Saturday, December 29, 2007

the girl who has had a lot of celebrating

All my Boys in one place!

So the month of December regularly kicks my ass. As if Christmas wasn't enough of a stress factor, I have two big birthdays in the immediate family and then various ancillary birthdays I have to remember.

The season really kicks off at the end of November with my wedding anniversary. Next up is my hubby's birthday on the 19th. This year, he had to work and my employer decided that the 19th was the perfect date for the Employee Holiday Party. I really didn't want to go, but as Human Resources Manager, was obligated to. So my poor guy worked all day and then had the kids all night while I was out making my appearance.

I tried to make it up to him the next day. He had the day off so I sent the kiddos to the sitter's for the day so he could have some "alone time." Then I got us some steaks for dinner and we watched "The Simpsons Movie" (his present, he's a huge Simpsons freak) as a family.

Happy Birthday Baby!

Next on the Birthday list is Mr. Ian. He turned five this year on the 22nd. I can't believe I have a five year old! Let alone the 8, soon to be four and 5 month old! When did I become a MOM? lol, I still being a mommy and wouldn't have it any other way.

Ian had a Diego birthday. He has been so excited ever since we picked out his cake a few weeks ago. I went to go pick it up and it said "Happy 5th Birthday Jan" They quick fixed it by piping an "I" over the "J" but I wasn't happy. They could have redone it, but it would have taken an hour and I was on a timeline. So I asked for a discount, got it and decided, in the long run, the only one it would bother would be me.

We had the usual cake and presents and Ian got all Diego'd out. A good time was had by all.

Next, of course, is Christmas...and that is just the usual fun stuff. Lots of mess and cute stories, but I can't remember them now. I've caught a cold that's been being passed around since right after Christmas and it sucks.

I'm really consolidating now because I started this post after Christmas and its now after New Year's. Just a sign of how stressed I am. I have, however, started scrapping again. I want to try and do at least one Layout a day. Last night I did four! So let's see if this helps me put a dent in my backlog. Enjoy the creativeness below.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

the girl who went to see Santa

So I braved the crowds and took the kiddos to go see Santa Claus this weekend. I am a Bad Mommy. It was the first visit for everyone except Zack, and he hadn’t been since he was three I think. Every new kid decreases my interest in leaving the house. However, I figured that I really did need to do this if only to try to extend the magic a little longer for my eldest who is 99% sure Santa Claus does not exist. Strangely enough, he does still seem to believe in the Tooth Fairy. Then again the Tooth Fairy brings money and perhaps he’s afraid if he stops playing the game, the $$$$ will dry up.

(Aside story: Zacky lost a tooth last week, but it had a cavity in it. He jiggled it so much trying to work it out early, that it broke, so he only presented the tooth fairy with half of a tooth. The Tooth Fairy only left half of a dollar bill and didn’t take the tooth (that part was unintentional, but that’s what happens when the Tooth Fairy’s husband fills in because the Tooth fairy went to bed early). So when Zacky asked if half a dollar bill was worth anything, I told him, “Not without the other half. I bet half of a tooth isn’t worth anything to the tooth Fairy and she was trying to tell you to take better care of your teeth.” I think he bought it. He’s been brushing much better since then.)

Back to the Santa story. Downtown Disney really has the best Santa Claus. Real hair and beard, snowy white and the right build. And while he isn’t exactly “jolly” he certainly looks benevolent. I think he could get cast as God in the next 10 Commandments if he lost his “bowl full of jelly.” Lol. Seriously, he does have a really “all knowing” look about him. Well, we got to the line and it didn’t look too long and then they put up The Sign.

You know.

The one that says, “Santa has gone to feed the Reindeer and will be back at ____”

Great. Half an hour of standing in line with four kiddos and not even advancing. Just great.

And about that time, the temperature decided that after weeks of 80 degree weather in December, it would be a good time to drop the temperature about 15 degrees. Of course I hadn’t made the kiddos bring jackets.

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Have I mentioned we haven’t been to see Santa in years? Now you know why.

Anyway, thanks to the family behind us and their kids because they kept my kids entertained with games like, stroller shake, toss the popcorn, and, my favorite, SCREECH! Those parents were so understanding, and I think they took pity on me, standing in line with a hyper 8yo, whiney 5 yo, and no fear, not gonna mind Mommy 4 yo with a 5 month old strapped to my chest. Why haven’t mothers evolved extra arms?

When the reindeer were fat and happy, Santa came back to the tune of “Here Comes Santa Claus” and then he completely floored me by actually walking through the line of kiddos waiting to sit on his lap, shaking hands, giving hugs, and tickling baby’s chins. It was such a thoughtful entrance. Zack almost seemed to get that spark of belief back meeting the Big Guy in person. Matthew was so overcome by awe that he hung back on the sidelines and Ian—well Ian though the music was too loud, so he stuck his fingers in his ears and wouldn’t even look at Santa!

When it was finally our turn, Matthew had regained his courage and his charm and stuffed Geckie (his security blanket) under his shirt and walked up to Santa with his big belly going “Ho, Ho, Ho! I Santa!” I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture! Bad Scrapper! Bad! But he made Santa laugh! They were quickly shuttled on and off Santa’s lap (ugh! I know its necessary, but I wish they could have spent some more one on one with the Big guy) and gave their lists to Santa very quietly (for my kids).

Zack wants a Wii, a DS and Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl game to go with either. (In his dreams!) Also, High School Musical 2; the extended edition. (That’s the important part, it MUST be the extended edition. I don’t think they even MAKE a non extended version, so he’s pretty safe there.)

Matthew wants a Cars bed, and Cars Toys, and Cars game. Basically, put Lightning McQueen on something and he wants it. They could sell Cars broccoli and he’d want it.

And Ian. My sweet, precious Ian. His needs are simple. He just wants some crayons and paper.

I think Santa can arrange that!

Eli, of course, is too young to want anything besides his next bottle, so he was singularly unimpressed. Plus he’s nursing a cold, so he wasn’t his usual smiley self.

So the kids got their requests into Santa, a little magic was restored in my suspicious 8 year old, and Mama got her pictures. Sort of.

Afterwards, instead of a picture, I was handed a card and sent on my way.

