Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fur Real?

Caitlin wants this for Christmas....

This is how much it costs, on sale.....

We keep telling her this is *not* what she's getting for Christmas. We don't even have room for this pony! Her room is small, and jam packed as it is! Maybe if we had endless money, and endless house, and endless space, this silly pony wouldn't be an issue. But half the time, these "Fur Real" critters don't even work. Still, the pleading is endless. Child, we have something for you already! You'll like it, trust me! For now I am avoiding taking her to Target!

Friday, December 14, 2012


Every year the 4th grade class at Brandon's school has Winterfest. It's a celebration of their writing. I don't know if the topics differ from year to year, but this year it was about family traditions. Some kids wrote about vacations, some kids wrote about camps. Brandon wrote about our Easter egg hunts! It was kind of funny, since I don't really think of that as a tradition. But hey, if he does, maybe we should up the ante!

The kids (and the parents) are suppose to dress up for Winterfest. After the writings were read, we toured the hallway to look at different pictures and writing samples from our kiddos, had pictures taken, and then met up in the library for lunch. It was a fun day for Mr. Brandon. He wore a button down shirt and (clip on) tie. Cute!

Brandon's invention - a snowman that sweeps and shovels the sidewalks!

After the writing celebration, there was much merriment in the hallways! Probably a way to blow off steam after having to come up with writing ideas, a story, and all the drafts and edits they did before their masterpieces were finished!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oops, She Did It Again!

Actually, mommy helped a little bit. She couldn't pull it out, so I suggested tying dental floss around her tooth. I barely got it tightened and pop, out came the tooth! She was a bit shocked that she was bleeding, since she didn't bleed at all when her first tooth came out, but she soon got over that. All she kept saying was, "It's so little!"

Friday, November 23, 2012

Unseen Christmas Specials

I was looking through Directv for Christmas specials last night ('cause no one wants to miss "Frosty the Snowman," or "Rudolph" on his island of misfit toys). Check out these little gems I stumbled across:

Did you catch those two? "A Cadaver Christmas?" Hmmmmm...... "Grow Your Own Drugs for Christmas?" We are in Colorado, so some of that's no longer illegal, I guess. When people say that there's not much on television, they probably aren't talking about these awesome TV specials! 

There's also this little issue I've encountered lately with my picture taking .....

The 4th Grade Photo Bomber!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hello Kitty

I found a couple more Hello Kitty pictures from Halloween. Here is Hello Kitty at school:

Here is the Hello Kitty side view:

Unfortunately I didn't get any good pictures of Brandon out in his penguin costume, so the last post will just have to do! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tardy Reflections on Halloween

Halloween came and went, and I didn't blog about it. Even though the killer of a 10 year old girl, killed not far from our town, had been caught, there was still a heaviness about Halloween that I'm not use to. Many people were anxious about letting their kids go out at night to trick-or-treat. We went out, us parents and kids, and went all over the neighborhood. We weren't out as long as last year, but that was okay. The kids couldn't figure out why they didn't haul in as much candy as before. Silly kids! We had plenty! Once again, the school PTA said we could turn in our candy to a local dentist, and that dentist would give the PTA a dollar per pound. The kids didn't go for that this year, either. If they were going to turn over their precious candy, they wanted the money. Sometimes I think the PTA is out of touch with kids.

Caitlin wanted to be Hello Kitty this year. To save her from looking like this, I did an online search for a homemade Hello Kitty costume, and found this link. It looked like something I could do, so I followed the instructions and we got ourselves a costume. Woo hoo! I was never so happy to put away my glue gun as I was after making this costume. My fingers may still be coated with a layer of glue. Luckily Brandon wanted to be a penguin from the "Madagascar" movie, so I just ordered his costume online. I only have so much creativity in me! 

So, here they are in all their Halloween glory:

They were also pretty proud of their super cute pumpkins. Brandon carved his all by himself. That may be first. 

They donned their costumes a total of 4 times in the course of a week. Once for Base Camp, a Wednesday night program at a church in Boulder, once for our church's Trunk Blast (think trunk-er-treat) on Friday, and then twice on Halloween - once at school and then to trick-or-treat. I don't remember doing this so many times in the past, but at my age, the memory is fading! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012


On October 5th a 10 year old girl vanished from a nearby town. On October 7th, her backpack and water bottle were found in my neighborhood, just a few streets over from our street. That set off a flurry of activity around our house, including putting our neighborhood on surveillance, checking ID's, and only allowing residents in and out that day. The following Wednesday, her body was found about 6 miles from our house, closer to her own, in an desolate open space area. It's been heartbreaking.

At first, people didn't want to tell their children what was going on. I never got that the choice. The kids were in the car with me, on the way to a birthday party, when I was ID'd and questioned for 10 minutes while trying to leave the neighborhood. They were full of questions that afternoon. We talked honestly about what was going on, and hung up the fliers were were given. For the next several days, all my outings and walks were accompanied by police combing the streets and the fire department combing the parks and open spaces. I can't tell you how upset I was to learn a few days later that her body was found and, as the police detective said, not intact. The days following that were filled with more door-to-door police interviews, DNA sample requests from white males in our neighborhood, and drive-by FBI wireless activity surveillance (which has been simplified now, but the way. It involves two people slowly driving by in a sedan using a smart phone). Luckily the FBI has no problem showing you a badge an explaining what they're doing when you ask why they're parked in front of your house. Otherwise I'd probably be calling the tip line to report suspicious behavior!

