Monday, December 22, 2008

A Big First and a Santa Picture

Well, this weekend was a big first for Miss Gracie. At 2 years and 7 months of age she had her first haircut. I was terrified at cutting off any of those beautiful curls, but she screamed at me anytime I came near her with a hair brush. Logan needed a haircut also, so Saturday afternoon we all headed out to our local Great Clips. Logan went first so he could show Gracie how it's done. After he was finished, Gracie took his seat. The hairdresser went to check Logan out and check Gracie in, which gave Gracie time to freak out a bit. She fussed for a second, but calmed down when the lady came back. She put the cape over her, and then asked if Logan could go ahead and have his sucker. I said yes, so she left again to get the suckers. This, of course, gave Gracie another chance to freak out. However, she was calmed down quickly by the offer of a sucker. She popped it in her mouth, and we were off. She had a little trouble looking down as requested, but what can you expect - she's two. All in all, she did fabulously and is now short about 2 inches of hair. It doesn't change her look a lot, but when I combed her hair after her bath last night there were no tangles. Hallelujah!

Last weekend Santa was supposed to be visiting our neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. He would be in the common area for pictures, hot chocolate, and cookies. All day Sunday I talked up this visit to Santa for the kids. They were so excited! We pulled into a completely empty parking lot about five after 2, for the event that was supposed to begin at 2. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. I looked around for a minute and noticed a sign on the gate to the pool. "Pictures with Santa cancelled." WHAT?! Logan immediately began crying. I had talked this up big time and now had to tell the kids it wasn't happening. Apparently, "Santa" was feeling a bit under the weather so instead of finding a new Santa or suffering through it, they cancelled the event. Luckily, I found out Santa would also be making an appearance at our local shopping center, Rivergate. So again, with a bit of hesitation, I talked it up all day Saturday and Sunday morning. It was from 1 to 3. We pulled into Rivergate about 2:00 and went to the main fountain area where I expected a mall type setup. No dice. Oh crap. Worried, I tell the kids we'll just drive around and see if he's in one of the parking lots. Logan says, "Maybe he's at Target." I'm doubting it, but drive over there to check. Low and behold, Santa and Mrs. Claus are wandering around Target parking lot like they're homeless. I pull into a parking space, grab the kids, and head to Santa. They're excited until we get up to him. Logan hinds behind me and Grace buries her face in my shoulder. They finally look at Santa when he offers them chocolate in the form of a Hershey's kiss. I put Grace down and tell them to stand next to Santa so I can take a picture. No way. Gracie starts crying and Logan won't go near him. Finally, I get Logan to take Grace's hand and stand in front of Santa for a picture. Gracie refused to look at me, but I got one with all four of them, even if Grace looks like she has a hat for a head.

It's a Target themed Christmas folks! Anyway, I hope everyone has a safe and very merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hope for the Holidays

Well, my season of giving and receiving began today. Me and my two best friends from work exchanged gifts and went to lunch together. We all just did little gifts, but the thought behind them was nice. And we eat lunch together just about every day, but today we went to a restaurant completely void of any coworkers. It was nice just to sit and chat together.

My holiday season has been a strange one, so far. Joey has been sick since the day after Thanksgiving, including spending a week in the hospital, so we haven't been able to spend much time together. I have spent a lot of time worrying about him and wondering what the future holds for him and our family, which isn't how you typically think of the holidays. A joyous time with family and friends doing lots of Christmas shopping and visiting Santa at the mall is how I picture the weeks leading up to Christmas. I've gotten the Christmas shopping done, and finished the wrapping, but all of it has been overshadowed by worry about Joey. He hates being sick and not being able to do all of the things he wants to - shop with me, play with the kids, do homework with Logan - and I hate that he can't do them. When Logan was first born, Joey did everything with him. He picked him up from the babysitters', he bathed him and fed him, he changed diapers and put him to sleep. He got off work before me, so by the time I made it home he'd have Logan in bed. And now he can't do any of that. He has to try so hard to take care of himself, that it keeps him from being the dad and husband he wants to be, and would be, if it weren't for this stupid disease.

My holiday season, and my life, has a theme. Hope. I hope that Joey can be given a reprieve. If not forever, then at least for the next week so he can enjoy the holidays with us. We both know this isn't something that will ever go away, but the past two and a half weeks have been so hard on him. I hope that he is able to wake up with the kids on Christmas morning and watch them open their presents. I hope that he can sit at the table and enjoy Christmas dinner with our family. I hope he is at least able to open the presents I got him. I feel like my heart is filled with so much hope, something has to change. Can't I just will the world to be like I want it? I hope so. Because I love my husband, and I love our family, and I hope we have many more Christmases together.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The week of Thanksgiving was an absolutely crazy one for the Rowe family. It all began on Sunday night before Thanksgiving. I had noticed Molly (our dog) limping on her back right leg a little during the day, but she had done that a little before, so I didn't think much of it. However, Joey went to take her outside and she wouldn't stand up on her back legs. We were totally freaked out so Joey took her to the emergency vet. Of course, when they got there she ran around and acted like absolutely nothing was wrong. The vet said she probably had some arthritis in that leg and she was overweight. Since then, she's been taking an anti-inflammatory pill in the morning and evening, and we have begun measuring the food she gets in the morning and evening. She seems to be doing better, thank goodness. This messed with our holiday plans, though, because we were planning on leaving her in Charlotte under the supervision of my friend Jessica while we went to KY. We didn't feel like we could leave her when she wasn't feeling good, so she ended up making the trip to KY with us.

On Wednesday I left work at noon to pack up the car and hit the road for KY. Sadly, we didn't manage to leave Charlotte until around 3, which was about an hour later than I expected. We got stuck in traffic leaving Charlotte (which we expected) which added about an hour to our drive time. While driving, we realized neither of us had gotten Molly's collar and leash. We decided to try to find one when we stopped for gas after I-77 merged with I-81. However, we were delayed about another hour by traffice where the two interstates merged. By this time we were more than a little aggravated. We finally stopped at a truck stop thinking they might have dog supplies. No luck, but the cashier told us there was a grocery store "just at the top of the hill" that should have what we needed. The top of the hill wasn't quite accurate, but we made it to the most redneck grocery store I've ever been to. They had a collar, but no leash, so Joey bought a rope that we could tie to the collar so we could at least walk her so she could go to the bathroom. It worked, but I felt like some kind of animal abuser walking my dog on a rope. We went back to the Wendy's next to the truck stop for dinner. This was quite possibly the crappiest Wendy's I've ever been in. The bathrooms were nasty, the wait in line was forever, they were out of milk, didn't have any toys for the kids meals, and to top it off, in the 30 degree weather had the air conditioner running so you had to eat with your coat on. When we got out of there Joey checked with me to make sure we had cash for the three tolls coming up. I don't ever carry cash, and hadn't remembered that I needed some for the trip. We went back to the truck stop to use the ATM. On the second try, it finally gave me cash and we were able to get back on the road. After all the drama, we considered turning around and going home, but the kids were so excited to see everyone in KY, we just couldn't do that to them. We trucked on and were rewarded with smooth travels the rest of the way.

We had a nice Turkey day with Joey's family, followed by Black Friday. My sister-in-law's (Missy & Becky) and I decided we were going full out for the big day. Wal-Mart was having some really good sales on clothes and some toys for the kids, so we planned to get to Wal-Mart around 3 am, scout out what we wanted, and wait for the sale to begin at 5. Well, Missy & Becky never went to sleep that night so they were ready to go. Me, on the other hand, I went to bed around 11pm and strongly felt 2 am was too early to rise. I hit snooze until 2:20, finally dragged my butt out of bed, and as I'm brushing my teeth, they're knocking on the bathroom window because they're raring to go, but can't get in the locked house. When we got to Wal-Mart, we scouted out the location of the things we wanted and decided where to wait for the big 5am moment. Becky waited by the kids clothes (sweatshirts and track suits for $4), Missy waited by the PJs ($4 each), and I waited in toys next to the doll accessory set (stroller, bed, high chair, etc.) that I wanted to get for Gracie. The plan was for us all to work toward clothes. Well, I got stuck in a crowd of people waiting for Hannah Montana dolls ($5) and some baby doll that pees ($10) and wasn't able to get anything other than the doll accessory set and some baby dolls. The other two got everything else. But we had fun and were able to get all the deals we wanted. We then went to K-Mart which was poorly organized and a crazy crowded mess (total opposite of Wal-Mart...hard to believe, right?) so we left. We made a few other small stops and were home by 11am.

