Tuesday, December 30, 2008

the girl who survived Christmas!

So, again, let me reiterate that December is CRAZY busy around here. Aramis' birthday is the 19th, Ian's is the 22nd, then, of course, there's Christmas. I guess the silver lining in being unemployed is that I had the time to really put effort into all of the festivities.

I was able to make gifts this year, which was both economical and a good use of my free time.

For my good friends at work, I made these Christmas trees.

Yes, I still went to the office Christmas party as my friends made it quite clear my presence was expected. I enjoyed myself, even though it was bittersweet.

For the kids' teachers, I altered some tins I had on hand and filled them with Christmas goodies. For Ian's teacher, I had Ian draw some Christmas-sy things and decoupaged them onto the tin.

(That's Santa's reindeer on top of our house.)

And for Zacky's teacher--a fellow scrapper--I went all out because I knew she'd appreciate it.

For my mother, I had this crazy idea I could get a massive cross-stitch project done in time for Christmas. And, I couldn't make it easy, no sir. You see, a few months ago my mother casually (Ok, about as casually as a Mac Truck) mentioned that she had cross-stitch projects from all the female members of the family framed and hanging on her wall and she would really appreciate one from me. Now, about the same time, my LSS hosted a sillhouette artist. Now, since my mother has sillhouettes of my sister and me and has always remarked fondly on them, I decided to get sillhouettes made of the boys. Then she mentions this cross-stitch thing and, silly me, I decide to combine the two and translate the sillhouettes of the boys into cross-stitch for my mother.

I started in November. I've had roughly six weeks and I got two boys done--even with my extra free time. Turns out my brilliant idea is HARD to execute!

But, as it so happens, I did get this far, and so maybe I'll have the other two boys done by her birthday (in September.)

Sorry about the sideways--Blogger is not cooperating! grrr!

Next up, Aramis' birthday. I made an awesome lasagna from scratch for him. Seriously, I wish I could put a sample on my blog because it was THAT good! We ate lasagna for two days and then I gave the rest to my neighbors. (I make an obscenely large lasagna.)

Three days later, it was Ian's birthday. Right about this time, someone on Freecycle put up some Batman decorations, so we actually had a theme going here. And since we decorated, we invited some kiddos over to share in cake and ice cream. I'm not up to hosting a full-on party, but I'll tolerate the neigborhood kids for an hour or so. Ian loved it. My little guy is six! Can you believe it?

Next up, of course, was Christmas. Thanks to some very special Christmas elves, we were able to fund Santa more than we had anticipated. It was a blessing, and unexpected, and oh, so welcome.

Getting ready for Santa takes up much of Christmas Eve. First, we must do the holiday baking, starting with GranMary's special Mincemeat cake. It's a Christmas tradition. The other part of the tradition is that no one but myself enjoys it, so I eat myself sick on this expensive treat. (still going!)

Then we bake cookies for Santa, open our Christmas pajamas (supplied this year by GranMary and Pa)--and btw, Ian was QUITE disappointed to find pj's and not a toy on Christmas Eve. You'd think the past six Christmases would have given him a clue! We put out reindeer food, to guide Rudolph and Co. But this year, I forgot until the day of to get the ingredients and had NO intention on going to ANY kind of store on Christmas Eve, so we improvised by putting out carrots. Zachary insisted we roll them in sugar ("because its shiny!") and then carefully arranged them into an arrow shape pointing at our door. After that, we track Santa on Norad and drink our foamy milk and eat our cookies. Finally we read "The Night before Christmas" and issue dire threats to all children about waking Mommy and Daddy before 7 am and put the kiddos to bed.

They actually went down without too much fuss--something that should have made me suspicious.

We let them sleep for about an hour or so before we get to work doing the last bit of wrapping and assembling. But the kids TRICKED us you see. They got up at 3 am--just when I was getting ready to put the toys out and drop off the stockings. So we wait.

And wait.

And wait for the kiddos to go back to sleep.

Not happening I tell you.

I drop off the stockings in front of the doors and say, let's go to bed. But Zacky GRABS his stocking as soon as he sees the lights go off in the livingroom and proceeds to WAKE UP his brothers!

