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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking Back at 2011

I always like New Year's Day. It's like a blank slate. There is always the promise of great things in the future. It is always a little scary of what the unknown holds but I believe 2012 will be the best ever. Maybe I'll have a working computer so that I can finally send some work in. Maybe 2012 will be the year I start to make money writing. Who knows?  Looking back on each month, here is the year at a glance...the good...the bad...and the ugly.

January: Gia turned one. We had a big party for her and celebrated the miracle that she is. It's funny...I fretted about her walking and talking and now she's running and talking so much, it's hard to believe there was anything to worry about. My heart melts each time I hear her say, "I love you, Mommy."

February: I jumped in with both feet into the blogging world and Tidbits From the Queen of Chaos was born.

March: We went to Disney again and had a blast with friends and I vowed never to go to Leo's mom's again for Spring Break (something that I am sure he is banking on me forgetting I said).

April: Nico became a teenager and my sanity began slipping.

May: Tommy's weird leg thing finally got resolved. As long as he takes the penicillin, the leg bumps stay away. We always knew he was a medical anomaly...this just proved it. So relieved that all of his tests came back normal but I remember this month being very stressful.

June: I turned 41 with the biggest non-birthday ever. We went to Wisconsin Dells with my whole family where two of my kids got sick and one never slept. A family vacation to remember forever.

July: One of the biggest power outages and I lived out of my car for awhile. Well, not really. I stayed at my mom's but it was like living out of my car. It was awful and I hope I never have to do that again.

August: The beginning of the "mouth cancer fiasco". The world stopped for a little bit. Surgery for my mouth where we found out that I never had cancer to begin with and pathologists are only human and make mistakes (though that has to be the BIGGEST mistake ever...and glad it went that way instead of the other).

September: School issues, football starts and asthma becomes a bigger concern than CF.

October: The twins turn double digits (10 for those math challenged) and things in our house started to break...I lost my computer, my washing machine, the microwave and my printer. The critters of Winfield came to live and the seed of getting organized was planted.

November: Both boys made it to the Superbowl and the house clean-up began. The entire house was purged and slowly things got fixed. It felt good to take control of the house again and I found out what great friends I have.

December: Organization found its way to my house. Nico had surgery and I learned the important lesson in never taking my family for granted and to be thankful for each day that we have together.

The biggest thing for me was writing and making the blog public. It was a huge step for me to put myself out there. It has been incredibly fulfilling. It was therapeutic to talk about things that no one talks about (infertility, late term miscarriage and CF) and liberating to talk about things that others can relate to (how hard being a wife and mother sometimes is). I had people I didn't know recognize me when I was out and people tell me that I either inspired them to do something themselves or made them feel less alone. I love to hear all of that. My favorite was when I was at Target and a stranger came up to me and said, "Are you the Queen of Chaos?" When I looked at her in shock, she said, "A friend of mine sent me your blog and I love it. I recognized you from your picture and just wanted to tell you that I don't enjoy being back in elementary school either." How unbelievably cool is that?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Small Hiatus

I thought I could be back to blogging but with Leo home this week, I am having a very hard time getting on the computer. I'm going to try and post but if you don't see me for a little bit, you know it is because of Leo and the kids being home. I love having Leo home because he has been a great help but this break feels like the longest break ever. Gia's routine is all screwed up and so is mine so it is making for a lot of misery on both ends. Maybe by the time I get back to blogging, I'll have a better computer to blog with. One can dream...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


With hosting, I have not been able to get on the computer at all so this is going to be a long one. Christmas was very bittersweet. We did end up going to church on Christmas Eve and Gia was good for some of it and I was outside with other parents and their small children for some of it. I do love the warm feeling I get at church and hope my kids get the same feeling. I would love to be able to go to church every Sunday and have Gia on my lap sitting quietly but it only lasts for about three minutes. We then went to my mom's where there was a ridiculous amount of food. It was nice but not the same. People that are normally there weren't and their absence was felt. Of course, my kids didn't want to leave so we didn't leave until around 11. We have a tradition where we go look at the lights after we leave my mom and dad's. There is a neighborhood that has all the Disney characters and the kids always love going to see those. All the way home I kept hearing the kids say, "I hope Santa wraps the gifts." I was in for a long night.

Long story short, I was up until 2:30 wrapping. It was rough. I tried to make it even but Belle's stuff was a lot less inexpensive so there was more for her to open. I felt bad for Nico because he had about 5 very expensive gifts but just to look at his pile made me feel bad. I knew that what he really, really wanted wasn't there but I couldn't justify spending $200 on one gift for him. He wanted the Dr. Dre earphones and unless they guarantee they don't damage the hearing of those that are using them, why in the world are they so much money?? I am trying to instill in my kids that if they really want something that is that much money, they have to work for at least half of it. Anyway, I crawled in bed at around 2:45 and Gia started screaming with what sounded like a scary scream at about 2:50. I finally fell asleep at around 3:30 and the kids woke me up at 8:00. We let Gia sleep while they went downstairs. They seemed happy with what they got. Nico was bummed that he got a lot of stuff for the Xbox and it still isn't back from getting fixed. He liked the college hoops clothes that he got. Tommy liked the PSP games he got but then announced that he couldn't find his PSP. Belle liked her things, especially the microscope that she wasn't sure whether to put on her list but LOVED that Santa knew she really wanted it. Gia woke up around 9:00 and the look on her face when she saw her toys was priceless. It really made all the stress melt away (for a moment).

I already posted my Christmas list and from it, I got black slouchy boots and Blake Shelton's Best of CD. I mentioned that I wanted the Nook color at some point and he got me that. I just found out I might be able to get on Facebook with it and that will make me very happy because I have been missing a friend that I normally chat on there with since my computer is still broken and Leo's doesn't let me chat. I also got a gift certificate to Entree Kitchen which I really love to use when I want a home cooked meal but don't feel like cooking it. Leo did well this year. I know it is incredibly ungrateful to say but I was a little bummed that either my old computer fixed or a new computer wasn't under the tree. I just hate this one so much.

I got Leo a travel bag to replace the one that got thrown away in the clean up (I think he might have shed a real tear over that one getting thrown out), a custom made coach's shirt for the basketball team he coaches, a box of Starbuck's coffees (that is a yearly tradition), pajama bottoms and a mirror/radio for the shower. For his stocking, I got him slippers (that he probably won't wear) and about 10 packs of gum since I am tired of him asking me, "Do you have any gum?"

I think Christmas Day was a success. I got a few emails and texts saying it was nice. I am glad it is over. I tried to just enjoy the moment but it is stressful to feed that many people. We had a moment where we weren't sure how to cook all of the food with one stove. At the end of the night, Nico was really upset. He said he wanted to talk to me in private and shared that it wasn't about the gifts but that he was sad watching the twins be so excited with the whole Santa thing. He said Christmas didn't feel like it used to and he missed it. He understood that his stuff was more money but he felt sad when he saw the mound of gifts for the others and the small one for him. It didn't help that he had no Xbox and the hoop my sister bought him was the wrong one. My mom gave us a family gift that didn't come in yet so most of his gifts were a "here you go, you can't use it yet." Plus, he thought I was trying to throw him off with telling him I'd never get those earphones so he really thought he was getting them. I feel bad that the reality of "adult" Christmas has hit him because let's face isn't the same as we get older. I talked to him about the magic and warmth that I feel at church and that it starts to feel good to give gifts instead of receive them (still feels pretty good to receive, though). He felt bad that I felt bad that I didn't make it special for him and said it wasn't me. That it was just different and missed the old feeling. Me, too.

It was nice to be with family and friends this weekend and a lot of memories were made (Truth Be Told was a fun game with a lot of laughs). I found out that you can still get a hangover from drinking all day without ever feeling buzzed or drunk (God, I love mimosas and I think I tried every kind of Moscato wine). My mom is a great cook and the food was delicious. I don't think I need to eat for a month and my diet definitely is starting on January 2nd. It wasn't the same as when my Nana and Papa and my Grams and Gramps had it but then that is what happens with the holidays as we get older...people that should be there aren't and it becomes a holiday of not only feeling blessed for what you have (and I definitely feel blessed) but feeling a little sad for what you don't.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Two More Days!

