Thursday, December 4, 2008

I want to make this happen in my bedroom. Can I do that? How far from perfection can I settle for? OK, well, I want this without the funky pillows, and without the log tables and lamps. The rest is ok. I wonder why it always looks like people don't live here. Where is the alarm clock? The magazine(s) they were reading before they went to bed? The clothes that need to be put away? (not to mention washed). Where is the pile of clothes that need to be mended? The toy someone abandoned here? Those things are omnipresent in my bedroom.

On a similar note, what does the perfect Christmas mean? What are your thoughts? I'm not sure what my definition of the perfect Christmas is this year. I'd settle for less stress, less stuff, more time, and an organized life. I'm really struggling with the tug and pull of wanting less stuff to make my existence simpler, and the pack rat in me not able to get rid of anything. (I might need it...I might want it...I don't want to buy it again...look, a good deal!) Where's that Peter Walsh when you really need him? I wonder if his particular brand of psychology has any staying power. If I had time, and money, I'd read his book. Ha. What I really need, is for him to come and live with us for a week.

Well, I need to get something other than this done. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Please, Mr. Postman (AKA the guy that drives over my grass daily)

I really want to send Christmas cards. I love to get Christmas cards. The dimishing number that we receive each year indicates how these things are not mutually exclusive. To be clear, apparently, if you do not send the cards, you do not get the cards.
Last year, I wrote the letter, printed the photo of the kids, assembled and addressed the envelopes, EVEN PUT STAMPS ON SOME OF THEM, but never put them in the mail. (See photo at left of a few of them still hanging around in my office.)Why? I truly have no idea. I'm notorious for a mid January to mid February Christmas letter - someone suggested once I should just send Groundhog Day cards- but seriously, to do it, and not mail it? I can't even explain it now.
So, this year, I wonder even how to start. The world has changed since then. Buying, say---$40 worth of postage ($.42 per stamp) seems like a lot of money. Getting a photo printed (say another $15) plus paper and's not huge in the grand scheme of things, but we are thinking about darn near every dime that goes out.
Should I write a letter? Sign some cards? Not writing a letter would defeat the whole point in my mind. I love reading people's Christmas letters. If I don't see them often, or even if I do, I want to know what they look like, what their kids are doing, and what important stuff is going on with them. Email is free, but only reaches a fraction of the people I'd like to touch. I want to get the mail, so why shouldn't they?
I'll do it, because I want to see that thin stream coming into my house keep coming. I'll probably be two to six weeks late, but I will mail them this year. I will, I promise. Really.
Is this day really almost over? Where did it go? I still have a long list of things to do...did I even cross anything off? New Hire paperwork, check. Meeting with Neil, check. Hmmm. that's it. Well, I did clean off the bookshelves this morning and get a donation ready for the bookstore. ---to be fair, Nathan and Alex got up, and got on the bus on time- breakfast included, I met the bus for Alex, and picked up Nathan at school. Everyone ate some food, and I washed a load of laundry. Oh, and I took a shower and got dressed. So a few things on the done side, though not as much as I'd hoped for. (please note: Gary is out of town, so the part about the boys getting ready for school and on the bus on time is a serious moment of truth at our house when I'm in charge.) I picked up tiny pieces of paper and stickers about a hundred times. I washed the dishes.
Tomorrow I'll start again.
Blog, check.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There should be snow at Christmas. And then, it should all go away until the next year. There should be enough snow to make things beautiful. To make it feel like a holiday.To make me want to put on Christmas music, decorate the tree, do some baking, write Christmas cards. It can snow like crazy the week between Christmas and New Year's so the kids can play outside in snow pants and boots, then---it can all go away. Every year in February, I'm convinced we should move to Phoenix.

There's a light lake effect snow drifting down outside my window,and it's accomplishing all the things I think it should. I WANT to do all those things, but instead, I'm going to work.

Good day for sweats, hot chocolate, blanket, good book on the couch. (Have I ever actually DONE that, or is it just a wishful dream?)

Today: Variably cloudy with spotty flurries early, otherwise partly sunny, breezy and cold. High: 33, Wind: SSW 10-20 Tonight: Windy and cold with increasing clouds. Low: 28 Current Temperature: 21 degrees.

