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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

The hubs and I took the boys on Sam’s first overnight, multi-state roadtrip trip this weekend to visit my parents. He did great for about 4 hours of the drive. (It’s a 5.5 hour drive, without stops. So…yeah.)

But when the baby WASN’T crying, we discussed one of our favorite topics: Moving someplace warmer.

St. Louis is great, but for almost six months each year, the weather is terrible and we’re cooped up indoors. So every winter, we say “this is our last winter here!” because we’re just so fed up with it. We’re also beach lovers and would love to be within a couple of hours drive to the beach someday.

We also talk about being close to an airport for traveling purposes, affordable housing, low crime rates, good job market, fewer allergens (we all have terrible seasonal allergies). We start looking at various Internet articles that say things like “Best Places to Raise a Family” or “Top 10 Happiest Cities”. Finally, I just stopped and said, “None of this matters. The question we should be asking ourselves is where do we want our kids to grow up?”

So I’m curious, freaders, where do YOU want your kids to grow up? Is it where you are right now? Is it where you grew up? Is it on a farm? Is it in a big city? Is it on the beach? Is it in another country? On an island? In the suburbs? WHERE??

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Is it just me or has Mother’s Day become this insane competition to see whose husband/kids can come up with the best brunch, gifts, and excursions? Even my husband admitted that Mother’s Day is  “a lot of pressure” because we’re all bombarded with advertisements that essentially guilt everyone into making sure they appreciate all the mothers in their lives, and do it better than everyone else.

On the other hand, as the recipient of all of this appreciation, I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. Despite the stress it causes him, my husband always goes above and beyond. I’ve already told the boys, jokingly of course, that they’re going to have a hard time living up to the Mother’s Days that their daddy gives to me.

This year, I woke up to the smell of bacon, coffee, and blueberry waffles.  But before I could even come downstairs, the hubs sent D into the bedroom with a card. On the inside, a little blue handprint (D’s) and a little blue footprint (Sam’s). So cute.

Downstairs on the table was a lovely display of breakfast, flowers, a framed pic of the boys, and a box full of my favorite goodies – chips, hard apple cider, cookie dough ice cream, Dove chocolates, and Food Network magazine.

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After breakfast and showers, we attempted to head to Grant’s Farm even though we both had a hunch it would be insanely crowded, much like the zoo was last year when we went. When we saw the line of cars just trying to park in the main lot, we turned around and headed to the Frisco Train Store instead. Of course, once we got there, the sign on the door said they would be closed for Mother’s Day, so we headed to the Transportation Museum. Third time’s a charm as the parking lot was pretty much empty! Score! We paid our entrance fees and bought our train tickets and $28 later we were finally on our way to an enjoyable afternoon. What is it about trains that can keep little ones occupied for hours? D had a blast! The auto exhibit was less exciting for him, but still pretty interesting to us.

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After the museum, we went to a new-to-us restaurant in the area where I had the most delicious buffalo chicken sliders. Fortunately, both boys behaved themselves, right up until we were paying the check. Sam started getting fussy and D yelled at the top of his lungs, which turned almost every head in the joint. That was our cue (and also why we don’t eat out much anymore). Of course, neither one made a peep the entire way home. Kids, man.

The rest of the evening was pretty typical. A little afternoon mimosa for me and a couch nap for the hubs. Later, we spent about an hour hanging out in the backyard. D started pointing at the sky and it took us a minute before we realized he was pointing at the moon. Little guy discovered the moon for the first time! So cute. Overall a pretty fantastic day with my little family that I’m so lucky to call mine.

