Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School

But first:
This is what Brenden looked like Sunday
First Day of School
In the classroom
And this is Doug this morning:
In search of moose

Friday, August 21, 2009


I fully realize that my parenting stories are no worse than anyone else's. I also realize that things could be so much worse, and are for some people. I am not in search of sympathy - this is simply my form of ventilation. I can appreciate people's blogs where they only share the happy days, but this isn't one of those places. When you read my "issues," realize they're out there not only as my personal outlet, but for your entertainment purposes as well. At least I hope you're entertained - I would be. If it weren't happening to me, that is.

Fall Already

After falling asleep reading on the floor last night, Brenden just woke up, rolled over and picked back up where he left off in his book. No bathroom break, no stretching, nothing.

Fall is in the air. Last night Doug walked out the door and said, "It smells like Fall." If you don't know what that means, you live in the wrong place! It is a crisp, cold, wonderful smell. The fireweed is mostly red up in Anchorage, indicating that it is fall. It is a little slower down here on the peninsula. You really know it's fall in Alaska when they start plowing down all of the vegetation on the side of the road to make room for piles of snow. I sadly watched last week as they plowed the bushes that hide our house from the road. Not all of them, but enough. Along the highway, it looks like a 20 foot lawnmower drove down the side of the road.

Summer was brief. Texas to Alaska is a big change. I can' t say that I miss the humidity, but being able to swim year round was a perk. I had a perma-tan back then. I looked like I was wearing a swim suit even when I was naked. Now my skin never sees the light of day. Jacket weather is nice, but I'm not sure about year round. We did have some warm days, but it was like I was always sitting here waiting for summer and now it's gone. I'm not ready to start preparing for snow!

I have lots to do, but I don't want to do anything after the last few days I had. I do, however need to stop by Brenden's school and make sure everything is ready for him to make his appearance on Monday. There's so much more to do though. We'll see how far I get.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Someday I'll learn...

... never to go to Anchorage without Doug. On the way there, I was behind a very slow truck. We finally made it to a section of highway where there were two lanes in my direction and I tried to pass on the left. The truck, on the right, sped up as well. It finally occurred to me that traffic in the other direction only had one lane and it was backed up pretty far. I sped up to pass the truck so that the other traffic could use our left lane as their passing lane. I sped up for only a moment to pass this ONE truck and at that moment, I also passed a cop. I also happened to be in a "Safety Zone," which means double fines. $202. AND I was almost late to pick up the paperwork I HAD to have by 6:00 or we had nowhere to stay for the night. We got to the hotel, had dinner, went swimming (how daring of us to not wait 45 minutes!), and went to bed.

About a week ago, I called to double check what time our audiology appointments were. 3:00, 4:00, and 5:00, I was told. We had a lazy morning the next day. At 11:30, I got a call. We had missed Ethan's 11:00 appointment. Huh? We rushed to the office and they were still able to fit us in. Back at the hotel, Ethan took a nap and then we were back in the audiologist's office.

Brenden had his hearing checked first. He needed his implant tweaked for the last time before school starts. I think he got a good map (program) this time. I have already noticed a difference.

Ethan's hearing has dropped significantly. It has been less than a month and a half since our last appointment, so the drop was a surprise. The good news was that he got new hearing aids and they seem to be helping him. He is repeating words and turning when I say things. He also got an FM system that I am totally in love with. I wear a microphone and now when he runs away in the store, I have hope that he might hear me call him back.

When we walked into the room, there was a girl wearing an Idaho State sweatshirt. She is an audiology student at Idaho State. It was her last day with the audiologist's office. Now that I am documenting it, it doesn't sound so exciting, but what are the chances? We talked about all of the teachers from the program - most of whom I've met either through my masters program or because my kids have seen them for appointments. She was only going to stay a half day, but stayed through the entire day for us.

It is always hard to go to these appointments with all the kids and just one me. It's like a juggling act. I get a lot of comments from other people: "Wow, you're brave" "Three boys! They must keep you busy," etc. etc. Today as I was trying to herd everyone out the office door (Ethan refusing to leave, Nolan too busy talking to leave - he can never talk and do anything else at the same time, and Brenden trying to walk with his nose in a book), one lady said, "You must not make it very many places." No, not really, thank you for noticing.

