Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Surprise...I'm coming home!

Tonight my husband was supposed to be moonlighting. That meant that he’d go straight from the office, to the hospital, and not be home until sometime tomorrow evening.

I was home all day with the kids today, and by 5:30, I HAD to get out of the house…no matter what shape the house was in. So we headed off to the mall to the food court, where they also have a play area for the kids.

On my way there, I called my husband to see if he wanted me to pick him up some dinner and drop it off at the hospital. But he informed me that he switched call with someone, and he’d be coming home. I guess my response was less than enthusiastic, because he asked me why I didn’t seem happy that he was coming home. But how could I when I knew that:

The kiddie pool was sitting on the front driveway filled with water and toys.
There were wet towels hanging over the rocks in our front yard.
The kitchen table was filled with scattered papers, markers, coloring books, tape, etc.
The movie room contained many of the kids toys, that are supposed to remain in the toy room….and I wasn’t even sure if I had turned off the projector.
The hallways all had loose articles of clothing, toys, books, etc.
The kitchen sink and counters were filled with dirty dishes.
The clean laundry was still piled in our bedroom, unfolded.
My “get a job” papers were scattered all over his office floor with my laptop hooked up to the cables that were supposed to be in his computer.

I couldn’t SOUND happy, because I knew that when he got home, he certainly wouldn’t BE happy.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Bundle of Love

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Heaven...or hell.

Milk chocolate covered potato chips.

Is there anything more delicious?

Or more sinful?


Is this the one?

First I'd like to start off this post by stating that I realize how blessed I am. I am so fortunate to be in this situation, and for that I thank my husband for all his hard work.

I've made it quite clear to several people that I'm not a great stay-at-home mom. As a matter of fact, I try to get out of the house as much as possible. My kids pretty much expect us to go somewhere, or do something fun almost every day. The more we hang around the house (unless we're watching movies) the crazier and messier everything seems to get. And my patience wears tissue-paper thin.

Now, I have an amazing nanny, and I've finished all my Master's work, so lately, I've just been bored. And the decision of what to do next year has been on my mind all the time...stressing me out actually. Yes, as I stated in the beginning, I understand how fortunate I am to be in this situation, where I have choices and finanacially it doesn't matter what I do. I wrote in a previous post about my options after I graduated, and at the time I was leaning toward starting a consulting business where I would work with teachers..probably in charter schools. And this is what my husband thought would be wonderful. And my best friend out East was all interested in how I was going to do this and such. And at first I thought this would be great, but as the reality of this set in, I didn't really feel the passion for it. It got to the point where I found myself planning it out because I knew my husband was excited about it....but I wasn't anymore. Because honestly, I have this strong desire to work with adolescents...not just teachers. This is where I excel. It's in inspiring these kids to read, or write, or just do something, anything, that really gets me going and is exciting to me. That's where my true passion and calling lies.

So I started asking God to help me figure out what to do. And I told God that it would be really great if he'd just whomp me over the head with the opportunity that he wants me to take...because I have all sorts of different things I can look into, but I just don't know what exactly I should persue and put my energy into. In all honesty, I really just want a very part-time middle school position, where I can use my knowledge and passion to connect with kids.....BUT I don't want it to be such a time and energy committment that I can't enjoy the time I have with my own kids...AND I want it to be fairly close by. That's a HUGE request, because rarely are there part-time middle school positions as a Language Arts teacher.

But today, for some reason, when Sara had the kids and I was supposed to be making all sorts of doctors/dentist appointments and going through the paperwork piled up on my desk, I decided to just look into the employment link of a nearby school district.

And wouldn't you know, I came across a .2 FTE (that's like maybe 2 classes) Language Arts middle school position. Although I really don't know anything about the job, it fits all the logistical requirements I listed above.

So I immediately kicked myself in the butt and started creating an updated resume, a letter of inquiry, requesting letters of recommendation, completing an online application and e-mailing the principal of the school directly.

I'm not sure what, if anything, will come of all this. But please pray that if it's God's will, that I get an interview for this position. Because right now, I really do want it!

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

What a vacation

My husband often talks about getting a cabin. Because out here in Minnesota, everyone has a cabin…usually on or close to a lake. I wouldn’t actually know because no one actually invites you to their cabin. They just like to talk about when they go “to the cabin.” But to me, a cabin means a lake (dirty), fishing (boring) , boating (too difficult with younger ones), woods (mosquitoes) and a lot of work (packing, cooking, etc). I see myself cooped up in an old place, trying to entertain my kids who need to be at home with their toys, friends, and places to go.

