Thursday, December 20, 2007

I AM READY!!! ~ almost . . .

This is the most prepared for Christmas I have EVER been five days before the big day. With that being said, I still need two gifts for Ryan's side of the family (we did another drawing, don't get me started on drawings . . . ), my mother, my stepmom, the white elephant gift for the extended family party and a few gifts to even out the oldest two kids. That isn't too bad.

Although I also need to get the stocking staples: underwear, socks, toothbrush, hairbrush, toothpaste, earrings for one, matchbox cars for the other, and candy. I already covered the carebears, the lipsmackers, the quarters, makeup, and superballs. I am doing good.

Then again, I should go grab something for the BFFs. I haven't gotten them anything in three Christmases. Sounds horrible, but I prefer to give gifts when the moment hits me. Don't feel sorry for them. They get gifts about eight times a year. So I am still okay.

And Ryan, ugh. Buying him a gift is the hardest thing in the world. Some people are hard to buy for because they have everything. This isn't Ryan. Some people are hard to buy for because they are picky. That isn't Ryan. What makes him hard is he comes up with GREAT ideas. He will go on and on about what he wants. Then, he goes out and periodically buys everything on his list for himself. Ugh.

I guess this means I don't look prepared at all, but really, I swear I am. The two babies are done (assuming their ebay purchase gets here Friday like scheduled), the top of Santa's wish list is covered, 12 out of 14 blankets are completed, and my gift is done.

And really, aren't those the important ones :)

- Sara

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

TSO Tradition

Ryan and I have a Christmas tradition. For the past three years he has taken me to the TSO concert when it comes to town. The first year was hard. My baby daughter was only four months old and I didn't want to leave her. The only reason I went is because Ryan seemed so excited to go AND since I had left her a few weeks earlier to go to the Paul McCartney concert, I couldn't really pull out the "I can't leave the baby" card. (Hey, he's a BEATLE!!!! It's different) We went and it was amazing. Had I known lasers and shooting fire were involved, I wouldn't have whined so much.

When we went for the second time last year, my baby boy was even younger, but I knew how fun the show was going to be, so I went without one complaint. There were even MORE lasers and lights. Super fun.

This year I was looking forward to the Christmas concert, but I had already seen it twice, and thought it might be fun to take the older two kids. Ryan wasn't sure if they would sit through a three hour show on a school night, but he bought the tickets. It was my turn to be the overly excited one for the concert. It nearly broke my heart when my oldest was being a brat. She didn't WAAAAANT to go. She would be BOOOOOOORED. My defenses went up. "Fine," I told her. "If you don't like it and you are bored, next year your sister can go instead." This seemed to be a fair deal to her and she got in the car.

I am pretty sure the sight of the auditorium is the moment my kids began to realize this trip might be fun. They had only gone to events at the older and smaller auditorium in town. This one is much bigger. As we were headed to our seats, we ran into my ex-in-laws - small world!

Now the kids were extremely excited. They got popcorn and our seats, although a tad high up and further toward the back, were front row in our section. The kids wouldn't have to miss any moment behind some tall person's head.

The lights dimmed and the first song began. The instant the lasers hit, my kids let out a scream of amazement. It was the best!

Three hours was a bit long. Ryan even bought them some cotton candy midway to perk them up a bit. I told him it was horrible, but he wanted to make sure they got to see the finale. At one point, as my son began to drift out during a slower song, I put him in my lap. I began to tear up. It was the first time in a LONG time I got to snuggle with him. Before the second set of rugrats came along, he was my cuddle baby. I missed it. I took a moment to enjoy the moment and file the memory and hoped it wouldn't be the last time he crawled into my lap. Of course two songs later my daughter asked for a turn. Man, she is nearly as big as I am at this point, but I made it work.

All in all it was a great night. During the finale I asked my daughter, "Are you bored?" She looked at me with wide eyes and shook her head no.

I can't wait for next year.

- Sara

Monday, December 17, 2007

Blanket update

Ten blankets down, four to go!

Now I am trying to figure out what order to do them in case I run out of time. I could keep the new baby blanket last and claim I didn't know someone was pregnant (in our family, this happens a bunch). But at the same time, a newborn would benefit most from a baby blanket!

I suppose I will finish the baby one today sometime and work on the 10, 11, and 12 year old blankets next. I will keep you posted :)

- Sara

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shopping with Quads

And while we are talking shopping, we had another rude comment lady that put a twist on our pet peeve. MomBFF was shopping in the mall for a cocktail dress for her husband's company's holiday party. Since it was only two days after the shooting, she asked for BFF support to come with her. It was near lunch time, but since we all had hair appointments to make, we pushed through!