At 4:30 we decided to just do Christmas as the kids would wake us in approximately 2 and a half hours anyway. We haul a semi-comatose Matthew and a-not-ready-to-be-awake-what's-this-Christmas-stuff-all-about-anyway?-Eli out of bed, set them among the toys and call out the other two.

Chaos ensued.

As you can see, the boys enjoyed themselves and had a great time. At seven am (our scheduled wake-up time) we sent the boys to their rooms with their new treasures and went to bed until noon. At some point, my BIL showed up because the kids woke us up to ask if they could let him in. I was only planning on sleeping until ten or so, but with an awake adult in the house, we grabbed a couple more hours. Then Christmas breakfast (lunch, brunch, whatever) and then I started making Christmas dinner.

We ended the day with only one child awake (I have no idea how Zachary managed it) watching WALL-E.

Oh, and I might mention that the tooth fairy and Santa Claus battled it out on Christmas Eve. Zack lost a tooth that morning, and I was awakened by the screams of Ian as Zack tried to dislodge a tooth in Ian's mouth that he just knew was loose too so they could both get visits from the tooth fairy that night. Because certain little boys refused to go to sleep, the tooth fairy managed to sneak in while putting away brand new toys Christmas morning. Luckily, Zack was so excited about Santa, he forgot to look for the Tooth fairy's present!

And now, I leave you with another Christmas tradition. Each year, my mother sends ornaments for the family and each year I also get each member a new ornament. We have a Christmas Code around here. Zachary is Santa's, Ian is Snowmen, Matthew is Teddy Bears, and Eli is Gingerbread men. This holds true in wrapping paper as well as ornaments. The boys also have their specific animals. Zachary is my Monkey Boy, Ian my Tree Frog, matthew my Mouseling, and Eli is my Eli-phant. So if its not one, it's usually the other. So I leave you with our new ornaments for this year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the girl who has royalty in the house

So I was going through the pictures on my camera and I found this one of Matthew.

And it struck me how much he looked like Mick Jagger:

Make that a young Mick Jagger.

Matthew overheard me telling someone this and somehow decided at that point that I had changed his name. Yes, he now thinks his name is Mick Jagger. Of course, I've done nothing at all to perpetuate that. :)

So Matthew..I mean, Mick Jagger, goes to his dad and asks him if his name is now Mick Jagger. His dad--never missing an opportunity to guarantee a rich therapist somewhere in the future--tells him, "No, your name isn't Mick Jagger. It's Sweetie Pie."

Now, Matthew hates, simply hates, being called Sweetie Pie. I don't know why. So of course, he gets upset. And of course, I tell him, "no, your name isn't Sweetie Pie. That's your middle name. Your full name is Mick Jagger Sweetie Pie Matthew Nolan Francisco Martinez."

Somehow that was better.

So for the past two weeks, he has been alternately responding to Matthew or Mick Jagger. Sometimes if you call him Matthew, he corrects you. Other times he'll answer to whatever.

Until last night.

I was taking a soak and reading my guilty pleasure of a Nora Roberts novel and Matthew-Mick Jagger comes in wearing Ian's gloves, his Superman cape, and carrying an empty wrapping paper tube like a scepter. He asks me if he looks like a King. I say, "of course you do, honey. You're the best King I've ever seen."

Having settled that point, he announces that his name is now KING Mick Jagger.

Who knew I was raising royalty?

Monday, December 15, 2008

the girl who is updating

December is always so busy, and this one seems like I haven't had a chance to breathe. I mean, come on, it's December 15th and I haven't bought one single Christmas present. Ok, not entirely true, I've bought two, but they were impulse buys, not really the main event, so to speak. However, I now have some breathing room. More on that in a sec.

So, the craftiness on a budget continues and I added to my Holiday display for work.

I thought it was pretty groovy. Amazing what you can do with wrapping paper, copy paper, scissors, tape and clip art.

Of course, I will never know if I would have placed in the competition because I have been relieved of employment. Yep, laid off twice in one year. Merry Christmas!

On the bright side, I figure I saved $ on not having to participate in the three different office gift exchanges and potlucks I was going to have to do (Managers, Exec Committee and Office), I know have plenty of time to do that Christmas shopping and get a little crafty to save $ elsewhere (now I'm regretting my lack of Christmas paper stash!), and the staff was really very heartbroken to see me go. My last day I got lunch, gifts, tears, hugs and flowers.

