Tuesday, September 26, 2006


This week's blog challenge

Happiness comes from the capacity tofeel deeply,to enjoy simply,to think freely,to risk life,to be needed."-Storm JamesonYour assignment is simple. Take all or part of this quote, and let it inspire you. Write about where you find happiness. What is your strongest capacity? Your weakest? Write about people you know who excel at each of the points mentioned in the quote. Tell about someone you know whose inability to live out any one of the points has kept them from happiness.

All in all, I'm a pretty darn happy person. My blog probably gives the perception that I"m happier than I really am because well, I just don't feel like this is the right forum for me to share my frustrations in life. Oh sure, a bit here and there, but for the most part, I try to keep my entries on the lighter, happier side.

I think what makes me such a happy person is the balance I try to create in my life. As much as I love my roles as Mom and Wife, I still find a great deal of happiness being me, Martha. Yes, it is good to be needed, but also to know that if I'm not around they can still get through the day, or the weekend (as will be the case this next weekend).

If I give too much of myself to my family, without taking time for myself, then I become unbalanced and the happy state starts to fade away. Taking time for the things that I like, such as my crafting, my reading and my girls night out helps me maintain my sense of balance and keepy me happy.

I've struggled with the concept of balance in my professional life as well. Before Thing Two arrived, I enjoyed my work as a nurse practitioner. But, once he came on the scene, Hubby and I realized it was more important that we concentrate on the family rather than the added income to be gained by having me continue working part time. Now that they are older, I'm looking again at my professional side and trying to find balance. Yet, some of the options I've contemplated, and even tried out, haven't given me the balance that I need to stay in my preferred state of happiness. These days I seem to have found balance in my work as a TA at the school. Sure, it is about only 1/4 of what I could be earning if I were working in nursing. But, it still fuels the professional side of my self while offering me flexibility that nursing just isn't capable of providing.

When I feel a bout of the blues, or the blahs coming on, the first thing I try to do is look at my life and see what seems out of balance. And yes, there has been a time in my life when lifestyle changes weren't enough and I had to take a "happy" pill to help restore the balance. These days, I'm pretty much able to reflect on myself and see what needs to be adjusted.

The real challenge is in having the courage to make those adjustments. But, hey, I'm getting better now that I"m past 40.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

For the Never Say Never File

She joined our family not quite 5 years ago. Initially, I wasn't allowed near her. And although Hubby's attitude has softened over time, I remained very hesitant to get too close. Nope, No, Never, Not gonna happen was my response. She was just too important to Hubby to risk any damage that occured while I was in close proximity to her.

But, desperate times call for desperate measures. So, today, for the first time ever, I drove Liesl.

Yeah you'd think I would have learned using the word NEVER and not really meaning it. But, the last time I distinctly remember changing courses was when I (pre-kid of course) took the very firm stance that my children (if and when I ever had any) would NEVER sleep in bed with me. HAHA...I should have learned...But there you have it. I didn't and thus now have another tale for that never say never file.

And in case you are wondering what desperation lead to this change in heart on my part, well of course it is scrapbook related. I need (ok, maybe not need, but really want) to get to the CO-SS retreat next weekend and yet I didn't want to take the family vehicle and leave the guys truly home alone with no means of transporting both Things.

Of course, it does mean I'm really having to plan and pack accordingly because guess what: two man cars don't have much storage in them! But, by golly, I"ll make it happen!

Son of a Scrapper indeed!

As I'm putting away pictures that I just picked up from Sam's Club, Thing Two tells me "Good Job Mom! You aren't so far behind now. These are from when I was 6!"

Oh sure, you just go ahead and believe that...Just because I've gotten them printed doesn't mean they are next in the queue to be scrapped. But, hey a boy's gotta believe in something!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Nurse Nitwit: I Quit!

For three school years now, I've been volunteering in the nurse's office. The cliff notes version of it all is that she needed some help and my help wasn't needed in the classroom, so I started to help her out. I had a motive at first: having not worked in nursing since the birth of Thing 2, I thought working there would give me a taste of whether this was something I wanted to pursue as a part time job.

