Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Thing About New Year’s Day

If you are reading this before noon on Saturday (1-1-11), tune in to The Capitol Steps on NPR.  They broadcast 4 times a year and the political comedy shows are genius. 

But, hey, this is from someone who likes the Daily Show and Broadway tunes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another Snow Day

We woke up to more snow today.  It alternated between heavy snow flurries, to melting, to snowing again, to melting, and after a few more rounds, we have slightly less than a inch at the end of the day. 

Kyla stands proudly by her snowman.  I helped her engineer it and it fell down within 30 minutes of us going inside for Christmas cookies and hot chocolate.

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Not interesting in building a muddy snowman, Piper and Wesley enjoy being pulled around in the sled.  Piper likes to pull Wesley as well.

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Kyla takes her turn giving her siblings a ride.  Doesn’t she seem so much older in this picture?

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Piper amuses herself by putting snowballs on top of Wesley’s head, brushing it off, and piling on another one.

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Genius, I tell you!

….not any of my kids, but this simple contraption.  It’s a ribbon that connects baby’s sippy cup to his high chair or stroller or carseat.  Eventually, the hope is baby can pull up his own dropped sippy cup.  But since Wesley is not there yet, we have found two uses. 

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1) I don’t have to reach further than my knee  to retrieve his dropped (read: thrown) cup.

2) Like a hamster water feeder, Wesley can crawl over anytime and drink from his water bottle. 

For those who’d like to save the $5 this cost at TOP Foods (on one hand, a total ripoff; on the other, my favorite back saver), here’s the break down to make it.

You need:

1) A yard of ribbon and thread

2) A plastic “D” ring

3) velcro

Hopefully the pictures help, but if not, I will try to be more specific if you email me. The long end has a loop in it to attach to the chair/stroller.  The short end has the “hook” velcro at the end and twice the length of “loop” adjacent to that.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kyla and Jenny

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Santa brought Kyla a “big kid” doll.  Her name is Jenny and she likes to bake cakes.  In fact, she came with a bunch of cupcake baking accessories and her very own book.  I’ve loved playing with her myself, but what I was really thrilled with is the Dolly & Me clothing line at Sears.  It has matching outfits from 2T up to age 12, I believe, and when they are on clearance, they run about $10, for both outfits together.  Kyla and Jenny got matching jammies, as did Piper and her doll, named Baby.  More on Baby later.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

These Guys Deserve Their Own Post

Uncle Brian holds a very happy Wes.  If I could get a Baby Wesley in my stocking every Christmas, I’d be a happy woman.

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Christmas Day

The present frenzy continued on Christmas morning.

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Christmas is supposed to be about more than presents, of course, and in many ways, more than just about Christ’s birth.  Let me postulate for a moment that if Christ had never been born, or if more evidence that His birth happened during the hot summer, I think we’d still find something to celebrate during cold wintertime.  I believe we need a reason to come together with friends and family and feast, feast, feast as the Whos down in Whoville do.  Christmas is an amazing time to appreciate children’s natural joy…and unnatural sugar highs.  We had such a significant time with both family and good friends this Christmas, that although I am still exhausted, I can’t imagine not celebrating full bore and whole hog.

A Social Network Christmas

So I’m not on Facebook, but I do know enough about it to get a kick out of this “pageant” that was part of our church’s Christmas Eve service.  Igniter Media produces it and it is the second video on the following link.

Enjoy, and merry, merry Christmas.  I will return to blogging once I have slept more than 3 consecutive hours. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!

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Dwayne and I hosted Christmas Eve (our family’s traditional celebration) and Christmas Day.  Since this is the first time I’ve hosted since we’ve had kids, I wanted to start a few new traditions.


We decorated the premade Costco gingerbread house. I had been forewarned that the candy quantity was inadequate, so I overcompensated.  It made Kyla and Piper’s eyes bulge and we all joined in the decorating/smooshing.

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A beautiful candlelit Church service was followed by a gourmet steak and shrimp dinner prepared and served by Mine Truly. Thanks, Dwayne!

