Happy 2013!

My blogging surge hasn’t happened.

But I did get around to making a Happy New Year card which is really just a very belated Christmas card.

I’m fine with that and I kind of like it that way.

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If you have really great eyesight and can actually read the tiny print, please know that the actual card I mailed to friends and family did not say “SB” and “Scary Baby”. Just trying to respect the 13 year old’s privacy regarding internet strangers.

It has been 5 years since I started this blog and 5 years since I sent a holiday card. Probably not a coincidence as I felt everyone could get the Humpfreeze updates on the blog.

And perhaps because we had not taken a decent family photo since Scary Baby was one.

I’m still working on 2012 highlights and getting them on the blog for the sake of our family history. The timeline pressure is all mine and I can go at my own pace knowing that all that I have recorded in the past 20+ years is more than many take the time to do and release some of my guilt over my giant blogging gaps this year.

I’m not ready to stop but I still can’t figure out how to start again.

Thanks for hanging around here and reading when I do post. I love every comment and email I receive.

Happy New Year – may 2013 be the best year yet for you and your loved ones!!

xoxo

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Blogging Milestone

While November of this year will mark my 5 year blogging anniversary, today marks a different milestone.

500th blog post!

I’m sure that many bloggers hit that mark much more quickly than I have. I’ve gone through surges of regular, consistent blogging. And I’ve been inconsistent and gone missing for weeks because real life comes first and I can’t always blog about it.

I’ve blogged through the ups and downs of the teen years of our first three darlings. This flew in the face of the millions of mommy blogs out there with young babies and toddlers. I see them now questioning how much they can blog as their kids hit middle and high school. They are getting uncomfortable with blogging. It is a parenting season that can be the hardest.

I’m here to say to hang on – there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we can see it. With our strategic family planning, those teens are now “the twenties” which is reason to celebrate. My parenting goal was to get them to 18 so they could be solely responsible for their own actions.

Then PhilBillPaul and I woke up on April 22nd of this year, only to find we are fully immersed in raising teen #4. Scary Baby at 13 may be more work than the first batch of 3.

The blog material never ends. It’s the time it takes and trying to figure out the balance of real life and some level of privacy.

The good news – I’m still not drinking.

The bad news – I’m still not drinking.

Special thanks to my friend Leigh Anne who encouraged me to start a blog. Thanks to my friends who keep up with me through the blog. Thanks to my new friends who found a kindred spirit through the blog. Thanks to everyone who has ever left a comment because the “google gods” pay attention to that.

We’re having an ice cream celebration here.

Photo by Scary Baby who believes ice cream is a grocery staple.

Disclaimer: We did have 7 college kids here on Thursday night and they made sundaes. Just didn’t want you to think it was all for us. My favorites are in order from the bottom to the top.

This blog has become our online digital family photo album where I can write the stories and upload photos and then print the whole blog as a book to add to our shelf of family scrapbooks.

Capture the stories. Even the bad ones. It’s what makes us family. And some day, sooner than later, I hope you will be able to laugh about the times that make us all stronger.

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Birthday Milestone

Those tiny babies arrived 4 weeks early.

They tested everything I knew about being a woman, a wife and a mother and continue to test me still.

The darling twins…

…are 21 today.

They have shared so much more than a birthday in their twenty one years of being sister twins.

I hope today, especially, they will remember all the special memories they have created together.

In case they are still reading the blog…

Dad and I are so proud of you and love you both more than we can convey with mere words.

I hope you will celebrate and be safe and get along!

Yeah, you know I like to keep it real here on the blog and the darling twins continue to argue and fight while living in a house in the mountains this summer with five ten more people than we can count.

Any suggestions for a sweet, memorable milestone birthday gift? When I consulted my friend Google, gifts like over-sized flasks, engraved shot glasses, beer mugs and hangover cures came up. I found these items to be neither sweet nor memorable. I was looking for something that might not be associated with drinking alcohol. Pretty sure their friends will take care of the drinking themed gifts.

I’m notorious for late birthday gifts and this one won’t be the exception.

