Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I'm back! And I hate tornadoes.

So, really?  The last time I posted anything was in 2011???  What have I been doing with the last two years?  Here we are on the verge of 2014 and I haven't had anything notable occur to me?  How sad is that?  OR, how AWESOME is that?  I have come to appreciate my relatively boring life.  There has been drama o'plenty in my vicinity, so I'm taking pride in my non-drama.

But, the reason for getting me off of the couch (where I was watching Pitch Perfect for the zillionth time.  Freaking LOVE that movie.  I will not be happy until I have attended a riff-off.) is on behalf of my sweet little hometown of Washington.

If you know me at all, you know that I'm from Washington.  I lived there for the first 18 years of my life and my parents and brother and sister in law live there still.  It's a sweet little town.  It's Mayberry, I'm telling you!  People are NICE!  People are FRIENDLY!  They go to church and bring you casseroles when you are sick.  Everyone goes to the same high school and everyone is a Panther.  It sounds idyllic, I get it, but it truly was an awesome place to grow up.  My memories are plentiful and happy.

But, on November 17, a tornado ripped out of the sky and tore my sweet town apart.  I went home this past weekend to see the devastation for myself in order for it to really become real.  And real, it is.  Very real.  Driving through town, on a street that I've driven on for my entire life, the destruction is obvious.  The golf course is ripped apart, houses that lined the street are MISSING.  There was a trampoline wrapped around a light post and a car bent in half.  I've never seen anything like it and I wish that I hadn't had to see it at all.  And, amongst the rubble, there was my brother's house.  A brick house with 4 walls still standing, but nothing else to identify it as the home and he and his new wife shared.  Furniture was blown into the yard and neighbor's clothing was strewn about the yard.

So, I took this trip to the midwest to see how I could help and to check on my loved ones.  But, what I encountered was profound.  I talked to a lot of people.  I saw a lot of devastation.  But, exactly ZERO people were negative about the tornado.  All I kept hearing was, "It's ok!  We'll rebuild."  This sentiment was echoed over and over.  It was even spray painted on the shells that used to be homes.  "We're OK!"

So, I need to let that one sink in a bit.  Why on earth would I complain about ANYTHING?  Honestly.  I'm OK.  I'm better than OK.  My life is good.  I have a good home and a good family and good friends.  Why would I ever think that I need anything other than those things?  So many people lost all of their possessions.  But NOBODY lost everything.  Everyone had hope.  Everyone had community pride and determination.  And, to be honest, that's a lot.

Don't get me wrong.  If my house was destroyed, it would be really hard to see the silver lining.  I can't be so brazen as to put myself in their places.  I'm sure that they have moments of feeling defeated and lost and alone.  But, outwardly, they are heroic.  To look at their piles of rubble and see what was and what will be again.  That's pretty freaking amazing.  I can only pray for these people to have the strength to see it through.  I can only pray that my own children will see what true community pride looks like and what a real home is.  Our home is not the 4 brick walls that surround us, but the love and spirit that is within us.

I know that Washington will be ok.  I know it more now than ever.  It's a mess, that's for sure.  But, the mess is temporary.  The heart of the city will beat on and it will take more than a tornado to stop it.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Royal Wedding and other hoopla!

I must begin with a little conversation about the royal wedding that transpired this week. Ordinarily, I don't give a rat's [bleep] about the royals, but I was entirely SUCKED IN! First of all, my English friend, Clare, had a viewing party. And the mere fact that not only did I get up, get dressed and to her house by 3:00 in the morning, I learned something new about myself.....I will attend any and everything that I am invited to. The middle of the night? A party? I'm in!!!

I will say that the wedding was beautiful. I loved every minute of it. There were thirteen of us wearing fancy hats and eating fancy sandwiches and mainlining coffee...brilliant! I do declare! (Wait a minute, is that an English phrase or a Southern phrase? Whatever.)

So, needless to say, I am fully on board with the royal baby bump watch. Wouldn't it be awesome if they filmed a reality show?? "English Shore...The Royals" Stay tuned and see Prince Harry flash the Queen!! Watch as Kate fumbles her curtsy and face plants into the royal scepter!" I would so watch that!

Onto other news....I have this little girl who lives in my house. Her age is unknown. While I was obviously present during her birth, I refuse to believe that she emerged from the womb at zero years old. Perhaps in the ten days she lingered past her due date, she grew emotionally a year per day. Which would land her about in the 17 year old range. Here is the latest story from her...

