Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm 40? Who Me? Seriously? How did I get here?


Last week, I turned forty. Thanks to my wonderful husband and family, I had not one, but two wonderful dinner parties. I had an early celebration before Christmas with my side of the family and then one with his family on my birthday. Even though I knew I was having special dinners to celebrate, I had no clue where or when the parties would take place. I also had a few surprises in store for me along the way. At my first party here in Indy, one of my closest friends showed up with her husband and JT (Boo's future groom). On my actual birthday, there was yet another party in Ohio with my husbands family. And to my surprise, two of my close friends (one of which is battling Breast Cancer) from my days spent living in Buckeye country showed up. I hadn't seen either of these two wonderful women in close to ten years! I was so happy to see them I cried. What can I say, I am a big sap in my old age!

Turning forty was bittersweet for me. While I am not one to worry about age, it is hard not to think about it when looking back at all I've accomplished (or haven't in some cases). I remember growing up thinking forty sounded so OLD, and now that I am here I don't really feel that way. People say you are only as old as you feel, and most days I feel pretty young. My body reminds me, however subtlety, that I am not that young. I hear bones creak or joints crack when I get up and down off the floor, have to watch my weight, and things are sagging in places I can't mention. I even have plucked a few gray hairs here and there. But mentally I just don't feel OLD (except when I've forgotten where I parked or left my keys).

Looking back at all I've experienced in my life, I thought it would be fun to think of forty things I've accomplished throughout my forty young years. I wish I could remember my exact age for some of these, but my forty year old memory is failing me. There are some things that are pretty obvious, and some pretty great, and other things, well. . .not so much. You get my drift. . .

Forty Fabulous things I've accomplished/experienced (in no particular order of course):
  1. I was born into this world
  2. learned to crawl
  3. learned to walk
  4. learned to talk (and haven't shut up since)
  5. learned how to annoy people (mainly my older brother)
  6. riding a bike
  7. fell off of my bike
  8. learned to rollerskate
  9. learned to swim
  10. won a swimming race
  11. came dead last in a swimming race
  12. went to school
  13. learned to write
  14. learned to read
  15. got straight A's
  16. failed a class
  17. first kiss
  18. learned to play an instrument (Coronet/trumpet)
  19. got my first bank account
  20. bounced my first check
  21. learned to drive a car
  22. got in my first fender bender
  23. graduated from high school
  24. got my first job
  25. got my first car
  26. got my first paycheck!
  27. learned to type
  28. had my first alcoholic beverage
  29. had my first hangover
  30. graduated from college (so it took me 5 years, so what?!)
  31. got my first credit card
  32. moved out on my own
  33. rented my first apartment
  34. got married
  35. moved into my first (and only so far) house
  36. had a baby
  37. had another baby - with NO drugs
  38. wrote my first blog
  39. got my first dog
  40. turned 40! Whoo hoo!
I am sure I am forgetting something, but that is nothing new. After all, I am FORTY. Give an old woman a break! : ) I wanted to scan some pictures taken throughout my forty years but I will have to save that for another blog. . . my forty year old body is just too tired to do it at the moment!

If you know me, feel free to comment and add to my list of accomplishments. If you don't know me, feel free to comment anyway. I always like to get comments (nice ones of course) on my blog so I know someone out there is reading it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Christmas Wish


I had a little trouble this year getting completely into the Christmas spirit, and I am not sure why. I LOVE Christmas; it has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the music, the decorations, how MOST people are cheerful and how it brings people together.

This year though was a little different. I was so swamped with things at home, working, and keeping up with all of the school activities, there wasn't time for much else. I tried. I played Christmas music, baked cookies with the girls, and did everything I could to make it fun, but I just never really got there this year. I think the mad rush of it all has a lot to do with it. I went crazy trying to get shopping done, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, wrapping presents, plus the normal everyday stuff, that I barely had time to breathe!

