"A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity,
it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."
~ Agatha Christie

Alex, Cole and Braden - At 2 years, 2 months

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Hot Rod and The Boots

Little B has his little helpers, and they are here tonight to say hello!  When they were introduced, as a mommy, I fought the urge to tell them they weren't welcome in my normal baby's life. After they stayed awhile, I realized that they will only be here for a short time...and that, I can live with if they help him to walk. 

The PT, "Miss Pat", recommended the first - The Hot Rod.  It's a posterior walker, meaning (I think) that it gives him support by his posterior and gives him the most important feeling and need to keep balance, momentum and control over his forward movement.  It doesn't let him lean on it forward, just upright.  So, it allows him to get up and basically teaches him to walk with the problems he has on his right side.  I guess it's pretty common for kids with CP to use one of these, especially to jump start walking.  It even has red handles and red tape holding the wheels together!  lol

The Hot Rod

He has learned to walk with it - even to run, actually!  He can keep up with his brother and sister, though his feet are angling outward and he sometimes runs on tippy toes.  He still drags his right foot, but is amazingly starting to pick it up now. It's been an incredible help to him, and he really doesn't even like to crawl anymore - he crawls only to this walker and then zoom, zoom, zoom!  He picks it up to go over minor steps in the floor, picks it up to turn it out of corners and even picks it up to avoid the ridiculous amount of toys littering the floor.  He is downright giddy and good with it.  I know he never would have been able to take the unaided steps he has without this walker and that's why it's his Hot Rod.  

The other half of the supporting cast in Braden's Walking Production are some cute and plastic little boots. Or "oots" as they are so loving called.  He will say "oot, on?" when it's time to put them on...so cute.   They are officially AFOs, or Ankle-Foot-Orthosis, a common treatment for those such as B-Man.  Orthotics that are custom molded to his feet, to stretch back his foot on a more constant basis.  Mike and I and the therapists that are here three times a week have been stretching his feet religiously for months now with moderate improvement in tone.  But it just wasn't enough. He keeps his toes perpetually pointed because it hurts him to flex his foot and therefore his extremely tight hamstring in the process.  It's just more comfortable for him to stay pointed all day long and curl his toes down.  

So, these orthotics will help to keep stretching him in his sleep - all night and during his naps. And it has already made a big difference, I think.  He is getting new orthotics to help keep his feet, toes and knees in the right positions in order to learn to correctly walk.  Those will hopefully be coming soon, now that we have the CP diagnosis.  And they will be a third helper in the arsenal of weapons we have to beat this thing.  

Unfortunately, these are really uncomfortable for him, always stretching him in the way he avoids, for hours and hours, and sometimes his tolerance snaps and he needs them off - now! Who could blame him?  But, they look worse (and smell worse) than they really are.  He's really been great at handling them. Should we be surprised?  

Here's a pic of the Trooper in uniform...

They are actually really cute - allowing us to pick from a gazillion designs for the straps and foam... we went with his green, some blue and a green and blue dino print.  Very boy-ish.  When did we have a boy instead of a baby here?

...and yes, those are my blue Christmas socks below the stinky plastic.  What a mother wouldn't do...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Few Updates

Wow.  Three Posts In One Day.

I think...no, I know that is a record for me!  

I believe I have the site up and bug-free again, though I miss our old background fiercely. "Background? If you're out there, please come home?"  This one is ok, since it's the only one I kinda sorta liked so far.  ;)

So, that is done.

Also, I decided to publicize my organizing blog, 52 Weeks to Fix What's Broken.  Please stop by and visit if you have any interest in organizing, finishing projects, losing weight, decorating, creating stuff, eating healthy, etc...  I think it will be cooler to have a community of supporters, all reaching for the same, basic goals. We can help each other! C'mon over and share your projects! 

So, that is started.

And.... drum roll please....

Braden took two steps today, all by his lonesome.  Can you believe it?  I think we are on a road to bigger and better things!  I'll post a picture of his hot-rod tomorrow.  What he couldn't have done this without and the last thing I wanted to show the public!  Curious?  


Still having problems...

The fonts are all wrong and I can't seem to change them...Hmmm...I hate this part of Blogging... Blogger.  

Vomit Sponge

Is it wrong to have two post titles within months of each other have "vomit" in the title?

Yep, cover your ears kids - it's time for another post about vomit.  