It just dawned on me! Two more days and really not even. Christmas Eve is tomorrow and I am not ready! Not even close. This is the first year that I am this behind and I know it is because I have a two year old at home and the kids are home the week before. It doesn't help that I gave birth to a bunch of night owls so if I want to do it before they all go to bed, I wouldn't be able to start wrapping until after midnight. Even if they went to bed at a normal hour, they would still be up and that is too risky. What is even worse is that they keep saying, "I hope Santa wraps all of our gifts this year again." Ugghhhhh....when did I start that??? I think the year between Rocco and Gia. I needed something to occupy my mind and since the kids were in first grade, I had A LOT of time. I bet I didn't think so at that time. Why is that? What did we do with all of that time before we had kids? I remember thinking we were so busy and now it scares me that I might look back at this time and think I had more time because in the future, I will be even busier.

Anyway, back to the subject of not being done and trying to make it all work. Every year, we go to Willow Creek for Christmas Eve. It is a beautiful service and my kids really love it. Last year we couldn't get there with Gia's naps and trying to get out of the house in time. I don't have high hopes this year either. Yesterday, my cleaning lady came a day earlier than they told me (yes, I know...just more nails in the coffin of this relationship but everyone else I talked to is $20 more) and I had to get everyone up and out of the house so she could clean so we all went to breakfast. It was a disaster. Gia hates restaurants and people are mean. It's as if they have never seen a toddler not happy and I felt bad for obviously ruining their meal but geez...I didn't plan on her yelling and crying. The stares and dirty looks didn't really help. I left before I could eat. Again, I ask...why am I not 90lbs? My point is, if I can't take her to a restaurant for longer than ten minutes, then how am I going to get her to sit through church? To drive that far only to be in the hall chasing her seems like a frustrating way to start Christmas Eve. Last year we went to Wheaton Bible, which is the church we attend when we can. After yesterday's fiasco at breakfast, I'd like to NEVER bring Gia out in public again. Will God understand if I don't go because I don't want to ruin others' evening? What message is that sending the other three kids? Is it fair to them to have them not go when they enjoy it because their sister, who has never been early with any milestone, has decided to be early with the terrible twos? I'll probably end up going and chasing her in the halls.

Now I am off to Costco with, I am sure, loads of others and more cookie baking. Leo will probably be gone for most of the day because he said he failed at finding anything I wanted yesterday. I see many end cap gifts in my future. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not Enough Wine in the World

There is not enough wine in the world to deal with living with a teenager. I know it gets worse. I don't care. I am not enjoying it now. I get one night a week out if I am lucky. My night is usually Wednesdays. I look forward to it. It is the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn't get it last night. Rather than fill this post with a lot of negativity regarding my older son. I will leave you with: "Tis the season to be jolly...tis the season to be jolly...tis the season to be jolly...tis the season..."

Anyone else in the position where they have no idea what they have bought for Christmas and now that the kids are home and up your butt, you can't get to the gifts to make sure everyone has an even amount and no one was forgotten?

Speaking of kids being up my butt (and not enough wine in the world), just wondering who in the Hell thought it was a good idea for the kids to be off a whole week before Christmas? Why in the world aren't they in school until the 23rd and then off the whole week after New Year's Day? Then, at least, they'd have their new stuff to keep them occupied or then we could go skiing after the holidays. I'm really not enjoying this break the way it is. I can't get anything done, the kids are bored to death and the mixture of the two has me mumbling, "Tis the freaking season to be flipping jolly."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Lists

I sent mine to Leo a few weeks back. I had some things on there that needed to happen online so I wanted to give him plenty of time to get them so I didn't end up with notes saying, "Coming soon: Tim Riggins' sweatshirt." That happened two years ago when I sent him the website in October and he waited until December 23rd to shop. I love Leo and he really does mean well and can be very generous with gift giving. The problem is that just like with everything else, he ends up waiting until the last minute and I end up with very expensive "end cap" gifts. Do you know what these are? These are items that are on the ends of the aisle at Best Buy or Target or even Osco. Best Buy is Leo's favorite store. He wants so badly for everything on my list to be from Best Buy. The year he bought televisions for our house (his mom bought us one and we got another one as part of the deal), he was at Best Buy all the time. That was the year I got a digital end cap item. Another Christmas, I missed the memo saying we were getting home improvement items for each other and I got faucets. In all fairness the one Christmas he actually asked me for something (an electric toothbrush), he got me our mini-van so I looked like a big old cheapskate giving him a toothbrush when he got me a car.

This Christmas I had easy things on there: my blog in print, a pair of black boots (gave him the website address and everything so all he has to do is press "Buy"), the stuff off my hard drive of my computer and for him to find a way to either fix or replace my computer (okay, maybe that isn't an easy one) and Blake Shelton's Best of CD (since I have no computer, I can't buy it on iTunes). I did put on there half joking that I wanted a kitchen island. I always put something on there to make the other 5 or so things not look so bad. Before the clean-up of my house, I shunned things like the Kindle and the Nook. Now, I really want a Nook Color. Books without the clutter? Genius. It doesn't take the place of the feel and smell of books but until I live in my mansion, it will be the next best thing. Plus...a little something to keep Gia occupied. I told Leo he can get me that for Mother's Day when we don't have to buy for the whole family (haven't even started shopping for the in-laws yet). The weird thing is that I never wanted an iPhone until now. With no computer, I kind of want one now. Not having access to my iTunes is a bummer since I use music all the time. I could be in the worst mood and a song I like will come on and instantly, I feel better. I also use it to inspire my writing. My phone, that I am pretty sure was the first one to come out with a keyboard, has got to go.

Speaking of Christmas lists, does anyone else's kids keep giving them revised lists to send to Santa? I was just talking to a friend this past week and hers have done the same thing so it is good to know I am not alone but it is still irritating. I went crazy trying to keep the freaking magic alive by getting Belle a microscope after Tommy found the art set and today she gives me a "revised list" and says, "I think I'll wait until I'm older to ask for a microscope." Ugghhhh.... "Paint set with paper that is like a board." What the heck is that????  I told her that it was 4 days away and that it was probably too late and then she got mad at me for sending the list too soon. I am done shopping. DONE! Nowhere close to being done wrapping but done shopping and now, she is going to be disappointed. I don't have the energy to look for or spend more money on gifts that I don't even know what they are. If you see me out and about mumbling, "Tis the season to be jolly," you'll know it is because I am trying to convince myself that it is.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Day of Baking

I woke up early to beat the line at the UPS store to send away the Xbox to be fixed and was pleasantly surprised that I was only there for 30 seconds and didn't have to pay for shipping. My day started on a high point. Today is my baking day. I bake cookies for the garbage men, the mailman and don't laugh...the people at the Starbucks I go to. They make the best hot chocolates and a lot of times give us a discount. I like to thank kindness with kindness and they were so shocked when we gave them something last year, that I want to do it again.

I woke Isabella up early to help me because she LOVES to bake. She once told me she wanted to be a baker, song writer, artist, scientist. She and I started baking right away and for the first hour or so, it was great. Good conversation and she was a great help. Gia woke up and put a little bit of a crimp in our speed of getting things done. The boys woke up and trying to keep cookies away from two growing boys was no easy task and led to a few meltdowns by Belle.

This day is always bittersweet for me. My sister Gina and I used to bake with my Nana before Christmas. I wish I could tell you which cookies she made other than the 7 layer bars and peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses in the middle but those were my favorites so those are the same ones I make today. I miss my Nana and I think it says a lot about the day we spent with her that the cookies aren't what I remember. It was the fact that I could tell her everything. Everything she did felt like the best. She was the best cook, the best baker, the best knitter/crocheter (is that a word?), and the best listener. She was just a big bundle of unconditional love and I still miss her everyday. I think she would have gotten such a kick out of having a bunch of blondies for great grandchildren. I think my Papa would have loved Tommy (he's named after him) and thought he was a riot and would have loved talking sports with Nico. He had two daughters and only had one grandson so I think he would have loved that more boys were added to the family. Maybe I'm having a tougher time this year because I am having Christmas Day and that was their holiday. There is no way to live up to the experiences that were had when they were alive so that makes having it a little more "pressure-filled" and sad. Having it at my mom's came close but our family is getting so big that it is hard to house everyone in their house. It's nice to take turns and this year is mine. I'm happy to do it. I just know it will make missing them even more pronounced.

