Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oh my goodness, I almost went into labor...

Birthdays and Holidays

People are starting to post about Valentine's Day. And this past Christmas seemed to have found us all in much better spirits than the year before. When did we start liking holidays again? Ha ha.

It seems like we all went through this two year funk where we were shouting about materialism and the hypocrisy of romance on one day a year...and then we just sort of decided that we liked holidays and...who cares? Or, at least, that's how I feel about it now. I wonder if this is part of growing up some more?

I think we need to celebrate more. Make a bigger deal out of special days because those are the days that stick with us. A few years back I had this incredible epiphany that "Everyone wants to feel special and noticed." And since then I've made a concerted effort to remember birthdays. I think birthdays are incredibly important to everyone, no matter what they may say. It's the one day of the year that is specifically theirs, and I think that deep down we all want to be remembered and drowned with attention. So birthdays are a big deal in the Brooke household. Big dinners, presents, friends, decorations, cake...always a staple on someone's special day around here. I'd hate to live in a world where my birthday was just another day...I've had two birthdays where almost everyone forgot it and it is one of the most depressing things to experience. Ever.

And really, how hard is it to send a card? You're out, what? Three dollars? (And that's a nice card, not the 48 cent ones I tend to buy at Wal-Mart.) Or a phone call...75 cents? But it means so much to the birthday person.

Holidays...we try to recognize those too, but I sat down one day and realized that there is a significant holiday in almost every month. It's bankrupting for us if we go all out for each one. But I do try to make sure that I do something with the princesses to celebrate; holidays are important to children. They love to make cookies and give them to their friends. I can do that once a month. (I'm building up a respectable cookie cutter collection!)

But I'm finding that I'm dismissing all the "materialism" accusations that accompany holidays now. What's so wrong with presents? And decorations and parties? We're not living our lives for these sporadic dates, but we are living lives. Lives that get tough, lives that can get monotonous, lives that need a spark of color. Lives that need joyful memories, which seem to come easier with celebrations.

I will never forget Bluebird's 2nd birthday. We was poh. No money. Her birthday presents consisted of some much needed clothing and five balloons. I was pregnant with Rabbit, so you can imagine what my energy level was...so no cake or anything; she wasn't going to remember it anyway, right?

Turns out it wasn't her that I needed to be worried about. As we got ready for bed that night, Mr. Brooke sighed and said that it had been one of the most depressing days of his life to not celebrate her birthday. And I realized that he needed the color of a birthday celebration in his life even if it wasn't his birthday. The poor guy was working and attending school full-time; his days were the same thing over and over...a birthday party would have really lifted his spirits. Dads need to see their children overjoyed and laughing and pointing in awe at their birthday cakes, I think it makes all that working to support the family a little more worthwhile to them.

After that night I made a resolution to celebrate more, even if things were tight. (It's probably even more important to find things to celebrate when money gets tight, just to keep up morale.) I'm not talking about spending gobs of money, but taking the pains to do special things--baking treats (which is inexpensive), put up some decorations (streamers will do if that's all you can afford), sign a card, make a special dinner...regular things that can take on the feel of celebration if done in a celebratory way. (Mr. Brooke loves to have his heart cookies in his lunch on Valentine's Day!)

Another thing: Balloons. Nothing says "celebration" like balloons. Birthdays are naked in our house without a bunch of balloons. Period. It is tradition to go pick out balloons for everyone's birthday. As a family. We're crazy obsessed with this, and the girls LOVE it. Friends love it, too. Balloons, balloons, balloons...I didn't stop loving getting them when I graduated high school. (Remember how cool you felt to receive balloons or flowers in the middle of class? I never received as many as the popular girls, but it didn't matter...I had something external to mark me as special to the world...until I had to take them to the office and leave them there for the rest of the day. How come the popular girls always got to keep theirs with them?)

I write this on the eve of the day I need to make all the stuff for Bluebird's birthday party, which is this Saturday. Honestly, I am not looking forward to trying to create a Little Einsteins Rocket cake, but she has been talking non-stop about the thing since the day after Christmas.

As a nine month pregnant woman, making cookies for the neighborhood preschool crowd is so NOT appealing to me...but I know that it's important to Bluebird, to Mr. Brooke and probably to the kids who are hoping we'll stop by their houses again this year. (I think we're the neighborhod equivalent of a Valentine's Day Santa Claus...we make really good heart cookies.) I'm sorry to my long distance family and pals, but I'm going to forgo the sending of Valentine's Day wishes in the mail because it's going to take all that I have just to celebrate it here in my home. (Do I ever wish that someone else in this neighborhood was as gung-ho about holidays as I was and would just take over this year!) (This goes against what I've been talking about in this post, but really, I just cannot do it all...I admit my massive weakness...and it is massive...mexican grandmothers are taking pity on me, for crying out loud.) Next year though...I have good plans, barring anything getting in the way.

I say we re-dedicate ourselves to celebrating birthdays and holidays like we did when we were children. Depending on our circumstances and energy levels throughout various years, the immensity of celebration will vary. But I think everyone would be a whole lot happier if they indulged their inner child on holidays a little more. I am thankful that I have had children, if only to re-introduce me to the magic that is celebration. Life is always good. But better with cake and balloons.

Respect for the Prego

I took Bluebird to ballet yesterday. We got there a little late and all the chairs were taken, so I kneeled down on the hardwood floor and prepared to be very uncomfortable for the remaining thirty minutes of class. There were four chairs in the room, occupied by a mom, a mom who had just had a baby two weeks ago, a dad and a mexican grandmother, with her daughter standing next to her. I was a little peeved with the dad and the healthy mom for keeping their seats and making me, a very obviously pregnant woman, sit on the floor. Etiquette, folks. But whatever, I'm rather used to it by now; no one goes out of their way for me in public while I'm pregnant anyway.

