Monday, December 22, 2014

Catching UP! Day 18, 19, 20 and 21

Day 18 - Because I am not up to date with my posting - I am a little blurry as to what happened on each day.  So I will have to share the stories that my pictures tell - for the rest of the days have gotten lost in the hustle and bustle.   Because I am so far behind - I will likely only post the 21st picture to the actual December Photo Project site.

This first picture was a very sweet gift I received from one of my co-workers.  She is a joy to work with as she always works hard to approach the world with a positive attitude.  She has heard me say things to the effect that I don't believe in perfect moms.  The mom that believes she is perfect or hears the outside world telling her so has lost the ability to learn and grow.  And it is my belief that it is in embracing our imperfections, the daily cataloging of our mistakes, and the actions to make the next day better are exactly what makes us the best moms we can be.  I am intentional in analyzing my parenting each day and there is always plenty to critique.  I am also not shy about sharing my short comings with others.  I always appreciate it when I can learn from someone else's mistakes.  So my friend has heard my failings that I have shared and she brought me this book.  I am looking forward to what gems it holds inside. 

 This is the picture that taught me the lesson that it is impossible to catch someone working naturally.  Something about someone walking into your office with a big honkin' camera up to their face tends to draw attention.  Who woulda thunk it?  But this is my friend, Jill.  She is one of the newest of my coworkers and she is a lot of fun.  We spend a lot of time being really jealous of her clean desk and her coordinated decorations. But sorry, Jill - you made a good effort at looking like you are working. . . but I think people may be onto our staging on this picture. 

 The coworker selfie.  This will likely go viral that like Oscar's one that Ellen took. . .because that is how cool the people are in this picture.  This was at the graduation dinner for the PA Students.  We feel privileged to get invited to their senior dinner and we look forward to being able to celebrate with them.  They work so hard to get to this point and we work hard too!  :)  In case you were wondering - I work with really fun people. 
That handsome bald guy is someone pretty special too but not one of my coworkers.  But we have discussed his greatness many times and I am sure we will discuss it again.  He is the best.

Day 19 --  NEWS of the Day!  Brandon is finally feeling better!  What a hard week for the little man.

Today was graduation day!  Once I was home from graduation - I spent all evening looking for a dress for Rich's work Christmas party. . . .that is on Day 20.  Way to plan ahead, Hoffman.
Here are a few pictures from today.

So excited that Tami came!  We miss her tremendously!  What a huge loss her leaving was. 

We missed Darwin and Steph!  So we took this picture for them.  Do mortar boards look good on anyone?!?!

Day 20 - A trip to KC for Rich's work party.  All I know is that we don't do this type of thing enough.  We had so much fun.  Rich works with great people who were so kind to me.  I had missed the last two years because of kids (usually sick ones) keeping me home.  I was made to feel welcome and missed.  I heard so many compliments about Rich -- but the kind of compliments that let me know that they truly do know Rich and his greatest strengths.  One of his coworkers called him "incredibly endearing to clients".  What a perfect choice of words.  Rich will never be the most polished or perfected -- but it turns out that is one of his best qualities.  Because Rich is real, incredibly friendly, and completely disarming.  Endearing - what a perfect word for him.  I am a bit biased -- but I have yet to meet someone that has spent any time with the guy who doesn't think he is the best.  I quite agree.  Here we are ready for our party. 

*Sigh* - Love that guy!

Day 21 -  Today was a great day.  We awakened rested - having no one waking us with leg pains, headaches, bad dreams, or separation anxiety.  We had a lovely breakfast and were able to sip our coffee leisurely.  Knowing that our sweet babysitter (Rich's mom) would likely be ready for our arrival -- as four kids is a lot no matter how fantastic they are-- we packed and headed home.  We enjoyed our three hours of chat time.  It is clear that we both very much enjoy laughing -- and it might be picking on each other that makes us laugh the most.