The photo for today, the holly bush outside my front door.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Journal Your Christmas 2008----
Starting today, I will take back Christmas. I will remember that this is Jesus' birthday - and that is the whole point. Christmas is about helping others. About being together. About remembering that the world does not revolve around my problems. While these words may mean nothing to you, I hope that someday, someone will read and know that this year, I tried to make some meaning out of all of it. On the other hand, what I write may not be profound. I want to remember things about this year JUST the way they are. I want my kids to remember this as a happy time, not about mom working or stressing about work. BUT--I also want them to know just HOW lucky they are. If I get a Christmas journal made, all the better. If not, I'm ok with that. But I will try to give myself fifteen minutes each day to at least try and write things down. (I wish the "good luck with that" mantra in my head would quit.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Just today.

Well, it's Monday morning. Most everyone (except Gary, who is already at work) is still asleep, and I'm trying to catch up on my email before they wake up. There will be no sitting at the computer after they are awake. I found several old classmates on Facebook. - or rather, they found me. Apparently I need to find more time to catch up with stuff on the computer so that I can talk to them. Seems lately all I can do at night is lapse into unconsciousness as soon as the kids are in bed.

I'm quitting my supervisor job. I'll still work for Hallmark, but I've finally given up trying to keep up with the demands of ten Wal-mart stores. It hurt terribly when Nathan told someone a few months ago that "We can't do that, Mommy will have to go to work." -- since I was going to work just about everytime Gary pulled into the driveway. It's a bit bittersweet. You know how I love being in charge...and yet, being in charge was making me crazy. I can't believe how many irresponsible people are in this area, and how I managed to hire most of them. I'll help the new her back up in a way, which will still keep me busy enough to make a few bucks, but not so crazy busy that I can't take the twins to pre-school.

Can't believe it's also time for school to start so soon. Alex is going to kindergarden. He's he's plenty old enough, but somehow it's going to be harder to put him on the bus than it was Nathan. (I'm sure I'll get used to it, though.-wink.)

AND, glory of twins are actually potty training!!!!!!! And, doing reasonably well. I was beginning to think I really would have the first kids to go to school in diapers, but they really are getting the hang of it. (some of the time at least). I' m just eternally grateful that I will never have to do this task again.

Other than all that, life is normal. We cook, clean, go to church on Sunday, do laundry all week, work, and try to keep it all together. Pretty much the way it is for most people, I guess. I'll put some pictures on after I download them from the camera. vb

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Colin - leading actual music. I wish you could hear it. People were singing, and he was actually ...keeping the beat. What does this mean? I wish I knew. vb
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Friday, May 9, 2008

Nathan and Alex's Spring Programs

Alex as the "Christmas Tree" that got cut down and went home with a happy family. You can't tell here, but he spent most of the program sitting in his chair, instead of participating. ...and licking his fingers. (His new nervous habit.)

Teacher, Miss Jan, and part of his class.

The whole class, including best buddy Tyler (in the front, clear on the right).

Nathan is next to the lion. The classes at school did a mini musical called "Welcome to the Jungle", based on Aesop's fable about the mouse and lion. It was really great! They had to practice FOREVER (three months), and it was tough, but the did an awesome job. Nate's friend Hugh was the lion.

So there's some pictures....enjoy. :-) vb
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Saturday, March 8, 2008

EARLY Saturday morning.

I have seriously got to get a hobby. I've been awake since 5 ish...and what do I do? I come downstairs and start coveting other people's blog time/creativity/stuff. It's really an evil thing, because you start thinking your life is really dull, and "wow,, how do they have time to figure out all that format stuff", and when am I going to be that fun....all that stuff.

So, now here I am, telling you about it. Doesn't help much, does it.

We've been fighting the sickness here too. Nate was only really sick for a day, but Alex has been down (by down, I mean LAYING ON TEH COUCH ALL THE TIME) since last Tuesday. I hope he starts to feel better soon. Twins seem ok for the moment...but I keep waiting for the proverbial house of cards to FALL on them and ME, and we'll all be sick for ever.

Just once, I'd like to wake up in the middle of the night and NOT think about work, and all the stuff I should be doing.

I'm going to change my cell phone number when I finally change jobs. Although, I suppose it won't matter then.

Alex is asking for pancakes. (Did I mention that him getting up, was the reason that I woke up in the first place?) I don't really want to make pancakes at 5:30 in the morning. I have, however, learned, that if I don't just get up when I'm awake, I MIGHT fall back to sleep, but I WILL wake up with a headache, which is totally not worth the hassle.

BTW, when I came downstairs, Alex was watching in infomercial for a SWIVEL SWEEPER, and now he is sure that we need TWO. I don't think he understands how to order it yet, but we did then have to go through the whole discussion about how long it is until his birthday.

