Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A little therapy never hurt anyone

As a parent of two girls, there are certain things Jay and I try to avoid talking about at home to lower the changes of them ending up in therapy. But most likely we are screwing our kids up each and every day, without meaning to.

Exhibit F: Jay and Addi drive home from swimming lessons, told from Jay's perspective

Addi: Daddy, are you and Mommy going to diet at the same time?
Jay: Yes! Right after Christmas!
Addi: [insert hysterical crying here]
Jay, confused, followed by a light bulb moment when he realized she said DIE... Not diet.

I should really start a fund for this.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A little memory

One of the best parts of having a blog is remembering the little moments.  The ones that I forget when life gets in the way, and the ones I'll never have written down if I don't keep taking time to get them down here.

Perfect example...

Driving to the gym the other day, Samantha started crying that she wanted her friend Lexie to be there too.  She was pretty upset so I told her if she could stop crying, I'd give her a surprise (some cookies I had brought with us.)

She said, "I stopped crying, mommy.  But my tears aren't done."

So funny the words they choose to use.  I hope I don't forget things like this.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks

So I was a bit late on the 30 days of giving thanks thing on Facebook. Meaning, I missed it entirely. That's not to say I'm not thankful, I am very much so. But in my attempt to streamline my life I've tried to stay offline, so there you go.

Anyway, here is my list, done in Alphabet format. Enjoy!

A = Addison. My firstborn, my emotional twin.
B = Bandit, our poor neglected cat. He loves me and lets me pet him even when I forget he exists.
C = Clarisonics. My awesome face washing machine that I love.
D = My dad.
E = Elephants. Really, when Sam says them... "Efalants."
F = Facebook. Yes, I'm really thankful for it. As long as you don't creep someone out by mentioning something you saw about them on there during some light internet stalking.
G = God, and getting to be closer to him over Addi's first year in Catholic school. I forgot how much I missed that environment.
H = High school friends, once that I can keep up wtih on Facebook
I = Internet connections. Not sure how I got through life before Google.
J = Jay, my best friend and the best dad I know.
K = Kathy, my mom, who is great at being my mom and even better at being Grandma.
L = Lee, my brother who I love even though I never see him.
M = My May Mommy friends. Not sure what I'd do without them.
N = New friends (since I've been at Cat).
O = Old friends (who liked me before I was gainfully employed.)
P = Pets, who remind you why you have stained carpet and force you out of the bed at 5:30 am for a walk.
Q = Quaint stores that sell random stuff you can't live without.
R = The entire Ralph family. I really married into a great group of people.
S = Samantha, my crazy, insane cuddly, turning into a boss kid.
T = Tacos. I love mexican food.
U = Umbrellas. I really dislike walking the dog in the rain.
V = Very long weekends.
W = Walking and Running, something I love to do.
X = X-Rays, especially when they tell us Sam really doesn't have a broken arm.
Y = Yummy food.
Z = Changing leaves, fall, friends, swimming, playing, work, scrapbooking, crafting, and a Zillion other things I forgot.

Friday, November 18, 2011

4. Get a new pet for our family.

Ok, fine. We got a dog.

When I put “Get a Pet” on my list, I had romantic visions of us going to the pound, seeing THE puppy in the kennel, and taking it home amid kisses from the kids and laughs from us. We’d name it something super cute and meaningful to our family and within days we’d have the Christmas card picture already taken – the Ralphs, a happy family of 5.

Wait… 7. We already have a cat that hates everyone and a fish we forget to feed.

Our reality was a bit more… real… than expected. We knew if we ever got another dog we’d want to rescue one, based on our inability to re-home our last dog when it was needed. So when a coworker of Jay’s explained the sad story – her sister was getting a divorce and moving to an apartment, unable to keep her sweet, 2 year old dog – our hearts went out to her. She was good with kids, sweet and loving, and they were heartbroken to have to get rid of her. On our quickly-made pros and cons list the "pros" totally won out, so we arranged a meet and greet with the explanation that if Samantha was afraid, it would be a definite no.