On a side note, I know one thing that makes me really happy and content is not being on any sort of schedule and just playing with Gia. She is like the equivalent of Prozac for me. It makes sense that the days that I don't get to just sit and be with her are the crabby, yucky days.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bad, Bad Weekend

This was the first bad weekend in awhile. Maybe it is because it is Hell trying to keep a 13 year old boy down. He hates sitting still or relaxing and with the broken Xbox, it was 1000 times worse. I know video games get a lot of flack. I hear it all the time: Why aren't they outside? Why is that game so violent? Why is he getting so mad at that football game when it is just a game? I get it and a lot of times I feel the same way but Nico and Tommy aren't kids who play video games for hours at a time. They are usually at practice or shooting hoops outside or throwing a ball around. In this house, video games are what make the difference between compliance with treatments and noncompliance. When you get to play the video game, you don't fight as hard doing it (you do a little but not as much). Without the Xbox, the fight to do it has been terrible. There are tears and pulling out hair (and that is me and pulling out my own). There is the TV but as Nico said, "Playing the Xbox makes the treatment go faster. It takes forever with the TV." Now, I know that isn't true but it is his perception and Tommy hops aboard with it and fights just as hard. We have to send the Xbox away and who knows how long it will be before it comes back. I see a lot more fights in the future. What stinks even more is that Santa is bringing them Xbox games that they aren't going to be able to play so Christmas morning will be like rubbing salt in a wound.

I don't know if Leo read the blog or not but it's funny that after I wrote that post, he fixed the printer and brought my computer to Best Buy. Great news about the works! Not so great news about the computer...they won't do anything and anything they can do will cost a lot of money. Leo is going to bring it into work and get the stuff off my hard drive. I think I'll have to use his work computer for longer than I thought. (D.W....I know this stinks.)

Besides the fun I had at the neighborhood Christmas party, which I only got to go to for two hours (the last two) because Leo insists on going to basketball games to scout, this weekend was full of not feeling okay no matter where I was or what I was doing. Just a lot of stress that wouldn't go away. A lot of worry that sat in my stomach making me feel a little sick. I will tell you that I hate sleepovers even more now than I did before and I really didn't think that was possible (and no, I didn't have one...almost did because my son is that convincing but didn't). Just another way for kids to feel left out. Remember when I told Tommy how I sometimes question God and what He is doing...well...this was a weekend of that and that never feels good.

Today is a new day so I am not going to dwell on the weekend. I have a whole day to spend with my children who are off school and I know will help me around the house and won't ask me once to drive them anywhere or have kids over here. It's going to be great!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tommy and the Meaning of Life

This has been the oddest Christmas yet. When do the warm fuzzies come? When do the good feelings make the stress all worth it? I get that the kids are older and so the questions are starting but the more I talk to people, the more I hear, "My kids never asked if Santa was real. We know they must not believe but they never let on that they don't." Why can't my kids be like that? Questions, questions, questions! Tommy came home from a friend's house today and while I was at a neighborhood party, I got a text from Nico that read: Hey, Mom. Do you have a sec? _____told T that there is no Santa and he asked me if I still believe. I said yes but now he says he doesn't think he believes. I should have written that in his text spelling so you could give me kudos for figuring out what he said. My heart sank a little because I knew I was at a crossroads with this whole thing. Do I tell or don't I?

I came home and Tommy and I had this conversation:

Me: So how many of your friends still believe in Santa?
Tommy: All but two of them and most of my 5th grade friends don't.
Me: So is it hard to talk to the ones that don't believe?
Tommy: Yes, sometimes. Mom, I don't know if I believe anymore.
Me (really hating that his friend stole his innocence): Okay. Let me ask you this, do you sometimes wonder if there is really a God?
Tommy (looking shocked): No! I know there is a God.
Me: You don't ever wonder if He is really up there when things don't go your way or why things are the way they are? You never get made at Him? (I hated this part but I needed to put it that way in order to make my point.)
Tommy: No. I know He is so busy, Mom, curing things and taking care of things that He can't do it all.
Me (my heart hurting a little that he thinks God is too busy to hear him): I get mad at Him sometimes and wonder if He is listening. Sometimes when things happen that I don't want or He doesn't answer a prayer, I want to ask, "Where is He? Why isn't He helping or what is He thinking?"
Tommy: You do?
Me: Yep and I have friends that don't believe in God.
Tommy: You do?!
Me: Yes and even though I know He is real, my friends don't and even though I know He is here, sometimes I question Him and how He does it all. It's okay to question sometimes.
Tommy: Yea, I know. Do you ever look around and wonder how everything and everyone got here? Some people say it was an asteroid that hit but an asteroid can't give us grass.
Me: Doesn't it make you think there has to be a God? How else would everything get here?
Tommy: Yes. God had to do it because He can do everything and not even explain why. Hey, maybe the same is for Santa. Maybe he can deliver all the toys and I don't have to understand how he does it.
Me: Yep. The thing is, with my friends that don't believe in God, we don't talk about it because they believe what they want and I believe what I want. (This is a topic for another post.)
Tommy: So when I talk to my friends that don't believe in Santa, I shouldn't talk about him because we believe different things.
Me: Yep. (I thought the conversation was done but I could still see the wheels turning in Tommy's head.)

Tommy: Sometimes I wake up on Christmas and I see what Santa brought and I want to say, "Santa, what were you thinking?" (Great...just great...good to know I am batting 1000 in that department.)

I know it is probably time to tell them and maybe it is selfish of me but I am not ready to let them go yet. Seeing Belle's reaction to the elf and Tommy's sadness in his eyes when asking if Santa is real tells me that they aren't quite ready either.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The House Where Technology Doesn't Work

List of things that don't work:

My computer
Our printer
My iPod
The Xbox 360 (I really need this one to be fixed since a lot of gifts have to do with it and he is driving me crazy.)
My phone (doesn't work in my house, Target or Meijer)
The call-waiting on caller i.d.
Our TV in the family room (still half a screen about ten times before going to blank screen)
One of the new lamps I bought (guess I am lucky to just have light here)
Does my car seat count? It takes about 15 times for it to move backward or forward. It's really not fun when I am in a hurry and Leo was the last one to drive my car. He is 6'3 and I am 5'2.
My camera (point and shoot one won't charge).

What is the point of living in the age of technology when none of it works?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nico and Elf drama

His surgery was yesterday and he came through so much better than last time he had it. Last time, his oxygen level kept dipping and once we brought him home, he kept throwing up blood and couldn't keep any meds down. It was a nightmare. This time, there was none of that. The doctor said he was pretty packed up with polyps in his sinuses and they got all but the ones that were too close to the eyes. It was the best case scenario. They kept him overnight and I do think that might have made the difference. He was forced to rest and stayed hydrated. He was so impatient, though which made for a long night. He was starving which made for a long day and evening for food service. He did have a rough night in terms of discomfort and once morning came, he was ready to leave. Some of his friends came by to see him and it meant the world to him. His whole face lit up and he kept saying how nice it was that they came. It was good seeing my friends, too. My niece, Natalie, came for the whole day. It was a Godsend. She and Nico are really close and she helped ease his anxiety. She helped ease mine, too. I think she might have been the difference between all of us being tense and all of us being more relaxed. I hope she knows how much that meant to both Nico and me. My sister, Nikki, came with for most of the day, too. She is Nico's "buddy pal" and I'm so glad she could be there for him. Gina and Chrissy helped my mom who had Gia all day (thanks, Mom) and were the heroes that brought him his favorite Boston Market cornbread. I was happy they came, too. Thanks goes out to my dad for watching Gia today until we got home. It made me worry a lot less knowing Gia was with my parents. Thanks goes out to K.T., J.W., K.J., and P.L. for bringing your boys to cheer up Nico. It won't be forgotten. Thanks to all the people that said a prayer or texted me or emailed me well wishes. I believe that it was because of your support and prayers that this time wasn't so bad (that and a lot of wonderful named, Sue, in particular).

