Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

We have a sort of New Year's Eve tradition. When we have nothing else planned (which is almost every year), I make up a bunch of tasty appetizers, we watch Dick Clark and toast the new year with sparkling cider or grape juice. Sometimes, on rare occasions, we actually have some champagne on hand. This year I think I'll pop open the bottle of bubbly John got last year as a Christmas gift. I hope it's still good. I have no clue how long champagne stays "good" in the fridge.

This year's treats will include pigs in a blanket and mini quiche. John couldn't find the Greek spinach thingies in filo dough (spanikopita). Love that stuff. I also forgot to order my other fav New Year's Eve treat...seafood chowder from Legal Seafoods. I plan to order some as soon as I post this entry. I'll eat it later this week. What can I say...I'm giving in to my craving. :-)

It also looks like we'll be getting some snow tonight. What do your plans look like for New Year's?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Morning...the Video

OK. I've had a few inquiries to see the less than stellar Tyler reaction to a tree full of gifts from Santa. It IS pretty funny, now that I look at it again. So sure, I'll post it. Sometimes I just don't understand this kid. What a character! :-)

You think his arms were tired then??? Wait until he went to bed that night after playing his new Wii all day long. Heh! Talk about sore!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Do the Happy Dance with me, people!

Woo hoo! With the Amazon gift cards I got for Christmas (thanks Mom, Dad and Karen) plus the gift certificates I've been saving up with my Amazon Rewards Visa card (can you tell I shop on Amazon a lot???); I managed to save $290 on my new Canon Digital Rebel XTi 10.1MP digital SLR camera with a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. I have no flippin idea what the lens stuff means, but I understand it's a starter lens that professionals would thumb their noses at. LOL! But I am a beginner when it comes to a camera like this, so I should start slow.

Along with the camera, I bought a bag, battery, neck strap and a professional grade CF card (the camera has a high speed burst mode, so I thought it would be good to have memory that can keep up). [SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!] I got the camera strap for free, thanks to an Amazon promotion. I also got $25 off my order because of the camera bag I picked. I threw in some new towels that were on sale and 2 travel trays for the boys to use in the van and in the end, my almost $900 shopping cart order was down to $538! And the money my Mom gave me for Christmas will cover that.

Happy dance! Wooop wooop...mash potato...wooop wooop....watusi....wooop do the monkey! And pony out of the room....wooop wooop!

It's Good to be HOME!

It's been several years since we spent Christmas morning anywhere else but our own living room. For various reasons, my family didn't see us at all last year for any of the holidays; so we decided to make it up to them by spending a few days over Christmas. Honestly, I can't recommend a long car trip in a vehicle with no trunk. It's tricky trying to hide all those presents from curious eyes! Not to mention the fact that Max is NOT a good long haul traveler. The last two hours of the ride I felt like a vaudeville performer in my efforts to keep him from wailing (there are only so many ways to puppeteer a paper cut out of Elmo). The last 30 minutes of the ride, I had to pull out the secret weapon. I blew bubbles into the back seat until my throat was raw.

My mother was on her best behavior (thanks Mom!) but my Dad was up to his usual tricks. We don't call him Grumpy Grampy for nuthin. Luckily his crotchety moments weren't too bad (I've packed up and gone home days early, in the past).

We had a birthday dinner for my brother at a favorite local Chinese restaurant on Christmas eve. Good food and great company. The boys were on their best behavior too. Thanks to Grampy for picking up the tab.

Christmas morning...Santa was very good to my boys. I think we kept Tyler waiting a bit long to go see the tree. He had to wait for Mommy and Max to wake up. Then he had to wait for his Grands to get out of bed (they were a bit slow at 7am - the "Tyler" alarm clock is a shock to the system at that hour). Then he had to wait for Grandma to get out of the bathroom (what the heck does she DO in there for that long???) Then he had to wait for Grampy to make coffee and finish doing the dishes (wait...what??? Hurry UP Grampy!) By the time I got the video rolling on my camera, Tyler strolled in and just stood there with very little reaction. Where was the excited screams? The shreds of paper flying everywhere as he tore into his gifts? WTF? LOL! The video is dead boring. Oh well. You'll just have to watch the cute video of Max playing with Tyler's new race car.