The next Saturday, Sugar (you can bet that her name was on the “con” list) came to visit. She was cute, friendly, and a little skittish but warmed right up to us. Even Sam fell in love, hugging her within minutes, so we agreed to a trial weekend. Her owner told us over and over again how happy she was that we were interested, as we have a large fenced in yard, and made sure that we knew we could return her should Sam become afraid or if we couldn’t keep her vs. sending her to the pound. Win win for everyone.

Addi meeting Sugar for the first time

Sugar pretending to like our yard

After a few days I gave the old owner a call to iron out a few details. Yes, Sugar (the kids wouldn’t let us change her name) was sweet and good with the kids. Yes, Sugar loved her belly to be rubbed and got along well in our house. But, Sugar seemed afraid of the backyard, not leaving our sides even to go potty. She actually preferred peeing in our playroom, if she went at all… Was that normal for her? Michelle said, “Oh, yeah, she has a shy bladder. Try walking her and turning your head and she’ll go then.” We tried it and it worked.

When I called her the second time and asked if Sugar (seriously, who names a dog that??) was used to being outside alone, I was told, “Oh, yeah, she’s afraid of grass. And the dark. And bubbles.”


The third time I called and asked why I woke up to a dog on my head having a heart attack because of the thunder, I got a crisp, “Thunder scares her. Gotta run!”

And when I called to find out why, after crating her and working all day, I came home to a broken crate, trash shredded all over the floor and an entire wall missing, I was met with silence. And no returned call.

We might have been duped. Perhaps you can see my delay in admitting we had a new pet.

I’m unfortunately leaving out a lot of details but I’m happy to say that after 6 months of dog classes, Zanax for both the dog and us, two Dog Whisperer books, three crates, and endless patience, we have a dog who will stay home alone, go in the yard by herself for short periods of time, and hasn’t chewed on drywall in months. We love her despite her name and have our fingers and toes crossed that she doesn’t develop a fear of snow.

To help admit “we have a new family member” to the world, I even got her a tag with our real address and phone number on it.

Welcome to the family, Sugar.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Kindergarten is harder than I remember.  I actually don't remember much from it other than some blurry memories her and there, but I still think it was easier back in the day. 

Addi's homework is getting a littler easier now that's she's gaining some confidence in herself and now that we know how to pump her up to do the work.  Her homework this past weekend was to talk about what she learned at church on Sunday, so heading into the building we reminded her to pay close attention.

The sermon was pretty good - he talked about how, just like with retirement planning, people wait until they are old to worry about going to heaven.  I leaned over to see if Addison was paying attention.

She looked up at me and said, "God and Jesus know the right time for everything."

Dude.  She stuns me sometimes.  I considered homework to be done for the day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween 2011

This year, Addison decided to be a Vampire. I'm pretty sure she just wanted to wear a black wig which I didn't by her, but even after hearing that devastating news she didn't change her mind.

Samantha went back to the cute baby costume and wanted to be a pumpkin... which was fairly impossible to find. So I convinced her that an orange and purple witch costume was a pumpkin fairy witch and we were good to go.

We headed to the Dettman's for a party and to trick or treat. And, it was a pretty great day!

Trunk or Treat!

So, it's been a while since I posted. Turns out I MIGHT have over-committed myself just a tad. While talking the dog on one of her 30+ minute walks (that we do at least once a day) I was thinking about the half marathon I'm signing up for, and Girl Scouts (for which I'm a co-leader), and work, and running the girls to swim lessons and gymnastics... I started to feel a tad overwhelmed. What's a girl to do...

So, I joined the Parent Teacher Organization and Event planning team at Addi's school. Why not, right?

Our first big event was Trunk or Treat - basically trick or treating out of the back of cars. It was a great event, about 250 people came, and most importantly the kids had a blast. One of the fun parts is to dress up your trunk, so Jay and I decided to paint pumpkins instead of carving them and do an Angry Birds trunk.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Little Miss Attitude

Let's just set the record straight.  During this exact moment in our family history, Sam was not telling me how pretty and smart I am.