We made it to one store for school shopping before we were all ready to kill each other. One has to pee, so we ALL have to go. Ethan poops, so we ALL have to trek out to the car for a diaper and wipes and then into the bathroom. Brenden was trying on clothes and the other two were climbing out from under the dressing room door. I especially hate when I am trying something on and just as I am undressed, someone suddenly disappears under the door. Finally, it was time to go and no one wanted to leave, so they all ran in opposite directions screaming. Among all of that, Nolan NEVER stops talking. He's three...

We gave up on the shopping and went back to the hotel, ate dinner, and went swimming again. Brenden can't wear his implant in the pool and Ethan can't wear his hearing aids. Brenden likes to run WAY ahead of the rest of us, but never knows where he's going. There is NO WAY for me to stop him. I can't sign at the back of him and I certainly can't call after him. I just have to try my hardest to round up the ever-talking slow poke (Nolan) and the one who likes to run away (Ethan) and stand in one spot until Brenden returns looking for us. It happens ALL of the time and you would think Brenden would remember how mad I was the LAST time he did it. I was standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs Brenden unnecesarily went up (and I wasn't about to drag 2 little people with short legs, 3 pool noodles, one floating car, a bag full of inflated balls, and myself up the flight of stairs to retrieve him and then walk back down), when a lady walked by obviously wondering why I didn't just yell after the kid. I always want to tell people: Mind your own dang business!

As I was unlocking the door to the room, the phone was ringing. It was a call from the manager telling us that they were having several complaints about the abnormal noise level coming from our room. I was MAD - as if I wasn't frustrated already! We weren't even there for most of the day, we were barely walking back in the room, and I am only one person with three little people - two of which often can't hear how loud they are! I profusely apologized - unnecessarily - and then was grumpy for the rest of the night. Brenden kept asking me, "Why are you so angry with us?"

The next morning, I woke the kids, got them dressed, reminded them 1,975,347 times to be quiet, and started packing up our stuff. I got to a point where I knew it would be easy to finish the packing, but we needed to leave right then to make it to our audiology appointment on time. When we returned, the room was empty. The bed was changed, the curtains were drawn, and it smelled of clorox. Our stuff: nowhere. I called the front desk and told them. They seemed totally unconcerned and said they would contact house keeping. I walked out into the hall and attempted a conversation with a non-English speaking housekeeper. She "thought" we had checked out.

WHY WOULD ANY INTELLIGENT PERSON THINK THAT WE HAD CHECKED OUT IF ALL OF OUR CLOTHES, MY CHILDREN'S BLANKIES, AND EVEN OUR FOOD WAS STILL IN THE ROOM? We had a fridge full of leftovers, gatorade, milk, and fruit. We had a drawer full of granola bars, applesauce, fruit snacks, rice crispy treats, mandarin oranges... We had library books, a crib set up, our luggage, MY LAPTOP... WHY WOULD YOU THINK WE HAD CHECKED OUT!? It was ALL gone. The non-English speaking housekeeper had thrown away all of the food except the bag with the granola bars, applesauce, and mandarin oranges and it was in the bottom of her cleaning cart under the dirty sheets. A snack for later? She threw away all of our leftovers (which were supposed to be our lunch), all of our drinks, unopened fruit snacks and rice crispy treats, oranges, bananas, apples... The housekeeping supervisor arrived with our other items, in trash bags. She said it was ALL there and we were set to go.

As I stepped into the elevator, I realized that my portable crib wasn't there. The hotel had thought it was theirs and taken it to their storage area. The sheet: lost in their laundry. As I was standing at the front desk bawling, the housekeeping supervisor appeared with my crib and a sand paper textured sheet. I handed it back and told her "This is NOT my sheet - mine is soft and jersey. Go find it." She told me it was in the laundry. I told her "I know that it's inconvenient for you to go digging for it, but this is all REALLY inconvenient for me." She returned to tell me it was already in the washer and I would have to wait a half hour. We bought ANOTHER lunch and sat in the lobby waiting for the sheet.

