Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That's NOISE not music!

Last night we attended our nieces girl's basketball game (GO IRISH!) in a small town not far from here. The "entertainment" was two high school girls singing into a karaoke machine. Which, at first, did not seem like too bad of a deal. But almost as soon as they started I decided that the noise of the crowd was much kinder to my ears. Having had a headache before we even got to the game didn't help things either. Anyway, the girls proceeded to wheel out two mobile speakers to each corner of the south side of the gym and then a teacher or adult helper wheeled out the machine with added speakers. The microphone was turned up to the hurt people's ears loudest setting. Then each girl sang as loud as she could to oldies and country western songs. They probably had talent, but the overamplification completely ruined the whole experience for me.
I may never attend a game in that gym again. The nachos were also overrated......

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Play the GAME

Self esteem is one of those issues that you think mostly affects junior high school girls. I believe, for me, it is an issue that only began in junior high. My own self worth has climbed up a notch or two because of a recent surgery. When I told my doctor that I am playing volleyball for the first time in 10 years, he gave me a high five (he really did, in fact, it took me a little too long to figure out why his hand was up in the air and I think he almost gave up on me when I finally realized what he was doing). I am very proud of myself for getting up the confidence to play. I really enjoy the competition and just getting out of the house. Still, because I am not sure of myself, I am constantly disappointed in myself for making a bad play or missing the ball. I am so frightened of someone else saying, "You are terrible!" that I usually just say it for them. Every week I wonder why I can't just enjoy myself and the company of friends, instead of getting so anxious about my ability to play the game. Then I remember that I haven't done this in a long time. Sometimes I can't believe that I am actually doing it. The day after we play I am sore and painfully reminded of my 10+ year hiatus from activity. But, it's not just a game for me. It's a rebuilding of my self worth, it's therapy of pain and disappointment, it's an education of the game of volleyball and life. How to get along with other women, how to take turns, how to share, how to get bruised knees and very sore wrists, how to serve the !#$^&* ball over the net; lessons learned from a very novice volleyball leaguer.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Internet Junkie

Confession: I am addicted to the internet. I think deep inside my heart I knew this to be true. But recently on a trip to do some Christmas shopping, I was shocked by my symptoms of withdrawal. We had spent all night driving to the Twin Cities in MN and after a few hours of sleep we shopped for 12 hours. Trying to sleep that night was difficult, even with the extreme shopping induced fatigue. I kept thinking of email and the internet. At 6 am, the house was quiet,. I showered, made coffee, read the advertisements and tried to avoid the computer beckoning me, softly but insistently. Finally, after almost an hour of struggling with my inner internet soul, I ventured into the office of my sister-in-law's home. The beautiful charcoal black monitor was softly humming to me. I sat down and gently moved the mouse. Nothing happened. I tried it again, nothing. I turned the monitor off and on. I started sweating. Maybe the computer is off, I searched for the hard drive. I couldn't find it. I remember seeing another monitor downstairs, my feet flew down the steps as my heart was racing. I sat down as quietly as a could at the desk next to the window. I gently moved the mouse. I turned the monitor off and on. NOTHING. I started to panic. It became difficult to breathe. I was cussing in my head and my inner internet soul was screaming, FIND ME! FIND ME! The sound of the water from the downstairs restroom jolted me back to consciousness. Someone else is awake! This is my chance. Surely this person will know how to turn on the charcoal grey highway to my sanity. Patiently, I waited for someone to emerge. When my sister-in law approached the upstairs, she said "good morning!" I grabbed my temples and urgently spoke to her, saying "Help me, I can't get online. I am addicted." She laughed, oblivious to my irrational condition, walked over to the office, opened a cabinet and turned on the computer. "It was off" she said plainly and without urgency. HALLELUIA! I was shaking with excitement. This is when I realized, I am an addict. The first step is admitting the problem right?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

You can pick your nose...