But it gets funny--after about five minutes of me kneeling on the floor, the mexican grandmother gave this loud exasperated sigh, got up from her chair and pushed it across the classroom to where I was sitting. Her daughter said something to her and then started to sit down in the chair, but got smacked in the arm by her mother, who started talking some rapid Spanish while pointing at me and making rounded movements over her belly. She motioned for me to sit in her chair and I tried to say that she deserved the chair because she was a grandma, respect for the elderly...and she stubbornly shook her head, pointed again at my stomach and pointed resolutely at the chair. Apparently, grandmotherly authority transcends language barriers. So I got up, thanked her profusely (because I was really uncomfortable on the floor) and sat down in the chair.

Perhaps the dad wasn't feeling well and the healthy mom was dealing with morning sickness or something...but I find it kind of sad that the only person willing to give up their seat to me was a little grandmother who really should have been sitting herself. Bless her.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There Are Days When You Get to Point at Yourself and Say "Loser."

Today would be that day.

I was perplexed that some people had not received their scarves for Scarfapalooza. And then one sweet lady wrote to me and said that she hadn't sent hers out because I had never responded to an email she wrote to me asking for the addresses of her scarf recipients...

...Yeah, see me? Big, fat LOSER stamp on the forehead here. I even remember getting that email, but for the life of me I can't find it now. I think I got it, then got sick for those wonderful six weeks, and at some point in a feverish delirium I deleted it and forgot it had ever existed.

The only bad mark on Scarfapalooza can be traced directly to me, the event's organizer. That's not a good thing people.

Oh my goodness, I am so embarassed about this. In a year or so it will be funny, but right now it's mortifying.

Don't worry O scarfless ones, I sent her your addresses and you should be receiving mail soon.

And can we say it one more time? LOSER.

What Would You Do?

There is a popular knitting series of books entitled "Stitch & B*tch." I do not own any. The latest one, "Son of Stitch & B*tch," has a scarf on the cover that I really, really want to make. But I don't want to own the book because, really, who wants something with that title on their bookshelf for their children to discover one day? What would you do?

I can try to find someone willing to copy out the pattern and give it to me, but I know that that's copyright violation and I have a problem with breaking the law. (Or perhaps there's a clause in the copyright notice on that particular book that says you can distribute the patterns for non-commercial use--but that's highly unlikely...)

I could buy the book and then mark out the offensive word in the title, which would look so weird, but accomplish my goals legally. But I have a little tiny problem with supporting the work of someone who uses that word so freely in her books. I've also heard that her books have a lot of innuendo in them as well. I imagine I'd have to go through the whole thing and mark out a lot of words, just in case my princesses should happen to peruse the volume in the future. (Is anyone else bothered that this word is used so freely these days?)

Seriously, who would ever have thought there would be ethical issues involved with knitting a scarf?

(Did you click on the link? Isn't that scarf so totally cool? I don't know who I would make it for at all, but I saw it and I've been drawn to it ever since. It's one of those things that I don't care if I never give it to someone because it's just too interesting not to make!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Scarfapalooza Poll

If you participated in 2007's Scarfapalooza, please take a moment to complete a poll regarding it.

If you are interested in participating in the next Scarfapalooza, please complete the poll as well. You will need to sign up with LDFR in order to answer the questions. Or you can leave a comment here and let me know any particulars.

Scarfapalooza 2007 was a success in my opinion, but I'm always looking to improve something I'm involved with. Constructive comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks to all who participated and I hope to see you in the sign-ups again the next time around!

Monday, January 28, 2008

How to Have a Super Cool Weekend

Friday Afternoon:
First, costumes are generally required.
As is a bad picture of the Mama.
With costumes and bad pictures taken care of, start making cookies! (Williams Sonoma's Halloween Sugar Cookie Recipe...the best sugar cookie recipe I've yet to come across. How could it not be great? With four sticks of butter and 3/4 package of cream cheese...oh yeah, they're amazing.)

Make sure to allow the littlest members of the family to feel like they're helping.
Always let the children lick the beaters. (Because, really, you get to lick the bowl, the wooden spoon and the spatula...)

Wrap up the dough and put it in the refrigerator to chill overnight. With Friday's activity taken care of, send the children off to play under the supervision of your husband while you go take a nap. (It's hard to stand that long when you're 35 weeks pregnant!)

Saturday Morning:
Break out the cookie cutters. And costumes, again.
My father and his wife gave this super cute set of Alphabet cookie cutters to Bluebird for Christmas, along with a matching Cookie Decorating kit--she has been dying to use them! Finally, the day had arrived...

She also received a sweet rolling pin and silicone mat from aforementioned grandparents...(nicer than mine!)
She's quite the cookie cutter-outer.

We had enough dough to make every single letter of the alphabet twice and also some mitten cookies to give to the ladies I visit teach. That's a lot of cookies. I had to take a nap afterwards.

Saturday Afternoon (after a nap):


Rabbit was rather unhappy when all the cookie decorating fun had to end. Mr. Brooke tried to cheer her up, but it didn't happen for a while. I think Bluebird was dazed from the incredible sugar rush that accompanies eating every other sugary confection intended for decorating cookies.

I had to take another nap. And then I decided that I wasn't making dinner. So we met James & Denise at Arby's and had our dinner with them. And gave them a plate of cookies.

