December 22, 2010


Notes from everyday life over the last few weeks (uh, months).

Today felt like the longest day ever. Ironic, no?

Jack's finally saying "with" instead of "wif" . . . but now instead of "whipped cream" he says "withed cream."

December 20
Kyle: Jack, why were you slamming doors? Jack: "I was telling Mary & Joseph there wasn't any room in this inn, and it made me mad."

December 18
Kyle just told me that he bought the sweater he's wearing 8 years ago on our honeymoon. Adding "new sweaters" to his Christmas list.

Just because you CAN do something on photoshop, doesn't mean you should. It's a rule to live by, people.

December 17
Yesterday, Jack asked, "If you put the sun in the freezer, will the freezer melt or the sun get cold?"

It's like living on an exotic island except Indiana and Ohio are just so clingy. RT @

December 16
Discount criticism from the person who hasn't created anything. Pray they get over their fear and make something terrific. RT @

December 14
Going to Subway with Kyle for an anniversary lunch, followed by a staff meeting. Yeah . . . we're fancy.

December 8
Jack just told us his favorite place to go out to eat . . . is Brian and Debbie's house.

December 7
I think Jack's most commonly used phrase is, "But I had it first!"

November 29
Jack's first starbucks treat. Long overdue.

November 27
"I'm gonna let you AND mom put me to bed! Isn't that amazing, dad?!"

November 25
Maybe he fell asleep while praying?

November 21
A customer just told me I'm like Super Woman. I'm totally buying a cape.

Ben is pulling ziploc bags out of the drawer and bringing them to me one by one. Which is a mess, but at least it's keeping him occupied.

November 20
Jack just walked into my office and said, "I've had a hard day today. I need to go potty."

Yesterday, I heard Jack telling Ben "I love you even when you're screaming because I took a toy from you."

November 18
7.99 + 1.89 = what?

November 17
During nap time, Jack removed every sticker from his growth chart. Awesome.

November 8
We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us. - Albert Einstein

December 21, 2010

Favorite Books GIVEAWAY: WINNER!

These two lucky girls will receive their Llama Llama Holiday Drama book in the mail tomorrow!

If you didn't win, now's your chance to get it for yourself!

December 19, 2010

Photo bonanza

I was really lazy about posting the photos I took this fall. Here are a few that I already have in my flickr account. After the first of the year, maybe I'll get the other ones uploaded and I'll share a few more. Because there were so many, I made them small . . . just click on a photo to see a full view.

Don't let this insanely long, photo-packed post distract you from the book giveaway going on down south. It ends tomorrow at 9:00 AM.


Ellie, november 2010



The Strods

The Correll Family

The Correll Family

Dax is one

the Cobbs

The Wilsons

emma is three!

Eli - 19 mos.

Owen Family

Eli - 19 mos.

Favorite Books GIVEAWAY: Llama, Llama Holiday Drama

Holiday Drama

Okay, I know what you're thinking . . . Llama Llama Holiday Drama would have been a great giveaway, oh, about two weeks ago. You're right. My apologies.

So we'll make this a fast one. I'll announce two winners on Tuesday morning and if you get me your address by 3 PM EST, I'll have the book to you by Thursday.

Wait, what? Two winners? That's right. My book commission will be depleted with the purchase of two more books, so I'm going to go ahead and do that before the end of the year.

Anyway . . . on to the book.

Holiday Drama

You know we love the Llama Llama books. Who doesn't? And when you throw a couple of Llamas and the holidays together? Now that's what we call a good time. We bought Llama Llama Holiday Drama when it was released in October and have read it enough that when Jack posed for this picture, he was reading it back to me.

Holiday Drama

So, leave a comment (only one per person, on the original post, Facebook comments won't be included) with your name and A WAY TO CONTACT YOU! If I can't contact you, I might not get your address on time to get this into your hands by Christmas. Comments will close at 9:30 AM on Tuesday and I'll post the winner soon after.

Holiday Drama

December 18, 2010

It wasn't even posed

I was sitting on the couch two weeks ago and looked over to see this . . . so I told them to stay there while I grabbed my camera. It's not properly exposed, and the focus was a little off, but I don't even care. I still think it's one of the best photos ever.

brotherly love

Come back for a Christmas book giveaway tomorrow!

December 13, 2010

Dear Jack, Month 42

Dear Jack,

Tonight I mentioned to Debbie that this was the first month I hadn't written you a letter since you were two months old. I'd thought about it several times and just decided that this would be the month that it ended. Life has been too crazy and after all . . . 41 months is a pretty good run.