Friday, after Braden's MRI, I emotionally crashed.  We put the kids to bed and all I wanted was a cup of Dark Mayan Chocolate Coffee (awesome.) and to immerse myself in New Moon.  Mike was getting a serious sinus cold, so combined with his allergies, he was out for the night.  I needed a good dose of Edward.

I stoked the wood stove and planted myself on the floor, yes, on the floor, in front of it, and prepared to sink into oblivion.  

I was about 3 sips and 2 chapters in...and I heard the thinnest of whines coming from upstairs. I am not even close, mind you, but with so many cries in the last few years, my ears are finely tuned.  It was Cole, and I hoped he was still asleep.  

I decided to ignore it for a moment, and desperately hoped that would be it. After a few minutes, my wish seemed to be granted and I folded back into bliss. The floor and my back were so nice and warm, the cat was purring on the side of my leg - and the Christmas lights in the front room were still there to provide just enough glow to read by.  I was seriously in heaven.  

And then the cry repeated itself, sounding so pitiful this time, I just had to go upstairs to check it out.  I worried he might be having a nightmare.  I optimistically placed the book upside down on the floor, still open, to return to in mere moments.  I had already fallen into pace with the story (even though Edward was no longer there...) and my belly was still warm with the heady mix of chocolate and coffee.  The fire was raging, not damped down for the night, and a few lights were still on. 

I headed upstairs, and as soon as I hit the landing, I knew my night was already over.

The sickly-sweet smell of vomit reached my nostrils as I heard the third cry coming from inside the room.  I felt a rush of resentment, followed quickly by pity and then dread.  Walking in the room, there sat my sleepy-eyed and miserable Cole, soaked with throw-up from head to toe. Even from the dim glow provided by their night light, I could see that the walls and the slats of his crib were just covered, his pillow, the sheets, all soaked.  He just looked up at me with a look that said, "fix it, Mommy, so I can go back to sleep."  

I was quick to pick him up - though carefully away from me - and swooped him over to the changing table across the room.  He was dutiful and remained silent, perhaps knowing that if his brother and sister woke up, his chances of going back to sleep were slim.  Or maybe that was just my take on things.

He shivered and shook while I undressed him and wiped him down, and relaxed as I bundled him up in nice, warm and fuzzy new PJs.  I laid him on the rug, covered with a blanket and ordered him in a whisper to stay put.  He just watched me as I tried to silently change a crib sheet without waking babies a mere foot away.  I managed, proud of my stealth (for I am not a stealthy person), to change the sheet and wipe the walls and crib slats down, finding that the side of the dresser needed the cleaning treatment too, without waking or even stirring the other two.  Cole must have been both sick and sleepy, for he stayed on the rug (a 21 month old!) the whole time just watching me in silence.  

I hugged him for a while and then placed him back in the crib with a new blanket and no pillow, and hoped he would sleep.  I gathered the evidence and slipped quietly out of the room.  I felt satisfied - changing him back into a snuggly, warm, sleeping boy. 

With that satisfaction, I prepared to settle back into my own personal heaven, but figured that if he was sick, really sick, I might need to prepare my night for the worst.  It was already after midnight, and I should have been in bed hours before, but I needed my little bit of pampering time.  

I stoked the fire and damped it down, I prepared the house for slumber, I set up my bed on the couch in case he needed more from me than just a change and a bed dressing.  

Then, I set myself down again, cringing for the worst.  I was able to get another two chapters in, almost letting down my guard, when I heard the gagging. Sighing, I knew this part of my night was over, and worse, that a very exhausting part was about to begin.

I flipped off the last light and headed upstairs to try it all again.  When I entered the room, though, the other two were already stirring.  I panicked and froze.  That would make it sooooo much worse!  I quietly stole Cole out of his second personal mess and decided to bail before the "others" woke.  

I've been reading too many vampire novels.       

I quickly cleaned and changed Cole into another outfit and got him out of the room just in time. I had to leave the mess, but sacrifices had to be made for the good of the team.  

I laid down on my second bed in the living room and brought him onto my chest, snuggling him as I used to do when he was a baby in the throes of a colicky night.  It felt good.  He slept for a bit, and I wondered briefly if I needed a bucket.  "He threw up a bucketload twice, how much more does he have in him?" I stupidly asked myself.  I fell asleep for about 15 minutes.  

That's when I became a Vomit Sponge.

I don't know about you mothers out there, but I am sick of being a "body waste" sponge!  I've been puked on, spit on, drooled on, peed on, even pooped on more times than I care to admit - I am sooo done with this!  

