Sunday, January 30, 2011

When is 54 3?

When sledding down a hill is involved of course! We met up with Grandma Caren, Grampsey Johnny, Uncle JD, Aunt Katie, Aubrey, Jon, and Blake (some friends of ours) to sledding yesterday afternoon. I am fairly certain the adults had more fun than the kids (in fact, Bits and Aubrey spent more time on the playground with Grandma than on the sleds!) Enough words though, time for PICTURES!!!

(if you look closely enough at the pictures you might even see *me* in there...*gasp*)

Also, yesterday was a day of birthdays in our family, Uncle Bobby turned 50 and fabulous, Aunt Becky hit 29 *wink* and Uncle Dave had a birthday as well! Happy belated birthday everyone!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday Five, a little late, whoops

I missed Friday Five because I was a tad bit busy yesterday, so I'll do it today. Five things that made me happy this week, in no particular order:

1. Geo got all of his paperwork for his new job which he starts on Monday

2. We had a conference with Gabe's teacher and it went really well; he's bright, learning well, and challenged in the classroom (all good things)

3. I managed to get in three good work outs in this week-definitely felt great.

4. I found my cousin on Facebook; we haven't been in contact for more than ten years, so finding him was awesome.

5. We're spending this afternoon with family, sledding, playing games and having a taco buffet woohoo!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday: The Birthday Grandpa!

Today I'm particularly thankful for another year with Geo's grandpa-today is his birthday (I am fairly certain he is 29 or 30 this year, I'll have to ask Gabe as *he* is the authority on these things ha ha) and we're so glad he's "ours"

Happy birthday G da G!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gabe and Hobbes??

 As I've mentioned before, Gabe is ALL about Calvin and Hobbes these days, to the point where he's started quoting the book in regular conversation (which amuses me to no end; I love Calvin and Hobbes so much so that in my classroom I used to have them hanging on my door for the kiddos to read) In the morning when he doesn't want to get up, he yells "I'm not getting out of bed until it's as warm out THERE as it is in HERE" (thank you Calvin) This morning on the way to the bus he said to me "I need fur like a tiger, it'd be so much warmer" He's made references to "Susie Derkins" and Moe the bully as well. He even told me that I couldn't clip his nails because he was growing them out to be tiger claws. If I happen to walk past Sam (Gabe's "Hobbes") in the bathtub wearing Geo's hat, there will be trouble though. (I can't seem to find a picture, but in the comic Calvin doesn't want to take a bath so Hobbes puts on Calvin's dads hat and tie and sits in the tub so mom won't suspect Calvin didn't bathe lol)

Gabe's first love, though, is the Chicago Blackhawks...or so I thought. Saturday afternoon while the Hawks were playing the Wings, I walked into my bedroom to find this...

This, of course, is Gabe in his new Hawk's jersey reading Calvin and Hobbes...
Calvin and Hobbes 1, Hawks 0!

Monday, January 24, 2011

What Am I Truly Thankful For?

On Friday I did a 3-in-1 post that apparently ruffled some feathers; I'm not sure exactly whose feathers it ruffled, but it did. I received an anonymous comment saying (in essence) that they couldn't believe I'd put Diet Coke over being thankful for my parents.

Now seriously. Really? I blog for fun (mostly) and I don't think it's a secret that I am addicted to diet coke. In fact, I once had a tumor removed (out patient) and woke up drinking a diet coke. The can was half gone, I was out of it and confused. I turned to the nurse and asked "where the hell did this come from?" The staff cracked up and said "don't you remember asking for it? you insisted you needed a diet coke before anything else" Yup, I'm a diet coke head; everyone knows it. My Thankful Thursday posts are sometimes serious and they are some times silly and they are sometimes a mix of the two. On Friday I was ACTUALLY thankful for a diet coke; why? Because I was on day three of a migraine and the ice cold diet coke I was drinking was the ONLY thing that was making a difference in how I felt. So yes, I was more thankful for that diet coke in that moment than my parents.