Last night there were 6 or 7 police on our street again, going door-to-door taking information and asking questions. They were from the girl's town, not ours. The kids were outside, as was I, so we all talked. The man I spoke with told me how nice, and how unusual it was, to see a bunch of kids playing outside in the streets. Brandon once again wanted to know why we talked about what we talked about, which lead to another honest discussion about what's been going on.

I realized today that the weight of all of this is crushing. And I'm just an outsider! Although I desperately want her killer to be caught, talking to the police is becoming unnerving. I'm starting to recognize the plain-clothes cops, the detectives, the FBI, and the different styles of unmarked cars they drive! Talking with the police last night left me with an overwhelming sense of dread, which in turn lead to yet another sleepless night.  The traffic on the way to Bible study was unusually heavy. I realized too late that my route takes me right by the open space where the body was found! All day today I was an emotional mess. Nothing about my Bible study made me feel that way, so the only conclusion I could come to was this child abduction. Brian's been gone for the better part of almost two weeks, so I've really got no one to talk to about all of this. I feel like I'm walking this journey alone, answering all the kid's questions and shouldering the burden solo. This morning just about every sad thing that someone said set me off internally into a shadowland of darkness.

Our town has been up to it's eyeballs in fear and frustration. People want cameras on houses and at every intersection. The message boards and Facebook are alive with suspicions and ideas, most of which boil down to how comfortable people would be living under surveillance. Every new car is under scrutiny. Every person that's never been seen before is a threat. I've been walking the thin line between a responsible parent and a fearful parent. My children still walk home. They still play outside. I can hear them, but I'm not there at all times watching them. Yesterday, when they didn't arrive home at their allotted time, I was more anxious than I should have been. All they did was walk home on the street with other kids instead of heading up the walking path right behind our house, which takes a few minutes longer. But still, I let my anxiety get the best of me.

My thin line might have cracked this morning, though. A mother at school asked if I was walking home with them. She'd been told at a recent town forum (that I couldn't attend) that police had told the parents not to let their children walk home alone. When my kids walk home, they are with many other kids that live on our street or in our neighborhood. The police that have been coming door-to-door have told me how nice it is to see kids outside, and to be watchful, but not worried. The mother I spoke with hasn't experienced any of this. Even though she's walking distance from our house, she's enough streets over that the police aren't combing her neighborhood daily. My motherly instincts are on high alert now. Why are the police from different town saying different things? I don't want to live my life fearful that bad things will happen to my children any time their alone. How does this prepare them for adulthood? How does my fear accomplish anything?

Studies on abductions have shown that most abducted children are taken by people they know. But sometimes that's not the case. What no one knows right now is who took this little girl, and where that person is. That's the hardest for me - knowing that he's out there right now, seeing all the same news reports that I am. Right now I'm just praying, asking to God to watch over my children, and stepping up the parental vigilance that seems to be required at this time.

**Update - the killer was caught on October 23rd. He is a 17 year old boy from the little girl's neighborhood. His mother made the call for him to turn himself in. While this is heartbreaking on so many levels, the heaviness surrounding watching our kids like eagles, at least in our neighborhood,
 has been lifted.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


mmmmm.... crab spread.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tooth Fairy Prep

Caitlin put her tooth in her special pillow made by her Nana, and put it under her pillow. Lo and behold, the ever-stocked tooth fairy came with a gold coin. Caitlin is thrilled that she's now officially joined the ranks of the big kids!

Friday, September 28, 2012


Someone finally lost her first tooth today! It's only been lose for about a month, now!

She is so proud! This morning Caitlin told me she'd found something hard and rock-like in her breakfast. I was busy making lunches, so told her just to put it on the plate and not eat it, which she did. She ate the rest of her breakfast, got her backpack ready, put her shoes on, and got her hair combed. Right as she was about to put her breakfast dish in the dishwasher, she came up and showed me her "rock." Her tooth! There was no bleeding and no pain, so we didn't even know that was the hard thing hiding in the dried peas. Good thing it didn't stick in the banana she'd had first - we might never have found it! I'm sure everybody she knows at school will see her gap today.

Based on how long it took her to get her baby teeth in, I thought she'd be closer to second grade before she lost even one tooth. Guess not! Tonight we'll put her tooth in her special tooth fairy pillow. Good thing the tooth fairy went to the bank last month. Never know when she'll need a gold coin!

Crazy Hair Day!

The kids had Crazy Hair Day at Base Camp on Wednesday. Caitlin was all on board. We talked about what she wanted. Although I rarely do her hair, we have an abundance of rubber bands and clips left over from her younger years. She dug through her stuff, came up with some clips and things she liked, told me what she wanted, and we went to town. In the end she looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book!

Brandon was another story. He wanted to do something for Crazy Hair Day, but didn't know what. I have some hair clay that will do chunky styles, and I told him I could just spike it in the front. He said yes. After I finished Caitlin's hair, I called Brandon into the bathroom. When I got no reply, I headed downstairs and found him in a crumpled ball on the couch, sobbing. He had changed his mind. I reassured him that was okay, and we left it. About 10 minutes later I  found him on the couch again in a crumpled, soggy mess because he decided he did want to do it, but he didn't know if anyone else would be doing it. We found the postcard that we'd gotten last Wednesday, and I showed him an e-mail I'd received, all to try and convince him that the 26th was really Crazy Hair Day, and that he didn't have to worry about being the only one with crazy hair. It took longer than I thought it would. We decided just to do the front, and then he could smooth it down if I was wrong. *Sigh* I understand conformity. Deep down inside I'm a conformist, too. There have been so many times in my life that I have struggled to fit in. To not be the new girl. To not be the odd one. To not be the smart one. To try and make friends. But I didn't think the fear of the unknown would manifest itself in someone so young. We talked about how he didn't want to stand out in the crowd. He didn't want to be the odd one out. I assured him he wouldn't. So we dried the tears, blew the nose, and styled the hair. I even got a couple of cute pictures out of it as well:

This is how Brandon smiles when I say "smile"

This is his real smile. I like this one better

Because Brandon never acts out in public, no one gets how sensitive he really is. All they see is this relatively normal child who does well in school and obeys. Those are true, but sometimes all the behind the scenes "scenes," like this one, can take a toll! 

