Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall is here!!!

This is the start of my favorite time of year. I LOVE fall and winter. I adore pumpkins, apple pie, crisp autumn air, football games, the county fair, the air show, Boo at the Zoo, hayrides, fires in the fireplace, etc. My least favorite time of the year is mid-July to mid-September. This is the hottest time of year for us here, and at times it's so hot that we won't even let the boys go outside to play. Up until this past weekend, our temperatures have still be in the high 90's. But we got a storm Friday night that brought with it some cooler temperatures and a high of 72 yesterday and today!

I can't believe it's finally here. After I get my housework finished this morning, I'm definitely going to crawl up in the attic and pull out my fall decorations. I try to pick up a few things on clearance each year, so my collection does grow a tiny bit every year.

Ward mowed the front and back yard this weekend and we can finally see some dead grass under the green. Yea! I am so excited we've finally gotten to this point of year. The next 7 months are heaven for me because I love to be cold!! I even put the boys in long pants for school this morning.

Welcome autumn!!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Brotherly Love

Wally and Beaver are 23 months apart in age, and I remember when Beaver was born I really wanted them to be friends even. I wanted them to love each other as much as my sister and I did when we were little. And I lucked happened. Those two are inseparable. They rarely fight because Wally is a natural leader and Beaver is a natural follower. Beaver lets Wally be the boss, and Wally loves to protect and care for Beaver. They sleep in the same bed every night, cuddle on the couch in the morning while they're watching cartoons, and play for hours together in their rooms or in the yard. They adore each other and I hope it lasts for many more years to come.

My sister and I grew apart in our teen years, and sadly we rarely even speak anymore. I hope Wally and Beaver's relationship turns out differently. I am really enjoying watching them grow up together.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Nights at home

For most people, going out on Friday and Saturday nights is standard fare. You work and/or go to school all week, so by the time Friday comes around, you're usually ready to hit the town. You might go out to eat, catch a movie, hit the bowling alley, or hang out at the mall.

But we don't do that around here. For us, Friday night is Family Night. We look forward to playing board games and watching a movie on Netflix while we all cuddle up and eat popcorn. I love that we never make plans on Friday nights because that's "our night" to be together. We also let the kids spend the night with us in their sleeping bags on Friday nights. We've done this for about 3 years and I hope the tradition continues for many years to come.

Tonight, we picked up a pizza from Little Cesar's and we're watching "Big" while we play a round-robin chess tournament. Wally and Beaver are only 7 and 5, but both know how to play chess well.

I cherish these memories and I don't ever want them to get big! :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday at Church

Growing up, I didn't go to church very often. In fact, it seemed we only went on special occasions, maybe 2-3 times per year. Sure, I went to my friends' churches several times, but I didn't really start going to church regularly until I got my first serious boyfriend in High School. He was Freewill Baptist, so we went to a church every Wednesday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday night. Although the church was small, every family was very involved so we had a good group of kids that came to all activities "religiously"...if you'll pardon the pun. I enjoyed going to that church and bonding with the other families, but I fell out of habit once my boyfriend and I broke up.

After Ward and I got married, we joined a local church and decided to get as involved as we could. But, as it sometimes happens when you have children, we got really busy and didn't participate as much as we would have liked.

Now that Wally and Beaver are 7 and 5, we're finally at a place to get more involved. We all started Sunday School 2 weeks ago and we've started going to "Way Out Wednesdays". The kids are really enjoying this. We have dinner at church....the kids usually find a "kids table" to join and then they head off to Children's choir, while the adults sit in the fellowship hall and socialize. I'm so glad we've gotten more involved because now I truly look forward to Wednesdays. I want the boys to grow up remembering that we were at church a lot, and always doing something fun. So good!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Donna Reed

I've said it before....but I just love Donna Reed. Growing up in the late '80's at the dawn of Nick-at-Nite I was subjected to a LOT of old sitcoms. We watched Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Andy Griffith, The Anne Southerland Show, Mr. Ed, Patty Duke, Dobie Gillis, and My Three Sons. I love all of those shows, but Donna Reed was BY FAR my favorite.

It used to come on every night at 7:00pm. My mom worked at an accounting firm and got home around 5:30 every night. She used to fix dinner still dressed in her heels and we'd usually eat around 6:30. I always knew it was dinner when Wheel of Fortune was coming on, and dinner was over when it was going off.

I remember, my sister and I would hurry through the dinner clean-up routine so we could get in our pj's and grab our blanket and get on the couch by 7:00pm sharp to watch our favorite show. My mom was thrilled that we enjoyed watching shows from her youth and it was so nice to watch it together.

