Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Which do you want first, the bad news or the good news?

So sadly it looks as if our beloved Maxie-moo was hit and killed by a car. I got a call last Friday from a neighbor telling me that she saw a cat that she thought was her's on the side of the road a few blocks away. She happened to see one of the flyers we posted in the neighborhood and she said that the cat she saw looked exactly like the cat in our poster. :( She said she was relieved when she got home and realized it wasn't her cat... so good for her, and sad for us. I am truly heart broken, there have not been many cats that I have been attached to in my life, Max was definitely one of them. He was one of the most amazing cats ever and he will be missed so badly. For some reason all the cats that I have loved and lost have been male, it's like the part that makes them big lovable lap kitties, also makes them car stupid. Four awesome boy cats in the last 10 years I have loved and lost to being hit by a car. I tried so hard to make Max an indoor kitty too, but with four kids and all their friends going in and out all day it just wasn't happening. It's hard not having any closure, I feel positive that our neighbor did indeed see Max, but we didn't, so it makes it hard to say a real good bye. Very confusing for the kids as well. They are so sad too, they keep telling me how much they miss their cat, which just makes me want to cry every time.

Max, we loved you so much, and I still keep hoping to see your little face peeking in the window at me. I miss the way you would meow at me after I tucked the kids into bed, until I sat down, and then  you would cuddle up in my lap.  Every night you let me know when it was your turn. Sweet little snuggle bug. Rest in peace.

And now for the next part of my post. First the sad, and now the happy.  I don't know if you are a bad new/good news person or a good news/bad news person... but I like it bad/good. Save the best for last my mom always said.
While I was on Craigslist looking at the lost and found ads for the millionth time I meandered on over to the pets section and saw the perfect dog for us... We have been talking about getting one since last Christmas, but I've been dragging my feet because I didn't want any ol' cute dog. I wanted the perfect fit. Good with kids, little animals, friendly but able to be a guard dog. Large but not too big, etc... there was quite a list.  I didn't want a pure breed, not just because of cost, but also to avoid breeders and a lot of the health problems that often go along with pure breed dogs. I was looking mostly at shelters. But these puppies jumped out at me from the ad and screamed, I'm the one for you! Lab/Boxer/Chow mix. Now I'm not a huge fan of the Chow Chow but they are good with kids and can be good with cat and small animals if introduced at a young age. I love Boxers and if I ever were to get a pure breed dog it would be a Boxer {With out the horrible mutilated ears, I hate that!} My husband loves Labs, so it's a match made in heaven. ;) I actually woke my husband up and told him about them. First thing in the morning I pestered him again and made him look at the cute pictures and we looked up the breeds together.  We agreed that we might not find another mix like that any time soon that fit us so perfectly. So I called first thing in the morning. The lady set aside a male dog for me that had brindle markings on him. The other two males were only black and white and I wanted more of the boxer brown. When we got there right after work she only had him and his sister left! We were instantly in love. :) So I introduce to you... Radar! The newest member of our family {and a great distraction for my kiddos}.

He's way little, only 6 weeks. Too little to be away from his mommy, but he was being bottle feed and the mommy wasn't around anyways. The lady who was caring for them was doing it to keep them out of a shelter {long, sad, neuter/spay your pets, story} and didn't own the mom or the dad dog, and she wanted them out of the house. He is very people friendly because of all the human contact, but when he gets a bit older we will need to focus on making sure he is dog friendly since he was taken away from him mom and litter mates so early.

We are treating him like the baby he is, which has made for some LONG nights for the hubby and I. When he gets closer to 10-12 weeks we will get strict with the crate training but for now, he cries we hold him. :) He has a special spot pended off in our laundry room with his crate in there to sleep in {not that he sleeps in there nearly enough} food/water and toys. Pee pad for those times we don't get him outside in time. :) We have already been training him to go potty on command in a certain spot outside, and he does really well! {Obviously that only works if he actually has to go potty...} Seems like a pretty smart cookie so far. :)

 We are all quite smitten. I'd say the kids all love their new brother {although Lala might be a tad jealous, ha ha!}

 Here she is being a sweet big sister. :)

 My husband is absolutely in love. He has been up at night with this puppy more then he ever was with our babies! Ha ha!!! In fairness he is laid off right now, so he can help out more then normal because he doesn't have to get up awful early, and the puppy doesn't nurse. ;) It's nice not having to have all of the responsibility!

 This boy needed a real dog, as my husband would say.
{In reference to Luna, who I still miss and the underlying reason why it took me so long to be open to the dog idea... My husband was not a fan of Luna's. He called her Luna-tic.}

 Such a baby!

