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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Celeb Crush #2

It is laughable that at my age, I am still boy crazy but at least it is only with celebrities. I don't care. I see no breaks from the chaos in the near future (or far future for that matter) and the age-old fight about the unfairness of Leo getting to sleep in on Saturdays is still going on, so this is all I have at the moment . Anyway, it is all in good fun. Even if I met any of the men on my "freebie" list on the street, I'm sure I am EXACTLY what they are looking for: a middle-aged, stay at home mom of four kids, one of which is a toddler, hates exercising, afraid of her own shadow and doesn't like to leave the house kind of woman. Just like I am sure that if Leo met any of his on the street, they would jump at the chance to be with a middle-aged father of four, poker playing, old man basketball league player, doesn't fix anything around the house, travel at the worst time kind of man.

Anyway, Taylor Kitsch still remains my number one. I don't care if his movies never make any money (why in the world they didn't market John Carter for kids Tommy's age that have mom's that like a little eye candy when taking the kids to the movie, I'll never know). I will watch him in anything. I think he is hilarious and I fall for every character he plays (Tim Riggins of course being my favorite and then John Carter). However, I asked awhile back if it was wrong of me to use Tommy to go see Thor because I thought the guy was cute. The guy was Chris Hemsworth and I should have gone to see it. While at the theater for John Carter, I saw a preview for The Avengers and Thor is in it. While at the theater to see Breaking Dawn, I saw a preview of The Huntsman and I remember thinking, Wow, that guy is hot. I'd see that movie. While watching 21 Jump Street, I saw a preview for a scary movie that I won't ever see however, I thought that while the movie looked really bad, the main guy was hot. Yep...all Chris Hemsworth. So, ladies, enjoy a little eye candy (I own nothing):

He'll be 29 this year so he's younger than TK but at least he's not a teen. :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Break: Day 4

I'm going to give you a snapshot of what my day was like. I started it plunging a toilet after both boys decided to use it back to back. I was near tears because Leo usually takes care of stuff like that (now that I think about it, I've never had to plunge a toilet until today). While plunging and then wiping, I was saying, "I hate when your dad isn't here. I hate that he gets to travel even if it is for work. He's in stupid Canada and then he is going to stupid Vegas and then he is going to stupid Alaska* and I don't get to go anywhere (you know the standard feeling sorry for myself speech while wiping up bodily fluids). Tommy looked at me and said, "But, get to go to Wisconsin Dells!" I burst into tears** and then lied and thanked him and said they were happy tears. They were not.

The cleaning lady was coming (that alone is enough to cry happy tears) so we went to Cosley Animal Farm.
Technically it is called Cosley Animal Zoo but it is hardly a zoo. I think a zoo constitutes more than 15 animals. It was sweet to see how excited the older kids were watching how excited Gia was. Gia fed the ducks and had a blast running from animal to animal. The whole trip lasted less than an hour. It would have been more leisurely but it was a lot colder than we thought so it was more of a run through. After we left Cosley, we met my sister, Nikki for lunch at a new restaurant called Hibachi Grill. I was pleasantly surprised. The food was all you can eat and was really good. Gia ate better than she has in her whole little life. She had California rolls, Hibachi rice, zucchini tempura, fries, jello, and grapes. With all of us plus my sister, I thought it would be pretty pricey but to my surprise, it was only $37. Lately, I spend that much at McDonald's and this was much better food.

I tried to go to Target but my children morphed into complete brats on the way over. There was a sweat shirt in the car and Nico was cold so he grabbed it. He decided he didn't want it and threw it at Nikki (I think my kids think she is a toy because they are always goofing around with her), It fell in the parking lot and no one would pick it up. Tommy did and threw it at Belle. It fell again and I yelled at him to pick it up and stop throwing it. He did again and after he picked it up, I grabbed it but of course, my nail scratched him and the scratch bled a little. We entered the store and he was crying and yelling, "You made me bleed! I'm bleeding! Does it make you feel good to make your child bleed?" So many stares and Nico sensing that I was about to lose it, took Tommy to go look at the video games. Midway through shopping, I had to leave a cart full of groceries (not the first time) because Gia decided to throw a rip-roaring fit when I wouldn't let her get out of the cart. The Target by my house is a lot better at ignoring crying children than the Target I was at. You would think that these people have never seen a kid throw a fit. I wanted to sneer at one couple and tell them, "Sorry to have ruined your Target trip. I'm trying to get out of here!" Instead, I just kept saying loudly, "Everyone has seen a baby cry, Gia."

After that, I told Nico he was babysitting for two hours while I went to Barnes and Noble. I can't help it. I know I am a broken record but I love that place so much. Immediately, I felt better...calmer. Love it, love it, love it. I even talked Nico into staying home today so what started out as "one of those days" ended up being a pretty awesome day. It would have been better without the screams and stares but it felt so good the rest of the day to be with the kids and even get a small break that the fit is becoming a fading memory. Leo's coming home tomorrow, Gia is asleep and I'm about to go watch Impractical Jokers with the three older kids. Life is good.

*I, in no way shape or form think that Canada (home of Taylor Kitsch and Degrassi), Vegas (home to a dear friend of mine and actually one of my favorite places) and Alaska are stupid. I was only saying that out of total jealousy that I can't go.

** To my family that reads this, it isn't that I am not really looking forward to going to the Dells with you. I was more crying because of the baseball part and the memory of last year's trip. I know this year will be different. It has to be, right?

For those that aren't on Facebook, here are some pictures of our day. Sorry, I didn't get any of the Target fiasco.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

If I Had the Money

If I had some money and didn't have to worry about paying off debt (hey, it's Spring Break and I am stuck at home with a lot of needy kids...let me escape to fantasy land), here is a list of what I would spend it on:

1. If it happened right now, I'd hop on a plane and fly the kids and me to Arizona (I'd say Hawaii but no amount of money could save my sanity on an 8 hour flight).

2. I'd have a membership to Entree Kitchen. Love their food and convenience. I have a gift card and can't wait until April to place an order.

3. I'd sign up for Wheaton Sports Center so I could do Zumba classes while Gia played and have a place for the kids to swim.

4. I'd take a cooking class.

5. I watch a lot of TV shows that have famous hairstylists, makeup artists and stylists. I'd love to see what someone that charges $800 for a haircut and color could do with my 1980's mop. I think a stylist would demand that I wear more color since everything in my closet is black, grey or brown. Makeup...pretty sure they'd do more than the eyeliner and blush that I wear. Edited to add that this has nothing to do with who cuts my hair. I am just shocked that someone would actually pay $800 for a haircut and color and wonder what you get for that kind of money.

6. Plastic surgery...I do not judge and I am not opposed. Okay, that isn't entirely true. I do judge when they have lips that look like a life preserver and boobs that look like floaties.

7. Whatever I need to do so that I don't have to deal with the soft enamel on my teeth that genetics have given me, I'd do. I HATE going to the dentist because I know that no matter how good about dental hygiene I am, I'll still have issues.

8. I'd hire someone to go grocery shopping and put them away once I was home.

9. T.S., I'm stealing this from you: I'd hire someone to come in and switch over the clothes from season to season.

10. I'd make weekly massages mandatory.

11. I'd have a cleaning lady once a week.

12. I'd make a once a year girl's weekend a tradition and we'd go somewhere new every year.

13. I'd call Billy the Exterminator.

14. I'd sign Gia up for classes in other park districts and not care about nonresidents having to pay so much more.

15. I'd go back to school...wait...I can't afford that but I did sign up for a blogging class that starts next week! I am so nervous because it is the first step to really putting myself out there and having someone critique my writing but someone wise once said, Change is scary but not all change is bad (okay, I said that). If you always stay in the same place, you'll never go anywhere (I'm sure I read that on a pin on Pinterest) so I am taking steps to see where I can go. I am so excited! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting Back Some Control

I post here a lot about the challenges of raising a teen and twins and a toddler and today's post will be along those lines. Why does my eighth grader, soon to be 14 year old think that Spring Break is all about him? He didn't even want to go to Florida to see Leo's mom because he wanted to stay here because most of his friends didn't go away. Really? The need to hang out with friends is that strong that you don't want to go away on vacation? It is Monday and already, I want to lock him in his room. Why can't we moms of these boys collectively say, "No more sleepovers"? It wouldn't be a rant on teens and Spring Break if I didn't talk about sleepovers. My God...that one word makes my stomach and head hurt. I don't understand why it isn't enough to hang out all day, everyday? Don't they get sick of each other? Right now, this is what's been happening: Fridays come and I get a call that they are walking home. They stop at one of the houses, I am sure eat that family out of house and home, then walk to a neighborhood hot dog place or ice cream place, eat again and then end up at one of the parks in one of the neighborhoods. I've had my share of them being here which I really, really don't mind. I only care at 10:00pm when they start bugging me for a sleepover. By that time, they have played basketball or video games or I've had to make sure they aren't causing any trouble at the park for six hours and I am ready for them to go home. If they do sleep here, then I have six boys still here, awake until about 2:00am and then asleep in my basement until about 11:00am and then...THEY ARE STILL HERE IN THE MORNING! I like being the house that they can come hang out at and I don't even mind making them food. I used to hear stories about how much food teenage boys could eat but I never believed it and let me just say....whoa. I just don't understand why they can't hang out until late and then go to their own houses?