Wait, what?

No instruction or anything, just a little business sized card with a website address and an ID number and NEXT! To the people behind me.


Disney has a program where every time you stop and have your picture taken, they assign it this special ID number and you can basically get your entire Disney vacation online. You can view and share the pictures and order prints or even just the cd with all the images to print yourself ($12.95 per print, $124.95 for the photo cd) Yep, Disney always finds new and creative ways to make their $$$ while making it more convenient for their guests to spend it.

But I wanted to walk out of there with an actual picture!

So I sigh, and figure online ordering won’t be so bad and go off with all my little duckies in a row to Ghirardelli’s for some of the world’s best hot chocolate. On the way there, we pass the Guest Service Building and notice a family that had been behind us in line striding purposefully in as another family that was ahead of us came walking out…looking at a picture.

Light bulb!

So I go in and see that we can view and order our prints there. Let me tell you something. I have worked in Orlando for nearly 15 years, and one thing I’ve learned is that Disney really does want and expect their employees to always be on, not have a bad day, and always treat each person as if they were put on earth only to serve them for that moment. I like that. I appreciate that. No matter how many times I am disappointed by bad service when I go out and about, I can always rationalize it with “What do you expect? It’s Wal-Mart after all.” (Or Subways, or Burger King, or McDonalds.) There are places where bad service just doesn’t surprise you. Disney is not one of them.

The guy behind the counter apparently had not gotten his dose of Pixie Dust that day because he was monosyllabic and offered no instruction or help at all. He just stood there, waiting on me to do…something. I finally had to say, “Pretend this is the first time I’ve done this and have no clue what’s going on.” And even then, all I got was a bored, “Pictures here, prices here. Choose which one you want.”

After waiting an hour to Santa with four kiddos in the rapidly colder weather, I really could have used a little Disney magic and I just wasn’t getting it.

And apparently, the photo ordering section doesn’t have a register. So I had to go to the store next door to pay and then bring the receipt back to pick up my picture. The added inconvenience of dragging the kiddos to and fro ate up my last nerve and we cut our visit short. We got the hot chocolate, grabbed a quick shot with Buzz and hightailed it out of there.

Still, I did end up getting a shot of the kids. I wish the photographers had actually tried to get the kids to smile…they will on cue, but were overwhelmed with the moment of meeting Santa. (Who was awesome in making sure he got full eye contact with each kid) But I understand with the cattle call nature of Santa Pictures and the line behind us they were rushed. I can understand that, but I also think my perception of the pictures was a little distorted because of the experience I had just had with the associate.

I wish I could share the picture with you so you could judge for yourself, but after all of that hullabaloo, I'VE LOST THE CARD!! So I guess extra prints are now out of the question. Lucky I go the one.

Even after all of that, we’ll go back to DTD next year for more because that Santa RAWKS! I’ll just try to either go earlier or find a time where the line isn’t so long and the boys can spend a little bit more one on one time.

Now all I have to do is help Santa out with the shopping and Christmas is done. Yay!


In other news: Zachary continually tries to find ways around practicing his handwriting. One of the exercises he has to complete every week is to use each of his spelling words in a sentence. Well, he figures that if he can write a sentence that uses multiple spelling words, then he doesn’t have to write as many sentences. Pretty smart, huh? Of course, then you end up with sentences like this:

Morning has two vowels and, of course, no planets.”



Gotta share the kiddos artwork with everyone. These are so going in the “save until they’re grown up and embarrass them with it on Prom Night” box. Just cute, nostalgic little memories no one but their Mama appreciates!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

the girl who has a strange child

This post is dedicated to Ian. He is such a unique child. I mean, you can really see he has his own outlook on how the world should work. One thing I have found holds true when raising children, is that they will always surprise you. Not always in a good way, but at least parents (moms especially) can never say that their life is boring.

How can life be boring when your kids do things such as this?

It’s a lovely diorama/playhouse nicely ensconced in a drawer. It reminds me of when I used to make Barbie furniture out of Kleenex boxes. At least my kids’ imaginations won’t leave me hanging when I have a runny nose.

The other strange thing from Ian I, unfortunately, did not take a picture of. Basically, it creeped me out—although it was done in innocence. Ian enjoys “decorating” the underside of Zachary’s bed (it is the ceiling over his bed after all.) I wandered into their room the other day to find a Beanie Baby hanging from the underside. By his neck. I mean, seriously, it looked like he just couldn’t take the cuteness anymore and decided to off himself! I half expected a “Goodbye Cruel World!” note clenched in his furry little paw. I found this mildly disturbing and morbidly funny at the same time. Of course, Ian wasn’t thinking of lynching that poor bear on purpose. He just wanted him to decorate his space. Lol.

Or how about this?

Ian saw a commercial for a nail salon on tv and decided he wanted his nails painted. I asked him what color he’d like and he requested blue. As luck would have it, I happened to have some blue nail polish. (incredibly old, I haven’t painted my nails in years) So we end up with blue nails for Mother and Son.

We also end up with a slightly miffed Dad. Nail polish, of course, is just for girls. However, it was late at night, I was folding laundry and watching Jon and Kate + 8 and Ian woke up and wanted to join me. We had a silly bonding moment (for the record, he painted my nails after I did his) and it was F-U-N!

At least he didn’t ask for pink nail polish!

And then there was last night.

Ian enjoys dressing up so much that I keep all the Halloween costumes in a drawer for him just for that purpose.

Last night he got into the Christmas Spirit, so allow me to introduce…

Buzz Batman Claus!!!


Thanks to my friend Jen for the kick in the butt needed to start menu planning. It took a couple hours of thought at the puter, and my shopping trip was longer than usual, but I planned meals for the month and went shopping for the next two weeks this past weekend. Now, she bragged about spending only $250 for the month and I’m not quite there. Of course I have twice the number of people in my fam, so I think spending $285 for two weeks was a good deal. Plus, between store specials and coupons, I saved $50. I put so much in my cart, I actually had to park the cart in a closed lane and put a note on it: “Working on cart #2, please don’t put away!”

And how did I fill up one and a half carts prior to checkout, but walked out with three carts? Some weird grocery physics. I guess it just proves all those hours spent on Tetris weren’t wasted after all.