 Radar is obsessed with licking Atty's face. :)

Radar Rivers, we hope you grow up to be a healthy and happy dog! We are so excited to have you as part of our family, and we think Max would approve. :) He was always trying to make friends with the neighbors dogs after all, and you are way cooler then them. ;)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Images of summer...

Busy summer days.

 Games that test my ability to be a laid back mother of three boys...

 This game involved climbing on top of toys to get to a branch being held down by a brother, then said brother would let go of branch so that the other brother would fly up into the air, or he would shake the branch so that the brother would wildly shake up and down clinging on for dear life.
Fantastic game... apparently.

 Bubu and Spike {my two little dare devels} played this game for days. Atty, being the saner one, used a pass on this one. :)

 Up, up, up, into the air!

 This girl LOVES to pretend she can read, and the stories she tells, fascinating!

This boy finally learned how to pump himself on the swing! Once he realized that he had indeed figured it out he spend hours {I am not exaggerating, hours!} out on the swing for days on end. He uses his arms only to pull the chains and doesn't pump his legs. He just couldn't figure out doing them both at the same time so I showed him how I could swing using my arms only and he was able to understand that better. He was so proud of himself, absolutely adorable!

 Now he can swing with his brother. :)

 Banden is once again trying to learn how to ride with out training wheels...
He's just not very motivated to figure it out, and he is such a perfectionist that it often frustrates him to tears when he can't figure something out the first time. He has been trying to have a positive attitude about it this time around though, so I'm proud of him.
I wish we had a better place for them to ride, they have to stay on the side walk, it's so crowded, and with all the drive way dips it's no easy task learning to ride with out training wheels or with them for that matter.

 This boy likes to ride fast! When he gets those training wheels off it's going to be breath taking...
He's so competitive I think that once Bubu masters the bike it will be the motivation that Spike needs, he will be training wheel free very soon. :) I better get mentally prepared for that, ha ha!

 I noticed that Bubu did a lot better with Ryder showing him how, he became much more determined. When I help he tends to fuss more... momma drama I guess. Fine with me, it kills my back running back and forth trying to steady that bike! I'd much rather be the picture taker. :)

 We have been eating more and more grain free recipes. This one was home made falafel patties {so stinkin' good!} with a yogurt based sauce, feta, red onion, tomato, and guacamole, wrapped in a lettuce leaf.  We all ate an insane amount. Way too good! 

 A sad spot in our summer is that our beloved cat Max disappeared last week. We have tried everything to locate him, calling all the vets in our area, the humane society, the police department/animal control, placing an ad in the lost and found on Craigslist and our local paper, putting up signs, walking the neighborhood, ever single suggestion we have received we have tried, with no luck. He has simply vanished. We miss him terribly. :( One of the best cats we have ever had.
And so beautiful.

 We got all fancy and went to a wedding. Yes this is about as fancy as we get. ;)
This is probably the most dressed up Ryder and I have been since our own wedding so I just had to get a picture.

 Love my girl! The other night before bed she grabbed my face, stared into my eyes and  told me that she loved me bigger then the whole world, sigh. Love, love, love. :)

 My only child that looks like me. :) We are the only two with out blue eyes and blond hair, ha ha! Doesn't he have the most adorable smile...

 Hanging out after the wedding, my daughter went on a bug hunt, white dress and all. :)

 We went crabbing for the first time. That was interesting. 
I can say that the boys had a blast. And Lala had a lot of fun hanging out with her cousin. 
I on the other hand got an awful sunburn and I don't eat crab, so we will just leave it at that... ;)

 Bathing beauties.

 Their uncle B is the best. He always has great ideas, my kids adore him.

Nothing much better then floating in the water on a hand made raft. ;)

Our summer is almost over, although we do have an up coming trip to Montana to look forward to. After that it's back to school, colder days are around the bend. Not that we had a hot summer or anything, it was pretty pathetic really. Maybe we will get a nice warm and dry fall, that is my favorite. :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dreams and the harsh realities of life

