Brett’s Home Makeover

The kids and I spent the night at my brother Warren’s house last night and Brett decided to stay home to organize and work on some home projects. I am sure it will look great when I get home, but I have had a bit of anxiety about the changes that will be made without me. I epsecially got worried when he said to me as I was leaving, “when you get home I am going to have to say, “Move that bus!” (from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition)

I was talking to my Mom on messenger and she said, “Brett says he is totally reorganizing the computer room, kids room’s and kitchen.” My first thought was, “kid’s rooms and kitchen!!? He only had permission to do the computer room!” Oh well, I am sure it will be great. (once I get some of my junk back in place!)

A Conversation You Could Have Heard If Had You Been at My House Today

Brett: “I don’t know anybody else who stores their medicine in a box up high in the hall closet.”

Me: “Who, besides your parents, do you know where they keep their medicine?”

(pause)

“Ummm, well, my parents never put it in a box in the closet.”

“But maybe some of your friends do?”

(Tries to change the subject)

“Besides, it is the vacuum closet. It is confusing to put medicine in it.”

“I didn’t realize it was JUST the vacuum closet. The vacuum takes up about a square foot (if that) of floor space in a good sized closet. Should nothing go on the shelf up above where the vacuum goes? What about the broom and mop…and the crockpot…should they not be in the vacuum closet?”

“When I was sick last week I went to find some medicine and pulled down a box and rifled through it for ten minutes and it was full of kid’s medicine. I couldn’t find what I needed.”

“That’s because it was the box with only kid’s medicine, the box next to it has only grown up medicine. If you ever look in one of the boxes and see something cherry, grape, or bubblegum you have the wrong box.” (we have been over this before)

“And there was medicine that was outdated in it. I found a couple bottles with dates from 2005.”

“Medicine doesn’t go bad like food. If it is just outdated by a few months or a year you can still use some Tylenol or ibuprofen.”

“Really? You really believe that?”

“Brett, it isn’t milk. It doesn’t spoil.”

“That worries me.”

(No answer from me)

“When I am sick the last thing I want to do is go clear to the closet (which is two steps from the main bathroom and four from the master bedroom) and reach up high and get all dizzy to find medicine.”

“Would you rather I put it under the sink where the kids can reach it?”

“No, but it should be in a medicine cabinet or something. All the medicine I need would fit in my medicine cabinet.”

“Problem solved!! You put all of the medicine you might need in YOUR bathroom medicine cabinet (he has his own bathroom, thus his own medicine cabinet) and the kids and I will keep our medicine nicely organized up out of their reach in the boxes in the hall closet!”

Disgustedly, “Besides, when I pulled the medicine box down the last time a bag of vacuum bags fell on my head.”

Triumphantly, “Well….it is the VACUUM closet!!”

First Goal of the New Year

I have made a goal this next year to send birthday cards to everyone in the family. I know this sounds like something that I should have just been doing all along, but snail mailing things has always been something I have had a hard time with. A lot of times I get so far as to write, address and stamp a card, only to stick it in a drawer and find it six months later.

With the exception of my Mom my family has never been really into sending birthday cards. We usually call to say Happy Birthday or chat about it on messenger, but cards are scarce. Early on in our marriage Brett told me that he preferred to pick up the phone and call the members of his family rather than send a card so I just kind of figured he had it taken care of, but there is nothing wrong with a phone call AND a card!

So I sat down tonight and addressed envelopes to everyone on Brett’s side of the family and stuck cards in them. I filed them in a binder with folders for each month and a calendar with all the birthdays written in. I stuck a pack of stamps in the front and at the start of each month I plan to open it up and sign all the cards and send them off. Tomorrow I will do the same with the members in my family. I hope that this will help me stick to my goal and start a good habit for me!

My run in at Wendy’s Jack-in-the-Arby’s

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When the power was out last weekend I went to get Brett some food because he was sick and finally felt like he was ready to eat something. It was late, but I packed up the kids so they could get warm in the car and headed out. I came in from the back side of “fast food lane” and pulled up to the drive through. Brett and I love the chicken caesar salad at Wendy’s so I ordered that. The guy answered back, “We are out of that” (at least I thought that was what he said). I said, “Okay, can I get a roast beef and swiss on a wrap?” There was a pause and he replied, “we don’t have that”. By now I was feeling very frustrated and there was a long line of cars behind me and my kids were tired. I quickly scanned through the menu and picked a random salad and then waited for our turn at the window. I got to the window and he started to hand me my salad. I knew that the dressing on this salad would be full of sugar so I asked if I could get just some caesar dressing, since they didn’t have the salad itself. The guy looked at me weird and said, “we don’t have any caesar dressing”. I thought he was acting kind of rude and thought it was a perfectly normal question. Just because their salad was out didn’t mean their dressing was too. So he gave me some change and I pulled away and about two seconds later realized he hadn’t given me my $10 change. I tried to stop and yell back, but the car behind me had already pulled in behind me. Of course, it was late and the lobby was closed so I had to pull around and wait in the long line again. I got to the window and told him that he had given me the few cents he owed me in change, but not the $10. (I had check my purse and all around me to make sure I hadn’t just forgotten) He said, “Well, we are going to close soon. We will have to count everything in this register and then the one in the front and check it with our daily totals and see if we are $10 over. If we are I will give it to you.” I somewhat disgustedly replied, “I can’t wait, I have three tired kids in the car” (one who was crying). He said, “Well, I can’t just give you $10”. I was so mad at this point I started to put the car in gear to drive off without another word and he said, “give me your name and phone number and I will call you if you are right….and if you are I will buy your meal too”. So I gave him my number and drove off.

