Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Resolutions Update

Last year I made some New year's resolutions. I had completely forgotten about them until last week when I was looking for the twins' second birthday post, and I ran across the Resolutions post. I was pleased to go back and read it and see that I had accomplished quite a bit on the list.

Here were my goals for 2009:

1. I resolve to hold it together enough to not be institutionalized this year. That's the only shred of sanity I am trying to keep. The rest is going to be long gone, and I am OK with that.

I'm still here, and crazy as ever. Resolution number one: check!

2. I resolve to get into my pre-pregnancy clothes at some point. Not the ones before Emma, or even the ones before the twins, but just those that I was wearing at this time last year. Oh, and not just get into them, they have to button all the way and not look completely ridiculous.

I'll have to pull out some more, but I recently bought some size ten jeans and they were a tad big. I am within ten pounds of the weight I was when I got married (although the shape has changed a bit). I'm going to say Resolution number two: check!

3. I resolve to NOT resolve to not get pregnant. (Confusing, but think about it for a minute. Get it? OK!) I am certainly not planning on getting pregnant, which is why Marty had his vasectomy, but I am not going to play chicken with God again. He always wins.

OK, since this wasn't really a resolution, I can't really check it off. But I'm not pregnant (woohoo!) so pseudo-check!

4. I resolve to try and become a little more organized this year. I will never be like Martha Stewart, nor would I want to be, but being able to find both shoes when I want to leave the house would be nice. However, with all these shoe-stealing children running around, I might be a few years away from that goal. We will have to see.

Still not Martha- check! But I am definitely more organized than this point last year. We introduced into our family our fabulous shoe shelf, which has been great. Not to say that shoes never disappear (ahem, Ben and my tennis shoe that has been gone for months) but they are usually together and usually easily accessible. Number four-check!

5. I resolve to finish the boys' room. I have one more wall to paint, and the hanging light needs to be put up, and a few more details need to be done to pull it all together. I better be able to finish it in a year!

Ummm... Well... hmmmm. OK, I did almost finish the painting. And I did hang the light, which was the number one thing I wanted to do. The curtains were finished, and it's organized. But is it finished? No. I only painted as far as you can see behind the shelves instead of finishing the job. And there are no decorations at all. Bare walls and very little furniture, which is probably a good thing since decor and furniture would be excellent choices for my high-flying-circus-twins to practice their craft and kill themselves. However, I still want to do more in their room, so number five does not get a check.

Hey, four out of five isn't bad! I'll take it! Now to work on my resolutions for next year...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Getting Back to Normal

We have officially entered Christmas Overload Meltdown stage.

Too much candy, no routines, not getting home till 11 pm for too many days left them exhausted, whiny, emotional, and fighting. Oh, the fighting. We have managed to accumulate three black eyes in less than 24 hours. I am thankful that they did not do this before Christmas. However, it is going to be interesting to take my kids into town today to do returns, knowing they look beaten. Especially since both Grant's eyes had been blackened by bouncing off Ben's head.

Yesterday, Grant wanted to ride Emma's new scooter. When I told him to put it down, he did. And then he kicked it. To the naughty spot he went.

After the appropriate amount of time, I went and talked to him about this new hitting/kicking/pushing behavior he has been exhibiting lately.

"Grant, why did you kick sissy's scooter?"

"I kick sissy's scooter with my foot."

"Yes, buddy, but why did you feel like you needed to do that?"

"Aaaahhhhh... I kick... the scooter."

"OK, were you feeling mad?"

"No, not mad!"

"Were you angry?"

"No, I not angry."

"Well, buddy, we have to figure out why you are doing this so you can learn to stop. What can we do so you won't kick sissy's scooter anymore?"

Suddenly, his eyes lit up. A big grin spread across his face, and he answered, "I kick my own scooter!"

I stifled a laugh. "Grant, you don't have a scooter."

"I get my own scooter, and I kick it, and I not kick sissy's anymore!" He looked at me expectantly. He was so glad he figured out a solution, and he was so very proud of his problem solving skills.

We'll keep working on it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Best Christmas Ever

This Christmas was awesome.

Not every Christmas is, but this one was the best ever for our family. Partly because it was the first Christmas that we celebrated as a complete family, as it was Drew's first Christmas. Partly because Christmas was on a Friday, giving us the weekend as well and meaning our celebrations were spread out with one the weekend before, and six celebrations over four days instead of five in two days. We were able to relax and enjoy our family, and take the time to really take in Christmas.

It was also, in our opinion, the last Christmas of it's kind.

I think everyone reaches a point in life where you become aware that things are going to soon change. Marty is spoiled in that he still has all of his grandparents still here on earth. My great Uncle Jim and great Aunt Helen are 94 and 93. Together, Marty and I have lost two family members in the nine years we have been together. Considering the sizes of our families, that is amazing. (This is my Mom's side of the family, and it is one of the smaller groups.)

But Grandparents get cancer. Close relatives have Alzheimer's. There are family members in their nineties, and surprises happen. Christmas is going to change soon.

Marty and I talked a bit about this before Christmas started. We both feel that next Christmas will look different. We worked hard to take in every minute, and appreciate the last Christmas in an era of Christmases.

I have been spending the last few days sorting through the mental pictures I have taken, and doing my best to sort them in the hard drive of my mind. The kids' wide-eyed wonderment at the whole experience,Every laugh, especially when everyone got an orange in their stocking except my brother, who got an onion instead, every smile, the excitement when you know you have gotten someone the perfect gift, every conversation. (And no, that's not his real hair. The jokes just keep coming around here!) When my Dad brought out the coupon book that I gave him as a child, and I paid him the IOU of ten hugs, I cherished every embrace.

When my daughter opened her gift from Santa and found a camera, and then told me "Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a photography, just like you!" I savored the sweet look on her face. Snapshots in time, locked away in my mind to be relived again and again.
I received a wonderful gift this year. Well, I received several wonderful gifts, but my favorite was this:It's a cookbook. The couple on the cover are my great-great grandparents, the ones who first came to America from Sweden. Over one hundred seventy five family recipes spanning five generations compiled together in a book, with the genealogy of the family member(s) who submitted each recipe. There is our family history, including Otto and Elise's journey from Sweden to America, and their life in the Pacific Northwest. The house in the picture (that Otto built himself) is still standing in Seattle by Greenlake, and is still in the family.

