Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday afternoon at the park

We are going to the park to play and have an early afternoon dinner around 3:30 pm today. Everyone is invited. Come, bring your own eats and drinks, but if you are able and interested come and laugh and have fun for a few hours. We will be at the Milliken Park on Milliken half a block below Mountain View Avenue. They have lots of benches, BBQ grills if you are so inclined to grill, a big playground for the kids to play, a big field for the kids to run/play soccer/football/etc and a big sand volleyball pit.  If you have a better suggestion for a park let us know!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Freebie! Body and Soul magazine

This just in a freebie sub for Body and Soul magazine from Rewards Gold. Just click here and it'll link you over there. Good luck.

Has anyone seen a pair of 4T Lightning McQueen boys underwear? I think the toilet ate them!

I had a pretty rough night last night. It really isn't anything new. Peter didn't get home until 3 am from the high school where he was trying to fix the computers. Jon spent a restless night in our bed next to the ever present Ethan. Then it was up by 6 am to start the day again.
Feeling sorry for yourself never works! You only come to realize that yes, the day can get worse.  Case in point, my day today.
Jonathon spent the day at home today. He had an upset stomach last night where his stomach contents took flight in my bedroom all over the carpet as he ran to my bathroom. At least that is the quick way of getting rid of a stomach ache. I just wish he had done it in the toilet, in the bathroom.
Jon's been home all day. We've done some homework. He's watched a movie. We gave up cable so there's no live television, just movies. He's bored. Jon has been trying unsuccessfully to get the Wii to work. No dice! It's as temperamental as a premenstrual girl. And yes, I am allowed to say that because I have one- a premenstrual girl that is. 
Things have been going fairly well today considering. Ethan got off to school. He wasn't falling asleep excessively during school (he's on new meds).  The babies got off to sleep; when both nap at the same time, I get some downtime to get chores done or catch a quick nap . My friend Jane Bradshaw stopped by for a visit. That's been the highlight of the day.
At 1:45 Ethan arrived home on the bus as usual. He saw his scooter as soon as he got off the bus and I let him play for a few minutes. Bella followed us out, too and then she decided to make a dooky on the neighbor's lawn. Ethan made a big deal out of it. Oooh gross! You know the drill. 
I ran inside to get a plastic bag. That's one thing those recyclable bags are great for- doggy doo! While I ran inside for the plastic bag, Ethan decided he needed to relieve himself IN THE NEIGHBOR'S BUSHES!!! This particular neighbor is not at all fond of me. While we were playing outside yesterday, she almost ran over Aeron, as he ran into the street while I was retrieving a ball we had been playing with. Accidents happen! Thankfully that accident was prevented. I apologized and felt bad. You can't please everybody all the time. I am a good mother, I promise.
Seeing Bella relieve herself on the neighbor's lawn must have helped motivate Ethan. So, no sooner had I helped Ethan adjust his pants and pick up Bella's dooky, Ethan went over into the other next door neighbor's rose bushes and pooped his pants. That's all fine and dandy. We play this little game everyday. 
Sometimes twice a day, Ethan poops his pants and I clean him up. I keep cleaning up after him with the hope that going #2 in the toilet will eventually click for him. Not yet. Maybe someday! I have consulted a behaviorist ( a specialist who works with kids to improve certain/any/all behaviors which may be of concern). She spoke at Ethan's school about shaping behavior. She says to keep trying.
I cleaned up Ethan. Took care of the underwear and it's contents. And we left the bathroom. I told Ethan, "Come on, let's go get your underwear." He didn't want to go. Instead, he wanted to be "helpful" and clean his underwear out, even though I had already done it. So, while I hunted for a clean pair of underwear, Ethan returned to the bathroom and flushed his underwear down the toilet!
Ethan has flushed other items down the toilet before, once it was a baby shrek doll (one of those vile triplet babies from Shrek 3). Peter had to remove the toilet from it's base to dislodge that particular item. But Ethan's never flushed an article of clothing before! I pray that it won't get caught. We can't afford a visit from Mike Diamond, the "smell good" plumber!! I don't care what the plumber smells like or if he has plumber's cleavage (plumber's cleavage means that you can see his butt crack, there's a commercial about it for those of you who don't live in So. Cal). We can't afford it. Please pray for our pipes. I truly hope that his underwear will not get lodged in the sewer lines somewhere!
So, now you know how my day is going. Am I allowed to say crappy? I really would like to use the other four letter word, but I will refrain! 
Someday, I will look back on this time of my life and smile. I will smile in relief because it will be over. I will be able to look back on parts of my life as funny. If I wasn't me, I might find this little rant amusing. But, I'm me, and I'm trying to live through it. 
I can imagine Peter's glee as he reads the text I sent him telling him how Ethan flushed his underpants down the toilet. Ethan kept going back into the bathroom. He thought the underwear would suddenly reappear back in the toilet. Nope! That's a one way trip with no return ticket! I'm beginning to see a little humor in the situation.

Note: I apologize if I have offended anyone by writing too graphically or speaking too frankly. I have a bizarre sense of humor which only gets more bizarre when I don't have very much sleep. The pictures above of the elephant is real. There really is an elephant toilet; it is located in Thailand. If you want to find it, click here and it will take you to the website. The first image is just a clever photoshop job someone did. My goal was to find some funny images to accompany my awfully funny story!

New Freebie! Woman's Day magazine subscription - just in!

Ok. The other offer I posted just yesterday for Martha Stewart Living has already expired. When these offers come out they go pretty quick!  Just a little bit ago, I received the following offer for Woman's Day through Mercury Magazines. Again, just click on the link Mercury Magazines and follow the directions - you know the drill. There really is no charge; you'll just get a bunch of annoying junk mail.

Vomit on the floor makes me want to roar!

