Monday, December 31, 2012

The Cliffs of Insanity, or Not For the Weak of Stomach...Really...This is Pretty Gross

Things have not been going well.  It has been a rough month and since it is surprisingly painful to type this because of some of the events, I will try to tell about the bad parts of my month mostly in pictures.  The next installment will be my "on the bright-side" post.

Things started out with me finally giving in and seeing an Orthopedic Surgeon about my knees.

The Oh-So Stylish shorts I got to wear at the Orthopod's office.  You know you want some!
The good news is I don't have arthritis, I don't need surgery, and I have plenty of cartilage in my knees!  The bad side is my ligaments that go over my knees are basically malformed and since I am "so out of shape" my knees are sliding all over the place causing extreme inflammation in my knees.  The good news is that with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory shots in my knees I should be able to get to the point where they don't hurt anymore.  The bad news is I will have to be constantly in shape, and working out or they will go back to being painful again.  I almost wish I could just have surgery (yep, that's how low I've gotten after a month of VERY painful physical therapy!)

The next day I went to a regular doctor to find out why my antidepressants don't seem so anti anymore.  We switched meds and now I'm in the wonderful transitional phase where I am having withdrawal symptoms similar to Heroin addicts (but never got to have the high to go with it.  I feel somehow gypped), and severe ups and downs until the new stuff kicks in.  Basically everyone in my house has literally mentioned in prayer that they hope "the new medicines will help Mommy/Nicole feel better."

Later that week in the middle of my "poor me" slump Ethan brought home some homework that he struggled and struggled with until he finally asked for help.  This is that problem:
What the heck?  Are you kidding me?  Are there 26 fish in EACH tank, or 26 total fish? Why does it matter what type of pellet I am using?  Is one cheaper or easier to administer?  What type of math are they even trying to get him to use?  Are we suppose to be able to find a pellet ratio that comes out evenly with the fish and/or tanks?  I was a little flummoxed and asked my brain trust (family) what they thought and every single person had a different take on it.

This wouldn't be a big deal but Ethan's teacher is not exactly...nurturing.  I wrote a note explaining we were a little confused but he tried his best.  We then got the next homework...not good.  Basically it was a triangle made of 9 littler triangles that each had different types of sides (squiggles/dashes etc).  The first problem on the page had a triangle that DIDN'T EVEN EXIST on the big triangle so I wrote another letter to the teacher saying that I thought maybe they should screen their homework better (remember I am having withdrawals at this point) or at least explain what they are looking for.  We then proceeded to exchange a series of emails that were less than friendly and me pointing out that "YES, actually I DO have a teaching degree and YES I think her homework is stupid."  I have basically turned into the parent that turned me off from teaching in the first place.  Fabulous.

I know my pain will never rival that of people who have serious problems or horrible accidents occur in their life, and the shooting in Connecticut truly was a reminder of that.  So much so, that I spent most of the weekend crying.  Crying about painful knees, crying about stupid medicines, crying about how Ethan's teacher retaliated against him because of me (put him the lowest math group even though he is well above that), and crying about scared kids and families missing their little ones on Christmas morning.  Crap, crying again.  These meds had better kick in soon!

On the 17th I was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off going to therapy and trying to get us packed for our upcoming trip to California, get Livi ready for her school program that night AND finish the teacher gifts I was making.  So of course this happened:
(Note: avoid further pictures if squeamish)

I was making hot chocolate on a stick for the teachers, and thought it would be fun to make homemade marshmallows to go on top. (I know, I know, Who makes homemade marshmallows? I've heard that about 50 times in the last 2 weeks).  I was pouring the 240 degree corn-syrup/sugar mixture into the main bowl when said bowl slipped and I poured it on my hand instead.

On the bright-side most of the hand only got small 1st degree burns.  Also on the bright-side I didn't even feel any of them, because my ring finger was not so lucky. Running a hand covered in molten stickiness does nothing but solidify the stickiness and fuse it to your skin. When I ripped off the goo of doom I ripped off some of the skin too. 
The day after it happened.