I loved watching the light and happy episodes about first dances, remodeling the kitchen, a camping trip gone wrong, birthday mishaps, etc. It was all so innocent and comforting and I always dreamed of being Mary Stone. I wanted to look like her, talk like her, act like her...and more importantly, I wanted to be in the 1950's. I wanted to be a teenager during a time when girls didn't call boys, families spent most of their time together, and TV wasn't the most important thing in the world.

Sadly, Nick-at-Nite stopped showing reruns of my favorite shows and I went years without seeing any episodes. Luckily, a couple of years ago, they started releasing seasons of the show and I now have the first three seasons on DVD. It was like discovering the show all over again, I barely remember any of the episodes!

Now that I have them, I watch them daily. After I drop off the boys at school, I come home and turn it one and do my housework. Watching Donna makes me feel very domestic, so I tend to get more done when she's in the background. The boys have even taking a liking to the show and I catch them laying around watching it from time to time. I know I don't have any daughters to pass on my love of homemaking to, but at least my boys have an appreciate for my love of life in the 1950's.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Hardy Boys

About 3-4 months ago, my sweet Granny called to tell me that her cousin was having a garage sale, so she went to piddle around in her things. In a box, she found about 50 original Hardy Boys' books in mint condition. This books look identical to my Nancy Drew set, but they have blue binding instead of yellow. I have never read the Hardy Boys, but I was THRILLED when she offered to buy them for Wally because I knew I'd finally have someone to share my Nancy Drew stuff with, given that the Hardy Boys are basically the male equivalent of Nancy, Bess, and George.

When she brought them to the house, I was ecstatic. They are in PERFECT condition. I showed Wally, and he was super excited. He loves to read, and even though these books are a little advanced for a 7 year old, he loves for me to read them to him.

We didn't get much reading done the 7 weeks I was working in the big city, but now that I'm back home, we've picked right back up on our nightly reading. And after finishing a few we had stacked up on his night table, we're finally 5 chapters into the first Hardy Boys book, The Tower Treasure, and Wally is really loving it.

I love reading these old books to him and I love that he loves it. I've always said Wally was an "old soul" since he likes to watch old MGM cartoons, prefers to read and play with his toys instead of watch TV and play video games, likes to dress nice and wear cologne for school, likes to watch The Andy Griffith Show and The Donna Reed Show, and likes to read the classics. Now...if only I could get him to start watching old movies with me.... :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nancy Drew

When I was around 9 or 10, my mother introduced me to Nancy Drew. She had the entire original Nancy Drew series, which totals 56 books. Already an avid reader, I couldn't wait to dig-in to these classics. I didn't know anything about Nancy Drew at the time, but I was intrigued by the beautiful painted covers of the series. Each book's cover depicted some mysterious scene from the book, and boy did I judge the books by their covers back then!

I loved reading about Nancy's adventures with her friends Bess and George, and her dates with Ned Nickerson. I loved reading the descriptions of her wardrobe and the delicious meals that her housekeeper, Hannah Gruen prepared for her. I'm 32 years old now and I STILL read these books on an almost daily basis. I love them because they remind me of my youth, and because they remind me of my mother. I love the smell of old books, and I love that my mother has her name written in cursive in all of the books, with a list of the books she has lent out to her friends. I also love that these books are set in the 40's and 50's. I love references to malt shops, old cars, and the fact that no one has more than one TV, no cell phones, compters, or beepers, and people still talked to each other on the streets.

For about the past 10 years or so, I have started with the first book and read all the way to the 56th book. Once I finish 56, I start all over again at number 1....and I never tire of them.

I'm sad that I don't have a little girl to pass on these wonderful books to, but I imagine I might have a granddaughter that will appreciate them someday.

I know there are plenty of good "serial" books for young girls to read these days, but I can't imagine a better heroine than my Nancy Drew. In my mind, she will always be the girl I'm trying to be....polite, beautiful, smart, witty, perfectly manicured at all times, respectable, charming, friendly, and intuitive.

Apple Crisp

I try to "cook with the seasons", which means I make lots of lemon and blueberry and 'salady' stuff in the spring and summer, and lots of pumpkin and apple things in the fall. I want the boys to associate certain foods with specific times of the year, so I'm careful not to serve pumpkin pie in July so they have something to look forward to in the fall.

Well, one of our favorite things in this house is apple crisp. Once September comes around, I usually make it 2-3 times a month until about March, and then I don't make it again for 6 months.

I made a batch yesterday (even though it's still 95 degrees here) and just the cinnamony smell wafting through the house was enough to get everyone's fall juices flowing. It smelled absolutely heavenly.