About 1.5 years ago, I realized nope, no, uh huh, I didn't want to be a school nurse. My tongue is too sharp, my patience runs too thin and I just wouldn't want to work that much with "the system".

But, I continued to coordinate the vision and hearing days. In my mind, I figured I was "helping the kids". But recently I realized my logic was warped. I wasn't helping the kids, I was doing a part of her job and somewhere along the line her job then became my job and my worries.

The straw that broke this camel's back? I"m sitting in the hair salon, having Jane (really, that's her real name!)work her magic (hah, you think this hair is natural? No, craft crap and hair coloring are my two guilty pleasures in life). My cell phone rings. It is Nurse Nitwit.

I panic! Uh oh, I"ve got a puker and yet I'm sitting in the chair only half colored.
Ah, but no, the kids are fine. She's calling to tell me she left a message on my machine at home.

Heavy sigh. I get home. Listen to the message. Every question she asked is spelled out on the memo I typed up for her last week because I thought maybe her nitwit nature comes from her being a visual learner and I"d write it out appealing to that strength.

So, after I finished cursing out the answering machine, I picked up my remaining few vision cards and took them over to her office.

And...I quit!

Between this and the season premier of Grey's Anatomy, man, I"m feeling pretty darn good right now! That, and as usual Jane did a MARVELOUS job on my color...toning down the blond for a more suitable Fall shade of light brown.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Acrostic Challenge

This week's blog challenge:
  • Last week, my friend Diana (in California) said the nicest thing, and she said it in a creative way. She posted an acrostic about me on ScrapShare!Stacy is
    SuperTalentedAwesomeCaring and Youthful.
    See? Wasn't that nice of her?Now. Your turn. Write an acrostic about yourself. Or have someone ELSE write it, and then comment on it. Go on. Don't be shy. Brag about yourself. It's good for the soul.
Last night when I first spotted the new challenge I did a heavy sigh. Oh no, this isn't gonna be easy. But then this morning I woke up and realized it had already been done. Last year my sister put together the most adorable birthday card/mini scrapbook for a rather major milestone birthday. And one page was, GASP, an acrostic. So, I can quickly complete this challenge without feeling all weird about having to come up with words on my own. So here's what Big Sis says about Little Sis
  • Mischievous
  • Adorable
  • Reliable
  • Thoughtful
  • Honest
  • Adenturous
Now, I wonder had she written such a poem when I was 10 and she was 12, would she have been so kind?
Thanks Laura for those kind words (and for doing my homework this week!)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My favorite sign of Fall

I like my seasons to change. No doubt about it, my favorite time of change is from Summer to Fall. When I talk to people, I find I'm not alone.

Lots of us love Fall for our own various reasons. Some people I know like the happiness they feel when they see the leaves turn colors. Yeah, well, they do have a point, but here in the Front Range, we don't get the vivid displays like they do in other parts of the country. So, nope that's not my favorite aspect of Fall.

Others like the way the weather changes. How each day provides you with a little bit of a surprise with how cool the morning will be and how warm the day will end up being.

Still there are those that talk about the scents of Fall: the crisp smell of the air, the aroma of Apple Pie baking in the oven. And there is nothing wrong with the way Fall smells. Well, unless you live near a dairy farm or the oil refinery.

But for me, well let me just show you what my favorite sign of Fall is:

Yep, we've kicked off the season of snacking. You start with that first bag of FRESH candy corn (I don't care for the stuff that sits out all year long and gets a tad stale). Next thing you know, you're looking at the mini candy bars. Somehow eating 5 minis doesn't seem as bad as eating one full size bar (Math is so not my strongest academic skill. Oh wait, I'm starting to look pretty darn stupid: I stink at grammar and I don't like math? Kids, consider yourself blessed to be average with me as your momma!).

And well...The sweet treats just keep on flowing through the stores and into my house...Until before you know it, we're hiding chocolate eggs (assuming I've not eaten them all before getting around to the actual hiding).

Yep, Let the Season of Eating begin!
Happy Fall Ya'll...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Them Danged Old Hills!

