>Valentine’s Day

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Last night I realized that two of my brothers are trying to tip toe around me regarding Valentine’s Day. Bro #1 stopped by yesterday afternoon with his girlfriend; she sat on the couch while he fixed my son’s RC truck. I then asked him to put my new license plates on and he and I started talking about how cool my new vanity plates were. His girlfriend interrupted and told him to hurry up because they had to leave. I hadn’t realized it then but I think they were celebrating Valentine’s Day yesterday because today is Monday. I said “oh, what are you guys doing tonight”? My bro responded with “nothing, just relaxing before work tomorrow”.
Later that night Bro #2 called me and asked me to do him a favor. He sounded nervous to ask me and said if I “didn’t feel like going out he would understand”. He wanted me to take his wife to her OB appointment. I didn’t understand why he would think I wouldn’t feel like going out!
It wasn’t until late last night that I realized both of my brothers thought I was going to be sad without DH here. It’s nice that they were being considerate but it wasn’t necessary. Not for this holiday at least. There are so many other days that are hard to get through; Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. The small holidays don’t bother me much. In fact, they aren’t a big deal to me even when he’s home! I’d rather make the big days bigger and have less of the novelty holidays. I don’t know, maybe it’s just my way of making myself feel better; but it works!
Last night I was up until 0200 addressing Valentines for the kids and making special gifts for Z and B’s girlfriends. I bought little $5 necklaces and a box of chocolates for each. B is also giving his girlfriend a Beanie Baby dog.
They are very cute, everything had to be perfect. I am running on little sleep right now but it was worth it to see them so excited with their little girly gifts in hand as they waited for the busses.
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>Another Baby Shower?

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Yet another snow day for our town. This is the 7th cancellation this year and that does not include delays and early dismissals. My classes are cancelled tonight as well. I don’t think Nursing school is supposed to be self taught, but that is what we’ve had to do so far, lol.
This afternoon I was sitting on the couch with my laptop doing some ATI assignments (online assessments and quizzes that count toward our final grade this semester) when the phone rings. It’s Bro #2. He asks me to accept his game request on Facebook. I argued, saying that I am worried about viruses but he insists he needs “neighbors”, so I give in. As I’m accepting his game invite the REAL reason for calling emerges.
A few weeks ago, they had a baby shower. Her mother hosted it in Jersey. Apparently she did not have a good time because she didn’t have many friends there and the gifts were not what she expected. She had gone to Babies R Us and signed up for a registry. She was not pleased when people showed up with $40 gifts rather than the more expensive items. My brother said it was because they “are millionaires and can afford more expensive stuff”. While they were down there he had called me and told me that she wasn’t having fun. I told him that I wish the shower had been up here so I could have gone. I would have tried to make it fun for her.
Long story short, I kind of got cornered into “looking into hosting a shower for her” here. Honestly, I had forgotten about it and now that she’s 32 weeks I figured it’s too late anyway.
Nope, the Bro asked me if I was “still planning on doing something” for her. I stumbled and stuttered and basically didn’t know how to answer. I don’t have the time or the money to do something like that. Not to mention I am slightly jealous that she would would be getting two showers when I didn’t get any. Honestly I think they just want the gifts.
So, I’m thinking about it and even though I don’t want to do it I probably should. They are the type of people that hold a grudge. They remember EVERYTHING. If I don’t do this, I will look like I don’t care.
Not to mention, they want the shower at their condo. What am I supposed to do with the kids? Parking is going to be an issue at their place. People aren’t going to be able to move around and I don’t think Bro #1 will go all the way out there for this.
The other thing is that if I were to do this I would want help. I would want to call my mom because she’s good at throwing parties, plus she’d help me cook and come up with decorations. The girlfriend and my Mom are not the best of friends, I don’t know if my mom would even be willing to help me. I brought it up to my brother and he said that “of course she is invited” but I don’t know how my mom feels about it. I guess I’ll have to see.
I will think more about it later, right now I need to get back to my assignments.