And here is something to make you feel old. The bagger (little whippersnapper that he is) had never had homemade Rice Krispie treats! He said he didn’t even know you could make them at home, he grew up on the premade stuff!

Ok, Sonny. I’ll make some for you as soon as I get my walker out of the shop and my gout dies down.

Anyway, the trip was great and so far, I’m loving not having to do any thinking about dinner. When I go to make tonight’s dinner, I’ll pull whatever I need to defrost from the freezer and it will be ready for the next night. I’m starting to get a system and I really like it.


Eli update. Nothing new really with the little guy, but I wanted to show off some pictures!

This outfit on Eli sparked Matthew’s infamous “baseball game” adventure.

And this was taken last night after his bath. Can’t you just smell the “new baby” scent?


The tree went up last night and I finally allowed the kids to put more than one ornament on the tree this year. Unfortunately, they still wound up all in one spot, so I let them do one box worth of ornaments and then went back and rearranged. Hey, it makes me feel better!

Anyway, we had our first casualty of the Christmas season. R.I.P. Oscar, the Grouch. Zack fumbled him in his excitement and he wound up breaking…although you can’t tell in the picture. The entire back side of this ornament is completely caved in and broken. I am actually expecting more as this is the first year with the concrete floors. Sigh! I miss carpet!

So, again, the past two weeks in a nutshell. Time is flying and I can’t believe that 2007 is almost over! Now all I have to do is panic about Christmas and the year will be done before I know it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

the girl who has an anniversary

Nine years ago Aramis said to me, "You want to do this today?" *This* being get married. So, having the day off and nothing else to do, this man I had met five months prior took me down to the courthouse and we exchanged vows. Now, while it was a little spur of the moment, we were actually engaged and had been since three weeks after we met. But we had been tallying up the cost of a wedding and had recently found out we were expecting Zachary as well, so we decided to elope.

When its right, its right, and having a white dress and a huge florist's bill doesn't make it more right.

So I'm sure we have exceeded all of our "friends" at the time's expectations. But here we are, nine years, four kids and countless moments later...still together, still in love, and still wondering how it got to be so many years when the love is still so fresh and brand new.

This is the first song Aramis dedicated to me. (He likes to do that, find a song that speaks to him and dedicate to whomever it reminds him of) It may seem an odd choice, but it melted my heart and I still think of it as "our" song.

Artist: Hum
Song: Suicide machine
Album: You'd Prefer an Astronaut

Sleep comes to everyone while we wait for the Sunday afternoons.
Sleep comes to everyone, everyone maybe yeah, but you.
Sleep comes to everyone while we wait, wide awake and blue.
Sleep comes to everyone, everyone maybe, yeah, but me and you.

And so I give myself away, to everybody everyday.
And so I give myself to you, and you need it more than I do.
And so I give myself away, unto everybody everyday.
And so I give myself to you, and you need it more than I do.

Sleep comes to everyone while we wait for the Sunday afternoons.
And sleep comes to everyone, everyone maybe, yeah, but you.
And I had this one figured out,
That's why the suicide machine is built for two,
A simple sick device devised to overload on love,
To bring us colored dreams and soundtracked waves of fun.

And so I give myself away, to everybody everyday.
And so I give myself to you, and you need it more than I do.
And so I give myself away, to everybody everyday.
And so I give myself to you, and you need it more than I do.

Sleep comes to no one else like we have falling through the ground,
Fulfilling promises of endless summer nights,
I'm losing ground, you're losing sound.

Somewhere through a thousand blues,
A dragonfly descends with just a whisper, I'm lonelier than God.
And all my wishes spin the fishes in the air and every one,
A different shade of you.

And to the left where up is down
Now stands a zebra made of shapes of me,
And silver and the sun.
So bring no guilt with you up above the flat-line,
Let's just hit the sky exploding into one.

I love you, Baby. Happy Ninth Anniversary!

Monday, November 26, 2007

the girl who is celebrating "Happy Day", for REAAAL!

Today is "Happy Day," so decreed by my nearly-five-year-old. I'm not quite sure what sparked it, but he woke up and announced it. Apparently on Happy Day, you get to go to Miss Mitzi's school! So I guess we celebrate it Monday through Wednesday. I wonder if this will count as one of our paid holidays for work?

Busy, busy, busy time of year and then I just add to it by taking on this modeling thing. The Friday before last, I got an email from our Scout about a modeling call the next day in Miami. I figured I'd go and use it as a learning experience even though we didn't have Zack's composite cards yet. The Scout told me to take all three of the older boys even though Ian barely qualified for their age requirement and Matthew didn't. So I did. And it was quite the learning experience for me.

I learned I can’t be away from Eli for 24 hours and not bring my breast pump, as much as I thought I was close to weaning.

I learned traveling with three kids in a mini van for four hours is torture,

I learned that my public Mommy Manners only last about 12 hours and after that I snap.

I learned that Ian falls asleep in the car, Zack will join him soon after and Matthew will stay awake the entire time asking me questions.

I learned Radio Disney doesn’t last much past Kissimmee.

I learned that when the call asks for a specific age, they really mean a specific size.

I learned that there are many pretty people in Miami and they all showed up for the call.

I learned that professional models have no modesty issues and I got to see quite a bit of toned, buff, chiseled bodies as they stripped down to try on samples.

I learned that I am going to avoid open calls in Miami and concentrate on papercasting and local calls because $150 a trip is not in my budget.

And lastly, I learned that Zack really is serious about this and might actually have what it takes.

The call was interesting, and I found out later it was not done “professionally” (I could have guessed that when we were all lined up outside someone’s (really cool) house in South Beach) and that it was normally handled by a casting agency. They dismissed the younger two right off the bat, but did seem interested in Zack. They had him try on a sample outfit (kinda Euro-punk cute) and took his picture and asked him some questions about sports he liked and if he could ride a bike. However, not having a completed comp card really hindered us in this case, since they didn’t go through a casting agency. I was told that the casting agency will have you fill out a form and take a Polaroid to attach along with your comp card and resume, so the fact we didn’t have one yet wouldn’t be a huge deal. They didn’t have anything like that and I ended up scrawling Zack’s info on a scratch piece of paper. Since we haven’t heard back, I’m assuming he didn’t get cast, which is fine. I don’t think I could have handled the Miami drive again AND prep for Thanksgiving.