It's nice to be appreciated, even if that appreciation doesn't extend to keeping my job.

I also had a chance to see Ian perform in his "World Fair Showcase." He sang "This Land is My Land." Of course, he never learned the verses (all 20 billion of them) just the refrain--and even that he wasn't entirely complete on. Lol! So we were treated MANY practice sessions that went something like this: "(very fast) This land is your land, this land is my land, from California (slowing down) to the..mumble...mumble...indistinct...(and then very loud) THIS LAND IS MADE FOR YOU AND MEEEEE!!!"

But he made an adorable cowboy!

And I made the bys really clean their room...which lasted, oh, a couple hours. Five hours to clean, six minutes to trash. I took out furniture so there would be nothing to shove under the bed. It was nice that Eli wanted to help too.

Speaking of little bit, his hair was starting to evolve from the "Oh! Look at those adorable curls!" to dandelion fluff disaster. So I took him for his first haircut.



Still curly, still adorable, but less of a mess. Your baby is safe, Mom! I kept Aramis away from him with the clippers! Aren't you proud?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

the girl who is decorating on a budget

Work is having a decorate your office contest for the holidays. I happen to be running a very tight budget (as usual) and just plain don't have the moolah to spend on decking the halls (or cubicles as the case may be). However, I felt a bit of pressure as I watched the season invade steadily, office by office. So I made do with what I had. And what I had was a roll of wrapping paper I had ordered from someone's kid for a fundraiser. I had never taken it home. So, a roll of wrapping paper, a ring cut from a copy paper box, my trusty stapler and a bit of miscellaneous stuff left over in the office Christmas tree box and this is what I came up with.

Martha Stewart, eat your heart out!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

the girl who has loved a guy for ten years

Today is my ten year anniversary. Much has changed, much hasn't. We're a few pounds heavier, a few hairs lighter. We've added four children to the mix and taken away so many preconceived notions of parenting. We've discovered new things about each other and taken comfort in the familiar that never changes. After ten years, we don't finish each other's sentences, we finish each other's stories. We've been through sickness, we've been through health. We've been through good times and bad. We've been through poorer...I'd love the opportunity to go through richer. We love each other. I know that. Even on the days I want to strangle him, or pick a fight just to have an excuse to blow up, or when I feel like he just doesn't get it...I still love him and I know he loves me. And that makes it all worth it in the end.

So today, no renewal of wedding vows with a ceremony (as I had planned when we eloped ten years ago) but I will make my hubby breakfast in bed, and I will let him sleep him, and we will go out tonight for some grown-up time sans kids.

And we will keep on loving each other.

Here's to more to come.

Monday, November 17, 2008

the girl who watched history

So this weekend was what might be the last night shuttle launch. sigh! Knowing the momentousness (is that a word? Must be, spell check didn't ding) of the occasion, I set the alarm and herded the boys out.

This is what we saw:

The boys whooped and hollered and generally got excited over the light in the sky. I will miss the funny quotes from the kids on the shuttle launches. (Zack, "Someone's drawing in the sky" and Matthew, "Buckle up!) All good things must come to an end.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

the girl who is a stealing the stealin's

This little post is courtesy of Princess who stole it from Jen who stole it from...well, you get the idea. Any potential thieves out there, post this list and bold the items you've accomplished.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (and DisneyWorld!)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (I'm not sure about this one. I've been to Venice as a child, I can't imagine we didn't ride a gondola while we were there, but I have no memory of it)
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (I'm a mutt, so too many places to go, but my Mom's side is mainly German and I lived in Germany, so I'm counting it!)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelos David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted (I did art modeling a couple times in highschool, I don't know if any of the sketches made it into paintings, but I posed for another artist when I moved to Florida and I know he was doing a painting from the sketches. I never saw it finished though. :( )
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (not that I'm proud of it, but I have)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Lots more to do. Although #90 might be closer than I think, since I got my jury summons!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

the girl who welcomes the weekend


crisp air
cleaned house
did laundry AND put away
took some pictures
some scrapping done
all and all, a great fall day

My Sunday plans

a little more cleaning
a little more laundry
I'm going to make some of my mom's stew and bake some bread to go with it
I'm going to cuddle up with hubby and watch "Hang 'em High"
I'm going to make the boys play outside
and right now, this very second, I'm going to go make some Pupkin Spice coffee


and unrelated to *this* weekend, but I wanted to share...

there was a pumpkin carving contest at work and I was chosen to be the carver for my department. (Selection process went thusly, "You picked the pumpkin up, you carve it!")