>The Perfect Christmas That Wasn’t

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Christmas morning was wonderful. The boys woke us up around 0700 (we had gone to bed around 0500; yeah, we were tired) and we watched the boys open their presents. I took still pictures while DH videotaped. It was great. The boys had a great time; they all got what they asked for; plus some. I had planned on having everyone over around 1700 so I figured I had plenty of time to get everything ready. DH played a little xbox with C, then he put together a robot for B, then he and Z organized all the parts in preparation for his RC truck that should be arriving back from the repair shop this week. I was so happy. Our family was whole, we were celebrating Christmas and I felt good.
Bro #2 asked me on Tuesday if I would watch one of his dogs while he went to New Jersey. I told him I had not had good luck the last time I watched a dog.
He insisted that he would give me the good dog; the young one, he said it was housetrained and crate trained. He told me that the dog wouldn’t bark if he was in the crate.
I told him that Christmas Eve was an issue.
We would go to pick up the toys at Bro #1’s house and we’d have to leave the front door open while we brought everything in. Opening and closing the front door would wake up the kids.
He said that was fine, put him in the crate.
I told him I couldn’t risk having the dog bark on Christmas Eve; there are no “do-overs” when it comes to kids and Santa. Once they see you with their presents; that’s it.
So, he assured me it would be fine. He dropped off the dog midweek. That also happened to be the beginning of R&R (perfect timing, huh).
The first night the dog stayed in his crate. We left the door open but he wouldn’t come out (new environment, understandable). After a while we noticed that the dog WAS coming out….. to pee, then he would go back in. He literally only left the cage to use the bathroom in the living room. That night the dog slept in the cage.
The next day the dog didn’t hide in his cage all day, but he proved that he was most certainly NOT housetrained. I must have cleaned up 25 small puddles and 2 land mines in the living room and the kitchen. That night the dog went into his cage around midnight and at 0300 it started barking. I finally got up and took the thing outside while DH cleaned out the cage (the dog’s butt must have exploded). After 20 minutes I brought the dog in. As soon as I closed the door the dog turned on the fire house and left a giant puddle in the kitchen. I brought him back out for 10 minutes and then put him back in the cage. We then lay there for about an hour listening to the dog bark and howl.
The next day was Christmas Eve, more of the same. The boys have started wearing shoes in the house because they kept stepping in puddles. It is disgusting. I have gone through more paper towels and clorox wipes in the past week than at any point this year. That night we put the boys to bed. It was exciting because Santa was going to be coming. The boys finally went down but we still waited a bit to be sure they were asleep. Around midnight we decided it was time to head to Bro #1’s to pick up the toys. The dog, however, did not feel that it was a good time. He started barking as soon as we put him in the cage. I didn’t know what to do. I was going to be so mad if he woke up the kids. We made sure that the kids had sound machines turned on in their rooms and we left; hoping for the best. When we arrived back home the dog was out. One of the kids must have gotten up and let him out because of the barking. Of course, we spent the next 15 minutes cleaning puddles. We then brought in all the presents and arranged them. Santa normally drops a whole bunch of miniature chocolate candy all over the toys and living room, I stopped myself just in time though. I realized that the dog was obviously not going to stay in the cage and chocolate is bad for dogs. Whew, that would have sucked. Dog Diarrhea on Christmas? No thanks.
So, we went to bed at 0500, the boys woke us up at 0700. We enjoyed our morning (I will post about it in more detail later when I have the pics uploaded). That afternoon the dog started again. He was totally messing with us. He would pee a couple ounces in different places but refused to pee outside even though we were taking him out almost constantly. DH and I were beyond frustrated; we had the family coming over, dinner and sides to make, toys to put together, etc. Christmas is a hectic day, we did not need this added stress. We started off early in the day, but as the day went on we were more and more off schedule. He went in to the bathroom to start cleaning it while I attempted to get dinner ready. I had to keep stopping to clean up the dog mess though. Bro #1 and his girlfriend got here first; I was on the verge of tears at this point. Then my Mom and stepdad showed up. I didn’t say hello at first because I knew that my Mom would see that something was wrong (you can’t get anything by her) and she would ask me. I can’t shrug it off with my Mom either. I am not usually able to just say “nothing”. I knew that if she saw me I would just start crying and I didn’t want to do that on Christmas. At this point, DH was still in the bathroom. I don’t think he wanted to come out because he knew that I would ask him to clean up after the dog every 15 minutes while I finished cooking, he would rather scrub the bathroom from top to bottom. The dog peeed three more times after they all arrived. The last time was in the study, I went in with paper towels and clorox and started cleaning. That’s when my Mom said, “Oh Lin, that’s not the spot we were talking about, he just did it over here”. I cracked, started crying, threw the paper towels on the floor and hid in my room. I cried and cried into my pillow. This was Christmas. The Christmas that I had been looking forward to and preparing for for months. This was R&R. this was how I was welcoming home my husband, by dog-sitting a dog that had mental issues. My house smelled like urine, dinner was late, I had not made most of the side dishes I had planned, my husband wouldn’t come out of the bathroom and I was running on almost no sleep for 3 days because if you remember, the dog started barking at 0300 the night before Christmas Eve.
Anyway, 20 minutes later Bro #1 came into my room and said that he wanted to take me for a drive; go get coffee or something. He said that it would do me good to get out for a bit. I told him that I couldn’t go, I couldn’t leave DH. It wasn’t fair.
The dog continued to pee throughout the night but Bro #1’s girlfriend kept taking him out. We went to bed almost as soon as the last guest left. We were both exhausted. I am not sure if the dog barked again or not; if he did I slept through it.
This morning DH let me sleep in. He cleaned up after the dog 5 times in a couple hours. Once I got up I was on Doggie Duty (get it? Doody? hahaha, I can laugh now because the dog is gone). I cleaned up 4 times, the boys cleaned twice. The brother finally called and said he was on his way. Thank goodness, I will NOT be doing this again, EVER. I am not a dog person, I am not a PET person, I am a kid person and that’s about all I can handle.
Anyway, I was thinking about it today and I really screwed up Christmas. The morning was great but Christmas Dinner was terrible. I burned the ham, forgot to add spices to the broccoli, etc. I had a melt down halfway through and I couldn’t get rid of the puffy, crying eyes for the rest of the night. I was just so upset that I had wanted this Christmas to be so special. I wanted to make it perfect for DH. I wanted it perfect for us. I wanted smiling pictures and memories to cherish. What I got was my husband in the bathroom, an unhousetrained dog and puffy eyes.
My aspirations were too high. I know that, but I couldnt’ help it. I wanted it to be perfect. Then, when the dog forced me to run  late I lost it. I cried because I wanted DH to know how much I loved having him home by setting up and giving him the best Christmas. I’m sure that part of my tears were exhausted tears but that doesn’t change the fact that I failed.
One of these years my family is going to refuse to show up because I never seem to be able to pull it off smoothly yet always insist on doing it. All in all, the morning was great, I got lots of pictures of the kids. It was just dinner that I messed up.
I guess, there’s always next year, right?

