Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What I'm looking forward to...

With Thanksgiving just two days away, we have been making plans on how to spend the days
surrounding the holiday as the boys have a 5 day weekend. We originally planned to spend Thursday with Jason's family, Friday and Saturday at home and then Sunday at my parents. It's a bit of a drive (almost 2 hours each way) with both families living in the same city and truthfully, I wasn't looking forward to 4 long car rides with 3 most likely cranky boys in a matter of just a couple of days. After a suggestion, we decided to rent a hotel room for Thursday through Sunday.

I'm truly looking forward to this weekend and holiday. Here's just some of the reasons why: 

6. The pool. I'm only half joking. When we are done with all the festivities, or in between, we can head to the hotel and let the boys swim for a bit. It will get their energy out, let them unwind and have fun, as well as make it feel like a mini-vacation! Holidays can be stressful, even with all the fun of visiting, and swimming is a great way to relax :)

5. The food. Turkey, ham, kielbasa - REAL Polish kielbasa, not "polish sausage" - mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, more turkey, pumpkin pie, did I mention turkey? We rarely have turkey or pie or sweet potatoes. Comfort food, in moderation, can be so, well, comforting!

4. Smiling kids. Spending time with their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins always seems to make them happy. They get to play outside riding the 4-wheeler or mini-bike or inside playing a board game or with blocks or Mr. Potato Head (more the toddler, though his brothers play with him). They get to share what's new and important to them with the people they don't see often enough.

3. Shopping. Not that I will be doing a lot of this, but I'm considering going on Friday morning for a bit with my mom. We've gone a couple times together, and it's nice to just spend some time one-on-one with her, talking and giggling at 5am.

2. Not driving. Well, not as much. Since we are spending a few days visiting, we won't be doing as much driving as we thought. Also many of the times we've been down recently, we've been there either just for a day trip or barely overnight. It's always exhausting and makes it less fun. Being able to truly enjoy a few days visiting, while also having our own space and giving our families their space "back" without being far away, will be very nice.

1. Family. As corny as that sounds, it's true. Jason's sister and new brother-in-law are going to be in town also, and it's been far too long since we've spent time with them. His parents, his other sister, his brother and niece will all be there. On Sunday, at my parents, one of my sisters will be in town with my newest brother-in-law and their kids. Funny stories will be told, many hugs and kisses given, and new memories made. This is one of my favorite times of year. Going home and spending the holidays with the people we love is wonderful.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Change of plans

After thinking long and hard, and talking with Julie, I've made a decision. Yesterday, I had a post that should've went "live" but we had an unexpected outing. Because of that, I didn't finish or share it. I'm putting a hold on the Winter Fun List until it's officially winter.That being said I hope anyone who is interested in doing a winter fun list, whether they decide to link up or not will still start planning it!

December 21st is less than a month away, and the "share your list" linky will be up then. I'm planning to make a separate page with the explanation, and any other info as well as our list. Our list is going up now, and will be tweaked up until the 21st.  I'm hoping Julie over at Learning Life with 3 Sons will co-host the link-up, but we'll see ;) If she does, you will only have to link up in ONE place and it will be shared on both blogs, bringing you more visitors! It may also get more participants too!

Anyway, yesterday started out somewhat rough. My moodiness got the best of me, and everybody was in a bad mood in the morning because of it. After Jason and I scrubbed the kitchen from top to bottom (floor, cabinets, dishes, counters, stovetop, other appliances), he took Alex to deliver the popcorn in our neighborhood. It was so bitter cold out, they were only gone a short while. Thankfully they only had 5 houses to go to. They did have to run back out though because they forgot to get money from the one person we didn't collect from at the time they ordered. We all ate a quick lunch before heading out for some last minute fun.

Bass Pro Shops had Santa visiting, a craft, and some other stuff, so we drove out to Great Lakes Crossing. Jason needs some new work boots, and he figured he could at least look while we were there. The older boys made a felt penguin ornament while Jason and Jackson walked around looking at animals. Then they all rode the carousel and soon it was picture time with Santa. Even Ethan got up there and joined in, even after he told me he knows Santa isn't real. He promised not to spoil the fun for his brothers. I was wondering when that time was coming, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Alex also did the target practice.

We spent the next hour or so walking around the mall, and even though Jason didn't find work boots, we did get Alex a new pair of shoes for everyday/play wear. He's definitely growing into his own sense of style! 

Rain Forest Cafe was our next destination, where we enjoyed the atmosphere a bit more than the food. All three of the boys loved the animation of the animals, the thunderstorms and shooting stars above our heads. If you've never been, I recommend it just for the fun of that. The food was ok. E and Alex both got shrimpkens which was popcorn shrimp and dino-shaped chicken nuggets with applesauce for Alex and fries for Ethan. Jackson got chicken nuggets and a banana. Jason got some kind of triple play with shrimp, ribs and steak with fries. I got salmon with hazelnut and frangelico butter, caribbean rice and roasted veggies. Mine was not bad at all, the boys said theirs was good - looked like frozen nuggets to us though - and Jason was disappointed in most of his meal. The food was not worth the bill at the end of the meal, for sure :( Oh well. Even more disappointing was the service. Our server walked past 5 times - Jason counted! - without stopping to ask if we needed anything, when 4 of us were CLEARLY out of drinks! While we should have just flagged her down, she was close enough to notice. Jackson really liked the frog character that was walking around, and took bites of his nuggets to "show the butterfly, tigers and elephants how to eat". Hey, sometimes it takes creativity to get a toddler to actually eat!

Since we got home just in time for showers and bed for the boys, they ran off to do that while Jason stole my laptop and did his psychology homework. Jackson woke up from his cat-nap in the car in a not-so-good mood, so we just cuddled on the couch until he crashed back out. By about 9:30, this mama was ready for a good night's sleep.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

This weekend's plans

Nothing special going on today. It's just a day of errands and cleaning.