I was super excited they all were being behaved. I had my daughter in my mei tai sling (thank goodness she is still under 30 pounds) and the other three were sitting in a nice little bunch in between the racks MomBFF was browsing. A lovely sales associate came over to see if we needed help and said something to the effect of, "I remember those day, wow that takes me back," but then she said one of those things that can come off harsh, "Don't worry, it will get better."

Okay lady
1. These aren't my only kids. I have already done "this part" with two others. I don't need you telling me "it will get better" since I am already an expert at the near future!
2. Get better? What needs to get better? We have three two year olds and one 15 month old sitting quietly in an upscale store.

Why does EVERYONE assume that four kids at this age are hard? They aren't! Maybe, just maybe ***WARNING, rant coming*** if you don't spend all day with your children and shove them in a daycare for 12 hours at a time and then pick them up only to feed them fast food in the car drive home and set them in front of a TV until bed time and send them to grandma or even "dad's house" for the weekend and don't KNOW you children very well, then MAYBE THEN you would think four toddlers are hard. But for me and my friend, we have it covered.

-whew- I feel better. I don't really think anyone parents that way. And I get that for many people four kids would be something they want to get through to the "better." I just wish they could recognize that for some of us out there, this is the best part!

Oh, and she, unlike most people, did come back and make it better. She sensed my annoyance when I answered her with, "Oh I don't know, I think this part is really good." She said she only meant that she and her brother where terrors at that age, as well as her own children. Then she complimented how wonderful they were being.

Of course if the lady at our second store had made the comment, I would have understood. By the time we hit the next store it was past nap time and the kids had had enough. One was running circles around a rack, one was attempting to make snow angels on the tiled floor, one was trying to escape the mei tai, and I was playing tug of war with a scarf and the fourth one hoping it would keep her from taking off.

That particular sales associate simply said, "Oh wow! Are they quads? They look like so much fun!" Go figure :)

- Sara

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crap Shoot Comment

So I am in a store looking for extension cords since our yard needed three more to become a complete Christmas wonderland. I had my MomBFF with me and all four of our toddlers. She took the boys in her cart while I took the girls. I chose the wrong gender! My daughter wasn't particularly happy about being stuck in a cart that morning and refused to stop screaming her fool head off.

I did my best to distract her, which worked for minutes at a time. I tried holding her. I even thought letting her walk for a spell would calm her down, but she was in a mood that wouldn't quit. The only way to keep her quiet was to half hug her while she sat in the front of the cart. This made navigating through the store a tad difficult, but hey, you do what you have to do.

It's funny how I mother differently the more children I have. If it had been my oldest having a rough toddler moment, I would have been mortified and left the store. By the time I had my second child, an endless mood would have been dealt with by waiting it out in a deserted part of the store until I could calmly finish my shopping.

By the time you have a third and fourth child, you don't have time to put off most shopping trips. You don't even have enough time to wait out tantrums in the parking lot or bathrooms. Suddenly, and maybe it isn't so much having four kids, just school aged children as well as toddlers, you are always on a time crunch when it comes to errands.

At least I don't have so many kids that I deal with fits by completely ignoring them. I still have a soft heart and hate having my child miserable, but I did the best I could. Things were going okay until I found the extension cords. I had to let her go to fill the cart. I knew my only option was to grab them fast!

That is when the rude comment hit. It wasn't even made in my earshot. It was made to my MomBFF. As she was making her way to my area of the store, a woman who must have been annoyed by my daughter, noticed our sons being good in her cart and said, "Aren't you glad that isn't YOUR kid?"

This is why I love her, she answered, "That IS my kid." The lady looked confused so she clarified, "yes, I have triplets, she is one of them." MomBFF told me she didn't quite apologize, but muttered something about not realizing we were together and hurrying off.

Serves her right. It is one thing to make gossipy comment about other people's kids to your BFF while you shop. I see women do it to us all the time. Mouths gaping at the fact we have seven of them around us. I will admit it too. More than once I have whispered to my friend to look at what the kid in the next cart is doing. It's called people watching and it's fun. But when you try and do it with strangers, now it feels more like an insult. Yes? And really, like in this woman's case, it can be a crap shoot.

Thanks JM for sticking up for me and my daughter!

- Sara

Monday, December 10, 2007

From Babies to College

I have come up with a solution to my baby addiction. Reborn dolls. Have you seen these things? You need to go to ebay and search reborn ooak (one of a kind). Artists take dolls and repaint them, add hair, add eyelashes, open up the nose to look more real, give them manicures, give them pedicures, add magnets behind the mouth to add a pacifier for when they get "fussy," and even weight them down with sand or pellets to get them up to 4 - 6 pounds. Unbelievable!

