Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hey Jude

You gotta love the Korean toddler singing "Hey Jude!" This just goes to show that the Beatles ARE the best band ever!! (as if there was every any doubt...) Katie, this one is for you!! :)

*Rememeber to pause my playlist at the bottom of the blog before you hit play on the video!

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Christmas 2008











I realized that I never blogged about our Christmas! Those pictures will be coming as well, but here are the highlights!

Christmas Eve-day was spent at my grandmother's house, with a lot of people in a tiny house. It's always fun times!

We then headed off to church (after a special delivery!) and Caleb did pretty well at the family service. He got a little tired of listening to Daddy speak, and decided that singing "Frosty the Snowman" quite loudly during his prayer would be more entertaining! :) Nothing like the pastor's kid causing a disturbance!!

Matt had to stay for the late service, so we got our Slurpies in between. I also cashed the $10 I won on a scratch-off ticket given to me by one of my kids! We also did our other special delivery during that time. I headed home and played Santa setting up the toys, which was really fun!

Christmas morning, Caleb actually slept in a bit and we went downstairs around 8 a.m. As he descended the stairs and saw all of the toys, he said, "Wow!" I got it all on video! :) He enjoyed all of his toys, but his favorite was the rock quarry that has a crain and can even "blow up" some boulders! It's pretty cool, and Owen and Sara have enjoyed it as well!

We headed to my parents' house after eating a yummy breakfast of cinnamon rolls and monkey bread (very healthy, I know!). Caleb got lots of great presents from them as well. He especially loved all of the musical instruments...recorders, shakers made from gords, and let's not forget the bells!! (They are actually Owen's, but Caleb played with them the entire day!!)

We headed home after dinner time and spent some time putting toys away and packing for NC.

The next morning, my sister and I went shopping and got some great deals! I got 10 decorative boxes (the kind you don't have to wrap) for $1.50, which was exciting! I also picked up some cute wrapping paper. I always look for gifts for my volunteers and the people in Matt's office and was able to get a bunch for crazy cheap. I even found several games that were on clearance 50% off for some reason!

I have to say that the highlight of the day was the Plasma Car that I got for just $30 on clearance at Target! It was definitely a really great find. I'm going to save it for Easter.

Alright, now we are caught up to where I started with our NC trip! Sorry that these last few posts were out of order! :)

We're Home!
















We got back from NC last night, and it is nice to be back into a routine again. I spent most of today doing laundry, putting toys and presents away, and hanging out with Caleb.

Matt is out with the youth group tonight, so Caleb and I decided to make our own New Year's party! We popped some popcorn and watched the original Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns. I'll tell you, there is nothing better than having a two year old snuggle up next to you giggling as he sneaks popcorn when he thinks you aren't looking! He's a funny guy, that Caleb Boy!

Okay, back to NC happenings!

We got to Charlotte late Friday evening, so there wasn't really anything too interesting about that! The trip was rather uneventful, with the exception of Caleb reading ONE book for an hour and 15 minutes!!

Saturday, we got together with Erin, Scott, and Emma, Susanne, Isaac, and Ezra and opened presents. Caleb had already gotten a great play kitchen from Grammy and Pop that he opened Christmas morning.

The other highlight of the day was the upright piano that Grammy and Pop got him! It lit up and even came with a stool! Unfortunately, after just 20 minutes of playing it, the computer in the piano shorted out and made the batteries explode! :( Caleb was beside himself with grief for his beloved piano, but he seemed to understand that it was broken and that Pop was going to fix it. Unfortunately, it was unfixable and we had to return it. Caleb was okay with the piano being taken back, but he just did not understand why the stool had to go with it! When we returned it to KB Toys, we found out that they are going out of business and don't have anymore of that piano (or any other piano, for that matter!) So...we are on a quest for another upright piano with a stool, and we had to listen to Caleb say "My piano is broken. Can I get another one?" most of the way home! :(

Caleb also got a very cool art bag from Aunt Susanne, complete with soy crayons in star shapes! He is definitely enjoying the art materials. She also knitted us all wool caps...very cute!

Sunday, we went to church with Grammy and Pop and then it was home for lunch and naps all around! Matt and I took a trip down to Concord Mills to check out the deals there. I got some great presents at the Christian Book Wearhouse (Veggie Tales were on sale!) and we were able to use Caleb's Build-a-Bear gift card to make him a very cute monkey he affectionately named George the Third (all of his monkeys are named George). He picked out the outfit too--a football uniform complete with a little football! We went over to Erin and Scott's house for dinner and the kids played together. It was a pretty laid-back day all in all.

Monday, the men all played golf while the ladies had the kids. We took them to the main Bank of America building in downtown Charlotte where they have this huge orchestra/vocal ensemble of lifesized bears!! They apparently set this up every year and the kids loved it! Caleb enjoyed the music, but he wasn't sure that he wanted to be up close and personal with the bears. He hung close to me most of the time, but is still talking about the singing bears! After lunch at the BOA building, we headed back to Erin's house to put the kids down for a nap. Barbara stayed with the kids while Erin, Susanne, and I went to Concord Mills and did a little more shopping. We had Chinese at Erin and Scott's again and said our goodbyes to them, since we were leaving the next morning.

Caleb had some play time with Grammy before we left, and then we were on our way home. Caleb took a pretty good nap during the first leg of the trip, but wasn't quite as cooperative the second half of the trip. If we were tired of being in the car, wouldn't he be too?!

Pictures will be coming in the next few days, as soon as I get them put onto a CD at Walmart! :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

These are a Few of My Favorite Things....the Christmas Edition!

Movie - Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (the original!!)

Sweet - fudge, Muddy Buddies, peanut brittle

Song - It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Tradition - Adopt-a-Family, Christmas lights awards, and Christmas Slurpies!

Gift Received - Caleb (a few days late!) and my double rocker from Cracker Barrel (this was my birthday-Christmas present combined this year)

Gift Given - The Wii I gave to Matt for Christmas last year--I pulled off the surprise!

Meal - Our Christmas Eve potluck we have at my grandmother's every year. I like pot lucks because I get to choose what I want to eat. I am not a fan of lasagne!

12 Days of Christmas

Anyone who sings can appreciate the musical talent of these guys! This is pretty darn good if you ask me! :)

The 12 Days of Christmas

Christmas Eve Traditions

Every year, we go to my grandmother's house on Christmas Eve. Her house is small, especially for 20+ adults and a bunch of kids, but we all manage to fit. We don't exchange gifts anymore with the adults, but the kids get gifts...and everyone gives Mommom something!

We'll be leaving around 4:00, which is when I will be spreading a little Christmas cheer. As I've said before, we "adopt" a family every year. This could be a family that is a little down on their luck, or one who just needs to be shown a little love during the holidays. This year, we have two families. One has three boys and just moved into a new house, and the other is a mother/daughter whose husband/dad is in Iraq for the holidays. Both are friends of ours, so it was really fun to go shopping for them! We drop the items off on the front porch in secret so that they hopefully not know who it is. (Don't worry, neither of them have my blog address!) Matt and I feel strongly that it is important that Caleb learn empathy and caring toward others at an early age. He even helped pick out some of the toys this year!

