Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day! - Posted by Lisa

It looks like this is the end of the storm, but with cold temps and more snow expected on Sunday, Monday, and Christmas Eve, I *think* we have a decent chance of having a white Christmas. What do you think?

Stepping off the front porch

Our mountain (all the snow plowed from our cul de sac - note there was NO mound of snow there before today)

View from the top - Ian

View from the top - Christopher

Got Snow? - Posted by Chris

To be fair about 3 inches of this snow was already there before today's snow storm, however we still have 5 hours before the Winter Storm Warning is finished.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

5 years ago tonight... - Posted by Lisa

Five years ago tonight, Chris and I (and half our family, it seemed) were settled more-or-less comfortably into an LDRP suite awaiting the birth of our first child. I will never forget our excitement and anxiety to know that in a matter of hours, we would become parents for the first time. We knew his gender, had selected his name, had seen his slightly distorted image on 3D ultrasound; the only thing left for us was to stare into his face and hold him in our arms.

After about 12 hours of labor, Christopher David was born via c-section at 3:06 am. Having had aspirated meconium and having low blood sugars, he was kept in the special care nursery and Chris and I were unable to hold him until several hours after his birth. I was bit drugged up following my surgery to think straight (and have looked better too ;). But I do remember gazing at him in wonder as I held him for the first time, awkward as it was with both he & I connected to IV tubes and other wires. It didn't take long for the "mama bear" protectiveness in me to surface. Before long we couldn't even believe there was a time where Christopher was not a part of our lives.
Now, 5 years later, I am still awed by the amazing boy he has become and is becoming. I am so proud of my loving, kind-hearted, bright, inquisitive, and friendly little boy. He is well-liked by his teachers and friends at preschool, well-loved by his many family and friends, an adoring and adored big brother to Ian, and so very cherished and loved by Chris and I.
So Happy, Happy 5th Birthday, Kiddo! You have brought more joy to your Dad and I than words can ever say. I hope I can always be the Mom you deserve. I love you!!

Love, Mom

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Note to self re: making the gingerbread house - Posted by Lisa

Christopher and I like to make a gingerbread house as our little pre-Christmas tradition. Well, "make" might be a bit too strong of a word, since we actually purchase a kit and assemble it. Even so, it's still something that we like to do together.

This past Friday, Christopher and I (and this time, Ian as well) made a gingerbread house again. It's not a masterpiece, by far, but considering that our last one actually fell apart, I think it turned out alright.

Even so, there are a few points I'd like to remember when we go to do this again next year, so I write this as a reminder note for me to read when the time comes.

1. Open all pieces, including candies, before starting and set them aside (in dishes, if appropriate). Just makes the process easier.

2. Decorate the walls and roof before assembling the house. The icing anyway. First of all, it is much easier to squeeze icing out onto a flat surface. Secondly, it is best not to fiddle too much with the structure of the house for a while after the walls have been "glued" together.

3. The kit only provides about 1/4 the amount of icing you will truly need! Buy or make more before starting this project!

4. Keep plenty of wet cloths and dry paper towels on hand within easy reach. The icing gets EVERYWHERE.

5. Resist the urge to lick the icing off your fingers. Sugar buzzes are no fun at 40. See #4 for alternative options.

6. Make sure you have stepstools ready and in place for both kids (if necessary) before starting. The Little Tikes picnic table does not make a good last minute replacement. :)

7. Put on the Christmas music and HAVE FUN! Remember to enjoy this moment with your children, as they won't be like this forever.

I think that about covers it. I may add more if something else comes to me, and I also welcome suggestions from all of you. What kind of traditions do you/did you enjoy with your children during the holidays? Any words of wisdom that you have gleaned from the experience?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Miss me? - Posted by Lisa

So, yeah, I started out the month of November with a bang, and ended it with a fizzle. Sorry 'bout that. I've been told by Chris' mom that there has been at least one mention of my lack of posting in the last two weeks, so I figured I'd better write something.

We've been kept pretty busy lately, with work (I did two more days of private duty nursing since the last post), Thanksgiving (had Chris' parents over for dinner), shopping (I actually braved the stores early on Black Friday with my sister), putting up Christmas lights in 15-25 degree (F) weather (brrrrr!), and preparation for Christmas and Christopher's 5th birthday coming up this week (how did that happen?). As Chris' cousin Heather recently put it, life is hectic, but good!

