Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Giveaway from e-i-e-i-omg!

So, I recently entered a chance to win a book that Susan was giving away over at e-i-e-i-omg. I hoped for the chance to win the bird book shown below, but I couldn't figure out what kinds of recipes could be in a book called "...FOR the birds." I thought maybe this was a recipe book with chicken/turkey/duck recipes which is always good, too.

Well, I received my book yesterday, and it is literally FOR the birds! Inside it shows how to make different kinds of feeders (hanging, suet, and ground) and details exactly what kind of food different types of birds enjoy the most! In the fall, we will have a great time looking at "the red book" (that details all of the birds in North America), finding the birds that are in our area, and creating specialized feeders just for them! What a great learning experience for the boys (and the moms!).

As an added bonus ("It's for the boys," Susan says), she threw in a picnic cookbook. I was salivating and wishing for warmer weather. When Peanut saw that book, he said "But, mom - we LOVE picnics!" Yes, we do, handsome boy!

Thank you, Susan! You made our night!


Look at us playing together without antagonizing each other AGAIN! Of course, there was an easel between them that prevented easily thrown punches, purposeful hair pulling, and pre-meditated tackling.

A few days later, they were pretending to be Santa’s elves while they painted some wooden toys. They proceeded to tell me (Mrs. Clause of course) that these toys would be delivered all around the world to places like South America, India, Alabama, Tooele, and Washington. (State or DC, I’m not sure.) Where do they come up with this stuff?

Monday, January 30, 2012

101 in 1001

Thanks to Bee Girl over at Sky Minded and Ever Growing, I decided to take on this challenge. The details can be found here, but basically, I am going to complete the following 101 tasks in 1001 days. It’s not like a bunch of resolutions for the new-year; these are goals that generally need planning and mindful attention to complete. (Well, I guess if I were doing resolutions correctly, I would be planning and paying attention to them, right? Duh….) As I complete each goal, I will note it here by crossing it off. As I make progress on the goals, I will update here with notes. I started this on January 1, 2012, and I should finish on September 28, 2014.

1. Take a ballroom dance lesson (or two or three).
2. Attend the Greek festival in downtown SLC.
3. Bake challah bread from scratch and recognize the significance in the Jewish Sabbath meal (since we are not at all religious).
a. Done - 4/2013. Tastes great. And, for the significance, go here!
4. Take a fly-fishing lesson (or two or three).
5. Taste ten fruits/veggies that I’ve never eaten before.
a. Persimmon, 1/2013 - Meatball and I loved it! I can't believe I've never tried it before. Unfortunately, they are really expensive here...
b. Pluot, 8/2013 - I tried one during the Ruby Mountain Relay - one of the exchange volunteers had brought some for the runners to eat. YUM!!!
6. Ascend a rock-climbing wall (totally assisted and harnessed, of course).
7. Mix and drink a traditional martini.
8. Drive a snow mobile.
9. Take a five-mile snowshoe hike.

10. Appropriately position my body in the half moon yoga pose (after that, every other pose should be a piece of cake!).
a) 3/18/12 update: I got closer last week. I felt like I was actually able to turn my hips just the slightest amount in the direction of "opening up," but boy - do I have a ways to go!
b) 8/2/12 update: better....
11. Pace myself in one marathon/year to achieve 4:45 in 2012, 4:30 in 2013, and 4:15 in 2014.
a) 2012 marathon is out of the budget, but I will still train as if I am running one. I can run an unofficial 'thon and try to meet my time goal.
b) Well, 2012: fail.
12. Complete the 100 push-up challenge.
13. Complete the 200 sit-up challenge.
14. Complete the 200 squats challenge.
15. Complete the 150 dip challenge.
16. Change my diet and exercise regimen to bring my body to a healthy weight (140).
17. Train successfully to complete a ½ Iron Man Triathlon.
18. Make the BEST tiramisu, ever!
19. Make healthy and hearty bread from scratch that is not as flat nor as heavy as a rock.
a. 2/25/12 update: I made an AWESOME loaf of bread. Now, I just need to reproduce it a few times.
b. 8/27/13 update: I made a rye French bread. Not necessarily healthy since the flour was white, but it was yummy!
20. Learn to really swim.
21. Improve my posture.
22. Knit or crochet well enough to create some special gifts.