My mother shocked the CRAP out of me with her Christmas gift. She is terrible at keeping a secret, but she managed to stay mum about receiving an inheritance from her Aunt. She shared a little of the wealth with my brother and I via a check in our Christmas cards. I cried. It was so unexpected! Money and my mother are not soon parted, unless she's at the mall and it comes in a size 2! Thanks Mom! I was wondering why she kept hinting that Santa might have brought the camera I've been dreaming about. John was nervous that she was raising my expectations so high. He knew what was in the two wrapped packaged he gave me from the boys (a back scratcher from Tyler and a new game for my Nintendo DS from both boys).

As a return favor, I shocked the crap out of both my parents with the announcement that I had connected with my bio-mom, Liz. But seriously, I told them on the 23rd. I didn't want to spring the news on Christmas day. What a bomb to drop that would have been. They took the news fairly well. My Mother had lots of questions (primarily on whether Liz had asked about HER and what had I told her.) *sigh* I wish she wasn't so worried about how everyone else on the planet thinks of her and worry more about what she thinks of herself - or how her daughter thinks of her. Ah well. I can't knock her too much. She paid me! LOL! Just kidding. I am totally getting that new camera, tho. [squeeeeeeee!]

Uncle Mike and Aunt Katia were present rock stars this year (so were Grandma Lois and Uncle Greayer and Aunt Anne). They got the perfect things for Tyler and Max. Good job, guys. Only one glitch...Max was TERRIFIED of TMX Elmo. I feel a little ashamed that I laughed at his reaction. But it was too funny! He would pick up Elmo, carry him to me, I would tickle Elmo, and Max would stare for a moment then his lip would quiver and he would burst out crying. Awww! He did NOT like how Elmo threw himself around on the floor in a laughing fit. They aren't kidding when they say this Elmo is extreme. He's practically maniacal.

The rest of our stay was pretty uneventful. The drive home was hellish. Once again, Max is NOT a long haul traveler. We had to stop sooooo many times. Ugh. I'm so glad to be home. And now for some photos:

John's Birthday Party/Christmas with Grandma Lois

Christmas with Grandma Carol and Grampy Bob

Max and the Smash n Crash Racer:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Shhh! Santa just came...

I'd post a photo of the tree, but I can't find my darn cable! I think the boys will be pleased. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hello Kitty! Come and Eat ME!

We have a new furry friend. He and his mate have been visiting us just about every day out on the back deck. Sparty, however, does NOT want to be friends.

Can't say I blame him. I swear that squirrelly couple do everything in their power to drive Sparts to the brink of madness. Poor cat has been trying to claw his way through the back door. Since he has no claws in his front feet, I just hear his little toe pads rubbing the glass with a squork squork squork sound that has me practically rolling on the ground with laughter.

I watch as one of the furry fellas comes up about a foot away from the glass, turns his back to the cat and flaps his tail up and down, side to side. I can vividly imagine a sort of Alvin the Chipmunk voice taunting, "Here, kitty kitty! Don't I look taaaaaasty?"

I better get some more nuts at the store. I just threw my last handful out there. Ahem. Yes, I have been encouraging them to come back. I'm a baaaaaaad kitty momma.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Baby!

It's John's birthday today. It is his birthday wish that from this moment on, we no longer acknowledge his actual chronological age. He is officially 46 forever. Or was it 47. I forget. Ooops.

Say What?

I can't believe I forgot to post this little exchange from a couple weeks ago:

Tyler came racing into the house after school, obviously very excited about something.

"Mommy! Mommy! We have to go to the store!"

"Why, sweetie?"

"We need to buy 8 candles!"

"8 candles? Why???"