Well, I am taking back control. I want Nico to come home after school, drop off his stuff, have something to eat and then meet back up with his friends. As far as sleepovers go, last night was my last one to house. Let me explain a little bit more of why I hate them so much. Besides the normal dislikes that everyone has, it is not good for Nico's health to sleep anywhere but his own bed. First, they usually sleep in basements which are damp and musty. With the weather not knowing if it wants to be hot or cold, Nico's cough and allergies are not great. Basements make it worse. When you add on that they don't sleep, their resistance goes even lower. If they are not sleeping, they are eating and the enzymes are not an exact science and he can only have 18 a day. All of that together means that I will have a tired, coughing, son that will spend most of the next day miserable and in the bathroom. Do they ever reach a point when they realize they are better off sleeping at their own houses in their own beds?

The twins...ah...the twins...King and Queen of "Whatcanwedoland". "Who can I call?" "When can I get a sleepover?" "Nico hangs out with his friends all the time, why can't I?" Going to Florida and dealing with all that I have to deal with there or staying here and dealing with this. I am in a lose/lose situation. By the way, I got a reminder yesterday of why we stayed home this year. There is a reason why texting is sooo much better than actually talking. Dreading the summer already. I have taken back control and have perfected every different way of saying "no" and not just to my children. dear, sweet husband, Leo. He scheduled a business trip this week. How incredibly lucky for him to plan an escape the week that his children drive his wife to the edge. Great job, Honey.

On another note, I am taking back control of the whole tumbling thing. I sent Isabella to another gym for their flip flop clinic and she loved it! The other gym never called. Belle went to one class and the instructor said she had her back flip without a spot and after a few more should move up to the advanced class. It's awesome when you get individual attention and a new point of view. Isabella was so excited that she begged me to send her again. We might have shot ourselves in the foot if she wants to do competitive cheer because where we are taking her now doesn't have a cheer squad. Maybe I can strongly encourage her to concentrate on dance and stick with the tumbling so that if she still wants to cheer later on, she will still have the skills.

Taking control of the exercising thing: Zumba DVD from eBay came today. Knee or no knee, I am starting it today!

Two days in and I realize there is not enough margaritas in the world to take the edge off this "going nowhere" break. Though tonight, I am going to dinner to celebrate one of my bff's birthdays so I am sure going to try.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Great Weekend

I don't know if I should preface this with it was a great weekend that ended on two sour notes or be glass half full and say that despite the two sour notes, it was a great weekend. It was the beginning of Spring Break for my kids but it didn't even phase me because I had big plans on Friday. I got to hang out with some friends that I don't get to see very often. D.W. and J.B. thanks for letting me barge again. I can't remember the last time that I went to Olive Garden and that is a shame because I had the most delicious dinner...better than my favorite at Ruby Tuesday's. In case you are wondering, it was Parmesan Crusted Tilapia and it was probably all of my WW points but I don't care. It was delicious and along with great conversation and limited jokes about John Carter, it was worth every calorie consumed. After dinner we went and saw 21 Jump Street. I admit, I only wanted to see it because Channing Tatum is on my "five free" list but I laughed the whole time. I also cringed some of the time and will have to resist the urge to lock my children in their rooms until they are in college because of how teens were portrayed. I think it is one of those movies that if you go into it with high expectations, you'll be disappointed but go in with low and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Taylor Kitsch is still my number 1 but Channing Tatum moved up to number 2.

Saturday, Leo and I went to dinner with some friends. We went to Rock Bottom and again, the food was delicious. At that point, it was safe to say that I fell off the Weight Watchers' wagon. Tuscan Shrimp Pasta and two margaritas later, I was ready to go hear an 80's cover band in St. Charles that another couple we are friends with invited us to go see. It was a very fun way to spend an evening. The band was really good and we sang until I lost my voice, and danced until my knee reminded me I was old. We weren't the youngest people there but we were definitely not the oldest people there. We got home really late and the next morning I was reminded of why I don't go out very often. Gia was up at 7:30. I have to admit that as much fun as I had, at one point, after midnight, I thought about how I should be sleeping and how I'd never get those hours back. Two weekends in a row I partied like a rock star and now I'm hanging it up. I feel old. Then again, when Nico or the twins were two, Leo and I never went out so maybe it is just that I forgot that going out and raising toddlers don't really mix well (C.D., I will make an exception to come see you sing).

A highlight of this weekend would definitely have to be that my days of watching a half-screen TV are OVER! We finally bought a TV stand and Leo worked all weekend on putting it together and today, we are watching a full screen TV. He also did laundry all weekend. I love when he gets the "helping bug" because I benefit greatly. Yay for the small things!

We went to my mom and dad's yesterday. As lovely as spending time with my whole family was, it was yesterday that the two sour notes hit. First, I am livid at how we are spending money to get rid of mice, bees, and ants and we have them worse than ever. Well, not mice, I don't think anymore (I hope I didn't just jinx it) but bees, ants and two nights ago, I was in a battle with a mosquito that after I turned the lights off to go to bed, kept buzzing around the TV. Leo slept through me trying to swat it without hitting the TV and if curse words could have killed it, it would be dead but since they don't, I did not win. I still don't know where it is. I already talked about the bees and yesterday, there were ants everywhere. I keep waiting for Leo to get fed up enough to yell at Orkin for not taking care of the problems we hired them for and demand a refund but he shockingly remains patient (or disinterested). I am not a good demander and I hate confrontation.

Then, as I was trying to hurry everyone up to go to my parents' house, I stepped in dog crap. I would be more lady-like but I am REALLY mad about this. Let me again explain why. I do not own a dog. Part of what is nice about not having a dog is that I should not have to worry about any of us stepping in dog crap that we have not taken the time to pick up. What's worse is that I had to take the time to go change my shoes and clean off the ones I was wearing so it made us all late to my mom's. Let me say that I know that since I live on one of the busier streets in our subdivision, I know a lot of dogs walk by my house and almost all of the owners pick up after them. I know a boxer and a large yellow dog with a black face that could be the culprits. There have been several times that I have banged on my window like a crazy person after the yellow dog has roamed the neighborhood and popped a squat about to do her business on my lawn. I am about ready to catch one of them in the act and take one of Gia's dirty diapers and leave it on their lawn and see how they feel seeing crap on their lawn that doesn't belong to them. I I the only one that thinks that is rude?

Since it is Spring Break and we aren't going anywhere, I thought it would be great if we spent some quality time together as a family. Are you laughing at the notion? You should be. We played Scrabble last night and I honestly hate the game now. I'll never look at the game the same again. To give you an idea of how it went, I had to start subtracting points from one kid to give to another each time he/she said something mean or hit the other person. Leo and I ended up arguing because he was taking too long during turns and I wanted to go to bed from being up so late the night before. At one point, Nico, whose knee is bothering him again, ended up on the couch and was able to rest it a good half hour and still not miss his turn. It was a great time for all.

It's only 8:00am and already I heard, "What are we doing today?" and "Can I call someone?"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Who Can You Trust?

Let me say first that I know that thinking about this too long is not smart and that everything in moderation is probably fine. As a good friend of mine said, "There is a study done just about everything proving and disproving the safety of foods and medicine so you have to just live your life and hope for the best.." I get that but once in awhile these thoughts do freak me out a little so I thought I'd share in case they freak anyone else out too or know that I am not alone in freaking out.

It has taken two surgeries (well the biopsy felt like a surgery), a lot of mouth sore medicine and a brick house to fall on my head to finally realize, I can't eat strawberries. Those that know me or read this on a regular basis will know how bummed about that I am. It's one of my staple foods and I even switched to dark chocolate knowing that makes it a little antioxidant power food. As I was looking at the inside of my mouth because it hurt, I realized that since I started eating strawberries regularly, the sores have come back. They've gone away each time after a few days but after the brick house fell, I wondered, Will all of these go away or did I do it again and one will stay and I'll have to go through the whole thing all over again? Then I thought about how ridiculous it was that just for a few strawberries, I would put myself and my family through that again.

