Saturday, February 28, 2009

Snow Bunnies












Go figure that on the last day of February we finally get some measurable, "play-able" snow. Oh well, we'll take it...all 3 inches of it! Better late than never.

IT SNOWED!!!




We are so happy here at home; the predicted snowfall did not miss us! In fact, it is still snowing as I type. The little ones have not even woken up yet, but when they do they will be awed by mother nature's winter canvas. I can not wait to bundle them up and go out to play. More pictures to come!!!


I took these pictures this morning. It was so still, so blissfully peaceful. The first one is standing on my front porch looking at the empty lots across the street. (I wish they could stay empty forever!) The other is from street-level looking up at our home.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!




The forecast for tonight...SNOW! We are so excited here at home. We have had minimal snowfall this year (8 inches in the metro when our usual snowfall total is around 20+ inches). Not a single snow day this year for my teaching friends. :(

Mary and Ben have not even played in snow this year! Each meager snowfall we've had has melted almost as quickly as it has come down. Our neighbors to the north and to the east have been socked with major storms this winter, but all have missed our little corner of the woods. I suppose for some that is a good thing, but we're talking KIDS here; they LOVE snow! Not to mention that since I have become the super-organized-stay-at-home mommy type {sarcasm} I actually bought Benjamin's boots in November in anticipation of lots of snowy afternoons! He has worn them once...on a 65 degree JANUARY day...to a Chinese restaurant. (Always good for a laugh!)

So, we are thrilled for the 3-4 inches of predicted snowfall due to arrive after midnight tonight, which will make it officially the 28th of February, and the last day of winter. (I know that the spring equinox does not officially arrive until the 20th of March, but March 1 is the day that I take down any and all remaining remnants of winter (snowmen, valentine hearts/candy/cards, winter wreath, etc.) and let the bunny decorating begin!
The pictures posted are of Benjamin sporting his new "light up" snow boots and the snowman that Mary and I built last February.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Benjamin, Bingo, and Bleachers, Oh My!




This evening, the kiddos and I attended a PTA-sponsored Bingo Night at Ravenwood Elementary (the building where I formerly taught). It was so good to see old friends and colleagues, including my former building principal! There is something so comforting to me about walking into an elementary school building...the art on the walls, the laughter of children echoing down the hallways, that "school" smell of waxed floors and art supplies. I love it and I didn't realize how much I missed it!

I think Mary misses it too! Don't get me wrong; I realize staying at home is what is best for my kids and that we will never get these few precious years back, but you must understand that since I worked until Mary was age 4, she always "came to school" with me. Mary was a great classroom partner! When she was a baby, I would take her up to school on Saturdays and she would lay on her blanket and play with a tummy-time toy. Once she was mobile, she was always crawling to my book boxes and "reading" the materials I made available for silent read time. But my absolute favorite thing to do would be to get out all of my art supplies and let her create to her little heart's content as I prepared my weekly lesson plans. ANYWAY, as we turned into the subdivision where the school is located my little job partner said, "Mom, I'm thinking that this is looking very familiary to me." It was so sweet!

Bingo Night was not quite as much fun as I had hoped. I had envisioned mother and daughter sitting side-by-side, identifying numbers on our bingo boards as we readied ourselves to shout out BINGO! But apparently Benjamin had other plans. I should have known better than to think that a 2-year old BOY would cooperate with playing bingo! Instead, Benjamin chased after other 2-year old boys, climbing bleachers and falling down. Typical boy. Oh well, at least it wore him out for the night!
The pictures posted are neither of Benjamin or playing bingo. I have been having camera trouble of late and neither camera had a charged battery...aaargh! Then, after searching through hundreds of photos I could not find the cute ones my mom took of Mary in my classroom. So I posted a couple of photos of Mary at a PAT event (Parents as Teachers event, not to be confused with the PTA, Parent Teacher Association event LOL).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Abyss

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary the definition of an abyss is 1: the bottomless gulf, pit, or chaos of the old cosmogonies; 2a: an immeasurably deep gulf or great space, b: intellectual or moral depths.

Some days I feel like I have fallen into the great abyss of despair due to infertility. I try and claw my way out, sometimes making progress on the steep canyon walls, but often slipping...feeling the earth crumble beneath my feet.