>Gettin’ Right Back Into It

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So, R&R is in full swing. The boys and I are really enjoying having him home. It’s funny how we can get right back into our groove within 24 hours. We actually argued today about whether or not we should chop the ice on the driveway or let the rock salt melt it. We then settled the argument with a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Actually, it’s a variation of that. We call it Odds or Evens. Very similar concept. We’ve used Odds or Evens to settle disputes since we were teenagers. OK, I am way off topic here, hang on while I get myself back on track.
AHEM.
As I was saying, we are back to our routine. Every Christmas Eve around 1600 he starts to get a little grumpy. He’ll start mumbling about not wanting to stay up all night wrapping and bringing the toys from storage. The first couple years were rough because he is SO not a night person. Over time we have learned to compromise and we’ve come to a happy medium. So, today, right on time, he yawns and says “so, you haven’t wrapped ANYTHING yet”? I laughed and told him to go take a nap. He looked at me and I could see the excitement in his eyes. I don’t know if he thought this year would be different because he’s on R&R or what, but he knew he better go before I changed my mind. He’s sleeping now and I will wake him up around midnight or so. Then we’ll go to Bro #1’s house where we have stashed all the goods. We will show up with coffee in hand and wrap until we can’t keep our eyes open any longer. Then we will drive home and unload everything under the tree, giggling about the annual prank we will pull (still don’t know what this year will be but we’ll figure it out at some point after we’ve hit that delirious point tonight). Then we will go to bed.
I am letting the boys stay up late tonight. The later they stay up the later they will sleep which is a very good thing for me. One good thing about the kids getting older is that they seem to wake up later and later every year. One Christmas the boys woke up as we were coming up the stairs. We had just set up the presents and we were exhausted; it was about 0330. We heard the baby moving in the crib and we hoped so much that he would go back to sleep. That was not to be though, the toddlers woke up about 10 minutes later and we began our Christmas day at 0400. That was a very longgggg day. Last year I think they slept until 0800, I’m hoping for 0830 this year. We’ll see.
This is a pic of us yesterday, we had just pulled up to Sam’s Club and I insisted that we take a picture so I could change my Facebook profile pic (yeah, I’m a dork like that).

I am about to go make breakfast. I found this recipe for a breakfast casserole online a couple months ago. I figured it would be perfect for Christmas Day because I can prepare it the night before, throw it in the oven while the kids are opening presents and it will be done when they are. This way I don’t have to deal with making breakfast and cleaning up all the dishes before getting started on Christmas Dinner; which I am hosting. Anyway, if it comes out decent enough I will put it up for you all to try.
We are getting to the rough part of the night, I’m tired and I want nothing more than to go crawl into bed beside my husband but I know if I do neither of us will get up. What makes it worse is that I started off the day tired. See, I’m dog-sitting for Bro #2 and his mutt started barking at 0330. I got up, took it out, it ran around for 20 minutes but apparently didn’t have to go anymore since it had relieved itself in the living room. DH was so good, he helped me clean up; oh it’s so nice to have help. We tried going back to bed but the dog barked for a good half hour after that. I am SO not a dog person.
So, I’m off to clean the kitchen from the cookie baking and prepare breakfast for tomorrow. See you all later and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

>Update on Christmas Preparations

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Christmas is fast approaching and I am so far from ready I don’t even know if I will be ready for NEXT Christmas in 2011! I have ordered the majority of Santa’s stuff in the past 24 hours (thank you Amazon Prime shipping) although I haven’t kept track of who’s getting what so it is very possible that the gifts are uneven. That will pose a problem, of course but I won’t know until Christmas Eve when I start opening the boxes to wrap.
I bought the boys boots online last week. I was very excited to find exactly what everyone wanted at decent prices WITH free shipping. Z wanted “Fry Cook Boots”, the boys have referred to them as such for years; I think it started with a Spongebob TV show they saw. Somehow the name stuck and now at 12 years old he still calls them that. It’s kinda cute. The thing is, they are so ugly I tried to talk him out of it, but he insisted that they are the only boots that don’t get snow inside his socks when he’s playing outside. I gave in and bought him these:

When they arrived he was so excited. He put them on and immediately put his fingers through the side of the boot. A giant hole about 4 inches wide just below the logo. Great! I absolutely HATE returning online purchases. I went online to request an exchange and find that they are out of stock! Z refuses to get regular boots, so he’s going without until they restock.
My oldest, C, has the biggest feet I have ever seen. Really. At 12 years of age he was wearing a size 13 shoe, and now at 14 he’s outgrown all sizes sold in stores and we know have to shop online for his shoes. In September I bought him a pair of sneakers (14EE). He hasn’t been complaining about them so I assumed they fit. I bought his boots in a 14.5EE. Oops! He tried them on and his poor toes were scrunched at the end! So those are going back as well. Can you believe he just turned 14 and he’s wearing a size 15EE shoe??? This is ridiculous, if he doesn’t stop growing soon I’m going to have to buy a house with cathedral ceilings!
Luckily, B’s boots are fine. I managed to get to the post office today to return the boots and waited in line for almost an hour!
Bro #2 stopped by last night with his girlfriend. I never really figured out why. They called and said they were on their way (they live 40 minutes away). Why they drove all the way out here on a Sunday night is beyond me. They hung out while I baked Christmas cookies then they left. Weird. While he was here he asked me why I let the kids play with the paint in the bathroom after he had painted it. I said I didn’t. He told me that all the paint all over the floor, toilet, tub and sink wasn’t from him so the boys must have done it. I laughed and said ok, I didn’t want to start an argument. He then said that if he were me he’d be upset that they painted on my new shower curtain. I told him that that shower curtain wasn’t that new and that it has been up for a couple months. He said that it wasn’t there when he was painting. I said that it most certainly was and his girlfriend sided with him saying that she would have recognized it if it had been there. Something so silly, but it bugged me that they were so wrong. I finally realized that he was denying it because he didn’t want anyone to think he had been the one to get paint all over the new curtain. To be honest though, the curtain doesn’t bother me. I can buy another $10 curtain. The dark blue paint on my white toilet, sink, tub and floor is what bothers me. Whatever, all I can say is don’t hire my brother to paint your bathroom unless you like the splattered, fingerpaint look.
So, I’ve decided to make cookie baskets for each member of my family for Christmas. I am making all different types of cookies, I bought these little baskets at the dollar store today and red plastic wrap. I’m going to tie the plastic with green ribbons and attach notecards with their names in it. I’m excited to do this. I’ve been practicing with different recipes and I’ve found quite a few that came out pretty good.
I’m determined to make this a good Christmas. Despite the haphazard way in which I have been purchasing gifts for the kids I hope that it all turns out ok. I think they’ll be happy. I have gotten them all everything they asked for and then some so hopefully nobody will be disappointed.
OK, well, that’s what I’ve been up to. I am now off to clean my bedroom and put new sheets on all the beds.

>My Day Spent With Murphy

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Have you ever had a day that went so completely wrong that it was almost comical? Well, AFTER the day is over it becomes comical, it isn’t at ALL funny when you’re going through it.
Last night as I was trying to fall asleep (my inability to sleep lately is really starting to tick me off) I was thinking about my next blog post. I realized that the last few posts have been a bit on the negative side. I’ve been complaining about things and just venting. I had decided that today’s post would be focusing on the positive aspects of this point in my life. Almost like a belated Thanksgiving post.
Yeah, that was the plan.
That was NOT what Murphy had planned for me today. No Siree, he decided that he was going to flex his muscles and show me who’s in charge.

MURPHY’S LAW:
It is an experience common to all men to find that, on any special occasion, such as the production of a magical effect for the first time in public, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Whether we must attribute this to the malignity of matter or to the total depravity of inanimate things, whether the exciting cause is hurry, worry, or what not, the fact remains.

Ready for a run down of my day? We’ll start last night, yeah, that will give you the total picture.
Last night Z reminded all of us that December was his favorite month and that he fully intended to celebrate the arrival of December in a way that we will all be forced to join in. He then went to bed leaving us all to wonder what his mysterious warning could have implied. I went to bed at a semi-normal time last night and of course tossed and turned as I do many nights lately. I finally fell asleep around 0300.