Here is my recipe:

6-8 apples, peeled and diced
2 sticks of butter (softened)
2 cups of flour
2 cups of brown sugar
2 cups of rolled oats
2 TBS cinnamon
1/4 cup of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the diced apples into a nice sized casserole dish (not quite as big as 13x9) and pour the water over them. In a large bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. I always start mixing with a wooden spoon, but end up just using my hands to make sure it's really mixed well. Spoon the "crisp" portion over the apples and then pack it down tight (especially around the edges) to keep all that moisture under the crispy top. This keeps the apples especially soft. Bake until the top slightly browns....usually about an hour depending on how deep or long your casserole dish is. Delicious!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cub Scouts Popcorn Sales

Since Wally and Beaver were babies, I knew they were going to be Cub Scouts. I had envisioned being a 50's mom with a clean house for them come home to, a safe neighborhood for them to play in, a great church to be involved in, after school snacks on the counter, home-cooked meals every night, family date nights with movies and popcorn, involvement in local sports organization....and membership of the Cub Scouts Organization. It's always been important to me that the boys be involved in scouting because I love what it represents, and they're so proud of themselves when they earn their achievements.

Ward and I decided to lead Wally's den this year and we had our first meeting last night. Our den has 18 boys this year and we're thrilled with the high turn-out. We took them to a local indoor play facility and let them play in the maze while we had our parents' meeting, and then we brought the boys back together at the end to work on their motto, promise, salute, handshake, and symbols. Some of the boys were knew to scouting and super excited to be doing anything scout-related.

This is my favorite time of the year for scouting because everything is new and exciting and you get to kick off the year with Popcorn Sales! This is a major fundraiser for the boys and last year Wally sold $380 worth just to earn a Lego set. This year he is determined to sell $600 worth so he can win a marshmallow gun. It made my heart sing to sit on my front porch and watch him go door-to-door last night in his uniform. He basically skipped down the sidewalks to each house, with little Beaver hot on his trails. He was so proud to come home with $150 in sales already! This year there is a "buy online and support your favorite scout" option, so this will definitely help him get sales from our friends out of state.

I can't wait to see how well he does with this!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The School Morning Shuffle

No matter how early we wake up, our mornings always seem so rushed! We have to leave by 7:50am to get the boys to school by 8:05. School doesn't start until 8:20, but they like to get there 15 minutes early to do their "quiet activities" at their desks.

I have been waking them up at 7:00am and making them leave the breakfast table by 7:30am to get dressed and brush their teeth and comb their hair.

They seem to do ok in the mornings as long as I am completely ready and can nudge them along, but on the mornings I'm not ready and I have to be back in my bathroom getting dressed while they're in the living room getting dressed....nothing gets done. They just hang out in the living room and either talk to each or play or lay back down.

Well, since I'm "back home" after a 7 week unsuccessful working-in-the-big-city venture, I decided to get us back on a good schedule.

Last night, I ironed their uniforms (they go to a Christian school), and laid them out with their socks, belts, and shoes. I also completely packed their backpacks, lunchboxes, snack packs, and water bottles.

I got showered and dressed before I even woke them up. And you know what? It all went perfectly smoothly!! They were actually ready to go 10 minutes early!

There is something to be said about serious organization. I'm going to do it this way from now on.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Big Brother

So....everyone has guilty pleasures, right? Well, one of mine is Big Brother. I watched Season 1 many moons ago and I didn't really like it, so I never watched it again. Well, about 6 years ago, several of my co-workers were really into Season 5 (the season with Jase and Cowboy and Drew and Diane and Nakomis) and I felt so left out when they'd come in three times a week and talk about it, that I vowed to watch the next summer to see what all the fuss was about. So, I started with Season 6 (the season of Janelle and James and Howie and Kaysar)....and I was HOOKED after that. I have since gone back and watched every season in full, except for season 4...I just can't make it through that season for some reason.

I don't know what it is about this show that has me so captivated, but I watch loyally every year and I always get a little sad about this time of year because I know it's coming to an end. :(

I will miss you Britney, Hayden, Enzo, and Lane!

Until next year...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kids in the bed

Usually every Friday night, Ward and I let the boys spend the night in sleeping bags at the foot of our bed. I don't know when this started, but it feels like we've been doing it for years. Well, this past Friday night, they got in trouble for rough-housing, so their punishment was no spending the night, but we said we'd give them another shot at it Saturday night. Well...we forgot Saturday night.

This morning, at about 5:00am, Beaver came in our bedroom and got right in my face while was sleeping and started kissing me on the mouth a few times until I woke up, which just seemed so odd in the middle of the night! When I opened my eyes, his arms were crossed and he looked mad and said....We were supposed to spend the night Saturday night! I said, fine....get in bed with us now. And he said...wait! I need to go get Wally. So, a few minutes later, they're both got our bed with their favorite blankets and several stuffed animals and we all went back to sleep.

I never really settled back into a good sleep after that, but it made me feel so good that they wanted to get in bed with us. They almost never crawl in bed with us anymore and I know our years of all being in the bed together are almost over.

