Monday, March 31, 2008

Unexpected Snow Day

When my morning radio alarm went off this morning, I could not believe what I was hearing..."6-8 inches of snow expected by early afternoon." Are you kidding me? This is still March 31st....I figured the announcers must be looking at their calendars wrong and thinking that it was April Fool's day today. To my dismay, they were totally serious, and already, it was snowing outside. Big, beautiful, catch on your tongue flakes, falling to the BARE ground. Will winter never end?

The kids, all ready for school wearing their shoes and spring jackets, had to start over, digging for boots and snow pants that became buried during the warm weekend weather. Perhaps if I were to watch the news every now and then, I would be more prepared for days like these? We were finally ready to go, and everyone just barely made it to school on time, boots, snow pants, hats, mittens and all. Gee whiz....

Melissa's teacher was kind enough to call me 2 hours later, letting me know that school would be dismissed 3 hours early due to the snow (again, if I ever watched the news reports, I would have noticed this too). All the kids arrived home, happy and hungry at lunch time. Thanks to the double batch of tacos I made just the other night, I had plenty of food to feed my surprise lunch guests. The girls played outside for awhile in the wet, sticky snow. The boys and I went to open skate, leaving Alex(who was non-consenting to this plan) with the baby. I had to try my new hockey skates before my first Chicks with Sticks clinic this evening.

Growing up on figure skates, wearing hockey skates is an entirely different experience. On figure skates, the front toe pick is used for many things, like stopping, turning, skating backwards, etc. Hockey skate blades are like rocker bottom boats. The first time I turned around and started to skate backwards, I landed face first, flat on my face on the ice. Can I say, OUCH!!! At least my whole body hit the ice at the same time so that the injuries were distributed evenly amongst my entire front side. But with the first fall out of the way, at least I learned a good lesson, and I was ready to fearlessly(or maybe more smartly, cautiously) move on. Michael and two of his hockey buddies were with us(two other hockey moms and I), showing us correct technique, and egging us on a bit. Jonny and Crispy enjoyed skating around, occasionally participating in the older boys' game of tag. I think that Jonny is skating better than he did a few years ago while he was in hockey. He mentions the possibility of playing again. We decided he will skate some over the summer, and then come fall, see if he is still interested in such a huge commitment of time and energy. Hockey is not something you sign up for on a've got to be dedicated to it to make it work.

Back at home, Alex had a terrible time with the baby, and asked to "Please, please, never ask (him) to babysit Tubby again." Thomas cried the entire time I was gone, and never fell asleep. That was odd, since he had not yet had a nap today, and it was now almost 3pm! The girls had spent most of the time playing Webkinz and staying out of trouble. So, with the exception of my bookends, everyone else enjoyed their snow day.

The 2 ladies and I headed out to Edina (a 45 minute drive) in the now deemed Waconia Blizzard. Like a fool, I offered to drive this evening, and found the roads to be good on the way out, but a harrowed mess on the way back at 8pm. Most importantly, we made it all the way home to my driveway before slipping and getting stuck sideways at the narrow bottom, sandwiched between Christmas light boxes and candy cane poles. I still am not sure how I managed to get out of that mess....I guess with baby car steps back and forth, kind of like a wiggle.

Hockey clinic was a lot of fun and HARD work. I realized just how out of shape and inflexible I am as the coach ran us through many drills requiring our feet and legs to be pointing in awkward directions. On top of that, we were supposed to somehow stay balanced on those skinny rocker bottom blades too! Boy, is it tough! The best advice he gave was regarding falling: he told us to not resist the fall, or try to over correct it, but just to follow it and simply fall. I had plenty of chances to heed his advice, and I must say, it worked wonderfully! With all those pads on, I never once felt hurt, and didn't pull a single muscle trying to save myself (sacrificing all self-esteem, however!). The funniest part of the evening was our scrimmage during the last 15 minutes of class. All of us adult women were fumbling around like four year olds on the was hilarious! Being comfortable with skating, I found I could skate rather quickly to wherever I wanted to be, and beat anyone to the puck, but my total lack of stick handling skills made me entirely useless once I got there. It was tons of fun anyhow, no one broke any bones, and it will be great watching us improve. We hope to be agile enough to join a league in the fall. This clinic is a great start!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Visit to the Farm

On this beautiful spring morning, the 5 youngest kids and I were heading south to Grandma & Lyles's farm. We donned our rain boots (we were warned of mud) and raincoats (to ward off mud splatter) and hopped into the truck only an hour later than originally planned. Extra nebs and cranky baby were the culprits causing our lateness today. We entered the address into our GPS(which did not recognize the street), picked up some lunch to eat along the way, and settled in with listening to CD's of the kids' upcoming plays so that they could practice their lines and words to the songs. Our estimated arrival time of one hour turned into about 90 minutes as we became hopelessly lost near Madison Lake. "Daniel"(GPS) had failed us, and we had no backup plan. In the middle of cornfields, without signs or city names (or anything else for that matter), our beautiful sunny day now overcast and gray, we were lost. Phone calls to Grandma, as she tried to figure out where we were on Mapquest, and resetting "Daniel" to a more central location, got us out of nowhere and on a highway going somewhere. That highway was registering on the map, leading us finally to pulling up in the driveway at Lyle's farm. Destination accomplished.

We started in the sheep barn getting to meet the newest baby lambs born the night before. It is incredible how they are already so big, can walk, cry (sounding like human babies at times), and be all full of soft, woolly fur...all being less than 24 hours old! We all fell in love with a small little runt who was already a few weeks old, but only as big as the newborns. He is blind in one eye, with a cock-eyed look, but so very if a pet you would have in the home. The kids all took turns feeding him a bottle, petting and holding him, and giving him lots of attention. Even Thomas reached out and touched his soft back. Laura is still scared to death of anything that moves, including itty bitty baby lambs that couldn't hurt a fly. She was not thrilled in the least bit to sit in the cramped barn, surrounded by nearly 40 sheep young and old, making quite a noisy, smelly fuss of us invading their living space. Click on the picture of Laura to see her pretty much sums up her idea of the barn.