I hate throw up. On a daily basis, I have up close and personal moments with things that are equally as disgusting - like cleaning up after Ethan soils himself (we've been potty training for over 1 1/2 months now, he just can't get the hang of going #2 in the toilet).  But, I digress... back to my point - my point is that vomit is just one of those things I can't stand.
Just as I was settling in to some good sleep, Jonathon ran into our bedroom crying. Peter is having another of those late nights tonight. He's trying to fix some of the ever present computer problems at school. So I was on duty. I sat up in bed trying to reorient myself and finally woke up to the lovely sounds of someone retching in the bathroom. It was Jonathon. It turns out that as soon as Jon entered our bedroom he started spewing. He left a trail from our bedroom door to the bathroom area. By the time he got to the toilet, there wasn't much left for a finale! I am calling it the trail of tears! :)
I wanted to scream! But, I kept my composure and resumed my mommy role. I started running the bath so he could soak a bit. I tried to comfort him. I encouraged him and gave him a cup of water. 
Then I started damage control. Not only did it get on the carpet, it got on our blankets on and off the bed and the clean clothes we had surrounding our bed on the floor (yes, that's not where they go, I get it, it's my own fault!).  Vomit also got on our bed frame and the door.
Evidently, he drank red fruit punch earlier in the night. Hooray!!! It's my lucky day.
So, I started carpet cleaning at 12:30 am. This is so not fun. Earlier in the evening, my hip was hurting so bad that I took some of Peter's tylenol with codeine because plain old tylenol just wasn't doing any good. So, of course I felt all loopy. But, at least while I ran the carpet cleaner my hip wasn't hurting. I have to look on the brightside!
I just can't stand the smell of vomit especially in a room where I'm trying to relax and get a good night's rest.  Again, thinking positively about the situation, at least tomorrow I won't have to worry about cleaning the carpet, by my prompt action, I prevented the stains from setting in. Tomorrow I'll just work on cleaning up the clothes that got dirty from Jon's spew-fest. 
Well, I hope this entry brings a smile to your face. Maybe your smile is one of pity, perhaps you can identify, or maybe you are thinking to yourself, "Gee, am I glad that wasn't me." Who knows? I just thought I would provide you with a peek into my action-packed life. 
I'm not writing this with the intention of whining and complaining. This entry is more of a vent session. It is a healthy outlet for my thoughts and feelings. It's not like I can go wake up one of my kids and tell them about it or phone a friend! You get the idea.
Well, now that the carpet is well on the way toward drying and my children (Ethan and Jon) are resting most comfortably in my bed, I think I will try to get some sleep.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The tender feelings we try to hide

Yes this is a super old picture of Steven. But it is one of my favorites!

Sometimes I hurt, so deep inside,
I feel it robs me of my pride,
I need attention, I need love
I need to be special, like a dove,
Please, listen, carefully, to what I say,
Help me move past yesterday;

Excerpt from Little Children Hurt Deep Inside by Mary E. Coe

Steven surprised me this morning. He was angry and when he is angry he either buries it and tries to ignore it or he takes it out on another family member. This morning, he took it out on Bekkah. He wasn't deliberately trying to be naughty. He just didn't know how to safely express his hurt and frustration. And, in our crazy, busy family; sometimes it's difficult to notice when someone may need some extra attention or when someone is hurting. Yesterday it was Steven.
Evidently, he's been getting into it with his friends from school.  In fact, he got into it with two of his best buddies. Someone told him that one of his friends said they thought he was on drugs because he hasn't been all that talkative lately. Then, during recess he was playing soccer. Well, soccer got physical. He got shoved, and he shoved back and his friend called him a "homo." I know there are 2 sides to every story but he was genuinely upset by these events.
Steven may seem rather tough. Often it seems like he doesn't pay attention to what is said. He shields his emotions. He keeps his innermost thoughts and feelings rather close. Very rarely does he share with stuff with us. And only when it gets too much, does it spill out - usually in the form of an inappropriate outburst and then we find out what is going on and can address the problem.
Seldom have I seen Steven so upset as I did this morning. He was sobbing and crying; his whole body was heaving with emotion. I sat on the stairs as the chaos of the morning swirled around us and held and soothed him. Initially, he didn't want to discuss it. He finally spilled his guts. I told him I didn't want him to go to school today. I instinctively knew that he needed some down time, time with me without all the kids around, time to be still.
So, we've had our day. We did nothing special. We hung around the house. He watched some television, we bought the match boxes he needs for his science experiment tomorrow, and he miraculously got the Wii to work (it has been acting up intermittently). He looks a lot more relaxed and peaceful. We talked about how boys trash talk and how they generally don't always mean what they say in the heat of the moment. 
I'm grateful that he felt comfortable enough to share his feelings with me. I'm glad we could have this day together. I love him.

Free One Year Sub for Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Rewards Gold has done it again. For a limited time, you can get Martha Stewart Living Magazine free for filling out a survey about your breakfast eating habits. I thought I would post this quick entry and let you know about it. I enjoy some of Martha Stewart's ideas and a lot of her recipes are very good. So simply click on the link and you'll magically be transported over to the Rewards Gold website and fill it out the survey and then you too can enjoy the magazine for a year.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bella - our gentle protector and watchdog

Bella is our fierce watchdog and gentle lover. Whenever the gardeners come she just about comes unglued. She can't stop barking. Today when the gardeners came, I thought she was going to get hit by the weed-wacker. She did not like that particular tool, at all! She has an aversion to long sticks of any kind. I think she may have been abused with a stick or cane or something. 
Since we adopted her in November, she has melded so well with our family. She has been such a positive influence. Jonathon, when he his tender feelings are hurt, goes to her for her licks and loves. Bekkah and Steven both love playing with, petting, and walking Bella. Aeron can often be seen leaning over kissing or hugging her in various places, like Bella's back, head, tail, and neck. Last night we had to pull him off of Bella, Aeron decided to lay down on top of Bella for full body contact! Bella just growls and tries her best to communicate her displeasure, often gazing over at me with a pleading look hoping for help. Inevitably, someone comes to her assistance. 
Ethan is the worst offender. He loves Bella so much! He wants her to sit next to him on the couch. He wants to walk her. He wants to take Bella outside for her constitutionals. He will hand feed her. Most of the time, Bella patiently endures his fierce demonstrations of affection. This morning, Bella had enough of Ethan and nipped him as Ethan tried to jerk her back to the couch. Ethan was practically choking her. The other day Ethan was trying to get Bella to dance on her hind legs. It was funny and awful, all at the same time! She growls, we intervene. Sometimes, we can divert Ethan's attention away from her. Othertimes, like this morning, I can't. We all just have to endure. 
Right now Aeron is asleep on the couch. A little bit ago, Bella jumped up onto the couch where Aeron slumbers and curled in her sleeping position at Aeron's feet. Bella loves the human contact. She keeps watch over us all. She loves to sit next to me with her head in my lap or she will climb into my lap, curl up and slide her snout under my arm. I appreciate how she seeks out physical love and affection and approval. In fact, regardless of the time, every day when Peter comes home Bella immediately runs to the door and jumps up at him, licks his hand and demands for him to greet her. Peter loves it. It always elicits a chuckle and brings a smile to his face.
Yesterday, Ethan's perceptiveness regarding Bella's needs surprised me. In the afternoon he was outside helping out, unbeknownst to me. Karen Blackmer came over for a quick visit. And as we sat visiting on the family room couch I glanced over my shoulder and saw Ethan outside. He was doing his best to clean up after Bella. He had her pooper scooper and was trying to scoop up her droppings. He wanted to help clean up! It was both touching and hilarious. Anyways, he was struggling with the scoop and finally he gave up, reached down and picked up the poo (it was dried up - thankfully!) and dropped it into the scoop. He was so intent on the task! It's little things like that, which demonstrate Ethan's continuing progression and development. Well, Ethan finished up the job and came inside. Immediately, we washed up his hands and he went on to the next task. 
I am grateful for Bella. Yes, having a pet is not always convenient. It requires work and sacrifice. But she has been such a rich addition to our family. Her patient love and devotion outweighs any work required of us. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A few words about politics

