Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hell Hath Frozen Over

Remember how much I hate crocs? And then when I was pregnant with Ardyn I bought a pair of Athens sandals by crocs (which look NOTHING like crocs, mind you) and they were so fabulous and comfortable that I lived in them that whole summer? And the summer after that, and the summer after that? Yeah.

Well, they keep making crocs look a LITTLE bit closer to something I might actually wear. I think crocs are adorable on kids and ya'll know that Ardyn had them in every freaking color last summer. Well, cheap generic ones at least.

I accidentally ran across a pair of Crocs that I like. I tell myself that I will only wear them around home. Because I am in the yard with the kids alot and it will be nice to slip them on and off. But then I think "well, I would wear them to take the kids to the park...." and I just KNOW that I will end up living in them, and looking like a total dork all summer. But anyway, these are the ones that I got. And I hope that they are cool and that they fit. LOL. I guess I'm just old enough to not care if I look like a retard? Ha. They remind me of my old chuck taylors...
Alright. Let me have it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You can shop for anything online!

I often joke with people that I am currently "church shopping." It's a long long story, but it boils down to the fact that I want to find (I think) a church that I feel comfortable and at home in, and who's pastor I can identify with and learn from, and which has programs and a nursery that welcomes and loves my children. Well, sounds simple, right? Ha.

Over the years a person comes to find that there are more to churches than meets the eye. Sometimes I think that the church that I am looking for doesn't exist. Especially not here. But that is when I tell myself that church is, as always, inside of me and that my relationship and beliefs do not need to be perfectly mirrored in my place of worship... which leads me to again question IF and WHY I actually need a PLACE of worship. I am still undecided.

I told myself in the fall that I would start to investigate churches and pick some that I would like to attend (sans children) and then start to get a feel for what I liked and didn't like about each one. Then once I had narrowed it down I might take Ardyn with and see how it went. I started reading Ardyn bible stories meant for toddlers (I have LOTS of books for her with bible stories :) and I taught her Away in a Manger for Christmas, and we got her the Little People Nativity and explained everything to her. We read books all December about Christmas and Jesus Birthday, and we used Nativity Window Clings to remind her about the shepherds and the wise men coming to visit baby Jesus. Being a 2 year old, her understanding is limited. What is important to me is mostly that she be given the tools and education about religion that will allow her to form her own beliefs and make her own decisions, and that she be instilled with morals and compassion and kindness for living things.

So far I have in fact investigated several churches. Through my MOPS Group I have been able to meet moms from several different churches, and have visited a few (during non-worship times.) and I often pick up Sermons on CD's, or church directories, or even bible reading schedules and bulletins. I like to check out their nurseries and see what they have to offer for Children's Ministries.

One thing that, until this evening, I never thought to do.... was to visit their websites! Why in the WORLD would I not realize that I could shop for churches online?? Wow. It makes sense. One thing that I immediately noticed was the churches mission statements and beliefs are usually listed online. I was immediately reminded of why I do NOT feel a full sense of comfort with organized religion... most organizations do not allow for an interpretation on the part of the parishioner. Well, if they do, they certainly don't talk about it. I find it annoying that a church as a whole thinks they can make one broad statement (which actually ends up being fairly specific) and that it will (or should) cover the beliefs of such a large body of very different and mostly intelligent people. I find it frustrating that a "Community Church" can state that they

offer Christ’s transforming love and healing to all wounded and broken people, including those who habitually engage in various sexual sins, heterosexual and homosexual alike.

Acknowledging the high calling of the church we oppose the ordination, or recognition of the preexisting license or ordination, of any person practicing, affirming, endorsing and/or celebrating adultery, fornication, gay/lesbian/bisexual behavior, or any other practices that are contrary to God’s creation intent as defined above.

This is telling me that they believe that homosexuals are broken and wounded and need to be fixed.... which I don't believe and I find incredibly demeaning, and I don't ever want to make anyone think that I am guilty of those thoughts be association, and most importantly this includes the values and compassion that I want to instill in my children.