Plus the last few weeks right before Christmas, at least one or more member of my family was sick, so that really made things a little more difficult. And of course, the last couple days when the Christmas spirit almost always takes hold, I was a touch under the weather. *Sigh*.

I've also been worried about a friend of mine's little three year old son. He has Neuroblastoma, a type of cancer, and is really fighting hard right now. He was supposed to have a treatment done a couple weeks ago and was hopefully going to be home by Christmas. However, due to complications the treatment was put on hold and he spent his Christmas in the hospital PICU. Just thinking about that makes me so sad. As complicated and busy as my family life gets, nothing compares to what my friend is going through.

This friend is a childhood friend of mine who I hadn't spoken to since my high school graduation. We went off to college in different cities and slowly, but surely lost touch. Then just a few months ago, I found her while searching for friends on Facebook. I swore I'd never join one of those social networking sites but I am so glad I did. I've had fun catching up with old friends from different parts of my life, but I think I was truly meant to find this friend of mine. For the last few years I've felt I've had this calling to work with kids with cancer and other similar illnesses. I've mentioned this before, but I really want to work in a hospital setting, preferrably as a Child Life Specialist. So finding out a friend of mine is going through this with her son is particularly heartbreaking.

I also have a friend going through her second battle with breast cancer. I was fortunate enough to see her this past weekend after not seeing her for almost ten years. While we've kept in touch through the years, this is the first time we've had a chance to see each other in person. She has just finished round two (out of four) rounds of Chemo and then will have radiation therapy. She inspired me so much because of just sitting around feeling sorry for herself, she's living her life to the fullest, including training to run in the Race for The Cure. She's going through Chemo and she's training for a race? That is remarkable to me. I don't think I can ever have a good excuse when it comes to not exercising anymore!

Christmas flew by and I never had a chance to enjoy it. I wanted to do so much more with the girls but there just wasn't time and I just didn't have the energy. I wanted to write a blog about Christmas and what it means to me, and couldn't even find time to write one word.

I do have a Christmas wish though. As I write this blog, I think about all of the things I have in my life: A wonderful family with a loving husband; beautiful, healthy (mostly) children; a sweet puppy, and nice home to live in. I was able to be with both sides of my extended family over the holidays and they were all kind enough to have nice parties for my *gulp* 4oth birthday.

I have realized recently that in all of my complaining or moping how lucky I am and I feel like I shouldn't ever have a reason to be unhappy. That in my absolute worst day, nothing I am going through remotely compares to what either of these two friends of mine are experiencing.

I've also realized that I should not for a second, take ANYTHING for granted. Never. I should relish the time I have with my family, my friends and enjoy it, instead of worrying about what I haven't accomplished, don't have, what could be different, etc.

So my Christmas wish (however late it is to make it now) is not for me, but for my friends. I don't want anything more for myself than I already have. I want my friend's little boy to be cured of his cancer and live a long happy, healthy life. I want my friend with breast cancer to win this second battle of hers so she can continue to be the great mom that she is and see her children grow up. I also want my loved ones to know how great they have it. To not take life for granted, live life to the fullest and be happy to be who they are. To know how lucky they are to live in this great world of ours (which believe me, I know does not always seem so great). Make the best of your life and don't dwell on the things you don't have, didn't accomplish, etc. Why live life that way? What is the fun in that? Find something that makes you happy. Do something for yourself, or better yet, someone else. I know I will.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Let it Snow!

Laci loved her first real snowfall. She was just as fun to watch as the girls were the first time they played it in (and she likely enjoyed it more!). Too bad it had to go and melt two days later, as it provided hours of fun for the pup!

Who says you can't play soccer in the winter?




Kiki attempting to build a snowman

I swear I wasn't eating the snow!


Laci playing "find it"

Ready to catch the snowball

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gratitude


I had this great plan to write a nice blog post on Thanksgiving, talking about things to be thankful for. However, since we were in Ohio visiting with family, I couldn't very well ignore them all to write a blog post, so I am very late in my Thanksgiving blogging.