Today.  I call it "Kentucky Fried Finger."
I went into the doctor today to see if they needed to debride (?) the wound (which means clean out all the gunk and dead skin).  The doctor said she wants me to go to ANOTHER physical therapist who specializes in wounds and have their surgeon do the cleaning because of the scar tissue forming.  Basically it is healing well, but forming a lot of scar tissue underneath and if I don't go to physical therapy I wont be able to move the whole top of the finger.  This wouldn't be a big deal except for the whole piano/knitting/embroidery/typing/applying makeup/ "not looking like I'm flipping people off when I close my hand" thing.

So basically January is going to be filled with a double delight of painful physical therapy.  Awesome sauce.  I do have a lot of bright-sides, though, and hope to highlight a lot of them when my finger stops aching from writing this novel-of-a-post that was suppose to be short and I feel up to typing some more.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I'm Dreaming of Rockin' Around a White (Trash) Christmas Tree

I know most people like their Christmas trees to be a well decorated masterpiece with lights evenly spaced, delicate ornaments, and strategically placed bows.  I think those are wonderful, but when looking at my house with homemade kids projects, hand drawn artwork, and teal walls, those would look pretty silly sitting in my living room.  It would be like putting a crystal chandelier in a mobile home.
Yep, we are basically Hill Billies.
  When ever we go on a trip we pick up an ornament to remind us of the good time we had. I get a new castle ornament every Christmas time at Disneyland.  We get ornaments when we move to a new area that reflects that town.  The kids bring home new treasures every year from school that we add on. It is a hodge-podge of colors, shapes, and memories, but it is 100% me.  I love it, and it makes me so happy.
The kids get to help out putting on lights, and placing their special ornaments.
 We talk about where we got them, and what they mean as we put them up. We share stories and jokes. Everyone laughs and has a good time, everyone except...

 Poor Tonks.  She didn't quite understand what was going on.  She kept trying to crawl in our laps and moped about like a...well..a little lost dog. 

 Our finished product:
  What, you may say, is going on with our angel on top?  Well a few years ago my Dad showed Ethan that if you cut straws and put them on the candles the angel is holding you have an instant Jedi Angel.  Thanks Dad for our new tradition, and Andrew for the following quote:

"And the angel said to the shepherds, fear not, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Kingdom for a Fork, and Lesson Learned at Walmart

We were lucky to not only have friends over for Thanksgiving, but some of the Stotts even made the long (boring) trip across Wyoming to visit us!
Our fabulous group!  Tonks loved having 2 tables dedicated to kids.  She had her own version of Christmas as yummy food fell like snow flakes!

 It was my first time having Thanksgiving with other people at my house and I learned two valuable lessons: I am not good at hosting Thanksgiving, and I need more silverware!  Running out of forks at Thanksgiving causes embarrassment, problems, and mini temper tantrums from a 4 year old that didn't want to use her dessert forks to eat her "chicken."

After the meal, and some very delicious apple pie (that I still dream about, thanks Melissa!) Eric and I headed over to the Black Friday (if it is on Thursday can you really call it Black Friday?  Thanks a lot Walmart for confusing me.) I was going to boycott it on principal, but since one of the big ticket items my child wanted was going for more than 50% off I thought we should check it out.  Unfortunately so did everyone else in town.  The entire parking lot was filled, including all imaginable illegal parking spots, so Eric dropped me off and headed over to a neighboring store's parking lot.
What the front of Walmart usually looks like (taken Friday afternoon).

What the same area looked like on Black Thursday.

I was stuck here for 5 minutes.  I couldn't move at all.  Eric thought it was funny and took a picture.  It's like "Where's Waldo" but you need to look for "Surly Looking Nicole" instead
 Of course when we finally made it back to the area the toy should be we were informed that they hadn't received any of the toy in their shipment, so we made the trip to Walmart for nothing.  On the bright side we didn't have to wait in the 2 hour long check out lines!