Now, on to the issue of me putting things over my parents (and I'll include in laws in this category as well) Family is Geo and my number ONE priority. It's no secret that we've struggled in the last few months and our amazing family has come to our rescue MORE than once. Even as recently as last week, our family came to our rescue. Of course we're thankful for them and OF COURSE they know that we are thankful because we thank them in private. Not everything has to be publicly announced and if someone reading this thinks I should be thanking people in public for things privately done, please leave a comment with your NAME not just under the guise of anonymous.

I love my parents and I love my in laws as much as my parents. Unfortunately my parents are hundreds of miles away and we don't get to see one another as much as we'd like, so my in laws have taken the place of my parents. Both sets of in laws were there when we had our babies, they've been there for every major (and minor) milestone and accomplishment. They've also been their for all of our setbacks; they've come over to help, they've sent things to help, they've emailed, called, and generally been there. I'd like to think that our parents know how thankful we are for them and how much we love them, but in case you were wondering: Mom, Pop, Dad, Caren, Dyan and Jeff; we are truly thankful for everything you six do for us and have done for us-whether it's financial support, emotional support, being  a shoulder to cry on, being there to cheer us on or celebrate with us, or just being our parents, we are thankful for you.

NOW if you'll pardon me, there is a diet coke with my name on it that I'm going to go enjoy...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wordless Thankful Friday Five

(whoops, I've missed the last two days of blogging, so here's my c-c-c-c-ombo for all of you he he. Five pictures of things I am thankful for :D)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Work Harder!

Millions on welfare are depending on you! How many times have you heard that phrase? How about "Welfare recipients need to be drug tested before they can get MY money"? What about "I am sick of seeing welfare people using MY tax money to buy junk"? Etc etc.

I'm going to admit, in the past, I've wondered about the people using welfare benefits; too often what we hear from the media and from people who "know people" and "see these things" are that people on welfare are abusing the system, that they'd rather sit back and collect welfare benefits than work for a living, that these people are getting RICH off of OUR tax money.

As I've gotten older, of course, I've realized that one rotten apple does indeed spoil the whole bunch and this is true as far as welfare recipients go as well.

The last few months have been rough on our family; because of circumstances that were beyond our control, our income took a huge hit and we found ourselves struggling to pay the bills and keep food on the table; Gabe and SarahAnne were always fed and never went to bed hungry, but it was hard. I figured I would apply for food stamps to get us by while Geo looked for a new job since his start date as his new job got pushed further and further. Besides, everyone *knows* how easy it is to get food stamps, I mean, come on, roughly 30 million Americans benefit from them-should be easy, right?

Wrong. After nearly three months of submitting and resubmitting paperwork to our local office, I was sent a letter denying us any benefits. I literally called my caseworker twice a day for four weeks straight and left a message each time. I did not hear a word from her. I got to know her voice mail message by heart though, that was for sure.

After we moved to our apartment, we were in a new county, so I figured I'd start the whole process over and see about getting benefits because, again, it's easy, right? So what if the first time I applied it was a pain in the ass, that must have been a fluke, right?

I made four separate trips to an office in a bad part of an even worse town in six days. Each time I went to the office, I stood outside in a line in the snow and cold with 20-30 other people who'd been waiting 30-45 minutes before I'd gotten there. Many of those people didn't have the proper clothing to be out in the weather but stood there anyway. There were single moms with small children (brr), disabled people, people helping their disabled parents, and everyone in between. I even suspect there were a few people like me, fairly well educated, never applied for anything like this and completely and utterly humiliated. After being herded along like cattle, being told how to "behave" in a public office, and entering our "number" at the desk (where our names were NOT asked) you got to sit and wait in an office that clearly hadn't been cleaned or taken care of in the least bit. BUT it was warm and more people slept than I've ever seen in a public place.

I didn't end up getting an appointment with a caseworker, instead I ended up speaking to a man (who shall remain nameless) who spoke to me like I was a child; a child who perhaps didn't speak English or had hearing issues. I was literally in tears by the time my "meeting" with this man was over because I had been treated so awfully. Just because I didn't understand the process I was going through did NOT mean that I am stupid or should be treated as such; his job was to HELP me, not make me feel even worse for something that I didn't want to have to do but did to take care of my family. After three more trips and several hours of waiting in the crowded filthy waiting room, we were finally approved and received our benefits.

