Saturday, December 26, 2009

Snowed In

It's been a very long time since we've been snowed in anywhere. After two days of being snowed in at my parent's farm, I'm hoping it is a very long time before Mother Nature does this to us again.

We rushed to get to Mott on Wednesday, hoping to beat the storm. We again got in front of the storm on Christmas Eve and made it to Bison before the storm hit. The roads were not great, but if we would have waited, we would have been snowed in with the Kerzmans instead of the Sheas. We are praying the wind goes down and it stops snowing tomorrow so we can get back to Bismarck.
In the meantime, we've found ways to stay busy. It's been kind of fun, but also a little hard not being at home and not having cousins to play with, but we've gotten creative, and kept Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle John entertained. So, next time you are snowed in in the middle of nowhere (Bison, South Dakota is truly the middle of nowhere...check the map if you don't believe me. And we're not even in town. We're on the farm) here are some suggestions to help pass the time:
  • Gamble. After UNO got boring, Brad taught the kids to play blackjack. Even Lizzy, although she took the term "hit me" a bit too literally, and decked Grandpa! The kids weren't willing to wager their Christmas money, so they played for M&M's. Jake is headed to Vegas..he won the, it's warm in Vegas!
  • Hunt. Brad's original plan was to go deer hunting with my dad today. The ten foot snowdrifts changed their plans, but Brad is a dedicated hunter. While rocking Morgan, he spotted a deer outside the sliding door. He quickly got bundled up, grabbed his rifle, and headed outside. We watched from the warm house. He got that deer, and when Dad went outside, they got three more. And they still have tags to fill.
  • Shovel. Really, it's the neverending job. Jake has shoveled a path from the front door to the van three times today, but you'd never know it.
  • Nap. I know, sounds boring, but I've had two fabulous naps in as many days.
  • Eat. I may have to join the hunting party tomorrow to burn off all the junk I've eaten while snowed in. Of course, it doesn't help that it's Christmas, and there are cookies, fudge and candy calling my name.
  • Catch up on long overdue thank you notes. I have good intentions. I brought the cards and the gift list...but I've only managed to write about four thank you notes. Morgan is six and a half weeks old. My goal is to finish before all the snow melts. I figure I've got until at least June.
  • Drink. Hey, Grandma and Grandpa are ready to babysit....I don't see anything wrong with having a little Baileys in my morning coffee!
  • Drink more. Seriously, I may have to have another drink after what my two year old just did. Lizzy gave herself a haricut. I should have was much too quiet. Everyone thought someone else was watching her....when really, no one was watching her. As you can see, her bangs are almost gone, and the sides are pretty short too...she's kind of got a mullet going on. I'm so sad, because this means she needs a real haircut, and her beautiful curls in the back will be gone for good. She is my first kid to cut her own hair. Lexi and Jake never would have dreamed of doing such a thing (Jake was scared of haircuts for years, and Lexi has always just loved being pretty). She claims she did it because she wanted to look like Abby Cadabby. She does not look like Abby Cadabby. Someday I will laugh about this, but not today.

There are other things I should have done during this adventure. I have two books along that I've been dying to read, but I just can't seem to focus. Instead, I've watched a lot of tv (Grandpa has an awesome 52 inch tv!), taken a lot of pictures, and really not done anything productive. But I'm ok with that. Chances are it will be years before we're snowed in again, and just as many years before I have a good excuse to do nothing! Maybe being snowed in isn't so bad afterall...but next time, I will be sure to hide all the scissors!

Merry Christmas from the Kerzmans!

Our 2009 Christmas letter:
What’s your lucky number? Mine has always been 42, Brad’s 52. But this year, our lucky numbers have changed. We now both call four our lucky number. That’s because our family has grown, from three kids, to four. In honor of lucky number four….we decided to share four things about each of our four kids:

Morgan (6 weeks)
  1. Baby number four was born November 11th, 2009 at 5:43 pm. She weighed in at 9 pounds 8 ounces and measured 22 inches long!
  2. Morgan was born with a full head of dark hair, proof of the terrible heartburn I suffered while pregnant with her!
  3. Morgan’s middle name is Louise, after her godmother Madonna. Morgan’s name was a challenge for us…she didn’t have a name for the first 15 hours of her life. In our defense, everyone thought she was a boy (except for me, but I’ve never been right, so no one believed my “hunch”, including me) so we focused our efforts on a boy name (even those efforts came just days before Morgan’s arrival though!).
  4. This kid is so mellow! She obviously takes after her father! The poor kid gets dragged to school every day, to basketball games, concerts, you name it, she’s probably been there…and has likely behaved like an angel!

Lizzy (2 years)

  1. Not only does “busy Lizzy” rhyme, it is the truth! This kid is into EVERYTHING! She doesn’t do it to be naughty (most of the time) she does it just because she’s curious and can’t sit still! She has locked us out of our bedrooms and even the house, colored with permanent marker and lip gloss all over the carpet and the walls, and filled her water bottle with an entire bottle of caramel ice cream topping…and that’s just in the past week!
  2. Lizzy discovered tv this year and LOVES “Dora the Explorer”. I think we’ve seen every episode 50 times, and the Christmas special at least a dozen times. She has now also discovered “Phineas and Ferb” and “Veggie Tales”.
  3. Lizzy LOVES being a big sister. She makes up beautiful songs to sing to “her” baby Morgan and gives Morgan about a thousand kisses every day. No lie. A thousand is not even exaggerating.
  4. When she’s not getting into trouble, watching tv or loving her little sister, Lizzy is asking someone to read to her. She doesn’t understand it’s ok to just look at the pictures…she insists that someone reads to her because “no my know how to read”.

Jake (8 years, 3rd grade)

  1. Jake is obsessed with football. The obsession started this fall when he played flag football. He learned the basics of the game and had a great time with his buddies. Now he spends Sunday afternoons, and Monday and Thursday nights (until I force him to go to bed) watching NFL games with his dad. He plans to play for the Minnesota Vikings someday. If that doesn’t work out, he’s prepared to play in the NBA instead. He starts his second season of basketball at the YMCA after Christmas.
  2. Jake loves to read. He’s currently working on the Harry Potter series. He loves the series so much, he asked for his own copies of the books for Christmas.
  3. Jake is a Bear Cub this year. This is his third year of Cub Scouts. Jake is thinking about being an Eagle Scout someday. In the meantime, he sold popcorn and wreaths this fall, and candy bars last spring. He spent three days this summer at Cub Scout day camp and took third place in the pine wood derby. He and Brad need to get started on this year’s derby car. Brad has also caught the Cub Scout “bug”…he is the Assistant Cub Master for Jake’s pack.
  4. Legos are still a favorite of Jake’s. He even went to Lego camp for a week over the summer. Maybe if the NFL and the NBA both fall through, he can put his Lego skills to work as an engineer.

Lexi (10 years, 5th grade)

  1. Lexi accomplished something I never did in all my years of basketball…she had a perfect season! Her school team didn’t lose a single game this fall. She is now playing travelling ball. We’ve been to Dickinson, Valley City and Mandan for tournaments already. She spent a lot of time practicing basketball over the summer, attending camps and playing in a summer league. She’s super tall for a 5th grader and it’s so fun to watch her play ball.
  2. “Za-Za” is Lizzy’s name for Lexi. Lexi is hoping Morgan will learn to say Lexi and she can forget “Za-Za”, but I have a feeling this nickname may never go away. Lexi really is a very good big sister. Not only does she put up with being called “Za-Za”, she also let’s Lizzy play in her room and with her friends. AND…Lexi changes diapers!
  3. Lexi is in her fifth year of Girl Scouts. She once again sold a TON of cookies last year… over 350 boxes. She and a friend spent a night at Girl Scout camp this summer. Lexi suckered me into being her leader this’s been a good reminder of why I didn’t become a teacher.
  4. Lexi got to start band this year. She chose the flute and spent two weeks learning the basics at band camp this summer. She’s pretty dedicated…she practices at least two hours a week and gets up early for rehearsal at school three days a week.

As for Brad and me, we are still at the same jobs (Brad at the DOT, me at KFYR) although I did cut back to part time so I would have more time to chase my four very busy kids! Outside of work, Brad has found time to hunt (including a Colorado elk hunt and many trips to Mott to hunt deer and pheasants with the dogs, Bob and Windsor) and play basketball. I occasionally find time to scrapbook and hold Uppercase Living shows (my second part time job!) Be sure to become our Facebook friends (the coolest way to stay in touch with friends and family…it’s like a Christmas letter everyday!) and check out our family blog as well - – it’s filled with daily mishaps, funny stories, videos and pictures of our four blessings.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Best Christmas EVER

We celebrated Christmas early this year. We figured since we're heading to the farms for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and Brad is busy tomorrow night, we'd let the kids open their presents tonight. They barely made it through supper, they were so excited. Their excitement didn't die down until they finally fell asleep.

