Thursday, December 28, 2006

Not Sure Why I Didn't Think Of This Before

I am now officially an adult. (It only took 30 years.) I've just finished uploading a new bestselling fiction audiobook to my mp3 player to keep me company on all of the long miles ahead of me on the eliptical machine at the gym. And the best part about it? If I want to finish the book, I'll have to keep returning to the gym. Why am I just thinking of this now?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Was That Just Christmas That Flew By?

I swear Christmas comes faster and faster every year and then is gone just as quickly. It must be a sign of getting older. We had our first ever Christmas morning at our own house for the first time ever since having kids. Usually we're in Chicago on Christmas morning. Bret's Grandma's health has been failing so we stayed here so that the whole family would be together for Christmas on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve at Bret's Mom & Dad's house.

Our immediate little family.

Ashley and Brooke wait for dinner to be ready.

Ryan got many more Legos.

Mitchell shared ALL of his presents with Ashley.

We got home around 10:30pm and set cookies and milk out for Santa, carrots for the reindeer and then off to bed the kids went.

Once the kids were in bed I begin to fullfill my promise to Ryan and set out to finish building his legos. (I had already spent an hour and a half building them before we got home.)

Little did I know that it would talk me until THIS TIME IN THE MORNING TO FINISH!

Doesn't look like it would take that long, does it? (Don't even go there!)

The kids were up early and I had gotten about 3 hours of sleep, but Ryan was thrilled with his Lego Airport. After opening gifts from Santa, we piled into the minivan and headed up to Chicago for "Christmas Afternoon".

Pampered Pooch.

We had a nice time up in Chicago at my mom's house and had dinner with my side of the family.

My brother Dave, Ryan and my Grandma.

I do think my brother breathed a sigh of relief when it was time for us to leave the next day. Ryan tested out his new toy nail gun on him for quite awhile.

It is now two days after Christmas and I've almost completed reclaiming my house. Yesterday I put away all of the Chrismtas decorations and today I took the tree down. Tomorrow's agenda includes finding a place for all of our new loot. Wish me sanity and luck, will you?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Santa Came Early

Santa made an early special delivery to the kids yesterday. He brought them an air hockey table and had to drop it off to Grandma & Grandpa's because it was too large to fit in his sleigh with everything else on Christmas Eve.

The kids were really excited and couldn't wait to get a game in before going to bed.

We got home from the Enchanted Forest at 9:30pm last night...

...and by 9:45pm Ryan had an ice pack on his fingers.

Figures. Maybe once is all it'll take for him to remember not to put his fingers inside the table.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Enchanted Forest

Tonight we spent the evening with Bret's brother's family and some friends of theirs. After eating dinner, we piled into the cars and headed over to East Peoria's Enchanted Forest.

Guess who waited patiently for his turn to sit on Santa's lap? (No, not Bret.) Awestruck, Ryan went right up to him, climbed up and proceeded to tell him the list he had ready in his head. I had to turn around and explain to the people waiting behind us that he has a really LONG list. Luckily they laughed and thought it was funny, too. However, Ryan almost looks too big for Santa's lap. Ashley wasn't having anything to do with it though. I guess ten year olds are too old to get a picture with Santa.

We tried really hard to get a group photo of all five kids, but when you sit them on a pile of fake snow, this is about as good as it's going to get. This was the first picture we took. It goes drastically downhill from there.

We caught the 8pm light/laser show while we were there and I think I now know what it feels like to be on drugs. I had to keep taking the glasses they handed out off becauase my head was spinning out of control. The kids didn't seem to mind too much.

It was a pretty good time. Hard to believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve and that the whirlwind of the holidays will be here and gone in a blink of an eye.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!

More pictures over on Flickr.

19 Hours And Counting

In a little more than 19 hours, Santa will be leaving the North Pole to start delivering gifts to children all over the world. Our eyes will be glued to this Santa Tracking Website as we watch Santa makes stops in cities all over the world. Will you be watching, too?

Camper Boy

It was only a matter of time before Ryan requested to sleep in the little tent that Grandpa bought for him - in his room.

There's not much room for anything else in there, though. He did stay there all night and looked pretty cute. How long will this phase last, I wonder.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Super Baker Bret

What have his coworkers done with my husband? He's baking cookies. From scratch. (Well, from a mason jar of ingrediants, anyway.)

I guess I should go tell him that leaning over watching the cookies isn't going to make them "dry" any faster. Um, dry?

Something strange is going on over here. Everyone is acting like lunatics.

And guess who caught it all on camera?

