Monday, June 30, 2008

Strangest Conversation Ever

I have to say, I think I just had the strangest conversation ever.

The phone rang, and Twin A rushed to grab it. We've been trying to teach them NOT to do this, just pick up the phone and start talking. We've lost a few calls by them grabbing the phone, then hanging up without handing it to us.

But I'm standing right there, and see on the caller ID that he's talking to my sister-in-law. He hands me the phone (progress) and we laugh about kids saying cute things, etc.

Then she says, "I have a weird question for you."

Okay. I call her husband (my brother) and ask strange questions all the time. "Go for it," I say.

"I got a call from the cemetery people, and they want to know if we (meaning her, my brother, me, and my husband) all want to be buried next to your parents."

O..k..kay. Not even a blip on my radar this morning about the possibility of this conversation coming up. I haven't had my first caffeine of the day. It's not even 9am, and I'm trying to decide where my remains shall rest forever.

"Um, I probably need to talk to my husband about this," I said.

"Sure. I called your brother this morning, and he definitely wants to be buried there, but we also have to decide who is on which side of your parents."


"Well, apparently this is a pretty big deal for some people, and the order has to be man,, it's either me, or you, next to your dad."

"Sure, fine."

"And when you decide, they need a deposit for you and your husband to reserve the plot."

"Are you serious?"

"Yep. Kind of like a down payment for a car. Gross, huh?"

Weirder and weirder. This conversation has plunged into the realm of the Twilight Zone. Not exactly something I want to be talking about after getting over a NASTY bout with strep throat that knocked me flat for 5 days.

I hang up promising to call her or the cemetery people when I have a better idea of what dear hubby and I want to do.

While I am not naive enough to think that I can't go at any time, I also don't like to sit around and plan for the end of my life. Too morbid. But I know it is the responsible thing to do, to be prepared, not leaving this planning burden on those we leave behind. So we will discuss our plan, and update our will, and make sure our affairs are in order. Hopefully these plans will be carried out in the VERY DISTANT future.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Feeling Yucky

Sorry, folks. I've been sick, and this infection has knocked me on my fanny.

I'm taking medicine, and will be recovered soon, but don't have a whole lot to discuss. I don't like being sick, I become the world's biggest baby (bless my dear husband's heart), and I am ready to feel better.

I'll post again next week.

Everybody stay well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shopping Around

Church shopping.

Ever heard that phrase? I know some people who would slap the offender for blasphemy if they heard those words come out of someones mouth. Churches are NOT to be "shopped" for. You aren't going to buy a pair of shoes, or new jeans. You are talking about the House of God, and should do so with reverence and awe.

While I do agree with treating the subject with a little more respect, I also agree with the idea behind the phrase.

My husband and I have been church "hunting." (Better? No? I'll work on a new phrase.) We had an excellent church in Maumelle, Arkansas (waving to all my friends!!!), and it truly became our church home. We laughed, loved, and lost together as a family. We were involved in almost every single ministry (nursery, children's, youth, women's, men's, couples, missions), you name it, we probably helped out. So to find a place and a group of people to connect with again is a difficult task.

Yesterday we tried a church our neighbors recommended. And I have to say, I really liked it. Between my husband and I, we've tried every type of church you can imagine. Big, little, country, city, mega, average, denominational, non-denominational, from one end of the spectrum to the other. We've found so far we like contemporary worship music (think guitars, drums, bass, keyboards) and this church had that for sure.

The style of the building was modern industrial, and coffee heaven for my husband. And the Kids! Let's just say I could have stayed right there and played forever! The twins didn't want to leave, and even the baby (who sometimes gets fussy around strangers) played quietly in the nursery.

The only thing I had a problem with was the sermon/message portion. It was a live satellite feed from a church in Texas. Nothing wrong with Texas, nothing wrong with their pastor, nothing wrong with the message itself. But I just have this thing about hearing my sermon from a person physically in front of me if I'm in a church building. And please don't misunderstand, I'm not saying there is anything WRONG with this type of service. It's just not what I prefer.

We were told that yes, there is a regular pastor who does sermons/messages, but we're not sure when those services are yet. We might have to hear a regular sermon before we decide if this is the right place for us.

And I think it is VERY important to find a church you like, and to become an intricate part of that community. There could be debates about the validity of my statement, but for me and my family, I've found having a church home is critical. The saying, "You never know what you've got until it's gone" is true in this case. We can never replace what we lost in Arkansas, but we can move on to something just as important, but in a different way.