As we waited, Ethan disappeared in the elevator, Nolan was terribly naughty, and Brenden told me to take some medicine to make me stop crying. I then realized that I hadn't seen our swim suits among our trash bags of treasure. I had to go get another room key and trudge all three kids up to the freshly cleaned room. Immediately, they all started climbing on the beds, wrapping themselves up in the curtains, and generally running amuck. Was I still a nice, patient mom at this point? You bet not. I was a spanking, fire breathing, ball of fury. Our swim suits were still out on the balcony where I had hung them to dry.

When I returned to my waiting in the lobby, the housekeeping supervisor came to me and told me she didn't want to see me cry. It wasn't this ONE event I was crying about, it was my entire, impossible trip to Anchorage. The front desk staff stared at me like I was a major nut case and talked about me as if I didn't know what they were doing. When I spoke with one, they all disappeared to discuss the latest break in the nut job's case. No one seemed at all apologetic or embarrassed at the mess they had caused. The nicest person during all of this time: the chef who happened to walk by and see me crying my eyes out.

Eventually they brought me the sheet, still soaking wet, straight out of the washer. By the time all of this transpired, it was 2:00 and time to go to Nolan and Ethan's eye appointments. There are no pediatric optometrists near our home. Generally, they both have vision typical for their age. Nolan is slightly far sighted and I am sure it will go the opposite way if anything because Doug and I are both near sighted. Ethan has astigmatism in both eyes. The optometrist is concerned about his left eye because his astigmatism is not normal. She gave us prescriptions for glasses just in case we wanted to get them filled, but advised us to just have them re-tested in a year. They make appointments a year ahead for the same day, same time as the previous year's appointment. Odd. Their appointments were at 2:45 and 3:15 and we left at 5:30.

Brenden had his vision tested last week. It is also normal for his age. That day also consisted of waiting for 2 hours for the additional chicken pox shot newly required for school this year, only to discover Brenden already had it. The waiting wasn't for nothing though. Ethan got 2 shots - poor, unprepared kid. Nolan's shot record has written in that he got his first Hep A at birth. They don't accept that here because there are no initials. His 4th Hep A was given 2 days before he was six months, so they won't accept that either. Although he has had 4 doses, they say he needs two more before he can start school next year since they won't count two of his.

Back to my complaining - I'm almost done. We were supposed to do more school shopping, but 2 out of 3 kids fell asleep in the car, so we decided to come home instead. I think we stopped every three minutes for an hour trying to fix one thing or another. On one of those stops - a potty stop - Brenden woke up the 2 sleeping kids. I was VERY fortunate and they were all well behaved on the way home. I followed EVERY traffic law on the way home and chose to never pass a single car. We made it home by 9:00 - just an hour late for bed. Brenden is asleep on the floor. He looks very uncomfortable, but he's staying there. He fell asleep reading, as usual.

That reminds me - the vibrating alarm. Brenden says that when it shakes his bed, it just makes him want to snuggle up. I felt the same way when I tried it out. So much for that.

Abby - no, I am not teaching seminary this year. I would like to maintain a small portion of my sanity. These boys are keeping me teetering on a thin line.

Don't get me wrong. My kids are good. It just seems that when the circumstances are already difficult, the kids take advantage of me being flustered and have a party with my emotions. We have really good days too. Most of those just involve staying home.

Yee Haw!

August 15, I had the kids all ready for bed when there was a knock at the door. It was Catie, our usual babysitter. She and her mom (Doug's co-worker) had come over with horses for the kids to ride. What a surprise!

Girl's Night Out

August 13 my friend Tiffany arranged for girl's night at her family's cabin. We left our children at home with our husbands - kind of - and met for a night of girls only fun. I say kind of because Holly's husband was gone, so her kids were at my house and Tiffany's husband ended up with all of their kids at my house for the night too. I told Angeline that she should have sent Matt and the kids to my house too, but her six would have significantly increased the child to adult ratio. We ate, played games, and acted on a single impulsive questionable whim. No running water and no electricity (although there is a generator) mean no laundry, no dishes, just relaxing.

My best friend got married 9 years ago this month and I followed by three months. We all know how that newlywed marital bliss takes over any other relationship you previously had with ANYONE. I went years without a friend - literally, YEARS. When we moved to Idaho, we found a couple that we spent a lot of time with (and miss tons), but I have always kind of been the mom who never leaves her kids behind, so we never just did girl stuff. And now, for the first time in a long time, I have honest to goodness friends! I have emerged from my "mom" shell and have branched out. I feel like me when I am with them and never have to feel afraid of them not accepting me for me.