So then I was lucky enough to stumble across a church whose statement of faith says

.....proud tradition of spiritual and social activism, including a number of historic firsts: the first African American ordained by a Protestant denomination (1785), the first woman since New Testament times ordained as a Christian minister (1853), and the first openly gay person ordained as a Christian minister (1972).

The Church today remains diverse. Historic statements of Christian faith, such as the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed, are honored in the United Church of Christ. However, the Church respects freedom and diversity of individual conscience, and we do not use a creed or catechism as a test of faith for our members.

..... is an Open and Affirming church. That means that we make a public statement welcoming persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities into the full life and ministry of the church.
Now THOSE are the types of values that I want to instill in my children. Of course this in itself has not made my decision, but I think that it certainly makes me feel better about the possibility of finding a church that I can enjoy, be proud of, and that will allow me to have my own thoughts and interpretations of what religion should be.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In sickness and in health

You know, generally I am a fan of seasons. I have always been okay with Winter. But the older I get, the crankier the prolonged season makes me. I guess that's why all the ole folks retire and spend their winters heading south. Winter is really fun for a while. BUT when winter lasts 4-5 months, it starts to get old. I think that by January, most people are feeling kinda "blah" about winter (at least here in Illinois!) It's just that kinda icky month. It's frigid cold, there's snow and ice and sleet. The car washes are frozen and you can't get the salt off your vehicle. Everyone seems to either be sick, be getting sick, or getting over being sick. Apparently our house is no exception.

Pretty much the DAY that Evan started to finally feel better, Ardyn woke up with a really throaty cough and a runny nose, that progressed throughout the day to end up with a raspy voice and finally a fever. By bedtime that night she was full on "sick" and just one day later while she alternated between happily medicated and drastically dramatic and feverish, Marek woke up with a cough which progressed into a low grade fever. He took FOUR naps that were at least an hour long. Poor guy. He was especially clingy and cuddly and I just spent the day laying on the couch with him and catching a bunch of movies on Netflix.

Of course, when Evan got sick, I was very upset, especially knowing that we could get sick next, and that he wouldn't be able to help with lots of upcoming things, and then we had such a busy week this week.... it's just a Murphy's Law kind of thing. So on Monday our kitchen got cleaned and we took the kids to Menard's with us and picked up the paint and stuff we would need to paint it. That was the day that Evan was recovering and Ardyn was catching her cold. Tuesday Evan started painting, leaving us without kitchen access. We had originally planned on going to his parents or even mine (by we I mean me and the kids) during the painting, but now that BOTH kids were sick, and I wasn't really feeling all that fabulous myself, we just stayed home. So Tuesday night I couldn't go to Breastfeeding group, and Wednesday we had to cancel our lunch with my friend Dorene. When we still had fevers and coughs last night, I canceled the playdate that we were supposed to be hosting at our house this morning. Ugh.