I do not like to debate politics. It is one of those subjects I leave alone. What is the saying? Never discuss politics and religion in polite company.  Well, once in a while I will violate that rule. This is one of those times I chose not to follow that social convention.
I was totally aghast and taken aback at the benediction for Pres. Barrack Obama's inauguration. Generally, a prayer is an opportunity to commune with our Heavenly Father. It is an occasion where we can ask for God's help and guidance. It is NOT a venue for a sermon or an appropriate place to make social commentary. However, the Reverend Joseph Lowery chose not to follow that standard of practice. Instead he said the following:
"Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen."
Are you kidding me? Was he having a senior moment or was that a ginormous brain fart? I did a double take. I literally asked myself, "Did I hear that right? Did he really just say that?"
I am appalled that at our first African American president's inauguration he would utter those very divisive words. And moreover, that the good Reverend felt it acceptable to do so during a prayer to our Heavenly Father. Oh my goodness! I know that he is a celebrated civil rights activist, but he overstepped his bounds. In my opinion, the inauguration is supposed to be an event that brings together all the differing ideologies; it is a new beginning. But, his words felt like a slap in the face. 
Didn't the white embrace the "right" by choosing to elect an African American man to the highest political office in the United States? Didn't the fact that an African American man had won such an election demonstrate that equality has finally been obtained? I realize I am simplifying the situation, but the United States electorate is made up of black, brown, yellow, red and white men and women; together as a united nation, we elected this man to this office. I would never use those colors to describe a segment of the population. It is demeaning and racist. 
I am both confused and frustrated that there wasn't more of an outcry against his words. Here in our politically correct society, a person can get slammed for the slightest slip of the tongue. But, I feel like allowances were made for his deliberately planned words; that the offensive nature of his comments were overlooked. I feel his prayer was not only grossly mischaracterizes those segments of society he portrays but it demeans the sacred nature of prayer.
Well, there it is! That's my opinion. Take it or leave it, that's how I feel. I am colorblind. Race has nothing to do with how I view a person. What is more important is what is on the inside. As the scriptures say: "... for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7)." We are exhorted to do the same. As a man of God, the Reverend should have concluded his prayer with something more uplifting and inspiring. Maybe he should have asked our Heavenly Father to help us join our hearts together; he should have simply invoked divine guidance on us all during this time of war and economic difficulties.
 As a society we have made tremendous advances in civil rights since the 1950's and '60's. In addition, caucasians have made significant improvements in the nature of racism and bigotry. Sure, we can still find those haters out there, but they are in the vast minority; they are not in the majority an more.  I am disappointed that this courageous civil rights reformer hasn't kept up with the social changes. Perhaps, Rev. Lowery should humble himself and ask for a change of heart?
I apologize if I have caused any offense. None is meant. If you disagree with me, I welcome any comments or critique you may have. I am an equal opportunity blogger!  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I miss my oven!

I take for granted certain things in life. We all do. It's not until we don't have the luxury or use of them that we realize how good we've got it.
Case in point, last week I was without 2 essential appliances. First was my clothes washer. It had developed a small leak and was leaking all over the floor. Finally, I called on the warranty and the man showed up and repaired the inner seal Tuesday. I didn't get a chance to use it until Thursday, at which time it leaked ALL over the floor flooding the entire area. I had watched the repair guy as he fixed it Tuesday. What happened? I thought to myself, that at least before, I could do a load of laundry as long as I mopped up the small puddle afterwards. Now I couldn't risk doing anything! And, because I was behind, I had tons of laundry to do.
So, Saturday I geared myself to go to the local laundry mat. Thankfully, I didn't end up having to because of my handy husband. Once more, sacrificing his time, which he needed to be doing other things, he slowly and methodically checked it out and realized the strap which secures the seal in place had slipped. He was able to fix it! Wahoo! He's my hero! I am so grateful that my husband was willing to tackle this. I secretly feared that he might make more of a mess of it. But, you never know until you try. Thank you, thank you, thank you Peter Gale!
Now on to appliance #2,  my oven. Saturday we got a relatively early start. The kids had had a church activity at 9 am and after attending that we headed over to Costco for groceries. They had a really great deal that day for take'n'bake pizzas. We bought one and Peter graciously allowed me to lay down, I had another sleepless night the night before. He baked the pizza for me and the kids. Well, all of a sudden I hear him yelling the oven had broken. So, I get up and sure enough, while the pizza baked, the interior glass of the oven had cracked. Peter went and asked a neighbor if he could borrow their oven to finish the pizza.  
My oven has been rendered inoperable. After speaking to the appliance center, we will be without the use of it maybe for 2 weeks. They have to order the glass and it has to be delivered to the house, which can take 3-5 days, and then we have to call Sears and schedule a service call which is generally a week's wait. What I am most grateful for is the fact that all these repairs are covered under our service agreement. I can't imagine how much money we would have to spend otherwise. 
I was thinking earlier in the weekend that maybe it would still be alright to use the oven. So, Sunday morning I made a batch of cookies for the little ones in the nursery where I volunteer. I got one batch made and then Peter set me straight. He strongly felt it was unsafe to use the oven in it's broken and cracked state. There was no danger of glass getting on the food. He just didn't want to take any chances. 
So, Sunday afternoon, the repair center called to let us know the glass had to be ordered and it could possibly longer than this Friday, the 23rd to get it fixed. While they were on the phone, Peter asked them if it was OK to use it. The answer was no. It won't hold the heat properly because the double paned glass is broken and it could cause further damage. DRAT!
I use my oven almost everyday. I cook goodies, put dinner in to bake, make bread, etc. So, now it's time to get creative. And, I will have to use the microwave instead of the oven to heat dinners up, depending on the meal. 
Like I said before, you don't know what you've got until it's gone! Appliances like the washer and dryer and stove sure help to make our lives easier. If I'm truly desperate, I know there are people I can call and ask to use their oven. It's just inconvenient for all involved.
   For example, this week is a good friend of ours' birthday. I was planning to make a cake for him. Not now. But wait! Maybe I still can. I think we might have an EZ Bake oven somewhere in the far reaches of the house or maybe I could use the grill to bake a cake (I've never done this before, and to be honest, I don't plan to), I'm just throwing ideas out there. 
Regardless, I need to add a few more things to my gratitude list. I'm sure you can guess what they are. I hope you add them to your gratitude list too!