When I went home I vented to Brett about how awful the service was at Wendy’s. We go there a lot and have always been treated so well and I was shocked at how condescending he was to me. Brett listened to me for a few minutes and then said, “Isn’t this a Jack-in-the-Box bag?” I must have looked confused as I looked at the bag and then at him and then at the carton from the salad that was in the bag, as if Wendy’s had accidentally put their salad in a Jack-in-the-Box bag. So anyways, not only was I not at the store I thought I was at…I tried to order something from two different stores there! The salad I wanted was from Wendy’s and the wrap I wanted was from Arby’s.

So two days later the guy calls back and in a unenthusiastic monotone voice says, “Kim, I have your $10 here at the store. Come through the drive through to get it or they won’t know what you are talking about”. So I drive down there again and go through the long drive through line (power was still out most places in town) and ordered Brett some food and pulled up to the window. The girl gives me my total and I tell her that Michael told me to come pick up my $10 change from a previous visit. She looks confused and says, “Michael said that?” So she goes and digs through a few piles and five minutes later comes up with a baggie that is stapled together with a $10 bill in it. She says, “Do you want to just pay with this?” By this point I realize that Michael is nowhere to be seen and he is not going to hold true to his promise to pay for our meal so she rips open the baggie, takes the $10 and gives me a couple dollars back in change. I never hear another word from Michael. To give the guy a little credit, I was totally surprised that he ever called me back.

I didn’t have a great opinion of Jack-in-the-Box before my experience, and I would have never gone there if I hadn’t thought I was at Wendy’s, but I will not be purposely going back there again. I can understand if they have a policy about counting the registers or whatever before they give me the money, but the way he said, “I can’t just give you ten dollars” made me feel like he thought I had just sat fifteen minutes in the drive through line for a second time with a screaming kid just to get a few bucks. Then he tells me to come and pick up the $10 as if I don’t have better things to do. He could have mailed it to me or better yet, brought it to me on his way home from work. And finally, he wasn’t even there when I picked it up, even though I told him I was on my way down. He probably just didn’t want to pay for my meal.

Lesson learned…I will make sure I am where I think I am and I will only pay with American Express!

The Kid’s Christmas Stories

We have all been writing Christmas stories to send to my parents for Christmas. This is my three year old son Lincoln’s:

“Once upon a time it was Christmas and we were throwing snowballs and we hit a car. And then somebody hit another car. He hit somebody. HE throwed snowballs on the floor. And then Mommy comed outside and then we were throwing snowballs and then somebody hit a rock and hit our house. He throwed it at Luca and Luca got mad. Elka comed outside. Then Anna was coming outside and throwing snowballs at everyone, even Mommy and Luca and herself. And then we comed in the house and played Nintendo. And then Mommy played Nintendo with me and did all the levels. And then Mommy played a kid game on her computer. And then Mommy played with kid toys. And then Dad comed home and drinked all of Mommy’s diet coke. And then Dad played two player on Banjo Kazooie (Nintendo game). And then Daddy ate all of Mommies peanuts. And then we had hot chocolate. And then Mommy dranked a lot of diet cokes.

The End.”

Okay, I really don’t drink THAT much diet coke…or maybe I do. I asked him if Santa was going to be in the story at all and he told me, “No! it isn’t even Christmas yet.” Like, duh Mom.

I tried to get Anna to tell me a story that I could write down, but all I got from her was, “Once upon a time there was a dragon and it ate Lincoln. The end”. I will try to get her attention enough tonight to at least give it a happy ending.

Luca did one all on her own. She was making a Christmas card for her teacher and was drawing a yellow star on red paper, which inspired her story called “The Star Turned Orange”. It went like this, “Thr was star and it likt to play and wun day the star trnd oreng and was sad thn the sun kam and thn it trnd blu the end.” I thought it was pretty good for a five year old!

A Puzzling Tradition

I love to do puzzles. I especially love to do puzzles around the holidays. As a little girl I would cover my parents huge dining room table from end to end with finished puzzles between Christmas and New Year’s and I always got a few puzzles as gifts each year.