Wednesday was a dress rehearsal for us. The next day at school it was Crazy Hair Day! Since we'd done it all before, it was smooth sailing on Thursday morning. Not every mom in the school had as easy of a time as I did. There was much rushing around. Thursday we spiked all of Brandon's hair. Fun!

Monday, September 24, 2012


Caitlin just used 3/4 of a new can of Bon Ami to clean the tub! Oy! Child of mine..... what am I going to do with you? I hope that bathtub shines! (And I hope you cleaned off all the powder you dumped on the floor!)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Colors

Yesterday we went up to the mountains outside of Boulder to look at the fall foliage. There's a mix of evergreens and deciduous trees in the foothills, so the colors are beautiful. Mostly yellows, though. Lots of aspens and cottonwoods. The only reds I see regularly are the maple trees planted around town (along with the hot pink autumn colors of our burning bush in the backyard).  The trees have only started turning down where we live, but it was peaking just a few thousand feet higher.

I met a woman and her father while standing on the side of the road to get these shots. She was sweet enough to take a couple of photos of our family. I took one of her and her dad and e-mailed them out to her. Turns out her dad is one of the few remaining survivors of Iwo Jima. I thought that was pretty cool.!

On the way home we stopped at a dam, and at Boulder Falls. Amazingly, even though we were in close proximity with water, Caitlin did not come home sopping wet. Maybe there's hope for us yet!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Adventures in Making Apple Sauce

We have an apple tree. Up until this year, we thought we had a crab apple tree. It only produced tiny little apples, and they were usually bug infested. This year it's different. We are getting more regular-sized apples, many are in great shape, and there are so many that the tree branches are starting to break. So what did we do? We made apple sauce! The kids wanted to get in on the action. Can't let mom have all the fun.

Taking the apples off of the apple corer/peeler

Inspecting to make sure nothing else got to it first (these are seriously organic apples, folks!)

Caitlin gets her turn

She also must make sure nothing's in there

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Adventures in Being Unable to Get It Together"

If last week had a title, it would be called "Adventures in Being Unable to Get It Together" (or, more appropriately, adventures in me being unable to get it together!) There were so many cups pouring into that bucket! Let me explain.

My youngest brother got married! Yay! We are so happy for him, and so happy to officially welcome Liz into our lives (even though she's been part of our lives for a couple of years now).
Aren't they cute? 

Their wedding was September 8th. Our family flew out to my parent's house on the evening of the 4th and stayed until the 10th. We were joined a few days later by my sister and her husband, and my other brother and his girlfriend, 3 more cats (to go with the 5 that live there), and for a brief moment, 2 dogs. Keith and Liz both stayed at the house as well, although Liz stayed with her family at a friend's house the night before the wedding. All of us - parents and siblings and significant others in one house! Oh my! With wedding preparations! Oh my! We managed to get the kids to do some homework that week, too. Not easy. Which leads me to the next cup....

Our school does literacy testing after school starts. They test the Thursday before Labor Day, and the teachers go over the results Friday. All of this resulted in 5 days off for the Labor Day holiday for the kids. Add that to the 6 days we were in California, and that means the kids were out of school/school habits for 11 days! 5 days off, 1 day back at school (the 5th), and then another 6 days off. Yes, my calculations include weekends. The kids had a bumpy re-entry back into the world of school. With classes now teaching at a normal pace, they were a little behind. There was much snuggling, cuddling and reassurance time after school. Especially for Caitlin. She loves school, but hasn't really adjusted to the full day, or how tired it makes her. Not that I would have changed anything, it was just a hard 4 days back with back-to-back time off for my little ones.

After School
What a busy week! Tuesday - homework, soccer practice and a birthday party for a good friend! Wednesday - homework and Base Camp (the Wednesday evening church activity the kids are doing this year instead of AWANA). Thursday - homework, catch-up homework, and a little breather. Friday - soccer game, rest time. Saturday - homework, catch-up homework, Brandon's birthday party. Sunday-church, homework, Brandon's star-student-of-the-week homework (photos, artifacts, and an autobiography), Brandon's real birthday.

No wonder the kids woke up with sniffles on Friday morning. Keeping them healthy has been hard! I've had a hard time fighting off this cold I came down with. I'm sure all the fruits and veggies helped, along with making sleep a priority, but the coughing friends haven't. Pray for a healthier week!

Worked at work. Worked at home. Now gone for a week.

Fighting a head cold. Very achy. Haven't slept all that well since we got home, either. I'm hoping this week is better.

Here's a list of things I couldn't keep up with:
  • Catch-up homework
  • Multiple forms that the school and school districts requires me and the kids to sign every single year (it gets old)
  • The house (it's a mess)
  • Groceries (everywhere and not put away properly)
  • Exercise (what's that?)
  • Bible Study (I have today and tomorrow to catch up)
  • Laundry (might be done now)
  • Mail
  • Caitlin's nervousness about her "place" in school and with friends, and being nervous about not fitting in
  • Wishing my mother-in-law a happy birthday. It was on my mind, I talked about it with Brian, but I completely forgot to say anything until this morning

There are sheets on one couch, Legos on the floor, shoes everywhere, messy rooms, and piles of mail and papers. Ugh! Today is going to be one busy day! I might be going to bed at the same time as the kids tonight! Nothing was particularly awful this week, but all the catch-up was a bit much. And I'm a stay-at-home mom!  I'm really hoping that the worst of the catching-up is behind us now, and that we can just focus on this week. That would be nice.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Caitlin was just looking at the computer, and asked why there was a lit up apple on the front of ours. We had a little conversation about companies, products, and branding. Then I told her that our computer was made by a company called Apple. She laughed and laughed. "A company called "Apple"?" Apparently that was the funniest thing she's heard all day!

