Archive for December, 2009

A Very Lang Christmas

December 26, 2009

~sigh~ It’s the day after Christmas. The toys are put together and scattered throughout the house and yard. The food has been fussed over, eaten and the leftovers put into containers for grazing on. The anticipation of Santa’s arrival and which gifts he would bring has come and gone. The fancy dress has been taken from the closet, worn with much pride and been left crumpled on the floor. Christmas…

Here’s a rundown of how it went in the Lang house-

DSCF5469
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…ok, we have no chimney, so they were hung from the bookshelf with lots of lighted candles.

DSCF5503
This just might be my favorite gift of the evening. Thanks Mariah!

DSCF5505
My brother spent Christmas with us and he brought these snazzy antlers along. They definitely kicked up the holiday spirit!

DSCF5550
Christmas morning we went to Mass and JJ and Tristan served together.

DSCF5566
The annual Christmas picture in front of the the tree in our church. Everyone’s getting so big! I’m thankful for the remaining little ones!

DSCF5597
After church it was time for me to get cooking while the older kids played board games…

DSCF5649
…the younger ones played outside…

DSCF5604
…and the men drank beer on the roof (I’m still chuckling at this).

DSCF5663
After dinner we had guests over for dessert.

It was a very nice Christmas Eve and Christmas day. The house was full and busy and we had some of the required wackiness. I’m calling it a success!

Now, my bags are packed, the house is silent (other than the clicking of the keys on my keyboard) and I’m about to wake Clay to take me to the airport. I’m heading up to Northern Cal for a few days to visit with friends and family and to see an ill friend and help out where I can. Clay will be in charge of the kiddos and the house for the next 3 days….

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Ho Ho…Holey Moley!

December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve! Santa’s coming to town tonight! Let me just say that this better be a VERY VERY lllloooonnnngggg day because there is MUCH to do!

Where to begin? Hmmm…how ’bout if we start with the tree?!

DSCF5446
Isn’t it pretty?…in the dark!

Look again! There are only lights on it!
DSCF5440

Let’s get a closer look
DSCF5442
That’s right, just lights.

With all the waiting for JJ, Clay and Kateri to get home, I was trying to leave some things that they could be a part of. Well, it’s backfired on me and now it’s Christmas Eve and the tree has only lights on it!

But that’s just the beginning!

Not one single present has been wrapped. Not one! Let’s see, 5ish presents x11 people…Oh! My brother’s coming into town today too, so let’s add a few presents for him…You do the math! Don’t forget that Santa has to stuff stockings…So now, divide all of that by the # of hours until 7pm, when Santa will have come and gone (of course I’m estimating, no one can ACTUALLY know when Santa will appear. But I DO know that because of his amazing magical powers, he’ll come, work his magic and disappear while everyone is out of the house this evening and I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a little before 7 tonight…just a guess).

So…It’s now 5 am, I’ve got coffee and a big glass of water in front of me and I think it’s time to get moving. I better move the slumbering kiddos out of my bed, start the crock pot (yep, 3 nights of crock pot in a row. But tomorrow, I promise to turn on the oven and cook a turkey with all the trimmings), get all the presents out of hiding, lock my bedroom door, put a movie on and get going!

I think I’ll leave the tree trimming to Clay and the kiddos!

A very Merry Christmas Eve to each of you! May there truly be comfort and joy all around~

Bookmark and Share

Something I’ve Learned

December 22, 2009

I am now on my 5th teenager. I have one kiddo that is through the teens and onto the 20′s and 4 who are solidly in the teen years. And the #1 thing I’ve learned about teens is that you can not…let me repeat…can not make a teen do something they have decided not to do. Sure, you can deliver consequences for their actions or lack there of, but if they’ve decided not to come off the roof because they are angry at you, you can not MAKE them come down. Yes, you could climb onto the roof and push them off or drag them down, but I don’t recommend that. If they’ve decided they aren’t going to get out of bed and go to school, you can not, in fact, MAKE them get out of bed, get dressed and go to school. You CAN drag them out of bed, try your darndest to dress them yourself and force them into the car, lock the door and speed out of the driveway. But along the way, if there’s a stop sign…they can jump out. I think you get what I’m saying.