Here are some other highlights of having Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Cheryl with us:
Shopping with Grandma and Cheryl...

I think she like these better.

Ethan learned about ADDING salt to tortilla chips from Grandpa Alan and thought it was the best thing he'd heard of since Pokemon.  Silly Stott men!

We walked along the North Platte river on one of the most beautiful November days I have ever seen.  Too bad the sugar beet factory was in full swing and we all had problems with allergies for the next several days!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Flotsam and Jetsam

It has been a crazy month of random fun, and I'm too sick and severely dehydrated to write about it all. I'll highlight a few high (and low) points while I guzzle my Gatorade and try not to die.
I got to watch Carter and McKay for a few hours which gave me a taste of having triplets.  Three car seats, picking up siblings from school, and arranging snacks for 7 kids was fun for ONE day.
Ethan got sick and never got better.  After a few trips to the doctor he has been diagnosed with asthma and is now on 3 medications trying to get it under control.  I stupidly sat at the doctors shaking my head saying "No, no one we are related to has asthma.  This comes as a total shock."  Little did I know half of Eric's family has/had asthma and Joan even still has an inhaler and is on some of the same medication Ethan is.  Communication, it's a wonderful thing.  (On the bright side one of the conditions my kids have is NOT from my side of the family for a change! Woot woot genetics!)
Ella had her musical program for school and played Boom Whackers, which is a fancy name for a plastic tube cut to a specific size.  She did a great job with her Boom Whacker and her singing.  We have a true performer on our hands!
Livi had picture day at preschool.  When I curled her hair that morning I told her, her hair looked like Princess Aurora's hair, which Ella overheard.  We have been dealing with the jealousy issues ever since.
I bought a stash of Hostess products for my kids to try before they disappear.  I will probably lose about 10 pounds now that Hostess cupcakes and donettes no longer exist.  No joke!
Eric "caught" a deer.  A big buck that had to hang in my garage for a few days before it was butchered.
Which means I have a blood stain in my garage.  Hopefully we are never accused in any missing persons cases because the evidence will look pretty bad for a while.
It also means I got to see this macabre scene every time I went in the garage.  After the horrible odor of dead deer the fresh scent of bleach was a welcome change.... although, again, not good if we have crime scene units out to the house.
On the bright side we did get super yummy deer jerky that every one LOVES.  It is so good the kids ask for it in their school lunches.
On a super bright side I have the cutest dog on the planet.  What?  Your mind isn't blown with the cuteness of that picture?  Well, I give to you the cutest thing I have ever seen:
I know you want my dog now.  Too bad.  I might let you come visit and cuddle her...for a price...cookies, I want cookies.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The 12 Years of Marriage

On the twelfth year of marriage my true love gave to me..
a personal Skeptoid recording!

If you haven't listen to Brian Dunning aka Skeptoid I highly recommend it.  Eric and I love to listen to him on road trips.  He takes urban myths, popular beliefs, common misconceptions, even popular history stories and finds out the truth behind them.  It is really fun to listen to him back up my opinions on things, and it always strikes up a conversation in the car!

What did I get Eric?  Some almost extinct Hostess Fruit Pies.  Personal messages from a favorite podcaster and preservative filled pastry, aren't those the traditional 12 year gifts?  Happy Anniversary Eric, I love you!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I Get It Universe!

I am feeling a little self conscious about my size lately.  Watching Busytown Mysteries today didn't help.
   For those of you unfortunate enough to not know about Richard Scarry I would totally look up his children's books the next time you go to a library or book store.  I was raised on books about Huckle the Cat and Lowly Worm.  Anyways... Busytown Mysteries is a modern show using the older beloved characters where they solve problems in the town using deductive reasoning.  Olivia LOVES it.