I'll let you know if we're still alive over here in the morning after sampling Bret's cookies.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


No one should ever have to bare loosing a child. Never. My undoing today during the 7 hour visitation at my Uncle's wake was seeing my Grandma break down as we were leaving for the night. It broke my heart to see her hurting so much - and we still have the funeral to get through tomorrow. I'm off to bed now - I'm emotionally and physically exhausted.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

He Loves His Mommy

As I was putting Ryan to bed tonight he became pretty emotional over the fact that I have to leave in the morning for two days to head up to Chicago for my Uncle's visitation and funeral. He was crying and told me that when I'm not here he worries about me. It breaks my heart and takes me back to the first few weeks of school when he started kindergarten and cried every day. Back then he carried a picture of our family around with him at school all day. Ashley and her friends were constantly finding it laying on the ground at recess or on the floor in the school hallways, which tells me that he did indeed carry it with him all day. Tonight as he and I were talking, he told me that if he has a picture of me with him while I'm gone, he won't worry about me and it'll make him feel better when he misses me. So, what does any mother who loves her child to the depths of her soul do? She hangs a picture of her and her kids on his wall right next to his bed. It seems to have worked. He's not crying anymore and is now asleep, right next to that picture.

Some day, if he goes back and reads any of this, he's probably not going to be too happy with me, is he?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Because Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh

Last night was Ryan's Christmas concert at school. We weren't sure what to expect because let's face it - Ryan is partially deaf. Okay, maybe that's a bit too strong of a description since his diagnosis is mild to moderate hearing loss, but I'm sure you get the idea. He doesn't pick up on musical tones very well, so we were prepared for anything...

(Click on pictures to enlarge.)

...except for his buddy standing next to him being so enthusiastic. He got so into it that he knocked Ryan backwards and right off of his feet. Thankfully they weren't standing on the highest riser or Ryan would have flown off of the back of it straight onto the floor. Poor little guy was so emabarassed but he pulled himself back together and got back into the performance - but not before shooting his friend a look that said, "What the heck did you just do to me!" I didn't get his fall on camera because I was too worried at the time, but did snap the picture just as he was shooting a look that would kill.

All is well though and they are still friends at school.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Total Shock

I just received a phone call a little bit ago with the news that my Uncle John passed away this morning. We are all in total shock as none of us saw this coming. I really don't know what more to say at this point because I still feel like it can't possibly be real. He was only in his fifties - and right before Christmas. Wow - I'm just in total shock and obviously the grief hasn't set in yet.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Taking A Beating

Bret always knows how to get them all riled up right before bedtime, doesn't he?
Ryan and Brooke give it to him good.

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I've been a good mom all year.

I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited their doctor's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground.

I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable?

It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back.

Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,

P.S. One more can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in Santa.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Poor Confused Dog

The snow has finally almost all melted outside and Daisy is more confused than ever. The section of grass that we've trained her to do her business on is still pretty snow covered even though almost everywhere else has melted. When she went out to go tonight, she walked around confused (or very ticked off) and then finally settled on a very tiny section in her "territory" and did her thing. I actually laughed out loud, watching her tip toe through the snow to that very small spot. OCD or just confused?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Came Early

Christmas came early tonight for my kids when they talked me into putting together the toy we got for Chloe and Cecelia earlier today. (It'll be staying at my house for them to play with.)

They've been having a blast "breaking it in" for the babies.

Now I have to go break their hearts and make them go to bed. Maybe Chloe will actually get a turn to play with it tomorrow.

Look Who Cut Her First Tooth Today!

Chloe cut her very first tooth today and she handled it like the little trooper that she is.

Has anyone been wondering where I've been lately? Shopping, shopping and more shopping and I am officially done buying and wrapping everyone's Christmas presents. (Even my own - ha!)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Shop Till You Drop

I have been so busy the past few days, trying to get my Christmas shopping done. I'm almost done but am so incredibly exhausted. Now I still have to wrap them all. Maybe I can send them over to my father in law who has always wrapped them in the past. I'd type more, but honestly that requires way more brain energy than I have to give right now. I'm off to put some resemblance of order back to my house.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This Seems To Not Be My Day

Everytime I get the babies down for a nap today, I've been going outside to dig our mailbox out a little bit at a time. I had made good progress until the darn plow came by and burried the mail box and the already cleared driveway back in!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Who Knew?

I discovered that I have a talent that I didn't even know about! Teri and I met up over at Kelly's house to make Christmas wreaths this morning. I was expecting something much more hideous so I am plesantly surprised with myself.

The kids did get off to school this morning. I was determined to get them there so I drove them myself when it finally looked like the bus wasn't going to make it. Good thing, because it was over an hour late getting into our neighborhood.

Doesn't look like we'll be getting mail anytime soon. The mailman just drove right by all of our burried mailboxes. Ugh!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Enough With The Snow Already

According to the news, Peoria schools are closed tomorrow as well as a bunch of other schools. Doesn't look good for our Dunlap schools (or my clean house). Looks like the kids may be home another day. The plow has returned today, but they refuse to dig us out any more than they have. They say we're not on their list (which is so not true because while we do have an Edwards mailing address, we are still considered the city of Peoria) and that they're doing us a favor by doing as much as they have. Really makes you want to pay your taxes, doesn't it?