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Well, I’d like to visit the moon

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On a rocket ship high in the air

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Yes, I’d like to visit the moon
But I don’t think I’d like to live there

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Though I’d like to look down at the earth from above
I would miss all the places and people I love

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So although I might like it for one afternoon
I don’t want to live on the moon

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I’d like to travel under the sea
I could meet all the fish everywhere

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Yes, I’d travel under the sea
But I don’t think I’d like to live there

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I might stay for a day there if I had my wish
But there’s not much to do when your friends are all fish

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And an oyster and clam aren’t real family
So I don’t want to live in the sea

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I’d like to visit the jungle, hear the lions roar

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Go back in time and meet a dinosaur

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There’s so many strange places I’d like to be
But none of them permanently

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So if I should visit the moon
Well, I’ll dance on a moonbeam and then

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I will make a wish on a star
And I’ll wish I was home once again

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Though I’d like to look down at the earth from above
I would miss all the places and people I love

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So although I may go, I’ll be coming home soon
‘Cause I don’t want to live on the moon

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No, I don’t…

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want to live…

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on the moon.

 

Original Sesame Street song/video here.

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My Father’s Passing

Thursday afternoon, my phone screen lit up with my paternal grandmother’s phone number. She’s almost 92 and rarely calls me (I do all the calling in this family, apparently) so when I saw her name and number light up, I feared the worst. My aunt was on the other line (another bad sign) but she wasn’t crying (yet), so I waited anxiously for the shoe to drop. She asked how I was doing and other pleasantries, and then it came.

“I’ve got bad news honey.” She choked back tears. “Your daddy died last night.” Gut = kicked.

He suffered from Crohn’s disease since I was a little kid. And without health insurance, he suffered without medicine, which resulted in a few hospital stays, surgeries to remove large portions of his intestines, and blood transfusions. It’s a terribly painful and disgusting disease, so for the last 25 years or so, he’s been incredibly thin and malnourished, unable to work. My grandmother took care of him, providing a place for him to live just a few miles down the road from her. She checked on him every morning with a phone call, bought him new clothes when he needed them, paid his utilities and gave him gas money to visit her and make his monthly tripes to the grocery store to use his food stamps. Without her, he would’ve surely been homeless years ago.

My father and I were never close for a myriad of reasons. He took care of me when I was an infant, but my parents couldn’t get along and when my mom and I moved in with my maternal grandparents, he only came around for special occasions – Easter, my birthday, and sometime around Christmas. Once he was no longer able to work and started relying on my grandma full time, I saw him nearly every time I visited her, which was a couple of times a year. Sometimes he’d send birthday cards (that my grandmother bought) but the gift-giving was usually from me – for Christmas and his birthday. For the last several years, he’s been reclusive and would only speak when spoken to, which made phone calls pointless because they wouldn’t last longer than 30 seconds before he said he had to go. We mostly kept in touch via conversations with my grandmother. I saw him maybe twice last year – in March for my grandma’s birthday party and in June when we came to visit. We visited my grandma just last month, but he was battling a cold and my grandma told him not to come over for fear of getting me or the baby sick, so I didn’t see him. We spoke on the phone and he thanked me for his Christmas and birthday gifts but that was it. Like I said, 3o second phone calls were his max.

Still, it’s a bit surreal to have to tell someone, “My dad just died.” Of course I’m sad and I hate the way that he suffered, but I almost feel guilty accepting any sympathy because we weren’t close. Still, I suppose a parent is a parent. Our relationship wasn’t great, but I knew he had both mental and physical issues, so I never really resented him for it. I still had great relationships with my grandmother, grandfather, and my aunt and uncle (his sister) so in a way, that made up for it.

Saturday was the funeral and it was lovelier than I expected. I sent a standing spray of flowers and held my grandma’s hand through the service. I can’t imagine what she was going through, burying her youngest child – the baby of the family. There’s just something about parents having to bury their children that’s just unnatural and I hope I never have to be part of that club. Even when I’m 92.

D was a welcome bright spot in the day, for everyone. He was the only child there, running around just being his cute self. He barely made a peep during the service. People couldn’t believe how good he was. My husband and FIL were both pallbearers. The graveside service was kept short due to the bitter cold, and afterward, the family headed back to my grandma’s house for a nice lunch, and I’m so grateful to my aunt for handling the bulk of the arrangements. As far as funerals go (and I’ve been to my fair share in recent years) it was pretty perfect. I still worry about my grandma and how she’ll continue to cope with the loss. Worrying about him and taking care of him gave her purpose. I’m not sure what she’ll do now.