Today they found a piece of metal with a number 10 and french writing on it.  They asked their teacher, Miss Honey (a big grizzly bear), to translate the words, which ended up saying along the lines of "Specialty Shoe Made in France."  Here is what the characters concluded:

Miss Honey: So it is from a shoe made in France.

Huckle: Do you think the 10 could be the size?

Miss Honey: That would explain why they had to be specially made.  I wear a size 6!

Huckle: I wear a size 3.  Who ever had these shoes made has REALLY BIG feet!

It turns out the metal was from a tap shoe... that a HIPPO wore.  Yup.  A Hippo.  The bear has tiny, dainty feet compared to the hippo, who wears the same size I do!  Thanks Universe, I get it.  I wear the same size shoes as Hippos, I can't order a robe long enough to cover my arms, I look like a giant baby doll trying to wear Barbie clothes when I wear regular women's clothes, and I can comfortably wear my husbands clothing.  Awesome.  I totally get it.  You can stop reminding me this week.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Flexibility in Body, Mind, and Humor... or I couldn't be prouder

Flexibility is one of those things I find very important in life.

Watching Ella in her dance class I was struck with the fact that she may not be as naturally flexible as Gumby (Ethan) and Me, she definitely is not like her daddy (who can barely bend over without pulling a hamstring).  She has worked hard the last few years and has gone from not being able to touch her toes to this:

I know it wont make a huge difference as to the quality of her life, being flexible, but the fact she is willing to go to 4 (she wanted to take 5 but I talked her out of one) classes a week to get better at something she loves makes me proud. To see the progress she has made and to be able to show her tangible evidence of her progress was really fun.

Ethan and I had scouts last night and we are working on the Scientist Pin.  I had brought a bunch of experiments for the boys to conduct and Ethan was always quick to think outside the box:

Me: What will happen when I stick a pencil into a plastic bag full of water?

Scout 1: It will break the bag
Scout 2: It will go through the bag

Ethan: It will EXPLODE like C-3PO's body when he got hit with a storm troopers blaster!!!
I like that Ethan looks at a situation (okay, almost every situation) with a different perspective than everyone else.  It may always relate back to Star Wars or Pokemon, but just hearing him describe the explosion made me happy.  I hope he always looks at the world through slightly different lenses than the rest of the world, because the rest of the world can be pretty boring.  We need more joy and adventure in everyday living!

I was able to go with Olivia on a field trip to Arby's today.

In Obama's America we aren't going to be able to afford to send our kids to college, so we've decided to train Livi early in the job field! Ha ha just kidding Dad, stop freaking out!

I was riding on the bus with her, Carter, and their friend Sophia and they were all talking about their cars and what they would do to make them cooler:

Carter: If I could make a car it would have no seat belts and all the doors would be always open.

Sophia: If I had a car the windows would always be rolled down.

Livi: If I had a car it would have (switches to an ominous voice) NO WINDOWS AND NO DOORS! Ha Ha Ha...

Her friends looked at her like she was crazy but I laughed and gave her a high five. She may be the only child in Nebraska to have the opening to Haunted Mansion memorized!  I was so proud that she not only remembered it, but used it awesomely!  I love that all three of my kids have such great senses of humor.  They keep me laughing, even on my darkest days.

I have amazing kids.

Monday, November 5, 2012

And the Jabberwocky says...

Picture not related: My kids with their souvenirs from my parents trip to Europe. I like how the Paris fashion for little girls is Native American!
This morning Livi really did not want me to do her hair for school.  Eric was trying to distract her by making animal noises and she would have to guess the animal.  She decided to do them for him too (just to make sure Eric knows his animal noises I guess)

Livi: Baaaa
Eric: Sheep
Livi: Good Job Daddy! Now, Neigh, Neigh
Eric: Horse
Livi: No! It's a Unicorn.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This is Halloween, This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween....NIGHT!

Woot woot, Halloween finally came!  I am especially happy because as I write this Halloween is OVER and I don't have any sewing I HAVE to get done!  Yea Ha, Yippi-Dee-Do-Da!

