"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Well, Crud.

>> Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I suppose I must break down and take my laptop in to the Geeks at the store with the Big Yellow Tag. Thankfully I purchased the 3 year warranty because this problem makes that extra couple hundred dollars so worth it.

The last few months I have been having problems with my computer doing very strange things. Sometimes running so slowly as to cause me to get up and leave, other times running programs that I don't have open. And, more often than I care to admit, crashing and telling me that the Broadcom.com OS cannot be found. Ugh.

After a phone call to the Geeks I was told that my hard drive is going bad.

And still I put off taking my computer in.

I dislike being without my laptop. I dislike using a desktop. I dislike the keyboard.

But when my laptop crashed twice this morning I realized that I had better get stuff saved and get the darn thing in before all was lost.

So I may be scarce... Which may not be a bad thing... I have lots to do...

Cakes to make, scrapping to catch up on, kids to raise...


Who Deserves To Drive?

>> Monday, January 29, 2007

Shame on The Des Moines Register.

Sunday's paper SCREAMED at me: THE STATE IS MORE LIKELY THAN EVER TO TAKE AWAY YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE WHO DESERVES TO DRIVE? (The words highlighted in red were also highlighted in the paper) Click to read the article.

It seems that the Register wants us to feel nothing but pity for those poor, poor people who can't pay the fines they have racked up from speeding tickets, OWIs, driving without insurance and other offenses. It's almost a side note to the Register that these people A) broke the law in the first place and B) are continuing to do so by driving on suspended licenses.

One woman they profiled in their "investigation" is a single mother of 3 who worked two jobs (all together now...awww...) and has nearly $700 in fines for speeding, driving without insurance and driving with a suspended license. All I can say to this is: It's a damn good thing she didn't hit someone while she was driving without insurance. That $700 would look pretty damn good, then.

Another profile, a "repeat offender" is what they label her is 24 and admits that she has a problem with speeding. Her license was suspended for failure to pay a $100 ticket. She then "racked up four convictions, plus fines, for driving with a suspended license". During a 14 day stint in jail she lost her job and apartment (again.... awwww....). Now, here's the kicker; she currently owes almost $3600. She admits to knowing that she should have paid her fines but wonders if her punishment fits her offenses. Ummm, yeah, it does.

There are four other profiles from Sunday, all with the same "hard luck" tag. All with photos looking pensively off at something or looking into the camera holding their court papers.

Far from tugging on my heartstrings this article has just annoyed me. There are about 29,000 Iowans who owe at least $500 for driving related offenses that haven't paid anything. Assuming the average owed is $1000 (which is probably low) that is $29,000,000 owed to the state. Hmmm, is anyone else thinking that money could be put to good use?

The Register seems to want us to believe that driving is a right. I hate to remind them, but driving is a privilege; one that should be revoked if you abuse it. Period.

In the wrong hands a vehicle is nothing more than a two ton bullet; one wrong move and those unpaid fines will be the least of your worries


Down With The Sickness

>> Sunday, January 28, 2007

Brenna went to bed shortly after 6pm.
Caelan went to bed shortly after 7pm.
Doug went to bed shortly after 8pm.

Brenna has been dosed with Tylenol for fever and aches, Doug with NyQuil and all three have been rubbed down with VapoRub.

I am constantly rubbing myself in hand sanitizer and washing my hands. Because you know that if mommy gets sick we will all perish. (Not that Caelan is sick but we really want to prevent it from happening).

I am having a preventative cup of raspberry tea and will shortly go to bed... I'm afraid it may be a long night.


Having It All

>> Wednesday, January 24, 2007

So yesterday Oprah had a show that was billed as "Stay at Home Moms vs Working Moms". (Yes, I sometimes watch Oprah- and even Dr. Phil- if the topic seems relevant. No, I don't watch it "live" unless I am doing dishes, folding laundry or prepping dinner. TiVo rocks. And no, I don't watch soap operas. And, for the record, I don't do bon-bons but I do love a rich, dark chocolate truffle.)