All in all, grand fun. Baking, decorating and a dinner out with friends. It can't get much better than that!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just Stuck

Things are just funky right now. Perhaps it's the cold and slightly monotonous weather, the last drawn-out days of pregnancy, the grayness of recovering from six full weeks of full-blown sickness...probably a combination of all three.

I am a planner, a list-maker, a "what are we going to do today?" sort of person. And I am completely afloat and aimlessly drifting right now, which does not sit well with me. I am not the sort of person who can "just be." I need a plan. People without plans unwind into chaos and are just generally really dull folks.

Unfortunately, it's come to my attention in previous weeks how ludicrous it is to make any plans whatsoever at this point in my life. The Nesting To-Do List incapacitated my family with illness and that list was only slated to take care of the next three weeks. If I try to organize anything further out than that, I could quite possibly kill them with the violent karma that would ensue as a result.

I'm trying to read more, and I enjoy that. But while reading is technically "doing something," I don't have a tangible "something" to show for my efforts when I'm done. I don't know why this is important to me, but it is. Freakishly so, in one of those slightly obsessive and annoyingly quirky ways that other people may find endearing. Or really odd.

The "Current Projects" list is intentionally small. Once something goes into that little box, the need to move it into the "Finished Projects" box fills me with an insane motivation to, well, finish the project. Rabid knitting and frenzied sewing are not what I need right now.

It sounds crazy, but I feel like anything I sign myself up to do will have to be completed before Baby arrives because, in the back of my mind, I think that I will never have a free moment to myself EVER AGAIN once we make the leap to three children. Any project that isn't done by her birth...it's going to live in a box for the next eighteen years until I get home from dropping off my little lamb for her freshman orientation at BYU. I am weirdly afraid of having three children and feel somehow that it is going to massively affect all aspects of our family life. And because the upheaval is going to be so massive, I can in no way whatsoever PLAN for it. My life is about to drastically change and I have no preparations or lists that I can make that I feel will inoculate us, or even attempt to buffer us, from the sheer magnitude of shock we are about to encounter. I am afloat in the water, watching a hurricane approach. (At least no one will notice if you wet your pants in the ocean, right?)

So I'm stuck. Just stuck. Plain old, ordinary stuck. Stuck, and with nothing to do. That makes it so much worse. (Think about it...if you were sitting in a storm cellar waiting for a tornado to approach, you'd like to have something to keep your hands busy, right?)

I know the "leap to three children" logic probably won't pan out and I will happily plough along into many a knitting and sewing project once Baby arrives...but for now it seems utterly pointless to go along with that optimistic plan because I truly don't think it will happen. (It's slightly annoying to be aware of the irrational nature of your subconscious, and yet be unable to change your thinking to match up with good common sense.)

I wasn't this way with Rabbit's impending birth. I knew we'd weather a brief storm and get on with life. Not so with this one. Perhaps because I was raised in a family of two children and always thought that was normal and that three was a "big" number? Who knows...

(And it doesn't help that I saw a scarf that I am absolutely infatuated with making. And that I made a rule that I couldn't start a new project until I finish up some of the other ones that are lying about.)

(Oh, and I plan to write a post about why we're thinking about homeschooling, given the interest of y'all.)

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Blame It on the Nesting To-Do List

I threw the cosmos out of whack with the incredible amount of productivity that I sent out into the galaxy with my Nesting To-Do List and that is why my family has come under attack from every single ill-harboring germ available in Utah County. That's my only explanation. The world is trying to equalize and settle back into a state of content equilibrium, and the only way to do that was to take us all out. Slowly. One at a time, in order to extend the misery...

I'm feeling much better today, but am not in any mood to tempt the Fates. I aim to simply get our clothes washed. (Perhaps even folded and put away.) Hopefully the world is OK with that. I've already gotten the backlash for getting up at a decent time and taking a shower (Mr. Brooke woke up having a hard time breathing and is now at the doctor's office) and for mixing up a batch of pancake mix to store in the freezer (Bluebird jumped off the couch and smacked her knee into her eye socket).

You see me, Cosmos People? I am 89% submissive. We just really need some clean clothes; and let's face it, it's a good idea to wash all the stuff we were wearing while we were all sick. I'm not even attempting the bedding today...which I really should, but I won't because I know how that could upset that delicate balance you're obviously trying to maintain. Just clothes. Four loads of laundry, max. One third the usual workload for a Monday.

I also plan to feed my family and the retarded dog at set intervals if you're OK with that. And perhaps load the dishwasher.

And I have a doctor appointment this afternoon that's somewhat important to go to. Don't hold that one against me...I really don't want to go. You could almost nudge that little endeavor into the punishment category, right? Then everything will even out for the day...everyone can rest a little bit easier and be a little happier.

The To-Do List is sooo last week. If you let my family heal up and not catch any other wretched virus, I'll do my best to not even think about it anymore.

(PS--The snow is pretty...thanks for that...and please don't let Mr. Brooke have pneumonia.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

When Mommy Gets Sick too

Turns out I'm scary accurate with those predictions of mine. My sciatic nerve nestled itself back into its rightful place and six hours later I was the next victim of the nasty bug going through our home.

I think being sick is the absolute worst part about being a mommy and homemaker. No one can take care of you as you could and the house gets so awful that it makes you sicker just thinking about what's going on outside your bedroom door.

And it always seems that you either get sick before everyone else, so you have to take care of everyone else when they come down with the illness--while you're supposed to be resting; or you get sick right after everyone else and they are bouncing off the walls with their newfound energy and wanting to do anything and everything after being cooped up in the house for however many days.