Old Stuff

Yesterday I placed a pair of shorts in the donation bag.  I came across them while cleaning my closet. After trying them on, I realized that I bought them about a month before my wedding, which was in February of 1999! My choices were limited in January in northern California, which may well explain why I bought a pair of dark blue shorts. I should never, ever wear dark shorts against the white skin of my thighs, especially on a vacation taking place in the middle of winter! Oddly enough, they're still fairly fashionable, so to the donation bag they went.

This morning I plugged in my electric kettle to heat up some water. I heard a strange noise, and saw the cord sizzling a little. Little wisps of smoke rose up. The water heated up just fine after that, but I think it's time to toss the almost 16-year-old kettle (bought in December of 1996). I looked at a few kettles on Amazon this morning. They've really come down in price over the last 16 years! Then there's the fact that I can boil water in a pan on the stove. I'm not the tea drinker that I use to be, so maybe a pan's the way to go.

Sometimes I wonder what I've spent our money on. I live in a country where shopping is encouraged, excess is rampant, and frugality is viewed as odd. I'm frugal when it comes to grocery shopping, stocking up with sales and coupons and trying to purchase the best quality at the best price. I rarely buy clothing when it's not on sale or clearance. Then there are times that I wonder why I bought something. We don't use it, don't eat it, or it doesn't fit right. What  was I thinking? Am I just being wasteful?  Enter this week, and the day that I gave away shorts that are 13 1/2 years old, or tossed a kettle with a faulty cord. My curling iron of 9 years broke a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I'm holding on to things too long, but it was nice to know that I'm not entirely wasteful with everything I buy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

On One Hand....

The awesome thing about living in a not so heavily populated area is that when you call the doctor's office because a frozen, glass food container fell out of the freezer on to your big toe and you think it should be checked out, you can usually get in the same day you called. The not so awesome thing about living in a not so heavily populated area is that when said doctor thinks you should get an x-ray to make sure your toe is not fractured, and you go across the street to the hospital at 6:00 pm, there isn't a soul to be found anywhere in the main lobby for at least 5 minutes.

On the plus side, my big toe seems fine. The x-ray technician didn't see a fracture. Will need to wait until tomorrow to see what the radiologists says, though.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fast Lane

Guess what we bought today? I know, I know - we live life in fast lane!

What? You didn't think I was going to sharpen 72 pencils, did you?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meet and Greet

Every year our school does a "teacher meet and greet" right before school starts. Do other schools do this, or is it a Colorado thing? I dread it. It's a messed up, chaotic hour in which most of the school kids and their parents come to the school, find out who's in what class with which teacher, and drop off the school supplies. It would be so much more helpful if it was longer, or over two days. A few years ago it was only half an hour for all the kids in the school, so I suppose a whole hour is an improvement! Even the kids were worn out after half an hour. On the bright side, most of our school supplies are out of the house and in the kid's desks. Our pencil sharpener broke  this morning, so no pencils will be going to school today! Costco usually carries electric sharpeners right around the start of school, so we'll head there tomorrow.

Caitlin was pretty excited to see her new classroom and her desk. She's made friends with another first grade girl on our street, and she's in the same class. Caitlin was beyond happy to hear that! She's got a couple of friends with her this year, but most of her closer friends are in other classes. Of course, Caitlin's our social extrovert, so she'll have friends where ever she goes!

Brandon's been a the school for 4 years now, so he already knows the drill. His best friend isn't in his class this year (he has been for the last 2 years), but there were several names on his class list that made him happy.

Brandon kept posing for me every time I looked through the camera, but I managed to get a picture of him very methodically putting his stuff in his desk. He was very focused. In the end, his desk was all very neat and tidy. I teased him, asking why his room wasn't so clean, and he assured me that his desk would be messy soon!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Outer Banks

Yes, we went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for our vacation this summer. In May. Yes, I am slow to get the pictures up for others to look at.

We rented a "tiny" 4 bedroom, 4 bath house in Kill Devil Hills that sleeps 14. It was the smallest one
Brian could find.

We had to climb 30 stairs to get from the bottom floor up to the top floor, which was where the living room and kitchen were located. I think I lost a couple of pounds that week. Thankfully a smart person installed a Stair Tamer cargo lift  on the side of the house (you can see part of it on the left in the picture above). It slowly took our suitcases, groceries, etc., from the car port to the top story. I might have a different opinion of the house if we didn't have that.

We had fun swimming in the pool and going to the beach.

We explored our surroundings, including the Wright Brothers Memorial, which was just down the road from were we were staying. What was then Kitty Hawk has now been rezoned and is in Kill Devil Hills.

Every day I tried in vain to get my hair to cooperate. Two seconds with a blow dryer in Colorado renders it straight as a stick. But in humidity.... that's a different story:

On the 4th day of our vacation, I remembered that my curling iron was also a straightening iron. I'd forgotten about that because there is never a need to straighten my hair anymore. I haven't used the  straightening iron for a good 5 years now! What a difference that made! I felt like a whole new person when we left the house!

