Memorial Weekend 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Weekend.  I know we certainly did!  My parents and sister came down from St. Louis this weekend.   It was the first time down for my mom and sister so their first trip might be etched in their brains forever as I took them on a ride through the tornado-wrecked part of town.  My boys LOVE when family visits and I LOVE seeing Ryan practically jump out of my arms into my dad’s!  I want the boys to remember holidays and summer by memories filled with family time!   We barbecued, drank, played outside, got some sun, the boys swung about 3.9 million times and we just enjoyed being together which was awesome. 

We were able to do that thanks to all of our veterans and active military for dedicating your lives to keeping our country free.  For that I thank each and every one of you! 

The town of Joplin also had a Memorial service for all those who were lost in last week’s devastating tornado.  President Obama even came into town.  My heart goes out to all the family and friends of the people who were lost and also to the people whose material lives were lost in the tornado. Homes, photographs, baby’s first locks of cut hair, baby blankets, family heirlooms, everything lost.  I know things can be replaced, but my heart aches for their loss also.  The outpouring of support for Joplin and the amount of volunteers makes my heart a bit more happy.  Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped this town recover. 

Today also starts my Memorial Week to my 20’s.  On Friday I turn the big 3-0!  So this week I will live up my last week of a being a twenty-something!  I am not at all freaked about turning 30.  Not one bit actually.  The first half of my 20’s were rather rough for me.  I was in an almost all male college, studying a degree I was earning to make others happy and spending WAY too much time making a certain someone my priority when he clearly made me an option.  A ton of heartache that could have been avoided if i just listened to MANY good friends.  Lesson Learned.   The second half of my 20’s were SO. MUCH. BETTER.    I met Freddy, we got married, he gave me two beautiful boys and taught me to trust again.  I feel wiser, stronger and have much more of a take no shit attitude.  I take some time for myself now and then and have learned to love unconditionally.  I feel like a totally different person than that 20-year-old girl I used to be.  That makes me happy.  I have grown and I feel that I have done so in the right direction!  I like the person I am now so much better than the person I was at 20!  I am excited for my 30’s!  I have learned from my 20’s and am ready to make this new decade awesome! 

So here is to thanking and remembering those who have served our country and thanking and remembering those lost in the tornado and those who are helping to recover, and thanking and remembering those who helped me be a better person these last ten years!

A great Memorial Weekend…
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Joplin, MO Tornado Craziness Part 1

Okay Mother Nature, you can quit being such a bitch to us! Seriously. This poor town can barely take any more!

Sunday evening while the boys and I enjoyed a nice dinner with Freddy’s oldest daughter, Nicole, and her girlfriend, Marie, a few miles away a tornado was about to rip the head off of a section of Joplin, and then proceed to spit down it’s throat. Graphic, I know. However hardly as graphic as the horrible devastating pictures of the aftermath of the relentless tornado.

Total devastation. One person described it as looking at pictures from WWII after the bombings, and they were correct. The photos are tragic and the death toll is even more horrific. 

But the beatings didn’t stop there.  Monday, Joplin received record rainfall of over 14 inches!  Yes you read correctly ONE-FOUR inches!  Fourteen!  While these wonderful men and women were out searching for people buried in the wreckage, it flipping rained on them ALL DAY LONG.  And not just rain, I am talking torrential downpours complete with thunder and lightning.  Two policemen searching the wreckage were struck by lightning.  Now enter flooding.  Perfect. 

I packed a bag with the essentials: formula, a bottle, some diapers/wipes, nutri-grain bars, bottled water, first aid kit, flash light, extra batteries and some garbage bags for makeshift rain jackets and my wallet.  I slept in tennis shoes and jeans.  Michael’s old crib mattress was in the hall outside the boys’ bathroom to be used to shield us from debris after we found refuge in the bathtub.  (Our house does not have a basement so the bathtub would become our shelter).  I was prepared.  Phone was charged.  Car keys in the bag, just in case we could drive anywhere) 

Tuesday was blue skies, but we all knew more was coming.  The search and rescue teams were racing against the clock to find more trapped victims before the queen bitch herself unleashed round II on us.  It started raining about 9:00 pm on Tuesday night.  9:30 the tornado warnings went out.  The sirens had been damaged in Sunday’s tornado so the people of the town still without power would have no warning.  Fan-fucking-tastic!  We were lucky and had power still.  It was pitch black outside and my heart was racing.  Both boys were sleeping in their beds and Freddy and I avidly watch the weather channel for updates.  You could hear the wind suddenly pick up.   The forecast called for 80 mph winds.  They were correct.  It thundered and lightning lit up the sky.  Thankfully no tornadoes in Joplin tonight.  We went to bed after the radar cleared.  I still slept in jeans and tennis shoes, just in case. 

