Friday, June 29, 2007

the Canadian way

The trip to upstate NY from West MI is quite a distance, no matter how you go! We usually have 2 or 3 choices of routes, depending on if and which stops we want to make along the way. The fastest, we are told, is through Canada, but there are not rest stops and easy access places to stop, and we usually decide against it when traveling with the kiddies. BUT, for some reason, we thought it would be interesting this time (and probably our last chance before they start requiring passports and such). It was a faster trip, and we had a great time. I doubt we'll go this way many more times, so it was fun to stop overnight in Niagara (the Canadian side) and see the fireworks over the falls and such.

This is Sean's favorite stop in Canada. Just a word of caution: don't buy the Canadian black licorice unless you're a "Dutch licorice" fan. Just not the same...

A couple of pictures of the falls. We didn't get close enough at night to get pictures, because we arrived just in time for fireworks and the place was crowded. And if you must know the truth, I forgot my camera then! I took these from the back window of the van, so forgive the quality. This is the view from the bridge to America.

Just a couple of cute pics of the kids in the car. They were excellent travelers! Sean recently discovered the joy of coloring, and that's what he did most of the trip. He's kinda stingy and doesn't want to share his pictures with people, but really, they are pretty good. He's rather creative with his choice of colors. I'll see if I can scan one when we get home.

Lake "Catonic"

One of our favortie places to visit when we come to NY is Lake Taconic (or Taghkonic I think is the alternate spelling). I'm not really sure what Sean used to call it - "The Lake", maybe - but this year he's decided to tackle the big, unruly Indian name, and what comes out is "Lake Catonic." I don't think it would be as funny if catonic didn't have an actual meaning, but I giggle every time he says it (to myself, of course. He gets very offended when I giggle out loud!).

Here are pictures of our time there this week:

Sean is the little face toward the middle! The water was COLD, but we finally got used to it enough to swim.

Perhaps she is praying for warmer water?!?

Sean was building a road and some sort of hole for the Hot Wheels he brought along.

Sophia is stealing the Hot Wheels.
I just thought she looked cute in her hat!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bathing Beauty

We made it to New York (and actually had a decent time traveling) and we're having a great time so far!
Sophie decided she wanted to get pretty messy and it's VERY hot here, so I decided to give her a the kitchen sink (why waste all the water to fill a garden tub?). I thought I'd share the adorable photos.

It was lots of fun watching her play...and it really made me want a Coolata from Dunkin Donuts (notice the cup in the background). Maybe I'll get one sometime during the trip! YUM!

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Seagull Saga

Tuesday night, we "took" my dad out for Father's Day. He loves the beach - Sean has called him "Grandpa Beach" for most of his life - and doesn't get to go very often anymore. So we had some fun times. Here's our night in pictures:

Sean feeds the seagulls(P.S. we actually had to make a stop at the gas station for "seagull food" (Ritz) since we forgot our stale bread. These birds live high on the trough!):

The seagulls love it!

Sean's not so sure about it!Dad feeds the seagulls:The seagulls thank him!Yep! For the first time in all of his days of feeding the varmints, they finally got him! He says they barely missed his mouth...yuck! As a protest, he put away the Ritz. I'm thinking they'll be a nice addition to his next casserole or party plate, but I'm pretty sure he won't share again anytime soon! Oh, what good times!

Here are some pics of the water. The water temp was 70 degrees - pretty good for early summer in Michigan!

Sophie didn't really care that the water was so pleasantly warm! She was pretty scared by all the noise of the waves, I think. She didn't much care for the sand, either, but hopefully she'll grow to love it - how can she NOT love the beach?!?

She's better when someone's holding her!
We tried to write "Grandpa" but the waves kept washing it away down low, and up high it just didn't look cool. Maybe next time when tide's out...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