Tropical storm Beryl slammed into the coast on the 30th. I'm not sure I've ever seen that much rain in such a short time! 6 inches in 6 hours. We slogged through pouring rain and flooding on the way to the house from the aquarium in Manteo.

We were very grateful to get home that afternoon, as it took 3x as long as it took to get from our house to the aquarium! 

We had a wonderful time being tourists and exploring a new beach. The water was California ocean cold, but I've heard it warms up later in the summer. The prices and tourists also double later in the summer, which is why we went right after school got out in our neck of the woods! Schools in the OBX don't get out until June. Same with east coast schools.

It was nice to see some rain. We don't get much of that in Colorado. It was nice to be back by water again, and feel some moisture in the air (although I'm sure the humidity is awful mid-summer). We had fun. The kids and I wanted to stay at least a week longer! Didn't poll Brian, so I'm not sure how he felt. Score one for another fun-filled P-4 family vacation!

Click here to see more pictures!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Caitlin's Room

It's not finished, nor is everything on the wall, but here is the almost completed project. She chose the colors and design. It's very girly!

Caitlin's new desk (a hand-me-down from a friend). She's wanted a desk for a couple of months now, so this came at the right time!

Most of the houses in our town have very small kids rooms. As you can see, we're maxed out for space in her room! She's happy, though, and that's what counts.

Ten on Tuesday

I've been an absentee blogger for the last year or so. Posts swirl in my head, but getting them down is another story. Here are a few things that have been going on in our lives recently:

1) The kids and I have loved the summer movie express at Regal Theaters. We've seen 8 movies this summer, at a cost of $3 each time ($1 per person). Although I prefer living in more populated area, not living in one has been a benefit for these movies. We show up around 9:45, don't wait long, and get one. Once a movie was sold out, so we saw the other one that was playing. Once.

2) Today we're seeing "Brave." Caitlin asked me if we could see it. The summer movie express is over, so I'll have to pay a whopping $12 for the 3 of us to see the movie (cue fake sad music...).

3) Just over a week until school starts! I'm so ready for it. I'm not ready to get up early, though. I'm sure I'll be complaining in no time.

4) I'm *very* ready to be done with this hot summer! The end of summer can't come fast enough! We've been inundated with record heat and almost no rain since June. Colorado sun in searing on the body, so no one wants to be outside unless we're swimming. I practically have to bribe to kids to play outside in the evenings. I really miss living in a place where going outside in the summer isn't viewed as a form of torture.

5) My goal this week is to go through the kids school stuff that they brought home in May (ahem), and get all of all the current school supplies ready to drop off next Monday. I hope that they aren't too attached to the over abundance of laminated masterpieces they brought home.

6) I painted Caitlin's room! Finally! It's Pepto Bismol pink with a purple stripe. I'll post pictures later. One wall needs another coat of paint before I can put up a purple stripe, but that has to wait until it's nice enough to open windows in her room. At this rate that might be October. Even the low and zero VOC paint needs to air out for a few days.

7) Still gluten-free. I want to do another experiment with eating gluten, but after my not-so-stellar experience a couple of weeks ago, my body has not gone back to normal. I still don't know why my joints are hurting so much. Painting really took it out of me, I guess. Living like this is getting old. I'd like to reset the clock back about 5 years and get rid of all these body issues I've acquired.

8) My brother gets married in one month and one day! Tonight we are getting Brandon fitted for his tux, and then heading out to dinner (I'm already checking the gluten-free options on the menu).

9) Two of my friends move away this summer. One I knew about, and the other one just up and moved without a word. I only found out when I wondered why I hadn't seen or heard from her for a while and decided to check in. Made me a little sad to not be able to say goodbye.

10) I'm curious about our new schedule for the fall. The kids have opted not to do AWANA this year (Brandon says all the verses are too much with all his homework), so they're doing something called Base Camp at a church in Boulder on Wednesday evenings. Brandon's doing soccer, and I want to get Caitlin into swimming, but so far all the rec centers haven't put out any fall schedules. I want to get back to schedule and routine, but starting out can be bumpy!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


It's been 3 months since I had gluten. In late April my rheumatologist suggested I go gluten free for 3 months for pain management and some gastrointestinal issues.  So go gluten free I did. Through thick and thin, barbecues, vacations, group dinners and weddings, I tried my darndest not to ingest gluten. I inadvertently had gluten a few times, but only because I either didn't know it was there, or because I couldn't avoid soy sauce. I mean, who knew that they battered french fries before frying them? I guess this is normal in North Carolina, but it was new to me! And I didn't find this out until after we got home from our trip! Oh well. Being gluten-free has been fairly easy at home. We switched our flours, got some quinoa or brown rice pastas, and I didn't eat random saltines or breads. It hasn't been perfect, but we've gotten use to it. Eating out was a different story entirely! I've eaten a lot of salads. No pastas, no noodles, no flour tortillas, no wraps, nothing with soy sauce, no regular pizza, nothing with breading. At any given restaurant, 85-90% of the menu items are off limits to me. We were in Breckenridge over July 4th, and it took me 10 minutes in the lodge cafeteria to find anything I could eat! I was ready to cry, and just eat and apple and a bag of chips, since everything else had bread! Lucky for me, after 10 minutes, I found a salad. Whoo hoo! Never been so excited to see some lettuce  and dressing!