I'll keep you posted on how the church exploration (is that a better word?) goes.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Darling Daughter

My poor, darling daughter. She's been teething, and YIKES!

This normally sweet, gentle baby who only cries when hungry or ignored for too long, has been screaming her head off for the last two days. She's drooling buckets and gumming on everything she can get her mouth on.

At the moment, her favorite teething toy is a large, bare wood block (no lead paint here), that has tiny holes all over it from the itsy-bitsy pearly whites ripping through her gums.

I am continually amazed at how quickly babies grow up. My precious daughter can sit up, crawl, pull up to her knees, scoot around in her walker, eat baby food, and is just growing by leaps and bounds.

The twins are absolutely fascinated by her. A few months ago, she was this blob who laid in her crib, wrapped in a blanket, barely moving, and not to be touched.

Now she laughs, she always cried, she babbles at them, she's mobile, and she acknowledges that the boys are there. They think she's a great animated toy to play with!

Until she knocks down the block tower they built, or grabs the piece of paper they were coloring and crumples it in her tiny, powerful fists. They like to get her in the walker, grab onto the back, and let her pull them all over the hardwood and tile floors.

Yes, she really can pull them. Neither boy weighs even 40 pounds, and she has incredibly strong little legs. With one, it's a breeze for her, with both, she has a little more trouble. And before I get turned in for child abuse, I don't actually encourage this behavior in my sons! They are sent to time-out any time I catch them doing it. But I have seen it happen, the baby pushing along in the walker with two boys hanging off the back and laughing like loons.

But hopefully those teeth will finish breaking through, and she will be back to her happy, joyous self.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Turkey Tacos

Recently, I read a book that talked about a famous family. During the course of the book, it discussed how they tried to keep life semi-normal, and part of that included eating dinner at home. Their lives were busy, and so they had to have a "Go-To Meal" most of the week. And their "go-to meal" was turkey tacos.

So this got me thinking, and the last time I went grocery shopping, I bought several pounds of ground turkey, and a bulk package of taco shells.

I thought we might have them once, and then I would be stuck using the turkey in other meals, and freezing the taco shells for a couple of months. But we've been eating them. Or at least, my husband and I have been eating them.

Last night DH (dear hubby) had to work late, and I had grumpy, frustrated kids, so a full sit-down dinner wasn't on the menu. Out came the turkey tacos. I got the meat ready, my husband popped the shells in the oven to toast while I went for a walk with the baby, and by the time I got back, everything was ready. Even the twins (pickiest eaters on the planet!) tried some of the taco meat and liked it.

So this recent fascination with turkey tacos made me wonder what other "go-to meals" we've had over the years, or what others are having. Our list includes pizza (of course), hot dogs, ramen noodles, spaghetti w/meat sauce, sandwiches, and grilled chicken.

I look forward to teaching my kids to cook, and hope to create more meals that anyone in the house can throw together in a snap, but that will have to wait a few more years. In the meantime, happy cooking.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Belated Father's Day

I realize it’s a day late, but I wanted to say something about my dad for Father’s Day. He passed away about 18 months ago after a three year battle with cancer.

He was a good man, very funny, but gruff. Rough around the edges. Hard shell, soft center. He never met a stranger, talked to anyone and everyone he met. A farm boy at heart, raised in a rural community, never lived more than two hours from where he was born.

Dad placed his love for family above everything else. He loved his wife and children with great passion and persistence; sometimes too persistent.

Like all teenagers, I thought my dad was the most embarrassing person on the planet, bent on making my life miserable just because he could.

When I went to get my driver’s permit, I was so nervous, I thought I would throw-up. And of course, my calm and serene mother had to work, so gruff, hot-headed, humiliating dad had to take me. He sat in a chair in the back while I took the test, and waited while I turned it in and had to answer some questions.

The instructor, not a very nice man and probably sick to death of dealing with arrogant, annoying teenagers asked me a simple question, “Where are you at in Driver’s Ed?”

My befuddled brain didn’t compute the question correctly and I asked him to repeat it, “Huh?”

He rolled his eyes and huffed. “Where are you at in Driver’s Ed?”

I still didn’t get it, and told him the name of the town where I took my driver’s ed class.

“No, where are you AT in Driver’s Ed?”

I told him the name of the town again.

He growled and leaned forward. “I’m only going to ask you one more time, where are you at in Driver’s Ed?”

