Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hide and Go Seek

The internet is an amazing place. Here we can find out how to make everything from jam to bombs and learn about history, religion and TV shows from the seventies. The greatest gift of the internet is the ability to connect with people. I have made new friends, ones I have never actually met in person, via the internet. I have also located old friends and formed new connections with them as well. I have used this same blog to praise those I love and complain about them, but having it here, open to the world, requires personal accountability. I enjoy sharing bits and pieces about my life. I am thankful for the kindness and support I have received through various online mediums when struggling personally or when I was just having a crappy day.

So in this new year, I ask that you come out of hiding and share with me who it is that is watching and reading this blog. If I know you, old friend or new, just drop a little hello in the comments. If I don't know you, tell me more about yourself and if you have a blog, please share so I can learn more! No blog, no problem, just say hi! If you are an enemy, although I am not sure I have many out there, then say hi too, maybe we can forge some new ground.

Happy New Year, may 2010 bring you all that you desire.

Bye Bye 2009

Wow, what a year it was. I am trying to find the worst of the worst to share with the best of the best, but all of the bad seems so small compared to the good. Yes there was the summer of broken everything, but that was also the summer Teagan was born and she trumps all. Looking back, those days and weeks of stress and hard times were nothing compared to so many joys we lived as a family this past year, and appropriately, the good memories remain strong and the bad are fading.

We have had our ups and downs like any other family, and right now we might even be on a small down with the kids sick, but we are here, together, happy, warm and safe.

Too many others suffered great losses in the last year. They lost loved ones. They lost jobs. They lost homes. Those are losses I hope no one ever has to endure, and while I would have liked to have had a working dishwasher after having a baby, that is so small compared to what could have been.

So while many of us look back on 2009 and we wish it could have been better, easier and more prosperous, remember all the good things that happened too. Be thankful for those you love, new and old friends, the comfort of home, a hug and a warm meal.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Damn. Pneumonia is in my house again, and this time the baby has it. To say I may cry at any time would just be stating the obvious. I know that kids get sick, but this year has been bad since September and I am over it. Haven had pneumonia, then we all had the flu, now my sweet little five month old has pneumonia...why???

She had a cold before Christmas, it got worse the last few days so we canceled our trip. Took her to the doc on Monday and they said it was just a bad cold, clear lungs, clear ears, etc. She got worse and worse and worse and we went back today. She was tested for strep, rsv, had bloodwork and a chest x-ray. It took two breathing treatments for them to let her go home. From Monday to today she lost four ounces, and got pneumonia! Now what?

I am just so sad and stressed. I know how pneumonia will kick a kids rear, how every cold is a trail, and how bad this can affect her little lungs. Of course tonight is Ry's first night back to work since the 15th and I will be here alone with the four kids (Haven and Britt are sick too) and worried.

I need to get some tea, take some Tylenol and hold my baby. Hopefully she will stay out of the hospital. Prayers and positive thoughts please.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Everything in extremes

I am not one for moderation. I do school to an extreme. Work to an extreme. Lifestyle choices to an extreme. Coffee to an extreme.

A few years ago, my husband ordered me a home roaster for coffee beans, and after a few small "test" runs, I fell in love with the process and what it represents. I love, love, love it, but hate how bitter coffee can be when bought from the store even when grinding fresh. I have had a coffee machine with a built in grinder for years and years, but once that met up with fresh roasted coffee beans, I was over the moon. I order my beans online from a few different sources, this last batch coming directly from the farm that grew them. I love supporting farmers and knowing where my beans come from, plus I get awesome tasting coffee for super duper cheapo!

This Christmas we got me an espresso machine to help with a growing addiction to a certain coffee stores peppermint mocha. It wasn't that their beverage was so superior, I just didn't have the equipment! The machine we got was very inexpensive, but had great ratings, and for home use for a single user, it totally rocks! i bought some beans preroasted here in town but will be ordering green ones to roast soon. We grabbed peppermint and vanilla syrups at the store to help feed my addiction and I have been making myself cappuccinos and lattes every day. Ah, bliss! I can only imagine how tasty it will be once I roast the beans myself!