The first time I used the card, I felt like I was being judged based on what was in my cart. As a welfare person, I am not entitled to (based on what I've heard other people say time and time again) buying junk food nor am I entitled to buy anything remotely healthy either. No chips OR organic fruit. No hot dogs OR boneless chicken breasts. No fruit snacks OR bags of mixed veggies. Why not? Because "my tax dollars shouldn't be going for junk" or alternately "why should those people eat better than me? it's MY money buying THEIR organics"

Here's a little newsflash for those of you on your high horse about what people in MY position should or should NOT be buying. I've been paying into the system since I had my first job at 15 and my husband since he was 14. We've both been faithful tax payers for years and years and have NEVER taken anything from the government (our disabled child doesn't even receive social security benefits...) and I'd bet if you asked any random food stamp user if they were working, the answer would be "yes" with a "but" following it as in "yes, BUT my hours have been cut" or "yes, BUT my rent got raised" or "yes BUT I am in school full time and have children"

Am I saying that EVERY single person who uses food stamps is like this? Of course not, there are, of course, those people who are out to milk the system for everything they can get, there are people out there who'd rather go through the humiliation and long hours at the welfare office rather than work, and I'm sure there are people out there who really do NOT deserve the benefits who get them anyway.

Oldy moldies know that I try to find something positive out of every experience-even if it isn't particularly easy or very obvious at the time, but this one WAS easy to figure out. The positive side to all of this? I'm lucky enough that I had boots, gloves, a scarf and a hat when I was waiting outside. I'm lucky that I had a car to take me to and from the office (rather than a bus or walking) I'm lucky that my children didn't have to spend hours in a hot, dirty room with sixty or seventy other miserable people, and more than anything else, I've learned that no matter HOW bad I think I've got it, someone else has got it worse and maybe I ought to be a bit more forgiving when it comes to my judgement of how "those people" live their lives; because I am one of "those people" and I really hope that people will be gentle with ME when they encounter me and my food stamp card rather than rushing to judgement and spewing ignorance.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Is that read or read?

Gabe is a reader-a big time reader. He's currently hooked on Calvin and Hobbes books and even if he doesn't quite get all the jokes, he enjoys them nonetheless.

He's been at his new school for two weeks; the first morning he was there we had a meeting with his teacher and told her that he is a voracious reader. She assured me she'd keep an eye on it and indeed she has. I just opened his weekend folder (because I'm lazy ha ha) and found a note and the 2nd grade sight words list. She wants to see if he knows them (HA, does he know them?) and if he does, she'll move him up another level to keep him challenged. Out of curiosity, we asked him to read the list of words. He zipped through them and when he got to the word "read" he read it both ways without prompting. He said "these are easy" I guess we've got our answer then, 2nd grade sight words are TOO easy for to get the NEXT set of words (so he can zip through them and proclaim them "too easy")

Having another reader in the house is fantastic; I can spend a whole day reading, getting up only for the essentials, you know diet coke, cheese and crackers, petting the cat...and so can Gabe. It's a wonderful feeling, I just hope Bitsy is the same way!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful that HH (Geo) is going to be FINALLY starting his new job at General Mills at the end of January. The process of getting hired and starting there has taken almost two years, but it's going to be worth it for the job security and the benefits he'll have at GMills.

I'm also thankful that he's been able to spend so much time with us in the last few months as well; it was definitely much easier to move with him home and the kids have been so happy to spend SO much time with daddy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sleeping To Dream

Bitsy is not what one would call a "good" sleeper. Gabriel slept through the night at six weeks and continues to do so to this day; sure he has to read for an hour or so before he falls asleep BUT he sleeps deeply and peacefully, something his sister still has not gotten the hang of.