She has a friend named Jordan. Heretofore to be referred to as "BFF". I put Kinsey to bed one night and she was acting sullen. I asked her to spill the beans and she said, "My BFF sucker punched me in the stomach today at school. How could she do such a thing? You don't sucker punch your BFF!!" I calmly explained that no, you do not sucker punch your BFF, or anyone else for that matter. In fact, her BFF owed her an apology. But, if her BFF was going to be mean to her, there were lots of girls to play with at school and she could find someone else to play with. Kinsey took this information in and seemed to feel better. As I was hugging her good night, she said, "Thank you mommy, for making me a better woman."

What. The. Hell?!?!?! A seven year old girl does not say that!! She doesn't even think that! What am I going to do with this child? At least she continues to give me fodder for my blog!!! Hilarious!

One last thing...I am SUPER psyched that we booked a trip for Yaya and Papa to come out to visit! They haven't been able to come since Thanksgiving because my dad is dealing with colon cancer (BOOOOOOOOO!!!! HISSSSSSSSSSSS!). But, he is doing amazingly well and has a super attitude and a rock-star caretaker. So, one week from today we are going to head to the airport to pick them up! I am so excited! They haven't seen our cool basement or anything! Plus, they will get to attend Kinsey's school program and watch Ben's soccer game. I love it when things come together!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A few obsessions....

So, I was sitting there watching reality tv with Doug and thinking about the fact that I am *just* about ready to get a new purse and I realized.....I'M OBSESSED!!! I think that it is so interesting to see what different people are obsessed with. My obsessions are many, but I think that I can narrow down the list (these are in no particular order, I promise!)...

1. Purses/shoes
I recently had a conversation with someone about this topic and when I mentioned the sheer quantity of the accessories in the my closet, he was literally speechless. This reaction made me realized that perhaps I've gone *slightly* overboard. (But, come on!! i'm a bargain shopper, so most of that stuff was practically free anyway! Right? I mean, right?)

2. Reality TV
It's dumb. I know it! But, I just watched the Biggest Loser and I am all inspired to get up and work out in the morning. So, that one counts for something, doesn't it? I haven't yet deciphered the positive qualities in The Rock of Love or The Real World, but once I do, I'll be sure and document them!

3. INSANITY! (Or my workout du jour)
I am not sure why I make it my mission to inform any and everyone about my current workout, but I manage to work it into the conversation. Always. So, in case you DON'T already know, I am doing Insanity!! (Click that if you don't know what I am talking about.) It is intense and I haul my arse out of bed every morning to work out with my Insanity boyfriend, Shaun T. (Don't worry, Doug is fully informed of my dalliances! He even attempted to partake in my daily beatings, but he couldn't handle it. That is all I'm gonna say about that.)

4. My kiddos
I have a blog devoted to talking about their every move. Enough said.

5. Internet shopping
It must be curtailed. Immediately if not sooner! But, maybe after I use my coupon code for the Gap!

OK, after writing this much, I see that my life is pretty sad and without much substance. I vow to become obsessed with something earth-shattering. Hmmm, maybe Pampered Chef?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Changing the subject....

Ok, my last post of was a major downer. The whole thought of someone messing with my friends really riles me up. My thoughts and prayers are with the Hollis family at all times.

But.....changing the subject here. I have had a request to update everyone about my lovely little children. And, they are lovely indeed!!! Here is the update:

She is wrapping up first grade and Little Miss Sassypants. She continues to be the apple of her Yaya's eye, but she doesn't have ME fooled! That little stinker can be sweet as pie and then BAM! Switch flipped, drama all over the place! She is having a wonderful first grade year, perfectly behaved in class, reading like a whiz and getting all A's. But, the second she gets in the car after school, her head spins around three times and she spews pea soup all over my car! "MOMMMMMM! CAN!! I!! HAVE!! A!! PLAYDATE?!?!?! NO???!?!??! IT'S!!! NOT!! FAAAAAAAAAAIR!!!!! BEN!!!! STOP!! LOOKING!!! AT!!! MEEEEEEEEEEEE!!"
Ugh. Double ugh.

But, during her good moments, I convinced her that since she is tall and gorgeous and sassy, she needs to become a badass. Hence, martial arts has entered her life. She is currently a white belt with a gazillion orange stripes and one black stripe. What do the stripes represent, you ask? Well, she gets one orange stripe for each class that she attends and participates in fully. Pays attention, gives full effort, etc etc etc. The black stripes are earned by fulfilling responsibility sheets. These sheets are completed by ME and the stripe is not earned unless I say so. In order to get a black stripe, she has to make her bed, talk with respect, clean up her crap, behave in school, treat teachers and friends with respect and that sort of thing. One black stripe = four weeks of that behavior. My friends, mark my words, her white belt will be covered five times with orange stripes before she gets another black stripe. Simply talking to me with respect will be the end of her! Will she ever get it?? Stay tuned!