Monday, December 28, 2009

That's what you get!!!

Oh if I could get a cash payout for every time I hear, "That's what you get for having four kids....or a big family...etc" Today I heard it three times from three different people, and then while we were out getting everyone ice cream sundaes, Haven APOLOGIZED for us having a lot of kids! Ryan and I laughed and asked her what she was sorry for, that she and the other kids didn't ask to be born and the WE weren't sorry, in fact WE were the ones that wanted each and every one of them and WE are THRILLED!

She then explained that she thought the I do too much for them and not enough for myself, and that made her feel like I didn't get what I wanted because of the kids. I explained to her that there is nothing that I need and the few small things I might want, I can either go and get or they are not important. I also explained that there is not a single thing in the world, free time included, that I would trade for our family.

The best part of this life we have is that both Ryan and I love it. While we get stressed, and there are hard days, we still love it. Do we approach things differently than when we had one or two kids, yes. Is that OK with us, YES!

So here is the kicker. We make no promises that this is the end to our family. I am not sure I can carry another baby since I have had three c-sections, but we plan to do foster care in the next few years and are open to adopting any children who come into our home and need a permanent home. So it is our choice, 100% and yes we know that this is what we get for having a big family....and we are loving it!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Wrap Up

Whew. Christmas is over. The kids had a wonderful day, they were adequately spoiled and my parents came to visit bearing a vacation as a gift. We were supposed to leave today to go to Great Wolf Lodge to stay in an awesome Log Cabin room, play at MagicQuest and the water parks and have a blast, but unfortunately, we have two sick kiddos. Haven has a nasty cough which has been making her asthma really bad. We were going to push through and go anyway, but the baby has had a cold that turned into a high fever and nasty wet cough last night. The other two kids are also a little under the weather, so it only seemed wise to rebook the trip for a few weeks from now. I want them to really enjoy the trip, to be crazy waterpark maniacs, and that wouldn't have happened today.

So we are home and recovering and it is really for the best. My mom was good and bit her tongue and didn't tell me that this is what we get for having so many kids....and therefore I was good and didn't tell her that waterparks and life in general is so much better with so many kids. While it can make you crazy when they are all sick, the joys out weigh the negatives.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday

to my favorite (and only) husband!

I cannot believe we have been married nearly 10 years and share the joys and trials of raising our four kids. We have come a long way, through some tough times, and I am thankful every day that we both made a choice to fight for each other. I love you, and hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In the wee hours of the morning

Teagan and I seem to have a cold, it is the same cold the other kids have and while it is not terrible, it is a bit annoying, especially for the baby. She has a very stuffy nose so eating and sleeping with a pacifier are almost impossible, and she has just started to develop a bit of a cough. All of this came together this morning at 3:45 when she decided that she was up for the day. I tried, until nearly six, to get her back to sleep, but she just cooed and babbled and fussed at me, and I feared she would wake the other kids, so we came downstairs. Now at 7 she is blissfully asleep, and I am up baking muffins for the other kiddos. There is something peaceful and special about sitting in the dark family room listening to the music of the baby swing while the family sleeps. I know that soon the other kids will be up and noisy and silly. That Ryan will wake up too and he and I will need to begin the day, more shoveling, more cleaning, more tending to kids. But for now, I will enjoy the quiet moment, my cup of coffee, sweet sounds coming from the little one next to me and the smell of blueberry muffins in the air.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Try to relax

OK, so I am officially off from PT school, FT school and doctoral program. I am writing a course, but will work on that in the evenings only...the rest of the time I am trying to relax. It is not going well.