As I look back on being a teen myself, I shouldn’t be surprised by having learned this lesson. I distinctly remember standing in my parent’s kitchen and having the thought, “they can’t actually MAKE me do anything. They can yell at me. They can ground me. They can fine me or refuse to take me somewhere. Heck, they can kill me. But I still won’t have done the dishes”. Dang! Knowing that I thought that way, I shouldn’t be surprised at the stubbornness I sometimes encounter in my teens.

What you CAN do…wait it out. If they’re on the roof and it’s going to get cold and dark, they will come down…especially if you aren’t demanding that they come down. If they won’t get out of bed for school, take the phones, turn off the internet and go about your day. I’m serious! The less attention you give to the behavior the quicker it disappears. Of course, if it becomes chronic then intervention will be needed, but I’m talking about the occasional defiant action. You don’t want your teen to become a truant or to live on the roof and if the dishes aren’t getting done at all, then, yes, something besides ignoring their defiance needs to be done. I’ve found that if I just let them have their strong-willed outburst and then say “no” to the next couple of things they ask to do, it gets the message across.

Bottom line…teens can be tough! Even the very best, most studious and polite kiddos can decide to rear their defiant heads. I’m encouraging you, as the parent of a teen, to take a deep breath, silently decide what the consequence will be, let them finish their defiance and then deliver the consequence. I’ve found it saves a lot of yelling.

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Christmas “Break”

December 21, 2009

School is out, which means I’m off work. JJ got in from school on Friday and Clay arrived yesterday. Kateri spent 4 days going back and forth to the base in Ramstein, trying to get a mac flight home. After 4 days of being bumped because of her low priority, she’s given up on using that option. We are on hold to see what will actually happen with her traveling.

So now I am on “break”. Ha! The only thing breakish about it is that I don’t have to be dressed and out the door by 7:30. Instead, I’m getting up, showering, starting the coffee, the laundry, the dishes, the breakfast and then realizing that at 8 am I’m still not dressed and ready for the day. I am looking forward to catching up on the many, little tasks that have fallen behind since I am out of the house but the workload is greater and the expectations high when everyone is home. I didn’t work outside the house while Clay was still here or when Kateri and JJ were still living at home. My new schedule and the way I run things is new to them. When they’re home I feel a little pressure to make it all the way it “used to be”. So…more cooking, more cleaning and more organizing. It’s so good to have everyone together and the little kids are especially soaking up the attention from Clay and JJ. I will take lots of pictures and give them all many things to do together to keep them busy. But this time is going to move quickly and the break will be over and we will all go back to the way it’s been…JJ and Kateri away at school and Clay back to Iraq to finish his deployment. I must switch gears quickly.

Here’s to a beautiful Christmas week to all of you and to all that us moms do to make it all happen!

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Instructions For Brewing Coffee With A KitchenAid Coffee Maker

December 18, 2009

Every morning I get up, go to the kitchen and start my coffee maker. I’m in such a routine that I normally don’t even think about it, but some mornings I guess I should. I thought it might be helpful to myself and perhaps others to post the instructions for brewing coffee…just in case.

Take one coffee filter and add coffee grounds

Place the filter (with the grounds in it) into the brewing basket

Fill coffee carafe with water to desired level

Pour the water into the water chamber

Place carafe onto the heating portion of the coffee maker

Push the on/off button

Fool proof instructions!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2 methods that DON’T work for brewing coffee with a KitchenAid coffee maker;

1.Take a coffee filter and scoop coffee grounds into it.
Place the filled coffee filter into the brewing basket
Press the on/off button
Wait for 1/2 hr, wondering why the heck no coffee is actually being made

2. Take one coffee filter, scoop coffee grounds into it
Place filled coffee filter into brewing basket
Fill carafe with desired amount of water
Pour the water into the proper place on the coffee maker
Forget to press the on/off button
Wait 1/2 hr wondering why the heck no coffee is being brewed.