We'll head to church after the deliveries, and Caleb and I will be going to the family service. I'm not sure he could handle an 8:00 candlelight service with no childcare!! Matt is preaching at the family service and O and S are singing. It is always an interesting service, to say the least! You never know what will happen with a bunch of kids in the program!

Matt obviously needs to be at the candlelight service, but we will have a few hours in between to head to 7-11 for our Christmas Slurpie! This tradition started when I was (very) pregnant with Caleb and craving Slurpies! Although Matt thought I was a little crazy to want a Slurpie in 30 degree weather, a tradition was born! This year, Caleb will get his own!! :) It's especially entertaining to watch the face of the clerk when we walk up with our Slurpies in hand. We're changing the tradition a bit this year to accommodate Matt's schedule, and we'll now be visiting our friend's 7-11 from now on because it is the closest to the church. I told him about our tradition, (to which he chuckled heartily) but I doubt if he will be there....the owner tries to take off on Christmas Eve!

After the Slurpie, Caleb and I will head on home. After Caleb goes to bed, Mrs. Claus will get all of the presents out and set up! (Mr. Claus will get home too late to do it with her!)

I'm curious--does Santa wrap his presents to your kids? As a kid, Santa never wrapped his presents because "he was too busy." Made total sense to me! As a mom, I totally see why my parents did that....who wants to try to keep track of Santa vs Mommy and Daddy wrapping paper!?! Not me! Santa doesn't wrap presents at our house either...but he does wrap stocking gifts because those don't take so long. Coincidentally, Santa always gives the biggest and oddest shaped presents too...is that because they are the hardest to wrap??? :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! I'll write another blog after we get back from NC to tell tales of our trip and Christmas in general. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Blog!

I just got my new blog up and running to advertise my Scrabble pendants. My sister was wearing one today at the dentist and someone commented about it. Amy told them that I made them to sell at craft fairs, and the woman asked if I had a website because she'd like to buy some. DARN! So...at least this has a bunch of pictures and my contact information so that I can give people this address if that ever happens again! :) Right now, it's a lot of the same pictures that I have on this blog, but I will upload a bunch of new pictures on there as I get them.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Scrabble Let-Down

I went to deliver a humongous order today...this involved two things I don't normally do: 1) deliver and 2) take the order without payment. These are two things I will never do again!

The woman, who knew I was coming, said that she lost her check card yesterday so she couldn't get any cash...yesterday! She had my phone number and could have EASILY called me, but she didn't. So I drove 40 minutes out of my way (yes, I was already up there, but still!) to deliver pendants that she couldn't pay for. Grrrrrrr....so then I was like, well, I'm not going to be up here again tomorrow. She didn't even apologize for the inconvenience! I'm either going to meet her in PF or have her pick them up from Matt at the church on Tuesday. Either way, she's not getting anything without paying me what she owes me!!!

So from now on, you must pay before you order....and you will get any special orders mailed to you!

*sigh* live and learn!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Disclaimer

Some of the pictures below of pendants have pictures of pendants on my floor. The linoleum in my kitchen is kind of marbled and is supposed to look kind of brownish gray...it's not dirt! My house has been neglected, but I'm not THAT bad!!! :)

Scrabble Pendants Updates











My Scrabble pendants have been selling incredibly well!! To date, I have sold almost 100 pendants! That is amazing to me, considering that I have only been making them for a month and 1/2 and do not consider myself very crafty in general. I love doing it, and it makes me happy that people like what I make!

I took them to school and set up a display in the teachers' lounge. I sold 21 in two days! It was very exciting! I had a couple of special orders that I am finishing up from that.

My biggest sale was from a craft show. I had a special order for 13 pendants and 15 necklaces! Every time I talk to her, she adds more too! It is very, very exciting.

Who knows? Maybe I'll be able to stay home after all...:P I don't think my house would stand for a full-time job making pendants. It has been feeling rather neglected recently!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcome, New Blog Stalkers!

Don't worry, it's a term of endearment! I shamelessly put the address of my blog on all of our Christmas letters to try to increase my following to a whopping 10!! (Let's not go crazy now...) :) No, seriously, I thought that this might be a good way for some of our not-so-near-by family and friends to see what we are up to throughout the year rather than waiting until Christmas to get the yearly review! So, if you're new to my blog, welcome! I hope you stick around and read about all of the exciting news of our family...stay tuned for my fantastic account of my bout with a nasty virus...are you on the edge of your seat??? :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Minnie Mouse

I got a pretty large Minnie Mouse in excellent condition from my treasure box at school. My intent was to give it to my Sara Bear, but Amy said that she already had 3. Let's just say it's a good thing I didn't!

Caleb promptly started dancing with Minnie and singing Jingle Bells to her. Then, he put her in a chair and started getting her comfy. He even covered her up with my scarf as a blanket! He asked her if she wanted any dinner, and continued to play cheerfully with Miss Minnie until dinner.

During dinner, he started to lean over with his sippy cup toward her chair. It took me a minute to figure out what he was doing, until I realized that he was offering Minnie a drink of his milk! I started laughing even more when he held out a piece of quesadilla to her! It only got worse when Becky snapped it right out of Caleb's hand! He burst into tears, yelling, "No! No! For Minnie!!" He was pretty upset, but all I could do was laugh!

Ahhhh....to be 2 again! I absolutely love this age...even with the tantrums! (Remind me of how much I love it the next time he's jumping up and down screaming!)

PS: I am currently looking forward to Saturday night when we are going to the Melting Pot for my birthday...I plan to fast for the entire day in preparation for the delectable dinner I will be sure to enjoy that evening!! Oh, I do so love the Melting Pot!!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Letter

Here is the e-version of the Christmas letter we WILL be sending out this week (We WILL! We WILL!!!) I love Christmas!!

December 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

What a busy year it has been! It is overwhelming to think about all that has happened in the last year. We have enjoyed a lot of time together as a little family, worked really hard, and taken on some new challenges!

Shortly after last year’s Christmas letter was written, we received some very exciting news! After several months of interviews and anxious waiting, Matt accepted a position as Pastor to Youth at Grace Brethren Church of Calvert County on January 10th. This is the church where we both grew up and where were married, so we were thrilled to be “home.” Leaving Grace Chapel was not easy for us, however. We’d really come to love the people there and still keep in touch with many of them on a regular basis. We were not looking to go anywhere, but this position rather “fell in our laps,” if you will. We truly believe that God orchestrated all of this and that we are in His will. It is exciting to look back and see how this was all part of His plan!

