for Light Italian Dressing was a big whoppin' 0, I was so excited that I almost cried and the result was the BEST tasting salad I have ever consumed (a little history--I'm not really that big a fan of salads).
  • I love to plan...crazy, I know, but planning out what I'm going to eat has been really fun for me. Especially when I plan in such a way that I have a few extra points so that I know I will actually be able to have an ice cream sandwich at the end of the day. The hope of that ice cream sandwich, if I follow my plan throughout the day, is what makes that salad taste so delectable.
  • I like rewards. So, when at my second Weight Watcher's meeting it was disclosed that for every 5 pounds you lose, you get a little gold star with a little '5' on it, I was even MORE excited to disclose the fact that I indeed weighed 5 pounds less than when I started just one week ago. However, I'm trying not to get too excited because I know it is not typical to continue losing 5 pounds every week...ahh...if it were only that easy...
  • Weight Watcher's Peanut Butter Bliss Mini Bars, worth 1 point, are what keep me sane when all I want to do is eat an entire half-gallon of Edy's Rocky Road Ice Cream, in one sitting.
  • I'm learning how to tell when I'm actually hungry instead of when I just "think" that I'm hungry. Like, for instance, I'm probably not really that hungry when Ben calls me and tells me he's going to be home late from work, Zach is happily chucking toys down the basement steps, and Allie is singing made up songs at the top of her lungs whilst throwing play-make up across the room. True, a handful of Chips Ahoy may numb the shock of the current situation, but the extra poundage that results from this momentary emotional indulgence is probably not worth the less than 5 minutes of sanity that would be obtained.
  • I do actually possess self-control. I have surprisingly discovered that it is possible for me to go out to eat at Culver's and not eat a scoop of custard, even when Ben and both the kids have a scoop of custard. I can sip away on my diet Coke and actually NOT feel deprived (ok, maybe I felt a little sorry for myself, but it was nowhere near what I had originally anticipated).
  • I am not a quitter...so when asked what my New Year's resolution is and I respond that I'm on the whole lose-weight-get-healthy bandwagon, I'm a bit offended when the asker simply chuckles and makes some sly comment about how I will only last until the beginning of February. Little does that discouraging scoffer know that such comments only fuel my fire to prove them WRONG--mwuah-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mirrors

Today, along with most days, I feel like I'm mothering a half-size version of myself. I've come to discover that my kids function as little mirrors, following me around all day, taking in everything I do and say, eventually reflecting every single one of my words or actions at any given time, whether appropriate or not.

I beam with pride when Allie politely says "thank-you" to her Sunday School teacher when I pick her up from class. And, it feels good knowing that when I forget to say a prayer at lunch, Allie is sure to remind us all to stop and thank God for what He has given us. I like to look in the mirror and see all the good things: each hair neatly in place, my make-up fresh and vibrant, my shirt unwrinkled and smooth. I definitely like it when Allie chooses to copy all those "good things" I do.

And then, there are the times (many more than I'd care to admit), when my little mirror shows me things I'd rather not see at all. Like today, on the way home from Bible Study in the van, over the screams of an overtired Zach, Allie yells out, "I just don't know what to do with him! I cannot take any more of this whiny, crying kid!" Or, the other day when frustrated with Zach over not sharing a toy, the word "stupid" rolled too quickly off her little tongue, and when told that we don't call other people "stupid," my little mirror kindly reminded me that I told Daddy he was being "stupid" the other night.

And so, upon a second look into my little mirror, it seems my hair is in dire need of some serious fixing, my mascara is most generously clumped and smudged halfway down my face, and my unwrinkled shirt is sportin' a wonderfully bright strawberry jelly stain. Funny how I didn't seem to see all that upon first glance.