This is a gift to be cherished.

This was a Christmas to be cherished.

We leave this Christmas season with nothing but love in our hearts and joy on our faces, knowing that we are truly blessed to know ahead of time to truly embrace this Christmas. It wasn't about the gifts, or the food, or Santa. It was about gathering together everyone we love and celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior with joy and thanksgiving.

And boy, are we thankful.

I am thankful for my family, and my married-into family. I am thankful for my wonderful husband and our four incredible children. And I am so thankful that we got one more Christmas together as a huge group of people who love each other and love the Lord. I will never forget this year, and I sincerely hope next year brings back the same people to the same places, celebrating with all we have, until there is nothing left to give.
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Not Me! Monday! Christmas Edition!

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! Christmas Edition! This was created by MckMama, head on over to her blog to see what everyone else have NOT been doing this week.

We did NOT plan six Christmases in four days. We were NOT thrilled, as this is the normal number of celebrations, but they are usually crammed into two days. The space allowed us to really spend time with those we love, and it was wonderful. I am NOT paying for the jam-packed long weekend today, though with whining, crying, fighting children.

In planning all the things that I was going to bring to various potlucks over our four days of Christmas, I did NOT suddenly decide to bake. I couldn't remember why I don't bake very often, I used to bake (and quite well, I might add) in high school, but have not kept it up. I decided to not only tackle my Grandmother's famous fluffy rolls, but also an apple pie.

The night before Christmas Eve, we put the kids to bed and started on out really long to-do list. We did NOT start the evening off with a glass of wine and Christmas music, to get in the holiday spirit. After wrapping, packing and sorting, I started the recipe for the fluffy rolls. But I certainly did NOT decide to double the recipe to make a bigger batch, and try to keep track of everything in my mind. At midnight. After a couple of glasses of wine.

I did NOT mess something up, and I am NOT still wondering what that was. I was NOT horribly disappointed with how the fluffy rolls turned out.

The pie was going to be great. The Betty Crocker cookbook wouldn't let me down, right? I made the pie, and brought it to one of our six Christmases, excited to cut into it. It was most certainly NOT bland and boring, and I would NOT have been much better off buying a pie at Safeway. I did NOT see half-eaten plates of pie go into the trash, as it tasted like someone cut up apples and put them between slices of white bread. Stupid pie.

This Christmas, I did NOT re-discover why I don't bake. I hate following directions. This is why I cook, you can make things up as you go and you really don't have to measure. Baking is like painting by numbers, you have to do exactly as they tell you and it should turn out exactly as they say. (You know, as long as you haven't had too much wine...) What's the fun in that? I think I will give up on baking for a while. You know, till I forget why I don't bake again.

I did NOT feel like a total failure with my not-good rolls and yucky pie. I was NOT thrilled that my cheesy artichoke dip was a hit everywhere I went, reinforcing the thought that I can cook, and should leave the baking to other members of my family. (Or, maybe I should actually try recipies out before bringing them places. Nah, let's go with the first one.)

While finishing up setting out the presents under the tree, we did NOT discover that Drew didn't get anything from Santa. At eleven months old he would never care, but knowing that the other kids might notice, I did NOT throw together a box containing a can of formula, some Cheerios, and a toy that used to be the boys' when they were babies. Emma was NOT thrilled that Santa brought Drew exactly the things he loved the most, and Drew did NOT love chewing on the wrapping paper, just as we knew he would.

On Christmas Eve, we attended my mother's side of the family Christmas celebration. We usually rotate every other year between this one and my hubby's family, but I have been either extremely pregnant or had newborns still in the hospital for the past two times we were supposed to be there, so we haven't been in five years. Since I have only seen these relatives once or twice over the last five years, of course I wanted to make a good impression. Besides my kids, the youngest in that group is about fifteen. This is a group that has not had young children in quite a while, and my crew was certainly NOT a source of entertainment.

There was NO WAY that I was sitting in the family room, enjoying a conversation with my aunt, when laughter erupted and I started hearing shouts of "get the camera!" I did NOT turn and find a little three-year-old boy dressed in his shirt, vest, tie, and socks. Nothing else. If that happened, he would NOT have been holding his shirt up high, revealing his business to everyone there, sending the entire room into gales of laughter as I quickly took him by the hand and led my naked son out of the room. I most certainly did NOT go to the diaper bag, put a new diaper on him and then have to go room to room, searching for his clothes since he could not remember where he was when he took them off. That would NEVER happen.

I will have my Christmas in Review post tomorrow, but until then, what did you NOT do this week?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Happy birthday Jesus,
I'm so glad its Christmas,
All the tinsel and lights,
And the presents are nice,
But the real gift is You.

Happy birthday Jesus,
I'm so glad its Christmas,
All the carols and bells,
Make the holiday swell,
And it's all about You,
Happy birthday Jesus,
Jesus I love You!

I hope you all have a wonderful day!
Love, Tiff and family

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Random Musings on the Birth of Christ, Re-visited

This is a post I wrote last year, and I am re-running it today because it truly sums up my feelings about Christmas. Hope you enjoy!

Random Musings on the Birth of Christ

I believe in the Christmas story. Not the "when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter" one, but the baby Jesus born in the stable Christmas story. I think it is easy for us as Christians to say we believe the story, we read the story every year, and we know it by heart. But how often do we look into the truths behind it, trying to understand what was truly going on? How did Mary feel? What was it really like?

Now I am not a preacher, or a minister, or anything like that. This is just some thoughts that have been gathering in my mind lately. I will just try to muddle through the mess, join me if you would like, OK?

I learned in church a few years ago that in the custom of the times that Jesus was born, women were betrothed to their husbands at about age fifteen. We don't know for sure, but Mary was probably around FIFTEEN. That just blows me away. A young woman, or girl, rather, that in this day and age, would not even be considered mature enough to drive a car or choose the mayor of her town, was chosen by God to raise His son.

Unbelievable.

How did she deal with all the pressure? If she was chosen by God, you know she did not blow up in a teenage temper-tantrum, saying, why me? She was at peace with her destiny and trusted God. And she was fifteen.