So, please don't read this if you are looking for my typical wry-ish (I like to think) humor. I really don't have it in me today. I just want to vent...and I'm regretting my happy little invitation for everyone to read my blog because I don't really want y'all to see what an ugly person I really am. But in the interest of honesty and the need to vent, here I am. Raw. Unleashed. Read at your own risk.
I'm just going to preface this one more time, in case you actually decided to keep reading. I really do love my husband, my son, and my daughter. Really. I'm just having a bad day. I'll vent, and then I'll be happier. I promise. Please don't refer me to Pine Rest. Been there, done that, burned the t-shirt.
I hate my life. Oh, not every day. Just most of them. Not every hour. Just the waking ones (ok, that was a joke.). Actually, the sleeping ones are worse because I don't feel rested when I'm done, and I just feel like it was a waste for all the things I needed to be doing and instead took the time out to try to get some rest. I hate the responsibilities, the little bitty things, and the non-routine that has become my life. I'm not sure how many of you understand, and I wouldn't really expect you to, but having everyone home together, all the time, twenty-four hours a day, is not the vacation one would think.
First of all, there is stress because we have no money. At least that we can use. And yet we still spend it. We think that garage sale bargains don't count because they're so cheap (and when I say "We" I mostly mean Chip and Sean), so we spend money that we don't account for at those.
Then there's stress because everyone and everything is clamoring for our time that we should be spending looking for a job (some necessary, like paying bills and calling around trying to get the bills lower; some, like this blog, totally unnecessary in most peoples' minds, but usually a pleasant distraction and way to record the events of the day). Housework, Sean, job training, Sophie, work searches, Sean, parents, Sophie, neighbors, Sophie, kids who stop by unannounced, Sophie, shopping more savvily, Sean, computer games, Sean, television, Sophia, blogs, laundry, Sophie, you get the idea. And we'd usually rather spend it with Sean, Sophie, or other people. But there's still just not enough time to do those things and get to the ones that need to get done.
Then there's stress because Sean won't give Dad two minutes to even go to the bathroom, and Sophie does the same for Mom. Please don't bug me about this, but lately I've even been taking my shower with her, because if I don't, there isn't anyone to be with her when I do, and she gets her bath at the same time, thus saving water, time, and money. How fortunate for the pocketbook. When I say there isn't anyone to be with her, that's of course not totally true. Dad's here most of the time. But I feel guilty, like if I'm showering with her, then I'm freeing up time for him to look for work, fix his resume, do the dishes he said he would do, or get turned down for yet another thing we think will be really beneficial to him (like the news of his not being qualified for a grant for more "education/ceritifications" because his job field, which he hasn't even been able to find hits on some weeks in this area, is "too high-growth" and in demand. But I digress). But I don't tell him this because that would be nagging, so instead of anything getting done, he sits and watches "Fairly OddParents" with Sean. Don't get me wrong, I'd like him to have some down time, but when is it my turn? I don't even get to go for a ride by myself. No alone time for me, unless it's 2 am and I sacrifice sleeping for a few minutes of escape into a good book. And then does it count as alone time, because 50% of the time, Sean has already made his way fron his bed to ours for the night, and Sophie has this nice new thing of making mer her pacifier, which I allow because it lets us both sleep, but which I totally don't WANT to allow and feel powerless to fix without SuperNanny's help (yes, I tried a real pacifier). So I read while everyone's sleeping and with Sophie latched on painfully, and that's my alone time. I know it's wrong, and I don't know what to do to make it different. I should be willing to sacrifice a few nights of sleep to get her to figure this out, but I can't seem to feel that way when it is the middle of the night (many nights I don't take the time to read; I just wake up when she's hungry and get her, and then she hangs on for dear life for about 2 hours - it seems - while I try every five minutes to get her to let go). I really am a person who needs her sleep. I know I seem lazy to most of you. I don't know why I want to sleep so much (like 7 hours is too much to ask?!?). I feel guilty when I take a rare nap, but I don't really know why I should. Would it be better for me to be in this mood all the time or try to sleep it off? And does sleep really help, anyway? If I'm just going to feel guilty about the nap, then it wasn't really worth it in the end, was it? So I'm stuck here. In my angry place. Without Chip's fabulous drugs. (that don't seem to be helping his headaches as much anymore, but do seem to lessen his stress level. And that's all I'll say about that; If you're interested, look up the side-effects of Wellbutrin and Cymbalta online - he's got em all except the seizures!)
So where was I? Oh yes, I hate my life. Chip said it well last night: There's just something about a dog who's been beaten so many times: he quits coming to people with his tail wagging, and everytime someone raises an arm, he expects the beating to come. He just quits trying. I want you to understand, but have no words for explaining, that that is how we feel. People we know read the fine print and understand things and it works out for them. We read the fine print and are sure we're on the right track and we get beaten. We do the things that we need to do for the short-term and the long-term gets worse. We try to look at the long-term, and our short-term gets screwed. I just feel like quitting. Like crawling into a hole and waiting it out. I feel torn between hoarding and using up. I feel torn between action and waiting. And so I just sit here and wait for the beating, because I know whatever we do, we aren't doing the right thing. Why? I feel like we ask God and we gets answers (look at Sean and Sophie)...but the answers bring on more questions and problems that aren't answerable with black and whites. There is nothing we can do that will make things better, but there are plenty of things that we can do that will make them worse. Pretty much making a decision means that we're going to get screwed somehow.
This seems off-track, but I used to agonize over decisions like this: my mom says she's going to the store, and asks if I want to go with her. I don't really want to - I'd rather stay home and play with my friends - but I know if I don't, I'll miss out on that experience (seriously, the experience. Not the things I thought I'd be able to talk her into buying me.). But if I go, I'll miss the experience of being with my friends. Sometimes compromises were possible and I'd bring my friend(s) with me, but if that wasn't an option, I'd seriously regret the choice I didn't make for missing out on "what could have been." I try not to play games like that anymore, but it's sometimes hard to control. And sometimes I see the possibilities of each before I make a decision and I'm totally unable to decide. It's seriously an inability. Not a game I'm playing. I don't want to blame anyone else for whether or not I should have chosen a different option, and I don't think I consciously do...but I guess it does leave the option of feeling screwed either way: either out of a fun time I could have had, or into an experience that wasn't fun. So you, see, it ties in, this feeling of being screwed no matter what we do. Make that "what I do." See, I could just do the dishes myself after three days of Chip promising to do them and screw myself, or I could yell at him that he didn't do them, and feel screwed again when he gets mad at me (and he'll get mad and feel screwed out of the loving wife he thought he married). Why do I feel that I might as well be the only one screwed? Well, I do feel that way, and usually take on way too much from anyone (that thing with the dishes and Chip was just today's example), but today I'm tired of it. I feel like making everyone else feel angry, too. I feel like throwing things around and making everyone around me feel as angry as I do, and as screwed as I do. But not as badly as I wanted it when I started this post. So tell me, am I still wasting time, or is this a good thing?