Kiki, Boo, and I have lately had many discussions about being grateful and all that it means. Boo has this bad habit of complaining and it is driving me crazy, so I am constantly reminding her to think of the things she does have, instead of what she doesn't. She seems to be a "glass half empty" kind of girl, and I am trying to turn her into a "glass half full" person, but am not having much success. As we were talking the other night before bed, we listed several things we should be grateful for, and took turns. Kiki and Boo said the obvious and listed loved ones and friends, etc. I reminded them how truly lucky we are to have a house to live in, clothes to wear, food to eat, and toys to play with. We talked about "needs" vs. "wants" and how we all should learn to "want" less and just appreciate what we have.

Both girls seemed to get the message but I know it will take a while to sink in. The very next day, Boo was right back to complaining. What can I expect really as she is only 5 years old? I am trying to figure out how she got this way, and did I do something to make her feel like she is always getting the short end of the stick?

I think part of the problem is that when the girls were little, we never wanted either of them to feel left out, so we did many things the same for them. I always bought them each an outfit when I went shopping, whether or not they both needed clothes. Boo's outfit often was the same style, maybe even the exact same as Kiki's. At Christmas and for birthdays, I often bought them the exact same number of gifts, and they were often very similar. Many of the relatives followed suit, probably thinking along the same lines as we did, not wanting either girl to feel slighted.

The problem with this is now Boo EXPECTS everything to be equal and FAIR, even when that is often impossible. I've explained this to her time and time again, that life isn't fair. I often point out their differences and how boring life would be if everyone looked the same, had the same things, etc. Again, she seems to get the message and even gives her own examples, but it doesn't last long.

I think the other issue is that Boo is the younger one, looks up to her older sibling and wants to be everything and do everything her older sister does. She absolutely WORSHIPS the ground Kiki walks on, and I try to remind Kiki of that when she complains Boo is "copying her".

I am a younger sibling and absolutely understand where Boo is coming from. Maybe that is why I tried so hard to treat her the same. I don't ever want either of my girls to feel as if I love one more than the other. Do I love them exactly the same? No. However, I don't favor one sibling over the other, I just love them differently. They have such different personalities there is no way to love them the same.

I am hoping Boo understands this as she grows. That she is unique and is her own person. That she doesn't have to have everything exactly the same as Kiki or anyone else for that matter. I point this out to her as often as I can in a positive way, and I hope it really truly is sinking in.

I've decided to help both girls understand gratitude a bit more by talking each day about things we are thankful for. I've even thought about having them keep a journal and write in it a few times a week, or draw a picture of something they are thankful for. I have also been showing them ways we can help others in our community with the hope that they will understand that life isn't just about them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

(Semi) Wordless Wednesday - Fall Fun

Since I've been so bad about blogging lately (plenty of ideas, no time to write. If only I could just upload my brain!), I thought I'd post some pictures of the some of the fun things we've done this fall. Hopefully in the next few days I will also be able to write. Stay tuned. . .



Raking Leaves

Ready to rake the "biggest pile ever"






Laci wants to have some fun too!


What is that lump under the leaves?

Ta-da!

Kiki, you have leaves in your hair!



Haunted House at the Children's Museum - Halloween Day


Boo's not so sure about what's on the menu. Look closely. . .



Carving Pumpkins - Halloween Day


Boo and her "princess" pumpkin

Kiki gets slimy

Ewwwww

Boo's turn!

Bill carves Kiki's pumpkin (she drew the face)

Matching teeth




Halloween Night

Batgirl and the Pig



Charlie Brown Bill and the girls

Trick or Treat!

Is it going to be dark soon?

Superfriends!

The girls and our "scary" neighbor

Who is this weird guy behind us?

Cinderella and her girls

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I have a Dream Too

"This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can." Barack Obama


As I sat last night and watched the election results pour in, I couldn't help but feel overcome with emotion. As I watched our new President-Elect's speech last night, I cried tears of joy. I felt truly proud to be an American.