Ryan was busy this afternoon helping Bret dig out more of the driveway. In the right side of this picture you can see just how much snow is blocking our driveway.

Such a daunting task. Maybe that's why Bret handed over the shovel so quickly.

Obviously it was too much for Ryan to handle. He didn't stay upright for long.

Ashley spent the afternoon running around the neighborhood with some of her friends. She's praying that the Dunlap schools will be closed tomorrow. She must really be wanting to see how thin my patience has really become. (You know I'm kidding, Ash. I would love to spend another day watching you and your brother grow even more tired of each other.)

Is everyone tired of hearing about snow yet?

Pray for school openings!!! Ha!!!

MIA Plow Trucks

As of midnight last night the city snow plows were suppose to be plowing residential areas curb to curb. They sure haven't made it out here yet. I think Peoria was not ready for this snow storm in a very big way. We heard that Peoria has 28 plows and as of yesterday, 20 of them were in ditches and 2 were broken down. That leaves only 6 plows for a very large city.

Bret did manage to get out this morning and he's now over at his parent's house shoveling them out. Tomorrow morning may be one big headache if they don't get these streets plowed. As of now, there is no way a school bus is going to be able to get through here without getting stuck and the mail man won't be able to find any of our mailboxes.

While I have loved every minute of my family being home since Friday, it is definately time for them to go back to work and school so we can get some normalcy back. The kids are starting to get on each other's nerves and my house really needs to be cleaned, which I will be doing all day today. Sorry kids, you'll have to wait for your dad to get home before you can go out and play today.

Will someone please come and plow us out?!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Winter Wonderland And Frozen Behinds

(Click on pictures to enlarge.)
Once again we braved the elements and headed outside again. Thank goodness for snow pants - my own included. Bret has shoveled a section wide enough for the van to squeeze out of to the street, so if we do have to go anywhere we can now attempt it. Doesn't mean we won't get stuck, though.

A plow came through once today and scooped out the middle of the main street here in the neighborhood, but not any of the cu-de-sacs or the other main road that branches off of our street. Our driveway is now host to a neighbor's car that lives on above said street who just wanted to get home after being stranded in a different neighborhood since Thursday night.
The plow didn't come anywhere near any of our driveways. I'm not quite sure where they're going to put any of this snow anyway. I wonder when we'll get mail again.

Ashley's ready to head out again.

But first Ryan tackles her.

A friend who lives at the front of the neighborhood invited a bunch of the neighborhood kids down to her backyard to sled where she has a huge hill that goes down to the creek.

Watch out, Ash! She got nailed quite a few times herself.

Ryan and his buddy Jacob had a blast going down together.

It was quite a trek back up the hill, though.

Tanner decided he wasn't sitting his cute little behind down on the snow so he used Ashley's leg.

We are now home trying to thaw out our own bottoms with the fireplace.

I'll be putting all of these pictures and more over on Flickr.

Still Burried Under Snow

We woke up this morning to see that we hadn't been plowed out yet. Someone plowed a narrow strip down our main road (which we live on), but there's still the other half of the road to dig out if we want to attempt to go anywhere. . . which we won't be attempting anytime soon because the guy down the street did just that and he's now stuck in the middle of the plowed part of the street. Will someone PLEASE come dig us out? I'm really starting to feel cooped up in here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Digging Out From All Of This Snow

Click on pictures to enlarge.
This afternoon while Bret and a bunch of the neighbors were outside shoveling us all out from under all this snow, Ashley and I made cookies. Ryan was forced to take a nap (which he hasn't done in forever) because he was so wiped out.

The driveway is now clear, but the street is still impassable. It could be days before we're plowed out. Anyone who has tried to get out has gotten stuck in the middle of the road - if they even make it out of their driveway. What upsets me is that a guy down the street has a plow on his truck and all he did was plow a narrow path through the neighborhood straight to his own driveway. At least we can walk through part of the neighborhood in the middle of the street instead of climbing through the knee high snow to get to a neighbor's house. Bret and Scott also made a path through the backyard (by dragging a snow blower) for the kids to run back and forth on to get to each other's houses.

Note the car across the street that didn't make it out of the driveway. They are now on a waiting list for a tow truck.

Not sure how long I can hold the kids off from climbing all over these piles of snow. (Climbing on them would require a bunch of reshoveling.) If you stand next to them, some of them are almost as tall as us. The final count of snowfall, according to the news is 12.5 inches. It looks like even more than that when you're standing out there.

Hopefully we'll get plowed out soon. We're starting to get restless.