Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ride 'em Cowboy...and Indian...

So, this is how it turned out...

An internet cowboy hat pattern, a free-hand band of "feathers," and two stick horses...not bad if I do say so myself! We had a great time and even built a teepee and a tent!

I can't wait for the next day off, snow or otherwise!

Happy Birthday, Braden (finally)...

Last Saturday afternoon, we hosted a smallish play date for Braden's "everyday" friends at that duplex. I usually go all out and invite every child he's ever come in contact with, but since we are completely limited on space, we had to trim it WAY back this year. As it was, we were cramped, but had a great time anyway, as you'll see...

Braden's new obsession with Mr. Mischief became the theme of our little playdate party. We played "stick the nose on Mr. Mischief" and "Mr. Mischief says," instead of Simon says.

Here is the group, except for cousins Tyler and Jacob. I actually have no idea where they were...maybe in the playroom... Notice Braden's Mr. Mischief shirt and Garrett's Mr. Messy one.
"Mr. Mischief says touch your nose and stick one finger in your ear...not the other way around!"

Getting Braden prepped to stick Mr. Mischief's nose ended up right on the spot...hmmm.

Another great creation from Confectionately Yours! I admit it...I'm a cake snob! If you're going to go ahead and eat it, it might as well taste like a little piece of Heaven...not cardboard.


Fort Smith is off again today!!!!!!!!! Now, being the planner that I am, this really puts a wrench in my school groove, but I'm really wondering if we'll now not get out until, like, July or something 'cause we missed two days of school.

Anyway, the boys and I have BIG plans, so check back tonight for some photographic fun! WE are going to create paper cowboy hats and one Native American (Indian, for those of us who can say it and mean no harm) headdress...they got stick horses from their great Aunt Judy and great Uncle Bill for Christmas. Grandma Susie outlawed them in her home and Big Daddy followed suit back at the duplex. Personally, I don't see what the big deal is. SSSSSSOOOOOO, he's not here and we're playing with them!!! Hee, hee, hee! Honestly, I don' t think he really cares, except that it's one more large, cumbersome toy that needs storage...

Forgot to tell that Eric purchased me three of my coveted John Wayne movies on DVD a few nights ago. Send a man to Wal-Mart and he's bound to suprise! Also came back with a bag of powdered donuts...bad boy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nothing Like a Day Off...

I admit it...I lost a bet with my husband that Fort Smith school district would never cancel school today. And, here we are, the boys and I. Lazy Town, Franklin, Moose A. Moose, Zee, Blue's Clues, you name it...we're hunkered down for the day! :0) We didn't even get out of bed until 8:30!

I'll have to think of some creative way to catch up my students...this was to be their final day of research. It'll take guts, daring, creativity, and panache...but I'm sure I'll manage.

Until then, my boys and I have a super duper day ahead of us!

Friday, January 23, 2009

It was worse than even I had imagined...

I left school a little early, heading for the social security office, confident that I had everything I needed to quickly and effectively take care of Braden's replacement card. So, I walked in, struggled slightly to get my "number" from the new self-serv kiosk, and sat in the very last chair in the row, next to the window. My first thought was to wonder why it's now necessary to have a self-serv kiosk to take a number. It offered English and Spanish instructions, but what's so damn complicated about pulling the number sticking out from the roll on the old-style thingy. They do actually still do that over at the antiquated!

Anyway, as I sat there pretending to ponder the oodles of information contained within the pages of my Word Journeys text, I began to take notice of the people around me. Now, this is going to be difficult to explain without sounding completely snobbish, but seeing as how I am STILL trying to get the smell out of my clothes without having to actually change them, here goes:

Almost every single seat was occupied, so it was very cramped. There were two people having a conversation (loudly) a few rows up about trying to stop smoking. And I quote,"My father smoked like a train for 30 plus years and then he quit cold turkey! Six weeks now, not one cigarette!" Let's hope it stays that way, shall we? The sign at the front of the room clearly stated to turn cell phones I did, because I can read. Apparently I am the only one because cell phones were ringing (loudly) right and left. Geez! The man in front of me had the cutest little boy, two I'd say, sleeping on his lap. Both the little boy and the grown man were sporting their sweatjacket hoods indoors...Jen, guess where he's from. A rather large man and his non-bra wearing wife (who had black, no kidding, black teeth) were called to the window beside me three times. When he finally heard, he approached the window by saying (really loudly) "Little girl, you gonna' have to speak up!" Bless her heart, the woman (not little girl) tried in vain to be firm and explain that she had called him three times. She finally stopped fighting it and just asked what they needed...probably in despair over the black-toothed, no bra woman...I was. Said man and no bra woman were there to complain that "you guys" had sent them a statement of benefits cancellation over a felony charge. The big guy protested that the felony had been overturned and lessened to a misdemeanor. Why could he not have his benefits back if his attorney had fixed it (wouldn't be there if it were fixed, genius!)? A verbal debate ensued and it was finally disclosed that the big fellow had not yet paid all of his fines due to misdemeanor and would, therefore, not have benefits reinstated until it was cleared...Big Guy and Black Tooth leave in a huff. Suddenly, from behind me arose another verbal debate over who had cut in front of whom in line at the new fangled self-serv number kiosk...Swear, I was waiting for a fist fight to break out! The security guard, who had been observing all of this menagerie all day, slowly made his way to the kiosk in back to hold up the wall in case of a public dispute. As the number of the gal next to me was called and she departed her seat, a vulture of sorts swooped down to take it. A rather large woman, clad in a hot pink stretchy shirt, too short gray sweat pants, and velcro shoes came rushing past me and hit the toe of my boot with her leg (I tried to move in time, but in vain). "Excuse me," I apologized sincerely and sweetly, hoping not to be burned at the stake for sporting my Tommy sweater and leather boots amongst the complete poverty surrounding me. She looked at me and said "No.........(long pause), excuse ME, " stressing the word 'me.' Now, I could have been misinterpreting her response, but I really don't think so. Made me feel about three inches the heels on my boots...

Finally, my number was called (Thank God, seriously) by a very nice-looking red headed lady who promptly lead me through a door and to her desk in the back. I was thinking "Wahoo! I won' t have to sit out there and do business with everyone up in my business at the window!" As it turns out, they would have just laughed. My Tommy sweater and leather boots had to leave without the card being ordered...

I had filled out the application beforehand, collected all documentation required, and gone in there with a sense of self-assurance that I was prepared and would be triumphant! Puhlease! I laid out all the medical records, insurance cards, my driver's license, his birth certificate, the application, and a smile. This woman looks at me and asks if I have anything else with both my name and Braden's on it...WHAT the HELL? Turns out, birth certificates are useless (so why do we have them?), the insurance is carried by Eric, so the card was useless for me to use to apply, the medical records were copies (duh) and apparently the pediatricians' offices around the globe are supposed to stamp and /or sign the copies they give to people, but, and I quote "Many of them don't know to do it, though." WHY DOESN'T SOMEONE TELL THEM????? I was in quite a huff when I left her desk, stormed through the front door, and fled for my overpriced, gas guzzling SUV.

I swear, there were plenty of people staring when I left. Like I said, I HATE waiting rooms, and maybe people in general...the jury's still out on that one. For sure, I hate the SSAdministration!

Oh, and now Eric has to re-fill the forms in his handwriting, sign, and go in to sit for over an hour himself...because it's his name on the insurance card. Have fun, sweetie!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oh, Tomorrow...


Tomorrow, or today depending on when you read this, I have to go sit at the Social Security office and try to get Braden another card. Ick...

At least it won't be as bad as sitting at the health department, I don't think. Those folks are always sick and they cough on my children. Yes, I'm an office snob. I don't like to be crammed into a waiting room chair, holding my "number," waiting to be called up while shooey people stare at me and breathe on me and look over my shoulder at what I'm reading. I hate it at the doctor's office, the health department, now the ss office, Wal-Mart, the mall, McDonald's, etc. I think I've made my point.

On a brighter note, I can have some "peace," if it can be called that, waiting in line at the ss office instead of dealing with someone else's teenager at school. There is a silver lining!

Oh yeah, and Braden lost all of his proverbial marbles today (classroom incentive plan). He backtalked, ate off the floor, and refused to pick up his mess after playtime. I thought he was getting better and then WHAMO! Disaster. So, WE (he and I) had to write "I will listen to the teacher" twice and I made him add "I am sorry!" Little toot...I've now had to threaten to cancel his smallish, late birthday playdate on Saturday. NO DISCIPLINE, NO FRIENDS! (Is this to hard-core for a five year old?)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Strange Day...

It's just been one of those days. You know the ones...those days when it seems like everything is happening all at once and you can't seem to catch up or catch your breath! That was my day today. Last minute changes of plan, students behaving weirdly, at school until 5 pm, and left-overs again because I overcooked on Monday evening. I could have killed for some chips and salsa tonight, but my housing budget (or lack thereof) has stopped that. It's just been one of those days...

