Saturday, April 25, 2009

Teacher Appreciation Week

Next week is teacher appreciation week at my kids' school. Part of the package is the room mothers will make a door decoration for the teacher, expressing our appreciation for all they do. Back in December, the room mom for M's class asked me if I'd be in charge of that. I was fine with that, and accepted the challenge.

Lucky for us, yesterday was the spring party day at school. My idea for the door decoration required student participation, so one "station" at our party was working on our door decoration.

The night before, I measured out a sheet of white butcher paper to the length of the door. I took strips of brown butcher paper and wadded them up, then rolled them to look like tree branches, and attached them to the white paper. Since they had been wadded already, I figured it'd be ok to roll the whole thing up and transport it to school that way.

At the party, I gave each of the kids a green "leaf". On it, I had them write the most important thing that Ms. H had taught them that year, along with their name. Most of the responses were "multiplication tables" or "cursive". One person wrote "respect", which really made Ms. H smile. After they finished their leaf, we let them choose where they wanted to attach it to the tree, and they put it up.

After that, we made tissue paper flowers. To make those, get 5-10 sheets of tissue paper. Line them up. Then, accordian fold the stack of tissue in about 3/4" increments. When it's all folded up, staple the middle with one staple. Then, very gently, pull the tissue apart to "fluff" it up.

We let them choose colors for the tissue flowers, and then let them choose the spot on the tree for their flower to go.

Here is the finished product:

As I was leaving the school, most of the classrooms had a mom at the door, beginning her door hanging project. I could tell that everyone was going to be there awhile. As I walked past all of them and out the door, I thought, to myself, "SUCKAS!!!!!! If you make the kids do it, it is a lot quicker!!!"

As a nice aside, I was speaking with Ms. H after school. She told me she thought we seemed like so much fun, and that our family was always doing something really interesting. She had told M that he was "the luckiest boy". M wondered why. She told him that firstly, he had two parents who loved him, and cared about how he was doing, and encouraged him to be successful. Then, because we were always giving him a lot of fun and exciting things to do. I thought that was a very sweet thing for her to say. To hear M tell it, we are sooooo boring, and NEVER do anything fun. Of course, he, along with the other kids, are furious with J and I because we've canceled the camping trip because it's SNOWING at the planned camping location. A little snow never stopped our kids from wanting to camp.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Me!

Today I turned 33 years old.

Part of me realizes that this sounds incredibly old to the young adults. But, I spoke with my aunt this morning, and she said nothing makes you feel old like having your children turn 40. Point taken.

It was a pretty laid back day. My husband got back late last night from his big ATV trip, so he spent part of the day cleaning and putting things away. Then, he had my older kids weed the front flower garden for me as their gift to me (which was REALLY appreciated).

Then, we dropped the kids off at their cousins' and went to dinner.

All in all, it was very relaxing and nice.

Because I really am a 10 year old boy, I want a bike for my birthday. I haven't quite decided what I want, but when I do figure it out, we'll go get it. I want it to look cool, attach to my bike stroller, and be better on roads than trails.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tru Talent Management

I was at Target a few days ago, and I had a woman named Rachel approach me. She complimented me on how cute Z is. She asked if I'd ever seen High School Musical. Well, uh, not exactly. She then goes on to tell me she's a talent scout, and thinks that Z would be a great model because he's so cute. She gives me a card, and asks permission to call and set up an appointment with her boss.

They call yesterday, and ask if I can come in today. I had nothing better to do, so why not? I was pretty sure this was all a scam, but then the appointment setter tells me to bring in several snapshots of Z so they can see how he photographs. Well, this isn't what I was expecting, so I start to wonder if maybe it is legit. But, I was 90% convinced it was a scam. I had plans to go to dinner with my mom afterwards, and I needed a kick in the pants to get Z's two year old portraits done, so I decide to go along with it.

I realize that my darling husband took the wrong camera charger with him on his trip out of town, so my beloved rebel has dead batteries, and no way to charge them. Husband also has my second choice in camera. So, I dig my ancient digital camera out of storage, charge it up, and take Z's pictures today.

We get to the agency, and the kids are understandably fidgety after being in the car for the past 90 minutes. I am informed that it's an "audition". I try to keep a straight face at the idea of a barely 2 year old "auditioning". We called back fairly quickly. The man is acting friendly and chatty towards Z, but it feels fake to me. While he talks to Z, he strikes me as the kind of person who does not like children.

