Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fun Kid Activities

In my quest to become a not-so-boring-mom (as opposed to the boring mom I so often feel like), I have been on a search to find some fun activities for my boys to do while they're home all summer. Amy's post reminded me of one website that has great activities for kids broken up by ages: Family Fun.

Another website I just found today is from the PBS cartoon "Sid the Science Kid". My boys love watching this cartoon every morning, and a few times we've taken the experiments they've done on there and re-created them in our own house. Today I visited their website and found that they have all of their activities and instructions available for download!! These "science experiments" are perfect for 2-5 year olds and are really easy to do. Click here for some fun activities - today we're going to make frozen fruit in ice cubes!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seriously?! Part 4

It's that time again!!! Seriously?! After I wrote that last post about everything going wrong within a week's time, guess what happened? 9:40pm. We are sitting on the couch after a long night of doing dishes (remember our broken dishwasher?) and suddenly we heard a loud explosion. It sounded a bit like a gunshot, but then we heard rushing water coming from somewhere very near our house. Martin opened the front door to a FLOOD of water gushing out of our pipes out front. My reaction? I ran around the house like a chicken with my head cut off. I couldn't remember why I was running around the house or exactly what I was looking for, but I think I was looking for my cell phone. Why? Who do you call in a situation like that? 911? "Um, operator, we thought we heard a gunshot, but nevermind; we just have a flood in our front yard....."

We called our friend Jay who is a contractor, and he rushed over and fixed it. He is such a great guy. Seriously. No big deal at all. Sounds like there was a water burst when everything was quiet and our pipe was the one that busted. Easy fix for our friend Jay!!

This week I am so excited to be able to help Martin at a worship camp he is helping to co-direct and lead. It is at another church in the area, and open to all teenagers who want to learn how to lead and play for worship. I am going to be helping with the vocals and I start tomorrow. Oh- and free babysitting is provided! I have decided that free babysitting is possibly the greatest ministry EVER.

One of the things I love about our area is that so many of the churches are really, really united. The pastors all get together regularly for prayer and accountability. We "share" people if needed, like worship leaders, speakers, etc... I am on the leadership team for MOPS at a different church, and here we're leading this worship camp with yet another church in the area, where teens from churches all over come together. The youth groups in our area are really united, too - across denominations (yet all evangelical), coming together to worship once a month. It is really incredible.

This week will be really busy for us not only because of that, but because I am scheduled to take photos and videotape a friend's birth this week as well. We don't know when she's going into labor, but it should be tomorrow or the next day. Yikes! I hope the timing all coincides. I hope you all have a great week!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

One of Those Weeks

Isn't it true, that "when it rains, it pours"? It is so weird to me. Or how when one person dies, everyone else seems to start dying. Thank God that's not happening right now, although last year in our church we had about 8 church member's parents die within six months. It was pretty crazy. This week we've been hit really hard financially. Here's a recap:

-2 car registrations due in one week ($100)
-1 car did not pass smog
-1 car repair to pass smog ($275)
-2 car registrations to mail in ($200)
-washer/dryer electrical outlet blew out (landlord paid- whew!)
-fridge ice maker not working (no repair - must live with ice from ice cube trays)
-portable dishwasher broken (repair parts cannot be found since the dishwasher is so old, thus we are doing all dishes ourselves. Lots and lots of dishes. Every day. No repair)
-hospital bill from Micah's surgery (what the copay did not cover - $150)
-car battery is dying in one car (may be able to exchange at Costco, but signifies a bigger car problem - in the same car that did not pass smog but then did after $275).

That is the short list. Then there is the Dentist issue. Sorry if this might gross you out, but I have not been to the dentist in 2 1/2 years. Don't worry, I do brush twice daily with my Sonicare. But the reason I have not been to the dentist is because, without fail, every single time I have gone, I have needed major work done totaling over $500 each time. My dental insurance doesn't seem to cover anything that happens in my mouth. I have been putting off making an appt. for months now, even though I know I need to go. I am really, really scared. Of pain, yes, but also of the financial pain I know I will have to endure. I have been praying that God would help me overcome my fear of the dentist and help me make the call. Today I woke up and prayed about it again. Well, today the dentist's office called me - after 2 1/2 years. They said my dentist had been "going through my files and noticed I had not come in in a long time." Sounds like God wants me to go, too. But I'm so scared!!!! I don't want another big bill!!! Whaaaaaaa!!!! I want my mommy!!!!