But, regardless, she is still hilarious and adorable, which is why we keep her around! Check out this crazy kid:

Now, on to Ben. Mr. "I don't do anything wrong, do I Mommy?" He's about as cute as they come, but one of these days, he's going to be more than I can handle. Just today he climbed up on top of the play house in the back yard and I swear I thought he was going to plummet to his doom. But, he just hopped down and said, "Mommy? Are you ok?" Whew. This boy thing is going to stop my heart!

But, he's doing well in preschool, but get this: he gets in trouble EVERY. DAY. He's the class clown. The one who spins around and falls down and tries to get a laugh. He's HIS MOTHER! Holla! What a lucky kid!

His new thing is soccer and it's adorable. He has practice once a week and games every Saturday. It's seriously the cutest thing ever. He has no clue what is going on. He runs one way, sees everyone running the other way, turns around, turns around, falls down, runs and runs and runs. I love it! I hope that he loves it, as well, because I would totally love watching my kid's games for years! After he masters soccer this year, I believe we are going to give t-ball a whirl. Doesn't this kid look like he's having fun?

One of the best things about soccer is that Ben is on the team with his best bud, Ethan. And, Kinsey's best buds, Ryan and Robert just happen to be Ethan's brothers. So, the three of them can keep each other occupied during the games. How cute is this:

They have certainly come a long way since the beginning of their friendship, 4 years ago....

So, enough rambling. I assure you, all subsequent blog entries will be HIGHlarious, now that you are caught up on the goings on in the Kaczmarek homestead. And, I will leave you with my favorite faces:

And, this subject is slightly less willing to smile for the camera....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A weird time to resume the blog, but it's bugging me...

Hello to all of my loyal fans out there! (And by that, I mean Karen Tarvin!!!) I know I have been MIA for a LOOOOOONG time, but I have once again been lulled back. I have something on my mind, so I wanted to spill it. Actually, it's not only on MY mind, but on the minds of hundreds of people in central Illinois, and all over the country.

Let me give you a little history...
I have a wonderful friend named Anne. She rocks. Seriously. She's hilarious and kind and a great mom. We have been friends forever it seems. I knew when she gave birth to three of her children and I knew when she adopted the fourth. (And, I told her she was nuts each time the number grew greater than two!) The birth of her third child, Meg, was the first time I ever saw Anne struggle with anything. Meg was born with Down's Syndrome. And, it was a total shocker, since Anne opted against prenatal testing. But, once the shock wore off and the love kicked in, Anne has been a changed person. Literally. She quit her job at a university in order to devote her time and energy to Easter Seals. Her whole world became caring about children who needed someone to care about them. She fights for them. She yells and argues and drives all over the state for them. She would do anything for them. Her first two children, Noah and Caleb, are the same way. They love everybody. They don't see differences and they are the kindest children ever. This is one of the reasons why I have already claimed Noah as my future son-in-law. And, I WILL make that happen! :)

Anyway, life with Meg changed the family so much that they realized that their family was no longer complete. They wanted to help another child. So, they pulled together resources and filed all of the appropriate paperwork and flew to the Ukraine to adopt their fourth child, another child with Down's, Alina. Alina lived in an orphanage. At this orphanage, like all of the other orphanages in the Ukraine, they do not see value in a child with a disability. They are shocked that stupid Americans want to come and take these children. Their lives are basically worthless. Anne and her husband, Todd, could not let that happen to at least one child. This child deserved a chance and they did everything in their power to give her that chance. I always say that Alina is such a lucky girl, and she truly is. Hopefully some day she will be able to grasp the concept that she was born with one destiny and my friend changed her life and her destiny. She is going to grow up in a house FILLED with love and laughter. She is going to grow up in a house that loves her for EXACTLY who she is and what she can do. She will never be judged in that house. She will never be made to feel that she is anything less than a little girl with a bright future. She is lucky.

But, three nights ago, evil entered their lives. These people, who devoted their lives to loving everyone as they are had their world flipped upside down. Here is the article:

I am disgusted. I am appalled that someone would have the nerve to walk onto this property and deface their home. I am enraged at the language that was used. I am horrified that Noah and Caleb saw some of the words. I am devastated for my friends. I feel helpless that my friends are feeling so vulnerable and I can't help. I am outraged that people use that language, specifically the "R" word, and think that it is OK. I am terrified that Todd and Anne may not going to catch these animals. I am embarrassed to live in a society where people even think of such evil.

My friends are gold. They have been tarnished by this act of cowardice. But, I know that, in time, they will shine again. I just wish that they didn't have to have their light dimmed at all. It's not fair. It's not fair.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School is IN session!