 Just in case it wasn't obvious.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A slight obsession

A coworker commented one day on how great it must be to have two girls, because of the hand me down clothes.  That WOULD be the case, if I didn't like to dress the girls in matching outfits.  Now, in my defense, sometimes it's safer that way - like at Disney... I liked them to be the same so I could easily find both of them. 
Yes.  I know we aren't at Disney everyday.  But, safety aside... they LIKE it!  Seriously!

But.  Even I had to admit it was a bit much one Sunday morning.  We headed to Kohls after church, the girls in matching dresses and their babies in their matching dresses.  I looked up at one point to see the girls, their babies, and the display... all identical.

Fine.  I might have an obsession.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

25. Teach the girls how to swim

One of the perks of joining the gym was the pool. We loved hanging out there most weekends, and it helped me cross another to do off my list – teaching the girls to swim.

And one of the girls’ favorite parts of our Disney trip was the pool. I am lucky enough to have a waterproof camera and was able to get some proof of the girls’ skills. 

Check it out here!

Monday, October 17, 2011

7. Go to a parade

Last year Addi and I got the opportunity to walk in a parade with the Center for Prevention of Abuse, including Quacky the Duck.  The parade was a bust - we got soaked - but the experience was fantastic.

This year I had hopes to join Beth and Sydney again, but our plans were once again foiled when I found out the date - it was the the Saturday we were at Disney World.  Lucky for us, we found another parade to help us check this one off our list.
Afternoon parade at Hollywood Studios

 Night parade at the Magic Kingdom

 and finally, the afternoon parade at the Magic Kingdom (Grandma, Sam and Addi)
Maybe next year we can hit up a cold, rainy parade in Illinois.  This year, I'm glad the parade was in hot, sunny Florida.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Top five ways I wish I was more like my kids

1.  They stop eating when they are full. It doesn’t matter if the bowl is ½ full of ice cream or black olives. If they are full, they are done.

2.  They can have fun anytime. If it’s raining – they want to jump in the puddles. If they are waiting in line, they’ll make up a game.

3.  They forgive quickly. They forgive each other, they forgive their friends, and they forgive Jay and I when we screw up.

4.  They are motivated by something as small as a sticker. Even Addison at age 5 gets excited about a cool sticker and will work extra hard to get to her goal.

5.  They love unconditionally. They are friends with everyone, regardless of what their parents do, what they wear or what they look like. They are colorblind, money blind, and even hug their friends when they have smelly breath and dirty clothes.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

5. Go to Disney with the kids.

Disney World is one of those iconic milestones each kid should have. I vividly remember my visits there as a kid, and Jay remembers their whole family trekking there and camping, including the armadillo they saw. So, last year, as a test run, we went to Disneyland in California. When the kids enjoyed it and we didn’t want to run away screaming from the park, we decided to book a big Disney World trip this year.

After months of planning, asking my mom to go, and a lot of anal-retentive planning on my part (yes, the girls matched every day, what’s it to you?) we climbed aboard a plane to Orlando.

Addi and Grandma, ready to take off

[Let me just say right now, I’m going to go into a lot of boring details – mostly so I don’t forget. If you don’t want to hear all about Disney, you should go away now.]

I’m not always the most emotional person – but when I started crying on the bus to the hotel, I knew I was done for. Man, those videos of kids being surprised really got to me. From that part on, the brochures were totally right. Disney really is magical. Pulling up the Wilderness Lodge Resort, we were whisked inside and in no time had our room, our stroller, and groceries being delivered. Our room was a one bedroom villa, so my mom had her own space and the Ralphs had their own. We got settled and headed to Epcot.

Daddy, Addi and Sam

That was when we realized this was not the Disney of our former 10 year old selves. This Disney was BIG. Much bigger than we remembered, with more parks, more princesses, and a lot more food. So we took it easy at Epcot, riding Soarin’ (so, so fun by the way) and having dinner at our hotel restaurant (Whispering Canyons CafĂ©, so fun and yummy!) and headed to bed.