23. Better utilize my compost.
a. My compost pile is not all that great because I'm not as committed to it as some people are. However, I did dig up the middle/bottom layer this year and spread it in my garden. I don't know if it helped or not, but I could tell that the soil was amended.
24. Expand my berry plants to double my current space.
a. As of January 2012, I have three black berry patches and one raspberry plant.
b. As of June 2012, I have killed three black berry transplants. I blame the hot weather, but the fact that I forget to water them probably has something to do with it.
25. Create a Dutch oven fire pit in the back yard.
26. Double the amount of 2011 home canned food yearly total by 2014.
a. As of October 2011, I had 84 quarts and 103 pints/half-pints in the pantry.
b. I made this goal without checking the actual 2011 totals.
c. I think I need to buy more jars.
d. It's not even the end of May 2012, and we're already out of salsa, bottled tomatoes, peaches, and almost applesauce!
27. Start my own bee hive.
28. Make my own healthy pasta.
a. Jan 2012 - I made some whole wheat ravioli. Holy heavy and thick. I'm sure that it was healthy, but it wasn't good.
29. Re-landscape the front lawn.
30. Plant three different herb gardens (medicinal, savory, fragrant).
31. Add four new houseplants each year.
a. 5/1/12 update: a few weeks ago, I grabbed something that was on clearance - requires moist soil and low light. We're northern facing, so low light I can do. We've even done a decent job of keeping it moist!
b. 12/31/12 update: I've only kept this one plant alive, but at least it's alive!
c. 4/15/13 update: I've purchased another low-sun plant. I need to re-pot it this weekend. It looks very healthy so far.
32. Re-shingle the tool sheds.
33. Plant a new tree.
34. Be a vegan for a month.
a. The plan is for March, 2012.
b. Done! It was interesting.
35. Make limoncello.
36. Make syrup.

37. Take Bub to the Sundance film festival.
38. Become legally married in SOME state that allows it.
a. OH MY GOD! UTAH! 12/23/2013. NO JOKE!!!
39. Take Bub and the boys to a professional football game.
40. Unplug one week in 2012, two weeks in 2013, and three weeks in 2014.
a. 2012 start: November 28 - no computer/iPhone/text during family time (evenings and weekends)
b. 2013 5 days over the 4th of July holiday. Nobody missed the phone. Nobody (Bub) noticed, either.
41. Go on one grown-up date per month.
a. This is NOT working out. $$$$ is sooooo tight.
42. Walk away from arguments first.
a. 2/27/12 update: This is going OK - not great, but an improvement from where I was.
b. 8/27/13 update: I am trying to go 40 days without yelling or raising my voice. Eight days into it, and the whole family has calmed down. Am I that toxic to people around me?
43. Talk to a family member one time per week.
a. As of 1/30/2012, I am sucking at this.
44. Leave a random love note for Bub one time per week.
45. Create the boys scrapbooks from birth to now.
46. Throw an awesome 50th birthday bash for Bub.
a. The big day is mid-August, 2012.
b. The restaurant that I was going to use has closed its doors.
c. This was great.. I wish I could have done more, but she was happy.
47. Talk/write to a long-distance friend one time per week.
a. As of 1/30/2012, I am failing at this, also.
48. Go to the drive in.
a. Done. For Halloween, the boys' school does trunk-n-treat at the local drive-in and watches a movie afterwards. $5 goes to the school as a fundraiser, and it's a safe place! We saw Ice Age 4.
49. Send a poem to Bub.
50. Take each boy (individually) on a “fancy” date three times per year.
a. 2012: fail. Money was so tight, but that's a poor excuse. They don't care about "fancy." They would have just liked a date. I will make up for this in 2013.
51. Serve Bub and the boys breakfast in bed.
a. breakfast in bed for Bub on her 50th birthday
52. Make the family Christmas socks.
53. Eat dinner by candlelight (some champagne wouldn’t hurt).
54. Feel beautiful at least one time per week.
a. 5/1/12 update: Not going well. Mostly, I feel fat and angry (at myself).
55. Take the boys to the Nutcracker.
56. Attend a concert (the boys’ first).
a. 12/31/12: no concert yet, but two U of U basketball games and (finally!) a hockey game!!