When the angel appeared to Mary, Joseph wasn't there. He did not have the benefit of hearing the news from the Almighty himself, he instead heard from Mary. What guy can hear from his fiancee that she is pregnant, knowing full well that the baby is not his, and believe the idea that she did not cheat on him, but that God made her pregnant? What went on in his mind? The thing was, an angel later appeared to him and told him the truth. He believed, and while the law said he could have taken her into a courtyard and killed her publicly, he spared her life, married her, and raised Jesus as his own.

He trusted God, but it could not have been easy. I can't imagine that they never got looks or comments from other people as they went to the market or to temple. I know how people can be, and they can be mean. I admire Mary and Joseph for their ability to hold their heads up high as they must have endured some horrendous judgements from others. It is a great reminder to me to not judge, since the truth might just seem unbelievable. It's not my business to know every individual person's miracle.

So the baby is born, in a stable of all things. Here is a fifteen year old giving birth without the help of a doctor, midwife, or even her mom. Sure she has Joseph, but really, how helpful are guys during a delivery? She probably delivered the baby and managed to keep Joseph from getting a concussion when he passed out on top of it all. She was all alone in a faraway place, scared, and fifteen. The whole thing amazes me.

They both knew that God had chosen this child to be the Savior of men. They knew that in order to save someone from their sins, there had to be a sacrifice. Did they hold that precious little baby, knowing full well that he would be sacrificed at some point? How do you deal with that? Then the strangers start showing up to see this new baby King. That had to feel great, being new parents and realizing that the rest of the world thought this was as big a deal as you do.

However, the wisemen come bearing gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Great gifts, but do you know what myrrh is? It's fancy-schmancy embalming fluid. Used on kings and royalty when they die. That's the equivalent of showing up to a modern baby shower with a casket. Here's a gift not for the new birth, but for his inevitable death. What a total reality check. How do you accept a gift like that gracefully? How do you not throw it back in the wiseman's face, screaming "No! Go away, this is my baby and I will protect him with everything I have!" I don't know how, as a mother, she could have dealt with that. But she did. And she did it at fifteen.

As I really think about the story, truths come to life that make it a bigger miracle than I originally thought. More than just the virgin birth, more than the star. The feelings behind everything is what I am thinking of this year. The Mary that we think of in the story is happy, blessed, content. But truly, this was a young girl who must have felt betrayed and disgraced in her community, terrified and scared in the stable, and devastated at the realization that this child, this piece of her heart, would die.

She chose to trust in God instead of whining, complaining, or just shriveling up inside due to the strain. And although it was not an easy life she led, she was blessed in many, many ways. Mary and Joseph were never wealthy, but they had the honor and privilege of being the people who the King Of Kings called Mom and Dad. It truly reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas. It's not about the stuff, the gifts, the stockings hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. It's about the miracle of the birth of our Savior. And it is about believing in God, and trusting Him even when things do not go according to your plan, or seem so very, very wrong. I know God is in charge of my life, and I do not need to worry.

Where are you this Christmas?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What is happening, this very minute...

...the kids have gotten into the baby wipes and are using them to clean the TV, the windows, and the file cabinet. I'm not stopping them.

...baby Drew is learning the fact that is is difficult to put all your weight on one side of a plastic toy bin, as you will tip it over and fall in.

...Grant just discovered that if you put your cereal cup in a dump truck on the couch, Drew will still find it and eat it.

...Drew just learned that the bigger kids get tastier cereal than he does.

...Grant just tried to "gently guide" Drew by placing his hands tightly around Drew's neck and pulling.

...Grant is in time-out.

...Ben is creating a Lego-dinosaur.

...I am marveling the fact that I was able to turn a post about nothing into an actual blog post, but I'm wondering if it is at all interesting. I'm guessing it's not. I don't have any other ideas right now, so this is going to have to be good enough for today.

...Grant is trying to peek over the edge of the couch to watch The Polar Express while he is in time out. I keep looking at him, he keeps flinching and dropping to his knees since he knows he cannot watch TV while in the naughty spot.

...Grant is just about to go to his room.

...Drew is exercising his love of learning by eating a board book.

...Ben's still building a dinosaur, but now he's adding a chair and a man to ride it. The man just fell off. The dinosaur ate the man.

...Drew just discover the fact that the fence does not completely surround the Christmas tree, and that it only reaches the edge of the couch. He now knows that he can force his little self between the couch and the fence and get to the tree.

...I gotta go.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not Me! Monday!

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! As always, this was created by MckMama, head on over to her blog to see what she and everyone else have NOT been doing this week!

This week, one of my twins did NOT leave my bedroom door open, allowing baby Drew access to my room. And Drew most certainly did NOT decide my lamp needed a little re-vamp. He is a wonderful baby and is NOT following in the footsteps of his destructive older brothers.
At Emma's school Christmas program, my child was NOT the one continuously tugging on the ponytail of the little girl in front of her (completely ruining the child's hair) no matter how many times the child asked her to stop. NOPE, my darling daughter would NEVER cause a disturbance like that! There was most certainly NOT a small part of me that was hoping the girl would haul off and whack her, so that she would knock it off. I was glad that we are friends with the child's family, and that the parents were gracious and understanding. I did NOT make her apologize to the girl later.

By the way, did you notice something there? My daughter goes to public school. And it was a Christmas program. The PTO did a volunteer program for the families that wanted to have a old-fashioned Christmas program, and it was awesome. I did NOT tear up when the kids and the audience all sang Silent Night together, in a public school.

I do NOT love the school my child attends.

My darling twins did NOT turn three this weekend. NOPE, they are NOT growing up way to fast! At the party, my entire family was NOT thrilled and excited at the fact that I made the boys their own little cakes to blow out their candles and eat, leaving the cakes to be served to the rest of the group spit-free.
We had our first of seven family Christmas events yesterday. It was most certainly NOT my child that was creating the disturbance while we were attempting to take a group picture of all the cousins at yesterday's gathering. NOPE, my twins have just left the age of two and are not proving correct the theory that it is actually the terrible threes, not the terrible twos. They are very well behaved and would NEVER jump out of line and stick their tongue out at the camera(s), allowing my sister-in-law to get a picture of the group with crazy Grant and two adult's fingers pointing him back into place.
My darling sister-in-law Holly, would NEVER put the above picture on Facebook for all to see. She would NOT post a picture of my child behaving badly knowing full well I would blog the picture as well and not be upset at all risking my potential embarrassment. Nope, NOT her!