Lonestar has a song out there with some pretty powerful lyrics. My favorite this week has to be Walkin's easier when the road is flat Them danged ol' hillls'll get you every time

And much as I want my flat road , the song goes on to remind us that God gave us mountains so we might learn how to climb. So, while I'm dealing with those hills, Thing One is scaling the top of the mountains. Two scenes in the past 24 hours brought to light why I work so hard to be an advocate for him.

  • Last night, homework time. I tell Thing One "time for homework" and he comes and gets his packet and runs upstairs telling me as he races up to his room "I'm going to do it in my room, ok?" Ok I say with my jaw still on the ground. This is the boy who protests loudly and frequently about homework. Next thing I know he's running downstairs "I need my math book". Ok, but you don't have math homework. "I know" he tells me, but the guys are doing math while I do spelling". What guys? I sneak a peek upstairs and he's taken his laundry basket, turned it upside down and is using it as his podium. And all his "guys" are really his collection of moose, facing him with the math work book in front of them. And he is deligently working on his spelling homework. He tells me "they are doing silent math work while I do my spelling".

I try to keep the mommy tears from flowing. To see how far this little boy has come: where he is enjoying the process of learning, eager to work on his homework by himself and to be involved in creative productive play is just more than I could take this week. THIS is why I get frustrated when other people see just his difficult quirks. If we dedicate our energies to him, there is no reason to expect anything less than a normal, typical future!

And if that wasn't enough of a sign from above, we're walking in to school this morning. I"m watching, trying to stay clear of the people I have recently called to task to do right by my son. When I hear this little voice call out Thing One's real name. "Hey wait for me" his classmate hollers. And we pause and Thing One smiles and says "Hi Johnny. How are you today? Want to walk to the back with me?". Sure says his pal and within minutes they are chatting away about Pokemon (the character that drives us mommies nuts but bridges all sorts of social gaps!).

More mommy tears are starting to form as I see not only has he figured out creative play, but what a huge leap in social interaction with a peer.

So, for all you mommy bears wondering where you will find the energy to climb that next hill when you are so damn tired of always being the one advocating for your child. THIS IS why we do what we do:

The photo is from my collection. I wish I'd had my camera today but instead, I figure any picture showing the boys being boys, happy, well adjusted boys, gets the point across.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A what kind of girl?

Thing Two got an invite to what looks to be a very cool Pirate Themed party (yeah, that Colleen must have TOO much time on her hands I tell ya!). On the way home, I asked what he thought the birthday GIRL might like for her birthday and he started out in classic Thing Two fashion

Well Mom, since she is a Thomson boy, maybe something not too frilly, ok?

Yes, indeed God did bless me with this boy to put a smile on my face when I need it most! (He meant to say Tom Boy, but like with other things, he gets them twisted around in his mind)

Monday, September 11, 2006

That day in September...

Last year, the Things and I were visiting my aunt. As I was helping clean up the kitchen, she put on a CD. The music was simply perfect. And before I knew it, I was wiping away the tears.


So please, take a moment today to remember that day in September...

PS: ok, so we're a little biased, that's my cousin (her son) on the trumpet. He's good, isn't he?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Counting Down

This week's Blog Challenge: Counting Down

10 Things I wanna do before I die
  1. Walk along the Great Wall of China
  2. Sail the Fjords of Norway
  3. Drink a pint in an Irish Pub (a real Irish pub, in Ireland)
  4. Cruise the Alaskan Coastline (preferably on a nice ship with a great view)
  5. Return to Italy and this time despite the touristy nature of it, take that Gondola ride in Venice
  6. Watch the sun set along the beaches of Hawaii
  7. Do the kangaroo Hop in the Land Down Under
  8. Send the Things to College
  9. Dance at my boys weddings
  10. Rock my grandchildren to sleep

9 Places I last spent money

  1. Safeway: went in for just eggs, came out having spent $30, gee, eggs sure are expensive!
  2. Costco: Why? Why? Why? I'm still asking myself what the H*#$$ was I thinking going there on a Saturday????
  3. Lakeshore Learning: the inner teacher in me just can't help herself
  4. Michaels: couldn't let a coupon go to waste
  5. JoAnns: they have coupons too!
  6. Donahue Paper: getting ready for the SS retreat
  7. Fay Motorcycles: see I do errands for hubby when he asks nicely!
  8. Post Office: needed stamps
  9. Burger King: Thing One gets "special lunch" when he's had a good week