"For Harmonica! Harmonica starts soon!"

Ah. My eyes welled up with tears from suppressed laughter.

"OK hun, I'll get right on that. You want to call Uncle Jeff and Aunt Beth to wish them a Happy Harmonica? I'll bet they would really appreciate that."

"Nah. Maybe later Mommy. I'm going to play ToonTown now."

OK son. Oh, and happy belated Harmonica to all my Jewish friends.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Rewind: 1975 Becky is sitting on her bed reading a book, minding her own business.


A look of alarm crosses my face as I race to the window to see what is making that horrible racket. Down on the driveway, I see a couple of my little brother's toys. One of them is smashed to bits. Movement out of the corner of my eye makes my head turn to the left just as something comes flying out of the house.


Another toy hits the pavement and disintegrates.

"Michael!!!!" I run into my brother's bedroom next door.

He has his window wide open and a collection of toys on his bed. One by one he rapidly flings them out the window and watches them fall to their doom. Only his Tonka dump truck and another vehicle called a Pounder truck survive...a testament to their respective manufacturers.

Fast Forward: 2007 Becky is sitting at her desk quietly typing an email, minding her own business


"Max!!!!" A small figure standing on Tyler's low computer table turns away from the railing to grin at me.

He has a collection of toys on the table next to Tyler's monitor and is flinging them through the railing into the living room below.

I smack my hand to my forehead and massage the sore spot between my eyes.

I can't wait to tell this little incident to Uncle Mike at Christmas.

Ho Ho Ho, y'all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On Being Adopted...

That fact that my brother and I were adopted was never a secret in our house. My parents were very open about it. They COULD have kept it a secret and I never would have questioned it; that is, until I studied genetics in high school. They would have been hard pressed to explain away their blue eyes and connected ear lobes (I have neither). As a child I would proudly tell my friends that my mother had never had a baby, but yet she had 2 children. It was like my own personal riddle. Most of my friends never guessed the answer to that one, but once I told them, they would run home and tell their parents.

I never set out to be the root of all neighborhood gossip and I felt badly when my mother came to me and asked if I'd told little Sarah that I was adopted. (Her mother had called all full of probing questions...the woman had no self-censor.) My mother reminded me that while it wasn't a secret in our own family, she wished I wouldn't talk about being adopted with my friends. Mother didn't like thinking about the reasons why she and my father had turned to adoption to start their family and much preferred the harmless fiction of people assuming my brother and I had arrived in the "normal" fashion.

There was just one problem. I didn't FEEL normal. I had an imagination that was off the charts. It would get me in trouble in school because I would just drift away into my own head. I spent a lot of time wondering where my "other" mother was, what she was doing and if she ever thought about me. It didn't help that I was made to feel like I should simply be grateful that I was placed in a better environment than I probably would have had otherwise.

When I hit puberty, my personality underwent a pretty dramatic change. I became more withdrawn and sullen. I was full of resentment over what I felt was the excessive control my parents were trying to exert over my life. I blamed my parents for everything that was wrong and put them through the wringer. I was constantly on the brink of an emotional explosion and my parents caught most of the fallout.

In my most angry moments, I would yell about their past mistakes and dredge up every slight and hurt I could think of. I would THINK about telling them they were bad parents and that I bet my "real" mother would have been better than them. I didn't really think that. I just knew it would rip their hearts out to hear it. But I never crossed that line, even in my most angry moments.

I wasn't a bad teen, really. My rebellion was very mild compared with most other kids my age. Sure I missed a few curfews. Yes, I tried smoking. Yes, I dated a boy they didn't like and when they forbid me to see him, I would sneak around to be with him. But I never tried drugs. I never drank (not until college anyway). I was sort of a wimpy rebel.

At one point I asked my mother to reiterate all the information she had about my birth parents. She got very defensive and evasive. One of her deepest fears was that I would leave home to go on some insane search. Honestly, I was on the brink of running away from home a number of times, but I was too smart to follow through on the impulse. I just always had the feeling that my parents weren't telling me the whole story. They were keeping something from me.