Grant was NOT having a bit of a crazy day all day at the party. He did NOT ask for Chocolate cake for breakfast this morning, and thinking of his "performance" yesterday, I did NOT laugh out loud at the thought, then pour him a big cup of high-fiber low-sugar cereal instead.
Santa did NOT make an appearance at our family gathering, and Marty we did not decide that Drew should sit on Santa's lap, potentially scarring him from loving the man in the big red suit for life.
What did you NOT do this week?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grant and Ben!

Today, my darling twins turn three.

Last year, I did another Happy Birthday post, where I recounted their birth story. If you are interested, you can find that post HERE.

I am amazed at the changes in the last year. Looking back on last year's post, they look so little! Now, my three year olds are little boys, every last bit of baby-ness has faded away. Where has the time gone?
I have to admit, the first year of their life was a bit of a blur. I was exhausted, I was drained, but I really did take moments to appreciate them. These moments stand out in my mind, the tender times we snuggled, the fun and laughter, playing and bathing. I know it was extremely difficult, but the really bad parts have left my memory. That's what happens over time, I guess, and I am grateful to be left with the moments that I took a mental picture.


They have always been so very different from each other, but have had definite similarities. A lot of the time as infants, if one was sleeping in an unusual position, the other was the same way. They still do that occasionally now, but not nearly as often.Their first birthday was crazy. We had a full house and they got a bit overwhelmed toward the end. But they were sure cute!
Grant loved his cake, I had forgotten how big his cheeks were!
Ben wasn't sure. I think this was the only time in his entire life he has turned down food.
The boys are best friends and love each other deeply. Yes, they fight, as all brothers do, but when they hug to say sorry it always ends with then falling over each other in a fit of giggles.

Grant has been talking a lot lately about being "big" he really thinks that he will wake up on his birthday morning and be "growed up". So last night I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. Ben wants to be a firefighter. Grant wants to ride the school bus and go to Kindergarten. I love these boys!

Happy birthday, Grant and Ben. I hope your day is everything you imagine it to be, and here's to a great year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Facts

I'm thankful for: My amazing family. The love and support that my extended family show each other is incredible. I am so blessed to be a part of a family that gets along and loves each other. I am also very, very thankful that Grandma Dennison came home from the hospital last week! After three long months there, she is healing and recovering at home now, which is where she needs to be. Thank you, Jesus!

Listening to: Marty doing dishes and the news. Yeah, it's Thursday night, but I'm trying to get this done so I can be computer-free tomorrow. There's a lot to do!

Looking forward to: Saturday is my darling twins' third birthday! We are having a green and blue party, with Lightning McQueen and Diego. They are so excited, it's all Grant is talking about and I can't wait to see their little faces when the house is decorated.

Needing or wanting: I want to be done with the Christmas prep, so that I can enjoy the Christmas season. I want to celebrate Jesus' birthday, and not just stress and worry about things. I want to remember what Christmas is all about, and show my kids where our priorities need to be.

Missing: Still missing my shoe. I did finally find two missing boxes of the twins' clothes from their baby-hood, most of which Drew has already outgrown. (sigh) But I am still missing some clothes, including really cute Christmas outfits that would fit Drew perfectly right now. I'll probably find them in January.

Quote of the week: "Ben, keep your elbow out of the toilet."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Emma's blog

Emma has decided that she wants to be the Mommy today. So far, she has changed the twins' diapers, and has picked out their clothes and is trying to dress them. (I'm not complaining about this game. Hey, anything to get out of changing diapers!) Because she is the Mommy, she also gets to blog today. 'Cause that's Mommy's job.

Me: "Alright, Emma what would you like to say?"

Emma: "Uuuuum, we're coloring today. Aaaaahhhh, what does that say? ( I read what is here) no, erase that! (I keep typing) Oh, Mom, no thank you! Please don't do that! No! Don't! Please rerase all of that!"

Me: (I pretend to erase the paragraph, but I copy it first, so I can add it back in later. Cause I'm mean like that.)

Emma: "Does it still say we're coloring today?"

Me: (typing) "OK got it. What else?"

Emma: "Ok, you got we're coloring today. I'm sharing stickers with my brothers, Grant and Ben. I like to share stickers with my brothers, and I like to color with them."

Me: "Got it. Would you like to tell a funny story?"

Emma: "Yeah! Write a funny story."

Me: "No, this is your blog. You get to tell the story."

Emma: "Um, well, then no. Write, And baby Drew is cute and I like baby Drew. And I like my Mommy and Daddy. And I like to watch shows."

Me: "Great! Would you like to tell a joke?"

Emma: "Nope. But I like when it snows. That's the end!"

It's bound to be an interesting day....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Family Christmas Photo

We had our family pictures taken recently, in the hopes that I might actually get a Christmas card out this year. As always, we used the fabulous Amy Parsons who is incredibly talented and wonderful. You can find her website HERE.

I chose an indoor setting, since it was raining and I never found time to do them in the fall I wanted to show off the lovely colors of my living room. And getting six people to all look the same direction and smile is a piece of cake, right?

Yeah, right. Emma realized quickly that the cat was not in the picture, which was a must for her. "He's a part of our family!" Well, the cat was thrilled at the idea. Just thrilled.

We got several family shots, and then we moved on to the adorableness of kids' feet. There's just something about kids' toes that I love!

I really wanted a picture of the twins together, and I told Amy to keep snapping to catch the not-so-perfect moments. This is what I will remember from our kids' childhood, these moments of their personalities coming through.



I love this shot, it's perfect!
And it was quickly followed up by choking. Cuz, you know, they can't be well mannered for too long!
I don't know where they got the whole choking thing, I mean, where do kids these days learn these things?
Emma wanted a shot with her favorite baby in the world.
And then the princess posed for her solo shoot.
We actually remembered to take a picture of the two of us together. We usually forget, and don't really have a good one. Until now! Ignore the flash on the table, that's something that usually gets removed post-production, and this is an un-edited copy of this shot. I didn't want to ask my darling sister to edit a bunch of pictures right before Christmas just for my blog. Sorry, sis!
My little mini-me.
And of course, the traditional throw-the-child-upside-down shot.
We did get some good photos out of the day, I personally LOVE this one and am planning on framing it on the wall. Drew cracks me up!
And are you ready?