So I made this little beauty right here:
Isn't he adorable? A little owl in a cage! I was awfully proud.

But the contest went on for a week, and well, there's not much left supporting that pumpkin. So the inevitable happened. the pumpkin decayed. Fortunately for me, it decayed artistically...

Unfortunately, Hedwig did NOT win. That dubious honor went to the cliched "Vomiting Pumpkin" However, I don't bear grudges. No, not I. I'm above all of that.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

the girl who voted

and I took Zachary with me.

Five minute drive to the polling place with a brief discussion of the classroom vote. (Apparently his school is Democrat heavy, Obama carried)

Brief discussion on how voting is private and how he was not to discuss Mommy's choices with anyone in the polling place.

A step-by-step introduction to the voting process, "This is where they verify that I am registered and this is my polling place. This is the ballot. this is the voting booth. These are candidates, these are proposed amendments to the state constitution."

And then, as I was filling out my (four page) ballot with neat little ovals like I was taking an SAT for America, the inevitable...

"Mommy, are you done yet? I'm bored!"

And let me just say this about that...

I am incredibly thankful that we live in a country where voting can be considered boring. It is not a life or death choice to go submit your choice for your leader. There is no danger in deciding who you feel should be given the trust and responsibility of running the country on behalf of the people.

And the very fact that I can inflict this boredom on my child gives me the responsibility of doing so. Not only MUST I vote, I am obligated to pass that sense of civic minded duty onto my children.

Watch out, Ian. In 2012 it will be your turn to be bored.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the girl who is putting this down for posterity

Matthew "isms"

"Mommy, you're the beee-yoo-tiful Mommy in the whole wide world!"

"How do I look? Am I ADORABLE?"

"Mommy, I'm so thirsty, my stomach is KILLING ME!"

"Mommy, I love you two hands AND two feet!"

"Tarter Sauce!"

rogocheese=macaroni and cheese
cutterbutter samwich=peanut butter and jelly sandwich

just putting them down so I don't forget them

Saturday, September 27, 2008

the girl who feels like doing an HR post

I love my job. I'm coming right out and admitting it. Not just the work I do, but the environment I do it in. If there were an Almighty Employment God whose sole purpose of existence was to match people according to personality and professional ethics to create the most ideal working atmosphere, well, suffice it to say, my getting hired would have been a major feather in their omniscient cap.

So why do I love it? The work itself appeals to me. The location is close to my own little personal bubble in Orlando. The job is challenging enough that I don't get bored and routine enough that I have confidence in what I do. I get a fair amount of perks, a fair amount of personal control and responsibility and a nice little office that is organized exactly how I like it. On top of that, I "get" my employer, so that the little idiosyncrasies that may make him the boss from hell for some people are recognized and respected so that I never take the blow ups personally, but always seriously. And the company does care about its employees, so that's good. And they recognize the job I do and the value that I contribute. My opinion--while at times directly opposite of the powers that be--is respected and taken into consideration. And then there are the people I work with. I think that we have formed a close little group. Scratch that. The close little group was there when I arrived, I just fit in perfectly, as if they had been holding a spot for me all along.

So there is the gushing. I can't help it. The old maxim "Everything happens for a reason" always seems so trite when uttered (comfortingly) in a crisis. However, it is one of those platitudes that only is recognized as wisdom in hindsight.

Now to the actual HR content: the economy is floundering. People are getting laid off left and right (two similar businesses just laid off 200+ workers between them this week) and you can't help but feel the effect in HR. Now, one would hope that this would create an environment of healthy competition where employees would recognize how lucky they are that their workplace has not had to resort to such measures. I would hope that it would inspire new heights of employee performance, where each employee does their best to go above and beyond and prove their worth as an employee. But that is not to be. Unfortunately the competition as not been directed at improving one's personal performance. Instead, I've seen a rash of backstabbing and throwing co-workers under the bus. Positively Junior High reactions. "Well, instead of me working harder, I'll just point out how everyone else is screwing up, then I'll be safe."