We get back to his office, and Z and M are playing on the floor, S is sitting on a seat with a small ball, and K is sitting quietly. Walter asks what I know about "the business", and why I chose to come in. I told him that I knew nothing, and that if Z had some "thing" that casting directors were looking for, it'd be nice to get his college paid for. He said that was definitely possible.

He then starts writing out on paper. After scratching figures on the paper for a couple minutes, he says that to get started, I have to have a photo portfolio of Z. Tru Talent will create said portfolio, and create a resume and web page for Z. I can pay $1200 for this, or make monthly payments of $128. Then, I can pay $80 a year to update the photos. I then have access to their bulletin boards of upcoming auditions, and if I see one I want, I contact them, and they give me time and location. I asked them if I could get the photography done elsewhere. He said that I would need to have their photographers do the photo shoot so they'd know they were getting the shots they want. He then gets really mad at M and Z for being too loud.

Let step back for a second and clarify. I know my children are not perfect. I'll be the first to say that yes, they can be rowdy occasionally. While we were there, they had some energy, but honestly, I was impressed they were as quiet and still as they were after sitting still in a car for 90 minutes. While M & Z were playing, they were playing quietly. they were talking, but it was almost whispers. M had done something that made Z laugh, and when he laughs, it's a little loud. It is not anything obnoxious or overly loud. While I know my kids aren't perfect, they generally behave pretty well in public, and if they do get a little wild, I am quick to discipline them.

I'll tell you what though. NOBODY disciplines my children in front of me. Particularly not a stranger who is trying to bilk me out of thousands of dollars. When he got after them for being too loud (which I didn't think they were, and I promise I'm not one of those crazy ladies who lets their kids run out of control), he lost any chance of getting a penny out of me. In fact, even if they had offered to do all of that stuff for free, I'm not sure I would've worked with them anyway, given his annoyance roiling off of him, and his obvious inexperience and impatience with children.

Although he was initially friendly with the kids, it seemed very forced. He didn't even glance at Z, didn't make eye contact with any of the kids, and didn't seem to even listen to their answers when he asked a couple questions as we walked back to his office. Didn't ask me a single question about Z other than age. Didn't ask if I'd brought the assigned photos in. So, obviously, he didn't see the photographs I had taken.

So, after I calmed down for a second and managed to quell the urge to throw something at him for getting after my children, I told him that I'd be happy to have that money come out of our first commission check, but I wasn't putting down a penny beforehand (which I guess was kind of a lie, as I'd paid $.43 to print out some pictures for them). At that point, he said that "I don't feel we had anything more to talk about."

He handed me a card, and we were escorted out.

My impression was the place didn't see to be very high budget. It felt kind of low class and sleazy. I'm not a huge decorating person, but it felt very cheap to me. The furniture struck me as being from one of the cheap furniture warehouse type places. Ugly carpet, no touches to make the place feel expensive and successful. I didn't feel at all confident in their ability to make my child a star if they couldn't even make an office appear sophisticated and glamorous.

Before going in I was pretty sure it was a scam. I had thought that the "agent" would've cozied up to me and told me about how brilliant, beautiful and obviously talented my child(ren) was, and how they really wanted to sign them. Not just Z, but all four! I mean, really, look at them! I was expecting the agent to be a salesperson who would charm me. Instead, he basically ignored all of them, except to get mad at them for having a quiet conversation.

So, you wanna see the pictures I brought that he didn't even bother to ask about? Yeah?

Ok, here is my beautiful baby boy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Camper World Cont'd

I started a yahoo group for Camperworld members. It's here:

I've had quite a bit of interest in the group, which is exciting for me.

If you know anyone who belongs to Camperworld, point them in that direction.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I really wish I could discuss this with other Camper World members, but as there doesn't seem to be any forum anywhere, I am going to blog, and hope that people comment on it.

We bought into Camperworld about 3 years ago. We were excited to join. We paid an upfront cost, and then annual dues. We knew that those dues could and would be increased.

A couple days ago, we got a letter, talking about GREAT NEWS! They have some debt on three of the resorts. They want to become a "pay as you go" resort, incurring no further debt. They are demanding an additional $600 from each member, due on June 1. They are offering a GREAT (note my sarcasm) offer as well! You can pay $2200 on June 1, which will pay that $600 AND your annual dues for 8 years. They have a couple other payment plans that basically entail the member paying a grand total of apprx $2300-$2400 by March 2010.