Are you sure?


Well, here it is, folks. The finalized copy of the Stauffer family Christmas card photo!

Only one person was photoshopped and had their head switched from another photo. It's perfect!

Thank you, Amy Parsons, for doing such a great job! I'm going to call you soon at 360-961-7143, or maybe I'll e-mail you at photos@amyparsons.com for all my photography needs. (And you should, too!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Smurf-tastic

Since the introduction of the Smurfmobile into our family, we have been hearing a few Smurf-related jokes. I am being sent pictures of other Smurf-toned vehicles, and we have since decided that my dear Smurf-mobile is not truly the color of a Smurf. It is more like... well, um, the color of a Smurf that had been choked to death. Gruesome, I know, but pretty accurate.

Imagine my surprise when I got a package in the mail from Brenda, my oldest friend in the world. Well, by my oldest friend I mean the friend that I have had the longest that I still keep in touch with regularly, not to imply that she's really old. Or that I never had a friend before I met her.

Anywhoo.

I got this lovely package, and when I opened it up, I found this:

I laughed, and laughed, and laughed. That was funny.

I decided to do a color comparison to see how close the Smurfmobile was to an actual Smurf, and I had images of laying this stuff across the hood of the van and taking a picture to see. But this morning, the van looks like this. I know this is not the greatest picture, but I was going for the best picture I could take while leaning out the front door so that my feet would stay warm.
Not gonna happen.

Thank you, Brenda, for the great gift! I am planning on filling the bags with some fun in-the-car activities and snacks for the kids, and stash them in the stow-and-go compartments till I need them. I'm so excited!

And what would a bloggy-shout-out-post be without a picture of my dear friend Brenda? Let's see, a current picture... why can't I find one? Wow, do I really have no current pictures of Brenda on this computer? Hmmm...

Well, I'll have to settle of this one from the early nineties. This is Brenda and me before the Homecoming dance our Sophomore or Junior year. I don't remember.

We didn't intend on having almost-matching dresses, it just turned out that way. She's the one in pink, and I'm in green.

No, I didn't crop the picture. This is just how it was taken. A lot of pictures in Brenda's life look like this.... But we were sure cute, weren't we?

Love you, Brenda! ;)

UPDATED: No, I'm not hiding anything. That truly is the real picture. Don't forget this post, where you can see my and Brenda's heads!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not Me! Monday! Big Fat Lies Edition!

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama, head on over to her blog to see what she and everyone else have NOT been doing this week!

This week (and for a few weeks before this one,) I did NOT blatantly lie to my parents. To their faces, tell complete fabrications that I made up. And we aren't talking about little white lies here, these ones were whoppers.

I was contacted by my dad's work a while back, and they told me that they were throwing a surprise retirement party for him. I had two jobs, getting addresses of people to invite, and get him to the party.

I did NOT throw Ben under the bus and tell them that he must have stashed my Christmas card list, and I needed theirs to help re-create it. When you lie, you have to tell lies that very well could be the truth.

I did NOT tell them both (and yes, I kept my Mom in the dark for a while, too) that Marty had won tickets to see the Nutcracker ballet and we wanted to take them as a Christmas present. I did NOT tell them that I had a gift certificate to a restaurant that was close to the party location, to get them in the area, even though it was out of the way of the ballet. And most importantly, I did NOT tell them that Amy (my photographer sister-in-law who I work with) had gotten a call about shooting a reception at the party location, and I needed to run there really quick to check it out.

My Dad did NOT think that we were going into a place where they were setting up for an event, and think it was sheer coincidence that he saw someone that he used to work with twenty years ago. and then someone he works with now. And then, his boss and his wife. The look of sheer confusion on his face was priceless. I am so very impressed that I was able to pull it off, I really thought that I would blow it before we got there. Whew! Lying is exhausting!

My Dad's boss is NOT a really cool guy, and he did NOT give my Dad some great going-away gifts to thank him for his years of service. Since he was always so regular and dependable, well, you know...
I did NOT laugh by tail off when the office manager said she was really particular about paperwork, and wanted to get all the details out of the way, so she served my Dad his pink slip...
And we did NOT eat super-duper delicious pizza from a wood-fired pizza caterer that was probably the best pizza I have ever had. And I did NOT get to take the leftovers home. And I did NOT eat pizza all day yesterday. Yummmm....
All in all, it was a great party. Thank you, Leon, Wendy, Brenda, and the rest of the Greater Seattle Concrete team, for honoring my Dad this way. You put on a great party! I'm thinking I'll have pizza for breakfast...

Friday, December 11, 2009

From Kindergarten to Harvard

I am scared. And completely impressed, all at the same time.

Emma has always been ahead of the curve, developmentally. She is incredibly smart, and that's not just the proud Mama in me talking. At 19 months, she knew every fish in my five fish tanks by their scientific name. Before she was two, she could count to ten in two languages. From six months old, if we told her not to touch something, she wouldn't. We didn't have to childproof, she just didn't get into anything. She has thrown three fits in her entire life, and those were just before shots. Can't say I blame her.

My sister-in-law has told me many times, "She is not a normal child! This is not how babies act." Being as she was my first, I didn't believe Holly, and was proud as could be at my amazingly brilliant and well behaved daughter.

Holly was right.

Yesterday, Emma was walking around the living room, tossing her stuffed reindeer while she was walking. Then, she would stop and toss it.

"Hey, Mom?" she asked, "What makes it keep going while I walk?"

"What do you mean, hon?"

"Well, when I'm standing and I throw it, it stays here. But when I'm walking and I throw it, it keeps going with me. What makes it do that?"

That's right, folks. My five-year-old has discovered inertia.

Now, I am a math and science minded person. I took Advanced Physics in high school, and I understand the principles behind it. But how on earth do you explain the fundamental principals of physics to a five year old, even if that five-year-old is incredibly intelligent?