Ahem... So anyway, she had on SAHMs and working moms. And all had good points on their decisions. It was the two women at the very end of the show who really got my attention, though. Both are moms and made their "big" decision 10 years ago. One chose to work, one to stay home. And both, after 10 years, had regrets about their decisions.

The working mom had regrets of missing big moments- first steps, lost teeth, first words.
The SAHM had regrets about "losing herself" and focusing only on her children for so long.

I completely understood the working mom's statement. I can not imagine missing the girls' childhood. I can't imagine not being with them day in and day out. Even when I feel like I am at the end of my rope I know that this time will be gone in a blink and I will miss it.

The SAHM's regret of "losing herself" struck me as odd, though. I understand letting yourself go (today I am still in lounging pants and a tank top... and will be until I go to bed) and focusing on your children (today we watched Toy Story 2, played with an alphabet puzzle & read books) but I don't understand giving up hobbies or friends (unless, of course, they are bad hobbies and friends; by all that is holy, get rid of those!) because you are a SAHM. I like to think that I am more than a mommy...

Doug and I made a very conscience choice when we had children that we would raise them and not pay someone else to do so. I doubt that I join the work force again until Caelan reaches college age. Why? Because I want to be the available parent. I want to be the room mother, the mom that's at every game, dance recital and PTA meeting. I want to be there exactly when they need me because you may not get a second chance to answer that question, see the winning goal or dry their tears when their first boyfriend breaks up with them. Do I think less of those who make a different choice? No, those people have different priorities or needs than we do. Do I wonder about their priorities? Sometimes, yes. But it is not for me to judge.

So... Can you have it all? I think yes- but not at the same time. I plan to have a long and healthy life and to do and be everything I desire. I may not be able to do it all at once but I certainly plan to do it all.


For Today's Entertainment

>> Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Brenna chose "Finding Nemo". Yesterday she switched it up and we watched "The Incredibles". Caelan is propped in a beanbag- she likes to sit up.

Caelan was up for the day at 5:15 this morning. Brenna woke at 5:30 crying. I put Caelan down, went in to Brenna's room and found her sitting up in bed. She crawled into my lap immediately and started crying again. Everyone ended up in mommy & daddy's bed and no more rest was had.

I was hoping for a nap this afternoon but it was not to be. I put Brenna in her room but Caelan was having none of it. When I got her settled Brenna was awake- a 45 minute nap. What is up with my children no wanting to nap? It surely doesn't come from Doug or I...we relish the opportunity. Maybe it's something you appreciate more as you get older...

I was planning to make parmesan crusted chicken breast and rosemary roasted potatoes for dinner but my head is pounding and I don't want to cook so a Wolfgang Puck frozen pizza is now on the menu.

Well, that was in no way an entertaining post. Forgive me. I'm waiting for the caffeine to kick in.


If I'd Known You Were Coming I Would Have Baked A Cake

>> Monday, January 22, 2007

I was craving white cupcakes with chocolate frosting today. I was desirous of baking said cupcakes from scratch and not dipping the frosting from a can. And everyone knows that homemade just tastes better.

I got the girls down for their - very short- naps and began looking through my cookbooks. And do you know what I found? Every recipe I have for white cake needs at least one, if not both, of these items:

Oleo and shortening. Neither of which resides in this house.

Now oleo... There's a word that only resides in cookbooks of a certain age. Or in recipes from your grandmother. Margarine everyone knows; oleo not so much. And since margarine has all those bad fats it doesn't enter this house. Real butter only. And I'm not sure that you can interchange them because of the different fats.

And shortening... Does everyone get a vision of a gallon container of Crisco in their heads? Can you say "trans-fats"? Which then takes me back further to actual lard that I remember my mother and grandmother using quite often. Probably better for you but definately more disgusting. And more likely to become rancid. Blech!