Snow on the tree branches, Christmas lights, jingle bells, hot cocoa, and your sister's kids. Tis' the season? Blood is thicker than water, but not snot. My mother currently has 8 grandkids and 1 more on the way. One child is in grade-school. The rest are under 4. So we have a lot of snot. It makes for interesting family gatherings. We went from quiet, adult friendly gathering to pure chaos. Especially since my sister, sister in law, and myself all had our children within a few months of each other. We used to play family games, now we all have children in our arms so it's almost impossible to hold your cards. We used to retire after the meal and sneak in a nap. Now,we enjoy a different activity every 8-12 minutes. My husband thinks we are finally close to normal, since he was born number 5 in a family with 9 children. I think we are verging on, well, whatever the opposite of normal is. My poor mother. She lives by herself, so when we all invade her house the population increases by 16. Her living room converts into the play area for 1 grade-schooler, 2 pre-schoolers, 3 toddlers and 2 infants, oh, and her dog. Amazingly enough, last year we could all still fit at the same 20+year old table with a few little ones in our laps. This year we've increased yet again, so we'll see just exactly where everyone ends up sitting. About 10 dirty diapers, 16 dirty fingers, and 10 headaches later we all pack up into our separate family vehicles and leave mom to her quiet peace until the next family gathering. Now, I am not complaining. I know that my family is very lucky to be able to get together at all. Our family has changed drastically in the past two or three years and each time we get together I learn more about why family is so important. We may currently have more snot than other families, but that's nothing a few tissues can't take care of...sometimes we even have to use a wet wipe.

Phooners are happy people.

My internet provider sends out a newsletter each month outlining great sites to check out each month. Last month I learned what a phoon is. "See Pictures Of People Doing The Phoon http://Phoons.com - Have you "phooned" for anyone lately? Well, you may have and not even known it. Ask someone to take a picture of you while you're in a phoon pose (arms and legs bent in a running position, turned sideways, not looking at the camera or smiling) and send it into this site for posting. Hundreds of people have already done so. Check out the images of people doing the phoon in crowds, in foreign countries, on fountains, at theme parks, in tight fits, at airports, on beaches, in costumes, with animals, and more." Golden West, November 2005
I told everyone in my family about it, since SD hadn't submitted a picture yet. Leave it to my brother in law to take a picture of some of his family members outside the Rhubarb capital of the world, Leola, SD. I know it's not current events, people, but we had a great time viewing this website on Thanksgiving. Looking for a good laugh? Find the pictures of people not doing the phoon correctly, narrated by the author of the site. I almost wet my pants. I think some brave soul should phoon in front of the now infamous leaning Zip Feed Mill, the tallest (and now thanks to "BOOM" also the most crooked) building in Sioux Falls. Learn more about the Zip Feed Mill here http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=SPECIALSECTION07

This month the website to check out is http://www.happynews.com/. What an awesome concept! Let's make the news uplifting and enjoyable to watch. Ever wonder why everyone is so negative all the time? Try watching the local news and see how the bad stories stack up against the good. I can't help but think if we had more positive stories to wake up to and watch before we turned our brain off at night, we might be a little nicer and more fun to be with. I put this page on my favorites list and signed up for the newsletter. They are looking for citizen journalists to report for them. Who knows, I may even submit an article or two? Happy people live longer!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas?

I am in the process of writing my Christmas letter to send out to friends and family. In the past I have struggled with appropriate wordage. I'm not much for the Santa thing so I tend to find biblical based cards and stationary. Yet, not all of my friends and family members are church go-ers. I don't want to scare some of them from reading my very important letter by preaching to them about the real meaning of Christmas. Yet, I want them to know that it is really important to me. Since I have been teaching in secular environments the past 5 years I feel it has been necessary for me to choose the greeting, Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays so as not to offend anyone. This year I began my letter with a good old-fashioned Merry Christmas. I guess I am not the only person who has strong feeling about this. My pastor recently wrote a very interesting note in his monthly newsletter, rather than plagiarise him I am just going to quote him word for word.
"Recently the company of Wal-Mart, Inc. caused a firestorm of controversy when it told is employees to use the greeting, " Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". As Christians, we may find this change to be yet another attempt to keep Christianity out of the public eye. For myself, I'm not sure where I stand on the use of "Happy Holidays" as a replacement for "Merry Christmas. " The reason I'm unsure is because I can still use "Happy Holidays" to tell others about the birth of Jesus Christ. The word "holiday" is actually the combination and short-hand for "holy-day". Essentially when you say "Happy Holidays" you are wishing someone a "Happy Holy-Day". And it's this understanding that gives me the opportunity to explain to people that what makes this time "holy" is that our God became man in the person of Jesus and that He did this to save you and me from our sins. WE don't make this time of year "holy." GOD makes this time of year "holy" because He came into our world, His creation, in the person of Jesus. Think on that during these "Holy-Days." Remember that God has sought you out, He came to you, He came to be like you so that He could carry your sorrow and sins on the cross. "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays", no matter how you say it you can't escape the fact the Christmas is the holy time of year when God came to you.." Pastor Darren Olson
Nuff said.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