I slept like a log. 
Until 0500 when Christams Carols began BLASTING through my house.
Z’s idea of “celebrating December” was to turn up the speakers as loud as they could possibly go as early as he could possibly get up.
So, my day began with a headache but that’s ok. I suppose it was a sweet thing that I will remember to tell his wife about when he’s older. I promise you Z, I will  embarass you!
Anyway, B begged me to drive him to school this morning. I agreed to do it despite having class this morning because I know how much he hates the hour long bus ride. As we are walking out the door he asks if he can have a Capri Sun for the ride to school. I said yes, he happily sat there drinking his juice on the way to school until we were about a block away. Somehow, the damn pouch spontaneously exploded; spraying juice EVERYWHERE. How does that even happen?  I have no idea, all I know is that he and I BOTH needed new shirts. I started to yell, but as I turned to look at him his look of shock put me in my place and I instead yelled at the Capri Sun for “throwing up on me”.
He laughed.
I drove home.
We changed.
He was late to school.
I was behind schedule.
Oh and my van was almost out of gas.
Now I would only have time to make ONE stop on my way to class. I needed gas, but I also needed coffee (thanks Z) but the gas station with a Dunkin Donuts has expensive gas and I didn’t have time to get coffee AND drive to the cheap gas station. So, I paid an arm and a leg for gas this morning, but I got my coffee.
So, I am on my way to school and the weather starts to get bad. It’s raining and now the wind is starting to gust. It’s pushing me all over the road forcing me to drive slower than I would like. I make it to school with about 2 minutes to get all my stuff and get to the 3rd floor. Parking lot is packed. I park WAYYYYYY in the back in the middle of a friggin’ puddle the size of Lake Erie. With my backpack on my back, purse on my arm, coffee in one hand and an umbrella in the other I half run/half walk across the parking lot SPLASHING through the puddles; completely submerging my new shoes in water. That’s when a gust of wind comes, blows my umbrella inside out and knocks me over. I literally FELL into the car next to me. Thank goodness it was not a new car; I would have felt REALLY bad if I had scratched someone’s car. I didn’t hit the ground (thank you Volvo) but my coffee didn’t survive. At that point I was very happy to have chosen black jeans this morning; but I was also not looking forward to sitting through a 4 hour lecture in wet pants.
I arrive to class and find the door locked. I find my classmates sitting in the 3rd floor lobby. After waiting for a half hour, we learn that the teacher cancelled class but had forgotten to inform the students. Nice, huh? The week before an exam. So, I head back across Lake Erie this time without an umbrella because I got mad and threw it in the dumpster (what the hell am I going to do with an inside out umbrella anyway?), throw my backpack in the van and start heading home. I’m a little peeved by this though because just yesterday my Doctor’s office called me with a referral to a vascular surgeon. They were booked through mid December except for a cancellation today. I had to refuse today’s appointment because of class, but if I had known class was cancelled I could have taken that appointment and gotten this whole surgery thing taken care of.
OK, so, it’s 1100 and I decide that I should go to Best Buy to pick up the xBox Santa is bringing. I call my bro’s girlfriend to make sure that I can drop it off at their place. I think I mentioned before that everything I have bought so far has been found so from here on out, all gifts are being stored at my Bro’s condo. So the girlfriend says she will be home about 1530. No problem, I had a conference with Z’s teacher at 1430 I told her I would drop it off after that.
I buy the xbox.
Come home.
Realize that I have nothing for dinner tonight.
Yell at my husband for something really stupid when he calls.
Apologize for yelling.
Yell again because I am not convinced he listened to my apology.
Apologize again.
Leave for conference.
The conference goes well, Z is doing fairly well in school. Motivation is an issue but his report card is good. I get out of there and head over to the Bro’s condo. I got there at 1520, so I sit in the parking lot and wait for the girlfriend to show up. (My bro works 3rd shift so he’s home; but sleeping and I don’t want to wake him up). I sit there watching the rain and wind out of my windshield. Now it’s 1530.
1545
1605 – I call her, no answer
1625
Finally at 1640 I start worrying about the kids. They are at home, C is babysitting but I know they are getting hungry and I need to get their homework started. Oh crap! No dinner. McDonalds it is. I call the kids but they don’t answer the phone (unfortunately, this is not an uncommon thing; none of them like to answer the phone and they always assume one of the others will answer it). So, I leave. I’m a bit ticked off that I just sat in the parking lot for almost an hour and a half. 80 minutes that could have been spent doing something usefull like cleaning the house, studying, kid homework, grocery shopping. I kept thinking that as soon as I left she would arrive. I should have left after the first 10 minutes.
I’m pulling into the drive thru when the girlfriend calls; rather than apologizing to me she tells me that she “was at the gym and totally lost track of time, you know when you just get in the zone and lose track of everything”? Ha, yeah, sure I do, like when there aren’t enough hours in the day and I have to decide between washing my hair that day and folding the three loads of laundry sitting on the couch. Yeah, sure, I know what it’s like to lose track of time because I don’t have any to spare. So, wasting 80 minutes in YOUR PARKING LOT WAS NOT COOL!!!!! This is what I wanted to say, instead I told her it was ok, no harm done. Boy, did I eat my words on that one, but I digress.
With 3 Large Value Meals on the passenger seat I am now on my way home, passing through an intersection with a green light when a car comes SCREECHING to a halt with his bumper about 2 feet from my driver’s door. I swerved, hit a curb, knocked my van out of alignment BAD and knocked over one of the sodas. Heart still pounding I turn onto the road that leads up the mountain to my house. About a block from my street I see traffic being turned around. OK, bout face, turn up the next street. Nope, blocked. I go all the way down the mountain, cross to the other side in the next town over.
Not going that way either. What the heck is going on here? The only other way home is going up and around to the other side of mountain via the highway. At this point I’m getting a little upset. I call the boys again. No answer. I call each of their cell phones, and get no answer. Now I’m not feeling good. I am ready to cry. I can’t get home, and I can’t get in touch with the  kids. I start letting it ring constantly and calling back when I get the voicemail. FINALLY, they answer. The home phone isn’t working because the power is out, and the cell phones don’t have reception unless they stand in the doorway. They had been trying to answer the phone but without the wireless router working the phones have no service. I told them I was going to be home as soon as I could, I had to go around the mountain. Of course, I get to the other side and who do I meet???