As I watch coverage now today, I am still very much feeling that way. Our country is finally showing some signs that we are becoming truly what we are supposed to be - UNITED, that no matter what the color of our skin is, or what name we have, we are all Americans.

I wasn't so sure months ago. This election was one of the nastiest we've ever seen, and I felt at times that our nation was becoming more divided. People on both sides of the campaign were saying and doing some very shameful, disrespectful things. At times I was ashamed to be an American, especially when I witnessed some people at campaign events shouting cruel, hateful things, many whom had their children in tow.

What should we have been teaching our children with this election? I saw it as the opportunity to teach my own children that all of us were created equal, that no one is better than someone else because of where they were born, the house they live in, their gender, or the color of their skin. That no matter what we look like on the outside, we should all have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Kiki learned about elections and voting in school. Her class went through the whole process and even nominated two people in the class, one boy and one girl, to run for class president. The purpose of the election was not really to pick a president, but to show the children how the process works. Kiki was so excited by this she came home every day talking about what they had learned. She was even one of the two nominated and was excited at the opportunity to "run" for president. The best part of the whole thing for me, was when she lost. I was disappointed for her that she didn't win, and she seemed a little disappointed too, but I was so proud at how she handled it. She told me that when they announced the winner, she went over and gave him a "high five" and told him "congrats." Then later while waiting to get on her bus, she wrote him a note to tell him "good job." I was so proud when she told me this story my heart swelled with joy. Knowing that she handled that so gracefully and respectfully meant more than anything to me.

My dream is that more people in society would behave like my own child. That we could learn to be so gracious and respectful of one another. That all politicians could handle themselves so well instead of spewing hate and lies about one another, and calling each other names. That all people could see everyone for who they truly are instead of judging on appearances. I am teaching my children to be tolerant, accepting and respectful of others. In our house no kind of disrespect is allowed. No teasing. Sure we joke around with each other, but we do not allow any put downs. I've told them that putting someone else down is just as bad as hitting them.

These important lifeskills are also being taught to them in school. Hateful words are not tolerated and are simply not acceptable. Each week, children are rewarded for kind words and actions by being given a raffle ticket. The prize if they win the raffle of the week? A poster with their picture on it displayed on the school office window. Awards are given for such lifeskills as honesty, respect, kindness, flexibilty, etc. I love visiting school and seeing these and watching the children walk by them and beam with pride. I love going to the "celebration" assemblies and watching the children congratulate each other for their accomplishments.

We can learn a lesson as nation from our children. We need to be more accepting of one another. More tolerant. More respectful. One of my least favorite parts of this election was the labels people gave each other. Supporters of both parties were very guilty of it and it made me very sad. I just don't see any reason for it and wonder what message we are sending our children when we behave this way. I also was sad knowing that some people were even teaching their children to be scared if one candidate won over the other. Is fear something we really need to be teaching our children? Why not instead teach them to be strong, to stand up and fight for what they believe in? To stand behind one another, even when the chips are down, and lift each other up in support. That just because you "lost" doesn't mean you can't congratulate and support the other candidate. Kiki taught me this with her actions at school. That's a lesson more valuable to me than anything. I am hoping she can carry that through her life and continue to be so graceful, tolerant, and selfless.

Martin Luther King said it best:

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

We've got a long way to go, but I am hopeful that we can overcome our past and have a great future. We elected an African American President for the first time EVER. I know we are not that far off from electing our first WOMAN for President. We as a nation should be so proud that we have achieved so much in our history, and no longer should we be divided, but UNITED. After all we are the UNITED States of America.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hula Girl

Kiki loves to Hula Hoop. Her Hula Hoop is probably one of her most prized possessions (and favorite gift from Santa last year!) and she practiced all summer. We took advantage of a warm November day (70 degrees!) and played all day in our newly fenced-in backyard. Kiki got out her Hula Hoop and was so proud of how long she can keep it up now! I especially love the way she almost dances while she is doing the "Hula". Check it out:

video

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sibling Rivalry



Before Bill and I had kids, we always knew we wanted them to be relatively close in age, so that they would hopefully be close, love each other, be friends and all of that sappy stuff. Bill has an older sister that is just about 18 months older than him and they are very close. I am just a little less than 3 years younger than my brother and we are close now, but weren't always that way growing up. We had the pretty typical older brother/younger sister relationship. I was a pest and he teased me to no end.