Oh my God, I hate the elf. While I was at the hospital with Nico, Tommy was looking for a gift bag and found a bag of toys that were meant for Belle. They were supposed to be from Santa. He told her. order to keep the magic of Santa alive, I had to say they were gifts from the elf and that he isn't real. You know...if I had more than a half hour of sleep last night, I could have come up with something, anything other than he isn't real but I didn't. Isabella was devastated. She sobbed that she didn't want to know. I have to admit that I saw it as an opportunity to lessen the stress in my life and not do the elf anymore but now I feel horrible. She cried that she wanted to believe it was real and was into it and was so upset. Tommy then felt bad and asked if Santa was real again and I just want to scream about the whole thing. I'm tired and I can't think straight. I know they are at the age where there are more questions than answers about Santa but I am tired of trying to keep the magic alive. Then they said, "If Santa is real, then elves are real. Why won't an elf come and visit us?" I tried to pass it off that I felt bad that an elf wasn't coming because of the lights but that led to more questions. I HATE THE ELF and now I have to come up with another gift for Belle in order to keep Santa real because Tommy saw her art set. Grrrrr! I was done! I don't even know what all he saw so even if I come up with another gift for Belle, there is a chance he is going to see another gift for Santa for someone on Christmas Day and know it was me. Ugggghhhhh....all because I was gone for a night.

To make matters even worse, Nico's Xbox seems to be broken and the majority of his gifts are related to that....good times.

Leo had poker night tonight and I really don't give a hoot whether he wins or loses because he doesn't win money. He wins points that lead to him flying to Vegas to be in a bigger tournament. I am a walking zombie right now so that he can win a "chance" to be away from us for 5 days to MAYBE win money. No idea how this one slipped by me. Crabby tired= no censor. Sorry if you have gotten this far.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Am I the Only One?

Still no word on what time Nico's surgery is tomorrow. I feel a little bit better knowing he is staying overnight so that they can manage any pain or other issues (last time he threw up blood which I know is common for the nurses to see but not for me). Any prayers would be appreciated. In the meantime, over the course of a few days, these thoughts have been flying around in my head.

Am I the only one that thinks if you eat a piece of candy but no one sees, it means you didn't really eat it? The same could be said for a lot of fattening foods.

Am I the only one that used to love going to look at big houses but now finds it depressing?

Am I the only one that is so desperate for alone time, I look forward to going to the bathroom?

Am I the only one that ignores Edline (or any other online grade reports) because sometimes I am not in the mood to know?

Am I the only one that never knows what is for dinner waaay later than I should?

Am I the only one that waits until the last minute to do just about everything and wouldn't it figure that when I have to finally do it, it is freezing or raining or a blizzard but I have no choice but to go out into it?

Am I the only one that joins book clubs, bunco, bible studies or any other neighborhood type parties for the adult conversation, food and wine? (For the record, I have only played bunco once.)

Am I the only one that wishes there really was a Santa to bring any gift we ask for?

Along those same lines, am I the only one that longs for the days when we would sit with a catalog and circle everything we wanted and magically, they would appear on Christmas morning?

Am I the only one that could literally hole up in the house or under a rock until it is spring again?

Am I the only one that still gets excited to see a fabulously-lit house for Christmas?

Am I the only one that tells their kids, "No!" and is not afraid of the temper tantrum that follows (including Gia)?

Not to beat a dead horse but because Christmas Break is in two days, am I the only one that thinks sleepovers are a bad idea?

Am I the only one counting down the hours until nap-time, for Gia and for me?

Am I the only one that manages to run into everyone I know the one time I run out with my hair uncombed and no make-up on?

Am I the only one whose computer and phones get them to the point of yelling at them and wanting to throw them through the window?

On that note, I wish there was a Santa (Leo, are you listening?) that magically made my old computer or a new one appear with all of my old documents and iTunes and pictures and videos.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Too Many Hormones in This House

That is the only explanation. I sat here to do a post on the message I got from the tea and there is no way I can even tackle those deep thoughts with what is going on over here. I went to the doctor yesterday. It's my yearly check-up and I was supposed to go in March and then in June and then in August and then...well, I finally went yesterday. I dread, dread, dread going to the doctor. If you have read past posts, it is obvious why. We see enough doctors for the kids and over the course of my 41 years, I have seen enough for me. I knew I was going to get weighed and I'll admit, the number didn't make me run screaming but as a woman over 40, it is a rare woman that is happy with her weight and I am no different. I knew that he was going to send me for a mammogram and no, I do not want to go. Do you blame me? I was told I had cancer this summer when I didn't. I don't trust tests and I am sick of false positives (when I was pregnant with the twins, they told me I had diabetes only to turn around and tell me they read the wrong test and remember Gia's CF screening) and I completely appreciate that the mouth fiasco fell that way instead of the other but still...I HATE MEDICAL TESTS! I will go get the mammogram because it is the right thing to do and it goes against the grain for me to not do the right thing but I will hate every single minute of it. Why can't I be the little old lady who lives to be 110 and when they interview her, she says, "I never even went to the doctor"? I knew all of this was coming...what I didn't know was that I would be talking football, basketball and baseball throughout the whole thing. For you men, this might not sound so odd but you women out there will understand why that is so bizarre. My yearly, basketball and baseball...the ENTIRE time. Not the Bears, Bulls or Cubs but youth sports...Nico's sports. I will tell you, when you are getting checked out, the last thing you can remember is how many tackles your son made or how many points he scored in the last game. I barely remembered what positions he played. At one point, and I love my doctor, I felt like someone was going to jump out and yell, "You're on Candid Camera!" Anyway, I am done and won't have to endure that for another year.

Isabella came home from school yesterday crying. I needed to get her ready for her dance class so I didn't have much patience for the "girl drama" that she seemed to be having. Now, I didn't know at the time that she had a legitimate reason to be crying but instead gave another award winning performance for "Not Mother of the Year." I told her to suck it up, stop being so sensitive and go to the class with an open mind. The whole "being left out" theme is one that everyone has is something that is so hard to give kids the tools to deal with and come out okay because as adults, it still hurts to not be included. I live by the code of "If you don't want me there, I don't want to be there anyway" and surround myself with people that do want me around. That doesn't mean that I don't get twinges of feeling left out when friends get together without me. She went to dance, came back and had a twinkle in her eye about it. She LOVED it. She said a lot of the others did not so I feel lucky to at least be spending money on something she loves. She then told me that at recess the kids that do chorus got called in for practice. All her friends had to go in leaving her by herself (that was her perception, whether it was true, who knows?). Later they thought she was mad at them so they told her teacher and he called her aside to talk to her. She said this made her feel really bad which led to the emotions that I had earlier seen. Why is it so hard to teach our kids to be good friends? Why, even when we do, they still end up hurting? I have told my kids 100x's when someone does something you don't like, you need to tell him/her and yet, their answer is always the same: I can't say that! Is it wrong to say, "We are good friends and when you talk behind my back or tell on me instead of talking to me, it hurts my feelings"? I guess it is a lot to ask of a 10 year old when even at 41, I have friends who act like they are mad at me and I have no idea why and I don't ask them outright. I just wait until the wave passes and things are normal again because I refuse to add to adult girl drama. I believe my best friend calls that "sweeping". We had a long, exhausting talk about what makes a good friend and how to be a good friend and even if you aren't being treated very nicely, all you can do is be nice to everyone so that when you go to bed at night, you can feel good about how you acted. Most girls wear their hearts on their sleeves and have a hard time hiding when they are mad (or is that just me?) so I would imagine, since Belle doesn't realize she is stomping her feet or rolling her eyes at me, she might not realize that she is giving off the vibe that she is mad to her friends, even though she is mad at me for not signing her up for chorus not mad at them. This morning she woke up and complained that the elf wasn't doing a good job. He didn't come, he doesn't move and it just isn't fun. She said all of this on the verge of tears. I can't even explain how irritated that made me. I warned them that if they didn't go to bed earlier, the elf wasn't going to come (because he has other houses to go to, of course) and they ignored me so I reminded her of that. She just kept mumbling, "It isn't even fun." No, Belle, it's not...welcome to my world! Girls breed drama and I want very badly to avoid it. With all the hormones flowing in the house (do I really need to talk about Gia and the giant-sized fits she has been throwing), I don't see how that is possible.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Short Post: Manic Monday