Once again, my vivid imagination reared it's head and I had all kinds of horrible scenarios play out in my mind. My adoption wasn't legal, I was actually the victim of a kidnapping. I was the product of rape. I was abandoned in a bus station. I was a twin (or more) and my parents only wanted one child at a time, so my sibling went somewhere else. You name it, I thought of it.

My curiosity and my need to KNOW was overwhelming. No one really understood. Even my own brother, who was in the same boat as me, showed no curiosity whatsoever. He never expressed any interest in doing a search. Me? I would search the faces of people on the street looking for a resemblance and wonder if I would recognize a biological family member if I ever saw them.

In my 20s, I got busy with life in general. My search was always at the back of my mind, but I had more pressing issues. Finding an apartment, paying my bills, dealing with work pressures, and waiting for my long time boyfriend to finally pop the question.

Many years later, after being happily married for quite a while, we starting trying to have a family. Having a baby was VERY important to me. Not only was I eager to be a mother, but it would finally give me that biological tie to someone - a baby with my looks, brains and talent (stop laughing!). It would also enable me to give my mother the greatest gift of all, the experience of being in the delivery room to watch her grandchild being born. I knew missing that experience was one of the biggest disappointments of her life.

We were struck yet again by the fickle finger of fate. I had a host of female problems that made it impossible for me to conceive or carry a child. I was lucky in one respect. The devastation of infertility and the journey to adoption was not as big a stretch as it can be for some. Adoption as a way to start our family was always an option, right from the start. And that option worked out very well for us. I have two beautiful boys now, but there was still something missing.

I built a great relationship with the birth mothers of my boys. It made my heart glad to know that Tyler and Max would never face the uncertainty, curiosity and sense of loss that private adoption can foster. They would never have the same questions or feelings of disconnectedness that I always had. But at the same time, the joy I had in the openness and freedom of my new family only served to remind me of that missing piece of my soul. I wasn't a complete person.

Shortly after Tyler was born, I had a long conversation with my mother. She was fearful of open adoption and had a lot of concerns she wanted to voice. It was a great opportunity for me to explain my feelings to her. I think I finally made her understand how much the "not knowing" had hurt me over the years. How my birth family would always be a part of who I was and my joy in how that part would never be missing from my children. A short time later she handed me an envelope that would rock my world.

From the moment I was placed in their arms as an infant, my parents had also received a copy of some court documents that detailed the termination of my birth mother's rights. They looked at the documents once, and then sealed them away in a safe deposit box never to be spoken of again. I opened that ancient manila envelope and there, in black and white, was my birth mother's last name.

At first I was angry. My parents had been evasive about the agency I was adopted from. They had denied for decades that they had any additional information they could share. And yet, there it was. Hard evidence of their deception.

I got over my anger in time. I finally had something to go on. A name. With my husband's encouragement, I researched Kansas adoption law online and registered with a reunion registry ( I found out the agency that handled my adoption was still in business and contacted them. I contacted the state and requested a copy of my original birth certificate which revealed even more information about my birth mother. I requested information on doing a search and was sent all the forms I needed. You all know the rest of the story. The forms sat on my desk as I let everyday life keep me too busy to take that critical next step.

What I didn't know was that my bio-mom was also looking, and at around the same time I was. I had plugged her name into Google a few years ago just to see if there were any genealogical sites on the family name. There was just no way to be sure if who and what we found had any real relevance. I needed to bite the bullet and send in those forms. Goodness knows I didn't want to start calling every family with that last name in Kansas and the surrounding states in the hopes I would just get lucky. That kind of bull in a china shop approach just didn't feel right.

This was one of those times that my tendency to procrastinate finally paid off. She found me first. And with Google, no less.

I hope my "other" mother and her family have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I already got the best present I could have ever asked for. Thank you Liz. I am finally starting to feel whole.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

My all time favorite version of this Christmas song is the Muppets version (with John Denver).