I turned tear-filled eyes to my dad, sure I’d just blown my chance at getting a driver’s permit because I still didn’t get the question. I looked back at the instructor mumbled, “I’m sorry,” and started to leave when two massive hands slapped down on the counter beside me, and my dad glared at the instructor.

“Is there a problem here?”

The smaller instructor shriveled behind his counter and became the epitome of pleasant. “No, sir. No problem. Just trying to find out if she finished driver’s ed.”

My father glanced at my red-rimmed eyes, cherry nose, and splotchy cheeks (and I know this is how I looked, because that’s how I look when I’m trying not to cry, like I’ve been crying). I nodded vigorously, and said, “Yes. Yes, I’m finished with driver’s ed.”

“That’s all I was trying to find out,” the instructor said indignantly. He handed me the permit.

“Honey, go wait out in the pick-up for me, okay?” my dad said.

I nodded and headed out the door. I sat and waited. My father came out shortly, frown etched between his brows. “That man should not be allowed to deal with the public,” was the only comment he made the whole ride home.

I found out later, from my mom, that dad threatened to put a boot up his butt if the instructor ever spoke like that to me or any other kid trying to get their license again. And he filed a complaint with the guy’s supervisor.

No matter how embarrassed I was about my dad, I know he loved us and stood up for us whenever we needed him.

Maybe next Father’s Day, I’ll blog about the time my brother broke his arm, and dad threatened to throw a nurse through the window.

Happy Father’s Day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sleepless Night

Sorry, folks. Today's blog probably won't be very coherent.

I was up most of the night, and am functioning on about 3 hours of sleep. Wednesday night, Twin B crawled into bed with us at 1a.m., scorching hot. Fever of 100.2. My first thought is strep throat since Twin A had that about a month ago. But no nausea and no sore throat. He falls asleep, my husband abandons ship for the comfort of the guest bed (and to protect sensitive body parts from recklessly flying limbs), and I sleep fitfully worrying about the child next to me.

All day yesterday he was in good spirits, though he still ran a fever and didn't feel 100%. We are supposed to go to a company picnic tomorrow, and used that as leverage to keep him on the couch most of the day. "You want to play in the Bouncy Castle and go down the big Blow-Up Slide on Saturday, don't you? Well, you have to rest and get well before you can go."

He ate well, still no nausea, no sore throat, and the fever seemed to be going down; 99.7.

Yeah, on the road to recovery. Until last night.

We gave him a last dose of medicine, hoping the fever would break during the night, but no such luck. He tossed and turned, and his fever burned all night long. Back up to 100.8. He flailed and cried in his sleep, twitched and wiggled. Blanket on, blanket off. Cool rag for his head, now too warm, now too cold, now I don't want it anymore.

From 10pm to 3am, I sat with him and worried. Then I got my husband. Just an hour, I pleaded. Just an hour to sleep, then come and get me again, and I'll stay with him the rest of the night. My husband gets in the bed, and oblivious to the twitching and squirming child at his side, falls asleep until the alarm goes off at 6am. I have no idea how dear hubby does this. Every movement has me sitting upright in a panic. He falls asleep and is dead to the world until the alarm goes off. He even slept through a tornado once, but that's a post for another time.

We give Twin B medicine, which he cries about, then pukes back up. Twin A wakes up and wants waffles with syrup. Twin B doesn't understand why he can't have them too. The baby wakes up and while changing her, Twin A wanders into the room, and entertains her on the floor while I throw the diaper away. Twin B comes into the room, tears pouring down his face because we left him all alone on the couch in the living room.

We have a moment of peace as I write this post, and I hope this is a sign of better things to come during the day. Have a great weekend, and I pray we will have the same.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Life's Little Mysteries

I would like to start off by saying, for the record, that I love my dear husband very much. Now, having said that...I am sooooo jealous, I might have to hurt him!

Let me explain.

I have been on a diet for a while. And off and on, I actually TRY to stick to it. The last month is a good example. I've been exercising during the day (leg lifts, crunches, girlie push-ups, lunges, etc.), walking in the evenings when the weather permits, dancing around the house with the kids when it doesn't, and honestly trying to control my portions.

I will also admit there are certain foods I WILL NOT give up. Chocolate. Diet Coke. Reduced Fat Ruffles Potato Chips. But I really, really try to limit the portions to 100 calorie snacks in the afternoons, and try to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day in addition to a couple of Diet Cokes.

Now we get to my husband. Apparently their family gene pool includes super-human metabolic combustion rates. My oldest brother-in-law admitted to me on their last visit that he probably eats 3,000-4,000 calories a day. A DAY! And he's not a big guy at all. He's tall (they're all tall) but not big.