You should know we didn't spend a lot of money on anyone this year... with me on maternity leave and not getting a full paycheck, and the expenses of a new baby, there just wasn't a lot of extra money for extravagant gifts. I would have loved to buy the family a new flat screen tv and a Wii, but instead they got much smaller gifts. Turns out it doesn't really matter how much you spend on family was thrilled with the gifts they got, because they were things they all really wanted. Lexi got the fuzzy boots she's been asking for since July (I bought them on sale in September) and new tanks, Jake got the entire Harry Potter series and Madden 2010 for his PS2 (he's been playing Madden '04...pretty outdated!), Lizzy got new jammies (Dora, of course!), and Brad got new jeans for church and new sweatshirts for work (I'm praying he doesn't wear his new jeans to work!). And Morgan is just too little to care..but I'm sure she will be thrilled with her princess bath towel once she gets to use it. I also made all four kids banks for their savings... they were thrilled beyond words with the two-dollars in change I put in the banks.

There will be more gifts, but hopefully nothing extravagant. My kids and my husband proved tonight that they don't need expensive things to be happy. Lexi can't wait to wear her new boots to school tomorrow. Jake challenged Brad to a game of football on the PS2 (Brad won in OT). Lizzy tried on all three pairs of her new jammmies and probably won't wear anything but jammies again for a very long time. Brad is excited to go bridge inspecting tomorrow because he now has a warm hooded sweatshirt to wear. All night, the kids kept thanking us and telling us how this is the best Christmas ever. I have to agree.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I got a massage today. It's been a long time since I treated myself (I actually used a gift card Brad gave me for Valentine's day!) and I'd forgotten how nice massages are. A full hour with no children and no guilt for not doing something productive while they are gone. I laid on the table and let my mind wander. I'm not even sure what I thought about during that hour.. maybe nothing. I do know that I left feeling better both physically and mentally. My aches and pains were massaged away and my mind was refreshed.

It was a quick return to reality. I picked up the little girls from daycare and hoped to run a couple of errands. No such luck. They were both fast asleep. So I dragged them into the house, hoping they'd keep sleeping and I could fold the laundry. No such luck. Lizzy woke up and needed to snuggle and at the same time, Morgan woke up and needed to eat. So there I was... stuck in my recliner with two sleeping babies on my lap. Somehow I managed to get my laptop on my lap too, so at least I had something to do while they slept. But, that too was short lived. We had just a few minutes of cuddling before it was time to get the big kids from school. So I loaded two crabby kids into the van and headed to school. I blame the massage for what happened next.. I was obviously still too relaxed to think about what I was doing. I took all four of my kids, plus the neighbor kid, to the mall to run the errands we didn't do earlier. Believe it or not, we got everything done in record time, and everyone actually behaved!

Then...the most stressful part of the day.. and the reason I may need another massage tomorrow... we took our family pictures tonight. I've been procrastinating them because Lizzy HATES pictures. She can not behave, no matter how we bribe her. This time we had a friend (who also happens to run a photography business out of his's all who you know!) take our pictures. Surprisingly, they turned out ok. If nothing else, he managed to capture the "real" us. And that's ok. If I learned anything during my one hour of peace and relaxation today, it's that my life is not perfect, so my Christmas picture doesn't have to be either. So what if the two year old is making a funny face or the baby's eyes are closed? Those are small details that I don't have time to worry about.. I'm just happy all six of us were in the picture and that we got it taken before Christmas. My next goal is to get those pictures and cards mailed before Christmas... but first... I think I'll schedule another massage.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ten Lessons

Morgan Lousie is ten days old today! It's been a whirlwind ten days, from the isolation of the hospital, to the return to chaos at home. I've been reminded numerous times over the past ten days that life is good. And I've learned some important lessons too. Here they are.. my top ten lessons (in no particular order) I've learned in Morgan's ten days of life:

  1. Childbirth hurts, even with an epidural. Yes, this is my fourth baby and you'd think I would know this by now, but, it's the kind of pain that hurts really bad at the time, but as soon as you get to hold that precious baby, you completely forget all the pain. I am determined not to forget this time.. it's my insurance that number four is truly the last baby.
  2. Babies cry. They also eat alot and poop alot. Yes, this is another thing I should know by now, having had four kids..but the sleepless nights and constant feedings are, like childbirth, things you tend to forget after awhile. In the past ten days, it's all come rushing back to me. But this time I have a super comfortable recliner. I pretty much sleep there, cuddling and feeding Morgan every night between 1:00 am and 5:00 am. And, for the record, at this age, the crying is actually kind of cute.
  3. Sweat pants make me happy. I have not worn anything but sweats since Morgan was born. That's partly because none of my regular pants fit, and I refuse to wear maternity jeans when I'm not pregnant. But it's also because I truly love sweats. Really. I would wear them everyday, everywhere if I could get away with it.
  4. My family actually likes my cooking. I had gone on a cooking strike in the days leading up to Morgan's birth... I didn't cook anything with meat (the smell made me want to throw up and so did the taste) so we ate a lot of grilled cheese and noodles, and a few times I even made Brad cook (in hindsight, that was mean of me, since he was working long days and I was done at 12:30 everyday) I'm not really sure what my family ate while I was in the hospital and for the first several days after Morgan and I got home, I didn't cook. Some friends brought food over, we ordered pizza, and Brad cooked. Finally this week I got back into the supper cooking habit. It was nothing fancy... blt's, sloppy joes, spaghetti, tacos. But my family apparently appreciated it. Brad offered to take Jake out for a burger after a long night at Cub Scouts. Jake said no thanks, he'd rather eat Mom's cooking. And last night, as I was clearing the spaghetti dishes, Brad and Lexi both thanked me for cooking and rejoiced that "Mom is back".
  5. I wish I could be a stay home mom. I've never wanted to quit working completely, and until now, working part-time has been the perfect solution... I still have some adult conversation, but I have plenty of time with my kids. After a week of hanging out with Lizzy and Morgan all day, I'm dreaming of winning the lottery so I can do that forever. Yes, I may change my mind after a few more weeks of maternity leave. No, we can't afford for me not to work (unless we move into a trailer house..) but a girl can dream, right?
  6. I don't mind doing laundry. I have always hated this chore, because the laundry pile was always so huge and overwhelming. But this week, I've been doing a few loads everyday and getting it put away that same day (except for Jake's's been on the floor of his bedroom for about three days now). I have actually found myself searching for enough clothes to make a load. Call me Grandma Shea... but I can't stop doing laundry!
  7. I don't really like shopping. Morgan and I went to Target last night. I didn't enjoy it at all. Granted, we were shopping for toilet paper and cereal, but still, it wasn't fun, and she was actually really well behaved (she slept the entire time). Today we went to Hobby Lobby. It took me five minutes to find what I wanted, and then we stood in line for over 30 minutes. Again, Morgan slept the whole time, except for a little cry just as we were paying, but still, I didn't enjoy it. I was actually sweating by the time we finally got to the register. I had planned on going shopping the day after Thanksgiving, but now I'm thinking I'll do all my shopping online, from my comfy recliner, with Morgan in my arms.
  8. I hate missing my kids' activities. Lexi is playing in a basketball tournament in Dickinson this weekend. Brad and Jake are hunting in Mott, so Grandma, Madonna and Chrissy took Lexi and Lizzy to the games today. It seemed silly to take a ten day old baby to 5th grade basketball games all day. Chrissy texted me throughout the games, so it was almost like I was there. But when I heard how good the girls played, I got sad. I've only missed a few games ever, and the mom guilt is terrible. Tomorrow, Morgan, Mary and I are going to Dickinson to watch Lexi play in the championship game.
  9. I love the smell of freshly bathed babies. Really. It's the best smell in the whole world. I know she doesn't need a bath everyday, but I can't help myself. I just love the way she smells after a bath, and when she cuddles me, it's heaven.
  10. Don't sweat the small stuff. I've never been a really mellow, calm person, but I'm learning. Maybe it's the fourth baby. Maybe it's age. But somehow, I'm learning to just "chill" about the little things. So the toilet seat is up, there are dirty dishes in the sink and Lizzy's wearing her jammies at 2:00 in the afternoon. So what? As long as everyone is happy, little things like those really don't matter. And yes, Lizzy really does wear her jammies all day.. they are to her, what sweats are to me!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Today I'm Thankful For...

A few of my Facebook friends have started posting what they're thankful each day from now until Thanksgiving. I think it's a fabulous idea, but I haven't done it...because I'm having a hard time narrowing my list to just one a day. On my list from the past couple of days....epidurals, good doctors, patient nurses, wireless internet, Motrin and cell phones. I'm also thankful my 9 pound 8 ounce bundle of joy came three days early... our family doctor said if she would have waited until her due date (today) she would have easily been over ten pounds. But today, my list is a little deeper...