In other (somewhat mundane) news, Christopher is looking forward to his first birthday party invite for a school friend. A little girl at preschool has invited the class for a McDonald's playdate this Wednesday (our McD's has an indoor playscape). Ian has been bladder trained now for a while, which has been wonderful. We're still waiting on him to grasp the concept of telling us before he has gone #2. He's young yet, we know, but the washing machine and bottle of Resolve carpet cleaner will get a bit less of a workout once he's past this phase. :)

So that's a little bit of what's life's been like around here lately. Nothing too exciting, but good nonetheless.

p.s. If I haven't yet bored you to tears, and you're still reading...since I'm finding out that there are more people reading this blog than those who actually comment, I'm issuing a challenge. Post a comment on our blog! :) Everyone reading this, whether I know you in "real life" or not (or whether or not you've commented before), please leave a comment. I'd really like to see just how many people, and who, is reading this blog. Hope to hear from you!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pain in the sass - Posted by Lisa

Mr. Ian has become quite the mouthy boy lately. Not sure why exactly. Is it a response to my recent work outside the home? His age? Our stellar parenting? Whatever the reason, His Royal Sassiness needs an attitude adjustment for sure.

Some of his gems include:

"NO, I will NOT eat my dinner!"
"I don't WANT my corn dogs cooked!"
"It is NOT time to go!"

But today, one of his sassy moments had me stifling back laughter. After dropping off Christopher at school, I had to carry Ian kicking and screaming out of the classroom (and away from the toys) back to the car. As I struggled to put him in his car seat, he yelled at me "You get a safety violation!" (click on link and view a video for explanation)

It may not be intentional, but at least he has good comedic timing. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Well, I'd like to never do *that* again - Posted by Lisa

I was doing pretty well on this posting every day thing, but it took one thing to get me to stop. Getting sick. I mean, really sick. Let's just say that Chris and I both spent waaaay too much time in the bathroom Thursday night/early Friday morning. We're just praying that the boys stay healthy...'cuz that was not fun.

Aside from that, now we're trying to climb out from under the mess our house has become. Like I said in my previous post, I haven't yet become re-accustomed to balancing working outside the home with the work at home. So between that and needing to sterilize all the recently contaminated surfaces in our house, it has become a daunting job. Right now we still only have the stamina to conquer a little at a time, between small meals and rest periods. But we should have everything back to normal (and non-infectious) by Thursday when Chris' parents come by for Thanksgiving dinner.

On a final note, we'd also like to congratulate Chris' Aunt Susan on her recent retirement! We hope you enjoy this well-deserved time for yourselves!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life of a working mom, part II - Posted by Lisa

Our house is almost out of control. I admit that it can tend to be that way, even on a good day. But really, Chris asked me tonight if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean or dirty, and I could only respond "I don't know...I haven't been here in three days!" For the record, they were dirty.

Laundry is either piled up, dirty, in the laundry room, or piled up, clean and unfolded, in laundry baskets around the house. I'm worried that the boys might not have clean underwear, and must wash some before heading upstairs.

We haven't eaten a home-cooked meal at home since...ummm...Sunday maybe? I can't even remember what it was. Chris made a run to Meijer's this evening, so thankfully we now have food options that the boys may actually eat for lunch, as well as lunches for Chris and I.

I just read through 35 unread blog posts on my Google Reader. I normally don't have more than 5 unread posts at any one time. I have commented on only one of them. I also haven't read or posted to my favorite message boards in days.

I listened to Harry Potter some yesterday and last night, but remember only part of it, and fell asleep for I-don't-know-how-much-of-it.

This post sounds much more negative than I feel. I actually am enjoying (very much) the work in these past few days, though I do look forward to my upcoming 3 day weekend. I look forward to taking the boys to McDonald's on Friday for lunch like I've been promising them. I also look forward to (maybe) getting the chance to sleep in, and not having to pack lunches and set aside clothes the night before. And even though I don't look forward to the immense task of cleaning the house this weekend, I do look forward to getting it under control again.

Whew! I had forgotten just how draining it can be to work outside the home!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The life of a working mom - Posted by Lisa

As I am now, at least temporarily, back in the ranks of mothers who work outside the home, I am rediscovering what it is like to need "filling in" on what your child has been doing all day.

At lunchtime, I decided to give my mom a call to check in. After only 3 hours away, I needed an update! My mom happily reported that she and Christopher had just put a cake in the oven. At the end of the day when I got back to their house, I learned that they had all taken a trip to the mall, and the boys got to visit Santa Claus. Of course, they were both very excited. Ian enthusiastically told me that he talked to Santa Claus and asked him for a "little red guitar." Christopher, not surprisingly, had asked for Star Wars Legos. No pictures with Santa, apparently, but what was most important was that they had a great time.

I'm so happy that they are enjoying themselves, and thankful to know they are being watched by people who love them so much! Thanks, Mom & Dad!

