Thursday, March 29, 2007

I have hit the wall. I'm almost at a breaking point. Work, kids and a severe lack of sleep are wreaking havoc with my state of mind. One minute I'm yelling and the next I'm almost in tears. Tonight the chaos was almost too much.

I love severe weather. Fortunately, I have never lost a home, posessions or a loved one because of a tornado. That is probably why I still get an adrenaline rush when the wind picks up and the weatherman starts talking about tornado precautions.

Today would've been a great day to enjoy the smells and sounds of a severe thunderstorm. However, for once the kids were oblivious to the thunder and sirens. Usually, they are the first to start packing for a stay in the bathtub. Tonight, they were yelling and running throughout the house. Needless to say, there was no way Spencer was going to be able to settle down for his late afternoon nap. Once the storm (weather and the kids' activity) had passed, I felt a strong need to just sit outside by myself. But since I was the only adult at home, I couldn't leave the kids alone inside. So I tried to find a happy place in my head, eat my homemade pizza and pretend that the kids weren't destroying my room while they were watching TV.

Tomorrow is another day and maybe I'll actually get the many loads of laundry folded that are overflowing in the baskets in my living room. Have I mentioned that when the clutter reaches a certain point, I become very stressed? I have hit that point and I'm about to run right through the wall. Unfortunately, I have no time to run away anywhere right now.

To end on a positive note, I was listening to a CD I made for my husband for Valentine's Day. It contains a couple of songs from our wedding and some other love-related songs. God has amazing timing because as I drove home through the pouring rain, Martina McBride's song "Blessed" began to play. So right now I will thank God for all that I've been given.

When some couples struggle to have a child, I have been so blessed to have four health kids. While other people are stuck in jobs that suck the life out of them, I am fortunate to work for a group that appreciates even the little things and allows me the flexibility to spend time with my family. Some people are losing their homes because the mortgages are more than they can handle, while we live in a nice but cramped home in a great neighborhood. I could count so many blessings, but I might start to cry and my husband would think I really have lost it since I have such a "cold heart." :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Today was a crazy day. It started with a multi-car pileup during rush hour. Although I was thankfully not involved, it extended my drive time by 45 minutes. After putting in a quick hour and a half of work, I rushed back home to eat lunch with Anna in the cafeteria. I'll just say this -- Mazzio's pizza was not on the menu in my elementary school.

After lunch, I hurried back to the office to finish printing, folding and stuffing approximately 270 letters. It was an exciting task though, because about 100 of those letters were notifying applicants that their proposal was going to be funded.

Then I had to speed home to make it to the first of two parent-teacher conferences. Fortunately, both kids got good reviews. I was thrilled to hear that Anna, after a rough start in second grade, is reading at an early-to-mid third grade level, and Jeremy knows more sight words that I thought he did.

After the meetings, we loaded up the family and celebrated with dinner at Alfredo's, which is always a great way to end a day, but wait - it gets even better. It was bunko night! I have not been since December and I've missed the night out. It requires very little energy, we eat great food, we are able to chat and there are prizes. The host tonight outdid us all by having a Hawaiian theme. Now I'm going to have to come up with something good when I host in June.

After a day like that, I should be ready to crash, but being a night owl, I doubt I'll go to sleep anytime soon.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

It's a sad, sad, sad, sad world

The spring soccer season has begun, and while watching today's game, I learned some disturbing news. The treasurer of our community soccer organization has been accused of embezzeling $100,000 from the club. How desperate do you have to be to steal money from a kids' group? A police officer was quoted in the paper as saying the man is not a bad guy...he just made a stupid mistake.

I don't know why the guy did it, but it did get me thinking about why a person would be that desperate. Lately, I've been reading this book. So far, I really like this financial book, but once I added up our must-haves, it was obvious that were make enough to cover our necessary expenses with very little left for anything else. Which brings me to the question -- how do other people do it?

Our community has been growing like crazy the last few years. I see these big houses going up all over the area. These houses are listed anywhere from $140,000 to more than $300,000. And of course the people who live in these houses aren't driving 10-year-old cars either. So if at the minimum these people (assuming they have children) are living in houses with twice the mortgage that I have and paying at least one car loan, they have got to be bringing in almost six figures to support shelter and transportation as well as other expenses, such as groceries, clothing, dining out and other entertainment. That doesn't sound very realistic.

I try to be as content as possible since we do have a nice three bedroom house and nice vehicles that run (both happen to be nearly 10 years old). I'm not perfect. Yes, it would be nice to have a a bigger house with more room since the three boys share one room, but hopefully that day will come sometime in the next five years.

For now, I am enjoying the time I have to spend with my children and my husband because I am fortunate enough to only work part time. Of course there are days I miss the bigger salary I once had, but that is all I miss. I would much rather work in a place that appreciates me and allows me to have a personal life.

By the way, the soccer game ended in a tie. Anna did an awesome job as goalie, and she was thrilled because she played the entire game since the other goalie was home sick.