Escapades at the ER

Last night we spent 6 hours at the emergency room. Sunday and Monday Aeron started running a low-grade fever of 100-101. Then yesterday, after a visit to the park, Aeron's temperature spiked to 103.4! 
The last time I experienced a temp that high, Jonathon was 8 weeks old. He ended up staying in the hospital for 3 days due to pneumonia. Temperatures that high are so frightening. Too much can go wrong. 
So, Peter and I found a last minute sitter (thanks Justin!) and headed off to the ER. I couldn't believe how busy it was there! So many people, and there were so many little ones. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait too long to see the triage nurse (I think we waited an hour). She administered some Tylenol and ibuprofen which helped to bring the fever down. Then after 2 hours we went to this side ER. I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I know how to handle a fever. My concern is that the high temp was an indicator of a bigger problem. I know my kids. Aeron had refused food most of the day. And right before he left for the hospital, he started refusing liquids. Dehydration can happen too quickly. 
Thankfully, we got assigned this really great lady who is a nurse practitioner. She was very thorough. She noticed a viral breakout in Aeron's throat. But, was concerned that there was something more going on. She ordered a tortuous chest x-ray, and they found a spot on his lungs. Sure enough, Aeron had the beginnings of pneumonia. So, she gave him an injection of antibiotics in addition to a prescription for both antibiotics and oral steroids.
While we were stuck in the ER, we were forced to watch/listen to television. They were showing ABC's The Bachelor, where all these hussies parade around hoping they can be the next Mrs. Right. 
I am rather disgusted at the degenerate nature of the Bachelor. This single father of a 6 year old boy, has left his son in the care of another person while he appears on television, trying to find a mother for his child. A lot of the women he has chosen look like they could be porn stars in training! The man made this remark that he wants to use his brain and his heart to make this important decision. Meanwhile, they advertise future episodes and show how he spends the night with one of the ladies and she comes back to the house wearing his clothes the next morning. It sounds like he is using a different body part to make that decision. Moreover, what a great message this show sends to our young women. I resent that they portray an act so special and sacred as a lure a woman can use to hook a man! Yuck. 
Peter kept making all these snide remarks as we waited and cared for Aeron. He made me laugh as he mocked that show. I am grateful for my husband, that we have a marriage based on a solid foundation of faith and friendship. In retrospect, we could have asked the attendants to change the channel, but we were more concerned with Aeron.
I remarked to Peter as we drove home, I would have much rather have spent the last 6 hours on a date as opposed to stuck in the ER. Looking on the brighter side, he said, "Honey, we had a date. We only had one child to care for and each of us got to take turns playing games on our phone while the other cared for Aeron." I didn't realize our date nights had deteriorated so badly. They really haven't.
Peter always helps me to look on the bright side and see the positive. Yes, it was nice to have a break from the kids. However, I was scared to sit there in the waiting room with Aeron. What if something happened? Having a sick child requires both parents sometimes. And if they were going to have to draw blood or admit him, I wanted both of us there for Aeron. Thank you for sacrificing your precious work time to go with me to the ER. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The painful disease of addiction.