So, that is my week. One of those weeks. Trying to be thankful through it all, trust God and believe that He will continue to provide. I know we are not alone in this. Please pray that our old landlord will give us our deposit back soon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Boring Mom"

This is our first real "summer vacation" having kids. Micah completed his first year of preschool in June, and we are now full-force into summer vacation until he starts again in September. I do love the flexibility of being in summer-mode, but I also miss the routine that the school year puts us in. I think Micah also misses seeing his friends from school every week. Jaden can play with him, but it's not the same as 6 other four year old boys playing in the dirt together.

I know some moms who are great at structuring their days and keeping their kids active all day. That has to be one of my greatest weaknesses though. Not the structure part - because I love having the boys on a routine; but keeping them active all day is a major challenge for me. My Indian name might as well be "Boring Mom." I wake up at 7am almost every day and think to myself "SHOOT! What am I going to do with these boys for the next 12 hours?!" It's enough to make me just want to crawl back to bed and put the covers over my head.

Some of my friends have the best ideas! Crafts, games, projects- you name it, they've done it and do it on a regular basis (Yes, that includes you, Anna!) :) Me? I'm like "Um, boys, do you want to go play in the dirt outside?" Next activity: "Boys, do you want to come watch TV?" Next activity, "Boys, do you want to play in your room now?" Yeah, not so creative, I know. So, I just feel bad!!! I have 7 weeks left and am wondering what to do with them!!

Another thing I've noticed is that entertaining your kids can be expensive! I wanted to do a preschool curriculum with them over the summer. But if I had an extra $50-60 to spend each month, we'd have cable or a decent cell phone plan. I bought some supplies yesterday to paint bird houses. $15 later, Martin showed me that the holes are too small in the bird houses for the birds to fit in. Oops... Make my own playdough, you say? Been there, done that, and cleaned the carpet for weeks afterwards.

So, there is my weakness. Thankfully I have MOPS play dates once a week (1 morning down!), a friend has been letting us use their pool while they are on vacation, and we have a park nearby that we can walk to (when I'm not sitting on my butt trying to think of activities to do). Tomorrow we're off to the Science Discovery Center, so that is one more day down. But Thursday morning, you may find me with the covers over my head again.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stressed but Blessed

Today I realized that there have been a few things lately that have added up to me being pretty stressed out (and not even knowing it until now). Since this is therapeutic for me, I thought I'd just write some of them out here:

-For one, last night Jaden threw a screaming fit for an hour and 20 minutes, which left me in tears. He screamed so loud that I could still hear him screaming bloody murder outside with the windows closed. I saw our neighbor come and stand in his back yard just to listen and see what was going on. That really stressed me out, because we haven't even met him, and he probably thinks we are abusing our kids now! I kept waiting for the cops to show up. This was all over Jaden not wanting to go to bed- my nightly battle that only ends well when Martin is home and puts them to bed himself.

- This past Tuesday we met with our old landlord at our old house, for what we thought was going to be a final quick walk through, where we'd then receive our deposit back. Instead, he met us there with a couple - the woman was a property manager (with her husband) - and basically we had to stand outside with our crazy kids for over 30 minutes while they went through each room, detailing every single thing wrong with the house. He had an entire list of things that needed to be "fixed" - things we thought were not a big deal but apparently were to him. (Things like - a nick in the bottom crown molding in our bedroom, that he would have never noticed, but the p.m. did). The woman with him was not our property manager- just one he is considering hiring to oversee the property in the future (he owns quite a few homes). So, we still haven't heard if we are receiving anything back at all.

-On Wednesday, our outlet blew out which was connected to the washer & dryer. So... no laundry for the past 3 days, combined with laundry brought over from the old house...making mountains of laundry in the garage. (I just rigged it to work though by attaching an extension cord from the washer to another outlet, but that is just temporary).