One thing that never fails to amuse me is to watch Mr. Brooke's efforts to be Mr. Homemaker when I'm stuck in bed. Things that seem so normal and even robotic to me take actual conscious effort for him, like adding yeast to bread. Or making the bed while I take a shower so I don't have to return to a wad of twisted, stagnant blankets. Or taking away the squeaky toys from the dog during naptime. So many things I just take for granted and do automatically...but then I think about what it would be like for me to have to take his place at HIS work when he gets sick...I'm sure it would be far more comical to have me trying to do all aspects of his job! I keep thinking that thought to keep my sanity.

And I'm starting to shake, so I think I'll return to just browsing the internet instead of contributing to it...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Reading & Quiet Time

Oh, the wonder that is Quiet Time. With the implementation of Bluebird's Chore Chart and resulting time in her room with her headlamp, I decided to move their bedtime up half an hour earlier. So now at 7:30pm we have Quiet Time, a wonderful time where my girls sit in their beds and read and look at their books until 8:30 when lights go out. Rabbit needed in on the whole light thing, so Mr. Brooke got out his shop flashlight (rechargeable batteries) and she gets that for the hour. It's quite the anticipated event in our house these days.

And it gives Mr. Brooke and I another half hour to spend with each other, filled with adult conversation and also giving us the option to sit down and watch a whole movie together without having to stay up until the late, late hours.

But secretly, my favorite time of all is the 6:45-7:30 block. We start this time by reading from the children's scriptures and have family singing and prayer. And then I sit on Bluebird's bed with my two beautiful daughters in my lap and we read together as many books as we can before the commencement of Quiet Time. They take turns choosing a book and Rabbit usually picks the same book over and over each night, but I don't care. With the books that I've memorized, I just watch their faces as I "read"--their beautiful eyes taking in the pictures and crinkling at the corners when something funny happens in the story, the way Bluebird mouths the words of the books I've been reading to her since she was a baby, Rabbit's cute little finger emphatically pointing at something interesting on a page...these are my favorite moments of any given day.

I remember my mother reading to me, one book in particular about a girl going to ballet class. I'd love to find that book someday and read it to my girls. There are pictures of my mother reading to my brother and I; the two of us freshly bathed and outfitted in our cartoon character jammies, completely engrossed in whatever words she was reading at that random moment in time. My mother took me to the library and got me my very own library card at a very young age and she and I went to the library together each week during my brother's Beaver meetings. (Canadian equivalent of Cub Scouts.) I try to take my girls to the library each week, and it's already such a joy to Bluebird and Rabbit to hear that we're going there. Reading with your children is such a wonderful, love-building activity that is good for everyone all around.

I just finished the most wonderful book: Honey for a Child's Heart, by Gladys Hunt. I kept seeing it mentioned in other books and finally just trusted in the acclaim and bought it on Amazon. It is such an inspiring book for parents! I loved it to pieces and am further resolved to keep reading to my little ones, even after they can read for themselves. There is so much good in reading to them, and not all of it simply in helping them to prepare to read or in the time spent with them. There are so many lessons that can be learned through literature, instead of having to learn them through (difficult and painful) experiences. There are wonderful examples of love, courage and friendship in the world of books and I'd love for my children to be exposed to as much good as possible...expanding their worlds through literature just seems wise.

As I recognize how much time and effort it takes to grow readers, I am thankful to my mother for taking the time to impart her love of reading to me. I ardently hope that my girls will grow to love the same characters I grew up with: The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar; The Wishing Chair; Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan; Laura Ingalls and her family; Black Beauty; Helen Keller; The Robinson Family...my world was enlarged so much because of reading. What a wonderful gift to give to a child.

Another One Bites the Dust

Mr. Brooke's turn. Apparently this is just going to take us out like dominoes.

My sciatic nerve went again this morning, so I'm barely moving...perhaps when it feels better I'll get my turn with being sick!

On a bright note, the girls are both going down for a nap at the moment so Mr. Brooke can have a peaceful go at resting. And my laying down time will be significantly easier without having to worry that the girls are killing each other in the other room.

I feel so worn out and run down, but by this time next week everything will be fine. Weird how life works. Don't get consumed by the moment.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Better

Rabbit has succumbed to the puking virus as of 1am this morning. Since Mr. Brooke has his HUGE international work meeting today, I sacrificed sleep and took care of her throughout the night so he could get as much sleep as possible. Hopefully his 1.5 hour (solo) presentation went well.

I took stock of the situation this morning--I wore myself out running errands on Friday and then Bluebird got sick on Saturday, so there has been no re-stocking of groceries and I knew that we'd be quarantined through Wednesday, so I phoned Denise and said, "I need help!" I emailed a little grocery list to her and she picked it all up and dropped it off here. What am I going to do when they move to Washington? She also brought the girls some stickers and me the pretty flowers, which have so brightened the mood around here.

We're not dirty people. I clean our house. Honestly, I do. How are we continually getting kicked around by all this sickness? I don't know what else to do!

I think I'll go smell my flowers...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Finished: Ewe Beanie

I think it's adorable!

Yarn: Bernat CottonTots in Strawberry. I've had it forever and finally used it up with this.
Pattern: Rolled Brim Baby Hat with a Top Knot, minus the hearts.
Needles: US 6 DPN

I knit this up in the car when we were at Mr. Broke's mother's house for Christmas. It's a three hour ride up, and then we spend lots of time in the car because she lives a long way away from anything, so it takes at least thirty minutes to get to a restaurant or store...lots of free time that needs something to keep my hands busy. I actually started another hat on the way home, but don't know if I'll finish it ever. I get tired of a pattern rather quickly, even one as cute as this.