57. Run 1200 miles in 2012, 1300 miles in 2013, 1400 miles in 2014.
a. 2012: fail. :(
b. 2013: foot surgery at the beginning of the year has put me dramatically behind schedule
c. 2013: fail.
58. Become involved in and learn about P42 (newest technology at work).
a. 3/5/12 update: I got sucked in to help with some training materials. I'm going to see if I can keep at least one foot in the doorway to keep it open after the training stuff is done.
b. As of 4/1, I'm officially a member of the team! Product Manager for some of the most interesting applications.
c. 2/2013: Still on the team, but change of responsibilities. I'm not loving it right now.
d. This turned out to be a huge mistake.
59. Serve on the council for the Tooele Arts Festival.
a. Feb 2012: Done! Not only am I on the board, but I'm the DIRECTOR of the whole event!
b. June 2012: The festival was an awesome hit! I can't wait for next year!
c. June 2013: Another successful year!
60. Complete NaNoWriMo in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
a. 2012: fail.
b. 2013: fail. I have characters, but not a riveting plot.
61. Obtain promotion.
a. Fail. Utterly.
62. Have an article published in the local paper.

63. Pay off one credit card per year in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
a. March 2012 - goodbye to one of the Citi cards! YEAH!
b. December 2012 - thanks to a generous bonus, I paid off two B of A cards! Only one more (the biggest) to go!
64. See the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in person.
65. Open an Etsy shop.
66. Pay all bills on time.
a. 5/1/12 update: Mostly doing OK on this.
b. 11/30/12 update: Suffered a fall set-back, but we'll get back on track.
c. 12/31/12 update: All bills are back up to date except for my student loans.
67. Buy a road bike for commute (and triathlon) purposes.
68. Take a trip by train.
69. Avoid eating out for an entire month.
70. Learn to change my own oil.

71. Meditate daily for 30 days.
72. Read at least one book per month.
a. One Second After by William Forstchen, completed 1/2012
b. Five Fortunes by Beth Gutcheon, completed 1/2012
c. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, completed 1/2012
d. Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow, completed 2/2012
e. The Girls Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson, completed 3/2012
f. Getting to Yes; Negotiatin Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury, completed 3/2012
g. The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz, completed 5/2012
h. No Place, Louisiana by Martin Pousson, completed 5/2012
i. Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova, completed 6/2012
j. The Bourne Deception by Eric Van Lustbader, completed 6/2012
k. The Calling of Katie Makanya by Margaret McCord, completed 7/2012
l. Chalktown by Melinda Haynes, completed 8/2012
m. Mother Of Pearl by Melinda Haynes, completed 9/2012
n. Elephant Walk by Robert Standish, completed 10/2012
o. Identity by Milan Kundera, completed 11/2012
p. Rise of the Guardians, based on the movie, completd 12/2012 (OK - this is a stretch, but I'm in the middle of a boring book for work, and I just can't read two books at once, so I'm counting the first chapter book that I just read to the boys)
q. Lean Start Up by Eric Reis, completed 1/2013
r. Life of Pi by Yann Martel, completed 2/2013
s. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, completed 4/2013 (intended to complete in March, but couldn't do it)
t. Oogy by Larry Levin, completed 4/2013
u. Ironweed by William Kennedy, completed 6/2013 (I didn't complete a book in May.)
v. River Cross My Heart by Breena Clark, completed 7/2013
w. Wild Horses by Brian Hodge, completed 8/2013
x. The Help by Kathryn Stockett, completed 8/2013
y. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, completed 10/2013
z. Bloodline by James Rollins, completed 11/2013
aa. Great Work by David Sturt, completed 12/2013
bb. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Neffinegger, completed 12/2013
cc. Hanna's Daughters by Marianne Fredrickssen, completed 1/2014
dd. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, completed 2/2014
73. Find inner strength.
74. Perform with the Tooele community orchestra.
75. Visit five caves.
a. Lehman Caves - Baker, NV - 4/2013
76. Visit a beach in three different states.
a. 8/2013: New Smyrna Beach - FL
77. Visit nine museums.
a. 12/2012: Utah Museum of Natural History
78. Get my first mani/pedi.
79. Arrange for a couple’s massage and spa day.
80. See the Grand Canyon.
81. Refinish the piano.