Of course then yesterday we had an ice storm, and so by nightfall it was pretty much worthless to go anywhere else, even if we DID feel good enough to go. The power flickred and surged all night, and then of course at about 2am it went out for good. I have a not-so-funny-but-oh-so-hilarious story with that one. I have been pretty anxious and on edge with everyone being sick, so I have really been lazy (by lazy I mean not doing anything besides caring for two sick kids and feeding them whatever I can get them to eat.) and just trying to chill out and lay around with them as they rest. My throat has been really sore, and I have been achy, so I have been taking it as easy as I can, hoping that I won't become full fledged "sick." Well, when the power went out, I had only been asleep about an hour, so I was in that zone of complete exhaustion and disoriented. Each kid was in their respective bed, and when Marek started crying, I thought that his fever was back up and it was about time to check him. When I opened my eyes, everything was black. And I don't just mean dark. I mean BLACK. No light anywhere. No clock. No moonlight. No Streetlights. It was so pitch black that the first thing I thought.... "Oh my God, I am BLIND!!!" Seriously. This is not an exxageration. I had that full on panic that I had somehow gone blind in my sleep. I closed my eyes, shook my head, and opened them again, still black. I tried to sit up in bed, and couldn't see my clock, or the electric blanket, or ANYTHING. OMG. I was freaked. Then my eyes adjusted a bit and I realized that I wasn't BLIND but the power was out. Talk about freaking scary. I yelled at Evan (who was of course in his own "bed"- the couch) and he knew it was out because it had been surging so bad that he got up to unplug some stuff. So then I had to make my way to Marek's room. I got him and Evan brought a flashlight to me so that I could check his temp in the dark. He didn't have one. I nursed him and he snuggled into bed with me where it was warm and I could be near him to make sure he was okay (since he can't have blankets or anything!) Evan checked on Ardyn again and we decided to just add more blankets and snuggle down and see if the power would come back on. Neither of us was thrilled with the prospect of having 1 hour of sleep, packing in the dark, and taking two sick kids out in an ice storm to get to a family member who had power. I do remember waking up a couple of times and snuggling in deeper because it was getting colder in the house, but it never got bad enough to chase us out. The last time I woke up cold, it was because the power came back on and I heard everything kick in... and then it surged off again and I remember going "ohhhh! Man!" and then around 4-5am it came back on for good. That was a good thing. I think that I will have to make a point to bring the coleman rechargeable lantern out of the camping stuff and keep in in the house for the winter :)

We are supposed to have more freezing rain and drizzle tonight, so hopefully we keep power. With the kids being sick and so much going on, I am so far behind on laundry it's ridiculous. I literallly can't walk through the laundry room. Every single diaper is dirty. And I mean EVERY single diaper. I have been using random inserts and things for the past week, and have exhausted my entire prefold supply (which I use as backups and with diaper creams.) I think I have something like 26 Goodmama Fitteds (all dirty) and all my PUL covers are dirty.... and I probably have nearly 8-10 of those. And then I have lotsa BGOS 3.0's and they are all dirty (maybe 20-22 of them?) and also about 16 prefolds.... all dirty. So, um, Yeah I am behind. Every wetbag is dirty. Both pail liners are dirty. I EASILY have three loads of diapers to do. Perhaps four. The GOOD news with that is that Marek's diapers are SO much easier to deal with than Ardyn's ever were (can you say SOLID!?) and that this will allow me to empty the hot water heater quickly, which is important.... because this morning we got a new Water Softener Installed! A very nice twin tank system from Culligan. I already adore it. Why- because lots of the guesswork is taken out of the management, it saves money on salt over a traditional unit, as well as water because it only regenerates when necessary, and because with the twin tank system, you are NEVER without soft water, because it switches between tanks and the other side regenerates.... which is awesome. We use alot of water, between dishwasher loads, baths, and to ever popular LAUNDRY. I am totally excited about this because our softener hadn't been working for a while, and it had caused lots of issues with buildup on our dishes. Also because it's easier to get diapers and clothes clean with soft water. Yayyyy! And of course we just got the new dishwasher installed on Friday. Sears FINALLY honored the warranty (after 4.5 months of trying to repair the damn thing) and we got a very similar model, but this time I opted for a stainless steel interior and it is also a bit quieter. And everything is CLEAN! yay!

Except the house is totally a disaster. I have the majority of my kitchen in the dining room on the table and chairs. I have a box full of party supplies for Marek's birthday on my mini-scrapbook table. the loveseat has a whole pile of clean clothes that need sorted, folded, and hung.... The excersaucer is stacked on top of the jumparoo.... both items that I asked my husband to take to the attic almost a month ago.... because Marek doesn't use them anymore. There are smooshed banana nut muffins and random cheerios on the coffee table, and Ardyn has turned the couch into sick camp, surrounded by pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, kleenex, and TV remotes. Marek's high chair is filthy and needs scrubbed. Marek shredded and chewed a bunch of paper on the dining room floor, and the kitchen is covered in drop cloths, cleaning supplies, and painting stuff. And I thought we were having a playdate this morning? Ha. Well, it would have worked. the kids could have still played in Ardyn's room no problem, and I would have put the moms to use folding my laundry. Ha!