We talked for a bit about how an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and how an object at rest tends to stay at rest. I fumbled over my words and didn't actually teach her anything, as I was totally unprepared and probably appeared as a deer-in-the-headlights to my daughter, who had no idea what was racing through my head.

Seriously. How many kids even put it together that objects keep moving with you? She is five! What is going on in that amazing brain of hers, and how will that develop over time? What can I do to encourage this discovery, this love of learning, and how can I teach her things that she wants to know when her class is still learning the difference between a square and a rectangle? And what in the world is she going to ask me when she's thirteen? I should not have dropped out of college, it's going to take a PhD to raise this child! Dang, college! How much is this going to cost us as she becomes a nuclear physicist?

Sigh. I need to stop worrying, and take it one day at a time. But I really do believe that God has big plans for this child. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Giving Our Inner-Teenager a Good Laugh

The kids' nativity set has been unpacked, and is currently being played with.

Some of you might remember this post from last year, where we had our first taste of crazy things parents say around Christmas.

And that has continued.

"Please do not throw baby Jesus at your brother."

"Stop licking baby Jesus!"

The kids also have a bunch of the Little People play sets, complete with the dolls people. The boys especially love these, and carry the people around with them.


We allow the boys to each take a small toy to bed with them. This gives us some leverage to keep them on the right track- they get one warning, and the second time they get out of bed/yell/kick the walls/pee on something, they get their toy taken away. They have to go to bed without a fuss the next bedtime, and then they can earn their toy back.

Ben loves bringing his person to bed with him. He has one favorite, but loves them all. He calls them his girls. In typical Ben fashion, they aren't girls, though, they are grills. And no, it doesn't matter if the person is male or female. It's still a "grill."

"Ben, come to bed now. Which girl are you going to sleep with tonight?"

We have snickered at the implication, and tried to work on our wording.

"Come on, Ben, it's bedtime. I need you to choose your toy. You must pick a girl now. Buddy, it doesn't really matter, take one girl to bed tonight, and you can have the other one tomorrow, OK?"

Yeah, notsomuch.

"Buddy, I'm sorry you cannot find your favorite girl to sleep with. Just pick another one."

Our kids' future therapists are going to make a killing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Biting My Tongue

"Mom?"

The voice came as I was in the kitchen, working over the island.

"Yes, babe?" She's so cute these days, so very grown up, yet such a little girl at the same time. Transforming before our eyes, it is amazing.

"Mom, what's for lunch?" Ah, yes, these kids are definitely on a schedule. Five minutes before lunch and they are already thinking of the next part of their day.

"We're having pizza!" A rare treat, and I am just as excited as they will be.

"Pizza!" the excitement is evident in her voice, and she pauses, mouth open in a child-Oscar-performance worthy surprise, "for reals?!?"

Proud of my choice, as I love giving the kids things they think are cool, I show her the pizza-pan, straight out of the oven. "Yup, it's right here!"

She looks at it and pauses. Five-year-old judgement drips from her voice, "Wait, Mom, did you make that, or did you buy it?" And the magic has ended.

I stare her down. The stare that adults would understand as "are you freaking kidding me?!? Do you want to sass me? Because if you get picky about your pizza, you can go hungry!" But, alas, the child-like innocence in her just stares on, oblivious to the yelling at her that is occurring in my head.

"I bought it. And then I cooked it."

A huge sigh escapes her. "Mom, Auntie Jessica makes her own pizza. For reals makes it, like all of it. She makes the whole thing." A small sliver of me is proud, that I have raised my daughter to understand that homemade is better, and processed foods are not the norm. But a much larger part of me suddenly flashes to the part in a Knight's Tale, where Heath Ledger wins the joust, and his men stand over the bad guy and tell him, "You have been weighed. You have been measured. And you have been found wanting."

"Well, Auntie Jessica does not have four small children running around. Auntie Jess doesn't do two loads of laundry a day. Auntie Jess does not have to spend hours searching for stuff that you claimed that you put away, but actually didn't. Auntie Jess used to cook in a restaurant. Auntie Jess is not cooler than me just because she makes her own pizza, you little brat!"

"Mom?!?" She snaps me out of my daydream. I realize that I haven't actually responded yet. "Did you hear me?" Her voice softens back to childhood innocence. "Auntie Jess makes her own pizza. Could we do that sometime?"

I force a smile. She's still learning the right way to ask, and got it right that last time. "Sure, babe. Maybe we will have Auntie Jessica over some night and she can show us how, OK?"

Her pure delight brought her back from sassy-teenage-dom, and all is right with the world again. And we ate store bought pizza with joy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Making Your Own Laundry Soap-Update!

In July, I wrote a post about making my own laundry soap. I just ran out of that batch, and wanting to give you all an update. If you want to see the original post, go HERE.

One batch cost approximately four dollars. It lasted our family of six four months. That's a cost of one dollar a month. Affordable? I certainly hope so!

We used to use Tide from Costco, and a Costco sized box lasted not quite six weeks at a cost of $25. That's about $220 a year in laundry detergent, giving us a savings of over two hundred dollars a year. Now I feel like being in a commercial and asking, what can you do with two hundred extra dollars? I know what we did!

Yeah, we bought diapers. Total let down, huh?

The homemade soap is great. We all have really sensitive skin, I would break out on the tops of my legs on occasion with the Tide (and just about everything else I tried,) and that has completely gone away now. Our clothes are just as clean, and smell great, but not strong or perfume-y. I have noticed that some of our whites are a tiny bit dull, but I never bleach anything and I think the lack of color-safe bleach and other chemicals is slightly noticeable in the dishrags and my hubby's softball socks. T-shirts and dress shirts are the same, it's just the whites that get nasty, don't brighten up quite as much. I got some Oxy-Clean to add to the occasional white load, and that is working well, and I'm so glad to be rid of those nasty chemicals close to our skin.

I highly recommend this. If you want the recipe, go HERE. Feel free to ask questions, I'd love to help!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Not Me! Monday!

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama, head over to her blog and see what she and everyone else have NOT been doing this week!

We have some wonderful traditions around Christmas time. Saturday was the Lighted Christmas parade, and Sunday we went to The Lights Of Christmas at Warm Beach camp in Stanwood.