Since January, Matt has been extremely busy! He is usually gone several nights a week either at youth group, ministry team, or counsel meetings. He has also spent quite a bit of time away on retreats, both with the youth and with district pastors. Julie’s brother-in-law jokes that he wants to be a pastor when he retires so that that he can go on these retreats all of the time! This summer, Matt traveled to Colorado, Virginia, and Ohio with the youth on various trips. Since Caleb is too little to go at this point and Julie is unwilling to leave him for that long, her involvement in these summer activities is pretty limited. She looks forward to when they will be able to go as a family on youth events.

Julie is in her sixth year of teaching at St. Leonard Elementary School, and is definitely facing some new challenges this year! While this group is particularly exhausting, she is enjoying teaching Honors Reading. Recently, her students performed several short plays for the parents, complete with costumes and props. Although Julie isn’t sure why she thought having 27 students and their parents in her classroom would be a good idea, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves! There were many faces of parents beaming with pride behind their camcorders and cameras, and even several administrators and board supervisors came out for the event!

Caleb, the littlest Leach, is a bundle of energy and joy! At nearly two, he is learning new words by the minute and is continuing to amaze us with how he can string words together and remember new vocabulary. Some of Caleb’s favorite things include his Matchbox cars, construction vehicles, and balls. He has a very good arm on him, and Matt has high hopes of him being a pitcher one day! Caleb also really enjoys being outside, and we spent quite a bit of time this summer drawing with chalk on the driveway, playing on the slide, riding his scooter down the street, and playing catch in the back yard. Our next door neighbor, Wally, adores Caleb and often brings his two dogs over to play when he sees us outside. We are really enjoying our neighborhood!

Caleb was a turtle this year for Halloween. Julie tried the costume on him quite a bit early and Caleb asked to put it on just about every night after that! Whenever anyone asked what he would be for Halloween, Caleb gleefully replied, “A turtle!” At our community fun fest, Caleb won the award for scariest costume. We still aren’t quite sure what’s so scary about a turtle, but Matt started chanting, “Fear the Turtle!” anyway! On Halloween night, Caleb and I did a little bit of trick-or-treating in our neighborhood before heading to our church’s Fall Festival. Caleb’s favorite prize of the night was his beloved monkey he named George! It is fun to see him become excited about special events and holidays. Both Julie and Matt are really looking forward to Christmas this year and seeing the excitement written all over Caleb’s face!

This summer, our family traveled to Cooperstown, New York to celebrate Matt’s 30th birthday with a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Although our trip started off a little rough and we found ourselves questioning whether it was a good idea to travel that far and that long with an 18-month-old, we actually truly enjoyed ourselves! Some of the highlights of our trip (besides the obvious visit to the museum) included going to a butterfly conservatory, a safari-ranch that had both exotic and domestic animals, and a petrified creatures’ museum. Caleb’s favorite was watching the butterflies in the conservatory land on his head!

We hope that this letter finds you well and that you have enjoyed catching up on the events of our family. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Love,
Matt, Julie, and Caleb Leach

P.S. To keep updated on our family throughout the year, visit our family blog at: www.lifeasaleach.blogspot.com.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Burn Victim



Wednesday was my mom's birthday. Because my grandmother really can't go anywhere, we brought dinner to their house. Everything was fine, the kids were having a grand old time playing, and I was standing in the kitchen talking to my mom. Caleb was in the living room playing with my dad.

All of the sudden, I heard a scream and then he just started wailing. I knew immediately what it was...Caleb had touched the pellet stove.

I was a little nervous about it being on, but when we got there I took him over to it and had a long talk about how it was hot and that he couldn't touch it. There was a bench in front kind of blocking it. He repeated "hot" and is usually good about listening with things like that.

Apparently, he went around to the side to get the little Boxer statue that he loves so much. As he bent down to get it, he put a hand out to steady himself...ouch!

My dad rushed him into the kitchen and we started to run his hand under lukewarm water. He was just an absolute mess of tears! My mom then found a burn gel that we attempted to put on it, but he wouldn't let us. We tried to wrap it with gauze, but that wasn't happening either.

I thought that maybe all of the attention was overstimulating him and that's why he was so hysterical, so I took him into the spare bedroom with the lights off and just rocked and sang to him. After doing that for five minutes with no changes, I took him back into where the activity was.

For some reason, Caleb wouldn't straighten his pinky finger. When we did try, he absolutely lost it. I started to get really concerned about that and everybody began to say that we should take him to Urgent Care. My mom and I went together---happy birthday, Mom!

We thought that perhaps the hysterical crying might make the waiting process a little faster...it didn't. I asked if they had any burn spray or anything to help the pain, but the receptionist said he couldn't have anything until he saw the doctor. She did give him some Thomas the Tank Engine stickers, which caused a momentary lapse in the crying just long enough for him to say, "Thomas! Stickers!"

Caleb did somewhat calm down while we were waiting. Mom had a pad of paper that he drew on and she let him look at her pictures. Several times she tried to get him to sit with her while I filled out forms, but he was having none of it. When he is hurt, no one else will do! (That's just fine with me!) :)

I finally got back to see the doctor after almost an hour, and Caleb did have a second degree burn. By this point it had begun to bubble the length of his palm and was looking pretty bad. She gave me a prescription for Sulfadine (which we already had from Matt's burn over the summer!), and said to try to get him to hold a cold sippy cup full of ice, since he won't let us put anything on it.

The ladies there absolutely loved him (once he calmed down at least!), and the boy left with 10 different stickers! Even when he is in pain, he's cute!

Now, it is a humongous blister that looks like it will pop pretty soon. Once it does, we'll start putting the Sulfadine on it. Of course, that's a Sulfa drug and I'm allergic to Sulfa, so either Matt has to do it or I have to wear gloves!!

Poor little guy...:( I did take some pictures of it, and I'll try to get them on here whenever I can get to Walmart to get a disc made.

*Sigh* Never a dull moment!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Leaf Eater

On Friday, we were over at the Livingston's house for a bonfire (as mentioned in a previous post.) Devin's dog, Rosco, is really friendly and Caleb is quite the dog lover. Rosco was eating up all of the attention he was getting from his little friend, and Caleb was happy to give it!

I was watching in amusement as Caleb had a lengthy conversation with Rosco when he found a cool leaf on the ground. He picked it up and showed to the dog for him to admire. Rosco loved it so much that he decided it might be tasty---so he ate it!

Well, poor Caleb stared in shock at him for a minute before bursting into tears and screaming, "No, No, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" The crisis was somewhat averted when I found Caleb an equally amazing leaf...but he sure didn't show this one to Rosco! :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Scrabble Pendants









My sister and I have embarked on a new crafting adventure. While I am very detail-oriented, I lack the crafting gene that my sister seems to have received. However, I like to think that this is something I can do well!

We take Scrabble tiles, glue various pictures/patterns on the back, and add a bail (which is a hanger for a pendant). Voila! You have a lovely, unique piece of jewelry!