Has anyone really figured out what they want from life? Just when I think that I know, something changes.

Well, there are work related email duties awaiting I'd better get to. Maybe we can all go to IHOP for pancakes or something. vb

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leah's first baking project

I've been thinking the last couple of weeks how I really haven't had any stories to tell...and though I should sit down and blog anyway, I just haven't seeemed to make the time to tell you nothing. Well, fortuneately, Miss Leah gave me some material yesterday.

Gary was home with the kids yesterday. He was on a conference call. This leaves the twins somewhat to their own devices, if they aren't making a lot of noise, to draw attention to themselves.

Apparently, Leah decided she wanted to make brownies. We usually do keep a couple of brownie mixes in the cupboard, and Gary makes them fairly regularly. He likes them, the kids like them. Leah often likes to "help". She'll stand on a chair and generally get in the way while Gary adds the ingredients and gets it all into a pan.

On this occasion, Dad was busy, so Miss Aspiring Chef decided to do it herself. (She's three.) She got out the mix, the mixing bowl, the eggs and the oil. Cracked every single egg in the container into the mix, and at least two cups of oil, got it somewhat mixed, and mostly on the counter, then dumped the whole mess into a square glass pan. It must have been at about this point that Gary discovered what she was doing. He took a couple of pictures, which I'll attach. There wasn't a picture of I'm not sure what she looked like. She got in trouble, although I'm just a little bit amazed that she could come up with all the ingredients and utensils. I don't know what she would have done about the oven.

Part of what makes this so funny, is that I did nearly the same thing, only I was at least five, probably six, and I wanted to make them from scratch. (no mixes when we lived in Brasil)---so there was butter and cocoa and sugar and flour involved. I even had the recipe out, though I don't know how much good it did. I don't remember if I got in trouble or not. The mess never made it to the oven, becuase I knew it wasn't working out before that. I just put it in a 9x13 pan and covered it with a towel. (Like mom wasn't going to notice, or something.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Leah's haircut, the visual journey

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Leah's Haircut

The other day - I believe it was Thursday, January 10, I was home with the kids for the day. Colin and Leah were playing at the dining room table with paper, crayons and markers. I got a call from my boss at Hallmark, and went into the office, to get away from the noise. I was on the phone for ... maybe... five minutes. The office is just off the dining room, and I didn't shut the door, or anything, but when I came out the twins were nowhere to be seen. There was, however, paper scattered from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room (kind of all one big room). The thing was, there were these dark little shapes in the paper, that I couldn't figure out. I called for Leah and Colin, but no one answered. I zoom in for a closer look, and those little brown things are tufts of my daughter's hair. Several of them. Two more steps into the living room, and there is another clump on the floor...and in the piano room...and in the foyer...and on the steps to the upstairs in three or four places...

By now, I am screaming for Leah and Colin, and I am just certain that by the time I find them, she will have no hair at all. There is a little pile at the top of the stairs, and more down the hall...
I finally find them hiding in Nathan's closet. The offending kindergarden scissors are still in her hand. She just looks at me. At least she still has some hair. She's cut off one side all over her ear, and then just random chunks of it all over her head. There is literally very little we can do to save this haircut. Her aunt Cindy usually cuts her hair, and came over with cape and scissors in hand to try and fix it. We end up just cutting it real short all around, since it is so ragged.

Gary wanted to know why I didn't throw away the scissors. I'm not sure that would help...there are 56 more pairs of scissors in the, office, scrapbook stuff. She wouldn't have to search to do it all again.

What we haven't determined is if Colin helped her out at all. His hair was not cut...but he also had a pair of scissors...and her's is literally cut ALL over...from front to back, side to side. Leah's USUAL mode of operation is to blame everything that happens on Colin. Often you don't even have to ask when someone makes a mess, she just says, "Colin did it." However, this time, she didn't offer that excuse. And when I asked her about it, she didn't seem real committed to getting him in trouble. I guess I'll never know. I'm sure this will be funny one day. When it is, I'll let you know. Pictures to follow in another post, can't figure out how to add them after I've already typed, and too tired to try. vb

Addendum to Christmas letter, for my college friends

Finally getting my “Christmas” cards done. Ha. I don’t think I’ve sent Christmas cards before Christmas for years. At least I usually get them done before Valentine’s Day.

I had a good start…then the craziness broke out at work. I don’t know how much I’ve explained about how this works, so I’ll start at the beginning, and you can skip ahead if I’ve already shared.