But this season I feel like the 12 days are moving more at THIS pace:

Yeah. Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays everyone!


What's that word my dad always loved to use? Oh yes...this season it's been one boondoggle after another.

1. Oh how I tried to get a photo of my two boys together and smiling. Who knew it would be an impossible task and I would need professional help?! I just wish the opportunity to have the family photos done had arrived SOONER. Because...

2. The portrait I selected for our Christmas card took SO long to get here that the place where I normally get my cards done wouldn't be able to send them before Christmas. So I shopped around. That took HOURS of research. Finally found that my local CVS could have them done in 2-4 days (according to the website) and I could just pick them up at my local store. Perfect! Just one problem. Today is day 4 after I sent in my order and what do I get in my email? A shipping notification. Yep. My card are done and it will now take 2-4 business days for them to SHIP to my local store. Grrr! So I guess I am sending New Year's cards this year.

3. I finally got a call back from my mother with gift ideas. The idea for my dad was primo! I hopped right on to Amazon and ordered it. The item was in-stock and would arrive (according to the website) 2 days before we headed up to my parent's house for Christmas. Groovy! A few days later I got another one of those craptastic "shipping notifications" that said the estimated arrival date of my package was 2 days AFTER we leave. Swell. No clue what I'm going to do now.

4. My mother's idea for herself? Same as last year. Buy a few more dishes from her kitchen china pattern. Uh, yeah. There's just one problem. Those dishes were discontinued 2 YEARS AGO. Mom says, "But you were able to find some last year!" Sure. After I spent a week calling every freakin' store in the states of PA, NJ, and CT. I lucked out and found one store that still had some stuck in a storage room and basically bought everything they had. No such luck this year. I did manage to find a lady in Canada who had one bowl on Ebay. I won the auction, but there is no way it will arrive before Christmas. *sigh*

5. I spaced. The boys didn't get to visit Santa yet this year. Where is my mind at??? Maybe I can make a mall run sometime this week when Tyler gets home from school.

6. It's been a few years since we've celebrated Christmas morning any place other than our own home. How the heck are we going to transport all these gifts in the same van with the boys??? Good gravy. That also means I need to wrap everything before we leave. Yikes!

7. I hope to heck I have some Christmas wrapping paper left from last year. Yep. I didn't buy any this year. I miss the cool catalog I used to get from Ty's preschool. Gotta love those fund raisers.

John just walked in with a stack of boxes from the postal lady. Cross fingers that the stupid Amazon shipping notification lied and one of these boxes is my Dad's gift. Oh pretty please...

Edited later: YES!! Amazon rules! One of the boxes was my Dad's gift. Whew. One less stressor.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Creative Gift Giving...

Ha! I can't remember buying so many gift cards and certificates in one year before. It's going to be REALLY dull Christmas morning when everyone ooo's and ahhh's over their little envelopes. *yawn* But no one would give me any ideas this year! And I couldn't think of anything they might need on my own. Oh well. At least it's not cash. I am forcing them to go shopping in a store they love.

Honestly? All I really want for Christmas are lots of THESE:

Seriously! I am saving up for a new camera. Plus I get points on my Amazon credit card when I buy all my stuff there which earns me MORE Amazon gift certificates.

You can buy ANYTHING at Amazon. I'm not joking. I just bought baby socks, an electric shaver, christmas cookies, a Terry's chocolate orange, and new towels for the bathroom. Plus lots of other stuff that escapes me at the moment.

So see? An Amazon gift card is the perfect gift. (Kim, I hope you like yours when it arrives. LOL!)

Police Action and Mug Shots

Life is never dull in this house. The other day, John was in his usual morning rush to get Tyler ready for school and out the door (Ty's feet tend to turn to lead when we try to rush him to do anything.) As the boys were headed out the front door, John did his typical move to activate our alarm system. The alarm is on a 60 second delay. Why turn on the alarm when you are only driving 5 minutes down the road and back again? Well...because we leave the front door unlocked. Don't ask. Sometimes we just don't make sense in the things we do.