Laying on my chest, he gave me about 2 seconds warning, only by slightly sitting up, that he was about to blow.  Luckily I was wearing a very absorbent sweatshirt and PJ bottoms, so they caught it all.  And I mean ALL of it.  He heaved forever, and this time it was mostly all liquid. 

Now, Mike had taken one of those night time cold medicines before bed which rendered him semi-comatose, so this is the first he heard of the bedlam going on.  I just remember squeezing my eyes shut, holding him tight to me and just repeating "ugh, ugh, ugh, eww, eww, eww" over and over.  Mike heard that.  He came out of the bedroom for the last verse of his Vomit Serenade.  

Surprisingly, I expected there to be puke on the couch and the floor, but, no...it was all on me.  I felt...heavier.  My sweatshirt tugged with the weight and I needed a shower.  I changed as quick as I could with a 20 pound shirt on, wishing I could hop in the shower but knowing that was out of the question, and head back out to the living room to do it again.  Changing him this time, he started to get grouchy...how much can a toddler handle at 2 in the morning?  He wanted his crib, but it was still full of his last explosion. And after the outpouring of fluid and emotion, I doubted the kids upstairs were going to stay asleep for another change in the dark.  So, I tried to hold him to me, this time with no pressure on his tummy, and begged him to sleep.  

This is where the necessity of some parts of parenting triplets intersects with the luxury of a mom who might only have one.  He did not want me.  He wanted his crib.  Months of training the kids to be good at sleeping alone were backfiring on me now.  He wanted his crib.  Not me.  Not snuggly, protecting, warm Mommy...he wanted the crib.  So, after an hour of fighting me to get off the couch, I was so tired and I let him go.  

He took a few steps off the couch, stumbling to the softly lit Christmas tree...looked up at it... and then collapsed, tummy on the floor, falling instantly asleep.  Hmph!  He'd rather the floor than me?  I took a mental note to be resentful of that when we were both rested again...But I was so tired, I actually left him there, my head was swimming and screaming for sleep and I went under a deep sea just as quickly.  I woke up an hour later with a gasp, looking over at the spot where I thought Cole must have gone in a dream...and there he was. Still asleep.  

On the cold floor!  At least there was carpet beneath him.  Feeling like a bad mom, I snagged him up and pulled him to the couch again.  Luckily he stayed asleep and vomit free until dawn. A full 2-3 hours of sleep. 

Oh, what a night.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Under Construction

Please bear with me as I figure out what our new background will be...

The site I had taken our original one from decided to throw it out, which threw our whole site out of whack.  All the little code I had written in to work along with this background is making any new background unusable...so I have to go with white for now!

And it's killing me.  I so don't like bright white - unless it's on Daniel Craig's perfect teeth. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Humble Thoughts

I want to let everyone know that Braden is good.  He went through the procedure like the trooper he is and came out smiling.  Literally.  The nurses were gushing over him and couldn't believe just how good he was/is.  

The MRI was supposed to be done at 12:30.  That means we were to arrive at 10:30 for 2 hours of lovely chats with many of Kaleida Health's nurses and administrative staff.  Pre-ops actually only took about a half hour of that time, and the rest was spent waiting in the....you guessed it The Waiting Room.  In fact, they should really start calling it "The Interminable Wait Room" or simply "The Room You Will Be In For Hours".  

The patient ahead of Braden was an hour late.  So, that pushed off our scan for another hour. And then, that same patient ended up needing an additional half hour of scans.  Another 30 mins to wait.  Not a fair part of the system, I think, but then, I don't run a multi-million (billion?) dollar hospital...  

All of this would be only a minor problem if Little B had been able to eat or drink a little.  He hadn't eaten or drunk anything since he had dinner the night before.  He could have had clear fluids up until 2 hours before we were to be there, but since he woke up at 8:45, we didn't want to push it.  If we had known that we had an extra hour and a half to play with, he could have had some liquid refreshment to tide him over...but he didn't get to have anything.  

And let me tell, you...if I were in his position, I would have been a raving lunatic by the time I had to go in!  But, he was simply Braden, playing contentedly with all the other waiting children, loving the new stimulus and interaction.  Side note - isn't it the cruelest thing to have a play kitchen in the play area with all the plastic food included if kids can't eat, the bananas and toast with a dollop of butter melting, the realistic but mini frying pan sizzling the fake bacon and eggs?  I thought so!  I kept trying to catch myself, hoping not to let a name of any type of food slip from my mouth, hoping my gaze wasn't then met with ten instantly ravenous little monsters!  ;)

So, we were a little late going in, and he handled it typically beautiful.  