But as soon as the words left my mouth, the guilt settled in. Not just because I hadn't written your letter . . . writing letters to your children isn't on the list of "things you must do to be a good Mom." I felt guilty because it's just one more thing in a long line of areas I've neglected over the last few weeks.

I think every Mom ends up feeling a little bit "less than" at some point. On some days, I let you watch way too much television. Your Dad has done most of the bedtimes lately and when I tried to do one the other night, you politely asked if he could instead. And today, you had popcorn for lunch. And hot chocolate.

I'm lacking in a lot of areas, and as you get older you might start to hold some of those things against me. And that's okay . . . I can take it. I just want you to know that I'm doing the best that I can to do what's best for you and your brother. I love you more than you'll ever be able to understand.

Also, I plan on continuing the letters. Not because I feel guilty, but because I'm not finished. There's so much more I have to tell you.


December 12, 2010

Tuckered out

I'm all tuckered out. Between late nights spreading holiday cheer, working during the day, and taking care of my family, I've been worn thin. I really needed this weekend.

Kyle and I celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary on Tuesday, so my parents took the boys for this weekend. We couldn't really go anywhere because I had so much work to do, but we did go out to eat, do some Christmas shopping and just enjoy a quiet house. Oh, and we SLEPT UNTIL WE WOKE UP. Not until we were woken up, as usual. Glorious.

Also, Kyle and I had some time to talk about . . . well, stuff. It's amazing how little time we actually get to talk about our lives, about the future and to just share our hearts with each other. When we do, we're usually interrupted by someone 3 or under, or we're talking as we drift off to sleep. During non-December months, we try to have a date night once a week, but let's be honest . . . dates usually involve running errands, planning the upcoming week's menu, and talking about work stuff. There are several things this weekend that have weighed heavy on my heart and it's been good to work through those with him, too.

We also got the chance to see a movie last night and it was really good. We hadn't even heard of it before last night, and it only played ONCE the entire weekend. We both really enjoyed it and I'm not sure why it hasn't received more attention. Maybe because there are no special effects, sex scenes or Harry Potters in it.

I've really enjoyed our time together this weekend but I'm also really ready to go get my boys. On Friday night, we both commented within our first ten minutes home how empty the house felt. Normally, they both would have already been in bed, but it still just felt so quiet. And while we enjoyed sleeping in and not having to eat our breakfast while serving two boys, the morning just felt a little lonely. When we went out to eat, I told Kyle that I felt the impulse to start cutting up bits of my food and putting them on the table next to me!

As I'm writing this, I'm looking at the snow coming down and hoping that doesn't delay our trip to pick them up today!

December 6, 2010

Holiday shopping

I've been a member of ebates since 2004. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that I was until Nicole wrote about it on her blog. I think about how many online purchases I've made in the last 6 1/2 years and it kills me that I didn't use ebates sooner.

It's so easy to be a part of . . . you sign up, and then when you want to shop online, search for the retailer on ebates and use their link to take you to the retailer's site. Nothing more to do. Your rebate is deposited into your ebates account. I have $80 in my account from purchases I would have made anyway. I think you get $5 just for joining . . . though I'm not 100% sure on that since I joined almost seven years ago!

Anyway, happy online Christmas shopping.

December 5, 2010

What I did last week

Here's what I did last week:

1. Sat in front of my computer making all of 500+ customers' Christmas card dreams come true. And lots more of that to come this week.

2. Cleaned up after Jack's nap.

What I mean by that is I cleaned aspercreme from every surface of my bedroom. He finger painted with it all over our dresser, mirrors, nigh stands, door knobs, books . . . and he opened the drawers of my jewelry box. We had to throw away several books. and there is still cream in several nooks and crannies that I fear we will never be able to remove.

I know that there was trouble when I heard noise from our bedroom and found the door locked. Jack kept telling me that he couldn't get it open and I was worried that the knob was broken and that he was stuck in there. It turns out that he just couldn't grip the doorknob because of the greasy mess all over his hands, arms, face and clothing. That stuff is greasy.

Guess who lost his "napping on mom and dad's bed" privileges? You might remember a similar incident from almost a year ago.

3. Tried to wade through the tens of thousands of envelopes in my office. Thanks to Debbie for all of her help with that! Actually, thanks to Debbie for helping in many different ways over the last few weeks.

4. Read to Ben. He's actually sitting for 2 - 3 pages of a book before slamming it closed and running away. Progress. And he's loving pointing to things on the pages and trying to repeat me when I tell him what they are.