I am taking this craft over so that my sister can focus on her bows. So far, I have made everything from Elmo, Dora, princesses, Tinkerbell, Hannah Montana, Vera Bradley, stained glass, holiday, dogs...I have even tested out a few photos for family members to see how it goes!

If you like anything you see or have any requests, let me know! They're just $4!!! :)

Thoughts to Ponder

I am stealing this off of Susanne's blog, with her full knowledge of course! It's a great quote!

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity... It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and a vision for tomorrow."
-Melodie Beattie

Friday, November 28, 2008

Traditions

Matt and I have started several traditions that we hope to keep around for quite a while. I would love to hear some of your favorites as well!

1. Each year in mid December, we drive around our community looking for the best Christmas light display. We are expanding it this year to two awards: Most interesting display and Prettiest. We then knock on the people's door and give them a certificate and special ornament with "Best Lights Display 2008" (or whatever year) written on it with our names on the back. The people are so excited to win and it just makes people happy!

2. We also choose a family that we know who maybe either is hurting financially or just needs a little extra joy this season. We go shopping for them and try to pick out some toys that the kids will really like. We also get a gift card for a grocery store and sometimes bring some canned goods as well. On Christmas Eve, we drop everything off at the house. They never know it was us, but it makes us happy knowing that we shared a little joy. This year at nearly 2 years old, he was able to pick out some of the toys for our families! (we decided on two families this year) It was really fun!

3. On Christmas Eve after church, we stop by 7-11 for our Christmas Slurpie. Since it's winter AND late at night on Christmas Eve, no one is ever in there! This started the Christmas that I was pregnant with Caleb. I was very noticeably pregnant and craving a Slurpie, so we stopped! The clerk just kind of looked at us strangly with our monster Slurpies, and a tradition was born! This year, Caleb can join in on the fun too!

So, what are yours?????

quick funny story

I was at the annual FHG Alumni bonfire at the Livingston's, which I've been going to since I graduated from high school. It is a great time to see old friends and hang out. It's especially fun now that there are some babies too! Caleb, Emma, Isaac, Ezra, and Brittany all played together today and had a jolly old time!

Anyway, I was catching up with the amazingly sweet (but sometimes a little blonde) R and she was telling me about her nursing rotations. She said that she liked Labor and Delivery and was trying to decide between that and Pediatrics. She said her final decision was made because "Labor and Delivery was all babies and middle-aged women, so that was kind of boring to me."

Now, I don't know about you blog reading mommies, but I'm no middle-aged woman!! I started laughing and she just didn't get what I thought was so funny. I told her that I don't really consider myself middle-aged and she said she wasn't talking about me, just other women. I informed her that "middle aged" is usually around 40 or so, and that most 40+ year olds aren't having babies! R is always good for a laugh... :)

This middle-aged woman is heading to bed and hoping that her boy will sleep in since he didn't fall asleep until 9:45!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving today was rather uneventful, with the exception of my mom making the announcement right before we sit down to dinner that I wasn't allowed to make Caleb eat anything he didn't want to, and that he would get to eat dessert no matter what he ate because it's a holiday. Thanks, Mom...

Other than that, it was fine. We ate good food and hung out, and Grammie actually did okay today. She slept a lot, but didn't have any major issues. Compared to yesterday, she was doing much better.

Caleb enjoyed watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and cried whenever it went to commercial. We went to KMart and cashed in on some good deals.

Yeah, so...pretty normal!

Tomorrow is my favorite day of the year! NO, I don't go shopping! I am done with all of my Christmas shopping and try to avoid going to the stores at all costs. No, tomorrow is my favorite day because it is the day that we put up our Christmas decorations! I absolutely love it, and have been itching to do it. Matt forces me to wait until this day, or I probably would have already gotten it all up! (I did cave and transfer my winter dishes yesterday, though!) I'm also totally excited to see how Caleb enjoys the decorations this year. Having kids during the holidays just makes everything new and fun again!! :)

Sorry, this is probably a pretty boring blog. Nothing really to report right now!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

such a cutie!



I made a pumpkin pie yesterday as a test run for the real deal on Thursday. I told Caleb that he could have a piece if he ate a good dinner (I told him the same thing at lunch, but that resulted in nothing but a bunch of food being thrown and lots of tears---needless to say, no pie!) He loves pumpkin pie and was very excited about the prospect!

While I was getting dinner together, he found another can of pumpkin in the pantry and began singing, "Happy Birthday to Me! Hunky Hi!" (translation: Pumpkin Pie!) and holding the can of pumpkin out in front of him like a sacred cake or something. Not too sure what that was all about... :)

He did eat a very good dinner...every time he would say "All done" (and not to my standards), I would give him a look and he would say very determinedly, "Hunky Hi!" and take another bite! It was quite funny.

I do hope that the pumpkin pie lived up to his expectations. I thought it was pretty good myself, but he worked awfully hard for it! ;) He especially liked the whipped cream on top!

Side note: Caleb got his first black eye on Friday! Apparently, the 3 kids were running full-force through the house and it was complete mayhem. (Yeah, my sister's got it all under control..JK!) :) Caleb tripped over a toy and landed full-blast into a bench--corner into his eye!! Because of where it hit, only the under part of the eye is bruised. I guess it could be worse. I have tried many times to get pictures of it for posterty, but I can never seem to get him sitting still in the right light. I do have one of him screaming his full-head off because I was trying to keep him seated while I took a couple of close-ups, though! I'll definitely have to post that one!! :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas Survey

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I really like wrapping presents...the real way! I like the convenience of gift bags though.
2. Real tree or Artificial? artificial, but I do want a real tree some day. I've never had one.
3. When do you put up the tree? day after Thanksgiving
4. When do you take the tree down? before I go back to work
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, in very small doses...it makes me sick to my stomach if I drink too much
6. Favorite gift received as a child? my doll house

7. Hardest person to buy for? Barbara
8. Easiest person to buy for? Carter (book on CD or baseball tickets!)

9. Do you have a nativity scene? yes, of course
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I once got a Starbucks gift card from a student....nice right? When I went to use it, it only had 67 cents on it.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? at the after Christmas sales for the following year! I get the best deals then!
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? oh yeah
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? my grandmother's cookies
16. Lights on the tree? Yes, all white
17. Favorite Christmas song? The Little Drummer Boy or The Christmas Song
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Always Home!!!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? yes, I know the song
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel---a Boxer dog angel!! :)
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? As a teen/young adult, we did it Christmas Eve because Christmas Day was busy. As a child, it was always Christmas morning. With Caleb now, it is definitely in the a.m. I am excited to see his eyes light up this year, since it is the first Christmas he will really know what is going on.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Christmas stuff out on the shelves as soon as Halloween is over
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? We don't have one--I really like the good old homemade decorations. The bulk of our tree is filled with ornaments Matt and I made as kids, and we can't wait for Caleb to be old enough to make them too! Themes are yuppy.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? candied sweet potatoes. I hate "non-traditional" Christmas dinners like lasagna...yuck!
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? to be able to stay home with Caleb

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grammie

Grammie is my grandmother, and she is nearly 102. Yes, you read that correctly! She still lives on her own in the house my dad grew up in and even had a little Beagle named Gracie until she died two years ago.