I have written previously about my family's connection and close encounters with my former friend and alcoholic neighbor. It has been painful to watch, terrifying, as I fear for the safety of my family and her child, and enraging to watch the selfish self-destruction of a previously kind-hearted friend, mother and neighbor.  After the disease takes it's toll, amidst all the ashes and rubble, is left a lonely soul who mistakenly uses alcohol to fill a void. She leaves behind a son who fears her and a husband who is trying to pick up the pieces. It is a devastating loss. It is painful to everyone involved, not to mention horribly expensive for both parties. 
A few weeks ago, my former friend and neighbor wrote me a letter thanking me for helping look after her son in her absence. Her son comes over before and after school and on certain holidays off when his dad still needs to work. In this letter, she expressed that her multi-week stay in jail was the "best rehab" she could ever have received. Her denial runs deep! Jail is a great place to dry out, but it does nothing to address the issue of addiction. 
Since December, the mom has been doing fairly well. She was released from jail Dec. 27th. Her sister and her husband allowed her to stay with them in Redlands on condition of sobriety. It seemed from the letter that she was trying to get her life together.
On the husband's end, he was recently granted a permanent 5 year restraining order against her both for himself and his son. I am covered under that restraining order because I provide childcare, and of course he is covered at school. 
Well, this last Thursday they had court ordered mediation. When he filed divorce papers in addition to the restraining order, the court automatically orders mediation. During mediation, she was very hostile and they had to go separately into rooms for mediation because she had so many outbursts and was out of control with her angry behavior. The husband is seeking sole physical custody. She will not have contact with him except through supervised visitation. Thankfully, the mediator was going with that recommendation as well, because she is not fit to care for him right now for any length of time. 
Unfortunately, after such an emotional meeting, she went on a bender and did not show when she had made arrangements with her sister to pick her up (her license is suspended for a year and she cannot drive) and the next day she did not show up at the appointmen. Friday was a holiday for the kids in the Alta Loma School District. So, I watched her son. The dad dropped him off on his way to work. We had a busy day of errands, DVD/video game rentals, and a playdate at the park (with my friend Tracee and her boys - thanks that was fun)! I am so glad that her son was otherwise engaged that day. I can't imagine the trauma that she would have inflicted had she tried to initiate contact or had he realized she was in the house.
Evidently, she was able to get into her house, I think through the back sliding glass door or the side of the house. The husband came home from work Friday and found the dogs in the house and the slider left open. When he goes to work, the dogs stay outside for the day until he gets home. When he went into the bathroom, he found his wife's purse. He started searching room to room looking for her but could not find her. He was afraid that maybe she was hiding somewhere waiting for an opportunity to attack. After a hasty search, he then very carefully started looking room by room and closet by closet until he finally found her completely passed out on the spare bedroom floor in the small walkway between the window and the bed. 
The husband then sent a neighbor over to my house to inform me of the incident and asked me to keep the son at my house until the police had gone. He called the police and they went upstairs and woke her up and arrested her. I saw her by chance as I walked Madison out to her mom's car. Thankfully, she quietly went with the officer and didn't make a big stir.
What I admire most about this whole incident is the father's determination to, of course, protect his son but also to insulate him from seeing how sick his mother is. All the son knows is that his mother is sick, he doesn't realize the gravity of the sickness. And, due to the positive improvements in her behavior, he has been under the impression that she is getting better. They were even scheduled to have a visit this week. That's obviously going to be cancelled. Violating a restraining order is serious business! So, she's been arrested and already released. I'm hoping she has seen the light. She checked herself in to rehab. Right now she is in a 7 day lock detox lockdown. After that week, she will be given the choice to enroll in the 90 day residential program. I pray that she will. She needs to address the issues so badly.
I'm completely flabbergasted at the level of her self-destructiveness. I was hoping she would be intelligent enough to follow the rules set up by the court. Just the night before, I had expressed this to her husband and he said he thought she would be compliant. But most of all I am so grateful that they were not aware of her presence, that she didn't try anything stupid,and that her son did not see any of what took place. 
His dad made a comment to me that filled me with awe and admiration. I am so impressed with his father; with the lengths he is going to, to protect his son. He remarked to me that it was vital to him that his son feel safe at home. That if he knew what had taken place, then he would not feel safe even in his home. 
Maybe it is because this tragedy brings to mind the many and varied ghosts from my past, I don't know. But, how I wish I would have had a parent that cared enough about me to have taken care of me and go to those extraordinary lengths to protect and shield me from the ugliness. Instead I was abused and abandoned as alcohol and prescription drug addiction ravaged my family. I was shipped from Washington state via a seat on a Greyhound bus to unknown in-laws living in Redding at the age of 13, and then brought back to live with my grandfather when the in-laws realized there was something amiss. My grandfather picked up those pieces. I am so grateful for that; I am eternally be grateful. To this day we have a special bond unbroken by time and distance.
I just feel so regretful seeing how alcoholism can destroy a life. I know much more than I ever wanted to about it. This misfortune has been painful for me and my family. My children have been endangered, and I have felt everything from sadness to anger. I can't imagine the emotions felt by our Heavenly Father when he sees us make wrong choices and hurt one another. How easily we it is to become ensnare by the slender threads of addiction. Moreover, once they are bound, they become a strong rope that is so very difficult to break! I pray my neighbor can break the ropes of addiction. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Horrible hurts and other misadventures - making sense of it all