Honestly, this deeply concerns me. I don't buy their stance that the economy is bad, and that they are trying to hurry and pay off debt in case it gets worse.

If I truly believed that I was going to pay that money, and not be expected to pay a dime for an additional 8 years, and had a written guarantee to that effect, I would feel a lot more comfortable with it. But who is to say a year from now, they come out with another note saying they need more money?

If you know any Camperworld members, or are a Camper World member yourself, please comment so we can discuss. I'd love to know if I'm being paranoid or not.

Friday, April 10, 2009

More spring break fun and skating rant

It's now Friday.

Wednesday, I took the kids, plus a friend of K's up to Camper World's Hot Springs resort to swim. The water was a good 90 degrees, which was really nice.

Thursday, I took the kids to Arctic Circle for ice cream and playing (and met my good friend there so we could visit). I also supervised K's sucker making project.

Then last night, I took the older kids to Classic Fun Center to skate. It was dollar skate night. Which sounds like you can skate for a dollar, but that isn't exactly true. You get admission for a dollar, but renting the skates is another dollar. Then, for about 20 of the 70 minutes we were there, they did "blackout". You were "required" to wear something that glowed to be out on the floor. Conveniently enough, they sold lots of things that glowed at elevated prices. Well, if you remember my life jacket rant from the cruise, you can imagine how well that went over. Since they don't enforce the rules at all, I skated anyway, and encouraged my kids to do the same. I'd say a good third of the people there seemed to share my opinion of the "required" glow wear.

I'm not sure if our Classic is just ghetto, but it is so different than how I remember it. I used to go skating ALLLLLLL the time as a teenager. People never, ever went the wrong direction on the rink unless they weren't old enough to know better, and then their parents came and helped them out. However, nowadays (at least at this rink), you are constantly dodging people who are old enough to know better. Even more shocking to me is that there are people standing around on the rink NOT EVEN IN SKATES. They are just standing there, visiting. After a half hour or so, there was a gently reminder that you had to have wheels to be out on the floor, and that helped, but SERIOUSLY?!(see how there's several people not wearing skates? I realize this is a crappy cell phone picture taken while I was skating)

Nowadays, they allow you to bring strollers on the rink to skate behind. That way, baby can participate! They also allow scooters, and even rent them out.

The one huge improvement to skating nowadays is roller blades. They are so much better than skates!

Is it like this everywhere nowadays? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Yes, I realize I sound very old and crotchety in this post.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring Break

My kids are on spring break this week. I had all sorts of glorious plans. I was going to completely declutter the house. I figured the big kids would keep the little kids out of my hair while I cleaned. Then, in the afternoons, we'd go swimming. We'd go to museums, we'd go to the park.

So, it's Tuesday afternoon. I DID deliver about 4 boxes of stuff to the DI. You can see the floor in Z's room. I did take the kids to the park today.

This morning, I went to the gym. The big kids HATE going, and Z still has a boogery nose, so I left the three of them home. As I was coming home, there's a police car and a fire engine blocking the entrance to our street. Uh Oh. I drive around to get to the house from the other direction. There's a police car there. I was not panicking yet. I had by then called my kids and they were completely oblivious to the excitement outside. The nice (extremely good looking) police officer moved his car so I could get by.

Apparently, our brainiac neighbor was trimming branches and somehow knocked down a power line. We never lost power, and nothing interesting happened here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Z!!!

Two years ago today, we welcomed baby Z to our family. Here is his birth story.

I arrived at the hospital at 6:30am to be induced. My blood pressure had spiked really high, and my doctor wanted to get the baby out right away. I was already 39 weeks, so it was ok. There was paperwork to to be filled out (why did I pre-register again?) and stuff to do, so I didn't actually get into the gown and things didn't get started until 8am. It took about 4 tries to get the IV in. They also had to draw blood because they were concerned about the fact that my blood pressure had gotten so high so fast, and was spilling so much protein. It took a while to get those draws done, for some reason my veins were just being difficult.

At 8am, Dr. J broke my water and pitocin was hooked up. She wanted to crank it up right away, but my nurses knew I was planning on going drug free, so they started it at 2, and raised it slower than the doctor's orders. Dr. J never actually said it, but I could tell she thought I was silly to go drug free.

I brought my laptop, and the hospital had free wireless internet. I found that playing on the internet distracted me from the pain better than tv or music, so I just surfed around, and will be harassed for the rest of my life for surfing online posting internet updates while in labor.

