Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of a decade

Really, I didn't much think about New Year's this year. It just seemed like any other New Year's...the promise of a much better year ahead. The hope, the excitement, wishful thinking...every year the same. But then I really started thinking about what this is. We are moving into a whole new decade.

I am reminded of New Year, 2000. Josh and I spent the Millenium at a ranch with Josh's parents and some family friends. Everyone was in an uproar over Y2K. What was going to happen? As we all stared at the TV as New York's ball dropped, I think secretly we were all waiting for the electricity to suddenly flip off, our bank accounts to be drained, and mass hysteria to begin. And when none of that happened, we all smiled and went to sleep.

This decade has been bittersweet for me. 2001 was by far my most incredible year. That spring I completed my coursework for my major, had a wedding shower, a bridal luncheon, turned 21 May 10, began an internship at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital on May 14, had a bachelorette party May 17, got married May 19, graduated college on August 11, took our honeymoon to Lake Tahoe the same day, bought our first small house the day we came back, and started my career as an Early Intervention Specialist at BACH on October 1. It was a banner year.

The next year was spent working and being pregnant. As I look back on it, I think I spent most of my decade depressed and struggling to find the self I lost when I became a mother. Post partum depression lasted long into my second pregnancy and after. 2009 saw me looking back on this decade with a combination of sadness and happiness. Both my children were growing faster than I would like and I searched for the last time when deep in my heart, I felt truly happy. I love my husband and my children, and I wouldn't change the way I did things, especially since I will be only 42 when my youngest child graduates high school! The thing that makes me most frustrated about myself is that I never once lived in the moment. I took too many things for granted and dwelled too much on the problems that I was having. That is no way to live.

Life is hard. Life is grand, satisfying, complex, painful, comical, frustrating, joyful, and painfully uncertain. I really thought about that this week with all my medical issues that suddenly came up. Here I am, sitting at my computer, planning Christmas for next year, and I am not guaranteed even tonight. I want to stop myself from wishing my life away. I want to make my children love each and every day possible. I can't take my bank account with me to heaven. It really doesn't mean anything in the long run (ouch that was painful to write). Instead of me thinking about all the things I didn't get to do in my 20s, I am challenging my cynical, "glass is half empty" mind to think of the joyful experiences that I did have in my 20s. Think of how much we have all grown this first decade of the 21st century.

This is my life. It is not like anyone else's. God has blessed me beyond measure and I am so greedy to want for more or anything different. I am beautifully and wonderfully is my family! Come on 2010! I welcome you with open arms!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Best of 2009

Our Christmas was the best. Not only did we get to spend time with every member of our family, but both the kids really understood the meaning of the season AND the fun part that included Santa. Caleb commented on everything. He showed all kinds of appropriate emotion and played very well with all the children. He and Jansen were total troupers through all 8 Christmas celebrations. We were all very happy and blessed!

The new year is just around the corner and it is time to start thinking about resolutions. I don't really make resolutions, I like to make goals. Semantics, I know...but I LOVE semantics. Last year, 10 goals were made, and 7 were met. This year, I will make fewer, not because I don't think they can be achieved, but because our family has been so blessed, and I am happier than I have ever been. Oh, don't get me wrong, there are things that need to change, but things are good at this point.

So what are my goals for the year?
1. Lose 30 pounds by my 30th birthday (May 10)
2. Pay off our LAST CREDIT CARD!!!!!
3. Finish Christmas shopping by August 31
4. Pay off our signature loan
5. Take the kids to someplace new each month

The last one is a work in progress. Actually, they are all a work in progress, I just usually like to have somethings that are very specific and measurable. Ramble, ramble, ramble.....we have no plans for New Years and Josh is finally off for the first time in about 5 years. AND the next thing to look forward to.....POWELL FAMILY LAS VEGAS VACATION IN MARCH!!!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Christmas tree...

Again, I love this time of year. The last week of school was a blast for the kids, and a little bit bittersweet for me. Even though I am always excited for Caleb to grow, learn new things, and advance in school, I must admit that a tiny part of me wants Jansen to stay little forever.

Jansen is 4 and this is his last year of private preschool. I have so thoroughly enjoyed having him at Chapelwood and felt a slight sadness while watching his last Christmas program. At Caleb's school, they don't have any kind of holiday program, although at least they do a holiday party. I am just one of those moms that really loves baking things, making goodie bags, and going on field trips. I still do those things for Caleb's class, admittedly one of only two parents who does so.