Today I am thankful for:

Four healthy kids. I've always taken my kids' health for granted. Until this latest pregnancy, I really never even worried about it. Yes, we've had our fair share of problems (broken arms, ear infections, bladder infections) but they have all been fixable things. When Morgan's heartbeat was irregular in June, I panicked. I was so scared she'd be born with some sort of heart condition. But, at four days old, her heart is beating away, perfectly healthy. She passed all her screenings in the hospital, and so far is the most perfect baby ever. I am so thankful for her, and for my other three wonderful, healthy, fun kids.

A helpful ten-year-old. Lexi has always been a good kid, but she has risen to the occasion these past few days. She's switched laundry, cleaned the kitchen, let Lizzy sleep with her while I was in the hospital and just been an awesome big sister and a wonderful daughter. I hope and pray she never changes.

An accepting eight-year-old. Poor Jake really wanted a brother, even though he never said it. He told us all along he didn't care if it was a boy or a girl, and that he was even ok with a sister, because that meant he wouldn't have to share his legos. But when Brad called to tell him the news, he couldn't hide his disappointment. I'm told he put his head in his hands and said "in my heart I really wanted a brother". My heart broke when I heard that. But he came around quickly. He had dibs on being the first to hold Morgan when they finally met after school on Friday. Just as a few days before he couldn't hide his disappointment, this time he couldn't hide his pride. He is ready to protect his little sisters (I suspect he may also protect his big sister from time to time).

My sweet Lizzy. I was so worried about her and how she would deal with a new baby. We put the crib in her room about a month ago so she could get used to the idea of sharing her room. That didn't go so well, and earlier this week, she was convinced we were getting another puppy, not another baby. She was so naughty when I was in the hospital. Visiting restrictions because of the flu meant the kids couldn't visit, so poor Lizzy went almost three days without seeing me. Brad left her with a friend on Wednesday night. She cried and avoided her (thank goodness for Lexi!). Thursday my mom came to watch her so Brad could come to the hospital...she cried for an hour, then took a three hour nap. And when he took her to Uncle Ed's yesterday morning, she threw a fit for him too. But when we got there with baby Morgan, she quickly changed her tune. She kissed her new sister, introduced herself, hugged Brad and I and said "thank you". All weekend she's been kissing her sister, hugging me and saying "thank you Mom". My heart just melts. She is so thankful for her baby sister. Maybe she's glad to no longer be the baby of the family. Or maybe she's just happy to have me home. Whatever her reason, it's so sweet, and so typical Lizzy.
My understanding husband. Brad has been wonderful. Even after 13 years of marriage, he still surprises me. He's been so patient and helpful. I'm so thankful to have him around to help with meals, laundry, and the kids. The man who hates to shop has been to Target, Wal-Mart and K-Mart, all in the past day... buying exciting items like diapers, wipes, and a dresser (then coming home and assembling that dresser so baby Morgan has somewhere for her clothes!) I've told myself I will nap as much as possible (lessons learned from past babies) and I'm so lucky to have Brad here to take Morgan so I can get a few hours of sleep. I think if he had his way, he'd be holding her a lot more...but I just can't give her up that much!

My friends and family. You guys have been awesome. From watching our kids, to bringing meals over (neither Brad nor I have cooked a meal since Tuesday) and even the phone calls and emails. It all means so much. Thank you for thinking of us. And, to my mom and my in-laws... next time you stop by I promise I'll be awake! Although I know you really came to visit Morgan :)

And at this very moment, I am thankful for peace and quiet. The little girls are sleeping, Jake is playing legos, Lexi is in her room doing whatever ten-year-old girls do, and Brad is playing poker. I know it will change soon... it's likely to be another sleepless night with baby Morgan, but I will enjoy every moment of the night with my baby in my arms. And that time with her will top my list of things I'm thankful for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sweet Baby Girl

She's here. Morgan Louise Kerzman arrived on November 11th, 2009 at 5:43 pm. She tipped the scales at nine pounds eight ounces and 22 inches long. Yes, she's a big baby...but she's perfect! She's got the chubbiest cheeks I've ever seen on a newborn and so far her personality is easy going, just like her dad.

I've had a lot of time to study fact, I've had her pretty much all to myself...the hospital has a visitors retriction because of the flu which means Brad and Dwayne from work have been the only people allowed in...and Dwayne got in only because of his camera! He got some great pictures...check back soon for those. Its been hard on the other kids, not seeing me or meeting their new baby sister, but we plan to be home by the time they get home from school tomorrow. In the meantime, I've had lots of "me" time to enjoy baby, and reflect on the past nine months. I'm not sure I'm "with it" enough to put those reflections into words quite yet, so instead, I will write about the funny things that have happened during Morgan's short life...

On our way to labor and deliery yesterday morning, a lady in the elevator said to me "you look just like Jody Kerzman from tv". I gave her a funny look (according to my sweet husband, it was funny, not mean) and said, in between contractions, "um, that's because I'm her". She got all excited and asked about baby, blah, blah, blah.

Thank goodness our next stop was our floor. Then funny thing number two.... the elevator doors opened and there stood my doc and her med student! Talk about service! In all my experiences with childbirth, I've never been met at the elevator by my dcotor!

Today, two meals were delivered to my room, at the same time Brad walked in with two Burger Time burgers. The cafeteria delivery was the strangest thing... we didn't order food, and we had to pay for the second meal! Aside from the apple pie, both mels were both totally disgusting, by the way.

And, just minutes before Morgan joined the world, as the doctors, nurses, med students, nursing students were rushing into the room, my darling husband said "I need to use the bathroom" and left the room. I was shocked, but too distracted (um, about to give birth here!) to ask what his problem was. I wondered if he was sick, but didn't really care enough to ask. I found out today he left the room to text his buddy Steve!!!!! Apparently he had texted him earlier in the day, and Steve had just responded with "did you have that baby yet?".... Brad left the room to text back "in about five minutes". Had this been our first baby, I'd probably be really mad about this, but at this point... it just makes me laugh...and gives me something to give Steve grief about for the next several years!

In all seriousness, though I am so thankful to have Morgan here. We have been blessed once again. She is a wonderful reminder of what is really important in life. I had forgotten how much I love babies, and how nothing beats the smell of a freshly bathed baby. We never planned on having four kids... I was happy with two, Brad wanted six. Four was a compromise. But now that she's here, I can't imagine life without Morgan. Number four has made our family completee, and already, brought many laughs and good memories.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Name Game

We finally pulled out the baby name book this weekend. Since baby is coming on Thursday, if not sooner...we decided it's probably a good idea to at least have a couple of names in mind before we go to the hospital. It's funny...with the first two, we didn't even have a name book. We just had names we liked, and that was it. Lexi would have been Jacob if she'd been a boy, and Jacob would have been Allison if he'd been a girl. With Lizzy, we were clueless and broke down and bought a book. Of course we didn't really study it until we were in the hospital. I remember sitting in the whirlpool and between contractions, Brad would read off some names he liked. Finally, I said "I'm picking Elizabeth if it's a pick the middle name". And so, we decided on Elizabeth Marie, just hours before she was born.

Good thing I didn't get rid of that baby name book, because we are once again at a total loss when it comes to names. Lizzy really wants to name the baby Abby, after Abby Cadabby (Elmo's friend on Sesame Street). It's obviously a two year old thing...Lexi was two when Jake was born, and she was determined to name him Bob (after Bob the Tomato from Veggie Tales). That's exactly why we have a dog named Bob. But we are not getting more pets, so this baby just might end up being named Abby.

We sat down as a family last night and paged through the book together. We let Lexi and Jake vote on names they liked, and I think we've got a boy name and a girl name picked out. I'm not going to tell them to you, just in case they change. But I am now a lot more confident this baby will have a name within the first few hours after birth.

In the meantime, I looked through the name book again this afternoon, searching for a girl middle name. I got a little sidetracked. The book is called "50,001+ Best Baby Names". It lists names and meanings, but it also has lots of fun lists, like "over-the-top names to avoid" and "names for future poets". I found myself looking through those lists for my name, Brad's name and the other kids' names. What I found was pretty interesting..and funny. Here's what I learned about our names and nicknames:
  • Charmers (funny, because his mom always told him he had "Brazzle-dazzle" and would charm his way through life, which he has done)
  • Names of rich Americans (Brad Pitt)
  • Future truck drivers (I'm sure this is because my name is spelled with a "y", instead of an "i", like all the cool Jodi's in the world. Yes, I'm still bitter about my stupid name spelling.)
  • Future Nobel prize winners (um, ok)
  • Names to make your baby popular (she's well on her way... she recently had three invites for parties on the same night!)
  • Ms. Perfect (yes, that's my Lexi...never do anything to upset the apple cart)
  • Powerful names
  • Future lawyers (I can see this....he's a smart kid that loves to argue)
  • Biblical and Saintly names (let's hope this makes him an honest lawyer)
  • Comfy names
  • Future mechanics (again, I can see this... he's very good at fixing and building, with Legos anyway!)
  • Names to make your baby popular (according to the third grade girls, Jake is already popular!)
  • Future royalty (Queen of England)
  • Powerful names
  • Names that get shortened ( Elizabeth is only called Elizabeth when she's in trouble..which is actually a lot!)
  • Names to give you a leg up in life (if she's a failure, it won't because of her name)
  • Ms. Perfect (compared to Lexi, no way!)
  • Names for smart kids (this scares me.... I'm afraid she's already too smart for her own good.)
  • Future doctors (now this would be ok... she could support her truck driving mother in my old age)
  • Names that sound presidental
  • Brand-name babies (Elizabeth Arden)
  • Future models (she is pretty cute...)
  • Names for the handsome and beautiful (again, she is cute...)
  • Comfy names
I've also discovered that my children's names are, ahem, pretty common. Elizabeth has made the list of top 25 names every decade since the 1950s. Jacob was the fifth most popular name for boys in the 1990s, and was number one from 2001 through 2004 (the most recent year in the book). And Alexis first broke into the top 20 list in the 1990s, was in the top five in 2001 and 2002, and the top ten in 2003 and 2004. No wonder I always hear people talking about Lexi and Jake.... guess they're not always talking about my kids!