I had a dream last night that I was at the beach with my husband and a bunch of other people and Paris Hilton was there with our group laying on a blanket and being snotty. I ended up getting in her face and telling her she could stuff it because I was beautiful just the way I was, curves and all, and that my husband absolutely loved my body, in fact he could hardly keep his hands off me, and that is all that mattered to me... this part of my dream lasted for quite a while, I said a few more things, but that was the main part. Then I left because I didn't want to be around her any more and I started getting worried that my {very unfit wobbly} belly was showing in the gap between my tank top and swim bottoms and I was tired of trying to keep my belly sucked in, so I wanted to go in the water, but my husband and some friends were swimming under water and I was too scared to do that. So I just went up on some rocks and watched them and they looked like dolphins, or mermaids, just colorful streaks under the water.  It was beautiful and mesmerizing. Then it turned into another crazy dream I can't really explain but it had people in it from my high school that I just saw at the last reunion I went to and we were all up on those rocks. Most of them were wearing shoes that made them slip on the rocks and I kept telling them to just take their shoes off and go barefoot like me. Then I dreamed that I was trying to get the kids out of the house on time for Vacation Bible School, but I was getting frustrated with getting the kids to get their shoes on in time. It was getting ridiculous. Mismatched shoes, shoes lost, kids with bare feet again when I had just finished putting their shoes on, stuff like that. My brother's girlfriend was there and I could tell she was judging me for getting so frustrated and worked up about it. She only has one kid, and I kept thinking, she has no idea what it's like with four young kids so close together in age. I was getting really nasty though in my dream, totally overwhelmed and stressed out. The way you sometimes let your self act when you are at home and the outside world is not there to judge. {Or maybe I'm the only one that acts in ways I am ashamed to admit, and have to apologize for, at times... but I don't think so.} Anyways we finally got out the door and VBS was at a church I went to when I was a kid, and when we got there the parking lot was empty, except on the side of an out building next to the church so we went in there. Everyone was sitting together in a room getting ready to watch something on a slide, I wasn't sure what to do, so we sat down and watched. It obviously wasn't VBS, so when the film was over I asked some one in the hallway and she told me that VBS was at a different location and started showing me how to get there on a map. It was far away and insane directions and I started getting really mad. It was dark outside and I hate driving around trying to find a new place in the dark. Right in front of everyone, I basically threw a fit and told them I was tired of driving around to different locations, and I wanted my money back {VBS generally doesn't cost anything, so ha ha!} and we were not going. Then I called to all my kids and told them we were going home. We left with everyone staring at us, and my kids were all sad and dejected and I felt like the worst mom in the world. I was trying to explain why we were going home and they were being kind about it even though they were sad and it made me feel even worse. Then my husband woke me up to sign a paper before he took off to take care of some business and that was the end of that. Weird dreams!

I think I was having such weird dreams because I stayed up way too late last night after a very emotionally overwhelming day. I really can't go into a lot of details but a friend of mine is having some serious and scary relationship problems, her marriage is disintegrating and it's all very sad, very upsetting. She was absolutely betrayed by her husband, the very person you should be able to trust. She is coming to terms {I hope} with the fact that she is in an abusive relationship that is not healthy. I ended up having to make some judgement call on the spot decisions yesterday that were really hard. I was shaking and crying and my heart felt like it would beat out of my chest. At one moment I was really afraid that something awful had happened to my friend and her child because I couldn't reach her at home or on her cell phone. It's hard to explain the absolute terror I felt with out going into detail, and telling the whole story, but I can't. Anyways she did call me back and that was a relief, but then I found out a bit more of what was really going on and it was just terrible and heartbreaking and I just felt sick and worried for the rest of the day.  Plus she couldn't finish talking to me because she went into shock because she was emotionally overwhelmed and couldn't breath very well and they had to take her to the ER. At that point I also switched over to being angry. Angry that someone else can hurt a person that they are suppose to love, and hurt them so badly! It also hit way too close to home as I was a child in a situation like this and grew up witnessing a very abusive relationship {as well as living through abuse aimed at me}.  It was a good thing that this all happened during the children's quiet time because I really cried hard and there would have been no hiding that. I kept it together for the rest of the day, but after the kids went to bed I was having a really hard time. She ended up calling again and it was good to hear that she was out of the hospital and able to talk, but I was scared of saying anything that would set her off again. It was touch and go, very tricky. I just kept telling her how strong she is, and that these sorts of things only make us stronger as I was living proof of that. Then I basically just listened and supported and tried to show her that I loved her and would help her in any way I could. After I got off the phone with her I researched how to be a friend to someone who is in an abusive relationship or leaving one. Because I was afraid I wasn't saying the right things, but it looks like I was pretty close. I tend to be pretty blunt and cut and dry, and this situation needs  a bit more tact then that. I just couldn't turn my brain off last night and my thoughts were chaotic. A mixture of upsetting childhood memories, and thinking about how so many couples I know are splitting up right now for different reasons and how it seems to be that time in our lives right now. Things ebb and flow like that. There was a time were it seemed as if lots of the couples we knew were getting married, buying houses, having babies and now that has faded and so many are going through divorces. A few years ago none of my close friends were going through divorces. All of the sudden in the last year or so about half of my close friends are going through really rocky and uncertain times. It's really sad to see. It makes me feel really thankful that my husband and I are so strong together right now. Not that we haven't had our rocky moments, but so far we have pulled through them all together. I was feeling guilty last night thinking about how much I appreciate and love my husband when my friend is going through such a rough time. But it's true I really do, and it makes me want to cling even closer to him and show him how much I adore him. It's true things are not always rosy, but he has never abused me, his words to me build me up instead of ripping me down, he does not try to control and intimidate me. I've been know to grumble about the little stuff, but when viewed from the bigger picture it all seems so trivial. Too many women that grow up viewing an unhealthy relationship end up picking a partner that continues the circle of abuse in their own relationship. Maybe it's because it's what they are use to, or they feel like they deserve it because they have low self esteem, maybe it's all just subconscious and more complex then we can really understand. I wonder what makes some people consciously end the circle while others seem to continue the circle almost unknowingly. Anyways it's really hard to get in print what is swirling around in my head right now, and I am aware that this blog post doesn't make much sense. It started with my wild dreams and morphed into a post about relationship falling apart and the sadder facts of life. But I feel like my wild dreams were some how connected to these thoughts that are swirling around in my head, connected in a million different little ways.