This morning I chose method #2. From now on, I’m hoping to refer to my own directions on proper brewing and to be able to enjoy my coffee 1/2 hr earlier.

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Deep Thoughts From My 3 yr old

December 16, 2009

This conversation took place in the car the other day;

Lex-Mom, I know how to make Jesus better

Me-How to make Jesus better?

Lex-Yes, we can give him medicine and a vitamin and fizzy juice (what my little kiddos call Airborne) and then he’ll be all better.

Me-Those all sound like really good ways to make someone better, but what’s wrong with Jesus that you think we need to make him better?

Lex-He died…remember?!

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Mommy of Many Meltdown…Seriously!

December 15, 2009

School, work, lunches, homework, cub scouts, laundry, broken items in the bathroom, Christmas cards, school pictures to send out, Kateri coming home, JJ coming home, Clay coming home, Christmas dinner, Christmas shopping, Christmas wrapping, phone calls, bills, folding socks, looking for the missing box of Christmas decorations, clean the yard, clean the garage, make sure the vehicles don’t run out of gas, Science Fair projects…STOP!

The Science Fair threw me over! I’ve been juggling the list above and was holding it together pretty well, until last night and the Science Fair. Weeks ago one of my kids gave me their list of needed items for their project. I took the list, placed it on my desk with the million other papers and moved along with daily life. Yesterday it was ABSOLUTELY the last day to get the stuff for her and have her do her experiment. I told her that I couldn’t find the list, but that I was headed to the store and she could just text the list to me. This is the text I received;

Blender
3 disposable pipettes
1- 10 ml graduated cylinder
3- 50 ml flasks
1 stirring rod
Graph paper
Distilled water
Cheese cloth
Corn or potato starch
Glass beaker
Tincture iodine
Frozen OJ
Bottled OJ
Canned OJ
Oranges
Juicer

Uh…I was at Vons, not a medical lab! You can only imagine the conversation that occurred after that text. After acknowledging that she was not at fault and had done everything correctly, in giving me her list weeks ago, and that I had dropped the ball by not looking at it and trying to figure out where to get these things, I started to cry. Yep, crying seemed like the best way to go at that point. I mean, what kind of mother am I? I had the list and I left it till the last minute. I promised I’d call her teacher and explain. First I had to stop crying. Poor teacher! I got her on the phone and only got through, “hi, it’s Jen Lang” before the flood gates opened again.

Yikes!

Long story short, she told me that I did not need to cry over the science fair and that my daughter would, indeed, have the time she needed to get things done.

Whew! Sometimes there’s just a straw to break the camel’s back and yesterday it was the science fair. Thank goodness for kind and understanding people!

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Oh!…..Be Joyful, Be Joyful, Be Joyful…..

December 11, 2009

DSCF5121

Yesterday was the Christmas program for the 1st-4th graders at my children’s school. I’ve sat through the same program through 4 of my children. But no matter how many times I see it, I get teary-eyed. It’s a little snippet of time that marks where my children are in their lives. All too soon they move onto other things and are no longer shaking maracas with a joyful smile and a festive sweater. This time of year is, indeed, joyful, but it’s also a reminder for me of how quickly time is moving. I am grateful that I can plan to sit through this program for years to come, until Max, Gabi and Lex are all past the 4th grade.

Somehow I know it’s going to be in the blink of an eye!

So let’s all be joyful for what’s here and now and try to stop time for just a moment so that we can revel in it before it’s gone.