First thing this morning, I wrote up a cleaning list for myself and the boys. We got a few things done, mainly the boys cleaned their desks, dresser, room and took their bedding to the basement to be washed. I cleaned up the kitchen a bit and started some laundry. We ran to the bank and the grocery store this morning while Jason was at the airport working on the police helicopter. I was planning to finally open the boys' savings accounts but they were pretty busy with only one person available to open new accounts. I did get a money order for all the popcorn money (holy crap, when did money orders start costing $2?!). At Meijer, we grabbed E's prescription refill and a few things we needed.

Jason called while we were at the store and said he was on his way home. So we came home and had lunch together. Costco, Michael's and popcorn pickup is all next on the list :) Then we can enjoy a nice evening at home, eating beef carnitas tacos and maybe a game or movie together.

There's only 2 days of school this week and then the boys have 3 days off for a five-day weekend! Spending Thanksgiving Day at the in-laws, and we are excited, as Jason's sister Jorie and her new hubby Matt will be there too!! We are planning to drive home that night and spend Friday and Saturday at home, and driving back down Sunday to have a second Thanksgiving dinner/celebration at my parents. Only one of my sisters and her family will be able to make it since my eldest sister and her hubby and kids are living in Florida now :( Sure won't be the same but it will still be a nice visit. I'm thinking of taking the laptop and using skype to call them - don't think we've ever done that before, but I think the kids would all love it!

Hope you all have a great weekend and Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Family field trip

Today, I kept the boys out of school and we took a field trip.

Target sponsored a Family Day at The Henry Ford Museum, meaning admission and parking was free! Since the reason behind the family day was honor and remembrance of the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, we were going to try and see the car from Dallas.

Our morning started a little slow with the boys all sleeping to 7:30 or even 8! I snuck out of our bedroom, which Jack currently shares with us, and took a quick shower while he slept a bit longer. When I got out, he had just woken up, E was up reading, and Alex was still in bed, but waking up.
After making a quick breakfast for the boys, I went through our weekly budget and started some laundry.

Before we left, I printed off a little packet of activities about JFK including a coloring sheet, vocab list, crossword, word search, and a multiple choice quiz for the boys to do in the car.

We made it down there just before 11am and got to see many really neat things. There are tons of old farm equipment, cars, carriages, furniture, appliances and housewares, trains, airplanes, an Abraham Lincoln exhibit, the Oscar Meyer wiener mobile, a bus diner and many other things. I think our favorite might have been a really neat LEGO city with skyscrapers taller than me! There was so much detail, from the cornfield to the helicopters, a concert stage to the Willys building! The boys were enthralled by it.

I realized something about Alex today. He is definitely our budding photographer. He got an inexpensive digital camera last Christmas, but it got misplaced sometime during the year. Alex really wanted to take pictures, so since I had our nice camera with us to take some pictures, he was put in charge of it ;) He did a pretty good job and asked how to use the zoom and other buttons. I have to upload the pictures still but I can't wait to go through all of them.

We did have a couple of things that could have gone smoother. First, lunch. We didn't pack because I'd forgotten the expense of eating there... That and the "restaurants" weren't easy to navigate with 2 boys and a toddler in a stroller by myself. The first one only had hot dogs, which E won't eat - it's a sensory thing. The 2nd one had no place to sit and 4 daily specials, none of which any of us wanted. The third is a cafeteria style set-up. Think hospital cafeteria, where there are 3 different main "kitchen" areas: a grill, an "oven" and a salad bar, and then a refrigerated section with yogurt, desserts, and bottled drinks, and a fountain drink, plus the cashier. Now add about 30 people beside your family. It was really difficult to navigate the stroller while carrying a tray overloaded with food. We managed to find a seat after a minute and hurriedly ate our food, as the people who sat beside us were less than polite to the employee and made me uncomfortable.

Jackson needed cleaned up, and when we made it to the bathroom, the older boys sat outside while I went in to change him. There was no changing table :( so I had to use what I can only assume is a designated changing area on the counter top. As I lifted him out of the stroller, I discovered he had wet through his onesie and pants, and had a dirty, not just wet diaper! I'm so glad I remembered to grab a clean outfit before we left. While practically wrestling with him to change his clothes, I heard a mom and her kids coming in, and one of them asked her where the boys in the hallway's mom was. She said something along the lines of "I don't know where their mom is" with a somewhat exasperated, if not judgmental tone. As she was walking in the door, I said "the boys in the chairs? Yeah, they're mine. I thought they were too old to be in the women's restroom". She said sorry if she sounded judgmental, that she was tired, etc. I'm sure she didn't mean anything, but I wanted her to know they were being left unsupervised to roam the museum. :)

We walked around some more, and then Jack needed changed again, and since he had another dirty diaper, I used the last few wipes in my purse. The boys were all pretty exhausted so we decided to call it a day at around 3pm. We didn't get to see the Presidential car because there was a super long line due to the day.

It was a good time, and I think they learned something, plus saw some really cool stuff. The museum has changed since the last time we were there a few years ago, with some new exhibits.

If I wasn't struggling to keep my eyes open right now, I'd upload all our pictures, but they will have to wait till tomorrow. I'm so glad that we decided to play hooky and take a family fun day instead. 

I definitely learned a lesson though from today: Pack lunches or leave and eat elsewhere. Bring a backpack with plenty of diapers, wipes and maybe even 2 outfits for Jack. Know that I can trust my older boys to wait outside the restroom for me while I change Jack and/or use the restroom myself. Although, we did come out to them NOT sitting where I told them to, but standing over by the ATM "checking out all the signs". Silly boys.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Hamer edition

In case your wondering why I use Hamer in some titles, it's a part of our last name, but it's also Jason's nickname. For as long as I can remember, his friends and co-workers have called him this.

In this instance, the title is ABOUT Jason.

