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Just another stay at home mom trying to do it all, save the world, and not run out of coffee.
My published articles: exm.nr/gkA1yp
Twitter: @CarolBruckmann

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December Debrief

Here's a short recap of a long month! I only got my tree up and house decorated because my fantastic mom came down to sing in our Christmas cantata. Thanks mom!

13 days before Christmas I had to have my brakes fixed and waited at the ├╝bercrowded mall. Even though my kids were awkwardly dressed, I couldn't pass up a chance to stop at the free Santa at Bass Pro Shop to check "visit fat red man" off my huge to do list. Earlier that day:

12 December 2013
How to tell when your 7 year old daugher is directing dramatic Christmas play with her brother.
"And you want to marry me. And pretend that you love me but I love another elf. And he is a boy elf BULLY! And he is trying to get me to love someone else."#asthenorthpoleturns

Jamie turned the big 4-0 this month. I am still in the midst of trying to complete my grand idea of doing 40 fun things for him since he doesn't really like parties. One of the "things" was dedicating the flowers at church to him that Sunday and surprising him and our other friend who turned 40 with a cake. My status said it best:

16 December 2013
After the Great Advent Wreath Explosion of 2013, I was frantically praying to center my heart for communion. I looked up and saw James Bruckmann serving the bread that represents the body of Christ to the congregation. It suddenly struck me that not only has God given me eternal life that I did not earn, He has blessed me with an amazing family that I in no way deserve. Yes, our life is completely crazy, but no one but Jamie could be more perfectly suited to be my soul mate. You put up with me and complete me in a way that no one else could. Thank you for being a wonderful husband and fantastic father. I love you so much. Happy 40th birthday, and here's to 40+ more years of fun, faith, and friendship.

Later that evening both of the kids did a fantastic job in their Christmas music at church. It may have been the highlight of my month. Caitlyn had a wicked cold, but she had worked too hard to miss it. To all of you who shared her germs - Merry Christmas and ‘tis the season. She felt better in time for me to take the kids "ice skating" on a plastic rink upon which I held wobbly Elijah in a vain effort to keep him upright.

The definite NOT highlight of the month was J's double hernia surgery right before Christmas which slowed him down, but not anyone else:

20 December 2013
As much as we engage in cross gender play, toys in Caitlyn's possessions will inevitably marry or carry on an afterschool special drama; toys in Elijah's hand dramatically explode or "shoot shoot shoot!"

later that day... 

This is going to be tougher than I thought.
Me: Okay. I'm going to tuck you guys in and go check on Daddy.
Elijah: (eyes light up) We go to tackle Daddy? Tackle?

Two days later I supervised the Happy Birthday Jesus party at church. Caitlyn has aged out, but Elijah had a blast. Three days later, after giving in to the fact that there was no way I could possibly get ready to travel two places for Christmas while Jamie was completely incapacitated:

Remember that girl who thought she could do her stuff, her husband's stuff, take care of said husband after his surgery, and get ready for Christmas? Yeah, she was funny, wasn't she?

And still unable to get out of town 24 hours later...

Refusing to pack anything Bearcat related is seriously testing my wardrobe. Somebody get me some Tarheel sweatshirts for Christmas. Stat! #BelkBowl2013 #GoHeels

But he started to improve after Christmas:

26 December 2013
"I think I could run in a touchdown from the 2 yard line against some middle schoolers." James Bruckmann's way of telling me that his pain level is way down today!

Speaking of Christmas, even though it was hard on me, it was pretty great. I love my biological and in-law families and always have a great time when we are together. That's Christmas to me - completely crazy but lots of fun in retrospect. But of course, the other highlight was my Tarheel's beating his Bearcats while I was in Cinci with his family.

Click here for more December pics.

Click the links below to check out videos.
Elijah's choir singing at Christmas
Caitlyn's choir singing at Christmas - part 1
Caitlyn's choir singing at Christmas - part 2
Caitlyn's choir singing at Christmas - part 3
Caitlyn's choir singing at Christmas - part 4
Caitlyn's choir singing at Christmas - part 5
Caitlyn's choir singing at Christmas - part 6
Elijah's Flipeez hat at Christmas
Outtakes from playing Quelf at Christmas

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Notes

In my quest to win the coveted slacker mom of the year award, we did not carve our pumpkins in October. Thankfully, the kiddos were hyped about painting November Thanksgiving pumpkins which will now be left forgotten to rot on the porch.