Recently, she's been pretty sick. She was in the hospital with pneumonia, got antibiotics for that, and was on the mend. Then she started not being able to keep anything down last week and was finally put back in the hospital for dehydration. After running some tests, they found she had a hernia that was causing blockage in her stomach. They operated Sunday night...on a 102 year old woman! She came out alright (in pain, but alright), but now she is saying that she just wants Jesus to take her home. Who can blame her, honestly? She has had a great life and she's ready to go home!

We're going up tomorrow night to see her, and hopefully she will be in better spirits than she was today with my dad. Please pray for her and the family. Not everyone recognizes the full, rich life she has had, so there are a lot of mixed feelings. I for one am excited for her to be reunited with my Pop Pop, who died 14 years ago! Anyway, just remember us if you think of it.

Working Again

My school blog is working again, thanks to my wonderful friend Megan! She is basically a technology prodigy, and I feel so incompetent next to her! She basically hacked into my blog (with my permission!) and got it all squared away again. She thinks that blogger was the one that messed up the way I was used to doing links, but she showed me a different way to do it so that I can still add links. AND, she did it all over email from 20 minutes away! I was so thankful that I sent her a thank you card and candy through the Pony (school system mail service). My kids have really been bummed about the blog being down, so they will be thrilled to know it is working again! :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

hmmm

I just noticed that the example link I put in my last post to show you what it does didn't even show up in the published post! Even more interesting....does anyone know how to report a problem to Blogger?! For such a user-friendly program, they sure don't want to know if there are any problems, because I sure can't figure out how to contact them about this one!

Side note: My kids are extremely disappointed that our computer lab days are over until I get this problem fixed. They do love the change of scenery that the lab brings!

Monday, November 17, 2008

help!

Does anyone know how to fix this?

When I post links into my post (doing it the same way I have always done it!), the link doesn't show up. It just puts in a very long URL with weird stuff attached to it--and it always puts it at the bottom, even when I clicked at a specific point.

I have checked the help section and tried to report it, but I can't figure out how to. This doesn't affect this blog too much, but it is majorly affecting how I use my school blog, since the primary purpose is to insert links to specific learning games for computer lab use!

Here is an example of what it will do if I try to insert a link:



At first, I thought it was something with my home computer caused by getting Norton 360. It is doing the same thing at school (where I currently am.) Then, I thought maybe it was something with my school blog (even though this one is the one I've been messing around with recently), but it is doing the same thing on this blog.

If you have any ideas or know how I can report the problem, please let me know, my 7 wonderful blog readers!! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm learning!!!

I figured out how to add a playlist to my blog...yippee! ;)

Survey Says....

I am totally stealing this from another blogging friend. Totally...but it's fun anyway!

Where is your mobile phone? In my purse, but I hate talking on the phone.

Where is your significant other? on his way home from a UMD football game

Your hair? dirty blonde with natural red highlights and has never been chemically highlighted or dyed!

Your mother? is extremely organized and motivated

Your father? is my very own computer specialist

Your favorite thing? my Nikon

Your dream last night? Don't remember last night's, but the night before last I dreamt my friend Sarah died in a car accident :(

Your dream goal? to stay home and be a mom

The room you're in? family room

Your church? the one we both grew up in

Your fear? someone i love dying.

Where do you want to be in 6 years? here in my house being the coolest full-time mom ever!

Where were you last night? home grading papers and half-watching Oceans 13

Something you're not? enjoying this year

One of your wish-list items? for Matt to get a 50k raise so that I can stay home and we don't have to change our lifestyle....that's all I want!

Where you grew up? back in the boonies in a lovely brick rambler with a great yard

The last thing you did? talk to my sister on the phone

What are you wearing? blue striped 3 quarter length polo shirt and khakis (all from Old Navy!)

Your TV? watching Wedding Crashers, but only until 9:00 when Big Love comes on!!

Your pets? beautiful brown boxer dog named Becky!

Your computer? was free thanks to a grant from the White House. Our school got all of their "old" (2 years) laptops. I'm pretty sure Bush put his fingers on my very keyboard!

Your mood? wistful

Missing someone? Matt, since I haven't seen him since 6:30 a.m.

Your car? Saturn Vue--it's been good to me!

Something you're not wearing? socks. They got wet when I let Becky out, so I took them off

Favorite shop? Old Navy, my weakness

Your summer? the favorite thing about my job...but rather lonely because Matt is gone so much

Love someone? my boys!

Your favorite color? colonial blue


When is the last time you laughed? at Caleb when he was trying sing the ABC song. It kind of went like this: "A, B, C, D, F, H, T, R, L, M, S, LMNO, T..." :)

When is the last time you cried? last night when I was too tired to do the laundry

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hand Update

I went to the doctor today. I'm an enigma! (That's one of our vocabulary words--yay me!) The tingling/numbness of the whole hand is consistant with carpal tunnel syndrome, but the shooting pain/numbness of just my pinky and 4th finger (which is what I am currently having) isn't. So....he doesn't really know what it is. He gave me 800 mg of Motrin to stop the tingling and numbness. I'm a little hesitant to take it just because that is a big dose for a person of my size and I don't want to have a weird reaction and have to go to work tomorrow (of course, perhaps if I did take it and did have a reaction, I could stay home tomorrow!!! Hmmmm....)

He also gave me a muscle relaxer that I decided not to fill. It doesn't hurt that badly and I know it will make me loopy and tired. That's a pretty strong medicine that I'm not willing to take until it gets really bad.

I also now have a brace for my left hand that is stablizing my wrist. Caleb is quite intrigued by it! It's not really bothering me and it feels better.

I'm hoping that this will keep me from having to go any farther...like nerve tests, physical therapy, surgery...no thanks!

I was really hoping that this was all stress-related and that the doctor would tell me that I shouldn't work anymore. A doctor's note would be all I'd need.... :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What is Wrong With My Hands?

This will be quick because it hurts to type...off and on since I was pregnant, I have had tingling in my hands to the point where I really can't grip anything at all. It goes back and forth between my two hands. Currently, I have a tingling, shooting pain running from my left pinky up my arm. I am having a hard time gripping stuff right now, and it's been going on for a couple of hours. I'm thinking it might be time to go to the doctor! Anyone have a diagnosis, based on my description of my symptoms???

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November 9th

November 9th is a date that sticks out in my mind for several reasons:

1) It is the day that I became a vegetarian...14 years ago!

2) It's the day that the Berlin Wall fell down: Ich liebe Deutschland!