So. That's this week in a nutshell. Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment and a scrapbook night, so hopefully kids are feeling much better and mom can get out and get some much needed breathing done.

Is everyone else healthy?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cut short....

My mind is not working at full capacity today, so you will have to forgive me if something I say makes no sense to you. I am also trying to write while the dishwasher install is happening 4 feet from me in the kitchen, and while Marek and Ardyn are laying down for what I am hoping is a synchronized naptime. Marek is crying (which he always does when being put in his crib these days) and so I am trying to distract myself. I can't load the dishwasher, or do laundry (he's blocking the door to the basement anyway) and so I am just kinda sitting here trying to not be anxious about all the things I could be doing. It's not working... in case you were wondering.

I have diapers to wash, and we are having the kitchen cleaned on Monday so that we can paint it this coming week. It's getting scrubbed down top to bottom, ceilings, walls, floors, cupboards. It really NEEDS to be done badly, and I can't do that AND watch two kids... so we will head to grandma's house while the kitchen gets a makeover on Monday.

The week will be a little less busy than this one was. We did lots of fun things! I went to my first BUNCO night with the girls (yay!) and we went to a playdate at Elizabeths. Katie and I also got together and took Kelsie and Ardyn to see their first movie in the theater! We saw Alvin and the Chipmunks the Squeakuel... and it was a ton of fun. We went to the Apollo theater in Princeton, and I hadn't been there in YEARS and it was so nice. It was also extremely inexpensive! Since Ardyn is younger than 3, she got in for free, and it only cost me $3.50, which was AWESOME! The staff were super nice and the popcorn was delicious. The snacks were inexpensive and we were so thrilled over the whole experience. We will certainly be frequenting that theater!

Fast forward... dishwasher installed and running it's first cycle and Ardyn and Marek are asleep. Oh wait, Marek is asleep. Ardyn is being a clown in her room.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Busy Day at home....

Well, it's 11:30pm. Early for the old Meagan, but late for the new Meagan. It has been an insanely productive day. I am still pretty shocked at what I accomplished! Although Ardyn did watch more TV than I would have liked.... but I got lots of cooking done.

I have settled into bed with the electric blanket warming up, the laptop on my little cherry lap table that my sister got me long long ago, and have taken all my medicine and two Tylenol PM. I will blog until I can't stay awake I guess. I just heard the Roomba finish up it's vacuuming of the living and dining rooms, and the dog is happily asleep on the couch after a whole night of being my shadow. I did remember to scratch him behind the ears twice. Poor old guy... his life just ain't what it used to be.

My skin is so dry (damn you eczema!) and I am pretty sure that the whole-house humidifier is not working right. But when the weather is below zero, it's just hard to keep things moisturized. I would kill for an hour long full body massage right now. I have been waking up SO achey in the morning, and the pinched nerve in my hip is acting up again, and so I know that I am out of whack somewhere in my back. Heaven would be a chiro adjustment followed by that massage. I am wearing a cotton nightshirt/gown that I got for $2 at the evil Wal-Mart. I got a whole slew of them on clearance, and it's awesome because no matter what gets spilled on them, they were only $2. But the whole time I was buying them I kept telling myself that the carbon footprint to produce these things must have been HUGE, and here they are practically giving them away for $2. It was upsetting.

I could write for days, but I prefer to just focus on today and leave it at that, because that's about all my brain can handle right now.

Before bed I picked up the living room and dining room, had the roomba run.... and then as I was trying to force myself to slow down for the night so I would be able to SLEEP, I remember things like "are the cordless phones on their chargers? Are the doors locked (check check check triple check.)" and then there are those things like "I could put those three towels away." and "I should wipe down the mixer." I could do that kind of shit all night. That's why I have such a hard time getting to bed, let alone to sleep.