Monday, November 17, 2008

So tired... - Posted by Lisa

Today was the first of 6 days that I will be doing private duty nursing for my parents' friend. I won't go into detail about it because of patient confidentiality, but I think the day went very well. In fact, her daughter called tonight and asked if I could stay 8 hours for the next 3 days (instead of 6 hours), and also asked if I could be there an additional half day next Monday. My parents were more than happy to babysit the boys, so it's a go!

It isn't hard work, and I was only there from noon to 5:00 today, but I am still wiped out. A little earlier tonight, I glanced at the clock and was surprised to see it was only 8:30. My body felt as if it was closer to 10:30. I'm so glad to have this opportunity to get back into the workforce, and under such pleasant circumstances. Heaven knows that in this economy, we need it!

I should get going for now. I want to listen to Harry Potter for a little while before falling asleep tonight. Good night!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More odds 'n ends - Posted by Lisa

Today was one of those days where I actually caught myself looking at the boys' in their Sunday clothes (more than once) and realized that yes, church was actually this morning and not yesterday. I also realize that was a run-on sentence, and hope my meaning is clear. In other words, it was a long day!

Christopher did great in Sunday school this morning. He sat with his class at the front of the church while Chris and I kept Ian busy in the playroom at the back. We stepped out of the playroom for a few minutes while he & his class stood up at the altar to sing a Thanksgiving song to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Other than a brief hand covering his eyes that seemed to suggest "Oh no, I don't remember the words!" he did very well. He watched his teachers for help with the hand movements, and sang along to at least most of the words. After that, he and his class went downstairs for the rest of the hour and he seemed to be enjoying himself when I went to the room to get him.

This afternoon I received a call from my long-time friend Kristina, whose sons Noah and Nathan were asking for Christopher to come over and play. Since we had no concrete plans for the day, the boys and I drove down to their house and we all had a fun visit. The four boys wore each other out (Ian fell asleep on the car ride home) and Kristina and I had the chance to chat, which we don't often get to do. We even had a surprise visit from another good friend Ruthie, her husband Tom, and their daughters Ava and new baby Lily. Lily is just beautiful, and despite needing a bath (according to Ruthie, not me!), she had that sweet baby smell that I love! After having some yummy dinner at Tom & Kristina's house, Christopher, Ian and I headed home as a light snow fell. Thanks for the great afternoon and evening, guys!

Yesterday I posted about a private-duty nursing opportunity that came up for me, and that is all set to go. I'll be providing care for my parents' friend this Monday through Thursday, and next Tuesday. She's always lots of fun to talk to, so I look forward to the next few days for that reason alone. Also this is just a great opportunity to expand my skills, and earn some much needed money in the process.

Well, I should be going. Time for bed. Good night!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Odds 'n Ends - Posted by Lisa

Ian (a couple hours before dinner tonight): I want chocolate.
Mom: How about a peanut butter sandwich?
Ian: How about chocolate?

Kinda reminds me of someone else we know.

Christopher is excited to go to Sunday school tomorrow. This is a big thing since last year I took him to the Sunday school room, headed upstairs and found myself a seat in church, only to have Christopher run all the way into church by himself to find me. I didn't take him back again until last week, but he was so nervous that I stayed in the room the entire time. Tonight he said he is a "little scared, but not really" so we'll see how it goes. He is supposed to be singing a Thanksgiving song with his new classmates in front of the church tomorrow, but we didn't get much practice in. Hopefully all goes well!

Both boys were in bed and asleep before 8:30 tonight! That's unusual lately, especially for Christopher. Hurray!

I have an opportunity to do some private duty nursing for one of my parents' friends who just recently had knee surgery (has had? will have? haven't talked to her daughter yet). It is, of course, a good opportunity to make money, but even though she is a friend, there are still important considerations to keep in mind. I'm a little nervous, but will call her daughter tomorrow to find out the details (just learned of it this evening, and didn't want to call too late). Wish me luck!

Chris has gotten me interested again in "reading" (actually listening to the audio books) of the Harry Potter series. We had started listening to the first book way back before we had kids, but never continued the series. We've seen almost all of the movies and love the story, but we've both always wanted to read the books as well. We are listening to the stories on our iPods. He is now into book #4 (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and I am about to start chapter 8 of book #1 (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - curiously, it is called HP and the Philosopher's Stone in England, huh). J.K. Rowling really is an amazing writer who brings the whole wizarding world to life with her words. I can't wait to listen to more of the story!

