Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Some Lists to End the Year

So, I guess on the last day of the year, you're supposed to make a list of some sort, right? Things I Learned This Year, Best Moments, New Year's Resolutions - that sort of thing. As I sat down to make a list, though, I couldn't decide what type of list to make. So, I just made a bunch. They're random. I'm sure you're surprised.

Times we feared for Lauren's life this year:
-When she almost drowned (got into my mom's pool without floaties and actually aspirated a little water we learned at the Urgent Care place the next day)
- When she consumed an entire bottle of liquid Tylenol (Actually, she spilled a lot on her pajamas, thereby not ingesting enough to be life-threatening. We learned this after a trip to see Kennon McClendon on the ER.)
- When she fell off the bed and hit her head so hard she threw up

Phrases Joshua learned from watching too many movies and which he has used in casual conversation:
- Sorry doesn't cook the noodles. (Said in exactly the right context when I told him I was sorry about something as I was cooking noodles.)
- Your deal just expired. (Said to Ethan more than once)
- There are no accidents. (Said to me when I told him something was an accident. This one almost led to a ban on movie-watching.)

Things Ethan learned to do this year as I continue to be amazed at how smart he is:
- Read 3 and 4 letter words easily.
- Add and subtract better than his 6 year-old brother
- Put a puzzle together upside down, thereby having no picture to work with. (His Grandma discovered he could do this one.)

Things I found in Joshua's pockets while doing laundry:
- Rocks
- Acorns. Lots of acorns.
- Dead ladybugs
- Hair (Joshua tries very hard to collect his hair during every haircut. I usually remember to stop him, but not every time. He says he's going to make a wig.)

Family accomplishments:
- We finally got the house painted and organized.
- We've kept a pet alive for over a year and a half. In fact, we didn't have a pet die at all in 2008.
- David quit his job last week. (I list this as an accomplishment because, well, let's hope it turns out to be one.)
- Joshua lost 4 teeth . . . and only once had to remind the tooth fairy about it the following morning.
- Lauren got potty trained!!
- Ethan learned to swim proficiently.
- I lost 20 lbs, albeit through major surgery. Oh, another accomplishment . . . I got my arteries fixed without having to sacrifice any vital organs.

Family and friends who grew to mean even more to me this year:
- Hil, Yella, C, and E for the awesome care package they sent after my surgery. C even created a custom crossword puzzle full of fun memories of the five of us to give me something to do while I recovered. I love us. :)
- My mom and Renae for letting my kids move in with them while I recovered.
- My aunt Bobbie and Renae for their incredible discretion and never-ending willingness to lend a helping hand.
- Melissa for always saying yes when I need help and usually offering before I even ask.
- Kristi because "you don't know what you've got till it's gone." I miss you!
- Of course, David and my kids for reasons far too many to list here. David should earn an award every year for simply living with me. His ability to hold his tongue while living with someone who, despite her good intentions, clearly has no grasp of the concept whatsoever, is truly accolade-worthy.

Phrases I uttered most often:
- Leave her alone!
- What's going on?
- Who did this?
- Boys, stop that!
- Where are your shoes?
- Where is your hairbow?
- Buckle your carseat.
- I love you.
- Y'all are great kids.

Phrases I would love not to hear in 2009:
- No! Stop! (I'm hearing that one as I type.)
- No, that's mine!
- No! No! No! (That would be Lauren.)
- I had it first!
Okay, I can't even write any more of these. Just hearing them in my head is giving me a headache!

Reasons I should end these lists now:
- It's time to leave for our New Year's Eve party
- The kids are not even dressed
- The kids are yelling at each other, and I am ignoring them
- The dog needs to go out.

So, goodbye and happy new year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Josh's Note

I love this age. Joshua is always writing a list or a note of some sort, and I just love the precious phonetic attempts at spelling. This is his "order" he gave to his "server," Hearsay (the dog), when he was pretending he was at a restaurant:

Hearsay (dog's name at the top)
noodles in alfredo (takes two lines)
with meat

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Meet our newest family member

Look who we got today!

He's a 1 year-old Jack Russell Terrier mix who we have named Hearsay. (yes, we're lawyer geeks who had another dog named that years ago . . . but we really like it.) He is so great with the kids - very gentle and loves to be petted. Since Joshua is pretty afraid of dogs, he was a perfect fit. We played with a LOT of dogs brought in by the various shelters for adoption at PetSmart today, and Hearsay was the calmest by far. He's already had a bath, met Sebastian (the cat), scoped out the house, and found his favorite spot on the the Winnie the Pooh couch.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thankful Friday