Date night

Last night would've been a perfect date night if Spencer* had slept through dinner. Since the three older kids were at the grandparents, D and I took the opportunity to have dinner at a new restaurant in town. It actually opened a few months ago, but since we're trying to limit dinners out, we usually reserve those few times for Alfredo's - our favorite Mexican restaurant. Anyway, the night was near perfection because since we had to go to dinner later (and because the restaurant is very small and new) we were the only ones in the place. Better yet -- they had a TV nearby showing the basketball tournament. However, Spencer was cranky for most of the meal, but when he smiles, it makes all these moments worth it.

So many thoughts going through my head about what I could write...the state legislature and the governor (AKA the state treasurer) trying to make the other look bad regarding the budget, bunko (I get to go for the first time since December!!) or the importance of putting your marriage first.

I know I've written about my relationship with my husband, but since I started out talking about date night, I'm going to keep going (I hope I'm not repeating something from one of the few posts I've written). Every year since we've been married, D and I have taken turns planning our anniversary celebration. We don't just go out to dinner. We set aside the whole weekend for ourselves. D usually does a much better job than I do. From the very beginning when he surprised me with a weekend at a murder mystery bed and breakfast, I have tried to come up with something amazing. I almost did it last year -- a trip to Malaysia. Alas, a water heater, totaled car and pregnancy took care of that plan.

As busy as we are and will continue to be, I hope we are always able to have more than a dinner to reflect on our marriage and spend some dedicated time with each other.

*Yes, I was going to give my kids pseudonyms, but I'm too tired for that.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Back to work

Since last week was so crazy, I decided not to do any work Monday and then we took a brief trip on Tuesday and Wednesday. We took the kids to the aquarium in Jenks, but we could've saved some time and stayed at a local hotel with an indoor pool. During most of the aquarium visit the the two older kids kept asking when we were going to the hotel. But it was all worth it when they saw the stingrays and shark. Actually, it was hard to get Dash to leave because he wanted to hang out at the stingray tank.

Of course once we left the aquarium, they started asking when they could go swimming. Needless to say, they had a great time. Jack loved doing cannonballs -- hard to believe he panics when I try to wash his hair in the bathtub.

Now the three oldest kids are at the grandparents for a couple of days so maybe I'll actually get a solid night of sleep. I've got a lot going on with work and a possible freelance job, so I'm glad to have the break.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Internet is a wonderful thing

As I've mentioned before, my father comes from a very large family (14 children) and every three years we have a big family reunion. While some aspects of the reunion will remain the same for the next several years (location) dues to the wishes of the original 14, the grandkids are starting to make a few subtle changes.

The latest change is a reunion Web site, and in one day, we have almost doubled in hits! I'm very excited about this -- the site and reunion. It is wondeful and amazing to see the other generations getting as excited about this event as the original 14.

I just hope I can survive the next few months without letting someone have it. There are people who will say anything without really thinking (I assume/hope they are not thinking) -- I know there are always going to be people like this, but I'm getting very tired of it right now. I wish people would have a greater respect for traditions and be a little more sensitive about altering any of these traditions or how they interact with other family members.

Regardless, it will be a great time, and I'm enjoying taking a bigger role in the planning of the event so the older generation can finally take a breather.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Quality time

Lately I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Jack. As child #3, Jack sometimes gets overlooked since he doesn't have homework to do or a sport/activity to attend. He usually just tags along and entertains himself.

I have taken him grocery shopping the last couple of weeks, and we've had fun together. I know this time doesn't last forever, and with four kids, it's hard to savor the moment. So I hope as he grows older I will be able to remember these simpler times -- those moments when he grabs my arm and says "I got you, babe" or runs ahead of me through the house and blocks my way until I say "open sesame." And how can you resist him when he says, "You know what?...I love you." Dash was once sweet like that and now he has turned into a typical boy, so I'll hold onto this time with Jack until he moves onto the next stage.

Speaking of moving on, Baby turned four months old this week. He is officially our biggest child, so his older siblings better watch out. While I miss rocking him as he sleeps, I enjoy playing with him and being rewarded with a smile or coo. He is a very happy baby except when it is time to sleep. It's great that he will go to sleep on his own in his crib; however, if it's time to sleep and we're away from the crib, it's not so much fun.

His sister and brothers still love to talk to him and hold him. Of course, in the not so distant future, that will change. Someone will be mocking someone and there will be cries for help. But for now I enjoy listening to Dash sing Away in a Manager to Baby to comfort him -- even though it doesn't really work. Violet is still at the age that she is ready and willing to help with Baby -- except when his diaper needs to be changed.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Remembering Betty

I love old movies, specifically those made from the 1930s to the early 1960s, so I was interested when I heard Betty Hutton had passed away. In college, I took a bizarre course called Women in Film. Silly me - I thought the title meant we would watch films by some wonderful actresses (or at least those I enjoy). Women in Film actually meant that we were going to see how women were portrayed in films. Two very different ideas.

We did watch a few movies I enjoyed -- Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce, Barbara Stanwyck in Stella Dallas and Betty Hutton in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. Most of the other movies were somewhat strange and/or twisted -- quite like the instructor.