Well, I'd better go. Harry's waiting for me. ;)

Friday, November 14, 2008

So excited! - Posted by Lisa

Don't you hate it when someone tells you that they've got big news, but they can't tell you what it is? Well, I'm about to do just that. (And no, I'm not pregnant)

Actually, I will tell a little bit, I just don't want to give it all away right now. Christopher will be turning 5 next month, and tonight we came up with a GREAT idea for his first 'kids-only' birthday party (we're planning to do a family party a week later). We had some general ideas in mind, but because of money constraints, and our own feelings about what a kid's party should be, we wanted to keep it simple.

It will be in our home, in Michigan, in December. So our options are limited. We are inviting our friends and their children, which should amount to about 8 kids including our own (and one newborn). We already had the idea of having the kids all make their own mini-pizzas. With pre-made dough from the store (which tastes SO good), shredded cheese, and a few simple toppings, I'm sure they'll all be having a blast and hopefully eating well too. I suppose we should have a couple pizzas and other finger-food available for the grown-ups as well.

However, beyond that, I was stumped. Of course there are party games, but I wanted something just a little different, and I think we nailed it with this (ahem, top secret) idea! Christopher will LOVE. IT. I think the other kids will too.

Ahhh! I'm ready to burst, so I better stop now. I'm so sorry I can't tell you more just yet, but I really do want this to be a surprise, especially to Christopher. I think we're going to have to make sure he is out of the house for a while as the house is being decorated. I promise to take pictures of his reaction. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Crazy Day - Posted by Lisa

My mind is kind of in a jumble right now, so this probably won't be a very logical or coherent post. But, here goes.

Woke up this morning planning to go to the grocery store. I had most of my list together, but was sifting through coupons when I realized my entire stack of SmartSource coupons (dating back to early October) was gone. It was only a minor setback, as I knew I had left them at my parents' house on Tuesday, but still disappointing. It wouldn't make much sense to drive 1/2 an hour to pick up some coupons that might save me a buck on this particular shopping trip...and yet I now refuse to pay full price on anything. So, grocery shopping was temporarily shelved.

A little while later, my Dad called me to say that I had also left the order form for Christopher's Little Caesars' pizza kit fundraiser at their house, and the checks written by family for their orders. Orders are due in by tomorrow, so the boys and I jumped in the van and headed down to my parents' house. Visited for a while, then gathered up everything that I had left the other day (order form, coupons, and Ian's shoes) and left.

I then figured we'd make the most of the trip down and visit the library near their house. We had originally planned to go to the library on Tuesday, but it was closed that day. So I let the boys play for a little while as I picked out some books to read them at bedtime. Then I let them pick out a few DVDs to watch. We've been in desperate need of new reading material, so I probably had 20 items in all. We proceed to the checkout desk and I realize I don't have my library card. Grrrrr. I ask the woman behind the counter who tells me I can use my driver's license, but can only check out 3 items. Double grrrrr. I pick out 3 books, check out and leave.

(BTW...I'm just noticing it is 12:00am...but this WAS started on the 14th, so I'm going to pretend I've still got in my daily post)

So anyway, I picked up dinner from Wendy's for Chris & I and the boys. Then Anita and Dave dropped by so Chris could work his magic on their virus-infected computer, Anita and I got the boys to bed, and the four of us adults chatted while Chris worked on the computer.

So, kind of a busy, but not entirely productive kind of day. Hopefully tomorrow I can get in that shopping trip (with coupons). :)

Good night!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

...and I would give that all up for... - Posted by Lisa

...and I would give up all the imaginary items in my previous blog post for just this one:

A remote control with a rewind button to automatically take you back to those moments that you wish you could hold onto forever. The middle of the night snuggles of a sleepy baby, the first time they say "I love you, Mom (or Dad)", belly laughs.

I love being a mom.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

10 Parenting Things I Wish Existed... - Posted by Lisa

First, I need to admit that I totally stole this idea (even the title) from Cecily of Uppercase Woman (warning: Cecily is a brilliant writer, but has quite the potty-mouth). :) It's just that it's such a good idea, and a much better way of putting into words the rant I originally wanted to post. So here goes:

1) Something/someone other than myself that will follow after the boys to pick up/put back errant legos/crayons/hot wheels/crumbs/paper, etc that they leave in their wake. Must be more realistic and much cheaper than the obvious suggestions such as a Roomba, a dog, a nanny/maid or my clone.

2) A mute button for whining. This was Cecily's #2 as well, and it's so ingenius that I had to steal it. Like her, I wouldn't want to mute the legitimate concerns, just the whiiiininnnng that makes the ears bleed. (screeching counts too)

3) An alarm that sounds whenever Ian's bladder or bowel is reaching critical mass and a trip to the bathroom would be wise. Though he is doing pretty well with potty training, he hasn't yet grasped the concept of telling us before he starts to go. Some days he remains clean and dry all day long, but it would be nice to eliminate the occasional pee on the floor (or poops in the bathtub). Ugh.