Wednesday’s forecast: Well what do you know???  TORNADOES!  However I do have to say I think the weather center was being  just a bit overly cautious or the storm system changed.  We luckily only received rain, however the rain does not help with the flooding issue or the fact that pouring gallons of water on top of one’s already destroyed life, does not boast much hope of finding any memories or keepsakes in the rubble. 

DEVASTATING.  That word just does not even cut it.  I started this post on Tuesday night.  I am finishing it on Wednesday night after just having driven through the hospital area.  Michael needed some asthma medicine and Ryan needed formula, so we ventured out for the first time.  It brought tears to my eyes and left my heart heavy and aching for everyone affected.  True destruction.  On a road which I could once only see the buildings that lined the street, I could now see for miles.  Barren, de-barked trees, demolished houses, and tattered vehicles.  Walls still standing in the rubble, and vehicles were marked with a spray-painted “X” to show they had been searched already.  The veterinary clinic had and “X” along with “All Pets OK” spray painted on the once solid brick building.  As we drove past the hospital, the curtains swayed on the outside of the building in the wind. 

I snapped some photos on my cell phone, however with tear-filled eyes I am not sure they will show much.  I can’t even review them yet on my phone.  I looked to my left at Freddy and then turned around to see two beautiful boys playing the back seat and said a prayer to God and to all my Angels in heaven that my family was safe.  THANK YOU GOD!  THANK YOU FOR KEEPING THE LOVES OF MY LIFE SAFE.  I AM NOT SURE WHAT I HAVE DONE TO DESERVE THAT. 

THANK YOU to all who have come down to help.  THANK YOU.  

I will post some pictures and some more thoughts on this again when I can feel my regular heartbeat again.  I will also post some contact organizations and numbers to help.
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Walmart Woes

I hate Wal-mart!  What I hate even more is the fact that I have to go there every week!  Target doesn’t carry our brand of dog food and let’s just face it…shampoo, razors, napkins, TP and paper towels are just cheaper there!  I still hate it in all it’s ghetto-hillbilly-trashiness glory! 

I was actually beginning to accept Wal-Mart as an appropriate place to shop while we still lived in Apple Valley.  It was freshly remodeled to include a super center grocery store.  The aisles and displays were tasteful and clean.   The town of Apple Valley was a bit more upscale so it seem to not attract so many camel toe and toothless patrons . 

I can’t say the same for the Joplin Wal-Mart.  Not in the slightest.  The only thing that gets me through my trips here, is that in Missouri, Wal-Mart can sell liquor!  I go down that aisle every visit just to make the trip worthwhile!  Even the parking lot gives you a glimpse of what’s to find inside the store itself.    

It's like a stinking Easter Basket!

I will spare your ever so fragile eyes to the horror that was inside this Wal-Mart.  Oh and I have to shush Jayden at least once a trip because he points to a large person and tells me LOUDLY, “Look Mom, she is having a Brady like you did!”  No baby, that is just a fat person loading up on cheese puffs and ramen noodles.  Not to be confused with a pregnant lady…well wait, or is she???

Would it be selfish to tear apart my dogs digestive track and put them on new food in order NOT to have to go to Wal-Mart?  Yes, that is selfish…dammit!
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Batter Up!

Michael had his first Tee-Ball game last night and OH MY GAWD…I DIDN’T HAVE THE SD CARD IN THE CAMERA! What in the hell was I thinking? Get your shit together MOM! So I improvised and took a few pictures with my not-so-stellar camera on my BlackBerry. Those pictures will do for now, until next game, when I bring not only the SD card in the camera but 3 more as spares and crack out the big guns with the 250mm zoom lens!