We all took small naps, then Joey's mom and I took Logan and my two nephews, Dalton and Kaleb, to see Bolt. It was a super cute movie. We then went to McDonald's for ice cream, dropped Joey's mom off at the ER where she met Becky (Barb had surgery on her knee in Oct. and it was giving her trouble), then I took the boys home. Now, I'm not terribly familiar with where we were but I had good directions, however I still fumbled twice on the drive home and had to turn around and go the right way. The boys and I got home about 11pm, I dropped all of them off at Missy's, took Miss Gracie home, and finally went to bed.

We were supposed to go to Lexington for family pictures at Portrait Innovations on Saturday, but Joey's mom and Becky didn't get home from the ER until around 3am, Joey had been feeling bad all week, and his sisters and I were still tired from our early morning shopping, so we decided to stay home and relax. The ladies of the family and all the kids went to dinner at the Mexican restaurant in Salyersville and called it a night.

Sunday morning Joey woke up running a fever and in a lot of pain (more than normal). We were worried that he had meningitis again (he had it in May and has never felt quite right since) so we called his neurologists in NY and they suggested he go to the ER and get tested. Well, we had planned on coming home on Sunday, plus Joey needed some prescriptions refilled (which had to be done in NC), so his mom packed her things and came back to Charlotte with us. She took his to the ER Monday morning, stayed with him until 3, I got there around 6, and went home around 9. He didn't have meningitis, but they didn't know what was causing him to be in such severe pain, so they admitted him for testing. They did some blood work, did an MRI, gave him some pain medicine, but never figured out what was wrong with him. On Saturday they told him they didn't know what else to do for him and took him off the pain medicine thinking that might be causing the head pain, and put him back on his regular meds. Well, he can take those at home where he'd at least be comfortable, so he came home on Saturday. He still isn't feeling better, but at least he's home.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Apple Pie

This past weekend I did something I never thought I'd do. I baked an apple pie from scratch. (Well, except for the crust - Pillsbury just does such a good job!) I peeled the apples, sliced the apples, mix them with seasoning, put them in the crust, covered them up with the second crust, popped it in the oven and baked it up. It turned out really well, if I do say so myself. It lasted an amazing two days in the house.

For as long as I can remember, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, my mom has baked one or two homemade apple pies, fixed a ham and some broccoli casserole, and slid cranberry sauce out of the can. This was our traditional holiday meal. We all looked forward to the apple pie because it was the only time of the year she made it and it was delicious. Now I truly appreciate why she made it only for special occasions - it requires a lot of work. It isn't necessarily hard work, but it takes a while to peel and thinly slice all those apples. I don't think it will be something I add to my traditional meal line up - I'd rather mix up a cheesecake - but I'm proud to know that I could do it if I wanted to.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Holidays Are Coming!

Christmas is only six weeks away, my dear friend Rachel pointed out to me yesterday. How is that possible? That can't be right. Hold on, let me check the calendar. Oh my goodness, she might be right. Last Christmas, we traveled to Kentucky and spent Christmas with Joey's family. We had a good time, but realized that traveling for Christmas with kids just isn't much fun. I had to bring the Santa presents along in a tote so the kids wouldn't see them. Luckily, they never asked about the big blue tote in the back of the van. I had to bring all of our presents for our family and the ones for his family, and then bring all of the goodies back. Doable, but not as enjoyable as spending Christmas Eve in your own home. So after that, Joey and I said we weren't going anywhere this year. If anyone in our families want to spend the holidays with us, they can come here. That was then...this is now.

We have now decided to go to Kentucky and spend Thanksgiving with Joey's family. The Friday after Thanksgiving I'm getting up early to go shopping with his sisters, I hope to take Logan and my two nephews to see Madagascar 2, and we're having pictures made with the whole family. All 8 adults and 6 kids. That should be interesting. I've also had a request to bring some yummy chocolate chex mix, which I'll make the weekend before. We're all excited to get to spend time with his family, but I'm sure we'll be worn out when it's over. Oh well, it's worth it.

My mom and her boyfriend Pete are coming to our house for Christmas, and my sister Catherine and her husband Dave are coming the day after Christmas. More good times. But it's also got me thinking about feeding everyone. I have a plan, though. Christmas Eve I'm making Catherine's Taco Soup, Christmas morning I'm fixing a breakfast casserole, Christmas dinner will be beef stew, the day after Christmas mom is fixing chicken and dumplings, and Saturday morning I'm fixing my coffee cake, which Dave claimed to love last time he was here.

I've already started buying stocking stuffers for the kiddos and know what the rest of their presents are going to be. Affording it all is a different story, but I'll worry about that later. I already have the presents for the rest of our families done, except my niece and one of my nephews. I feel in control. I feel ready. I feel excited for all of it. Now when can I put my tree up? Driving home through my neighborhood last night I passed a house that already has Christmas lights up. It's too early, right? Speaking of Christmas lights, my friend Jessica agreed to help me put up ours this year. Woo hoo! Now how long do I have to wait?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Elect Barack Obama

For him or against him - how can you not be inspired by him?

Obama's Acceptance Speech:
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Hooray! The election is one day away and then I won't have to hear campaign ads on the radio or watch political commercials on TV. I may even be able to quit Keith Olbermann (it'll be tough, though - I found out last night he used to be on SportsCenter). There will no longer be a reason to discuss politics at lunch. Yay! A return to normalcy.

I'm not going to try to persuade you to vote for my candidate (go Obama!). I just want to encourage everyone to get out and vote. Here in Charlotte the polls are open from 6:30 am to 7 pm. So hop to it!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Well, I have had a very fun Halloween. Yesterday I left work early and went to Logan's school to volunteer in his classroom for an hour. I went with the kids to two other rooms to assist them and the teachers with Fall/Halloween themed activities. The kids were a lot of fun...for two hours. I can't imagine how those teachers do it every day all day. A room full of five year olds is a loud, energetic bunch. Kudos to all kindergarten teachers out there.

After I left his school I went to Grace's daycare for her Halloween party. All the kids got to dress up, have a party with lots of yummy snacks, and go trunk or treating in the parking lot (thanks to parents and their creativity). Gracie wasn't so sure about it when she first saw all the cars with crazy decorations, but once she realized they were putting candy and cookies in her bag, she was all for it.
This is a picture of the awesome hat her teacher, Miss Anna, made for her. She made a different one for each kid in the class, and they were all very beautiful and incredibly creative. Of course, yesterday was Graces last day in that class, but a good note to end on.

After that we came home, picked Logan up, and went to my friend Sidonie's house to help her make Halloween cupcakes for her son's kindergartener class.
Aren't they cute? We used crushed oreos to make dirt and 100 calorie snack pack peanut butter cookies for the mummies. Logan and Jaden ran around the entire time, but Gracie wasn't sure what to do with Sidonie's 17 month old daughter, Cheyenne. In the end, Gracie realized that she was more like a real life baby doll than an actual playmate, and spent the last part of the evening holding her hand and walking her around the house, trying to pick her up to put her in her high chair, and rocking her in her swing. Even though it was a late night for all of us, we had a great time.