Arriving home was a rude awakening - Ben was tired from a sleepover, Brandon missed his nap, Katherine didn't want Mommy to stop holding her, and Elizabeth had become deluded into thinking she was in charge.  This was a recipe for operation - get bedtime here!  We wrapped some presents - trying to involve the children as much as possible.  Distraction is a good thing.  We fed them dinner and immediately began the bedtime routine.  They all crashed and burned quickly.  They just needed some sleep. 

By the time it occurred to me that I hadn't take any pictures today - I went and took a picture of my favorite subjects.  It was the kind of day that needed a moment to see their sweetness when they sleep.  Sometimes on those days - it is hard to see their sweetness when they are awake.

Sleepovers wear a guy out.  He was so excited for his sleepover that started at 4pm yesterday - that he spent the entire Saturday waiting by the front door.
 He fought bedtime the hardest.  He had passed that point when they are so tired - all they do is cry and thrash. . . until they crash and burn.  You'd never know it now. . .so peaceful.
Katherine seems to love stuffed animals.  It seems like everyday there is another one that /has/ to be in her bed.  You will note that not only does HER Mickey need to be in there but Brandon's as well.
 I couldn't resist this shot through her crib slats.  Those itty bitty toes.  Too cute!  It also makes me so painfully aware that our crib days are numbered.  I know that the next stages hold so much joy but there is a part of me that just doesn't want to let go of the baby stage.  *sniff*.

 She is growing up so fast.  Every day I look at her and marvel at her growing maturity (and heighth for that matter). Every. Day.   And she might kill me for posting this picture.  So let's all keep it quiet, shall we? 

Whether she likes it or not, she is just as sweet and irresistible as her younger siblings.  How could I not include her?

This is where Rich usually catches his first two or three hours of sleep.  I need to wrap this blog up so that I can go tell him it is time to go to bed.  I am exhausted too.  We had a fun weekend - but driving 6 hours in two days for a few hours of party takes it out of a pair of old goats, like us. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DPP2014 - Day 17

Things are trucking along here at the Hoffman House.  Feeling blessed by being surrounded by family and friends tonight - for so many reasons.  Rich and I are completely surrounded by really fabulous people in our lives.  But today - our hats go off to the grandmas.  We have only survived this week because of their sacrifice and support.  Monday, Rich was out of town and I had a work day that was going to go from 6:30a-6:30p.  Like most people, we don't have child care options that support that kind of day.  Marilyn (Rich's mom) rescheduled an appointment, came and stayed the night, and babysat most of the day.  My mom, Omom, came and relieved her so that she could get to our niece, Sydney's, Christmas program and I could finish my work day.  Today, Marilyn saved the day again.  My busy Tuesday that I took to be with Brandon - was all moved into an already busy Wednesday.  Rich is rarely able to take sick days as his work is pretty inflexible.  Marilyn, sweetly, came again to be with Brandon and Katherine.  You will note in the pictures that they are in their same sleepers -- this is a no judgment zone - so don't judge.  Rich and I /may/ have missed that tiny little item on our to do list this morning.  :)  Since there are finals and graduation this week - tomorrow and Friday are not any better.  Omom saves the day tomorrow and is missing something to spend the day with Brandon.  Fingers crossed that he stops running fever soon so that he can go back to school on Friday - if not, anyone wanna babysit?!?!  We are lucky to have such great family. 

And if that wasn't enough - Pawee, Kevin, and Omom dropped by tonight with an early Christmas present.  It was this year's Hallmark singing snowman toy.  We have several and they are the kids favorite Christmas decorations.  Needless to say - it was a hit.  This picture was my favorite today - and I am calling it "Good buddies."   These two have become fast friends lately.  Katherine used to break Kevin's heart on a regular basis by crying any time Kevin spoke to her or looked at her.  He won her over with a YouTube video of Beaker from the Muppets singing Ode To Joy.  Now she loves Kevin dearly and she sings "Mee mee mee mee mee" to something that sounds a little like Ode To Joy on a daily basis. 