Well, Tyler forgot something, so they ran back into the house before the time had run out on the alarm set. Good for me and Max, since we were both still fast asleep and I have no desire to use that blaring siren as an alarm clock. Unfortunately, Tyler left the front door ajar, so when the count down reached zero, the house alarm started to go off anyway; for about 3 seconds. John rapidly punched in our code and turned it off (the siren let out a feeble squawk only). I opened my eyes briefly but went right back to sleep. Max didn't even budge.

No big deal, right? John waited for a minute or two to see if the alarm company would call and then left again to drive Tyler. Moments after they left, the phone rang (I assume this part, since I was already back to sleep.) They also called John's cell phone (which was off and attached to the charger in our kitchen.) What happens when the alarm company calls and there is no one here to tell them our secret password? That's right. They call the police.

The police arrived in minutes (must have been a slow morning). The nice officer looked all around our house and tried the doors and windows - leaving the front door for last. The front door that John left UNLOCKED. The nice officer knocked. He opened the door a crack and called inside. I rolled restlessly in my half asleep state and wondered if I heard a man's voice yelling in the living room...

Have I mentioned recently that I sleep in the nude? Want to see our mug shots?

I'm just kidding. That photo was taken during our session to have a family portrait done a couple weeks ago. Here are the other two shots. (I hate how I look in this one)

Yep. This story could have ended up like an X rated sitcom, if John hadn't arrived home at that exact moment. He explained about the alarm to the nice officer who took a report and went on his merry way, after sternly telling my hubby to ALWAYS LOCK THE FRONT DOOR.

A little embarrassing, yes, but it could have been so much worse. I do NOT want the cops bursting into my bedroom when I am nude and half asleep, thanks very much.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Incredible News! (Why I love Google...)

Just a quick warning for my parents. If you find this post, you might not want to read. I don't want to upset you.

Something amazing happened the beginning of this week. I've been dying to share with my bloggy pals! Remember these posts from a while back, this one and this one? I could use Max as an excuse for why I never mailed in the forms to officially enlist the State of Kansas in my search. But honestly, I've always been bad about filling out forms. I HATE having to write things out long hand. Seriously, in this day and age, I get annoyed if I can't do things online. I want to TYPE a form. But I digress...

I got a mysterious email Sunday night asking me to visit a new profile on one of the photo sharing sites. My heart skipped several beats as I read an introduction from a woman who said she was my birth mother. At first I cried. Then I got angry. I honestly thought it was too good to be true and that someone was messing with me.

After exchanging several emails and doing some fact/background checking, I came to realize it really IS her. I feel badly for questioning her identity the way I did, but I had to be sure. I've wanted to search for her for so long and always hesitated (damn the media for creating all this fear over reunions gone bad.) For the last 5 days, there has been a nightly exchange of photos and information. I've been in this giddy, surreal state of mind. It's overwhelming!

I have to laugh a bit over how she found me. You hear people talk about using Google to locate people..."I just Googled her and voila. There she was." Well, she Googled me! Well, not ME exactly, but my birth date/location. She found entries from my blog, saw her maiden name and knew she'd found the right person.

Well everyone, say hi to Liz. She reads my blog and I have her permission to talk about her. I won't be sharing any photos or anything until we both get things squared away with our families. I hope to meet her in person one day soon. We'll see how things go (I'm sure the weather here will conspire against me, at least until Spring.) Now I just have to screw up my courage and tell my parents. I'll be seeing them at Christmas. Pray for me.

Yay Google!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's coming! Run for your...supermarkets!

SNOW! Good grief, from the news you'd think the Storm of the Century was about to hit. The predictions start at 6 inches. Yowza! Anywho...John made the mandatory panic trip to the supermarket so we could stock up (him and 500 other people he fought through to get to the checkout). "We could be snow bound for days!" OK, hun. What ever you say. I just want the phone to ring at 5:30am again (darn that school emergency auto-phone-tree) so we can all sleep in.