See, the problem with juggling a very busy and active lifestyle is that when it stops or slows down, I can't. I am sitting here at 9:15 and my head is spinning...I feel the need to rush and switch laundry, vacuum, do dishes, clean the house...rush....rush...rush....except, there is no rush. I have nothing to do today except to go to the grocery store, dust two rooms, regular upkeep and make chicken soup for dinner. That is a really light day for me. I could dust the two rooms and straighten them within a half hour, laundry is a constant in my world and I will just need to switch the loads, the kids will fold their batches, and dinner needs to be started around noon. But yet I feel the rush rush of my normal life.

Tomorrow I hope to veg all day, even if I have to force it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Whinge whine and blah blah blah

What good is a blog if it is all glitter and sunshine and bubbles? See everyone has bad days, some worse than others or more often than others. I try, and I do mean TRY, to minimize my griping on here since I want this to be a good reflection of my intentions and realizations from the day. Well here is the thing, some days, no matter how you try to swing it, or pretty it up with bows and bubblegum, some days just suck.

Today kind of just sucked. It started out okay, but then it headed downhill and took out everything in its path. I won't bore you with details, and if you are a mom you will be able to fill in the blanks pretty well, but here are some highlights.

Snowpants and gear X 3 small kids.

Kid dragging shovel up to TOP of HUUUUUUGE hill in almost 2 feet of snow....and leaving it there.

Kid fight club

No laundry getting done club.

Husband sleeping until 1, and I was counting the minutes until 1, and then back to lay down at 4 because his head hurt.

The realization that the two big kids would be home Monday and Tuesday and that there was still too much to do for Christmas.

Grading that never ends.

Forgetting to complete half of a final project.

Realizing that I will have nothing, not one single itty bitty thing to open on Christmas from anyone. My parents are giving the family a trip to Great Wolf Lodge, Ryan's family won't send anything for me, and my husband and children planned nothing for me, nothing. That was the worst part, because I really could give a damn about a present and don't want for anything or need anything, and I really wouldn't want a lot of money spent on me, but come one, a few framed pictures the kids drew, or a mug?

That one really stung and now the hubby feels bad and wants to overcompensate, but I don't want "stuff" I really would be happy with playdoh wrapped in macaroni and painted, so long as they thought about me a few weeks ago.

Guess we are on winter break

since we got almost two feet of snow and nary a plow has passed our house, school was canceled on Saturday for this Monday and Tuesday, the only two days they were to attend before break. I am not so sure I am excited about this since last week I had Britt home two days, and I really wanted the two extra days to get ready for the holiday. Thankfully, Ryan was only supposed to work last night and then he is off until the 30th, and he remoted in due to the weather last night. We will see if having the entire tribe home will help or hinder my ability to get things done..I am putting my bet on hinder.

All that is left if to get the prints for my parent's gifts, pick up the ham, sweet potatoes, milk and veggie dip, and buy a plastic bin for the kid's craft supplies. Then we are all ready :)

Happy Snow, pics to come :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh my word

It is almost 5 am and I have been up since 3, there is something about extreme weather that makes me all jittery.

The kids are going to be over the moon tomorrow since there is already a ton of snow out there and the big amounts haven't even hit yet! We also have one car that already landed in the yard and is stuck there....interesting to see how many more show up and if anyone hits that car. Good times.

My big plans for the day include:
1. Wearing what might be the most comfortable outfit ever, although not the sexiest...flannel PJ pants with Christmas polar bears on them, a tank top (for easy nursing), my new FT school hooded sweatshirt with the big ole front pocket, and my green striped sweater boot slippers that my husband hates but that keep my toes oh so toasty. Good thing I am not going for sexy :)

2. Grading-really only a few assignments that must be done.

3. Paper-final one of the class and it is mostly done.

3. Laundry-no snow days from that!

4. Baking-more Christmas cookies and probably bread.

5. Roasting-a nice big chicken dinner on this snowy day

6. Snuggling-with kids and husband under warm blankets by the fire, watching Christmas movies all day long.

7. Stirring-lots of homemade hot cocoa on the stove.

What are your plans if you are snowed in today??