Side note: Late birthday gifts can be more memorable when they are not mixed in with the pile on the actual day. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

PhilBillPaul had no suggestions. I’m looking for something meaningful and my goal is to give it to them by their actual July due date. Takes the pressure off. We saw them this weekend so chances are good we won’t see them again until July anyway.

Do you remember what you got for your 21st birthday? Share here please–I need some inspiration! (as long as it wasn’t a car or a condo.)

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My Favorite Beach

Just when I think I’ve got a regular blog rhythm going on…

Something interrupts the rhythm and the blog suffers neglect.

This time it was a last minute beach trip with one darling twin.

I’m not complaining.

In the rarest of moments, I was able to travel with just one Humpfreeze child and we got to spend 4 decadent nights at the beach.

It was a grand early Mother’s Day present and I’d like to make it a new tradition. One child and mom on a trip.

For those of you who had one child instead of 2, 3 or {gasp} 4, this may sound like no big deal but for me it was lovely one-on-one time with my darling Roger Leroy.

I even had the joy of forcing asking her to wear a dress to dinner.

Sorry Rachel but I had to put it on the blog for posterity’s sake.

COPYRIGHT WARNING to Rachel’s friends: Lifting pictures from the blog and posting them on Facebook is stealing. 😉

She preferred gym shorts and cruising around in the golf cart.

The beach in Destin was gorgeous. It rivals many beautiful beaches we’ve been fortunate enough to visit.

No pictures of the water but Rachel described the crystal clear water as looking like an ad on television for a tropical vacation in the Caribbean. She’s right!

I love that it is less than a six hour drive from our house. We stopped going in the crowded summer and I can confidently say that May and September are my favorite times to visit.

New way to spell Humpfreeze just in…

I’m still going with Humpfreeze but this comes in 2nd place for most creative.

Thanks Errin & Doug for outstanding accommodations!

A belated but heartfelt Happy Mother’s Day to all my women friends. I hope you had a wonderful day.

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Our Last Tween

We enjoyed 22 months of teenage-free living and then, darn it, if that Scary Baby didn’t go and turn 13 and put us back in that parenting mode. Again.

Though really, her tween years counted double since she had three teen siblings for those years.

The tween and teen years really put the toddler years to shame. Oh how I yearn for those cute, funny days.

Alas, we can’t turn back time and here we are with a teenager once again.

We continue to keep birthdays pretty low key around here at the Humpfreeze house and have never caved to the peer pressure of extravagant, expensive parties and typically opt for family celebrations.

After her birthday weekend was spent with the grandmothers, she patiently waited two weeks to have a few friends over for dinner and a movie at home.

She picked the menu.

Fruit kabob appetizers. She was inspired to make kabobs when she found the funky skewers at a garage sale the weekend before for the bargain price of 50¢.

Chinese carryout – sesame chicken and fried rice.

And a birthday cake.

Selected by her via the Publix website.

Ebony & Ivory cake.

The chocolate pudding was suspiciously missing between the layers as described on their website but the cake was otherwise good.

Side note: I’d personally recommend the Chocolate Ganache Supreme instead. I also have a few customer service tips for Publix about the bakery clerk taking the cake order over the phone. Very surprised to get anything less than stellar customer service from Publix. (Especially since my 3 darling Twenties were forced to work there by their mean parents so they could learn the art of stellar customer service.)

Now we look forward to the next five years with our new teenager. She has so much potential and we can only hope her elderly senior citizen parents can live through it.

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The Grandmothers Are Coming

They’re flying in tonight.

Grandma from Illinois and Granny from Texas.

A very rare occurrence here at the Humpfreeze house.

The tween is counting the days until she becomes a teen.

A giant challenge to get the three twenties’ schedules coordinated so we could spend one day together. College exams are coming, drill weekend, alumni activities in the cadet world.

They are going to get the big reveals of several of our DIY house projects.

The Big Basement Move

The Pumpkin had occupied his upstairs bedroom since he was 18 months old.