Good night~

Bookmark and Share

Backing up for Efficiency

December 9, 2009

This morning I started with a few chores. My plan was to head into the kitchen, start the coffee, pack the lunches, switch the laundry and then wake the kids. I went to the dryer first. I pulled everything out, put it on the counter and started to fold it. Then a lil voice in my head said, “hey Jen, you know, the dryer could be going while you fold the clothes”. I said, “hey lil voice, you’re right!”. So I stopped folding and started to put the wet clothes from the washer into the dryer. Then the lil voice piped up again and said, “hey Jen, you know, the coffee could be brewing while the clothes are drying, while you fold the clean pile”. I stopped putting the wet clothes into the dryer and said to lil voice, “hmmm…you’re right! Why am I so backward today?!” So I left the wet clothes and the clean pile and went to make the coffee. Now the coffee is brewed and in hand, the dryer is going and so is the washer and the clean clothes are folded and stacked.

Thanks lil voice!

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Mommy of Many-Question and Answer

December 8, 2009

This question recently came from one of my readers. With her permission, I thought I’d share it and my answer;

Hi. So I’m asking for M.O.M advice. I know a lot of big families but they either have all small kids or they tend not to be involved in as many activities as my kids. Yours seem to be in a lot of stuff, too, so here’s the question. Or problem. Mine are driving me absolutely nuts with the last minute stuff. I forgot my… I have rugby practice… I need a…. This morning at 6:20 my son informed me that he needs a flash drive because he lost his a long time ago. But he needs it today. He knew I went to staples last night. Then, he forgot his rugby stuff. Which means that I have to drive it to him instead of him getting a ride to rugby.

Here’s the thing: If I stop them from going to sports because they forgot their added practice or gear, I feel like I’m punishing the team, not them. But I’m trying to get them all over the planet and work… So I’m being punished.

Any advice?

Laura

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yeah, I’ve been there (and still am from time to time). I totally understand what you mean about punishing the team. But…the kids key into that quickly and understand that you’re not willing to let the team down, so they’re off the hook. So, sit them down and tell them (I like to tell them things AND have it in writing so that they understand it’s not going away) that the next time that you have to run around because of their forgetfulness or mismanagement of time, that you are going to give them an extra chore that they can pick from a list of extra chores (make it something substantial, that doesn’t usually get done, but that you REALLY WANT to get done). If it happens again, after an extra chore has been given, then tell them that they will be fined (this is IF they have $. A teen’s $ is usually hard enough earned that they don’t want to have to relinquish it for something that isn’t what they WANT). IF it happens AGAIN after that (make sure you keep track) then they lose the privilege of the sport for the day/week/one game…you decide. BUT, they will have had PLENTY of advance warning, so it’ll be THEIR decision to let the team down. AND let them know that they will have to give the coach (and team, if you choose) an apology for letting them down and tell them why it happened. This all puts the ball in their court. They have plenty of advance notice of what the cause and effect are and the decision is theirs.

That’s my advice. It’s hard to make them accountable for their actions, but it can be done.

Good luck!

Bookmark and Share

Good Stuff and Time for M.O.M. Too

December 6, 2009

Yesterday was so full of good things! The 5 youngest and I made it out the door, dressed for a holiday party and ready to greet Santa. They decorated helicopter ornaments and watched with anticipation and excitement as the helo came in from the North Pole.

DSCF4727
Max couldn’t contain his excitement as the helo came into view!

After everyone met Santa and was given their gifts, we headed out for haircuts for the boys and a little bit of shopping

DSCF4770
They were very excited to see Santa twice in one day and explained that they were happy with the gifts that he had just given them (too cute!)

Once I got everyone settled into the house, I scooped up Mariah and we headed out to do some birthday shopping. She and I got to spend about 3 hours of time together before I dropped her off with friends for a sushi celebration.