Then we got to open presents.  The nine adults each got one gift, but the kids got so many that it took us hours to open.  Each Christmas gets more and more delightful as the kids get older.  I loved it when Kyla would shout out, “I don’t know what it is yet, but I LOVE it!  Thank you!”

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The adults were gracious enough to allow the girls to help unwrap their own gifts.  These kids were well practiced at ripping off ribbons and paper by the end of the night!

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Here, I just love Piper’s falling ‘do.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Weather Land

In sharp contrast to the thunder-lightning-rainstorm-severe-winds we had at the beginning of the week (and the rain and snow predicted for this weekend), today we were given the bluest skies, temperatures in the 50s and the perfect day to go to the zoo. 




Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Backwards Girl

Kyla likes wearing her clothes backwards.  I thought at first it was just carelessness and not looking at the tags before she dressed herself, but every single day she has at least her shirt or her pants (but usually both) on backwards.  I haven’t thought about it too much, but today I took the two younger kids to Kyla’s preschool Christmas “concert”.  First of all, most of the girls were wearing dresses.  Not only is Kyla wearing her favorite orange shirt and the first pants she found in her drawer, but both are on backwards.  Oh, well, I’m not in the cool mom group at preschool anyway.  038039

But my favorite thing about Kyla’s look?  Walking behind her as she goes up the stairs.  Her motion says up and her clothes say down.  It’s a bit of a mental discombobulation.

Funny Story Not About the Kids

[This is long because I am wordy.]
Because of the dire predictions of a really cold winter, Dwayne thought it would be a good idea to make sure our upstairs fireplace is in working condition.  Since we haven’t used it in the 7 1/2 years we’ve lived here, it seemed like a good idea to have it cleaned and inspected.  We knew the exterior was fine because had had it complete resurfaced in Spring 2007, when Dwayne noticed that bits of brick had fallen from the chimney.  We had it looked at and decided upon a company that did all things chimney, including resurfacing.  We chose the brick to go with the patio and retaining walls we had built the year before and one week and $7000, we had a new-looking chimney.
Before:                                                           After:
May 07 Chimney 2          May 07 Chimney 9
Pretty nice, huh?  (Again, all style and vision credit goes to Dwayne.)
May 07 Chimney 9 done

We needed to make sure the chimney interior was as good as the exterior.  I researched my usual 5 best fits from Angie’s List, called 4 of them, and got inspection appointments with three of them.
Company A came out, thought the damper was still in decent working order, just needing a bolt to fix it. Then Company A climbed up on the roof to take a look outside and found that the crown and caps had been done incorrectly and needed to be redone.
Company B came out and decided the damper needed to be replaced and he swept the chimney. Then he climbed up to take a look and found the that crown and caps had been done incorrectly and needed to be redone.
Company C came out and decided the damper needed to be replaced, and a few interior cracks should be filled in. Then he climbed up on the roof and found the that crown and caps had been done incorrectly and needed to be redone. Then he took me out the the front deck so he could show me everything that had been done wrong on the entire chimney as well as the crown.
By this time, I am hating this whole process. I felt so stupid for not knowing that the top of the chimney had been been done so badly. What kind of estate steward am I? I should have learned all about chimneys and crowns and gone up a ladder myself (with a 6 month old) to make sure the work had been done correctly back in '07 and...and...well, I had failed my duties.
Company C was still going on about how poorly the dry stack had been done and how unsound that process was---can you just hear the blah, blah, blah? He asked me a few times who had done the work and I couldn't remember, of course. But finally I went down to the office and grabbed my chimney folder. And guess who had done the entire chimney resurfacing, crown and cap work 2 1/2 years ago?
Company C.
By this time, he had taken pictures so he could show his boss.  After I showed him the paperwork, he stepped outside to call his boss.  In private. 
Boss is coming out this week to take a look.  If it stays interesting, I’ll update.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Letter and Family Picture