82. Pay somebody else’s bus fare.
a. DONE 12/2013
83. Donate blood or plasma at least six times per year.
a. January 31, 2012
b. April 30, 2012
c. July 10, 2012
d. October 23, 2012
e. February 8, 2013
f. April 11, 2013
g. July 17, 2013
84. Involve the boys in some form of volunteer work six times per year.
a. 2/2012 update: We went through our bathroom and donated un-opened soaps, hotel shampoos, extra toothpastes, and etc. It was an interesting conversation about why we were doing it, to say the least.
b. 6/2012 update: the boys "helped" spraypaint the grids for the arts festival booths.
c. 9/2012 update: the boys picked some books to donate to the local thrift store
d. 12/2012 update: the boys each picked a toy to donate to the local thrift store
e. 5/2013 update: a classmate of the boys has been diagnosed with very aggressive cancer - we're collecting cans and pennies
f. 6/2013 update: the boys helped with the arts festival again this year - this time, they helped me carry "heavy" loads and make sure that everyone was happy
85. Donate a quilt.
86. Be an active member of the parent-teacher organization at the boys’ school.
a. They don't start school until fall, 2012.
b. Their charter does things differently than I thought, but in the end, I did not get the vote for the FSO for the 2012-2013 year.
87. Help coach the boys’ sports team (sport to be decided – soccer is definitely not it).
88. Organize the Jensen family holiday party.
89. Raise money for the Huntsman Hometown Hero program.
a. 2/3/12 - answered phones during the annual Huntsman/K-BULL radio-thon where the Huntsman Cancer Foundation raised $160,000!
90. Host a blogger giveaway.
a. In process!
91. Organize the first Christensen family reunion/BBQ in HOW MANY years?!?!?
92. Pay somebody’s expired parking meter before they are ticketed.
93. Send girl scout cookies to a service member overseas.

94. Stand at the four corners.
95. Run three (or more) miles in ten new Utah towns per year.
a. Feb 4, 2012 - Sandy
b. 2012: fail!
c. July 4, 2013 - Henefer
d. July 13, 2013 - Springville
e. September, 2013 - Stansbury Park
96. Watch 26 new movies with titles ranging in sequence from A to Z.
a. Amelia - story of Amelia Earhart - I really liked it.
b. Blessed is the Match - WW2 documentary - I highly recommend it
c. Cry of the Owl - suspense/thriller - I'm still a bit confused
d. Doubt - suspense/thinker - I liked it even though the ending was ambiguous
e. Extraordinary Measures - loved it - parents who stop at nothing for their kids
f. I forget what I watched!
g. Get Low - billed somewhat as a comedy, I found it more sad than anything - but, self forgiveness... whoa
h. Horrible Bosses - funny, but I don't like Jennifer Aniston in crude roles
i. In Love and War - had I known that this was based on the true story of Ernest Hemingway, I would have rented it sooner
j. The Job - I'm still scratching my head
k. Kung Fu Kid - I love Will Smith. Watching his son was awesome. Completely predictable movie? Yes. So what.
l. The Losers. Loser of a movie.
m. Men Who Stare At Goats - I was laughing the engire time.
n. Now Is Good - it was OK
o. The Other Boleyn Girl - I had no idea. I should know more history.
p. I forget what I watched.
q. Quartet - cute show
r. Rabbit Hole - very depressing
s. I forget what I watched.
t. Taking of Pelham 123 - Denzel Washington and John Travolta? Very exciting
u. Unknown - I've liked Liam Nissam since "Taken."
v. Vietnam War, Utah Stories - I watched the first in a 3-part documentary
w. The Way - I like it a lot.
97. Create a “map” project for the boys to learn the 50 states.
a. We mapped our route to Baker, NV, to visit Lehman's caves in April, 2013.
b. When we see a license plate from a different state, we find out something about that state. This was really fun on our 2013 trip to Florida.
98. Learn to tie flies.
99. Participate in a 365 day photo challenge and blog the results.
a. 2013 is the year!
b. 2013 (July) update: I'm so tired of looking at myself.
c. Gawd. It was awful. A person can only take so much of themselves.
100. Try 50 new/unique beers.
a. Full Suspension Pal Ale from Squatters, Feb 2013
b. Dubhe from Uintah Brewing, May 2013
c. Leffe Blonde, Hard Rock Cafe, FL August 2013
d. Yuengling Lager, Dolphin View Restaurant, FL August 2013
e. 211 High Gravity Lager, Dollar General Market, NSB FL August 2013 (8.1%, 16oz, $0.79 each!)
101. Solve a Sudoku puzzle.