My gluten free trial period ended last week. To test out the waters of glutenous living, I ate two slices of pizza  at small group on Sunday night, and half of a  cinnamon bread stick. That night I did not sleep well. In fact, I slept worse than my pre-rheumatologist seeing self! I logged in 3 hours before waking up unable to breathe! After taking some pseudoephedrine and sitting up/nodding off on couch for a hour, I was able to get back to a fitful night's sleep. Everything ached when I had to get up, and my body was unusually tight. The kids had sports camp up in north Boulder, plus swimming in the afternoon, so there was no rest that day. I was so exhausted and "foggy" that everyone had to repeat themselves for me to even understand them. My body was unhappy all day.

The next day was okay. Things seemed to get back to my new normal. I spent the next two mornings painting Caitlin's room, and generally running around. Thursday morning was spent not painting (yay!). Seriously, feel free to bop my upside the head the next time I suggest painting an upstairs room with poor circulation on a hot day in the middle of summer when I only have two hours to accomplish the whole thing! But I digress...  On Thursday morning I, once again, decided to test the waters. I had a big, doughy, oh-so-yummy pretzel at the mall. I ate a few saltines at lunch time. I even made a baked, breaded chicken dish for dinner. And oh my, did I pay for it! By evening, my body was screaming at me. I was having a hard time breathing (and in the same number of hours as before). Many internal issues that had been gone came rushing back. By bed time, every major joint in my body ached. I couldn't straighten out my elbows without major pain. I'm normally very flexible, but on Friday morning my back was so tight that I couldn't bend down and touch the floor. I'm not sure how much of that can be attributed to painting for two days, but the symptoms came on quickly, and were much better by Friday evening.

This last week was not exactly the romantic re-entry into glutenous living that I'd envisioned. I'm confused. I did this for pain management, not because my body was showing adverse reactions to gluten. Am I gluten intolerant? Gluten sensitive? Is this more related to the fact I'm in the midst of summer, when I tend to feel worse physically? What's going on? Everything I'd read about gluten-free living (usually written by someone with celiacs, which I don't have) said that they'd felt a huge difference within a couple of week. Not me. I've been gluten-free for 3 months, and honestly didn't feel much different. My hands were in less pain, and generally had more strength, but that was about it.  Two months in to my gluten-free diet, my rheumatologist put my on a prescription anti-inflammatory twice a day because my pain levels weren't getting better. That little pill made a huge difference in how my back felt, and was key in the near cessation of certain internal issues. I felt almost normal. I felt almost like I use to before we moved here.

Because there are so many things besides gluten that could have factored into my bad days, I'm going to try this again. Seriously, how do scientists ever get good results from control groups? There are so many other factors that could affect the outcome! My body is on it's way back to my new normal. The pain isn't as bad, and nothing's really screaming at me after a few days of returning to my gluten-free life. Tomorrow I stop taking regular anti-inflammitory meds. I won't paint or do anything out of the ordinary. If nothing changes, I'll have a bagel for breakfast next Saturday (I'm going big - why waste a gluten moment on something small?). I'll let you know how it goes. I'm not at all hopeful about the outcome. Good thing I like rice crackers!

Monday, June 25, 2012


Denver just broke it's all time high temperature record. Yay, Denver. Now that we've accomplished this, can we all just go back to some normal temperatures?  Under 105? You know, the ones where your kids don't come in from 5 minutes outside with a sunburn? Or complain that it's too hot to play? A few nights that actually cool down would be nice, too. It's a desert here (in more ways than one). Really, if I wanted this kind of heat, I could just move to Phoenix. 'Nuff said.

Friday, June 15, 2012


When we named our children, we chose names we liked. They weren't names we heard a lot, either. I guess we didn't hang out around parks, playgrounds, or school settings often enough (or at all) before having children. How did I find out that we named our kids common names? In a mass-market magazine, of course!

Looks like Caitlin may be in for a lifetime of people misspelling her name. People already get it wrong. Even when they have the correct spelling right in front of them, or have known her for a while (ie, the admin at the dentists office, different teachers). Who knew that the traditional Irish spelling we chose was so out of vogue? But then again, few people get my name right, either.

Update on the Glasses

Yes, I did find Caitlin's glasses! Finally! She was complaining that it was hard to read. So where did I find them, my 4 loyal followers may ask? In the shoe box. Covered by 10 pairs of shoes. Again, it's just amazing those glasses are still around! I took my mother-in-laws advice and got a copy of her prescription, intending to get a back-up pair at some point. Our Costco doesn't do glasses. Of course not. I'll see if the one that's 10 miles away does them. Otherwise I'll look up the closest Pearl Vision and see if their cheap glasses ad does children's glasses as well. Looks like a trip to Denver is in my future.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Case of the Missing Lens

Last week, when we were in North Carolina, Caitlin asked for her glasses. She hadn't worn them since we got to the Outer Banks, but said the words in the book she was reading were a little blurry. I dug them out of my carry on bag, and the left side lens was missing! It wasn't in her case, and, after dumping the contents of my bag on the bed, not in my carry on, either. The little screw that held the 2 halves of the left "eye" on the glasses had fallen out. Considering how much these glasses cost us, I felt a little ill. I really, really wish that we'd chosen something else. These glasses have bent in all ways, and we've even had to go in to get them readjusted. All this since early December! After searching my carry on, the whole bed, and the floor for something clear (!), I came to the conclusion that the lens wasn't there. I would look every now and then, hoping I hadn't just missed it. What kept going around in circles in my mind was that if the lens was in our OBX vacation house, it would be a lost cause when we left. It *had* to be at home. Caitlin hadn't worn her glasses since the last day of school, and that had been a week before!