We only have a few pictures of Jason as a baby but the ones we have are so cute. ;)

Jason with his mother, Fredna and a cousin (I think)
Jason and his mother :)

Jason and his dad, Joe

First car

Here he was graduating Basic Training or AIT, not sure which. He was so young, and fit! Almost too thin! Crazy!

Jason, Busia (Grandma) H, his brother Jeff - this was after Basic
 I love this next series of pictures because it shows the goofball that he's ALWAYS been!

Even playing pool, you can see the tongue, LOL

Top picture show his ever-elusive smile (when it comes to pictures)
Love this man!

Jason is such a good daddy, love how these pics show his personality!

Jason (the goofy daddy) with Ethan, 3 or 4 mo, and 1yr or so
From top: Jason and E, May 2005; Jason and Alex

Jason at "work", LOL

On the US Ronald Reagan - again being goofy!

On the flight home in 2006? Love the flight helmet ;) selfie, btw. LOL
Love this next picture as it's one of very few with the Kings!
Grandpa and Grandma King, Jason, brother Jeff at their mother Fredna's grave
I always forget how silly Jason can be. I don't know why, because he is that way most of the time. In fact, his goofy, silly take on life, his sense of humor, is one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with him.

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my honey's life! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

On Tuesday...

I actually used to do this on my old blog (that's no longer updated and not currently public - although there are a ton of really cute posts about the older boys when they were little that I'm considering bringing over here!) and thought I did on here a couple of times. I'd forgotten about it to be honest, until I saw Homeschool Camper share her family's menu plan yesterday!

It's hosted over on I'm an Organizing Junkie. Here's where you can find this week's linkup!

MONDAY: Leftovers was the plan, but 95% of them were either something that wasn't well-received the first time OR had turned into a science experiment after being forgotten at the back of the fridge for well over a week - some close to 3 weeks! EEK! - and they didn't want Sunday's dinner leftovers already. So Jas had ShakeOlogy before class, and we baked the last pizza in the freezer and it was just enough for E and A to each have 2 slices, J to have 2 smaller slices and me to have the last larger slice. The pizza came out of the box oval shaped so when I cut it, it wasn't really evenly sliced, LOL.

TUESDAY: Asian beef lettuce wraps, instant brown rice
WEDNESDAY: Homemade chicken nuggets (adapted from 100 Days of Real Food - I use panko bread crumbs and coconut oil, everything else I follow exactly. Seriously the best nuggets EVER!), baked french fries, applesauce
THURSDAY: Sesame seared beef (ribeyes for mom, dad, E and A, ground beef patty for J), sides to be determined but probably carrots as one :)
FRIDAY: Beef carnitas (cooking in crockpot) - using as a taco filling with organic refried beans, cheese, sour cream and lettuce on fresh-cooked tortillas
SATURDAY: Grilled cheddar smoked sausages, steamed golden and sweet potatoes, squash (yellow squash and zucchini) au gratin
SUNDAY: Sweet and tangy pork sandwiches, instant brown rice, sugar snap peas

Monday, November 18, 2013

How is Ethan doing?

I've had a few people inquire about Ethan and how he's doing. I haven't really updated in a while now is a good a time as any.

It's been almost two months since we decided to have him start taking the Prozac. Within a few days, we saw changes in him. He started opening up more at home, and dealing with frustration better. It seems as though at school, he's been doing great too. Even when he does get upset, he calms himself easier, and I don't think I have heard of even one instance of him needing to leave the classroom!

Now I know some of this is due to him starting to mature, but I feel like the medication is helping him cope too. E has told me he's able to calm himself and keep the frustration "in his head" more, rather than having verbal outbursts. Not always, but much more often. Things that would have disappointed him previously immensely? Yeah, they don't seem to bother him as much. If he misses a day - yesterday for example - we see a drastic change in his coping skills. He's very whiny and overly emotional about certain things, especially video games.

E has even done wonderful in gym. First trimester is over now, and so is gym, but my child who hates anything athletic/active (for the most part) made it through no problem, even getting an A-, with an A on the last two tests. One was 25 correctly done sit-ups, and the other was 25 correctly done push-ups!

He starts study skills today, and I really believe he will get so much more out of it this year than last. He reminded me yesterday that he will probably need a binder and looseleaf paper. This is not something he would have thought of before, and when asked this morning what he needed to do if he got a syllabus from his teacher today, he responded with "bring it to you, mom!" (with a little sarcasm, like duh, mom! LOL)

We were discussing on the way to school what he thought he might have next trimester, Spanish or Art.

E: I hope I have art!

Mom: Really? I thought art is stressful to you?

E: It is, but I'm not going to let that hold me back from doing art!

That right there made me so proud of him!!! I said something like I'm proud of you buddy, and I know how much you like to draw so I'm glad. :)

I also told him that he is such a good example not only to his younger brothers but me to not give up even when something is hard or stressful for us!

6 months ago, I don't think he would have said that, or been able to express a lot of what goes on in his head sometimes. Especially when it has to do with stress, anxiety and frustration. That's not to say he wasn't or couldn't communicate well. He just couldn't explain how he felt and then when a situation became frustrating or upsetting, he had an even harder time not only dealing with the situation, but explaining his feelings and thoughts. It's like a cloud has lifted for him, and I'm so grateful. I never thought we'd put him on medication, and even though it has been one of the hardest decisions we've made as parents, it has definitely, so far, been one of the best ones.

My boys all amaze me everyday, and show me that anything is possible.

Another quick story about E. He was in the MTSS classroom for reading remediation (his scantron scores dropped due to him rushing through the tests, and it's procedure for him to go there, regardless of his ACTUAL ability...) and they were reading about carnivores. The teacher asked if we are carnivores and E said "well, actually, we are omnivores!" The teacher had him define omnivore and explain to the class why as humans, traditionally at least, we are omnivores! She said he seemed to enjoy "teaching" the class, LOL. Also she told me that even though he's in there, it's hard, because the other students are working at 3rd-7th grade reading comprehension, and he's got it all and should be working on TENTH GRADE reading comprehension!!! But he's an absolute joy to have in her classroom, her words, not mine. :)

We have conferences for E and Alex next Tuesday right after school. I already know their grades though.