The total ineffectiveness of me in general

Sometimes it's hard to know whether to just let funny (not funny - "haha", but funny - "wow, that's clever") be funny or to go into great detail to explain. Today I guess I'll leave it as an inside joke for anyone who's read some of this blog and hope you get it. Otherwise it's just cumbersome instead of funny.

So anyway, I really try to make this blog something that I can be proud of and show anyone. But sometimes that means not saying a lot of the things I would like to for fear of offending someone or making someone uncomfortable. But today I don't really care. I'm in a funk, and that's what I want to write about. Sure, I have adorable kids, and I'll probably even post some pics later today because I like showing them off, but I guess this has been bugging me for a long time, and yesterday just set me off a bit.

To start off in left field (stick with me, I'm going somewhere with this), I started a degree completion program in 2001, right after Sean was born. Because I started just a month after he was born, I missed the first course and had to take it a year later when the next group of students started. Our biggest (read: most challenging) assignment was to write our personal mission statement. On the one hand, after I took the course I felt cheated that I hadn't taken it earlier, but on the other hand, I was very lucky because my mind was in a totally different place than students who did this to start out the program.

(An aside: the point of the exercise was to do the mission statement once at the start of the program and once at the end and to see how much it had changed after all the other coursework)

So anyway, all we had to do was put our goals and mission in one sentence, or perhaps one small paragraph.

Mine was four pages long. And yes, I did just check.

Every time I tried to put something into words, it turned out to be words from a song or lines from a play. I wasn't able to meld all of those thoughts into coherent words of my own, so I decided I'd just have to use words from songs (and the colorful layout) to illustrate who I am, where I was going, and how I hoped God would use me, personally and professionally.

I'm not sure what frustrates me more: my inability to stick to convention, or my total lack of being able to follow where those lyrics were supposed to take me. Back then, I was really irritated at my unconventional approach and was sure I would fail the course, even though I felt I had no other choice. I guess once I received the "A", my irritation level dropped and I began to think that I was clever and creative and really knew "my style". Now I'm just totally peeved that I am sitting in a stagnant pool of negativity and uselessness and not anywhere near the lofty mission I was sure I'd be living out.

The total "ineffectiveness" that I feel comes out of that mission statement. It was all about how I wanted to be a great wife, great mother, great helping person, great person who followed God's will, and what a great, all-round "full-of-potential" kind of gal I was going to be. Now I'm not any of those, and I feel like I'm a lot further behind than I was when I wrote those [other peoples'] words.