Today I do recall that I sat down twice (once to rock Marek and once to do sandman on Ardyn before bed, and once again at bedtime) okay three times... and I did lay down with Marek in my bed once to nurse him and cuddle him while he went to sleep for a second nap. BUT I heard the kitchen timer go off so I snuck out and punched my dough down, and made it into loaves for the second rise, and then before I knew it the pizza dough was needing punched, and although I fully intended to go in and lay down with him again and nap, next thing I know he was awake. I must have sat down one more time because I assume that I nursed him at least once other time besides breakfast, nap, nap, and bedtime. Hmmm.

Today I had several goals and I got through all but two. I wanted to wash diapers and cook the 10 pounds of chicken breasts, which I didn't get to. Tomorrow. I DID get a load of kid laundry done (I have at least two, thanks to Ardyn refusing to wear a pull-up at naptime and peeing the bed) and I baked two loaves of Honey Wheat Bread from Scratch, and made my first ever pizza dough today also (Three Crusts to Freeze and one that I then turned into supper :) I loaded the dishwasher, cleaned the kitchen, and ran the same load of dishes through the dishwasher three times to get them clean (although they never did dry) and was mentally reminded that I need to get to Sears and pick out a replacement dishwasher (They finally broke down last week, after 3+ months of issues and well over $650 in just parts installed, and decided that they would replace the damn thing. Now I just need to get to the store, sans screaming children, so I can make a logical decision and order a replacement.)

Then after all the baking, I cleaned the kitchen AGAIN and unloaded and re-loaded and re-ran the dishwasher again. Ardyn wanted to play "No More Monkeys Jumpin on the Bed" and I feel badly, but it was like 35 minutes till bedtime, and I wanted to get the mess I was making all cleaned up, and the bread cooled, sliced, and put away... and supper mess picked up... so I told her she could watch Scooby Doo until I was done. I need to unwrap that game and read the directions so next time she asks, I am better prepared and we can hopefully play.

Tonight Evan had band practice, and so we were alone. It was a pretty quiet night, and day really. The kids played well together although Ardyn did end up in time out at least three times, and mostly it was for beating on Marek. Her new antics involve pushing him down when he is standing, or leaning over him and then smooshing his whole body down to the floor with her body weight, much like a toddler body slam. His retaliation includes biting and pinching, or screaming like his limbs are being crushed. My retaliation includes forced apologies and kisses between them and time outs for her. I had time to play with them and feed them, and put them both down for their separate naps when my various doughs were rising. It really is easier to make more than one type of dough at once, because then everything can be messy, all your tools and ingredients are out, and everything is rising at once. It's great. They do really well playing on their own, and often they play on the kitchen floor. Luckily (?!? sometimes ?!?!) our house is small enough that I can hear them and/or see them from pretty much any location on this level, which is good (although I can also never get away from them.)

I think that I was able to have a very productive day because I was gone to my friend Katie's house almost all of yesterday, and then had a great MOPS meeting last night... so I was able to focus and not feel cooped up. I had gotten that break that I so desperately needed. Unfortunately I also forgot entirely that I had an appointment with the photographer (and my friend) and was going to order OUR photos for the house, and I felt TERRIBLE when I realized that I had essentially wasted her time and stood her up. Man did I feel badly. I am NOT that type of person, but somehow I just plain forgot and even overlooked it in my planner! Grrr.

We are supposed to have three activities tomorrow, a lunch date with friends, a visitor in the afternoon, and a beading excursion just for mommy tomorrow night, but there is a winter storm warning on for us, and we are in the 6-12 inch range of accumulation with single digit temps and high winds and blowing snow, so we might not be going anywhere. As long as the power stays on, I don't really mind. The kids and I will do our cozy homebody thing and I will try to get caught up on laundry and will ABSOLUTELY get those chicken breasts cooked, weighed, and packaged/frozen.

Well, it's midnight now and I need to catch some Z's. Marek has been waking up earlier every day and I know I will be sore again tomorrow. I have much more I could say, but I need sleep worse! Take care!