Elementary school is the last time for moms to really be involved in things like that (room moms, school crafts, etc). I am so blessed to be home and to have the heart to want to really be involved in my childrens' educations. Hopefully this will continue for as long as Jansen is in elementary.

Anyway, Jansen had a Christmas party and we provided the Rudolph cookies. At his program, he refused to participate, but at least he stood there in solemn defiance. Caleb had a party and we provided the sausage cheese dip. Total success for Caleb. He has a very difficult time with transitions and changes to the routine, but he really did well. Today, Santa sent both the boys video emails, personalized with their names, pictures, and gift list. The kids are so excited and can't wait until Friday, and honestly, neither can I!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas in the Park

Yesterday, Nana and I braved the suddenly freezing cold weather to take the boys to Clute's Christmas in the Park. Earlier that day, myself and some other PTA moms had put up our school tree there and decorated it with hundreds of Panda bears, carefully colored by our students. Caleb was able to find his panda almost immediately, even though it was on the back of the tree.

We had candy, drank hot chocolate, visited with Santa, toasted marshmallows, and played games with the clowns. The kids had a blast, both asking Santa for a football. They had already written a letter to him just before the park, and were excited to tell him all about the letters. This was Caleb's first year to actually understand the concept of asking for a toy and being good in order to get that toy. Usually kids' lists are long...Jansen is only 4 and he asked for three things, but Caleb....just the football. We are going today to mail them off.

Next week begins the official holiday madness. Baking for two class Christmas parties, providing gifts and donations, Christmas programs, and then comes the holiday break from school for over 2 weeks. AGH!!!! We are all really looking forward to it though. Lots of family, lots of food, lots of presents, the birth of our Savior...we are incredibly blessed!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Well, we got a big winter storm this year on the coast yesterday, and it snowed all day. Fortunately (or unfortunately) it did not stick to the ground, but covered it with a nice layer of frosty ice. When the kids and I went outside this morning, it had knocked over our umbrella and froze it to the ground, filled our fire pit with water and froze the lid to it, and probably killed our freshly layed sod in the front yard. Jansen was so excited to see it that he ran out, and before I could tell him to be careful, he hit an ice patch and his feet slipped right out from under him and he busted his rear-end and his head. He is ok, but sore!

In other Powell happenings, we have a new pet. We took the kids to the pet store to purchase a betta fish....something strong and virtually care free. Caleb picked out a red one and we found a small aquarium that everyone could agree on. As we paid for everything, I asked Jansen what we should name him. Jansen thought for a moment, and then said, "Um, I think we will call him Finn, and he will be my buddy." The kids were very excited to have him home and kept yelling, "welcome to your new home, Finn."
Funny things Caleb says: It is always funny to hear how Caleb's brain works and what he comes up with. He really still doesn't understand abstract concepts and he often still reverses the order of his words in sentences. Yesterday I got up early to get dressed, and then woke up Caleb. He and I had breakfast together and I went to the sink to wash up some dishes. He said, "Mom, why are you dressed?" to which I laughed. Then I said, "well Caleb, I am going to substitute at Jansen's school, like your substitute teacher." And he thought for a minute and said, "You can't be a substitute teacher. You are a mom!" and I laughed. He is starting to get it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

You tell us what you want to tell us...

Got another opinion coming your way so if you don't like that, look away now. Seriously, navigate away from the page.

First, let me preface by saying, that I am a registered Republican with Democratic tendencies. That really has little bearing on this post but I just want to put that out there, just to reinforce my middle of the road tendencies. Often times I can see both sides of a situation and have some conservative viewpoints and some more liberal viewpoints.

That said, I am so over all this Tiger Woods nonsense. We have no idea what is going on in his marriage, nor do we need to know. Just because he is a celebrity, doesn't mean he checks his privacy at the door. It does mean that he has to make some sacrifices. People will be more interested in him, his doings, his family, and the like, however, that does not entitle him to give full disclosure of his every move. I don't really care if he was having an affair, if his wife was having an affair...that is why marriage is between two people. It's not our business. We don't know what their marital situation or agreement is.

So this got me thinking about being well known, responsibilities, and tabloids. When you think about it, people this day in age really believe that everyone is owed explanations. With facebook, blogs, and other social networks, people put their entire lives on the Internet, making other people feel entitled to know everything about that person. You can become famous now just by posting a video on YouTube. Or you can be famous in your town for winning awards, being an elected official, or having a high profile job. If you choose to do this, you must understand that people will be interested in you, but you should not be obligated to divulge all your personal information.