The kids had a great time climbing the huge mountains of hay in the next room of the barn, and Laura even admitted "This is fun!" Outside, they rode a moving teeter-toter that Lyle's kids had grown up playing with, and spent a great while taking turns on the tree swing. Crispy, the lightweight, enjoyed swinging high enough to be nearly horizontal! Laura screeched with glee, as you will notice if this video loads correctly. Inside the house, Lyle made the kids fantastic raspberry slushies....we NEED the recipe! All the kids were having such a great time, and nobody wanted to leave. But we had to get Jonny to church rehearsal by 4pm, so we did not have the option to stay. We will have to come back another day when we have more time, so that they all can play and play. Warning to Grandma and Lyle: they are all talking SLEEPOVER next time!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sisters for Life

I was never lucky enough to have any sisters. Sure, I had two brothers, and we all got along, and I certainly cherish them and would not trade them away. But I had always hoped that somewhere, somehow, I would end up with a like-minded, interest-sharing female sibling living in my home. There just seems to be some special, unbreakable bond between sisters that nothing else can match. And the joys of sharing clothes, makeup, and doing each other's hair....what fun!

What I have been blessed with instead, are some wonderful women whose friendships are beyond compare. Like true sisters, there is a different and special bond I have with each of them that can withstand any storm and any distance. They ground me and keep me afloat (at the same time)....I can not imagine life without them. For them, I am thankful, and would not trade any of them for a flesh and blood sister version.

Tracey, is one such friend. We met in first grade, and were joined at the hip throughout all of elementary school. We were both sister-less in our families, but seemed to grow up as sisters ourselves. Most of my childhood memories include her. I would have been lost without her. Though separated in our teen years by differing high schools and interests, we never lost touch, and I still consider her to be like family today. She was the one who introduced me to my husband, and she is Godmother to 2 of my children. I am honored to be Godmother to her daughter, and to have been there for the wondrous miracle of Lizzie's birth. It was this day, six years ago, that we were celebrating today.

The kids and I were more than two hours late for the party due to nothing other than what? Hockey, of course! This time it was my own hockey commitment getting in the way, as we just received word the night before about the rapid beginnings of Chicks with Sticks. Separated by distance and busy lives with active children, we had not seen each other since a few days after Tracey's baby was born in August, so we were so very excited about coming to Lizzie and brother David's parties. Unfortunately, both Laura and Michael (Tracey's Godchildren) were unable to come with because of illness....I had to start Laura on nebs again yesterday morning, and today she has a fever. But the rest of us had a great time. It was WONDERFUL to see my little Lizzie again...and so hard to believe she is six years old already! She is so pretty and smart...and getting so grown up....where does the time go? The kids all played well together for more than 3 hours, using their imaginations to turn people into roast beef(don't ask), playing freeze tag, and playing in the awesome bonus room above the garage completely filled with toys ( I SO need one of those!). Thomas and baby Jonny (7 months old), hung out with us moms. Thomas kept busy chasing after the 2 dogs and 2-year-old David. Both babies were so happy and well behaved, that Tracey and I got to ADULTS. For HOURS. Cool!

Night came much too quickly. At 10 o'clock, I forced myself to drag us out of the house though I think that all of us would have been content to stay much much longer. It is always so hard to leave...the visits are so much fun, and much too long in between. Jonny and I had a long, quiet ride home from Ham Lake as the 3 little ones all fell asleep within the first 10 minutes. As I drove, I reflected on the wonderful visit we just had, and thanked God for the beautiful "sister" he had placed in my life more than 31 years ago.

Friday, March 28, 2008

And One More Makes Eight

We had a nice surprise today.....Mr. Bean brought a very special something to the girls(Michael & I both agree our DHL delivery guy looks and talks exactly like that goofy Hollywood star). A brand new pink laptop~complete with pink wireless mouse! Now they can sit side by side while playing Webkinz together! Are my little girls spoiled, or what? I guess we know who has Daddy wrapped around their little girlie fingers! And now, we have eight (computers, that is).

Michael set up the computer as soon as it arrived, in anticipation of a very positively excited response from Laura. Well, stubborn little Laura wanted nothing to do with it. "I like black", was her response, indicating that she was perfectly content to keep my laptop monopolized for the rest of her life. Melissa had a much different response when she came home from school: "Is this for me?" she asked, wide-eyed. She squealed with delight when the answer was affirmative, and eagerly jumped on the couch to ready herself to try the new beautiful pink piece of technology in our family room. She asked me to be sure to make her excitement known today on the blog. Done!

Laura had another important event of her own....Kindergarten readiness screening. She broke down in authentic tears as we left our house, begging for Crispy to come with her....she is quite attached to her older brother, but this was a situation that she had to face on her own. (On Sunday mornings, Crispy finds himself as guest visitor in the 3-year old Sunday School room each week)With tears still streaming down her cheeks, she climbed into the car, trying to compose herself with a brave face. It was quite unusual to see her in such a vulnerable state.