Friday, January 01, 2010


Oh the difference a year can make. Do ya'll seriously have an idea of how fast this past year has gone? For me I mean. I don't care about you. (I do, I do, I am sorry. Harsh. Kidding.)

Something really interesting happens to you when you have your kids close together. I think that it leaves you a bit touched. Knowing a mom who had 5 kids under the age of 5 at one time, sealed the deal for me. I knew that I wanted my kids to be close together. Maybe not THAT many kids THAT close, but I wanted that bond that her kids had. They looked out for each other, they entertained each other, and they were very self sufficient and kind children. But what I never realized was that they were the reason that, even in complete silence, she had a difficult time finishing a sentence. Because her brain was scattered, and her mind was elsewhere, and her duties were many. Sometimes, blogging becomes difficult to me. Because I like to go On and On and the kids like to suck out of me that life and energy that allows my brain to put those thoughts down. SO sometimes (okay, I lie. ALL times) my brain is blogging.... but my fingers don't have time to get it all out.

I have to say that I have never classified myself as a "writer" but perhaps it's time that I did? I love to write. Things that I see and things that I hear and do go through my mind and come out as a blog. I don't just mean sometimes. I mean ALL the times. My mind is constantly commentating. A blog is the outlet that I have for that commentating. And although it is rewarding and connecting to have people who enjoy reading it... contrary to popular belief, I do not blog because I want to have people following me. Nope. Because een way back when I thought no one was listening... I blogged my little heart out. Because it's a release. Because I was somehow, born to blog. I see similar behavior in the way that Ardyn commentates and narrates her own "adventures" and I realize that there is something about a writer that aches to put their commentary down on paper. Whether it be commentary about their own lives, or the lives (fact or fiction) of others... it's about having that mental state where you are constantly blogging in your head. Might as well put all that down, right?

Now. Let's be honest. (By this I mean I am being honest. But ironically, I am pretty much always honest... so don't be all amazed) This past year was by far the most difficult year of my 30 year life. It was joy and stress and millions of minutes of my brain spitting out sentences that, despite my best efforts, were constantly interrupted. I feel like my life is in a constant state of interruption. My responsibilities are absolutely overwhelming. Two demanding children under 2 was about more than I could take. My brain and my body were in a constant exhausted state of overload. I was in high demand. On Call. CEO. My husband became that shadowy figure on the edges, that sometimes came into focus and just about when I was ready to reach out and touch him... I was interrupted again. Naptime became a mission. If I took a nap I felt guilty. If I didn't, then I was exhausted and although I had done a TON of things, it didn't even make a dent. Laundry piled up as far as the eye could see. Dirty piles. Clean piles. Unmatched sock piles. The hardest thing was that no one in this house but me even seemed to notice... at least that's how it seemed. Because certainly if they noticed, they would HELP me, right? RIGHT? (no. for your own future reference.)

What I most look forward to in the new year.... is change. I don't even care if I meet HALF of my goals. If it gets easier, I will be happier. I am already seeing hints of the changes. Everyone sleeps through the night (unless they are sick.) Everyone can eat the same meals (unless there is honey, yogurt, or nuts involved.) No One has an extreme food allergy (yet.) Only one person is in diapers (two if you count Ardyn still overnight.) The house is now fluctuating between a state of absolute disaster and a state of potential. I occasionally see light at the end of the tunnel (or literally speaking, I see at least one, if not two or three, horizontal surfaces!) I find that I am able to pass by a mirror and notice how bad my hair is sticking up, at least ONCE before the kids go to bed. I notice that I am able to laugh about some things that previously would have brought me to tears. I have found many new mom friends in REAL life in addition to my large network of online mom friends. I thank MOPS and Facebook for the connections that I so desperately needed. I thank MOPS for playdates and activities with women and their families, especially women whose situations are practically mirror images of mine. I see their imperfections and love them all the more because they are like me.