We got back home late on Sunday night. There was no searching then, only bed. The next day was spent with me in a semi-sick, slightly exhausted, unpacking state, with a little searching here and there. Still nothing. Embarrassed by the sight of the coffee table in the front room (in reality, embarrassed by the fact that everyone had piled just about everything on it and I couldn't actually see it), I went into full-blown house cleaning mode on Tuesday. I put away the suitcases, went through the mail, and cleaned off the coffee table. I searched under the couch, under the tables, in Caitlin's room - still nothing. At this point I was mentally trying to calculate the cost of getting one lens, but my mind was still in a post-vacation hangover, and no amount of math was going to be processed. Two days later, finding the lens had proved to be futile.

Tuesday night Caitlin's friend M came over for a sleep-over. Her mom, who works the night shift as a labor and delivery nurse, picked her up up early Wednesday morning on the way home from work. Since Caitlin's friend lives just up the next street, she and Caitlin decided to walk to her home together. M's street is kind of busy, so I walked up to the top of our street, where our streets connect, to watch them while M's mom drove up the hill. Caitlin walked back down the street to me, and we walked down our street together. We walked past our neighbor's house, and lo and behold, what on the sidewalk before my eyes should appear? A small, clear, plastic lens (and 8 tiny reindeer! Wait - wrong season!). It was a little scratched up, but not nearly as bad as it could have been. I scooped it, took it inside, and found out that yes, indeed, it was our missing lens. How could it be there on the sidewalk, almost two weeks later? How was it not completely battered or smashed? How did I not step on it just minutes before when I walked up our street? How was this possible? Our neighbors have 2 active boys, and all the kids in the neighborhood frequently congregate in front of our house or their house. One would think the little lens would be crushed by now.

Lately, God has been impressing a few things on me. No words, no directions, but just a few things that he'd like me to do. I've been a little lazy, and have not been drawing close. But I've felt his presence, and I have tried to do what I feel he's asking of me. Even in doing so, I'm confused. Why is he impressing this on me? I wish I could get some better answers. He knows how much I hate not knowing what's going on, or where I'm going. I hate vagueness. Somehow when I found this lens - in a place I never would looked, and in good shape - I felt like it was just a reminder from God that he was still here! I know, I know  - it's just a lens. And I can choose to see it just as a lens that was lost, then (amazingly) found. But I'm not. I'm clinging to this little reminder that God's still here. And that he cares.

Oh, and the next day, Caitlin misplaced her glasses. Three days later, and I still can't find them. *Sigh*

Friday, June 01, 2012


Greetings from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I'm going to go jump in the pool in a few minutes, but I thought I'd write about our trip. I'd like to post pictures of our trip, but that would have required me to pack my camera cables. They are, unfortunately, safe and sound back at home. Oh well. Mental note - put the cables on the packing list....

So... the atlantic ocean. Right now it's just as cold as the pacific ocean, and about as rough. I've heard it warms up in summer. There are more shells on the beach, but they're mostly bits and pieces of shells. I'm glad we told the kids that it wouldn't be like collecting shells on the gulf coast of Florida so they wouldn't be disappointed. Brandon still gets a thrill out of finding something pretty (or an egg case from a skate). Caitlin's still happy that she's near (or in) the water. The sand goes from soft to hard shell pieces. You have to watch where you walk.The coasts are long and uninterupted by cliffs or rocks.

It's a little odd to see the sun rise over the water. Being a west-coast girl, I've seen the sun set over the water. When I'm at the beach, facing the water, the wind is at my back. The breezes roll from the land to the water. Again, a reverse from what I'm use to. We got caught in the end of tropical depression Beryl the other day, and drove home during an amazing storm! Our area got over 6 inches of rain in 6 hours. There was much flooding, but most of it was gone the next morning. There's still a lot of standing water, but it's drying up fast in the hot, somewhat humid weather.

Okay - off to the pool. I'll post some pictures in a few days!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Invisible Illness

On the last day of school the kindergartners had a "beach party." On the upside, Caitlin wore her bathing suit to school under her clothes (which is how she thinks she should dress every day!). On the downside, the whole day was 60-65 degrees, with a cold wind blowing down from the mountains. While this would qualify as a beach day on the cold coast of northern California, it wasn't nearly as much fun for the kindergartners as a nice warm day would have been.

Initially, Caitlin had wanted me to stay the whole time. She wanted me to watch her running around, getting wet, and playing in the tanbark (there's no sand here). Since it was a cold beach day, she ran around doing crafts inside, and played a bit on the kindergarten playground. After an hour and a half, she said that I could go if I wanted to. And I did. I was pretty run-down from surviving the last week of school, and was getting a cold. If I stood a chance of beating this cold before leaving for the Outer Banks, I needed rest. School was out in an hour anyway. As I was leaving, one of the other mom's asked if I was going back to work. When I said that I don't work and that  I was going home to finish some things (that, and resting), she gave me the funniest look and said, "Oh. I just need to be here with boys. I'm so sentimental. I need to cherish these moments."

I'm not sure how I'm processing all of that.

It wasn't the fact that she's sentimental and I'm not (I am, sometimes to a fault). It wasn't the fact that she wants to cherish these moments and I don't. It's the look she gave me. The tilt of her face and lost look in her eyes that  said she didn't understand *at all* why I was leaving if I wasn't going back to work.