3) Most recently and most bittersweet, it is the day of the death of a good friend of mine, Lisa. That's what the rest of this blog is going to be about.

Lisa began working at SLES at the same time I did. She and I taught 3rd grade right next to each other and muddled through the difficulties of being a first year teacher. We depended on each other for our sanity! She was in remission after having a rare form of bone cancer, and things were looking really good for her and her husband. They adopted a baby at birth named Will, who is a beautiful little boy with a full head of curly brown hair!

Things began to fall apart in the spring of Lisa's second year of teaching. She had some pain checked out at the doctor and they found that her cancer was back. She went through some radiation that didn't do anything to the tumor. After weighing the options of whether to operate or try to shrink it by doing chemo again, Lisa decided to have a very dangerous and experimental surgery. They were going to be removing her sacrum where the tumor was (which basically holds up your spine) and replacing it with an artificial piece. In order to do this, the surgeons would first have to "unhook" all of her major organs. It would be a very long 2 day surgery, and her chances of survival were very slim. If she did live, she would have to learn to walk again--if she did at all.

We didn't find a lot of this information out until afterwards, and I think that is because Lisa didn't want people to try to talk her out of it! She loved Will with all of her heart and wanted a chance to watch him grow up. She knew that the chemo wouldn't save her. This surgery was pretty much her only chance, even though it was a slim one.

To our shock and horror, Lisa died during surgery. I remember the phone call vividly. It was November 9, 2005, and I was getting ready for school. Jen, my teammate and phone-chain buddy, was on the phone. My first thought was that it wasn't snowing, so why was she calling?? It didn't even occur to me that this could be about Lisa, because she was going to be fine. The surgery would be hard, but she was strong and she'd make it.

I remember Jen's exact words: "Julie, Lisa didn't make it." It took me a minute to comprehend what that meant, and then I remember tearing up and Matt trying to figure out what was wrong. I distinctly remember leaning against the door jam to the bathroom and then sliding down to the floor. I just couldn't believe it. I'd never had a friend die before, and a good friend at that.

I am really not sure how I made it through that day. I do remember that no one would/could make eye contact with the third grade team that day. Everyone seemed to avert their eyes when we came around, like they didn't want to be reminded of their own sadness. I also remember attempting to tell my class the news, and having to buzz the office to have a grief counselor come down. I really wanted to tell them myself, and I wasn't impressed with the impersonal tone the counselor took with the whole thing. I guess you become numb after a while, but I didn't like how casually she told my class that Mrs. Western had died.

Our team really stuck together after that, and I definitely feel a bond with those ladies even now that I am teaching 4th grade. We all love and miss Lisa, and I do think about her often. I have a picture of her with her sweet boy Will that was taken just a few days before she died. We'd gone over to visit her before they left for New York, and I took some pictures for her (it was also Will's first birthday). Had I known that this would be the last time I'd ever talk to her, I might have said something deeper or more sincere. I think I said something trivial like "good luck, and we'll be thinking about you." How insignificant do those words sound now!

It was even harder receiving the thank you card for Will's birthday gift several weeks later. She had written them on the train to NY before her surgery, and her husband had a hard time getting them to us at first. I still have that note. I will never get rid of it.

At her viewing, they had a letter that Lisa had written to her husband and left at home for him to find in case things went wrong. It was the saddest, sweetest, most sincere letter I have ever read, and I can't imagine her grief while writing it.

At her funeral, the third grade team clung to each other and cried...a lot. The worst part was when they played "Seasons of Love." I am a huge Renthead to begin with, and that song totally described Lisa's last year. She poured more love into that year than most people do in a lifetime.

Knowing Lisa, she wouldn't have wanted to spend her life in a wheelchair. She spent the time she had left LOVING Will enough to last his whole life, encouraging her friends and telling them not to worry, and instilling as much wisdom into her students as she could.

She was quite a lady, and she was loved by many.

I miss you Lisa!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Norton Eats Worms...yum!

We somehow got a worm on our computer a few days ago. I have no idea how it happened, but all of the sudden I kept getting kicked off the internet. It was also freezing up a lot and jumping to other websites. All of the sudden, a really big "Warning: Your computer is in danger" sign started popping up like crazy. Uh oh! I knew I had a virus of some sort.

My first thought was that this pop-up message was fake. I looked closer and saw the Windows symbol, so I figured it was legit. I went on the website to check it out and run the free scan. It found several issues...but of course you have to pay to fix them! I almost ordered it (anything Windows is good, right??) when I remembered that I have Norton Antivirus! I quickly got off of the website I was on and ran my Norton. It found the virus....which was posing as an Antivirus software!!! This little worm was faking a virus to get me all annoyed. Then, just as I was about to totally freak out, Super Worm flew in pretending to be a Windows Antivirus software that could get rid of the virus to cheat me out of my money! The nerve!

Naturally, standard Norton couldn't get rid of it...I had to buy Norton 360! $69.99 later (I extended my coverage as well as getting 360), I was able to get rid of the worm.

I really like Norton 360. It cleaned up a bunch of my files and took care of the worm immediately. Now, I am completely clean again. There's even a file back-up system that is included in case your computer crashes and you lose your files. With our history, this feature is rather enticing!

The downside? Mr. Norton is a little overly cautious, and I haven't quite figured out how to tone him down a little. Right now, I can't put any links or videos into blog posts. This isn't a big deal for this blog, but it is a HUGE deal for my school blog! I was getting very frustrated trying to post some electricity sites and imbed a few Flash games.

I went into the set-up tabs to see if I could figure out how to get Norton to allow them, but my knowledge is limited when it comes to that kind of stuff. I'm going to have to call on the president and CEO of Stacked Systems, LLC (AKA my dad) to help me out with that one. He'll probably say that Norton 360 is a waste of money...and it probably was...but now I know I'm protected and hopefully I'll stay that way...even if that means not being able to post links!

I love you, Norty...but no need to be so overprotective! I'm feeling a bit smothered right now...




****Disclaimer: It's been a long week, it's 10:30, and I'm in a random mood. Hence, this might seem a little odd. I'll probably laugh when I reread this tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

just another day in paradise...

Today we didn't have kids, although we did have inservices the whole day! The second half of the day was a bunch of peer presentations and I taught a seminar on beginning blogging. It basically focused on using it in the classroom, but several people wanted to make a personal blog too. I typed up step-by-step instructions on how to set up and format your blog. Then I made up 3 pages of good websites for reading, math, and language. It was fun and I hope people got something out of it. I use my school blog very differently, obviously!

We are working on teaching Caleb his letters. We are working on the ABC song, but I am really focusing on learning the letters and sounds themselves. I am purposely not teaching them in order (because then it just becomes rote memorization) and we are only focusing on 3 at a time. We have these fuzzy letters that he can hold, which he likes. I have noticed that Caleb seems to respond better when a concept is connected to something he can see or touch (like a lot of kids!), so I am connecting each letter/sound with an object in our house.