Side note: I wrote about this a couple weeks ago, and wasn't sure if I was going to post it or not, but I am impulsively deciding to go ahead and post it tonight... I know it's not something I would normally blog about but it's raw and straight from the heart, and the heart deserves to be heard.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

And now it's right around the corner!

Getting really excited about our up coming trip to Montana! We have been looking forward to and saving for this trip for almost two years, ever since Atty's biological brother and adoptive family came to visit him here a couple summers ago. Now it's going to be our turn to go there! We are going to take it easy on the way there so that we are not doing too many hours of driving a day with the kids. We want this to be as enjoyable as possible. :) So every day is planned for less then four hours of driving. Which means we will have three overnight stays on the way there {as well as three overnight stays once we get there} and three over night stays on the way back. And let me just say trying to find places for the six of us to stay has been a bit rough, requiring calls directly to property managers/owners in order to keep things reasonable and not require extra rooms etc... Good thing the kids are still young, it's going to get freakishly expensive when they are older I'm afraid. Plus we had to change our dates at the last minute {This didn't dawn on me until I started looking for places to reserve and there was no availability, anywhere!} to avoid a holiday and make our overnight says on the road during the week and not the weekend, huge difference in price!

 I want to document every aspect of this trip for us to look back on. Here is the itinerary for anyone who is just dying of curiosity. ;)

First night up we will be staying at Lincoln Rock State Park in a little cabin. My sister and I stayed here with the kids on our way to Spokane last summer, so we are excited to show my hubby how fun it is.

Second night we will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Spokane Valley. {I know not very exciting} We promised some in-door pool fun so we are going to deliver. I am trying to stay out of hotels for the most part because my kids do better in the great out doors. Staying in a hotel is akin to living in an apartment with my kids, it would be an nightmare! There's just not enough room to spread out and explore and run and be free like kids should be. Even though it would have made the trip planning a whole lot easier... looking for affordable cabins has been quite the experience.

The third night has been a work in progress. Missoula hasn't been as easy to find a place to stay as I had assumed. :) As of yesterday it looks like we will be staying at Yogi Bear's Jellystone  Park Camp-Resorts. Isn't that hilarious! It's a super cheesy kid friendly place to stay, I'm sure the kids will have a blast, even if it doesn't end up being a favorite for my husband and I. Although it does land on my husbands birthday, I'm sure he's just thrilled about that. :) I might think it's super funny, and I may have giggled a few times about it... I haven't reserved this one yet, but will be doing that today {I hope} they had availability yesterday when I called but she said they fill up fast. Fun fact, my husband does an awesome Yogi the Bear impression. :)

So the fourth, fifth, and sixth, we are staying with family. That is so nice to say. :) We feel so blessed to be in a situation where the boys can grow up knowing each other and being as close as possible, living a couple states away! I am a little nervous staying at their place for the first time with all our little kiddos after being on the road for a few days, hopefully they won't be too squirrelly. You know how not having enough space can bring out the best or worse in people... I'm hoping for the best. They do live out in the country so there should be plenty of space outside at least. :) The most important part is that Atty and his bio-brother can play together and really enjoy each others company for three days! They are older now, so I know that Atty will really remember this trip, and have wonderful memories to treasure.