4) A vending machine (free of charge, naturally) in our home that at the press of a button dispenses wholesome, well-balanced meals that my kids will eat. I will settle for one that only works at lunchtime as our boys eat breakfast as if they have been starved for, um, 13 hours or so...and dinnertime is rarely negotiable. They get what I make for the whole family. But lunchtime? The bane of my existence.

5) A built-in, full-time, and most importantly FREE source of babysitting for those times when I need to run to the store (and shop in peace) or pick up Christopher from school without carrying a screaming Ian away from the magical preschool toys. Adopting a teenager is tempting, but probably not practical. And certainly not free.

6) I've rethought my #1 and decided to go for the gusto. How 'bout a whole house that is self-cleaning? No? Toys that put themselves away then?

7) A bed that enables a child to fall asleep within minutes after their head touches the pillow, and sleep peacefully through the night until such time in the morning that the parent is ready for the child to awaken.

8) Toddler teeth that brush themselves.

9) A pre-recorded message of my voice saying "Christopher, stop teasing/chasing/grabbing your brother" and "Ian, stop screaming." Wait, I guess I could record that myself, couldn't I?

10) Blinders to cover Ian's eyes while walking past the tv karts at Meijers!

Oh! And a bonus (in reference to the rant that I originally wanted to post about)...

11) A recorded message or letter to somehow anonymously tell people to control their bratty kids already! Hmmm, such as the clueless and infuriating grandma at McDonald's today who did nothing after Christopher told me (well within earshot of her) that her two grandsons had been hitting him & Ian inside the playscape. It wasn't until I saw it happen again and stood up and said "okay, that's enough!" that she finally took them home (after giving in and letting them climb all the way to the top and come down the slide again one more wonder they're out of control). The same kids were climbing on top of and even standing on the tables when we first got there while she did nothing. Agggghhh!! (okay...I wasn't going to rant on that topic again. must stop)

Whew! That was actually a little tough. Anything to add? (about my kids, or what you wish/wished you had/could have had for your own kids?)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back to School - Posted by Lisa

"Back to School" actually happened in September for Christopher, but in this case, I'm talking about myself...well, sorta. Today I had the pleasure of helping out as a room mother at Christopher's preschool class. His teacher, Mrs. T, had put a note in her monthly newsletter requesting volunteer help from parents. Since I was signed up to provide the snack already, I offered to help out today.

So fun, and the kids were so cute! I helped Christopher and his friends get started on journals they will be working on over the next few weeks. I stapled the inside pages to the construction paper covers and helped them write their names and draw pictures on the covers. On Friday, they will start drawing pictures on the pages inside. Though I didn't get the chance to spend very much one-on-one time with Christopher, it was still nice to be the proverbial "fly on the wall," in a manner of speaking. We (Christopher and I, with some help from Chris and Ian) had also made banana bread for a snack, and it looked like most of the kids ate it all up!

Thanks to my sister for offering to come over and watch Ian while I spent this time with Christopher's class. I couldn't have done it without you, and Ian said he had fun playing with "Aunt Karen!"

By the way...I also had the chance to sit down with Christopher's teacher for a parent/teacher conference while I was there. "Capable" is the best "grade" that can be given, and Christopher was given nothing but "capable" on his report card! Mrs. T had nothing but praise for him (polite, considerate, friendly, good language skills, good writing skills, good drawing skills, etc.)! I'm so proud!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

More funny kidspeak... - Posted by Lisa

Overheard at Chris' parents house tonight:

Grandma: "Do you like those cookies, Ian? Those are molasses cookies."

Ian: "Those are asses cookies!"

That's our boy!

The language police - Posted by Lisa

Conversation that just took place a few moments ago:

Me: (to Chris, after making a call to an automated service at the Detroit Free Press) "Oh my God, I've got to tell you about this call."

Christopher: "Mom, you shouldn't say 'Oh my God'...that's a bad word."

It looks like our attempts to break Christopher's "Oh my God" habit (that he learned from us in the first place) is working. Hopefully the "holy crap" habit has been nipped in the bud as well. ;)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Writer's Block - Posted by Lisa

It is 11:26pm, and I'm still not any closer to having anything interesting to write. I realize that by saying that, it implies that I usually do have something interesting to write. So please forgive me for ending here. I hope to be a little more prolific tomorrow night.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Stress Relief - Posted by Lisa

I find this is becoming a theme with me lately. The problems with our economy, the auto industry in particular, have me worried. Usually I tend to be pretty good about not letting things get to me, but it's been a bit harder than usual in the past few days.