The kids and I traveled to see my grandmother for her birthday - so blessed to still have her in our lives even though Parkinson's is taking its toll. We stayed up late to watch the rocket launch, my son taking my boots and my daughter taking my flip flops. Yep, that was me in the yard wearing flip flops and a bathrobe over my pjs. Our good friends went to Great Wolf Lodge for their son's birthday and invited us along with their extra passes. It's great to be the cool kids! Every night since Elijah talked about the big bucket and the water slides - both of which he was actually afraid of.

On the way to Ohio for Thanksgiving, we stopped to eat lunch with my family and have a quick snowball fight. We had a great time in Ohio with Jamie's family. The kids loved hanging out with their three cousins as well as the rest of the family. We even made it to their cousin's bowling party! And of course we all went to see the movie of the year, Frozen. Our kids shared with their cousins the tradition of hitting the "dance floor" at the front of the theater during the credits.

Some of my crazy status updates from the month:

If you saw a somewhat frazzled mom driving through Charlotte with a mostly naked 4 year old in the back seat, worry not. We're all good now.

On the way out of church I said, "let's see what kind of moon it is. Oh look! It's gibbous!"

Caitlyn responded, "What?! Gibbous already? I didn't know it was that late." — 

Me: Elijah, if you don't start cleaning up that game you dumped out, I'm just going to have to spank you.
Elijah: Well, God say no hit!

Well played, son. Well played.

That awkward moment when your son is playing in the backyard, pulls down his undies and pants to use the sand area as a potty, and tangles himself hopelessly in the dog yard leash. — feeling tired.

Up since 5:30 pondering the Thanksgiving travel dilemma. Why? An adorable 4 year old came into my room, ostensibly to protect me. Very kind of him. Said knight in shining armor is sitting on the floor playing on my ipod and polishing off half a bag of year old Skittles that Daddy found in his coat pocket last night. (Pretty sure I told you to throw those away James Bruckmann!!) — feeling sleepy.

Crawled back in bed to discuss travel plans with the husband so I could plan my coffee strategy. Easily deciphered screams and feet trampling sounds as big sister found little brother playing mom's iPod surrounded by Skittles on the floor and took control. Not suprising that she thought he was up to no good!

Click here for more November pics including some from the kids' school and J's family photo shoots.

Click to see the November videos:
E wearing my boots to see the rocket ship
Taco Bell snowball fight
Lanes, Laughs, Laments
Lanes, Laughs, Laments Part 2
Lanes, Laughs, Laments Part 3
Lanes, Laughs, Laments Part 4
Lanes, Laughs, Laments Part 5
Lanes, Laughs, Laments Part 6
Frozen dance compilation
Elijah playing Grandpa's piano
Caitlyn reading "Kit's World" with her history loving Grandpa

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Occurrences

 In October Daddy ended his first season of coaching girl's tennis. In his words he learned that "Girls are REALLY different than boys." Told ya so.

Our homeschool group took a field trip to the Renaissance Festival, enjoying the jousting, sideshows, food, bellydancing. torture chamber, and all the attention one gets from being a knight or princess during the Renaissance. It was especially fun this year since we have been studying the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

We visited my mom and checked "pumpkin patch" off the holiday list at the Elida Corn Maze in Asheville. Jamie and my nephew braved the big corn mazes while my sister and I took the 3 youngest on the nice story-time easily escapable versions. Elijah wanted the "pallest" (smallest) pumpkin, a choice I enthusiastically supported.

After picking up my mom, we headed up the death defying curves to see the elk in Cataloochee Valley. Drama unfolded as a young bull tried to finagle his way into the harem and was chased off by Big Poppy Elk. The girls were appalled and did not think it was fair when I explained the polygamous life that is being an elk cow. We headed over to visit my cousin's family who were visiting in a nearby cabin. Check roasting marshmallows and hotdogs off the list, too!

We celebrated a Fall Festival at church for Halloween. Caitlyn designed our costumes this year. She and her Daddy were bad guys, and Elijah and I were super heroes. Costumes for free from the costume box? Great idea!

Funniest status of the month?
Elijah took the stickers off Caitlyn's "great behavior" chart, placed them onto his chart, crumpled her chart up, and threw the evidence behind the bathroom door. When confronted he responded, "Yeah! I wonning."
Click here for more pictures from October.