[This year’s Christmas Letter, sent earlier, but now I’m just trying to catch up on most of a month’s worth of posts.]
Dear friends,
I’ve written bits and pieces of this letter in my head over the past month. Now that I am sitting down to write this, I don’t remember any of it. I just look forward to finishing this letter so I can find out what happened in our lives this past year.
I’m still oddly surprised that we’re a full decade into the 21st century. The good news is that our kids are miraculously aging far more quickly than Dwayne and I. Kyla is four now, but we’ve stayed about the same age as when we had her.
Yep, Kyla is a full-fledged four year old who still can’t find anything she’s afraid of, except perhaps of wearing too many clothes. She likes gymnastics (the jumping, tumbling, and climbing parts—not the listening parts), wearing her clothes backwards, pretending to be a bird, and composing completely tuneless songs. We have to admit that in spite of our best efforts, she’s basically a well-adjusted child who is happy being a Kyla.
It’s a temptation to compare Kyla and Piper, but they’re not really identical or opposites. They’re just plain different. Though they are both very good at completely exasperating me.
Piper is 2 ½ now, and I can’t quite separate out what is being 2 and what is simply Piper. She is the most heart-meltingly sweet, thoughtful, giving soul right before she turns into a determined Neanderthal. Our issue with Piper is that, if there is a consequence that she responds to, Dwayne and I haven’t found it. (Jelly beans could be the one exception.) I once heard a great sermon about Apostle Paul’s effectiveness—there was nothing that could be done to Paul that would scare the Jesus out of him. Jail him? He’d preach there. Let him go? He’d preach more. Beat him? He’d use it as an object lesson. Kill him? Great, he could finally go to heaven. Paul was unpunishable. Piper has different goals than Paul, but is completely unpunishable in her own way. She will be a force to reckon with when she is older.
The biggest news of 2010 is that Dwayne got a promotion/raise and I got a housekeeper. Okay, actually the biggest news is that we had our third child this year. Wesley Scott Need was born January 18th. But his birth eventually necessitated help keeping up the house. It was 3 against 1 (Dwayne is neutral) in the fight to keep the house clean. I surrendered last September. It’s now 3 against 2 and the shower scum is cowering.
But even more than cleanliness, I love my baby boy. He shows all the signs of being as timid and sour-tempered as his sisters and father), which is to say, not at all. When not sucking his two fingers, Wesley spends his day making sure gravity continues to work and that anything on tables or shelves is safely thrown on the ground.
Wesley came on MLK Jr. Day after almost 2 hours of labor. I don’t do pregnancy very well, but I think I could win an Olympic Delivery event. Less than 13 hours of labor total for 3 kids, no drugs (no time), and I don’t believe I ever cursed Dwayne. That’s got to get me a silver medal at least! It’s too bad my best event is the shortest, because I’m probably not going to win any lifetime parenting awards. As the child-rearer in a Christian household, I feel our important rules should incorporate the Ten Commandments or Paul’s admonitions or at least a proverb or two. Instead the only real rule I have is “Don’t make more work for Mama”.
For me, this means forgoing Facebook, Twitter, potty-training, snaps and laces (instead of zippers and Velcro), crossword puzzles, and meals that take more than 15 minutes preparation. For the kids, it means refraining from asking me to do something they can do themselves, not doing permanent damage to inanimate objects, and preventing illness to the best of their ability. The rule is broken numerous times daily, by me and my beloveds, but I think overall, it leads to a more sane mother. There are so few contributions to my personal sanity that I take what I can get.
Outside of a few camping trips (each which completely shattered the One Rule in our house), we didn’t do many family trips this year. Exotic vacations weren’t even on the wish list. But Dwayne and I did get to continue our hunt for a church this year. Just last month we finally committed to a great church just a few minutes from our house. It’s an Alliance church, which meant nothing to me until recently, but it quickly has felt like “our” church and a place where we can raise our family as well as grow and serve ourselves.
A few other bits of news, in no particular order. My brother, Keith, and his wife, Julie, had baby boy Parker in August. I love that Wesley and Parker, just 7 months apart, will grow up together. It makes it easier that Wesley is our last baby to have a sweet nephew close by.
Our one remaining cat is in permanent exile after a peeing spree in Piper’s bed. We’re at a bit of impasse, as I’m furious at Smokey for breaking the Rule, and she’s furious with me for throwing her out in the garage. She’s so mad that the one time she was able to get into the house, she went upstairs and peed in Piper’s bed. I almost rubbed her down in raw meat and whistled for the raccoons. We’ve “compromised”. She stays in the garage and pretends that she may have a premature death and I make sure she has food, water, and a warm box to sleep in.
And then there’s the kitchen floor. I hated my kitchen floor—completely stripped wood that would take any food particle and hold onto it for dear life. Drop a blueberry? See it for months. Grape juice? Hope you like purple! So my parents took the girls for a few days and I sanded, stained, and varnished, and now I have a lovely kitchen floor that actively repels stains. That floor is obeying the Rule so well that we practically have a relationship that borders on romantic.
Dwayne and I also have a relationship that borders on romantic. Romance these days is cleaning the kitchen together, playing footsie while we each work (or blog) in the evenings, and laughing as I try not to wet myself while jumping on the trampoline (thank, kids!). Phew, at least there’s no shred of dignity left to embarrass me.
And lastly, here are the two cartoons that are on our fridge.
And this is about as true as life is. I don’t feel like I have a lot of spare time, but somehow I have stronger, deeper friendships now in my life than I’ve ever had. Thank you for being part of our lives where the line between friend and family is blurred, as are my eyes as I think about how much you mean in our lives.
How’s that for sappy endings?
Denise, Dwayne, Kyla, Piper, and introducing Wesley

