Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Tiersten likes Tinkerbell. I mean REALLY likes Tinkerbell. She can spot anything with Tinkerbell on it a mile away. She has a Tinkerbell blanket, and for her birthday, her brothers bought her a Tinkerbell "dress-up" oufit--complete with wings. They picked it out themselves, which was a rather cool thing to do.

Yesterday evening, she dressed up in her Tinkerbell outfit after dinner and was dancing around the house. She accessorized with a tiara and her high-heeled Cinderella shoes. It was quite the ensemble!

As she was twirling around, I made a suggestion about a leap I thought she should try. She very promptly tripped in her shoes, got tangled in the dress, and crashed into the piano on the way to the floor. Oops! Worth a couple of good bruises....

She's a cute Tinkerbell, but not a very graceful one.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

At a Loss for Words...

This post has been rattling around in my head for a few weeks. It follows a rather bizarre visit one afternoon from a friend I hadn't seen in awhile, which I will detail below, and, more importantly, the thoughts and feelings that her perspective on my life have invoked. She made me feel strange about my own position in life.....something I'm not used to.....and I've given it a lot of thought since that afternoon. The visit went something like this:

My friend showed up at our home early on a Friday afternoon, totally out of the blue. I got to know her through a parent-child thing, but neither of us participate in that activity anymore, so I don't see her much these days. She is someone that I always say "hello" to, wave at as we pass on the road, but not really someone that I've ever spent free time with. So...she shows up at my house and makes herself at home in the family room that adjoins my office. I kind of played along, curious what she was doing here, and tried to shut my looming deadlines out of my mind for a little while.

She started out with commenting how huge our house is. Okay? And how gorgeous our new kitchen is. Okay? And how cool the murals are in the girls' room that we had an artist paint. Okay? And how clean everything is. Wanting to be gracious and not make her think that I am Superwoman, I casually commented that our housekeeper had just left. Wrong thing to say. Of course, I got a wide-eyed response, "You have a housekeeper??!!??" Well, yeah......we have a housekeeper. We have four kids, two full-time jobs, I work a lot of late hours when deadlines are heavy, the boys play every sport under the sun........Yes. We have a housekeeper. No big deal. Its a very wise investment for a very busy family and I recommend it strongly.

Turns out, she has just lost her job. I'm pretty sure that she was here hoping I would have some extra work for her, but I had just hired Jennifer. And, honestly, I need someone with expertise in a very precise field of work. So.....thats a "no go." She rambles a bit at this point about how she's not really qualified to do much. She had her first child right out of high school, got married, had two more kids........

Moving on...her oldest child graduated from high school a year ago and has spent the ensuing 12 months lying on her parents' couch doing nothing. My friend wants to know what she did wrong raising her daughter not to be more motivated. Hmmmm. I don't know her well enough to answer honestly, don't know the situation well enough anyway, so I mumble something pleasant and semi-reassuring. She comments that she doubts I will ever have the same problem as our kids are all so competitive and highly motivated. I think to myself that our children would be motivated by a boot in their hind end if they thought about lying on our couch for a year after high school. Once high school is over, everyone in this house is on the "Earn-or-Learn" program. There is no free lunch here.

At this point, I'm beginning to squirm. This conversation seems to be going nowhere and I've got a TON of work to do. Much to my delight, our dogs suddenly start barking outside. Ah-Ha!! An excuse to get up and go to the window, and then maybe lead her outside onto the porch, and we can start inching our way to her car.........and she'll go away. We make it to the window, the dogs are chasing shadows, and she starts a new conversation on how lovely our backyard is, how much land we have, how nice our fenced dog area is with shed and doggie door......and how she wishes SHE could afford to have a nice fenced dog area, etc. This is beyond the beginning-to-get-annoying stage.

Now out on the front porch, she comments on the black gouge on our newly painted siding. Thoughtlessly, I comment that the roofers damaged it when they put the new roof on our house the week before. She comments that their roof is leaking really bad, but now that she's lost her job, they won't be able to afford the new roof they need. And isn't our house new? Why did we need a new roof?

I idly start picking at the blossoms on the hanging planters on our deck. She comments that they are pretty, but that plants are so expensive. I pleasantly agree......sort of.