5. Made too many mugs of hot chocolate to count. I'd love to try and perfect a recreation of Starbuck's salted caramel hot chocolate. And I shouldn't have linked to that, because I'm better off NOT knowing the number of calories.

6. Started my Christmas shopping . . . though I've got a long way to go. I'm kicking myself for stocking up on wrapping paper at the end of the last holiday season, because I'd love to have an excuse to buy some of this stuff.

7. Finished out the 2010 year photography-wise. All clients and all but one family member have their orders. Phew. I've stopped doing sneak peeks on the blog, but I might just do a post this week with some of the fall highlights.

8. Realized that Jack is talking like an adult more than a preschooler. He was telling me a story and I asked, "Was dad just teasing about that?" And he looked at me and said, "No, mom. For real." Later, we were in the car and said, " I really prefer the colorful lights to the non-colorful lights." Yesterday he said we should order pizza and then said, "Oh, but is that too expensive?"

9. Listened to Ben shout "NO!" and shake his head. This is a fun little development. Oh, the terrible twos are on their way, my friends. I think his devilish attitude also has something to do with the tips of the top of a molar I saw sticking through his gums yesterday.

10. Enjoyed Ben's "excited dance." I'd love to share a video, but it's nearly impossible, because whenever we have a camera in our hands, he just throws a fit untile he can hold it or we put it away.

11. Ate homemade cookies from Crystal while skimming a book from Jenny. Kyle calls the friends I've never met my "imaginary friends." I just call them my friends. I don't care if it makes me sound sad.

12. Playing wii with my boys. We did that tonight . . . it had been a while. But now it's time to get back to work.

November 30, 2010

Dear Bennett, Month 14

Dear Ben,

I mean this in the most loving way possible . . . but you have become a STINKER.

Something just clicked over the last month or so and you are testing your limits and pushing boundaries on a minute by minute basis.

November, 2010

Let me offer a few examples:
  • Your brother is learning to wait patiently for you to be done with a toy so that he can play with it. But if he shows even a little bit interest in a toy that you have, you cling to it tightly in one hand, even while you play with other toys. The first few times, I thought it was a funny coincidence. We've slowly learned, however, that you know exactly what you're doing.
  • We were at my aunt and uncle's house visiting yesterday and they have a large, flat panel television hung right at your level. You of course went straight for it and I said, "no, no" and moved you away a few dozen times. So you began approaching the television and holding your hand about 1/2" away from the screen and just staring at me. I could just see the "I'm not touching it! I'm not touching it!" running through your head as you looked at me and then laughed and ran away.

  • At the end of dinner, you'll give us the sign for "more" even when you're full. Just so you can throw those last few pieces we give you on the ground. And then you giggle about it as we get you down from your high chair.
November, 2010

Don't get me wrong . . . you're still sweet and cuddly. You still prefer me to anyone else.* You still offer unprompted kisses and hugs. You wave at everyone who passes, and if they don't notice, you make noises until they do. You're also a normal toddler, and limit-testing is just a natural progression.

You're progressing in other areas, too. You're saying more words and trying to mimic our actions. You try to wink at us, but it's more of a slow blink. You no longer crawl down the stairs . . . it's much too slow. You just kind of slide all the way down on your belly. And you're starting to climb up stairs on two feet like a big boy.

At the time that I'm writing this, you have a fat lip and nose that resulted from spinning yourself dizzy on a hard wood floor yesterday. It was not your first fat lip, nor your first bloody nose. I suspect they won't be your last, either.

November, 2010

You're normal. You're healthy. And for that, I am grateful.

But you're more than just "normal" to me. You're exceptional. I know I'm your mom, and one might expect me to feel this way, but even at 14 months old, I see a tremendous amount of potential in you. Your empathy and capacity to love exceeds "normal." Your ability to persevere might even exceed mine!

November, 2010

You're capable of so much and I will do everything I can to help you develop and realize that potential. Even when it means showing your your limits and enforcing your boundaries for the one thousandth time.


*About an hour after I typed that, I was holding you and you were crying to go back to your dad. Perhaps your preference for me is waning.

November 23, 2010

Goldfish Geography

A while ago, we bought Jack these place mats from Walmart . . . one with a U.S. map and another with a world map. During his afternoon snack, we've started playing a game with his goldfish (or whatever snack happens to be). I put a cracker on every state (or country) and he names the state and can eat a cracker.

October 2010

He knows most of the states and quite a few of the countries. He asks to play the game regularly, and if we can't, he plays it himself.

Thank you, Pepperidge Farm.

October 2010

November 20, 2010

Ten about Ben . . .