I love my little mirrors for always reflecting the truth of myself to me and especially for reflecting those not-so-pretty things I confidently thought were hidden from sight. And, above all, thanks be to God--for it is only through His grace that my pitiful reflection is in the continual process of being made new, more like the image of Jesus...one day at a time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January Mornings

This morning as I opened my still heavy eyes, I peered through the darkness across the room to the top of my dresser just to see if what I was hearing was true. I shouldn't have looked. All five bright red lights on Zach's baby monitor were dancing up and down like the flames of a newly lit campfire. I could just make out the hum of the bathroom fan coming from down the hallway paired with the muffled buzz of Ben's electric razor. Still disoriented in a drowsy stupor, half-convinced that there was no way it could possibly be morning just yet, I focused my eyes to the right in an attempt to decipher the green glowing numbers displayed on my digital alarm clock. 6:17.

Just then, the sound of wood creaking and groaning gave way to the pitter-patter of two little feet. In an instant I felt a pair of eyes staring firmly in my direction along with the tapping of an index finger on my lower arm. A quiet whisper breaking through the almost silence inquires, "Can you help me find Bedtime Bear and Wolf, Mom?"

Reluctantly pealing back the three layers of covers, my bare feet are instantly chilled by the brisk, dry morning air. Belinda said it was supposed to be cold today: "...we won't see the single digits again until Saturday." And as we made our way back to Allie's room to find her beloved animals that had been lost while swimming freely underneath her own ocean of covers, my chattering teeth prove to me Belle is right again.

After the safe rescue of both Bedtime Bear and Wolf, Allie climbed willingly back up into her bed, tucking both precious animals safely underneath each arm as I pulled the covers back up over her tiny form. Closing the door quietly to her room, I made my way back to my own bed and flopped down, face first, into my own pillow. I took a deep breath, allowing the chilled air to fill up the entirety of my lungs as I quickly pulled my own covers all the way back over my body and up over my head, wondering if it is possible to will the month of January away.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Talking Finances with Allie

Today I was in the kitchen cleaning some things up and Allie came in to show me something after her nap. She was pretending that she was holding on to something when the following conversation ensued:

"Mom, Look! I have two-hundred dollars!"

"Oh, you do? Where did it come from?"

"From Target."

"How did you get it from Target?"

"Well, I handed the waiter my other money from my closet and then he gave me back this money...this two hundred dollars."

"What are you going to do with your two-hundred dollars?"

"I'm going to put it somewhere and maybe I'll decide to get something...like a boa or some paint."

"Why do you need money?"

"So, you can get stuff. And, maybe I'll buy something that is on lots of sale...like groceries or something. And, here is some special boy money for Zachary. I only have 1 boy money and it is just for Zachary. But, I have a lot of girl money to give you, Mom."

"How much girl money do you have for me?"

"A big, BIG pile."

"Why do you have both boy and girl money?"

"I have lots of different kinds of money."

"What is the difference between boy and girl money?"

"The girl money has treats in them."

"The boy money doesn't have treats?"

"No. It has special baby toys for Zach. I got the boy money from Target too."

"Allie, do you even know what money is?"

"No! I have no idea!"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Winner Is...

The grand prize winner in addition to being the one and only participant to my challenge of trying out your baby-speak translation skills is...drum roll please...my friend, Michelle! Interpreting 6 of Zach's 14 words with complete accuracy, it is obvious Michelle has lots of practice and experience with the delicate art of baby-to-English word translation.

At first, you may be thinking to yourself, "6 out of 14?! Are you kidding me? Hmph...that doesn't sound so great!" But, you must keep in mind that I have only successfully translated 14 words from Zach's daily vocabulary. And trust me, when this boy talks, he talks and talks and talks....almost, just almost, but not quite as much, as his big sister. So, out of the hundreds of things Zach says everyday, I pride myself in being able to recognize these measly 14 items:

Dat: That
Buka: Book
Ga: Grandma or Grandpa
Ish:
Fish
Na-Na: No-No
Ook: Look
Coo-Coo: Cookie or Cracker
Da-Da: Dad
Wa: Water, Drink, Milk
Cok: Clock
Momamomama: Mom
Bop: Ball
Ba-Ba: Bye-Bye
Ssss: Stephanie

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hallelujah! Friday!