She asks about the Suburban and comments that she had to borrow money from her mother-in-law to buy a new tire for her car because something was wrong with it.

She FINALLY left. I came back to my desk and attempted to get back to work. But this conversation has continued to plague me. She made me feel GUILTY somehow, because of what we have accomplished in life! And then I got angry.....

HOW DARE SHE!!! I'm sorry that she is at a low-point. Maybe she is always at a low-point. I don't really know. But I have made good choices with my life to get where I am!! Mike and I both work hard and don't rely on anyone but each other--financially or otherwise. While we are not wealthy, we are in a great place in life and, if we're making the most of it, I wish people could say, "GOOD FOR THEM!!"

Two weeks later........I am still at a loss for words.

Obsessed with presents...

Jennica has decided that great things come in gift wrap and bows! She is so obsessed with presents that, in fact, we've had two funny things happen last weekend regarding her love for gifts.

First, last Saturday, Jennica and I attended a bridal shower for a friend of mine. She was all excited to be dressed up and going someplace alone with Mom. As we walked into the shower, the first thing Jen saw was the mountain of gifts. With eyes wide and a big smile on her face, she turned and looked at me and said, "Its my burp-day??!!??" (Its my birthday?) With everyone laughing, I had to break it to her that the gifts were not for her. :)

Second, on Sunday, the whole family loaded up in the suburban and ran out to my parents' home for a Father's Day visit with my Dad. The kids played, we visited.......all was fine. As we were leaving and Tiersten was getting buckled in her carseat, she yelled out the door, "Happy Father's Day, Grandpa Larry!! Hope you got lots of presents!" Jennica, who was not about to be left out, quickly yelled, "Yeah......Happy Father's Day! Bring lots of presents!!" My Dad is not known for true laughter, but he showed some teeth on that laugh. (My sisters will understand the "teeth" thing.)

Jen reminds me sometimes of one of the songs from the musical, "The Sound of Music." ........Brown paper packages tied up with strings.......everybody sing..........

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Today, we made a family shopping trip to Walmart. Along with the usual laundry detergent, dog food, etc., I threw in a bag of peanut M & Ms. It is one of Mike and my favorite treats, and we enjoy snacking on them. I opened them this evening, as we were doing the basic evening tasks of picking up and putting away and getting girls ready for bed and all that jazz. I put them inside one of the upper kitchen cabinets, and Mike and I were both getting out a few of them at a time and munching on them as we moved around the house. When Dane and Grant got home, they joined in the snacking and were occasionally nabbing a few, but the girls were "left out of the loop" as there is just something that seems like poor parenting to allow 3-and-4-year-olds to snack on chocolate shortly before bedtime. Kind of like sending them to bed with a cup full of juice--good parents just don't do it!!! You know what I'm talking about......

So, we finally got the girls in bed. I've hugged and kissed Jennica and have her covered up, and I moved to Tiersten's bed while Mike came in to snuggle Jen. I leaned down to give Tiersten a kiss, and as I was standing back up, her big blue eyes snap wide open, "Mommy, what are you eating?"
Of course, I tried to play dumb, "I'm not eating anything."
Tiersten's eye's narrowed, "You are, too! You smell like chocolate!!"
Now what in the heck do you say to that? "Oh......it must be from that cookie I had at lunchtime. Good night!!" I can hear Mike snickering behind me, as I move out of her bedroom.
The next thing I hear is, "DADDY!!! You smell like chocolate, too?!!? What are you guys eating?"
I'm standing outside their bedroom door about 10 feet trying not to laugh when I hear Mike say, "Oh...I gave Mommy a kiss so thats why I must smell that way."

Yes........we lied to our daughter. Our defense is that if we had told her we had M & Ms, she would have wanted some, which is not good for her at bedtime, right? RIGHT??!!?? But talk about feeling busted!!! We were busted for eating M & M's because our 4-year-old smelled chocolate on our breath. How funny is that?? What a kid.......

Friday, June 15, 2007

Calgon......Take me away!!