The kids are so stinkin’ cute it makes me all warm and fuzzy! They, first off, have no idea what the hell they are doing. They are all sporting tee shirts and ball caps that are two sizes too big for them, they run the wrong direction, pick up the ball when they are a base runner and hand it over to the opposing team, totally skip second base and head straight for third, and about 2 out of every 3 hitters, almost nail the coach standing behind them right in the junk! It’s a dangerous job coaching pee wee tee ball!

Michael’s team had only one practice before last night’s game and it was cut short due to some nasty weather.  It didn’t matter though, Michael did great!  He was all decked out in his blue YMCA shirt and ball cap!  He hit the ball, ran the bases and even fielded a bit when he was in the pitcher position.  (The kids rarely hit it past the pitcher position)  Freddy helped out at third base and when Micheal was standing nearby he would yell over to the baseline where Ryan and I sat to say hello to Ryan and tell me to “Put Ryan down and let him crawl over here!”  So cute.  Ryan was Michael’s biggest fan!  Ryan clapped and cheered and about jumped out of my arms when he landed sight on his big brother! 

At the end of the game the two teams shook hands.  Absolutely the cutest thing ever…if they missed a hand they would stop suddenly to try again to connect and all the kids following in line would bonk into the person in front of them and pile up.   One kid, who was in the front of the line, ran to the back so he could shake hands again for a second time! 

Freddy & I were so relieved that this attempt at group sports boasted much better results than our previous attempt at pee wee soccer up in MN last year.  (It was middle of May, 33 degrees, freezing rain, 25 mph winds.  Michael wanted NOTHING to do with anything soccer and told me “I just want to go home and eat popcorn!”  We tried one more game with no luck of any interest what so ever and never went back)  Freddy’s daughter had some issues with participating in group activities so Freddy was worried that was Michael’s fate also.   Michael proved his daddy wrong again and did fantastic! 

I am almost certain that Michael’s favorite part of the whole game was the snack the coach brought for after they were finished.  That’s okay though, because Freddy and I enjoyed every minute of watching him be a little boy!


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A Dose of Adult

I packed up Michael & Ryan and we headed to St. Louis for the weekend to celebrate my cousin’s graduation from college.  I really, really needed to interact with some adults and it would be nice to see my family so the trip alone with the boys seemed logical in my head.  Leaving Freddy and the dogs to a weekend long vacation of silence and lack of agenda annoyed me just a bit, if I must say. 

The 5 hour drive in traffic, construction and pouring rain was accompanied by approximately 8,973,672 questions by Michael. 

Why do cows poop in the grass?  Why are there different kinds of cars?  Why do the different kinds of cars have different symbols?  Why does Grandma live so far away?  I mean, why does Grandma live a “short-long” drive away?  Why does Uncle B not live at Grandma’s house anymore?  Is there a potty in a barn?  Why did that Ford have a sticker in the window?  When will we be there?  How many more miles are left?  When will this rain stop?…The questions didn’t stop!

Sometimes the questions came right after one another so fast, I didn’t even have a chance to respond.  I love his curiosity and his love to learn but I can assure you that I thought approximately 8,973,672 times “ZIP THE LIPS AND GO TO SLEEP CHILD!  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND MY SANITY, PLEASE BE QUIET!”  No dice.    Ryan let me know about 8,973,672 times “GET ME THE EFF OUT OF THIS CARSEAT YOU CRAZY LADY!”  It was a very long drive. 

Another downfall when travelling alone with children…how in the HELL are you supposed to PEE with a 4-year-old and 11 month old by yourself?  I can’t leave the said children alone in the restaurant dining area…there are WACK JOBS out there!  Someone might want to steal my question and poop machines!  OK so take them in the bathroom with me.  Great idea, until you get in there and realize where the HELL am I going to put the Ryan?  Michael can stand by himself.  There is no way I am putting my precious baby on the bathroom floor of a McDonalds….ICK times 8,973,672!  So the only option is after a diaper change, keeping Ryan strapped to the changing table.  Can I tell you how much he LOVED that?  I am sure there was a whole McDonald’s who could attest to the healthiness of the lungs on my child!  I never peed so fast in my life. 