Obviously, Chris and I have some plans in mind for how to weather any potential storm, but in the short term I've found that I need stress relief and a bit of escape more than ever. So we've been making more of an effort to spend time together watching tv shows and movies (usually our evenings are spent online). And just today, I finally went back to our community center for a workout, after nearly five months away from it. What has taken me so long to return to working out? That was the BEST therapy I could have given myself. 40 minutes on the elliptical machine, and some good conversation with one of the regulars there who I haven't seen since June was just what I needed. I really have to do that more.

What things do you do in order to relieve stress?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Cop out - Posted by Lisa

Not in the mindset to post, but still feel the need to because of the whole NaBloPoMo thing. (What was I thinking??)

Just thought I'd share a photo or two, and the news from our dental hygienist that Christopher appears to have some slight "movement" in his lower front teeth. She says not to be surprised if they start loosening up in the coming months. Eeek! My baby's growing too fast!

Here are some pics from Halloween to share with you. Christopher was Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, and Ian was his padawan learner (Anakin Skywalker, maybe? We never did settle on that). Thanks again to Chris' mom (and my own mom) for helping me with the costumes. I never could have done it without your help! We got lots of compliments.

Earlier in the day...notice that Ian has a thing for shoes/boots, etc. He must get fully dressed down to his shoes as soon as he wakes up (and will change shoes frequently thru the day, but is rarely without them on)

Enjoy your night!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

And with this, I will step off my soapbox... - Posted by Lisa

Throughout this election, I was aware of the historical and societal importance of a black man running for (and ultimately winning) the presidency. I can honestly say that my vote was not influenced one way or the other by the color the candidates' skin, but by the issues presented to us. I cannot know for sure, but I believe the same can be said of at least most of my friends and family around me, regardless of their chosen candidate. I keep some pretty good company. :)

But while watching a portion of "The View" today (it's a guilty pleasure), I was moved to tears when Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd spoke. As a mom of two young boys, how could I not be moved when Sherri said that she can now tell her little boy that he has "no limitations" in life. When black children around America have been told (quite truthfully) for generations that they can be anything they want to be, but they can't be President. Now, these children have living proof that "yes, they can."

I wish I could say that this historic election marks a return to guaranteed peace and prosperity in the U.S. and the world, or that we have now seen the end to all bigotry. Sadly, that is not true. We still face the same challenges that we did yesterday morning. Our economy is still in shambles, and will be for some time. There are still wars and threats of war around the world. There is still deep division in this country. But for many people in this country, of all races, religions, and creeds, there is hope where before there was disenfranchisement. Now it's up to us to make sure our new President and other elected officials do the job that we hired them to do.

Here is the link to The View if you want to see the videos (they will start automatically when you click on the link). I hope you find it as uplifting as I did. :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What the heck else am I going to talk about today? - Posted by Lisa

Voted today. Yay! My parents watched Ian while Christopher joined me at the polls. I enjoyed getting the chance to teach him a little about our democracy and get him excited about the voting process. He did so well. It sure was great to go to the polls in short sleeves too. Normally at this time of year it's cold & rainy, or even snowing. What a great day!

Beyond that, I'm a little too nervous to say much else. We've been flipping between ABC, CNN, and others to get the latest results from the polls as they close. Will either post again later, or will just save it for tomorrow. I hope everyone has a good evening, no matter how your candidates do tonight.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Potpourri - Posted by Lisa

I'm a (shopping) rock star! Yeah, that's right. I admit it. Here's the proof:

I saved 70% off my total grocery bill at Kroger today. SEVENTY PERCENT. What would have been roughly a $75 bill came out to $22.45. And $10 of that was on diapers. Total savings: $52.17. Yeehaw!

Now, I will admit that 1) this was not my total grocery bill for the week (I did the majority of my shopping today at Meijer), 2) I bought no meat at either store (we buy meat in bulk and freeze it), and 3) a portion of this trip was on items not originally on my shopping list. BUT, the items that weren't on my list came to ridiculously low prices, and will definitely be used. I may not need 6 cans of evaporated milk, but who can resist when they're FREE? (combined with a store promotion, I had a '50 cents off 2' coupon, and found 2 more of the same coupon sitting on top of evap milk at the store!). I have a casserole recipe that calls for it, and Christopher already wants me to make pumpkin pie, so there you go. If anyone else needs evaporated milk, let me know. :)

At Meijer, I didn't fare quite as well, but still did pretty good. I only bought 2 items not on my list, and saved about 39% on my total bill. I also went to Walgreens for one item (that I ended up passing on), but came away with almost $40 worth of Halloween decorations for $13. Now, that is not as frivolous as it sounds. Chris and I were absolutely planning on taking advantage of the after-Halloween sales to get decorations, not only for the house, but also for our yearly "Halloween" camping weekend (which we do in September). For $13 I got 6 sets of ghost lights (10 lights/pkg), a plastic "dripping blood" tablecloth, two packages of spider webbing, four 22 inch jointed cardboard "monster" decorations (a skeleton, a witch, a vampire, and a pumpkin guy), and two black masquerade masks. The boys already have gotten their 12 cents each out of those masks pretending to be Batman.