My good friend, the traffic blocker.
This guy tells me that some trees went down and there are power lines all over the roads. There is one more route I can take and it’s a dirt road, but at this point, if they have it blocked off I have decided that I am just going to leave the van on the road and walk home. Thankfully, it is not blocked. I drive home in the pitch blackness. I pull into the driveway and carry in the cold burgers and fries. The boys greet me with smiles and hugs. They had taken all the flashlights in the house and had put them on various surfaces in the house. There was one in the bathroom, three in the kitchen, a big one sat in the center of the living room on the floor and mini lights were scattered everywhere. They each were armed with no less than four lights a piece. There were flashlights hanging from their necks, looped through belt loops, stuffed in their socks, etc. Every single one of them was on. It was brighter in the house than it normally is when the power is on! I gave them all HUGE hugs and told them the story of my drive home as we turned off most of the lights to conserve batteries. We then played Pictionary by candlelight.
As soon as I was home I felt better. As difficult as the day had been it culminated in such a stressful event that the simple act of coming home and getting a hug from my boys made me happier than anything in the world. It’s funny how that works. For every up there is a down, one of the philosophers that I studied years ago talked about how our postive and negative emotions are experienced in equal extremes. In simple terms he explained that if a person feels a sadness of -5 he can therefore feel happiness of +5. Theoretically, the more unhappy a person is the happier they can potentially be. It sounds strange at first but he believed that the trying times in our lives are necessary to truly value the happy times.
I got nothing accomplished today, I drove around the state most of the day for cancelled classes, absent minded family members, and downed power lines. Mr. Murphy was with me the entire time however that last part of the day; when I was just trying to get home to my kids was by far the worst part but it’s also what made the remainder of the evening so good. If I had been able to come straight home after getting their burgers I never would have played that game of Pictionary with them because the power would have been on and I would have been working on my Clinical Packet for school. If that tree hadn’t gone down, I would have walked in the door 2 hours earlier and said “hi, how was school” to each one. But that tree DID go down, so while I was driving around upset and on the verge of tears, the boys were having a good time playing with flashlights. When I got home instead of just saying “hi” I got a big strong hug from each one. My care plan is not finished and I have just spent entirely too long writing this post, but I don’t want to forget this. I needed to get it down, because if I don’t I won’t remember how good it felt to play Pictionary with them on a school night when I had so many other things to do.
Murphy, I know I complain about you and I was not happy that you insisted on hanging out with me all day today, but looking back, I suppose I am glad you did. Your presence today made me appreciate the simple things tonight. Now, please go away!

>Holding it Together for the Brother

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I have a lot of important stuff saved on my external hard drive. I have word documents, excel spreadsheets and pdf files from YEARS and YEARS ago. After years of college following the PreMed path and then switching to Nursing I have files and folders from school filled with papers I’ve written and assignments I’ve completed. I have 14 years worth of pictures of my children, school art projects, report cards, etc. Videos documenting drastic changes in our family over the last 4 years in three different states. Financial documents including taxes, bank statements, the closing paperwork on our houses, etc. Very important information that I canNOT lose. For this reason I bought a Terabyte External Hard drive a few years ago so I could periodically back up my computer and keep these precious files safe. 
At least I thought they were safe… until tonight. Tonight my brother brought his girlfriend over. They wanted to watch some videos I had taken a few weeks ago. I hooked up the computer to the external drive, plugged in the HDMI cord so I could display it on the TV and we watched the videos. They were hungry. The girlfriend made mention of it a couple times. So, like the good host/sister I offered to order pizza. While I’m in the kitchen ordering pizza she jumps on my computer. I come out to the living room and she closes my computer, stands up and twists around to put the computer on the chair she had been sitting on. 