Here is a lesson: it does not make you safe. It points out that you are NOT a team player. Why do I enjoy my job so much? because I am part of a team, on every level. Employees need to recognize that supporting their teammates so that the entire unit achieves success is a much better job-retention ploy than pointing out their co-workers' faults and failings. That kind of negativity is poison. A cancer. And once HR figures out where the tumor is located, its best to remove it.

Likewise, now is not the time to gripe about compensation. NEVER tell your supervisor you "should be" making more money. Let me spell it out to you. YOU accepted the position you are in at the wage you are making. YOU made the decision to get out of bed, shower, perform whatever morning ritual gets you going, get into your car and come to work. And YOU will decide on how well you perform to KEEP receiving the wage YOU agreed to when you took the position. Compensation is the most immediate reward, but what about the intangibles? A good work environment, location, benefits? It isn't ALL what shows up on your paychecks, and face it, very few people are ever going to be satisified with what they get paid. A good employee SHOULD always want more because it is the most tangible reward for a job well done. But a sense of entilement for a better salary is never going to beat good job performance. I don't want to be the hardass, I simply want everyone to be as happy with their job as I am. We all work on the same team. So if you don't like the conditions, leave. Simple as that.

With 200+ industry workers recently made available for employment, I don't think there will be an issue replacing you.

So I urge everyone to find what aspects of their job make them happy and work on fixing those that don't. Either suck it up and fix it, or leave. Above all else, be a GROWN UP about it and remember, everything happens for a reason.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

the girl who welcomes fall

The past month (van drama notwithstanding) has been packed full of fall activities:

Starting school and sending my new Kindergartner off. giving Zack the responsibility of walking his brother to and from.

watching clouds with Matthew-"Look, Mommy! A castle! A bear! A piece of candy!"

Going to open houses at school and learning that Ian's Kindergarten class (and all of the others) is overcrowded so they are hiring a new teacher and dividing up the classes. I hope Ian keeps his pixie-teacher. She's perfect for him!

Dealing with the first cold brought home from school as it sweeps through the house. Little bit seems hardest hit. Constant glazed donut face.

Likewise, dealing with Eli's first brother-induced injury: a black eye and cut.

Going to Draven's b'day party and getting to splash and play in the bouncy houses. Good times.

Getting Island Jen to take photos of me throwing Eli up into the air over and over to get the perfect shot. Some may call it child abuse, I call it scrapbooking! (lol!)

Meeting Claire and marveling in how laid back her parents are. They are pros already!

Starting violin lessons for Zacky. Pray for me.

Buying new shoes and new glasses. (pictures will follow)

Trying to scrap and not being able to sustain the creative process. My scrap space is a MESS and it is stifling me. But facing the prospect of losing a scrap night to organize puts me off too, so I just wind up throwing something together from what comes to hand and then throwing it all back into the cabinet. So unlike me.

And finally, a day like today. Cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry avoiding and an apple pie. The perfect end to a 90 degree fall day!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

the girl who is mellow

or at least I'm trying to be. Thanks to everyone who responded about the van. I'm still hashing it out with the insurance company and driving hubby's beater. Hopefully, I can get this resolved soon, but I'm having to prove a negative here. I have to prove I didn't take my own van, crash it and then report it stolen. Which, in theory, I understand the need for because of all the dishonest people out there. However, theory doesn't mean much when I can't put my whole family in a vehicle and roll out.

Seriously though, if I had a dollar for everytime my insurance agent told me that if it were just a straight collision case and I didn't have the theft report in there it would be so much easier...insert significant look and pause here...then I could have bought a new van already. I promise, on my children's heads, that some asswipe took my van and that I was not involved, had no knowledge before or after of the perpetrators and I am not running an elaborate insurance scam. Because really, I'm coming out the loser at the end of this anyway.

On to better things...I went to a crop last night that boasted an apearance by Rebecca from Fiskars (and won a "Leave it to Weaver" punch!) It was good to get out of the house and crop for a bit. I also have found a "must have" that might encourage me to actually use the stamps I have. Voila...the "stamp Factory!" Don't you want one?