I could claim all the credit, and say that I spent many hours scouring ads and rummaging through stacks of cut coupons to find all these bargains, but I'd be (mostly) lying. My "secret" is I saw the woman who runs this site on Oprah, but didn't hear her mention the site there. The url was mentioned in a newspaper article on saving money, so I tried it out. I've been using this method and collecting coupon circulars now for about four weeks. It has made an almost immediate difference in our grocery bill, and a permanent change in the way we shop, I promise you that. I highly recommend trying this site (or others like it). I'm learning as I go, but if any of you have sage advice you'd like to share, please do.

Some of you know, and others may not, that Ian is in the midst of potty training. Scratch that. Let's just say that the family is in the middle of potty training, because what the toddler does affects the whole family, and well...really, the parents get trained during this process about as much as the kid does. Anyway, we are all about the pee & poop lately in this house. And things are going surprisingly well for a boy of two-and-a-half. If we get him to pee every two hours, he will almost always stay dry throughout the day. In fact, he did remain dry for at least two days in a row this weekend. Today, not so much dryness. In fact, he went through 3 clothing changes before two this afternoon...but that is deceptive. Two of those times, he was wet enough to need a change of pants (under and outer), but he let me know of the accident and proceeded to pee a bunch in the toilet. One time he saturated his entire outfit (even the shirt???) and had no more left in his bladder. On the flipside though (ummm, literally), he had two poops in the toilet today. One was by chance as he sat there while I fetched dry pants for him. But one time he actually let me know he had to go in time to get to the bathroom! Hurrah! If you are not a parent, or have not gone through this process before...that is BIG.

So far we have only been using a diaper at night, but remember that brand new package of diapers I mentioned earlier? Tonight, of all nights, Ian decides that he doesn't want to wear a nighttime diaper anymore. Heh. The bed is double-sheeted with puppy pads in between, in case you were wondering. ;-)

Update: About 10:45pm, Ian soaked his pants. Off with the pants. On with the diaper. Thank goodness we double-sheeted that bed. Strip off the top sheet and puppy pads, and done.

Now, GO VOTE. That is all.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Taking a breather - Posted by Lisa

I know I'm not alone in my feelings of fatigue lately. It gets a little difficult to see a silver lining amidst news of lost children (whatever happened to that poor little girl? her eyes still haunt me), completely senseless tragedies, the crappy economy, and some scary, moronic people.

So it was a welcome relief to read Mitch Albom's article today as I opened my Sunday paper about one woman's amazing "Pay it Forward" moment. Kind of like coming up for air.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

NaBloPoMo (or something like that): Day 1 - Posted by Lisa

We're not officially signed up for NaBloPoMo (or at least not yet), but I've been fascinated by this (what's the best word for it?) movement for the last two years and secretly wished I had tried it sooner. So, I have decided to write a blog post a day for the entire month of November. Pretty lofty goal for a blog that two people combined cannot seem to update more than once a month, in good times. But I guess that's the reason I'm doing this; to push myself (and perhaps Chris as well) to stretch my/our writing "muscles." Any suggestions for topics would be greatly appreciated. :)

I will try not to let these posts devolve into what I ate for breakfast, or something equally scintillating. But I will make an exception today, partly to get me started on this little project, and partly because it was enjoyable day and I'd like to share it.

Today, Chris and I had the rare pleasure of a few child-free hours spent with his sister Anita and her husband Dave. While our niece Sarah entertained the boys, the four of us enjoyed a couple games of bowling, then dinner (shared appetizer platters and yummy desserts) at this place. It was so nice to engage in light-hearted adult conversation interupted only by high fives for the occasional strike or spare (as opposed to "Mom? Mom? Mom? Moooooommmm!"). And it has been far too long since we've had a grown-ups only night with Anita & Dave. We really had so much fun with them, and can't wait to do it again.