I just read about the dangers of taking certain medications and how the side effects are sometimes worse than what you are treating. That made me think of the antidepressants that I took after we found out about the boys and maybe that is why I am afraid to go back on them. Or I think of all the meds I was on to try and get pregnant and was I playing Russian Roulette? In my desperation to get pregnant, did I sacrifice my health and well being down the road? Wouldn't that be the biggest irony of all? I take the medicine to get pregnant but then won't be around to enjoy the kids that without the medicine I wouldn't have? Then I think about all of the medicine that the boys are on and how even if I read the side effects, would I be able to say, "No, don't give them that one." What would be the alternative? I'm afraid to think about it. I know it is a risk/reward type of thing but it still feels like a gamble and one thing I am not is a gambler. Thoughts like this float around in my brain every once in awhile and then freak me out until I realize that there isn't anything I can do about what I have already done and I have to just trust the boys' doctor to know what he is doing. Since I love him, that is easy to do. He's not a doctor that just because he can do things, he does. If the boys are doing well, he says, "Why fix it if it isn't broken?" That being said, it is just another reason that I have anxiety about going to the doctor. I have to go to the dentist for the first time since the tongue thing and I want to throw up thinking about it. I am afraid he is going to see my mouth and send me for more biopsies. I'm sure there is a pill to help with that anxiety but wait...
There are times in my quest for being healthier or losing weight that I have taken some vitamins or supplements (Chromium Picolinate, CLA and a pill that combined all the "super" foods called Orovo). I heard about Safflower Oil supplements and tried it and so far, every claim they make is true. It could be that I started Weight Watchers but I was only sort of doing it because it hadn't come in the mail yet and it wasn't exercise because my knee wouldn't let me do anything. It really does work so you can imagine my dismay when I heard about the Dateline report about supplements and how because they are not FDA approved, they can be made of anything, mostly things that are dangerous. I don't want to stop taking it so how in the world are we to know what is safe and what isn't? I used to go to Amazon to check out the reviews on some of these products to see if they made people sick or had bad side effects and then I found out that manufacturers pay people to give their products 5 stars and say that they are wonderful.

I don't know who or what to trust anymore. I am afraid to eat anything for fear that it will make me fat. If it doesn't make me fat, it might make me sick. It might even cause the big "c" word. I am afraid to take any supplements that are supposed to be beneficial to my health but since they aren't regulated, they might be detrimental to my health. And then, if I get sick or something causes me to get sick, I'll need medicine that I am not sure is worth taking due to the side effects. I more vegetables and fruits. Stay away from processed foods and I'll be just fine. You'll pardon my skepticism on that since it is strawberries, a fruit that is supposed to be good for you, that is causing so many problems in my mouth right now.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Unfortunate Event

Ever have one of those moments when you think about doing something and there are two ways to do it? You ponder which one to do and then on an impulse and without really thinking too hard, you make a choice. Five seconds after you make the choice, you realize you should have gone the other way. Well that happened to me last night.

My days seem to be long days once the kids come home. I find myself looking at the clock willing it to be 10:00 when they will all be in bed, not asleep because they are vampire children that never sleep, but in bed. Even Gia walks around saying, "No sleepies, Mommy. Not yet. Two minutes." I know I should be enjoying them and living in the moment and not wishing the moments away and someday I will do that but yesterday was not that day. Once the kids were all home, we piled in the car to go to Target and then to my mom's. Nico needed a report cover for a big Social Studies project (and apparently, I needed $98 of other stuff) and needed my parents' help. We tried to have him interview them over the phone but it was too hard and he needed pictures that were at their house. Target with all four of them was a little crazy. Gia now knows the meaning of "If you cry in Target, you don't get a sucker." She told my mom the whole story: how she threw a fit, cried and then Mommy said, "No sucker."

We had a delicious meal and then Nico interviewed my parents while my sister and I looked for pictures. I get accused of living in the past a lot but looking at all of those pictures, it's hard not to. The hair was bad, the clothes were bad and all of our teeth were in bad need of braces but all of the parties and family gatherings and holidays with so much love makes it hard not to transport yourself back there. It made me a little sad and wonder if I am doing a good enough job for my own kids. Will they look back at pictures and feel the same way? My heart ached a little bit for my Nana, Papa and Grams. Such good people taken too soon or in a terrible way.

Anyway, it was after 9:00 when Nico and I finally got home and I had Leo's car (Leo took the other three home earlier). It's a Yukon and I have one of those garages that is a two car with two doors. Sometimes I pull Leo's car in and sometimes I don't. There isn't really a thought as to why I do or don't. I thought about it for a minute and thought about just leaving it out but then decided to pull it in. The garbage cans were a little over so I was afraid I was going to hit them but I forged ahead. I looked to the other side to make sure I wouldn't hit the passenger mirror and heard a bump. I figured I hit the garbage can and backed up to hear crunching metal and breaking glass. Yep...I hit the driver's side mirror and it shattered. I heard it will cost us between $200-$500. So far anyone that I have told has said, "Oh, I have done that" so I know it's not that uncommon but I am sick to my stomach about it. We just put $2000 into his car. I totally had that moment right when it happened: Should have gone the other way and left it out.

Retraction from two days ago: I still stand by my opinion about splitting up the classes for math but Tommy and Belle came home yesterday and said one of the teachers made a mistake and some kids got put in the wrong class. The whole thing made a lot more sense to both of them so harmony regarding math was restored. J.L., you might be right and they might be doing a better job of not making it obvious who is struggling and who is sailing through than Tommy had thought. I wish, like yours, that mine would have all the teachers because that makes sense to me. So far he's had two of the teachers, one twice and Belle has had two of the teachers, one twice. I don't get it but then, I don't have to get everything all the time. As long as their confidence in math continues to rise, then I'm good because that is what killed math for Nico and I don't want to go through that again.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

While I Am Ranting About School

Technology is supposed to make life easier but in this house, that is not the case. I ranted on here a little bit ago about how annoying it was that all of my fourth graders' projects and summaries had to be typed. At the time, I didn't have a working printer. Nico has a big project due in Social Studies and had to get online last night. As you all know, my computer is slow and temperamental. It was a flipping nightmare. Each time he tried to log into his Edline account to get his report, the computer would freeze. Once he finally got into it, when he opened a new tab to look for pictures to add, the whole computer froze. If he hadn't saved what he was doing, he lost the part he didn't save. He was smart to save it every once in awhile even though he wasn't done so he didn't have much to retype but can you imagine how annoying that is? What if we didn't have a computer? What do the kids do that don't? I didn't ask Nico if he could write it. It didn't seem like it was an option. He had to have pictures but I would have had to run around looking for pictures that reflect life in the 1950's if we didn't have a computer. Again, it was assumed that we had one. Nico was up until 10:45 and he started at 7:30 (he had practice until 7:15). He was in tears by the end of it...tired and frustrated.

My sister told me that in high school, all of the texts are online. With a shaky Internet* connection, I dread the day that he has to study for a test and can't because his book is online and our Internet goes down. She said that there are text books but the kids rarely use them because they are big and everything is online. Anyone want to bet that the one time Nico needs a book and forgets to bring it home, our Internet will be down? I know they have to buy the memory stick things but things are really going to have to change around here in order for that to work. I have threatened over and over again that if I don't get my computer back in a week, I am walking into Best Buy and buying the first computer that has everything I want. Since I am getting the short end of the stick in the travel department this year, I think I can justify the cost. It's pretty sad when my phone is a better tech gadget than my computer. I can use my phone for virtually everything except blogging (fat fingers make it frustrating to type anything long), Nico's research paper on the 1950's, the twins' book reports and summaries, and the book I am writing (and for some reason, Pinterest). Jerry, if you are reading, I am sure you know a way to still do all of what I just said on your phone but that is because you are a tech genius and I am not. :)
*I never realized that "Internet" was supposed to be capitalized. Learned something new.

Speaking of phones, I must have the worst luck with batteries or I am doing it wrong because my phone is less than a week old and it seems the battery life isn't that long. It was at empty at 9:00pm. I charged it, took it off the charger when it was done before I went to bed. It's only 9:30am and I've only checked my email, Facebook and sent a few texts and it is already at half. I thought it was bad to have it charge overnight and it was better to take it off when it was done charging. Am I wrong?