Now me, I’m all about the “shore house.” Because at the shore in Ocean City, New Jersey, where I’ve been almost every year since I was a baby, we can:

Run on the boardwalk
Build sand castles

Boogie board in the ocean or just jump the waves

Go miniature golfing on several different courses
Go on fun amusement rides

Eat ice cream every night…watching the model trains at the ice cream store.
Get Tattoos (the airbrush kind)
Catch crabs (and buy more blue claws to supplement everyone’s appetites)

Hang out with family and friends

Ride bikes

Go for pony rides

People watch on the boards or from our front deck
Listen to polka bands walking down the street

Have our faces painted

Get free balloon sculptures
Hang out with characters

Yeah, there’s still the packing and some cooking…but with great shops, yummy food and lots of entertainment, the shore house beats the cabin…no competition.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Don't wake me up from this dream

Brace yourself for this….

Tonight, with my husband out of town, my kids were actually quite wonderful!

After dinner, we went outside to play, but we ended up weeding the flowerbeds instead. And the boys were actually quite helpful, especially Cameron. Ella did her usual flower picking, and Max would pick something and then bring it to me to ask me if it was a weed. Thankfully, since my garden hadn’t been touched in almost 2 weeks, almost everything was a weed.

Then we decided to play a little Frisbee. And instead of Cameron getting mad because Ella wanted to play and have the Frisbee all the time, he actually was very patient and kept trying to include her. He even said that she should get three tries since she was so little. Max, who recently would give up as soon as he threw the Frisbee wrong and start crying, actually stuck with it, and started to get good, even catching a few as well.

After taking turns shooting a few hoops, they came inside for baths without even complaining. They all marched upstairs and went right into the tub. Ella was so eager to get a bath, when I was looking for some towels, she decided to join her brothers before I had even taken off her clothes.

Right now they’re all downstairs snuggled on one chair watching a movie. Let’s hope bedtime goes just as smoothly.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Travel challenge

I just survived a 3 hour flight alone with my three munchkins. Oh, and also, add to that about 40 minutes waiting on the runway during which time Ella made it quite clear to the entire full plane that she was not happy.

As I was leaving the plane, one man looked at me and said, "God bless you!"

Now onto a glass....or two...or three...of wine.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

HP Update

Barnes and Noble fooled me, and instead of getting my Harry Potter CDs to me on the 21st, they merely sent them out on the 21st…with the intention of getting it to me by the 23rd. I was pissed, and apparently I wasn’t the only one. Because as I wrote my e-mail of complaint about the fact that I was deceived, the company responded with a generic e-mail explaining to me that they couldn’t respond to me in a timely manner due to the high volume of inquiries about Harry Potter orders.

So I went right out and bought the book. By the time I got home from the boardwalk and put the kids to bed, it was after 10:30. I was able to read 13 whole pages before my eyelids refused to stay open. Then the next day, as I glanced around the beach seeing everyone reading their copy, I had to spend my time making sure my kids didn’t drown, or get lost, or run on top of someone else’s blanket with their sandy feet. So Harry had to wait. At night, after the tantrums I wrote about yesterday, due to some very late and long naps, Max and Ella were awake until 12:30 at night! Needless to say, I only got a few more pages read…I think I’ve finished two whole chapters!

But today the CDs arrived…and as I write, I’m downloading the chapters onto my iPod. Hopefully this new medium, that I can use as I run and on car trips, will help me finish the novel sometime before this year is up!

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Triple Tantrum

We’ve moved from our weekly rental to my mom and dad’s house for a few days until we return home early this week. Next door to them is a rental, and the family this week has a baby, who must be close to Ella’s age. I often here her on their front porch. It’s always nice to know that there are other kids nearby entertaining the neighborhood with their vociferous cries.

“Sounds like my kids will have some competition this week,” I said as I was sitting out on the porch with my dad.

Without any hesitation, my dad snickered, “Oh no. There is no competing with your kids, Cari. I just don’t know what happened to them.” We both laughed.

This response didn’t surprise me, as my dad is not around kids anymore. And earlier in the day, we were discussing something about getting paid for what we do. My dad said that whatever it is I get paid, it’s not enough. Quite the comedian he thinks he is!