The now 22 year-old games online with a headset and can often be heard shouting things like, “STOP. AROUND THE CORNER. SHOOT.” at 3:00 a.m. {insert muffled, deep man voice here}

It was time for some quiet for us.

Since he is in college full-time and has a part-time job, we let him stay. We are afraid he is going to take one class at a time so he never has to graduate.

His 21 year-old carpet had far exceeded its expiration date by at least a decade.

But the 110 gallon aquarium was a sore point when we discussed dismantling it.

I finally convinced PhilBillPaul that one giant tank on the main floor was enough.

Enlisted help to drain the tank.

And transport very old fish to the fish store. Tank sold on craigslist in one day.

PhilBillPaul got to work patching and priming the dark red walls.

The help did not want to be photographed.

Nothing like a freshly painted room.

And he worked so hard putting in the leftover laminate flooring from Scary Baby’s room makeover.

The Grunter had a big job in cleaning up the basement…

…that may have turned into a giant storage room in the past two years.

With the help of his very good friend Jason, in one afternoon, they got everything cleaned up.

His new bachelor pad has shaped up.

I could do without the movie posters.

Then again, I’m just glad he’s not upstairs yelling SHOOT.

Stipulation that when Grandma or Granny comes, he must clean his basement man cave and sleep upstairs so our guests can have some privacy.

We’re still finishing his former room and I’ll share pictures when we get it done. Love it so far!

Of course, the kitchen is still not done so those pictures may not show up until 2013. Seems the older we get, the slower we go.

On an unrelated note, the grandmas have missed the azaleas blooming.

Luckily, Scary Baby had her annual photo shoot.

This darn crazy weather.

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DIY Project #7214 ~ Transferring Home Movies to DVD

It has been the year of DIY at the Humpfreeze house.

After the DIY kitchen remodel, I was all over another DIY project.

Not.

Should I mention now that the kitchen is still not done?

Since I can’t even seem to blog once a week, I’m pretty sure that I shouldn’t try to paint the kitchen.

Instead, December has crept up on me along with our baking frenzy weekend. More on that later.

Back to transferring our home movies…

Darling twin Rachel was suppose to transfer all of our Sony 8mm tapes and VHS tapes to DVD for me about four or five years ago. I know that the tapes deteriorate over time and using DVD media would extend the life of our home movies.

I said it would be the best Christmas gift. Ever.

Somehow my friend Nancy in California got ahead of me in the line and she mailed all her videotapes to Rachel and she got hers transferred. I think it was the cash payment vs. gift for mom that got her better service.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then they broke the camcorder we bought to do the transfer.

Sadly, we couldn’t even watch the tapes because we had no working Sony camcorder.

Sony is not my friend.

Sony tapes only work in Sony equipment. It’s an endless, expensive loop of frustration.

After much research with my best friend, Google, I found a Sony DVD recorder that I could transfer all of our 8mm tapes to DVD.

Sweet.

Even sweeter, I found a refurbished model for the bargain price of $39.99 at Micro Center so we drove to Marietta to buy it. Which increased the price a wee bit because of gas prices but that’s just how much we don’t like to pay retail.

But don’t forget I still had to buy a Sony 8mm camcorder since ours didn’t work and their tapes are exclusive to their equipment.

The same weekend I found a used camcorder on ebay right here in Sugar Hill which is very near where we live. The nice seller let us come pick it up at his house after I won the auction at $70.00. I still saved quite a bit since the recorder AND camcorder were less than the retail price of the recorder which is $199.99.

It seems the stars were aligned for me to start this massive project.

Except you can’t duplicate the actual DVDs because they are still encoded with Sony blah-blah-blah.

I wanted to make copies of special tapes for the kids. Because I’m sure they will cherish them. When I’m dead.

This was a time-intensive DIY project. I ran the machine pretty much daily for about two weeks. I made duplicate copies of the tapes through the Sony recorder of some major events but I only have one copy of most.

It was all worth it. Absolutely precious video of their teeny tiny days when they were so stinkin’ cute. I can hardly watch them without welling up with emotion.

Because they make me cry now for entirely different reasons.

Sigh.