What to blog? What to say?

How do you know what to say when your blog doesn’t really have a point? Of course, Reflections on a Run is my daily running journal and occasionally has some great race reports (when I can afford to enter some races). The optimistically named The Occasional Chef clearly deals with my attempts at cooking. Urban homesteaders like Chicken Mama and Sky Minded and e-i-e-i-omg are focused on urban homesteading, of course. But, what is Giggles and Raspberries? Is it just about the amazing little men that we are lucky enough to love until the end of time? Is it political? Am I trying to chronicle my life so that the boys understand who I am (besides the lady that makes them eat green beans), or am I trying to chronicle the boys’ life so that they someday know just how adorable they really are? Am I trying to remember the good parts of my childhood or the occasional pain of my adult life?

Do I write about the first time that I saw my mom drink a beer? The last time I saw that same thing? The fact that those were the only two times I ever saw that at all? Do I blog about high school (oh, gawd), college (boring) or grad school (holy hell)? What about the fact that we have a family bed and I don’t really care? What about the night my footie-pajamas were ripped or the reason that I always stir my ice cream until it’s smooth? How I eat my sorrow and depression the way that some people use alcohol or drugs? How much I love to push the boys on the swing in the back yard and that I will cry when they don’t need me to do that anymore? How I doubt my abilities and intelligence? When did I decide to forgive my ex? What about the last quilt that I tied with my mom or the last thing that I canned with her or the reason that my dad won’t tell me about Viet Nam (or why I write Viet Nam as two words instead of one)? What about the pain I feel every year when we go to the capitol to fight for second parent adoption only to be rejected again and again and again? Does anyone really want to hear about how I how I totally do not believe in the death penalty and how one day I caught myself changing my mind? How one of my oldest friends in the world told me to leave my wife? What about how conflicted I felt when I learned from someone who grew up in South Africa that Mandela was not exactly how he is portrayed in movies? The first movie I remember seeing with my dad or the reason that my mom let me go see American Graffiti or why The Man From Snowy River has, hands down, the most awesome scene ever filmed? And, The Black Stallion – how many times did I read this book? Why can’t I seem to lose weight? Why I hate my car? The last time we saw Bub’s sisters?

Does anyone care about this stuff but me? Is this blog for me or for other people and if so, which people? What is bloggerdom, anyway? I love reading the blogs that I’ve linked to here on my site, some of them have a specific theme and some of them don’t. Why is it interesting to read about the lives of others, most of whom you’ve never met but really want to someday? Will I write about all of that stuff? Probably….

How do you choose what to say and what to keep to yourself?

Friday, January 27, 2012

The times, they are a-changing

Last week, a co-worker and friend celebrated a milestone, 25 years of employment at our company! While my own 21.5 years is nothing to sneeze at, 25 is particularly fun because not only does the employee receive a beautiful gift, but so does his or her spouse. A wonderful celebration ensues, speeches are given, and there are usually more than a few tears shed. (Hey, it's just what we do.)

Well, my friend and I had been talking about this upcoming event for months because only recently have the spouses been invited into the building to join in the celebration at 10+ years. His dilemma: he's gay, and our company leaders and board are very conservative. We do live in Utah, after all.

While I love this article claiming Salt Lake City to be the gayest city in America, the authors clearly don't live here. Maybe they were just talking about SLC proper and not its outlying suburbs? I dunno.

So, back to work. My friend was not the only one to be worried about what would happen if he invited his adorable husband to attend the event. Other coworkers whispered things like "that's just not going to fly," and "what's the CEO going to say," and "people are just not ready for that here" while other coworkers responded with "oh, nobody gives a shit anymore."

Like my friend being honored, I was a bit nervous.

