Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dear Santa

All we want for Christmas is another new box.

One of the stores in town is going out of business so we made a stop after church. In a total impulse buy, I got a great deal on some new lamps. Now, they are by no means huge lamps and the box they came in was fairly small as the lamps came unassembled. No sooner did I have the box emptied and the kids were grabbing their crayons excited to play Pinky Dinky Doo. They played together in their box for a good hour until the box finally split from having the two of them sandwiched inside.

This should make gift buying easy for everyone this year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When your mind is made up...

Last weekend during a trip to Libby Lu, Mooka announced that she was ready to get her ears pierced. Once again, we did the lets-wait-until-next-weekend trick. We have been through this before and I was hoping it would just pass.

First thing Saturday morning, she started asking about it. So we gave in.

She was so funny and determined the entire time. As soon as she sat down in the chair, she put on her game face and stuck to it. I'm pretty sure the first time I went to get mine done, I chickened out.

But not Mooka...she was ALL business.

Thinking it over...

Game on...

All she said when it was done, was "Mommy hold me."

She was back to normal within about 10 minutes. She has been so excited about them all weekend and cannot wait to change into some of her new earrings.

I feel like Baby Bear has not gotten a lot of press as of late, so here are a couple of pics of him enjoying Yankee Candle Company. I am pretty sure I won't be getting any calls for him to be their new spokesman.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Moo Gabba Gabba

A long lost twin?

Mean? Maybe.

Did that stop me? Nope.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Economic meltdown and kids

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the economy started to impact kids. I have always heard about school funding being in jeopardy, but never pre-schools.

My kids go to a privately owned pre-school, but approximately half of the kids at the school receive funding through the state in a program called CHASI.

I found out this morning that the state of Illinois is significantly behind on providing this funding to the schools and consequently the school will have to turn away those kids after this week. This upsets me on so many different fronts.

What will the families do who will no longer have care? Providing quality child care is one of the toughest things a parent will face. We went through two horrible experiences with home care providers and I shutter at the thought that some of these kids will be forced into similar situations. Not to mention the outrageous cost to have someone provide quality care. If an alternate cannot be found, many employers are not forgiving when it comes to having to take time off work to care for your child and I'm sure many of these moms don't have a work from home option.

How do you explain what's going on to the kids? I firmly believe in protecting a child's innocence. It's impossible to answer their questions about 'why don't I go to school anymore' or 'what happened to my friends' without compromising that opinion.

You can make your opinions on this issue known by contacting the Illinois State Representatives and the Governor's office.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Journaling with kids

I am always amused at my kids interpretation of life. When I came across a site with suggestions for journaling a child's album, I couldn't wait to ask the kids questions.

For the first round, I got Baby Bear's opinions on me...

1. How old is your Mom? 5
2. What is your Mom's favorite color? Green
3. What is your Mom's favorite food? celery (this may have been influenced by the fact that we had Wonder Pets on TV at the time as I've never brought celery into our home.)
4. How tall is your Mom?8 and a half
5. What shoe size does she wear? mommy shoes
6. What is her favorite TV show? I don't know what it's called but it has lots of music in it
7. What time does your Mom wake up in the morning? goes to the bathroom
8. What time does you Mom do while you're at preschool? works at build a bear (he only got this partially right because I have the coolest job ever in the eyes of a 3 year old - he would have had no clue at my old job)
9. What is your Mom's first name? momma tookie
10. What do you like best about your Mom? you kiss me and hug me before I go to bed (my heart melts for him)

Next, it was Mooka's turn to answer questions about Daddy. Baby Bear added his commentary as well.

1. How old is your Dad? 13
2. What is Dad's favorite sport to play? football(and softball)
3. What is Dad's favorite food? chicken on the bone(and fondue)
4. How strong is your Dad? SUPER strong
5. Where does your Dad work? with his friends(at build a bear)
6. What is Dad's favorite TV show? baseball (and football)
7. What is your favorite thing to do with Dad? lay around with him
8. How tall is your Dad? he's really tall (followed by really, really tall animated by jumping on the couch)
9. What do you like best about your Dad? gives me little snacks to eat
10. What is your Dad's first name? Andy (Poppa)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Raising a girl

It is very important to me to raise a strong independent little girl. Trust me, Mooka has had no shortage of exposure to princesses and fairy tales and all things sparkly, but she also is being raised to know that she can do anything she wants if she puts her mind to it.

There is a tremendous amount of pressure and obstacles that little girls face in today's society. I try really hard now to let my little girl express herself and encourage her in everything that she does. Some days (most days) she doesn't want to comb her hair before school and I think that is okay. I would rather her be happy with the way she looks naturally than have her grow up thinking she has to be all fussy about her appearance before she can step foot out the door.

If my little girl wants to grow up and be a stay at home mom, great, I support her.

If my little girl wants to grow up and rule the world, great, I support her. (Even though I personally like this idea much better.)

