Saturday, January 31, 2009

I am addicted to Facebook. Someone asks me to be his/her friend on Facebook, and then one thing leads to another and I've lost a couple of hours of my life. I'm afraid to even get started with Twitter. The problem is I really don't know how to fully use these tools.

These social media tools have suddenly fascinated me, and I haven't been this excited about learning something that could greatly contribute to my work in a very long time. I am so interested in these tools that I'm willing to fork over my own money to attend a PR conference next month if my employer does not have the funds. Money is tight everywhere -- especially at a nonprofit.

Anyway, I'm going to shut the computer down now before I think of someone else I want to look up on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Have I mentioned I really like our school administration? The powers that be deemed that the conditions were safe enough to go back to school tomorrow. So to reflect on the past two days of no school, here is a series of shots my neighbor took of Jeremy as he *snowboarded* down the driveway -- while two older guys who weren't as talented watched enviously.

That's the closest he'll get to snowboarding this year. But I guarantee you if we go skiing next year, he will try to convince me that he doesn't need lessons because he's an expert.
We have a great neighborhood where kids of all ages will hang out together...some of the time. Today's activities take me back to my childhood when kids on my block ranging from 5 to 15 years old would gather sleds or some other sledding device to make the most of a day without school. The kids were fine today - day one of school cancellations. I'm not sure about day two. Let's just hope there isn't a day three or the local news' naming of this cold blast as Ice Storm: State of Emergency will no longer describe the layers of ice on every surface but the situation in my home.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Even with four children rotating a virus, I still managed to make a Snickers cheesecake AND peach cobbler as well as mop the kitchen and make ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and crescent rolls. I also managed to provide a few gifts for D's family birthday dinner. Tomorrow is the actual birthday, so I'll present him with the major gifts then. Of course, he's working, eating lunch with co-workers and teaching a college algebra class that evening. I'm not sure when I'll see him because I'm not a morning person no matter how special the day is so I don't plan on getting up any earlier than I have to.

Of course, all my accomplishments today were due to the fact that I have great parents (I'm giving Dad some credit here, but it's really because of my awesome mom). They kindly took in the four kids not knowing which one was going to start running the fever next, but I equipped them with a variety of meds, directions and a new thermometer. Mom provided new DVDs, so the kids spent Saturday evening enjoying movies.

D and I met up with another couple and enjoyed steak, ice cream, limited shopping and great conversation. It is so relaxing just hanging out with friends without the pressure of returning home to relieve a babysitter. Thank you, brother, for purchasing the house nearby for the folks!

Anyway, due to the fever that will not end, I had to cancel a playdate with a friend whose son is month younger than Spencer. I'm very disappointed because I was looking forward to catching up with her. Hopefully, we can find some time in our schedules to meet up again.

Of course, a major ice storm is *supposed* to hit in the next couple of days, so I may not be going anywhere -- I just hope school isn't cancelled.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I should go to bed soon, but someone kept referring to The West Wing. So I've pulled out my sets of the series and am working my way through Season 1. The problem is since I have all the episodes, it's hard to come to a stopping point. Unfortunately, I have a slightly addictive personality, so I'm not very good at resisting temptation. So while I watch TWW, I'll probably be playing Diner Dash on my wonderful iPhone.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Here is the proof...(that would be Woodstock in the fireplace)

that this sweet, angelic boy...

is not as innocent...

as he may seem.

My only daughter is very sensitive and sentimental. She got very upset with me once when I through away her collection of used popsicle sticks. She also seems to have inherited my insomnia. Each night she is told it is time to turn out the lights and go to sleep, but she consistenly complains for at least an hour that she can't sleep. Of course, I don't think she stays still for more than a few minutes.

There are several things that keep her from getting her beauty sleep -- her baby brother who shares the room, a good book or her own thoughts. One night a few weeks ago she came to me in tears saying she missed Grandma Great, Don's grandmother who passed away in September. I took the time to comfort her before I sent her back to bed.

Tonight she came into my room looking very upset. I expected her to say that she missed Grandma Great or maybe even my cat Scout who died six years ago. No, it was much worse...she missed the blue car. That would be my '89 Honda that was killed in February 2006. How do you comfort a ten year old when she's crying over a car that didn't even belong to her?!?

Her attachment to that car and sadness over its demise actually eased my pain during that trying time. For anyone who may not know or does not remember the story, a pregnant teenager -- who didn't speak English, didn't have insurance and didn't own the car -- ran a red light and plowed into the car while D was driving with Jack in the backseat. D was transported to a nearby hospital because of back pain while Jack got to enjoy lunch with the friends I was scheduled to meet that day. Later when noticed Jack had a bump on his head and decided to take him to the pediatrician just in case.

It was during that doctor visit that I received some devastating news -- my car was totaled. This was the first car that I had chosen and paid for. I bought it my senior year of college and drove it for 13 years. For our anniversary the previous year, D had the car tinted and installed a new stereo and keyless entry. It was a great car! Even my father decided foreign cars may be OK.