I'm trying to savor every minute of this that I can! I want so desperately for them to stay little that I tend to cling to every "babyish" thing they still do.

Can't they stay little forever?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back Home's been a while since I've posted, and it's been a VERY long and mostly trying summer.

In late April, we found out that Ward had some floating bone fragments in his knee leftover from a previous sports injury (or so we thought) so we had to schedule an outpatient surgery for late May. The day before his surgery, Ward started working from home full-time. He had one office in the house and I have an office across the hall from him, as we both work for the same company. My work is light and mostly secretarial and I don't work as much as he does. It's a flexible and low-stress job that allows me to be home with the boys and be very involved in their school activities.

Ward's surgery did not go as we had hoped and his doctors found severe arthritis...and Ward is only 32. He said the recovery initially would be around 6-8 weeks on crutches (we thought it would be more like 3-5 days) and 6-12 months for total recovery. We were told he'd most likely need both knees replaced before turning 40. Needless to say, Ward was devastated and his time on crutches was hard for everyone.

During his time at home recovering, we started going over the medical bills and saw that between Ward's MRI, surgery, physical therapy, and Beaver's medical bills from his hemophilia-related medicines...we were sinking fast. We knew we had enough to pay our regular bills with a little for savings, but these bills were just too much. While we were trying to decide what to do, my old boss from my full-time fast-paced job from 2 years called and said they were re-starting the company and getting the old gang back together. I immediately said "thanks, but no thanks" and went about my regular life. But the thought stayed in my head, and every few days, he'd call back and ask if I had given it anymore thought. After going back and forth for a few weeks and really thinking it through, Ward and I decided it would be best for me to go back to work in the big city. We knew this would be a huge change from the life we had been living for the past 2 years. We would go from having me home 24/7 and being majorly involved at the school, to having me home every night at 7:00, working every other Saturday, and working every other holiday. We knew that would be a tough transition for everyone, but we reasoned it would be worth it because I'd have something for me (a great career opportunity) and we'd have money like we'd never had before.

I selfishly started making lists of everything we were going to spend the new money on. We were going to pay off our medical bills in 3 months, I was going to get a year-round tanning package, start getting my hair cut and colored every 6 weeks, get monthly mani/pedi's, go out to eat every Friday night, and set aside $200 a month for me to buy new clothes and accessories.

I have NEVER been a woman that is into any of the above items, but I reasoned that I wasn't into them before because we never had the money for them, but since I was working in the big city again...I DESERVED all these things.

I knew the boys would be upset by not having me around all the time, but I assured Ward and myself that they'd get over it once school started and they'd forget all about me.

Boy....was I ever wrong.

Going back to work on July 26th was the worst decision I've made in years. From the first day I regretted my decision. The boys were devastated not to have me home, and on the third day I drove to work, Beaver chased me down the driveway crying and started waking up at 5:30 in the morning just to spend time with me before I left for work. Ward did a great job cleaning the house and preparing dinner the first few days, but after about a week, the house began to fall into disarray, the laundry got ridiculously backed up, the dishes piled up in the sink, and we started having cereal for dinner almost every night. I was so tired when I got home at 7:00 that I had no time for homework, stories, games, or even giving them their baths. It was awful. I cried to Ward and told him I'd made a terrible mistake, but we both knew it was too late. I had already quit my wonderful but lower-paying work-from-home job and had even provided my boss with a replacement for me. I was stuck and I knew it. I decided we'd just have to get more organized and the kids would just have to learn to depend on Ward for everything.

And then my old boss called. He's still Ward's boss, so he talked to Ward from time to time about my situation and he knew I wasn't happy. He asked me to stop by his office after work one day, and within 3 minutes of being there, he asked me to come back to work for him. I cried with joy on my way home from work. I couldn't believe my luck. I always loved this work-at-home job and never took it for granted, but I thought having tons of money with this new job was more important. And I was dead wrong.

I was finally able to give notice at my new job this past Friday (after only having been there for about 7 weeks) and I am hoping that once the big boss receives my resignation on Monday morning that he will send me straight home (with pay of course) and I can resume my wonderful secretarial job.

I miss being at home.

I miss puttering through the house on rainy days. I miss the sound of the dishwasher while I'm folding clothes in the livingroom and watching the Food Network. I miss making lunch for Ward and I and sitting on my bed watching The Young and the Restless while I cut coupons. I miss making after school snacks, waiting in line to pick the boys up from school, walking into the kitchen at 5:00 sharp to get dinner started, being finished with dinner and ready to play with the kids by 6:30, getting 9 hours of sleep per night, always having a clean house, being able to run up to the school and eat lunch with the boys.....and most of all....I miss having a 10 second commute to my job. :)

I am so glad to FINALLY be back home...where I am loved and needed. And where I belong.