We were allowed to go in until he went under the effects of the anesthesia, and it is slightly horrifying to kiss your baby on the cheek while his eyes roll back into his head.  My stomach was in knots, hoping he would be alright and worrying about what they would see during that little glimpse into his growing brain.

Luckily, we didn't have to wait long. 

And the news that we were expecting and ironically hoping to hear was confirmed.  He has mild CP.  And for some reason, my eyes welled up.  I fought the tears that wanted to come because the realization of the definity of the diagnosis was heart wrenching. 

Simply, our baby has brain damage.  Yes, it is very slight.  And yes, it only affects the motor function, rigidity and weakness of his right side.  But, nonetheless....it is brain damage.  And that was so hard to hear.  Most likely because he is a triplet, and he was born second, he was deprived for oxygen just long enough to cause this minor damage. 

He is having problems, and now we know what they are caused by, and where we can go from here. It is the best news we could have hoped for, facing down a multitude of possible outcomes, but to hear it confirmed was disheartening. We want the best for our son, like any parent does, and facing a future with 2 instant comparisons by his side, we will always be walking that fine line between babying him and holding him to a high standard.  His siblings are physically perfect, and it hurts to know that this fact may haunt him, be baggage, so to speak, for the rest of his life. But then again, this is Braden we are talking about here - he might never give it a second thought, content in his unique physiology.

We never want him to feel inferior, but we never want to hold him back because we think he is incapable due to a handicap.  Like I said, a fine line, and we are terrified to screw that up.  

The awareness that nothing else is wrong with my baby's brain function stole over me many hours later, while holding him in my arms.  I became grateful and humble, hit full force with the knowledge that it could have been so much worse...and that we are incredibly lucky to be where we are.  

So, again, he is good - the doctors have said that he will be walking soon and that he will be fine - thank you so much for all of your kind prayers.  And now we know where we are headed...finally in the right direction.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Need Some Prayers

Hi everyone...

Braden goes into Children's Hospital tomorrow morning to get an MRI done on his precious brain.  It's to determine if all the "experts" are right in pre-diagnosing him with a mild to medium case of Cerebral Palsy.  He has shown all of the classic signs, we are told, and we are so worried about him.  

He has to go under anesthesia for the procedure - too young to sit still.  And that worries me too.

Motherhood is just full of worry, isn't it?  

But it's also full of holding your babies tight and kissing their foreheads, smoothing their hair back and telling them to "sleep well, my love"....for tomorrow will bring us closer to knowing just what is different about you, and how we can get on the path to helping you to be the person you were meant to be, no matter what.  

Please keep little B in your prayers, tonight and in the coming weeks...that he goes through the procedure well, and that what they find is what they are expecting to find.  No matter what, we will fight to overcome it - he deserves all the help, in any form, that we can give him.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I don’t know what you would call them if not resolutions…Goals? Projects? Objectives?

Whatever the name, they are still things I would like to accomplish this year.  My list is something I have been hacking away at for years, all but stopping once the kids were born.  Everyday Life gets in the way of so much progress, however nice life may be; things just don’t get done. Some are Major Life Goals, some are little organizing projects.  I plan to start a project every week and plug away until done.  At the end of the year, I’ll see how far I’ve come because I will have a blogging record to check back upon.

Some high level goals – call it a 2009 Bucket List!

Some are professional:

Finish writing a book about Life with Infant/Toddler Triplets

Create a beautiful memoir for Ruger, about his life, and all dog’s lives.

Officially start Fetching Prints, my pet photography business (have a portfolio, clients, sessions on a regular basis)

Some are personal:


Finish the bedroom redecoration – make the headboard, the shelves, the canopy, etc…

Finish the bathroom remodel – storage for everything, organization, towel bars!

Lose 40-50 pounds and reclaim my wardrobe! 

Determine if surgical muscle repair of my belly is necessary or if I can do it on my own

Be in the best shape of my life (again) ;)

Create a home office area that I can run my businesses out of and still create crafts in

Repaint the Living Room!  Redecorate/Reorganize


Finish their nursery (finally!)

Create a playroom for the kids – organize/decorate/set-up

Help Braden to Walk on his own.  Do whatever it takes – physical therapy/orthotics/Botox/surgery/motivation.  One of our greatest goals.