Anyway, I'm sure it seems like in the age of technology, text books online, research papers and book reports seem easier since everything is in one place on a computer or online. The problem is what happens when it doesn't work? Where does that leave the students? I have a feeling it will end up with the parents running around like crazy trying to find a working computer and a working printer.

Maybe I should change the name of this blog to Rants from the Queen of Chaos. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Few Annoyances

The first reason I am in a foul mood on this beautiful day is that we got rid of the ants, haven't seen a mouse (I hope I didn't just jinx it) but now I am in a war with the bees. In March! I love this weather but it seems every bee that had been dormant in or around this house is flying around. I look like a complete idiot chasing and swatting all over the place. I scared Gia when I saw one fly at her and grabbed her and ran. To say I am not at one with nature is a HUGE understatement. I want to just enjoy the weather and not fight with the bugs or critters. Is that too much to ask?

I had great plans of taking Gia to the park today. On my way out the door, the school called. Tommy was looking "droopy". His allergies were bothering him this morning but he was FINE! I said I'd bring him Benedryl and the nurse seemed shocked that he wasn't on Claritin or Zyrtec. He is on about 90 other pills so that might be why. I had no intention of bringing him home. Now if Nico called me, that would have made much more sense since he was up coughing ALL night. When the weather doesn't know what it wants to do, as much as I enjoy the warm weather in March, it is wreaking havoc on the boys. I arrived at school and heard all about how Tommy couldn't possibly be faking. He never goes home and never milks it when he doesn't feel well so he must really be feeling bad. Fine...I get it. I felt like a terrible parent leaving him there so I brought him home. Well, I ran a few errands and then I took him home. When I paid for three classes at the park district, they let me know that no one else is signed up for any of the classes I signed up for so they might be cancelled. Shocking (dripping with sarcasm). So annoying.

Voting was another errand and it struck me as odd that schools are a polling place. The doors were locked to the school and only the office part was open but it seemed strange to have a ton of adults parading through a school. It was interesting trying to vote with Tommy and Gia. Tommy kept yelling out people's names and asking why I was voting for him/her. He then would say, "Do this person. They have a cooler name." There you go folks, the next generation is going to vote based on how cool the name sounds.

Tommy's allergies really are bad but I thought it was a little fishy that Tommy wanted to come home and sure a true Gubenko...they can't keep much to themselves for long. He sobbed that he hates the math class that he is in and he doesn't understand how he and his friend got the same score with the same ones wrong and his friend is in the "higher class". I have said it before and I still believe it: splitting up kids this early does nothing other than kill their self esteem. Tommy's exact words, "Even if they split up the people because some know it and some don't, don't they get that the ones that don't get it are still going to feel bad?" Why? Why? Why do they insist on doing this in 4th grade? I asked him when he found out the class he was in and he said this morning when he got to school and then I asked if he had math yet and he started crying and said no. He is now crying downstairs and I'd love the teachers to know that while research might prove that "ability teaching" works, it is killing math for one of their students. Oh and guess what? Belle got in the "high" class which means there will be tears tonight at homework as well. God, I LOVE having kids in school!

I can only stick my head in the sand for so long before I have to admit there is a problem and I reached my limit last night while driving home from Barnes & Noble (no words to really express how much I absolutely LOVE that place but I do wish it wasn't so freezing in there) and I couldn't see.  I really thought my eyes just needed to adjust and am still hoping that is what he says but it has been a week and I still feel off (like I have two contacts in one eye). It took me over 10 years to go to the eye doctor and when I finally do go, I see worse than I did before I went! So I am waiting for the doctor to call me back which means I'll have to get a sitter again so that I can sweat it out trying to decide if "better here or here?" Obviously, I didn't do it right the first time since I have ended up with one blurry eye and one clear one. My glasses and contacts have already been ordered so that will push that back as well. So frustrating.

Not to finish this off on a "glass half-empty" note but Gia just woke up after only a half hour nap so it looks like an afternoon of Beauty and the Beast and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (on a half screen, of course).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Making Some Changes and a Great Weekend

I am doing Weight Watchers. I think I said on here why I didn't want to do it but with my knee not being reliable, I have to do something. I am excited to start. I was going to do it online but supposedly our insurance has an interactive "WW type program" but when Leo and I looked, we couldn't find it and with websites like Spark People that are free, I couldn't justify the cost. I bought a start up kit from eBay for $36 and I can't wait to get it. The last time I did WW, I lost a lot of weight after Gia. I don't know why I stopped. I think it was because I had a hard time getting my points in which when you think about it, doesn't make sense or does to people that are smart about nutrition and food which I am not. I am also in a bidding war for a few Zumba DVDs. This way I don't have to rely on my unreliable computer. I figure by the time I actually get them, my knee will be strong enough to do the workouts. It feels good taking control and making some changes. Wish me luck and if anyone else is doing it and wants to do the buddy/support system, let me know!

My leg is almost completely better. I am not sure if it was because of the ice and Advil or the 10 or so jello shots I did at a St. Patrick's Day party but I definitely have more mobility in my leg. Leo is convinced I sprained my knee. Others have said since I was kneeling, tendons or cartilage moved to where they weren't supposed to be. I still feel something that feels like a rubber band stretched to its limit but as long as I can walk, I think I am going to wait to see a doctor. I got the name of a sports doctor/chiropractor and might take the kids there for evaluations. At one point or another, someone is always moaning about aches and pains and since they are pretty active (and I am trying to be), it sounds like a good idea.

I want to thank everyone that gave me feedback through phone calls or emails regarding the last two posts. It makes me feel good to know people are reading, giving advice and venting along with me.

A big change over here is that for the first time in five or so years, we are not going away for Spring Break and I am feeling a little bummed about it. I know it would have been Hell to go see Leo's mom because of the age Gia is. Just thinking about taking her on a plane and the stress from all of us being in that house makes me sweat but I am starting to think that was the only break I was going to get this year. I was going to go to Vegas with Leo in June but of course, the weekend I had a babysitter (thank you so much don't have to do it but you get soooo much credit for almost doing it) is not the weekend the dumb poker club voted on. It's just another reason to resent the poker club and the cause of a lot of angry blogs in June, I am sure. Leo seems to think that his mom could babysit so I can go and I know technically she only has to keep everyone alive but I really don't think she wants to do it and I'm not sure she even can do it. She gets overwhelmed easily and only wants to spend time with the kids one on one. I think she told me one time that there was a good reason she only had one child but I might have come to that conclusion on my own. I want to get on a plane and go somewhere warm and I'd like to go with my girlfriends/sisters but we are all in the same boat: kids, schedules and money. I don't want to hear that it is 80 degrees in Chicago right now so why go away? It's not the same thing (Leo).

I had a great weekend in spite of poker and a bum leg. For those wondering, Leo did read the post and had a good laugh. While some of you might cringe at how harsh I can be, this blog really does open up a line of communication and seeing something in print makes it a little more official (unless I am writing "poker club" in which case, STILL NOT!) or more real  and diffuses some of the heat so to speak. You'll all be surprised to know that I finally got a new phone out of it. I am now a proud owner of a smart phone that I have no idea how to work so I am not sure why it is called that since it makes me feel pretty dumb.

I don't know why I fight Leo so much on going out, especially when it is both of us, because it was really nice having a night out. There is that moment out at a party when you catch a glimpse of your spouse and feel that zip of "Glad he's mine." Or the moment when he catches your eye and winks. I love that. I didn't even mind the, "Honey, how many of those jello shots have you done?" It made me all warm and fuzzy to know he was concerned...wait...that might have been the jello shots. I had a bunch of really great conversations with friends I enjoy so much but don't get to see very often since we all have very active kids. I laughed until my stomach hurt and woke up in the morning feeling great. They probably aren't because they were the husbands of the friends I was talking to, but for those reading that thought it was a party game to see how much the friend who never gets out could actually drink in one night, I won. I was fine.