-Earlier this week we discovered our kitchen sink had a hole in it, large enough for the water to flood the cabinet underneath every time we used it. That got fixed today, thankfully. But now I have to go find a plug that will work in the sink, since the plug in there doesn't work - ugh!

-Our dishwasher from Freecycle.... Yeah, I should have known. Old, rusty, needs a new part. So for now, we have to do all of our dishes ourselves. Okay, I admit. I haven't done one dish. Martin has been doing them because I would rather let them accumulate all week until we get the new part.

-There are more, but I won't go on and on... this is just the beginning though!

BUT despite all of these things, let me tell you - we have the greatest landlords. They really want to help us and do their best to respond quickly. We are still so blessed to be where we are. We are still so happy that are commute is shortened by 75% and we are closer to everything. I know this is all part of the adjustment and "growing pains". So, although I feel stressed right now, I take comfort in being very, very blessed too!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Paradise what it feels like now that we are finally in our "new" home. We have waited so long, and on Saturday the time finally came. Over 30 people helped us to move (we have an awesome church family), and we got the entire thing done in about 3-4 hours total. I am forever indebted to the 7 or 8 women who helped me clean the "old" house from top to bottom after the furniture was moved out. Looking at all the dirt and grime that had accumulated over the past 7 years was very overwhelming (and embarrassing, I might add!). I just feel so incredibly thankful and happy.

On Saturday after everyone had helped move us in, I showed up last to the new house. When I walked in, our entire living room was packed with all our friends who had helped us move, and they burst into song, singing "Happy Birthday" to me, and my mom had even brought a birthday cake! It was amazing.

After everyone left on Saturday, a friend of ours (who lives around the corner), offered to take the boys to a hobby shop so we could have 2 hours to ourselves. We sat in the living room and just marveled at all that had happened. We truly feel like a new chapter has opened. We are now in the neighborhood of probably fifteen other families in our church (all live within 1/2 mile of here), many of whom have stopped by to say hello in the last two days. We truly feel surrounded by love.

I am so looking forward to taking walks in our new neighborhood (a friend just told me that this neighborhood was voted #1 best neighborhood to walk in by some magazine - I'll have to look that up) :) We are also getting the beach breeze every day, since we are about a mile away. Tonight we even had our first earthquake in the house (a minor 3.4) :) Feels just like home!

The boys playing soccer in the front yard with some other youth from our church who live nearby:
Micah reading in the front garden area:

Martin and I both love to organize, so we have been plowing through our boxes. The entire boy's room, kitchen and bathroom are 100% unpacked, but we still have a long way to go. At least those 3 major rooms are done. We are just so happy to be home, and indeed, it feels like a little slice of paradise!

The backyard:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Stages of Moving

I grew up moving a lot. Well, more than most people. By the time I was a sophomore in high school I been a part of 4 major moves - to new cities, new schools, new friends. I don't remember ever living in a place for more than 6 years. Maybe that's why I have had the itch to move so bad - this is year 7 for us in this house. Wait - no... on second thought; that is NOT why I wanted to move. It was being a family of 4 in a house the size of an 1800's house (Little House on the Prairie, not Victorian!)

Well, since this is our first major move as a family of four, I have noticed some..."stages" that we have gone through during this move:

1) The excitement stage - This was when we found out we were moving and actually found a house. It is so exciting to know you are going somewhere new and can decorate, re-arrange, and start fresh! This stage is when you tell all your friends, drive by the house at every opportunity and start dreaming.

2) The disgusted stage- Once you know you're moving, and you have to go back to your current, messy house, you start feeling disgusted. "Ugh!" was my thought all through the day. "I can't wait to move!" Everything started feeling even smaller and even more disorganized.

3) The thankful stage- Here we go! Back up on the emotional roller-coaster! This is where we were so thankful for the blessings of living in this house, but even more thankful for the new house!

4) The packing stage- this is where you go to find boxes, or you buy boxes (but in my case it involved driving around for 2 hours, driving in the back alleys of stores like I was doing something illegal, looking for stores without those massive box compactors, hoping for some "good finds" in their dumpsters.) This also involves finding some great boxes, but then realizing you made a huge mistake, when you pick them up and realize there is a dead cat inside or some fish guts! (Yes, yesterday I stuck my hand inside this great big box only to find discarded fish remains inside. I should have remembered I was behind a Fish & Grill restaurant!) (By the way - the best place to find boxes for moving is in the warehouse sections of your city!)