Tiger Woods doesn't have to hold a press conference to list his transgressions. Last time I checked, I am not married to him. And if I were, that would be our business. I really try not to judge people for their decisions, however bad I feel they may be, because there by the grace of God go I. Thus my pro-choice stance, thus my pro gay marriage stance to name a few.

That is just my rant for the day. I am so sick and tired of salacious reporting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The greatest time of the year is right around the corner. I know there are a lot of people who revel in their Bah Humbuggery...but I am one of the people who revel in the Joyfulness of Festivity. So if you are not one that enjoys this time of year, this is not the post for you.

We put the lights up on the house and set them to music. The kids agreed on an inflatable Santa, to which we purchased at a hugely discounted price, and then realized that we had just sodded our lawn. The lawn cannot take an inflatable, screwed into the freshly laid grass pads, because the lawn needs to be babied to take root. Josh took it over to Nana and Pop's house, and they put it in their yard for this year. Our tree is up, presents are wrapped, the mantle is decorated, and the kids got to open the first door of the Santa calendar this morning!

We are prepared to be baking, caroling, wrapping, Christmas light looking, hot chocolate drinking, and just all around enjoying our time together during the season. Jansen will be baking a birthday cake for Jesus, Caleb will be baking cookies for Santa, I will be baking cookies and cupcakes for school, and the kids will both be making chocolate dipped rice crispy treats. Sugar highs!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Heart DDUB!!!

Josh totally won points and bought us tickets to the much hyped Donnie Wahlberg "I Got It" release party. If I am not able to get a ticket to the NKOTB cruise, this is the next best thing. In all actuality, I think it is probably better!

We got Mimi to babysit the kids, Josh booked a hotel room, and we hit the road headed for HUSH off I-10. Earlier in the week, I was fortunate enough to get one of the 100 Facetime ticket upgrades with promised a Meet and Greet, autographs, and pictures with Mr. Donnie Wahlberg himself. Two days before the party, Donnie tweeted that anyone who wanted a facetime upgrade could get one, as a fundraiser for a BH who passed away this year. Then he tweeted that anyone who had a ticket could bring a friend for free. So I contacted a friend who found a friend to meet us at the club.

We knew since there were now unlimited FT tickets, that this would be packed. We got in line at 5:30 and didn't get in the door until 7pm. We met some girls from Louisiana that we hung out with who were equally as nervous to meet DDub, and grabbed a few drinks to wait. They called our numbers to get in line, and at about 8:30, there he was, standing right in front of me. They were really running behind, so they told us that we wouldn't be able to pass our cameras to friends to take pictures, and that they would be taking professional pictures that would be available in a couple of days online. Bummed about that but stoked to talk to Donnie, we moved on ahead.

When it was my turn he said, "Come here!" and he hugged me really hard. He gives everyone these really huge bear hugs! :) And I said, "My husband bought tickets for us tonight." and he said, "that's a good man. Tell him I said HI!." and of course I stammered, "ok". Then we posed for pictures. Then he hugged me again, and whispered in my ear, "I love you", and I said "I love you too!" and then he kissed me!! Hell yeah! He is so nice to all of his fans. He really did give every girl there her own time, giving hugs and kisses out. I love him! Can't wait until the pictures go up, since I only have a goofy picture of me walking away from him afterwards.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Soccer ends

Wow has soccer been a wonderful addition to Caleb's life. We finally found something that he loves and is really good at. Yesterday was his soccer tournament to end the season, and he had a blast. They played two games, and in those two games, Caleb scored 12 goals!!! He was so excited and we were so proud. Even if he hadn't scored a single goal, the look on his face would have made us proud. We can't wait to sign him up for Spring Soccer. :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chef Jansen

Jansen's preschool class took a field trip to CiCi's Pizza today to learn a little more about the pizza making business. I drove some of the children and one of the teachers this morning, ready and raring to go.