Here are ten things you should know about Bennett at 13.5 months:

1. One of our new favorite pastimes involves him sitting in my office chair and me spinning him around. It's a surefire way to get him laughing hard.

2. I've been working with him on being gentle, and it brings back memories of doing the same thing with Jack. Any time he gets excited and hits me or someone else (not maliciously, obviously), I just take his hand and show him how to pat my back or stroke my head while I say "gentle, gentle." So now, every so often, Ben will just pat my back when I'm holding him or stroke my hair and say "neta, neta." I love it. Though, now that I think about it, it's almost as if he's treating us as he might a pet with all of the patting and stroking.

3. The other night, we got him to say his name and point to his chest whenever we said, "What's your name?" He did it that night (by saying "Benna") and hasn't done it since.

4. When he points, he doesn't do it with just his pointer finger. He puts his pointer and thumb together and points with both. The weird part is that when I'm looking at books with him, I find myself doing it now, too.

5. He's still very attached to me. It's hard to leave him because he usually cries, but I do love it that he loves being with me so much. I love being with him, too.

6. He is SO kissy. All we have to do is say "Aw, thank you, Ben" or "I love you, Bennett" and his response is to pull us toward him so he can kiss us on the shoulder or the cheek.

7. He is getting pretty good at "Itsy Bitsy Spider" . . . for being 13 months old, that is. He just puts the thumb of one hand to the pointer of the other and twists his wrists, and then waves his hands in the air for when "the sun comes up" . . . but it sure is cute! Sometimes, if he's doing it and I haven't started singing, he'll start saying "icky icky" which is 13-month-old code for "Itsy bitsy."

8. He has started showing his feelings when Jack takes something from him. When Jack used to take a toy from him, he would just look bewildered and find something new to play with. Now, he screams. He screams loud. He also KNOWS when Jack wants a toy that he has and will walk around with it in a tight grip just to wield power.

9. He loves being outside, but isn't crazy about riding in the car. Strapping him into his car seat is becoming more and more of a challenge. He is STRONG.

10. He is NOT good at eating with utensils, but if he sees a fork or a spoon while he's eating, he'll whine until we give it to him. At this point, you can pretty much guarantee the meal will last twice as long as it would have otherwise.

November 14, 2010


I sort of messed up the "blogging every day" thing. I didn't forget. I just opened up a new post on Friday and nothing came to mind except the photos waiting to be processed and customers waiting for designs.

I opted out.

I've been struggling over the last few weeks with feeling a little bit like I'm failing at so much. Not any huge failures, but lots of little ones. Part of it probably stems from unrealistic expectations of myself, as well as lack of sleep. This just added to that feeling.

Blogging every day used to be nothing. I felt like I always had something to write. I guess I'm most afraid that I'm not keeping track of the things in my life that I want to remember about my boys and our family as we are right now as well as I should be.

I read somewhere that the average blog lasts 18 months. I'm in my fifth year, so I guess I'm doing okay. Right?

November 11, 2010

Grown ups

Tonight, I'm thankful for all of the grown ups in my boys' lives.

They're around so many adults because of our jobs at camp, and they have great babysitters while we're at work. Over the last three years, we've been blessed with people we can trust to take care of our boys when we can't be there. Each summer, and throughout the year, we've had friends and family who don't just show up to "watch" them. They love them. They WANT to spend time with them.

It's one thing for us, as parents, to tell our boys that they are of significant value. They know that they're capable and smart and lovable because we show them that and tell them that every day. But to have other adults come along and reaffirm that they are, in fact, loved . . . it's priceless. To have these people as examples of the kindness, patience, compassion and gentleness that we are trying to instill . . . words can't describe how grateful I am for that. I'm pretty sure that the college students on our staff this summer did more for my boys' sense of self-worth and understanding of how much Jesus loves them than I ever could on my own.

And sure, when we ask them to come to watch the boys, we pay them . . . but they get paid for the "job" of keeping them safe, feeding them, entertaining them, changing diapers, etc. The rest? That's just who they are. They genuinely care for Ben and Jack.

So, thank you to those of you playing an active roll in their lives. Thank you for showing them more of who Jesus is.

November 10, 2010

On school parties

We went to Jack's preschool for their fall party two weeks ago and here is my confession: I'm pretty sure I'm going to hate going to my kids' school parties. Probably as much as the teachers hate the massive disruption that having 20 parents in the classroom brings to their every day routine.

It's crowded and chaotic and well . . . dare I say a little pointless? Not the party . . . the party isn't pointless. But dozens of parents there? Maybe a little bit.

But I will continue to go, because I don't want Jack to be the only kid whose parents don't come; though, unless he needed assistance with his costume, he did his best to pretend we weren't there.