Learn to Teach the kids even more sign language!

Keep on the goal to help them to be smart, considerate, polite, helpful and gracious people


Save up enough money to plan and embark on our 10th Anniversary Trip in June

Create a way to easily pick, plan and shop, then make dinner every night

Eat healthier, more organic, more natural, without paying much more than we are now.

These are just my major goals/wishes/challenges/annoyances; so many of these will require baby steps/goals to get there.  I hope to accomplish much more this year!  Some will take the whole year, some a few months, some weeks and some just one day.  But the important part is that I have a road map to get there and direction makes all the difference.

Another challenge…we have no money.  That is a serious obstacle when you are trying to organize your house and life.  You have to get really creative!  And when you are done, it may not look as nice as in a TLC show about organizing your house and life, but it will be done.  I will take lots of advice and inspiration from thrifty friends like tartraz, decor8, Design Sponge and Design with Christine – borrow a little from NieNie’s style and from some pages of Erin Vey’s book of life.  At least I can still take inspiration from the pages of Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens and the Pottery Barn Catalog, even if I cannot afford the stuff on them.  So much inspiration out there, it is a credit to the Internet to bring people together. Maybe IKEA will be the Godsend I am hoping it to be in these struggling financial times!  Who knows.  

I am starting a private blog to tackle these “projects”.  Since I am an obsessive list maker and a writer, I think a blog could provide the ultimate motivation for me to get stuff done. It will be called “52 Weeks to Fix What’s Broken”.  The title being how I feel about certain things in my life – defining anything “broken” as something I am not happy with and want very much to change it.  Nothing is sacred – My marriage, my weight, my health, Mike’s health!, my bedroom closet, the kids’ nursery (still not finished…), the relationship with my sister, how I handle friendships, etc… so many things to overhaul and counteract the way I can be.  I am a terrible friend, I am a serious procrastinator, I am super lazy and I am awfully unhealthy and fat. I know what you're thinking - does this girl ever shut up??  Another blog??  Sheesh.  What can I say, I like to write...and I really like my lists.  Just ask Mike - he thinks I am crazy with all the index cards floating around with the "do this, do thats" on them.

Anyway, I am keeping it private due to the sensitive nature of some pictures (i.e. FAT pictures of my post-triplet, pre-weight loss belly – a public showing of those ridiculous pictures will not help anyone if left to the google searches, finding the horrific images with one click and no warning.)  Nope!  Anyone who wants to be invited will know what they are signing up for and I can handle that.  If you are looking for motivation or just curious about our little life or can help to motivate me, shoot me an email at ertelbear@gmail.com and I will send you an invite to view the blog.   

Change is coming!  I can no longer sit by and watch my life not be the way I want it to be.  Everyone wakes up at some point in their life and says to themselves, “Today is the day I change it.”  Everyone wakes up and is disgusted either with themselves or their life, unhappy with where they have ended up – and it is not your childrens’ fault, or your husband, or your job.  It is up to you to fix what is broken in your life – as Mahatma Gandhi so eloquently put it and President Barack Obama motivates with – “Be the Change you want to see in the world.”  Happy Inauguration Day, Mr. President.  I will follow that forwarded advice and start, today.   I will first change what is broken in me and then world – look out!  You are next! 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cool Yule

I think this may be the last, finally, the last Christmas-related post.

Picture, oh Picture!  Where were you 4 weeks ago?  I searched for you, I fought for you - I begged and pleaded and bribed for you.  But you were nowhere to be found.  Until last week. Too late for Christmas cards, but still in our memory banks and photo albums...and blogs.  

Bathing, diapering and dressing 3 kids requires a staggered assembly line.  I give baths to all three at once, letting one go to Mike at at a time.  He takes the first and I work on the second. Then he lets the first run around free while he takes the second and I work on the third. That means a baby/toddler is running around the house free with both Mommy and Daddy's hands full.  I think they are starting to recognize the sheer potential of that fact!

This night, Alex was first out and she found the sunglasses we tried to keep on them over the summer to no avail.  And during winter, in the house, at night...she puts them on and walks between the rooms that Mike and me are in, giggling with glee - walking into the door frame on the way out of the bathroom!  Not hard enough to hurt, but hard enough to bounce her off and stagger like a little drunk girl.  I was laughing pretty hard, and so was she.  

After bath, when all three kids had caught the fashion fever, we plopped the hats they wore in last year's Christmas picture and placed them in front of the tree.  Instant Late Christmas Picture!  Hope you had a Cool Yule!

