Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A new addition

I've mentioned a few times how much I love our neighborhood.  It's great for a lot of reasons, one of which is because we can decide on a whim to go fishing and 10 minutes later, be at the pond.

Two weeks ago we had such a day.  We were working around the house and needed to decide between mopping and fishing...  Fishing won out by a unanimous vote. We picked up some worms, slapped on the sunscreen and set out to perfect our casting skills.
Within minutes, Jay reeled in a great catch.  Well, honestly it looked more like bait, but the kids were thrilled.
Sam was beyond excited to be at the pond.  She had some skills to perfect as well.
Namely, pretending to sleep and swing at the same time.  It's a hard skill to master but she works hard and makes it look easy.  What can I say, my kid's got skillz.
After swinging off some energy we headed back to the pond and met the newest additions to the Ralph family.
Meet our new pet, Wormy.  Not to be confused with his brother Wormy, his sister Wormy, or his cousin, Spongebob.
After two weeks of our pet worms living in our garage fridge and two weeks of begging and pleading by me, Addison finally agreed to set her worms free last night.  It was a sad moment... one filled with tears, long waves, and blown kisses (by Sam). 
We were all very sad to see our newest pets go off to a new home.  Me especially... these were the first pets we didn't send to heaven via balloon or lose.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't be a drag

I pretty much hit the jackpot with my uncle Phil. Not only does he just adore me (and really, why wouldn't he?) but he treats both of my kids like royalty. Just like he has done for the past 30 years with my brother and me, he has fallen right into the uncle roll by spoiling my kids whenever he can. Phil is also never without his trusty sidekick (and partner) Mike, so it's a double bonus for us. The kids quite simply adore Phil and Mike and love every minute they get to spend with them.

During Christmas 2008 we were still in the depths of potty training Addison. To help us out, Phil literally risked his life in an ice storm to get Addison the coolest present - a doll that does her business on command. You train the doll and over time, she actually becomes potty trained. She came with some diapers, a bottle, and a little potty. Just like this.

Despite the best of intentions from all involved, Addi did not learn to use the potty from this doll. She did in fact become potty trained but the doll had nothing to do with it. Truth be told, the doll was very VERY cool... but very VERY much resembled a drag queen. A bad queen at that. She also talked more than me after two beers and when her batteries died, we just let her be.

When I thought about Phil driving in an ice storm to get this great present and us not using her to her full potential, I started to feel guilty. I decided that when it came time for Sam to use the potty, I'd look past the obnoxious eyeliner this doll has on and embrace her design.

Then, I saw this while playing with Sam in the basement.

My guilt has been lifted. My dread of working with Sam to become potty-trained, however, is growing by leaps and bounds.

Starting the weekend early

Having a cold just wasn't good enough for Sam.  She had to go and top herself by puking in her bed.  I woke up last night at 2:30 a.m. and found her sad and yucky, so after changing the sheets and clothes I determined that it was a total fluke puke and put her back to bed.  When Jay and I woke up in the morning and saw that she appeared to be fine, we blamed the episode on the sand she ate for dessert the night before and went on our merry way. 

Today I got a call from daycare while I was in a meeting and could only assume Sam's sickness had returned.  I assumed wrong - apparently Addison couldn't be out done by her little sister so SHE threw up in class.  So, my weekend started a tad earlier than planned when I picked the kids up at 3.

Most of our weekend plans are on the fence now, but luckily they revolved around cleaning the house so I can hopefully still fit those in.  The smell of hope (and Lysol) fills the air tonight.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The past week has been serious.  When it comes to Samantha, anyway.

Seriously sick. 
Seriously whiny.
Seriously snotty.

But still, undeniably cute.  Seriously cute.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Run, Steph Run!

A few years back I decided to become a runner. I had heard that it was a great way to lose weight and relieve stress so I bought some running shoes, a not-Pod, some snazzy running socks, and then set off on my merry way. Running, here I come! Despite the laughs and disbelief from Jay, I knew this was my new mission.

Two days later I gave up. Why didn't anyone tell me that running was [gulp] hard?