I should have posted these pics yesterday when I talked about Nico's football party but I forgot. This is going to be short because I have to do Christmas cards, decorate the house and lose 20 lbs (or at least 10) all before 10:30. I have a doctor's appointment and I HATE getting weighed. This one snuck up on me. The plan was to exercise this past week but the sinus infection kicked my butt and last night I ended up falling asleep at 8:30 with my contacts still in and in all my clothes. I hate that. I woke up at 3am, took my contacts out, changed in my pajamas and remembered I forgot to do the damn elf. I was too tired so woke up early this morning to answer their thousands of questions. I mean, many more questions can they possibly have, though they managed to ask if the elf "has a zoo he goes to" and "what kinds of toppings does he like?" I don't even know what that means. I wrote half an answer and then said "oops, gotta ru---" hoping they'll get the picture that the elf just comes does his job and leaves without having a lot of time. Wondering if there is humor in all this because it really doesn't feel funny over here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Lovely but Busy Weekend

I have not had one free moment to get on my computer. Friday night we had Nico's end of season football party. I have dreaded going from the time I knew we had it. I knew it was going to be bittersweet and it was. This past year was Nico's last in the Rams program. He had a great run and I was and still am sad that it is over. The coach did a wonderful job of talking about each player and I waited in anticipation to hear what he was going to say about Nico. I wasn't ready to be so emotional when he talked about some of the other players but I was. One of the players is one of Nico's closest friends and I love that kid like he is my own so I had to swallow the lump in my throat when the coach talked about what a great heart he has. Another boy got me because I've known him since the boys were 7 and I see him all the time in our neighborhood. He and Nico are the kind of friends that hang out during football season but then one plays basketball and the other is a wrestler so they go separate ways for a little bit but I know that if either one of them needed the other, they would be there. He is always respectful and comes up to say hi and ask how I am. He is the kind of kid that might give Nico a hard time about playing basketball instead of wrestling but if anyone else says anything bad to Nico, he's the first one to stand up for him. There is a grown respect there that they have as athletes. I nearly lost it when the coach was talking about two other boys that Nico has played with since he first played tackle. These three boys have played together forever and get along so well but the two of them will go to the rival school. I hate that. It seems unnatural to see these boys on opposite sides. I will miss the boys as much as Nico will and I will miss sitting in the stands with their parents; some of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever had the chance to know. We will all remain friends and if given the chance, continue to cheer each other's kids on but it still stinks. Then he got to Nico and I tried so hard to listen to what he was saying but I was concentrating so much on not crying that I missed a lot of it. He said he'll post it on the website so I'll get to read it which is good. To have a coach say some of the things I did hear him say was...well...there are no words for it. I am so proud of Nico and the season he had. I know the coach said something about overcoming obstacles and I'm not sure if he knows Nico has CF but whether he does or not, that line got me. Leo and I watched the video that one of the dads (who is also the dad to one of the two boys going to the other high school) made and to say it is awesome, is a huge understatement. It was professional and invaluable and I cried like a baby watching it. At the end there was a montage to the song, "The Boys of Fall" by Kenny Chesney and...ugh...not enough Kleenex in the house. Great job, Bob!

Saturday I went to the Christmas Tea and craft show at Drury Lane. Usually I love this. For some reason, the whole day was off. The craft show was off. I got my ornaments that I get every year and when I proofed the one, she held it so close to my eyes that I couldn't see it. The realization that I am starting to have old eyes hurts because after I walked away, I looked at it again and she put the wrong last name. Usually the music of the event gets me and then the speaker is uplifting. I didn't care for the singer. I like the church band better but I LOVED the speaker. She is hilarious. I wished there was more of her. I found out it was my fault that we had bad seats. I didn't get my name in on time so I felt bad the whole time about that. I didn't know who was all coming and I guess by the time I did, it was later than before. I feel awful that two whole tables had to sit where they were because of me. Next time, I am just going to put my name down for all the seats. It was still a lovely event...every time can't be life changing. I went shopping after to buy things for my house and not only am I way under budget but I love the things I got: four lamps for $49.99 at Lowes and 3 rugs for under $50. We ended the evening playing games with friends of ours and I laughed until my stomach hurt.

Today, we have two basketball games for Nico. My kids will still get Sunday dinner at my mom's but I will be at Nico's second game. He is having surgery on Thursday and you can tell he needs it. He has been dragging and is just generally not himself. He seems to be going half speed in everything. He hasn't really been his normal happy self. I am sure his nerves are getting to him or he has been feeling so lousy that he just wants to be done with it. Leo is done with his old man basketball league which means I will be able to go to Target tonight by sad that I am this excited about it.

Up this week: More doctor's appointments, the first dance class, art class, basketball games every night this week, Tommy has practice, baseball meetings ( meetings???), surgery and the beginning of two weeks of "Can I hang out? Can you drive me____? Can I call____? Can I have some money?" and the dreaded, "Can we have a sleepover?"

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cookies and Elves

Last night we had our neighborhood cookie exchange. Normally, I join in with the baking but this year with everything we are doing in the house and an oven malfunction, I didn't bake my traditional peanut butter cookies with Hershey's Kisses in the middle. I was exhausted but didn't want to be anti-social so I was going to go for one glass of wine and come home to go to bed. Even as I planned to come home early and go to bed, I left my house with all the kids finishing a late dinner and Gia looking like she was not even close to being ready for bed. All I could think was that the cookie exchange would probably be more relaxing than trying to go to bed early. I drove and yes, it was around the corner and took longer for the car to warm up, but I don't enjoy walking in the cold and with so many coyote sightings in our neighborhood, I didn't want to walk. I'm pretty sure the animals in this neighborhood can smell my fear so I think I might be an easy target. God knows I am not scaring any raccoons or mice away. Anyway, the night started with the neighbor across the street from where it was held running out in a panic because my car was an inch over his drive-way. He was leaving and afraid I was blocking him. I only got out of my car to see if I had cleared the drive-way so I assured him I was leaving and marked him, in my head right up there with the guy whose dog pooped on my yard.

I ended up staying until about 11:30. I can't help myself. The women in my neighborhood are some of the funniest women I know. I mean, my stomach hurt from laughing and each time I leave them, I wonder why I don't see them more often because they are the kind of women that people want to surround themselves with. Down to earth, genuine, funny, funny, funny women. At one point, someone was surprised that I was still there and I said, "I feel like I am asleep standing up but I'm waiting until the last possible minute to go home because I am afraid if I do, I'll find my husband and my son playing video games, my twins watching a movie or TV show they aren't supposed to and my baby still awake eating hard candy." In all fairness to Leo, when I walked in at 11:30, everyone was sleeping and guess what was waiting for me?