*Muaaah* Baby!


The Album Cover

The Christmas Card, rockin' those serious faces...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Beautiful Morning


Yep, that's officially below zero here in Buffalo - and it's supposed to stay that way all day, in the negative... During the day!  And it's even sunny!  

It's darn cold, but this morning's sunrise was gorgeous.  With the ice and snow - it's beautiful out there (as long as I am in here, I say).  The windows are frosty and the sun just glowed through that thin sheet of ice.  We also have an overflow of icicles due to this crazy cold weather - the old thawing + freezing + old house = insane icicles equation...


Doesn't it look like I am taking this from inside some abominable's frozen jaws? ;)  Ok, maybe it's just me.  

I wish my mother's camera were here to see this.  ;(  The little point and shoot was happy to fill in though.  


Good morning!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Merry Make-It/Bake-It

Phew!  What a weekend.  We are so glad it's over because it was a literal race against the clock to finish.  Exhausting, stressful and frustrating!  But then it got fun.

The Ertel Family has a long-standing tradition called "Make-It/Bake-It."  You see, the object is to pick a name from the bowl (we picked at Easter last year) and think of something to either Make or Bake for that person.  Up until this year, we exchanged on Christmas Eve (when we are all already super busy), and it is a much anticipated event!  Since the last year was so hectic for us and the rest of the family didn't complain, we moved it to "Little Christmas", which is the weekend around January 6th.  And then we postponed it another week.  I think we would need just "another week" even if we had it in July.  ;)

We all usually scramble the night before, struggling to finish in time.  Procrastinators, all of us! Waiting to open the presents, the air is filled with the mingling scents of drying glue and paint and varnish and oil...it's so funny to have that evidence that projects have just been finished a mere hours before.  We all laugh knowingly and I think it's an endearing part of the tradition!

The tradition was cancelled last year and postponed until this Christmas.  And we were still working on our projects this past weekend!  

Mike had an idea for a photo transfer to canvas.  We found some interesting and "easy" instructions online and bought all of the supplies.  We had to print the pictures, flipped horizontally, on paper with an inkjet printer specifically.  Thought that part of it would be easy...but it turned out to be really difficult and pretty expensive.  If we were printing a nice quality 16x20 on photo paper through Snapfish, it would be around 14.99.  A crappy printout on paper cost us 16.00.  It's $8.00 a square foot to print on PAPER!  Stupid.  And to top it off, we couldn't find any printing places that had an inkjet printer for large format prints anymore.  We had to go to a blueprint place - a SPECIALTY store - to have it done. That's crazy.  So we ran around like crazy people for a week, collecting supplies, thinking that would be the hardest part of the journey.  BOY, were we wrong!  

I tried it first on a small 8x10, to practice and glean important tips for Mike to use on his big and important project.  It tanked miserably. No transfer and lotsa bubbles.  I was so mad!  It took all night to do it.  Ok, go on the internet and find and try a different technique.  Better, but still bad.  My poor niece's face was unrecognizable.  The ink transferred, but there were some very obvious mistakes and it was deemed ungiveable.  So, Mike perfected the technique, taking every variable out of the equation, trying his small 8x10...and the next morning (which is now Friday morning)...it still tanked.  Trying to rub the paper off, we easily rubbed the ink off too in spots that needed to be there.  It was sooooooo frustrating!  

We hated to say it, but we had to abandon all the money and time invested.  It was time for Plan B.  

On Saturday morning, 24 hours before project completion, he started over.  Talk about stress!  Mike hates doing this as it is - so he was ridiculously stressed out.  He came up with a great idea and after some modifications to make sure he could find the supplies that he needed he came up with his project and finished it just in time to take it with us.  Yikes!  

He ended up making these really cool metal placemats - made out of a thin sheet of aluminum, a sheet of plexiglass and then backed with a thin layer of cork.  Then, he took a drill with a wire wheel brush and brushed an amazing pattern all over the face of the metal. He polished them up and sprayed a coat of glossy clear paint over the top to finish it off.  They had a very cool, modern look!  I was so proud of him!  And, he thinks he's not creative...Pshaw!  They turned out awesome.  