And of course, the grand finale was trick or treating tonight. Here are my two cuties:
Dr. Logan and monkey Rowe had a fun time and got tons of candy just walking around the block in our neighborhood. Example A - the loot.
Two full buckets of candy, candy, candy just waiting
to rot their little teeth (and mine and Joey's ;-).
Hope everyone had a great Halloween!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Michelle Needs and Wants

So I was reading one of the blogs I like and she had a post where you Google your first name followed by "needs" and see what comes up. Here's the top ten:

1. Michelle needs your help. - always
2. Michelle needs a family that will be patient, consistent, kind, loving. - already got that
3. Michelle needs every advantage possible to attain this goal. - I should probably figure out some goals - potty training two kids comes to mind
4. Michelle needs to excercise her right to shut the f*** up. - always, again
5. Michelle needs to take an extended break from golf after this weekend. - hmmm, this is doable since I've never played golf
6. Michelle needs to pee. - always (damn mommy bladder)
7. Michelle needs help translating. - I do work in a German firm
8. Michelle needs a nickname. - please be nice about this
9. Michelle needs change. - of the Obama variety?
10. Michelle needs to be back in school. - one day

I decided to take this fun experiment a step further and Googled my name followed by "wants." Here you go:

1. Michelle wants to show you a cool trick. - I guess I need to learn a cool trick.
2. Michelle wants to earn money to buy a teeshirt. - Well our budget isn't that tight.
3. Michelle wants a guy she can take home to meet the family. - I've already got one.
4. Michelle wants a little action. - Joey will be so excited.
5. Michelle wants to make a space for community use on a rental basis. - Not really.
6. Michelle wants to be home when they get home from camp. - I don't know anyone who's gone to camp.
7. Michelle wants to be Queen of Kenya. - My, I'm ambitious.
8. Michelle wants to make sure we know she's an elitist. - And uppity.
9. Michelle wants to learn how to think on her feet. - I could improve on this.
10. Michelle wants to be more like her big sisters. - I am the big sister, but this is excellent advice for my younger sisters.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Winget Park Fall Festival

Yesterday was the Fall Festival at Logan's school. It was basically a bunch of inflatable bouncy things and a train you could ride on in a circle. Joey wasn't feeling well enough to go with us, so my sweet friend Jessica went with us. Thanks to the generosity of our family and friends who bought things for Logan's fundraiser, he got a bracelet that allowed him to do all the activities for free. We had a good time, but for all the overpriced fun, I think we enjoyed playing on the playground the most. Enjoy some pictures!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Little Miss Bossy

Do you remember this book series from your childhood? I do. And now I'm reliving it through my sweet daughter.

Everyday she comes home from daycare with a sheet telling me how she ate and slept and what activities they did. At the bottom they write something specific she enjoyed doing that day. Yesterday, it said, "Grace enjoyed looking for bugs and bossing her friends around." Oookay. Since her teacher didn't mention it to me, Joey and I decided that she meant "chasing" her friends around, since they were outside looking for bugs and all.

Today I pick up her up and she has orange paint in her hair - it was paint day. Her sheet says, "Grace enjoyed painting and telling her friends how to paint." Awesome. I have never pretended that Gracie was an easygoing child who didn't care what was going on. She is an alpha and does not appreciate being told no, or what to do. She screams and cries (literally, screams - it's lovely), will try to hit, and throws herself on the floor. She loves telling her brother what to do, however. She'll tell him to come on if he's slow coming upstairs for his bath, she'll repeat me if I tell him to stop doing something, and she'll tell him to "Come on, Woaney" (that's how she says his name - I don't know why) when she wants him to play with her. However, I thought she reserved these lovely behavior traits for our house and her lucky family. Not so much. Apparently she is now also bossing her friends around. I haven't been able to talk to her teacher about it yet, but I'll let you know when I do. In the meantime, I'll be trying to tie some reigns on my own "Little Miss Bossy."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Television Addicts Anonymous

Is this a real group? It should be. Of course, I would only attend if it met over the internet, to which I also suffer a mild addiction. Over the summer I really enjoyed not feeling tethered to the TV. I kept up with my magazines (I have 1 weekly subscription and 4 monthlies) and read a ton of books. I slept more and kept a better home. But premier week draws me back like Meredith to McDreamy. My addiction isn't quite so severe, though, this year. I begin my week with Desperate Housewives on Sunday, and while I enjoyed it's return I also found it mildly annoying. Susan causing her marriage to collapse over something beyond her control that wasn't her fault is ridiculous. Gabby wearing those nasty, frumpy clothes just because she has two kids is insulting. Brush your hair and put on some makeup. It's not that difficult. And the kid is 4 and a half, it's not a newborn. But anyway...

Monday night is Heroes which I am thrilled is back. It has been gone since the writer's strike began so long ago. They picked it back up with a lot of story lines that are very different from where they last left off. The first two episodes have been great.

Wednesday night is Project Runway which, sadly, is almost over. It began over the summer so it had a head start. The chick who used to be my favorite is now an annoying bitch, so that sucks. But it's still a very interesting show to watch. The next season will be on Lifetime which will be hard for me to accept. In general, I refuse to watch that channel based on the number of stupid made for TV movies. I'll probably cave quickly, though.

Thursday night is Grey's Anatomy. The first show was good, but it didn't feel very different from last season. If that's a good thing or a bad thing, I'm not sure. It didn't affect my loyaltly one way or the other. I also love The Office on Thursday nights. However, both of these shows are on at 9 and it isn't possible to watch one show and record the other with my DVR, so I've chosen Grey's over The Office. I still keep up with it online, though, and watch reruns when I have the opportunity.

Hmmm, that's all there is. I thought there were more. I could also throw in Lost, which doesn't come back until next year and I also love. But that's really it. It's much improved from previous years, but it still feels like I feel compelled to sit in front of the TV quite a bit. Ah well. If you want to know when and where our first meeting is, you can find me sitting in the recliner eating some popcorn and watching TV.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Good Mommy

There is a single question that plagues me about 75% of the time. Am I a good parent? A good mom? (Wait, that's two bad.) If I asked someone this question I know (or at least hope) they would automatically say "Of course you are." But let me tell you, this does not cure self doubt. Because when you are around others or out in public, you tend to be the best version of yourself as a parent. You're patient (or as patient as you can be with a 5 year old running around Target), you're understanding, you're making your kids laugh, you're attempting to get your child to behave without screaming; you're doing all these things knowing that there are people watching you. Judging you. Judging your child. Being a parent is hard.

By being a mother, I've learned exactly how short my temper can be. I DO NOT appreciate being splashed when my kids are in the bathtub. I don't want the bathroom floor covered in water and my clothes to be so wet I have to change when bathtime is over. I DO NOT like it when my children don't listen to me. You would think something as easy as, "Grace, we don't sit on the kitchen table, we sit in our chair," would be pretty easy to follow. However, my hard headed cutie pie believes everything should be done her way, how and when she wants it. So we quickly evolve into me giving my 1-2-3 warning, yanking her off the table, and sitting her little butt down in the chair. Then she begins crying because a) she didn't get her way, and b) mommy yelled at her. Which begins a meltdown, which means I've got to suffer through her crying (which can be exhausting) or I've got to pick her up and calm her down which will undo anything I may have just managed to drill into her little head about listening. With Gracie, I tend to pick her up and comfort her. With Logan, I'll let him cry for a while. I'm not sure if it's because he's older and I know he can handle a little crying, or if it's because he's a boy and I think he should "man up" as I like to say. Gracie's my baby girl, hearing her cry and seeing her puppy dog eyes breaks my heart. I'm going to go with I do it because he's older. Anyway, I DO NOT like it when my children get out of bed once I put them in it. We have a nighttime routine. Every other night they take a bath, and every night we read two or three stories on Logan's bed. Logan turns on the classical music CD he listens to, gets a drink of milk, kisses and hugs, and he's done. I take Grace to her room, we read or rock or sing sometimes, she drinks some milk, she lays down, kisses and hugs, and two kids down. Logan has gotten pretty good about staying in bed. Gracie...not so much. It's her age and I just have to deal with it, but it's aggravating. I sit down to write this blog, hear a noise behind me, and Gracie is on all fours crawling across the floor to me. Back to her bedroom we go, rock in the chair, down in the bed, kisses and hugs, and I'm done for the second time. Some nights are better than others, and it will pass, but it's still annoying.