Hallelujah-it's finally Friday! Friday has always been my favorite day of the week for as long as I can remember. There's something so freeing about the feeling of knowing that the week's work is now officially behind you and a whole two days of freedom are finally yours for the taking. Granted, we're not as completely free as we used to be and Friday nights definitely look a lot different now than they did before the arrival of our two kiddoes, but Friday still means the advent of two whole days to spend together, as a family, and for that we are always excited and grateful.

Over the past few months, I've been astonishingly shocked at how quickly Friday has arrived. With appointments, Bible Study, flute lessons, ECFE, Musikgarten, playdates, errands, housework, entertaining the kids, etc. it seems Friday is here WAY before I'm ready to bid adieu to a week of work, having gotten not nearly as much accomplished as needed or planned.

Not so this week.

I was ready for Friday on Tuesday.

Having sick kids, feeling cruddy myself, plus coming off of two glorious weeks of having Ben around all the time to help out with the kids has resulted in my patience level being completely and totally depleted by about 10:00 a.m. this past Monday morning. Not cool. Why, you ask? Because that means the normal activities of a 3 year old and 1 year old, you know, the ones that are usually just laughed off as cute and sometimes mildly annoying but tolerable, are now grating on my nerves like 5-inch long fingernails being scraped relentlessly across a 6-foot tall blackboard:

Like, when it is only 8:30 a.m. in the morning and I'm fairly sure Allie has asked "WHY?" 157 times since she's been awake and I know with absolute certainty that she has known the answer for at least 156 of those inquiries.

Or, when Zach throws his sippy cup of milk halfway across the kitchen during breakfast for the third time in less than 5 seconds, resulting in milk splatter EVERYWHERE even though sippy cups are supposed to be spill-proof.

Or, when I go into Allie's room after her nap only to find all 8 tiny princess completely naked when I just spent at least a half an hour, if not more, prior to her nap squeezing all 8 mini figures into 8 impossibly microscopic dresses and jamming all 16 feet into 16 of the tiniest little shoes ever known to man.

Or, when I see Allie running away in disgust from Zach's bedroom and am hit by the nasty stench as I reach the hall, indicating that Zach has indeed pooped for the third time in one hour and is in need of yet another diaper change.

Like, when I walk down the basement stairs to change a load of laundry and almost trip and fall to my death over every single truck, car, ball, magnet, and play instrument that we own because Zach has discovered hurling toys over the baby gate and down the steps is his most favorite form of entertainment.

Like, when I finally do get a moment to lay down and rest during the kids' naps, am all settled and snug on the couch with my pillow and blanket, and lo and behold, after only 5 minutes of peaceful solitude, piercing through the blissful silence, a voice of a little girl: "MOM! I NEED YOU TO COME AND WIPE MY POOPY!"

Hallelujah-It's Friday!

Even though we've had our less than admirable moments this week, I still wouldn't have my life any other way. The picture perfect moments, although a little more difficult for me to see this week, were still intertwined, as they always are, amidst all the chaos and annoyance. And, for that, especially this week, I am truly thankful:

Like, the fresh smell of a just bathed little boy, head cuddling against my chest as he's sucking his thumb, listening sleepily as I sing him "Jesus Loves Me" while rocking him before bed.

Or, upon waking up in the morning, Allie racing into our bedroom with open arms, embracing me in the biggest hug she can muster, and whispering: "I just love you so much Mom!"

Like, after lunch, sitting in the chair in the living room with both kids snuggled peacefully and quietly in my lap while reading books for a half an hour before naptime.

Or, seeing how eager Allie is to help me unload the dishwasher and help me prepare dinner and how proud she is of herself when she completes the jobs I've given her all on her own.

Like, hearing Zach cry the cry that indicates he's most definitely hurt himself and before I can even get into the other room to check on him, Allie is already hugging him and consoling, "It's ok, Zach. I'm sorry you booped yourself. It will be ok."