Last summer I pulled out my running shoes and gave it another try. I had heard about the Couch to 5K program and was intrigued by the testimonials from people who had done it, how they literally went from couch potatoes to all-out runners in just weeks. Jay again laughed but after I successfully worked the program for a week he joined me and viola... within a few months we were both... well, not runners really, but definitely joggers. Jay was even committed enough to buy his OWN not-Pod and running watch (or he was tired of using my hot pink ones…) And we kept up with running at least a few times a week until winter got in the way.

Now that it's springtime we can finally hit the road again. And to help me stay motivated I signed up for Building Steam, an 11-week training program that helps runners and walkers prepare for the Steamboat Classic 4 Mile Race in Peoria. I had heard about this program for the past few years but was never brave enough to sign up for it – this year I decided to finally do it. Alongside me are my friends Jenny, Erin, and Robert.

To keep me motivated at home I signed Jay up for the race too. When I let him know he said, “Did you sign me up for the training program too?” When I said no (because, duh, he needs to watch the kids!) he said, “No big deal. I’ll still totally beat you in the race without the training.”

Ah, nothing like a little competition to keep a girl motivated!

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to take a walk – by Addison Ralph

In case you want to be like the Ralphs, here are some tips via Addison on how to have a successful family walk/bike ride.

1. Make sure your sister will sit still for the duration of the walk. Suckers work well.
2. Throw a huge temper tantrum because “I DON’T WANT TO RIDE MY BIKE! I WANT TO RIDE MY SCOOTER!”, then smile and hop on your bike.  Make it look like it was totally your decision.  You are independent, you do what you want.

3. Give your mom a second to take a mental note to put money aside for your bi-polar meds.

4. Be sure to stretch– it’s a long way to the park. You don’t want to cramp up.
5. Don’t forget the arms too!  You will be doing a lot of waving and then almost falling off your bike.  You will need to be prepared.  
6. Walk three steps down the sidewalk, then stop for a break. You’ve worked hard! Oh and try to avoid electrocution when possible.
7. Walk/ride to the park. Ignore your sister’s squeals when her sucker falls on the ground and breaks into a million pieces. She didn’t need that sucker anyway.

8. After running around and swinging, watch your sister use a lovely picnic table as a resting place. Oooh and ahhh over how cute she is.
9. Push her off and climb on up. You are older – YOU get first dibs on cool places to hang.
10. Smile as your sister walks far away to another picnic table.
11. While your mom is distracted, go find a nice pine tree to squat and pee behind. Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

12. Ignore the 35 people at the tennis court and playground pointing at you, laughing hysterically. Roll your eyes for extra emphasis on how much you DON’T care.  Remember, YOU are independent.  YOU don't care what other people think.

13. Stroll on home at a leisurely pace. Be sure to stop and literally smell the flowers every chance you get. Your mom will really like this.

14. Once at home, enjoy a popsicle and be sure to drop part of it on the carpet. It’s helpful if the popsicle is blue.

15. Repeat daily.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Some Additional Information

Ever since I posted THIS mentioning Addison’s “Death Breath”, I’ve had several people ask me what exactly death breath is. So, since I’m such a giving person I thought I’d give you some additional information so you can adequately diagnose death breath in your own family.

First: The Cause
  • Your kid needs their tonsils removed. While the breath associated with strep is quite smelly, it doesn’t hold a handle to death breath. And, please do NOT actually hold a candle to it… that $h!t might be flammable.
  • Your kid must not brush their teeth for several days. That’s easy to accomplish with a tonsillectomy – everything hurts.
  • Your kid needs to breath directly in your face for at least 10 seconds. But be forewarned: nausea and vomiting may occur.

The Description

I have thought long and hard about how to verbally express what death breath is. This is the closest I can get to the actual odor. And again, you are welcome for the information.
  • First, you need some sort of wild animal. Let’s go with a possum.
  • Then, run it over with your car.
  • In July.
  • In the desert.
  • Then, wait four days.
(doo, dooo, do…)
  • Ok, now you need a skunk.
  • Have the skunk spray your dead possum.
  • Then have the skunk lay down next to the possum and die.
There you have it. Death Breath!

Balancing Act

My kids are pretty creative, if I do say so myself. Well, if you want to get technical, Addison is creative and Samantha is obedient, but you get the point. And it’s a fine line to walk when you want to give them the freedom to explore their creative side while still maintaining the stain free appearance of your carpet.