And Thanksgiving was the next item on my schedule. I ended up taking the Wednesday before Turkey Day off to clean the house, shop and prep the food. I needed it! Got everything ready, only to find out my FIL was not going to be coming! He was the one I was stressing out over!

Fast forward to the next day and I had decided to take a more relaxed approach and was taking my time in getting started in the morning. Then FIL calls to say he's coming after all so I go from relaxed to stressed in 2.9 seconds.

All I have to say about Thanksgiving is that its over and the leftovers are gone at this point so yay.

I ended up working on Sat to make up for not going in on Wed and so between the drive the previous weekend, Thanksgiving and working on Sat, I feel like I haven't really had a weekend in awhile!

Add to that, we did Zachary's headshots this past Sunday. Wow! What a difference a professional photographer makes! My little 8 year old looks 12! He didn't much care for the makeup (a dot of undereye concealer, a light dusting of powder and some carmex on his lips) and kept making his squinty, pouty face, but he had some awesome shots. I hope these comp cards get him some work, because I am NOT driving to Miami for calls anymore. We will go for actual castings , but unless we win the lotto, it's just not feasible. Although I hear that they have calls in town once in awhile, so we can definitely hit those.

Eli is up to nearly 13 pounds! Here he is with his chubby smile. He has wrist bracelets, dimpled knees and no neck--the perfect level of chubbiness without being too chubby. Just the right size to sqeeeeze! I still love carrying him around in his sling. I must say, I tried every padded, buckled, belted contraption and this is by far the easiest, most versatile and most comfortable baby carrier around. I have so much freedom in it and getting Eli in and out doesn't rquire being next to a padded surface and an extra set of hands. And he loves it too!

Every time I go out in it, someone comments on it and asks me how it is. I think I need to order another one since I plan on using it for awhile and I think I ordered this one too short (I'm not wearing it precisely correctly. The rings should be on my shoulder.) Plus, I'd love another color choice to coordinate with more outfits.

And Matthew is his usual charming self. He has two phrases that he has been repeating incessantly lately. It was cute at first, but now its getting to be annoying.

The first is, "Deal!" He tries to get his way with something and he'll come up and present you with it very matter-of-factly, then he'll end it with "DEAL" and stick out his hand for you to shake. Example: "Mommy! Mommy! The toy on tv, we gotta buy it! You hafta go to the store right now! Deal, Mommy? Deal?" or "Mommy, I don't want to go to bed. I want to watch teedee (TV), Deal?" I don't think he quite grasps the concept that making a deal usually means *I* get something out of the bargain too, lol!

The second is "for real." He says this incessantly to impress upon me his sincerity. "Mommy, Zacky hurt me, for REAAAAAL!!!" Yeah, right, I saw him brush up against you on his way to the bathroom. I saw you look for an audience and then throw yourself on the floor howling. I know you're an actor looking for a stage. For real.

Next up is Christmas. Between all the shopping, cleaning, working, organizing, crafting, baking etc. that needs to be done between now and then, I could use a few more official "Happy Days" between now and then.

For real.

Monday, November 12, 2007

the girl who would like to introduce

Ford Modeling Agency's newest child models. Yes, we did it. We signed him up. Now all we have to do is get his headshots taken ($$$ YIKES! $$$$) but the scout was very enthusiastic about ALL of the boys. However, because of the expense involved, we are only going to market Zack and Eli. Eli because he doesn't need headshots (being an infant apparently snapshots will do.) and is a baby and will only be expected to be cute and Zack because he is the most mature at the moment and really can understand what is expected.

So this is our newest adventure. I hope it goes well. They are interested in Ian and Matthew too, but little Drama King Ian had a meltdown at the scout's office and we agreed that maybe he should work his way into the business gradually. And Matthew...well, we might do a sibling shot on Zack's comp card (see I'm already getting the lingo down!) and market him from that, but one $600 expense at a time, thank you very much!

The big thing here is that its Ford Models. Wowza. That's a HUGE name in "the biz" and I have high hopes we will be doing some serious road tripping to Miami for some college tuition opportunites.
And of course, this is Eli at the present moment. Getting stronger and chubbier every day. Look at those baby push ups! Such a big boy! He is really becoming VERY animated and smiling, cooing, razzing and really working at engaging people. He has excellent eye contact too. If he's sitting next to you and you're not paying attention to him, he'll start to razz and smile until you start playing with him. And the boy has a huge attention span! Mommy and Daddy get bored with the game long before he does.

Eli actually has a call for a catalog shoot for Mini Boden on Wednesday, but I don't think we can make it because he is coming down with a little cold. We shall see if I can make arrangements for the other boys and how he's feeling before I decide anything.

Still, I'm amazed it was this easy to get the boys signed. I've always known they were something special, but when someone else tells you that they're so special they want to make money off of them, well it's a huge ego boost to this Mama.

And one more triumph for the Martinez boys: Zachary not only got straight A's on his report card, but he was the oNLY kid in his class to get straight A's! Go go, little Einstein!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the girl who is exhausted

Whew! Halloween sure can be tiring...for parents. The kids ran on a sugar high and anticipation of more candy all day long. Give a kid a chance to dress up and beg for candy and there is no stopping them!

I only went in for a half day today and got out shortly after lunch to pick up Zacky from school. After the briefest of naps (I earned it!) We went to the sitter's to pick the rest of the crew up. She was just starting the "party" for the kids so we hung out for an hour or so so the boys could enjoy themselves. After that, photo shoot in the backyard and then off to the school for "Gross Out Night."

Now I remember the Halloween Carnival at my elementary school and I must say, while I admire the premise, this PC thing is just destroying fun for the kids. Back in my day (OMG, did I just say that?!!) the school was transformed. Classrooms became haunted houses, cafeterias were divided into booths filled with games and treats, there was always a cake walk and a raffle and a costume contest. But, nooo, Halloween is a terrible pagan holiday and some people might be offended by it and we certainly wouldn't want to pretend we endorsed Satan of all things so the Halloween Carnival begat the Fall Festival begat Gross Out Night.