Here are some more pics of the early present.  The presentation:

During this same visit - Elizabeth snuggled up to Omom - ever so sweetly.  One might think this was a sign of affection but it was not.  While E loves her grandparents dearly, she was working Omom over on this one.  She had a certain set of pastels she wanted for her art work and I had told her that we were all done shopping for her. I could hear her saying to Omom, "I knew I should ask you because you are the only one who would know exactly what I was talking about.  Everyone else would probably get it wrong."  Smart play, Elizabeth, smart play.
Another fun little gem from this snuggle time was after Omom asked Elizabeth how basketball practice went.  Somehow that questioned turned into to Elizabeth stating quite matter-of-factly, "Yea, I am going to be really good someday and probably play basketball in the NFL."  I would say she would have to be exceptionally good to get to play basketball in the NFL.  We all wished her the best of luck.

Here is our sick little man - looking slightly less pathetic than yesterday.   He is giving me a smile today - so that is good!  :)  Omom was doing her part to cheer him up.

Ben was all about being with his Daddy tonight (see the picture above too) and was proud to be "handy" like Daddy tonight.  We are having our basement painted and Rich and Ben went to fill in cracks and holes.  

And here are a few other fun ones of my silly and crazy boy. 

Who needs toys when you have a bag?!?!

He styled his own hair after bath.  Does this say Ace Ventura to anyone else?!?!

Off to prepare the teacher gifts for tomorrow.  We have a busy day and night tomorrow and I need some sleep!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DPP2014 Day 16 - The Best Laid Plans

Rich will tell you that I am a planner to a fault.  My coworkers would say so also as my work calendar (which is shared amongst my fellow faculty) practically reads like a diary.  Rich, on the other hand, truly takes life by the moment.  If it isn't happening tomorrow, odds are, he has no idea it is even happening.  It is a refreshing point of view and one I often envy - that is until tomorrow is my birthday or our anniversary.  Every. Year.  It is that same look of panic in his eyes when he realizes what the next day will bring.  I digress.  We both appreciate the outlook on life the other has and the balance it brings to have us doing this life together. 

Today, I had my day planned - appointments sometimes as often as every 20 minutes.  It was going to be a busy work day without a lot of free space.  But life has a way of making free space sometimes - whether you want it or not.  It was about 2 am when I realized that life was sending me a curve ball.  Poor little Brandon was quietly rocking in the recliner in our room saying with each rock, "mom, wake up, I threw up."  I am not sure how many times he rocked before I finally registered his words.  We got all cleaned up and got him tucked back in bed.  It was clear he had a fever and I knew that he wasn't going anywhere the next morning.  He spent the day in a chair, rocking, sleeping, watching movies.  He is so quiet and never complains when he is sick.  He ran a fever all day and felt miserable.  With Rich out of town, my mom preparing for company, and Marilyn having some commitments as well, I was a one man show.  It took some shuffling by my gracious coworkers and students - but the day was rearranged.

 This is how he felt about being sick.  Or he wasn't amused by my photojournalism.  Come to think of it - it might be the latter.

But nothing a little frozen can't fix!

I kept Katherine at home - for a couple reasons.  One - Brandon didn't roll out of bed this morning until almost noon.  The other is - I felt like we should keep her exposed to the germs she has already been living with rather than introducing new germs.  One thing I have noted with having four kiddos - is that sometimes it feels like someone is always down for the count.  So much so, when one kiddo turns up sick - Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" starts rolling through my head.  There are shoes all over the place here lining up and waiting to drop.  :)  Since she was home, she also enjoyed Frozen.  I am particularly fond of how she chooses to "lounge."

Once the "bigs" got home, I attempted to avoid issues with responsibilities by promising they could help me decorate the last of the sugar cookies if they had all their things done.  Piano got practiced, spelling rehearsed, social studies test review done, worksheets completed, and math facts done by quizzing each other.  Ben always gets done before Elizabeth - so he busied himself with Legos. . .he loves Legos. 
This is the one I will post for today - and I will call it "Off building in his own world." 