But along with the things I don't like, comes the things I love. I LOVE when Gracie gives me a big squeeze around the neck for no reason. I LOVE when Logan tells me I'm his best mommy (the irony really gets me). I LOVE laughing with my kids. I LOVE watching them play together nicely. I LOVE when they're in their pajamas after a bath, cuddled next to me on Logan's bed, reading stories. I LOVE (even though I shouldn't) when they crawl in to bed with me to snuggle in the mornings. I LOVE when they tell me they love me. I LOVE them so much that I can't imagine my life without them.

Being a parent is hard. You love these children so much and never want to see them hurt, but in order for them to learn how to follow the rules and learn how the world works, you sometimes have to be someone you don't want to. You have to yell, and smack little hands, and force them to sit in time out. That part sucks. They're so sad and hurt that the person they (hopefully) love most in the world was mean to them. But they forget about and move on. Time outs over and they're into the next thing. One day I'll probably look back and reminisce about the days when all I had to do was put them in time out for 5 minutes and it was all over. One day, as I'm grounding them for sneaking out, I'll miss the days when all it took was a smack on the hand to correct bad behavior. But for now, I'll try to keep my temper in check and remember how lucky I am to have such awesome kids. And that I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Consistent Blogger

A long time ago when my sister Catherine began blogging, I thought it was a really good idea. I could start keeping up with her "real" life. When we talk on the phone, we talk about main tidbits - Logan did this, Potter chewed that, Dave got a new job. But when I read her blog, I find out about all the little things going on in her life - her stress level related to school, how much she enjoys being able to read what she wants, Dave getting to race with Potter - okay, that's from Dave's blog, but you get the picture. I always thought it would be something fun to do, but thought it would be one of those things where I started out strong and quickly faded until it was forgotten completely. That hasn't quite turned out to be true. I definitely started strong, and I am fading, but I don't think I'll completely forget it. I've found that I really like having a blog. I like the idea of people being able to keep up with me and the kids and whatever excitement is currently going on in our lives...without having to make multiple phone calls to tell the same story over and over. But if you've noticed that I haven't been updating quite as frequently - you're right. During the week I feel like I have so much to do, what with the new TV season starting ;-), that I don't have or make the time to sit down and write a blog. And on the weekends, I'm playing catch up on all the things I need to do around the house and all the sleep I've missed through the week - that I still don't take the time to write a blog. I have things floating in my head waiting to be written about, now I just have to sit down and do it. Stick with me friends - there's more to come.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beach Bum

My beach bum has returned home. Gracie has been in Myrtle Beach this past week with my mother in law, both sisters in law and their husbands, and all 4 of her cousins. From what I hear - she had a fabulous time. She enjoyed both the big water (ocean) and the little water (condo pool). She wasn't afraid of the waves (although she yet to show fear of much). Often they would look up and Gracie would be headed to the ocean without a care in the world, they'd have to stop her (of course), and she'd throw one of her famous fits.

One day she and her aunt Becky were walking down the beach together when a lady stopped Becky to tell her how pretty her daughter was. That's right - Gracie could pass as Becky's daughter any day. And Logan could join his Aunt Missy's family with no problem, so I'll need to be on the lookout for any trouble makers ;-). Anyway, from what I gather she visited the ocean daily, spent an evening at the Dixie Stampede, and visited the aquarium. She came home with lots of souvenirs and not too much sand.

Last year we got to join them on the first annual Myrtle Beach vacation, but this year we couldn't take Logan out of school for his third full week of school ever, so Joey, Logan and I didn't get to go. However, I've been told next year his family is going to plan this trip for the summer, which is awesome. We were very disappointed we didn't get to go and hang out with them this week, so now we have something to look forward to next summer.

Thankfully, Miss Gracie was happy to see me when she got home and didn't try to leave with them again, which might have been hard for my heart to handle. I missed her while she was gone, but it was nice having some one on one time with Logan. Now it's back to the same ole. Logan's driving her (and me) crazy again, and I'm chasing after my two kids. What could be better?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


My husband, Joey, had his first seizure around the middle of September 2005. This was the month before he was scheduled to have his brain surgery. He was sitting in the recliner in the living around 9:30 in the evening maybe (I know Logan was already asleep and Gracie hadn't joined us yet). I think I was moving around the house putting things away, getting things ready for the next day, starting the dishwasher, etc. when I noticed him shaking. Let me tell you about feeling terrified. I had no idea what was going on. I tried to talk to him and see what was going on, but I ended up calling 911 because I simply had no idea what was going on. They took him in the ambulance to the emergency room and I had to decide what to do about Logan. I don't know if you know this about me, but I am a very independent person. I do not like asking for help. But at this moment I had no choice. I believe Joey's sister happened to not be home, or I'm sure I would've called her. As an alternative, I called my friend Melanie from the bank and asked her to come sit with Logan for maybe an hour and a half while my mom drove to Morehead from Lexington. After I hung up with Melanie, I called my mom and broke down. I was sobbing, terrified that my husband was dying. She calmed me down, Melanie arrived, and I went to the hospital. By the time I got there, the seizure had ended and he was resting. They gave him some anti-seizure meds, some pain meds, and sent us home (if I recall correctly, and I might not - it's been a while since then).

Over the course of the next 5 weeks he continued to have them more and more frequently. I learned to deal with them and that the ambulance was not required every time. After his surgery it was a while before he had one. We had hoped they were gone altogether, but no. He continues to have them sporadically now. But they've changed in severity. Now he shakes a lot, but has trouble breathing, too. That's the hard part now - trying to decide if a ride in an ambulance to the hospital is necessary. That's a scary guessing game to play, because if it goes wrong, it really goes wrong.

I write this because he had one today. He sent me a text message he has programmed in his phone that simply says "seizure." I called him and quickly learned it is much harder to listen to the seizure than watch. At least you know what you're dealing with when you can see him. When he's having a seizure he can't talk, so I basically had to listen to his labored breathing and keep telling him he'd be okay. I ended up rushing home from work when I decided he might need to go the emergency room. He just couldn't catch his breath; he's been fighting a chest cold/bronchitis for about a week, and since I couldn't see him to assess him for myself, and he couldn't tell me how he was, I had to come home and make sure he was okay. He finally managed to get his breath back, took some paid medicine, and went to sleep.

It's been kind of nice being home this afternoon - there are no kids home and I've caught up on some laundry, paid some bills, and emptied the dishwasher. But I'd rather be sitting at my desk and dreading doing all those things later (or let's face it - putting them off some more) than come home because Joey's not well. I just pray God will find a way to allow him some relief from his pain.

Monday, September 15, 2008

An Interesting Weekend

Every day Logan brings home his "Communication Binder" from school. In it are papers the teacher needs to send home, the snack chart for the month, his homework calendar, and a sheet the teacher uses to record his behavior for the day. If he's good, he gets a sticker. If not, she notes which of the 5 rules he didn't follow. He didn't get a sticker last Wednesday or Thursday. According to Logan (which could alter the accuracy of the story), Wednesday he got in trouble for either not going to the reading rug quick enough, or not sitting still on the reading rug. Who knows? Thursday he was in line to go to lunch, but apparently fell back in line. When he went to get back where he started, the kid wouldn't let him back in, so they pushed each other in some way. I don't know - he's a hooligan. So Thursday night I went over all the rules with him and Joey and I both reiterated how important it is to listen to the teacher and behave. We were certain he would bring a sticker home on Friday. However, that did not happen. Apparently during story time they are supposed to sit "criss cross applesauce," or in normal people's terms - Indian style. Logan did not do this. I don't know why he didn't want to sit like this, but there you are. To be honest, I don't really care if this is what he got in trouble for. I mean, I guess it's bad that he's not doing what the teacher says, but isn't that kind of a dumb thing to punish kids for? I guess I'm going to stay on Logan's side of this. I know I should be able to see Ms. Nero's side, but I don't. It's dumb - end of story.