Playing Pretty Pretty Princess: Zach sitting motionless in my lap and holding on desperately to one of the pieces pretending he is playing too, Ben wearing a necklace, one earring, and gloating over landing on the space that awards him the crown I was previously wearing, and Allie barely able to contain her excitement as she spins the spinner to move her purple shoe next.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Becoming Quite the Talker

Well, it looks as though we have yet another budding conversationalist on our hands. Over the past month, Zach has acquired quite the vocabulary! Although most of what he's saying is probably still indecipherable to anyone other than us, it is neat to finally hear a little bit of what he is thinking.

Lately, Allie has been acting on behalf of Zach as his personal interpreter. Even when we have no clue what he is trying to communicate, Allie has some miraculous connection with Zach making it possible for her to decipher a clear word-for-word baby talk to English interpretation.

Exhibit A: Zach says, "Aaaggoooheho...ahdoeaiehf...ha;hflkdf." Allie's interpretation: "He is telling you, Mom, that he does not want to play with that toy anymore and that he wants to share it with me right now."

Exhibit B: Zach says, "m,xznchewor.....oidf...dsafhdlkf." Allie's interpretation: "No, Mom, he does not want to watch that Veggie Tale movie. He is saying that he really wants to watch Cinderella instead."

Hmmm....
I'm still not quite sure how accurate Allie's interpretations are. It seems to me that something is getting lost in her translations.

Do you think you can do any better? Here is a list of Zach's "words." Leave me a comment if you can translate them (some are easier than others--I did my best to write them out exactly how he says them) and I'll let you know what the "correct" translations are later this week. Have fun!
  1. Dat
  2. Buka
  3. Ga
  4. Ish
  5. Na-Na
  6. Ook
  7. Coo-Coo
  8. Da-Da
  9. Wa
  10. Cok
  11. Momamomama
  12. Bop
  13. Ba-Ba
  14. Ssss

Operation Weight Loss: Day 2

So far so good. I went through the cupboards this morning and threw away all the sugar cereals, cookies, chips, pop-tarts, etc. and marked the few go-to snacks that remained with their respective Weight Watcher's point values. I found out yesterday that a cup of green beans is worth 0 points. I have therefore eaten lots of green beans. It is a very good thing that I like green beans.

I think I've finally come down with the nasty cold that the kids' and Ben have had over the past week, so I don't feel nearly as hungry as I did yesterday, making it much easier to not think about food all the time. It is weird going from not thinking twice about what I put in my mouth to carefully planning out what I eat in addition to scrutinizing each item to decide whether or not it is worth consuming.

Exercise: I've decided to actually use the treadmill we purchased 3 years ago that is still pretty much brand new. I started last night doing a 30 minute program and hope to continue with that once a day for a while. I was pretty pathetic--panting and sweating after about 10 minutes. Hopefully with time, I'll grow to like this whole excercising thing more...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Did It...I Joined

Well, today marks day one in my journey to losing some extra poundage. Oh sure, I said I've been working on this whole weight-loss thing since last June, but other than skipping a cookie or two and avoiding ice cream here and there, I haven't done anything really purposeful or deliberate to ensure my success in this area of my life. Ahh...maybe that is why I've gained ten pounds since June.

Anyway, I came to the realization yesterday that one of the biggest reasons I haven't really DONE anything tangible about this whole weight-loss thing is because I hate to fail or underachieve...at anything. And, when I sit down, do the calculations, and figure out I have about 40 pounds of extra me that has to go, it seems an impossible feat that is most definitely doomed to failure. So, what better way to not fail than to just accept what is and do nothing about it? Good safe logic, huh?

The problem is: I've already failed. And even though I think I have some pretty darn good and perfectly legitimate reasons that explain away this failure, it doesn't change the fact that those 40 extra pounds I carry around every day still must go.

The thing I must accept, though, is that I am unfortunately not one of those people who can eat whatever I want whenever I want and remain healthy for the rest of my life. In my case, continuing in complete food consuming freedom has some serious health risks and fortunately I have the opportunity to make some positive changes now, while I'm still fairly young, and a lot of those health factors have not yet begun to run their full course.