A little funny from the night: We went to dinner before the party and since it was St. Patrick's Day, we were all doing a celebratory shot. The women had Bailey's and the men had tequila. Tequila is my favorite one to do so I traded (I like a shot that has a little something extra...salt...lime and we all know margaritas are my favorite drink). Some of the men thought I was bluffing so I showed them...I sprinkled the salt, did the shot, licked the salt and sucked on the lime. It tasted kind of funny but after a vodka and 7up, I thought maybe that was normal until I looked down and saw that I didn't sprinkle salt on my hand...I sprinkled Parmesan cheese. are allowed to gag because though I did the shot, kept it down and impressed the guys who didn't think I could do it, whenever I think about it, I gag a little myself.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bad Luck and a Few Rants

I didn't write yesterday because a freak thing had me laid up. I was kneeling to get summer clothes from under my bed. I was sitting on my heels and when I got up, my right knee gave out. Or snapped or something to cause the worst pain I have felt in a long time. Now I can't straighten my leg. I can sort of hobble to walk but not without hurting my other leg or that sharp pain once in awhile shooting up my leg. I can't help but think I might have started a tear by my newly acquired exercise habit and that kneeling did me in. I don't know...maybe I hate exercising so much that I am blaming it for not being able to walk. The bottom line is that I have taken a huge amount of Advil since yesterday, iced it several times, elevated it and I still can't straighten it and it still hurts like something is really wrong with it. I have heard a few people say, "Oh, that happens to me sometimes, too" so I know I am not alone in this, but what do you do when it happens? I can't get in to see the orthopedic doctor that has taken care of my kids until Monday and if I go to the ER, they are just going to tell me to go see one so what is the point (and I am still super mad about taking Tommy to them, having them run a bunch of tests that weren't covered and still not knowing what was wrong with him)?

A few side notes:

My amount of hatred for all things poker (poker club, Vegas w/out me going) has risen to a new level.

I was promised that my computer would be returned to me this week and it is Friday so I have come to terms with the fact that it will end up being a broken promise. Soon there will be the cost for a new one and a new window because this one is very near to going through one.

This weekend had the promise of some fun for the adults for once and now with not being able to walk, I'm not sure how much is going to happen. I am sure that Leo will still represent us both. It's hard to keep an overgrown frat boy down.

This probably came out harsher than I planned but getting only two hours of sleep because you keep forgetting that straightening your leg will result in intense pain all through your body will make you really crabby. Oh, and finding out that you are flying solo because of something that has the word "club" in it so he HAS to go (newsflash; just putting the word club on the end of something doesn't make it so official, you can't miss it. I missed plenty of book clubs because something came up) makes you mean.

Shoot, I wrote mad again, didn't I?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Darn Murphy Strikes Again!

Murphy's Law: Normally, I don't want to leave the house but can. Today, I want to leave and I can't. I am a person that likes to stay home. Not really this home but you know what I mean. I figured out it is because I am incapable of small talk. Really, I am. You know this if you have spent longer than three minutes with me. I am teased a lot about not leaving my house but yesterday was so beautiful that I took Gia to the park and saw some neighbors I don't see very often (that's what happens when you don't go outside). Gia had a blast and played with another little girl whose mom has the pleasure of also raising a teenager and a two year old. It would figure then, that when I got home from the park and after I made dinner, that when I put Gia in her high chair, she was on fire. I took her temperature and she had 102.5. So it would also figure that on the nicest day of the year so far, I am stuck inside the house. We haven't had a sick kid here, I don't think, since January and now, of all times, sickness strikes. Darn, Murphy!

Monday, I did Zumba that I found on YouTube and was able to do about 20 minutes in the morning before Gia needed something and the phone rang and Gia needed something and then I gave up trying to fit more in. Instead, with motivation I didn't know I had, I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes while watching TV. I was really excited that I started the week off exercising three times and planned on giving it a try with doing something every day. I had planned on the treadmill or Zumba after I put Gia to bed but by the time she finally fell asleep, I was afraid to risk waking her up since she was sick. I planned to do Zumba again this morning but like I said before, I can only do it in the kitchen and while I know they are not looking into my kitchen, my neighbors have a few guys working on their house and I look ridiculous doing it. Besides, having a sick baby makes it hard to do much of anything. I think Murphy has something against me losing weight. First the mice, now the men...throw in a few sick kids and the motivation is quickly taking a nosedive.

This isn't Murphy's Law, really but is still under the category of "Doesn't it figure?" I went to the eye doctor and even with insurance (good insurance), it still cost me $300. What is a convenience fee for contact fitting? He handed me the contacts and I put them in. Shouldn't that mean that the $96 it cost me should go to me? I did all the work. Silly me, I thought it would cost me the most, $150...those hidden costs...they get you every time. I really liked the doctor, though and the office staff. You can tell that they really care about their patients. I declined the extra tests and pictures of the eye that might detect other things going on in your body. They weren't covered by the insurance and it doesn't really go along with the "head in the sand" mentality that I live by. It felt good saying no. Part of the contact fee was a cornea test that I had to have because I wear contacts. Like before (10yrs before since that was how long I had waited), the new contacts feel weird and I don't like it. Another reason that I don't like change is that even the ones that are supposed to be good, aren't always that way. I should have been able to see better and that was not the case. I got a lecture about 1-800-CONTACTS. I know it's not the smartest thing I have ever done (I had gotten contacts from them for the last 10 or more years without going back to the eye doctor)  but it sure was convenient for someone like me who hates going to the doctor. As I sat in the chair sweating bullets, afraid he was going to tell me I was going blind, it occurred to me that I really could be one of those little old ladies that shuns all doctors. It was ridiculous to be that stressed out and afraid at the eye doctor but that is a direct result of the last decade with the first and last year being the worst. I am not going blind but the doctor knew my life story in the first five minutes of talking to him. I told you...incapable of small talk. Why do I feel like if I tell all of the doctors or dentists or anyone in the medical profession all that I have going on, they will look at me and tell me that I have WAY too much on my plate so I can't possibly have anything added and that I am fine so I can go about my merry way and try and stay sane? Why doesn't that work?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some Tidbits: Tumbling and the Eye Doctor

I'm losing my ability to be nice to people that are rude or offensive. I was always taught to kill with kindness. Writing that doesn't sound nice but it has always worked for me. When someone is being a weenie, being nice to them makes them a bigger weenie. Well, I have lost that ability and yesterday, I was pushed to the point where someone pushed and I pushed back. I have vented on here about Isabella tumbling and it's reached new heights. She is usually in tumbling year round. She had the ability to do a back hand spring but since her wrist injury, she lacks the confidence to do it herself. She is frustrated because she wants it so bad and I am frustrated because she has been going for the last two or so years and still it escapes her. Tumbling is expensive. After the holidays, she took a break. It was me that wanted her to take a break and she and I were feeling a little burned out (she was in dance and had an art class and I was tired of always being on the go) so though she loved it, she didn't do the last session. I went to sign her up for this next session and she is now on a waiting list. It's fine. I get it. They are the only place around that offers tumbling classes and a competitive cheer squad that eventually Belle, much to my dismay, wants to do. What I don't like is being shamed because she took a break. I got a phone call and was asked if I was tied to the time I was asking for. I said it was due to a carpool and the assumption was made that I was carpooling for social reasons. It was said that other girls had gotten their back hand springs alone because they didn't take a break and since they weren't with their friends, they were more focused. I couldn't be quiet anymore. I stopped the conversation and said, "Hold on. While the girls in the carpool are friends, that isn't why we carpool. The moms help me out a lot because I have a two year old. Between all of us and our other kids, we help each other out so that our daughters are able to go. I get that some focus might be lost when there is a group of friends in the class but it is tumbling and they are 10 so it should still be fun. I understand that some skills are lost when they take a break and I don't know why others have but I do know and am not embarrassed to tell you that I have two boys in travel sports and this isn't the only thing Isabella does and since it isn't cheer season for her, financially, we needed to take a break. This is expensive to do year round." I wanted to add that I don't give a rat's ass who has their back flip and who does not and thought it was in poor taste to tell me and that I shouldn't have to explain to anyone why I didn't sign her up for the last session but I felt like it was known that I was aggravated and to say that would push it over the edge of being hostile. There was a lot of back peddling at that point about how tumbling is not like soccer where you can jump back in at anytime. I know that but she is 10! She's not an Olympic tumbler (I know the correct term is gymnast but I am trying to make a point here). I also heard that it would be sad to lose Isabella or have her be that much further behind because of waiting list issues. Lose her to what? There isn't anywhere else to go. Maybe there are other places but do they also offer cheer squads? With our lives being what they are, this place is conveniently close and is where everyone around here goes. If I look elsewhere, will I have to go far and if no one else goes there, I'm on my own for rides? Is it worth the aggravation? Well, I am already aggravated because there is obviously a huge demand for this because every class is full and the demand is not being met. Is the solution really that the kids can't ever take a break without risking getting back in? I said we'd switch times but there are waiting lists for all the classes. It makes me sad that she is a really good cheerleader and strong enough to be a base but because she can't do a back flip, her days are numbered. I say that because though high school is far away, competitive cheer is creeping up.  Maybe she'll just want to do dance and I just signed her up for a volleyball class (though it is sure to be pulled for low enrollment like the other classes at our park district) so she does have interests other than this. When talking to her about it, she said, "I really love all the things I do and want to keep doing them all." Immediately, I had a vision of money spewing from my wallet. By the way, I checked. That dance costume cost $75.