So what does all this mean? Probably nothing. But just in case, I'm going to revisit the names we picked out.. I'd hate to have picked a name from the "future crooked politicians" list without knowing it... my child may never forgive me!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Random Thoughts

My mind is racing, my thoughts are scattered, and these are my random thoughts at the moment:
  • Soon, I'll be mom to FOUR kids. Yikes. Pregnancy has gone fast, yet at the same time, it feels like I've been pregnant forever! The crib is assembled, but that's about the only preparation we've made. Honestly, I think the only reason that is done is so Lizzy has time to get used to having the crib in her room. I'm a little scared about this sleeping arrangement... I've seen Lizzy throw lots of toys, most of them not soft toys, into the crib. I have visions of her doing that while baby is sleeping. I did pick up a couple of sleepers the other day when I was at Target, so baby will have something to wear home from the hospital. After that, we may just crank the heat and lounge around in diapers. Which reminds me, I should probably buy some diapers.
  • When baby comes, I will have a few days to myself. Very strange to think of a hospital stay as time to myself, but with current visitor restrictions at the hospital (because of H1N1) Brad is the only person that will be allowed to visit baby and me. Not even our other kids will be able to visit. So if you were planning to stop by, don't. They won't let you in!
  • I'm a little jealous of Lexi's basketball team. They finished their season tonight...undefeated! I never played on an undefeated team. Very cool. They really should have lost last night, but they surprised us all and came from behind to win (they were down by at least 12 points at one point). Her team was so fun to watch... all sweet girls who all got along really well. We celebrated by going out for pizza as a team tonight. The girls were so pumped and it was fun to visit with the other parents outside of the gym! I see lots of potential in these girls... perhaps a state championship in a few years?!?!? No pressure... but wouldn't that be cool?

  • While one basketball season ends, Lexi is gearing up for another. Traveling ball starts soon, and it will be fun to see how she plays with those girls. Only one of her teammates goes to her school.
  • Halloween. Jake and Lizzy are sooo excited. Lexi hasn't said much, but she's been pretty busy. Lizzy can't wait to wear her Abby Cadabby outfit, and Jake is pumped to be a hot dog. It's a funny costume, trust me. I'll make sure and take some pictures. Lexi will be a witch.....Lizzy is concerned that she will be a "good witch". It sounds like the weather will not cooperate though, in fact, snow is now in the forecast.
  • I wonder when road construction season will truly end. I've thought several times that Brad's busy season was over, only to have him work more long days. The overtime check will be nice, but having Brad home will be even nicer. I feel bad for him too... we are several weeks into the pheasant season and the poor guy hasn't been out once. Oh wait, he did go elk hunting for ten days...nevermind!
  • Names. Wonder what we will name this baby?!??!?! Lizzy insists it's a girl, and will be named Abby (after Abby Cadabby!) but what if it's a boy? I better dig out that baby name book....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A New Purse

I bought a new purse over the weekend. I didn't really need a new purse, or even want one. It wasn't even an impulse buy... I saw it when I got my haircut on Thursday, but it took me until Saturday to decide if it was really worth $31. And it took me until today to finally find time to make the big switch from the old purse to the new. What I learned during the switch is that your purse, and what's in it, can tell a lot about you. Mine screams "I'm a busy mom".

Along with the standard wallet, checkbook, lip gloss, and cell phone I found all kind of other "treasures" in my purse. Wondering what those "treasures" could possibly be? Here's a list:
  • Lizzy's baby doll and bottle that goes everywhere we go
  • Five Girl Scout badges that a good troop leader really would have put on her scout's vest by now
  • A bouncy ball
  • Receipts I need to remember to turn in at the next PTO meeting
  • Coupons a certain two year old likes to collect at the grocery store (coupons for things I never need, mind you)
  • Coupons I had intended to use, but got lost in the bottom of my purse until now, and are now expired
  • A half eaten sucker that Lizzy begged for at Wal-Mart, but quickly discarded once we got out of the check-out line
  • Christmas ideas for the kids
  • Two Avon books, with pages marked of things I thought I should buy....the books are now outdated
  • An old pay stub, with what I can only assume are very important notes written on the envelope. Sure wish I knew what great idea I was scribbling down!
None of these so-called "treasures" went into the new purse. At least not yet. I'm sure by tomorrow afternoon, at least a few will have returned. I'm ok with that. Because right now my purse says "boring".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Feeling Blessed

I've spent most of this week feeling sorry for myself....left behind with three kids while Brad is off on the hunting trip of his dreams. Lizzy's upset tummy and my pregnant aches and pains have made that self pity even greater. But today, I suddenly snapped out of it, and realized how truly blessed I am.

There I was..sitting with Jake and Lizzy at Lexi's basketball game, thinking of all the things I had to get done today. As I was making my mental list, I saw Madonna, Sheena, Jesse, Jorja, Mary, Rachel and Evan all walk into the gym. And that's when it hit me. All these people came to watch Lexi play basketball, and these same people would be glad to help me in a pinch. I am not all alone with three kids for ten days. I have awesome family just minutes away who have saved me time and time again, and would do it again without a second thought.

I realized how selfish I've been. Not everyone is lucky enough to have family in town, or even near enough to help in a bind. I have friends who have actually had to advertise for help, help that I get for free and take completely for granted.

So, to those of you who came to Lexi's game, and those of you who have watched my kids so I could run to the store, or shoveled snow from my driveway, cleaned my house, driven my kids to practice, or just come to my house to hang out, THANK YOU. I don't say it enough, but know that you are truly appreciated.
By the way, Lexi's team won their game....still undefeated! This one was a little close for my comfort...just three points....but it ended on an awesome note...Lexi blocked a shot!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Least Favorite Time of Year

The forecast calls for snow tonight. Summer is over. Fall is over too, for that matter. Winter is upon us. That also means road construction season is over...and hunting season is here. This is my very least favorite time of the year.

I knew when I married Brad that he liked to hunt. But I had no idea how much he liked to hunt. He normally only hunts pheasants and deer, but manages to spend much of October, November and December hunting those animals. This year, he expanded his horizons...and is on a ten day elk hunt in Colorado with a brother and two college buddies. He also has a bear tag, just in case.

Now, I'm all about hobbies, spending time with friends, and doing what you love. But I'd be lying if I said I was totally happy about this hunting trip. Yes, it's been a dream of his for a very long time. Yes, it was planned before we knew we baby number four was on the way. Yes, he deserves it..he works hard all summer and should definitely be rewarded for that.

Still, I'm bitter. I'm home with three kids, one of which is fighting a double ear infection and having a terrible reaction to her antibiotic. I am seven and a half months pregnant, which makes everything a little more patience is worn thin, my back hurts, and I'm tired. But, such is life. We will get through this and look forward to hearing Brad's hunting stories and seeing the pictures he will hopefully remember to take. And, while he's gone...the kids and I are determined to have fun. Today, I had a pedicure. Tonight, I found an Applebees gift card (of Brad's) and we went out for supper. I have more on my "revenge list".... including a day of scrapping, and eventually, a trip somewhere warm...for ten days, with no kids, no husbands... just me and my fellow hunting widows!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

List of Accomplishments

I love to make lists. I make them everyday, for everything from what I need to accomplish to the groceries I need to buy (although I never seem to remember to take that list with me to the store!). There’s something exhilarating about crossing things off my list. It’s a feeling of accomplishment I really can’t describe. Plus, with so much going on, lists are the only insurance I have that I won't forget a big game or a faith formation class.

Now before you go thinking I'm crazy, I must tell you there is at least one person out there who "gets" my obsession with lists. Lexi is only ten, but she is well on her way to being an organized, list making mother. I just learned this week that my darling daughter makes lists of her own. Yesterday she showed me her list of things to do before school. She had written everything from “get dressed” to “comb hair” and “study spelling words”. She happily checked off each task as she completed it and had everything checked off by the time her ride to band practice arrived.