Elizabeth got busy with her favorite evening pass time, spending time with Katherine.  I think Lucky got jealous.  While there is a lot of movement in this photo - I love it.  The sister snuggles with the dog wanting so badly to be in the mix.  You will notice that Katherine does not react to Lucky.  This would be because Lucky tries to get as close as possible anytime any of us get down onto the floor - so she is used to it.  It is really bad when Rich and I get down to play with the kids.  Nice to have a little photographic evidence of this adorable yet very annoying habit of our dog.  Man - you can see the crazy in her eyes. 

Finally, Daddy returned home with dinner (yay for no cooking!).  He got home 4 hours earlier than expected which is about the happiest news this mama could have received today.  :)  He got the littles put to bed while we decorated cookies.  Their classroom teachers are going to have some very special cookies that have no shortage of sprinkles on them.  While the abundance of sprinkles may make the otherwise soft and delectable sugar cookies a bit crunchy, it was sweet to see them work so hard on the ones that they had picked out for their school teachers.  It is clear to me they have a lot of respect and affection for those women.  I am grateful every day for the teachers in my kiddos life - both the formal and the informal. 


A day that started with stress and frustration turned out to be a lovely day filled with free space.  Lots of life and love fits into free space.  Don't we all need a little more of it?

DPP2014 Day 15

Let's see if I have one more day of blogging in me.  I only took one picture today - so it was easy to make a selection.  And if the truth is being told - I grabbed my camera and looked around for something to catch my eye.  I didn't stage this.  The two items are displayed on my file cabinet in our main family room.  I love them both and I love that you can see the top of Katherine's kicky boots.  The Santa Claus was painted in 1976 in the basement of my grandparent's house where they ran a ceramics shop and gave classes.  I have many fond memories or going to Grandpa and Grandma's house and getting to pick something to paint.  Oh the big plans I would have for that item - but considering the fact that I have no artistic ability - it never turned out quite as my mind's eye had seen it.  This Santa Clause had center stage on the mantle when I was growing up - and so I am happy to have him in our home.  Once we can return plants to the floor, he will sit upon our mantle.  (Plants must remain high on the mantle or risk their dirt being removed one toddler handful at a time).  The second item is the canvas that E made as a Thank you for our trip to Florida.  Quite the contrast from my memory of the ceramic shop.  I am completely devoid of artistic talent but E seems to have a knack for it!  She is always creating amazing things.  So, since all of my usual subjects are in bed - here is today's selection. 
A fun story from today:
            It has been a bit trying around the Hoffman house since our trip to Florida.  The children are reluctantly settling back into routine - but not without a bit of a struggle.  Anyone with kiddos will know the days I am talking about.  When a simple, "let's work on your spelling" won't do the trick like it usually does.  On these days, it usually takes 5 or 6 requests and perhaps the threat of a consequence before they consider it worthy of their attention.  Today, I had hit my limit.  A few days I can work with while they return to normalcy but we are nearly a week out - so I have decided they may have some bad habits.  Now, most days, I approach my children with firm boundaries in a very matter of fact but loving way.  Today, I opted to play the Santa card instead of utilizing some reasonable parenting strategies.  Just in case any one was considering me for mom of the year, they can be assured that I am not worthy.  I came home to the children (for five days running now) having ignored their homework - it was time to go to piano lessons so there was no time for it now.  It was time to leave and despite the leaving countdown and requests for shoes on, still no one had complied.  So in my infinite wisdom (i.e. pathetic desperation), I approached our Elf on the Shelf.  Knowing he would head to report to Santa tonight - I requested that he have Santa cancel the Hoffman family stop as surely the children were on the naughty list at this point.  Now - this passive aggressive maneuver is not only unattractive but maybe just down right mean.  So I should regret it. . . but I don't.  It was amazing - those kiddos got their shoes on and jump in the car within 2 minutes.  That, my friends, is what we call positive reinforcement for the unattractive maneuver and another reminder as to why Santa /HAS/ a naughty and nice list.
             As an added benefit, once I reached the car with Katherine, I received apologies from all three "bigs".  And not the reluctant, "Sorry, mom" accompanied by the eye roll but the "Mom, I am so sorry" accompanied by the hug.  The drive to piano was serenaded by Ben and Brandon composing their own Christmas Carol.  Here are the lyrics that I can remember,  "You better listen to your parents, be nice, and tell your mom you are sorry.  Be kind to your brothers and sisters, do your responsibilities, and put your shoes on the first time you are asked.  OOOOOOOOORRRRR Santa won't come."  What started as a frustrating arrival home, turned into laughter and fun.  Don't tell them just yet - but they really are good kids.   :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