My family in law arrived around 3:30 Saturday morning to sleep at our house on their way to Myrtle Beach. Logan had a blast playing with his cousins Saturday morning, and it was nice to visit with everyone for a little while. However, as soon as Gracie realized they were leaving, she decided she would be going too. She wouldn't leave "Mimi's" (my sister in law Missy) side and kept waving and telling me bye and giving me kisses. Once she even told me to go pack her clothes. It was really cute, until they were really ready to leave. My mother in law was holding her so I had to take her and try to explain that she would be staying home with me. She kept saying bye to me and trying to go back to Barb so they could get going. Eventually "Mawmaw" gave in and I was told to run and pack her things. While I was packing, they were putting her car seat in Mimi's van and she was in it by the time I got out there. She saw me through the front window and waved again with a big smile on her face. I gave her a kiss and she was gone. She didn't care what I was doing as long as she was going to the beach. Of course, her brother wasn't very amused by all this. He wanted to go too, or as an alternative, wanted Gracie to stay. He cried for a while, but recovered quickly once they were gone. But we are counting down the days until she returns ;-).

For some reason or another, I put Logan in time out around 6:00 Saturday night. I made him sit on the couch, which turned into him laying on the couch. I looked over a few minutes later, and he was out. He has been so exhausted from school, and refuses to take a nap, that he just gave in. He slept from 6:00 Sat. night to 7:30 Sun. morning. I enjoyed a quiet night catching up on Project Runway. I think I watched 4 or 5 episodes Sat. night, and the last 3 on Sunday. How lovely.

Sunday Logan and I went to my friend Jessica's house where she was babysitting her 4 year old niece, Zoey (I guess that's how you spell it) and 3 year old nephew, Josh. We had a nice lunch of chicken nuggets and french fries and then took the kids to the pool. After a while, they all became very brave and started jumping in the pool. Zoey could do it on her own since she had a little tube raft on. Logan, however, had to jump into someone's arms. Well, for some reason he decided Zoey could catch him. He jumped just about right on top of her and then used her as his flotation device. Not such a good idea. Jessica and I were right there and moved with surprising speed. We got them both safely above water and decided maybe we should take a break from jumping in the pool. The rest of our visit was pretty uneventful, and by the time we were ready to go home I was exhausted. I made it into the house, took a quick shower, and konked out on the couch.

So today is the big test after our long weekend. Will Logan come home with a sticker? Goodness, I hope so.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Late Night Visitors

Around the time Logan turned 2, we changed his crib to a toddler bed. Basically, we took off the front part and it became something he could get in and out of on his own. This also ushered in the era of him coming to our room to sleep with us in the middle of the night. At first, he'd just turn up when he woke up, climb in our bed, and snuggle for a little while before he got his day started. This was so sweet there was no way I could tell him no. However, it quickly turned into him coming into our room in the middle of the night to sleep with us. Not so good. We had been very adamant about him not sleeping with us as an infant - that habit could be very hard to break. In the middle of the night was a different story. I could barely wake up, much less haul him back to his room. The peak of his late night visits came after we moved to Charlotte. He would sometimes turn up as early as 1:00 a.m. I eventually had to force myself to wake up and take him crying back to his room, terrified all the while he would wake his sister up. With the start of school we seemed to have moved beyond this phase all together. If he shows up at all, it's usually after 6:00, which is fine with me.

But as we move away from our visits from Logan, we begin them with Grace. When she turned 2 I changed her crib into a toddler bed and never had a lot of problems from her. Unlike Logan, she stayed in bed when I put her down for the night and she cried or yelled for me when she woke up. No problems. In the past few weeks, she's begun coming downstairs on her own when she wakes up, which is cute. If she is at all interested in getting in our bed, it's simply to cuddle before she demands her morning cup of milk. However, last night I was woken up as she climbed into our bed around 2:15. I was so surprised and she curled up so sweetly against me, I let her stay. Until around 3:30 when I came to my senses and knew she had to go back to her own bed or else face years of an unpleasant, middle of the night battle. I love the morning cuddles, but like to have my space when I'm sleeping. So I took her back to her room where she slept the rest of the night. Logan arrived about 6:20 and layed with me until I got up to take a shower and then went to watch TV.

I imagine one day I'll look back and miss the moments where my kids wanted to sleep in my bed and cuddle with me when we woke up. But for now, I'll continue to get up in the middle of the night and carry them crying back up the stairs to their own beds.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My Pirate Child

Back in February my mother-in-law took Logan in for his 4 year check-up (yes, I know, 7 months late - don't judge). This new pediatrician immediately spotted something our old pediatrician in Kentucky never noticed - Logan's right eye turned in. We had noticed it some, but never thought it was a big deal. Now I got to take Logan to the eye doctor to have it checked out. Woo hoo. When I took him the first time, he did great until they wanted to dilate his eyes. He didn't really care for the idea of them putting these drops in his eyes. Screamed bloody murder while the doctor and I pinned him down and somehow managed to get the drops in. After waiting for his eyes to dilate, we found out the vision in his left eye was pretty good. However, the vision in his right eye was terrible. He had to get glasses, and in order to correct the "lazy eye" he had to start wearing a patch 2 hours every day over the good eye in order to strengthen the bad eye. When we went back for his check up in July, his vision had improved dramatically. The doctor wanted to keep him wearing the patch for two more months, and then see where we stand. Presumably - he'd be able to stop wearing the patch. However, when we went back for his checkup today, he couldn't see worth a crap out of his right eye. What?! I went expecting him to be able to quit wearing the patch, now he can't see? After the nurse checked his vision, the doctor confirmed that he really couldn't see very well. He needed to dilate his eyes again. It took Logan a bit longer to figure out what the doctor was going to do, so he was able to pin him down by himself and get the eyedrops in. After waiting for his eyes to dilate, we found out that his vision has improved a bit, but he's developed a stigmatism. Fantastic. I had the joy of purchasing a new lens for his right eye and we have two more months to look forward to wearing the patch. It's not a big deal to wear it, it's just an inconvenience. And now with school having started, there are even fewer hours in the day to get it done. But we'll adjust. We just have to hope that the next visit goes better. And who knows? Maybe we have the makings of an awesome halloween costume.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Mommy Group

In high school, there was a group of us that was inseparable. Me, Robyn, Julia, Jaclyn, Julie, and Jasie along with others who came and went. But we were the main group. All of us have had children except for Robyn and Jasie. Well today Robyn joined our group. She gave birth to Kane Douglas Denney around 1 p.m. this afternoon. He weighed 6 lbs. 15 oz. and was 20 inches long. I'm so excited for her as she begins this new (and 18 year long) chapter of her life. Congratulations to her and her husband, Brett! Now long will Jasie be able to hold out?
(Jasie, Robyn, Julia, me, and Julie ready for our 10 year high school reunion - August 2007)

Little Miss Independent

I love to read. Plain and simple, there it is. I love to sit for hours, reading. I love books or magazines, blogs, gossip, anything. I currently have 5 magazine subscriptions which keep me occupied. These work well because they're usually short articles that don't require my full focus, so I can read them while I watch the kids. Books are reserved for when the kids go to bed. I pop an invidual size bag of popcorn, curl up under a blanket, and read for a while. I shouldn't do this. For my own sake, I should go to bed the minute after I put the kids down for the night. I just can't do it. At this point, I'm rereading a lot of books, so even though I know what's going to happen, I still want to read. It's my way of relaxing at the end of the day.