Things went just fine, and Laura did a great job answering questions and following directions. She seemed to be having a good time doing "school", and only had obvious difficulty with the gross motor tasks(no surprise). She "passed" the screening, and was approved to move onto Kindergarten when the time comes. Of course, I have to somehow get her to understand that that is 18 months from now, and not happening tomorrow. Hopefully she will warm up to her new pink laptop between now and then to help her pass the time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Crunching Numbers

$91.06~ This is how much I spent for gas this morning to fill up my tank. At best, this will last one week

4~how many hours of interrupted sleep I got last night...I think my baby is getting sick again

$2898~This is how much money I have currently sitting in my kitchen to deposit for the girl scout cookies that our entire troop sold

5~how many minutes we were late to Crispy's classroom to visit him as Kid of the Week/"Marvelous Me"

10~how many minutes earlier we were than our usual lateness of 15 minutes

1570~how many calories Michael consumed in one McDonald's lunch

97~how many Kinzcash I earned in one game of Cash Cow this morning (in case you are wondering, that is A LOT for a game)

7~how many computers we have in our home

$65~how much money I found sitting on my piano

1357~how many times I worried about Michael playing hockey tonight on a Minneapolis based, Minnesota State Champion team of high schoolers, and coming home alive

1~the number of crosses lost from a beloved set of earrings, prompting a teary phone call from my daughter at school

19~the number of lines Jonny has to have memorized for his play at church

17(and counting)~the number of headaches I have had so far this Spring, including today

Too many~the number of Webkinz we have in our house, lying on the floor

Priceless~Thomas' proud smiles and laughter as he spent over an hour practicing standing and playing peek-a-boo at his ball pit.......the laughter of babies just has such a blessed, beautiful a glimpse into Heaven. Is there anything better?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Speed Parenting

After a very blase Tuesday, we definitely needed something to perk us up today. Grandma C came over after a morning appointment and spent the day with us, which provided all of us with the relief we needed. The sun was shining so bright, and the day was so pretty...we decided to enjoy it all just hanging around town.

We started things off with lunch at Who's On First?~a local restaurant bar which is rumored to have the best burgers in town. I can't comment on that statement, but I can tell you they had the best sweet potato/corn jalapeno chowder I have ever tasted. Very spicy, filling, and fantastic. The kids ordered mac and cheese, which was just Easy Mac heated in the microwave for a $4.50 service charge. All in all, it was a good meal, and we all were full at the end of it.

We then walked 3 doors down to the bowling alley, stopping along the way to get my ring cleaned at the jewelry store. Shining sparkling diamonds can really pick up a girl's spirits! Bowling is something we just never do because it is always so hard with such little kids. We had the place to ourselves, so we chose to bumper one lane for Crispy & Laura, while Michael, Grandma, & I took the other lane. We had a surprisingly good time. Laura had fun for about 5 turns, and then she was done, spending the rest of the time alternating between pouting and taking pictures with my camera. Crispy was doing quite was apparent that all of his practice on the Wii was paying off. In our lane, Grandma beat the pants off of us. She easily beat us by more than 20-40 points. She claims that she hasn't been bowling in about 30 years ...hmmmmm....I think she may have a secret life we don't know about!

Before heading back home, Laura "bought" a Webkinz for Grandma so that she could play online games with her during the day. Laura is so obsessed with this game. She can now log herself in with username and password and is constantly jumping at any open computer chair. She was beside herself this morning when Webkinz was down for maintenance. She argued with me for 10 minutes how I was wrong, and how SHE would be able to get into the game. Boy, does she get moody when she is wrong. We had a VERY LONG morning.

Tonight went by quickly with everyone home, and no activities to run off to. After spending nearly our whole day at play, I had an extremely productive evening as my role of stay-at-home-mom. I felt like I was on hyper drive being super-mommy for many kids, and the great part was that it was all working out. School papers were sorted, homework done, lines for a play rehearsed, an assignment to find and take a picture of a robin completed, pictures and mementos for special Kid of the Week collected, bike tires pumped, helmets found and adjusted, Kinzcash earned for Lala, and a load of laundry switched. We had dinner from scratch (as I had forgotten to make my split pea soup in the crock pot this morning)....bruschetta pizza, and artichoke dip with crackers and pears. The baby was asleep in Bob's arms, giving me the rare opportunity to actually completely clean up after dinner. A clean kitchen before bed? What will I do with myself tomorrow morning!

Melissa spent the evening outside practicing her bike riding (training wheels still on). She and the neighbor girl were begging to go for a bike ride, and while nice outside, the sun was setting and there was a chilly wind that would have made for a less than fun ride. Instead, we compromised, and I walked, with them riding, through our neighborhood, to the highway and back. Since they are not allowed to leave the cul-de-sac by themselves, this seemed to satisfy their desire to go on a bike ride. My neighbor jumped in with me, and we made plans for restarting our walking program and trying to get back into some semblance of a shape that would no longer make us look like marshmallow moms. Last year, we did well for over a month.....then we kind of fell out of habit when I took off for Colorado. Funny how difficult it is to start something like exercise, yet so easy to quit.

The day ended as every day should, with bedtime stories and prayers, snuggled in my huge bed with my kids. It is days like these that make me thankful for everything that I have, and help me to make it through strong to the next. But it is not just about making it through each is about living through each day, and at least for today, life is good.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Budding Photographer

Laura has a few new hobbies these days. Her first, is spending as much time online as she can building a lovely home for her Webkinz pets. If allowed, she would spend EVERY minute of her day online. (I now have a few of my own so that I may play interactive games with her during the day when the other kids are at school) The demand for computer time amongst all of my kids due to Webkinz has caused us to develop the timer rule. The timer is set for 20 or 30 minutes, and when it goes off, your turn is over. It is wonderful how this works. If I were to say the same thing, I would be met with whining and excuses...."But I am almost done!", or "I just got this cool thing!", or "Just one more minute?", etc. Everyone listens to the arguments, no questions, just "Switch!", and someone else gets a turn. If only everything were that easy!

Laura's second favorite thing to do is grab my camera and take pictures. She started this at Grandma's wedding, taking pictures of people dancing. She now has taken pictures of Tubby's birthday, Easter, and other random things. Many of her pictures are "artistic" in nature, some are quite good, and all of them really capture the essence of what is going on at the time because she snaps away without being noticed. My favorites are the ones she takes of herself...the close ups are pretty funny. And now there exist a few pictures with me in them, so that my kids may actually remember having a mom when they look back at photos. We do not have much in the way of artwork at our house. I like the idea of using the kids' creations to decorate our home~one of my favorites is a watercolor painting Jonny did in second grade that is framed and hanging on one of our entrance walls . With some of Laura's pictures, I think I could compile a rather neat photo collage. Now I just need some extra time!