In other news...I had an experience today that I've heard about from other mothers and always dreaded. Max removed his poo filled diaper and created a scene of poopie carnage right in the middle of my new rug. Of course it had to be the new rug. I had flashbacks to when Ty was this age and the moms in my mother's group would joke about using duct tape to prevent their little ones from doing this horrific act. Some really DID use duct tape. I just kept Ty perpetually in onsies so he couldn't get at the diaper tabs.

You'd think I would have learned my lesson. But no. Max had on a onsie, but I'd left it unsnapped at the crotch because his inner thighs looked a bit chaffed. Oye that little stinker! If I hadn't snapped and blown a Mommy gasket, maybe it would have occurred to me to snap photos like another Mommy blogger I currently read (she always seems to remember to take photos of the poop oopses).

Back to the snow for a moment...

I won't panic over a measly 6 inches of snow. Oh no. The snow accumulation has to look like THIS before I will panic:

This is me and my little brother after the blizzard of 1978 (Bedford, Massachusetts) See our mailbox down there on the lower left? We are sitting at least 4 feet above that 4 foot tall mailbox post.

Now people, that THERE is some snow! Am I right? ;-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Woo hoo! I just finished my Christmas shopping. Have I mentioned lately how much I lurve the internets? OK, so this years' gifts lack imagination. What can I say? Almost everyone asked for gift cards. Except my Dad. He will have an actual gift to open.

Speaking of gift cards... Tyler got quite a few from Toys R Us for his birthday (thanks everyone who gave him one!). When we realized how much they all added up to, it was a no-brainer deciding what to buy with them. John bought Ty a Nintendo DS a couple years ago when we were away on vacation. Since that time, that old DS has taken a serious beating. I can't tell you how many times it has been dropped, thrown, and/or punched (Ty is a sore loser). It was being held together with two plastic loop ties and looking pretty sad. So Ty got a shiny new DS Lite in red and black. And John promptly took it away from him this morning when he saw Tyler lose his temper and punch the screen. We are working on that with him.

No one is going to want to play with him if he keeps acting that way.

Fun and Charity

We're back from our weekend-o-fun at Great Wolf Lodge. You may remember that it has become an annual tradition to take Tyler there to celebrate his birthday. Going forward, this annual tradition will become a birthday treat for both Tyler and Max. We're still trying to decide if we'll go in November - sort of at the half way point between both boys' birthdays; or perhaps we'll wait until January or a suitable school vacation so we can stay a bit longer and escape the winter chill. We'll see.

A few photos from our weekend are here. I seem to have lost my photo mojo lately. I've been very dissatisfied with almost every picture I take. I'm saving up for a new camera, so maybe one day I'll get my groove back. I just can't seem to make my old Canon do what I want it to do anymore. I've outgrown it's limited capabilities I think.

Switching gears...

Tis the season for gift giving (and I sure do love getting gifts), but I know many of you see this season as an opportunity to give in other ways. If you are in the habit, as I am, of setting aside funds for charity and you are looking for the right place to spread your meager wealth, please check out:

ModestNeeds.Org - Small Change. A World Of Difference.

Every year I make donations to a few select charities, including Modest Needs. The great thing about them is they help out regular Joes like you and I. Hard working folks who spend most of their time living pay check to pay check (and maybe carry a little credit card debt for those unexpected emergencies). At any moment, disaster can happen in the form of a hospitalization, or huge and unexpected expenses like your vehicle needing repair or something vital in the home breaking down.

When those bills hit, they can hit hard and leave some folks with the tough choice of paying rent or buying food (but not both). If you make a good salary, there aren't many places you can turn to for help. Most charities and programs are geared toward folks below the poverty line. Where can the rest of us turn when we need a little extra help over the short term to pay that one bill we just don't have the cash for? Modest Needs is there to fill that void.