I’m so proud. But I must stop writing. You see, I need to cross a few things off of my list for today.. including "update blog", "wash whites" and “teach Lexi to make lists”.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Late, late, late!

It is 10:09 pm. I am tired. Exhausted, actually. But something tells me it's going to be a late night.

"Late" seems to be the word of the day today. I have been running late all day, and my streak seems to be continuing well past my bedtime.

I was late picking the kids up from school. In my defense, it's the first time I've had to pick them up all year and I'm a little out of practice. I was only a few minutes late, but the poor kids were standing in the parking lot looking like orphans. I figured since we were already running late, and Lizzy had already missed her nap, we'd run a few errands after school. Bad idea. Lizzy crashed on the way home. That was 4:30 pm....two and a half hours later than her normal nap time. That late nap meant she slept until 6:30 pm. While she slept, I started making tacos for supper, but realized we were missing a few key ingredients. Of course, we didn't make it to the store until 7:00, which meant supper didn't get on the table until 7:45... late, late, late! The bright side.... Brad got to eat supper with us. But now I am paying for Lizzy's late nap...she has no desire to go to sleep.

It is now 10:16 pm. I am going to shut the light off and hope Lizzy takes the hint and goes to sleep. But, the way this day has gone, she will stay up late, sleep late in the morning...and make me late all over again. This does not make me happy. I do not like being late. It stresses me out, actually. But with three, soon to be four kids, I suppose it is inevitable I will be late from time to time. Still, I'd rather not be late for bedtime!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lessons from Summer

School starts tomorrow. I am so ready. It’s been a great summer, but it’s time. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved all the extra time I’ve had with my kids this year. Going part time is still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Even though I gave up my vacation days and my paychecks are less, the fun I’ve had with my kids is worth so much more. I have a few regrets. I wish we would have made more trips to the park, the zoo and the pool. I wish we would have read more books, gone for more bike rides and spent more evenings around the fire pit. Those are things I will put at the top of our “to do” list for next summer. For now, my attention is focused on this list…the top eleven things I learned this summer (eleven because I couldn't narrow it down to a nice round number like ten..David Letterman would not hire me!):

1. Swimmer’s ear hurts. At least that’s what I got out of the five hours of screaming.

2. Lexi , Jake and Tess make a delicious no bake cookie. And they can do this basically unsupervised. Honest. I don’t even have to be in the room, and the cookies still turn out pretty tasty.

3. There will always be piles of laundry, whether I work 20 hours a week or 40. Trying to get ahead of it is pointless. So is stressing out about it.

4. A clean house is awesome, but paying a ten year old to clean it is the very best way to get that house cleaned. She’s happy, because she has cash. I’m happy because the house no longer looks like a tornado hit.

5. Auntie Mary rules. End of story. She has saved my life too many times to list (or even to count) this summer. And when said ten year old isn’t around to clean the house, Auntie Mary is.

6. Naps rule almost as much as Auntie Mary. There’s nothing better than snuggling in with Lizzy, a sippy cup of chocolate milk, and a Little People dvd, then falling asleep for an hour or more.

7. Potty training is such a challenge, but so worth it when it’s done. I haven’t changed a diaper in months.

8. Sending the kids to the farm makes everyone happy. Grandma and Grandpa are happy because they have grandchildren to spoil, and mom and dad are happy for the break.

9. Cousins are great. Lexi and Jake were both lucky enough to spend time with their favorite cousins this summer. Lexi spent a few days in Mott with Brooke, then a few days in Minnesota with Chrissy (where she “shot the minnow”…ask her about it sometime. Totally disgusting.) Jake went to Crookston for a week to visit Tomas. At age 34 I am just now getting to know my cousins (thanks to Facebook!) so I am happy my kids already have close friendships with their cousins.

10. Not much beats a campfire in the backyard…smores, carmels, grilled cheese…and good company, whether it’s the neighbors, friends, relatives or just the five of us. Some of our best memories from this summer are those made around our fire pit.

11. Havng four kids is, I haven't had baby number four yet, but Tess practically lived at our house this summer and it was wonderful. She's a great kid, and I'm so glad she and Lexi are friends (Jake and Lizzy too...they all play so nicely together!). I got a glimpse into my future, and next summer is going to be even better!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Date to Remember

My husband took me on a date this weekend. It was Saturday night, the kids were at Grandma's and we had a gift card to the East 40. I should have known it would not go well, considering we've had the gift card for nearly three years, and the couple that gave it to us is now divorced. But, never one to turn down a free meal, I agreed.

Before we went to the restaurant, Brad had a couple of things he wanted to return to Sears. It's not very often we get to the north side of town, so it only made sense. We left Sears about fifteen minutes before it closed for the day. That's when the problems began. The van wouldn't start. I joked with Brad that it wasn't a funny joke, and that's the "oldest trick in the book" that guys play on a date. But it was real. The van was dead. I was so glad Brad was with me, and the children were not. Something tells me Jake wouldn't have been too helpful in this situation.

Turns out it was the battery, which was good luck actually, since we were at Sears. We raced back into the store, rushing to get a battery and tools before they closed. I paid for the battery while Brad looked for the tools he'd need. The battery was $116, the tools $46. He bought a socket set and some screwdrivers...just like the dozens of socket sets and screwdrivers he has at home, on the other side of town.

We returned to the parking lot with our purchases and I thought we were in business. I was wrong. Turns out two of the sockets were metric, and the $35 socket set was not metric. So, I started going through my cell phone, searching for someone to come rescue us. Finally, I got a hold of Jamie and Kai, and while we waited for Kai to bring another socket set, wrench, and pliers I went back into the mall to get one more supply. The battery was so corroded, Brad needed a coke to clean it up (which sparks a new topic.... the many uses of Coca-Cola). Of course, all I had was a five dollar bill and 95-cents in change, not what the pop machine wanted. So, I ended up buying a small coke at the movie theater for $3.70!

$165.70 later, we left the Sears parking lot and finally headed to the East 40. The steaks were ok, the company was great, and the story behind our "date" is one I'll never forget.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

25 Great Things About Being Pregnant

There comes a point in every pregnancy where I just get sick of being pregnant. I'm there. Which means, it's going to be a very long 12 weeks until baby comes. I'm tired of being fat, of people staring at my belly, of people wanting to talk only about baby stuff (really... because there's nothing else going on in my life?!?!), and of people asking how I'm feeling, or telling me I look pregnant. It's so easy to get annoyed by those things, but I try to remember this won't last forever. But there are those days that I just get wrapped up in self-pity. Today started out to be one of those days. But then I got an email that reminded me just how lucky I am to be pregnant. of course, if I wrote the list, it would be a bit different. Maybe I will write my own list someday. Not today though. For now, here's the list that finally brought a smile to my face today:

25 Great Things About Being Pregnant
By Heather Moors Johnson

By now you've probably had it with always being tired and carrying around extra weight. But why not consider all the reasons to celebrate these nine months? In case you're too grumpy to think of any, here's a list.

1. You're guaranteed to stop traffic whenever you cross the street.

2. People look at your stomach and can't help smiling, as if the mere thought of your being pregnant has actually made their day a little bit brighter.

3. You can eat a whole pint of chocolate-chunk ice cream and not feel guilty. Every night.

4. You can -- no, you must! --take naps. Lots of them.

5. Getting to name another human being.

6. Watching your husband turn into a father when he kisses your belly good night, reads to the baby in utero, or stays up until 3:00 a.m. putting the crib together -- just in case the baby decides to come eight weeks early.

7. Sex: For once in your life, you're neither worried about getting pregnant nor trying to get pregnant. You can have sex just for the pure fun of it.

8. Buying a bathing suit. It's not about hiding your flaws; it's about flaunting your belly.

9. Those wild, intense, amazing pregnancy dreams in which every remote person from your past makes some sort of appearance. None of these dreams can even begin to be analyzed or understood.

10. The amazing anticipation. It's like all your previous birthdays and holidays rolled into one.

11. Imagining the possibilities.

12. More personal space! And you have no qualms about claiming it.

13. You eat healthier, drink more water, and carefully read ingredient labels. Suddenly, it matters more to you what you put in your body.

14. In the middle of a boring meeting at work or a meaningless argument, you feel your baby squirming inside you and the sensation takes you away. It's your own secret communication.

15. Getting to hear the swish swish swish of your baby's heartbeat on the Doppler.

16. Playing "Guess the part sticking out," usually at bedtime, when your baby starts moving furniture around or whatever it is he does in there.

17. The extra attention you get from everyone -- your husband gives you more foot rubs, and your friends call to check in more often. Neighbors offer to help; coworkers volunteer to get lunch for you; little presents (a bottle of water, an afternoon snack) mysteriously show up on your desk.