8 Sounds I routinely hear around my house

  1. The Buzz of the washer or the dryer (they work together most days, assuming I remember to move on into the other)
  2. The laughter of my boys
  3. The Squabble of the boys
  4. The background noise of the TV
  5. The timer ringing telling the Things they are done with time out, back to their laughter
  6. The rumble of Hubby's "girlfriend", Gretl the motorcycle
  7. The tap tap tapping of me on the computer keyboard
  8. The phone ringing and me trying to figure out how to turn it on to answer it (you'd think I'd have that new phone figured out by now, it is at least 6 months old)

7 Real restaurants where I last ate out (apparently fast food doesn't count? Man, this is gonna be tough one. I had to stretch way back to May to find enough answers since I can't count BK/McD/Sonic/Wendy's)

  1. Chipotles
  2. The Rock
  3. Flemings
  4. TGI Fridays
  5. P.F Changs
  6. Einstein's Bagels
  7. Atlanta Bread Company

6 Things I've recently scratched off my to do list (whew, an easy one since I posted a big list last weekend)

  1. Go to the Bank
  2. Go to the post office
  3. Pay Bills
  4. Finish SS retreat goodie bag items
  5. Sweep kitchen floor
  6. Clean bathrooms

5 People I don't know but I"d really like to hang out with

  1. Rachel Ray
  2. Paula Dean (ah, you see the trend, don't you?)
  3. (and 4 and 5.)Some of my online SS pals: Suite Sioux (because well, I like the way she thinks) and Heidi/aka Agent 713 (since we wouldn't have to argue over what kind of music to listen to) and Diana in KS (because she promised to have the pot of coffee on!And if I'm having a rough day, I'm guessing she'd join me in the mommy juice!)

Four Songs that Make me Happy (man, I'm even more musically impaired then I am grammatically challenged. But at least I know what songs make me happy)

  1. Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville
  2. Kenny Loggins Return to Pooh Corner (ok, this one makes me happy and sad all at the same time)
  3. Lynden David Hall All you need is love
  4. Rodney Atkins If you're going through hell (ok, so they play this one on the radio so much I can't get it out of my brain, but I still like the kicky little beat it has)

3 Things I hate to do

  1. Go to the doctor for those girlie check ups
  2. Mop the kitchen floor
  3. Confront others even when I know I got to..

2 Things I am really good at

  1. Making people feel welcome
  2. Loving my family

1 Bad habit

  1. Gossiping

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Random notes to self..

  1. There is little therapeutic value in attempting "retail therapy" on a Saturday. Crowds everywhere.
  2. I live a sheltered life when it comes to traffic and that's just fine by me. On 3 separate occasions this week I realized how lucky I am that everywhere I need to go, want to go and for the most part have to go, is within an easy 5 mile radius of my house with next to no traffic headaches. On those three adventures (four if you count today) I became immediately aware that Front Range interstate traffic sucks! I'll take my sheltered little corner of the world, thank you very much.
  3. I'm grateful that hubby is an excellent provider. Well, he's got some other decent qualities too, but since I got my pay stub this week, it hit home what an amazing provider he is for the Things and I!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Explain to me why

the supposed "shorter" school/work weeks seem to last longer than a regular week?

TGIF!!! It was indeed a very long week here at the House of Chang
I sense a need for some retail therapy in my immediate future...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Saving the best for home...

As moms, we know that our kids often behave differently when they are in school or at friends homes compared to how they act at home. Today I was working (remind me again why I felt the need to get a part time job?). Anyways, a couple of the boys have discovered the symphony of noise their bodies can make. Yes, we had the ever popular arm fart, and even the knee fart. Yep, I was having to use my "mommy voice" as I attempted to redirect their energy.

Thankfully there was one of the boys who refused to partake in the goofiness of his peers. Instead he calmly told me "I'm saving my farts for home!"