But tonight, all he said was magnified ten fold. Earlier in the day, I had warned my friend Lanette who was down with her son that my kids went to sleep very late last night and they would be in rare form. However, they actually surprised me and ended up playing quite nicely on the beach. And when we took the boys on the boardwalk for dinner and rides, all went quite well. But then something…not sure what…but something happened, and the evening ended with ALL of my kids having complete meltdowns at the same time.

Cameron decided that a couple blocks away from home, after we had just left an ice cream parlor that had a bathroom, that he absolutely had to pee right at that moment. And he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let him go on a tree. He continued screaming and crying, “I can’t hold it!” and pleaded for me to let him go in the bushes, as I continued walking ahead of him, assuring him that he’d make it, and if he didn’t he’d be in big trouble.

At the same time, Max, who had fallen asleep just before we visited the ice cream place, woke up in the stroller I was pushing. He suddenly started crying, for no apparent reason, and he just wouldn’t stop. Then the crying turned to screams, and no matter what I said, he continued. I finally got it out of him when we were at my parent’s condo that his scraped knees (that I had caused…but that’s another story) were hurting him, and that he wanted ice cream.

Ella was sitting in her high chair calmly slurping up the snack my mom had given her, content as could be, despite all the screaming going on around her. But as soon as I opened the door to take screaming Max back outside to get ice cream, Ella saw me leaving and began screaming and crying hysterically.

So I had one scraped-knee kid in the hallway screaming for ice cream, another in my mom’s arms screaming for me to get her, and one in the bathroom, still screaming, despite the fact that he had used the potty successfully.

My dad was right: nobody...especially tonight...nobody could compete with my kids.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Potter...say no more!

Tomorrow the final Harry Potter book comes out, and I’ve been stressed out about it months ago ever since the media started mentioning it again. My husband thinks I'm being absolutely ridiculous, but I can't help it.

Why might such an exciting occasion bring on the butterflies?

One reason….those fast readers.

There will be an assortment of kids and adults who have nothing else to do but cozy up with their book and read it from beginning to end in one day. And then whether or not Harry dies will be all over TV, newspapers, radio, etc. Is it possible for me to avoid the media frenzy until I’m able to finish the novel? And then can I steer clear of the conversations of people who will have assumed that I have finished the monstrous text? And what if I overheard someone talking about it in line at the grocery store? Or what if I happen upon a blog that reveals the ending?

See why I'm a little uptight about this? I don’t want this sacred event ruined!


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Just say cheese!

Every year my grandfather hosts a dinner for our whole family at a local restaurant. Each year it gets bigger and bigger, as more people marry and more babies are born. This year we decided to get a family portrait on the beach. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Well, this involves organizing around 40 people, with a handful being under the age of 2. Still sound nice?

Of course my two little ones didn’t cooperate very well. They kept screaming and trying to get out of our arms, while everyone else waited patiently. And the wind didn’t do much justice for those of us who had long hair. So who knows whether all of our work to have this photo done will even be worth it.

But I did get a few cute shots of my own kids, individually. One of these days I’ll get a nice family portrait with all my kids together. Or should I say one of these YEARS!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Quick Visit

Well, we survived the plane ride to New Jersey. Thankfully, Ella managed to save the diarrhea gushing down her leg for the car rental waiting room.

Except for the fact that my kids don’t understand the concept of sleeping in on vacation, we’re having a wonderful and incredibly busy trip.

Yesterday I met up with one of my friends who lives out west now, but is in New York City for a couple weeks. She, her husband and son drove down to experience the “Jersey Shore.” When you grow up in the Midwest, you just don’t get the concept of the shore until you’re actually here. We went to the beach while the kids played in the water and sand, and we visited an Ocean City institution…Mack & Manco pizza, where the place was so packed with loud families, my own rambunctious children fit right in. We were able to walk briefly on the boards and glance at the rides before they had to head back north to return the rental car.

The most interesting part was watching their little son, who is just a few months younger than Ella. Being around my kids before and knowing how they behave, my friend always says that she had one of my children. But this idea did not register properly until I actually saw him in action. Seriously, he fit right in with my kiddos. Not sitting for dinner, walking around getting into everything, throwing a tantrum because he wanted the ice cream in the cone, not in a cup, walking his way down the boards and insisting we follow him instead of heading in the direction we needed to go. My friend said that she enjoyed being around us because she didn’t feel like she had to apologize for her son’s behavior!

The visit was so short, but it was wonderful having them here. I think vacationing with great friends, no matter how short the time may be, is just fabulous! Can’t wait to visit them sometime soon.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Up, up and away...hopefully

If the flight attendant from this flight is the same one on our flight leaving this Saturday,


we'll be booted from the plane before we even find our seats.