18. The pregnancy beauty package: thick, silky hair; long, strong nails; beautiful skin; big boobs.

19. Getting to skip to the front of the line in public rest rooms.

20. Shopping for a person you haven't met yet: tiny clothes, all-new furniture, and adorable room decorations.

21. Dreaming about the first time someone calls you "Mommy" and the first time you hear someone call your husband "Daddy."

22. Baby showers! They remind you how special your friends and family think you are.

23. A continuous sense of accomplishment. You can answer "What did you do today?" with cool things like "I made ears" or simply "I'm making a person. What did you do?"

24. Spending immeasurable amounts of time trying to remember all those nursery rhymes, children's songs, and lullabies.

25. Knowing that all the bad stuff -- the heartburn, swollen ankles, backaches, and the rest -- doesn't last forever. And that in the end, it's all worth it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Star Gazing

I'm a little tired today, but it's a good tired. I'm tired because I sacrificed a couple of hours of sleep last night to stare at the sky with my son. Last night was the peak of the Perseid Meteor shower. Jake had heard all about the meteor shower, and had visions of hundreds of shooting stars falling through the sky. Someone told him the best time to see the meteors was between midnight and 1:00 a.m. So, when everyone went to bed, Jake stayed up...promising to wake Brad and I up at midnight to see the show. I wasn't sure he would stay awake, so I stayed awake too. We went outside at midnight, and I saw one shooting star right away. Jake was bummed that he didn't see any, so he went inside and woke up Brad. He joined us on the deck, but even with an extra set of eyes, Jake didn't see anything. He went to the front yard, laid on the driveway, didn't see anything, shot a couple of baskets...then returned to the backyard. He and Brad stayed up awhile longer, long enough for Jake to see two shooting stars. They were the first ones he'd ever seen. Unfortunately, he was too excited to make a wish, so his wishes will have to wait.

What doesn't have to wait, are the moments like those. Yes, we were all a little tired today. Yes, we were a little disappointed that we didn't see more meteors. And yes, our necks were a little stiff from looking up at the sky for so long. But it was all worth it. Seeing Jake's excitement and curiousity made all that worth it. So, while there won't be a meteor shower every night, there will be more nights of spending quality time with my son...which means, the wish I made on that shooting star will come true.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Enjoying My Kids....One at a Time

In the past two days I've had a chance to spend a little one on one time with each of my girls. Last night, Lizzy and I went to "Elmo's Green Thumb" at the Bismarck Civic Center. I scored free tickets after agreeing to welcome the crowd. I was hoping Lizzy would stay in her seat with our friends, but no such luck..she was attached to my leg. Just before it was time to go up on stage, she decided she was going to go sit down. At that point, it was too late...she would never make it in time, and probably wouldn't even be able to find our seats. So she walked on stage with me and held my hand while I welcomed the rest of the Elmo fans to the show. I didn't realize how scary it must have been for her, until my friend Jamie emailed me this picture.
Please ignore how fat and pregnant I look...and check out Lizzy's face instead! Her expression is one of pure fear! I suppose it was a little overwhelming...being on stage, with the spotlight on us, and all those faces looking at her. Maybe she was just wondering where Elmo and Abby Cadabby were. At any rate, once we got the welcoming done, we found our seats and enjoyed the show. It was a great show, well worth the $2.50 I spent on cotton candy! And it was so fun to spend a couple of hours with just Lizzy. She was so cute..when we got home and I tucked her in she said "thanks for Elmo Mom"....pretty much sealed the deal that we'll do it again!

Today, I got to have lunch with Lexi. She's in band camp this week. It goes until 11:30 and is at a school just a few blocks from my work, so she walks to the station and hangs out for an hour while I do the Noon Report. Today we decided to have a "girls' hour" and tried a new restaurant we'd never been to before. We had sandwiches, salad and soup...then shared a piece of cheesecake for dessert. The cheesecake was delicious...the rest was just ok, but the good company made up for the so-so food. I had so much fun just visiting with Lexi and catching up on her busy life. I got the low-down on band camp, who is playing what instrument, who she sits by, who she saw, and I even found out she's sort of excited for school to start. All that and yummy cheesecake too!
Now it's Jake's turn. I told him we would do something together, just the two of us, this week, since I've spent time with each of the girls. It only seems fair. Problem is, he's not interested in Elmo (which is probably good....I might worry if a third grader was as obsessed with Elmo as my two year old is!) and his idea of a lunch date is a snack wrap at McDonalds. He suggested a movie, but the opportunity for conversation is pretty limited in a movie theater. We'll think of something...even if it's just a trip to the Dairy Queen, or the Lego aisle at Target!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summer Nights

We haven't been camping yet this summer, and we probably won't make a trip. The idea of sleeping in a tent, on an air mattress, does not appeal to me this summer. But, we are still enjoying the great outdoors, and all the fun of a campfire.. in our own backyard.

Brad finished our backyard patio a couple of weeks ago... he (with a little help from his buddies and even Lexi and Jake) laid 2,190 bricks to make the patio we've been dreaming about since we moved in. It took a lot of work, time, and money...and Brad did a great job. We have enjoyed the patio, and the new firepit (last year's Father's Day gift) every Friday and Saturday night for the past several weeks. The kids have become quite the campfire chefs...making everything from smores, to carmels, even snakes and grilled cheese sandwiches!
But as yummy as the food is (and it IS yummy!) that's not the best part of our new patio. The best part is the time we've spent together, and with neighbors, friends and family. I love that our neighbors feel welcome to come over whenever they see us outside (or maybe it's when they smell smoke!). We are blessed to have awesome neighbors. We are also so lucky to have so many great relatives in town...we've had some fun, and very late nights with Paul, Sandy, Madonna, Ed, Mary and Mat around the campfire. And last weekend, we even talked the Christensen family into coming over for a fire. As you can see, the two year olds had a good time!
There's just something about the smell of a campfire and the mosquito spray that brings a smile to my face. The kids love it too....they've had fun studying our campfire cookbook for new ideas of what to make for late night snacks, and they love to invite their friends over for the fun. And I love that a fire can give my workaholic husband a reason to sit around and do nothing for a few hours. There's a Rascal Flatts song I think of everytime we gather around the fire..."Summer Nights"'s the two lines that are especially appropriate:
"Summer nights, everybody are you with me?
Let that igloo cooler mark your piece of paradise"
My piece of paradise is my backyard patio. No, it isn't the same as packing up the van and heading to the lake for the weekend, but for this summer, it will have to be enough. And who knows, we may just pitch a tent in the backyard before the summer is over!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Potty Training Nightmare

It's been a long time since I potty trained a kid. Lexi was easy, Jake was not so easy. And after the past 24 hours, I've decided Lizzy will not be easy either.

She wants to be a big girl so bad, but she's just not quite there. She prefers pull-ups to diapers most days, and this weekend Auntie Mary bought her panties....a package of seven...Dora the Explorer. Seven pairs...that should last a whole weeek...or at least more than 24 hours. Not the case. First, Lizzy had to try on every single pair. It was quite the style show in the living room. Then she got a little goofy, and became "Panty Head". She is definitely Jake's sister!

After the style show, Lizzy insisted on wearing panties. Fine. That's a good way to learn, right? We had the talk about listening to your body, blah, blah, blah. She went through four pairs last night before we finally convinced her to put a pull-up on. First thing she did this morning was take her pull-up off, and put on panties. She had three clean pairs left...they lasted until about 6:00 this evening, then it was back to diapers. Needless, to say, I have a lot of laundry that needs to be done NOW..because first thing tomorrow morning, she will be looking for those Dora panties.

I know it can be a slow process, and maybe letting her wear the panties will make the training easier. I'd love to have her potty trained before baby number four arrives....but.... for now, I think I'll stick with just making sure she gets the panties on the right body part!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Quiet Afternoon

I love the quiet. I love to wake up before everyone else on Sunday mornings and just bask in the quietness. Maybe I love it so much because with three kids, two dogs and a husband, quiet doesn't happen often in my house. And when it does, it often means trouble is brewing.

Take this afternoon, for example. Brad was at work, Lexi was at Chrissy's, Jake and I were working on the computer and Lizzy, I thought, was playing babies in her room. I was wrong. She came out to the living room talking about her eyes. Neither Jake nor I saw anything unusual, so we ignored her. She disappered again and when she reappeared the next time, it was very obvious something was wrong with her eyes. She had stolen my makeup bag, which I quickly found behind the chair in my bedroom (Lizzy's favorite spot to get into trouble...I just scrubbed pink lip gloss from the carpet behind that chair yesterday). In this secret hiding place, she had very quietly managed to open my mascara, and put it almost on her eyelashes. It actually looked more like a football player's makeup, but she thought she was beautiful. After showing Jake and me, she stood in front of the mirror for a long time. Then she let me wash it off, thank goodness. I, of course, snapped a couple of pictures....which I will one day quietly show her boyfriends.