Everything is sheep-themed for my little lamb. I knit up this beanie and felt it needed something more to make it cute. I originally thought I'd weave some pink and brown grosgrain ribbon around the brim, but I was admiring a sleeper I'd bought for her one evening and realized that I could duplicate the super cute appliqued sheep. I stink at applique, so it's not the best job--but I can live with it.

I think she'll look rather cute in the combo. I am getting so excited for this little one to arrive!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Random Observation

While Bluebird's sick, she's on the couch watching television. Currently she is watching some dog show on ESPN (if dog shows can be counted worthy enough for ESPN, then cheerleading is SO totally a sport!).

But I'm watching this dog show and noticing that the judges and various involved folk are dressed up pretty nice...the guy in the ring right now is wearing a tux with tails.

So my question is: When did we start dressing nicer for dog shows than church or the opera?

Am I the only one who's a little disturbed by the casualness of a society that thinks it's OK to wear sweats and a ponytail on a daily basis, but dress in formal wear for a pet competition?

Seriously...I consider my family to be of far more importance (and therefore, more worthy of my best appearances) than dogs. I mean, the dogs on TV are very pretty and very well-behaved, but...they're dogs.

Aw, come on...

Saturday is my usually scheduled day for washing the dog bedding, but I did it during my cleaning spree earlier this week. I was standing in the kitchen, invisibly patting myself on the back for saving myself some work today and I looked over at the dog's bed...just in time to see her barf all over it.

Seriously...the fun has got to stop.

Oh, For the Love of Pete...

Bluebird came out of her bedroom this morning and frantically announced that she needed a bowl, which, in Brooke household lingo, means you're going to throw up.

I considered cancelling my haircut and stuff for the morning, but figured that Mr. Brooke could handle the chaos for a couple hours and if I was going to spend the rest of the weekend cleaning up puke, that I could at least look pretty while doing it. (The pedicure was amazing...)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Seven Random Things

Mrs. Mordecai tagged me for this meme, which is so cool to me because I do not know Mrs. Mordecai in "real life." It's cool to start making cyber friends! (Don't worry, "real life" friends, I still love you just as much...but you understand what I'm saying, right?)


So, seven random things about me...I don't know if there's anything left to share about myself that I haven't already shared at some point with you folks, but here's a go:

  1. I couldn't tell time until I was in the fourth grade. (Why do I share these things with you?)

  2. I'm allergic to dust mites, grass and birch pollen.

  3. Lunch annoys me. I wish it didn't exist. You get going in such a good groove during the morning and then you have to stop everything to make a meal that is so obligatory in nature that most people don't even have a plan for it. It's really just a midday break where you eat leftovers from the fridge...and that's just really irritating to me.

  4. I think snow is the most beautiful silence in the world.

  5. I want to own sheep someday. Or a yarn shop. Perhaps both. Or I could run a roadside stand on the highway by my house. I could make signs that said things like "Yarn 5 Miles Ahead" and "Freshly Sheared Wool 1.2 miles ahead."

  6. I crack up laughing every time I see someone running to make the crosswalk signal and then it turns to the red hand and they can't cross. I don't know why I find it so funny...I think that makes me a mean person?
  7. I grew up in rather poor financial circumstances and had this vision that I would have "made it" the day I could afford to buy caramel syrup, canned name-brand whipped cream and ready-made Orange Peach Mango juice in one grocery shopping trip without having to skimp on something else. (We officially "made it" during this last autumn.)

I'd like to tag (if you want to play):
Oh my goodness, I have more friends than spots open for tagging! Please take no offense if I don't choose you:
Amy
Ashley
Christina
James
JoAnne
Kathleen
Krista
(I only picked one of the Stevensons because two links to the same blog...yeah. And Stephanie hasn't updated her blog in a while, so I'm not going to throw away a tag! Hee hee!)

Rules:

Link to the person who tagged you;
Leave a comment on their blog so that their readers can visit yours;
Post the rules on your blog;
Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog;
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post;
Include links to their blogs;
Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Pictures for a Funtastic Friday

Because when you can't take a nap during rest time, you need something to do:

My spritely ballerina



This is how my dog sleeps. She's retarded.



Watching some bedtime television.


Good night kisses.



Bucketheads love carrots.



The King of the Bucketheads.



Bluebird's first Sunday in Primary--a Sunbeam!



This just made me laugh.


Introducing the Bluebird Collection of Hand-dyed Yarn...yarn in the colors of a three year old's dreams...as long as her dreams are colored by Kool-Aid. We dyed this when I was mute, which was really interesting...she plans for it to become a scarf and hat combo, but I'm not sure there's quite enough for both in that hank. We'll see...

Funtastic Friday

My carpets are clean.

My dog got her shots.

I cannot access my kitchen or bed until Mr. Brooke comes home and moves all the furniture back to its intended location.

I've eaten out for both breakfast and lunch.

It will cost $200 to have my dog spayed.

I had contractions last night to the point that I almost woke up Mr. Brooke. But then they went away.

I've been awake since 4:30am.

It's rest time and I can't have a nap because my bed is buried and the TV is in the kitchen where Bluebird has no chance at all of watching it.

I still have to go grocery shopping and go to the library and go to Costco and go to the party store to buy Bluebird's birthday invitations.

I have to return a DVD at the toy store and a dress at another store.

I can't go grocery shopping until the furniture is moved out of my kitchen.

I think we'll eat out for dinner as well.