So, with this realization, I dragged myself to the local Weight Watchers last night and joined. I stayed for my first meeting and even *gulp* weighed in. Last night, I figured out my point amount that I am allotted per day, looked up some new recipes, and even adapted some of our family favorite recipes.

I know this will be a good thing for our whole family as I do all the cooking...so we will all obviously be eating better. But, it still doesn't change the fact that it just plain stinks to not be able to eat whatever I want whenever I want! Ok, that previous sentence was a minor temper tantrum due to the fact that I really wanted to eat a cookie a half hour ago...

And, did you know that my favorite dessert at Coldstone Creamery would cost roughly 3/4 of my entire point allotment for one day?! Or that a Snickers blizzard from DQ is 1/2 of my allotment of points for one day?

End of temper tantrum...I promise.

The good thing is that I am by nature a rule follower and the rules for Weight Watchers are pretty cut and dry, definitely setting me up for success in that area. Plus, instead of working toward your big ultimate goal, you set mini-goals along the way. My first goal: lose 10 lbs. Now, all of a sudden that seems a lot more attainable!

The next thing to tackle: exercise. And, I hate exercise. I mean I passionately HATE anything that makes me short of breath and sweat. So, I'm betting this will be the more difficult lifestyle change for me. More on that to come.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Never Spill Liquid Prescription Meds

Seriously. Never. Ever. EVER. Do this.

Why, you may ask?

Well, let me enlighten you:
  • Because the nurse you will tell regarding the unfortunate incident will look at you like you are crazy and shake her head in admonition.
  • Because the doctor will proceed to throw his head back and laugh hilariously upon being informed of the accident and finally, after regaining some composure, will continue asking questions you don't really want to answer regarding the incident and begin prior gut-wrenching laughter upon discovering that the incident was not the fault of the chatty-Patty three-year-old trying unsuccessfully to get his attention in the exam room nor the devious efforts of the still sick one-year old trying desperately to grab his tie.
  • Because the pharmacy will call you an hour and half after dropping off your new prescription order to tell you that they can't fill the prescription because the insurance company will not allow them to do so, with coverage, until Wednesday.
  • Because you will then spend over an HOUR on the phone with your insurance company waiting for someone to help you with your embarrassing mess only to be told you have to call back your family doctor so that he can submit some pre-authorization yadda-yadda-schmancy-dancy form to your insurance company and hopefully authorization will be granted and your prescription will be filled by Wednesday, at the earliest. "This is the only way," so you are told.
  • Because then you will get slightly irritated and even a bit testy with the woman from the insurance company and tell her that you don't really understand...your son has PNEUMONIA and your doctor has already WRITTEN him the prescription for a second time and if your son doesn't get the medication NOW he will get sicker and you can't believe you are the only person in the whole entire country under their insurance coverage who has ever lost or spilt medication and NEEDS a new bottle pronto and that there isn't a better or quicker way of handling this.
  • Because after your sob story, you will be put on hold, again. for another 15 minutes and will have the thrilling privilege of being entertained by cheesy, outright bad elevator jazz and periodic interruptions by an alarmingly soothing automated voice informing you that "We are experiencing a higher volume of calls than normal. We appreciate your patience. You can always hang up and try calling back again later."
  • Because insurance woman was indeed holding out on you and she will in all actuality have a quicker way of fixing the problem, proven to you by her scolding regarding my allowance of ONE and ONLY ONE medication accident or loss per year and after that there is a ZERO tolerance policy toward such incidents (uhh...ok...as if I have not been embarrassed enough already today. Thank you. I'll be sure to think about that the next time I knowingly spill my medication all over the kitchen counter top and floor on purpose so that I can spend an hour and half of my day during precious nap time begging for more).

I want Christmas vacation back.

Tomorrow, I promise, a more upbeat post!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Zach's Road to Recovery, Allie's Morning at Church, Thoughts on Scrapbooking, and Sledding

I think Zach is finally on the upward mend. He's been actually looking forward to his nebulizer treatments and taking his medicine fairly well (he definitely dislikes the taste of his antibiotic--it's difficult to get him to keep it in his mouth, let alone swallow it!). From feeling his forehead, I was convinced his fever was gone and although it is indeed finally lower than 102, he's still hangin' out at about 100 degrees.