I'm finally going to the eye doctor. Do you think it is possible for them to check my eyes, give me prescriptions for glasses and contacts and send me on my merry way without some diagnosis of something life threatening? I can only hope. After getting the "Everything is okay, see you in six months" from the radiologist after the mammogram and ultrasound, I got a call from my doctor saying that I have "complicated, not simple cysts" and if I wanted to see a surgeon, that was another option otherwise he was fine with me waiting. What?! Why?! Why?! I know he has to cover his butt but if he knows me at all, he knows I won't sue him if it goes the other way in six months. He knows that just by telling me that, it poops on the relief I felt when the radiologist said, "It's fine. Come back in six months." The way I figure it, and if I am wrong, let me know, the radiologist sees these things every day. If he/she was concerned in any way, he/she would have sent me to a surgeon. If the radiologist is fine with me waiting six months, then so am I. Right?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Online Woes

I was very frustrated last night after spending the better part of the day online looking for things I can only get online. I did a great job of eating healthy until my mom called and said she and my dad and my one sister who was supposed to go to her house were coming over. It is my absolute favorite thing to have my family over to my house so we ordered my favorite food (Lou Malnati's deep dish pizza) and I made chocolate chip cookies. So by 9:30, I was too tired to walk on the treadmill but wanted to do something because I was feeling less than skinny. When I was online looking for Zumba dvds that were affordable, a thought struck me. YouTube! I could look for a video, try and do it or see how often I do it and start moving while seeing if it would be worth the money. The good news is I found a bunch of pretty good videos. The bad news is that the only connection I get is in my kitchen or my living room...both wide open to my neighbors. I can only imagine what it looked like I was doing and I will apologize to my three neighbors that can see right in my kitchen. It actually makes me laugh to think about what they saw (me with my arms flailing...looking like I was dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld). The other bad news was only bad for me...this computer freezes about every 5 minutes so just when I'd feel my heart rate raise, it would freeze and I'd have to reboot. Leo promised me that this week he is fixing my old, new computer but in the meantime...super frustrating.

Isabella is in dance. She loves, loves, loves it. It is expensive but if she loves it I am willing to pay (just like every travel sport we pay for that the boys love). The thing that bugs me is that we had to pay for her costume for the recital. I can't remember how much I paid for it because I am constantly shelling out money between the three kids but I do remember being mad about how much it was (I want to say it was $70 but could be wrong). Along with the note about paying for the costume was a note that said we had to get shoes that were $35 and tickets were $22 a piece. Bug, bug, bugged me. The only place to get the shoes is online at Target and when I went to get them, I clicked on a size 6 and they sent a 6.5M. I wanted Belle to just make do but they were too big. She tried on a 5.5 at her friend's and they were too small so she really did need the 6. I went back online yesterday, clicked on size 6 and saw that when it went in the shopping cart, it said 6.5M. How frustrating is that?? There was no size 5.5 for me to get in case that was how it worked. Click on a size and the size up is what you get. How ridiculous is that, though, if the website was like that? So today, I will be back online talking to someone at or looking at other sites for shoes she will probably wear once (saying a little prayer in hopes that Gia will love dance, too).

Again, the time change is wreaking havoc over here. It was so annoying that every time I told the kids that they had to go to bed (or to sleep), I was met with, "Well the clock says____ but it's really only____." Everyone was dragging their feet this morning and Gia, sweet, Gia is all messed up. It's like she doesn't know what hit her and is really crabby. On the upside, I might be able to get her to take two naps today. In any case, she is in for a day of Zumba on YouTube since it will probably take all day to get my computer to give me a full workout.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I am such a wimp. I tried to exercise. I recorded Gilad's Bodies in Motion (I lost a ton of weight before my wedding doing his workouts and yes, he is ancient) and have done it a few times. I am really, really out of shape. I felt sick after I did it. Sick like I never wanted to do it again. I am sure I didn't drink enough water. Why can't water taste like a strawberry margarita? I just don't like the taste of water unless I am at a restaurant. What is that? Why is that? Anyway, for two days I couldn't lift my arms to even put my hair in a clip. If you were at Target this weekend, you had the pleasure of seeing exactly what I look like when I get out of bed. I have one questions for you exercise junkies: WHERE ARE THE ENDORPHINS I KEEP HEARING ABOUT???? WHERE IS THE ENERGY? All I wanted to do was crawl into my bed in the fetal position.

I used to LOVE Zumba on the Xbox but the Xbox is in the basement and I am slightly terrified to go down there and see a mouse. I thought about taking a class but Zumba on the Xbox offers me the luxury of dancing like an idiot in private and calling it exercise. I wanted to buy the DVD set but it's $90 and if history has taught me anything, it will end up collecting dust. I thought I was being so smart and saw "Zumba Dance" on the Fit/Health network so I recorded it. It was the infomercial...and I wanted badly to buy it. Those people really know how to make you think that you absolutely need that and that if you just had it, it would solve all of your problems.

I still watch TV walking on the treadmill but I think I need to bump it up a little and like I said a million times before, I am not a runner. I, for sure, can't run in public. I look like I am having a seizure and about to pass out. It's not pretty. I have tried running outside and I have the hardest time quieting my mind. The whole time I am thinking, I should be thinking of something profound but all I can think about is how much I hate that my body feels like it is going to give out and I hate the feel of sweating. I've tried listening to my iPod but my frantic thoughts are even louder than the music.

I know I need to find something to do that I enjoy so that I'll want to do it but so far...nothing. Wouldn't it be great if you could burn calories watching reality TV? I'd be wafer thin! I posted this as my status on Facebook but I think it is so true that I am putting it here too. I don't own it, I didn't come up with it. I just found it online and think the person that wrote it is a genius.

Edited to add: Saw John Carter with Tommy yesterday and loved it even more the 2nd time! I might have a problem because as soon as it ended I thought, "Maybe Nico wants to go see it." This time the theater was packed. I love it!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

John Carter: A Movie Review

First of all, take this with a grain of salt. I am not Roger Ebert (I just aged myself there, didn't I?), some of my favorite movies got terrible reviews (Peggy Sue Got Married, Urban Cowboy) and I love Taylor Kitsch so this movie review might be really biased.

I loved this movie. It could be that I went in with really low expectations or that after a day like yesterday, I would have liked to have been transported to Mars but I really enjoyed it. I thought they did a nice job explaining some of the sci-fi stuff during the action scenes so you weren't bored with endless scenes of explanations. I normally don't like sci-fi movies because I get lost in all the technical dialogue or fantasy of it all but this one was easy to just sit and be entertained. Movie-goers can analyze to death why he was the one chosen or how could that really happen so yes, in order to enjoy the movie, you have to buy into and go along with the fantasy. Some of the scenes explaining things were with John Carter and Princess Dejah so with all the sexual tension building up, it was easy to watch those as well. A movie that I am not embarrassed to admit I really liked was The Last Starfighter and this movie reminded me of that (and I am not even a video-gamer so go figure) and it reminded me of Star Wars and Gladiator. Before I get bashed for comparing it to Star Wars, I'm just saying that while I was watching it, I was thinking that this might be this generation's movie like that. I remember loving Star Wars to some extent (loved Han Solo and wanted to be Princess Leia) but when I showed it to my boys, in this age of technology, it didn't have the same effect. This movie's special effects were pretty cool even for me and I don't really get into that. For those that are into the romance part of movies, there is a of the best ones in a long time that if I had it on my DVR, I would have rewound it a few times.

For those that love Taylor Kitsch, as we all know I do, it was awhile before he was in the gladiator-type clothes and was clean-shaven. I like men with a little bit of scruff which he had but for some of it, he had a lot more than scruff. He plays brooding so well and some of my favorite scenes were ones when he said so much without saying a thing. He is really funny in real life (or at least in interviews) and some of that came across which I love. Whenever I watch a movie or one of the FNL episodes with him in it, I am always left wanting more, thinking they could have expanded and given us more and this was no different. There were parts of the movie, I would have loved to have seen fleshed out but I also like that they gave us enough to let our own imagination work a little. One of my friends wondered if after I saw this, maybe the "shine" would dull a little on this celeb crush and it definitely did not. If anything, it is a little brighter and now I cannot wait to see Battleship (the preview before John Carter was a lot better than the ones I have seen so far of that movie).