After I was married I continued doing puzzles at Christmastime and even got Brett to join me a few times. We discovered that our favorite brand of puzzles for quality of pieces and choice of images is Ravensburger. They are cut with a laser so you don’t have a bag full of sawdust when you open them and you never find pieces stuck together and not cut all the way through. I bet we have bought twenty Ravensburger puzzles over the past ten years. (I have to say I didn’t love any of the puzzles I saw on their site, but I always find ones I like at game stores) They also make FX Schmid puzzles, which are our other favorites, and I didn’t know until I found their site that they were one and the same.

My mom sent the kids some Christmas puzzles this week and Luca, Lincoln and I put all three of them (100 pieces each) together this morning and I am sure they will set out on the table for all to admire for a day or two. It was so fun to spend a relaxed morning doing puzzles with the kids as we chatted. There is just something about it that puts me in a good mood and in a state of contentment to sit with someone and visit while we work on a puzzle together. I was really impressed with Lincoln too. He usually sticks to the 24 piece puzzles, but he put together quite a few of the last one we did and he laughed every time he put a piece in. He was so proud of himself.

Good thing Santa picked me up a new puzzle last night! I…I mean he…decided to go with a 500 piece, instead of the 1000 that I usually like so that maybe the kids will be able to help out a little bit. I am looking forward to it!

Creating Memories

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When I was a little girl Christmas was always a magical time of year that I looked forward to more than anything. My Mom was a decorating enthusiast and our house was always red and green from floor to ceiling. I remember one year that we had at least six trees in the house. Some were only a couple feet high, but still…six trees!!! It always created such a festive feeling and excitement for us that lasted the whole month of December….and sometimes nearly into February when we finally got around to putting them away!

Several years ago my niece Aubree demonstrated well how we all felt about Mom’s Christmas spirit when we were walking around through a craft boutique in Bothell, WA called Country Village. It was a little Christmas cottage with decorated Christmas trees, stockings, Santa wall hangings, advent calendars. It felt like we were right there in the north pole in Santa’s shop! As we were walking out I noticed Aubree sitting down with tears in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong and she said, “This place reminds me of Grandma’s house.”

I haven’t come even close to decorating my house as well as my Mom used to, and to be honest I don’t love pulling out the old dusty boxes that are covered in cobwebs. But as the kids get older I am realizing that it is A LOT of work to create memories and traditions for kids, but worth every minute and bit of energy spent doing it. I love to hear Luca say, “Mom! We have to put the nutcracker on the fireplace! We do that EVERY year!” It makes me feel like I am somewhat living the legacy that my Mom started. (although I proceed carefully because Brett gets the shakes at the sight of clutter)

I am definitely more appreciative of all the fun traditions we had and all the work that went into them!

Thank you for Santa

I have had to resort to Santa threats about three times this year and I figure we have enough time left for one or two more.

The first time the kids would not stay in their beds and I was getting very frustrated. My friend Michelle that lives behind me called and we were chatting and she said, “Do you want me to send Bil over with sleigh bells?” Within five minutes the kids were quiet as mice as they stared wide eyed at their ceilings while sleigh bells jingled under their bedroom windows.

The next time Luca was being a pill and would not stay in bed. I yelled down the hall, “I can call Santa!! I know his number!!” Luca is very quick and she responded in a testy voice, “what is his number?” It threw me off a little and after a second I replied, “I don’t have it memorized, but I can look it up on the internet!” That seemed to work and she ran back to bed and didn’t come out again.

Tonight Anna came downstairs for the third time in about eight minutes so I could help her put her pants back on after going potty. She really uses her newly acquired potty skills to her advantage and knows that going to the bathroom is almost always an excuse that she can get out of bed for. This last time was enough for me so I said, “Anna if you don’t stay in your bed I am going to have to call Santa and talk to him about your not staying in your bed”. She looked up at me sweetly and said, “Mommy, don’t call Santa. He will be mean at me for not going to bed. I go to bed now”. THAT one almost made me feel guilty…but then she went to bed and I was over it!

Our Experience in the Seattle Windstorm

Our family, along with hundreds of thousands of other families in the Northwest, had a rough past couple of days. We had a major windstorm two nights ago that knocked out our power and blew trees down all over the place. Brett was at a Seahawks game when it started and his friend drove him home and they had a hard time getting to our house because of all the trees blown over onto the roads.