Jennica has been giving us a "run for our money" lately. She is SO strong-willed and far too good at figuring out new ways to manipulate the adults in her life. Fortunately, Mike and I make a point of being absolutely consistent with discipline, and our Day Care also works with us, so behavior expectations are the same wherever she is and whoever is "in charge" at that moment. I shudder to think of what a monster she would be if she could play us all off of each other.

Even with great communication between all of us, she's still a busy little handful. Mike and I have stepped up our expectations at home and we're making sure that we're consistent on all the little things that make a huge difference--such as deciding how many times we ask her to do something before she is disciplined, etc. It is so easy to fall into the trap of asking them 10 times and then just doing it yourself, and pretty soon you've got a kindergartener that won't do so much as take their own coat to their room. We ALL know a few of those kids...

Life at the Day Care is a different story. She is driving them insane!!! We absolutely love our day care--the staff is fantastic, the activities are excellent, the cleanliness is superb, and their discipline is absolutely fair and consistent. I've seen it in action and have been nothing but impressed. However, Jennica has "got their number" for some reason.

The root of the problem is that she won't LISTEN. If you are saying something to her that she doesn't want to hear, its like you've flipped a switch to "off". You can even hold her little face in your hands, make her look you in the eye and repeat it, and she will continue to ignore you. You would honestly think that the child has a serious hearing issue, but if you whisper in the quietest voice, "Let's go outside...", the girl is grabbing her shoes and coat and she's ready to roll. It is SO annoying......

So.....Mike and I sat down the other night after she went to bed and brainstormed some solutions. We're intelligent people--we should be able to outsmart a 3-year-old. Right?

So yesterday, the Day Care started something new with her, which we will also be doing at home, in keeping with the consistency theory. We're going to add a reward system on top of the punishment system. Not rocket science--simply reward the good behavior as well as punish the bad behavior. Obviously, the reward needs to be something she looks forward to, but not something monetary, or food-related, which sends the wrong message. So......we decide to try stickers. Yesterday morning went well. Yesterday afternoon was a complete and total disaster. We're trying it again today.

In the meantime, we are continuing to verbally communicate positive and negative responses to her actions. I thought that I would help her out this morning by taking a moment alone to briefly go over the expectations again. When I pulled up to the Day Care this morning, I let Tiersten out and sent her into the building. Looking at Jennica still strapped in her carseat (a captive audience, literally), I said to her in an upbeat tone, "You're going to have a good day, aren't you?"
Jennica: "Yeah!" (excitedly)
Me: "Are you going to listen to Jodi today?"
Jennica: "Yes Sir!" (Not sure where they got it, but the girls have been answering that way for a week or so.)
Me: "How about Amber? Are you going to listen to Amber and do what she tells you to?"
Jennica: "Yes Sir!"
Me: "And Sheila, too?"
Jennica: "Yep!"
Me: "So what are you going to do when Jodi asks you to pick up a toy?"
Jennica: "Go to time out!!!!"
That wasn't the response I was looking for. Me: "No.........You're going to pick up the toy and put it away, aren't you?"
Jennica: "Uh huh." Getting serious wiggles in the carseat now.
Me: "Jennica, you need to listen and follow directions. You'll get a sticker if you listen."
Jennica: "Okay!" I mentioned stickers. She's back on board.......sort of.
Me: "No hitting, no biting, and follow directions."
Jennica: "If they hit me first?" I shouldn't have gone there.
Me: "No.......even if they hit you first you don't hit back. You tell Jodi."
Jennica: "Okay." Wiggling again.
Me: "So what are you going to do when Amber tells you to put your shoes away?"
Jennica: "Go to time out!!!"

I give up. We'll see how the day goes. Anyone know a good psychologist? Not for Jennica...for me. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Now this is a new experience...

Tonight was 8th grade graduation, at which Dane played in the band. Grant and I attended, while Mike got dinner for the girls. (Neither of us were up for trying to keep the girls quiet that long.)

Eighth grade graduation was frighteningly similar to what it was 20+ years ago when I graduated from the same 8th grade. FUNNY!!! And.........same as 20+ years ago, there is a dance afterwards. So we are in uncharted territory tonight. We're waiting up until 10:00 to go back down to the school to pick Dane up from the dance. The last day of school is tomorrow, so the staff decided to get the kids home at a decent hour. It just feels rather funny to be waiting up for Dane because he is at a DANCE.