Long ago (it has been 21 years, remember), I would walk through the cafeteria and hear people talking as I passed. "Dyke" was a favored word to use just loudly enough that I could hear and just quietly enough that I wouldn't know where it came from. A few folks unfamiliar with the appropriate usage would use the word "fag," generally reserved for gay men. Although it was used improperly, it still had the same stinging effect. There were other phrases, too, of course.

I am happy to say that those days are behind us, at least at my workplace. I don't wear a sign around my neck proclaiming my sexuality, nor do any of my gay coworkers, because it's not important; it doesn't affect the way that we perform our jobs. However, it is apparent when someone is uncomfortable dealing with me. Thankfully, it happens less and less.

BUT, back to my coworker and his big day! It couldn't have gone better. The two of three ultra-conservative corporate executives who spoke handled the "situation" with poise and class. (There was one little flub that may have only been obvious to those of us who have to watch hetero-America from a second-class citizen seat on the proverbial bus.) My friend and his spouse of 15 years were met with celebration and treated with well-deserved dignity. It was a wonderful affair. So, I extend a Thank You to everyone who made it a special day for him.

It seems like such a small thing, this little shin-dig, but when you consider that he has been working at our company for more than half of his life, you can start to understand the significance to him.

But, it's the small things, the little steps, that are adding up to make our comminities better and that help people be more understanding of each other. Just this week, Harrisville (a small-ish town north of SLC) passed non-discrimination ordinances in housing and employment - the first town in our state of the new year to do so. (Last year, there were 11.). As more people hear this kind of stuff, the more they are amazed that discrimination is even allowed - legally allowed! It's a surprise to so many of our straight friends and families. (Sadly, the same referendum was defeated in the city of American Fork late last year.)

I'm proud of the progress that has occurred at my workplace. Oh, there are still those who hate me for something that I can't control or change, those who would hate another person for wanting to love and be loved in return, but I can't let myself be saddened by them. (I must say that it's hard when they are screaming horrible words at me and my family as we meet for Pride celebrations or to lobby our elected officials.) I will keep my eyes on the long, but hopeful, road ahead. I will thank those who are demanding equal treatment on my behalf, and I will try to educate those who refuse to recognize us as families built on love and happiness - just like our hetero counterparts.

Yes. Even in Utah, the times, they are a-changing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hand-Made Pay It Forward 2012

So, this is an idea I've seen around a couple of blogs and FB, but I've never really had the "umph!" to do. (You'll remember - only because I remind you at every possible chance - that I was really, really busy last year, what with school and everything.....)

When I saw this over at Sky Minded and Ever Growing last week, I knew that I had to get on the stick and do something this year. Unless I'm going back to get my PhD (which I'm SO NOT), I have no excuses (except the 4-year old twin boy kind) to get my butt in gear and give stuff away. But, not just stuff. As the title implies, the stuff must be hand-made. And, no. This is not an attempt to get rid of the extra jams in my pantry - I have no problem finding recipients for that yummy stuff. (Oh my gawd - did I just toot my own horn?)

Now, of course, there exists the very real possibility that I will be giving stuff to people that I would have given stuff to anyway - two coworkers, two friends, and one cousin - simply because they may be the only people who actually read my blog. So, here's a shout-out to my peeps: Lish, JoElla, Roch, Beck, and Juanita! (Seriously? Shout out to my peeps? Dude, I'm so street. Or not. Whatever.)

So, here are the two rules:
I promise to make something and send it (before the end of 2012) to the first five people who comment on this post.
If you are one of the first five, you must promise to re-post the rules on your blog (or even FB) and send something to the first five people who comment on your post. The item must be hand made by you and the recipient must receive the gift before the end of 2012. The item may be as simple or as complicated as you would like. You just have to promise to follow through.

OK - now, PLEASE comment or I may have anxiety akin to high school when I just wasn't cool enough to be the FFA Sweetheart (even though I was one of the two girls in the goddamn class). Seriously, people, I can't handle that kind of rejection again..... (FYI - the other girl, my BF, wasn't cool enough, either. Losers! Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Looking back now, I can't even remember who won - probably some cheerleader - but I could have been a contender!) Really, I'm OK. I swear. (She was probably a real snot about it, too.)

(Beck/Roch: no comments about my social skills back in the day, or you'll get nothing! Besides, they have greatly improved. Haven't they?)