I'm sure there's someone out there who can make an argument as to why it's important for parents to be at classroom parties and I might even be persuaded. But fresh off my first one . . . I'm just not feeling it.

November 9, 2010

Dear Jack, Month 41

Dear Jack,

You ask a lot of "why" questions. About every. thing.

"Why do I have to go to bed?"

"Why does Ben cry?"

"Why are those people strangers?"

"Why do you look so sleepy?"

Halloween, 2010

I do my best to answer your questions. As a rookie parent, I would try to explain how the earth turns on its axis and rotates around the sun when you asked, "Why does the sun rise in the morning?" But now I know just to say something like, "So we can see during the day."

Your "why" questions sometimes serve as reminders that there are so many things over which we have no control. Every year, days get shorter in the fall and longer in the spring. It gets cold in the winter and hot in the summer. These things happen without an act of congress, or a conscious decision on anyone's part. The tide comes in and goes out on schedule, without ever actually looking at a calendar. It doesn't matter who is president, how much money we do or don't have, or how we feel on any given day.

October 2010

I like to be in control, but I'm so glad I'm not. God has a much better way for you than your dad or I ever could. We might not always understand it, and there will certainly be times that we don't really like it.

Thanks for the daily reminders.

I love you, Jack.


November 8, 2010


Twitter is my minute-by-minute blog . . . here are selected posts from the last month or so.

November 5

I keep reading that it's snowing outside. I'm just going to stay in my basement until it stops.

Look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in-C.S. Lewis

November 4

I have done a ridiculous amount of math today. I wish it burned calories . . .

November 2

I quit breastfeeding Ben 4 months ago. Yet when his tummy hurts, I still find myself trying to recall what I ate that could have upset it.

November 2

I don't think I've ever had a family do a dance party warm up before their family photos . . . thank you, Strodtbecks.

October 31

Jack went to 7 houses and quit because he couldn't eat candy WHILE trick-or-treating. Working on the concept of delayed gratification.

October 30

How I feel when buying a new font might be how some girls feel when buying a new pair of shoes. Especially when it goes with everything.

October 27

Jack just told me that I could play baseball with him if I cook dinner nicely.

October 26

I'm watching Toddlers and Tiaras and am thoroughly disgusted.

October 25

It's 8 AM and I'm getting ready to wake the boys up so we can leave by 8:30. Of course, on Saturday and Sunday, they were both up by 6 AM.

October 22
I just struck photography gold with the Correll family . . . So, so photogenic.

October 21

Debbie just said, "I can remember in high school thinking that Brittney Spears and Justin Timberlake would last forever." Still laughing.

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer-CS Lewis

October 20

Kyle: What are you doing? Jack: Riding my bike around you 7 times and then you'll fall down.

October 19

Yeah, he's cute.

October 18

I heart Mondays. A return to routine and normalcy. I look forward to them every Sunday.

October 15

I hear Jack screaming and Kyle using his firm voice . . . should I go up and help or stay holed up here in my office? Let me think . . .

I wish companies and doctor's offices would stop sending us bills.

Headed out to cheer jack on at the Trike-a-thon.

November 7, 2010

Lazy Sunday afternoon

So, I thought it was weird that there were so many people who were committing to blogging once a day for the entire month of November . . . until I read somewhere that it's National Blog Posting Month. Good to know. I'm glad I'm not alone.

I wrote yesterday that I had the good fortune of sleeping in until 10 AM on Saturday morning . . . 10 glorious hours of sleep. Apparently, that much sleep was so foreign to my body, that it decided I'd had enough to last me the weekend. I laid in bed awake for 3 1/2 hours last night until I finally just got up to do something productive. I wasn't a bit tired. It's 4:12 PM and I'm just now starting to feel sleepy.

On a completely different subject, I've tried dozens of times to take a picture of Ben and Jack together and they've been less than cooperative. This is the best I could get. Seriously.

Fortunately, they're cute enough that it doesn't really matter how bad the picture is.

October 2010

Jack is supposed to have school pictures taken this week. It will be the first studio portrait he's ever had taken . . . though I probably should have taken him when he was born be. The backdrop it will taken against includes large letter blocks and other "preschool paraphernalia."

Sweet mercy . . . I'm cringing just thinking about it.

November 6, 2010

One of the many reasons my husband is awesome

Kyle took total responsibility for the boys today so that I could get some work done. He's been called to camp and had other interruptions a few times, but I'm so grateful to him for giving me this time.