At his appointment yesterday afternoon, the doctor said he wasn't any better, but was also thankfully not any worse. She told me to have him checked over again at his 15 month appointment. 15 month appointment? Oh. That's right. He's 15 months now. I'm going to have to call to make that appointment tomorrow...and also ask for more antibiotic because I spilled almost the entire container all over the kitchen counter and floor tonight. That's going to be a fun call tomorrow. Mom forgot the 15-month well-check and also spilled all the medicine. Poor kid.

In other news, Ben took Allie to church this morning while Zackers and I stayed at home. Allie loves going to church and she was more than a little excited to get out of the house. Upon arriving home, Allie told me that she "learned about baby Jesus this morning" and that it was really cold outside--"at least 400 degrees!" While Zach played with his toys this morning, I took the opportunity to finally update the kids' baby books. Shamefully, I haven't done any baby book updates since last April! I had to sort through a huge basket of little notes I'd written to keep track of the kids' different milestones in addition to deciphering all of their well-check charts for the past 9 months. I am now officially up-to-date with the books...the only exception to that is the kids' vaccination records (hmmm...better add that to the list of things to call the doctor about tomorrow) and all of our pictures. I haven't done pictures since the week before Zach was born, making me officially 15 months behind on pictures.

I guess pictures are the next project I have to tackle! I'm not a huge scrapbooker. I tried it once and although it was fun and I seemed to get the hang of things pretty well, it just really wasn't my thing. But, I did do one book...my one token scrapbook. So, now I'm debating whether to make more photo books (I've used Kodak Gallery and Photo works in the past) or just start ordering prints and putting them into albums.

And, now to end this completely random post, here are some pictures from a few days before Christmas when Ben took Allie sledding at the school near our house. We only have a baby sled and Ben reported back to me that Allie is quickly outgrowing it. So, we are on the look out for a new sled...which you think would be an EASY thing to be able to purchase in Minnesota...in the middle of January when there is a foot of snow on the ground. But, alas, it is easier to find a toddler's bikini to purchase than a sled...that is less than $40. I guess this next July I should be on the look out for a sled...even though I'm pretty sure I'm going to need the kid's bathing suit by that time. Anyway, Allie had a great time sledding and the balmy 30 degree weather allowed for an hour's worth of outdoor sledding entertainment.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sibling Rivalry and Sickness

Sibling rivalry seems to be a part of every family with more than one child. Most kids compete over who can run the fastest or farthest, who can color the best picture or get the best grades in school, who can keep their room the most clean with all of their toys put up nicely and neatly and all clothes folded immaculately in all of the correct drawers (ok...so maybe that last one is a long shot, but I can dream, can't I?!). So, is this what our two kids compete over? Oh no. Of course not. Being normal just wouldn't be any fun, now, would it?! Instead, we are the lucky parents of two kids who compete over who can get the sickest!

This past Monday, after Allie had a 102 degree fever all weekend long, I took her in to the doctor where she was diagnosed with strep throat and a mild ear infection. To one-up her, yesterday after lunch, Zach came down with a 102.3 degree fever. During his nap, after debating whether or not to take him in to see the doctor, I decided to visit the after-hours clinic that evening. I was convinced that he also had a case of strep throat and the sooner we could get him on the antibiotics, the better. After a long wait, complete with lots of snacks and little toy cars in addition to a short nap for Zach while snuggling on my lap, we finally got to see the doctor.