Kiki and Boo are only 2 years apart. 8 days shy of two years apart to be exact. Boo practically worships the ground Kiki walks on and wants to do everything she does, have everything she does, and be just like her if she has it her way. Kiki loves her sister dearly, but loves more than anything to be in charge of everything Boo does, right down to telling her how to pretend whatever it is they are pretending. When Boo was little, say 1 or 2 years old, this was perfectly acceptable to her. She listened to everything Kiki told her to do, and happily followed her lead. As she's grown though, that has changed quite a bit. While she loves Kiki and wants to be like her, she does not enjoy being bossed around or told what to do. Needless to say this has caused me to pull all of my hair out quite a bit of turmoil in our household.

Boo is in afternoon Kindergarten and hates it when Kiki is gone in the mornings. She can't wait until they both get home from school so she has someone to play with. Yet the minute they walk in the door they start arguing. They disagree on what to play, who gets to pick what they play, what to watch on TV, who gets to pet Laci first, who gets what for snack; you name it, they argue about it. My patience goes out the window on those days, as I am at my wit's end on how to handle it. Everyone has a different approach, whether it be to separate them, let them work it out, punish them, etc. I've pretty much tried them all and nothing seems to work.

When I let them "work it out" it usually gets physical and Kiki someone ends up getting hit, kicked, punched, or bitten. When I separate them, they actually seem quite happy to be separated (who could blame them) and then start arguing the minute they are reunited.

I am torn as on how to handle this sibling rivalry. I know a certain amount of it is healthy and will teach them how to handle all types of situations and get along well with others. Yet, I also know that too much of a certain type of situation can be damaging to a child or relationship and I don't know where to draw the line. Kiki is bossy, which isn't necessarily a bad quality, as long as the "bossing" is done in a positive way. Boo is great at standing up for herself, yet she doesn't always use the best approach and can get physical with her sister. One thing they both know won't be tolerated, besides physically hurting each other, is mean-spirited teasing or putting each other down. I've told them hateful or mean words are just as harmful to a person as hitting and will result in the same consequences or punishment.

The irony in all of this, is that they are extremely close. They have many days where they hardly argue at all and do such nice, sweet things for each other. If one of them is sick or hurt, the other is quick to do what she can to help the other one feel better. They have many days where they laugh together and they have also been known to defend each other in certain situations.

As I write this, they are happily playing in the next room, singing along to High School Musical 2 soundtrack for about the millionth time. I am listening to them being kind and taking turns. Yet I know it will be short-lived. One of them will say or do something the other doesn't agree with and a war will start. So I am enjoying the peace while I can, because I know it won't last.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Tall Flowers


Who knew Sunflowers grew as tall as your house? I sure didn't! It took them all summer to grow and we didn't think they'd ever bloom. . . but they did!


Have you hugged a sunflower lately?


Just my size!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere!

One of our favorite traditions (and we don't have many!) is our annual trek to the local Pumpkin Festival. We always manage to find the hottest sunniest day of the fall to go and pick our pumpkins, and this year was no exception! The girls love this tradition and Fall just wouldn't be the same without it.

You wouldn't know we have swings in our very own backyard. . .

Look how strong I am!

I'm stuck!

Ma and Pa Kettle

Boo enjoys the not so Haunted House

That was supposed to be haunted? Seriously?

Kiki exits the caterpillar's butt backside

Kiki O'Lantern

DumbleBoo

Hurry up and take the picture so I can put this thing down!

Boo fits right in the Christmas tree lot pumpkin patch!

Riding the pumpkin train

Family hayride (oops Boo blinked!)