Alex was pleased today to move into the "People with Glasses" club at our house. His eyesight is really quite eye is perfect, and the other just has slight astigmatism. But it is that darned astigmatism that makes it difficult to see, so he is excited about trying his new glasses. Alex has wanted glasses for as long as I can remember, and was always disappointed when he would pass the annual vision screening tests at school, each year with 20/20 vision or better. He picked out a really trendy pair, and they look great on him. He has been happy with the results so far this afternoon, and school tomorrow should be even better. It would be really great if the number of his headaches would decrease too, but I fear that like I, he is also just a victim of the ever-changing barometer. Genetics is sometimes a bum rap...sorry, Alex!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Despite all of the excitement and anticipation of searching for eggs and baskets left by some random rabbit hidden in our house, the kids actually slept in today! It was after 8am before I brought Tubby downstairs to check the status of what I expected to be a room full of kids, ready to burst at the seams. See, they have express instructions NOT to look for anything until mom and dad get up. These rules were instigated after one too many 6am mornings, and have held fast throughout the years, effectively postponing Easter and Christmas morning festivities to a reasonable hour. Instead, all I found were my two girls awake, enjoying the quiet morning, playing Webkinz side by side on the computers in the library. After waiting another half hour, with no signs of any awaking brothers, I allowed the girls to quietly look for their Easter baskets. They sampled some goodies, gathered up their new Webkinz, and settled back online to enter their new pets into Webkinz world while they continued waiting for their brothers to wake up.

One by one, the boys meandered down the stairs, found their baskets, and searched for hidden eggs. All the kids enjoyed candy for breakfast, followed by mandatory baths/showers in preparation for church. Crispy became so involved with his new Star Wars legos that he missed (either consciously or subconsciously) the call to get on his coat and climb into the truck. As we were pulling out of the driveway, Bob asked 'Where's Crispy?'....gee, he is still up in his room, alone in the house. At least the door was locked.

After a wonderful Easter service, we had a tasty Easter brunch with the grandparents at our house. Grandma C made the best ham pretty much dissolved in your mouth. This was perfect for Thomas, who was continuing his big boy accomplishments and was actually EATING today! He was managing small bites of ham, bread, and his favorite~lemon jello egg~all without gagging. We will forget about the next hour of puke puddles on the floor which he thought were fun things to play in. I made the awesome Cinnabon clones again, and Lisa's banana bread which has become a necessary staple in our house. We had a nice, relaxing afternoon, filled with more food, egg hunts~both inside and out in the snow!~ candy, pictures of Hawaii, a phone call from Miami, and some games. Laura was happy to hold Lyle captive at the table for quite awhile playing Max & Ruby magnets, and Play-doh.

Though it looks more like the Christmas season outside today than it does the Easter Spring holiday, the snow is actually quite fitting. The vast whiteness covering our world is so symbolic of what Jesus' Resurrection means for all of us. He has suffered by our sin, conquered death, and by faith in Him, we are made white as snow.....our sins are forgiven. We have new life because of Him, and only Him. Alleluia, He is Risen!......He is Risen Indeed!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Big Boy

My baby's growing up......

After whooping it up for "the big 1" last night, we spent a pretty low-key day at home today. Thomas spent the entire day scooting around the house, hanging onto his hockey stick. He was getting so good with it that he was even hitting things with it as though he were actually playing hockey. Thanks to the new ball pit in the living room, there were plenty stray balls to keep him occupied throughout the day.

Now that Thomas is one, he is beginning to do big kid things. He now can pull himself up to standing! He stood at the couch, trying to see what his big sister Melissa was doing up there. He was so proud of himself when he realized what he had done. Melissa was so excited and proud of him too! He managed standing for almost 2 minutes before crashing on his diaper padded behind. Pretty exciting stuff!
After getting home from some last minute Easter shopping tonight, I wanted Thomas to show daddy his new trick. He tried and tried so hard to do it again, but it was late in the evening, and I think his frustration tolerance was a little low....he just gave up and had little baby tantrum moments, throwing himself backwards and crying. "Ma-ma, ma-ma" and "na-na, na-na"(his word for night-night)....I think I know what he wants. Poor tired boy. He'll just have to try again tomorrow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy First Birthday, Tubby!

I can't believe that my baby is one today. The day he was born was such a fantastic day....his beauty was stunning. He remains to emulate all that is wonderful about babies...he is just a perfect little guy in every way. I can see all of my pretty little baby boys in him~it is like all the perfect cuteness of each one of them rolled into one massively adorable little boy. And to think that this is my last little baby turning is hard.

Tubby spent his day getting the royal special treatment from everyone in the family. First off, because of the 8 inches of new fallen snow overnight, Bob was snowed in and waited until 8:30 to leave for work, meaning that the baby and I got to sleep in. Michael spent this extra time making a birthday banner for Thomas that was strung across the living room, and the other kids made him birthday cards. His smiles and excitement shone all day he just somehow knew he was special today.

The snow was so pretty, and completely covered everything outside in big fluffy whiteness. I searched out and found a very old snowsuit (that Alex had worn as a baby) and bundled my birthday baby boy to take him out to play. I wonder how many birthdays he will have in the middle of a winter storm? He enjoyed it for roughly 4 minutes, then spent the rest of the time crying. He was not impressed with this birthday outing. The rest of the kids worked hard in our tiny front yard (our dog owns the expansive backyard) making cute snow bunnies(Easter is coming!)~with real rabbit turd eyes, fort walls, and snowballs. I shovelled most of the walkway, but the stuff was so heavy that without guilt, I gave up my intentions of clearing the driveway too.