Click for videos of:
Elijah grooving with the belly dancers at the Ren Fest
Me swordfighting Elijah
Elijah videoing Ezekiel
Caitlyn reciting Mr. Nobody
Elijah dancing with candy to the band at the Fall Festival

Monday, September 30, 2013

September Shenanigans

Caitlyn celebrated her actual 7th birthday with lunch at Chick-fil-A where I stressed an employee out beyond belief by bringing in my own cupcakes and not pre-booking a party. I mean, I did offer them to the surrounding random children! Her neighbor buddies did double homework the night before so they could come play that afternoon.

The whole family enjoyed the Yiasou Greek festival. Mommy loved the culture, lectures, and worship music. Daddy loved the food. Caitlyn loved the dancing. Elijah loved the amusement rides.

Caitlyn started gymnastics. She's been wanting to for a while, and I wish I had started her earlier so she would be more flexible. Her balance is great, but we'll see how long we stick with it.

Our friend invited us to the preschool day at the Cabarrus County Fair. It was perfect in my eyes - all the education with none of the rides or junk food open! The pig races were a hit and have been reenacted many times in our house.

Click here for more September pictures.

Click here for a video from C's birthday morning.
Click here for a video of the kids jamming to their leappads.
Click here for another video of the kids jamming to their leappads.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Activities

We had a busy August! At the last minute, I registered our home school as GrandOak Classical Academy in honor and memory of my dad. Our neighbor gifted us three tickets to an off Broadway performance of the Lion King for my birthday, and we thought it was AMAZING. It was Caitlyn's first "big" play. Our family along with my mom, nephew, and niece spent a week at Big Canoe in Georgia where we played in the lake, hiked, letterboxed, and visited my college roomie. On the way home we experienced the Cabbage Patch hospital as well as Helen, Georgia - a town that pretends to be a German village. On Elijah's birthday, the plan was to celebrate at the picnic scheduled to kick off our home school group's year. When a torrential downpour hit, my friend and director invited us over to have a mini party at her house. Close one! At the end of the month, we headed to my grandparents to celebrate C and E's birthday's with the family.

Here are some of my status updates to further recap the month:

8 August 2013
Love my son who, out of the kindness of his heart, decorated the stairs with toilet paper in honor of my birthday.#cheaperthanstreamers

9 August 2013
The day after my birthday - Caitlyn question: So, is it still your birthday?
Me: Not for 364 more days.
C: Oh. Will you still be alive then?
Me: Well, that's the plan.
C: Good, because if you die the only person to take care of us will be Daddy! (concerned look)

17 August 2013
Happy 4th birthday to my sweet Elijah! He insists on being called his full name, likes to kiss but not be kissed, cracks us up with made up phrases like "Pasaquesetz?", calls me his "dynamite gal", makes the best faces, and certainly wants things his way. We love him so much!

21 August 2013
Today Caitlyn was asking me about heaven and if we would die again once we were there. I replied that the Bible says that in heaven there is no more death, or sickness, or sadness. After a moment she asked, "What do you think Granddaddy is doing in heaven?" I replied, "I don't know, what do you think?" She answered, "Probably talking to Jesus."

Love her. Miss him.

23 August 2013
Confessions of a first grader:
"Meredith and I were looking at a Justin Beiber magazine at the pool. The kids in my class were talking about him before. I didn't know who they were talking about, but I just pretended. One time I said, 'I'm going to marry Justin Beiber!'" (breaks into peals of laughter)
(dramatic pause)
"Actually at first I was pretty sure they were talking about a beaver."

8-14 - Click for a video of Elijah breaking a stick on our hike
8-17 - Click for Elijah's Happy Birthday video
8-21 - Click for a video of Caitlyn singing at her Mission Friends graduation
8-29 - Click for a video of Elijah eating Chinese noodles

Click here for more pictures

Monday, August 19, 2013

First day of first grade!

It's so cliche, but I can't believe I have a first grader! Our first day of Classical Conversations was amazing. My class of 4-6 graders really meshed and had fun learning. (This even when we had to switch the science experiment due to the rain and I was FLOUNDERING as an instructor!)

I am always a bit concerned about Elijah, as he can be a handful. But we have an experienced childcare worker grandmother as his teacher. She is fantastic! He cleaned up, listened, and came home with a craft and knowledge about anteaters. Did anyone know they eat worms and spiders?