I see Ardyn learning to recognize more letters of the alphabet, and trying to dress and undress herself, and be independent in things like potty breaks and sharing. I see her learning how to turn lights on and off, how to open doors, how to navigate stairs and slides and climb up into her own carseat. I see Marek standing and waving, clapping and signing for Milk. I hear him laughing at things he sees, at the dog, at his sister... and I hear him trying to imitate words and sounds. We hear the occasional "mamma" or "daddy" and see him rocking to music. Every single day is new and wonderful. It always has been, but I feel like some of the fog of "2 under two" has past. (of course, she's not under two any more, so that DOES make sense.)

I wouldn't do it over any other way. I see them playing together and loving on each other. When I hear Ardyn call Marek her "Bub Little Lovey" it just about bursts my heart wide open... When I see him bite her and let out a high pitched shriek of anger when she won't give his toy back... I have to shake my head and smile.

I know that having kids close like this isn't for everyone. I know that it leaves some of us a bit scarred... but it brings such immense joy when you see two people so close together, so identical in so many ways... be so amazingly DIFFERENT from each other. Wow. It still stuns me.

For the new year, I see lots of positive change. I hope to start remembering what my husband looks like. The one that I had BEFORE these two kids came along, and the even better one that two kids have made... (a daddy!)

I hope to get a handle on my house. Maybe I won't need that new sign out front after all? (Who am I kidding. It will say "My house was clean yesterday, sorry you missed it!" because that is the ABSOLUTE truth.) I hope that I can get more support and assistance from others. I don't do well with asking for help. I guess I always figured that if you are drowning, someone will surely see, right? But there are no lifeguards on this coastline folks. These are turbulent waters. I hope that in the new year, I don't feel that when asking a grandparent to keep a grandchild overnight (is ONCE a month too much to ask?!) they respond like I have asked for their severed dominant arm. (seriously, are my kids THAT bad?!) I hope that I can make it through the long Illinois winter months without going stir crazy, and that I can find that delicate balance between raising hermits and exposing my kids to every playdate and doctor's office germ that will infect our entire household like a wave of plague.

I hope to be more organized, but in a BETTER way. I know that most of you might be laughing hysterically at ME being more ORGANIZED? You mean there is something in my house that is NOT labeled?! Yep. Purging. Things need to go. We are so overwhelmed with posessions, and crammed into this house, it's stifling. It's hard to keep your cool when you trip every 5 minutes. It's hard to be romantic when you can barely wade to your bed each night and you sleep next to a pile of unfolded laundry instead of your husband. I hope that to be BETTER organized, we will have LESS to organize, and that EVERYONE in this household will participate in keeping and maintaining a sense of organization, without having to be nagged and pestered, or without having to see me in nervous breakdown mode in order to help out around the house.

I hope that we can get into a better routine that will allow each child more one-on-one time with mom and/or dad, so that I can do things like read to Marek and do Hooked on Phonics and crafts with Ardyn. I hope that we can get more sleep (by we I mean ME) and remember that tomorrow is another day and it's OKAY if not everything gets accomplished before I sleep. When we get more sleep I hope that we are more comfortable with those morning playdates that everyone seems to DEMAND we have (why oh why must we be somewhere before 10am? It's against every fiber of my being.) I hope that the new friends we have made can result in more playdates PERIOD and I hope to see Ardyn form some real friendships with friends whose names she can actually remember, and that she will WANT to remember (and who will want to remember hers!) I hope we can work on her SHARING and her LISTENING. I hope I can work on my PATIENCE and my newfound talent of reasonsing without a toddler without screaming.

Most of all, I hope that I can work on my relationship with my husband. And I am thankful that despite the shell-shocked state we have been in this past year (two years?) we are still married at all :)

My goal in 2010 is to be the best mom, wife, and friend that I can be. It's to enjoy every moment, because I have already seen that they go by so quickly.

Happy New Year!

BEWARE THE DOWNGRADE FEE! Comcast Raised MY Prices, then Charged me a DOWNGRADE fee?