Friday, December 18, 2009

Whoa SNOW!!

Popping in to tell the world that our area is due to get 1-2 FEET of snow between now and Sunday morning. Where we live, this is very uncommon, not unheard of, but uncommon. Kids will be thrilled, mama will be snuggled up with a fire and daddy will be going out in the snow to get the wood for the fire.

White Christmas here we come....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When bloggers go MIA

Oh boy are things crazy here. Here is what I need to do before Monday!

1. Grade 40 papers for PT school..I did 40 this morning
2. Grade all my FT school's work for the last two weeks plus the class I am covering for our other FT'er, that is 17 assignments in all!
3. Rewrite a paper
4. Make a six more kinds of cookies
5. grocery shop for the holidays
6. clean the house
7. design a course...yes a WHOLE course
8. go to a party
9. Take the kids to the light show
10. Figure out what to get my parents for Christmas and finish the gift I am making them
11. Bake cookies for Haven's school party and bread for the teacher breakfast.
12. All the regular stuff....dinners, cleaning, laundry, child rearing, etc.

I may be MIA :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are we sure this is Virginia?

Seriously, the weather has been so bizarre this year! We have already had decent snow and they are calling for more before Christmas. Don't worry, I am not complaining, I LOVE snow, but it is still weird. Last year we had a bitter winter but with very little snow, I am hoping that this year is different, so much so that I did the unthinkable, I ordered the older three kids snow pants!

Usually we get one or two decent snows, and I make them suffer with their old too small snow pants or send them out in jeans and hope for the best (and a lot of laundry) but this year I splurged and ordered them the snow pants. I hope they get to use them this weekend!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Surprise....just when you thought it was under control

things go a bit haywire. Truthfully, it is not a big deal, but one of the other FT folks at my school had her baby early (hooray for healthy baby boys!) but that left me with one of her classes to cover! I appreciate the extra cash I will make, especially with Christmas coming, but it was not on my list of things to-do. Needless to say, the list has been adjusted, and we are now on track!

This week is off to a slow start. Brittan, Grayson and Teagan have some kind of cold/virus and they are a bit under the weather. I am getting cookies baked and work done, and that is about it given that I am not sleeping at night due to a crabby, stuffy baby. I figure the housework can wait! I have some grading to complete for PT school, a paper that is due tonight and a 6 more kinds of cookies to make over the next few days.

We also have some fun plans for Friday. We have a new drive through Holiday light show, and I am planning on taking the kids there and maybe to Friendly's after. I do have to admit that there is a selfish aside to the trip, there is a fabric store I want to go to and a grocery store that has the honey ham I need for Christmas Eve on sale, but shhh, don't tell the kids!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

So close I can almost taste it

We are almost there, the one time of the year when I am off from EVERYTHING all at once! I have to grade finals from PT school this week, I have a week and a half left of both FT school and my class I am taking and then we are off for a few weeks.

During this time, Ryan is also off a bunch and I am so excited I can hardly stand it! I cannot wait to plan some fun activities for the family. I see a trip to the Botanical Gardens and/or the Museum of American History in our future and I know we have plans to go to the National Harbor for Christmas Eve/Ryan's birthday.

The presents are all purchased, the tree is up, the house is decorated and about half the cookies are baked. We have had our Hanukkah feast and have been lighting our candles each night. Winter Solstice will be a day of creative and natural crafts and a feast...possibly that will be the day we go to the light show nearby.

I am getting excited, and if I could get a decent nights sleep, I would be well on my way to getting the last of those cookies baked!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The chosen path

Today after getting home and celebrating the first night of Hanukkah with the kids, baths, dinner, etc, I settled in to read up on the days events and was saddened to see that Michelle Duggar gave birth yesterday to her 19th baby 3 months early. I felt my heart fall heavy in my chest just as it does every time I hear of a baby born so early and so small.