Just a little winter fun

Last weekend (before we all got sick again) we slept over at Granny and Grandpa's house. We watched movies, and whined about not liking pizza (???? Do we have the only boy in America that doesn't like pizza?), and played trains (of course), and got lots of hugs and kisses from Granny.

Here's Meatball playing mini-foosball with the old people - neither of whom have ever touched a foosball table in their lives.

The next morning, we got up and went to the aquarium to see the river otters (who were napping the whole time), the archer fish (which were pretty cool), the rays (awesome), jelly fish and octopus (neat blobs), and the penguins (who stole the show). Here we are with Mommy Bub watching the penguins race past us:

Then, we came home and went to bed for the next week due to some seriously crappy head and chest colds. It's been something else.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My hearts

When shopping for my Christmas presents, Bubba was very thoughtful, and she worked with the boys to find something special for me from each of them. I will admit, my shopping trip with them was not nearly as well planned or thoughtful when it came to getting her a gift. She has always been better at that sort of thing. I am far too driven and goal oriented to be romantic or focused on feelings. And, I hate shopping. Get in. Buy. Get out. At Christmas? Do those things, but faster than usual. Well, anyway, enough about me and my shortcomings. (Why do I insist on sharing this stuff about me? You're supposed to think that I can walk on water! I can, by the way. I did it just this morning on my 5-mile run as there were quite a few icy patches on the sidewalk....)

She took the boys to the store and they really, honestly looked for something meaningful, and yet inexpensive since we are such a tight budget. Bub had one of the boys while Granny had the other boy. They came to the jewelry area at separate times but still within a couple of minutes of each other.

When Bub and Peanut reached the counter, Peanut saw a little heart shaped pendant and immediately proclaimed that he wanted to give it to me because, well, he's convinced that he's going to marry me someday. (Insert a bunch of "awwwww's" and grown women getting all melty-hearts here.)

Two minutes later, Granny and Meatball arrived at the same counter and he promptly identified the same pendant as his gift to me because it's beautiful - just like me. (Again with the melty hearts, but now insert teary eyes, too, right?)

My boys. Literally, my hearts.

Monday, January 9, 2012

playing together

I'm posting these pictures as evidence that the boys really DO get along sometimes. In about 12 years, they will be arguing about sharing a car, who is getting better grades, who gets the game controller now, etc. etc. etc. If they are ANYTHING like my brothers, there will be some serious wrestling, and maybe even a few fists thrown. (Gawd! I hope not, but I'm a realist.) I hope to pull this post up and show them that they really did like each other at one time.

Painting in the kitchen. They received a wooden tractor/train at Christmas that needs to be painted before assembling. Suffice it to say that these toys are going to be very, very colorful.

Ah, the Scooby*Doo Mystery Mansion with characters and GOO! The goo drips down from the roof and gets all over everything. (Oh, the joy for mommy, but the kiddos think it's cool.)

Camping out in the front room - Mommy doesn't camp in the snow. Each boy has his own tent, and the openings were facing each other so that they could talk and poke and pester and kick each other until the wee hours of the morning. Mommy slept in the recliner - you know, just in case anyone got scared. (Yes, they could have walked the extra ten feet to our bedroom.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What could be?

Almost 16 years ago, my life was a shambles. My girlfriend was cheating on me, and the relationship was abusive. I was going to college full-time at night and working full-time during the day. Everything was a mess.

One night after work, I got in my truck to go home. I had just received my paycheck, and I had this incredible urge to just keep driving. I knew that I could grab my dog and stop in my hometown (two hours away) to drop him off with my brother. I also knew that my brother would loan me some more money so that I could drive even further.

I didn't know WHERE I wanted to go; I just knew that I wanted to GO.

However, there was this one girl... We had been friends for years, and she had asked me out about a hundred times (even though she knew that I was in a relationship and I refused her each time). I knew that if I drove away, I would never see her again, because I knew that I would never come back.

What could be of it if I stayed? Anything? Nothing? It was enough to make me stay one more night.

Well, here we are, 16 years later. For some reason, this memory popped into my head while I was showering tonight. It's not always been easy, nor has it always been romance and roses. Surprisingly, the jury is still out on her with some of my friends and definitely with one sibling and his spouse. She has made mistakes, some of them big. I have made mistakes, some of them huge. And not everyone understands where we are right now or why. But, through it all, we have managed to still love each other, and we are raising two wonderful little men.