Letters from the freaking elf and not one but two. In all my smarty-pantness (I know, made up word), I shot myself in the foot with this one. Tommy came home from school telling everyone not to worry. His friend's house wasn't decorated and his elf found his house so all I had to do was find Santa and tell him that we needed an elf. Then they tell me that all of their friends have their own elves so could I ask Santa to bring them their own. Why I didn't just say I couldn't find Santa or that Santa said the lights need to be up, I have no idea. Instead, I bought two "elf on a shelf " ornaments and put them out for them. It was the effort they put forth that sold me. They both wrote letters and want to believe so badly that they exist that in order to keep the magic alive, I gave in and I am regretting every single flipping minute of it! Now picture this: I got home last night at 11:30, totally wiped out and I find two letters from the kids to their elves asking a ton of questions. Tommy's letter was one page front and back and Isabella's letter was 3 pages! I swear! Now, last year, I would type the letters so they couldn't tell it was from me. It took all of 30 seconds. This year, we have no printer so I have to HAND-WRITE them! And I can't just write it in my regular handwriting because then they'd know it was me so I have to do some dumb squiggle writing for Tommy that takes me FOREVER and some college-dot-writing for Belle. I could have cried real tears for how long it took me to answer all their questions. Do you know how hard it is to come up with two different answers for what an elf's favorite sport is??? The best part is that our morning is set back because they are looking for the elf that I had to hide because "that's the best part, Mom...finding where the elf is hiding." So in a sense, I just added to the chaos of this household by upholding the magic of the elf. Ughhh. Please...tell me somewhere I am getting points for this in some sort of "Mom of the Year" award because all I really want to do is scream, "IT'S ME! I'M THE DAMN ELF!"

That's not very Christmas-like, is it?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Figured It Out

I figured out why I haven't been able to sleep and I owe Leo an apology. Yesterday was the four year anniversary of when I lost Rocco. I forget that for the past four years, I am not able to sleep around December 6th and 7th (I found out he died on the 6th and delivered him on the 7th). I'm sure it is a defense mechanism that my mind races with thoughts of everything else when really the sadness of that time is very close in my mind. You can't help but relive the events. My good friend, Kathy, came yesterday to watch Gia all day so I could go Christmas shopping. It was an invaluable gift because not only did I get a lot done but I was completely distracted all day until I went to bed and it hit me like a ton of bricks what day it was. Kathy, if you are reading, you helped me in more ways than one.

As anyone who has suffered a loss like Rocco, I often have thoughts of "What might have been." He would be four and I know it sounds crazy but it makes me sad that Gia would have had a sibling closer to her age. I didn't get pregnant with Gia until a year and a half after he died so she wasn't a "if I had Rocco, I wouldn't have you" kind of baby. I would have had them both (or who knows really) and the thought of a four year old little boy running around here does make me happy so there are times when my heart feels heavy with sadness but I am okay. He is never far from my mind or heart but I really am okay. I can look back and the whole thing feels like it happened to someone else. It was a very dark time for me but you can't look at my other three kids and raise someone like Gia and live in the darkness.

To read Rocco's story click here (It's part 1 of a four-parter).

The reason I am so distracted these days:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sleep and More Photos

I am in a bad sleep pattern. I'm sure being sick isn't helping but what really isn't helping is Leo. I guess I have to add Gia to that as well. See, I am wiped out exhausted by about 9:00 which is really, really early for me. Gia's normal bedtime, before Thanksgiving weekend, was 7:00. Since then, she won't go to bed earlier than 9:00. It's not without us trying to get her back to an earlier bedtime. We have done every method possible. She is in a terrible sleep pattern herself.  I crawl into bed after putting her back down and fall asleep before 10:00. At around 10:00, some of my kids will come and kiss me good night (this would be awfully sweet except that two of those kids are supposed to be in bed by 9:00). I fall back to sleep until 11:00, when I wake up with my contacts stuck to my eyes (having been too tired earlier to actually get ready for bed and take them out) and my mouth feeling like I have been sucking on cotton. For the last few nights, Nico has still been up at this time which is infuriating because he is up with Leo playing some stupid video game or watching some dumb football game. I rant about it and Nico goes to bed. I actually get ready for bed and then...can't fall asleep. I read. I watch TV. I write. I think of things that usually help me fall asleep. Nothing. At about midnight, I finally fall asleep and then Leo starts. Coughing and coughing and coughing. What is endlessly irritating and I've said it before is that he won't go to the doctor to get his asthma meds bumped up. He is taking half the dose that Tommy is and Tommy weighs more than 100lbs less than him! At 2 in the morning, I want to yell, "Man up! Go to the freaking doctor so he can fix your meds and we can all sleep!" I finally fall asleep and then right around 3:45ish, Gia wakes up.

I know I said that I wasn't worried about her still having a bottle and that she is my last so I am not going to rush her and that she'll give it up when she is ready and that she won't be going to prom with it but guess what?? I think she might be going to prom with it. I want her to be done with it. I know it sounds like an excuse but she is a terrible eater and won't take any milk from a cup (she has taken about three sips total, her whole little life) so the bottle is the only milk I know she is getting. I think she wakes up at 3:45 starving because she eats two bites of dinner and is done. She goes right back to sleep and then sleeps until 10am. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that waking up that late is what sets the pattern for all of this but I have tried it where I wake her up earlier so that she'll take an earlier nap and then go to bed earlier and not only did that not work, but it made for a miserable day. I've done the whole wean her back to her normal schedule putting her to bed at 8:30 and then 8:00 and then 7:30 but we are still where we are at.

I am not telling you this because I want you to feel sorry for me (and yes, it's okay to say, "Glad I am not in that stage with my kids anymore"). I am telling you this only because,I want your understanding for when you see me out and about and I am in pajama bottoms, a goomba (remember that is a made up word for hair up in a messy bun or ponytail) and can't remember your name or why I am where I am.

Some more pictures from Sunday for the people that aren't on Facebook. Gia was loving the frame.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday: The Day for Mindless Activities and Some Photos

Here are two examples of how I spent a few mindless hours yesterday: I took Nico for his cat scan. His appointment was at noon. They said I had to be there a half hour early. That meant I had to pick him up from school at 11:15. I did and we were right on time. They checked us in and we waited for a half hour. Our appointment time came and went. At 12:15, I asked how much longer because I had to get Nico back to school (and get him something to eat). They said soon. They didn't get him in until 12:35. Why in the Hell did we have to be there a half hour early only to have them be 35 minutes late?? I stupidly thought it wouldn't take long and didn't bring a book or even a notebook. I sat there the entire time staring into space. Each time I would try and engage Nico in a conversation, he'd start whining about how long it was taking so I stopped doing that. His time in the cat scan machine? Three minutes.

My very good friend, Kathy, was at JoAnn Fabrics today and picked me up the supplies the kids needed for that art project I wrote about. I cannot tell you how much that helped me out. Two trips with Gia (one where we didn't even make it in the door) and it was not happening. That brings me to the second mind-numbing activity of the day. I had to cut a yard of fabric into 2x3 squares. I never had any aspirations to be a clothing designer or do any sort of crafting with fabrics and now I know why. I suck at it. The measuring and cutting over and over again. It took me forever to do one set and then just when I thought I could poke my eyes out with the Sharpie I was using to mark the fabric, I had to do it all over again for the other child! C'mon, L.C., you have twins so I know you feel my pain. I don't remember doing this for Nico when he was in 4th grade but in all fairness, it was one of the worst experiences of my life (loss of Rocco) so there isn't much beyond that experience that I remember. I asked him and he said the kids did the whole thing in class.Why oh why did they stop that practice? Wait...I know why. For the same reason I stopped Belle from helping me. She kept making the pieces too big or too small and I was afraid I'd have to go to JoAnn's to get more fabric. I'm sure there is a life lesson in there that I missed teaching her but just the thought of bringing Gia back there makes it okay in my mind. For the record, I don't care how adorable this fabric tree is...every time I look at it I am going to remember the two hours of my life I will never get back.

Some of the pictures that Jody took (this computer is the worst so I'll try and post more in my next post. It takes so long to upload just one):
Thank you again, Jody! The Christmas card is already made and on its way back to me! You were a dream to work with and if anyone is looking to get some pictures done, let me know and I'll pass on Jody's email! I think I'll post a picture a day so that everyone can see how good she is.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Few Words of Thanks

I know I said thank you to my friends and family that helped me purge the house but I want to do a final thank you to Kathy and Jen for helping me with the kitchen so that all there is left to do is a buy a few things (which I love) like rugs and lamps and decorate for Christmas. I want to thank Kathy, Jen and Kim for helping me with the bulk of the house. I couldn't have done it without your help. I want to thank Gina, Chrissy, Nikki, Rochelle, Pam and my mom for carving out some time in their day to help me as well. Lee, I know you would have if you didn't just have a baby and thanks for coming over that day and giving me a break from it. Frankie on the table still makes me laugh. I need to thank Jim, Dan and Norm for helping with the deck and rearrange furniture. I know it wasn't easy but it means a lot. Nico and his friends also helped take down the deck and throw some stuff out. It was nice having them help clean the mess instead of just make the mess. Clean-up 2011 is officially done and it feels great. I feel lighter and for about three days, my head felt clearer. Which leads me to....