In reading the article, I saw the comments that were made regarding the story, the family and their chosen path and I was so saddened by just how insensitive and down right mean people can be! Now I in no way shape or form adhere to the Duggar's beliefs or faith. I do not wish to bear as many children as possible, nor do I believe that it is my duty in the eyes of God to be fruitful. I do, however, respect the choices that they have made, and find comfort in seeing that they are raising their children in a faith they believe strongly in and with arms and hearts full of love. Obviously I only know them as they appear on television, but I respect that they have made it a priority for both parents to be active in their children's lives, especially the father in the lives of the daughters. I can understand the criticism that others have for the family, thinking that the older children are raising the younger, but it is only wrong if the older children do not like having that role within the family. I respect the path that they have chosen, that they choose to live debt free which is something most of us are unable to do, that they created a home that looks to be loving and attentive, that they give the majority of their earnings from the television show to charities they believe in and that they have remained true to their chosen faith. Not my chosen path, but respectable all the same

I have to say that there were two comments made that really made me sick. One was that this was what happens when you have too many children and that the parents were selfish for bearing so many children and not being "good Christians" and instead of bearing their own children, they should in turn take care of children who need homes. Hmmm. Why should they be responsible for the babies of others? Why is that their responsibility and why should they not be able to have their own children because other mothers and fathers are unable or unwilling to take care of their own babies? That makes no sense that they should be responsible for babies needing homes, especially when one stops to understand their beliefs and faith.

The other comment that bothered me stated that this was a "sign from God" that they stop having babies and that there is no way that they could love all those children enough. I am sorry, but whoever made that comment must not have more than one child, as I know that when each child was added to my home, I was able to love them with my full heart....that is the amazing thing about love, along with faith, there is an infinite supply.

So, I have the Duggar family in my thoughts tonight. It must be terrible to know that their newest child is on the brink and that the road will be long and frightening and in the public eye. I also know that if that baby girl needs support or love, there are more than enough hands, hearts and arms available to rock, hold, stroke and love her. That should she face life long challenges, that there will always be a loving sibling to help her and support her throughout her life, even when her parents can no longer care for her. That my friends, that is the blessing of a large family and I hope that the newest Duggar grows big and strong and proves all those naysayers wrong.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I may be biased

but this kid is pretty darn cute!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No such thing as lazy Tuesday!

Tuesdays are always an early morning for us since Haven has to be up at school for singing practice at 8 am. Today went pretty smoothly, the little two were still sleeping, so I got the girls up, dressed and fed. By the time I brought Teagan and Gray down, the girls were nearly ready to go and we avoided much of the usual morning craziness.

After dropping Haven off, the other kids and I cam back home and I roasted a batch of coffee for the morning, vacuumed, started the morning fire and began to get ready for the baking today. This morning I need to make the ruggelach and I will also be trying a new lemon poppyseed cookie which is exciting since Ryan and I both LOVE lemon poppy so much, we had it for our wedding cake! I hope the recipe is a good one so that we can celebrate our wedding a little each Christmas :)

Other than that, I promised to make more chocolate chip cookies, I have a paper to write and some work to will be relatively quiet....for a normal busy day!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Crabby babies make for long nights

My sweet Teagan has been replaced by a fussy, crabby, red faced babe. I am not sure of her issue, but fear it is a combination of an off schedule, too much company, weird nursing schedule and teething all rolled into one. Thankfully, after Friday, I am off until the end of January. I will be using this time to work on getting her on a much better sleep schedule including a big afternoon nap since we are always home to get the girls from the bus.