Today I enjoy watching some classics with my own children. Of course, musicals are the ones that hold their interest (although they have watched To Kill A Mockingbird). Some of their favorites are Sound of Music and Singin' in the Rain.

As the years go by, we continue to lose these wonderful theatrical talents. It is very sad because I don't believe there will ever be an actor or actress who will last through the years like Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Katherine Hepburn and Betty Hutton.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Will this week ever end?

It's only Tuesday, and I'm ready for Thursday (since Thursday is really my Friday). I have the wonderful opportunity of working with a program that gives thousands of dollars in grant money to several individuals. While it is a great way to earn a paycheck, the time the program is taking this week makes me appreciate every single dollar I get and wish I got more.

On top of that, I've got to find some time to pick my tourney teams, prepare various pieces for a huge event in May, clean my house, feed the kids, and so on and so on and so on. Jack turns three next month, and I need to figure out how we are going to celebrate. I'm not throwing a big party because he is only three, but he's old enough to deserve a little excitement on his special day.

He has grown so much over the past year, that it amazes me and, of course, makes me sad. His latest obsession is a race car computer game. He appears to have little problem navigating the game, while his older brother asks for assistance periodically -- maybe because Jack just goes with the flow but Dash must be able to master the game. I wish Dash would apply the same determination to his sight words!

Timeout is over. Now back to work.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

It just takes time

There are times in parenting when it's hard not to wish for time to pass quickly. This week is one of those. While I'm usually pretty good about enjoying the moment with my kids, I can't help but look forward to the day when we can all go to events like basketball games. Hopefully, if we get our finances on track, someday we will have the funds to purchase tickets to tournaments and make a fun road trip.

But for now, I will enjoy a night out at the game with my husband or one of my best friends. Speaking of which, I'm off to watch the Sooner men. Thanks, Penny!!!

Monday, March 5, 2007

So little time

It is madness this month in more ways than one Not only is it the beginning of conference tournaments, I have several major projects at work due at the same time. But I will not forget the important things in life. D and I usually fill out our own brackets and make a friendly wager with another couple. As far as I can remember, one of us has won every year. However, this year since OU will not be in the tournament (unless of course, some Sooner Magic occurs and they win the Big 12 tourney) and OSU probably won't make it in, our brackets will be interesting. Someone always takes OU or OSU to the Final Four, so that messes up his/her bracket immediately.

But with the Big 12 men's and women's tournaments in town this week and my office a mere block away from the action, I'm starting to feel the excitement -- especially since an incredible friend scored us a couple of tickets for tonight's women's game. Now I just need to stay focused to meet my many deadlines and avoid racking up too much comp time.

Which one is not like the others

My three oldest children have blonde hair and blue eyes. Part of me was hoping that the 4th might have hazel eyes and darker hair, but if he did, then I knew his older siblings would tease him from birth until he was able to beat them up. Well, it looks like his blue eyes are staying around but his hair has a slight red tinge to it.

For the last few days, Jack has been fascinated with the color of our eyes. He will go through the whole family -- daddy, what color your eyes (blue); Violet, what color your eyes (blue); and so on until...mommy, what color your eyes. Uh, brownish green. I promise I gave birth to all four, but none of them really look like me (other than being "petite"). I'm OK with that most of the time. But right now, Jack continually reminds me that I'm the different one in this family.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Getting back on track

Before I became pregnant with #4, I was in a pretty good routine. Cleaning bathrooms and mopping on Mondays, working at the office Tuesday thru Thursday, and dusting and vacuuming on Fridays. And thanks to the flylady, I was cleaning my sink each night. I was also becoming more disciplined in my spending habits. Grocery shopping once a week, planning meals for each evening, limiting the number of times I/we eat out, and using cash for everything when possible.

But then I became pregnant, and those first few months weren't (and have never been) good for me -- even if I didn't already have three kids. I had very little energy to do any housecleaning and if I felt like I could eat anything, I sure wasn't up to actually cooking it. So the house was cleaned sporadically and we ate out or picked up fast food much more often than we should.

Well, now I'm trying to get everything in order again. So I'm hanging in there with my financial goals. I'm actually excited about cooking at home more -- of course D isn't usually at home in the evenings to share the meals so I'm limited to kid-friendly dishes. The house cleaning is another story. On my days off, I find myself easily distracted or exhausted. (With baby's sleeping habits, I'm still only getting about 5-6 hours of sleep at night and that's on the rare nights that another kid doesn't wake me up.)

I'm not a clean freak by any means, but sometimes clutter and chaos can set me off. So, for the sake of my sanity, I'm trying any little trick I can find to keep my house looking somewhat tidy. When I first started reading blogs, I was reading several posts from women who were infertile or moms. Now I've branched out and have begun reading some organizing and personal finance blogs. They have been very inspiring.

Now it's time to put what I'm learning to good use. For today, I've cleaned both bathrooms and now I'm going to clean up the kitchen. Then I'm headed to bed where hopefully I'll get a few good hours of sleep.