However once in St. Louis, the adult conversations totally made up for the car ride.  Someone actually asking me questions and LISTENING to my response!  Conversations that did not include SpongeBob or Handy Manny!  Two-way conversations that involved words and not just me talking and getting “Uh-huh” back!  Ahhhhh, it was simply beautiful!  My sister Alise, snatches up those boys and allows me to have a moment to myself!  (I chose to pee in peace!)  She is awesome.

And then we got back into the car to come home…rinse and repeat!
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Frame Frenzie

I was finally able to find all the boxes with our family photos in them.  I am only missing one, that I can remember, of our whole wedding party.  The search team is still out on that one, but in the meantime I realized I did not have enough shelf space to fit all the pictures I wanted to put up!   Bummer!  Enter Young House Love’s awesome inspiration for a frame wall.  (Hop on over there and see their masterpiece!)   They truly have a beautiful frame WALL…I have a frame section-of-the-wall.  First reason is that I didn’t have as many photos and cool mementos as they had and secondly, they have sweet Clara…I have Tornado #1 and Tornado #2!  Boys…frames any lower than the ones I put up wouldn’t have stood a chance! 

I followed their advice with the cut outs of newspaper and it worked wonderfully!  The worst part of this whole decorating plan was that about half of those frames I picked only had foot stands, no wall mount option so I had to add the bracket.  Otherwise, a painless way to get all my favorite people in a place I can see their cute faces!  (I am waiting on a few pictures to be printed and then it will be 100% finished)

Then…Wah-Lah!
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Leaving Footprints

This year for Mother’s Day, I decided that my Mother-In-Love didn’t need another potted flower or hanging plant from us.  She is 81 years old and has pretty much everything she needs already…so we made her a gift! I just adore this concept. We made her place mats with the boys footprints and fingerprints as butterflies and bugs!  (We made my mom a tote bag for her birthday. Didn’t want it to sound like we left her out for Mother’s Day)

Items Needed:

  • Patience!  You are working with kids.
  • Your choice of fabric piece: apron, tote bag, place mats, tablecloths, etc.
  • permanent fabric paints your choice of colors
  • Puff paint (is that what they still call it?) to match body color for antennae
  • Fabric Marker
  • Paintbrush (stiff bristles work best)
  • Some paper grocery bags as backdrop
  • Pretty paper/Pen or computer for Poem.
  • OLD CLOTHES! 

I cannot stress the last item enough.  No matter how careful you think you will be, children are FASTER than you and UNPREDICTABLE.  They WILL get paint on you or on their own clothing!  Especially if you don’t wear old clothes!  Murphy’s law you know!  I ruined a great pair of maternity capris making my mom’s tote bag 😦

For the Butterflies just make sure you place the footprints with their big toes outward!  Using the paintbrush paint in the body of the bug and use the puff paint for the antennae.  Then use thumb prints for the lady bugs and bees.  You can also do finger print flowers, caterpillars, small butterflies or anything your imagination comes up with!  The puff paint or fabric pen can be used for the little bugs legs and antennae.

A few notes:

  • Use the paper bags behind your piece.  The paint leaks through.
  • Write the kids names and ages on the back or inside of your piece with the fabric markers so you can always remember how old they were.
  • It’s important to use permanent fabric paint, especially for aprons and things you need to wash…hence the fabric marker vs. permanent marker.  Eventually the permanent one will wash out and it bleeds on the fabric.  The Fabric marker will not bleed. 

As if the piece you made isn’t cute enough…add this poem and you will witness and actual heart melting!

This (bag, apron, etc) is very special you see, because it was made from a piece of me!  My thumb print made each bug part, To show you I love you with all of my heart.   My footprint made each butterfly wing, Because to me you mean everything.                                                    

It was a small challenge for Ryan’s print.  I had him in his high chair and used large binder clips to hold the place mat onto a cutting board (stiff surface) in order to get his print because he could not stand on the place mat on the floor like Michael.   That is also why there is a bit of dead space.  I had to work fast!  All in all I think they turned out great and I think my MIL will absolutely love them on her breakfast bar!

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Linking up at Blue Cricket Design (Show and Tell)