How to defrost a two year old boy

I have lived here my whole life, except for a few short years in college when I lived directly south in NE. Yet, the snow still amazes me. Maybe it's because now I have two small children who are in awe of the little white flakes that fall and make huge piles of snow. This week has been particularly important in the accrual of snow. We have almost 15 inches. We have had no less than 3 days of solid snowing that started with rain and almost 50 degree temperatures on Sunday and Monday and continues today (Friday). Thursday evening bottoming out at 15 degrees below zero. Thousands of homes have been without power here. The power lines succumbing to the heavy weight of ice and snow on the lines. Lots of schools have had an extended Thanksgiving vacation because of the snow and power outages. I think I missed my calling....should have been a weatherlady. Anyway, back to my kids.... If you have small children then you already know that the amount of time it takes to put on snow gear is most often at least twice or more the time that the children actually spend outside. On Monday, we went out with the sled but the snow was so wet and heavy it was not enjoyable. On Tuesday, the drifts were so high, the kids couldn't even walk until we shoveled some paths for them. My daughter was so concerned that daddy was going to move all the snow that she wouldn't have any to play with. Wednesday the air was so cold we stayed inside. Thursday morning, my three year old ran to the patio door, looked out and said, "Mom, will we ever see the grass again?" Last night, in frigid temperatures, both children, my husband and the dog spent 45 minutes shoveling and scooping the snow from the driveway. My son refused to come in and by the time we finally coaxed him his cheeks were cherry red and so was the tip of his nose. It took a whole plate of spaghetti, a breadstick and a full cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows (drunk with a straw, of course, don't you?) to defrost him. The way he defrosted was particularly painful to watch. He immediately wanted to wash his hands. They were frozen and I think he "felt" something on them. But as soon as we touched the lukewarm water he decided it was not in his best interest. I vigorously rubbed them until he was fed up with my warming techniques. As we sat down to supper, his cheeks had a white puffy appearance and I thought at first that they had been frostbitten. I was on the verge of freaking out when my husband said to just wait and see what happened. Slowly, as the steam rose up from his plate of spaghetti, his cheeks returned to normal color. My son, however, was completely oblivious to this entire process. The truth is, I'm not sure what color his cheeks were under all that tomato sauce.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Jesus vs. that other guy

My three year old asked me who that guy was that gives the presents to everyone. "Santa Claus?" I asked. She had caught me completely off guard. "Do you believe in Santa?" I asked her. "Well," she started "It's a good story."

So, before I knew it we were deep in conversation about Christmas. So I explained that it is Jesus' birthday and everyone buys gifts for people that they love to celebrate for Him. She seemed satisfied with my explanation. Although, I don't think it will be the last time we discuss this Santa Claus.......

When I was younger, I don't remember much about Santa coming to our house. I'm not saying we were bah humbug's, it just wasn't important to us. I haven't even really thought about how to approach the subject with my own children. I really want her to understand the real reason for Christmas. But there is something magical and exciting about this St. Nick charachter as well. I think it is best to teach her about the birth of Jesus and let her soak up the Santa stuff on her own.

The world is crazy at Christmas. Everyone is rushed and busy and I think it's easy to forget why we are celebrating. She can relate to having a birthday party for Jesus, since she has one this month as well.

Confessions of a (novice) stay at home mommy

Okay, we are over a month into this now, so time to reevaluate how things are going.

Hillbilly Housewife website and Mommysavers are truly life savers and have lots of great information. Love the menus and the recipe's as well as the frugal advice. I love the Complete Tightwad Gazette and am currently bidding on a copy on EBAY, cross your fingers for me.