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Seemingly Endless Search for the "Perfect" Home That Does Not Exist...

That's it! I've had it! In the past three months alone, Eric and I have "lost" three different possible homes AND have had our hopes of living high on a mountain vista crushed by the deathly drop on the other side. Did I mention there was such a ridge at this particular possibly-permanent outdoor site that there wasn't even enough flat land to have a yard to speak of?

The last time I got my hopes up the house and three acres sold for cash the day our real estate agent called to set up our appointment to view. CRAP! I saw a sign while out driving this past weekend advertising 1-3 acre properties with new houses..."Pick your paint colors," it proclaimed. So, Eric made the phone call only to find out that both properties have already sold. The sign had been there for less than a week!!!

Economy, schmonomy! There doesn't seem to be much of an economic crisis in Fort Smith, Arkansas, now does there? Yesterday morning, on my way to church, I noticed that the Target parking lot was already covered and Cheddar's had a line out the door at 10:15...they don't even flippin' open until 11:00! The housing crunch I see all over the news EVERY night does not exist in our neck of the woods!

Sadly, if I didn't care how big my yard would be, I could pretty much have the house of my dreams, no problem. However, I do care. I have two already-large boys who love to romp and roam and wrestle...not in my house! So, I would normally send them out to play in our formally LARGE yard/paradise. I knew we had an abnormally big yard over on Blackjack, but I didn't realize that EVERY OTHER SUBDIVISION IN TOWN places their homes on postage stamps!

AND, forget acreage. Unless we suddenly become willing to move to Greenwood, it's not going to happen! There is NOTHING, not even one acre, in our price range...and don't even think that it might already have a semi-normal home built on it!

Eric just says to keep waiting for spring when the newest sellers will come on the market. Again, CRAP! We've been looking for a home for over a year now and I'm sick of it. But, if we let our guard down for even a day, we're lible to miss something, the "dream home..."

I'm tired of living in someone else's house. I'm tired of not having a yard for my children to play in. I'm tired of the gal who lives in front of us blocking the entire driveway with one of her four vehicles. I'm tired of only having one sink in the "master" bathroom. I'm tired of my chilren destroying my dining room furniture that HAS to be in the kitchen because there's no where else for it to go. I'm tired of the washer and dryer being in the kitchen (at least Eric fixed the five-year squeak in the dryer on Sat.). I'm tired of Eric looking for the glass bowls he makes salad in...for the fifty-millionth time...I only brought what was absolutely necessary. Nothing else will fit! They are in the stinkin' storage building!

I know that this duplex wouldn't be so bad if we were building a home elsewhere, which was the original plan. But now, we have no plan, no prospects, and I have no hope of ever finding what we are looking for. In the end, we may have to settle for a small yard, but this crazy looking and being disappointed all the time is wearing thin.

I'm just tired of it...

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Weighting Game...

Vintage Weight Watchers scale
Originally uploaded by melisdramatic

My mom had one of these when we were growing up. I remember her struggling with her weight and going to the WeightWatchers meetings. I would say my heftiness is hereditary, but really, I think many humans, men and women alike, struggle.

Jen and I worked out together Thrusday for the first time after school in the slightly ghetto exercise room. The staff donated "old" equipment to the cause so that our students would actually be doing something during PE...and now we are making good use of everyone else's cast-offs. I went by myself today and I think I may have strained my left calf's a tad bit difficult to walk.

So, if you see me about town this long MLK weekend (thank God), and I happen to have a slight limp, you'll know why. I've managed to injure myself. It's reminiscent of the Wii tennis elbow I developed over Christmas break (but I'm nearly a pro now!).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Santa rocks!

Braden and Garrett finally got to try out their "Santa gifts" today...everyone knows that only a daddy can make all of the exact adjustments so little boys can ride safely!They couldn't ride the fist day they got them because we didn't have helmets. Garrett questioned what kind of a guy Santa was that he wouldn't provide helmets for the cool bikes. Braden (AKA "The Wise One") replied: Santa's elves only make bikes, not helmets. Wal-Mart makes helmets! He's good...

At the end of their patience and ours, they had only ridden for about fifteen minutes. It's going to take a while for them to practice up and get good, so to speak, but we all had a great time!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


University of Oklahoma
Originally uploaded by Paul L McCord Jr

So they lost, big deal! I, personally, am not a fair weather fan. I am a Sooner through and through, and am doing my best to teach my children to cheer on the right team, specifically, not Missouri (or Arkansas). Unfortunately, Eric is a through and through Tiger fan. Poor man.

