Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And We Let These People Vote?

Today was the Florida Primaries and I had the following event happen to me. Could not believe that people like this can actually vote for our laws and government leaders!

Before Bryleigh and I picked up Kyla from school, we stopped by the local library to return some items. It just so happened that the library was also a polling place. As we were leaving, I heard someone call out to me..."Excuse me..."

I walked over to the car to see what I could help the young woman with.

She proceeds to ask me if I went into the library to return / check out a book or to vote. I told her that I was returning some items, but that they were still voting inside. She then asked me a question that I am still having a hard time believing..."Can I go inside and vote here even if the person that I plan to vote for is not listed on any of the signs outside?"

I had to quickly suppress my shock before replying that as long as you are a registered voter and that the library is your appointed polling place, then you can vote for the person of your choice listed on the ballot...even if their name is not on any of the political signs outside.

She breathed a sigh of relief, parked her car, and went inside to vote...possibly for the person who could be the next leader of our country...Scary thought, isn't it?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

They Really Do Remember Everything!

So I was going through more photos from Christmas and I came across a couple that made me remember something really special that happened...and you know me. I had to share.

Brad is a wonderfully thoughtful husband and father. He likes to take his time to find the perfect gift and he really outdid himself this year. He wanted to combine my "big" gift with special "Daddy" gifts for each of the girls. So he went to a local jewelry store and had three custom necklaces made. Each of the necklaces is white gold with a diamond encrusted infinity circle. Kyla's circle has a Peridot, which is her birthstone. Bryleigh's has a Yellow Topaz and mine had not only a Pearl for my birthstone, but also a Peridot and a Yellow Topaz...basically making mine a Mother's Necklace...something I had been wanting since Kyla was born.

Kyla was the first to open her special gift. She chose to sit on Daddy's lap while opening it. As soon as the wrapping paper was off and she saw the red leather jewelry box, she quietly exclaimed...and I quote, "He Went To Jared's!" Then she threw her arms around his neck without even opening up the box and gave him a huge kiss!

Now just in case you are not familiar with Jared's...it is the name of a popular jewelry store and all of their commercials use that same catch phrase..."He Went To Jared's"...and in Kyla's young mind, she was just repeating what all of the beautiful women on the commercials said after receiving a lovely piece of jewelry from the man they love.

Brad has to tell her to open the box and look at the necklace. She wasn't quite sure what to make of the necklace, but after he explained that it was her first diamond necklace She couldn't wait to put it on.

The girls and I plan on having our photos taken together wearing our beautiful gifts of love and having it framed for Daddy to keep in his office at work.

Right after Brad asked permission to marry me, my father told him something. He raised my sisters and I to feel like princesses so that we would expect only the best from the men we marry. And it looks like Brad is planning to do the same with Kyla and Bryleigh.

Lord help those boys who decide to love the Atchison Girls!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I Just Want A Good Night's Sleep!

Although Kyla started sleeping through the night when she was around 3 months old, she was never what you would consider the easiest kid to put to bed. She would not go to sleep until she was good and ready, no matter how hard we tried. When she was young, we would let her play on the floor until she crawled under one of the couch end tables, held onto the leg for security, and fell asleep. After she was in a deep sleep, we could pick her up and put her in her crib...and she would stay soundly asleep until the next morning.

As she grew older, it became harder and harder to get her to sleep and many nights, she would still be going strong at 10:30 or later at night. Putting her in her bed didn't help. She would just get up or scream at her closed bedroom door until you were seeing cross-eyed! Watching a movie or listening to bedtime music didn't work either. She forced herself to stay away until it ended and then ask for it to start over.

The one thing that really seemed to work was someone crawling into bed with her until she fell asleep, which meant that you usually fell asleep too. If we were lucky enough to wake up during the middle of the night and stagger into our bed...Kyla usually followed shortly behind. After growing tired of her sleeping in bed between us, we finally broke down and purchased one of those little unfolding sofas that are in the toy department...and that is where she slept until a week ago.