Back inside, Michael set up Thomas' birthday present. He spent a good 3-4 hours putting about 100 little plastic pieces together, and pulling them apart numerous times to get the ball pit/slide contraption put together in the appropriate order. After enduring carpal tunnel in both thumbs(I wonder what that is called) and countless moments of frustration, his efforts paid off, and the item was a big hit for Tubby and everyone else. Thomas was so excited about all those balls to throw everywhere(his favorite thing to do after carrying around tubes). And the sides are all just the perfect height for him to hang onto while he practices standing. He spent the rest of the afternoon in happy happy joyland excitedly cheering with glee.

Having skipped his afternoon nap, Thomas fell asleep just as his grandparents arrived for his very impromptu and intimate party. He was so exhausted from the fun afternoon that he did not even stir as I passed him to Grandpa to hold during our Pizza Ranch dinner(I didn't get a chance to go to the grocery store because of the snow). When he finally awoke about an hour later, he was very unsure of all of the people who had magically appeared in our house. Instead of acting excited, he spent the evening being sleepy, suspicious, shy, and bugged. Poor kid....between 4 of us taking pictures, I hope that maybe someone got a picture of him smiling...I don't seem to have one! This picture was taken in the afternoon when I finished making his is cute, but dark. I may have to finally break down and order the photo program that came with our computer so that I can adjust it.

Thomas took a few licks of his banana-chocolate monkey cake, and seemed to like the chocolate frosting. I think this was his first introduction to chocolate. He started to warm up to his party guests after that. Laura and friend Zoe, helped/opened his birthday presents and cards, and Blaise tried out all of Tubby's new toys. His favorite (besides the ball pit park)seems to be a soft Minnesota Wild hockey stick from the kids. He carried it around, cheering, and happily pounding the floor. I wonder how life will be with 3 kids in hockey??

On Thomas' behalf, he would like to thank Grandma and Grandpa C, Grandma ?,his family, and the Smith's, and everyone else who knows~and therefore loves~him, for making his first birthday year such a special occasion. Though he may not always have shown it, he told me later, as he was falling asleep, that he is very appreciative and thankful that so many wonderful people love him. He also said that this was his best birthday party ever!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

CSI: Zajac Garage

Thursday is the greatest day of the week~Garbage Day! Hooray! I just love the satisfaction of overfilling my garbage canisters and getting as much junk out of my house as I possibly can. Perhaps by looking around, no one can tell the difference, but I can tell, and I know the amount of which has been purged. I wish we had at least 2 or 3 garbage days a that would be truly helpful to me!

This week is also recycle week, so I spent a few hours in the garage this morning breaking down more of the Christmas light boxes. I still had a third of them left which probably amounted to somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 boxes of various sizes. This has to be one of the most boring tasks, but at least it produces some noticeable results which provides a sense of accomplishment for my time spent. My baby, on the other hand, was none too well pleased with this interruption of his morning snuggling with Mommy routine. Cry Cry, poor little guy. What a way to spend the last day of his infant year.

I also decided to finally clean up the interesting mess in the middle of our garage. While Bob spends hours in the garage in the late fall putting his Christmas lights together, he keeps plenty of pop and beer on hand. One particular box of diet soda, sitting in the back of Crispy's 4-wheeler, had accomplished a trick on its own. At some point during the winter, the cans had literally exploded, some with entire tops that were found on the other side of the garage, some which had looked as they had been ripped straight through the middle. Our ceiling was covered in soda splash marks, some so distinct that it was clear the force at which the liquid hit the ceiling was obviously great. It was bizarre. And scary. I would imagine that anyone in the path of the explosion could have become injured by flying pop can tops as lethal as Chinese stars. I will have to research this reaction and get some answers. I am pretty sure that I will not be drinking any diet soda in the future (which I rarely do as it is)....there must be something pretty funky in there to cause it to spontaneously explode.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

If Only in Our Imaginations

My kids are on Spring Break this week, and once again, we are going nowhere. I feel bad for them, as most of their friends are gone, to some exotic vacation spot and here we sit, smack in the middle of Minnesota, in our very own, boring home. Poor kids. I thought that at the very least, we could maybe spend a night at the new hotel, so the kids could say that they went somewhere...never mind that it was only one mile from our house. But even that just is not going to fit into our schedule. Between St. Patrick's Day(s), Thomas' first birthday, and Easter all in the very same week, it just does not work out to leave...not even for a night.

I brought the kids to Mary's today as I watched her kids while she had an appointment. The kids had a great time running around the house, making pictures, playing pretend princesses and Star Wars, and spending time together. I think that it helped to ease some of their vacation doldrums. Even the babies played together (as much as babies can play). It was a nice time, and our visits always include good food which is always a bonus for Mary and I. While she was gone, I baked up a batch of the amazing banana bread, and fed the kids lunch. That left Mary and I to a stress-free lunch of our own when she came home with great food and curry soup from Noodles. Yummy. Even Thomas liked my very spicy peanut noodles. Maybe he has just been holding out, waiting to eat foods with real flavor?

Poor Jonny had to miss the visit to his Godmother's house...he has not been feeling well for a few days. It had started with a migraine on Monday, and a fever yesterday, now a stuffy nose and general malaise. It is a little odd that no one else has gotten sick. Makes me curious what is going on with him. He spent the day resting at home (while Alex slept in til the afternoon hours), and reading through another book and a half. Such a good reader....and some of you have been honored to read his novel in the making!