I am taking the twins today to see it and truthfully, I think it is going to be way over their head. I don't see how Belle is going to like it unless she has her mother's taste in men and while Tommy will love the special effects, I predict there will be more questions about what is going on than actual watching. Leo went with me last night and I think he would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't sitting there going, "God, is he hot" every five minutes however, Princess Dejah was no eye-sore either so I am sure he was just fine. All in all, I expected to go and enjoy seeing Taylor Kitsch on the screen again and I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the movie as well. Leo said if there was a sequel, he'd go with me to see it so success all around!

Friday, March 9, 2012

ISATS and Other Standardized Tests

It's my annual gripe about the ISATS and other standardized tests. I have voiced it before but now that my kids are a year older, I have new aggravations about standardized tests. In my very professional and adult opinion, I think they are dumb. I am not saying that there aren't kids out there that test high and perform well in advanced classes or kids that bomb the tests and then struggle in class. I am just saying while I was teaching and now with my own kids, I have formed this opinion.

What is it that we are trying to accomplish from the results of these tests? I was always told it was a test for the schools (which is why I understand why teachers worry about how their classes will do). I used to get frustrated with that because I loved teaching the kids that were struggling. I never had the "gifted" kids and was fine with that. I thought some of my high average kids were "gifted" but weren't that great of test takers to be honest with you. I knew how to challenge those that needed it but my principal knew I liked the challenge of reaching the kids that had a harder time so he gave me the classes full of the kids that struggled to perform at grade level. So, you can imagine what my kids' test scores showed. Did that mean I was a bad teacher? Did it mean I wasn't teaching the standards? If the kids would have taken a test at the beginning of the year and then again at the end of the year, they would have seen a better picture of the students and my teaching. I still stand by that standardized testing doesn't allow for the kids' individual developmental levels because at second grade, I was still teaching some kids to read. Anyway, now they are used for placement in classes or programs. Not the only way but a big part and I don't get it.

From where I sit, with my three kids, it's hard to put any stock in them. I have Nico who is a terrible test taker but gets straight A's (even in math, this year...Yahoo! I hate being right all the time). Nico confuses me because from his 5th grade ISAT test scores, he placed in a high math class. He had a terrible teacher and ended up having a horrible time. I think he used to be a good test taker and somewhere along the line, anxiety kicked in or he realized what might happen due to his scores and now is not the best. This year, because of his test scores, he will be placed in no advanced classes. I wasn't upset by this because I really don't care. Leo and I were both in advanced classes in high school and it really didn't matter in the grand scheme of life. I was in advanced English and I still don't have a book published. I was in advanced Spanish and can get myself to the bathroom in Mexico but that is about it. I'd like him to do well without too much of a struggle. What kind of irked me was that when I asked if his grades would play a part in his placement, I had three teachers tell me in one form or another, "Oh, you don't want him in advanced classes with all the work he'll have to do. He's an athlete and with all the practices and training, he'll be overwhelmed." Now, maybe that was their way of getting out of a conversation that would have ended with, "He just can't hack it in advanced classes," but there is no guarantee that he is going to be an athlete in high school and to say that sounded ridiculous to me. Nico was bummed and asked me why, when he gets straight A's, he didn't place in the higher classes? I told him to ask his teachers. He did and his teachers told him it was because of the test scores which frustrated him and caused him to say, "I hate taking those stupid tests. I get so nervous." They told him the same thing they told us about sports and Nico, who has been on the end of not making a team he wanted to said, "How do they know I'll even make it?" Exactly!
Then I have Tommy and Belle. I've already talked about my frustrations with them and not much has changed. Tommy scored above grade level in Reading and Writing. Those are not his strong subjects at all. He does okay in school but not without struggling at home and complaining and a few tears. Judging by his book summaries (Heaven forbid, we don't use the 22 font size with some fancy bold letters and some underlining that need not be there), I am totally confused by the high score. He is a great creative writer but they don't test that. Math is his thing and he scored at grade level. Belle is the reader and writer of the family. She can whip out a five paragraph paper in no time and doesn't really complain (okay, she might but she complains about everything). She cries nightly about math. "I don't get it" is her mantra. Guess what? She scored above grade level in math. Neither one scored way above grade level. Just right above but I laughed at how neither one of those results were an accurate picture of my kids. Based on those scores, Tommy will be in a higher language arts class and Belle will be in a higher math class and both will be struggling in the actual class. If you ask me, Nico got the better end of the testing deal. At least he won't be struggling.

So I ask all the administrators out there: What would you rather have? Classes where the kids are understanding the material and getting A's or classes where the test scores are high but the kids are struggling to make the grade? Personally, I think it is the latter because they think that if they are testing high, they must be "getting it" but sadly, that is not always the case.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Best Day Ever

Finally!!! Yesterday was the best day. It didn't start out that way, though. My vague message yesterday was because I had to go for a second mammogram and ultrasound. I know this is common but it still scared me enough to not leave my house for more than one basketball game and dinner at my mom's. It completely stressed me out for six days. Everything is fine! Thank, God! I have to go back in six months. Considering the alternative, I was thrilled. I mean, given my dislike of medical tests, I'd rather do anything else but what a relief. What bothers me about this is that if it is so common for women to get called in for ultrasounds, why don't we just do the ultrasounds? Mammograms are not fun and if because of the way I am built, they aren't going to get good pictures, why do I have to do them only to get called back? When I go back in six months, it is only for an ultrasound which makes sense to me but after that it is back to mammograms which doesn't. I heard that it was common "as we get older." Ugghhh...I am not going to get old gracefully. I can feel it. My driver's license is expiring this year and I need to take the eye exam. If I took it right now, I'd fail. I haven't been to the eye doctor since after Nico was born (I know...not good) and since I have gotten older (ugh), I know my eyes have gotten worse. So off to the eye doctor I go next week. I argue with my friends a lot about this issue because most are smart and feel like if you catch anything early, you can fix it. I get that but I don't like going digging for things and I don't like going to the doctor feeling fine and then having them tell me I'm sick. Thanks so much, Gina and Chrissy for babysitting for the longest appointment ever. Anyway, getting good news was the beginning of the best day ever.

The second reason it was a good day was I cleared up a misunderstanding that was bugging me for awhile now. It isn't every day that you get to have your say and have things go back to normal so I am glad I got to do that. It did lead me to think that some people really are crazy and have nothing better to do than stir an imaginary pot.

The third reason is I finally got a night out. A real night out (longer than an hour). I dropped Nico off at practice, waited until Leo relieved me and went to Barnes and Noble. I did some writing. I love when I can't put down my journal. John Carter is coming out on Friday so I knew that the reviews and magazines would have stuff in them about it so I sat and read a bunch. It has been forever since Taylor Kitsch has been in any magazine and what do you know? People Magazine said that while the movie might be confusing, the "young, rising star" that is the lead and the special effects make it a "fun ticket." Like I said before, I don't care if it is good or not, I am going to be there with my big bucket of Kettle Corn and giant Coke and for 2 hours, I will be very happy. It's also the reason I am going to see it with the twins. I don't want to hear how bad it was. Just when I thought that was good enough, I turned the page and there it was...a big old article about him and how he could be this generation's "it" guy (they said Brad Pitt but since he has gotten weird, I ignored that part). There were pictures and everything. Even if his next movie is bad (and it doesn't look great), he's in an Oliver Stone movie with a few big names so there is still something to look forward to. Ahhh...fourth reason why it was the best day ever.

Then I met my best friend for a very last minute, belated birthday dinner (aren't those always the best kind). We had sushi at one of my favorite places and then went to Target. We are really wild in our old age! It was nice getting to catch up. When we don't do that as often as we used to, we start to feel connected but with a little bit of disconnect. I don't know if that makes sense but you get busy with your own lives that you forget to make time for each other and even the best friendships need to be nurtured. It was great getting to laugh until my stomach hurt and catch up.

A few other things that added to why I loved yesterday was Gia yelling, "Mommy! I miss you so much, Mommy" after I got home from the doctor. Nico came home right after school so I didn't have to go pick him up anywhere. The twins didn't have homework and I didn't have to make dinner. Leo bought a new television so my days of watching a half screen TV are almost over!