When the February 2008 issue of Parenting magazine arrived in our mail box, I immediately noticed the following words in the upper left hand corner of the front cover..."Turn Any Kid Into A Good Sleeper"...a reference to an article titled "How To Get Your Child TO Sleep (Really)" by Holly Robinson.

How to Get Your Child to Sleep Really! - Parenting.com

So at my first opportunity, I turned to page 106 and read the article to see if it was anything that might work with Kyla. After using the techniques listed, she was sleeping through the night in bed by herself in only a couple of days!

I just wish the the process also worked on Bryleigh. She is still insistent on sleeping on Mommy's chest, between Mom & Dad, or on rare occasions...the sofa in the family room!

Some times, I finally decide that enough is enough. I rock her to sleep, waiting until she is in a really deep sleep. Then as I slowly and quietly go to lay her down by herself...those big blue eyes pop over and she is wide awake again! She must thing that it is hysterical to see Mom & Dad looking like characters from "Night Of The Living Dead!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Happenings With The Atchison Girls...

Kyla has been asking her Aunt Micki and me if she can go to Yoga class with us. Unfortunately the class that we attend has a beginning age requirement of 13. Last week, I learned that the Yoga Studio just started to offer a Children's Class. She had her first class today and loved it! Here are a couple of photos from after the class. She was showing me some of the things that she learned...the Tree pose and Downward Facing Dog. She also asked if she could buy a gift for her new teacher...because she loves her so much! I am also thinking about asking her teacher is she would consider starting a Mommy & Me Yoga Class so that I can get Bryleigh involved too!

Bryleigh is 9 weeks and 2 days! Can you believe it? I can't. She is also starting to teeth! She is constantly drooling, as well as putting everything into her mouth and gum-ing it to death! Not such a great thing for her to do with she is nursing, but at least she doesn't have teeth yet!

She is also growing so fast and changing is so many ways. She has had several nights were she has slept through the night...and that makes Mommy very happy! But most of the time, she is still waking up every 2 - 4 hours to eat...and that makes Mommy very tired the next morning. So the two of us nap on the couch alot. Excuse the bags under my eyes when you see me. That is one of the "Merit Badges" that new Mommies earn and wear proudly.

I also have to say that I am a really lucky mommy. Not only do I have two beautiful girls that I love with all of my heart, but the two of them also love each other. Kyla is always singing to her sister as well as wanting to hold her. Bryleigh just loves listening to Kyla's songs and laughs at all of her jokes. I just hope that their mutual love for each other continues as they get older.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Photos From Christmas...Better Late Than Never!

OK...so it is almost a month since Christmas and I have yet to post any photos...so here you go. Better late than never.

We had a wonderful time at Christmas. My nephew and nieces were in town to share it with us. Both my sister and brother-in-law recently started new jobs and could not get the time off to join us. Since she is a nurse and he is a K-9 officer, they both had to work on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. Kyla and Bryleigh loved having their cousins around, as did the rest of us, but we really missed Aunt Kristie and Uncle Kevin too.

Of the hundreds of photos that were taken, here are some of my favorites...

This photo is of Kadence watching the Santa Tracking website. All of the kids thought that it was so much fun learning where Santa was currently at.

This photo is of Kadence and Bryleigh. My sweet little Baby Mango was just in love with Bryleigh and wanted nothing more than to spend time with her. If Bryleigh was crying, Kadence was there to rub her face, give her hugs & kisses, find a toy to entertain her, or just sing a song. What a sweet pair the two of them made!

The four oldest children wanted to leave notes for Santa, as well as the fresh made cookies and milk for Santa and the carrots and apples for the reindeer. Santa was so impressed by this that he also left a handwritten Thank You note.

Mikey, Kaleigh, Kyla, and Kadence all had a slumber party in Bryleigh's bedroom on Christmas Eve. Mom Mom and PaPa Jan slept in Kyla's bedroom, Aunt Amy slept on the couch, and PaPa Ron knocked on the front door around 6am. We all gathered in the family room a little bleary-eyed to open up our Christmas Stockings and eat breakfast. Thankfully the kids all had enough energy to help the grownups with their stocking gifts!