I happened to sit at a table filed with woman making paper pieced pages for eBay. Yes, not for their own family albums, but to sell on eBay. they came equipped with hundreds of pieces of cardstock pre-cut by their cricuts to chalk and shade and piece together and an equal amount of printed examples of pages that had already sold on eBay to copy and reinterpret.

Now, I am not going to bash these women for making a living with their hobby. (or at least paying for their supplies with the profits) I know its an outlet for them just as it is for me and they certainly were having a good time. I just don't scrap that way or that style, so I felt like the Sesame Street game of "One of these things is not like the other" sitting at their table, using pre-made embellishments and letter stickers with nary a paper pieced teddy bear to be seen. It just goes to show, when it comes to art, there is no "right" or "wrong" way.

Now I'm going to quit stalling and get to work on my latest project for work: a power point presentation of our benefit plans. I've reached new levels of geekdom, now that I've discovered PowerPoint. No presentation will be safe from now on!

Happy weekend!

Monday, August 11, 2008

the girl who is super pissed

So, some idiots stole my van and then wrecked it about 100 yds away from the complex that they stole it from.

Yes, you read right. Some idiots out there stole a MINI VAN! With CAR SEATS in it. I mean really, where is human decency? It's not like its worth anything for parts and certainly worth more to me than anyone else. This is my primary mode of transportation for myself and FOUR CHILDREN. A fact they certainly could not have escaped the notice of the oh, so bright thieves as they had to unbuckle the car seats and shove them to the side to get anyone into the back. Which, apparently they did. I'm surprised they didn't just chuck them to the curb. But hey, small favors, huh?

And then, to wreck it pretty much as soon as you make the turn out of the complex? I mean, really, you can go to jail for this you know, so why not at least make it worthwhile. A hundred yard joy ride just doesn't see worth it in my book.

Then again, I'm really not socially equipped to think like a criminal. Example: let's play the super powers game shall we? You can have any super power in the world, what would it be? Well, when I play this game, inevitably, I think of ways where I could profit from said super power so I can improve my family's life. (I think that's just human nature) But it always backfires on me. Say I give myself the power of telekinesis, moving objects by sheer force of my mind. How can I get that to profit me (without revealing my superpowers to the world, of course)? Well, I could move that stack of money right out of the bank into my purse, right? Wrong. because this is where my lack of criminal savvy gets in the way. You see, I have worked enough retail and, yes, even accounting, jobs to know that when money is involved, there are always checks and balances to keep track of said money. I visualize making this undetectable little appropriation and I can't help but visualize along with it the consequences. Not for myself as I have superpowers and am, therefore, undetectable. But for the poor person who will end up taking the fall for the missing money because they just happened to be the one in charge of that till.

See? I can't consider a wrong action without thinking of how it effects other people. So I certainly can't visualize taking a mini-van loaded to the gills with car seats, knowing that this will deprive a family of needed transportation.

I mean, really, WTF?

My mother and I had a "kids these days" conversation last week, and this just really is the perfect example. So little respect for yout fellow human these days. And its not that lack of respect for humanity is really anything new, it just seems more prevelant. The mouths of some kids these days! And the scrapes (a mild term) that children get into! I mean, an 11 year-old just held up a Walgreens last night! (not kidding) What was I doing at 11? I think the extent of my mischief was riding my bike out of boundries (which were considerable) or coming home from a friends house late (and late was coming home past dusk). My kids don't have that freedom, and I regret that. But I'd rather regret their lack of childhood freedom than regret that they fell into the wrong crowd because I didn't supervise their activites enough.

My mother and I placed the blame with parents. (It always comes back to parenting) But how do you fix that? Especially when there are stories like this out there? Neglect, abuse, general apathy--all causes. And you know, the economy doesn't help. how can you be a proactive parent when you have to work 9 hours a day (or maybe more if you need to have more than one job) and your kids spend the majority of their time with daycare providers. And finding a good childcare provider generally means paying that premium, so, at the end of the day, you're working to pay your childcare bill. Or going with a less reputable (and therefore less expensive) provider and taking your chances? Is it any wonder that parents decide once their kids are in school, they don't need daycare anymore? Give them a key, tell them not to touch the stove and that's that? No supervision, no interaction, and then little Jimmy takes his bb gun to Walgreens and demands they empty the register.