I was definitely impressed with how thorough this doctor was (you really never know who you are going to get at the after-hours clinic!) as she asked me a million different questions about Zach and our family. She was quite concerned about the rate of Zach's breathing and also the "junky" stuff she had heard in his lungs. So, while we waited for the technicians to prepare for his chest x-ray and blood test, Zach had his first experience with the nebulizer. The nebulizer calmed down his breathing quite a bit, but the doctor was still not satisfied. The blood test was first and Zach was NOT happy about that...not one bit. After I was able to calm him down (which honestly did not take long--he is such an easy going guy!), it was time for his chest x-ray. I already knew what to expect as this was Zach's 2nd chest x-ray: The first one was taken when he was 4 months old and proved to be rather traumatic for the both of us resulting in tears all around! Although I was better prepared for the procedure, poor Zackers was hysterical through the whole ordeal. Luckily, the technician (who was amazing and also the same woman who did Zach's 4-month x-ray) was able to get a good picture the first time around. After the x-ray and tests, the doctor diagnosed Zach with pneumonia, in addition to a "raging" ear infection.

We left the doctor's office last night with a round of antibiotics plus our very own nebulizer in the form of a cute little penguin (it even has an igloo carrying case). Zach has been doing very well with his once-every-four-hour nebulizer treatment. Allie is a bit jealous of the penguin-she was convinced it was an igloo purse for her to use! Anyway, despite the continued fever and still-labored breathing, he seems to be improving. However, we are going back to the clinic again this afternoon to have him checked out as advised by the doctor last night.

I'm sure hoping Allie is ok with Zach winning the "sickness" award this time around. At this point, I really have no desire to know what "tops" pneumonia!

Happy New Year!

This past Wednesday, because Allie was feeling remarkably better and Zach had not yet gone downhill (more on Zach to come...), we decided to get out of the house and spend the day at Mall of America to celebrate the impending New Year. The Mall was not very busy when we got there and so we started off our day at Allie's favorite store, The Disney Store. After looking at every single princess, at least three times, we headed to Carter's to purchase Zach some new onesies (he is now a size 2T and I've been squeezing him into the 12 month size for the past 2 months!).

By that time, it was apparent that everyone was hungry (cue meltdown by both kids upon leaving Carter's and Allie's refusal to hold my hand on the way to eat). So, we made our way over to the food court to get some lunch. Allie and Zach enjoyed cheeseburger Happy Meals from McDonald's while Ben had a huge piece of stuffed pizza from Sbarro and I had some excellent Chinese.

After lunch, we went to find the new American Girl store because I was sure Allie would enjoy looking at all the life-like dolls. However, Allie has never been much for dolls, so I shouldn't have been surprised that she was ready for the next adventure after only about two minutes in the store!
Since we were already by the rides, we purchased our tickets and let the kids have fun riding all the kiddie rides. I already knew Allie would love the rides, but I was surprised at how much fun Zach had too. He cried every time a ride ended because he wasn't ready to get off yet. His favorites were the train and the carousel. I had a difficult time getting pictures of Allie riding on the rides, though. She informed me that she did not want to look at the camera or smile because she "just wanted to enjoy the rides!" Whatever that means, I'm still not sure!





After the rides, we took the kids to Build-A-Bear. By the time we got to Build-A-Bear, the Mall was definitely very busy, but the kids did great waiting in quite a long line before stuffing their own bears. At first, Allie didn't quite understand what we were supposed to do there, but when she realized she could pick out her very own bear, complete with princess dress and glass slippers, she could barely contain her excitement. Although she has no real use for dolls, stuffed animals are a different story! In addition to picking out her very own pink and white bear, she also helped pick out a puppy for Zach.

Behold...Cinderella Bear and Packer Puppy. Cinderella Bear has not left Allie's side since the day we got her. Packer Puppy, on the other hand, has gotten his helmet and pants ripped off at least a hundred times!

After Build-A-Bear, we stopped at Cinnabon for a quick snack before leaving. While we were waiting for Ben to return with our snacks, a HUGE stuffed shark walked by. Apparently, the shark is the mascot for Underwater World. Allie was thrilled! She jumped up right away and ran to the shark to give him a hug!

Cinnabon was most definitely our last stop of the day. It was 3:30 by that time, and our two kids were completely exhausted. It took less than five minutes for both of them to fall fast asleep in their carseats in the van.

We had a great day, but Ben insisted we need to make a shirt that says: "I survived MOA with two kids and didn't go MIA!"