So no cuppie-cakes. It's probably for the best. I would have had to give most of them away to keep from eating them. I seriously have no will power when it comes to baked goodies.


I Wish....

>> Sunday, January 21, 2007

I wish I could tell you that I have been absent because Doug whisked us away for a weekend of fun.

I wish I could tell you that I haven't seen Finding Nemo 4 times since Thursday.

I wish I could say that I haven't see Cars 3 times since Thursday. And that it is not on for the 4th time right now.

I wish I could tell you that my house is clean.

I wish I could say that stress and boredom has not caused me to have insane, incurable munchies.

I wish I had some dark chocolate.

I wish I could share some sort of wit with you.

But I can't.

Doug has put in about 56 hours of work since Thursday so I have been playing single mommy. My mother borrowed my truck so my brother could work on her car so I have been home-bound all weekend. I'm feeling a bit of cabin fever. Not that I would have probably gone anywhere except church, but the option would have been nice. Caelan has been especially fussy lately. I'm not sure if it is due to teething or if I just have a "normal" baby; Brenna was so easy, I guess she was an exception. I have been munching all day- homemade Scottish Shortbread, chips & salsa, cheese, mini Chewy Granola bars leftover from Halloween- and I would still eat if you put food in front of me. I feel like a loaf. A loaf of what, I don't know; but I bet it's not attractive.


Operation WebCam

>> Friday, January 19, 2007

Big thanks to:

VW Bug
Red Fish & Blue Fish

For posts, links, cash and webcams. Still want to help? I'm going to mail everything to Iraq on the 27th.

Thanks to all our blog friends!

Wonder what I'm talking about? Here's the original post


Brenna Boom

>> Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Last night our dinner was interrupted by Brenna falling off her chair. We have tall barstool chairs in our kitchen and Brenna has been climbing on and off of them for a year with no problems. Until last night.

I'm not really sure what happened as I was getting dinner on plates. Doug was in the other room walking Caelan as she was fussy. I heard something- probably Brenna squeaking as she fell- saw feet in the air and Brenna land on her face. And then the scream. I think mine was probably first- "Oh shit!"- and Brenna's followed after the shock of falling wore off.

Oh, the blood. And the tears. Of course neither stopped me from getting a picture. (Doug wasn't too impressed when I asked for the camera)

I'm not sure if you can tell but she bit through her lip. I called three mommies who I was sure had advice for me (my mommy, my sister and Meritt). Ice was applied and Daddy was sent out for popsicles.

And all would have been well if Brenna hadn't suddenly stopped crying and closed her eyes. It was like a switch flipped. And I couldn't get her to respond to me. So I called Doug, he came home and we rushed off to Urgent Care.

Diagnosis: the adrenaline from the fall wore off and she was very tired. Damn, it freaked me out, though. So we came home and Brenna enjoyed two popsicles and cuddling with Daddy before we dosed her with Tylenol and sent her to bed.


Four Months And All Is Well

>> Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Caelan had her four month well baby visit to the doctor yesterday. I am pleased to report that she is completely, happily, chubbily average. All 13 pounds 12 ounces and 24 1/2 inches of her.

She is still refusing both bottle (boo!) and pacifier (guess we won't have the pootie issues TKW had). She is also not responding well to the rice cereal or carrots that mommy tries to force down her throat every now and then.

Someday she will have to realize that food does come from places other than directly from mommy... I will not have a 5-year-old rooting at my breasts in a store wanting to eat. Not. Gonna. Happen.


For Our Soldiers

>> Monday, January 15, 2007

My blog friend Katy sent me an email a couple of weeks ago and I have been meaning to post it and ask for any help our blog friends can provide.