I have begun the holiday fun, but did not get to make the cookies I wanted to today, I am just too sleepy! I did make it to the store to get the brisket for this weekend, and the hubby stopped at Wegman's to get the other stuff I need for baking and cooking...the pantry room looks like a bakery with all the flour, sugar, and butter! This afternoon I will get the ruggelah dough made, it need to chill overnight so I need a jump on that. Otherwise I am calling today a bust for cooking, and I am okay with that!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Been busy in a bad way, going to be busy in a good way

Oh my my it has been crazy around here! Thankfully today marked the first day of the Kelley family holiday season. Yesterday we had our first snow and it was a good amount which is crazy in VA! Then we went with my parents to see my niece in the Nutcracker, she was Clara! The day was terrible, awful and niece was wonderful, my son not, so much so that I sat with him in the very cold car while everyone else ate dinner....and my baby was in the restaurant! Anyone have ideas for getting a defiant five year old in line, he is making me crazy!

Today, however, was magic. I had almost no real work to do, and I wasn't planning any major house cleaning beyond washing diapers, regular vacuuming and dishes. Today I was cooking, and nothing makes me happier than spending the day warm and snuggling and cooking up a storm!

I began cooking Christmas cookies making chocolate chip which are the ones I always make first. Then Brittan and I made Challah bread ala this recipe, it is fantastic and wonderful and I appreciate her posting it!

I also made beef and barley soup for dinner and made the baby some strained peas. She has begun trying to face plant in our food, so I decided to try her on some peas and rice cereal today....she was not happy with it. I will give her a few days and try again, but it was pretty darn funny watching her pull faces when I gave her a spoonful!

Tomorrow will also be a baking day, I have twelve kinds of cookies to bake for Christmas and Hannukah. Hannukah starts Friday, but we will not eat our feast until Saturday since I work Friday. Saturday will be brisket, latkes and if I can locate a nut free ruggelah recipe, we will have that, otherwise, jelly donuts. Winter Solstice is December 21st, we will celebrate by making pine cone bird feeders and having the Feast of Favorites...this is a meal where everyone got to choose their favorite thing and we will have it...makes for an interesting meal! The Christmas comes and we have all the goodies associated with Christmas!

As you can tell, we celebrate all the winter holidays. As we are really of no religion, we feel it is important to share in many customs. My kids are not spoiled through the year and don't get many extras, so I enjoy taking the month to really celebrate our family and indulge the kids. They will receive small items for each day of Hannukah plus a big Christmas. No presents for Winter Solstice, although that may change in future years, I have an idea involving the forest fairies :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


It was a long day. The children were needy, and trying, and by bathtime, I was just done with it all. Add to that the stack of grading I had to do, dinner clean up, vacuuming, baby baths, and so on, and I was REALLY done. Just then a few kids decided to throw fits, and I knew that I needed out. I got up, grabbed my keys and told the husband I was leaving, and with that, I walked out the door leaving him with the screaming kids and baths.

Now before anyone jumps all over me, I have kids 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with the exception of the two days I leave to go to campus to teach my SECOND job. All day while wrangling the four kids, I also do a full time job and take classes for my doctorate, plus cook, clean, do the doctor's appointments, shopping, laundry, and so on and so forth. When I stood up and walked out, was Ryan mad? Put out? Even annoyed? Nope. He knows by now that when I get to that point, let me go, get things back under control and all is well. He understands the pressure I am under daily, and that I can almost never walk away from the reality of the chaos, so when I need a break and it is available, I go for it.

So what did I do? I got in my car and drove to Starbucks and ordered a peppermint mocha and a peppermint brownie. Did I sit there, enjoying the blissful quiet? Nope. I got my stuff, got back in the car and headed towards home. On my way, Ryan called and told me three of the four were in bed, that he loved me, and that he was happy I got a treat. Why did I not sit at Starbucks and take full advantage of being out and about....well because I DO have four kids, two jobs and a doctoral program, and I am needed at home. That little break, that treat just for me, that was all I needed, and the support I got from Ryan made it so much better for me. Knowing I can walk away when needed and that he understands and will hold things together is priceless, especially given our crazy life!