Infertility is not something that I have blogged about in the past and I will probably not post about it again in the future. That is not to say that I am ashamed or embarrassed by our diagnosis, but I choose not to allow it to define who I am or how I live my life. I do not need an intervention or some over-priced therapy session with a "life" counselor. I just need to blog about some recent turn of events.

I am an in vitro mommy. After struggling with infertility and repeated losses for five years, my husband and I found ourselves at the point where we had exhausted all other avenues and needed to make a decision; throw in the towel and pursue adoption or child-free living OR use what little financial resources we had left and put all of our eggs into one basket...the in vitro fertilization basket. We went with the latter, and today, have an adorable 4-year old to show for it. But, there was lots of stress and anxiety that accompanied that decision. Time does heal old wounds and coupled with the unexpected conception of our "bonus" baby two years ago, I thought that I had put those fears and anxities to rest.

Recently though, (as in December) my husband and I experienced yet another loss, our 5th miscarriage. I guess in some small way I thought that we had "overcome" our diagnosis or at least tricked those nasty infertility gods!

Even more recently, (as in this week) my best friend (since childhood) underwent her 2nd round of in vitro with her husband. They experienced another failed cycle. My heart is filled with sadness for them, and while she is handling it with dignity and grace, I know that her heart is aching too!

A wonderfully-insightful friend of mine expressed to me the hope that I was not harboring any misplaced guilt. Guilt for getting to be the "successful" in vitro mommy; guilt for expressing my sorrow over our recent loss to someone who has yet to conceive her own baby; and guilt over wanting "just one more" child. She was right. I have been feeling guilty.

What I have discovered though all of this is that infertility is a life-sentence. While you may get a reprieve, (a successful in vitro process, the adoption of a baby, the surprise conception) it doesn't entirely release you from it's bondage. As my in vitro friend pointed out, "infertility takes away your choice"; your choice to choose when and how many children you wish to have to create your family. Every woman is deserving of the choice to have children (yes, even octo-mom, but that is an ethical discussion saved for another day!), but infertility takes away that choice. It is an emotionally painful cross to bear.

Thus, those of us who have have been branded with scarlet letter "I" (as in infertile) must then exercise our right to choose how we deal with with our individual situations. Do we allow infertility to define us and our happiness or do we rise above it by becoming stronger and more empathetic beacuse of it? I choose the latter!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

From our Front Porch Looking in!


Wait...before you use your back arrow...you are at the right blog! I mentioned in a previous post that I will be giving this little blog of mine a facelift. Well, that includes a new "title" as well as some new "lists" on my sidebar.


All of the links that I have featured under "Inspiring Bloggers" are women whom I consider to exemplify pillars of courage and grace while facing adversity. Many of them have used blogging as a way to share their stories of triumph over trials and tribulations.


Another feature that I have added are links to websites that I believe help to make our world a more beautiful place. "Making Life Beautiful" features links that include both commercial (such as HGTV) and "homemade" websites (i.e. links to wonderfully crafty and talented women).


Finally, I created a separate listing of my favorite digital scrapbooking websites for those of you who are wanting to learn more about this new obssession of mine. Warning...digital scrapbooking can become addictive!


The picture posted is of our beautiful home that we built here in Kansas. (Photo taken during the winter months...yuck...I mean, if you're going to have cold you should at least have snow, right?!) My favorite feature...most definitely the wrap-around porch! While I long to move back "home" (St. Louis), I can't bear the thought of giving up this home that my husband and I poured so much of our heart and soul into and where we brought home both of our babies. I LOVE the sound of the screen door slamming, the "big wheels" rolling, and the pitter patter of little feet!
"And the view I love the most, is my front porch looking in." (Lonestar)


Valentines from the Grandmas




Yesterday, Mary and Benjamin received a package from Mimi & Papa...just in time for Valentine's Day. In the package were little individually wrapped gifts and cards. Mary received an adorable froggy puzzle while Ben received Biscuit's Valentine's Day, a "lift the flap" type of book from the Biscuit series. Of course there were little wrapped packages of candy which the kids immediately tore open. But the joy of all joys...Mimi included heart-shaped balloons inside their Valentine's Day cards...BALLOONS...two for each kid. So, you can guess what they played with for the rest of the night. Kept them entertained for hours...literally! Thanks Mom and Dad!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentines for the Grandmas







One of my New Year's resolutions was to tackle the fine art of digital scrapbooking. This has been a challenging, but very rewarding new hobby. Not only does one need to have an eye for design when creating scrapbook page layouts, but also needs to have a technical touch (i.e. be able to use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements) to edit and create the layouts. There's so much to learn...brushes, layers, how to add embellishments, etc., but it has been a lot of fun and I have been amazed by the wonderfully helpful and talented ladies that I have "met" along the way. (Thank you, again, Brooke!)