Thanks for the great evening, guys! And thanks especially to don't know how much this meant to us. :) Love you all!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Fall! - Posted by Lisa

Not much to say, just some photos of some cute kids enjoying the season. Note: These pictures were taken on 3 different days (all within the past week) that ranged from summery to cool to downright chilly. This should explain the variations in clothing. :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Why I support Barack Obama - Posted by Lisa

For a long time, I have been wanting to say something even a fraction as eloquent as this New Yorker editorial. It explains in great detail so many of the reasons that I will be voting for Barack Obama on November 4th, and so many reasons that I couldn't find the words for.

I doubt that it will change the minds of staunch supporters of John McCain, but that's okay. I am very passionate about this election, and just feel the need to explain why. No matter who you plan to vote for, though I do hope it's for Mr. Obama :), please VOTE! Michiganders, remember that you must be registered by TODAY, October 6th, in order to vote in this crucial election!

(My name is Lisa, and I approve this message)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Supporting a good cause - Posted by Lisa

Today marked Christopher's first time (of many, I am sure) to collect money for a cause at school. This one being St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital via their Trike-a-Thon. A worthy cause, to be sure. The St. Jude website says it best:

"St. Jude is unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility anywhere. Discoveries made here have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

We are where some of today's most gifted researchers are able to do more science, more quickly. Where doctors across the world send their toughest cases and most vulnerable patients. Where no one pays for treatment beyond what is covered by insurance, and those without insurance are never asked to pay. We've built America's 3rd-largest health-care charity, with a model that keeps the costs down and the funds flowing, so the science never stops.

All patients accepted for treatment at St. Jude are treated without regard to the family's ability to pay."

As for Christopher (and his school's) participation in the trike-a-thon; though I don't know how much money was raised in total, I would still have to call it a success. The day was sunny, a little cool and breezy, and just perfect for biking. The kids looked so proud riding their bikes around the school grounds, and the parents & teachers looked even prouder. I was particularly proud, as this was only the second "real" time that Christopher has ridden his new bike since he got in for his fourth birthday in December. He did great on the bike (saying to me "I fell once, but I didn't get hurt!"), and is so proud of his 22 punches on his card (a punch for each lap completed).

After the biking was finished, all the kids were treated to a pizza lunch, along with watermelon, potato chips, cookies, and juice. Altogether, I'd say we spent about 3 hours out in the sun today between the trike-a-thon itself, playtime on the playground, and lunch outside. Quite tiring, but still a good day.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to make this day a success!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Row the Boat - Posted by Chris

After the success of our first release Flight Lessions, Pricekids Studios proudly presents...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

First Concerts - Redux - Posted by Lisa

In August of '05, I recorded for posterity the details of our oldest son Christopher's first concert experience. That concert was of the Wiggles at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and he was 20 months old. Though he seemed to enjoy it at the time, I'm sure he has no recollection of it now.

Today, on a much, MUCH colder day in February (our car's thermometer showed 3 degrees F), 21 month old Ian had his first concert experience. This time, the show was Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music and the venue was the beautiful Fox Theater in Detroit.

After breakfast at McDonald's (not enough time for a "real" restaurant, but we needed to go inside since the boys ate pancakes), we drove down to the Fox, parked in their garage (I wanted to take a thermos of hot chocolate to the parking garage employees today...bless them!), and rushed across the street into the theater. As a former volunteer usher at the Fox, I already knew this to be true, but everyone there was SO very kind and helpful. From the paid ushers at the door, to the volunteers, to the woman behind the snack counter, and the guy whose job I don't know...there were smiles everywhere. I remember thoroughly enjoying when I ushered the Sesame Street shows, so that could be the reason, but either way, we were impressed.

We sat in the mezzanine (ahem, though our tickets read Gallery C, i.e. "nosebleed"). We got to our seats just as the house lights went down, and had a perfect view of everyone onstage.

Ian took a little while to warm up to the idea of what was going on (though not as long as Christopher took with the Wiggles a couple years back). Once he did, he clapped his hands above his head, bopped his head to the music, and jumped up and down. He was mesmerized the entire time!

Christopher was slightly more reserved. He wouldn't sing, though I did catch him singing a little phrase here and there. He did, however, clap, slap his hands on his lap, stomp his feet, and pretty much any thing "required" during the show. He tried to fight it, but I did see him crack a smile a few times. :)

After the show, we wanted to have lunch at Johnny Rockets, which is located next to the Fox. However, we got there about 2 minutes too late, as any usable seat in the restaurant had already been filled by other families leaving the theater at the same time. There were 2 person booths along the perimeter, and seats at the counter, but with our family of four (one of whom is a young toddler), none of those options worked for us. On a warmer day, we would have driven around the city for other options, but today there was no prying us out of our warm car again until we arrived home.

All in all, I'd have to say today could be considered another successful "first concert" experience.