He did so well. Since he turned 4, he has definitely developed a little attitude, a la his mother, and I was a little anxious about how he would react. Amazingly, he waited patiently for his dough ball, listened to the soda demonstration, and waited his turn to make a cheese only pizza. He was very proud of himself and he enjoyed the fruits of his labor so much, that most of it ended up on his face and shirt. I thought he would want to come home a little early from school after the field trip was over, but he wanted to stay at school. SURPRISE!! This little boy is the light of my life and I am so blessed that God has enabled me to finally stay home with my boys!!!
And we finally have grass again. BTW, I never want to lay sod again!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My opinion on Carrie Prejean

I debated on whether or not to even write this blog as I hate to give Ms. Prejean an extra attention or thought, and reluctantly I decided to blog about it. Honestly, how many people really read this blog anyway? It's not like my humble opinions will be making the same kind of splash that Ms. Prejean made.

First let me begin by saying that I have seen too much of her on TV lately. Now what started America's fascination with Ms. Prejean is her traditional and conservative opinion regarding same-sex marriage on the televised "scholarship program" for Miss California. I don't dislike her for her answer, that she is morally opposed to same-sex marriage. She answered the question, which was, "What do YOU think?". On that I cannot fault her, although I disagree with her.

My major beef with her is that now, this "sex tape" has come out, and she is on my TV more than ever. I completely understand that she was young when this tape was recorded. As well, we all make mistakes, then grow into adulthood and have different views. So I can't even say that it is hypocritical for her to cite her religion as her foundation for opinions regarding same-sex marriage, and yet have taped herself in compromising positions.

She has gotten some unnecessary flack her stance, but she gets necessary flack for the topless photographs and sex tape. If that is what you want to do...far be it from me to say you can't take topless photos of yourself. HOWEVER, please read the contract that you sign when competing for the Miss California title. If you know that you had a sex tape or nude/partially nude photographs of yourself at all, you need to disclose that or not sign the contract. Do not blame the fact that you were stripped of your title on the fact that you are against gay marriage. Blame it on your poor decision making skills.

I am living proof that you can have liberal views on some things and conservative views on others. So her conflict is a valid conflict, but she should not go on talk shows blaming her termination on her opinions. Have a little personal responsibility please.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


This Halloween was more of the same....our subdivision does trick-or-treating like no other. The boys were very excited to head out and grab some loot. I thought for sure that we had gotten enough candy to hand out. But I was very wrong!
Josh decided to stay home and hand out candy from our filled ice chest. I took the kids through the subdivision, and for the first time, Caleb really understood it and loved it. Jansen did well, but after about 5 streets, he was ready to go home. We had been gone for about an hour and then decided to head home. Our lights were out, so when we came in the door, Josh reported that he quickly ran out of candy and had to turn out the lights. We bought about 15-20 big bags of candy and it was gone in an hour and people were still trick or treating. I guess I have to start buying candy earlier than August next year!

All in all, the kids had a blast and are slowly coming down from their sugar highs!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Adventures in holiday baking

This past month has really been my first opportunity to start practicing baking. If you even remotely know me, you know that I absolutely hate to cook. Unfortunately, since I am home now, I have been working on learning how to cook, beginning with the very basics. I still hate it and just don't feel very creative when doing it.

Baking, however, makes me feel very accomplished, even though I am still learning. With my family, there are so many opportunities every month to bake, so I am getting really excited to continue working up different things. The bonus to this is that even though Caleb rarely eats anything, he loves any kind of baked product. I started with homemade blueberry muffins, then went to banana bread, then to cupcakes and cookies, and now to cakes. Caleb will eat all kinds of veggies as long as they are shredded up in a muffin/bread/cake. After the holiday baking is finished this week, my goal is to make something new for Caleb to eat each help fortify his lunch of granola bars, goldfish, and fruit.

Can't wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas. MAJOR baking times for home and for school. Am I the only one who is completely in love with doing things for my kids' schools? I love putting goodie bags together, baking cookies and cupcakes, wrapping up holiday gifts. This is my FAVORITE time of year!!!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby Einstein Debacle

Am I the only one that feels the rebate for Baby Einstein expectation is completely ridiculous? I used to let Caleb watch Baby Einstein in the wee hours of the morning when he would wake up. I would get up with him at 4 am, feed and change him, and put him in his bouncy to watch Baby Einstein while I napped on the couch. It was the only thing that would calm him down and it was so welcomed.

Did I think it was going to make him genius? No. Do I think that simply watching any TV show is going to raise your IQ points to amazing levels? No. TV shows and movies are not supposed to replace the interaction, education, and bonding that the parent is supposed to provide.