As sad as these last few days have been, I’m grateful. Grateful he didn’t suffer more than he already did. Grateful he went peacefully in his sleep and not in a hospital. Grateful he was at my grandmother’s house and not alone in his trailer for days, undiscovered. And grateful that so many people came out for the funeral. I do wish he could’ve lasted long enough to see photos or meet the new baby, but considering how sick he was and the pain he was in, I wouldn’t have wanted him to continue to suffer for another month or more.

I’m not really sure how to end a post like this so I’ll just stop right here.

 

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The Thanksgiving Post

Now that my month-long daily posting of what I’m thankful for is over, allow me to complain a little.

Thanksgiving was not much fun.

Rather than give you a play-by-play of the entire day/weekend, I’ll just recap a few of the sucky parts in bullets.

1. Hosting any event is a lot of work, whether it be a play-date, a birthday party, or just dinner for a couple of friends. Hosting Thanksgiving for 12 people is not only a lot of work, but it’s also EXPENSIVE. The turkey and ham alone cost a small fortune, but it’s all the little ingredients you’ll only use for this one day that you have to buy because somewhere, someone said that there must be 12 side items, 10 different desserts, and all of them must be made from SCRATCH. Or else. This is also why I have ONE photo from Thanksgiving. Just one.

2. Figuring out seating for groups larger than 8 is nearly impossible in your typical American home. I think there should be a new rule that whomever has the biggest house and the biggest amount of disposable income should host Thanksgiving in each family. Most of us cannot compete with these Pinterest-worthy table settings. Between the salad plates and the dessert forks and the table runners and elaborate centerpieces and the wine and water glasses…where does one put the food? It all worked out in the end, setting the food on the countertops in the kitchen and having everyone go at it buffet-style, but the amount of time we spent rearranging our living room to be a large dining area so everyone could sit together and making sure we had enough (matching) dinner and silverware for everyone was a bit stressful.

3. Trying to time everything so that each dish is warm and done on time is also stressful. Especially when you only have one oven and far too many side dishes.

4. My mom is a great cook – and was a HUGE help in the kitchen. But what she lacks is the ability to clean up after herself as she cooks, so as I was cooking my own assigned items, I was also picking up butter wrappers, putting utensils in the dishwasher, wiping up flour and cornstarch, and just trying to keep the counters clear so we could have a place to set the food once it was done. This is exhausting.

5. Walking around barefoot on tile floors all day – while roughly 6 months pregnant – was not my smartest decision. Sciatic pain had me limping around that evening and most of the next day.

6. I did not know 4 of the people that came to Thanksgiving dinner prior to their arrival. They’re relatives from Alabama and while incredibly nice, their 2 yr old daughter was extremely sick. As in couldn’t stop coughing to the point where I thought they may have to take her to urgent care. I assumed it was either croup or whooping cough, it was that bad. I felt awful for her. Considering she had JUST come down with it that day, I knew she must be highly contagious, which is EXACTLY what I wanted around my own 18 month old and my pregnant self. I cringed with each and every cough, so imagine her coughing every 30 seconds and me cringing every 30 seconds. Fortunately, D was napping when everyone arrived and we were able to keep him in his room for the first hour and 15 minutes they were there. Unfortunately, that little girl played with almost every single toy we own and roamed throughout the house coughing all over everything. We used a lot of Lysol after they left.

7. My stepdad did not leave my house – or more specifically, my couch – from the moment my parents arrived Wednesday night until they left Sunday around noon. The TV was on non-stop and there was a permanent two liter bottle next to my couch for 4 days. I guess he stopped believing in cups or something. We didn’t interact much because that would’ve interrupted one of his many couch-naps or one of his 35 favorite TV shows. In his defense, I assume he was just trying to stay out of the way, but damn. I’ve never seen lazy like this before.