CRASH!!!
My external hard drive crashes to the floor.
The little blue lights on the front go out.
I calmly walked over to the hard drive, picked it up and my brother says “does it still work”? I said I was sure it did even though I feared the worst. He insisted on checking it out, I didn’t want to because I knew I was going to have a very hard time hiding my emotions if I found out that it was in fact broken. The girlfriend then says “yeah, plug it back in, we need to know if we need to buy you a new one or not”. Really?!?!? You mean to tell me that I can just go to Best Buy and just randomly pick up a new drive with ALL MY PICTURES, VIDEOS AND DOCUMENTS PRELOADED?????
I plug it in, the lights come back on, I see my files, I begin to feel better…. until I try to play a video. No go.
My brother was very concerned, I truly felt bad for him. So I tried to make him feel better by telling him that it was probably just my computer acting up again. I told him that it was probably Windows Media Player and that the videos on my computer probably wouldn’t play either. I then told him this was a perfect excuse to buy a new wireless drive. He told me to try playing something from the computer. It worked fine.
This wasn’t good. He said “Lin, I’m so sorry”. I told him not to worry about it and I changed the subject. Shortly after that they left. As I came back in the front door after walking them out, my three kids met me at the entrance to the living room and Z asked “are you mad”? I asked him why I would be mad and he said because of the hard drive. I explained that even though I am very upset I don’t want my brother to feel any worse than he already does. I am not protecting the girlfriend, I am protecting him. It wasn’t his fault and I don’t want him to be concerned about being unable to replace all that I MAY have lost. I’m still hoping Geek Squad can fix it tomorrow.
The boys and I had a talk about the way family works. We take care of each other even when it isn’t easy. There is nothing that can be done tonight. I will take it to Geek Squad tomorrow, hopefully they can retrieve the info. But for tonight there is nothing anybody can do. So why ruin my brother’s night by getting upset about this; it was an accident and it wasn’t even his fault. I think the kids understood this, although I appreciate their concern. I didn’t realize they understood how important it was. If nothing else I hope they learned a lesson in how I expect them to treat each other. Nothing can replace family. Nothing is worth MORE than family. Material things may be nice, but family is what’s important. My father used to tell me that one day my brothers will be my best friends. He was right. I will stand by them through anything, no matter what. I expect my boys to do the same and I remind them of the bond they have and my fathers wisdom frequently. Actions speak louder than words though, and I think this is a good example of what my father was tryign to say.
Oh, and to top it all off, I managed to maintain my calm and I STILL HAVEN”T SLEPT YET! I’m going on 39 hours now. I am going to bed, and I am not going to think about the hard drive. Let’s just hope the Geeks are on their A game tomorrow; I can’t lose all that information. I CAN’T!

>My Best Friends

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I truly value the relationship I have with my brothers. My Dad used to tell us that our siblings will be our very best friends in the world when we grew up. I always dismissed this as something I could never POSSIBLY fathom. It seemed weird as a kid to think that my brothers would ever be anything other than annoying little brothers who annoyed me more than a mosquito bite.
I had my day planned. I woke up this morning and went to the mall to pick out new clothes for the kids to wear for our 1320 appointment for portraits at JCPenny because they were offering two free sheets and a free sitting fee for dependents. So anyway, after the sitting I was sitting in a booth choosing the pics for the Christmas cards when somebody comes up behind me and puts a hand on my shoulder. I turn around and it’s .Bro #2 with his girlfriend. They helped me choose the poses and then we decided to meet up after the rest of our errands for lunch.
I am walking out to the van when I get a text from the girlfriend of Bro #1 asking me to call him to cheer him up because he was feeling kind of depressed about his new truck (he’s having issues with it and it’s brand new, poor guy). Anyway, I call him, invite him to lunch but he declines the offer. He really sounds depressed. I felt terrible. That’s when Bro #2 pulls up; he gets on the phone with Bro #1 and convinces him to come to my house to grill burgers for dinner.
Problem here.
I don’t have a grill that works. So, all errands cancelled for the day and off to Home Depot I go to purchase a grill so Bro #1 can come over and hopefully feel a little better after spending a night grilling, drinking beer and laughing.
After a couple of glitches with the assembly of the grill, missing hamburger seasoning and a lack of forks (somehow they have all disappeared and I have no idea where they went) we wound up having a great dinner, many laughs and Bro #1 left smiling.
See, we can all count on each other. When one is feeling down, we all go out of our way to make the other feel better including forgoing all plans for the day and purchasing an unneeded grill that will probably never be used again.
My Dad was the wisest person ever. I’m sure if I had had more time with him he would have passed on more wisdom, but fortunately the most important off all things he did teach me was something that has proven true time and time again. My brothers are my best friends and I would do anything for them. I hate seeing them sad.