I was home, in bed by 10:00 watching America's Next Top Model which is not very good this season but I knew when my head hit the pillow, I was going to sleep really well for the first time in two weeks.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Back to the Land of the Living

Leo came home on Friday at midnight. My internet died on Friday night. For the life of me, how did I get along without it before we had it? What did I do with my free time? My cleaning lady was here on Friday, so I didn't even have to clean my house. I did catch up on laundry. There is only so much hide and seek you can play with a toddler and she will only sit for one book. I can recite Beauty and the Beast because I have seen it about a thousand times in the last 5 days. It's pretty scary when you find yourself actually "feeling" for the Beast and wanting him to kick Gaston's behind. I did write a lot in my book, both scenes that are extra and on the computer. I watched Friday Night Lights (because I have all but one of the seasons on DVD). I went to one basketball game and to my mom's but not having a computer didn't really force me to go out of my house like most family members (and friends) that have voiced that concern would think. It's funny to me how much the rest of the world assumes that everyone has computers. Teachers assign homework online, dance classes make you order shoes online, insurances make you find eye doctors online and park districts that you don't get books for make you register online. I called a neighboring park district and asked about glasses for Gia and they were very annoyed by the fact that I couldn't get online. I wanted to tell them to get in line behind me and the other people annoyed. I did go to my parents' house and use theirs but we all know how the computer can suck you in and I really only had time to find an eye doctor and order Belle's dance shoes. Thanks, Leslie G for your offer. I didn't get to take you up on it but it was very sweet of you to even offer.

Either Murphy loves me or hates me because his law lives and breathes over here and really won't go away. Jimmy came to check the house on Friday. He put the old fashioned traps near the bait stations because he knows how afraid of the mice I am so this way, they would take the poison, get dehydrated and get the food on the old fashioned ones and get caught without me having to see them. I loved that idea. He saw no dead ones and minimal activity in a spot where we would have to tear down a wall to get to (I'm about ready to give him a sledgehammer). He left and I swear, ten minutes later, my nephew and Tommy came running up the stairs yelling that there was a mouse in a trap by the television (glue trap so right in the open). I don't know what bothers me more about that. At first I was mad at Jimmy for not seeing it but then Nico, who thankfully stopped home to shower before heading back out and one of my good friends who I happened to be on the phone with and was in the neighborhood stopped by to take care of it, said it was still alive, I the boys were playing loudly downstairs and that mouse was wandering around making its way to that trap. ICK!!! Needless to say, the basement is a place that I seriously will not go in again. All the lovely Easter decorations...not going up this year. My question is at what point is Leo going to get mad enough to call and say he isn't paying because we are still dealing with this problem 5 months later? I am there but because Jimmy has now become a family member, I can't be mean to him.

A short funny story about Gia: I was at Walmart and came across the posters. I told Tommy and Gino not to think I was weird but I wanted to see if there was a John Carter poster. I wasn't going to buy it...I just wanted to see if there was one. Meanwhile, while walking through the store, Gia was putting various things in the cart. There were a few toys, some chips, a movie and a pair of shoes that I had to take out. While the boys and I were looking at the posters, Gia was behind us looking at books. I heard a big thump and saw that she threw a book in the cart. There was no poster of John Carter so I went to the cart and guess what was in there that my adorable little two year old put in there? The John Carter book with Taylor Kitsch on the cover! The three of us stood in shock. I looked at her and asked, "What did you put in here?" She pointed and said, "Hot." Hmm....what a little sponge she is. Funny that that the "ABC's" and "Binkies are for babies" fall on deaf ears but when the trailer for John Carter comes on and I say, "Man, he is hot", that sticks? For those wondering, I bought the book. :)

My very vague, cryptic comment that I will explain at some point but are my wise words of the day: Just because something is common or happens a lot, doesn't make it any less scary.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Some Words of Thanks

Leo is coming home tonight!!!!! Sleep is in my near future since I have gotten a total of six hours in one week. I have decided that sleep deprivation is the quickest way to see a grown woman cry. His flight was delayed, of course so he will be two hours later than planned. I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

Some words of thanks: Thanks Norm and Dan for helping get Nico everywhere he needed to go! You guys really, really helped me out between basketball games and baseball practice and the many pick-ups to and from friends' houses. I appreciate it!

Thanks, Jeff for bringing Tommy home for me. Baseball is at a tough time and putting Gia back in the car for the short trip takes longer than actually going to get him so thank you! Plus, I was able to have dinner ready for him by the time he got dropped off.

Thanks to my sisters for breaking up the week to keep me sane. Lee, thanks for babysitting for the dreaded mammogram. (My hate for diagnostic tests knows no bounds because it is NEVER just standard and "See you next year." It's actually a joke at this point and I think my Aunt Tessie had the right idea by never going to the doctor.) They were always a phone call away asking if I needed anything or just to talk because they know I hate when he is gone.

Thanks to my mom for offering to have us over for dinner even though I couldn't make it happen and to my dad for fixing the hole and putting up the new towel bar in the bathroom. Love it when the men in my life are reliable...Dad, you always come through.

Thanks to my many peeps (RC, KT, JW, KJ, PL and JB) for either listening to me complain, making me laugh or letting me know that Taylor Kitsch was going to be on TV (GREAT way to pass the time). You made the week go by faster.

Thanks to KB, DW and JB for keeping me company on the instant messenger at night when it was especially scary because Leo wasn't home.

I should probably thank Jimmy, the Orkin guy, since he has come out twice this week but I'm still not sure he knows what he is doing so I'll hold off on that. I think that he thinks I have a crush on him because I keep calling him. That wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't twelve and was actually fixing the problem.

I think it is safe to say that my kids and I need a break from each other...badly.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Long Lasting Love

I wrote a post here awhile back about first love and a writer that I respect commented on how for as fascinating as that might be, what is really thought provoking was what comes after. The love that lasts through the years, through the trials that life puts us through and after the "glow" of the newness wears off. Since Leo and I have been together for over 20 years, I feel like this is a topic I can talk about. I think about the love that I felt with Leo when we were first falling in love and I love to be back in that moment because I really didn't think I could love him more than I did then. I was wrong.

New love might be discovering exciting things about the other person you didn't know but deep, lasting love is knowing everything and still being excited. New love is feeling the rush of how good it is to be in the other person's arms. Deep, lasting love is hugging and sighing with complete contentment that that is exactly where you are supposed to be. New love is your heart skipping a beat when you hear "I love you" for the first time. Deep, lasting love is going through Hell and hearing, "I love you no matter what." It's hearing that your kids are going to battle a fatal disease because you married each other and saying, "I'd still marry you." It's hearing that something in your body is causing you not to be able to get pregnant and hearing the man you love say, "I want another baby but I want you more."

What continues to fascinate me is how deep the love can run. How after peeling away layer after layer, the love remains. I think with "need" comes a deeper sense of love. Excitement is replaced with contentment. You'll never have that first kiss with your spouse but would you trade the knowledge that you are with someone that totally and completely "gets you" for that experience? I wouldn't. Someone mentioned that it is about finding a balance between feeling safe and yet still feeling excited. I totally agree. I think that and making sure your spouse knows that you still want them is key to making it work. There is an absolute calmness in looking at the person you are with and seeing them for who they are and letting them see who you are and still being wildly attracted to them and still wanting to be with them. Acceptance is a powerful thing.

The best advice about love that I got was from my Nana. She always told me, "Don't marry the person you can live with. Marry the person you can't live without." When he is away on a business trip, I feel uneasy. I don't feel better until he is back. I am the corny woman that wants to jump in his arms the minute he is back because I hate every minute he is away. Leo and I have been together so long that I sometimes don't know where I end and he begins and vice versa. Marriage is hard and it takes a lot of work to keep the fire alive. People say all the time that the first year of marriage is hard or the year you have your first baby is hard but I think these are the hardest years. The years where you are trying to balance all of the kids' needs and your own on top of yours as a couple, making sure you still put each other first. No one wants to come in last on the list of priorities. I'd be lying if I said we didn't struggle with it. Momentary lapses in selfishness are normal but when you have that deep, lasting love, you recognize it and accept it for what it is and fix it because you know it's special and worth working on and fixing. The Groundhog Day (movie) feeling of the same thing happening day after day can take its toll and before we know it, Leo and I have had three minutes alone to talk about things that are going on. I am comforted by the fact that Leo will notice it too and when it happens we'll try and make it a priority to go out without the kids or set aside time to watch a movie after the kids go to bed.

The thing about new love is that you are so wrapped up in your own feelings that you can't really see past the bliss you are feeling. With lasting love, you think of the other person and want them to be happy. That new feeling might feel like Heaven with all the happiness rushing in but I'd rather have the knowledge that someone is there looking out for me...getting me...even when the rest of the world might not. I'd rather feel like every time we are together, it's like coming home.

I do not own anything on either of these videos. Just posting them because they remind me of Leo and our relationship. It's not perfect by any means, we make each other a little crazy but it is ours and I wouldn't trade it for anything.