The other kids spent a few hours playing outside when we got home. It was another beautiful Spring-ish day. It is so nice to open the windows and hear the kids laughing, yelling(merrily), and playing in the front yard. Melissa and Laura had their Webkinz all outside, and each one was involved in some very specific plan. I think Crispy and Jonny were hatching kinz-napping plans that they attempted to execute when the girls were not looking. Their imaginations are so wonderful and fun. It is so sad that we lose that as adults. Why is that? It would be so much more fun to imagine ourselves with whatever we want or need instead of having to work long and hard hours at a job to make money to get it. I guess that is not very realistic, but sometimes it would really be nice just to escape into the mind of a kid for just a little while to rejuvenate. *Sigh* Now I'm off to shine my sink....I keep just trying to imagine it all clean and shiny, but unfortunately there are quite physical limits to the power of positive thinking.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day! (again)

Melissa had a blue-ribbon morning at the farm: not only did she ride the entire lesson without her instructor using the lead rope at all, but at the end of the lesson, she rode her horse, Ted, around the entire arena without anyone walking by her side at all! Her instructor stood in the middle of the arena while Melissa led her horse successfully from start to finish. It was fantastic! She is so proud! She also worked a lot on trotting gave her a real workout since the movements are so bumpy and she has to work hard to keep her body aligned(she is not allowed to hold onto the saddle at all~she needs to keep her hands up in front of the saddle, guiding the horse with the reins). She also started work on "posting trot" which is when the rider stands up in the stirrups and sits down again in rhythmic fashion while the horse is trotting. Talk about complexity of movement for a kid with motor planning issues! But she tackled it like a champ, and was able to accomplish bits and pieces of this at a time. Definitely will be on her goal list this year.

The rest of the day went by peacefully. I spent the day preparing our real St. Patrick's Day meal of corned beef and cabbage, mashed potatoes(actually, my mom did a great job making these!), Irish soda bread, green jello, Irish cream cake, and green lime punch. My poor baby followed me around the kitchen all afternoon, scooting behind me everywhere I went whining "ma-ma! ma-ma!" Every time I thought I would have a moment to snuggle with him and get him to sleep, another timer went off signalling some change called for in one of the 4 different food items I was in the process of preparing. By the time the grandparents arrived for dinner, he was beside himself, crying, overtired, and unable to calm down. He finally collapsed in Grandma Z's arms, and she magically was able to lie him on the couch without him waking up, screaming! We enjoyed our entire meal while he slept in the other room. It was luxurious!

Michael was the lucky one to sample the Irish fare first, as he was off to hockey before the rest of us even sat at the table. This is the first of 4 nights a week of Spring hockey programs. Yeesh. The rest of us gathered around our table again, and tonight's meal was much more palatable for my picky younger eaters. Last night's stew did not go over well with the girls...Laura kept calling it "the yucky stuff". Tonight, she was asking for us to put corned beef ("chicken") on her plate. This really is the best meal of the year...I think that all of us stuff our faces even more on this day than we do on Thanksgiving. It got me to thinking that I should make this meal on Thanksgiving instead of the gross turkey that is customary. Well, maybe not this exact meal, as I DO want to keep it special for St. Paddy's day, but I am certain that I am done with turkey on Thanksgiving....why not start a new tradition of cooking stuff we actually LIKE to eat? Now that would be something to be thankful about.

We had a great time visiting and chatting. Grandpa enjoyed viewing some of the recent stellar report cards the kids had received last week in the mail. Again, our table did the trick....sitting around, talking like REAL adults! Bob and I were even sitting at the table next to each other...AT THE SAME TIME! Wow! It was something we rarely experience. I am now determined to use my table more in all situations~daily family dinners to dinner parties(we will need to make some friends first!). Who'd have thought a simple table would elicit so much fun!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick's Day is kind of a big deal around here. It all began several years ago when I changed our usual dinner of green food into an "authentic" Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and Irish Cream cake. It was an instant hit, and this special meal has turned into an annual event, complete with Grandparents at our table, that even my pickiest eaters look forward to every year. OK, maybe some of them only get excited about the green koolaid that remains on the menu, but the fact remains that all of my kids enjoy this day of the year.

When I came downstairs this morning, the boys were already dressed in green, down to their very socks. The girls were still in their pajamas, of course, as they could exist contentedly in nothing but pjs every moment of their day. With some coaxing, they eventually made their way to their dressers and found some pretty green apparel for the day. With headbands, hats, glasses, and necklaces, the kids were certainly in St.Paddy's Day spirit. But because of a snowy forecast, Michael away at Wisconsin Dells, and Daddy working away from home until tomorrow, our dinner was postponed until tomorrow night. Knowing the little kids would be happy to have something as simple as mac and cheese colored green for dinner, I could have opted for the easy way out. But I just could not let my Irish heritage down so easily. Instead, I opted for a second rate dinner of Irish stew, Irish soda bread, and green Kool-aid (of course). I must say, it was all very yummy. A loaf of The Best Banana Bread EVER (recipe from Lisa) complemented the meal. This really is the best banana bread ever....previously I thought that I HAD the best recipe until I gave this a is outstanding! I have made 6 loaves in the first week I have tried it. We don't even bother to slice it...we just rip hunks right off the loaf since there is no way it is going to be sitting around long enough to wrap up.

Grandma & Lyle shared dinner with us. It was very nice to have some time to get to know Lyle a bit better. Usually things are so chaotic and noisy that there is hardly time to talk. It is amazing how a sit-down meal at the table really DOES facilitate conversation! This is why I bought this table, but I am still not in the daily habit of using it properly. Our usual meals are lined up on the center island in the kitchen, and everyone grabs a plate and goes through buffet style. Something else to work on for my list.