The day started out with Livi's program, which was pretty adorable.
Livi and Carter.  Carter's costume came with a flat plastic replica of a bag, which for a boy who loves to put things in pockets was unacceptable.  I was able to make him a new, WORKING bag that was much better.  Toot, toot (my own horn)!
They sang quite a few songs and had lots of goodies.  Here is my favorite song:

That afternoon the big kids had their parade/parties.

The Bagleys went with a Star Wars theme, and it was pretty awesome! 
Poor McKay was pretty tuckered out at this point in the day and decided he needed a good spot to lay down.  Livi was so cute, stroking his hair and kissing his forehead!

Our ward, for whatever twisted reason, decided to do our Trunk-or-Treat ON Halloween, which I don't like because
a) they billed it as a "safe place to trick-or-treat" which is ridiculous because I live one of the nicest neighborhoods in a small town in NEBRASKA, it's not like we live in downtown Detroit!
b) that means I only got to dress everyone up once.  I like to get multiple uses out our costumes.
c) it makes the day feel more crazy to have one thing after another all day long!
d) I don't have a good reason for d, but I just didn't like it, so there.

The girls decided they wanted to be princesses...again.  In order to maintain my sanity while sewing I decided to put a twist on the princess theme.  They were suppose to be steam-punk princesses, but as Eric needed more help with paralegal work, and kids have 200 activities, time swiftly flew by.  I finished the basic costumes, but not much of the accessories that would have made it "steam-punk."  Instead we are just a Victorian twist on princesses.  Works for me!

Livi is Cinderella and Ella is Aurora.
 Okay, so I am not a princess.  I am THE MISTRESS OF ALL EVIL wha ha ha - Maleficent!!!
Ethan didn't want to partake in the awesomeness that is homemade costumes and opted to be Boba Fett, everyone's favorite Mandalorian.  He even has the quiet demeanor and slim build to pull it off!  Tonks (briefly) wore an ammo belt and went as his captive, Chewbacca.

After the trunk-or-treat we headed off to do a little trick-or-treating with the Bagleys.  Livi's bag ended up breaking, but Carter was nice and let her use his ammo belt (thank goodness I had added the working bag!) to put her treats in.  We decided she was a princess wookie, or "pookie", at that point and both thought it was great!
McKay made a GREAT Ewok!  He even kind of walks like one still, and he wanted to hold my hand all night, which basically means he will forever have me wrapped around his finger!
Here are a few detail shots of our costumes for Julia who pretended out of niceness to care:
Blurry bathroom pic of my make-up.  The eyelashes were AWESOME!

Ella's hat with mechanical bird

Livi's hat with mechanical mouse Gus-Gus

A nod to Cinderella's glass slipper on Livi's skirt.  I was going to embroider this in silver but ran out of time.

Livi's "corset."  I used an actual pattern from 1885 and thought it was the piece de resistance. 
I embroidered roses on Ella's corset front in a nod to Briar Rose.

The back of my skirt.  Kind of like the back side of water in excitement, but thought I would add it.

In terms of hours my corset beat everything else combined.  Of course I had to make it hard.  I couldn't just make a costume corset.  I made a full lined, boned, grommet-ed, and busked corset. I used different fabrics for each section to add interest and some panels even have shear overlays.  Why did I do this?  I don't know.  Probably because it is written into my DNA (thanks Dad).  I hope I can come up with some way to wear it again, but right now I am drawing a blank.  Any ideas?

Well that is it for now.  I started this year in July and didn't get everything done I wanted to.  I guess next year I will have to start planning around Easter! (Just kidding, Eric, I promise not to undertake sewing costumes again until the year after next!)
P.S. The Disney Store has these amazing couture-esque Designer Villain Dolls.  I have to say I thought of my costume before I saw the doll, but I am flattered Disney thought to copy me!  Ha ha.  I totally want this for Christmas...hint hint!