After breakfast, the anxious children were finally allowed to go into the living room to see what Santa had left under the tree. The wrapping paper shredding frenzy had begun! Kyla is really going to love that wild hair photo! I might save it to put in the yearbook for her Senior year! Someone had suggested that we use the photo as a burglar alarm...instead of "Beware of the Dog" how about "These Premises are Patrolled by a Crazed 4-Year-Old"!

Not sure what the favorite gift was for each kid-let because there were so many to choose from...

Mikey loved his toy grenades, his huge checkers game, and his play army & police men.

Kaleigh couldn't decide between her Hannah Montana doll or her Leapster Gaming Set. She also loved all of the clothes that she received and kept changing outfits.

Kyla was really excited about her shower radio that was just like her Aunt Micki's, as well as the guitar that Santa made sure that she received...and we cannot forget about all of the books...that Great Grandma lovingly read to her.

Kadence loved her "big girl" 3-wheeler, her life-like baby doll, and the Barbie backpack that was filled with doll clothes.

Bryleigh enjoyed her first Christmas too. She received lots of clothes and toys, but her favorite gift was being lovingly held by her Mommy, her Mom Mom, and her Mom Mom Mom.

And because Mikey, Kaleigh, and Kadence all live up in the hills of Tennessee...each one of them also received a nice warm jacket to keep out the cold. Mikey looked so cool in his leather coat and Kaleigh & Kadence felt like princesses in their "fur" coats! What a smart Santa...

Afterwards, Kadence and Bryleigh were exhausted...as was Papa Jan and Mom Mom.

After their naps, Papa Jan and Mom Mom helped prepare dinner...the kids played with their toys, and Mom Mom Mom held a still sleeping Bryleigh with Big Sister Kyla protectively sitting close by.

Well that pretty much fills you all in on Christmas as our house. Hope you all enjoyed the photos.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Brad's Amazing Grandmother...

I have to share this wonderful article that was recently written about Brad's grandmother. I have always thought that she was an amazing woman, but I learned so much more about her after reading this article.

The article was written by a reporter for her local newspaper, the Robinson Daily News. The photograph was taken by Brad's brother and his wife. The presentation took place during the annual family get-together on Christmas Eve.

Scarlet O'Kara


Grandson makes wish come true
Marie Leonard gets the best Christmas present she could imagine — her high-school diploma

Daily News

For years Brian Chapman has heard his grandmother, Marie Leonard, talk about growing up in Wisconsin - with a lingering regret.

During a recent hospital stay, the 91-year-old Leonard again talked with her grandson about how she wished she could have graduated from high school. She was only a few credits short, even though she was only considered a sophomore. She said she always wanted to finish school, and at one time had dreams of going to art school.

Taking her request to heart, Chapman wrote to the Antigo Unified School District about his grandmother requesting an honorary diploma. Surprising everyone, the school district in northeastern Wisconsin was able to verify through records that Leonard did attend school there from 1930 to 1932, and that the board of education voted to grant his request and issued Leonard an honorary diploma.

Her grandson's presentation to her made for a very special Christmas Eve, but her life before and since her missed graduation has been an education in itself.

Leonard was 13 in 1929 when the stock market crashed and banks closed overnight. With no money moving in the economy, businesses began to close and people by the millions were put out of work. Leonard's family lived in northeastern Wisconsin near a little railroad town named Monico. Her grandparents had a 180-acre farm and her father operated two logging camps.

By 1932 the need for lumber had stopped, and Leonard's father was forced to close his camps and leave fresh-cut trees lying on the ground to rot. With the last of his money he paid off his workers and moved his family back to the farm.

In the meantime, Leonard's grandfather still had a $3,500 mortgage on the farm; he wasn't concerned, since he had money in the bank to make the payments, but when the bank closed he lost that money and the farm was foreclosed on.

At the time, Leonard was attending school at Antigo some 25 miles away. Her parents had to pay for her room and board, but with logging camps closed, she was forced to quit school and move to the farm.