5) The overwhelmed stage - I am here right now. No matter how much I pack, there seems to be more. I never seem to be making any progress. I am even overwhelmed at the new house - trying to figure out where to put everything.

6) The angry stage- "I hate everything I have! I want all new stuff!" "Why do we have all this JUNK anyway?!" To your spouse: "WHY do you still hold on to this stuff?!" (Like my husband's collection of used I-Tunes gift cards taped to our desk. Sentimental, maybe?)

7) The exhausted stage- I. can't. go. another. minute.

8) The transitional stage - We did it! We moved in! Now we can start unpacking! (And start over with emotions #1-7!!!)

Right now I am a mix of #5, #6, and #7. Only 2 more days to go! Tonight we are taking our first load over, I'm cleaning out our "new" fridge and portable dishwasher (which are both old and used, but free). And remembering through this roller-coaster, to be thankful for everything!!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Seriously?! Part 3 (on the 4th of July)

Before I get to our festivities on the 4th of July (and all the craziness involved there), I have to quickly share about a "fun" conversation I had with a woman the other day. We were talking about M & I moving, and how we found this great deal, and she said "Wow. (semi-mean tone of voice) I wish I found out about that house before you did ; I would have snatched that up!" Hmmmm.... Maybe she didn't mean it that way?! Seriously?! That sounded kind of mean.

But nothing tops this. I was in the line at Albertsons when the woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said "Um, Hi! Mrs. B?!" (It was the parents of a former student of mine from 5 years ago). I recognized her immediately and realized that this would be one of "those" conversations (you know - the ones where you haven't seen someone in 5 years but you're not really close to them, so you have to make small talk and catch up even though you really want to get out of there?!)

Then it happened. She put her hand on my stomach and she asked it - the question I just knew was coming: "Are you having another baby?!" I (fought the urge to punch her in the face and just) calmly replied, "Um, nooooo *polite smile*. We already have two little ones at home and we're done." "Oh! How cute!" as she looked at my necklace with their pictures. She quickly changed the topic and never even seemed to realize what just happened! I was so, um, stunned (and embarrassed, and feeling ginormous, etc...) that I walked out of the store in a total daze, and accidentally rammed my cart into some woman's foot and her shoe came off. Oops - wrong woman to do that to. She gave me a look of death and then told me that her "leg was broken" (already) and I just hurt it even more. I apologized profusely, asked if she was okay, and she said she was. Then I hurried to my car, hoping to avoid a potential lawsuit, and got out of dodge quick. Um....SERIOUSLY?!

For the 4th of July, we went to a local park where there were literally about 10,000 people there to watch the fireworks. Micah put his fingers in his ears 15 minutes prior to the show starting (because I told him it would be loud) and did not take them out until after the show was over :)

After the first one went off, Jaden got SO scared he was absolutely freaking OUT. He was trembling and trying to run as fast as he could away from there, saying "go home! go home!" Martin had to leave with him and finally was able to calm him down after about 15 minutes (when it was pretty much over). But that's not the "seriously" part yet.

Okay, NOW (drum roll, please) for the ultimate SERIOUSLY day of all time:

So we got home, and Martin and I stayed up late talking until about 1am. We went to bed, and he began his nightly snoring routine, while I fought some insomnia and just layed there half-asleep. At 2am, I heard a LOUD banging on our front door (at least 5-10 times). It was loud enough to shake the door. I freaked out like I have never freaked out (all inside of my body, of course) :) I woke Martin up and he shot out of bed so fast - it was really a little tiny bit comical. He ran to the front door and yelled "who's there?!" and banged back (um, not sure what that was about, but maybe it scared them a little). Lord knows we were not about to open the door OR look out the window right there. I immediately dialed 911 and was shaking as I explained what happened. Martin heard a car door shut outside and they drove away.