Right now, we are doing M, D, and B. M = Mommy, D = Dog, and B = Baby (a picture of the 3 of us after Caleb was born. His favorite is D because he gets to gently tap Becky with the letter. Tonight, Matt told him to put the D on Becky's tail. You can imagine my laughter as Caleb began chasing Becky around going, "Here Becky! D! Doggy!" He was trying so hard to put it on her tail! Then, Matt decided to hold her steady so that Caleb could put the D on her tail! It was pretty funny to us, but probably not to Becky! :)

I decided to go to my school (which is where we vote) early to vote "before the rush." Because I was trying to get out of the house as quickly as possible, I decided to skip breakfast. After all, they offer snacks at the inservice meetings, so I would be fine....right? Well, I forgot about the fact that I'm still on an antibiotic and you have to eat when you take it!

I stood in line for 20 minutes and the line was moving pretty quickly. I began to feel a bit sick to my stomach, but I tried to stick it out. I took my coat off to cool off a bit and pushed down on the pressure point on my wrist. (That was a trick from my morning sickness days!) Much to my chagrine, I had to quickly jump out of my place in line and rush to the nearest bathroom. (Good thing I teach there and know where they are!!) Of course, the line goes right by the bathroom, so everyone could hear me! I got all of the pity smiles after I came out. They probably thought I was pregnant!

Well, when I came back out, the people I was standing in line with were now in the cafeteria actually in line to vote (past the first table). I didn't feel like it was right to jump back in line at that point, so I got back at the end of the line. I stood there in an unmoving line for 10 minutes before I realized I would be late for my meeting if I tried to vote at this point.

Sooooooo I stood in line for 30 minutes total with no voting sticker to show for it!!

Don't worry, I did eventually cast my vote for McCain (and Palin) during my lunch break! :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

yay!

Hey, look, I did it! :)

Amazing video

I'm not an overly political person and I'm absolutely ready for this election to be over so that I don't have to listen to Obama's stupid advertisements again, but this video really struck me. I had an opportunity to see this woman speak in high school, and her story really touched me. It's a hard story to listen to, but one that everyone needs to hear before they make a decision about "women's rights."

I have never tried to put in a video before, so I hope it works!

http://

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mommy Appreciation Night

With the busy-ness of last weekend and this past week, I forgot all about posting on Mommy Appreciation Night! Matt created a special night to show me that I do do something right, even though I haven't really felt like it this month.

I came home last Friday to a wonderful dinner of tilapia, parmesan vegetables, and fried pickle chips. (Yes, they were actually really good! He got them from a Rachel Ray recipe.) Then Caleb brought me a newspaper that Daddy and he made together. Matt actually interviewed Caleb with questions about me and reported his exact answers. It was quite funny.

There was also a piece about who knows me better: Amy or Matt? He had gathered info on me (after he had answered the questions himself) and got Amy to answer the questions too. They ended up in a tie. For 2 of my closest family members, they really don't know me very well! Matt thought that the job I would want if I weren't a teacher would be a social worker....does he not listen to my "I want to be home with Caleb" lamenting???? Now, I did want to be a social worker before I settled on elementary education....but not now! Anyway, that was pretty funny too.

Caleb also brought me a Vera Bradley checkbook cover that he apparently picked out himself! He really liked it and didn't particularly want me to have it! :) The boy has good taste!

It was a very sweet night. He is a sweet man. Caleb is a sweet boy. And yes, it did make me feel a little better about myself....until I had the NEXT parent issue! *sigh*

Welcome, November!

October wasn't too great for me. I had a lot of issues with parents, quite a few behavior problems, had frustrations with some family members, and was hurting for some friends who lost babies. It was just kind of a lousy month. Did we have some fun too? Oh yes! The pumpkin patch was great, and we took some good trips to the playground. But overall, October was rather crummy.

Now, it's November. I have a fresh start. I can start anew with my kids (who have been driving me nuts for the better part of the year), try to avoid anymore conflicts with parents (of course, I don't think that any of the conflicts were warranted anyway, but I would still like to avoid them!), and hopefully not have anymore baby sadness! I have several more friends who are pregnant now, and I'm hoping and wishing for the best!!

So, here's to a fresh start. I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving, so I'm looking forward to November. I think it's because it is one of the only major holidays that hasn't been overly commercialized (no presents to buy, no candy to pass out, no valentines to make, no costumes to wear, etc.) You just have a good dinner, hang out with family, and ponder for what you are thankful. It's just a good day without all of the hype.

I am going to try to keep the thankfulness idea in my head as I deal with issues this month!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween

I don't have any pictures to post yet because I still can't load pictures directly to my computer. Once I get enough pictures to make a CD, I will go to Walmart again. For now, here are the highlights:

The school Halloween party was craziness, as usual. I'm glad that this is the last year of the parade, although I'm kind of frustrated that we won't be able to do any kind of celebration next year. There is lots more to tell, but nothing I can post on the internet! :)

As you all know, Caleb was a turtle. Amy had him paint a little turtle picture frame to put his Halloween picture in, which was very cute. I picked him up from Amy's and we ate some dinner. Then I got him dressed in his turtle costume and tried to get a few pictures, but he wasn't overly cooperative.

We walked next door to Wally's house (the guy with all of the old VWs who Caleb adores) but he wasn't there. His wife Fran took a picture of Caleb to show Wally, since he missed him. She had a witch that talked and moved, but Caleb wasn't overly thrilled with it.

After leaving Wally's, we walked across the street to Barry's house. Barry is an interesting guy, to say the least, but he really likes Caleb and has a good heart. He seemed happy that we stopped by, and despite my repeated protests that Caleb really didn't need the candy, he gave him a full-size candy bar. As I looked down at what it was, I saw the "Snickers Charged" label. Yes, he actually did give my 1 1/2 year old son a caffeine-filled candy bar! Needless to say, he won't be eating that...but Barry is a sweet man and probably didn't even know what it was.

We walked down to the house of one of my students (their house is actually our twin), but she had already left, so I got Caleb in the car to go to the Fall Festival at our church. We made a quick stop by Mommom's so that she could see him for a few minutes, and then headed to church.

This is where the real chaos begins! Our church doesn't do anything "small," so there were 2 huge blow-up pieces there. One was a double slide (probably 30 feet high), and the other was a beach obstacle course. Caleb went on the slide with Matt twice, but didn't seem to love it. We didn't bother with the obstacle course.

When we went inside, it was wall-to-wall games and people! They have a nice "Kiddie Korner" for kids 5 and under, which Caleb enjoyed. They even had a small moon bounce just for the little kids.

There were games all over the gym. Some of them were too difficult for Caleb, but there were quite a few that he could play with a few modifications (most of those being moved up closer or being held up!) He got a ton of candy, most of which he will not be eating! I might save some for potty training treats, but most of it will probably go to school.