Priceless video of my dad, their Grandad Jimbo with them. I did make extra copies of that VHS tape that PhilBillPaul had made for me the year after he died.

So glad I finally took the time for this DIY home movie transfer to DVD. 62 DVDs later, I can mark that off my to-do list.

And now we can watch some of them during Christmas when everyone is home.

Next, I need to figure out how to share a few little clips here on the blog. DIY video editing on my list for 2012.

I know that I should put them in a safety deposit box before the four little piglets touch them, break them or lose them.

Do you have family movies? Are you able to watch them?

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Reflections on a “Normal” Weekend

I’m writing this on Sunday evening after a weekend of what we consider to be “normal.”

I am still challenged to define normal because I don’t think it exists.

I know you have all been covered up with TV, magazine and internet stories about that fateful day in our country’s history. Frankly, I don’t think there are ever too many stories or too much coverage. I think we easily forget on a day-to-day basis as we go about our “normal” lives.

This year, more than others, probably because of the decade mark but also because of the age of my kids, we all talked out loud more.

It made me think of Alan Jackson’s powerful song, “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” as discussions were based around remembering where you were the moment you heard the news of the planes hitting the towers.


This weekend we spent a lot of time talking about 9/11. Scary Baby had so many questions after they discussed it in school and she came home and looked back at our 2001 family photo album.

We prayed for those who lost so much. We spent some time reflecting on the last 10 years of our lives.

Ten years ago…

We had a two year-old whose biggest questions were about things like the caterpillar crawling up her arm at my Uncle Jack’s in Indiana.

My daughters and nieces stood still for a quick photo at our annual Kivett family reunion just a week and 2 days before September 11, 2001.

Just 3 days before on September 9, 2001, our oldest pumpkin turned 12. They all attended a private Christian school and wore mom-loved school uniforms.

All the students wrote letters to President Bush in their classes.

His darling twin sisters were ten.

They donated teddy bears with a pink heart attached with their own handwritten note to give to children who had lost someone on that dreadful day.

How could I know that ten years later…

That our now 12-year old precocious 7th grader would be our most challenging 12 year-old we have yet to raise but we are hoping it will come full circle when she takes care of us in the nursing home.

She always has to test out the college sister’s bunk beds when we visit.

How could I know that ten years later…

Our then 12 year-old pumpkin would become a 22 year-old man-child semi-adult…

Who would still let me take a picture of him with his new book bag in his senior year at college at Georgia State?

How could I know that ten years later…

Those darling twins would choose to serve our country.

No one could have told me my teeny tiny baby daughters would become Soldiers.

But this is our new “normal” and in between the dirty pig rooms and me being a “mean mom” and PhilBillPaul being a “nice dad”, I go to bed every single night and count my blessings.

We spent the weekend doing “normal” things and tried to explain to Scary Baby that this is what we all do to prove they didn’t take our “normal” away.

While Elizabeth was at a Military Ball for her unit…

Side note: Fellow married Soldier in her unit, not a date. Only picture I could get from her.

We went up to the North Georgia mountains and met Rachel and friends for lunch.

Jordan and Jenna loved the pancakes.

We admired the girls’ view out their dorm room window.

Someday we know they will appreciate it as much as we do.

The view makes up for (at least a little) the spartan dorm rooms that they live in as cadets.

The cadet military dorms are a far cry from the typical college student who gets to buy new comforters, build lofts, hang wall art and decorate their new home away from home with brightly colored lamps and fun desk accessories.

The choices they have made will serve them well long after they have to sleep on a scratchy green army blanket.

We are proud parents and we need to sing their praises directly to them more than we do.

We spent a beautiful afternoon watching a not so beautiful sport.

Circus baby is the one with the ball as they played Georgia Tech.

We explained to Scary Baby that we would continue to gather and laugh and love and keep on living in our wonderful country. That we would celebrate our freedom and thank those who continue to fight for it every day.

We promised we would never forget.

We haven’t.

I’m never too busy to stop and watch one more poignant short video and hope you aren’t either.

It seems like such a small gesture to sit in a quiet place and reflect.