What Scares Denise, Top 10

10. Drowning while being squeezed/bitten by snakes.

9.    Drowning.

8.    Having a tree come through our roof and killing us all as we sleep.

7.    Having a tree come through our roof and killing us all as we sleep.

6.    Having a tree come through our roof and killing us all as we sleep.

5.    Having a tree come through our roof and killing us all as we sleep.

4.    Having a tree come through our roof and killing us all as we sleep.

3.    Having a tree come through our roof and killing us all as we sleep.

2.    Having a tree come through our roof and killing us all as we sleep.

1.    Having a tree come through our roof and killing everyone but me.


Last night #1-8 played out vividly in my head from about 1am – 2am.  When the first branches started hitting our bedroom roof, I unthinkingly ran for the nursery and grabbed Wesley, sniping to Dwayne to get the girls.  We spent the next hour or so trying to sleep together in the guest bed downstairs.  We didn’t sleep, but we didn’t die, either. 

It wasn’t until the next morning that Dwayne discovered this in our dining room:


That’s a harpoon disguised as a tree branch. 


This is the whole up close with a tarp covering this part of the roof. 


Messy? Inconvenient?  Expensive?  More work for Mama?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes.  But no tree fell through our bedrooms killing any of us.  More than anything, this stick kept things in perspective for me.

Just for the fun of it, here is some pictures of the branches/trees down in the back forty.




Saturday, December 11, 2010

Following the Dirt Trail

The kitchen…



To Piper’s room…..


To Wesley’s room….



To the culprit in the crib, exhausted from his grime spree.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Budding Shutterbug

Our little town has had its Holiday Festival this weekend, making our town, well, festive.  Today, we met up with another family to take each other’s family pictures.  Kyla’s friend, Isaac, had just gotten a kid’s digital camera.  Look at this shot he got of Kyla!

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I got this one of Wesley and Piper.  It’s a first Santa encounter for them both!

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Kyla: Hey, Mama, look!  I’m a reindeer!

Piper: Mama, me, too!


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So I said to Dwayne last night as we were getting ready for bed, “Babe, I had an odd thought in the shower.  I’ll be making rumballs soon, the cookie that some grown-ups love, and some don’t care for, and all kids dislike.  I bet Piper will love rumballs.”

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Turns out, Piper does like rumballs.  I made two batches, and by grabbing the wrong measuring cup the second time, doubled the amount of rum in the second batch.  Kyla thought they were yucky.  Piper disagreed.

Who made this child?!?