I'm even more grateful that when I got up with Ben at 7:00, he got up and told me to go back to bed. I slept until 10:00. TEN O' CLOCK! I can literally count on one hand the number of times that I've slept that late since we had children.

I had no idea how much a few extra hours of sleep would help me. My head is clear today. I'm alert. I don't feel sleepy. I'm not irritable. I didn't know how tired I've been until I had those few extra hours.

If only I could find a way to get 10 hours of sleep every night.

Okay . . . back to work.

November 5, 2010

Oh my goodness . . .

When we try to get Ben to say the word "hot" . . . he just opens his mouth up really wide and makes no noise. It's one of those things that I think is incredibly adorable, and I insist that he do it for everyone. I think I probably get a lot of eye rolls when I walk away.

And I'm not sure where he picked it up, but every time I say "Oh my goodness" he covers his face like he's embarrassed.

So, Internet, I caught it on video for you to enjoy. Roll your eyes all you want. I think it's cute.

Oh, and pardon the mouth full of half-chewed goldfish.

Untitled from Sara on Vimeo.

Oh, and here's Jack at about a month older than Ben is now.

November 4, 2010


Halloween, 2010

When Jack asked to be a scuba diver for Halloween, I was a little disappointed. PBK doesn't sell scuba diver costumes.

But when the idea struck to put Ben in a Nemo costume along side him, I was more okay with it. I tried to get Jack to tell people he was dressed up as a dentist (Get it? P.Sherman from Finding Nemo was actually a dentist . . . nevermind) but he refused.

Halloween, 2010

So, Kyle and I constructed this out of two liter bottles, soda cans, black craft foam, cord keeper and extra parts from our nebulizer. Oh, and lots of duct tape. The plus side is that he now has a nice pair of black sweatpants, a nice black zip sweatshirt and a black hat/mask for when it's cold out. The flippers just strapped to his ankles over his shoes.

Ben was so, so funny in his costume. When I'd tell him to swim like a fishie, he'd spin around, try to jump and wiggle his behind. I kind of want to put him in it daily just to see him dance around like that.

Halloween, 2010

November 3, 2010

In which I'm cynical about democracy . . .

Listening to the republicans gloat over their victories on the Today Show this morning was a little bit sickening. And not just because we had to hear the term, "Mama Grizzlies" 40,000 times . . . though I'd be lying if I didn't say that was a part of it.

Let's face it . . . yesterday's election was a little bit like a beauty pageant full of ugly girls. Winning doesn't really mean you're the most beautiful. It means your dress is less ugly than everyone else's.

So when I saw the gloating, I cringed . . . just like I did two years ago when the other side was doing the same thing. In 2008, the democrats were also using phrases like "America has spoken" and "the tides are turning" and were talking about how things will be different now. And some things are different. But politicians remain the same.

Let me be clear . . . I may sound like a jilted voter, but most of my selections on yesterday's ballot won. Even so, I'm left with little sense of victory.

A few years ago, I decided that I needed to be aggressively non-partisan. I needed to be active about examining candidates and their platforms and determining whose values most closely aligned with mine, no matter the party with which they were affiliated. That's around the time that the helpless feeling settled in.

Because the more I looked, the more I realized that candidates are the pawns of the people - and organizations - funding their campaigns. All of them. And there's really nothing I can do about it, other than to run against them. But that takes money . . . something I would need people and organizations to help me with - thus perpetuating the cycle.

We were bombarded with encouragement to vote yesterday, insinuating that it's our responsibility to do little more than to show up and cast our ballot. I feel like it almost makes a mockery of democracy (that is so, so close to rhyming).

We'll be happy with the changes in our government for a while, but the "tides will turn" again in a few years, and again, the pendulum will swing.

November 2, 2010

As overheard after voting

Kyle: Who'd you vote for for school board?

Me: Who do you think? There really wasn't a race . . . there were the same number of candidates as there were open positions.

Kyle: I know.

Me: Why? Did you write me in?

Kyle (laughing): That board would be in a world of hurt if you were ever elected.

Me: I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me.

November 1, 2010

"Trick or Treat"

We took the boys trick or treating for the first time last night. Up until this year, we had gone to Trunk or Treat at the fire station. But Trunk or Treat was CRAZY this year and I wasn't about to wait in line for more than an hour just for candy. So last night, we drove into my parents' house and went trick or treating there.

We made it 7 houses and then Jack decided it was time to go home. Why? I think he was cold and tired, but also because I told him we couldn't eat any candy until we got home. In retrospect, I should have said, "We can't eat our candy until we're finished trick-or-treating." But I didn't. Lesson learned.