Ahhhh........He's growing up.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Its June 11th ALREADY??!!??

I fully admit to sounding a bit like Rip Van Winkle these days........Where is the time going? GOOD GRIEF!!!

Life is hectic, but it sure is great!! As always, I'm feeling very fortunate to be healthy and active, with a healthy and active husband and four healthy and active children. Even though our calendar can be somewhat overwhelming, it sure beats the other alternatives.

Grant's birthday came and went last week and he is now officially TWELVE!!! He wanted cash, cash, and more cash and thats exactly what he got. I spent his whole birthday with him, as he lucked out and had a field trip that day at school and I was a chaperone. Next week, he and I have a hot date to run up to Olympia and pick out the new electric guitar he has been wanting. He's anxious to join in with Dane's bass. I see a band in their future.....

Dane has been enjoying a relatively lazy last few weeks of school. He's put a little weight back on since the end of track and he's no longer looking quite so emaciated. His energy level is also climbing back up to normal ranges and I'm so relieved to have him looking and feeling good again. Not quite sure what happened there in April and May, but he was definitely "off". He's pretty pleased tonight, as he found out today that he scored a 296, out of a possible 300, on a major report for end of the year grades.

Tiersten finished preschool with a bang and is now a "lady of leisure" until fall. She's on the verge of beginning to read, so its going to be interesting to see how fast she takes off with it. She also now has a big-girl bicycle and she looks really old riding it. For some odd reason that we have not yet determined, she's going through a rather annoying phase right now of calling Jennica "Coconut." NO idea where that came from......

And, wonder of wonders, Jennica is SLEEPING. She's going to bed at night sleeping on her bedroom floor (still doesn't like her bed), without being rocked and without an hour of screaming, and most of the time, she stays there until morning. Naps are still hit-and-miss, but we've decided we can live with that as long as she will go to bed at night. Mike gets all the credit for this one--not sure what he finally did, but its working. We've also found out recently that Jennica is a hard little worker. We've always got 20 projects going around here and she runs errands, LOVES to help, and talks a steady chatter the whole entire time. She's been negotiating with me for her very own pruning shears, but I'm not giving in yet. :)

Mike's workload has been heavy and stressful at times lately. I wish I could say that he comes home every day to dinner on the table, the lawn freshly mowed, and his underwear neatly pressed. Unfortunately, most of the time he comes home to the chaos of a very busy appraisal business run out of our home with the fax and phone ringing, Jennifer(my assistant) and I blabbing back and forth, boys in and out, girls needing to be picked up, and dinner sometimes started and sometimes still a complete and total mystery. With the addition of Jennifer, I AM working significantly fewer evenings and weekends, but its still crazy around here. On a good note, he is incredibly and always very loved. Beyond that......I wonder if he had any clue what he was in for with me?

As for me, its been an odd month. My Mom got suddenly very ill in May and spent a total of 8 days in two different hospitals. Thankfully, she is much better, but it was a harsh reminder that we are all mortal. I think my Mom handled her illness better than my Dad did. Oddly enough, it made me step back and reflect on their marriage as it was during my childhood, and the obvious strength of their marriage now. I'm also incredibly grateful to Mike, as he went and spent a long day at the hospital with my Dad when I couldn't be away from the business. And honestly, Mike was probably a better companion for my Dad that day anyway. Thank you, Michael.

Other than that, I have just been keeping busy with appraisals and family things. I'm incredibly grateful to be taking more time away from my desk and have vastly enjoyed digging into our yard and starting some long-awaited small landscaping projects. The big ones are still to come. I have solemnly promised my sons that I will not start any trees on fire this year. (You start ONE little tree on fire and everyone gets weird about you playing with matches....)

Somehow, it is already 8:30 pm, so I think I'm going to abandon the desk and pick up the reins in the morning. You know......I clearly remember watching the clock when I worked at the County thinking that the days would never pass. Now.....I find myself in exactly the opposite position--the days fly by with never enough time to accomplish all that I want. Is there ever a balance??