They freak Ryan out, but I would LOVE to have one sitting on the couch and throw a party. I know I could fool at least a few of my friends. Maybe when my baby hits school I will start a collection. Instead of making the real thing I can display a few of their doll counterparts. Of course if I start bringing them to bed or trying to nurse them, Ryan may commit me. :)

The more I think about having more kids, the more confused I get about whether or not I want more. I love kids. I love being with them 24 hours a day. With the exception of more laundry and more food on my kitchen floor, I love everything about them. I even love watching them grown up.

Yesterday I was sitting at the computer working on a spreadsheet for my brother's business as my oldest daughter played with my hair. She was giving my ponytails and complaining that short hair wasn't as fun to design. At the same time I was having a conversation through IM with Ryan who was sitting ten feet away in the family room.

Discussing how funny she was about my hair turned into a conversation about college vs. hair school. That conversation led to a discussion about our second source of income, our rental houses. I was trying to figure out how many houses we need to pay for college and retirement, and how long it would take to pay them off using the profits they generate. Then it hit me:

College is only ten and a half years away.

Wow, not a long time when you are trying to build equity. Then I have one more in college the year after she goes. Once we get the first two out, we have two more going back to back. I guess retirement will have to wait until we are 50.

As much as I would love to have another baby to hold 24 hours a day, I am looking forward to the next stage of life. The one where the whole family gets to be on the mountain skiing instead of me at the condo playing with toddlers. The one where I get to run the oldest to gymnastics, then next one to wrestling, the next one to dance class, and the baby to swim lessons. As it stands we have already left the breastfeeding stage. I have forgotten how much it zaps your energy. My hyper nature is coming back and I love it.

Enough rambling, I need to get back to those blankets. I am behind on my schedule, tsk, tsk.

- Sara

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cute Costumes~!

Thanks to Jennifer in Arkansas for sharing this adorable photo of her Annies on Halloween. She gets an award for most detailed outfits. Those are authentic Sandy dogs, red wig, and although you can't see them, Annie lockets. WAY TO GO JENNIFER! Don't worry, I already yelled at her for not going as Grace.

I have tried for the past four years to get Ryan to dress up with me. I was spoiled with a father who did. Can you believe my mother made those? I will have to ask my mom her secret. Maybe instead of asking Ryan to dress up, I should make him an outfit and cry about how important it is to me if he refuses . . . . man I am evil.

- Sara

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sara's Santa Story

And speaking of Santa . . . I don't know why more adults don't simply commit. I understand having trouble committing to relationships. The divorce rate is so high it is scary. I even understand the problems committing to a car. Shiny new models can easily turn very resonable people away from the idea of using a car until it won't run anymore - I get it.

But Santa? We can't commit to Santa? Santa is real and I am beginning to feel like I am the only adult out there defending him.

I vividly remember Christmas Eve when I was five or six years old. My older cousin, who was the smartest girl I knew, wanted to tell me a big secret. She led me into the entry way of my Grandparents house and told me Santa was really her parents. I couldn't wrap my brain around the concept. I wondered how my aunt and uncle could be Santa when they clearly didn't live at the north pole and were way too skinny! She tried to clear it up by saying she had seen them wrapping presents and my parents did the same thing. I didn't believe her. I knew MY parents didn't do such things.

Maybe it was the same year, or possibly the next Christmas, Santa came early. We had been at the Christmas Eve pageant at school followed by Grandmas house. When we got home, Santa had already come! We were able to open our presents before leaving for out of town. It COULDN'T have been my parents. They were with me all night.

As I got older, I am sure I had my doubts, but even by the age of 11 I still had a 6 year old brother who needed assurance that Santa would come to our house. There were a few years of trying the snoop method at Christmas, but I always came up short. He seemed real. He always brought the gifts my mother SWORE she would never get us. Nintendo was banned in my household, that is until Santa brought one.

In high school I was ready to get confirmation from the one person who always told me the truth. My brother, sister and I went to our mother to force the truth out of her. "Come on mom, we know about Santa, you can tell us. Seriously, admit it."

But she wouldn't budge. Finally she looked at the three of us very seriously and said, "Santa is real. He is the spirit of giving. Without him, no one would get presents. If you choose not to believe, I guess he will stop coming." That was all it took for me. I BELIEVE! My mother wasn't like my best friend's mom and dad. They got toys from the store all year round. In my house, presents and toys were only received on birthdays and from Santa. Since Santa was so generous, we never even got gifts from mom on Christmas. I BELIEVE! I know he is real because he hasn't stop coming. I still get presents under my moms tree.