  • Fun making lollipop cookies with the kids tonight. David joined in as well, so it was a good family fun activity.
  • A great Christmas with a family I love.
  • A Savior who was born that man no more may die
  • Homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morn. (Which were delicious despite having forgotten the cinnamon in the first half! I added it to the top.)
  • Kids who are (finally) showing signs of Christ's selfless love. David's mom mailed boxes to everyone about a week ago. We all received our boxes before Christmas except Ethan. As of today, his box still has not arrived. Not wanting Ethan to be the only one without a box to open on Christmas, David suggested that everyone wait until Ethan's box arrived before we open any of the gifts. Joshua and Lauren readily agreed and have engaged in absolutely NO whining or complaining about not being able to open their own boxes yet. I have been so proud of how willing they were to forgo their own pleasure for the sake of their brother's feelings. (Which required no small exercise in self-control as our big Christmas gift was Disney, leaving nothing but a few small stocking stuffers for opening on Christmas morning.)
  • I am thankful that the Christmas Crack is gone, though I may have to join a 12-step program to keep from making more! (Kim, was this your recipe or Shannon's?) If you have never tasted this particular morsel of heaven, be thankful. Your waistline thanks you.
  • Tomorrow we are going to look at a dog. Wish us luck. (Actually, you should probably wish the dog luck.) I can't wait to see the excitement on the kids' faces.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Press One for Moron?

Our phone stopped working last week. At first I thought it was the result of my having left the cordless outside in the rain for about the 246th time, but no, it was not only the cordless phones but the landline phone as well. I discovered this the day before we left for Disney, so when I called on Friday and was told they'd have someone out to check it by Wednesday, I was less upset than I would normally have been. I figured we'd be gone anyway, so who cares?

We came home on Thursday to discover that the phones still did not work, but there was a helpful note from the AT&T guy saying that he'd fixed the problem. Today I finally got around to calling AT&T back to let them know that we still have no dial tone.

I miss the good old days when automated technology could be outsmarted by merely pretending you were on a dial phone. If you didn't press anything when prompted, it assumed you couldn't press, so you got an agent. Then someone had to go and invent that Stepford Wives voice that asks you to "press or say." There doesn't seem to be an exception for a mute with no hands, so I have no choice but to speak.

Here is some of the conversation that took place between me and AT&T's automated-customer-service-agents-from-hell. (My part of the conversation will be italicized . . . because I'm more important.)

Thank you for calling AT&T's customer service line. To proceed in English, say "English" or press 1.
I'm sorry, I didn't not understand you. To proceed in English . . .
Okay, please choose from one of the following options . . .
Problem with my line (wasn't an option)
You have a problem with your phone connection. Is this correct?
[After playing 20 questions about my phone problem, the automated voice (I'll call her Jane because I don't think the word I would really use is appropriate for this blog) informs me that if the problem is with my line only, I will have to pay an $85 service fee when the technician comes to fix it. Fed up with this process, since I already went through it a week ago, I began shouting, "Speak to a representative!")

You'd like to speak to a customer service representative? Is that correct?
Yes! Yes!
[Minutes pass before Jane returns]
You have successfully reported your problem to AT&T. A technician will call you . . .
No, I want to speak to a person.

At this point I get disconnected and have to call back. I now refuse to say anything except, "I want to speak to a representative." I still can't get out of automation hell, so I expound on my request a little.
"I'm having a little trouble understanding you."
"I can't imagine why, Jane. Your digital vocabulary doesn't include expletives?!"

Eventually, I'm told I'm being transferred to a real live person, and I hear, "Please have the last four digits of your social security number on hand to ensure that we are speaking to a responsible party."
Responsible party? Have they heard ANY of the words I've been using the past 8 minutes?
(This was actually only a thought.)
Finally, I reach a person. A real human being. He begins with "This is accounts receivable, my name is Innocent Person Who is Not Responsible for the Hell You've Just Endured, so Please Stop Yelling at Me."
Accounts receivable? I need a service tech!
Customer service?
Is there another kind?
Do you need help with your account?
No, I need help with my phone line.
Well, then you need repair.
Do. No. Disconnect. Me.
Don't worry, I'll stay on the line.

A minute passes, and I hear Jane again! The jerk did not stay on the line.

Why do I never get those annoying customer service surveys at the end of calls like that?

If you need us, you'll have to try our cells. Our home phone still doesn't work. But, they're going to have someone here by February.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Disney Day 2

(I seem to have more self-discipline about getting a segment of these pictures loaded and on my blog each day than I do about unpacking our freaking suitcases. So far I'm only managing to curse their presence in the living room/foyer, and that doesn't seem to be getting them unpacked.)

Day Two we spent in the Animal Kingdom, which is the one park I had never been to before. The first section of the park is not really all that great. If I were doing it again, I'd skip it. There are some neat animals but nothing better than you'd see at a zoo, and you can go to a zoo a whole lot cheaper than Disney. There's my tip for the day: skip the front half of Animal Kingdom, and head for the continents.