I work for Hallmark (Marketing). I supervise nine (soon to be ten) Wal-Mart stores that have Hallmark card departments in them. The employees that work in the card departments are hired (and fired) and supervised by me. Typically, a Retail Merchandiser in a WM works 10-15 hours a week, two to three days. We staff the stores anywhere from three to seven days a week, so there may be one or two or three merchandisers per store. My territory ranges from Benton Harbor to Sturgis (MI) to Kendallville and Warsaw (IN) in the south. Obviously, I don’t look over their shoulders every day, so it is a very independent job. Theoretically, mine is supposed to be a part time job also. However, if you have personnel issues, such as: someone decides to quit showing up for work and not tell you, someone shows up but fails to do the work, someone decides to leave for two weeks over Christmas, and inform you on their way out of town….all means that I have to cover the open spots in the stores. So, starting about two weeks before Christmas, I was driving myself MAD trying to be everywhere that wasn’t covered, at one of the single busiest times of the year. In short, I made myself sick. While I was trying to do resets in all of these stores (the day where we take down the previous holiday and set the new one), I was throwing up every few minutes wherever it was handy. And I got sicker. Finally got to the point where I was flat on my back for four days straight. (Fun job, eh??)

Well, I did get somewhat better, but the constant nausea has persisted. Such that I lost almost 20 pounds in the last month. (When one feels sick, one tends not to eat at all.) So the last two weeks, I’ve been making the rounds of drs. and hospitals and tests. Yesterday I had an upper GI endoscopy. So far, nothing remarkable. (I keep telling my husband, they are not going to find anything. When they have exhausted every other possibility, they will look at me and say – “Lady, this is all in your head, get over it.”) I have stopped, for the most part, losing weight so rapidly, but it’s still not right.

Job wise, I have finally hired five new people, and am in the process of training them, and getting ready to gear up for Valentine’s Day, which is the SECOND largest, and busiest Hallmark holiday. Once that’s over, perhaps we can all breathe again, and hopefully, I’ll go back to supervising my stores, instead of working them.

I really do like my job (despite what it sounds like). I worked in Human Resources for a variety of companies after college…almost fifteen years. When I got pregnant with the twins, it just didn’t make sense to go back to work, and Nathan was ready for kindergarten, so we just decided that I would stay home. I did, until about two years ago, and my husband politely suggested that I start contributing to the family income again. I started working for Hallmark as a merchandiser at the super WM here in Goshen, and became the supervisor about six months later. I will NEVER go back to Human Resources. Sick of the politics. I suppose once all the kids are in school, I’ll have to get a full time job, so that we can start paying for their college. Maybe there will be a fun job open at Goshen College then, and then my kids can go there for cheap. (because it’s cheap, you understand, not because I went there).

So that’s it, in a nuthshell. My husband works for a company called Trinity Health, which is a Catholic health organization, owns hospitals and stuff all over the country. They are primarily based out of the Detroit area, but have a satellite office in South Bend. His title is Senior Systems Analyst, and I really don’t have a clue what all he does. He generally likes it, and because of the nature of his job, he can work at home two days (or more) a week, so that I can also work. The twins stay with a sitter one day a week, but that is getting awfully expensive too.

Nathan is now in third grade, and loves math, hates Language Arts. He’s at an age where he’s trying to figure out what he likes, so we seem to join a lot of activities, but follow through on very few of them. Mostly, he keeps his face pasted to that Nintendo DS game system. I’m still trying to decide if it was a good idea or not to get him. (Quiet, or NOT.)

Alex is five, and attending preschool three afternoons a week at Eighth Street church. He technically could have gone to kindergarden this year, but we held him out…he just wasn’t ready. Schedule wise it has been a pain, but so worth it. He really has blossomed in the last few months, and will be much more ready for school next fall. His obsession is legos and Star Wars. It’s their dad’s fault. He bought them a Lego Star Wars game for the computer a couple of years ago….and from there they started watching ALL the movies. Both older boys can recite dialogue from it, name all the characters and what color their light sabers are, and who is on the dark side, and who isn’t…so on and so on. So much for that peace loving Mennonite thing.

The twins, are three and driving us all insane. My mom says Leah is just like me. I don’t know if that is true or not, but if it is, I’m surprised I lived to know you all. She is aggressive, impudent, obnoxious, sassy and rude…and she has this little smile and cock of her head that she uses when she knows she’s in trouble. The other day she cut her hair…I wrote about it on my blog, you can read the story there, if you’re interested. Colin is more laid back, but just recently has started exhibiting a lot of his sister’s obnoxious tendencies. Some days I’m so grateful for bed time that I almost feel guilty.