Ok, we've officially made it through one week of first grade, and so far so good. Kinsey is a star pupil and loves to go to school. I am so happy that she loves it, because otherwise we would NEVER get her out of bed. I have a hard enough time as it is. On the first morning of school, I went in to wake her up at 6:55 with a cheerful, "Kinsey! Aren't you so excited? SCHOOL starts today!!" And, I was promptly met with, "MOOOOOM!! I. AM. TIRED!!!! I. WILL. GET. UP. LAAAAAAAAATER!!!" I am thinking about investing in a DNA test that can tell me her exact age, because this can NOT be the typical behavior of a six year old. I am thinking that she is at least 13!

But, once we get the whole getting-out-bed thing figured out, we are golden. Today was the first day that I actually dropped her off. Meaning, I drove up to the school and she opened the door and ran inside, pausing to turn around and wave at me. *tear* I have walked her into school every day since she started kindergarten, but I thought that we should give this a try. While it gets me home faster, I am sad. She needs to stop growing up, dammit!

Ben doesn't start preschool for 2 more weeks, so I am enjoying my time with my little man. He is also growing way too fast and I don't like it. But, today was the first day that he decided to have an opinion on what he was going to wear. His shirt of choice? The slightly too small Mickey Mouse t-shirt that he wore yesterday. That would be, the slightly too small Mickey Mouse t-shirt that had spaghetti sauce stains on the front that he wore YESTERDAY! He pulled it out of the dirty laundry and put it on in lieu of a super cute, brand new shirt that I was about to dress him in. And, what is he wearing right now, in bed? That slightly too small Mickey Mouse t-shirt that has spaghetti sauce stains on it and now sand and dirt smeared on it that he wore YESTERDAY!!!!!!!!! I don't care if I have to put him in a figure-four leg-lock tomorrow to wrest it from his body, but that thing is going in the washing machine. Ick! How DARE he have an opinion!!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So much! TOO MUCH!

Oh where do I begin? I bet you are interested in finding out how Disneyland was, huh? Well, I was right on one point...Ben was SICK! Poor guy. He tried really hard to be a tough guy, but he totally conked out. Our first day was spent at the beach with our friends the Laysons, and he curled up on my lap and slept for two hours. Kinsey and her BFF Kaia wasted no time plunging into the ocean, building "hot tubs" (aka big holes in the sand that got filled when then tide came in) and playing frisbee. My girl is such a beach girl. I can see her living out her college days at some California school, studying at the beach and surfing on the weekends. I shall live vicariously through her!

Our first day at Disney was really fun, but, again, Ben was sick and conked in the stroller. He did man up a bit to go on the Buzz Lightyear ride and the Finding Nemo ride. He did a few things, but preferred to crash. Kinsey and Kaia went hogwild and did it all. I loved watching them! I hope we can go back in a few years and experience it all again.

The second day at Disney started with a hotel-room-doctor-call. I had no idea that the hotel would have a doctor service, but fortunately they did. Ben's diagnosis? Croup and tonsilitis. He had no voice, could barely breathe and coughed like a seal. Poor buddy. The doctor gave him a shot of steriods that woke him up and allowed him to enjoy the day...which he did--thoroughly! Whew! It was really funny, because when he could finally talk, he sounded like Demi Moore (or a little boy with a 2-pack-a-day habit!). So, by the time we finally ventured back to Colorado, Ben was on the mend and the rest of the crew was on the way down.....

We pulled into our driveway at midnight and Doug RAN out of the car, RAN into the house, RAN into the bathroom and blew chunks. Lovely. So, 2 out of four were sick. Then, the next day, Doug is recuperating, Ben is smoking a pack, and Kinsey starts coughing and complaining of a headache. Ugh. DOUBLE UGH! But, as of press time, everybody is A-OK and rarin' to go!

Good thing we are rarin' because tomorrow is the first day of SCHOOL!! I survived the summer! Yahoo! I did it! Go Momma, Go Momma!! Kinsey is currently sleeping like a little angel and she is SO excited. Her first grade class consists of 17 kids--15 of which are returning from kindergarten, so she is going to run into class with no looking back. I am excited to get back into some sort of routine, so that we can harness the chaos that has become our life. The only thing that is stressing me out right now is actually getting her there on time. I was going to "practice" getting up early yesterday and today, but I let her sleep and she got up at NINE o'clock!! School starts at 8:15, so I am seeing a logistical problem here. Her alarm is set for 6:55, so I am sure that she will be nothing but smiles and laughter at that time, right? HAR HAR HAR! I will let you know how that goes. But, her outfit, school supplies, backpack and water bottle are all set out and ready. I can't wait!

I am off to go to makes me get up early, too!! And, Doug needs to get to work earlier to support Ben's new smoking habit. :)