Ah, but I could go on all day. It doesn't bring my van back. It doesn't pay the out of pocket expenses to go through the insurance process and, ultimately, get a check that won't pay for a vehicle, but maybe the down payment on another vehicle I can't afford anyway. All the bitching in the world won't bring back my van or my sense of "right" in the world. So I'll just leave you with pictures of what the idiots did to my car.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

the girl who had a bad hair day and everything that followed...

A year ago I gave birth to this little wonder right here.

my little Eli-phant

So to celebrate his momentous milestone, we planned a joint party with some friends, one who has a birthday on Sunday, and my FIL who has his birthday Monday.

Saturday morning I wake up, do some housework and then set out to run errands to get ready for our get together.

I take Zack with me as the first order of business is to allow the boy to see again by getting him a haircut. We go to the same place we always go and I describe what I'd like to the stylist. "Surfer cut, chunky and shaggy, bring the hair in the back up to the nape, and shorten the bangs to above the eyebrows."

I was picturing something like this:

What we ended up with was this:

Not really the look I was going for. A brown football helmet with a circle cut out for the face. So I try again. I show the stylist a picture on the wall. I repeat, "chunky, shaggy, skater style, Zac Efron."

So she cuts and snips some more and Zack ends up with this do:

Definitely NOT what I had in mind. I'm sure its a good cut technically, but it is not what I described or what I showed from the picture. I was pretty disappointed and actually, quite mad. I had to go to Target next door, so I figured I'd walk around for a little bit and see if I could get used to it. If not, we'd go back afterwards and get a different stylist to see if we could fix it.

So we go to Target and I'm looking for gifts for my boy, our friend, and my FIL. I find these (Jen Jen, they don't make them in larger than 18 month size, but they DO have the cutest little robot hoodies up to 4T, thought you'd like to know.)

Gift for baby, check. Gift for friend, check. Gift for FIL...not so much.

So I call home and ask dh what a good present would be. He is absolutely no help whatsoever and in my present state of mind, I'm not really in the mood. The ensuing conversations had me in a state of extreme frustration. THEN I get the news that we are expected over at the friends' house ASAP as the birthday girl had been called into work. So no going back to get Zacky's hair fixed. So I'm frustrated at Zacky's hair, irritated at dh's "cooperation" (or lack therof) and now I'm in a rush too!

So I stop by Publix on way home to pick up the birthday cake. I had not been particularly enthused about any of the birthday cake designs in the book at the bakery and had not pre-ordered a cake. I figured, they were all so "meh" why spend the extra money on a trademarked design? I planned to just get a generic decorated cake from the cooler and have them personalize it. I grab one, give them the names and rush to pay and get home. After I finish paying, I'm walking out (in frustrated, irritated, rushed mood) with Zack trailing behind me, and I TRIP OVER A DISPLAY which sends me to my knees and the cake flying.

I had had it.

I broke down.

I covered my face with my hands and just gave up, crying in the middle of the highest traffic area at Publix with an embarrassed boy behind me and a squished mass of buttercream and marble cake in front of me.

A very kind bagger came over, and overlooking the insanity factor, helped me up, guided me back to the bakery and helped me get a replacement cake. He carried it out to the car, wished me well, and told me to bring Eli by to show him off. He was a lifesaver. I don't like breaking down in Public like that. I prefer to maintain the illusion I have it all under control, but it just seemed that all the little things were hitting me hard that morning.

In the end, I got my cake:

We went over to the friends' house and enjoyed it:

We found the world's tiniest frog swimming in the pool:

and generally had a much improved evening.

When we got home, I stripped Eli down and gave him another piece of cake for the gratitious icing shots. Let me tell you, this kid is pretty neat compared to his brothers. He barely got any on him! A trifle disappointing, actually. lol.

But, he certainly thought it was yummy!

Yes, that is the secret to neatness: lick your fingers clean!

And Papa Smurf was celebrating right alonf with us. If you ever wondered what happened to Parker, we passed him on to Papa Smurf. He fell in love with him and now he's not so lonely anymore. Parker has grown into a MOOSE! But he is still a huge old teddy bear.

Abuello has left, and he took Zacky with him. Yep, he has kidnapped Zack for the week and will return him next weekend. We talked on Sunday night and I told him I missed him already, the house was so quiet. His reply was, "I know why! My brothers must be sleeping!"