Colin’s obsession is music. He has been conducting/leading music like a chorister for as long as he could stand up. He especially likes to go to church and watch the song leader and sing from the hymnal. He’ll turn any old book into a songbook, but real song books with music in them are better. He will play the piano, sing into a microphone, and generally perform for anyone. (and he is often asked to do so.) He also, occasionally will get out a book, lay it on one of the end tables and grasp the sides and preach to the wall. When he is done, he slams the book shut, raises his hands and says, “AMEN”. I’ll have to get a video of it someday, it is so hilarious.

I don’t really know what Leah is into, other than driving me crazy. Her sassing just makes me wild. Leah, please put your shoes on, “NO”. Leah, please bring me your dishes, “NO”. Leah…. “NO”. You get the idea. Sometimes, she plays with a baby doll, but more often is taking off with whatever toy someone else has, just to make them mad. She is the only one of my children who ever developed a thing for a stuffed animal, so there is this (formerly) white bunny with no name that is barely hanging on. It used to have one of those satiny butt tags, but she has worn it to shreds playing with it in bed.

I’m not proud to say that both of them still use binkies (at night)…we have whittled it down to that, and neither of them is potty trained. I tried to start that this week, but I truly feel that fate is out to get me. Day one, the washer broke down. Day two, my dh put pull-ups on them. Day three, they just absolutely, out and out refuse to have anything do with it at all. I don’t really know where to go from there, so if you have any amazing potty training advice, I’m all ears.

We spend a fair amount of time and energy at church. Gary is church treasurer, and sits on Ministry Leadership Council (the governing body). I have been teaching second grade Sunday school, but stepped back for this quarter to take a little break. I did my fair share on Ministry Leadership Council several years ago…and got tired of those politics, too. Now I’m supposed to be planning the church’s 50th anniversary celebration, if I’d ever get around to it.

Don’t know what else to say, I think that’s the gist of the current situation. I hope you chuckled a time or two, and didn’t gasp in horror too often. Someone told me the other day that they were impressed that I never seemed to “resent” my kids – the twins especially – for ruining my idea of what our family should be (like three kids, not four). This was kind of an odd revelation to me. I certainly don’t resent my kids. From the moment that we knew there were going to be two babies instead of one (another story, for another time!) I have wanted and loved both of them, and couldn’t imagine not having either one. Sure, it has made the money a lot tighter, and the tiredness much greater, but God gave me each of my children, and for that I am grateful. – NOW, I’ve been known to yell at them, and be angry with them, and want to get away from them temporarily. I am no saint.

Can’t wait to hear your stories too….much love, vb

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy NEW Year!

Hi! It's 2008. Wow. There's at least eight inches of snow on the ground outside my window this morning. DH is outside playing with the snowblower. It so cracks me up that he will be outside blowing that stuff off the drive like it's a big toy. I suppose it is. AND, there's no kids out there, so it's relatively quiet. Hmmmm....better look into this a little more.

I have to admit, I'm glad to see the Christmas season pass by. It was much too busy. I have always liked my job, but hated the way it tends to get out of control and take over my life. When I work, I tend to work loooooonnnnnnnnng hours, 10 to 12 in a day. Don't see my kids, and leave my husband to deal with all of that. It is a vicious cycle, liking it, but not liking it. My nine stores can't seem to stay staffed, which is the biggest thing, and then the Christmas season was just crazy. There was product coming out of the woodwork (or the Fed ex truck, as the case may be), and uncooperative managers, and employees who just don't show up to work. I have started all over this week, and tried to lower the expectations on myself. I know there are deadlines, and I will do my best, but I will not make myself sick.

I don't make new year's resolutions. It is rather a waste of time. If I don't break it in the first ten minutes, then it probably wasn't deserving of a promise, anyway. I am going to change some things though, especially with regards to work. I'm somehow going to get that all under control in this first half of the year. I am going to take more pictures. I sucked at this last year. I am going to do more scrapbooking. I am going to potty train the twins. ( or someone is) I sucked at that, too. I am going to plan the 50th anniversary celebration for church. I am going to find someone to go scrapbook with. That ought to be enough guilt for one year.

Well, New Year's Day, or not, I've got to go to work. Let's see how nutty Wal-mart customers are today. vb