Caitlyn loved her new class. Her best friend is with her in the morning and afternoon. (The child has three "best friends", one for each location - school, home, church.) In the afternoon she is taking a 2nd grade grammar and writing class. She learned to make a keyword outline by taking 3 words from each sentence of a paragraph then retelling it in her own words. It's such a great method! I wish I had learned to do that. College would have been easier!

Our homeschool is officially registered now and named in honor of my dad and our commitment to classical education. It's going to be a great year at Grand Oak Classical Academy!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July in Review Part 2

J and I were back in Cinci in time to celebrate the 4th. His sister had planned a neighborhood children's parade, and even with the rain many patriots came out to ride in the parade, listen to Granny's July 4th story, and consume some All American hot dogs. The few days we were there were a whirlwind - Kings Island where our Christmas photo was taken on Elijah's first roller coaster, Winton Woods where we took a bike ride and bought some ice cream to make up for the fact that we got in free, the Beach water park where Elijah preferred eating his fries for an hour to hitting the water slides, and a historical and architectural tour of the two centuries old Betts House.

On our way home we picked up my nephew who joined us for our trip to Sunset Beach. My sweet neighbor has a trailer in Calabash that she let us use for free! My aunt was just up the beach at Ocean Isle, so we were delighted to get to hang out with her several times as well. Our half week there was filled with sun, surf, creamery ice cream, seafood, and letterboxing. Sunset is my new favorite beach! In order to convince Jamie to keep the tent poles low for more sun coverage, I built stairs to enter our shelter without bending down so much.

For more pics, click here!

Check out some videos:
My painfully slow eater
Ezekiel protecting us from the computer arrow
Taylor drying his shoes
Jamie walking down my sand stairs
Elijah dancing at the pier
Caitlyn boogieboarding

Monday, July 8, 2013

July in Review Part 1

My super brave in laws offered to watch our children for three days and two nights so we could have a getaway. I was totally nervous excited since my children are only sometimes always so well behaved. So after a night at the family cabin, we headed west while my babies headed east to Cincinnati. They were well entertained by Jamie's parents and his sister's family. They didn't even miss us!

Since we hadn't had time alone since 14 months into our marriage, we made the most of it. Jamie bought a City Pass on the cheap, and we made the most of it! The first night we took care of our souvenir shopping. Day 2 we missed the first train into the city, but soon hit the SkyDeck to see the city from above. We enjoyed the Chicago subs at Fontanos, then saw as much as possible of the Field Museum of Chicago. (I took tons of pictures of all the exhibits that my home-schooled kids were missing.)  The fact that Monsanto sponsored the exhibit on dirt and the importance of all the organisms therein was almost too ironic to keep me walking. It was odd foregoing the kiddie movie and choosing the nature flick, but I quickly got over it. Only the thought of Chicago winters kept me from picking up a job application on the way out.

I convinced J that we needed more time than we had to enjoy Shedd Aquarium, so we booked it over to Adler Planetarium. I tried to pay attention, knowing that we were going to be learning about space in Cycle 2 of Classical Conversations, but I'm not sure how much sunk in. The most interesting part was the movie about Space Junk and the possible chain reactions that could occur. I recommend it HIGHLY over suffering through Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

My tour guide husband had purchased tickets to see the White Sox play. We were not positive about what transportation to take and decided to walk. Let's just say a 4.5 mile walking tour of Chicago ensued. Soldier Field was unlocked, so we imagined da Bears. I was disappointed that we had to book it through Chinatown when I was SO hungry and everything smelled SO good. My darling tour guide made it up to me by standing in line for a foot long Chicago dog while I rested my aching knees and back. It was exciting to see former Red Adam Dunn hit a home run and cheer the Sox on to a victory. Our transportation luck continued as the train station we needed was closed for repairs, and police officers sent us in different directions!

The next day Jamie made the "walk" up to me by paying extra for me to pet the rays, my favorite sea creature, at Shedd Aquarium. They kept swimming up for more love! Jamie loved the belugas, and we both were inspired by the aquatic show. To save my aching legs and enjoy the port, we braved the drizzle to experience the city from the top deck of a water taxi. We hid from the rain by taking a stroll through the Smith Museum of Stained Glass and snacking on some Chicago mix popcorn. (Can you tell most of my vacations revolve around the food?)