Yes, the quiet is beautiful. Right now I am enjoying the sound of the dishwasher and my fingers hitting the keyboard. That's it. There is no other noise in my house right now. I will enjoy it for this moment, because soon the house will be filled with noise again. And I have to admit, I kind of like the noise means those I love the most are nearby.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Terrible Two's

I think it may be time to hire a cleaning lady. Or a nanny. Or maybe it's time to invest in a straight jacket for Lizzy. This child is a walking disaster. She has no fear, knows what she wants, and if no one will help her, she will just do it herself. "Me do" and "me too" are her two favorite sentences.

Here's what I've discovered about my youngest child just this week:

1. Lizzy now knows how to unlock (and lock) the deadbolt on the front door. I know this because I nearly ran over her when I tried to leave the other day..she had sneaked out the front door while I was backing out of the garage. Brad figured she couldn't get out, because the door was locked and deadbolted. Today, when I asked Lexi to shut and lock the front door, Lizzy pushed her aside and did it herself. "Me do!" A nanny could just follow her around all day and make sure she's safe at all times.

2. Lizzy is perfectly capable of opening a jar of pickles all by herself. She did this this morning, and in the process managed to spill all the pickle juice on the kitchen floor...but, she got a pickle, and that's all she really wanted. Hence, the thought that maybe I should hire a cleaning lady. I can't stand the smell of pickles. Although, it is covering the lingering smell of burnt toast from last week's fire quite nicely.

3. Lizzy should not be allowed to jump in church (this is where the straight-jacket comes in). I was a very brave mother and took her to church just the two of us on big kids to entertain her, no dad to give her "the look". She was pretty good through most of mass, until the baptism...that's when she decided she needed to go potty. I'm determined to get this kid potty trained before baby number four arrives, so we crawled over a few people and went to the bathroom. She didn't go, but she did wash her hands in each of the three sinks. I finally got her to return to our seats by telling her it was time to take her money up to Father Gene for the children's offering. She ran back to our pew, grabbed her dollar, and shyly asked the people beside us to let her through. Then she ran down the aisle. But, Father Gene thought all the kids were done, so he turned around. Someone must have caught his attention, because he came back to get Lizzy's money, but by that time she'd already given it to an usher, and ran past our seats. Eventually she found her way back to me and I was doing a little celebrating...we'd almost made it through church with no meltdowns. After communion she was standing on the kneeler, shaking her head, then jumping. I put my hand down to protect her head if she hit it on the pew...but somehow she managed to smack her lip anyway. She screamed like I've never heard her scream. That's when I saw the blood. Her face was covered with blood, from a tiny cut on the inside of her lip. I think a straight-jacket would have prevented this accident.

Here's the scariest part...the week is young... I am afraid to find out what else this two year old has in store for me!

Happy Together

Lizzy is not cut out to be an only child. We learned that over the weekend, when Lexi and Jake both left her. What we also learned, is Lexi and Jake actually kind of like having each other around too, although neither will ever admit it.

Lexi caught a ride to Mott with Lisa and her family on Thursday night. Lizzy didn't really notice at the time...she hadn't napped and was just way too busy playing outside to realize what was happening. Later that night she spent a few minutes looking for "za-za" (that's what she calls Lexi.. Lexi hates it!). She quickly got over not being able to find za-za, because Jake was still around. In fact, she picked Jake to lay down with her at bedtime. Jake was thrilled, and even said something about how it's nice when Lexi is gone, because then Lizzy likes him.

Saturday, Jake caught a ride to Bison with Grandma Shea. Again, Lizzy was busy when he left, and didn't really comprehend what was happening. But she spent most of Sunday morning looking for "Jakey". We had to call him that night, because she was missing him so much. That made Jake homesick, so I vowed not to call anymore. He's hoping to last the whole week there.

Lexi finally came home yesterday morning, and Madonna and Mary took both girls to the Minot Zoo for a few hours. When I picked them up after work, they were already fighting...I'm told they were happy to see each other for the first 20 minutes or so. But at bedtime, it hit me just how much Lizzy's world had been turned upside down these past few days. She couldn't decide if she wanted to lay down with me or with "za-za"...she really was torn. And even though "za-za" pretended to be annoyed, deep down I think she really liked all the attention.

Maybe she's just enjoying these last few months as the baby of the family. I wonder how she'll react when she has to share "za-za" and "Jakey" with a baby brother or sister? What I do know for sure, is I'm glad I had more than one kid. Someone once told me, you'll never look back on your life and wish you would have had fewer kids. After a few days of having just one, I totally agree. The kids depend on each other, and they are lucky to have each other. And having them all home makes my job a lot easier...they do a great job of entertaining each other, even if it means a fight every once in awhile. I have to admit, I kind of miss the sound of fighting children!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Important Things My Kids Have Taught Me

Remember that poster all teachers used to have hanging in their classrooms..."Everything I Ever Needed To Know, I Learned in Kindergarten"? I have a new version of that poster. I call it "Important Things My Kids Have Taught Me". Ok, the title needs a little work, but the lessons are there. Here's my list...this is just stuff I learned in the past 24 hours. Imagine if I kept track for an entire week!

1. Naptime can NOT be skipped. Never ever. Under no circumstances, can a two year old miss her nap. I learned that the hard way today. We had appointments until 2:00, then decided to run to Target. Bad idea. Worse idea...let's keep Lizzy awake until we go pick up Jake at 4:00. She couldn't do it. She zonked out on the short drive from Target to home. At that point, I gave in and let her sleep for 45 minutes, then loaded her back into the van to go get Jake from Lego Camp. She went right back to sleep until we got to the other side of town. And, she was a much happier little girl than she was before her nap. Lesson learned. Naptime is a must, every single day.

2. Parmesan cheese needs to be hidden. No lie..I caught Lizzy digging in the fridge for the parmesan cheese, open her mouth, and take a shot of cheese. She was very thirsty after her "cheese shot". I hid the cheese when she left the room.

3. Keep clean underwear on hand at all times. See yesterday's post. Apparently if there are no clean underwear in the dresser drawer, an eight year old boy will just go without. He now has a well stocked underwear drawer. Make that a well stocked laundry basket, full of clean underwear, waiting for him to put them away. We'll be waiting awhile.

4. Don't wear black pants to a two year old's hair appointment. It's a given, she will not sit in the chair without you, so you'll end up sitting with her on your lap while the stylist cuts her bangs. Even if you have a cape on, it doesn't matter. The hair will still make it's way to your pants, and blond hair really, really shows up on black pants. Lexi assured me it didn't look that bad...just like I had a dog that was shedding. Lovely. We went to Target anyway. And as you've already read, that trip did not go well.

5. When throwing food in the garbage can, make sure it's buried at the bottom. Do NOT leave food at the top of the garbage. If you do, two year olds will find it and eat it. Lizzy was trying to be helpful this evening by throwing a paper towel away. When she lifted the lid of the trash can, she found a hot dog she had been eating earlier. She pulled it out of the garbage, exclaimed "my hot dog" and finished it off. Yuck.

6. Lego camp rules. I don't understand Legos. I can not look at a pile of plastic bricks the size of my pinky finger and figure out how to turn them into a ship. But Jake can. Jake is the Lego king. He has drawers full of them, and this week, he went to Lego camp. It was a dream come true. He spent three hours the past three days with other kids just like him, and a cool instructor who loves Legos just as much as Jake does. They built bridges, ships, cars, and much more. When I picked him up today, Jake hugged his instructor. His instructor told me Jake is destined to be a mechanical engineer...he said Jake's a smart kid and will redesign simple objects to make them work better, like a broom and dustpan. That made me so proud. And so happy that something as simple as Lego camp could have such a big impact on my son. We will definitely sign up for this again. My lesson here: just because I don't understand something my kids are interested in, don't write it off. I need to let them explore their interests, not just my interests. There is more to life than basketball camp!

7. Take time to lay in the grass and study the clouds. Lexi did this tonight, and although I didn't lay my fat pregnant body in the grass (I was scared I wouldn't be able to get up!) I did put my head back in my chair and study the clouds with her. We saw a snowman, a deer jumping over a fence, a dragon (there's always a dragon), and a teddy bear head. And, I remembered how much fun it is to be a kid.

8. Fresh air fixes things. Today was not a good day. My kids were on my nerves all afternoon. I did not get anything accomplished. The house looks like a tornado hit it. My to-do list is untouched. But, in a moment of desperation, I went outside with all three kids after supper. It was either that, or someone was going to get hurt. Turns out the fresh air was great for all of us. The kids blew off some steam, and I relaxed in the sunshine. We came back inside and had a wonderful evening.

No doubt they taught me more than just these eight lessons today. These are simply the lessons that stand out in my mind. Tomorrow is a new day, filled with even more important things my kids need to teach me. I can't wait.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Laundry Lessons

I've decided it's time to teach my son how to do laundry. I came to this realization tonight, when Jake announced he was "commando", because he didn't have any clean underwear. Turns out he'd been commando the entire day! I wonder how long this would have gone on before he finally asked me to wash some underwear?