I remember in middle school when I realized how much I loved to read. The Babysitters Club and VC Andrews (polar opposites, I know) were my favorites. My friend Julia would come over and we'd sit for hours propped up against my headboard, reading. I ate cheese while I read back then. Kraft Singles. I had a particular way I folded and then nibbled it. I even got Julia doing it. Ahh, the good ole days.

Since I found out I was pregnant with Logan I couldn't wait to read to my kids. I remembered all the books I used to love and set out to stock the bookshelf with them, waiting for them to be old enough to listen. He used to cry when I sang to him so I started reading to him pretty early. My sister Catherine got us started on Sandra Boynton board books, which rhymed and manage to hold the attention of a toddler pretty well. I still read to Logan every night, though we've moved on from board books.

I didn't start reading to Gracie quite as early. She didn't really have the patience to sit still and listen, even to a small board book. But as soon as she was ready, I jumped in. I could just see my baby girl sitting on her bed next to her best friend the way I used to. However, little miss independent has foiled my plan. She used to sit on my lap as I rocked her and read three or so books every night. She has moved on - she no longer needs me to read to her. Now she grabs a couple of books, plops down on her bed, and "reads" to herself. She is not interested in sitting on mommy's lap or letting me read. Instead, now I sit and watch her read. It's rather boring. Every once in a while she'll sit on my lap and snuggle while I read "Snuggle Puppy." But now she can, and wants to, do it herself. My babies are growing up. It's so exciting, and so heartbreaking.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Long Week

Well, this past week has been pretty eventful. It started last Friday when I got up for work 20 minutes late, in addition to the 15 I usually am late. I turned on the shower, put in my contacts, and checked the water temperature so I could get in. Freezing cold. Okay. I usually let it run a little longer than that so I brushed my teeth and checked it again. Freezing cold. Well shit. Freezing cold it is. I told Logan to get Joey and jumped in. It was the coldest, fastest shower ever. I was in there 4 minutes, tops. I had to wash my hair, so that's all I did. Joey went out to check the pilot light on the hot water heater and realized there was no gas going to it. Well we had paid our bill, so who knew what the problem was. We found out about an hour later when Joey called to report it, that the gas company had been doing some routine maintenance that night and someone forgot to turn a switch back on, causing 7,000 people to be without gas Friday morning. Fantastic. They were estimating it could take the whole Labor Day weekend to get it back on.

Saturday night we still didn't have gas and Joey was getting a little ticked off about it. Around 10:30 that night he went on the back patio to smoke and saw the flasing lights on the next street that indicated they were up there turning on gas. He walked to where they were, had a "conversation" about them coming and turning ours on right then, and came home. Once he was back, he realized he had been bitten by some fire ants. Apparently, while he was talking to the gas people he was also standing on an ant hill and the ants didn't appreciate that. So they bit his feet and ankles, a lot. He was laid up in bed until about Wednesday with ice and various anti itch creams on his feet. The problem was, he's allergic to bee stings, and apparently doesn't agree with ant bites either. Oh well, he survived it.

Tuesday morning was Logan's first official day of school. I took him that morning because they were having a lite breakfast for all the newbies and their parents. We went to his room to put down all the supplies we had to bring and he decided he didn't want to go to the breakfast. So, after a kiss and a hug, I was off. How bizarre. This child that I was worried wouldn't want me to leave him at all, doesn't care if I do. Which is great, but sad. My little boy is growing up. He rode the bus home and Joey met him when he got off. He had a great day and has a new friend - Elliot. That's all I've heard about all week. I noticed when I dropped him off on Tuesday that he was sitting next to this boy, and on Friday Logan told me that they'd moved around and he was sitting next to someone different now. I'm going to assume the whole class moved, and the teacher wasn't just separating Logan and Elliot. On Thursday, he brought home his communication binder for the first time. It is the way the teacher and I can communicate. She sends it home with anything I need, and I can send notes back to her in it. This binder also contains his homework calendar for the month. Yes, my kindergartener has homework. Easy things, but homework none the less. So Logan's first week of school went great and he can't wait to go back on Monday.

As for me, I have been a little chef this past week. Last Saturday I made chicken stroganoff in the crockpot, which was delicious. It immediately became one of our favorite meals. I made pumpkin bread with a cream cheese layer in the middle, which was really good once you sprinkled some powdered sugar on it. I made one of my favorite chicken casseroles on Friday, and tonight I made salisbury steak in the crockpot. It was pretty good, but nothing next to the chicken. I also made a blueberry cheesecake with a recipe from the Kraft magazine I get. It's not very good, which is disappointing considering I love cheesecake and Joey loves blueberries. Logan tried a bite and spit it in the trash can, so I went ahead and threw the recipe away. It just tastes like cream cheese - you can barely even taste the blueberries. Bleh. Oh well. I love it when I get in the mood to be a chef. Cooking is one of my least favorite things to do most of the time, but every once in a while I get in a mood where I love doing it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

If I Had a Million Dollars

My thoughts frequently swirl around this title of a Barenaked Ladies song. What would I do with endless money? A huge lottery win. Here's my laundry list:

1. I would first buy a house. Not a ginormous mansion, but a practical home I would want to live in forever. No less than 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, huge kitchen with a breakfast area, three car garage, roomy living room, fancy dining room, spacious laundry room. And of course, the requisite fancy appliances and new furniture. How much fun would that be?

2. I would then hire a cleaning lady and yard boy. No more dusting, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning windows, mowing, trimming, landscaping. Forget it - I'm rich now.

2. New cars. Again, not anything ridiculous, but a new fully loaded van, and whatever car Joey and I would each like.

3. A massive shopping trip. I'd visit any store I laid my eyes on and buy whatever I liked for all of us. I'd buy tons of clothes, home decor and linens, new toys for the kids, and new gadgets for me and Joey - computers, TVs, DVDs, iPods, whatever I saw that I liked.

4. I would, of course, donate to charity. Probably a diabetes association, a heart foundation, the Chiari foundation, and whatever else struck my fancy. I would give an offering to my church, even though I'm not that involved there. (Is it wrong that this is fourth on my list?)

5. I would help out our families however they may need it - mortgages, new homes, medical bills, cars, credit card bills. I might even help out a few friends. Oh, and they'd get awesome presents for every occasion from here on out!

I'm sure there's something I'm forgetting, or someone. Oh well. It's just fun to dream sometimes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The First Day

Today was the big day, my baby boy, Logan, started kindergarten. Wow. Although I guess calling him my "baby boy" is a little behind the times. But in my heart that's what he'll always be. How cheesy, I know.

His school starts at 9:15, so about 8:00 I started getting him ready. He had some of a bowl of Frosted Flakes, brushed his teeth, and got dressed. Of course, he couldn't wait to put his cool backpack on - even though the only thing in it was a travel pack of Kleenex since he had a runny nose. I took the obligatory pictures:

And then we were off. We waited forever in the drop off line, parked, and in we walked. We found the check in spot for new kindergarteners, and found out he would be in the green room today. (A side note: our school does staggered entry for kindergarteners. Each child goes one day of the first week of school, then on Friday the "kindergarten team" gets together and places each child in a permanent room. This helps to match them up personality wise with the teachers and skill wise with the other kids.) We went in the room, met his teacher, gave her his lunch money, and she showed him where to put his backpack. They were having free time while everyone finished checking in so I asked him if he wanted to play with the blocks. He said yes and asked me if I would stay to watch him play. I got a tiny bit worried at this point that there was a meltdown coming, so I cheerfully told him that I had to go to work, but would be back in the afternoon to pick him up. He gave me a kiss and a hug, a wave goodbye, and that was that. The next big phase of his life began.