To get back to the point of this post, we took the kids with us to the salvage yard to remove our personal effects. It was during this visit that Anna collapsed in tears. She was so hysterical that the salvage yard employee thought she had been in the accident and was having flashbacks. No, we said, she's just very attached to the car.

She's got a lot of love to give.

Monday, January 12, 2009

D and I are taking at least part of Suze Orman's challenge for 2009. So for today we will not spend any money. For the week, we will not charge anything. And for the month, we will not go out to eat.

However, we have made some exceptions. Any previously scheduled dining out meetings and work-related lunches are allowed. We are also allowed to use restaurant gift cards. And since D's 40th birthday is later this month, any birthday-related spending is exempt.

My strategy for today is to go nowhere so I won't have any reasons or temptations to spend money. I have used the notes option on my wonderful, practically free iPone to plan the menu for this week using items we already have on hand.

The greatest challenge will be not dining out as a family for the entire month. It is so easy to use lack of time or energy as an excuse to pick up something for dinner. Hopefully, if I can get into the habit of planning ahead on meals, fast food or any other dining out option will not be such a temptation.

I downloaded Orman's Action Plan for 2009 from Oprah's website, but I haven't read much of it. The thing about finance books is that they rarely offer any new insight. We know what we need to do. We just need to be more self-disciplined and follow through.

Here's to our Action Plan for January 2009!

UPDATE: Jeremy brought home the snack box. Usually I would try to plan ahead for this occasion, but he hasn't brought home a snack calendar for January so I had forgotten about this possibility.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend Roundup

The weekend kicked off with a Girl Scouts parent meeting to discuss the annual cookie sale. Strangely enough, this is the activity Anna loves the most. Maybe someday she will be a successful entrepreneur and be able to give back a little to her parents. Anyway, I made some new friends since I don't hang around with that group. I usually drop off Anna for the meetings and take off for another activity or enjoy a peaceful hour.

Saturday evening, my oldest son chose to watch Grease and asked me to watch it with him. During the various kissing scenes, my two-year-old son would say "ewww."

I watched P.s. I Love You last night alone which was a good thing and bad thing. It was good I was alone because the bad thing is I cried pretty much through the entire movie and I wouldn't have been as free with my tears if others (my husband) were present. The movie was OK, but it was not a good choice since in the past three months a friend my age lost her husband and my oldest friend lost her battle with leukemia. I've gotten way more emotional with age, so it doesn't take as much to make me cry. But the entire story line hit too close to home.

This afternoon I dozed through Anna's viewing of Sound of Music. I am proud to say I am instilling a love for musicals and old movies in my children. Anna and I still need to find time to watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I may also sit them down for To Kill a Mockingbird. If/when we have a snow/ice day this winter, maybe we'll have a movie marathon made up of movies produced before 1980.

Now I'm off to fold may take another week before I have time to post.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another year is coming to a close and I wonder if I will ever feel like staying up to celebrate the new year again? Gone are the days of hanging out with friends until midnight or quietly greeting the new year with D and a glass of sparkling cider. The only reason I'm up now is that I began thawing some sausage earlier to make a breakfast casserole for New Year's Day.

Since it's almost midnight, it would be appropriate to post a litte 2008 wrap up. In only the last few weeks, Anna has seemed to grow so much! Earlier this year, she was a little third grader, and now with a new hairstyle and the lessons that fourth grade provide, she is acting more like a teenager than I would like.

Jeremy has made so much progress in the second grade. I am very proud of him and how hard he has worked. Sometimes he can be such a challenge with his need for details and specific communication, but when he and I spend some one-on-one time, he is a fun kid.

Jack has been so much fun. I can't imagine what he's going to be like in the next few years. He can be so sweet -- You know what, mommy? I love you. He comes up with that at the best times and sometimes the strangest moments. I find myself focusing on his gap-toothed smile. Since he's been missing one front tooth since he was two, I'm not sure I'll recognize him with a complete smile. For awhile I've been noticing how observant he is, so I'm interested to see what the next few years of school will bring.

Spencer, my baby. I'm not sure what to say about him. He is devious and ornery, and has the sweetest smile that it's hard not to smile even if you should be scolding him. He's a camera hog and begin smiling and saying "cheese" as soon as he sees a camera. He's an escape artist who will keep me on my toes for several more years. I'm getting even more tired just thinking about it. He is my last baby, and I know our family wouldn't be complete without him.

As for D and I, it has been a long, fun, busy and hard year. We have suffered career and health challenges as well as the loss of friends who were taken much too soon. And while we hold onto the fact that God can see the big picture, it's hard to understand why they are gone when they are so needed here. We will just continue to feel so blessed because while we've had our challenges, we still have jobs, my health has rebounded somewhat and our family is healthy.

According to my clock, it is now 2009. I've never made resolutions, and I'm not planning to now. It is simply a good time to regroup and refocus on the goals we have already set.

Happy New Year!