We are NOT crazy enough to take our kids to a parade in December in 27 degree weather and biting winds. I did NOT realize just before we left that I really don't have winter stuff, so I did NOT go to the parade without a hat, gloves, or a scarf. My darling, brilliant hubby did NOT only wear a t-shirt and fleece pullover. Nope, we did NOT focus so much on the kids that we were totally unprepared (and freezing, therefore grumpy) ourselves!

We did NOT take the lessons we learned from the parade to bundle up better for the Lights. I did NOT go out after church with the intention of buying a hat and gloves, since I have been without a decent set for years. And there is NO WAY I refused to buy gloves after discovering the only pair in four stores that fit my very long fingers were $54. I did NOT end up finding some in my husband's stash of gloves that worked, I am NOT so cheap as to wear men's gloves to save $54! There is certainly NO WAY that I ended up not wearing gloves for most of the night anyway, because I couldn't adjust the camera with them on.

The kids had a blast at the Lights of Christmas. It was cold, but not windy, which made for a great evening. We saw thousands of lights, went on pony rides, rode a train, ate mini donuts and walked around. We were warm and cozy.

So what does it take to have a family of six warm and cozy for a few hours in the cold? For our family, it was NOT 72 articles of clothing. Oh, and if you count each pair of socks, shoes, and gloves as two separate articles, we did NOT top out at 92 clothing pieces that were worn out last night. Nope, we are NOT a large enough family that we can wear two full loads of laundry all at once.

We did NOT keep the kids up till ten o'clock last night. Nope, we ALWAYS stick to a strict bedtime! And when Marty got up for work this morning, I did NOT threaten his life if he did something loud and woke the kids up early, knowing how cranky they would be all day long. Nope, I am a loving and supportive wife and I NEVER say anything like, "If you wake them, I will kill you. Honey, look at me, I want this to be clear. I will kill you. OK?"

What did you NOT do this week?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Facts

Alright, I'm just squeezing in under the wire on this one! It's technically still Friday where I live, so we can so this!

I'm thankful for: So very much right now. I was sent an e-mail that had a video of kids that had to go down a rickety zip line to go to school every day. Go HERE to see the video, I don't know how to put video on my blog, sorry! But after seeing that, I feel so very blessed to live the life of true monetary luxury that I do. I may not have a lot compared to most Americans, but I am incredibly wealthy compared to millions of people in the world.

Listening to: Nothing. And it's beautiful.

Looking forward to: This weekend is going to be great! Filled with Christmas lights and experiences, I cannot wait to see the expressions on my children's faces when they see everything there is to see this weekend. Childhood rocks.

I am needing or wanting: A day free of pee. That's about it!

Missing: Well, after Ben's admission to the location of his Secret Stash that is guarded by a monster, I am still missing my tennis shoe. Oh, and I somehow lost a box of baby clothes that had all the cutest stuff in it, it had the twins' matching and co-ordinating outfits and I loved them. Poor Drew is missing out on a lot of adorable clothes, and I'm afraid I am going to have to buy him some, which is pretty ridiculous, if you ask me.

Quote of the Week: OK, I'm probably not supposed to blog this. However, my hubby says that sometimes, it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission, so I'm going with that. Now, remember as you are reading this that we joke around a lot. We truly have fun with each other, so don't take this event the wrong way, OK?

Earlier this week, he was washing dishes and slapped my bum with a wet hand. Now, I hate being slapped with a wet hand, the wetness stays in your jeans and makes you feel wet and cold for a long time. I have told him this before, but he wasn't in a listening mood, I guess. I explained to him yet again that I didn't like being wet, he responded with something sarcastic, like, "Who doesn't like to be wet?" For some reason, he did not notice that I was drinking a big glass of water.

So I threw the glass of water on him. Makes sense, don'cha think?

Anyway, he was not to pleased with my reaction, (although I have no idea why not,) and made several wonderful comments, one being, "I kinda wish my wife would drink more. Then she would think I was funny instead of throwing water at me."

Good point there. You know there would be no way I would waste wine...

Ben's Secret Stash, Revealed! (Kind of)

I'm in a feisty mood today. Which can be good, or very, very detrimental to the quality of my blog. You decide.
Apparently some people get kind of riled up at contests, even when the prize is nothing. My dear bloggy friend DJan seemed a bit miffed at the outcome yesterday, and fake-yelled at me. By the way, I love her blog. Her life is so very different from mine, and I truly enjoy reading about her weekly hikes and jumping out of airplanes. Have I mentioned she's in her sixties? Pay her a visit HERE. Wait, not yet! Finish reading this first, then go pay her a visit, OK?
DJan said...

I've been RIPPED OFF! I know you saw "dirt" instead of "poop" Ms Tiff. I think you have just violated the Interstices of the Universe law. Ben knows what I'm talking about, just ask him. :-)


Just ask him, you say? OK!

And here's how that went:

Me: Hey, Ben, when I cleaned your room yesterday, did I find dirt or was there poop?

Ben: No dirt in my room.

Me: Was it poop?

Ben: No, no poop.

Me: Is your room clean?

Ben: Yeah! (And you have to picture this one in Ben's little voice. More like Yeeeee-aaaaaah!)

Me: My bloggy friend, DJan, thinks there was poop.

Ben: (Very matter of fact) No.

Me: Ben, do you have a portal to an alternate universe?

Ben: (long pause) I no have a verse.

Grant: I have a verse! Lightning McQueen have a verse.

Me: What's Lightning McQueen's verse?

Grant: Lightning McQueen's berse is... he have a dragon.

Ben: (Holding up a purple penguin toy) My berse has a pwengwin!

Me: Ben, where is your Secret Stash?

Ben: (silence)

Me: Ben, where do you hide things?

Ben: In the hiding shelf! (Seriously? Why have I never asked him this before?)

Me: Show me!

Ben: (takes me by the hand and leads me to the front door) Open it! (I open the door and Ben points out)

Me: You hide things out there?

Ben: Yeah!

Me: Show me!

Ben: No, there a monster out there! (He then backs up, shuts the door and walks away.)