The following morning, the men and children showed up.

Poor Matt somehow ended up on kid duty. He was severely outnumbered. There's a whole other boat of children somewhere outside of the picture.
Nolan, Me, Gavin (Nolan's butt double) and Connor
Down time for the kids (and relief for Matt).
16 kids to 7 adults
Matt, Angeline, and Aiden
Connor puked on me. Not a flattering face, I know.
Jeremy was all about safety first. He installed the railing that afternoon.
12 kids, 4 adults at this point.
Ethan and Me

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Smarty Pants

Pretty soon my boys are going to completely outsmart me. Today as I was riding my bike down a hill with the kids in the trailer, my three year old informed me that "gravity will bring us back down." Brenden then announced, "I taught him that."

A few days ago I bought Brenden an alarm clock. It took me months to decide on one. I finally asked his opinion. He wanted one with a light that will wake him up. So I looked and found one that vibrated, had a lamp outlet, and I was willing to buy. It also has an insanely obnoxious high decibel SUPER LOUD alarm which I hope to never hear in my home. Doug didn't like it. In the very end, I gave Brenden 3 or 4 to choose from and he chose one that will vibrate his bed and has a little LED light (which I believe will have no part in actually waking him). It has a very cool blue night light function though - I am positive that's what sold him on it. It was the ONLY analog clock, so now Brenden has been diligently working on reading an analog clock. Today was a time-telling matching game.
He did pretty well, but was stumped by a few.
I have been looking for strobe light fire alarms for years and can't decide on one. I like to research things out overly thoroughly. Doug likes to remind me that once I have spent months looking for a cheaper one that does all of the same things as the first one I found, I might as well have bought the expensive one and not wasted all of that time. I would always question my decision though...

My birthday is 3 days before Valentine's Day, so flowers are insanely priced. Yesterday was my half-birthday and Doug showed up with these:
I love when he buys me flowers, for the flowers yes, but he never gets them arranged so he can bring them home for me to arrange. (I used to be a florist in college.) Every single time I think of the first time I ever made an arrangement with flowers he brought me.

Doug and I had only known each other a short time when I got a call from him that he needed a favor and would I come over to his apartment. Of course, I went. There, in a vase was a HUGE assortment of wild flowers that he had spent the afternoon picking. He asked me to arrange them. When I asked him why he said they were for someone. My heart fell. I thought for sure he liked me and here I was making an arrangement for another woman. So I arranged the flowers and handed them back to him. That's when he told me they were for me. I took them back to my apartment and dried them. Every time we moved, they were the first thing hung on the wall until finally, after a few moves, they bit the dust. (You can only move dead flowers so many times - my wedding bouquet made it's exit back in Idaho.)

We are trying to make the most of the next 11 days until school starts, so forgive me if I'm absent for a little while.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Old Me

I.need.a.haircut. (Yes Jim, only one - it is in the bottom left quadrant.) There I said it, now maybe it will happen in the next 6 months. I know it is time to get my hair cut when I start wearing it in a pony tail every day and I have been doing that for oh, the last 2 months at least. And, as I was standing in the shower washing my way too long hair, I was thinking about my shampoo. 5 years ago (I'm not kidding) Doug bought Wal-mart out of clearance Herbal Essence shampoo and conditioner. 5 years later, every medicine cabinet is still full of the stuff. Love it, but hate to store it.

And that got me thinking (oh, the trailing thoughts of a woman) about the me I used to be.

I used to be all laid back, open to try anything, and on no form of an agenda. What happened to me? Sometimes when I fill out silly personality surveys, that's the person I pretend to be.

This weekend, for the first time since July 1, 2006, we went camping - how sad that I remember the date. Nolan was tiny, Ethan was non-existent. Cosmo had a run-in with a skunk and we had to sit in the car with him for hours afterward.

Now you're wondering how I got to this thought from needing a haircut - stick with me now. I have been filling my new garage shelves and finally, for the first time in WAY too many years, I know where ALL of my camping stuff is. I can't handle it all over the garage and when it is, I can't go camping. And so, storing shampoo made me think of camping. (I know, good grief... try being married to me and my random thought process...)