So I've been talking to my DH about exercising and losing weight, and limiting my portions at dinner. He says, "You know. That sounds like a good idea. I might give that a try."

He mentions this last week.

He gets on the scale last night and says, "Wow, I've already lost, like, 7 pounds."

7 pounds. In a week.

It's taken me a month to lose 5 pounds!

Trying to control my temper so I don't fly across the room and strangle him with my bare hands, I ask, "What have you been doing?"

Oblivious to the hurricane brewing on the bed, he says, "Oh, not much. Eating peanuts for a snack instead of a candy bar. Taking the stairs to my office instead of the elevator." His office is on the second floor, by the way.

He's also been mowing the yard with a push mower on the weekends, so I'll give him that, but COME ON! Peanuts and two flights of stairs?! That's it?!

Last night we made fajitas for dinner. Lean grilled flank steak, grilled peppers and onions, reduced fat cheese and salsa. That's it. No guacamole, no sour cream, no margaritas to wash them down. I ate two tortillas filled with mostly meat and veggies. My husband ate five.


How is this fair? I know. No one ever said life is fair, but sheesh. I'm afraid I might hurt him in a jealous rage when he mentions he's switched to a diet of ice cream, pie, and cheese burgers, and loses another 20 pounds or something.

So sweetheart, if you're reading this, please understand, it's not you. But if I throw something at your head next week because you lost another ten pounds by eating pork rinds and walking around the house in your undies, just duck and lie. Tell me you've been jogging five miles during your lunch hour every day in the scorching summer heat.

I'll believe you.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Stormy Nights

Another storm filled night at the Stewart home. The storms started popping up in the state last night around 9pm (at least that's when I realized there were storms in the state).

By 10pm my mother had already been camped out in her storm shelter for couple of hours.

I called my brother and his wife to check on them, and listened to a short rant about, "Mom's in the storm shelter again?!"

"It makes her feel comfortable. She doesn't have to pace in the living room and worry about what's happening."

"Fine. Whatever. I'll talk to you later."

We watched the weather until about 11pm before succumbing to exhaustion and going to bed. At some point during the night we played a round of musical beds. One of the twins wound up with me, my husband ended up in the guest room to keep from getting kicked in the nether-region by a flailing 4 year old leg, and the other twin ended up in the guest bed with him. The baby is the only one who stayed in her own bed for the entire night. I ended up on the couch at one point as well.

At 3am the phone rings. NOT Good. I have never received a phone call at 3am that was good news, though occasionally it's been a wrong number. This time it was Mom. Her weather radio was going off. Tornado warning outside OKC. Were we watching the weather?

Great. Well, I was watching the weather now, and sure enough, tornado heading our way. I woke my husband up, and one of the twins followed us to the living room, full of questions: Is there a tornado? Where is it? Is it gonna get us?

I didn't want to frighten him, so he sat on the couch with daddy and watched while we waited to see what would happen. The tornado warning expired before reaching us, but the weatherman mentioned straight-line winds entering the metro area anytime now.

And NOW was the cue for the wind to whip up into a frenzy. It blew our patio furniture to the neighbors fence, even though I had moved everything under the patio roof and up against the house to keep it from blowing away. But I don't think there's been any damage, but it's been raining all morning, and I have no intention of going outside until the rain and lightning stop.

But once again, I am thankful for my mom's emergency preparedness, which kept us abreast of a possibly dangerous situation, and helped keep us safe.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My First, but Probably Not Last, Political Rant

Okay. Here's the thing. Normally, I don't involve myself in "political" discussions or "hot button" issues. I just don't. Everyone has their own opinion, everyone is convinced their opinion is the "right" one (if there even is such a thing as the right opinion), and it takes divine intervention to convince them otherwise.

In fact, all political discussions have been banned in our house (by me) because my husband and I are on different ends of the political, social issues, spectrum. We can't have a discussion without it turning into a debate, without the debate escalating into an argument, then the argument becomes an all out war, so we don't talk about it anymore.

Now my husband has to look outside the marriage to have his political "needs" met. He calls his brothers, he talks to his parents, he talks to our friends, the neighbor, even my mom, to have an outlet for his insatiable political appetite.

Recently when he oh, so casually veered the conversation into the political arena I finally told him, "Fine. Whatever you say, fine. I agree with you. Now, let's not bring this subject up EVER again!"