DPP 2014 - Days 11, 13, and 14 (Day 12 was a pictureless day)

Day 11 - This was our first full day back to reality with everyone returning to work and school.  Finding time to be intentional with photos was a bit of a challenge.  After a lengthy work day, I got to go for my haircut.  I love when they massage your head during the shampoo!  Bliss!  So by the time I got home, it was chaos getting homework done, bedtime rolling, and sneaking in a bit of time to chat.  That might be my least favorite thing about evening night activities.  It makes things feel so rushed that I miss hearing the details of my kiddos days.  Ben was at Cub Scouts all evening so I didn't snag a picture of him.

Today's selection was Elizabeth working on her homework.  The faster she moves her pencil, the easier it is to think.  :)

Here is my little charmer.  He might run the world someday.  He has quite the ability to wrap someone around his little finger and then boss them around.  Don't tell the Bigs - but he owns them on a regular basis.

 This was a spontaneous little play time that happened.  It was very short lived though.  See those little characters are Katherine's souvenirs.  It took about 5 minutes before her toddler showed.  Grabbing and shouting "MINE!" commenced.

As bedtime was announced, you can see the level of concern that she had.  Once her siblings didn't want them any more - neither did she.  If I had a nickel for each little pile of treasures that I pick up each night, we would be a very wealthy family.  With four kids, it takes quite awhile to make it around to all the corners of the house to do the quick before bed pick up.

Day 12 - Interview days at work mean early mornings and late nights.  I didn't leave work until nearly 6:15 (still catching up from vacation) and then I met Rich and the kiddos at a Christmas party downtown.  I had to take Ben and K from there to Ben's basketball practice and then home for bed.  I should have snagged a picture at the Christmas party!

Day 13 - A busy Saturday got much less busy with a sick Ben Boy.  He had a very short lived ailment but it took him out for the weekend.  So we stayed in.  Baked cookies, decorated for Christmas (finally), did some Christmas shopping, and enjoyed our day together. 

Today's selection occurred while I was getting decorations out.  I just loved that Elizabeth sat with Katherine and taught her about our Advent calendar.  She also began telling her the Christmas story.  It was so sweet.  So I titled it, "Telling the Story."

 This one is actually a picture of Katherine telling me "No, no" - a current favorite phrase.  Isn't that a rite of toddler passage?  But I think it is funny because it makes me imagine her saying, "Excuse me, do you have any Grey Poupon?"  Something pretentious in her sweet face. 

And here is my sweet boy.  A headache sufferer - so it is hard to know if he had a bad headache that cause him to be sick or being sick caused him headaches.  Either way - he spent the day in bed and didn't eat anything.  Anyone who knows Ben - knows that means he was sick.  He is like his Daddy and loves to snack and he doesn't like to hold still!

Day 14 -

Another busy day.  Somewhere along the line, I thought it would be a good idea to be a Girl Scout troop leader for Elizabeth's Girl Scouts.  I really enjoy working with the girls - they are a great group of girls.  Why I thought I had time for that, I will never know.  Ultimately, I would do it again to keep this troop going.  The preparations for Christmas continued.  More cookies baked, more shopping done, and a great Girl Scout outing as well.  I even had time to fluff and buff my Christmas carols on the piano.  Sometimes I am glad that no one lingers outside my windows because I was singing at the top of my lungs.  It wasn't pretty - but I had a lovely time.