The cops arrived (4 of them) about 5 minutes later, and we told them what happened. They shined their flashlights around the grass and noticed a large Coke bottle on our lawn, and told us it was some sort of "dry ice bomb". (Click that if you want to read more about it). Apparently it is a common prank, but causes a loud explosion anytime between 30 seconds - 30 hours later, which can deafen (literally) anyone nearby. They told us to leave it there, as it looked as though it may not detonate (the dry ice was starting to dissipate). Um, okay, officers! We'll leave this LIVE BOMB out on our lawn and just wait up to 30 hours for it to (maybe) explode. They left it there, we left it there, and we all went back to our own business.

M and I could not get back to sleep. We were both trembling from the loud banging on the door - it was so terrifying. We did not know if these people were trying to get into the house or what, but that was my first thought. You know how your mind goes to the farthest point of what could possibly happen when you're in a situation like that? Yeah, well, mine did. I was shaking for about an hour, and we only got about 3 hours of sleep last night.

So this morning I went out to the car (late for church) and my car alarm starts going off! I could not get it to turn off for 5 minutes. It just kept starting and stopping again. It was totally nuts. I thought to myself, "seriously?!" Finally after reading the car's owner's manual, I got off to church, only to drive over a glass bottle on the way there! Just great.

The service started at church, and I was on stage in the middle of singing the first song, when one of the boys in the church starts waving at me from the back, motioning and mouthing words that look like "Micah is missing!!!" He goes out and comes back and does this two more times. I'm trying to focus, focus and thinking "what do I do here?!" I prayed like crazy and waited until the 2nd song was over, and during the prayer I slipped off the stage and ran out the back. I found Micah running around the church, and found out that he wasn't actually "missing" - he just wouldn't follow Ian back into the service (Ian was watching him for me). Micah fought me to go into his classroom for a few minutes, kicking, screaming and scratching me. It was weird, because that has never happened. Again - seriously?! (I slipped back on stage in the 3rd song and thankfully no one seemed to notice).

To say I am exhausted is an understatement. Are you exhausted from reading that hecka-long post?! So sorry about that... But to look on the bright side, we got the keys to our new house today!! Woo-Hoo!! 5 days to go until we get the U-Haul! :) And hopefully no more "seriously's" for this week!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Packing Packing Packing!

It's hard to believe that in only 7 days we will be moving.  This past week just flew by, as we packed up more of the house and now only have about 25% left or so (although, every time I think we made progress, I find more things to pack).  I have tried to keep the boys in their normal routine as much as possible; we have continued to do playdates all week long, go to the beach, etc...  It helps me, too, to find some normalcy in all the chaos!  The only real stressful part was changing over all our utilities.  I was on the internet and the phone trying to get our internet and phone service hooked up (ha ha) for probably a total of 3 hours.  But it was worth it, since our new service provider (Verizon) is hooking us up with a free Compaq mini netbook as part of a promotion they're doing.  BUT, we didn't get through this move without changing our phone number, which I hoped wouldn't have to happen (did that make sense?).  Oh well...

Micah has been saying more funny things lately, like during our recent trip to the park.  The park had drained the big pond because they are re-doing it, and it smells awful.  Micah walked by it and said "Ewww, yuck! That smells like junk!  That smells like Mexico!"  After I composed myself and hoped no mexicans were nearby (oh wait, he is a mexican), I remembered that I had said something to that affect a few weeks earlier.  Oops :)

Micah saw a billboard for something scary (I think it was a skeleton picture) and he said "Mommy, is that a-ten?"  I didn't understand what he was asking until finally he asked again "Is that a-ten, or is it real?"  (I finally figured out that he was asking "Is that pretend?").  Next time I'll be more clear when I'm explaining a word to him....

We got in another one of our lengthy twenty minute conversations on our way home, when he spotted another billboard for a radio station that had Christina Aguilara, Britney Spears and Kanye West on it.  Well, Christina and Kanye didn't look too happy in the ad, so the WHOLE way home, Micah wanted to know why they were mad.  Finally I just had to agree with him (so he would just drop it already!) that Christina must be mad because her sister took her Barbie doll away from her.  "Yes, Micah.  That girl is mad because her sister took her Barbie away from her."  Success.  Total silence until the next billboard.  Always a long and interesting ride home :)