I just want to say that I'm proud of the Sooners. They've had a great season and the game against Florida was a blast! There's nothing I hate more than seeing a blowout championship game where it's obvious that one team shouldn't be there...and OU's done its share of messing up, I'll admit. But, this was a wonderful season.

*I would also like to give kudos to the bulk of the teaching staff at Grace Place Preschool! Sooner fans far outnumber Razorback fans there and they don't hassle my baby Sooners for their choice of attire or the cheers they so randomly break into! :0)

I May Never Look Like This, But...

Pilates Exercise Instructor
Originally uploaded by sandybelk

The time has come. I began exercising again this morning and now my legs feel as if they may actually turn to Jello! Jen and I set a schedule for working out on the machines at school two days a week. It's a slow start but, quite frankly, slow is good right now. I did, however, make it through my entire Slim in 6 workout DVD this morning, which doesn't usually happen.

Right after I had Garrett (now 3) I lost about forty pounds of baby weight in no time with this program. Since then, I've let myself be carried away through two years worth of calorie laden holidays: Halloween runs into Thanksgiving that runs into Christmas that runs into Valentine's Day that runs into Easter that puts me so close to summer and shorts that I get depressed and eat for the heck of it. NO more!

I truly enjoyed the homemade fudge over Christmas and I don't feel the least bit guilty. I do, though, want to look and feel better. Unfortunately, I'm in that rut where I'm so tired I don't exercise, even though I know exercise will make me feel better.

So, like I said, the time has come. While my legs may feel like Jello today, by next week I should be good to go...and I'm really looking forward to feeling better and more energized and to summer...

Friday, January 9, 2009

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Steel Babies...

At the Gerdau MacSteel family picnic in September, the organizers had a booth set up for kids to have their photo taken in gear that at least resembled what their daddies wear in the steel mill. Eric and I LOVED the idea, but our children balked big time! As is evident, they were totally not into it. However, being the stellar parents that we are, we forced them to dress up and have their photo made. The really fun part was trying to get them to stand this close to one another without all out warfare starting. We managed, and now that the photos are finally back, I couldn't help but share. These faces are priceless!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

NotMeMonday.jpg (image)

NotMeMonday.jpg (image)
I discovered this totally fun way to live in denial from my blog buddy Jennifer's page. She's really good at this and I'm getting there...have been practicing by commenting back to her. So, here goes, this is everything I HAVEN'T been up to:

I did NOT eat the chocolate frosting off of Braden's birthday cookie cake...

I did NOT eat my weight in homemade fudge over the Christmas holiday...

I did NOT clean up on peppermint patties at my mo-in-law's house...

I did NOT wrap whole blocks of swiss cheese in crescent rolls and bake for the ultimate holiday snack... (served w/super healthy apple wedges, though!)

I did NOT order Papa John's whole wheat crust on two pizzas last night and throw a whole one away because the crust was so NASTY...(If you're gonna' have pizza, have pizza...)

Finally, I DID, honestly, refrain from eating pizza at the faculty meeting this afternoon. I had my Special K2O protein water mix and was only slightly hungry...then I smelled the pizza and my stomach went NUTS!

Jen, I am in need of a little "lifestyle change"
Advice, anyone? I'm open to suggestion. I feel like I have to wear skirts to work everyday because my pants don't fit right. ARGH!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Mr. Mischief...

If you could be a Mr Man character, which one would you be?
Originally uploaded by Dancing Fish

Braden is five today and has recently become obsessed with the Mr. and Miss characters. I remember having a book collection of these critters when I was a kid, but no one else I ask seems to recall them. Thank goodness for the net, because they are everywhere. AND, Target now has a section near the cards completely devoted to Little Miss Sunshine. Braden, however, is all about Mr. Mishchief. I couldn't help purchasing a set of $4 magnets at Target to satisfy his newfound love of these characters. As soon as I save up a little moolah, I plan to purchase the complete book sets. *I also found T-shirts at Gap Kids a few months ago, Mr. Mischief and Mr. Messy, and I HAD to get them. What we won't do for our children. Problem: Garrett's obsessed with Mr. Bump...and I have no T-Shirt of Mr. Bump. I'm trying to find a way to incorporate these lively characters into a birthday party for Braden in a few weeks. I'll keep you posted. Oh yeah, any and all ideas are welcomed!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Garrett threw up all over me last night...coughing too much. No fever, no chills, no sore throat, just too much coughing! So, just when I thought I'd crawl in bed, it happened. I just went in to check on him because he was sort of making a funny little noise. Then, you know it! Eric had to get up and help me...first words "Did it get on the carpet?!?!?"