Bless his little heart...if only the other 3 had been that kind...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Angels among us..

This week's blog challenge
  • I had a totally different challenge planned for this week, but something happened to me this afternoon that I just had to blog about. And so... I'm changing the challenge to reflect it. Write about an event in your life that you were directly impacted by, whether you were on the receiving end, or on the giving end. Tell us about an act of selflessness, an act of bravery, an act of servitude...Tell us about the woman who comforted your lost child at Walmart until you could be reunited. Tell us about the man who picked up your dinner tab and didn't stick around to be thanked. Tell about the time you scared a bunch of bullies away from a trembling puppy, or the kids you saw hanging out at the bus stop way after the school bell rang, and how you kept an eye on them until the bus finally arrived. Dig deep into your memory bank and recall the little miracles that have happened in your life at the hands of total strangers. Remember the little miracles you've been a part of, simply because you listened to your inner voice.We've all been touched. Share YOUR story.

I've mentioned time and time again, what a blessing I consider my many friends to be. But, there is one friend in particular that truly was that Angel among us.

Allison: if you are reading this, yep, this time it really is ALL ABOUT YOU!!!

When I was very pregnant with Thing Two, we learned that Thing One had significant "developmental delays". A 2 yr old with the skills and development of a 9 month old baby. The "A" word was hinted at if not spoken directly. I'm a pretty practical person, so I did what any person of my nature does with such news: I jumped right in and started to work with the therapists and my son. I joined a support group. Before I knew it, he was making progress and all seemed to be well with the world.

Now 2.5 years had passed, and that expectant baby was now a happy go lucky toddler. Yet, much of our days were still pretty focused on the programming for older brother. This preschool, that therapist, another trip in the car seat, another interupted nap. He just went with the flow as that's all he'd ever known: time to take brother somewhere for something.

In my heart, I knew this wasn't right but in mind I wasn't sure how to change it.

Until one day when another neighbor asked me to come over to their weekly "play group". I knew these ladies just casusally: as we all served on the neighborhood pool committee. I'd overhear them talking about their group but never gave it much thought. You see, I"m not really a playgroup person. Taking Thing One around "typical" kids was always a sure fire way to send me into a daze of sadness. Although he was making progress, his delays were so much more noticeable when he was around "regular" kids. Nope, we were happiest hanging with our friends who had kids with some sort of issue.

But, I knew it wasn't about me or Thing One this time...Nope, Thing Two needed a chance to be with kids just like him. So, I set aside my worries (what would we talk about, would they like me, would I like them. I so DON"T do the whole play group thing) and went to that first gathering. And had an ok time.
So, I kept going.

This was 4 years ago, and up until last year, pretty much any Wednesday that school was in session, you'd find Thing Two and I hanging with the Gang.

Yet, if it hadn't been for Allison's kind invitation to join them...I'd have never met her and all the other wonderful women that have changed my life. Enriching me as a person. Helping me grow as a parent. Reminding me of the beautiful gift God blesses us with when he sends us our gal pals!

Thank you Allison...may there one day be that kindly neighbor who reaches out and asks you to join in their fun! PS: we miss you bunches and bunches!

Monday, September 04, 2006

I met my challenges!!!!

Yahoo! I don't know how to do those fancy edits where you line out what you wrote...but if I knew how, I'd be able to announce that I met most, if not all of my self imposed challenges for the weekend.