Gross Out Night was held in conjunction with the science fair for the fourth and fifth graders. Yep, a scientific Halloween. They really tried to appeal to the kids and give them a place to go, but filling the cafeteria with educational explanations for bodily functions got really old after about ten minutes. Yes, there was fake snot and farts and scabs and ear wax and yes, even edible fake vomit. But it just wasn't the same.

Ah, how I long for the "good ol' days."

I can't remember at what point I was allowed to go out Trick or Treating on my own (or with big sister) but I do remember going up and down the street, knocking on doors and ringing on doorbells. My parents would turn out the porch light and hide in the back of the house (spoilsports) being the dark, empty house on the block while my sister and I trolled the streets for candy, usually in homemade costumes. Either that, or we'd be dropped off at a local elementary school to experience those delights, back when such a thing was still delightful. Nowadays, just doesn't seem as magical. I hope the kids have good memories of these times, but I hesitate to think of what it will be like for their kids if these experiences are compared with their children's and the latter comes out lacking.

Anyway, back to the fun part. We did attend Gross Out Night and the boys seemed like they had a reasonable amount of fun. However, with barely enough candy to line the bottom of their buckets, we decided to hit the houses on the way home. Much better. With four kids, (yes, Eli tagged along, and while I did not hold up "his" pail at every door, more often than not, people slipped something into the bucket while admiring him. Something about babies in Pumpkin Hats.) the candy haul was more respectable.

Eli was more or less a pumpkin. My Mom sent him a Halloween sleeper, "My First Halloween" bib and a pumpkin hat. He was cute enough and I was over trying to find a costume to fit him. He passed out with all the noise and heat of the cafeteria and didn't stir for all of the banging on doors and shouts of "TRICK OR TREAT!" Which made him all the more adorable.

Zack was a Ninja--but refused to wear most of his costume. The gauntlets broke trying to remove them from the packaging, the sash was lost and the scarf for over his mouth was uncomfortable. The hood was pretty much a no go too, but he popped it off and on sporadically. Now I was surprised when he announced in the costume aisle that he wanted to be a ninja. No ninja movies out lately, no ninja cartoons (that I am aware of) and he'd never shown an interest in Ninjas before. But I figured it out when he approached me with a three foot long six inch wide hard plastic sword with the title "Ninja Sword." He wanted the accessories, he didn't care about the actual costume. Looking into my Mommy crystal ball, I saw a broken tv, an eye put out and an infant brother becoming "collateral damage." The sword was nixed, the costume approved, and a much, much smaller (and more aesthetically pleasing) foam sword was purchased instead.

Ian was a Cowboy. He originally picked out a pirate costume, but then Matthew (who had originally picked out Thomas the Tank Engine) decided he wanted to be a pirate too. Fine. I'll get two different pirate costumes. But at checkout, I discovered that Matthew's pirate costume was missing pieces so back into the fray we went. I could only find another costume like Ian's that was complete and in Matthew's size, so we were going to do that. But Mr. Ian didn't want to match his brother. Originally, he said he wanted to be Buzz Lightyear. My sister sent me one of my nephew's old costumes, and Ian is in love with Buzz, so he claimed it and wears it constantly. (The other day it was footy pajamas, Buzz Lightyear costume and a Batman go to sleep) Once he saw his brothers were getting new costumes, he wanted one too. But I had pretty much planned on that happening. Anyway, back to the great costume debate. I couldn't convince Ian to forget about the pirate and go as Buzz or pick another costume (other than the Wednesday Addams one he fell in love with--don't tell Aramis) so I asked him if he'd like to be Woody from Toy Story. Of course they didn't have a Woody costume, but they had a generic Cowboy and Thank Goodness he fell for it. I must say though, he made a fine looking Cowboy. It totally suited him!

Now I expected that after all the fuss and bother of the pirate costume debate, that Matthew would stay true to form and change his mind on his costume as we were checking out, or better yet, on Halloween. I expected crying and a meltdown, simply because he rolls like that. But no, he was happy with the Pirate costume, it fit his little body perfectly and it also suited him. He was the cutest pirate out there!

So this year's festivities are over and done. The candy has been hidden away, to be sorted through when I recover from the night.. And the kiddos crashed and actually went to sleep when they were sent to bed.

All in all, exhausting, but worth it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

the girl who went to the pumpkin patch

So we took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch and, as usual, I love the pictures. This is my yearly tradition and the boys are very good at humoring me. We did actually pick out a pumpkin in addition to taking pictures, and picked up two gourds as well. I plan on seeing how clever I can get with these.

Also, as usual to my experience, taking pictures of slumpy babies doesn't go so well, so Eli only got a couple of shots. You really don't want to test the patience of a sleepy infant because as soon as he really wakes up, he's likely to be hungry. So eyes closed but still cute.

It kept threatening to rain so I tried to be super quick. I still managed some fabulous shots. Family members, put in your requests now!

Friday, October 26, 2007

the girl who has some stories to share

We've been having trouble with bedtime.


It's a never ending cycle of tucking in and kiss! hug! and where is Geckie and Bunny and Puppy and I want my piwhow that's not my piwhow and potty! potty! I need to go potty! and Mommy, I thwirsty and kiss! hug! and laughs and giggles as wrestling ensues amongst the million stuffed animals and then there's the musical beds and I don't want so and so to sleep with me I want to sleep with so and so and go to bed! Go. To. Bed! and



Inevitably someone's butt gets red an hour (or two) later and once the histrionics die down they finally fall out.

So tonight, after a blah never quite rained but always looked like it was about to day where both Daddy and I had our patience tested at work and at home, I sat them down before bedtime and gave them The Speech.

"Ok Boys. 1, 2, 3, eyes on me. Are you paying attention?


This is how its going to work tonight.

I am going to tuck you in. I am going to give you kisses and hugs and tell you I love you. And then you are going to

There will be no extra trips out of bed for any reason.

So go to the bathroom now. Grab your lovies now. Decide which blanket you want to sleep with now. Decide which bed you are going to sleep in now.