I realized how unprepared I was a little too late. I had just turned on the oven to pop in a frozen pizza (which the kids were very excited about) when all the sudden it went pitch black. Luca (5 years old) was downstairs in the computer room and she started screaming hysterically, Lincoln (3) and Anna (2) were downstairs in the family room and they started crying and screaming. It was so pitch black I couldn’t see even a foot in front of me. I realized how stupid I was to not have set out the lantern right where I knew I could find it. I felt my way out of the kitchen and down the hall to the closet and dug around on the top shelf to where I thought the lantern was. I was yelling at the kids to stay put so they wouldn’t get hurt trying to get upstairs, but I could hear that they were trying to make their way to me. I found what I thought was the lantern, but I couldn’t get it on. After a couple of minutes I realized it wasn’t a lantern, but a big flashlight and I fiddled with it until I got a dim light (the batteries were almost dead of course!). I met the kids halfway down the stairs. My poor babies had tear stained faces and looks of terror on their faces and I could have kicked myself for not sitting them down and talking to them about the possibility of the power going out. They helped me walk around the house and gather up all my expensive scented candles to give us light. (who buys candles that aren’t scented?!) I lit a fire in each of the fireplaces, thanks to dura-flame, and we gathered up all kinds of bedding and laid it out in front of the downstairs fire. The wind was very fierce and I was scared to have the kids upstairs. After a few minutes of tears about the pizza I loaded up a tray with orange slices, granola bars, and graham cracker sticks and we ate by the fire. They took turns playing on the nintendo DS’s until the batteries died…which wasn’t long, because I didn’t have them charged! We then made bead necklaces by candlelight. After what felt like four hours I looked at my watch and it was only 6:30. It had been 45 minutes! So I did what any good parent would do and said, “Boy is it late! We better get to sleep!” Luckily they feel for it and Lincoln said, “ya, it is late! it is really dark!” Anna said, “I’m tired! It’s 8:30” and Luca looked at me suspiciously. Lincoln fell right to sleep and I spent an hour telling the girls, “Lay back down, I am tired! It is really late!” I wasn’t lying about the being tired part! We all fell asleep and I woke up when the power came on about 10:00. At this point I realized that our house was filled with smoke and our chimney must be full of debris…no more fires for us for awhile!

Brett got home around 10:30 or so and the kids slowly woke up complaining about growling tummies so we had a pizza picnic on the computer room floor. I was just cleaning it up when the house went pitch black again. Brett had gone to bed because he was sick as could be and burning up with a fever and the kids started screaming hysterically again. Of course I still hadn’t set the lantern in an easy place to grab it and I had blown out all the candles so we started our house lighting routine again. The kids finally went down around 12:30 in the morning. The wind was so loud that night I could not sleep at all. I was so scared that a tree was going to crash down into our house and I was worried that I had put us all in the wrong part of the house. I woke up really early in the morning and it was sooooo cold. The power was still off and I had Lincoln and Anna on the blow up mattress with me and we had at least five blankets on us. I went to check on Luca and she was only halfway covered with blankets and had to have been freezing so I put several blankets on her and jumped back in bed as fast as I could. (I would not get warm again until 7:00 that night when I took a hot bath..which I will get to later)

Brett went to the doctor early that morning and came back with horror stories of trees on the road and smashed in fences and houses and massive crowds at the few stores that were open in town. Somehow our town was one of very few towns in about four counties that had some power left in the business area and people were coming from all over for batteries, food, generators, and camping supplies. Brett had to park two blocks away from Fred Myer to get his prescription and it took an hour waiting in line to get it.

After a few hours of puttering around the house and the kids eating crackers and apples we decided to venture out to find something to eat. Three hours later we returned empty handed and with three very unhappy and hungry children. Brett had a geyser of a bloody nose while we were stuck in traffic and he was feeling awful so he headed back to bed and I scrounged up enough food to make the kids happy.

At about 6:30 that night my friend called to see how we were doing and mentioned that she was glad she had a gas water heater so they could shower and bathe. I hadn’t even thought about that. We have a gas water heater too! I could have sworn I heard angels singing “Hallelujah” at that moment. Ten minutes after I hung up the phone I was sitting in a hot bath surrounded by candles. Brett was still very sick in bed and doped up on codeine so I dumped some old Halloween candy on the table with the lantern and told the kids to go to town! It was the greatest bath I can ever remember having. I soaked for at least a half hour and then I put the kids in a warm tub and they played for about 40 minutes. It was heavenly!

Afterwards I decided to venture out with the kids to find something to eat. We went to Taco Time and it was very busy, but we got a hot meal and killed some time. Then we went to Fred Myer and wandered the aisles until I felt like the kids were tired enough that they would go right to bed when we got home.

It was sooooo cold when we got home and so I bundled up the kids in a few layers of pajamas and made them a big bed on the living room floor. I had just gone in to get their toothbrushes when our power unexpectedly came on at about midnight. I SCREAMED I was so excited. I had not thought there was any chance we would have power until sometime the next day. We all started cheering and dancing around and then Luca informed me that we needed to turn all the lights back off so they could still sleep in the living room with candle light. Whatever. We negotiated and they slept in the living room by Christmas lights instead.