For those 7 houses, we did have a good time. I pulled the wagon for Ben to ride in, though Kyle ended up carrying him most of the time as we went from house to house.

A lot of people on my parents street are older and it takes a little bit of time for them to get to their door if they're not already standing right there. While they were waiting at one front door, Jack said, "Come on, lady!" Other than Kyle, I don't think anyone else actually heard him. Needless to say, we had another conversation about trick-or-treat etiquette before we went to the next house.

I expected Jack to be more timid about actually saying "trick or treat" but he walked up there, knocked and said it with confidence. Anything for candy, I suppose. He was really good about remembering to say "thank you" too.

They boys were so cute in their costumes, and while I never want to make a Halloween costume again, I'm really glad that we did this year. Pictures are forthcoming.

October 31, 2010

Dear Mom and Grammie

Dear Mom and Grammie,

Since you two are likely the only ones left reading my sad little blog, I'm addressing this to you. I apologize for my laziness in blogging and have great aspirations for November.

My goal is to post once a day . . . all month long.

Wish me luck.


October 27, 2010

In fifteen minutes or less . . .

  • Isn't it funny how you always think that the NEXT stage your child reaches will be easier. And it is in all of the ways you want it to be easier right now. But then there's all of this new stuff that's way harder. Maybe it's just me . . .

  • I got my order from Cute Tape last week and it's official. I'm in love with Japanese masking tape. I'm their new best customer. Oh, the possibilities . . .

  • Jack was pretending to talk to a friend on my cell phone a few nights ago and ended the conversation with, "Well, just text me back when you know where we're going." It sounded a little too natural.

  • Ben wants to be outside ALL the time. I guess it's probably always been that way, but now he walks around whining and saying "OUT! OUT! OUT!" so it's more obvious. Obviously, the next few months of being stuck inside will be a challenge.

  • We're making Jack's Halloween costume . . . something I'll likely never do again. Last year, I spent $60 on Jack's costume. Seems immoderate, right? I never wanted to spend more than $10 on a Halloween costume, but I had a feeling I would get a return on my investment. And I did. I sold it this year and made an $18 profit, because it was from Pottery Barn Kids and was discontinued so it was in high demand. All in all, it was a good investment. This year, we'll probably spend about $20 on his costume, and we won't be able to do anything with it when we're done. Plus, we have all the hassle of trying to put it all together and make it work. Grrrr . . .

  • At dinner each night, we each tell what the best and worst parts of our day were. If you've ever worked for me, you'll recognize that this is not something that started when I had children. Staff meetings regularly included this ritual.

    Anyway, I'm loving it that after we finish praying, Jack immediately starts asking us the our best and worst parts of our days were. And it's even better when he hypothesizes about what Ben might say if he could tell us.

  • Holiday business is picking up and I'm LOVING IT. The first year of Christmas craziness, it was a totally surprise. I was blindsided. The second Christmas (last year) I had a newborn. Way hard to be holding down a full time job, managing the business and taking care of an infant. This year, I predict that I'll have my act together a little more. I don't think it'll be easy, and there's a lot that I'd like to do that I don't have time for, but I think I'll have a good time.

October 24, 2010

Bennett the toddler

13 months old

Overall, Ben is really mild mannered and even tempered. I think I remember saying that about Jack at this age. With Jack 12 - 18 months was my most favorite stage, and it's proving to be true this time around as well.

Though he's pretty easy going, we are starting to see the fiesty toddler come out more and more every day. He shrieks when something is taken away (usually an iphone, keys or remote control) and does this little stomping thing when he gets really angry (usually when he gets something taken away AND he's tired). We have an old tivo remote control that I've been letting him play with, but he knows the difference, because when he presses the buttons, nothing happens on the tv. It's so funny to watch him start pressing buttons and staring at the tv waiting for it to come on or do something, and then throw it down when he realizes he's been fooled. And he runs away the minute he knows he's been caught with something he shouldn't have.

We've started time outs. I know some would say it's too early, but we started time outs with Jack around this age and it's worked pretty well. We only do it when it's obvious that he's knows what he's doing is wrong and does it anyway and there's no "natural consequence." He sits in the chair and cries a little, but will stay there until I come to hug him and reiterate, "Obey Mama."

His list of words is growing, though we're usually the only ones who can understand them. My favorite thing he does is reaches his hand out and scratches us and said "icka icka icka" (tickle tickle tickle). Apart from actual words, he babbles incessantly.

He crawls up and down stairs which means we have no more baby gates up and I had forgotten how nice it is to live barrier free. He can reach things on the counter an on our high table so we've suddenly become very intentional about pushing things far from the edge.