Joined Freecyle group, won't help financially, but will help de-clutter and maybe I can get something I really need for FREE.

Created this blog to satisfy my writing urges and because my friend suggested it.

Took oodles of clothing to consignment shop, and have received checks in the mail!!!!! Prompted me to go through the closets again.

Reduced some monthly bills, still trying to convince DH we can do without others. Continue to work on this weekly. Began budgeting utility payments. Still trying to develop strategies to get out of debt. This one is really hard to do. I think we are going to end up consolidating some debt and refinancing the house. At least we have a house.

Started meal planning, about two weeks at a time. I have consistently been trying new recipe's, thanks to my wonderful friend, Cindy. I am using powdered milk in recipe's and the kids will drink it, too. I have made homemade egg noodles, homemade cream soups, homemade breads and more. I have bought a cheese grater and borrowed my mother's Vita Mix blender. Have plans to purchase a food processor.

Trying to save energy by watching the water consumption, turning lights off more and turning thermostat down.

Most importantly, spending lots of time with kids. We are playing and reading and having fun being a "family". Actually, house is pretty well organized, too. Things are, for the most part in their place, and as long as daily chores gets done, house stays fairly clean.

Overall, this review finds a well organized and happy home. Some major work still needs to be done in the budget department, but we are getting the ball rolling.


Recently, my friends' father passed away. I met him once when I traveled with my dear friend to the warm state of AZ for Thanksgiving vacation one year. It was a very odd Turkey Day for a South Dakotan. We ate our holiday meal outside, in shorts. Anyway, my roomates father was this energetic, funny, busy man who really made me feel welcome into his home. I just found out that he was recently moved to a nursing home and was diagnosed with alzheimers.
Several months ago, my grandfather moved in with us. He wasn't doing well after a stroke and his living options were narrowed to the retirement home or the hospital. He, fortunately, had very loving children who were able to care for him, and my husband and I had the empty space. So, after 6 very, quick weeks of construction, he was able to move in. He had been diagnosed several years before with alzheimers. He lived with us until May, when he died, peacefully, surrounded by his daughters. He was a totally different person those last few months. It was difficult to watch him change. I was surprised at the rapid decline of his cogntive abilities. Soon, he was unable to walk, to feed himself, to use the restroom. Not having the ability to communicate with him was the hardest for me. The morning he died there were two rainbows in the sky. We decided that it represented Grandma coming to get Grandpa. My three year old still talks about the rainbows, and everytime she sees one she thinks of Great Grandpa. When we had our goodbye service for Grandpa we let several mulitcolored balloons go into the blue sky as a reminder of those special rainbows that God sent on the day Grandpa died.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Digital Photo Masterpieces

It took over 30 photos and 2 hours of taking pictures to come up with this one mediocre shot of the kids. At least they are both looking at the camera and not crying or blinking. Thank goodness for the person who invented the digital camera. I think it probalby would have been worth the money to take them in to a studio. What a job those people have! Can you imagine trying to get kid after kid to smile using a rubber duck and some wierd facial expressions (for an 8 hour shift)? No thanks, I gave up after one session with my own offspring. I am putting a call into my sister in law for better photos, she just got herself a new digital camera as an early Christmas present. Years from now, my kids will look back at this photo and remember me telling them to stand still, put their hands down, look at the camera and smile for heaven's sake. Precious memories......

Humorous story

Our dishwasher is not new, it was new 8 years ago and would still be in pretty good shape had we not been very cheap and bought the least expensive machine available no matter what the options....so anyway, sometimes after I start it it makes weird noise like it's trying to climb a huge hill and just can't get started so I lightly and gracefully tap it with my petite hip or slender thigh to get it going. You can laugh about the weight humor, I was trying to be funny.

The other night, my two year old, whose sole purpose in life is to help me load and unload the dishwasher, was closing the door after we put the powdered detergent in. He turned the dial till he heard the familiar noise and then said, "Now we kick it, mom." He promptly threw his left bare foot up onto the dishwasher's front panel and slammed it into the plastic as hard as he could. It must have smarted a little, but he kept with the routine and walked away saying something that sounded like "sump a junk". I laughed so hard I had to sit on the floor to contain myself.