To complete our City Pass we took another look at the city from the top of the John Hancock Observatory. Of course we had to grab some pizza from Giordano's, although my daughter cannot understand how we could pass up the American Girl store.

I took the first and longest leg of the Chicago to Cinci late night drive. Just when I was about to slip into drowsiness, I spotted miles of pulsing red lights at roughly the same height of a good alien attack. Although logic whispered that I was likely in the midst of the Indiana wind farms, I had to wake Jamie up because I was so freaked out. Better than caffeine for a wake up! Obviously we made it back in one piece and with a refreshed marriage!

You can click here to see more pics from July and read more about our vacations.

Click here for a funny video of our boxer chasing an arrow on the wall.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bruckmann Christmas in June

Since we couldn't get together this Christmas, the Bruckmann clan planned a picnic reunion for June. Most of the extended family couldn't make it, but all who attended had a great time. I was proud of myself for being able to answer a few questions on the Burckmann family history quiz. (Granted, one of them was the middle name of my children....) The kids decorated the sidewalk to welcome the guests.

I am so blessed to have in-laws with whom we can have such fun, even when we see each other infrequently. A day of games, food, laughter, and sports was just what we needed to wrap up the month.

Granny and Grandpa treated the kids to some fishing poles. Caitlyn was a natural!

More pics from the trip can be seen by clicking here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

VBS 2013

After a year as VBS kindergarten helper and 3 years working with the youth VBS, I had never attended an opening rally at our church. So of course I was the logical choice when someone needed to oversee music and drama at somewhat the last minute. (Infer - no one else would do it, I am willing to do anything but direct, and craziness helps in this position.) Jamie has been Rec Leader for several years. Needless to say we were both insanely busy this week! One of my responsibilities was transforming the willing 5th graders into a VBS drama team. We had all girls this year, and they were great! One perk for my family members was inclusion in the annual drama team pool party. I guess that made it worth having a crazy mama!

Kindergarten is somewhat of a transition year at our church. So Caitlyn sang with the VBS preschool music teacher during the week, but her class also stayed up there for the bigger production for any songs they learned during the Worship Rally. Jamie videoed most of the songs the younger ones sang. Elijah saw me sitting in the front, waiting to direct my part of the evening, and came to sit in my lap. He would go up to sing with his friends for most of the songs. Then when each song was over would shout, "Mommy! I did it!" Then he'd climb back into my lap until he realized the kids were doing another song he knew. Oh well, it was adorable if not professional.


I'm pretty sure we're already supposed to be planning for next year....

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day Weekend

I knew we were heading to Roxboro to see my granddaddies on Father's Day weekend, so the kiddos gave Daddy his Father's Day toys early. The djubi did not survive the trip, but at least the company sent replacement balls. Well made toys are a thing of the past, I suppose. Since Sunday was the day before VBS kicked off and both of us had big responsibilities, it was nice to take a day to relax. I got to hang out and chat, and Jamie was able to pry the children from electronics to play outside a bit. But you can't stop progress, so much of the day was spent by children staring at screens. At least technology can sometimes bring the generations together:

You can see more Father's Day pics by clicking here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

When life gives you raw green beans

Seriously, can we not even eat green beans like normal people?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Kicking off Summer

Since Caitlyn was aging out of Romp 'n Roll, we wanted to make the most of our last day of Open Gym. I knew we were headed to the first local Movies in the Park to watch Brave. (I was impressed when the children waited patiently in line to receive tattoos. Hopefully they don't have the same idea in a decade or so.)

They don't love to play by themselves unless I am watching. You can see that Caitlyn takes being a monkey on the monkey bars very seriously.

Elijah loves to take off his socks, put them on his hands, and pretend they are sock puppets. His basic storyline is, "Once upon a time there was a fuzzy caterpillar, and him ATE the other caterpillar!!" The cast of characters eventually expanded to include a dragon and a shooting star that shoots bullets.

But their favorite thing to do is play "What Time is it Mr. Fox?", especially when mommy is the fox chasing them around the gym!

You can see more May pics by clicking here.

Good thing he's cute

I had to cut a lock of my hair when he mistook my head for a train track and the wheels of his electric train became helplessly entangled. Yesterday he climbed naked into the kitchen sink and started a water fight with his sister. He just pushed a stool and the trashcan to the fridge to pull down cookies from the top.

But in his defense, he shared the cookies with his sister. And he brought me this flower (and my glasses)...

Shalom Seekers