But all this was to say there is actually one topic I am tired of defending myself on, and for once my husband and I are in complete agreement! Shocking, but true.

I drive a Ford Expedition. That's right. A gas guzzling, environmentally incorrect monster SUV. We have three children under the age of five, and we live in a rural area. There is no reason we SHOULDN'T have an SUV. We use it to haul everything from groceries, to lawn mowers on a trailer, to the baby stroller, to cement.

My husband commutes into the city during the week, and he has a small Hyundai sedan that he drives to work.

Our lifestyle is precisely that: OUR LIFESTYLE. We make our decisions based on what we feel is best for our family. And owning an SUV fits that lifestyle. We travel often; visiting family and friends, helping my mother and brother on the ranch, taking the kids to school, going to t-ball games, taking vacations, etc. We recently taxied visiting relatives to the zoo and to a graduation. We can comfortably fit 9 people in our vehicle, and that puts everyone in a seat belt and children in proper car seats, plus we still have room for luggage and a stroller.

And we face the consequences of owning an SUV with the high price of gas right now. We have to make adjustments to our budget accordingly. But if I had the option of trading in my SUV for something smaller with better gas mileage, the answer would be a resounding NO. Maybe someday, but not right now. I plan to own this vehicle until they make flying cars that whiz past me through the air, whose owners point at the ground and laugh at the idiot driving that ancient relic formerly known as an SUV.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

T-Ball Trials and Tribulations

Oooooklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the...T-Ball field.

Last night the twins played another t-ball game in 30 mph winds. Not fun. I felt like I ate half the dust in the state. But the wind is good for farmers. It's drying out the wheat, and they will be harvesting soon.

Last week one of the boys was playing second base and when the ball was hit, it took a bad hop and planted right in my son's mouth. I am happy to report no loose teeth, no broken nose, just a little bruising and swelling of the lip.

Our game yesterday did not go so well, either. We got started thirty minutes late, and we were the team playing the late game anyway. 4 year olds used to going to bed at 8:00pm or 8:30pm don't do well in a game that doesn't start until 7:15pm anyway, and this game didn't get started until 7:45pm.

And the biggest bone of contention I have is that the reason our game started late is because the teams playing ahead of us couldn't decide who the winner was. The first place team and the second place team in the league were playing each other, and of the three different people keeping score, no one had the same number of runs.

The rules for t-ball in our league say when an hour is up, you call the game. You can finish the inning, but that's it. Whoever is ahead is the winner. In their case, with another team waiting to play, IMHO the proper thing to do would have been to call the game a tie, (since there seemed to be a mix-up with the scorekeeping) and get off the field.

But nooooooo...we had to wait for them to play two more innings to determine a winner. And those parents and coaches WERE NOT leaving until there was a winner.

And the funniest thing was, the kids didn't really seem to care. Some of them were on the field playing in the dirt, examining their gloves, or dancing around. But the more excited the adults got, the more the kids cared what happened, not because they knew they were winning, but because of the cheers and praise from the adults.

The kids were playing. The adults were competing.

I guess I just realize more and more as a parent, kids are watching what adults do, and I have to wonder what kind of message we are sending to kids, especially over a t-ball game.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Reality TV

I think I must be the only person on the planet who doesn't watch reality TV. The closest I get to reality TV is watching the news. I admit to being a CNN/FoxNews/MSNBC junkie, but I have yet to cross the line into shows like (and these are just examples off the top of my head, I know the list goes on, and on, and on, and on...): American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, the Amazing Race, Big Brother, Survivor, The Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, Bridezillas, the Hills, Fear Factor (is that still on anymore?), American Gladiators, etc., etc., etc.

This list could go on forever, and yet, I have not sat down and really gotten into a show. And I have a hard time coming up with a reason for not watching. My mom watches The Amazing Race and thinks I would love it. My in-laws watch Dancing with the Stars and think I would love it. My sister-in-law watches American get the point here.

And I am sure they are all fine shows, but something just makes me say, "No, not me. I don't have any interest in this type of programming." If it's not a sitcom, drama, or movie, I just don't feel like watching. What is wrong with me?

Millions of people around the world watch these shows. Why can't I get interested in one? I suppose one day I will turn the TV on, the remote will be lost in the couch cushions, in the freezer, in the toy box or in the baby's hamper, and I will be forced to watch whatever happens to be on because I am too lazy to get up and change the channel. And then I will find myself immersed in the wonderful world of reality TV, but until that day comes, I guess I'll stick with my regularly scheduled programming.