Yeah. So many of you probably know (?) that I recently decided to cancel our cable service. We previously had a bundled package with Cable TV (Basic, but we added the family package for more cartoons) that ran $99 a month. Well, of course, the deal was too good to be true, and I believe that about 6 months AFTER I signed up for that, someone explained that it only lasts for 12 months (which is better than nothing, I guess.) and so I have been waiting for the moment when the price went up. You see, we have had VOIP for a while now, starting out with Vonage, because our cable company didn't offer it.

When Comcast decided to carry VOIP, we stayed with Vonage, where I was *almost* perfectly happy, until we were told that Comcast had the new "bundle" that allowed us to save about $10 over the price we were currently paying for everything now. So we switched to the Comcast "triple play" bundle. FFWD for 12 months. The bill increases- but instead of scaring the crap out of me right away, they decide to "ease" us into the transition, giving me a "special discounted rate" for another 3 months that was only $114.99- when the price would soon be raising to $150.60 a month. Seriously? That's almost a van payment. I can not afford that for something that we do not NEED. So we started to do research, and I started to watch as much TV as I could online. I discovered that in addition to the "network" websites, there are cool sites like Cast TV (I love it) where you can make an account and see ALL TV EPISODES in one place, and add them to a favorites list, which is pretty cool. I have a few cranky points with their website, but for the cost (FREE!) and the fact that there are NO COMMERCIALS??! Yeah. it's great. Then We decided that we would sign up for Netflix at the mid-grade package, which allows us 2 DVD's out at a time, it really DOES take 1 day for the DVD's to get from Bloomington to us and Vice-versa, and I can stream THOUSANDS of movies and TV shows (including almost all the sprout TV shows and several great kids shows and movies) right to our laptops, AND right to our TV through the Playstation3 that Evan acquired used.

So, for $13.60? a month we can have unlimited streaming and unlimited DVD's with no late fees. Totally worth it. And so I call the cable company, and cancel the cable last month. They keep me on the phone, passing me between a few people, who are all trying to smooth talk me OUT of canceling the Cable TV portion of my service. I wasn't going to be "talked down" so when the suave (or so he thought) guy on the other line kept asking me questions, I just kept answering "I'm calling to cancel my Cable TV service." and he kept pressing me and I kept saying "Cancel my cable TV" and then he said "well, I don't have the authority to make that change" and then I had to keep telling him to transfer me. How annoying is that? But even more annoying, he focused all his time on trying to "change my mind" when he spent NO time telling me that they had every intention of charging me a $10.99 DOWNGRADE fee for changing my services.

When I finally was transferred to someone who could make the changes to my account, she was telling me that the phone and internet would cost me like $89 a month without the cable TV. Seriously? So I started to ask about the individual prices, and discovered that they actually have more than one telephone package and of course they automatically (without even asking me or giving me any details on what waas involved or what each package costs) put me into the highest price package. Come to find out, they actually have a CHEAP VOIP Package that allows you unlimited local calls. But they had no intentions of telling me that.

So after some time on the phone, I finally get down to a new service package that goes from the price of $150.60 a month to $69 a month just by cancelling my Cable TV service. So. Huge savings. Then they tell me that sending a service person out is REQUIRED and that the man will pick up our Digital boxes and remotes when he comes to shut off the cable TV.

And then I get my "adjusted bill" a month later and find that they have charged me the $10.99 Downgrade fee, which I feel should be ILLEGAL (nevermind the fact that I find it highly unethical) and when I do some online searching I find that Microsoft has been SUED for charging a Windows XP Downgrade Fee, and that several other cable companies raise their prices in the times of "recession" and then charge their customers a Downgrade fee if they decide to change their services to make them more affordable.

When I called, I was very happy that they credited my account without even acting like it was any big deal, but I pointed out that I would be switching my internet and VOIP service if they did not credit me, because the charge was not appropriate and is certainly not how you treat a customer that you appreciate. But what about those of us (me!!!) who usually don't have time to read the detail of every single bill? What about those (elderly?) who don't even UNDERSTAND the bill? Seriously, it's criminal.
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