The kids and I played a new game (Last Word) before bed. I think it will be a fun game, but needs a bit of refereeing to keep things in line. The kids were still tired from the weekend, which was apparent by the many bouts of crying that occurred throughout the day for unknown reasons. Jonny won the headache prize today....I hope he doesn't get migraines like Alex and I, but the way he described it sounds awfully familiar. Poor kid. Thomas was still going strong this evening, trying so hard to stand, and working his darndest to get to our game. He was being so silly with the shamrock headband on his head: he kept tying to look up to see what it was on his head....obviously, he was not successful at making the visual connection. Thankfully, he is a good boy, and instead of getting frustrated, it only made him smile. And his smile always makes me smile. And that is a wonderful way to end my day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hosanna to the King!

In our church packed with people, nothing was quite as impressive as the parade of more than 130 kids dressed in green and purple walking through the aisles, waving palm branches, and singing "Savior, He can move the God is mighty to save...." The kids filed orderly onto the risers in front, continuing their song. They then blessed the congregation with 2 additional, beautiful songs. It was fantastic. They were singing their sweet little hearts out, shining bright for Jesus. How Wonderful!

On this Palm Sunday morn, I woke Jonny & Melissa at 6:45am to ready them for their day. This is the usual time for them to wake up on school days, but after a late night full of dancing and eating wedding cake the night before, I had some pretty sleepy kids on my hands. They dressed up in their Sunday's finest, Jonny with shirt and tie, Melissa with a brand new dress and sweater ("No bare shoulders allowed"). The kids were to arrive at church by 7:30am (we made it by 7:40, not too shabby for us), and sing through 3 morning services. Bob & I attended the last service. You would think these poor kids would be exhausted by now, but they performed excellently! What troopers! The kids were applauded loudly, and I am pretty sure that there was even some cheering going on. Jonny said that the applause they received at this last service was greater than any other. What a nice way for the kids to end their long morning.

I do not remember much of the rest of the day, thanks to yet another Spring headache. Bob let me take a nap this afternoon which I must have really needed because I actually fell asleep. I woke up in time to bring the kids back to church for rehearsal (cuz 4 hours this morning was just not quite enough singing time in one day). After a large cup of coffee while I waited for the kids, I finally shook the thing off and was able to function as a normal person for the rest of the evening, meaning that my family actually got to have dinner....never mind that it wasn't until 8pm. Laura had already been asleep for about 3 hours on the couch, but she woke up to eat 2 servings. She then went up the stairs with the rest of the kids to go to bed. No one complained tonight, and it was unusually quiet in our house by 8:30pm. I think we have some catching up on sleep to do for everyone.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happily Ever After(without spending $10,000)

Today was Grandma Z and Lyle's Wedding, and what a nice wedding it was. This has been the second wedding in a year for the Zajac family, and both have been lovely. Today took place at Bob's brother's house in Maple Grove~an intimate gathering of only the bride and groom's children(and families), and brothers and sisters. It probably amounted to about 40 people, and the small size just somehow made the wedding "ceremony" seem more meaningful instead of making it such a show.

The house was beautiful, and the sunshine made a perfect backdrop for the special day. Bob spent hours setting up just the perfect special lighting on the main floor, and a complete dance club in the basement with sets and sets of choreographed lights(and special music CD's he had made throughout the week) and new sound activated light tubes which were super cool. Fragrant pink tulips and roses were spread throughout the home, a chocolate fountain sat in the corner on a table adorned with rose petals, and a private chef took control of the kitchen, quietly making a gourmet meal before our very eyes. The bride looked lovely in cream, while her groom looked handsomely dressed. Pastor Dave turned what we all thought would be only a 10 minute exchange of vows into a complete moving, and beautiful wedding ceremony. It all seemed to come together so perfectly. I don't think it could have been any better.

Laura spent her day freaking out over a tiny toy poodle that was only 1/4 the size of Thomas. I wonder where half of our kids got their innate fear of animals. They have never had a bad experience with one, but they are scared to death. Melissa set up all of the champagne glasses, and danced the night away. Crispy enjoyed sampling the decadent buttercream cakes in 3 separate flavors. Thomas enjoyed all the special attention given to him by cousin(in-law?step-cousin?who knows the appropriate term) Carly. Jonny took on role of videographer, I think I turned into photographer, and Bob was the silent DJ. Michael and Alex jumped in and helped where needed. It was truly a family affair and a great party. It really makes me rethink my view on the perfect wedding, and even how I will be imagining this special day in the future for my own kids.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My Love/Hate Relationship with Spring

This week sort of went by in a blur. Not necessarily any busier than any other week, but between busy-ness, an upcoming wedding, Spring headaches, and emotional stress thinking about my girls, time was filled every moment of the day. Here is a small recap of the week (the little I remember)...

It feels like Spring! It is wonderful! We are outside today without jackets, it is near 50 degrees, the sun is shining! I took Michael and Jonny (and all the rest of them along for the ride) to get their hair trimmed in town....we've got to at least look presentable for Grandma's wedding on Saturday! It was so lovely outside, that we decided to walk across downtown, and made a stop in our favorite ice cream shop. All the kids sat around this tiny little table, eating their ice cream, with smiles and laughter and EVERYONE WAS GETTING ALONG SPLENDIDLY. It was a scene that I never want to forget(but I probably will since I did not have my camera!). When we got back home, they all spent another 2 hours playing outside in the cul-de-sac, riding bikes, playing with dolls and strollers, Webkinz, and a full-fledged street hockey game. A picturesque, happy-filled evening.....but again, no pictures taken (what is the matter with me??).

I hate clarify, I hate the headaches that I get in the Spring. They are so awful. Enough to make me want to move somewhere else. No kidding. Other people complain of their arthritis flaring up...I must have the same thing going on in my brain.

Mary and her kids came out for a much appreciated visit. All the kids played so well, as always. It is so much fun to see them all just playing and smiling continuously. You would think that it would be chaos with 8 little people ages 6 and under, but everyone is so well behaved and good! It is just such a joy to get the kids together and participate in their happiness. I really need to take some pictures sometime of all the kids together...some video would be good, too. All of our kids adore each other. Not to mention it is great to socialize with Mary face to face, too!