Don't let yourself feel jipped because your child is not a genius. Do not let your expectations for your children affect sound judgement. My child has Autism. Is he brilliant? Probably not. Is it because I thought Baby Einstein was going to make him a Rocket Scientist? Nope. My kid is what he is. If I want to help give him the best start possible, I have to work with him...not sit him in front of the TV with classical music and toys. Did it hurt him watching Baby Einstein? Nope. Am I going to get a refund? Nope.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Caleb the Gamer

Boy is Caleb ever a gamer. Since he was 2 years old and a family member introduced him to the magical world of Mario games, his life was dramatically changed. We bought a Game Cube back in the day and soon found that Caleb's obsessive nature was magnified when playing Mario Kart. The child could beat any of us, and he wasn't even three yet. So we set a time frame for him. Once he turned 5, he could have his own DS and could play video games. The time came, we got him a DS, and it has been his source of comfort, his incentive for positive behavior, and my life line to have a peaceful phone conversation with a friend.

The down side to this is that he is a "spectrum kid". The nature of Autism is that they escape into their own world and shun the opportunity to engage meaningfully with people. This DS has allowed him to do just that. I want to provide him the opportunity to escape into his favorite past time for brief periods of time, while at the same time providing him with opportunities to expand, interact, problem solve, etc.

We have put him in so many social situations from playgroups, therapies, art classes, Kids College. Each has had its positives and negatives. He has never been coordinated, nor has he shown any interest in any sport. Until now. He took Jansen's place in U6 soccer, thank goodness he made the age cutoff, amongst a small group of 3-6 year olds. It has been great because he lights up when he plays! He seems to be on the same emotional level as the kids that are just a year or two younger than him. This is giving him an outlet for his energy, a chance to socialize with other children, and an opportunity to boost his self esteem. AND he scored a goal in his very first game!!! I am just blissfully, tearfully, proud of this child!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bargain shopping...

I love a good bargain. Historically, I am the saver in our family. I enjoy being careful with my money, making lists, and searching for the right deal. To me, that is the part of shopping I love best. It's a matter of necessity for us, but even if is wasn't, it would be a choice for me. I love to shop, but my version of shopping includes only what I need at the time, not just shopping for retail therapy. My choice comes in when I can find some good deals on the things we need so that the extra money we have left afterward can be used on fun stuff for our family.

People don't like to talk about money and I have always wondered why that is. Suze Orman has always advocated learning about your friends and families (and your own) financial worth...but not so that we can lord it over eachother. And in these unsure economic times, it is important to be aware of what we do and don't have, and how we can help others, and become wiser financially.

Last year, Josh and I decided to get serious, tackle our debt, and become better financial stewards of the money that God has blessed us with. For years before Josh got his degree, we struggled, last year, it hit us. We were both working, and there was no point in prolonging the inevitable. We attacked it, using Dave Ramsey's plan, and suddenly, this became a game for me. We payed off student loans, payed off a vehicle, and two credit cards, leaving us this year (now on one income) with one credit card, one loan, and one car payment, besides our mortage. The repayment will be slow. One income makes it more difficult.
I love Dave Ramsey. But we are not living it to a T, but pretty close. I highly recommend checking into the 7 Baby Steps to Financial Freedom.

But back to today, I spent a grand total of $26.56 for my loot. I got 2 2L bottles of soda (to be donated to our school for Fall Festival), 2 bags of pretzels (for Fun Friday), a bag of M&Ms, a head of lettuce, a 2 pound package of lunchmeat, 2 divided dishes for the boys, a white serving platter, 2 Old Navy shirts, a Gymboree vest, a Tony Hawk shirt, and an inflatable Football goal and football (for a birthday gift.) These are all things that my family needed...not just things that I bought because I had a coupon for it.

Now to find Josh a Christmas present!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jansen's first cake

Jansen is four now and in a major helper mode. This is fantastic for me, because I am a great delegator and can give him tons of activities to keep him busy. This time, we wanted to make his Daddy a cake for his birthday, and I was a little nervous about a 4 year old using beaters and cracking eggs.

Contrary to popular belief, this child can be very focused and meticulous when he is really into something, which he was with baking this cake. Of course, I was a wreck. I HATE messes and getting dirty, so I forcasted showers of batter and storm clouds of flour. Jansen really surprised me. He poured everything, added the butter, I added the eggs, and he mixed it with the electric mixer. He even helped me ice the cake, and it turned out pretty good. Congrats to Jansen on baking his first cake, and Happy Birthday to Daddy!