I picked him up in the afternoon and could immediately tell he was exhausted. I asked what he did, and he said he didn't know. I asked what he had for lunch, and he couldn't remember. He did manage to let me know that he was going to need some milk when we got home. After a cup of milk and some peaches, he was finally rejuvenated enough to tell me about his day. They had PE and learned about bike safety. Apparently he should always wear his helmet. They played a lot of games - red light, green light and freeze tag among many. They learned to walk in a line and keep their fingers to their mouths while doing this. They cut out a palm tree and leaves and glued them to a page; then used yellow circle stickers as the coconuts. He had written an "L" on each coconut. They had a hearing test and the teacher read them some books. I'm sure they did more things and I'll continue to hear about them over the next few days.

All in all, it was an exhausting really fun day and he can't wait to go back. I'm so excited for him that he's begun this journey. I hope he can always remember how excited he was in the beginning.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Lifetime of Sickness

People with severe or chronic illnesses are constantly on my mind. My husband, Joey, has 3 chronic diseases. He has bipolar depression, which is about as fun as it sounds, but is very familiar to most people. In May 2003, he was diagnosed with Arnold Chiari Malformation. A mouthful that most doctors haven't even heard of. We've actually had the joy of explaining the disease to most new doctors he sees, but unless it directly affects them or why they're seeing him, they don't really care or want to learn about it. Although sometimes this is true even of the doctors who do need to know more about it. But anyway...he has very severe leg pain, has had it most of his life. No one was ever able to figure out a cause until they did an MRI and a neurologist in Morehead found it. However, he was a doctor who didn't care, and told Joey to come back and see him when he couldn't walk. Gee, thanks for the help. Eventually he found an awesome general doctor who researched it and led us in the right direction to seek treatment. This led him to The Chiari Institute on Long Island in NY. They are awesome, very talented doctors, who have studied and researched this disease for many years. They were able to determine that he needed brain surgery to relieve the pressure his brain was putting on his spinal cord (a very simplified explanation, but it might take all day to provide the details). They performed the surgery in October 2005 and after a long, hard, painful recovery he got a little bit better for a little while. Then it was back to the same old stuff. Along with the severe leg pain he has horrible headaches (again a simplified way to say it, but how else to say really bad head pain?), memory issues, vision problems, urinary problems, and balance issues, among many things. After a lack of improvement following the brain surgery, they did another MRI and found that he also had Tethered Cord Syndrome. This is where your spinal cord tethers to your spinal column (I think). They did lower back surgery to detether his spinal cord (cut it loose, basically) in August 2006. He should have had immediate relief after the surgery, but it seems that because it was tethered for so long (because so many doctors overlooked it), there was too much nerve damage. He is now on constant pain medication, has been hospitalized too many times to count, and is on disability because he can't work.

My husband suffers every day of his life. Some days are better than others. Some days he can get up and hang out with me and the kids, and go places with us. But there are a lot more days that all he can do is lay in bed and hope the pain lets up. I worry about him constantly. I try to keep a positive outlook and be his bright shiny light when he gets to the darkest places. It's hard for him to stay upbeat when dealing with these things every day, so I try to do it for him. Sometimes it drives him crazy because it seems so pointless, but the other option doesn't work for me.

All these things, however, lead me to wonder about our God. Why does he allow this kind of suffering? I'm not an incredibly religious person. I went to church when I was younger, and recently I've tried to get back into the routine of going. But it's hard. It's hard, but I feel so invigorated after I've gone to church and sang songs of praise, and listened to the pastor give such wonderful, interesting sermons. I choose to believe that He only gives us what we can handle and that there's a reason for everything. Maybe he allowed Joey to have this disease so he can counsel and support others with the same problems. Maybe it's to bring us closer as husband and wife, and as a family. Maybe there's a reason God hasn't revealed to us yet. All I can do is have faith that there is something out there bigger than us, watching over us. Tonight, and every night, I say a prayer for those who suffer and those people who support them. I pray God watches over Joey and gives him hope through the darkness, and the ability to see through it. I pray that God gives me the strength, love, and wisdom to be there for him as he needs me to be. Most of all, I pray that God gives peace and understanding to all those who suffer.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to the Real World

My mother in law, Barb, has been visiting us from KY for the past 2 and a half weeks. Her primary purpose in coming was to help out while Joey recovered from a lumbar puncture he was scheduled to have. She was also coming to visit her favorite son, daughter in law, and grandkids. I'm not sure if she knew it - but her visit served a much larger purpose for me. While she was here I didn't have to cook, I didn't have to empty the dishwasher, I didn't have to clean, I didn't have to do laundry (although I did do some), I didn't have to rush home from work if I needed to stay late, and I was able to go shopping by myself. She took a lot of the responsibility of caring for the kids (mostly because they preferred her over me) and handled a lot of bath nights.

For a long time in the beginning of mine and Joey's relationship, she and I didn't get along. We were civil to each other, but there wasn't a connection or a friendship. Mainly because I "grew up," we have moved past that. We were able to hang out together and have fun. She came to NC wanting to have a yard sale, so I decided to throw some kids clothes in and help her out. We went to the mall and shopped around, had lunch, and spent way too much money at Sam's Club. We took the kids to the Pit Party at the Monster Truck Jam and suffered through the crazy breakfast at the hotel the next morning.

As she left this morning to go back to her real world, so I return to mine. I fixed dinner tonight, I emptied the dishwasher, I picked up the house, and I took both kids with me to Target. Her presence was immediately missed. But she's not missed only because of the things she did to give me a break, but because one of my friends is gone. She's not here to talk to and discuss all the crazy things the kids did and what's going on with Joey, and I will miss that. She is someone who knows and understands all of Joey's medical problems and personality quirks as well as I do, and understands when they get to me. She is someone I can lean on when I need to get something off my mind, and someone I can make jokes with about my crazy life. So as she heads back to KY, I hope she knows how much she means to our family, and especially me. Finally, after all these years.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Right now a lot of our focus is on Logan as he gets ready to start kindergarten, but our baby girl shocked us tonight. While I was with Logan at his school's open house, Gracie was coloring at the kitchen table as my mother in law cooked dinner. All of a sudden, Barb (my mother in law) realized Gracie was singing the ABCs. She stopped to listen as she sang the entire song without missing a letter. When I got home, she asked me if there was a reason I hadn't told her Gracie could sing her ABCs. Well, probably because I didn't know she could. I asked her to sing them for me and she did it again perfectly. Holy crap! I had no idea I had such a smarty! We decided she probably knew other things we didn't know about, so I asked her if she could say her numbers. Low and behold, she counted 1 to 10 as we sat there and listened. Who knows how long she's known these things, but at least we finally have something to show for the all the money we pay the daycare!

Growing Up

Well, we had a big night in our house tonight. I took Logan to an open house at his school so he could see it for the first time. He starts kindegarten next Wednesday. I haven't felt so sad that I thought I would cry at any moment...until we were walking down the hallway in his school. Here is this little boy holding my hand walking for the first time through a hall that he will soon know like the back of his hand. It's all beginning. I felt my chest start to tighten and became seriously concerned I was going to make a fool of myself. But once we started down the kindergarten hallway, I relaxed. We met all 9 of the kindergarten teachers and explored all of the rooms. We visited the cafeteria and the gym. The truly sad part was that once we got through the first room, Logan no longer needed me. He ran ahead to each room checking out all the things they had to offer. He wasn't scared and holding my hand, he was a big boy exploring his future. I was so proud of him. When people say time flies, they fail to mention how quickly it goes. It seems like just yesterday that I gave birth to him.