So, we're here at home this morning instead of church. That being said, say an extra prayer for us! :0)

Back to the trenches tomorrow...ick. The upside...Braden's birthday! HOORAY!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Even though it's late...

I can't help myself. I've got no one to share this with except ...well, the computer, I guess. Eric and I have been trying to get the kids to go to sleep since's now 11:30ish! He just came out of their room yelling "Ouch! You kids are physically causing me pain!" So, naturally (being the devoted, concerned spouse that I am), I inquired as to the issue. "I stuck my hand in the fan!," he replied testily. The fan in reference would be the ceiling fan...

I made the cardinal mistake of failing to stifle my immediate chuckle and received a dirty look and a door slam in return. Now, you see, I really do feel badly that my wonderful husband got his hand hit by the ceiling fan, but he's really a big guy, not easily harmed, or so I thought. The question begs to be asked...was he really hurt, or was he merely being overly dramatic for the sake of the children and myself...the laugher? Who knows, but , poor man, he's really frustrated w/these kids tonight, as am I. Maybe by midnight we'll all be tuckey cozily in our beds. Until then, I've got a little more laundry to do and Braden's party favors need to be finished.

Nite, nite;
Sleep tight;
Don't let the bed bugs bite!

My First-born Turns Five...

As the old saying goes, "Where does the time go?" My oldest, Braden Riley, turns five on Monday! Try as I might, I simply cannot wrap my brain around the fact that he's been around for five whole years! He's developed such an interesting and entertaining personality, not to mention he's a slight pain in the neck at times, but his dad and I love him dearly. Five years...I've decided to take a stroll down memory lane, recalling the joys of the first born child.
*I promise not to cry during the production of this blog.*

Braden, 2 years-Garrett, 10 mos.

Braden, 2, battling the neighbors oversized soccer ball and developing a love of the game.

Three weeks and already enduring Mom's stupid photo shoots...

Papa Curley and Grandma Susie adoring their first grandchild, AKA "Bright Eyes." Six months later, Papa Curley was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away by the time Braden was was a short-lived, but passionate, love affair he had with little Braden. He treasured this little guy. And that's how he referred to Braden, as the "Little Guy."

The magical feeling of being a new mommy, I vividly recall Braden snoring loudly as Eric snapped this photo. Some things never change...

Back Home...

Finally, we are home! We had a great visit to Edwardsville, IL for the Christmas holiday, but the whole family breathed a sigh of relief to back in The Fort. The boys slept well last night, thank goodness, but were up at 7 this morning! ARGH!

I'm dreading going back to work on Monday, but Monday is also Braden's fifth birthday! Yippee! He's having a small party at school and then we'll have a small "home" party in a few weeks.

We were able to get a table at Cheddar's today and the boys were so excited! I've never seen two children go nuts over a cheese sandwich and chicken tenders...go figure!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I can't believe I forgot to share the saga of Garrett Jake last night...New Year's Eve...

Eric and I decided that we'd see a movie, Yes Man (hilarious!), after we got the boys settled in bed for the night. We didn't get them in the bed until 8:30 and the movie started at nine, so they weren't down long before we had to go. Braden was snoozing when I checked on them, but Garrett was whispering "I want you." I said "You have me." "No," he whimpered, "I want you to sleep with me!" GULP! I pried mysef out of his tiny arms, kissed and hugged him fervently, and made a run for it.

So, things were fine when we left. Grandma Susie had our cell numbers and we were off. Nothing eventful happened while we watched the movie, but when we got back at 11:00, Garrett Jake Springs was lying on the sofa beside his grandma watching Spider Man! I demanded to know why she didn't call (she's usually in the bed early), and she just said that he wasn't upset, so there was no need. Go figure. One minute he won't give any hugs or kisses for Grandma Susie, but when the time is right...well, let's just say he's a manipulator of the perfect circumstance!

Eric and I managed to open one eye each when the fireworks went off in the neighborhood at midnight..."We made it," we cheered to one another, but I'm pretty sure we had dosed off a bit. The saga continues...2009 is sure to have lots of stories! :0)

Welcome 2009

It's finally here! I, personally, am feeling good about the new year and all of the prospects it holds. By the time we ring in the next new year, Braden will be five, will have started kindergarten, and (with a little luck and much prayer) we'll be in a new home. I can't wait to see what the new year has in store for our family!

Happy New Year!