"It really floored me," Leonard said.

With 12 children in the combined family and a 15-year difference between herself and the youngest child, Leonard spent much of her time looking after the other children. And, though life was rough all over the country, people living in rural areas or on farms often found things a little easier, being able to grow their own food to eat.

"We were lucky to have cows," Leonard said. "We hand-separated cream from milk, and often took the cream to the local cheese factory and had it made into butter and cheese. We had chickens, and mother would trade the extra eggs at the store. We always had something to eat."

Along with raising big gardens with lots of potatoes, Leonard said they would kill a pig or cow every fall and smoke the hams and bacon in the smokehouse. They also fished for brown and speckled trout in nearby streams.

"Every spring we would dump a five-gallon bucket full of trout minnows in the stream back of our house, Leonard said. "We kids would catch a stringer of trout or bass, and if we did not need it at home, we could sell it to the chef on the Pullman railroad cars. They would give you a dollar or two for the fresh fish," Leonard said. "It was a lot of money back then."

"I would sometimes sell fresh milk," Leonard recalled. "I had a metal container that I would take to neighbors and fill up their bottles. You didn't waste anything."

Leonard remembers, "bums," or unemployed men, would often come to the farmhouse looking for a handout, but they were never turned away. "Some would chop wood or do a chore for their food," Leonard said. She also remembered her father putting extra beds in the farmhouse for the men from his logging camp who had nowhere else to go. They would work the farm just to have a place to sleep and food to eat.

There were happy times, too. "We enjoyed riding in the hay wagon, and fishing," Leonard said. "We had a garage where grandpa kept his wagons, and we had a surrey with a fringe on the top with two dapple gray mares named Nancy and Topsey to pull it."

By 1939, the then 20 year-old Leonard met her husband Russell "Rud" Leonard. Rud was a professional golfer and the local pro at the Rhinelander Golf Course. Leonard said she played golf in school, but played left-handed. "Rud said 'Nobody plays left-handed,' and taught to me play right-handed," Leonard said.

Her husband was one of six brothers who became golf pros from French Lick, Ind. He had red hair, but because one of his older brothers also had red hair and was called "Red" he became "Rud."

In 1941, the couple moved to Green Bay to Sunny Brook golf course, where Leonard helped out in the pro shop doing the bookkeeping. She had helped her father with bookkeeping when he was an assessor. In 1945, they moved to Marquette, Mich., where she got into the lunch business.

"I would buy stuff from a local deli and make sandwiches in my kitchen and sell it to the golfers," Leonard said.

In 1949, they returned to French Lick for a family reunion and "Rud" was offered a job a the country club at Huntingburg, Ind. Later on, the country club in Vincennes, now the Elks Club, offered to double his salary to come there.

In 1951, they moved to Robinson where he was the golf pro at the then-Crawford County Country Club. They moved to Centralia in 1954 and later moved to Mt. Carmel, where they stayed until Rud retired from golf in 1972.

After retiring, the Leonards moved back to Robinson where they had kept the house, and bought the houses on each side as rentals. Rud sold lumber for Allen Lumber Co. and Leonard kept books for Robinson Township until 1979, when she retired.

"We liked Robinson," Leonard said.

She said both she and her husband loved playing golf. "Rud loved to teach golf," Leonard said. "He gave lessons at Oak Glen Golf Course, and also helped to lay out the first nine holes."

When Rud died in 1997 the couple had been married for 61 years. They had raised seven children, five girls and two boys. All but two are still living.

Leonard has faced her own mortality, surviving seven cancer surgeries since 1980. "The Good Lord has got something for me to do yet and is keeping me around," Leonard said.

Though there have been many changes over her lifetime, Leonard is concerned about what she sees today.

"Scary seeing so much happening just like then," Leonard said about news of recent bank closings and mortgage foreclosures.

"I tried to teach my children the value of a nickel," Leonard said. "I would send them to Fred McQueen's store to learn to buy and spend wisely."