He weighs 24 1/2 pounds, which is what Jack weighed at 9 months old. So even though he's a good size, he's still our small baby. He was 32 1/2" at his one year check up, but is 33 3/4" now, so he's grown 1 1/4" in the last month. That's not a surprise, because each morning, he looks significantly bigger than he did the night before. I can't help but wonder how much he weighs now.

October 18, 2010

Any ideas?

Sara (no, a different Sara - I'm not just speaking in third person) apologized for her "bloggy lameness" last week, and I need to make that same apology. I feel like I'm up against a bit of writer's block. I have things I can write about the boys . . . about how Jack says, "YESSSSSSS!" every time something goes his way and how Ben's newest word is "fish" - though he only uses it to refer to the Pepperidge Farm variety. To get the full effect, you really have to imagine all of the spit that comes flying out of his mouth when he says the "ish" part.

But so much of what is going on in our house right now is hard to write about. I can't really explain in written words the funny faces that Ben makes when he tries to ham it up. I can't find the right way to explain the intangibles that make Jack seem like he's grown up so much over the last month.

I could write about Jack's trike-a-thon, but well, it would go something like this: "Jack rode his tricycle in a preschool fundraiser and enjoyed it."

I could tell you about Ben's one year check up, but that would go something like this: "He's 24 1/2 pounds, and a number of inches tall that I can't remember."

See what I mean? Any ideas? What should I write about?

Help me tackle this bad case of writer's block.

October 16, 2010

The last two months on twitter . . .

I've fallen behind on posting my twitter feed, but here's the last two month's worth. I have to keep track of these day to day things, because it's what I'm most likely to forget!

October 15
I hear Jack screaming and Kyle using his firm voice . . . should I go up and help or stay holed up here in my office? Let me think . . .

Headed out to cheer jack on at the Trike-a-thon.

October 9
And you all who left early . . . You're missing out, too.

If you're not at our house right now, you're missing out.

October 8
Jack walked into the kitchen and saw the muffins I made and said, "Hey . . . is Maria here or something?" Hmmm . . .

October 5
Why do spies on tv always answer calls from friends & family during chases and stake outs? I think a good spy might turn off his phone.

September 29
I took Jack to McDonalds for b-fast this morning & he asked for chocolate milk. I told him it wasn't a healthy choice. Yes, I see the irony.

September 28
Jack told me he was good for Kylie today, "with one exception." How does he even know what an exception is?

September 27
Between new birthday toys and two active boys, it looks like a tornado just touched down in my living room.

September 24
Jack: Uh, Dad can you do me a favor? I saw fur when I was in bed and was like,'Is there a monster or something.' Could you check?

September 23
One year ago right now I was snuggling with my baby boy for the first time. While he screamed his head off. Ahhh . . . memories.

September 22
The enormity of my to do list is rivaled only by the heaviness of my eyelids.

September 21

September 20
Jack's obsessed with the idea of buying the "for sale" fire truck in spring arbor.

September 19
I looked 2 weeks larger than this a year ago at this time.

September 18
Yesterday, I ran into Megan (on crutches) and Kyle (with his arm in a cast) and I began to wonder if our staff is falling apart without us.

At home alone with Ben this morning . . . . realizing how much alone time I DON'T have with him.

September 16
Getting stuck in the rain while running . . . bad. With two boys in a stroller . . . even worse.

September 15
Jack just handed me the video camera and said, "Can I talk to the Internet?"

September 13
Me: No, sorry, I'm a natural light photographer . . . I only shoot with available light. Her: Well, could you use a flash? Me: Uh . . .

September 6
Earlier tonight, Jack told me that Jesus was born in a stapler in Bethlehem. And I didn't correct him.

August 31
Jack just walked up, pressed a ruler against the back of my head and said, "Big." And then walked away.

August 28
Jack playing dress up at the Correll's house . . .

August 26
Our oven is still broken. :( Cooking over a camp fire for dinner. :)

August 25
Our newest challenge.

August 24
Jack just asked why I used to be Mommy Wietholter.

Jack just put my camera strap around his neck and said, "Look . . . now I'm a Mama!"

August 22
Jack just told Ben to stop or he'd never make him smile again.

August 21
It seems obvious to me that staying up later should equal sleeping in later. Jack and Ben seem to disagree.

August 20
Does everyone's three year old request Veggie Tales, followed by the Black Eyed Peas? Or is that just mine?

Jack just asked if he could stay at Easton's house forever. It was a good day.

August 16
It's amazing how quickly two little boys can make a really clean house not clean anymore.

Jack pretty much thinks it's his.