My project was mostly done last year, so I was able to help him a little while I put the finishing touches on mine.  I made three stepping stones with a mosaic stained glass pattern for my mother-in-law, putting all of the grandkids' names on them and the words "Grandma's Growing Buds" with a flower bud next to each kid's name.  I was actually not stressing about finishing, which is an absolute first.  But, I did have 2 years to do it.  ;)

The exchange was fun - we had dinner and then piled in the family room, anxiously awaiting the reveal.  We started with my mother-in-law and then went from there.  So, she gave her present and then the person who received then gave, and so on.   

Mom had Marlene - she made her a beautiful Christmas wreath for their new house!


Then, she gave her a pretty gold box that when opened revealed their Grandmother's recipes, all the recipes that we adore eating.  This box was actually their grandmother's and it was filled with the cards in her handwriting - what an amazing gift, passed on.  

Marlene had Uncle Tom - she took the Bake-It option and make him this humongous basket filled with chocolate treats galore!  Chocolate covered pretzels, White Trash, caramel and chocolate coated popcorn, cookie bars - it went on and on!  It looked so good and we were all drooling...so he opened the popcorn for us to sample - it was addicting, to say the least.  


Uncle Tom had Mike - he made him a very cool and appropriate tool bench supply organizer.  He had places for all the essentials you usually just have lying around, like towels and scissors and string.  It was a great idea and something Mike could really use!  He painted it all a nice gray/blue color and thought of everything.  He even included some of the necessities!  


Mike had Kristin, and he gave her the awesome placemats - she really like them!  Everyone was trying to tell him that he has way more talent than he gives himself credit for - they all loved his work, but of course he was dwelling on the tiny imperfections only he could see - my darling perfectionist husband.  ;)


Kristin had Mary Jane - she has a business making incredible stained glass pieces and jewelry. So, she made MJ an unbelievable glass piece, a wall or window hanging - with intricate beads and slender chains and textured glass panels, all made to look vintage, which is MJ's favorite look.  It was incredible.  I couldn't get a good picture to do it justice, but believe me, we were all drooling again! It was Gorgeous with a capital G. 


MJ had Matthew and made him this beautiful and adorable picture of their family, she mounted it on a canvas and texture painted the background and then added a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.  It was so nice and so personal - a beautiful addition to their wall art!


Matt had me - and since this is my blog, I can go on and on about how much I loooooooooooved my gifts.  He made me, not one, not two, but THREE gifts!  I first opened an immaculate and beautifully detailed cutting board.  It is smooth, super thick and incredibly heavy!  He laser engraved two familiar quotes on each side in two different and gorgeous fonts (I am a font junkie).  The first was "We may not have it all together, but together we have it all" and then "Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much".  It is perfectly made, absolutely stunning.  And then he gave me more - as if that wasn't enough!  


The other two gifts were something I have always wanted...

This picture shows the before - see the copper roof tiles on the wall in the background?  There are two of them and I have always wanted them framed and had asked my dad a few years ago to do it for me and he just didn't have time, so he returned them. :(  


Recently, I gave up this dream and decided to just hang them as-is.  I was ok with it, even though I longed for them to be framed!  Matt knew this....so his gift was to frame them for me!  He made frames with beautiful wood from our own barn - probably super old and rough-hewn, lots of weathering.  They turned out awesome; perfectly matching what was in my head as the ideal frame for them.  They add so much to the copper and to our house!  I am pretty darn happy with my gifts - Thank you, Matt!


I had Mom, and made the stones for her - she loved them!  Dad handed her the box of tissues before she got them, thinking she would cry.  Too funny. Yep - that's always my goal, make someone cry.


Mom had already gone, so we passed it to Dad, who had Patrick.  Dad made him a beautiful maple flower box and stuffed it full of gorgeous and interesting exotic house plants.  It turned out so simply beautiful and looked like it took a ton of work to get the sides to join.  He is one talented guy in the woodworking department!


And then....Patrick had Dad!  He made him one of those really cool personal swings you see on porches, that hang from the beams above. Usually made out of canvas, Patrick made this one out of heavy duty stretchable denim, PVC tubes and sturdy rope.  He included a pillow, a footrest and the essential beer holder pocket.  Dad loved it!    


The end.

We drew for next year already, so we have more time to fret over what we are going to make, since it will still only be done in that last week.  We'll never change!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Christmas Lights

All things still Christmas around our home and blog, I finally took a picture of the outside of our house with the lights up...something I have been wanting to do for years!  We love to decorate, inside and out because we morph into little kids at Christmas!  Ok, who am I kidding?  For people who don't drink coffee or much alcohol even, who prefer chocolate milk, pop and hot chocolate - who love to stay home (we call ourselves self-imposed hermits) and play video games all night (or, er, used to, before the kiddos) and who love to get remote control airplanes and Harry Potter books for Christmas - we were already kids to begin with...  