If you need anymore good reading to help you remember the richness of our lives that we sometimes take for granted, please take the time to read an excerpt from a book worth buying called The Legacy Letters by TuesdaysChildren.org.

I believe that part of remembering and honoring people is to take some time to feel the pain of what others have lost…

Questions for a father lost on 9/11 from Motherlode, a NY Times blog.

I know it makes me more grateful.

Thanks for reading to the end and helping me remember.

Did you and your family do anything special to honor the heroes of 9/11 over the weekend?

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Wiener Dog Rehab

Of all the things I could tell you about how we spent our summer here at the Humpfreeze house, I just could not have predicted that dog rehabilitation would be on our schedule.

Our Dudley the Dachshund Rehab Story

Dudley collapsed in late June after a regular run up the stairs to see the darling twins in their bedroom.

Bad dog owner tip #1 ~ Carry your dachshund up and down stairs forever.

PhilBillPaul said his back legs weren’t working. He could not stand. We are aware that dachshunds can have back problems associated with their very short legs and long backs.

The first thing I said to him quietly and privately, “Please tell me we’re on the same page and we’re not going to do that wiener dog wheelchair thing, right?”

He agreed.

Everyone had to work so Roger Leroy was the only one available to take him to the vet. She is not the most compassionate person in the house. She comes by that naturally. Ahem. Not naming names but one of her parents may be like this too.

She was a little irritated that she had to sit with the dog for hours awaiting an x-ray and evaluation. She called me several times with estimates of $500+ dollars for various tests. At that point, it was time to call Dad and have him talk to the vet and keep costs down and get assurance that the dog was not in any pain. Roger Leroy did have to leave him at the vet because she had to go to work.

By the time I got home, Scary Baby was home from a sleepover at a friend’s house and only knew from Roger Leroy that Dudley was at the vet. She was obviously concerned and she and her friend Cloret asked for details. I tried to downplay the seriousness of the situation and told them that we were waiting for more information from the vet.

Scary Baby said brightly, “If he can’t walk and he’s paralyzed, we can get him a doggy wheelchair. The internet has pictures and they can lead happy, productive lives.”

Momma said “We’re not getting a doggy wheelchair.”

Scary Baby said “WHY? He can be happy and it’s like a little wagon or cart…”

Momma said “We don’t have information from the vet so we don’t need to have this discussion right now. Please give Sabu some extra attention since he’s probably very confused about why Dudley isn’t down in the basement with him today.”

She and her friend went down to the lounge to watch a movie.

I consulted with my friend Google and then talked to the vet. The news was not good.

Next I called PhilBillPaul who was driving home from Macon.

And promptly burst into tears.

I cried about the dog, the choices, the outcome, the doggy wheelchair, the money, the well dog who would be traumatized, the children who would be traumatized and why this is the exact reason I did not want dogs,

PhilBillPaul who is a giant dog lover said, “I can’t do this now. I could pull over on the side of the road and bawl but I’m just trying to get home. We’ll figure it out when I get there.”

A little while later, Scary Baby says through my closed bedroom door, “We’re going to take Sabu on a walk and might go down to the neighbor’s house with him.”

Thought that was very sweet and good for the well dog. I carried on until PhilBillPaul and Wizzy got home and they went to vet to pick up Dudley.

They arrived home with Dudley and I had already told all the big kids to be home and help create a quiet night with no extra people at our house.

Side note: Due to time constraints and the ridiculous length of this post, I’m leaving out the screaming fight we had when Roger Leroy announced a friend was on her way over and we told her we weren’t having company with the sick dog and then the friend arrived anyway and they both went upstairs to get Roger Leroy’s stuff because we told her to leave, Sabu went crazy, ran upstairs, peed in Scary Baby’s room and at least 2 of us started crying again.

We were busy setting up his crate with Wizzy’s memory foam pillow that fit perfectly.

We were all very emotional and unsure of what would happen next. The vet recommended a neurological consult which PhilBillPaul scheduled for the next morning.