Here is her email:

My husband and I were talking today via the computer. The MWR center he goes to has 15 computers and only 2 web cams. My husband has bought his own so the kids and I can see him on a regular basis, but the other guys....it is just hit or miss. I am hoping for a little help. I am hoping to either give you an address you could personally send web cams to...wether new or old or some ideas on how to raise the money to get these guys a web cam for each computer. I know what it does for the kids and I to be able to see Daddy and keep him fresh in the little ones minds. It also does wonders for him to see we are still here waiting for him. Please if anyone has any ideas or would like to help, please let me know.
Thanks so much for your consideration,

Anyone want to help? I would love to be able to send a few webcams over. I know that when my brother was gone the emails and phone calls were great but it would have been so nice to see his face.

How can you help? Well, here are some options:
You can get a webcam for about $20. If you want to use Amazon I have search link below on the left side of the blog. If you want to buy one and send it to me I will send it on.
If you want to donate money for this cause I guarantee that every penny will be used for this cause. I have a PayPal account with the email JLHalsted(at)hotmail(dot)com.
Spread the word. Those visitors of mine who are so popular- you know who you are- give me a little link action.

Any help is so appreciated!


I'm Awake... Or... Too Much Caffeine At Night

It is now 4:25am. I have been awake approximately 2 hours. I completely blame the 2 Pepsi One(s) that I had after 5pm. And, maybe, the cup of tea that I made after Doug & I finished snowblowing & shoveling. It was supposed to be non-caffeinated raspberry but I grabbed Irish Breakfast out of habit and I am not one to waste a nice, hot cup of tea. Especially since I had a couple of slices of homemade Scottish Shortbread to go with it.

Where's Meritt? I know she rarely sleeps past 3am. The house next door is for sale... The Coffee Family should buy it and then we can get together at 4am over coffee, tea and her yummy cooking.

Caelan has her 4 month well baby visit later this morning. *wow* Four months. She's a fat baby now, chubby legs and cheeks with about 3 chins.

Which reminds me that I haven't heard back from the guy that handles our health insurance or the other company I contacted about an HSA. Which is a whole 'nother post in itself. Let's just sum up and say that we pay aour own health insurnace and, with the coming rate increase it will be over $700 per month. And we are healthy. Insane. So we are looking in to an HSA. I'll have to keep you all updated on that and our decision.

Ahhh, well, enough for now. I'm still not tired so I guess I'll go see what TiVo recorded and veg in front of the TV.


We're Headed To Hell

>> Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In a freakin' handbasket. Holy cow... Whoever thought this up needs stood against a wall and shot with tiny pellets containing fire ants. Torture is too good for whoever brought this to the public.. And whoever it was at CBS that thought it was a good idea...

Armed and Famous

OMG! They're in frickin' Indiana... They are given real guns... LaToya Freakin' Jackson has a gun, people! Jack Osbourne has a gun. There is nothing remotely right about this. NOTHING!

Seriously, is this what entertainment has come to? The not-so-famous becoming cops? Seriously? Who is watching this?

OK, where's my remote? I need the History Channel. Something to stop my mind from melting.


She's Getting So Grown Up

>> Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Today was Brenna's first day of pre-school. One day a week for 1 1/2 hours. She was so excited. Here she is with her trusty go everywhere Dora bag.

The pre-school is at the gymnastics school that we play at once in a while so she was happy to enter. And when we went into the school room... Books, a toy kitchen, tables and chairs... She let me help her with her coat, gave me a kiss and off she went.

I felt sorry for the moms with crying toddlers. I just waved and walked out the door.

When Caelan and I picked her up she said that she had fun and wanted to go again.

Yippee! That's an hour and a half that I have only one child! Oh the possibilities!


So Much Yet To Do

>> Monday, January 08, 2007

The girls are both in bed but I don't think either of them is napping- yet. Both are tired so, hopefully, I will have a bit of time to put a dent in the stack of phone calls I need to make- and maybe get a shower! Right now I'm multi-tasking; I'm attempting to speak with an actual person at the phone company. It could take a while...