Seven weeks before he was due my doctor put me on bedrest. One week after that, on Sunday afternoon, as I lay on my bed watching TV, my water broke. Let me tell you - that is some messy stuff. Anyway, having 6 weeks to go until I was due, we ran around like crazy packing what we thought I would need and a few things for Joey, certain the unpleasant part would start anytime. I didn't have my first contraction until we were in the car on the way to the hospital in Mt. Sterling, about 30 minutes away. No too bad, I thought. I can do this. We got checked in and they checked to see how far along I was. 2 centimeters. My confidence increased. 2 centimeters and the contractions weren't too bad. Maybe I'll survive. Then my doctor informed me they were going to send me by ambulance to UK Hospital in Lexington since I was 6 weeks early. They assured us that it would be fine for Joey to follow the ambulance in the car since I had plenty of time before I'd deliver. They loaded me up and off we went. My contractions kept coming, but I was okay. Then, I'd guess about 10 minutes away from the hospital, something felt very strange. LOTS of pressure. The nurse riding with me said she'd check me, but my contractions were probably just getting stronger. Umm, no. I was fully dilated and ready to deliver. WHAT?! I started crying, afraid of giving birth in an ambulance. They told me not to push and the male nurse let me squeeze his hand through the contractions. Looking back on it, he probably had to have some kind of reconstructive surgery after I was done with him. However, I managed to resist the urge to push.

Now as luck would have it, my mom had been at our house that Sunday morning. When she left, she stopped in Lexington to do some shopping. So when we called her, she said she'd just wait for us at the hospital. This turned out to be a huge blessing. When we realized I was fully dilated, the ambulance turned on the siren and sped through the lights. Joey, of course, could not do this. We lost him. When we got to the hospital, mom was waiting right at the emergency room doors, found out the situation, and immediately started helping me. Thank God. Alone was not how I wanted to be. They took me to a delivery room and the nurses were just putting around getting things ready. Finally, the ambulance people told them I was ready, they checked, and things got hopping. Without any time for drugs, after two pushes, out came Logan. Hooray! They took him away to clean him up and started trying to clean me up. I was in labor for less than four hours. Joey finally got there, and was immediately bummed out. He'd completely missed the birth of his first born. Except, of course, for the yucky water breaking part.

He quickly realized, however, that they were having some kind of trouble with Logan. They brought him to me, let me see him for a second, and after a quick stop in the nursery, took him to the NICU. This is terrifying - to see the child you'd created and given life to whisked away because he was having trouble breathing.

He was in the NICU for 11 days. Aside from not breathing very well, he was a very healthy little boy. We got to hold him for a little while after a couple of days, but he had to wear an oxygen mask and had IV's everywhere from his arm, to his feet, to his head.

But he was precious, and we loved him. He eventually gave up the oxygen and we were able to bring him home. Another terrifying experience. I leaned over his carseat for almost the entire hour long ride home, listening and watching to make sure he was still breathing. We made it home, and we've made it through 5 years of his life. And next week he starts school. The beginning of the end - leading to the point where he leaves us to go to college and start life on his own. It's hard to believe it wasn't yesterday I was sure he was going to stop breathing during his first car ride. I love him and I'm so excited for my little boy as he begins this big adventure.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Going Redneck

My 5 year old son, Logan, loves watching Monster Truck Jam on TV. He wakes up at 7 a.m. most weekday mornings to watch it. He builds monster truck courses out of blocks and races his monster trucks on them. He loves them. My mother in law found out that there was going to be a monster truck show at the Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Knowing how much he'd love it, and how much fun we would have watching him enjoy it, she bought us all tickets to go. The Monster Truck Jam started at 7:30, but with an emtpy Vault bottle, you could come at 4 and go to a Pit Party where you can see all the trucks up close and meet the drivers.As I sit here writing this, he is telling me the name of this driver he's getting an autograph from. Seriously, he loves it. Anyway, needless to say he had a blast. Gracie didn't enjoy it quite as much. She found it a bit loud for her tastes - kept her head pressed against my chest while I covered the other ear with my hand - and proceeded to take a 45 minute nap. I have no idea how she managed it, but that's a kid for you.
So the whole family got to go and we had a blast. We even got Joey out of the house for the night, which is enough to make us all happy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

With Old Age Comes Memory Loss

So my baby girl turned 2 on May 14th. I was reminded of this as I was pulling in the parking lot to pick her up from daycare and my mom called to wish her a happy birthday. This was fortunate because when I went in to daycare they told me all about the birthday party they had for her. Pathetic, I know. I consider that one of my worst parenting moments. Who forgets their child's birthday? In my incredibly weak defense, my son was visiting my in-laws in KY and we planned to have a party for her at their house, as well as my moms, when we visited them at the end of May. So we weren't planning any big shin-dig as it was just me, Joey, and Grace. No excuse, but the only defense I have. So, after picking her up from daycare we headed straight to Target and bought her bunches of presents, the $3 bouncy ball being her favorite. Well, I'm sad to say, I've had another memory lapse. Yesterday, August 17th, was my 6 year wedding anniversary. My husband also forgot. Pathetic again, I know. I was coming in from taking the dog out around 6 pm and my mother in law (who's visiting) says, "I know what today is!" I looked at the calendar and said, "Yeah, it's August 17t..shit." Are you kidding me? She then headed in to our bedroom where my husband was and tells him happy anniversary. He said a few choice words expressing his disbelief that this day was actually a cause for celebration. He looked at me, asked if I remembered, and mumbled happy anniversary. You would think we would immediately head out the door to at least celebrate with a nice dinner out, but no. It had been a long day and he was feeling particularly bad, so he went to bed early, I finished my tasks around the house, and we fell asleep like normal.
We have never done big celebrations for our anniversary. There's always been something in our way to prevent us from the alone time necessary. I don't feel cheated out of anything by forgetting, I just worry that I've forgotten something else.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Don't look back and say if...

Choosing a title for your blog seems like such a big decision. You don't want it to sound dumb, you don't want it to be too cheesy. But finding the perfect one - that's a tough job. I chose "Don't look back and say if" because it's something I believe strongly. If as you're going through life you continually choose to look back and say, "But if this had happened," you will constantly question eveything and never enjoy the choices you made.

For instance, when we were preparing for Joey's back surgery that was to take place in NY, out of network for our insurance, Joey's very wealthy boss said he would take care of everything. Doctors, travel, hospital bills, food, everything. And this is a man that made enough money in a couple of days to pay for all of this. We were so relieved to be able to plan this surgery and not worry about the money - simply look forward to Joey getting better. Well, of course, surgery, out of network, in New York - not cheap. I don't know if his boss didn't realize how expensive it would actually be, or if he just decided Joey wasn't worth the money - but in the end he paid for almost nothing, not in the grand scheme of things. Let's just say Joey and I were devestated, to say the least. We struggled for a while, but finally came to the realization that there was no way we could afford to pay these bills. The only option was to declare bankruptcy and start over. While we are deciding how to proceed with our lives, we also have to accept that Joey isn't getting better. We realized he couldn't continue to work, and my tiny salary couldn't support our family. What a mess.

Joey applied for disability and we decided to follow his best friend to Charlotte, NC where I could get a better paying job. We planned to move to Charlotte over New Year's weekend between 2006 and 2007. By the way - bankruptcy sucks. We knew we wouldn't be able to buy a house for a while, and that we'd have to hold off buying new cars for a few years, but we had trouble renting a house. Are you kidding me? We had to pay the first month's rent and two deposits before they trusted us, but they did and we still happily live there. Anyway, we moved to Charlotte, I got a job the first full week we were there that doubled my previous salary, and I still happily work there. Joey has found better doctors than he could have hoped for in our tiny KY town, or anywhere close by (trust me, I know, we looked). Our daughter is in an awesome (ridiculously expensive) daycare, our son is getting ready to start kindergarten, and we are happy. We still deal with Joey not being a well person every day, and we still deal with the effects of having to declare bankruptcy, but we are a family and we are together.

My point to this blog is to say, in the beginning when all of this craziness began happening, it was so easy to say, "But if he'd paid for it, we wouldn't be in this situation." But that keeps you from appreciating where you are now. We LOVE Charlotte, I've made some truly wonderful friends, and we are happier than we ever were in KY. So now, I say thanks to the idiot who backed out on us, and look forward to the years to come with my family.