  • Math - A
  • Reading - A
  • Science - A
  • Social Studies - A
  • Gym - A-
  • English - B+
  • Spelling - A
  • Social Studies - A
  • Science - A
  • Handwriting - A
  • Gym - A
  • Spanish - A
  • Math - A-
  • Reading - B+
  • English - B

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reader participation needed!!

With winter fast approaching, and in Michigan, that means lots of snow and lots of cold temperatures, we will spending more time doing "nothing".

In an effort to combat that, I'm going to take an activity we participated in over the summer (although I don't think I posted about everything, we did about half of our summer bucket list. I think I was a tad bit overzealous when I made that list, though ;) ) and do something similar. 

Julie over at Learning Life with 3 Sons - my friend and former co-blogger here - has been doing a Fall Bucket list. I had intended to do one "with" her but never did. I suppose there's still a little time, but I don't want to try and rush through something.

Now, with the snow just around the corner and the days getting shorter, I won't really feel like doing things with the boys that involve going outside or to other places. To motivate myself and to keep it fun (and somewhat educational ;) ) for all FOUR boys - yes I'm including Jason in there, lol - I want to make a Winter Fun list. I will also share what our personal Winter Fun list is in a few days. I'm working on it now and want input from the boys :)
Now for the participation mentioned in the title: I want to give ideas to and get ideas from YOU! 

I'd like input from my readers. What are your favorite (indoor or outdoor) wintertime activities? Since we may all live in different locales, obviously location-based activities aren't always going to work for others, but feel free to share anyway. You never know of there's another reader nearby or perhaps visiting the area. Free and inexpensive things are best, because we all know with a family, it can add up quickly. However if there's something that does cost, but is really unique or is a favorite for your family, feel free to share!

Submit via comments, Facebook, or email if you like. Deadline for ideas is December 1st. After I receive and sort the ideas, I will compile a list for you all. You may find something new to do, or remember an old favorite! Either way, it could be fun! 

So that's 2 lists I plan to share in the coming days. The first will be our personal Winter Fun list, hopefully posted within the next week. The second, a list of ideas and activities from all of you to inspire you and myself alike!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Productive Saturday

Last night it took us about 2 1/2 hours to set-up all our stuff! We made it home just a few minutes before Jason got home from his Friday business class, around 9. I made a mental note that we needed to be up no later than 7 so we'd have time to stop by the bank and get change because I'd forgotten.

 We woke up a little late this morning and it threw the day off some. Since I didn't want to rush Jackson eating his breakfast and make us even later and Jason had nothing going on today, they had a daddy/son morning. On the way to the school to meet Julie, I remembered the boys needed rice and instant mashed potatoes for the Thanksgiving food drive the church is holding. We stopped at Meijer and grabbed those 2 items as well as some cash for the sale - I remembered our bank doesn't open till 9am on Saturdays. By the time we got to the school, we had missed Julie :( I felt really bad that she had gone up there to look for/wait for us! I considered just keeping the boys with me, but decided to drive them over the their catechism class. I made it back over to the school just a few minutes late, and was able to get $10 worth of ones from the ladies collecting admission fees.

When I had gotten there, the family next to me gave me some money they were holding from my first sale of the day! In the 3 hours of the sale I made about $100! I did spend $14 though, buying Jackson 10 outfits and a toy, and 5 shirts and 2 pants for our niece. After we were all done, I gave the last 3 maternity items to one of the pregnant teachers and almost all of the 8/10 and some of the 6/7 clothes to a friend who I knew would be able to get some use out of them. Still had a truckload to bring home, but it's all good :)

Julie brought the boys back over to me, and between her and her boys, and my boys and I, we got the truck loaded up. On the way home, we stopped and grabbed some lunch to take home.

I had to run back out to grab some diapers, milk, bread, and a couple of other things. I don't think in 11 years of being a parent, and 3 boys (one currently in diapers almost 2 years, one for about 4 and the other for 3), that we've ever RUN OUT of diapers! I would of sworn that we had another box in the closet. While I was at the store, E and Alex got some video game time, and Jackson fell asleep.

I guess the week and morning caught up with me, because I went in to read in our bedroom where it was quiet, and I ended up crashing for about 4 hours! Jackson and I both woke up around 8. He's up playing with train tracks and his new car toy. I have a feeling it's going to be a late night for him...

He was loving climbing in and out of this box. It's the perfect size!

Jack loves it so far.

Look at the great job he did building the track by himself!!

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and warmer, and I'm pretty sure we are going to just have a lazy Sunday around the house.

Now to go finally get myself a (very) late dinner. Hope you all have a great rest of your weekend!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mom 2 Mom sale

Tomorrow, the boys' school is hosting a Mom 2 Mom sale.

I've been storing a bunch of things since our garage sale over the summer in our guest/spare bedroom, trying to decide what to do with all of it. So when the flyer came home a few weeks ago, I thought I'd rent some tables and at least attempt to sell some of it.

Over the last few days, I've sorted through boxes of clothes, books and toys that the boys have outgrown and priced everything The clothes are sorted by size and season, and I was surprised by how much we have. I considered saving it for Jackson, but there's really no reason to and we don't have a good place to keep it out of the way for years. There's 3 small boxes of 0-18 month clothes along with a couple of maternity items I have leftover from my last pregnancy, and a box each of 4/5, 6/7 and 8/10.

It's all loaded in the van right now, there's no room left! The boys will have to climb over a couple of boxes to get to their seats! We are leaving in a little while to go set-up our items for tomorrow from 6-7:30.