I am sick. I have a sinus infection that got so bad (I lived in denial while Leo was away because what choice did I have) that I went to the doctor on Saturday and am now on antibiotics. I took the meds last night and immediately felt funny. My hands started to itch and then my head started to itch and I kept feeling like the room was spinning. I spent the rest of the night either coughing or worrying that I was having an allergic reaction. Can't I even be sick normally?

Other than being sick, it was a good weekend. Thanks to my sister, Gina and brother-in-law, Deo for hosting a mini-reunion with some friends we hadn't seen in a very long time. It was a lot of fun catching up and seeing our kids interact with each other. It just reiterates what great friends I have. Leo and I seemed to  have communication breakdowns all weekend. I told him that we had to be at Gina's by 4:00. I tried waking him up several times and he finally got in the shower at 3:55 saying he thought we had to leave at 4:00. I told him we had family pictures at 10:30 on Sunday and he scheduled a practice at 11:00. He changed that one but not without an argument before. Leaving the house with my family is now my least favorite thing to do beating out having to wake Nico up 27 times before he actually gets up to go to school.

Thanks to Jody Byas for coming yesterday to take our pictures. She made what is normally very stressful seem very easy. More information about Jody and pictures to follow. She is one to keep an eye out for. She takes great pictures and I can't wait for her website to be up and running. I have absolutely no idea how she got Gia to smile and even pose but she did. I want to kiss and hug her because it means I don't ever have to go back to Sears and the nightmare getting those pictures were. She doesn't know it but she actually gave me some hope that the Gia I have been seeing is just a phase and that she does have it in her to be sweet.

The hope was short lived since we had Tommy's football party and she pulled a "Gia" where she wanted to bowl with the kids. Well, she didn't actually want to bowl as much as she wanted to run down the lanes to get the pins. The nice, elderly man working there tried to make her laugh and I swear she turned on him with red eyes blazing and a scream that made his white hair turn whiter. I know this is all normal behavior for an almost two year old but it doesn't make it any easier.

I have to mention here that Tommy's football season this year was a great one. He had great coaches and great kids that he played with. He has always had this but this year, he played with kids his own age and it really made a big difference in how he played. There were a lot of really good athletes on his team and the families on this team were all so nice and grounded that it made going to games a lot of fun. One of the older sisters of one of the players made a video of the highlights of the season and it was awesome! What an invaluable gift that is to give to us parents and those players. It will be a season that they will never forget so thank you to all that contributed to that (Coach Sparks, Coach Kiehn, Coach Cook and Coach Haney, Sydney and Sybil (team moms), Beth (for the awesome pics) and Melissa (great video)!

Coming up this week: Cat scans and physicals for Nico's upcoming surgery, basketball games (2), art classes (Thank you so much Jennifer for bringing Belle home, it helps a lot!), practices, cookie exchange, and my very favorite event of the year: The Christmas Tea and craft fair at Drury Lane! Somewhere in there I need to get back to JoAnn Fabrics and Christmas shop. Let the chaos continue!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Santa and the Freaking Elf on a Shelf: Part 2

Tommy came home the other day and said he felt bad because a lot of kids were saying Santa wasn't real at school. Of all my kids, Tommy has the most magic in him. He has the biggest capacity to believes things that he can't see. He's usually my optimistic kid so when he comes to me with that stuff, I do what I can to keep him believing. There is a fine line between wanting your kids to still believe in Santa and not wanting them to get made fun of because of it. I think Tommy and Belle are pretty close to that age. I asked him what he said when someone said that and he said he didn't say anything. I said that was a good idea and then told him that there were people all over that were going to tell him things didn't exist that he thought did. I asked if he believed in God and he said, "Of course!" I told him some people would try and tell him that there was no God even though he believed in God. He nodded with understanding. I asked him if he believed in miracles and he said, "Yes." I told him some people don't believe in miracles and he said, "But look at Gia and Nico and I are healthy and we have CF." (I should mention here that I don't think he came up with that on his own. I think that has been from the millions of times I tell them that it is a miracle that they are as healthy as they are when they complain about having CF and when Gia is throwing a fit, I remind myself out loud no matter who is around that she is a miracle.) Then I said, "So, Santa is a lot like that. Some people believe in him and some people don't. It's up to you what you believe." He thought about it for a second and said, "I believe in Santa." Whew!

Isabella is my child that likes to try and "catch" me in a lie or tries to look for presents so it makes me think she doesn't believe anymore. Just when I think it is a fight not worth fighting, though, she will say something so child-like and so innocent about the North Pole or the elves or about Santa that I know she still wants to believe. She has the least to lose when the truth comes out. Her gifts are very inexpensive so she'll still get what she wants. It will be a relief when Tommy finally knows because I can tell him that his stuff is so expensive and either "we can't afford it" or he has to accept less things. I think that is what made Nico the saddest. Knowing it is us that are buying instead of "elves making it". He is a pretty with it kid and feels bad asking for too much so he thinks he is doing us a favor by asking for less (though not so with it that he doesn't understand that two of his things are more expensive than anything we have ever bought him in his life). Whether she believes in Santa or not, she is a crazed lunatic about the Elf on a Shelf. That is what is confusing. She must still believe in Santa if she believes that a stuffed elf that can't be touched and hides leaving little goodies is real.

On that note, I want to find whomever thought up the Elf on a Shelf and hang them on a shelf. It pains me, after cleaning my whole house, to buy crap that I'm going to find in corners and on floors all over the house. With a baby in the house, I am in for many more years of hiding this thing and leaving small, useless toys or candy. This year, I have devised a plan to get out of buying things for Nico. Besides candy, do you know how hard it is to come up with things for a 13 year old that aren't expensive? I am going to have him touch the elf in front of the twins. Somewhere in the book it says that he loses his magic if he is touched. It's possible that Isabella made that up because I don't actually remember that part but once, Isabella shrieked louder than ever before because Nico touched the elf and she was afraid he wasn't going to come again. I calmed her down by telling her that it only meant that the person that touched him wouldn't get a gift until they apologized. So this year, Nico is going to touch him and not apologize so he won't get gifts. I'm hoping he goes along with this otherwise he is only going to get candy and a lot of cavities from the elf. Last year the kids cried and cried that the elf wasn't coming to our house. I cried and cried that Leo was taking forever to put up the lights outside of our house so I finally told the kids, "The elf can't come to our house until Dad puts up the lights and decorations outside because he can't find our house without them." Now I don't have to nag him about doing it because the kids do it for me. Genius, I think.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa and the Freaking Elf on a Shelf: Part 1

I used to love this time of year. The magic of Christmas made everything so warm and fuzzy and happy. We used to go to my grandparent's church on Christmas Eve and it was always a nice beginning to the evening. For the last five years we have gone to Willow Creek for the Christmas service and it blows me away and my kids are always in awe of it. They beg us to go back for "regular" church but it's a little far for us. Last year, we didn't go because Gia was so young and she really hated the car so we went to Wheaton Bible. It was very nice but we sat in the gym which isn't the same but we are usually late getting there so it serves us right. When Leo and I were dating we had a tradition where we'd go to different neighborhoods and look at the lights. We used to talk about when we'd get married and have our own house and how we would decorate. Apparently, he thought part of the magic of Christmas was that the lights get put up without him having to do it because it is like pulling teeth to get him to do it.