Today I found the perfect expression on this topic at Ava's Closet . It may end up being an early Christmas present.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Working at the Sal

When I was in the eighth grade, I took on a non-traditional job. I became the pianist for The Salvation Army. Most people are unaware of the fact that The Sal is a church first and an outreach organization second. So, every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, I went to my "job" playing the piano.

Over the years, my job duties increased. I helped in social services, prison outreach, nursing home and children ministries, the thrift store, bookkeeping, and eventually my first real job out of college would be at one of the divisional headquarters in disaster services.

But the one job that I held that is most vivid to me is that of bell ringer. Every year I am reminded of this position when the bell ringers come out in full force. It wasn't a paid position. I would help out when the "volunteers" did not show up for their duty or when there was just a shortage of help. I had seen first hand how the money from the bell ringing campaign was used and knew it was critical to our community support efforts.

I remember the first night I was out there ringing. At first, I thought I was going to lose my mind. The constant clang of the bell. The freezing cold wind. Virtually no one to talk to except for the occasional "thank you" and I do mean occasional. I pressed on for my three hour shift and then went home to my nice warm bed.

The next night, I started in with my clanging and went back into my trance. But this time, I started thinking about how few people that walk by actually drop money in the kettles. It was sad, maybe 1 in 20. Next, I did the math on how much money my kettle would bring in for the night if each person walking by dropped only a quarter. Just one quarter from each person that walked by that night would have made my kettle one of the top producers. But that's not what happened, I stood out there ringing away and got the occasional drop. Night after night, it was much of the same.

Now that I have kids, I want to make sure they understand the importance of giving back. Whether it be through their time (which we will do later this year), giving their toys away, or putting away some of their own money to give to someone in need.

This weekend we were out and saw the first bell ringers of the season. And this year is the first year the kids have both been old enough to truly understand what the kettles are all about. I was so proud of both of them for asking me for money to put into the kettle and even more so when they began telling me what the money would be used for.

Times are tough for all of us. I can almost guarantee that if you are reading this post you have felt the tough times. However, most of us do not know what it feels like to go to bed hungry or cold because we do not have electricity or a roof over our heads. Heck, most of us do not go a full week without ordering fast food at a drive thru. Think about that this year as you walk past those bell ringers. Dig in your purse or car seat for that extra change. Be radical and give up a meal out this week and give that money away. Somewhere, someone you will never know will receive that blessing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Please let this week end

This has been one of those dreadful weeks where you just cannot wait for the weekend and the small hope that you will be able to just pull the covers up over your head to avoid the rest of the world.

Monday started with the revelation that my already bogus drive to work would be compounded by additional road construction. What had been taking a half hour to conquer took over an hour.

Tuesday was met with Baby Bear REFUSING to use the toilet in the morning. He literally laid down, nekkid, in front of the commode and cried because he did not want to go potty. Given his history with this issue, I wasn't budging. Had it been as amusing at 6 a.m. as it is now, I would have grabbed the camera. And then there was the ever so welcome call from the school - Mrs. O? Mooka has a fever of 102, we are going to need you to come get her.

Thank God for Mom who rescued us on Wednesday to stay at home with Mooka. But the second she left me alone with them after work, Mooka broke out in the most bizarre case of hives. So of course, before my mom had even made it to the interstate, I was on the phone with her in a complete state of panic. She once again, saved the day and we were able to regain composure.

Last night, I was feeling like my head had been run over by a truck and someone was stabbing me in the throat so I hit the door and headed for bed. Only to wake up this morning and realize I had left my purse in the van. So I go out to get my purse and...

SURPRISE - someone else found my purse before I did and busted out the window on the van to get to it.

The police were so nice this morning and must have felt my pain, because they went easy on the lecture about how irresponsible it was for me to leave my purse in the car.

The kids were great and entertained themselves nicely by playing what appeared to be some underground Halloween candy poker game in the middle of the living room while I worked to clean glass from the driveway.

Next week just has to be better.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Link Share

While I'm trying to keep the focus of this blog to life with my children, I also want to be able to share fascinating sites as I find them.

Back in June, I posted about my sister marrying Uncle Ben. One of the great things about this marriage is that we gained an awesome set of extended family members. Even though we live states apart, we have been able to spend some time getting to know his family and they are extremely kind, warm hearted folks (which is a good thing because we wouldn't have sold my sister to them if they had not been.)

Uncle Ben's sister is a commissioned artist who is amazingly talented. She's also one of the best club dancers I have ever met. Take some time to check out her new website at

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween fun

Don't I have the cutest kids in the entire world?

We enjoyed a fall festival at our church a couple days before Halloween. It was the same festival last year that introduced us to the church and we've been going every since.

Check out Baby Bear's mad golf skills (he takes after his Uncle Ben)...

Thank you Grandma with the brown hair

My mom came to my rescue this weekend, so that I could enjoy some fun times with my old work friends.

She came fully prepared with a baking projects that the kids just loved.

They made chocolate covered pretzels in the shape of little pumpkins...

They also made turkey cookies, the picture is of Baby Bear's cookies, so they are little more like modern art...

Thanks again Grandma for helping me out and leaving us some extra sweet treats!