I'm so grateful for my friend, Julie. The older boys have catechism class tomorrow during the time of the sale, and she lives across from the boys' school. Since her younger two are also in regular catechism classes at our church now, they all go at the same time, and so I asked her if she wouldn't mind stopping by the school and grabbing the older boys and dropping them off and picking them up with hers. It's such a time-saver! After their classes, they will get to hang out at Julie's with their friends for an hour or so, too. Which they are SO looking forward to. Ever since school started, they have missed seeing her boys so much!

Jack is going to hang out with me :)

This is all the stuff we are (hopefully!!) getting rid of tomorrow! If you're nearby and need boys clothes or books... also there's some boardgames, hamster cages, a diaper genie, an exersaucer, a v-tech v-smile with 2 controllers and 6 games, a co-sleeper/bassinet, and some kids' computer (learning) games. I'm sure I'm forgetting something ;)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When ouch could have been much worse

So, I fell today.

I'd love to tell ya that that's a metaphor for something. Anything. But, alas, that is not the case.

I had just wrestled a sweatshirt on a sleeping toddler. With my right arm only. Because he was asleep on my left shoulder. He'd fallen asleep on the living room floor for about 45 mins when he woke suddenly and was cranky. I cuddled him and he fell back asleep and I didn't dare disturb him, for fear he would wake again and be very cranky until bedtime.

I grabbed his coat (to put on after the car ride, it's way too bulky for safety in the carseat), his hat that I'd slip on as soon as I'd sit him in his carseat, my sweatshirt and my purse. I slid my feet into my shoes as quickly as I could which meant they were only half-way on really. Knowing full well this was not a good idea, I still proceeded out the door, as we had to go get the boys and were leaving at the last possible moment.

Stepping down the last step, somehow, without even really realizing it, I tripped, or missed the step. I'm still not sure.

In that moment time slowed, my mind, after a momentary panic, went completely calm and I could see us falling and "see" what was about to happen. My left knee made contact with the cement of the garage floor, and ever so slowly, as if time was actually standing still, I dropped our things from my right hand and placed it around the back of Jack's head and twisted my body at the hip, falling so I was on my side and he was in my arms, safe and sound. He lifted his head and giggled as he opened his eyes. I sat him on the step to collect myself and stand up and he just sat there looking at me as if nothing had happened.

In that split second that it took to turn him from the cement and keep him safe, all I could see was what would have happened. He came so close (but not really) to banging the back of his head!

Not only am I grateful for that "moment" of time - mere seconds in reality - that my mind reacted and allowed me to react, I am so grateful he is ok.

I did bang up my knee badly though. In fact, it hurts a little to walk and bend it, and it's got a nasty bruise. It's not swollen too bad, and I'll take a bruised knee over anything worse any day!

By the way, if anybody is wondering, yes, I am a klutz ;) and I will take this as a reminder to slow down a bit in life and also to give myself ample time when it's time to pick the boys up from school.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Warmer climate is calling my name...

I've been sitting here for about 45 minutes trying to churn out a post, and I just keep typing and erasing (or making drafts to come back, reread and possibly rewrite later, LOL). I've either got nothing coming to mind, or what does isn't coming out the way I want it to.

This morning, I realized how much I don't like winter. Seriously. Not one bit. Well, at least not when it comes to our mini-van. Who's bright idea was it to put the rubber seal on the OUTSIDE of the sliding doors?! (Anyone? The answer is Dodge, by the way, in my case. If you got it right, you get a cookie. But not really. Cause I don't have any. And also because you answering that in no way made my life any easier. ;) )

Yeah. The weather has taken a turn for worse, and in Michigan, that means snow - albeit, a very light dusting - as well as much, much colder temps. This morning, my door was stuck a little, but I got it opened and started the van, with the heat full blast. Even gave it 20 minutes to warm up and thaw out a little. Still couldn't open the sliding doors, until I pried the rubber from the metal. Yeah. So not happening again. Jason said he'll put something on it, but it won't last long. This on top of an annoying ticking noise that we haven't pinpointed yet. If we didn't have a loan on it, we'd probably trade it in today. But that's the problem, we most likely owe more than it's currently worth. I say likely but we could get lucky. I'm thinking something older, less expensive, but big enough and safe enough for all of us, and not a gas-hog. It would be really cool to not have to have a huge payment on something too...

If only we could come to an agreement on other stuff, it might make this easier, too! ;) I live with a very indecisive - he calls himself picky or finicky - man. I'm someone who likes to do all the research, make lists of anything that we could need to do or know and find the answers, and also make pros/cons lists. I've done all that - mind you, this is not about the van - and presented it all to him. The ball is in his court, as they say, and while I would love to say I'm patiently waiting, I'm not being very patient. I want a yes or a no. Like yesterday. But it is a big decision. Should we sell our house and move to a different house? Should he look for or take a different job and we move somewhere else? There are a lot of factors at play here. Truly, I understand why he is questioning all of it and taking his sweet time, but it is driving me nuts!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I'm thinking an older station wagon would be kind of cool! Something that would still be big enough for all of us, and have cargo room, but not big like an SUV, and maybe better on gas. Not sure where we'd even find one at...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A good weekend

Decided to do scouting for food yesterday morning. Gathered quite a haul! Jackson bounced between riding in the stroller, walking, my arms and (sitting on the canned goods) riding in the wagon. E helped pull the wagon and push the stroller. Alex did the heavy lifting and the hardest part of the job: knocking on doors and asking for donations! I'm very proud of all of them!

After we were done, we decided that since Jason was still in Detroit doing some maintenance, we would go to lunch. The boys have asked before about going to Strawberry Fields but we never have. Since it was right near the VFW hall where we were for scouts, we popped in for lunch. E and Alex were amused by this sign, and we thought a picture would be fun.I didn't catch the purposeful irony until we were inside. Beatles memorabilia everywhere and song references throughout the menu. A quick google search on my phone led us to the reason behind the restaurant's name. 

We had an enjoyable lunch before heading home to do nothing much for the rest of the day.