This time of year is especially hard with home heating costs at an all time high. Not to mention the large number of people being screwed by suddenly ballooning mortgage payments. It's scary to me how just a couple hundred more dollars a month can drain the average family and cause them to lose the home they worked so hard to buy.

Another nice thing about Modest Needs is their low overhead. If you are like me, donating $5 to UNICEF or some other big charity is almost embarrassing. Once the charity takes their operations cut, how much is actually left to help? Not much. But $5 actually makes a difference and adds up with Modest Needs.

Modest Needs currently has 469 applicants looking for help with bills and expenses in the month of December. Wouldn't it be cool if all 469 of them could look forward to a happy holiday season? I hope you can take a moment and click the banner above to check them out. Read some of the testimonials. You might be surprised how a little can go a long way.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Stocking Stuffers

I need some help! So far, I have 2 cool aluminum travel sport bottles and 2 holiday scented giant bath fizzy balls for the boys' stockings. I've been looking for some cute holiday candy dispensers or something, but I'm not having much luck. Any thoughts out there in the blogosphere?

I know for many the stocking is an after thought, but when I was growing up, my brother and I would save our super long Christmas stockings for last. We wanted to savor each item. It drove my mother nuts that very often our favorite holiday gift would be some trinket we found in our stockings.

I've continued the tradition with Tyler (and now Max too) and he eagerly looks forward to dumping out his stocking to see what goodies Santa brought him. It's going to be hard to top last year. I was on fire! I found the coolest stuff.

This year? Not so much.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Damn! Where's that extinguisher?!?!

My husband, bless his heart, has the best of intentions. I know he does. I appreciate it more than he knows when he helps out around the house. Really! But a couple days ago I was left scratching my head at his house cleaning methods.

We have 2 cats. Sparty the gray tiger and Sasha the tabby with patches of white, tiger, black and tan. Sasha is 16 years old and has been bulimic for most of his life. Seriously. He will binge eat and then make himself throw up. I love him, but this nasty eating disorder can make it hard at times.

While my husband was running the Hoover around the dining room, Sasha was in the hallway purging his latest gorgefest. What does husband do when he encounters the wet, fresh pile of cat puke? He vacuums it up...and sets the Hoover on fire.

With thick black smoke POURING out of the vac, he carries it rapidly to me and asks my opinion. OMG! Throw it outside! THROW IT OUTSIDE FAST!

So I watch my poor Hoover smoking away on the front lawn and wonder what the next step should be. The lawn is covered with leaves and it hasn't rained any time recently. If the leaves go up in flames, so will the house.

Luckily the fire never spread to the leaves.

I think now would be a good time to make my sweet hubby aware of a new item on my Amazon Wish List:

That would be the Dyson Animal DC-17. Isn't it purty?! Yeah. Now would be a good time to win the lottery.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


As a Mom, I don't seem to do much that impresses my jaded kindergartner. Today, however, my street cred went up several points in his estimation. I volunteered to work at the annual Holiday Boutique and Craft/Vendor Fair at Tyler's school. I was put right to work as the lady who takes the money for the Holiday Boutique. Daddy brought the boys down to check out the trinkets for sale. Ty's eyebrows shot up when he came to pay for his toys. Mommy was the "banker"! (He loves to play Life with his Dad.)

Later, after I got home, Tyler came over to me and whispered; "Mommy? Since you take care of all that money, can I get mine back for the clock I bought?" What a scam artist! I told him the money we raised was for projects at his school, so nope. No freebies! He told me he was proud of me and that my job was "cool". Heh.

Then it was time to get ready to par-tay! I had 18 treat boxes shaped like a slice of birthday cake to assemble and fill (Tyler decorated them with Pokemon stickers). And off to Time In we went for Tyler's 6th birthday celebration. Ty invited his entire class plus his best pal from pre-school and we had a very good turnout. Photo and video montage below...