Anyway, these days I am struggling with this time of year. Not struggling unhappy but struggling in feeling overwhelmed. I feel like it snuck up on me. My kids are at really hard ages. They want things that are a little out of reach. Nico wants cable in his room and the whole Nike/Under Armour/Jordan line of apparel, Tommy and Belle want phones, fat heads and televisions. Gone are the days of Little People, Imaginex, Barbies and Dolls. Speaking of which, I know they'll come back again because I have Gia but right now, she likes everything for about 30 seconds so it's hard to justify spending the money. I just finished purging my house, it looks exactly how I want it and now I have to decorate it for Christmas which normally I love to do but this year, I am feeling a little uninspired.

The questions about Santa are hard ones. I want to keep the magic alive for as long as possible. I go to great lengths to do that. Nico doesn't believe anymore but the twins still do. One year I heard Nico say, "The only way we are getting a Wii is if there really is a Santa because there is no way my parents can afford it." So what did I do? That's right, I went to 20 stores looking for one and finally, my mom knew a guy whose brother was a manager at a Target in Schaumburg. I got one and the look on Nico's face (he was in 4th grade, I think) was priceless when he went down the stairs on Christmas morning. Another time it was by accident. He was in 5th grade and I had accidentally bought him a rated "T" game and he wasn't allowed to play them at the time. He said, "Wow! There really is a Santa because you'd never buy this for me." For Nico the end came in 6th grade. He flat out asked me if there really was a Santa and I told him no. He was completely shocked that I told him. He kept saying, "I'm so sad. I can't believe you told me." I told him that he could help me keep the magic alive for the twins and help me the night before. He wasn't buying it. He got mad that I told him and after being badgered about it I finally said, "I'm sorry. It just seemed wrong that you could have your first girlfriend and still believe in Santa Claus." I then added, "Just because there isn't a man in a red suit delivering presents doesn't mean the magic of Christmas isn't real. The feeling that you get on Christmas. The warmth and the family time and the feeling you get when you give someone a gift that you know they'll love, that is the magic of Christmas." He said, "Wait...what about all the gifts? How did you guys afford them?" I looked at him and sighed, "And that, Nico, really is the magic of Christmas because I have no idea."

Tomorrow, I'll discuss the twins and how I handle all the school talk and the Elf.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Shopper, She is Not

I was going to do the "Santa" post but I can't do that one yet. I am too frustrated to collect my thoughts on that topic and it's a big one so it will have to wait until this weekend.

My cleaning lady blew me off yesterday. They might hate me which, as a friend pointed out, is really unfair since they haven't seen my new and improved house. Before Gia, if that happened, it was a bummer but wasn't that big of a deal. Let me explain why when it happens now, it is a major pain in my butt. Gia sleeps until about 8 or 9 in the morning. The last email that the cleaning lady sent me was that a lady could come at 8. I sent one back saying that was too early and I understood if I had to have someone different but could she come at 9 or 10. Gia takes an afternoon nap so the 12 spot that she was originally doing was not working anymore. I heard nothing back so I had no idea if she was coming at 8, 9 or 12. Gia woke up at 8 and the house was ready so I wasn't stressing too much except that Gia woke up crabby so ordinarily, I'd put her back down around 10 and sometimes, she'd take a morning nap as well (those are really great days). Eight o'clock comes and goes and nothing. Nine o'clock rolls around and still nothing. I want to be here to see her face when she sees how neat it is so I can't just leave. By 11:00, the errands I planned to run still had to get done so I sadly left thinking she was going to be there at 12:00. Now, I should mention that I called and texted her three times (the boss's daughter) asking when I could expect someone and I never heard back. I just don't understand how you run a business and you don't call, email or text back.

Gia loves soup and the souffles at Panera so I took her there for lunch figuring if she ate first, she'd be in good spirits while I shopped. At Panera, I had one of those moments that I often have with Gia where we were in a crowded restaurant but it felt like it was just the two of us giggling and laughing. The rest of the world seemed to fade away. I love those moments and have had to really hang onto that one due to what followed. The fourth graders do a Christmas project that I know is very lovely when you think about it but I don't really appreciate projects that I have to go buy a lot of supplies for at stores where I have no idea what I am doing. I thought while the cleaning lady was there I could go to that store, Target to pick up Nico's antibiotic and buy Belle winter boots (size 5/6 if anyone is giving any away) and Toys R Us for some Christmas gifts. It was a day that I had planned to get a lot of things done and then come home to a really clean house. HAH!

Have you ever taken a toddler to JoAnn Fabrics? I tried to get her to sit in the cart but she looked at the small space and gave me a face that said, "No way!" I hurriedly looked for someone to help me find the supplies I needed (x2) because I knew I was on borrowed time with Gia running the aisles. Usually, I find someone and she walks with me showing me what I need and then I check out. The whole thing takes about ten minutes. No such luck. I asked a person who doesn't do that. She stood and pointed at the three places nowhere near each other where I had to go. I went to fabric first (by the door where Gia thought it was hysterical to run out each time someone came in) picked out two patterns that were alike but different so the twins wouldn't argue over whose was better and which child I loved best. Then I finally got Gia away from the door and we headed to the floral department to buy the cones. It took me a minute to figure out which ones were the medium ones and when I turned around Gia had about five clay planter bottoms teetering between the shelf and her little hand. I gasped and ran to grab them before they fell which caused her to start running away from me. In her other hand was a glass vase that she was holding up over her head while she ran away laughing. I caught her, took the vase away and a huge melt down followed. The kicking, screaming, hitting, flailing limbs melt down. I looked at my card that was half way filled and tried to contain my out of control toddler and decided it wasn't worth it and left. She screamed from JoAnn Fabrics all the way to Target (about a 5 minute drive). It was 12:30 so I knew my cleaning lady was there and that I couldn't put Gia down for a much needed nap so it was my intent to get the Target part done. While driving there, I passed my house and saw that the cleaning lady STILL wasn't there. I got to Target, Gia was still screaming and I didn't even bother going in. I turned around having a very angry conversation in my head with the cleaning lady about how since she was late, she could do the bottom of my house and the bathrooms and I'd pay her half. Gia took a nap while I waiting and sulked with disappointment at how I keep saying I am going to find someone new but I never do.

She never showed. She finally texted me back last night saying I wasn't on the schedule and someone could come today at 9. I said that was fine and that it was my normal day that we had to cancel two weeks ago because we were redoing the house. We tried for last week but the times wouldn't work. I reminded her that she was supposed to get back to me on what time and that I should have been on the schedule. I didn't hear back and wasn't surprised. Now I have to be out of the house at 9 and try the shopping thing again. Not looking forward to it. Two of my friends came and we finished the kitchen so the house is officially done with the purging part and I am in the process of getting quotes on carpet cleaning. If you ever wanted to do a popover visit over here, now is the time to do it.

And yes, I am looking for a new cleaning lady because do get what you pay for.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Short Post: A Few Random Thoughts

The cleaning lady is finally coming. I can't wait until she sees my house. Mine will no longer be the dreaded house to clean! I have no idea what time she is coming since she doesn't answer emails that well and when she does, she doesn't always answer my questions like, "What time will you be here so I know when to have Gia nap?"

Anyone else not liking the Christmas commercials this year? A few, very annoying times, I have been watching TV with my kids when a commercial comes on that alludes to the fact that Santa isn't real. The twins are on the cusp of losing their innocence on this one and I don't get why commercials have to go there. The one that caused my kids to grill me the most was a wife thanking her husband for a gift by saying, "Thanks, Santa." Then a big discussion was had when a mom outdid Santa by buying the iPads for her family. The kids wanted to know why Santa didn't know that the mom got those for her family and why did she do that when it's Santa's job to bring the gifts. I should earn some sort of degree or award for answers I pull out of my butt on subjects like this.

I'm trying not to be so negative or sound so angry but I've already discussed the stress that is going on this week. I forgot to mention that Leo is out of town on business so basketball games, summaries, states and capitals tests, and haircuts are on me. I am very surprised that my kids don't leave here every morning with a boot in their behind from me kicking them out the door. Between the fighting, the rushing, and the attitudes, it takes everything in me to stifle the "Get out!" and instead, kiss them on the cheek and say, "Have a great day!"