This morning, after Jason cooked the boys breakfast and they were all building with blocks in the living room, I "snuck" out alone to the grocery store. Jackson wasn't thrilled when he saw I was putting my shoes on and grabbing my purse, but it needed done and I thought the 3 boys needed time with daddy. By the time I got home, Jason and the younger 2 were outside playing while E was reading in his room. Between the 5 of us, we made quick time putting all the food and toiletries away. After a late lunch and some dawdling on my part, we headed to Jungle Java, a nearby indoor play place. The kids had a blast running around for over an hour and a half. Time to head home for dinner and showers. We ended up ordering out from a local Mexican restaurant and Jack fell asleep while Jason was gone picking it up :( He's been up and down the last few hours, and didn't want dinner when he did wake up. Thankfully he's still nursing so i know hes gotten dome nutrition this evening as that's all he wanted when he woke up. He's sleeping soundly now and so are the other 2. They have school tomorrow (charter school) but Jason doesn't have work or class. I'm going to take my boys' cue now, though, and get some shut-eye. 6am comes quite early ;)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Exploring history

While I was planning to write yesterday, I got very distracted on looking at family history and trying to find not only my mom and dad's lineage, but my husband's as well. It's proving somewhat difficult on my side, as there is conflicting info or people with similar names, etc. I have gotten pretty solid info going back at least 4 or 5 generations on most of my grandparents sides.

Jason's family is more difficult. I've yet to find anything on his mother's side, and his dad's side only goes back to Jason's great grandparents on both sides. They all came over from Poland according to census records, but then the trail goes cold. It's frustrating! I really wanted to know.

I love learning about history, and finding out my great-great-grandfather was born in England and moved here when he was 2, married a girl from Missouri who's father was Canadian, is very interesting. I'm sure it goes even farther back, and I THOUGHT (not sure because again, conflicting info) we had Swedish and German and Dutch roots between my mom and dad's ancestors, as well as the definitive English and Canadian on my maternal grandfather's side.

Jason's definitely got Polish roots on both paternal grandparents sides, as they were both 1st generation Americans! I'm really hoping to find more to share with him.

We are shaped so much by not only our choices, personalities, those around us, likes, dislikes, but also the past: our lineage and ancestors. If it wasn't for each particular person meeting, marrying/having children together, for each of those generations, we would not be the exact person we are. We could be somebody totally different, inside and out! It's neat when you think about it in terms of you are who you are because of a unique set of circumstances, and choices made by every single ancestor you have!

I'm hoping to share some more info here if I find anything interesting :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Throwback Thursday

Below is one of the few pictures I have of my Grandpa O. :( It was taken in April 1981.
(Check out the cool car seat, LOL)
Grandpa O, me (1 week old!) and Grandma O
Heather, me and Linda (my sisters) Dec 1982
From top: Dec 82 with sisters, 1983 (age 2) with my mom, Dec 83 or 84 at Grandpa Gregory's
From top: April 1987 Kindergarten; spring/summer 87 on first 2-wheeler; May 1987
Note the last picture above. I was 6 and my little cousin Martin was 3. This was after my paternal grandfather's funeral. I haven't seen Martin since I was about 8 or 9, I think. We were best buds here :)

Most school pictures ranging from 2nd through 5th I think.
Top left pic above was Christmas at my maternal grandfather's house. Bottom left as around my 12th birthday I think. My sister(s?) had given me a makeover.

July 1995 in NC with mom and nephew Christian
From top: 1995 with nephew Christian; Dec 1998; June 1999 with mom and dad

From Top: 98 or 99; May 2002 at our house; May 2002 in DC
From Top: May 2002 baby shower with Jason's grandma; July 29,2002 with E; First day home with E

From Top: Our happy little family July 2002 (soooo tired, LOL); me and E about 18 months; 2004
May 2005 as MOH for bestie Jill; 2008 (?) with sister Heather on ferry to Put-in-Bay

Next week, if he's cool with it, I have a ton of pics to share of Jason ;) We shall see!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When it gets the best of me...

When Ethan and Alex were babies, they slept through the night at a very young age. I'm talking 10 hours before 12 weeks old. I'm not saying this to make others jealous, or wonder what they are doing differently. In fact, in so many ways, I wish they hadn't been such "good" sleepers. Ethan actually started by about 6 weeks or so sleeping very long stretches after having been a pretty sleepy baby and having jaundice for over a month anyway. I think had we been successful with breastfeeding it would have been a much different story, not in a bad or good way, just different. I try not to beat myself up about that, I did what I could, the best I could, for as long as I could at that time, and then we did what was right at that time for our boys. Looking back, it wouldn't have made a difference, at least for E. I was worried he wasn't gaining weight, but he's still very thin and on the taller side. But minimal education and experience with breastfeeding, coupled with some PPD and major anxiety, not eating enough, drinking enough water, or resting enough, I really couldn't breastfeed him with the resources I had. By the time Alex was born, I had already been through the struggle and switch to formula, so I prepared myself for "failure" and when it became the same struggle, I did what was right for us at the time, again. *Note: just because you decide not to breastfeed, or choose to stop at anytime and use formula does NOT make you a failure. I was a failure, in my own mind, for not succeeding in something I had set my mind to do. Please, please know this is not a judgement on anyone, but just how I felt about MYSELF at the time*

Actually I've gone off on a tangent, so back to my topic at hand. Even though E and Alex slept so well, I did not. I was up probably once an hour checking on them in their bassinet, while they were still there till about 12 weeks, and then in their crib in their own room. When Alex was a baby, he and Ethan shared a room, with E in his toddler bed and then twin bed. Even after that point, when I would go in to check on Alex, I HAD to check on Ethan. I was driven by an unseen force within myself to make sure they were ok. It wasn't enough to see the rise and fall of their little chest, I had to lay my hand gently on their tummy and feel them breathing. Every. Hour. Of. Every. Night. For. Years. Probably until about the time Alex was 2 or so.