One day a few weeks ago I headed upstairs to put laundry away. The girls were watching Spongebob and appeared to be in a zombie-like state so I figured I was in the clear.

Of course I was wrong.

I heard Sam start crying and yelled, “Is Sam OK?” Addi yelled back, “YES! She’s crying because her leg is stuck in her pants,” and I made the executive decision that the laundry could wait.

When I got downstairs, I found both girls sans clothes. And covered in foamy hand soap from head to toe. Except of course for Sam’s leg, which was indeed stuck in her pants.

When I looked at Addi in disbelief for an explanation, it was simple. She and Sam were polar bears.

I think it might be time for some extracurricular activities.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Faster than a speeding bullet…

As a kid, I wasn’t much into super heroes. I have heard stories of little boys jumping off their roof and breaking limbs, all in the name of saving mankind from an evil villain. The super hero is a big deal to the under 8 set, or so I've heard.

Me, I would have rather played with Barbie – and her only super power was making little girls feel inadequate and giving them a poor self-image. Dang those super thin legs and beautiful, round boobs eyes. Giving unrealistic expectations to boys and girls everywhere.

My kids are much luckier than I was. They don’t have to daydream of scaling a wall or flying from building to building, because they already have a superpower and it’s AMAZING.

World – I unveil to you… the SUPER WHINE.

That’s right, the Super Whine is amazing, powerful, and incredibly effective tool of mass destruction. The cover is two cute, sweet girls. But one layer down is a power like you’ve never seen before. With all of the sickness at our house this year, these two have honed in on their skills and figured out how to manipulate their mom and dad to get their own way. And we are paralyzed by this power daily.

On Monday night, Sam woke up crying, sweaty and snotty and very, very hot. After some juice, rocking, books and a trip to mom and dad’s bed, Sam Whined her way into heading downstairs to watch some cartoons, then Super Whined herself into some pudding and a popsicle. Then, she put her Super Whine into turbo when she had to get blood drawn at the doctor.

When Addi came home from school yesterday with two skinned knees, she Super Whined her way into some ice cream, gave Jay a hug, then winked at me over his shoulder, proving she knew exactly what she was doing. Brat.

To Jay and I’s defense, we DO tell them no. A lot. And before you get too judgmental, answer this question.

Could YOU say no to this face?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Farewell to a good one

This past weekend I headed to Indianapolis for a quick trip. Sadly, my cousin Helen passed away last week after a long illness and her funeral was set for Friday. Helen was actually my mom’s cousin and is 20+ years older than my mom, so it wasn’t a huge shock for her to die, but still a very sad day.

Helen was an amazing cousin – she never missed a birthday, Christmas, or family get together. She loved all kids and came to Peoria to visit both of my girls within a few weeks of them being born, even though she was older and had a harder time getting around. And she was a devoted Grandmother to her son Kenny’s two children as well as an adopted Grandma to many, many others. She was giving, loving, and a fixture in our lives and will never be forgotten, that’s for sure.

Because of Addison’s recent interest in all things death, Jay and I made the decision for the girls and Jay to stay in Illinois while I traveled to represent the famly. I was pretty sure that even on their best behavior, two small kids running around a funeral home would not be a great idea, and I also thought there was a decent chance Addi would try to climb IN the casket to get a better look. Best to keep the girl at home.

My plan was justified on Friday morning when I dropped Addi off at school. She said, “Bye Mom!” then turned to her friends and said, “My mom is going to cousin Helen’s funeral. She died and my mom is going to put her in a box. AND she gets to put the dirt on her too, right Mom?”

After pulling her aside, telling her to be quiet and shaking my head at her teacher, I headed to work then drove to Indy for the visitation. I braced myself mentally for a typical family funeral but crossed my fingers for the best. And when I say “typical” I mean typical for MY extended family… Cases of hot beer in the parking lot… arguments… people wearing their “dressy” ripped jeans… and lots and lots of eye rolls. They aren’t always MY family members but hey, we are popular and have lots of friends showing up too.

When I got to the funeral home I was surprised to see a full house. Helen was obviously a very liked and loved woman and had an extended family of friends there to send her off. Also in attendance was Helen’s son Kenny, wife Tiffany and her grandchildren. Overall I think we were all very pleasantly surprised at the night’s end. It was a respectful, family and friend filled send off for a lovely, loving woman.