The best prize all day was from the Kiddie Korner where they had nice little stuffed toys instead of so much candy. When Linda showed him the box of animals from which to choose, he immediately made a beeline for the monkey!!!! For the remainder of the evening, my little turtle carried around a monkey. It was very cute!

Normally, the church asks that kids not where any scary costumes. However, since we have begun opening it up to the public, that is a bit harder to control. To me, I wouldn't let my kid where a bloody scream mask inside of a church....but that's just me! Anyway, there was a little kid there with one such mask who was not much taller than Caleb. Caleb REFUSED to walk past the kid and instead planted his feet and SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER!!! I had to pick him up, at which time he promptly buried his head in my shoulder and cried. I've never seen him really scared by something before. He is definitely becoming more aware of his surroundings.

Matt and the teens did a little puppet show several times throughout the night in one of the side rooms...actually it was more a song that was played and a bunch of little kids running around with puppets on their hands....but they loved it anyways! It definitely wasn't "Hands for Him" level of difficulty, but that is sometimes a good thing. The kids really loved playing with "real" puppets. Then Matt attempted to share a short message to tie it all together....but with about 50 kids under the age of 10, that is a bit challenging!

We (Caleb and I--Matt is still not home) left around 8:15. I changed Caleb before we left so that it would be okay if he fell asleep. He fought it for quite a while, but finally fell asleep by the time we hit PF. I'm hoping he will sleep in a while--especially since Matt is going to be at a quiz rally in Richmond tomorrow and it will be all me!

Okay, I'm officially exhausted. I hope you have enjoyed my play-by-play of Caleb's first "I know what is going on now" Halloween. BTW: I think I'm up to like 8 blog readers now!! :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

ALS Foundation Fundraiser.

I have been heading up a fundraiser for the ALS Foundation at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. As you've read in past posts, one of my sweet girls just lost her dad to ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease.)

This disease attacks the nervous system and can basically go one of two directions: it can reach your throat first and cause you not to be able to talk or eat, or it can attack your hands and feet and cause you not to be able to walk. Eventually, all ALS patients will have all of these systems, but it goes one of the two directions very quickly. M's dad lost his ability to talk very early on and had to communicate by writing on a dry erase board. Of course, by the end he was wheelchair bound and had almost no use of his hands, but the talking and eating was affected much quicker. It really is a horrible disease and I have to believe it is extremely difficult to watch a loved one suffer.

Anyway, to show love to M and her family and to promote awareness about the disease, my class kind of took on this project. We rewrote the words to songs to sing over the announcements, made posters advertising the fundraiser, put collection cups in each classroom, collected the money each day, and counted the money as we received it. I have to say that my students did an amazing job of talking it up on the bus and on the playground.

What was the grand total for the fundraiser?


(drum roll please)....................................................................................................................................


We raised $597!!! This money will go directly to the ALS Foundation at Johns Hopkins. In fact, I have the addressed envelope in my desk just waiting to be mailed! I have to get the check from the school and then we will be ready to go! I spent the weekend counting, rolling, and totaling all of our money so that I could announce the total today.

My kids are proud of their hard work and I'm glad that we raised so much money! I really think that teaching kids empathy is important. In fact, it's one of my favorite words and I use it often at school. In an "All About Me" world, it helps kids to get outside of their bubble and focus on the needs of someone else for a change.

What an amazing way to show love to M's family and let them know that we really are thinking about them. I'm so excited to let them know our grand total and mail the check off! I'm hoping that everything will be ready tomorrow!

These are a few of my favorite things...

Big Bang Theory: This show absolutely cracks me up! I love the high brow intellect (even though I sometimes have a delayed reaction...) and Sheldon just makes me laugh every time. I love his blanket statements about life. Here's a quote: "Is it because I'm Jewish? Because I'd kill my rabbi with a pork chop if I could be with your sister!" It is hard to explain, but it is incredibly funny. Give it a try!

Honda: I have a 2002 Honda Civic that Matt is driving these days. It has somewhere around 115k miles on it, and we have never had any issues with it. (Yes, I'm knocking on wood right now!) I have only had to get new tires once, and it still has the original brakes. We are probably needing to replace these in the near future, but I still think that's pretty good! Honestly, the only time it has ever been in the shop is when I have (cough cough) done a little damage to it.... it is a good little car!!

Rent: I know, I know, some of you might be surprised and *gasp* offended by this admission, but I am a proud Renthead. I know all of the words to every song and much of the dialogue. Matt and I often have a Rent singalong on long car trips! (Yes, he loves it almost as much as I do!) Not only do I love the rock-opera feel of this musical, but I really love the political themes throughout the show. If you haven't seen it, please don't assume that the entire musical is about homosexuality and AIDS. It is so much more! It's about poverty and how "the man" can take over and oppress the poor. It's about unconditional love. It's about true friendship. It really is an amazing show. YES, there is a homosexual theme and YES, several characters have AIDS. NO, it isn't for kids and probably not for teenagers. But please don't write it off as another immoral show. If you have an open mind, there is really a lot in there that makes you think!

Ok, now that you're all calling me a heathen.... :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Meet Caleb

You know how in baby books it asks for favorite foods, toys, songs, etc.? I thought that those of you who don't know Caleb very well or who don't see him very often might like to get to know a bit of his personality. He's pretty likeable! :)

What is Caleb's favorite....

Food: hot dogs, grapes, and raisins
Drink: water and real milk
Toy: cars and trucks, and his ride-on tractor
Song: "Bumping Up and Down in my Little Red Wagon" by Raffi
Chore: giving Becky water
Movie: Raffi in Concert
Animal: turtle
Character: Elmo
Superhero: Batman
Stuffed Toy: Tina the Llama, Brownie Bear
Game: "Momma? Where's Daddy?" in the car, and the "no" game
Playground equipment: swings
Activity: playing outside
Playmates: Owen and Sara

Sunday, October 19, 2008

finally some pictures!!!


Hiding behind his red balloon.


Sweet little face.


Playing on the couch before bed.


Big smiles!


I love close ups.


Caleb puts his turtle costume on almost every day. He's obsessed!


This is his "nature" pumpkin made out of items we found outside. He LOVES it!


So proud of his pumpkin!


Digging out pumpkin goo.


This was a little pumpkin he found that he absolutely adored. Unfortunately, it was rotten...but Caleb didn't understand that! We distracted him and made it "disappear!"


Peekaboo!


Jumping in the hay pit with Daddy


Going on a barrel ride with Momma.


Popping up behind Momma


Reading Daddy's favorite children's book


If you are on Facebook, I loaded over 100 pictures today! Since Caleb broke our USB port and we would have to replace the entire Motherboard in order to fix it, we are now having to take our memory card to Walmart to get CDs made. I just got the CD done today and immediately started loading them as soon as Caleb took a nap! You can check FB for the whole 100, but here are a few of my favorites!