Fast forward to when Jackson was born. He's only recently started sleeping through the night on a more consistent basis. In fact for the first 5 or 6 months, the only way either of us got any sleep was if we co-slept on the reclining couch in the living room and that happened nearly every night and for many more over the next several months. Even when he would sleep in the crib for a few hours, I was never as anxious as I was with the older two.

He's been sleeping maybe 10 or so hours a night 2-3 nights a week and 6-7 most other nights. It's been nice and the transition has been peaceful. My anxiety hadn't seemed to rear it's ugly head.

The other night, I was lying in bed, unable to sleep and listening to Jas snoring and the soft, stuffy-nose breathing of my toddler, my mind began racing. Something made me get up. It was silly, really, and totally unnecessary. But I needed to check on Ethan and Alex, make sure they were ok. I needed to see and feel their chests rising as they breathed so slowly in their sleep, dreaming away in their cozy beds.

After checking on them, and knowing they were just fine, I went back to bed and was finally able to sleep.

Since then, I've been thinking. I had thought my anxiety had gone, but now I realize something. It's never gone anywhere, it's transformed. It's come out in a different way.

I worry about how their day is at school. Up until recently, when I drop them off in the morning, I'd walk them both in and make sure they made it to their lockers or classroom door. Even now, when I just drop them off in the parking lot, I catch myself watching them walk into the building before I pull away (luckily, it's a short walk and I have to wait for the automatic van door to close, so I'm not being an a*%hole and holding up the line for a super-long time).

I panic when they ride the 4-wheeler/atv or mini-bike at my in-laws. The whole time they (just the older 2 go right now) are down there for a week or several days in the summer, I worry that they will get lost or run away from their grandparents, or get hurt, or whatever *Note: this is in no way because of my in-laws, I trust them implicitly with our boys. I just have an irrational fear of them being hurt and me not being there to comfort them, or worse :( *

At the first sign of a cough or sickness, in my head, I panic. I wonder if it's some strange illness and if they will be ok. If they say they have a headache or a tummy-ache, my mind shoots right to the worst possibility.

Even though, every day, this anxiety threatens to overwhelm me, I've learned to control it in someways.

My stomach churns, my heart races, I feel dizzy or like I have the chills, but outwardly I try my best to stay calm. It's not always possible, but I'm trying. I keep the concerns about serious illness or injury to myself and just watch, wait and take them to the doctor if needed, never mentioning to them and giving them undue concern. I let them continue to ride the atv and mini-bike, all the while standing there with fist clenched, and willing them to slow down a bit.

I will not let MY anxiety and fear hold them back. I may already have in someways, but no more. They must have fun and be children and enjoy life while learning and growing up, but not too fast. I need to enjoy them and my own life.

It's not even just about them, the anxiety, the worries. I panic when I haven't heard from Jason if he goes somewhere and says "I'll be home in a few hours" or by such and such time. I call him, and text him, not to annoy him, or because I don't trust him, but because I worry about him. He is my everything. My life. My love. My world. Without him, I am only half a person.

I worry about my parents, especially my dad. So when my mom calls at an odd time, or tries to reach me on both phones and with a text, I automatically think he's ill or in the hospital.

I worry about silly things. I worry about serious things. I panic when we go over a certain bridge in Ohio, especially if the wind is bad. I have a fear of drowning in the car. An overwhelming, irrational fear. I don't have the best night vision, so it's hard for me to drive when it's dark, and I try to overcompensate and I panic a little, driving slower and stiffly at the wheel. At night and in the rain or snow, I won't even attempt unless there's absolutely no way around it. I can't stand near the edge of a cliff or even by the windows of a very high building looking out with out being dizzy or starting to panic. Elevators freak me out a bit, especially when a certain someone decides it's funny to jump up and down in them. Rationally, I know the elevator is safe and won't break from that. But I'm not usually rational in that moment, and I get a lump in my throat and my heart starts racing. How do I explain that? Because after, when I'm calm and collected on the inside like I am on the outside, I KNOW it's really ok, but I want him to understand how I feel in the moment and why I say please don't do that.

I think sometimes my anxiety comes out in anger towards the boys. I want to keep them safe, so when they don't listen or do something that could cause them harm, I get mad and yell. Mind you, it's not always an actual safety issue. It could be them running through the house, and for me, I foresee them running into something, or tripping and bumping their head. I'm not saying they should be running in the house ;) but it's probably not as big of a deal as I make it out to be.

So even after thinking for so long that I had beaten it, that I had gotten the better of it, at least in someways, I really just hide it better, keep it inside better, deal with it better. It's getting worse again though. So if you see me start to panic, look me in the eye and remind me that it's all ok. I'm safe. They are safe. And give me a hug. Because sometimes that's all I really need. Right then. From you. Whoever you are.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

All I want and all I NEED!

Yeah. This.

Even if he was making fun of the song, doing a little weird dance ;)

I love you, Jason!!!!!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Change of plans

Meal plans that is!

If you've been following us for a while, you'll know that about a month ago, we decided to give the paleo diet a trial, including using the emeals paleo meal plan.

We've tried many a new recipe during the last month, some we liked, some we didn't. Technically, we only followed the paleo guidelines for one meal a day, as the breakfast and lunch menus we were using had more classic-style meals with grains included.

About 3 weeks in, Jackson started to eat less and less of the dinners, and while I know many will say, oh he won't starve himself, etc, it became a struggle to get him to eat even one bite some nights. No veggies and very little meat. He has also cut back a lot on nursing, some days not even nursing at all. Needless to say, he would need to eat something, and would usually have a small snack an hour or so after dinner. By the beginning of the fourth week, I was resorting to something I did not want to do - making a separate meal for him.

Jason and I decided to switch the emeals plan to classic and also throw some of our old stand-by's in there (tacos, spaghetti, burgers).