In walked Scary Baby with two neighborhood friends and they were holding a jar of money. They proudly told us that they had collected money for Dudley and had almost $200 in the jar.

After the friends left, Roger Leroy and I interrogated calmly asked Scary Baby what exactly they said to neighbors about the dog?!

Bad dog owner tip #2 ~ Don’t let your 12 year old hear you crying on the phone about the sick dog.

With some prodding, she confessed “We just said we needed money for a doggy wheelchair for Dudley. And he might need surgery. And I printed this picture to show them.”

Roger Leroy was mortified.

I said “Welcome to my world.”

Did you know there are neurologists for dogs? We didn’t. Treatment options were steroids and 6-8 weeks of immobilization or surgery.

After the neuro consult, we opted for steroid treatment and about 3 other drugs I can’t even remember.

The next day our Wiener Dog Rehab begin in full force.

I went to the store and bought dog pee pads and poster board.

We found great information on IVDD Disc Disease and excellent tips on wiener dog crate rest from other wiener dog lovers on the internet:

  • I cut the long end of an old fleece blanket to make a “butt sling” to help him go to the bathroom outside.
  • We froze chicken broth for ice cube treats because it is full of cartilage-building proteins and amino acids.
  • PhilBillPaul cut the top of the crate so we could lift him in and out more easily.
  • We bought a kiddie pool for water therapy.

We were hopeful but tried to be realistic. We saw slow and steady progress and had two follow-up visits with the vet.

We sent Scary Baby back through the neighborhood with envelopes with a special note attached.

Wasn’t it smart of the girls to keep a list of donors and amounts donated?

After 5 weeks of total crate rest, the vet said we could start introducing him back into his area with Sabu. His prognosis is excellent.

What life lessons have we learned from this wiener dog rehab experience? For me, it just reinforced what I already knew that dogs are expensive and the emotional investment is even more expensive.

Oh, we also all learned one more thing…

Nobody at our house volunteered to learn how to express the dog’s bladder or bowel once I explained to Scary Baby about what would be involved with a doggy wheelchair.

Dudley is our vet’s favorite miracle story.

We are so grateful that he is better.

And that we didn’t have to buy a doggy wheelchair.

Even if he hops a bit like a rabbit.

Guess how much dog neurosurgery costs?

Leave a comment and person who comes closest wins two wiener dogs!

Just kidding. Guess anyway. I think it’s illegal to give away wiener dogs as a prize for a blog contest.

Whatever.

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Twenty is the New Twelve

Guess who turned twenty on Saturday?

Happy 20th Birthday to the darling twins!

Holy cow! This means I do not have teenagers living in my house for the first time in 8 years. Until next April when Scary Baby turns 13 and the cycle begins again. Yikes.

I will not lie and say I will miss the teen years. I will tell the truth and confess that I absolutely miss this stage…

Zero to two is my favorite time. They were such adorable tiny twins.

Then they get big and talk back and think we’re stupid.

Side note: Twenty feels like the new twelve this summer as we go ’round and ’round about all our ridiculous rules. But that’s a post for another day.

Roger Leroy requested a chocolate chip fruit pizza for her birthday “cake.”

Wizzy requested a chocolate cake.

“Hot” tip regarding frosting = it melts if cake is still warm.

They’ve had to share one cake for so many years that I decided I could accommodate both requests. The bonus was that we had dessert three nights in a row.

They are such opposites in so many ways. Dinner requests were Mexican and Italian. We took them for Mexican on Friday night and Wizzy had an Italian dinner with her dad the next night.

Neither requested the singing, the sopapillas or the…

…sombreros.

Forced cell phone picture. Can you tell?

We thought Wizzy’s hat made her look like a Canadian Mountie. We blamed her big head. She insisted it was because of her bun.

Wizzy also tried to escape from our booth when she realized PhilBillPaul had discreetly arranged for the wait staff to come out and sing for the darling twins. We pinned her in and about seven staff members delivered a rousing performance.

They really didn’t seem to appreciate when their dad and I came out of the restaurant wearing the bonus sombreros they got to keep.

And PhilBillPaul wore one all the way home.

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