For the first time in years, I felt like the me I know I am. I LOVE to camp. I'm not talking about RV, pop-up trailer, or "Camping World" (long story, well, sort story for another time) camp. To me, there is nothing better than cuddling up in a sleeping bag shoved into a tent with too many people who you know and love, and on rare occasions, people you don't know - it HAS happened. I used to call Doug at work and say, "I'll pick you up after work and we'll got camping." We went on a totally last minute 3 day camping trip to Zion National Park once. Brenden slept through the night for the first time on his first camping trip.

And so, Friday, Doug called me from work and said, "Pack up the car and pick me up and we'll go camping." Ok, I'll admit it, at first I was like, "What the heck do you think I am?" And then I remembered ME. I found all of my perfectly arranged camping stuff and put it in the back of the car. Easy peasy. (Packing the fishing stuff was slightly harder - ew, and touching cured salmon eggs is disgusting.)

It was so much fun - I never realized how much I missed it. We camped on the beach in Homer. We got a late start and most of the "camping spots" ("spots" is a very loose term because on the beach, there are no "spots" - maybe I should say "space") were filled, so we shoved our little tent between an RV and the "Day Use Only" sign. It was fur-eezing.
Brenden had never heard of a mummy bag - he HAD to try out being a mummy.
(Ahem, yes Dustin that's your sleeping bag and yes, 9 years later, I still have it.)
There is a funny story that goes with the next two sleeping bags. I told it to Brenden for the first time as I was packing the car. Brenden's first Christmas - he was 9 months old - Doug and I decided we would each get him one present the other didn't know about. Christmas morning, Brenden opened 2 tiny sleeping bags. (Doug and I also got each other the exact same gift - Apples to Apples.)
In the morning, we went fishing in the lagoon.
And then played on the beach.
The wading started out innocent...
... and then, not so much.
Nolan, in the end, fell into the water up to his chest.

As I was organizing the camping stuff, (only to take it out hours later) I came across a portable hammock (which Brenden pronounces with 2 very distinct syllables: ham-ock) and stand that we have had for years and never used. Wow, half of that sentence was (in parenthesise). It was inevitable that the kids would fight over it, so I dug through some more camping stuff and came up with another hammock.
Brenden says this is him saying, "Where's Nolan?"
There he is!
I failed to mention that on the day Doug, Greg and I went bear viewing, I came home to this:
That glass door has been in the garage begging to be hung for a year. Thank you!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

17 posts...

... and now I am all caught up. Most of the pictures are poor quality because I knew that with the number of photos I put on here, the page would have taken an eternity to load. If you want to read it in order, I suggest starting from the bottom of the page and working your way up.

We need a vacation from our vacation - and it was the most expensive vacation I never left home for. After a few weeks of constant excitement, we aren't planning to leave the house today (with the exception of poor, tired Doug who is at work.) Now we have three weeks until Doug's sister Marinda comes to watch our kids while Doug and I go to CANCUN!

My parents have been trying to get all of my siblings and spouses to take a Cancun vacation for years. I think the first year was Doug's first year in pharmacy school. The next year I was pregnant. The next year I was nursing. The next year I was nursing again. Somewhere in there we were both in grad school. My sister and sister-in-law have similar stories for why they haven't gone. Finally, this year my little sister decided she was going to go. I started thinking about it. We have $50 companion fare tickets that we need to use, so I started looking for flights. Somehow that morphed into buying full-price plane tickets. I talked my brother into going and so now, after many years of waiting, we are all going to be in Cancun together!

Men at Work

Aug. 4 Grant and Greg finished my tile! (There is still a closet that needs tile, but I'll stick the door back on it and call it good for now.) I LOVE that the stairs are finally tiled! Everything looks less "under construction" now.
Practically the minute the last tile was down, Grant and Greg headed out to the garage and built me a whole wall of shelves. As soon as I am done with my update, I am going to go fill them! (They are about double what you can see in the picture.)

8/5/09 was our last day with family here. They loaded up the boat and went out for their final fishing excursion.
They had barely loaded up and the rain started to pour down.
They unloaded the boat, put it back on it's trailer and brought it home. It promptly stopped raining.

We played some pool...
...until the 2.5 foot handicap showed up.
We had a final fishy dinner and took them to the airport. We are all so sad they are gone. The house feels sad and lonely without them.