Bitsy spent the first two years of her life snuggled up next to me being nursed to sleep. When she got to the point where nighttime nursing wasn't necessary (what a happy day THAT was ha ha) she still continued to prefer to be snuggled up to me to sleep. Bits seems to be that child who needs to be in contact with someone to sleep deeply. She'll snuggle up to Geo, Gabe, her aunt Buzzy, whomever, but she prefers to be near someone.

Since we moved, bedtime has been sheer hell; Bits doesn't WANT to go to sleep and when she DOES go to bed, she thinks she should been in our bed. Now, I love her to death and I don't mind the "middle of the night wander to momma's bed" occasionally however, lately it's gotten to the point where she sleeps in our bed more than Geo or I do. We take turns on the couch. (thankfully it's incredibly comfortable!)

Tonight was no exception, she fell asleep in our bed after fighting against bedtime for an hour. I got into bed to read a bit, she snuggled with me for about fourteen seconds, rolled over, told me to quit hogging "her" blankets and fell deeply asleep. I wish there was more I could do to help her sleep; Geo said to me tonight that he doesn't mind sleeping on the couch for a few more weeks if it helps her sleep easier. It's an incredibly helpless feeling when your child doesn't want to go to sleep and does not sleep peacefully on a regular basis. Tonight, though, she's sleeping very peacefully with a Boni cat on her feet and the blankets all to herself; I just hope it's the peaceful deep sleep she so desperately needs.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reaping What We Sow

When we first started out as parents, we had no idea that how we parented actually had a name. We just did what felt natural, what was best for our babies, and what was best for our family. We nursed, co slept, and baby wore. Neither of our babies were allowed to "cry it out", our children always know that we are here for them-day or night.

As they've grown, we've tried to be gentle and realistic with "punishment" (of course, as any good parent will tell you, we have had our issues and sometimes haven't handled them quite the way we probably should have, but we learned from our mistakes and moved on) Even at nearly seven, Gabriel knows that all he has to do is call one of us and we will come to him and take care of what he needs.

Attachment Parenting is the name given to our style of parenting (what is attachment parenting?) In a nutshell it's the most instinctual parenting you can do; babies naturally want to be close to their mommas and daddies, babies naturally need to have their needs met, and responding to them as quickly and as appropriately as possible is the best thing for them. I'd always read that children who were raised in the "AP" style were more independent and generally more content babies and children. (the 7 benefits of attachment parenting) It took a long time for us to see that in our kids, probably because we have been SO busy raising them; we really haven't had a chance to see our children the way other people do.

So what benefits HAVE we seen then? Gabriel and SarahAnne are BOTH very independent; they can amuse themselves for a good amount of time without one of us having to constantly be next to them. They both behave appropriately most of the time; they aren't constantly seeking attention by acting out because they KNOW we will pay attention to them despite their behavior. They are both very giving and kind; they think of others, they want others to feel good about themselves. Gabriel is always quick with a compliment, SarahAnne responds to our moods and tries to mirror what we are going through. In short, while I am sure their temperaments have a lot to do with the children they've become, I'd be remiss if I didn't give Geo and my parenting style credit.

I am constantly baffled at parents who do NOT parent this way (yup, I'm up on my high horse) WHY in the world would a parent leave a baby to scream thru the night just because it's night time? WHY would a parent put a baby on a "feeding" schedule? WHY wouldn't a parent WANT their baby close to them most of the time? All of us, of course, parent differently and feel strongly about the way we parent, but when the benefits of AP are SO apparent and so obviously GOOD for a child, why would a parent choose any way but this one?

For more information on Attachment Parenting, I'd urge you to check out the Dr. Sears website. I had to chuckle when our pediatrician recommended the site to me as well as USING the site while I was in her office; as she says "he's the best!" and I couldn't agree more!

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for Bitsy. She drives me insane a lot of the time, mostly because she and I are so much alike, but more often than not, she makes me incredibly happy. She's funny and smart and is incredibly creative.