8. My uncle must’ve gone hiking through the woods before he came over because I kept finding clumps of mud from his boots all over my floor within just a few minutes of their arrival. At least I hope it was mud.

9. Plungers were needed. That’s all I have to say about that.

10. I didn’t get to do much shopping or decorating on Friday. Why? Because cleaning your house after hosting Thanksgiving takes an entire day. Even though you just cleaned before everyone got there.

Basically, I never want to host Thanksgiving again.

 

EDITED TO ADD: I want to make it clear that I love my family and I’m glad we got to be with so many people for the holiday.  BUT family can drive you nuts, especially around the holidays, and especially when they stay with you for prolonged periods of time, and especially when they have possibly brought the plague inside your house. I’ve very thankful for family. But I’m also thankful when they leave. :)

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30 Days of Thankful: Day 11

I’m always thankful to our veterans, particularly on Veterans Day. But Veterans Day is also the day my mom and step-dad got married so I’m thankful for TWO things today! (As a veteran, my step-dad wanted to get married on Veterans Day so he’d always remember their anniversary. So far, it’s worked.)

Here’s a photo of my parents on their wedding day in 1996.

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Feeling Behind

Happy Obamacare Day!! Oh…wait…um…never mind.

Happy October! I can’t believe it’s October already. Only three months left in the year. We have a lot going on this month – Finding out the baby’s gender, taking D to get evaluated by a physical therapist (more on that in his monthly update post coming up), our (mostly) annual Halloween party, a trip to Colorado for a friend’s wedding, potential family photo shoot for Xmas cards, and trick-or-treating on Halloween. It’s about to get crazy folks, and I’m both excited and exhausted already.

Speaking of exhausted, I didn’t end up posting a Five on Friday last week because we had a little celebratory birthday dinner for the hubs on Thursday night and then I had to rush through work on Friday before heading out of town for my step-dad’s 60th birthday party on Saturday. We got to my parents’ house around 9pm their time and let’s just say there was still much work to be done. We ended up cleaning until 11:30 and then I spent most of Saturday morning decorating while my parents ran errands, getting last minute things from the grocery store and the party supplies place. I was exhausted before the party even started! The biggest surprise though wasn’t even for my step-dad. Since my husband’s birthday was just two days before, his entire family drove the 4.5 hours to my parents’ house to surprise him. So basically 10 extra people, in addition to the almost 20 that were already coming to the party.  It was crazy and fun and I’m glad my parents are finally putting their lives back together after the disastrous last year and a half they’ve had, essentially tearing down parts of their house and living out of garbage bags. (Neither of these are exaggerations.) My only complaint is that I wish my husband was one of those people whose reactions to something surprising is just priceless. Instead, he just gets this very confused look on his face and just says, “Huh. Ok.” No big “OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!” No tears of joy. Just, “Huh.”  Totally unsatisfying for someone like me who lives for the reaction. 

Even though we got home at a decent hour Sunday night (8:30pm) I still feel like I’m recovering. Of course this means that work has picked up at the office a bit and I’m starting to get that general feeling of just being…behind. Like I can’t quite catch up and as someone who thinks our society glorifies being “too busy” and prides herself on being fairly decent at time management, this is not something I’m very comfortable with. So I’m hoping to take some time this week to get caught up on things. Organize my email and my desktop. Clean out my feed reader. Download the pics from my good camera. Swap out the clothes in my closet and dig out those old maternity clothes. Go grocery shopping and start bringing my lunch again instead of paying almost $10 a day for lunch. All little things but in my sheltered world, those little things add up to big things, like an overall sense of calm and accomplishment.

So I’m starting off this month feeling a little bit behind, but that’s sort of what I love about a new month and the motivation it gives me to get my shit back together and refocus on the fun things in life. Get ready, October. I’m comin’ at ya. 

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