Then, Christmas brings out the kid in us even more so, I should say!  We literally drape the house in lights, stuff it with decorations and keep them up until April.  You think I am kidding, and some days, when we might have, say, the tax lady come to our house for the appointment in mid-February, shocked at the out-of-place decor, I am embarrassed to still be living in a Christmastown timewarp.  Though, the rest of the time, we love living in a house where our regular lights don't have to be used for months!  The glow from the thousand twinkling lights is enough to illuminate our evenings.  It is so incredibly cozy, and we love it that way - so we savor it for months. Call us crazy...and little kids who never grew up...and we would agree with you wholeheartedly.

Here's our house lights, which we keep on until January 31st - bummed to be keeping them off from then on...and hiding the fact that we are still enjoying the holiday inside the house!  There's usually more in the form of deer and pre-lit trees and more trees with lights, and light balls, etc... and also the snow is actually hiding some of the bushes - but we chose to take it easy this year - this is our "dimmed down" version, hopefully saving us some pocket change from the less used electricity.  ;)

Right in front of the house

From our curve around driveway

The view from the road
20 days and counting.............

"It is never too late to have a happy childhood." - Claudia Black

Friday, January 9, 2009

What happens....

Ok, quiz time!

So, what happens when you leave the room for 10 seconds to get three water cups, come back and realize that your 20, almost 21-month-old son (Cole) has snagged the digital camera off of the just-taller-than-him-speaker by the lanyard and is walking around with it?

Well, my first answer, since it was off, and it was only 10 seconds is...nothing.  

I would be very wrong and guilty of underestimating a 12 year old in a 21 month old body.  

10 SECONDS!  ON, SNAP, SNAP, OFF....and hand it back to Mommy. How did he do this so fast?  And without me knowing?  I giggled pretty hard after finding this one.


"We're sending you a photo message, Mommy, that you will find soon...that we are smarter than you think...and there are THREE of us!"

Scary.    :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christmas Day

Well, I have been wanting to get the few pictures I took on my mother's camera while we were visiting them on Christmas Day, since I do not have any pictures taken with our little cam while we were there.   Alex looked so cute in her red dress with furry cuffs and a big bow on her buddha belly.  Sooooo cute.  But the pics are all in a different house, on a different camera... *sigh* 

Since I haven't gotten them, these will just have to do!

Christmas morning at our house was....late.  Since we went to Midnight Mass and the kids didn't go down until about 11:30, we let them sleep in as late as they wanted to - I think they got up at noon! We ate some breakfast - another food story - Mike's parents always set us kids up with two of the best breakfast foods, ever.  Slab Bacon - for you non bacon conisseurs out there, this is the prime rib of bacon - yeah, baby!  Alex has already turned into a raving lunatic in the presence of any bacon, so this stuff was like gold.  And the other half - Almond Puff.  A pastry to die for - his mom makes the best, it melts in your mouth!  And the combination - with a wine glass full of egg nog - gotta feel sophisticated whilst introducing this much fat into your system - is simply divine. Add that to this glorious woodstove and you've got a higher power working here...  Life is good, Life is cozy.


One can only handle so much of the famous and heavy (and much appreciated!) breakfast, so we ate, nibbled really, on our goodies and opened presents within a very short time.  I was popping little bits of bacon into their mouths in between them hovering over daddy for more toys!  All of this happened between 2:00 and 3:00, finally finishing in time to get dressed and leave for my parents house for dinner! But, since they really needed a nap, we put them down and we were really late for dinner. Darn schedule! We really only got there about 20 minutes late, but they were already cleaning up! Yikes! So we set the kids up in their highchairs and wolfed down our own dinner just in time for more presents.  Ah, Christmas.

Triple the Fun on Christmas Morning

Discovering the new block tower!

Stack it up, Daddy?

Opening the new Train!

That smile again! I think he likes it.

Riding double!

And a new fort! (Takes up way too much room *cough*)

Hi, Baby Girl!

So, the train was the kids' favorite...and my favorite?  A cool new purse...with the first Twilight book tucked inside.  Nice. (Thanks Bethie!)  And Mike's....of course, it was the lightweight remote control helicopter, duh!  

Hopefully I can get those cutie pie pictures of Alex and post them before Valentine's Day.