I can't seem to do anything right.
I can't seem to keep the house clean (or even GET it there).
I can't seem to figure out what it is that will keep Chip happy.
I can't seem to get enthused about the activities Sean wants to do
I can't seem to not get bored with Sophie
I can't seem to find ways to enjoy feeding her (and now I feel like I must keep breastfeeding when I would have stopped because I can't afford formula)
I can't seem to find a job.
I can't seem to help Chip get a job.
I can't seem to be of any value to people...and really let me explain this one a bit. I hate to say it, but I'm needy, and everyone I know who I consider a friend doesn't seem to need me. I need them, but they seem to get their actual "friendship fix" from someone other than me. I'm a fine acquaintance, and generally nice enough, but they could do without me. I feel like I reach out too much and others pull away, so I quit reaching out. And found out that if I don't reach, no one will reach for me. But if I do reach, they still aren't grabbing. The problem is that I don't really know what's missing. I don't know how to get friends. I really think a lot of that still stems from DEVIL CHURCH, which of course isn't the DEVIL CHURCH, but I prefer to think of them that way because they screwed up my life worse than losing two babies. I know all of these things I'm feeling really come from back then, because I withdrew and no one on either side knows how to patch things up. I have evidence of how many times I reached out, hoping for someone to grad me and hold on then, but evidently, we weren't lost enough for them. I hope they know that we're very lost now and that it's their fault, and that I wouldn't grad on now if they reached out a huge lifeline. Of course, that's my problem, isn't it? And that's why I'm ineffective. Because I'm afraid to hurt anymore, but that's all I know, so I unintentionally look for it. Maybe. I'm no psychologist. But it sounds good.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Tiny Bubbles and the ABC's of PB & J

Sophie and the pure joy of catching bubbles...

Here she caught on to the fact that it tickled a little when the bubbles popped on her, so every time I blew on the wand, she ducked. So funny!

Sean decided he wanted to make his own sandwich ("foldover") today, so he got his own TV tray, gathered all the ingredients, and went to it. I bet it was the best sandwich he ever tasted! YUM!

Friday, June 15, 2007

The AfterBath

Sophia has decided that baths are really fun to have everyday - either that, or she just enjoys making a mess of herself so Mom is always busy cleaning her up. Actually, it's most likely the latter, but I love her anyway!

Here are some pictures of her after her bath this morning. Her bath was this morning because it was too late to give her one last night after her "biter biscuit" episode in which she stole one from her diaper bag and chewed it into pulpy mush and spit it out all over herself; hence, I opted for the "baby wipe" bath last night, and gave her the actual bath this morning.

That reminds me that I probably should have taken some "before" shots last night. Definitely not "pretty", but SO cute!

Also, if you look very closely at the picture below - you can click on it to enlarge it, - you'll see her one front lower tooth (right side of the picture). It's neighbor is ALMOST through, but not quite visible with a camera. I believe that's why she made such a mess of the biscuit in the first place! :)

Some other news this week: Sean has decided he wants to play guitar. Our little neighbor girl has a pink guitar almost exactly like the one below, and they were serenading me the other day. At least the neighbor girl can carry a tune with her voice; alas, I cannot say the same for my boy, but he's good with lyrics. For example: "Here's the wake-up song, Mommy: Wake Up! Wake Up! Please, oh, please, just wake up! Wake Up! I'll see you in the mornin'!"

And Sophie's new trick is blowing kisses. She's pretty good at it, but they're a bit spit-laced. And you have to blow her one first. She's the shy type, apparently!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks!

I stole that from a book title (incidentally the last book I ordered from Sean's Kindergarten book order).

Yesterday Sean had "Fun Day" to celebrate his last day of kindergarten. I thought I would share some pictures of the festivities. I'm so proud of him this year! He was a joy to have in class (says the teacher) and has an excellent foundation for his coming school years. Let's just hope all years go this well!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Our Tribute

I'm not sure if you've guessed or not, but we are not necessarily a "typical" family. (No, REALLY?!?!)

A lot of that quirkiness comes from my dad and his mom. Chip may go along with our oddities - definitely one of the reasons I love him so much - but many of our misadventures come from a long line of Peck/DeVries genes.

Tonight we paid a small tribute to my grandma (yes, my dad's mom - are you following along?) because it was recently the 5th anniversary of her death. Most people probably wouldn't think of a "Kentucky Colonel" picnic in a cemetery of as a proper tribute, but it was SO her.

And not just because she loved chicken. We forgot the drinks, forgot to ask for plates at KFC, and danced the macarena.

(didn't believe me, did you?)

We also did the hokey-pokey. And the chicken dance. Alas, I was too busy eating with my fingers and sharing spoons to take photos of those. We had a good time with loved ones and made the best of what we had.

Grandma, I hope you are looking down on us with great happiness. Your quirkiness lives on...even though I don't ask every restaurant I go to what I can get for free to give my grandchildren (I think that is hilarious, and yet really, wouldn't it be nice if everyone thought of their loved ones enough to get them gifts absolutely everywhere they went?).

Here's to you. Lots of love from your grand (and great grand) children. And your son.