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Injured toe...AGAIN!

Today at about 2 o’clock, for no apparent reason except for my own clumsiness, I slammed my left pinky toe in to the door frame. I heard a crunch, and a blood blister immediately formed on the top of the toe. It then swelled up, became black and blue, and touching it slightly was nothing but painful. I didn’t even try to bend it.

But at 2:30, I had a pedicure appointment that I was LONG overdue for.

So I had a dilemma…..pedicure with an injured toe…or to the doctor’s for an x-ray.

I did what any sensible woman would do who was about to spend a week at the beach.

Don’t they look pretty.

I told the lady doing my pedicure that I had hurt my toe so I only wanted her to paint it and nothing else. Well, she wasn’t too versed in English, and although she was more gentle with that toe, she proceeded to cut, rub and sometimes even squeeze my injured digit. A few times I almost screamed in pain…but managed just to hold it in and flinch instead.

Later I went to the doctor’s. Looking at the bruising and blood blister, he told me I had probably broken it. But the x-ray showed that there was no fracture involved.

Hopefully it will heal soon.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One down...thousands to go

Cameron finished his first chapter book today. We’re all so excited. He’s been reading it to me for the last week. And now he can’t wait to get started on the second book in the series.

I’m not gonna lie and tell you that he just loves reading and that prompted a sudden surge of the activity. No, I finally just stuck with the rule that he couldn’t play on his computer until he read a chapter to me from a Magic Tree House book. At first it was long and slow, but I can honestly tell you that by the end of the novel, his reading had truly improved. Thus, evidence to the fact that you become a better reader by reading….not by answering multiple choice questions at the end of a passage (oh, but that’s a different post).

So although it’s not the great pleasure of the print motivating him, I’m hoping that eventually he will develop a love and I will catch him late one night, with a flashlight under his blanket, reading for the pure joy of it.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happy Not Birthday

Today Max officially turned three.

He decided that 4 AM was a great time to start the celebration.

He spent the morning randomly tossing his birthday toys over his head, not caring what it was or who they hit.

Every time someone told him happy birthday, he’d scream, “It’s not my birthday!” and get really, really mad.

Whenever anyone called to wish him well, he’d again deny the occassion, and throw the phone down.

If you asked him how old he was, he’d say every number except his actual age.

That’s my Max for you.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Party for Ogres

The weather report said sunny in the morning with developing isolated thunder storms by the afternoon, with a chance of severe storms. I kept telling myself that it was NOT going to rain. It was too hot and sunny all morning for a cloud to creep into the sky. I refused, no matter how many times I checked the Yahoo weather forecast, I refused to believe it was going to rain. I organized everything outside. I filled up the water balloons. I hid the scavenger hunt clues. I refused to cancel the inflatable wizard castle. It just was not going to rain. Not during Max’s birthday party. Those developing clouds were going to pass over. That grey blur in the distance was just an illusion. It was not going to rain.

It rained……HARD!

But that’s not all that went awry.

Before the guests even arrived, the Inflatable castle, that I spent way too much money for, flipped over, because the guy didn’t stake it down and a gust of wind caused it to topple. The company was supposed to send someone to fix it, but they were taking too long. A neighbor and my husband were able to get it up and running again….until the lightening started.

My husband was in charge of the grilling. However, he was on-call, and had had so many deliveries this week, including more today. He managed to come home for about an hour to get some of the hot dogs and hamburgers grilled, in the downpour. Except this was the first time he had ever used our brand new gas grill (we’ve always had charcoal), and he underestimated the power of the flame. The hotdogs were perfect, but the burgers were charred. Then he got paged again, and we were left broiling the remaining burgers in the oven.

The rain did seem to let up a bit, so I decided to go ahead and inflate the castle again. However, while some kids were jumping around in it, the thing just cut off, collapsing a few of the kids inside. We managed to get all the kids out safely, but the rain started again, so that was the end of the castle.

So for almost the entire party, we had about 20 ogres wandering around the house, along with their parents. I improvised with some of the games to convert them for indoor. And all my adult friends who came were very helpful in keeping the kids in line when trying to play the games, open gifts, have dinner and cake, clean-up etc.

I’m sure the kids had a lot of fun, but personally, I was very disappointed. I had spent a lot of time and energy planning this party, and I even made a schedule for exactly when everything was supposed to be happening. But because we had to move it all inside, it just seemed hectic and out of control to me.