This is where time for M.O.M. came in. I knew that I’d have to be back to pick everyone up within an hour and my day had been so full and hectic AND I knew I was going to have a houseful of teens for the evening, so instead of heading home for the 45minutes-hour that I had, I went to my favorite restaurant, sat at the bar, ordered a glass of my favorite wine and felt like an adult for 45 minutes. It was fabulous! I really needed a few deep breaths and not to have to talk to anyone for a little while. I don’t take or get downtime very often and some days I just have to recognize that I NEED it. So, this was perfect.

Then Mariah and her friends came back to the house for cake and a little hang out time and we called it a night.

This morning was another example of taking time for yourself even when you’re a busy mom. I met up with a friend of mine who’s husband is stationed in San Diego on 3 1/2 yr orders, while she and their 3 kids stay in Washington state. She decided to grab 24 hours of time and meet him for a day at Disneyland! She flew in yesterday and was flying out this morning so we met up for a quick cup of coffee at 4 am. It was perfect (except the coffee, which was really bad!). As busy moms, we need to make sure we grab moments when we can, even if it seems a little whacky!

Onto this busy day of celebrating St. Nicholas, decorating my house for Christmas (finally) and preparing for the week ahead.

A blessed St. Nicholas’ feast day to each of you and here’s to a few moments for mom!

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Jumping into the Holiday Season

December 5, 2009

This week has been full of all that makes the Holiday Season fly by. I’ve been to 2 gift exchanges, one for the school’s Ladies’ Club and one for my neighborhood, my preschoolers have had their Christmas program and today we’re on our way to the squadron’s Children’s Party. This is a party that they always look forward to. How could kids NOT be excited about Santa arriving by helicopter?! So this morning we are pulling out Christmas sweaters and the kids are discussing what Santa might be bringing them.

Tomorrow is St. Nicholas’ feast day, so tonight the kiddos will put their shoes out (I better remember to buy candy canes!) and tomorrow, after Liturgy, St. Nick will make a special appearance at the church. Every year we have a pot luck and celebration in honor of St. Nick. I like that the kids get to identify that Santa’s character was derived from a REAL man who lived and became a saint.

Now, the real challenge is to get this house decorated for the season. I’m running horribly behind this year!

But before I worry too much about the importance of the Christmas decor and after the Children’s party, we will be celebrating Mariah’s 16th birthday. Today is her special day! Whew! 16 years! So, it’s cake and sushi after the Children’s party. Busy, busy day! No wonder I’m behind.

Have a great day and don’t forget to put out your shoes~

Bookmark and Share

Bloggin’ on the ish…

December 3, 2009

I didn’t mean for this to happen. Every day I think of the funny moments that happen around here. I make a mental note of how certain things get done or that we are WELL into this year of deployment and how it’s all successfully happening in this house. I’ll shoot a quick Twitter update, or refresh my facebook status but then…I come home from work, get the kiddos settled with an after-school snack, give them a stern talkin’ to about their homework, drive whomever needs to get wherever they need to go, make dinner, serve it, give instructions for pj’s and bath time, make sure the teeth are brushed, line everyone up for the nighttime prayers (there’s plenty to be thankful for and to ask intervention on), lie the lil ones down, kiss their lil heads, glance at the LLLOOONNNGGG list of “must do’s”, pour a glass o’ vino, read emails, add a few things to the list and head to bed. WAIT!…what happened to sitting here and documenting how I’m Doing the Dance of the Children?! Heck, I even have someone assigning a daily song for me to do the Dance to. And yet, I find it challenging to write about each day. They are all so dang full!

I am floored that we are 2 days into December! My list grew by MANY entries when I realized all that must be done before Christmas and the arrival of the 3 missing members of this Lang Clan. I’m slightly overwhelmed!

So, the blogging has been makin it’s appearance on the ish. You know…Wednesday-ish. Next week-ish. Hopefully identifying this will change it.

Here’s to facing the fact that the Holiday Season is in full swing, that the year has blown past us and that life is WAY TOO full!

Good night~

Bookmark and Share