The morning was spent cleaning the master suite; really cleaning it. I scrubbed the shower by hand (usually I let the scrubbing bubbles handle the dirty work but our shower is so big that they need a hand once in a while). I mopped the floor. I scrubbed the sinks and toilet. I even stood in the tub (it's a big corner unit) and scrubbed in between the tiles. Of course vacuuming and dusting were also involved.

Brenna has wanted to "help" for the last few months. I let her use the vacuum once and she succeeded in vacuuming up a scarf from the closet and burning up the belt. What a stink!

So for Christmas we got Brenna a cleaning trolley so she could help me clean without damaging anything.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

She was so cute when she saw it, "Gosh. Wow."

It has a broom, dustpan, mop, bucket and vacuum that actually works. All in a handy trolley for storage and pushing fun.

So today she followed me around, first with the broom, then the mop and bucket (with a bit of water), then a dustrag and finally with the vacuum.

Absolutely the best gift I could have gotten her. She got to "help" and wasn't begging to use my stuff. Excellent.


Looking for a car seat?

>> Saturday, January 06, 2007

I highly suggest you read this and the articles they link to. Though I remember riding around in the back window of the family VW Rabbit.... That may explain a lot of things.


Geeks Get the Best Stuff

Doug had to let me know yesterday that one of the companies he works with sent out "Thanks for the great year" gifts. Here's what he got:

And, yes, I thought about laying claim to it but I figured that since he did all the work I would let him keep his perk.

Besides, he promised me a new phone today. :)


Buried In Wet, Dirty Stuff

>> Friday, January 05, 2007

Dear TKW-

I'm sorry I haven't updated lately. You see, I am, in fact, buried under piles of nasty, poopy, smelly clothes. Between Brenna's desire to wear big girl panties and her equal abhorrance (thank you Merriam-Webster Thesaurus) to actually using the potty to do the dirty deed I have been rinsing and washing untold loads of laundry.

If you add to that, and you must, Caelan's daily (at least once, often multiple times) poo-splosions and subsequent outfit changes you can imagine that I am spending quite a lot of time over the laundry basin with either a Clorox Bleach Pen or Shout Gel and OxyClean dissolving in water. Rinse, apply product, soak, repeat until stain or fabric has dissolved...

And then you must include the actual potty time. Or play time on the potty as that is what Brenna does. She sits and plays with her Learning Leap or books or the toilet paper roll or a towel... Anything to concentrate on and take her mind off the fact that she needs to pee. Which she will do immediately after getting off the potty and putting on clothes. Which then results in a quick bath, a change of clothes and mommy back at the laundry tub.

Does it never end?


PS If you have the cash may I recommend stock in Pampers, Clorox, Shout & OxyClean? I should be keeping them in business for the next 2 1/2 years- at least.


Pretty Pretty Princesses... And A Cow

>> Tuesday, January 02, 2007

This past Saturday we had our final family Christmas. It was held at my aunt and uncle's house in SW Iowa. My aunt is an inhome daycare provider; they had their house specially built for that purpose. The entire lower level is the daycare and has a large playroom, a classroom/ lunchroom, bedrooms and a bathroom.

As you can imagine this makes for fun times when we do visit.

After lunch the adults were upstairs playing games and the kids were let loose in the playroom. They were being awfully quiet so I went down to check on them- and immediately yelled for my camera.

Ethan was fully dressed in the princess gown while Koen was stuggling into the Barbie dress. I, of course, had to help him get it over his noggin.

Brenna, who wears pretty pink dresses quite often, decided on the cow costume. Which sparked the remark of "Why are the boys in dresses and the girl is a cow?"

I guess it was just more fun that way.


I've Got Resolve And I'm Not Afraid To Use It

Or: I Didn't Have Anything Else Planned For Today

As I sat Brenna on the potty this morning I made the (un)wise decision to let her wear her big girl panties. Bright blue with the Little Mermaid were chosen.