We do have some new favorites and a lot of different types of veggies we will be eating more often so at least our diets are more varied than ever before.

The older boys were quite adventurous when it came to eating the meals, trying at least on bite of everything served to them. Even if they didn't like something, they were very polite about it and honest about what they didn't like - too sour, too spicy, etc.

While we only gave it a few weeks, we did learn it just isn't right for us at this stage of our lives. Sometimes you just have to know when enough is enough.  The toddler has hit that stage where he wants familiarity. And there's nothing wrong with that. I just have to make sure it's healthy and decent variety.

I am still glad we decided to try the menu planning site though, as there have been many, many recipes that I would never have found or tried otherwise.

On that note, we had Italian bread pizzas tonight made with freshly shredded mozzarella and turkey pepperoni (I didn't like the pepperoni very much...). Ethan, Alex and Jackson all had cranberry-cream cheese coffee cake for breakfast. It wasn't really a huge hit, although Alex seemed to really like it. Jason took some broccoli, ham and cheese corn muffins to work. Alex took some of the muffins, yogurt in a thermos, sliced pears and water, E had a turkey and cheese on whole wheat, yogurt in a thermos, sliced pears and water, and Jackson had a pb&j on whole wheat - cut into the shape of Elmo's head! - and orange juice. Oh and I stuck a kit-kat in each of the boys' lunch bags.

We still have some candy sorting and trading to do and then they can decide if they'd like a gift card or a toy for the candy they can't have. I also picked up some dye-free (organic!) suckers and gummy bears that they like, as well as some yogurt-covered pretzels that they can trade some of the candy for. I've been thinking we will keep the m&m's, skittles, and sweet tarts to use for a gingerbread house in December. Maybe we can send some of the rest of their candy to soldiers overseas? I wouldn't even know where to start with that, though.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Haircut day at the Hamers' house

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Jason asked this morning if he should take the boys to get their hair cut, because he would like to get his done. That was my hint ;) 

One way that I like to try and save money is giving haircuts to the boys at home. At $10-12 (plus gratuity!) a pop times 4 guys (3 boys and Dad), it adds up quick every 2-3 weeks. 

I refuse to do Jason's because I'm always worried I will mess up the back hairline, so he still goes to the barber/salon. I've done it before, but it always causes an argument because I'm nervous and he has 100% confidence in me.

The boys are a lot easier. They get a buzz cut using the #3 on Dad's clippers. No fuss, no muss. I usually don't bother trimming the hairline

They all do pretty good too. Even Jackson. 

None of them - well, the older two - like their hair long anyway, so it's never a struggle when I suggest. Jackson watched me give them haircuts and then sat very still on the step stool in the half bathroom just like them so I could cut his. 

Now if I could just figure out how to trim my own...

Here's a pic of my handsome boys!
From L: Ethan (11), Jackson (22 months), Alex (8)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Need exciting topics or ideas ;)

Not sure how we managed it but we did.

Jack and I went grocery shopping while the older two boys were at catechism class. I dropped them off at 9 and drove over to the store - about a 10-15 minute drive. I didn't have the menu/list completely set (even though we are using emeals, there are always at least a couple meals we don't like or we need to adjust to our tastes, and then I have to combine breakfast, lunch and dinner items plus snacks and staples like milk on the actual list) so we sat in the car while I finished that and Jack listened to the kids' music. We didn't get in the store until 9:40, got a weeks' (plus some!) worth of groceries and checked out in 1 hour and 2 minutes! NEVER happens!

Pulled up at the school to get them right as class was letting out and we went in and talked to the teachers for a second. Alex is going to do scouting for food next Saturday so neither E nor Alex will be in catechism class next week. I did get an opportunity to find out how both boys are doing. E is "repeating" 6th grade this year, as Jas and I didn't feel he was ready for the commitment needed for Confirmation 1 classes and since he's only 11, it's no big deal. He has the same teacher he had last year, and his teacher said he is doing great and participating nicely! That's so great. Alex's teacher is a high school student and we know her somewhat. She's really nice and said that even though the class is a talkative bunch they are going through the book at a record pace and are over halfway through it. They played a game today for most of class, while learning about the 4 Gospels.

After going home and the boys helping me unload the car and put groceries away, we decided to go to lunch at the pizza buffet... I always forget how my stomach feels after eating there, even when I eat moderately. It's just NOT good for me :(

The boys needed some new clothes and Meijer had some good sales today, so we went shopping and got a bunch of shirts for Jack, some shirts, jammies, sweatpants and jeans each for Alex and Ethan. Since we haven't gone trick-or-treating yet, and the candy was 50% off, we picked up a bag of Reese's pb cups and 2 small bags of mini Snickers. Probably shouldn't have, but it's all good. Moderation. ;)

I need a good topic to write about tomorrow, I feel like I'm boring today... LOL

Friday, November 1, 2013

First day of November and NaBloPoMo!

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Today's prompt over on BlogHer for NaBloPoMo is:

If you found one million dollars in the morning and had to spend it by nightfall, what would you do with the money?

I would have to say I'd start by paying off all of our bills, house, and vehicles. After that, I'd give the boys' school $250,000 to upgrade their classrooms and add on to the school (technically I would have spent the money in that day, even if the school didn't ;) ).

I'd buy Jason whatever truck he wants, a 1987 Buick Grand National and a boat. For me, a 64 1/2 blue convertible mustang, an RV, and an iPad and a new wardrobe. The boys would each get a (small) shopping spree at a toy store or wherever they wanted.

We'd pay for 3 vacations - one to Disneyland or Disneyworld, one to Europe and one to Australia.

We'd definitely buy cars or homes for siblings and parents, depending on what they need/want.

Land for us - several acres - and a nice house. ATV's and mini-bikes or dirt bikes.

Donate to autism therapies and medical costs for families, and some good charities.

Nothing really unusual. I'm sure given more than 1 day, I'd come up with even better ways to spend it ;)