Seventh night we are staying at a cabin in Missoula called Whispering Pines Guest Cabin, and it looks absolutely amazing! It's a cabin rental that is not in a park, so we will have lots of privacy and the cabin looks really cute and includes a hot tub on the deck and a washer/dryer! It also happens to be my birthday on that day. :) So I'm thinking my husband {who will be spending his at Yogi Bear's Jellystone park} and I will celebrate our birthdays together with a glass of nice wine and a soak in the hot tub under the stars surrounded by trees, and even though it is vacation our kids will all have early bedtimes so it can just be the two of us. Sounds absolutely fantasic!

Eighth night I'm thinking we will be staying at Lake Coeur d'Alene Camping Resort in a cabin. I still have to reserve it today, it was another last minute change of plans while making reservations and looking for places to stay yesterday. It looks pretty family friendly, but they stop heating the pool right before our planned trip there, so that is sort of a bummer. Really though they will have many opportunities for water fun on this trip, so one stay at a place with out it is not going ruin the trip. ;)

The ninth stay {our last} with be in Ellensburg at the Best Western Lincoln Inn and Suites, our only other hotel stay and again not very exciting I know. Yet another in-door pool. If we have to stay at a hotel with kids there must be a pool. :)

So there you have it, I'm trying to make it as stream lined and preplanned as possible. It really makes the difference between a fun trip and an absolute disaster when you have kids. I can remember the days with just my hubby and I where we would hit the road for a trip with hardly a plan and have such a blast, but in those days we could camp out on the side of the road if need be. With out reservations I had nightmares of camping out in our van in a Walmart parking lot... not my idea of a long anticipated vacation that's for sure! I have a notebook full of what to bring, how to pack it, and menus that need to be filled out. Games to play, a file of game ideas to play in the car that I printed off the internet. Card Games, a couple handheld games. Lots of kids music CD, and I'm thinking about borrowing some books on CD from the library before we leave.  I'm even borrowing a DVD player for the van from a friend. Something I'm normally very against for my kids, but I'm going to make an exceptions for this road trip.    Suddenly the idea of my kids being distracted with a movie for a couple hours doesn't sound like such a bad idea, when I still have a couple hours left over to fill. :) In other words, I'm ready to throw a stead fast rule to the wind for some peace of mind. Mommy wants to have a pleasant road trip as well. :) I'm thinking red box might be our best friend. ;) I'm going to be packing lots of snacks as well, my kids are so easily distracted with snacks, it's saved me plenty of times. The part that I'm the most worried about is the meals. With a kid on a special {and very strict} diet we don't have the option of eating out readily available to us for those times when we are in a pinch. And even if we do eat out I still have to bring food for Atty. There isn't  an opportunity for Atty to get a balance meal at a resturant with out my supplementing it in some way, or bringing a complete meal for him. So no matter what I will have to have food for Atty, and his food doesn't keep well so we will have to make store stops along the way. I will be able to make some of his almond flour products once we get to our destination, if need be, but other then that I have to have everything pre made. His bread/biscuits/muffins last for about three days so it should all work out. There will be some planning and baking before the trip to try and give me some peace of mind. I'm going to make his bread, some biscuits, a batch of muffins and some of his crackers, plus a recipe for marshmallows that he can have. Once there I will make some bread/biscuits/muffins for our stay there and  for the trip back. I've also already pre made some trail mixes and breakfast cereal that is completely grain free and Atty friendly and put it in food saver bags to keep in the freezer until our trip.  I've never attempted a vacation with Atty's diet before. It's a challenge I'm ready to face, if I had been asked that two years ago I would have  burrowed under the covers and cried for days. I also apparently have to plan for weather extremes.  I was recently told that it can be anywhere from around 70 degrees to a few feet of snow around the time we are going {um, can you say Yikes!}, so I get to pack for both. Which puts an extra spin on the necessity to pack lightly for this trip. We are going in our van with only a trailer hitch cargo carrier {that has yet to arrive} so we are pressed for space. Because we have had such a late summer here the rumor is that we are going to have a long summer that extends into our vacation time, but I can't count on that of course. So it looks like I will be packing swim trunks as well as snow suits... We also need our own bedding and the blow up mattress for some of the stays, a large cooler, space for food tubs, and all the extras that come with kids so it's going to be like a puzzle figuring this out! I'm going to feel like a pro when it's all said and done {that is if it works out well}. I'm restricting each of us to one backpack of clothes which is going to require more laundry stops for me, but take up less space.  If anyone has any ideas for me for going on long road trips with a large family send them my way! I'm really thankful that my family loves the out doors like they do, there will be plenty {inexpensive} fun to be had along the way. :)

Alright well now I'm off to make those two last reservations and then I will be able to breath a little sigh of relief. Look for updates coming soon, and hopefully lots of pictures afterwards.