The carpets were really dirty.

I'm glad that they are now clean.

I think I will take a bubble bath tonight and go to bed early.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Follow-up on the To-Do List

I have to post my progress, for my own sanity. Mr. Brooke is busy with some upcoming presentation at work and is too pre-occupied to notice the glorious things that have unfolded in the past few days.

And I'm tired and don't want to do much more than sit for a while. Blogging lets me feel like something is getting done even though I'm not moving.

  1. The laundry is so caught up. I'm washing the dog's bedding as we speak. That's amazing. Everything is folded and put away, except for one "miscellaneous basket" of stuff that got washed last. (You know, that last load of laundry that includes all the stuff the just didn't make it into the loads they were supposed to be washed with, so you just throw them all in together in the delicate cycle with cold water.)
  2. Carpets are getting cleaned tomorrow.
  3. Shopping trip planned for Saturday for beanie accessories.
  4. Shopping trip planned for Saturday for quilt materials.
  5. All newborn clothing is washed, but not folded. Swing has been hauled out of storage and awaits cleaning, alongside infant carseat. Bassinet also located and placed in accessible location.
  6. Date set to organize office.
  7. Baby announcements...uh, yeah. I can't decide just yet, there's too many good ones. It will be a fun activity to do while recuperating.
  8. I plan to buy all cards tomorrow. Perhaps any gift-type item I'll just order online as the occasion arises. That's also easy to do while recuperating and somewhat fun.
  9. I plan to buy diapers and nursing pads tomorrow and have written down a reminder to continue the trend with each subsequent paycheck.
  10. I'm wavering on the changing table. It's serviceable as is, perhaps I'll just clean it up and leave it at that. However, I did schedule a Saturday to work on it should I decide to re-paint it. We'll see...
  11. I already addressed the nursing pad issue. And I've got a good idea where other nursing paraphenalia is located in my house.
  12. The list has a day to be completed by. Hee hee.
  13. I purchased a pair of nursing pajamas last night. They're more cute than pretty...where are the pretty nursing pajamas? That cost less than $80? And have sleeves? And cover your knees? Seriously, post-partum is so not the time that I feel like dressing all seductive-like. But I'd still like to be pretty. The only choices in nursing pajamas are frumpy or sexy, neither of which I want to look like (because I don't feel either way) after giving birth.
  14. Haircut, eyebrow wax and pedicure scheduled for this Saturday. And I think I'll schedule them again for six weeks into the future. Because I could still be pregnant then.
  15. Pre-admittance done. You can do it over the telephone. Genius.
  16. A Saturday has been scheduled to get the cars cleaned. We will then address the carseat issue.
  17. I have a semi-permanent place for the kids' books. It will do for now until I can really wrap my head around what's going on with the layout of the house. All the baby paraphernalia is likely to cause some upset around here. But, for now, there is a designated gathering spot for the books.
  18. We are going to buy party supplies tomorrow. And I've booked the gymnastics gym. And settled on a guest list. And know what the cake is going to look like.
  19. Rabbit's 18 month check-up is scheduled.
  20. Holly gets shots tomorrow.
  21. Follow-up doctor appointment scheduled for Mr. Brooke. And a dentist appointment. And a haircut. (I've even set aside time to take Bluebird in for a haircut. Perhaps, in all the pictures for her birthday and all the pictures that will inevitably be taken after Baby's arrival, we'll look like a well-groomed family.)
  22. I have successfully resisted all urges to curl up into a ball to die. I do not, as a rule, resist the urges to curl up under a blanket and take a nap. I figure it's a justifiable compromise.
  23. I've realized that I need to take down the rest of the Christmas decorations. I have planned to do this on Monday. (I think I'll just immediately switch to the spring decorations instead of keeping up all the wintery stuff. One less thing to do with a newborn about.)
  24. I also packed up the girls' clothes that they've outgrown in the past while.
  25. Denise volunteered to mop my kitchen and dining room floors. She also volunteered to do anything on this list that I wanted her to do, within reason.
  26. I'm thinking that I should draw up a little list for whomever may be called upon to help out with my pre-existing children throughout the ordeal. Things like food they like, how they like things particularly done, bedtime routine, etc. Who knows if the caretaker would heed my advice, but it's worth a shot, right?
  27. Perhaps I should line up someone to watch my kids while I'm having this baby...my usual choice will be in Hawaii.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The To-Do List of a Massively Nesting Pregnant Woman, 6-8 Weeks Out From Her Due Date