  • I finished up Thing Two's Kindie album which, just as I predicted, was a huge relief to say "it is done, move on".
  • I did a Clean Sweep/Mission Organization attack on my sticker binder. Yep, I started by dumping out all of my sticker/die cut stash and sorted into trash/donate/keep piles. Then I put back only the items I knew met my current style and projects on hand. Hopefully, having a cleaner storage system will making putting stuff away less of a chore.
  • I made it to JoAnns and got my refills. And the scary thing was: that is all that I bought. I walked in, picked them up, paid for them (with coupons, Thanks Carol!) and walked out. Fear not, I still got some retail therapy in (just not at JoAnns) as I joined the Grocery Game this weekend. More on that some other time.
  • I managed to finish up the 2004 pages. I was a bit worried about this challenge as it wasn't very specific and I know myself well enough that I need to be specific in my plans or else I lose my ability to stay on task. But, once I made a general list of which pics needed to be scrapped, I did fine. Can I just tell you how much I LOVE having a photo printing machine at home? I was able to print out what I was missing and move on without the lengthy process of ordering online and risking getting side tracked. My time is SO worth the 0.24/a print the machine costs when you balance it against the time involved in getting those 0.10/prints at other places. At least when you've decided to tackle a project last minute like I did!
  • I counted my pages and although my numbers aren't as high as some (I thought I saw where someone is hoping to scrap 400 pages this year?! OH MY! That is SO not even a thought/desire or wish of mine)...I'm pleased to report that prior to this weekend, I'd scrapped 48 pages thus far for 2006. Add in what I worked on this weekend, and I'm pretty darn close to 60. But more than the numbers, is the huge sense of accomplishment I feel every time I finish a project or group of pictures.
  • I didn't finish up the SS goodie bag items but that is really a quick "while watching tv" sort of project so I won't get too upset by not having "done it all"

And...I did this while not totally neglecting my family. I took the boys to the park on Saturday, we went for a bike ride this afternoon (oh my, me on a bike, what a fright, just ask Colleeen...she saw me go pedaling by). The Things had friends over to play and we tossed water balloons and had a water gun battle (Mom lost, what else is new?).

Long weekends are great...and now I know they are even sweeter when you manage to accomplish most of what you wanted on top of having a great time just being with your family!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Labor Day Challenge

Feel free to join me in my own personal challenge. This weekend I'd like to complete the following craft related projects. I figure if I list them, then maybe I won't put off doing what I really need to, and just as importantly, stuff that I really want to work on. So, here's my list:
  1. Finish Up Thing Two's KG year for his school album. I really need to wrap this project up so that I can move on to something new. This will be the last step in letting go of some of my adult disappointments regarding his kg year.
  2. Finish up the CO-SS retreat goodie bag items (*thanks Carol for the coupon, a subcategory of this is making a JoAnns run to get my laminating refill).
  3. Sort through the stash of stickers and do dads. I've got a good system for putting away my stamp stufff when I'm done stamping and yet know where everything is when I need it for the next project. I really need to examine my SB stash and come up with something that works a little better than my current "stash and dash" approach.
  4. Count how many pages I've scrapped this year. I see many folks listing their pages completed and I've never been one to count up the pages but I think it might be interesting to see how much I've done this year. Does my slow and sure approach total up to something close to those large numbers I see on SS? I don't know, I've only counted them when I've gone to a retreat. Never done a yearly total. Not that the year has ended, but I"m in the mood to count today so might as well start the tally now.
  5. Work on 2004 family album. Yeah, I know, you all thought because I'm finishing up Thing Two's KG pages, that I must be caught up on other stuff. Oh no, I have scrapbook skeletons in my craft closet just like everyone else. Towards the end of 2004, I lost my muse and when I found it in '05, I decided to switch gears and focus on vacations, Christmas and the boys' school albums. No more chronological scrapbooking. But, I hate having totally unfinished projects so I really would like to wrap up those last remaining pages.

If I can get through these projects over the long weekend, plus tend to some family matters, I'll be a very happy camper. Uh, make that happy crafter! Come on: let's go get CRAFTY~

Friday, September 01, 2006

They really do grow up TOO fast...

Exhibit A: Taken when Thing Two was about four weeks old. Yeah, yeah, bad momma that I was, I sort of forgot about those "first bath" photos until my sister and nephew arrived to help out and she asked "have you taken any pictures yet?" I know that is hard to imagine as these days I'm always the one snapping photos but in those itty bitty baby, sleep deprived days, I too forgot about the photo ops.

Fast Forward, and I really do mean FAST, I present Exhibit B. I came upstairs to discover this: Thing Two decided after school today that he was cold and a warm soak would feel really good (he gets that from me, as I like nothing better than to take a long soak when I'm chilled).
When I suggested he take a traditional bath he said "yeah, but then I can't see the TV" (and THAT he gets from his father)