The funny thing about fibromyalgia is how exhausting it is. And how invisible it is. Anyone who has fibro or has been around others with it understands when I say I'm exhausted. They understand that my body aches. They understand that my brain gets foggy, I get clumsy, and I need to rest. Sometimes in the middle of the day. There are times I feel like I can barely move! I don't even know to explain it. I don't even know where to start. Really. I didn't understand this before it happened to me. I'm not sure how to begin to explain how I feel. Because, in the eyes of others, I "don't look sick." I don't feel sick, either. I feel like this is a "condition", not a "sickness." Arguing semantics, however, doesn't seem to be the way to go. I feel a bit better knowing that right now, this doctor is on my side. I've seen several in the last few years, explained what I'm going through, and I've felt like I needed to convince them that I wasn't feeling well. I guess I should have presented them with a persuasive 5 paragraph essay. Maybe then a diagnosis wouldn't have taken so long. The truth of the matter is, I've gotten very good over the last 5 years at pretending I'm fine and looking the part, even when I felt like I'd been beaten up in my sleep. I've tried to do everything that everyone else did, and exhausted myself in the process. I dubbed 2009 and the first half of 2010 "the years of trying too hard," as I was so mentally and physically exhausted. Some drastic changes were made, and things have gotten better. And at least now I have a name for what I've been going through.

I'm not even sure where this post is going right now. I'm just rambling. But I know that this is not "in my head." I can't expect people to understand how I feel. That the things they take for granted aren't easy for me. Often times I feel like a little old lady. Most of the time I can't make it through a day without napping or resting (now that I take something to help me sleep at night, I usually only have to rest in the middle of the day). There are days that turning knobs or faucets is excruciatingly painful. Some days my skin feels like it's on fire and I can't stand being touched. There are many nights I lay awake, fully in pain, staring at the ceiling fan. But then again, some days are better. I stopped carrying the kids years ago because I was afraid I'd drop them. Something like going on a little hike without doing it on my terms is exhausting. Not for one day, but for the rest of the week. I want to go with my friends, but it doesn't always work. I want them to know that I want to be included. My fibromyalgia isn't as bad as some others I've read about, but that doesn't make it wonderful, either.  Often times, I can "push through" the pain. I come out exhausted on the other side, but most of the time I knew that would be the outcome when I started. It took me several days to recover from a MOPS retreat in January, but I was glad I "pushed through."

The challenge of having something people can't see is to explain it without complaining about it. I'm hoping that I can do that at some point. Back to the last day of kindergarten - Caitlin really didn't care if I went home. She was having fun. My little water baby also knew that we were going on vacation a few days after school got out, and that there would be a beach and a pool! As for me - I have to take care of myself. I hate the wondering stares. The ones that think I should be with my children all the time, unless I'm at a job (which is the only valid excuse to some). In as much as I'd like people to understand what I'm going through, I need to accept the fact that they don't, and maybe never will. And I need to move on.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Introducing the newest fourth grader and first grader! Or, as Brandon has coined, a "thourth" grader and a "firstergartner." He thought that since he was no longer in third grade, but yet not quite in fourth grade, that the terms needed to be combined. The other one he coined for himself was "fird" grader, but that one just sounds like he can't pronounce his words correctly!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Some Improvement

I've been on a gluten-free diet for about 3 weeks now. Only 2 1/2 months to go! It's really not that bad at home, although I do miss having the occasional sandwich for lunch. I also miss it being easy to go out and eat. There is a lot of gluten out there - buns, breads, pasta, sauces, flour, breading, noodles - you name, it has gluten! We've experimented with a couple of different types of flours and mixes. Some are good, some are not so good. The Bob's Red Mill gf pancake mix might be Brian's favorite now! I even bought a package for our upcoming vacation! It might not be available where we're going.

People who know that I'm doing this ask if I've felt any improvement. And I have - but only in my hand strength. About a week ago I was cleaning up after dinner. Brian had made dinner, and had used our enamel-coated cast iron pan. It's nice and heavy and flat, won't warp, and heats evenly. We got this pan in December, after reading that we could use an enamel-coated pan on our ceramic topped stove. I rarely use it because lifting it can be excruciating. I've lost my grip on it before, even using both hands to lift it, and almost dropped it. I chipped the enamel on the pan, and a spot of enamel on the rim of the oven. Luckily I didn't break the glass stove top, or my toes! Anyway, when I was cleaning last week I carefully lifted the pan off the stove top to bring it over to the sink. And it wasn't excruciating! It was heavy, yes, but my hands didn't ache! Amazing! I still can't open a bag of chips without scissors, or cut up chicken and veggies for dinner without taking pain-killers, but this pan experience was big! I was even able to zip up my shoes without using a jar opener as a grip. I've washed the pan once or twice since then, and was able to lift it and even put it away without issues! Go me! My hand strength has steadily declined over the last few years, and I'm not back to where I was before we moved here, but improvement is improvement!

As for any other improvement, I haven't felt anything. People told me I'd lose weight. Hmm... no improvement there. I guess they didn't realize that things like potato chips and chocolate are gluten free! As are nuts and most cheeses! Oh well. Going gluten-free has made no difference in the rest of pain or any internal issues that I've been going through for years (I'll spare you the details). In fact, some things are worse. Being that it's only been a few weeks, I'm not diagnosing any areas yet. I'm not as fatigued in the middle of the day as I was a couple of months ago, but then again, I've been taking medication for 3 months to help me sleep. After 5 years of sleeping poorly most nights, I've logged several 6-hour stretches of solid sleep in the last month! That's a first! Who knows if going gluten-free helps with that or not. I'm taking the doctor's orders about being calm and not over exerting myself very seriously, and declined several offers of joining the PTA or starting a Moms-Next group (a MOPS group for parents of older children). We'll see how summer goes. Being with children all day, every day can be quite draining. Then again, if we're all well rested, maybe we won't be as crabby in the middle of the day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Princess Shoes

Caitlin calls these her "Princess shoes."

Looks like the princess has fallen on hard times. 

Almost forgot - here's the princess (trying to make her mom laugh)!