But Max did participate in some of the games, (even though he kept telling me all week that he didn’t want to do any of them). And even though he kept screaming to everyone that it wasn’t his birthday and Sara had to trap him from running away while everyone sang, Max did blow out the candles on his cake. My friend Angela made some delicious gluten/dairy free Shrek cookies for the people with food allergies. And the Shrek “ears” were a huge hit!

But next year, I think we’ll skip the big “at home” party and find an alternate, indoor location.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Leave it to me to order all Max's Shrek party supplies and have them delivered to our old address...from 2 years ago!

Luckily when I drove by the house in the evening, the current owners were nowhere to be seen, and the box with the Shrek pinata, stickers, pez dispensers, etc. was still sitting right on their porch (which is what the Fed-Ex tracking system indicated).

Party on Sunday...about 20 kids and their families. Should be interesting.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy 4th

Yesterday was a very busy Fourth of July, filled with a parade, swimming, BBQ at a friend's house, and fireworks!

In the morning we went to a small town parade. How small was it?

--The most decorated float looked like it had taken merely an hour (maybe) to decorate.
--I had no idea who the Grand Marshall was.
--There was not one single high school marching band.
--The parade actually went down one side of the street, did a U turn, and came back down the other side! And we’re talking a fairly narrow street.

But everyone was decked out in Red White and Blue, and the kids, especially Cameron, had a blast catching all the candy, freeze pops and beads that were thrown to the crowd. Ella was basically catatonic, needing a nap so bad, as she sat in her stroller watching the scene. And Max was so excited that he forgot that he had to go to the bathroom until he was actually doing it in his pants (as Melvin was holding him!). I had no extra shorts to change him. But Max didn’t care. He told me, “That’s okay, they’ll dry in the sun, Mommy!”

At night we lit a few of our own small fireworks but were completely upstaged by our neighbors, who shot off the Wisconsin “illegals.” Which actually was great, because then I didn’t feel guilty that I didn’t cart my kids out to some overcrowded, bug infested park at 10 PM for the loud display of fireworks the city put on. We could actually see them, although far away, from our neighborhood. So we just chilled out on the curb and oooed and ahhed close to home.

But the best part of the day was that Melvin did not have to work and was available. It was so wonderful doing the “family thing” for an entire day.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A girl and her shoes

Except for being able to run with my best friend Lanette, nothing motivates me more to hit the pavement than a new pair of running shoes. With my Marine Corps marathon training starting soon, I definitely needed some serious motivation.

Today when I went into the running store, I had only 2 requirements for my shoes (okay I had a price requirement as well, but in order to meet my first two requirements, I had pretend I never made the pricing one).

Requirement #1: The shoe had to be a high cushion shoe.
Requirement #2: The shoe had to be PINK!

I don’t know what it is, but since having a little girl, I’ve fallen in love with all things pink. Not pastel pink, but bright, fun pink.

So I walked out of the store with these. Today I did 7 miles on the treadmill, and so far so good. They don’t make me any faster, or help me go any longer….but they sure do look cute!

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Morning Masterpiece

If your middle child decides that 3:30 AM is a great time to start the day, and then your youngest joins him at 5 AM, don’t think that when they’re settled and watching TV, you should be able to get a little snooze in on the couch. Because if you do, you might wake up to this:

Max had decided to get out the art supplies and make some pictures. Ella was sitting up on the table with him applying the stamp pad ink to her face.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dinnertime doom

When I left my friend's house, I told her that we were going to Red Lobster for dinner, but that it always ends up being an absolute disaster. However, I had a craving for crab legs, so we were going to try it again.

Well, some things just don't change.

Tonight, I ended up just boxing my meal to eat at home....actually almost all of us did the same thing. The boys filled up on biscuits and chocolate milk before their meal even arrived. And Ella REFUSED with all her might to sit with us. So, between taking the boys to the bathroom twice, and walking crabby Ella around outside while Melvin tried to convince the boys to eat their food, I only had a chance to eat some salad. I don't know why we even bother.

One of these days, the restaurants that we frequent are going to come to their senses and when they see us coming toward their entrance, they’ll quickly turn off all the lights and put up a “Closed” sign. It would save us all a lot of headaches and hassles.

And yet, earlier today I took 5 kids into Burger King, all by myself, and none of us had any trouble finishing our food.

The solution here: More restaurants need to install play places.

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