When I checked in, I was a good 3, and 70% effaced. By noon or so, I was dilated to a 7, so I was making really good progress. Around quarter to 1, my nurses felt like I was fairly close, and i was feeling pretty miserable. My doctor arrived around 1. Felt like I wasn't as close the nurses said, thought I was only a 7-8 and though she didn't say anything, you could tell she was annoyed. But, it was my fourth baby, and babies 2 & 3 went from being 6 cm dilated to delivering in 5 minutes, so I think the nurse wasn't necessarily in the wrong.

She wanted to hurry things along a little bit, so when I'd have a contraction, she'd stick her hand in there and somehow try to push back the cervix a little bit. That makes no sense to me, but it sure hurt a LOT. Baby was also sunny side up, so I'm wondering it that contributed to the pain a little bit. Doctor wanted me to push through those contractions to see if that would finish the dilating a little bit more. It was really hard to push when the urge wasn't there yet. My nurses were wonderful in coaching me about breathing, and were a wonderful support to me. I was really appreciative that I had them there.

After about 15 minutes of pushing, Zachary Jett was born at 1:22pm. He weighed 7 lbs 7 oz., was 19.5" tall, and had a head of 37 cm. Apgars 8 and 9. I tore a tiny, tiny bit, but not enough to warrant stitches.

After he was born, he was grunting a little and wasn't at all interested in nursing. So, my husband took him and they went to give him a bath, hoping he'd scream a lot and get more liquid out of his lungs. Zack was really calm at birth and wasn't screaming as much as a baby normally would. I went to my room, and waited for my boys to come back. I was bleeding more than the nurses liked, so they gave me a shot of something that would help that, and hooked me up to another bag of pitocin. That made me quite crampy, but it did help with the bleeding.

Our lives are so much fuller, happier, and more exciting with little Z in our lives.

Easter Egg Hunt

J's work had an Easter egg hunt today. I had to volunteer my time at the gym, so I missed it.

They had a contest for most creative pumpkin. J was in a creative mood, and made a (winning) basket.

The day was almost disastrous though. They were supposed to meet at a particular park at 10am. When J and the kids arrived, there was quite a few people with baskets in hand, but nobody who was setting anything out. The weather was pretty bad, very cold and snowy, so J decided to go to the office (which is a block or two away) to see what was going on. It turns out they moved the egg hunt indoors. They emailed everyone, but they emailed everyone's work address, and it was late last night, so most people didn't get the message. My husband, being the sweet, wonderful guy that he is, went back to the park and let those people know about the change of venue.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Eye Ulcers

So, remember that eye infection I was complaining about a couple weeks ago? It just didn't seem to be getting much better, and last night when I went to take out my contacts, I noticed one of those creepy white spots on the left eye, to match the shrinking one on my right eye. I gave in to J's prodding, and saw an ophthalmologist today. It's ulcers! On my corneas! I guess they're called corneal ulcers.

The doctor seemed pretty impressed by the new ulcer on my left eye. He gave me some "heavy duty" antibiotic drops that I'm supposed to use. In about 10 days, I'm to go back so he can check my progress, and then switch me over to a different type of drop that has a steroid in it that will help minimize scarring. I joked about scarring being the end of my modeling career. But, in all seriousness, I'm guessing scarred corneas don't take contacts very well. I am looking at a good month without contacts, which makes me very, very sad. Especially since a month from now, I'll be almost into the worst of the allergy season, and the 3ish weeks that my eyes are too swollen to wear contacts. Yay.

Baby Kisses

I have to admit yesterday is not going to go down in history as the best day ever. I went to bed a bit discouraged.

As I was laying there, settling in to sleep, I realized how lucky I am. I got hugs and kisses from 5 different people yesterday, all of whom really, truly love me. Some of the kisses were a bit sticky and boogery (we've got colds here), but were absolutely passionate.

Really, how bad can it really be when you have family surrounding you, all of whom really love you?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Meatloaf Cake

A friend of mine gave me this idea for dinner. Because it was too funny to pull it just on MY kids, I invited SIL and her family over.

The "cake" is a meatloaf that I put in a larger cake pan. The "frosting" is instant mashed potatoes, and then some of it had blue food coloring added. My nieces were truly horrified that we were having cake for dinner. I was a little shocked, I thought any self respecting 8 and 6 year old would jump at the chance to have cake for dinner.

For dessert, we had meatloaf (brownies).