Nearly 15 years later, after a serious conversation about school work, my daughter continued to linger around me with a weird smile on her face. I asked her if she had a question for me. "Is Santa really real?"

I grabbed both her hands and looked her straight in the eyes, "Yes, he's really real."

We went on to talk about how he is one of the few magical beings in this world. I was surprised at how little it took to assure her. Kids want to believe, and who wouldn't.

Do I feel guilty? Absolutely not. I have heard horror stories of kids scarred for life when they walked in on mom and dad. There were kids who hated their parents when they fessed up the truth. I even knew a girl in elementary school whose parents never had Santa visit. They didn't feel it was right to lie under any circumstances. I can respect that ideal.

What irks me to the core is the ones in the middle. Santa is so special, but he takes effort. Even my kids understand how busy Santa must be. He needs his helpers like the ones in the mall. That is where the commitment comes into play. Last year Santa's helpers weren't as careful as they should have been. A few gifts would have blown their cover, so they had to go back. I suppose next year Santa's workshop will have to move to Grandma's house to make sure his magic stays magical.

I know one thing that IS true across the board. When you stop believing, he stops coming. Since I don't get my kids presents on Christmas, I am guessing they will believe as long as I have.

And thanks Mom, for keeping the magic alive. In hind sight, the commitment was noticed. And it was greatly appreciated.

- Sara

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dear Santa, 2007

This is the first year my son has been able to write a Christmas list. I love Love LOVE how writings reflect the child. This is straight from his word document -

Dear Santa,

I would like Spy gear.
An I pod.
A webkinz that is a monkey.
wood shop motor shop.
Electric guitar
Tommy 20
A car that has three wheels that can drive almost anywhere.
A phone.
A truck and you haft to pack be for it pops.
A trap that goes in your room.
A toothbrush that can make music in your head.
A reel snake.

Personally, I enjoy all the periods at the ends of the "sentences." It made me giggle when he was whining about his misspellings. I tried to tell him that Santa will know what he means, but he was still upset. "There are still words with wavy red lines! That means they aren't RIGHT!" He is a little perfectionist just like the rest of the family.

And literal! I love that he added "drive almost anywhere." Don't say it if you don't mean it. You can't drive it on the ceiling! The last line is also classic. With half the family allergic to pet dander, we have the rule - No pets with fur. I was trying to leave it open for fish. No, my child finds the lizard and reptile loop hole. I should have made the rule - nothing that breathes air.

It amazes me how high tech the lists are getting. Ipod, electric guitar and a phone? Seriously? A six year old? My seven year old daughter's list was simply - Ipod, camera, phone, video camera, and computer. I was waiting for her to ask for a car. I remember my parents saying things like - "kids these days grow up too fast," but this is ridiculous.

And what is with the stupid toys this year. A game where you have to pack the trunk of the SUV before the timer runs out? Sounds more like 2 AM as we are leaving for Colorado, not a game.

Color streaks for your hair? I understand the appeal, but really? You are going to sell a tube of colored hair gel along with a cheap plastic straightener type object? Yes, because that will get the results they show on the TV! Let's not leave out the bedazzeler for your hair. Save yourself some money and go get the hair jewels that have velcro on the back. You don't need a special contraption to attach them, and they slide right out.

Thank the LORD above they recalled the Aqua Dots. I was not looking forward to those all over my house. I am going to have a wonderful time as it is with the moon sand and play doh.

Or my all time favorite this year. A puppy who, over a few days, becomes a full grown dog. It also responds to the name you give him as well as yours. Okay, cute idea, but who is the moron who came up with the name for this toy? Puppy Grows and Knows Your Name. Trying to find it on google, yes, it works out, but come on! You are toy makers for crying out loud. Be creative!

"What are you going to name your baby?"
"Baby Sleeps and Nurses and Poops and will Eventually Hate You for Raising Him Wrong"

"Is this your husband?"
"Yes, his name is Big Tech Geek Who Pays the Bills and Keeps the Mamma Happy. This is our daughter Girl Eats Alot and Stays Up Late and Asks Too Many Questions. Our son Tiny Boy Who Doesn't Stop Talking and Thinks He's Sneaky."

Yes, this toy had me laughing for hours one slap happy night. Ryan was ignoring me, but I had my self so amused I had tears running down my face.

Okay, enough nonsense. I better go email Santa.

- Sara

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Shoes Blues

I love my husband with every ounce of my being, and at 16 ounces per pound, that is a massive amount! As much as I love him, he is banned from shoe shopping for the kids. I know you are probably asking, "Sara! Why in the world did you send a man to buy shoes?" That is the best part. I didn't. This sweet man decided to go all by himself.