I've had a rough day. I've been told numerous times over the years that I'm too nice. I am. I pride myself on it. Being a decent, kind and caring human being ranks right up there with being Christ-like and unselfish and loving others unconditionally and being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent (thank you Boy Scouts!). In certain situations, I would literally give someone the shirt off my back. Moreover, the majority of the time when I see a person struggling, I try to offer some type of assistance. Unfortunately, it is very hard to be Christ-like when you are ignored and/or feel unwanted when around fellow Christian women. 
Today I'm finding it very difficult to be nice after my experience this morning. I will restrain myself from saying anything overtly unkind. But, in order to be clear, today I felt relatively unwanted and rejected. I felt like I had nothing in common with the other women I was with. Obviously, sometimes the way a person expresses herself is not meant to be damaging to another or unkind, but when on the receiving end, it can still feel that way regardless of intent.
I'm not going to go into details about the cause of these feelings. Suffice it to say that being around people of similar faith is not supposed to be a punishing experience; an experience that leaves you questioning yourself the rest of the day; asking asking yourself why you would want to continue to punish yourself in that manner. To me, being around other people with whom you have common interests is supposed to help you to feel connected, to help inspire feelings of love and acceptance and appreciation, and most of all it's supposed to be a place where you ... fit in! Here with this group of people, I often feel the opposite. The proverbial square peg with only round holes available.
Regretfully, I struggle to find those positive feelings occasionally at different meetings. Believe me, I'm actively looking and participating. I am a contributing member in each activity in which I participate. But, sometimes I feel tired, weak, and I need to be lifted. When needing to be lifted, it hurts a lot worse when you feel shoved aside, put down, perhaps even stepped on. Maybe some have misunderstand the core of the gospel of Christ, or at least temporarily forgotten it. The ideal is aptly stated in a quote by Dr. Victor L. Brown.   
Dr. Brown used to teach at BYU and worked in the Social Sciences and and was the Director of the Counseling Department. He is an astute author I admire. He wrote the following sentiments in the Ensign, an LDS church magazine in July 1978. I'm going to quote him for a few paragraphs. The article is titled Differences.
"Several years ago I learned the importance of difference in our lives. Frequently, a short, middle-aged man passed by on the street near my house. He wore extra-thick glasses, had a withered arm and leg, and carried a sack of newspapers over his shoulder. I casually assumed he was a newspaper dealer, a handicapped person who struggled through each day as best he could. I also assumed that his imprint on the world was negligible. 
Later I was invited to offer the dedicatory prayer at a school for vocational training of the physically and mentally handicapped. The evening of the dedication I learned about the greatness of this man, for he was the Scoutmaster of the Scout troop at this vocational school. I sat on the stand and observed his patience, kindness, and leadership with his "boys," some of whom were in their thirties. He was performing Christlike service in ways that I probably could not. 
If we are candid with ourselves, most of us admit that difference is often troublesome. We are naturally comfortable with familiar, similar ideas, behavior, and people... 
There are ... things that make some members feel different. And we must be careful that we don't let those differences become wedges between us."
It is too easy to judge other people as different and dismiss them which is hurtful in and of itself, and sometimes it is even more damaging to ignore them. There are times that I feel I have been unfairly judged and there are times I have felt ignored. Today was definitely one of those days. Unfortunately, it has been happening more, and more frequently. Maybe I've gotten so adept at pretending everything is swell, that people can't see the strain, or realize that I feel like I've almost reached that breaking point. Who knows?
What I do know is this. It is very difficult to voice my struggles when I need help the most. I often feel as though I am in the middle of a battle to keep my depression at bay, my anxiety and frustrations under control and my head above water while still trying to juggle the needs of 5 kids, some of whom have special needs. It hurts even worse to add another struggle to that already long list ... the struggle to fit in. It hurts because it feels as if the Army, which I'm supposed to be a part of, sees me as the enemy. When I chose to feel this way, even if perhaps their rude rejections are not intended as rude rejections, that is when it is the most difficult to speak out and ask for that helping hand up. That is the hardest thing for me to do.
The other day, I remember it was Sunday, January 4th. It was Ethan's first day as a Sunbeam in our ward. I was worried about passing him off from the nursery where I volunteer into someone else's hands. He is disruptive, unable to sit still, and hard to handle. (Ethan is my challenge and my salvation. If I can just manage not to kill him, and if I'm lucky, teach him a few things along the way, I think I might just be able to return to my Heavenly Father someday.  At least, that's my hope.)
However, that particular day I was stretched to my limit. Earlier during the first hour of the meeting, I got up and removed him from the chapel several times due to his inability to sit still and be quiet and his potty training issues. Ethan is unable to modulate the tone of his voice. He cannot talk quietly. Furthermore, he is resisting potty training. Ethan knows what to do, when to do it, but he uses it as a weapon. That day during that first hour, he stood in front of the toilet and wet himself on purpose. And then he said, "I wet myself mommy," with a gleeful smile. Then, right at the end of the meeting, I took him to the bathroom again. He needed to have a bowel movement. I didn't want to take him to class and have him do it in there. So, we worked at it for a while and at that point is when he peed in my face and on my clothes. After he finished spraying me, he laughed hysterically about it repeating out loud what he had just done. I was so mad! I resisted the temptation to harm him, to my credit.
I got him dressed in his spare outfit. Then I took him down the hallway to his class. That is when he started protesting and resisting. I couldn't call my husband. I was on my own. He teaches the 9-11 year old boys and he has 7-9 boys in his class.  Whatever the number, it is a large group and they are a handful. 
By this time, Ethan had reduced me to tears! So I leaned against the hallway wall squatting, holding him in my arms, trying to coax him to class while silent tears streamed down my face. All the while, people either chatted in the vicinity or passed by me with no comment. I felt invisible with this very visible child in my arms making a racket. How could fellow mothers so blithely ignore my struggle and pain? How can they so quickly rush to the aid of other mothers or friends in need, but ignore my obvious need? I do not understand.
Finally,  a friend came up and helped. I thank God for her. It is just confusing. I can't understand why people don't offer assistance. Maybe they are afraid or just don't know what to do. Half the time, I don't know what to do, I just keep doing. But, it is always reassuring to have a kind word, an understanding/sympathetic look, or an offer of assistance. It lets me know that I am noticed and well ... loved. Sometimes, it is the warmth and caring of another person that buoys you up and helps you get through. (I won't mention any names but thanks ... you know who you are! I appreciate your sympathetic ear and kind words of wisdom.)
My prayer is simple. I pray I will continue to be the person to reach out and lift up. I want to make others feel loved and welcome and appreciated. Isn't that a basic human need? And, maybe the times that I have felt the stark lack of it emphasizes the intrinsic importance of it in our daily struggles here on earth. My intention is not to cry out to the blogosphere about how picked on I feel. But, I want to my voice to be heard, for others to know that I live, that I breathe, that I need, just as anyone else does. I pray that I can take a deep breath and keep reaching out in love to those whom I feel have rejected or ignored me. Perhaps if I can do what the Savior said, and forgive them not seven times, but seventy times seven, they will come to see my sincerity and welcome me as an equal. I pray that God will help me soften my heart. Whatever the outcome, I pray that I can grow to be stronger and more loving. That's my prayer. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why pay for magazines when you can get them for free?

Last night Steven was upselling his school fundraiser to me.  Let me begin with sharing that Banyan is having yet another fundraiser.  I don't like them. I pay a lot of money, mostly for garbage; and then, I generally forget about what I have purchased because they sell mainly gifty type items. Anyways, I generally forget about the fact I have purchased said items until I find the box I have put them in way later. I would rather give the school $10 and call it good!
Back to my story, sorry about the rant. Steven was trying to pique my interest in the fundraiser and he told me that there even were magazines I could buy. For example, they are selling People magazine. Well, I turned to him and said, "Why would I pay money for magazines, when I can get them for free?" There is no response to that question, even for Steven who usually has a rebuttal or smart remark for everything.
I get my magazines for free. I get Prevention, Star (a gossip rag that I generally throw away after wrestling it from Bekkah's hot little hands), Shape, Fitness, Wired (a techno magazine for my husband), TV Guide, and soon I'll be getting Women's Day. 
I really like the website Sagemommy. She has a subpage on her site of freebies. You can get lots of free samples and sometimes even magazines. So from that site I found out about the website RewardsGold. That's the site where you too can get a free subscription to Women's Day or Self (no thanks, I don't need to how to be a star in the bedroom or how to hook a man, but hey if that's your thing, more power to you!). You fill out a survey about your personal dehairing techniques (whether you shave or wax or ...) and presto, you will get yourself a year's subscription to the magazine of your choice. My only advice to you would be this: set yourself up a separate email address that you only use for the purpose of freebies. Because you'll soon get all the junk mail you could ever conceptualize.
But, how hard is it to press the delete button? I like my freebie magazines and thought you might appreciate the heads up.  

Friday, January 9, 2009


I have been taking it easy today, instead of working hard to clean my ever dirty and cluttered house.  Both Madison and Aeron were down for a nap, so I got a few moments to spend outside with Bella and bask in the sun while waiting for Ethan to arrive on his bus.  It was so nice to have a few moments alone to just stop and be still.  It reminds me of the scripture where the Lord says, "Be still and know that I am." I have too few of those moments. Most of the day is filled, from the minute my feet hit the carpet to the moment I lay down at night, with the hustle and bustle of raising 5 kids. There's generally not a moment to myself.  I am grateful for that small, simple moment.  Experiences like that provide an added strength during those times I want to throw in the towel, stomp my feet like a 2 year old, and say, "It's not fair!" Where there is given much, there is expected much.... or however you say it.
So while sitting in the sun with Bella, I thought I would post my top ten list of things I am grateful for.  So here it is:

10. The Cheesecake Factory. It is my favorite place to eat. Peter treated me to it on New Year's Day and we went with half of our usual kids. It was just Ethan, who forgot his shoes at home, Aeron, and Steven who was engrossed the whole time in playing a game on my iPhone. So we had a lovely lunch and even ate a slice of their sinfully rich cheesecake. Aeron loved the whipped cream. I asked our kind waitress if there was anyway of getting a small bowl of whipped cream for him. She was so nice and got it for him. We all enjoyed his reaction and antics.  Whipped cream is so exciting to little ones, especially the kind that comes in a bottle that you can spray!