This morning I discovered pink crayon all over my bedroom wall; when asked about it, she said "um" and took a deep breath and put on her "thinking cap" (you could see the wheels in her head turning) I asked again, what happened to the wall and she said "well, it was the cat. He was on the bed yesterday and I saw him. He was on the bed with a pink crayon in his mouth and was drawing" She then shook her head and sighed. I asked, "where in the world did Boni cat get a crayon?" She said "Well, I think it must have been on the floor because I was coloring paper in here and I must have left it on the floor and he put it in his mouth and was coloring. He is such a naughty kitty"

Meanwhile, Boni cat was sitting in the hallway watching us, twitching his tail. She looked at him and said "naughty boni, writing on momma's wall! That's not nice!" and he ran off, but not before looking at me as if to say "yeah, right, it was ME who wrote in pink ALL over your wall, uh huh"

Goofy goofy girl. I'm thankful she's so cute or I'm afraid I may have sold her to the gypsies long ago!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The First Picture

When I was pregnant with Gabriel, I had the normal 20 week ultrasound and found out he was a boy; throughout the rest of the pregnancy we had multiple ultrasounds, ending with one the day before the day he was born where he pushed his face right up to the ultrasound wand and showed us his face. We were able to see his round little face and button nose. It was easy to see that he was going to look like his daddy and lo and behold, yes, he DID (and still does) look like his daddy.

With SarahAnne, because of my history with Gabriel, I had ultrasounds constantly, at 14 weeks we found out we were expecting a princess and every picture of her after that showed her budding personality. The ultrasound techs often laughed when they saw her little ankles crossed. She was a diva, even in the womb.

Today I was lucky enough to go with my sister in law Katie for her first ultrasound with baby number two. I love going to ultrasounds; it's amazing to see that first glimpse of life. Today was no exception; my niece or nephew was waving their arms around, turning their head, and generally making their presence known. Pretty awesome if I do say so myself. What does the ultrasound say about this little belly bean? If I had to guess, it's that Mom and Dad are in trouble with this one-gonna be a mover and a shaker...he he. Guess we'll see, won't we?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Today I am participating in a blog-o-palooza (oops, the exact name of this is called a BLOGSHARE, color me impressed, it has a real name ha ha) or something like that. Joella at Dear Delilah Fine and Fair threw down the gauntlet and wanted to know what our resolutions were. Not just regular resolutions, but "outside the box" resolutions. I'm up for a blogshare when the topic is good, so here we go...

As always, I am resolving to eat healthier, exercise more, and generally take better care of myself. I resolved to do the same thing last year and am pleased to say that I did actually follow through on those things; I suppose this is something I should always make a conscious decision to do, but won't unless I write it down and remind myself that I am worth it.

2011 is going to be the year of "paying it forward" for me. We've been shown an immense amount of kindness in the past year; kindness we have no way of repaying...except for in a pay it forward kind of way.(what is pay it forward?)

For one, I've signed up to be a literacy volunteer at our local library. I'll be working with native Spanish speakers who want to improve their English skills; I am also hoping to be able to help adults who are going for their GEDs as well. While I don't expect to get back to teaching little ones for a while, I'd like to be able to still be out there "teaching" even if it's not teaching in the truest sense of the word.

The second resolution involves the whole clan; we're going to be donating time and things to Lazarus House. They are a local homeless shelter that provide not only shelter and meals, but outside support for people who are down on their luck and need a bit of a help to get back on their feet. We don't have a ton of money to donate BUT we do have time and items they can use.

My third resolution is something that I continually work on, but really want to focus on this year and that is really living "faith, hope, love" It's always been Geo and my marriage motto and has turned into our family motto, but this year I am really going to focus on making it a priority to treat others lovingly (especially those whom I don't particularly WANT to love) I am going to make it a priority to have faith in people and their intentions, and I am going to make it a priority to be positive and spread hope to those who need it, even if I don't think it's a particularly hopeful situation.

So there you have it: the Witkowski clan is out to do good this year...and challenges YOUR family to do the same! I'll be making periodic blog entries updating the progress we've made with our resolutions, keep your eyes peeled!

Happy New Year, may 2011 be filled with love, hope, and faith for you and yours!


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