  1. Seriously get caught up on the laundry. Really. Everything that can go into the washing machine--wash it before this little person with brand new lungs gets here.
  2. Get the carpets cleaned. (Scheduled for Friday at 9am.)
  3. Finish the beanie I'm making for my wee little lamb. The knitting is done, I just want to find some cute ribbon to weave through the brim and maybe a cute flower to attach and make it all chic-like.
  4. Make a baby quilt for her. Her name means "Ewe," so I'm going with a sheep theme. And I've become very partial to that pink and brown Neapolitan look, so I'm going to try for that. (You think this is actually going to get done? Do ya? Do ya?)
  5. Get out all the newborn stuff (clothes, swing, etc.), clean it all up and have it ready for her arrival.
  6. Organize the office. This is a scary prospect. But from previous experience with Rabbit's birth, a very vital thing to do beforehand if I don't want our finances to completely go to pot while I'm recovering and Mr. Brooke's got dibs on all things to deal with money. (It's not that he's bad with money...it's just that I'm the accountant and I let him know what we can and can't do...obviously hard for me to keep track of post-partum.)
  7. Decide on baby announcements so I can just order them when I get home from the hospital. Order return address labels.
  8. Organize all baby gifts, birthday cards/gifts and other special event items for the months of February, March and April so that it will be easy to actually get them to their recipients in a timely manner. (It has just occured to me that Mr. Brooke's birthday falls not long after my due date...hmmm.)
  9. Buy some diapers with each paycheck between now and her arrival. (And obviously with each paycheck after her arrival!) Stock up on Rabbit's diapers as well.
  10. I'd really like to make the changing table pretty. I'd like it to be a little prettified--fresh coat of paint, maybe some sort of artwork on some of the flat surfaces. (Yes, I'll wear a face mask if I get near any paints or do any sanding.)
  11. Stock up on nursing pads...I never have these! And nursing bras...where are they? (A tad personal, I know; but very important.)
  12. Draw up the list of things I want Mr. Brooke to bring to the hospital for me. I don't bother packing a bag to take because you don't need anything in it until after your husband goes home anyway.
  13. A first for me--buy a pair of nursing pajamas, very pretty.
  14. Get a haircut, eyebrow wax and pedicure.
  15. Fill out the pre-admittance form for the hospital and send it in. (I can't believe I haven't done this yet!)
  16. Figure out if it is possible to fit all three carseats in the back of the better car. If not, clean up the other vehicle and get things situated in there.
  17. Figure out a permanent place for the kids' books. (You do not know how much this vexes me at the moment.)
  18. Oh yeah, throw a 4 year old's birthday party. I think I need to get invitations out this week...
  19. Schedule an 18 month check-up for Rabbit
  20. I think Holly needs to get some shots too.
  21. Mr. Brooke needs a follow-up visit to the doctor for some thing we've been monitoring and I need to find out what happened with his sleep study.
  22. Resist all urges to curl up into a ball and die. Because, really, that would be bad for the baby...

Monday, January 7, 2008

2007 Started Like This...

Last January we got rear-ended on the freeway; which set off a nasty chain of events which included my infamous emergency gall bladder surgery.

Mr. Brooke called me on his way home from work this evening and while we were conversing he was involved in a three car accident on the freeway. *sigh* No injuries, thank goodness.

You can only guess what I'm thinking might happen next, given last year's turn of events.

UPDATE, 2 hours after the accident: The highway patrolman who was working with Mr. Brooke and his accident friends got called away on a high speed chase (which started out as 100mph on Spanish Fork's Main Street...how is that even possible?!?!), so they're sitting in the Burger King parking lot waiting for a new highway patrolman to come help them get all the paperwork sorted out.

UPDATE #2, 3.5 hours after the accident: He's home, it was his fault and I don't care.

Children's Allergy Testing

We got our puppy and Bluebird's nose started running, and it seemed that the same thing was happening when we went to Mr. Brooke's mother's house, who owns two dogs. So I signed her up for allergy testing, which took place today.

My first idea was to get a babysitter for Rabbit so I could just focus on Bluebird, but then I backed out of that idea because, really, how bad could it be? Note to self: Trust those first thoughts.

I should have realized that things were not going to go well when we showed up at 9:30 for her appointment only to be told that it was at 10:30. Fine, mistakes happen, I probably wrote it down wrong. We went and visited Mr. Brooke at work for a little bit and then went back for the "correct" time. The nurse who was performing the test seemed rather impatient and it really seemed to irk her when it took me a little bit of time to gather up all our coats, refill the diaper bag when it tipped over and spilled all its contents onto the waiting room floor and then I had to go scoop up Rabbit from behind the big fountain in the waiting room. She briskly escorted us back to the procedure room, where we sat for fifteen minutes (which is really hard with a three year old and a one year old who want to untwist the doctor's stool and sample all the sterile equipment in all the drawers). Then she came back in and stated that we were being moved to another room because it was easier for her to do the test in that room...which required all the packing up and maneuvering that the first trip to a room entailed and when I finally got all my brood and equipment out into the hallway, the nurse had disappeared and I had no clue what room we were to go to.

On top of this, Bluebird had to go to the bathroom, bad...and I didn't know where that was either. We wandered about until we found the nurse's station and asked what room we were to be in and were shown to the correct room. Ms. Nurse showed up, I asked where a bathroom was and was curtly pointed in the right direction...only to find it locked. Never mind, I'm a woman of ingenuity, we used the men's restroom instead. Ms. Nurse thought we were taking too long or something because she came searching for us and gave me an inquisitive look when she happened upon us coming out of said restroom. (You see what decisions you make when you've got a three year old who's been hopping about "holding it" for twenty minutes.)

So we get back to our "new" room and the nurse tells me to strip Bluebird of her shirt and to have her lay down on the examining table; the test will be performed on her back. I calmly got Bluebird situated, only to have her lay topless for ten minutes while we waited for the nurse to come back. (I was trying not to get upset, but it was really starting to bother me that things were taking so long.) Bluebird knew that she was going to get "pokes" on her back that would help us to find out how to get her nose to stop running and she was being brave about it, but courage in a three year old is rather short-lived and when you add discomfort (i.e. being topless and cold) to the mix, it starts disappearing rapidly.