9. Sam's Club in the morning before their normal business hours. After dropping the kids off at school I head down there for milk and bread. It is relatively empty and the employees (God bless them) are understanding and tolerant. They will come up and say "Hi" and remark about how cute the kids are (they love Madison's big, bright blue eyes, Aeron's red hair and smile and Ethan's outgoing friendliness). We are not business owners, but a year ago, I got a credit account with them and they made the mistake of giving me a business card with my account info on it. With the business card you can go in as early as 7 am and get your shopping done. They always have coffee and a goody to eat. I don't drink the coffee, but Ethan always enjoys the treat. The only way they will get that card back is to pry it from my cold dead hands! I like their employees and the fact it isn't busy yet which can be overwhelming to the 3 small people I am toting around. Thanks Sam's Club.

8. Ethan's bus drivers. Those bus drivers are special. They have to be to work with the special spirits they transport. All the kids have different disabilities. But those bus drivers are great! Ethan has different bus drivers in the morning and afternoon. The am driver, Elena, always waits for me. There have been a few times I have run late and she sat and waited until I got there. One day, I called the transportation office and cancelled the bus because Ethan was sick, she didn't get the message.  She came by waiting, and when we didn't come out, she even came up and rang the doorbell to make sure we were not coming.  She is kind to Ethan even when he is being a stinker and doesn't want to get in his seat. The pm driver, Paulette, is equally great. Some people may be a bit rough looking around the edges, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't give them the benefit of the doubt. She is the nicest, most kindhearted people. She always waits and always has a kind word both for me and Ethan.  It's nice to talk to them when I've had a hard day. They can always tell and offer a kind word or sympathetic look.

7. Warm sunny days. Days like today are why I love living in Southern California. It's January and I'm wearing a short sleeved t-shirt, pants and flip-flops and I'm not cold! It is beautiful outside.

6. Reasonable customer service representatives. I am the team mom for Steven's soccer team. Tuesday is the team party and I ordered their trophies from a company called  Trophy Depot.  I ordered expedited shipping on them because I wasn't exactly sure when the boys would finish their season and the companies around here charge a lot for very little. Well, they arrived today with two of the names misspelled. I did not misspell them when I ordered them via the internet.  The company is located in New York.  I called around noon and told them of the problem. The man was understanding and immediately willing to correct the problem. He told me that they would print off those two names and ship them today. They probably won't arrive here in time, but he was willing to make the effort. Thanks Trophy Depot!

5. My dog Bella who wants nothing more than to put her head on my lap and keep me company. I swear she is part human. Everyday, she beats me out to the end of the driveway both when the bus comes to pick up Ethan and drop him off. She has to check it out and make sure it is safe. I just shake my head and laugh and thankfully the bus drivers are understanding and tolerant.

4. Preschool for Ethan. They take such good care of him. He is learning so much from them. And there are times, he is very unruly and difficult to tolerate. They are also helping him with his toileting, which has helped tremendously. He knows all his colors now and works everyday on writing his name and whatever theme they are teaching. Tuesday, his teacher Mrs. Cynthia was excusing them to recess and Ethan ran outside and tripped and skidded on the pavement. He has a big scab in the middle of his forehead and on the end of his nose. I have to take a picture of it. She was kind enough to call and let me know about the incident and reassured me he was all right. He's a tough little man!

3. Babies who take long naps. Ahh! Need I say more?

2. My husband, Peter. We do well at putting up with each other's quirks and irritating qualities. He is the embodiment of my quote of how important mutual toleration and selflessness is. He works so hard to support our family.  He also tries so hard to be a good husband and father. We are trying not to eat out this month to save money. But, last night I was watching a movie in our room and looked over at him and said I wanted some french fries. He, very tolerantly, looked back at me pausing his work on the computer, and said you better get dressed and go get some. Small gestures like that are nice and truly appreciated.

1. My Savior, Jesus Christ and the grace He imparts to us to help us get through this difficult life.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Calgon - take me away!

The above picture illustrates our inability to comfort an ailing child. The other night, Aeron just couldn't settle down. Finally, he wriggled off my lap sniffling and fussing, found a spot on the floor, curled up and went to sleep. Can you say pathetic? Poor little red! That's how I feel this morning.
I'm having one of those days today. Most of it can be attributed to the paltry amount of sleep I had last night. Aeron has been sick. Usually it is an ear infection. In addition, he's been teething; those pesky canine teeth, I'm not sure what they're called, are coming in both the upper and lower gums. This adds to his general crankiness. On top of that, our family has been fighting the dreaded winter sniffles as well. We've been keeping him well supplied with tylenol and ibuprofen and with the recommended cold medicine but none of it has helped.  
Last night I finally gave up. We spent a miserable day and afternoon. He was cranky, refused to eat and the normal comforts of nursing and holding did nothing. At 2 am, after he had been up 3 times, I finally gave in and drove down to the urgent care center.  The doctor looked at his ears, I was thinking it was another ear infection, typical to the small Gale children. But no, he has a throat infection. We got our prescription for amoxicillan and drove on over to the all night pharmacy.  They filled it and we returned home. After administering the medicine, a bottle and some cuddling Aeron got back to sleep and I finally got to bed about 3:30 am.  What a night!
This morning, got better. Ethan is such a hands on child.  He decided to mess with my keys. Given Ethan's proclivities of frequently running away into the street or to neighbor's houses, we installed a double sided deadbolt lock, to open the door or to exit the house, you must use the key to unlock the door. In his efforts at opening the door this morning, Ethan broke my key off in the lock. So, not only can I not lock the door when I leave the house for errands, but I can't lock him inside!
On days like today, I would love to climb into bed, pull the covers up and blissfully sleep for a few hours until I feel more human. Oh how I yearn for sleep! But, no such luck. My motto is: no rest for the wicked. No, I'm not wicked, I realize that. I just like to try to keep my quirky sense of humor about the situation. Otherwise, I might just dissolve into tears of frustration and exhaustion. And how will that be productive? 
Well, today is another day.  I have babies to tend. I resumed watching Madison today. She is mobile now. Her Christmas present to her family and friends was her mastering the ability to crawl. She is much happier with her newfound mobility. I'm hoping Aeron will settle down for a nap, and maybe Madison will also comply. If I am lucky, I might get a quick nap before Ethan comes home from preschool. 
Yes, I forgot to mention that Ethan resumed preschool today. Hallelulia! Thank Heaven for small blessings - preschool in my book is a HUGE blessing. Both Ethan and I reap the benefits of his school. For that I am grateful.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Family ... it's about time.