>Bathroom Remodel

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As a mom of three sons I am all too familiar with the fact that boys cannot aim to save their lives. I thought the problem would go away once they were fully potty trained.
Nope
Then I thought the problem would be resolved once they were tall enough to stand over the toilet.
Wrong
Then I thought the problem would be solved once I started making them clean it up themselves.
If only…
I have even threatened to make them SIT DOWN LIKE A GIRL! That just made them laugh at me and ended with two of them digging through my closet and forcing their stinky feet into my high heels, then parading around the house while singing nursery rhymes (apparently they think girls never mature past 5 years of age).
I have finally realized that no matter what I try, or how much I beg, yell, plead, lecture, etc. these boys will probably NEVER be able to hit the potty on the first try; and if they do manage to hit the throne, they will hit the outside rather than the inside.
I am beyond tired of cleaning the walls, floor, toilet base, etc. All I know is that we only have one functioning bathroom in this house right now and it is driving me nuts that I spend more time cleaning the bathroom than any other room in the house and yet it still isn’t really clean.
I called my brother. I asked him what I could do to help make the cleaning easier. He told me he would meet me at Home Depot so I could purchase the supplies with a Military Discount and then he would install it for $50. I wound up giving him $100 because when the time came to do it I wasn’t ready, and wound up making him wait an hour for me to finish steam cleaning the walls. But I digress.
This is what my bathroom looked like yesterday morning.
He bought this stuff that creates a chair rail and covers the bottom portion of the wall in a PVC material. It makes it super easy to clean and seals all the corners. Because the bottom half is white, I was able to choose a dark color for the top of the walls even though it is a small bathroom. Despite buying the expensive self-priming paint we realized he would have to come back because the paint didn’t cover well with a single coat. This is what it looked like last night.
Anyway, he called me today and said he would be over this afternoon to finish the last two coats of paint. So, he gets here; throws on the 2nd coat and hangs out with C playing video games while he waits for the paint to dry. I considered offering to buy dinner but I bought dinner last night and they didn’t offer to help pay a dime (this is after I had given him DOUBLE what we had agreed on). So I wasn’t about to offer again.
Anyway, I went outside on the back deck for a smoke (yes, I’m a smoker but never in the house). My bro comes out and reaches for my cigarette. Because his girlfriend is pregnant she had to quit; and because she had to quit she is forcing him to quit too. Of course, she opens the door just as he is blowing out a big ole cloud of nicotine filled smoke.
She went nuts.
She said that if he didn’t take her home right then she was going to cause a scene in front of his nephews (my kids). He told her that he wasn’t done with the bathroom but she wouldn’t listen; she started telling him that she was going to buy a pack for herself. I could see him getting soooooo angry, but he refused to cause a scene in front of my kids. He sucked it up and took her home even though I knew he didn’t want too.
So now, my bathroom is still not done and I have no idea when he’s coming back. I know she won’t allow him back without her, and now that she knows that I gave him a cigarette she is going to think I’m “on his side”. Family Drama!
Despite all that, tonight is going well. The kids are all getting along, they are sitting quietly in the living room reading encyclopedias and discussing all the many ways they can help me with chores around the house this coming week.
OK, I lied, this is what they are doing, but a girl can dream, right?

>Missing him

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It’s late and I’m tired and that’s probably why I’m feeling this way; but nevertheless I’m feeling kinda bummed out right now.
No reason for it. Just one of those Deployment Related Irrational Emotional Moments.
I spent the day with my brother who just bought a brand new Silverado. I went with him to the dealer taking videos and still pictures of every step of the way, getting into the old cars, driving to dealership, getting out of old car, talking to salesman, getting into new truck, etc. We had fun. He and his girlfriend then came over to my house for pizza. Oh and this afternoon I went with the girlfriend to put a deposit on her wedding dress which ended up having to go on my credit card because she didn’t bring enough cash. (no biggie, I’ll get the money back).
After they left I began sorting through the mail from this afternoon and realized that I had 15 letters from Tricare; apparently there is an issue with coverage. I got that overwhelming feeling of helplessness looking at these official looking papers with large amounts of money at the bottom of each one.
I immediately scanned everything to my husband who will hopefully take care of it or tell me what to do. I am so bad with bills. I get all weird about it, it’s like my brain doesn’t compute. I can handle a calculus equation or determine IV flow rates in my head, but when it comes to insurance and bills… I become super dumb.
So, now, after sending everything to him I am sitting here missing him a lot. I try not to think about how much I miss him or how much he is missing while he is away but the bottom line is that feeling of loneliness is always there, in the back of my head, just waiting for the most inopportune time to rear it’s ugly head.
I’ve been doing so well these past couple months. I’ve been happy and cheerful and I avoid thinking about him not being here by thinking about ways to include him through videos and pictures.
But tonight, it’s different. I miss him, a lot. I don’t know if it’s because he should have been the one at the dealer with my brother picking out his truck, or if it’s because of the Tricare mess, or maybe it’s because the cell phone situation isn’t figured out yet, or if it’s just that same old jealousy that I have for couples who spend every single friggin night with each other. Whatever it is, I feel like crap, and I’m just glad that the day is over. Because if I had been feeling like this earlier I would have been a total downer for my bro on such a huge exciting day for him. Not to mention that that would be a longer period of time I would have felt this way which would not have been pleasant. At least now as soon as I finish this I can go to bed and fall asleep thinking about decorating the house for homecoming or all the changes I want to make before he gets home. That always helps me fall asleep.
Let’s hope that all I need is a good night’s sleep and I’ll feel better in the morning. I’m sure I will. I just need to clean the house and spend time with the kids. That will fix my funk. I hope.