It must have been sparked by the fact that neither had snow boots. The pink pair were missing, and my son was walking on tip toes to fit in his favorite blue pair. My daughter, who has jumped from a size 1 this summer to a size 3 currently, was also lacking in the tennis shoe area. She was content to wear her black loafers and pink crocks to school. I guess the lack of weather appropriate foot wear drove him insane enough to take action. What he didn't know is I was waiting for the grandmas to help out in this area for Christmas. We put a limit on the toys we are willing to accept into our already crowded playroom. Shoes and boots were a perfect substitute. I guess I forgot to mention this to my husband, but seriously, how many men out there bother to notice what the kids have on their feet?

After a lazy Sunday afternoon he announces he is going to hit the store and the big two should come with him. I stayed at home with the littler pair of kids, who were happy to play with blocks while mommy crocheted. Then I got a phone call.

"Why can't I find size 4 boots?"

I don't blame him for that one. Not too many people know that girls sizes are a bit weird when you hit the size four mark. A size four in girls is the same size as a six in womens. I don't know why, but I know I enjoy being able to say I can fit in a four. As I hung up the phone, the feeling of . . . oh no, what sweet thing has he done now that will end up annoying the crap out of me . . . set into my stomach.

Trust me, I know how bratty I am acting. Some women would love to have a man who goes shopping with the kids, but I am a control freak, and to be honest, a completely spoiled rotten brat. I admit it. I do my best to act splendidly happy when the three of them come home to surprise me with stange and unusual gifts. My favorite is the 12" blue ceramic tree frog they knew I would love. And I do, but do you really want those three individuals in charge of daily foot wear?

The kids came home excited to show me their new buys. I tried very hard not to look annoyed.

1 - Light up tennis shoes, do I have to say more? They drive me nuts. Okay, it is slightly adorable to watch a two year old stomping around bent over as they admire their pretty shoes, but on a six year old, not so cute.
2 - White tennis shoes, shoot me now. These are going to look ragged after a week. I suppose some 7 year old girls could handle all white tennis shoes, but my daughter runs the mud puddles with the best of them.
3 - White boots. Can't complain too much here. They were only $4.00 on clearance. Don't they make black ones anymore?
4 - Not quite sized right. Each shoe is nearly two fingers too big. I understand kids grow fast, but they are going to wear them out before they fit.

Of course I didn't complain, and I won't take them back. He was proud of himself and said it made him feel like a "real dad" doing an important errand with the kids. I will admit I should give up some control in the kid department. Even though I am being a good mom taking care of everything, I am robbing him of having his own parent experiences. Maybe I will let go of some of them . . . but from now on, not shoes . . .

- Sara

Monday, December 3, 2007

Blankets Keep Blogger Busy

I am in the middle of a blanket marathon. My father's side of the family is fairly large - seven brothers and sisters. With that many aunts and uncles, there are 18 cousins. The next generation of cousins is growing every year as well. We are up to 17 with one on the way.

About four months ago I found myself in the midst of a dilemma. I was at my favorite craft store, standing in the middle of the yarn department knowing I was banned from buying more yarn until I had utilized more of my reserves at home. It was HORRIBLE! Skeins of super cute yarn were marked down to 99 cents. What is a crafter to do!? I simply needed a good reason to buy the fabulous yarn. Ta Da! The blankets for cousins plan was hatched.

I was able to buy enough colors for all the cousins under the age of four (including the one on the way): pink, light pink, blue, light blue, purple, light purple, yellow and peach. It was hard to keep the blankets a secret at Thanksgiving dinner, and I could have done it except for one minor detail - DJ. My cut off line was perfect, but he is pretty close. I asked my aunt if he would like a blanket.

Stay with me, this is how my mind works. If I make one for DJ, then I will also need to do one for his 11 year old sister. If I make one for her, then that only leaves my older cousin's kids, that is three more. Now I am up to 13 blankets. Who is missing? My four, they already have blankets . . . MY NIECE! I can't very well give all my second cousins blankets and leave out my niece. I made her one when she was an infant, but surely she doesn't remember. I went to my second favorite craft store on Black Friday to pick up more yarn.

Yes. I am trying to crochet 14 blankets. I picked a baby blanket pattern that takes four 3.5 oz skeins per blanket. Cross your fingers for me. Yesterday I hit the halfway mark. I am done with five baby blankets and two of the bigger kid ones. As long as I do one skein a day from now until Christmas (with a few days of two skeins thrown in there) I am perfectly on track.

I promise to bump up the blogging as my fingers heal :)