She will be missed, that is for sure.

Helen and my mom with baby Addison

Now, I could end this blog right here. But those who know me know I never miss a chance to tell it like it is. So here, for your reading pleasure, are a few quips overheard at the funeral home. And yes, I know Helen would laugh right along with you. Mostly. Or, just shake her head.

“How’s everything going?”
“Oh, just fine. Now, go talk to HER [points at my mom].” – my uncle Phil to the funeral director, knowing my mom would chew him out for the family. Which she did.

“Who’s the slut in the skirt?” – as a teenage girl walks by in a skirt that would be short on Addi. A PLUMP teenage girl, mind you. And please note, she was a VERY nice girl. With, again, a VERY short skirt.

“Wow, it’s been years since I have seen you!”
“Yeah it’s definitely been awhile, that’s for sure!”
“I’m pretty sure the last time I saw you was on Crimestoppers. How have you been?”
   - me to my cousin Jason. And FINE, I didn’t really say the last line but I sure wanted to!

“Wow, I didn’t see Daniel! Where is he?”
“He’s the one over there with the dents in his head.”

[SNIFF] “I need a tissue. Do you know where one is?”
“Sure. Over there by the fat blob.” [points to the corner where Tiffany is sitting]

[In regards to a former family friend dying]
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. What happened?”
“Well, it was the booze and the smoking.”
[nods head respectfully] “That’s too bad.”
“Yeah we told him not to quit or he’d die.”

"Kenny, this was a really nice service.  Your mom would be proud." -
"Yeah, I couldn't let her go out like a two bit whore!"

And, the final humdinger of the night:

“Just pretend to have a seizure and slap the bitch, will you?”

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hoppy Easter

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Addison. 

Addison was super ready for Easter this year.  She was a pro at decorating eggs...

And even mentored her sister on the art of dye.

For weeks Addison talked about the impending arrival of the Easter Bunny.  She couldn't wait for him to bring her candy and went to bed on time with no fuss or arguing and waited patiently for morning.

Unfortunately,  THAT Addison does not live with us.  OUR Addison went to bed and five minutes later started screaming that the Easter Bunny would turn her mommy into a bunny and I'd hop away.  After 15 minutes of pure hysterics I was ordered to not only lock but deadbolt each door of our house and under no uncertain circumstances let that freaky bunny in our house. 

Once she was convinced the house was safe, she drifted off to sleep.  And woke up to find her Easter basket in the garage.

After yelling at Jay for leaving the garage window unlocked and waxing philosophical about how she should have trapped the big guy, Addi got over it and the kids happily dug into their baskets.

We got dressed and headed to the world's longest church service then drove to Robin's for our family Easter.  The girls were thrilled to take their new bunnies with them and happy to play with toys that are not their own.

After a delicious lunch the kids went outside for their Easter egg hunt.  Sam kicked butt - she could totally go pro.

After digging into the eggs, we hung out with the family and headed home.  And got lectured again on home security by Addison.

***no Easter bunnies were hurt during this blog***

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Truth or Dare

I assume it’s typical for little kids to lie. Despite the books we read each night regarding the perils of lying to your parents, Addison is still set on honing in on her lying skills. The threat of her nose growing or being swept off to sea does not sway her will in any way. I did a bit of research on this phenomenon and she’s right on target developmentally. Four year olds fib, and that’s no lie.

Thankfully Addi hasn’t quite mastered the art quite yet.

Me: Addi, what are you doing behind the couch?
Addi: Nothing!
Me: Are you sure?
Addi: I do not have a paci back here Mom! [sucking sound coming from behind the couch]


Me: Addi have you seen any of Sam’s paci’s? I can’t find any?
Addi: Nope. And I didn’t hide ANY in your bathroom closet.

If only life were always this simple.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Got Wipes?

We use a lot of baby wipes at our house. They are not only great for baby butts, but also good for wiping faces, cleaning marker off tables, and scrubbing stains off the floor that mysteriously appeared.

According to Samantha, wipes are also a delightful toy. Just pull them out of the box, one by one, then run like a mad woman from room to room, screaming and taunting your mom. She gets a little exercise, mom gets to practice her folding skills… Really, it’s win-win for all!

What a great way to spend an evening.

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