Jake started Laundry 101 just minutes after his announcement. His job: gather the dirty clothes from his bedroom and bathroom. Then I showed him how to sort the clothes into different loads. I don't think he got it. He's a smart kid, but something tells me sorting clothes is completely over his head. So I put the load of underwear in the washer myself, and then the dryer too. Maybe I can teach him to fold? Or, perhaps we should start small, and focus on putting his laundry away without unfolding it! Of course, these are big goals. I'm still trying to teach Brad these same lessons.

But I have done my part. Neither of my boys will have to go "commando" tomorrow. The laundry is now's up to them to put it away!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Power of Prayer

I meant to write this many of you texted and emailed to tell me you were thinking of us all day and praying. I appreciate that so very much, but I just couldn't find words, or energy to describe our appointment yesterday. So I will try again this morning.

Yesterday was an exhausting day, mentally and physically. I had a bad feeling from the beginning...when we had trouble finding the right clinic and again when they were running way behind schedule. But, my feeling was wrong. The appointment went great!

The ultrasound showed baby's heart is working perfectly! No more skipping beats! We heard it, and saw it, and the ultrasound tech was great about explaining everything. We met with the doctor, a perinatolologist (which is basically an ob-gyn who deals with complicated pregnancies). He assured us that everything looks great. Not only did baby cooperate for heart pictures, they were also able to get all the other measurements they needed to say that everything looks normal.

He did say my doctor will likely want me to come in for weekly visits for awhile, just to make sure the heart doesn't start skipping beats again, or start beating to fast or too slow (that's actually more of a concern than skipping beats). If everything is ok in a few weeks, we'll go back to regular visits.

This is a huge weight off my shoulders. I've been preoccupied, worried, and scared about this for weeks. I was preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best. I truly believe this is a testament of the power of prayer. All of my friends and family who added us to your daily prayers, thank you. Prayer works! Keep praying!

Finally, we still don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl. We decided we did not want to find out, and the ultrasound tech said baby wasn't cooperating, so she wouldn't have been able to tell us if we would have asked!

Here are the updated pictures...hopefully they are the last ultrasound pictures we'll have! My favorite is the fist picture...he or she is ready to take on the world, and big sister Lizzy!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The World Through Lizzy's Eyes

I should know better than to leave the camera laying around where a two year old can reach it. Thank goodness for digital.. I have deleted many pictures Lizzy has taken in the past few months. Back in the day when Lexi and Jake were her age, before I went digital, I wasted a lot of money developing pictures that weren't really worth developing.

But I never dreamed a two year old would be able to find the camera, switch the settings to video, and make her own movie. Check it out...she's searching for Jakey.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Baby Lizzy

None of my kids have ever been big pacifier users, or even thumb suckers. All three had a pacifier for between six weeks and six months, then suddenly, they all ditched it. Until this weekend.

Lexi cleaned out the van on Friday and found a long lost "nookie". She didn't get it thrown away in time, because as soon as Lizzy saw it, she wanted it. She has been obsessed with it all weekend. We even had to take it fishing yesterday, and when it fell in the lake, I thought the game was over. No such luck. Someone rescued it with a net and gave it back to her. Today, she took it to church, and wouldn't take a nap without it. If she doesn't have it in her mouth, she's walking around asking everyone "where'd nookie go?". Lizzy is smart enough to take the nookie out of her mouth to talk, and she knows to wash it off if she drops it outside. She also obviously knows this is not something a two year old should have...because she would not let me get a picture all weekend..Lexi finally snapped this one while she was napping.

I know I should end this before it gets too out of control, or screws up her teeth. But I just can't. It makes her happy, and I know she'll soon realize nookies are for babies and get rid of it again. And we only have one...when it's gone, it's gone. I am not buying her another one.

But at the same time, I can't help but wonder if this is a sign of what's to come in November. Will Lizzy regress to other baby things? She's been doing so good at potty training...will that take a turn for the worse when baby comes too? Will Lizzy insist on having a bottle and a nookie as long as baby does?

I really can't say that I blame her. Lizzy has been the baby, and giving up that spot will be difficult. Maybe this regression is part of her coping process. Or maybe the nookie just tastes good. At any rate, if the nookie suddenly goes missing, I won't admit to anything!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Games We Play

Some people play musical chairs. In our house, we play musical beds. Even when everyone goes to sleep in their own beds, you never know who you'll wake up next to in the morning. This picture says it all:

Both girls went to bed in their own rooms that night. Lexi came running upstairs after a bad dream, and Lizzy wandered in after falling out of her own bed. Rather than fight with them, and get my own lazy butt out of bed, I just let them both crawl into bed with me. You'll notice Brad isn't in the bed...that's because he often falls asleep in front of the tv downstairs. Rather than wake the sleeping beast, I have learned to just let him stay on the couch. Notice how the girls are spread out horizontally in our bed's no wonder I got up that morning! There was no room for me!

Monday morning tops everything though. Lizzy wanted Jake to lay down with her at bedtime. He had been gone all weekend, and they missed each other. I left them in her room, and crawled into my own bed across the hall. I fell asleep to the sounds of Jake making up bedtime stories and the two of them giggling. At 2:30 I woke to Lizzy saying "Jakey, Jakey" but I didn't hear anything else, so I went back to sleep. I got up at 5:00 to go to the gym and checked on them. Jake had taken over Lizzy's bed, and she was sleeping on the floor, butt up in the air. They seemed fine, so I left. Thankfully I shut the gate at the top of the stairs when I left. An hour later, I walked into the house, to find Lizzy sleeping at the top of the stairs. The gate obviously prevented her from wandering too far, and she looked like a puppy, waiting for it's owner to return. She woke up then, led me into the kitchen where she grabbed a tortilla from the fridge, then crawled into my bed. I laid down with her, and she slept for another two hours.

The moral of the story? There probably isn't one...but if I had to pick a lesson from these games of musical beds, it would be these: choose your battles. There are things worth fighting with your kids over. Where they sleep at night is not one of them (not during the summer, anyway). Second, enjoy these moments...very soon, they will not want to snuggle you at night. In fact, this week Jake and Lizzy are at the farm, Lexi spent the night with a friend, and Brad again fell asleep on the couch, leaving me with the bed all to myself. It was nice, but also a little lonely. And finally, sleep trumps all arguments. Sometimes, it's worth giving in just to get a few more minutes of shut-eye.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oh Baby

These are the first pictures of baby number four. It's a little early for an ultrasound (I'm just 17 weeks..usually the first ultrasound is done at 20 weeks). But there is good reason for this early look at baby.

I went in for a routine check-up last week Thursday. I had heard baby's heartbeat at my visit four weeks ago and it sounded perfect. This time, it skipped a beat. It was a consistent skip...three beats, nothing, three beats, nothing. At first I thought Dr. P's equipment wasn't working correctly, but when her voice sounded concerned, I knew it wasn't an equipment malfunction. She quickly sent me down to ultrasound to get a better look at baby's heart.

I'm no doctor, but I must tell you I knew the second I saw the ultrasound screen...something was wrong. I could see a muscle (which I assume was the heart) beating three times, then skipping a beat, then beating three beats, then skipping. The ultrasound tech turned up the volume and suddenly I could see and hear baby's heart. Tears started flowing at that moment, and didn't stop for several days.

The tears were for many reasons: fear that something is wrong with my baby, fear that it was caused by something I did (or didn't) do, and an overwhelming realization of how much I already love this baby. That's been the most sobering part of all of this... I didn't really want a fourth baby. I was thought I was warming up to the idea, despite the rude comments and questions I've endured from people (no kidding, numerous people have asked me if this was "planned", or "did you mean to?") I figured by the time baby comes in November, I'd be ready. But, turns out, I'm already ready, and I've already fallen in love with this baby, heart problem or not. When I heard the heartbeat and saw the images on the screen, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This is OUR baby...and let's face it, Brad and I have cute babies! I'm now more excited about this baby than I ever have been. I truly can't wait for November!

In the meantime, I am now considered a "high risk pregnancy" all my pregnacies, this is a first. We will do some follow up on the irregular heartbeat. We go to Fargo on June 24th to see a cardiologist from Sioux Falls, and to get a level two ultrasound and a fetal echocardiogram. That should determine if it was a "fluke" thing, or if there really is something wrong with baby's heart. I've been trying not to google "irregular fetal heartbeat", but I couldn't help myself. From what I've read, it happens in about 14-percent of all pregnancies but is only a problem in one to two percent of those. That means statistics are on my side. But, I am cautiously optimistic...I have many friends who have been in that one to two percent in other ways. But, I know that whatever happens, we will be ok. In the meantime, please pray. That is really the only thing anyone can do at this time! And, watch for more baby pics...we'll have lots after the appointment on the 24th!