FINALLY Ms. Nurse came in with a huge tray of vials with sticks and Bluebird took one look at the sheer number of sticks poking out of that tray and she reared up like a frightened colt and started screaming that she didn't want to get needles and that she wanted her shirt and that her nose wasn't running anymore. Ms. Nurse brought a friend and that friend moved to restrain Bluebird...and that, my friends, ****ed me off. (I would like you to know that Mama Bear power, even when pregnant and hugely inhibited in the movement category, is surprisingly as potent as when you're not pregnant.) I leapt from my chair and intercepted Nurse Friend before she could touch Bluebird and bundled my girl in my arms, talking to her and soothing her until she was calm enough to consider laying on the table again. This, of course, took a minute or two and obviously infringed on Ms. Nurse's time table...but I think by this point she was writing us off as time-wasters and knew there was nothing she could do about it and resigned herself to the situation.

My friends, allergy tests suck. Had I known what we were gearing up to do, I'd have just bought a lot of Benadryl and administered it as needed for the next four years until she was old enough to understand more of what was about to happen.

Bluebird layed down on her tummy and Ms. Nurse drew between 40-50 circles on her back. That was kind of funny, ha ha, the nurse is drawing on your back. Each of those hand drawn circles? Depositories for allergy serums. As in, I helped Nurse Friend physically restrain Bluebird as Ms. Nurse stabbed each of those dots with a different serum stick. As you can imagine, that was not a fun experience for my darling daughter. Bluebird was screaming at the top of her lungs, Rabbit looked terrified and Ms. Nurse yelled at me to keep Bluebird still (another warning--don't style your child's hair with any pieces hanging down, like a braid, because when they're thrashing about, the hair smears the serums). Bluebird promised that her nose wouldn't run anymore...I counted down the last seven stabs and thought we were done, but no, because:

After being stabbed 40 times with all those serums, you have to lay still for twenty minutes while they penetrate.

I must have looked like a hillbilly with how far my mouth dropped open when Ms. Nurse said that Bluebird had to lay there, face down, for twenty minutes. I was beyond irritated or upset; I was full-on helpless. "Could I ask you to make a phone call to my husband for me?" I asked calmly. She took his number and returned a minute later to let me know that he was on his way. Bluebird was fighting me and Rabbit had just discovered some expensive piece of medical equipment...I was quite certain I was going to pass out from the trauma of it all or else owe the clinic thousands of dollars within the next twenty minutes, quite possibly both. But I was slightly comforted by the one screaming red puncture wound on Bluebird's back--"At least this will have been worthwhile when we find out what that dot means she's allergic to."

Mr. Brooke arrived fifteen minutes later to a room strewn with the contents of the diaper bag, a sniffling Bluebird, a triumphant Rabbit who had conquered just about every obstacle in the room that could present a challenge to her, and a mama on the verge of tears. That shining example of a man entered boldly, comforted his eldest daughter with promises of going to whichever McDonald's she wanted to go to, then assured her that she was so very brave and such a big girl; then he scooped up his youngest daughter and whisked her off to the bathroom for a diaper change, and on his way out the door he looked at me with eyes so full of sympathy and understanding and said, "I'm sorry you had to go through this." My goodness, did my love for that glorious human being soar at that moment.

Ms. Nurse returned, took a quick look at Bluebird's back and pronounced her devoid of allergies. With an incredulous look, I pointed at the one flaming circle, to which Ms. Nurse replied, "Oh, that's the control circle, it's the one that lets us know that the test is working..."

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Method of Teaching Your Child to Behave

If you've been privy to any happenings in the Brooke household, you would probably have heard my frustrations with a daughter who just would not listen to me. Sure, it's probably a phase; but after months of being ignored by a person who should be listening to you in order to learn to behave responsibly, it gets incredibly old.

So I came up with a plan, specifically designed to work with her interests and what I felt she needed to work on. She'll be four next month and it really bugged me that she wasn't getting dressed or helping to take care of her possessions; things I believe an almost four year old is completely capable of doing.

Step One: I made a "Chore Chart," complete with some basic chores and behaviors I'd like her to do each day, like getting dressed and talking nicely (a HUGE issue at the moment).
She gets to put sticker in each square/section when we sit down to see how she's doing at various times throughout the day. I made morning and evening sections for a lot of the chores because they either take place twice a day or, for the behavioral chores, it's easier for her to stick to the program if she can get a sticker halfway through the day for being cheerful or listening well, etc.

I don't worry about the immense amounts of stickers that this takes. You can get 700 of the little star stickers at Wal-Mart (office section) for like $2. It will take months to get through that pack.

Step Two: Order a head lamp.
I got mine from Amazon.com for about $20 and it's pink. Now, with all these tasks that your little one is accomplishing, you've got to reward them. Earning a star will only be cool for about three days, trust me. So now, if Bluebird gets all her stars for the day, she gets to wear this neat little doohickey to bed and read books. I go in an hour later and turn it off. (When she's older, I'll let her use her own judgment, but an almost four year old needs help with those sorts of limits.) Voila, a reason each day to behave.

Step Three: A weekly goal to work towards.
If she gets a certain percentage of all her stars for the week (because, really, perfection from a three year old is hard to expect) then she gets to get a treat with Daddy on Saturday. And we're not talking anything big, just a Happy Meal breakfast at McDonald's and some time in the PlayLand thing. That way Daddy acknowledges that she's being good, which is hard sometimes because he's not around during the bulk of the wakeful hours. You can skip this step if you want, but I think it's important to have both parents actively participating in schooling their child's behavior.

Thus far, an excellent method for helping my eldest behave like a normal human being. Thought you'd like to know. Email me if you'd like the Chore Chart file.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Keep It Cheap: Disinfecting Cold Water Laundry

Keep It Cheap: Disinfecting Cold Water Laundry

With all the bugs we're fighting off, I asked some message board friends about disinfecting laundry without using bleach and one lady steered me to this post. I thought it might be helpful to others, so here ya go.