Well there you have it. Ben's Secret Stash and the portal to the alternate universe is in an area that Ben can't get to on his own, and is being guarded by a monster. I wonder if the monster still has my shoe, or if he ate it...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Winner of the Worst Contest Ever

In case you did not read all the way to the end of yesterday's post, I held a (really bad) contest seeing who could guess how many poop smears I would find in my thorough cleaning of the twins' room yesterday. I must say, I was horrified at some of the guesses. Horrified. And laughing, too, so don't think I'm actually yelling at some of you here, I'm yelling while laughing.

Here's the run down of the estimates:

Wendy said 12 smears in 5 places, with the strangest being in the inside of my camera bag. (Really, Wen? The kids know they will be beaten if they even think of looking at my camera, much less getting their hands on the bag. Oh, the horror at the thought...)
CulyQfun said 4
Shelly guessed 9 (Yikes!)
DJan said 15 (Fifteen?!? What is your mental picture of their bedroom? Do you watch a Charlie Brown Christmas Special and see Pigpen and think, 'Oh! There's Ben!')
YankintheUK guessed 5
SnowMommy said 7

OK, really? Do you all think I am such a bad housekeeper that there would actually be that many smears of poop in my children's bedroom?!? I am vomiting a little in my mouth just thinking of it. Really, I may come across as someone who does not take the time to clean, since I am blogging/playing/looking for Ben's Secret Stash all the time, (and let's just put it out there, you're mostly right) but I do keep my house sanitary, if not always tidy! Really!!

And I do have to remember that most of you have not seen the boys bedroom, meaning that you might think that is it large and filled with furniture and toys that might hide smears of poop. Notsomuch. It's small, holds two toddler beds, one dresser, and a shoe shelf/changing table combo. No toys, no other furniture, nothing. They don't even have a closet. Oh, there's the rug. But that's it.

Alright, I'll get off my soapbox and announce that the winner of the World's Worst Contest is...

drumroll please...

CulyQFun who is the author of 7th Inning Stretch With Team D, with her guess of 4 poop smears! She wins because she was the closest to the actual answer of one poop smear, which was oddly found on the floor under Grant's bed. I have no idea how that happened, and I'm starting to realize that I don't need to know.

Gina, your prize is a genuine poop smear from my house! I already have your address, so it's in the mail! OK, just kidding. Your prize is this paragraph. That's it. Hey, I did say this was the Worst Contest Ever, right?

However, I did find six sippy cups, a copy of my BabyTalk magazine, the warranty card for the boys' infant car seats (which was smeared with something that was most likely dirt, but I'm not convinced it's not poop), and an order form for my Kitchenaid stand mixer. These can be explained by the fact that the file cabinet was accidentally left unlocked for six seconds last week.

If you don't follow me on Facebook (and if not, why don't you? Become a fan of this blog by going HERE!) you would not have heard the update that during the cleaning process, I moved all the furniture to the doorway to mop the floor under the beds and dressers. I told the boys to stay out of there since the floor was wet, and of course Ben did not listen. Nope, he went on in and peed on the floor. My cousin Craig mentioned that he was probably trying to help, since he knew that Mommy liked the floor to be all shiny and wet. I laughed at that thought!

I got the room done and put back together by nap time, and even plopped the boys in front of the TV to go in and do some touch-up painting while they were unaware. You can get away with this if you don't get caught, but if you tell two almost-three-year-olds to not touch the wet wall, you will find paint everywhere. Guaranteed.

And what did Ben do while he was "napping"? Why, he peed on the rug, of course. Why wouldn't he? he always pees on the floor when he is supposed to be sleeping. Last night I put a potty seat in his room and told him to go there instead of he feels the need to go. It worked, so I'm a happy Mama.

Have a great day, all, and congratulations, Gina!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

To Do: 1. Find More Chocolate

I actually completed my to-do list yesterday. And by completed, I mean I wrote everything down that I need to do. Oh, you thought I meant I accomplished everything on the list? Ha! You don't know me very well....

I am starting to stress out a little at everything there is to do. I don't stress out easily, but I realized that the twins' birthday is six days before Christmas, and Drew's is twelve days after, so I have a lot of birthday-related things to do along with the usual Christmas things. Add to that the recent, ummm, renovations the kids have done to the house lately, and I have a lot on my plate.

And what kind of renovations, you ask? Well, nothing major, just some things that obviously needed improvement. I mean, really, who doesn't think this curtain rod is much better when shaped like this?
And obviously, the kitchen island needed to be cleaned behind this panel. Maybe Ben was looking for a new place to stash stuff?
And then there's the bathroom wall. The towel rack was shaped just like a trapeze, so no matter what Mom said, it was just asking to be swung from, no?
Now I know what you are thinking. "Wow, Tiff, that wallpaper is so modern and pretty! It's just your style, too. Wherever can I get some just like it?" I have bad news, guys. That's not wallpaper, the wallboard itself is actually printed with that pattern. And I think it was discontinued in 1989. I know, your jealousy is just oozing out at the thought that repairing this hole (and it's mate, a couple of feet over,) is going to require painting the entire bathroom. Which really isn't such a bad thing, considering how ugly pretty this pattern is.

Except for the fact that printed wallboard is not mudded or sanded, meaning you can easily see the seams and staple marks in the wall. Which is why the wonderful manufacturers of our home probably tried to hide it all with really busy, loud wallpaper printed wallboard, so that you would be so blinded by the walls that you wouldn't look close enough. Kind of like Las Vegas.
And what else is happening in our house while I try to accomplish the things on my list? Well, yesterday while I was attempting to make dinner, Drew was attacked and mauled by his oldest brother. Grant's weapon of choice? Drew's own bottle. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Soooo not fighting fair.

I'm off to finish scrubbing down the twins' room. I personally like my Dad's idea of throwing in a gallon of bleach and pressure washing the whole thing, but unfortunately, I don't have a pressure washer. Dangit.

I'll put this out to all of you as well, any guesses as to how many poop smears I will find in strange places in the twins' room? I know this is the worst contest ever, but my life revolves around poop and fixing broken things that shouldn't be broken, and I'm desperate for entertainment curious what you think. Whoever gets the closest gets, well, nothing. I'm broke, you know. But you will get the distinct honor of winning my pathetic contest. Who's in?