Disney has more giant Christmas trees than one can even fathom. This one was at the Animal Kingdom entrance and was decorated entirely in an amazing animal motif:

Oh, an exception to the whole "skip the front part" advice: the "Tree of Life." It is a giant tree with hundreds of animals carved into the trunk. These were all taken in or on part of the tree:

There was a section of the park with all kinds of different drums that kids (or adults) could play.

This man is from the Congo and was playing a really cool instrument:

One highlight of Animal Kingdom was a really great petting zoo. (It's on Conservation Island or something like that, and it's the ONLY thing worth doing there. Pet the animals and get back on the train.) One thing that was cool about it was they had brushes available for kids to brush the animals rather than just walking around trying to touch them. They LOVED brushing the goats and sheep:

Another highlight was the face painting. In the past, when we've done "face painting," my kids have only ever had a little football or rainbow or something painted on their cheeks. They were willing to spend their own money (and more than a little of it!) to get these great elaborate face-paintings. (See my post from 2 days ago for close-ups of Joshua's and Lauren's faces.)

Ethan's reaction upon looking in the mirror:

Ethan's favorite ride (and one that was on pretty much everyone's top 10 list) was Khali River Rapids. I think David and the boys rode it 4 times. I rode it once and got completely drenched, so I opted out when they returned to it later in the day.

Lauren and Lane had fun playing together while we waiting for everyone else to come off of the rapids.

We ate a really great lunch at a restaurant called Tusker House in "Africa." It was an enormous buffet with all types of food to satisfy the most adventurous and the pickiest of eaters. I had to take a picture of my brother Ben's plate, because he definitely falls into the latter category. His idea of adventurous eating is to try a wheat roll instead of a white one. Imagine his surprise at learning that the tofu cubes and pearl cous-cous he put on his plate were not chicken and corn after all!

Me, David, and the kids on a bridge in Animal Kingdom:

As we were leaving when the park was closing, there was a giant block party going on at the front gate with entertainment by Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy.

We met quite a few characters at Animal Kingdom, so I've included just a few of them. You can watch the progression of Lauren's comfort level with them as she grew used to seeing them. (We went to Animal Kingdom 2 different times, hence the two outfits.)

This was as close as she would get to Rafiki:

Still not certain about Terk:

Getting comfortable with Timon:

Lovin' on Pluto:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Disney Day 1

Actually, I should start with the night before we arrived at Disney. We spent the night at a hotel outside of Disney World so that we could get started at the park early the next day instead of having to waste a park day with travel. Ethan slept in my mom's room that night, and we thought that would leave in our room one bed for David and me and one for Joshua and Lauren. Then, they discovered the sofa bed. My kids have never slept on a sofa bed, so this was quite exciting. Josh begged me to let him sleep in it, so I did, and then Lauren insisted she wanted to sleep there, too. So, we ended up with an entire empty bed in our hotel room that night. If I'd know a sofa bed would be such a thrill, I could have saved a lot of money on Disney tickets!

In the lobby of our hotel, The Grand Floridian, there was a beautiful tree:

and a life-sized gingerbread house:

Skipping toward the monorail:

We filled up many an elevator:

Riding the monorail:

We spent Day 1 in the Magic Kingdom where we rode Pirates of the Caribbean first as it's what Joshua and Ethan had been most looking forward to. They loved it, but as we would find out during 90% of rides during the trip, Lauren did not like the dark parts. She was scared of the dark parts, the loud parts, the interactive parts . . . you can't even imagine what she was like during the fireworks. She trembled from head to toe the entire time.

Here's Ben and Renae at the MK entrance: (Renae, if one of your pics of me and David here turned out well, I'd like it. The ones on my camera don't have the MK sign in the background . . . among other problems.)

Lauren on the Mad Tea Party teacups, her favorite ride by FAR:

Ethan on the carousel:

Lauren and her Gaga on the carousel:

Josh and Ethan at the Monsters, Inc. show:

With a nutcracker:

Cinderella's Castle with icicle lights:

Friday, December 19, 2008

We're Back

If you weren't aware of where I've been the past week, we went with my entire family to Disney World. Sorry for not mentioning it. While I'm sure it's unlikely that any burglars read my blog, I really didn't feel like being burgled while we were gone. I figured it wasn't likely given that we don't have much worth stealing anyway. Seriously, you would have to spend more money buying those silly black ski masks and, I don't know, crowbars or something, than the value of anything you would find in our house. Except maybe David's trumpets, but if that's what you're after, spare us the time and expense (and knowing me, injury) of broken window glass, and just let me know. I'll arrange to have them put on the street for you somewhere. (I jest, dear. I love your trumpets.)

So, that's where we were. I will probably be blogging about it for the next six years or so since I have 568 Disney pictures. (That is not one of my typical sarcastic exaggerations; I really have 568 pictures.) For today, I'll just say that we had a fantastic trip and are glad to be home.