Once you are in bed, tucked in and kissed goodnight

No giggling, no playing, no wrestling, no traveling from bed to bed. Do you understand?


Because the alternative is I just spank you now and get it over with. Are we clear?


Now you have two minutes to get everything you need to go to sleep.


And probably because the boys had been nothing but trouble all day and might have sensed Mommy and Daddy were OVER IT they actually sort of did what I asked.

When I was tucking in Matthew I laid down in bed next to him to stroke his cheeks and scratch his back like he likes (I love it when he says in his little almost four year old voice, "Aww, that feeld GOOOOD!) he says to me, "Mommy, I have two piwhows. You sleep with me. Come on Mommy. Come onnnn!"

The expression on his face as he was trying to coax me into sleeping with him was adorable and the tone in his voice was too cute. So grown up and persuasive.

So I tucked the other two in and cuddled up next to Matthew, intending to just lay down with him until he fell out.

He then proceeds to tell me a story. I think it started off with him telling me about being woken up this morning by the garbage truck, but it went on to describe "fwying punkins" and the sun going up and down and the moon coming out and (slightly disturbing) the garbage truck killing him and him climbing a ladder (complete with sound effects and hand gestures) to the sun. He must have liked his own sound effects because he repeated them a few times and then started listing everyone he knew climbing a ladder (wadder) to the sun too. He ended it with an earnest, "And you too, Mommy!" and then just dropped his hands as if to say, "The end."

My child has the BEST imagination! I love it!

Of course, I ended up dozing next to hm, waking up when Aramis came to find me to tell me goodnight at ten o'clock. I contemplated just going to sleep then, but, of course, then Eli was up. So here I am, wide awake and trying to decide between organizing all my new scrap goodies and actually scrapping.

Either way, I should have some fun. But first I have to make sure Eli is settled. So I'm nursing Eli on the couch and I hear pages turning. Feeling thirsty, I call out, "Zack, I know you're up. Go grab me a Coke." (This is why I have kids, you know.) He takes that as permission to come spend some one on one time with me. All of the boys manage to do this trick at least once a week. It's kind of sweet and gives us time with the boys individually.

So he puts on the tivoed High School Musical and we watch and sing along together. And then a commercial comes on for some video game with Drake Bell that teaches you how to play guitar and he comes at me with this:

"I was thinking about learning to play guitar. Because if I learn to play guitar, I'll get a lot of girlfriends. But if I get a lot of girlfriends, I'll probably go CA-RAY-ZY!!! (little giggle here) Right, Mommy? So maybe I don't want a lot of girlfriends. I think just five. Yeah, I think five girlfriends would be ok."

Lord help me, he's only 8.

So, we're at the finale right now ("We're all in this to-ge-ther, WILDCATS!") and he'll be off to bed after Shar-Pay gets her cookies. (Yes, any Mom who has sat through HSM knows what I am talking about.) He's currently singing and dancing along and Eli is happily swinging and cooing along. Soon, I'll have MY time to scrap or organize and my blah day will end on a high note.

And I guarantee that I will wake up in the morning with Matthew at the foot of the couch (my temporary sleeping place until Eli sleeps through the night) and Ian asleep on the loveseat beside me.

The day was blah and I was at my wits end with the kids, but when you have stories like these to tell, it makes it all worth it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

the girl who is a BAD GIRL!!!

Yup, ask anyone (especially my mom, lol!). But now it's official and comes with perks!

Yes, I successfully completed my semester at Bad Girls Academy and graduated Suma cum Laud. Translation: I WON TOP DESIGNER AT THE BAD GIRLS SITE!

Floored, shocked, amazed, how many other adjectives can I come up with? Astounded, excited, ecstatic....bring me a thesaurus, I could go on all day! This contest was so challenging and fun, and had some pretty tough competition too! Layouts like this, and this, and this just blew me away. (if you can't see these, that means you're not a bad girl! Sign up, this gallery is chocked full of eye candy and the kits are simply luscious.)

Wendy Rago--the owner and founder of Bad Girls--has such a talent for putting all of these goodies together (and is pretty sweet besides) so when she asked me to also join the Design Team I was over the moon! SO that means that not only do I get this prize package of goodies (try not to drool on your screens)

but I also will get a nice package every month to play with. There is always something super cool in the kits. October's kit has damask printed packing tape! Just imagine what you could do with that! If you want to see my entry in its entirety, go here.

My mother was super excited, my husband (who is amazingly supportive) was proud and da Jens are excited for me to because I promised to share my prize pack with them! (Ok, they're proud of me too!)

So all of this "Top Designer" stuff has me on a scrappy high--so much inspo everywhere. I found these sites today and could seriously spend all day just clicking link after link after link drooling over all the creativity. Unfortunately, my winning streak does not extend to the lottery. Nope, checked this morning and we still didn't win. A girl can dream, can't she?

In other news:

My friends Holly Golightly and Jim Balent are in town this weekend for their annual Halloween Horror Nights trip. I love this couple! So sweet and approachable! I met them when I worked at the Hard Rock Hotel and have stayed in contact with them ever since. They are truly fun to hang out with and I have the biggest girl crush on Holly. She epitomizes my inner goth girl--the girl I would love to let out and play more often, but being Mommy gets in the way. So I'll live vicariously through her and enjoy it.

And a couple pics of Mr. Ian to liven your day. One of our favorite places to grab a quick dinner is Firehouse Subs. We get something that isn't deep fried and the boys get fireman hats! So everyone wins! My BIL is a firefighter, so my nephew has a multitude of firefighter themed apparel. I recently got a box of hand-me-downs for the boys and now we have more firefighter pj's than you can shake a stick at! (Although I don't know why you'd want to shake a stick at them, I'm just saying we have more than you could) So, of course, I had to take a pic of Mr. Shy being all cute and excited with his firefighter hat and pj's.

Ian is relishing his role as bigger brother (Matthew is the big brother, Ian the bigger, Zack the biggest). He has always been very caring and nurturing and loves to help out. He's adorable with Eli, but quite frankly, just plain bossy to Matthew and worships Zack. It's interesting to see the family dynamic change over the years. Two years ago, Matt and Ian were inseparable, now Matthew is the odd man out and has been usurped by the baby besides. I remind myself of this constantly as he is definitely acting out these days. I guess I've been lucky--I didn't have to deal with the "No!" phase coming from my kid with the older too.