I decided to set February 14th as my deadline to create my first "digital" design project. If I didn't, I knew I would forever procrastinate and/or obsess over "perfecting" my technique. To help me get my feet wet, I chose to create mini "badge" albums for the grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Several digital scrapbooking sites offer ready made "kits" for a nominal fee. I purchased the Yours Truly mini badge album kit from Shabby Princess and got to work!
http://www.shabbyprincess.com/

My first album took me over 8 hours to create, but turned out really nice. Once I got the hang of how to open the original document, add layers and edit pictures or text, and then merge and save as jpg files I was on my way! I was then able to print off duplicate copies for the other grandmothers and just recreate the "title" page with the "Dear Grandma" letter. Once printed, trimmed to fit the plastic badge protectors, and assembled the babes and I were off to the post office. We have heard from both of the grandmas and they were tickled pink to receive their mini "brag" badge albums!!!


My next project is to give this little blog of mine a facelift! I absolutely love using the free templates provided by http://www.thecutestblogontheblock.com/ but am determined to personalize our family blog even more. Be on the lookout for our new look in the coming weeks; hopefully just in time for spring...okay, March isn't really spring, but I must tell myself that to make it through these last few weeks of winter!!!



Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mary, Mulan, and "Shear" Madness!








So, most of you know about my obssessing over Mary's hair (or lack of it)! Well, this morning Benjamin and I were up on the 3rd floor cleaning/playing while Mary was supposedly playing with Polly Pockets in her room. Little did I know what she was actually up to...playing beauty shop!

It appears that she took her preschool teacher's suggestion of "practicing cutting skills" to heart and went after her own hair. Why, oh why, could she not have practiced on some lame Barbie doll with gnarly hair?!!!

She actually didn't do too bad of a job as I didn't even notice at first. It was when I found a huge, blonde curl on the dining room table and strands of blonde hair on the oriental rug that I became suspicious that some hair styling had been going on! She only cut "bangs", but I just wanted to die. Four and a half years of growing out what little hair she has, and in one swift cut...gone!
We made an emergency hair appt. at Shear Madness and the lovely stylist was able to blend the new "bangs" into the rest of her hair. Mary no longer looks like she is sporting a mullet! Of course, I was worried when we were at the salon as they never style it like you do and so we had to wait until we got home for the special "Mom" touch! I actually think she looks adorable with her new "do"!

When I asked Mary why she cut her hair she simply replied, "Mom, I wanted to be like Mulan." I about burst out in laughter! If you haven't seen the adorable Disney princess movie Mulan it is about a young Chinese girl who wants to take her father's place and serve as a soldier for the Emperor in their battle against the Huns. Women are not allowed to serve and so Mulan chops off her raven-colored hair to pose as a male soldier. That would be our Mary; so sweet and yet so determined!

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Our future's so bright, we gotta wear shades..."







Just wanted to post a couple of cute pics that I took of Mary and Ben yesterday. We took a day trip up to Grandma Kueter's house, and I snapped these adorable "sunglasses" shots of the kids in the car before take-off!

We love going to Grandma's house for the day! She always feeds us such delicious lunches and of course, her made-from-scratch "cut-out" cookies. Ben calls them "Gammas cook-cooks" and would eat 5 in a row if I let him!



We're off to see the Wizard...













Last week, my friend Sandy and I took our kids to Emerald City. Yes, there really is a gymnastics studio called Emerald City...only in Kansas! They have "open gym" from 11 AM until Noon and the cost is $5 a kid. This was such a great place for them to burn off some pent-up energy during those bitter cold days last week.


The kids had such a great time climbing and experimenting with the different equipment and zones. Mary loved swinging on the giant rope and dropping into a huge foam block pit. Benjamin loved rolling around with the exercise balls on the floor mats and jumping on the trampolines. Both kids enjoyed climbing up the foam blocks and going down the steep, carpted slide. We will definitely be going back to see the Wizard!