More to come...

1. Addi / Mommy Day!

When Addi started kindergarten I planned to take her for to lunch, to get her nails done, and enjoy an day with her, before school took up all of our time. Since her first day was a half day, we did about half of what we planned – lunch and swimming. We just ran out of time for the rest.

So, the day before we left for Disney, Addi and I made up what we missed… and went for her first mani/pedi. And just as I suspected – she loved it!

There is a good chance I created a monster.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Watching summer fade into fall"

That expression never gets old... It's a line from one of my all time favorite songs by Kenny Chesney - if you haven't heard it, go right now and listen.  Go on.  I'll wait.

OK, now that we took care of that, I'll explain.  While I absolutely LOVE summer, I love fall more.  Sweaters, boots, picking pumpkins, football, leaves changing, wearing jeans with flip flops and a jacket, seeing your breath in the morning air... There really isn't a thing about that season that I don't love.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I've been known to take the long way to work in the mornings, just to drive through nearby Detweiller Park to check out the leaves. 

Over Labor Day weekend, Mother Nature gave us a glimpse of fall with some cooler temperatures.  And while the leaves weren't changing and it was too soon to pick a pumpkin, we were able to meet the Pletchers for a day at Wildlife Prairie State Park for a chilly day.  It was the kind of day where you took your coats off, then put them back on every five minutes.  We walked around, checked out the buffalo, antelope, sad lonely wolves, black bears, birds, and bugs. 
Sam (in the stroller), Nolan, Mara, Reese and Addison

Sam (and Reese) posing with a slightly creepy statue.

Addi and Reese (then Reese and Addi) on top of a bronze dog

Reese, Addison and Samantha
All in all it was a pretty nice day.  And the icing on the cake was Sam going to bed at 5 p.m. and sleeping until 7 a.m. the next morning.  Fresh air does a body good!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Crafty McCrafterson

Crafting is something I love, but don't really have tons of time to focus on.  But every now and then the urge to be creative takes over and I figure out a way to finish a project.

Last week I got the urge again.  Like my new wreath?
Yes, it's not perfect - it was a practice run to see how it would turn out, so don't get hung up on that like I probably will.  But, in case you are curious, here were my supplies. 

Yup, that's it.  Coffee filters and a wood wreath.  Oh, and my hot glue gun.  $3 worth of supplies. 

Here's the wreath, a 1/3 of the way done.  At this point Jay was mocking my burned fingertips and calling my wreath a "toilet paper poof."  Humpfff. 

I'm hoping to make another one, this one a little more perfect and perhaps with a bit of color.  But, I have to admit I'm pretty impressed with the trial version.  Toilet paper never looked so good. ;)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Behind the lense

I found this on the camera.  And just had to laugh.  Addi loves to look in the mirror at herself, but this is taking it just a bit far.  ;)

Monday, September 5, 2011

10. Plant a garden

This year, Jay planted a garden including cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers.  My part of the garden includes picking the good stuff and weeding around the plants, so I consider it mine as well.

Last year our tomato plant was the big winner, eventually standing taller than me.  This year, it's the cucumber plant that's the biggest, growing around the air conditioner and providing us with a LOT of food.

We've had raw cucumber slices with dip.  Made cucumber and onion salad.  Then made it three more times. I've thrown away cucumbers that we didn't get around to eating and given some to friends. Pretty much every time we go out there, this is a portion of what we find.
This weekend Jay got to work on something we've never tried before... Making pickles.  First, he chopped up all the cucumbers we had inside, then went back to the garden and found 3 more cucumbers he swears grew while he was inside.  I wouldn't be surprised!  Then, he mixed up some pickle making stuff.  I helped by staying out of his way... That's what I excel at when it comes to cooking.
A few hours later, we had 10 new jars of pickles - some canned for the long run and some that will last around three months in the fridge.  But by the way the girls devoured the first jar today, I'm thinking we won't have any left by Christmas.  
If I could only figure out how to plant black olives in our yard...

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