This too will pass.

Next weekend is definitely our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. One of my favorite photo ops of the year! So be prepared to be inundated with pictures next week!

And lastly, my mind is currently racing with ribbon ideas. Why? Because that's the next challenge in Last Scrapper Standing. Yep, I made it through to round three and am super stoked!

I have an idea, but, of course, none of my expansive (and frequently unused) ribbon supply fits my vision. So I'm going to try to sneak over to Michaels this evening and get some cool trim. I'll let you know what I come up with!

Happy Scrappy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

the girl who has an assistant

I am pretty darn lucky.

"Take Your Child to Work Day" is every Friday for me.

You see, I didn't really take a maternity leave. I gave birth on a Wednesday and was back to work the following Monday. And--as my GM loves to point out to people who have attendance issues--I managed to call in 2 hours in advance from the ambulance as they were loading me in.
clearly I haven't lost all my baby weight yet

Why so dedicated? Do I love my job that much?

Well, the truth of the matter is that I am in charge of payroll, and Monday was the day to run payroll. Since Eli came so early, my replacement wasn't trained and if I wanted to get paid, well, I had to do it myself. After that, well, Eli was in the NICU and being able to go to work for a few hours when I felt like it was good for me. It kept me from worrying so much and actually gave me a chance to rest more than I would have at home. I was given the best terms ever. I got to come and go as I pleased for the first three months after the birth, as long as I got payroll done and took care of the "essential" parts of my job.

Completely Awesome!

It gets better.

Once Eli got out of the NICU, I took some time off (about a week and a half) to bond and visit with my parents who drove from Texas. When I went back, it was with Eli in tow. I worked the hours I wanted and was able to take time for the doctor's appointments and such. Heck, I even took time because I just felt like sleeping in! The important parts of my job got done, but I wasn't trapped in the house.

I set up a little cradle in the corner of my office, got myself a baby sling to tote him around in, brought in a little changing station and we were good to go. When he was hungry, I'd just close the door and nurse while one-handed typing. Bliss. Plus he became everyone's favorite little guy. He even has his own nametag. It says "Eli Eleven, Human Resources Assistant."

When I came back "officially" to full time, I started leaving him with the sitter's. That didn't even last a week. Every day it was, "Where's my Baby!" "Where's Eli?" People would tip toe into my office just in case he was in the cradle sleeping. Anyone who walked past my door would always peek to see if they could spy him in his cradle.

And I missed him too.

So that first Friday of full-time, I brought him back in. I needed my Assistant after all! So Fridays are Eli days. I still get asked about him during the week and I just say, "Friday, he'll be in on Friday." Now that he is getting more active and is awake and alert more, he gets fussier, so it really can't last much longer. But I'll enjoy it while I can.


In other news:

This is how I stand in the two scrappy contests I've been participating in.

For the Effer's Last Scrapper Standing, I have officially progressed to Round Three! Yaaay! This was my entry for that:

Pretty Darn personal. The challenge was to scrap 7 random things. Since I scar so easily, it grew into this. It evolved from a previous idea I had where I wanted to do seven totally unrelated random things, but work my journaling into the picture. After failing to find a revolving door in a decent driving distance, (it was relevant, trust me) I decided to just scrap random things about my body and write directly on myself. One of the random things I had thought about is the fact that my second toe is longer than my big toe. However, when looking at my feet, didn't want to take a picture because of the scars I have everywhere. Little nicks and dings, not really aesthetically pleasing. So I decided to just scrap my scars. I really have always wanted porcelain, Nicole Kidman, luminous skin. But I've learned to accept I never will. Its just me.

And now, onto Round Three! I can't wait to see what the challenge is, they've already narrowed the ranks from 250-something to 42, so just getting to Round 3 is a feat I can be proud of.


And in the Bad Girls contest....this was week 5, using the design element of unity. I chose shape and color as elements to create unity. Lots of round and circles here and lots of orange to contrast the blue in Ian's outfit. I love this pic, even though you can't really see Ian's eyes.

I am happy, pleased and otherwise estatic to announce that I made it to the finals! Yes, it's down to just ten ultra talented ladies and I am in that number! I got a personal call from Wendy Rago--the owner of Bad Girls Kits--and she is just such a cool girl to talk to. If the boys hadn't started killing each other in the next room, I'd still be on the phone with her!

The neat thing about the Bad Girl's challenge is that it has been structured like a class. Each round of competition has been a class in design. It's been pretty awesome. I was always the kid at school who did really well with parameters. I have plenty of creativity on my own, but give me a set of rules to follow and some guidelines and I'm off! I've been loving this! I will be so sorry to see it end and can't wait to see who gets chosen as Top Designer.

And, btw, I think I have a new kit obsession. I'm definitely jumping on the waiting list for this club!

Final entries are supposed to be up by eight pm (EST) on Thursday. I'm actually done. I had an idea, I ran with it, and Aramis even allowed me to get some adult time in this weekend by going to a crop. (A definite mood lightener since I've been feeling a little trapped lately. He doesn't have his weekends off anymore and we have no time together as a family. Which means my weekends are filled with all of the kids home with me when I just want to relax and unwind sometimes. I have no time during the week to run errands which means I have to take all four kiddos with me when I go to the grocery store, get an oil change, get a haircut, etc, etc, etc. I've been stressed out by it all) So my page is done, but I don't want to post it yet. I wwant to wait until the due date. I guess its the competitive side of me not wanting the other contestants to see it just in case they haven't completed their own. But I can't resist sharing a little sneaky peek since I love this layout so much. Who cares about the contest when you get inspired to create this kind of art?

Here it is! Shhhhh!