Traveling with five children is not fun!  Let's just get that out of the way. However, the memories and relationships that we develop are priceless. After the business of finishing up the school festivities, getting the laundry done for the first time in weeks - only to pack it up in a suitcase (thus foiling my attempts at avoiding wrinkledom and let me tell you, laundry is the BANE of my existence), trying to inconspicuously pack the presents away without my ever watchful and disbelieving children seeing it is a lot of work! But, boy was it worth it.
Traveling up to Sutter Creek is hard. Peter spends his time corralling the children. I spend 90% of my time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning and the other 10% is spent cleaning Ethan's soiled clothing from his continuing failed attempts at potty training. Basically, I feel like I'm trying to cut myself in half. I don't want my husband and children feeling like they are abandoned, but I also don't want my grandfather to feel put upon and like he has to do all the cleaning and cooking. I feel like the Gale commando brigade descends on his house and takes over. There are toys, laundry, and detritus everywhere! I felt bad for my grandfather. He is used to his lonely quiet life and like a bomb going off - here we are. 
Despite all of the negatives, he was grateful for it. Both for the company and the distraction. We had a nice time.  The most important thing is that my grandfather enjoyed himself and we left his house and his person a little better for the time we spent there. As a point in fact, December 27th we even took him clothes shopping (I'm not bragging or trying to tell you how good I am because believe me - I'm NOT; it's just a remarkable thing to get my grandfather to want to do shopping for something like clothes).  I had forgotten how men get so comfortable in their clothing that they don't pay attention to how many holes may be accumulating. And, after I saw Grampa's elbow poking out of his shirt, I asked him if I could mend his shirt. Instead of letting me mend it though, he suggested that we do some shopping for him.  We spent a whole day going to JCPenny's and WorkWorld. My grandfather is very particular about his clothes. He likes Dickies pants and two pocket long-sleeve shirts that will resist wrinkling. He is 87 and does not iron! Well, mission accomplished.  
We even introduced him to the wonderful offerings of Trader Joes! I don't do all my shopping there; there's too many of us and it isn't practical for the likes of my family. But, a few select items I purchase there.  I like the prices and quality. I especially like the fact that they always have samples of their food in the store. There are times I have samples some of their offerings, something I wouldn't have normally purchased myself, only to turn around and buy it and introduce it to my family. Grampa liked Trader Joes.  When we go up to his house, I usually bring up a few of their freezer items for him.  I've brought him up their garlic fries (love them!), mini-croissants (my kids fight over them), and for the holidays they had apple streudle. Grampa loved the streudle. He filled up his shopping scooter with his goods and was quite content. Maybe he was just humoring me, his funny granddaughter, but I don't think so.
While we were at Grampa's house I expressed my gratitude for his letting us stay there. I truly feel bad.  My kids are SO loud and it is difficult for him to tolerate. By the end of the day, he would very calmly suggest that the kids play the quiet game.  "Let's see who can be quiet the longest?  Whoever talks first loses." Isn't that a loving way of saying SHUT UP? Inevitably, Ethan was the loser.  That child doesn't know how to stop talking, and when he talks it is very loud.  One night when I had had enough, I was upset with the kids at the table. I had made a beef stew of leftover primerib and veggies for dinner, which we ate with homemade honey whole wheat bread. Yum! Well, of course, Jonathon was acting like I was serving poison.  I enjoy poisoning my children, did you know that? I wanted an end to the complaining, so I demanded that we play the quiet game.  It didn't work as well for me as it did for Grampa. I said, "We are not going to talk until 6:39 pm." All I wanted was 5 minutes of quiet.  I can't even go to the bathroom in quiet.  Generally one or two little people (Ethan or Aeron) follow me into the bathroom if I lock the door they either rattle the door handle or charge the door until I'm afraid it will fall off the hinges. Right off, Bekkah after a minute or so of quiet bursts out with whatever it is that she couldn't wait to say, I can't remember because of what happened next. Both boys, Steven and Jonathon rolled their eyes, and of course I said, "Guess what, we're starting over.  Now you have until 6:41 pm to be quiet."  Next, Ethan has an outburst.  He turns to look at me and farts (passes gas, for those of you more genteel folk) really LOUD! Then he laughs (really loud) and shouts, "Ha ha, I farted!" I tried to keep a straight face and normally I do, but this was such a hilarious moment and so typical of my family that I couldn't help it and I started laughing which then set everyone else off. Leave it to me to spoil my own game! That evening, I'm sure my grandfather laughed himself to sleep. He got a good laugh out of that. I, of course, removed Ethan from the table to the bathroom, because sometimes the gas is an indicator of an imminent bowel movement.  No such luck, he just wouldn't go. But that's one of our memorable and more base moments. I have shared it with the world. But it really is quite representative of the Peter and Bonnie Gale family.  Someday maybe we'll tackle all the niceties. For now we're working on one at a time!

Making Christmas - Time to give them something fun!

Finally! After two weeks, I am getting back to this blog. It's been a long and trying vacation, but one filled with incalculable memories. We spent Christmas with my grandfather, hereafter known as Grampa, in Sutter Creek, CA. It was a quiet holiday, meaning it was just my loud and obnoxious family bombarding my Grampa 24/7. We stayed a week, we spent the week trying to get the kids to be quiet and not to destroy my Grampa's house.  
One of my favorite Christmas memories from this year occurred before we left. The weekend after school got out, we made sugar cookies and everyone got involved. Those lovely specimens of our industriousness went out on plates with other more appetizing goodies to all the neighbors. We just wanted to say, "Merry Christmas" and teach the kids about the spirit of generosity and kindness. Ethan particularly enjoyed the festivities. He floured himself up and by the time he was done, he looked more like a ghost than a boy. Steven, Rebekkah, and Jonathon did a great job at cutting out and decorating cookies. They went heavy on the decorating sugars but we enjoyed it and after all was said and done even Peter said it was fun!