I'm sure that if I had kept driving, I would be in Vermont or Georgia or Saskatchewan. I would probably be with someone who at least likes the Indigo Girls. I wouldn't, however, have THIS, and this is all that matters.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Goodbye 2011

No, mommies were NOT wasted. I'm not really sure why our eyes are so squinty in these pictures, but we weren't even drinking unless you count the cold medicine that Bub was taking. Everyone but me had a fever, so I'm surprised that anyone is smiling at all. We rang in the new year by watching a movie on the mommy bed and then going to sleep. After everyone else was asleep, I blogged and watched a movie on my own. It was quite the party.....
(No, Meatball isn't mad. He was just making faces, and I don't know where his hat is. No, Peanut isn't wearing lipstick. The fever and dehydration caused his poor little lips to be chapped so badly!)

The Help

No, not like the book or the movie.

Tonight, as I watched a movie BY MYSELF on new year's eve while the boys and Mommy Bub slept, I was thinking about when the boys were born. (OK, fine. It was a song on the tearjerker movie that I was watching that made me get all melancholy...)

Anyway, the boys, the NICU, it was hard. Compared to others in the NICU, we had it easy - friggin cake walk. But, the NICU, preemie babies, newborns in general - it's all hard.

As parents, we could identify XX people who could visit the boys in this sterile environment, period. We could identify even fewer who could visit when we were not there.

We had spots that we chose not to dole out. Our permissions went to Granny/Grandpa, Papa/Nana, and Tante Sid. That's it. And, nobody knows that we included Tante Sid. She was the "emergency backup," but between the seven of us, the boys had someone there all hours of the day and part of the night.

So, tonight, I was thinking about how we got through it all. Those adorable, squishy, preemie boys (who, incidentally, still don't bother to sleep in their own beds for the whole night). Those smart and funny boys (who ran around sans pants tonight for no particular reason).

Dr. Cannon, for sure. He was our first pediatrician. And Dr. Pretty-Blonde-whose-name-i-cant-remember. They were amazing. And the nurses. They kept our boys alive - which wasn't really hard - we were just small and some other little problems. Those nurses kept other teeny souls alive whose monitors "went off" constantly. Those nurses were amazing.

Then, there was Rosemary. She was the head NICU nurse. When we didn't like the care they were getting (only twice, BTW), she made sure that those nurses didn't get assigned to our isolettes again. Adorable woman, and I think that she would have scooped up the Peanut in a heartbeat. She adored him.

Next was Tante Sid. She "snuck" in there when no family was present, and she's the one that gave permission for Meatball's blood transfusion when I couldn't get back to town (50 miles away) fast enough and Bub couldn't leave work. Not only did she give the permission (technically, we did, but she "did") she held his medically-induced-sleep hand the whole time. She watched his color come back as the good blood made its way through his itty bitty body.

Then there were the grands. Grandpa refused to hold them until they were "more substantial," but that didn't keep him from being there every day, close by, watching, breathing. Granny had new - SHORT - nails applied so that she could feel their skin and not be forced to wear gloves. Nana took loads of pictures and practically dressed in a hazmat suit just to be able to look at them. Papa, a life long smoker, would shower and scrub before leaving home (again, 50 miles away), not touch a cig, bring a change of freshly laundered clothes, change and scrub again, all for the opportunity to hold a feeding tube for 5 minutes. (He still doesn't smoke in his own house just so that they won't be exposed.)

So, yes. I "complained" about how spoiled they were on Christmas morning. Not a complaint, really, BTW. I don't, however, gush on about how we don't go to daycare or how we don't ever look for (or even consider) a babysitter. The boys have only ever spent three hours away from us when it wasn't one of the "help" mentioned above. (And, even then, it was my uber-responsible day-care provider niece.)

With the exception of Rose (with whom we lost contact with when she changed hospitals), the "help" gets us through. They are as important to us as anyone could be. They are the boys family, their guidance, their people.
Truth be known, they are those same things to us, too. We are indebted to them. The boys wouldn't be who they are without us - and them.