"You tell mommy when you need to pee-pee" was met with a very slow blink and a somewhat cohesive nod. And off we went into the living room; Mommy to clean, Brenna to "help". We progressed quite nicely for maybe an hour with me asking every 20 minutes or so if Brenna needed to potty.

"No!" and a very determined shake of the head followed each question. I had just finished putting away toys when I saw it: a wet spot on the carpet.

"Brenna, did you pee-pee?"

Blank stare.

"Brenna, are you wet?"

I was again met with a blank stare. I touched her. She was soaked. Sopping from her pants to her socks.

Off to the bathroom we went to strip down and sit on the potty while mommy went to soak the clothes and clean the spot on the carpet. Then a quick run upstairs to give Brenna a quick soak in the tub and put on clean clothes. And we begin again.

For the record: 9:38am- second outfit. Brenna-1, Potty-0.

Mantra: When potty training is over I am having my carpets professionally cleaned.


After feeding Caelan we all ventured to the lower level for some Sesame Street and Goldfish crackers. I settled Caelan into a beanbag and turned on the TV for her enjoyment. I told Brenna that we were going to go potty and in to the bathroom she ran.


Not wet... Great. But a bulge at the rear isn't a good sign. Darn, there's poopy. So, very carefully, I remove the dirty panties and ceremoniously dump the poo into the potty explaining to Brenna that "poopy goes in the potty" and she needs to "tell mommy when you need to poopy".

So upstairs I trudge, leaving Brenna on the potty, and put the panties in the soaking water. Back down with clean panties, ready to begin again.

For the record: 10:42 am - no outfit change necessary. Brenna-2, Potty-0

Mantra: When she is potty trained I will have an extra $40 a month. Hey, that covers her pre-school costs.

Still later:

Naptime. Nothing in the potty, but no messes either. Since I am not so silly as to leave her in panties for a nap "Dora" has been called in to action.

And now I rest. Well, as soon as Caelan stops screaming. She is clean, full and tired. And doesn't much like to nap. Hmmm... Just like her sister.

For the record: 1:13pm- no outfit change. Brenna-2, Potty-0

Mantra: Please, just give Mommy one hour....

Ahhh, I was gifted with 2 hours and 15 minutes of rest. Glorious. Brenna is still in her "Dora" from naptime. She wants nothing to do with the potty. I suppose I really should force her in there shortly. It has been 4+ hours... I'm sure she's wet. Not that she cares...

For the record: 5:18pm- no outfit change. Brenna-3, Potty-0

Mantra: Pee-pee on the potty...

It seems we are done for today. Daddy came home and replaced her unchanged and very wet "Dora" with a new, dry one.

Tomorrow is another day. Brenna wins this round.


And It's Gone...

>> Monday, January 01, 2007

The first day of the new year is coming to a close for me. Yeah, it's only 8:23pm but I am expecting a long night. Caelan went to bed early and I will probably be awake at least once.

Doug & I, being the hard core partiers that we are, volunteered to watch my nephew last night so his parents could join friends for dinner. In hindsight (theirs) they would have had more fun at our place- but, hey, we're fun people. Brenna and Koen ran in circles with Toby, ate pizza, ran in more circles and danced until we put them in our bed with a Baby Einstein video to wind down. They were asleep by 9, too tired to even lift their little heads.

With all the kids in bed Doug & I settled in to watch National Treasure (an Iowa Geek favorite), drink some champagne and eat some birthday cake that Meritt sent home with me after Baby Girl's sweet 16.

Yep, it was a big night.

I think the year officially begins tomorrow. Today doesn't feel like it should count as nothing gets accomplished. Not that I made any big resolutions that I broke. Or did I? You'll never know...


Still looking for a calendar?

For those of you that like classic WWII pinups, here's a cause to get behind. It's safe for work...if you work at an auto body shop.

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