Really? Did you believe me? That that was all I would say? Ha!

For the drive down, my mom and I rode in our minivan with our three kids plus one of my nieces. (David rode with one of my brothers in my mom's car, which carried most of our luggage. Yeah, that's right. For some reason I wasn't offered the option of riding with the luggage instead of the four kids. Maybe next year.)

It took us 8 1/2 hrs to get there thanks to the 6 or 7 stops we made on the way down. (Mom and I lost count and aren't sure if we stopped 6 or 7 times, but we both agree it felt more like 100.) The good news is on the way home we drove at night, so the kids slept a lot of the way, and we made it in just over 6 1/2 hrs. Yes, TWO HOURS faster driving at night with the kids asleep. I foresee a lot of Benadryl in my children's futures.

We did not get home until after midnight last night and are all extremely exhausted. My dear dad, who did not accompany us but who did coordinate most of the trip for us, decided to make a pot of his homemade spaghetti sauce for my sister-in-law and me today. When I went by earlier, he surprised me with it and said he figured we wouldn't feel like cooking today. Have I ever mentioned that I have the world's best parents?

For today, I'll just post a few pictures. My plan is to cover different parts of the trip over the next week or so rather than just doing massive Disney photo/story overload. Enjoy these cute faces for now:

My little Tinkerbell:

A goofy hat for a goofy kid:

Since he's missing his own front teeth, Joshua chose a dinosaur face so he could at least have some fake incisors:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thankful Friday

I should have saved the "All I Want for Christmas" title for today. Josh pulled another tooth out at school today. That's four so far. He looks way too old now.

  • All of my kids are great sleepers. They go to bed easily, and they sleep all night.
  • I got to spend some time catching up with a dear friend this morning.
  • We are all healthy right now.
  • Joshua's school. He goes to the same Christian school I went to when I was a kid, and I am just so thankful that we are able to send him there right now. I was just looking at a nativity ornament he made in class and realized how blessed we are that he can be in such a great Christian school.
  • BEAUTIFUL weather today! After the past couple of days, it is more than welcome.
  • David taking off early to spend the afternoon with us
  • I was able to finish shopping for the in-law's today and spend some precious time with my kids while doing so. The weather is so nice we decided to walk everywhere we needed to go at the "new" shopping center. Even stopped in at Atlanta Bread to color someting for Grandmom and Granddad so we could get that box in the mail.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

All I Want for Christmas

One more and he can sing, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth . . ."

The other one should be out by next week. It's extremely loose, but he waits until they pretty much fall out from natural causes.

Murphy's Law

1. If you put clean sheets on every bed in your house, within 48 hours you will forget to tell your baby sitter to put a pull-up on your 3 year-old at bedtime.

2. That will also be the only bed in your house that, for reasons you can't fathom, has no mattress pad on it.

3. If your child asks for a pot to make a mudcake in, and you give him the top to your double boiler because you only use it about once a year, you will forget that and make the buckeyes which require that once-a-year pot. You will also have forgetten to make him bring it back inside, and when you remember you need it, there will be a massive deluge in your backyard, and the pot will be somewhere in the woods behind your house, currently holding a very soggy mudcake . . . which is probably nowhere near as good as buckeyes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

O, Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Please Give My Kids Something to Do

We finally put up our tree on Monday. I had told the kids we had to wait until daddy got home because the pieces were too heavy for me to get out of the attic alone. However, by around 3:00 Monday afternoon, the kids were in full fight-and-fuss-till-mom-tries-to-sell-us-on-ebay-again mode, and it was clear that they needed a diversion from each other. It was either let them fight each other to the death over whose turn it was on the slide or risk my life climbing into the attic to bring down the Christmas tree.

If you know me at all, the mere thought of me even walking in the attic, much less obtaining an item that weighs more than I do, should cause at least a slight panic. I trip and fall an average of 2-3 times a day just walking around my kitchen. Narrow beams and insulation are an ER visit waiting to happen. Miraculously, I incurred only a minor scrape while retrieving the tree. I think God knew my kids' continued existence my have been dependent on my getting that tree.

So, after the first attempt in which I got the sections mixed up and put the middle of the tree on the bottom and vice versa, I got it up. Given my accident-prone nature, you'd better believe we own the pre-lit kind. So, all that was left was to put on the ornaments. After lecturing the kids soundly on how breakable some of them are and how they are to use two hands at all times and be extremely careful, I proceeded to show them how to hang the ornaments very carefully. You probably guessed it. Slippery Fingers here dropped the first one. So, after a visual demonstration on how glass shatters, the kids put on all the breakable ornaments, and I stuck to the candy canes.

It's amazing how much nicer it looks in real life.

And, since I told him I was posting a picture, Joshua wanted me to show off the tree on his dresser, too:

Lauren has one just like it on hers. Both were assembled and decorated without injury.