Today's selection just made me laugh.  He was perking up a bit on Sunday.  His trip down to the main floor was short but he wanted to count his money.  Only Ben would separate things out quite like this. . .

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DPP2014 - Day 10

For those of you following from Facebook - I never posted about Day 9.  The blog is there - it was short and sweet and I didn't feel it needed its own Facebook posting.  :)

Today was a whirlwind day.  Fortunately, Rich and I had the good sense to take today as vacation after returning home yesterday evening.  It was a good thing we did too.  We spent the day unpacking, putting away clothes and toys, grocery shopping, helping kids with homework, and going through the mail.  I had big ambitions to get the rest of the house decorated for Christmas and our bills paid - but neither of those things seemed to get done. 

A day like today didn't lend itself to as many snap shots as a vacation day normally would.  It was my wake up call as to why I started this project in the first place last year.  This project reminds me to stop and smell the roses each day.  To seek out those moments that would otherwise pass me by.  It wasn't until bed time that I even thought to grab my camera.  The winner today - titled "Runaway" was a fun moment just after bathtime.  Many squeals and laughter were had by all as this little stinker made every effort to stay out of her pjs. 

I was tempted to choose this one of Elizabeth - which I like to call "Busted".  She was dying for a play date today and her stipulations were homework done and clothes put away.  Later to find out - neither one was actually done - all was located in her closet.  Looks like this mama needs to zone back in to a more supervisory role for a few days.  Dutifully - and a bit hang dog - she got both done before bed.  She is typically so responsible and on top of the things she needs to have done.  She is meticulous about keeping her room clean - so today was definitely a post vacation aberration.

These two were just as crazy.  This little pile in the middle of their room took them 30 minutes to clean up.  They just couldn't stop playing long enough to put more than one thing away about every two to three minutes.  LOTS of reminders along the way were needed just to get this little cleaning job done. 

And finally, this little sweetie has arrived back home from her awesome pet motel (Riverside Meadows is awesome!).  She was so excited to be home and was ever so snuggly.  Here she is just relaxing and being content to watch the action. 

It was great to have a day getting our world reorganized.  But the official routine begins again tomorrow whether we are ready for it or not.  We need to turn our focus to preparations for the holiday - both physically and spiritually.  The struggle will lie in not letting the busy outweigh the meaning. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

DPP2014 - Day 9

I am exhausted.  We are home and we are so grateful for a wonderful trip full of memories.  Many moments that I wouldn't trade for the world.  

Travel home was uneventful - which is saying something when you travel with 4 kiddos 10 and under.  In the interest of my much needed rest, I will only post my one pic.  I called it, the last cup. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

DPP 2014 Day 8

All good things must come to an end. *sniff sniff*
A truly wonderful time was had by all and we are feeling renewed.  We tried to talk ourselves into a few more days - but then the kids reminded us why routine is a good thing too.  Nothing like a few good melt downs to make you appreciate kids having rooms to be sent to. ;)
Today's selection was easy because it embodied our last day.  The weather turned colder and rainy.  This made the good days we had all the more appreciated. The rain and clouds mirrored our feelings about our vacation coming to an end.  It also highlights the commitment to fun we have had all week - because a little yucky weather wasn't keeping us away from Harry Potter and the Super Heroes!  And though a sunny day would have been nice, this day brought its own kind of adventure that we had yet to have.  This one is titled "Rain or Shine."

Because of the rain and a poor choice in one of our first rides (a Dr. Seuss fish ride that it was a challenging to stay dry - wish I would have known that), we made a purchase of sweatshirts for all kiddos.  This came about 1 hour after my declaration that there would be no souvenir purchasing today.  I hate to eat my words but it was clear they were going to need something warm and dry when we got back to the car.  Turns out - might be my favorite souvenir purchase. 

Cracks me up.  

Here is another gem and a reminder of my most important luggage. 

And finally - the only two brave enough and crazy enough to fly with Harry Potter.  We both came out green. Perhaps immediately following lunch at the Three Broomsticks was not our best idea.  But we survived and loved the ride despite the assault on our vestibular system.