Well, I'm off to get some sleep and dream of scrappy goodness.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

the girl who has a porker

Look at my little Eli-phant. He is just getting bigger and bigger each day! I think it’s his sitter. She just loves feeding him. He’s starting to get more personality too, learning to smile and laugh and coo. He is just one of those babies that you fall completely in love with. And there is something about his head—it begs to be kissed repeatedly. Aramis pointed it out to me that I was kissing his head every few seconds. I believe his exact words were, “Stop it! You’ll give him a bald spot!” Lol! I’ve noticed my sitter does the same thing. I had handed him over to her at the drop-off and we were chatting for a moment. I noticed that she absentmindedly would kiss his head every minute or so, almost like punctuation. And when I picked him up that evening, I thought for a moment he had bumped his head somehow. No, it was just lipstick prints all over his noggin.

My child, the kiss magnet.

In other news, I set a dangerous precedent last month by putting Radio Disney on the car radio when we were going to be driving for a bit. (Draven’s b’day party) Since then, the boys expect it every time they get in the car. How bad is it that I forget to switch it over after dropping them off and end up finding that I am singing along to Hannah Montana? Not to mention that I now have the entire soundtrack to High School Musical 2 memorized?

Someone, please help me!

Monday, October 01, 2007

The girl who has been putting it off

I am a procrastinator by nature.

I swear it's an inherited trait as I distinctly remember my Mother (a retired teacher) always stressing out about the lesson plans she hadn't completed. Now, the benefit of this is that I am a great improvisor and work well under pressure. Give me a six-week deadline and I guarantee you I will be starting (rather than putting the finishing touches on) the project at 11:30 the night before it's due. And I'll probably be missing some vital companent which will force me to get creative to replace it or at least get creative in whatever excuse I use to justify its absence. I also guarantee that the project will probably turn out just fine. Nothing like a deadline to get the ol' creative juices flowing.

Add to that the fact I am also pretty competitive and what do you get? You get someone who was on the varsity speech team in high school and routinely wrote her speeches on the bus on the way to the tournament I signed up for six weeks ago. Or, in my present life, you have someone who hasn't managed to find or inspiration to scrap in the past three months, yet still enters TWO large elimination based scrapping contests.

What the hell was I thinking?

So, the two contests I have entered are the Bad Girls Top Designer and the Effer Dares Last Scrapper Standing, Vol. 2. I entered LSS 1 last year and was so stoked! It really challenged me to produce some awesome layouts and kept me going. I'll admit to being a little burned out when all was said and done, but I made it to the final round and every layout I produced for that contest was picked up for publication. Awesome!

This year I hope the creative juices get flowing again and I make it through all of the rounds again. I doubt I'll win, considering the talent this contest pulls, but I enjoy the creative push. I have so much respect and admiration for the Effers (including a huge scrappy crush on Kristina Contes) that I really push myself to impress them.
Anyway, the first challenge was to use 8 transparent elements on a layout. And this is what I came up with.

I printed the pictures on transparency and then sprayed chrome paint on the back to make them metallic. Trust me, it looks completely awesome IRL. Then I mounted all of my transparent elements on a 12x12 mirror tile, but I spaced them using clear acrylic beads. The effect of the transparent elements reflecting in the mirror came out exactly as I had hoped and is elegant and funky at the same time.


And apprently the Effers did too because I made it through to Round 2 along with about 80 other girls. I don't have exact numbers of entrants, but it looks like they cut the competition down by more than half. So now I'm just waiting for the next challenge.

For the Bad Girls contest, I am up to round four. Entries are due today and, silly me, I actually got mine in a day EARLY! lol!

party animal

This is the Round 3 entry where the contestents were given a lesson in seven elements of design and then asked to choose one to emphasize in their layout. I used the element of line. Notice that all of the horizontal and vertical lines converge on the picture, making it the focal point. Apparently the judges liked my take because it led to this:

so in love

Yes, my early entry for Round 4. This round's assignment was to use white space effectively. Now I LOVE using white space. I think it could be one of my favorite design elements. In this case, my white space isn't truly "white" it's actually a subtley textured background, but I think it adds to the feeling of peaceful serenity of the picture and the banner element continues the lines of my embellishments, helping direct the eye to the picture. I love this layout!

In other news:

Aramis has grown a beard. I think it's part a.) laziness and b.) because he can. Anyway, I am now married to Grizzly Adams' Cuban brother. I kinda like it. I like a simple goatee better, but I can deal with this.
Plus it cuts his prep time for work down to, like, ten minutes. lol!

Zack is doing well in school, despite his best efforts to not do his homework. I swear, he spends more time and effort in thinking of excuses and hiding his Agenda so he can say he "forgot" it then it would take if he just the darn homework in the first place!

Ian is talking non-stop these days. Still can only understand about half of what he's saying, but at least he's vocal. He has switched allegiance from Matthew to Zachary. Now the two of them gang up on Matthew and use him as the universal scapegoat. For the first time, I'm having to tell the boys they are not allowed to say they don't like their brother.
Matthew (and maybe because of being picked on by his bigger brothers) is a little pill. A cute and adorable little pill, but a pill nontheless. Yesterday we had an epic 20 min temper tantrum over leaving his backpack at the sitter's. He ended up getting a fully clothed cold shower and early bedtime with no dinner for that performance. And yet, I still melt when he demands a "hug, kiss!" even after being punished. His new ritual is to give me an imaginary present before I leave for work and admonish me not to open it. Awww! Although I really am curious as to what he thinks he's giving me. Maybe just the fact its a present is enough.
And Eli is getting bigger every day. I know he's over 8 lbs now, but now the exact weight. He is a clingy little guy though. He's happiest when he is *on* someone. And by "someone" I mean, me. And by "on" I mean using my breast as either a pacifier or pillow. He can be dead asleep and you move him to the bed and off his "pillow" and, while he won't wake for the transfer, within five minutes, he's figured out something is missing and is wailing away again. It's nice to be appreciated!

Finally, the weather was GORGEOUS this past weekend. So much so, I even braved taking all four boys to the park. There were TWO birthday parties going on so I had to really watch the boys, but they had fun and it got them out of the house for awhile. (It also gave me an excuse not to do laundry, shh!) Considering the beautiful day, I tried to get a pic of all four boys in the sunshine.
This is the best I could come up with.
And these are all the "other" shots.

Notice at least one, if not two, kiddos are not looking at the camera or looking with a horrible expression in each shot.
And yes, I know Ian needs a haircut. I planned on doing that, but we went to the park instead!