Another highlight of the day (besides treating myself to a haircut this afternoon), was making cinnamon rolls that tasted EXACTLY like Cinnabons! In fact, since I used great tasting Penzy's Ceylon Cinnamon (thanks Lisa, for introducing me), the kids thought that mine were even BETTER than Cinnabon's! I will try to post the link is from, titled Clone of a Cinnabon....rated over 2100 times 5 out of 5 stars. And it was EASY and not as high in fat as other recipes for cinnamon rolls I have seen. We will never buy another Cinnabon again!

Emotionally draining day. Had I thought about this a little more in advance, I would not have scheduled a visit to the Developmental Pediatrician for Laura on the same day as heavy intensive school conferences for Melissa. The visit was meant to be one final exit visit to ensure that we were not missing something with Laura. After 2 hours of assessment, Laura now will be visiting the Neurologist, have a Physical Therapy eval, an Occupational Therapy eval, a revisit to the geneticist, and find some endocrinology answers. Ugh....this was so unexpected. I really had thought she was doing well enough that this would be it. But her physical development is still very immature(by at least a year), her reflexes were hyperactive with some clonus, paired with her usual low tone was there now some stiffness in her legs?, and gee, who knows what to make of the stinky, separating pee.

In general, conferences went well, but there is always the obviousness of the difficulties that Melissa has to face everyday. Yes, she is smart, yes, kids like her, and yes, she loves school and is doing well. But telling me she just has "adventures on the playground with her make-believe friends" in lieu of interactions with real-life breaks my heart into a million tiny little sad pieces. She is 2 years behind in social and physical skills, and it basically just stinks. She will be placed in a friendship counselling group to help improve her skills, and hopefully someone will start paying attention to her fine motor needs. Who wants these kind of troubles for their kids? Life is tough enough as it is, and being a girl seems to be even tougher. So many expectations that normal girls can't even is a tough world. Why does it have to be hard for my girls? How do I help them effectively? I wish so much that there existed an easy and sure-fire fix for both of them.

The VERY COOL highlight of today (besides raving reviews of Jonny and Crispy from their teachers) was being privy to see Melissa's new skill....riding a bike with no training wheels! She rode it around and around the cafeteria for more than ten minutes, never once losing balance, and always being able to restart after stopping. It was incredible, and something I had not expected to see this soon. I was so proud of her, and she was obviously proud too. Her DAPE teacher will be working on riding outside on pavement next so that she will be street ready by late Spring. Another moment I wish to remember forever, but will have to hope it remains etched in my brain, as my camera was not with me.

School is out for my elementary kids today, while Alex had to still attend, and Michael had band. The neighbor girl spent the day with us as both of her brothers had school, and her mom, who is a speech therapist (she is Melissa's) in the school district, still had to work today. The kids indulged in Webkinz and the new SuperMario Smash Bros Melee for Wii, while I ran my older kids around this morning. Alex had his first eye doctor appointment(I thought that all of the kids were off today when I scheduled the appointment). His vision is only slightly skewed in one eye, but Alex felt the difference was enough that he really wants to try glasses. So $400 later, we have a cool pair expecting to arrive for him next week.

After lunch, I had promised the kids a trip into town to search out new Webkinz pets and ice cream. We did not find a good selection of pets, so we drove 30 minutes to the closest mall (do I spoil my kids, or what?). Lucky us, Jonny found the penguin he had been hoping for, and the rest of them got bonus pets as we found a 2 for 1 sale at LimitedToo. Talk about some very excited kids! They couldn't wait to get back home to enter their new codes online. We were only 4 blocks away from home when the neighbor girl informed me that she puked. Sure enough, she was covered in fresh puke in the backseat of my truck. Yuck. Puke and horrible headaches (which I had again today) are not a good combination. Thankfully, my Shaklee products did a stellar job cleaning up the mess, and the germicide got the smell out, as well as the bugs. After cleaning the truck, I proceeded to spray down every other inch she may have come into contact with in our house today. I realize that it is probably too late, and that if she is truly sick, we had already been irreversibly exposed, but it mentally helped us all feel a bit better. I (we all) dread puking illnesses more than anything. 45 minutes later, the girl knocked on our door, asking for Melissa to play. Was it bad of me to tell her Melissa was unable to play anymore today because she 'needed to rest'????

Now it is late, and I still need to finish washing clothes for tomorrow's celebration. With any luck, we will all keep our dinners down overnight.
Oh...and at least I alraedy put the camera in the diaper bag.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

When Melissa finished her horse riding session last fall, it seemed like we would be waiting forever for the spring riding season to come. Well, here it is! Though it takes Melissa what seems like an eternity to get ready for school in the mornings, she was ready and out the door in less than a minute this afternoon. She was proudly wearing her new boots and horse sweater, her gloves and helmet in hand. She was glowing with anticipation as we drove to her favorite place on be with her horses.

Melissa had a one on one session today (interesting note: the girl who was finishing her lesson before us happened to be a neighbor in Jonny's class who gets off at the same bus stop as Melissa!). She got to meet a new horse, Tango, and help saddle him up. She took a few laps around the arena with her trainer at the lead rope. Melissa had to use some more definite movements with Tango as he is neck trained, not simply bit trained as her horses last fall had been. She also had to get use to using her legs to squeeze his belly to get him to trot. These are all good things for her and will help her to develop more strength and muscle control. After a few rounds, Melissa was already getting the hang of it, so her trainer detached the lead rope. For the next 30 minutes, Melissa was riding and guiding that horse all by herself! It was great....she was so proud! She has such confidence on the horse and seems so comfortable. She was even able to precisely move him through some cones as obstacles.

This is coming at such a good time for her....she really needs this boost of self esteem. Pairing riding with the warming weather and more chances to be outside will greatly improve her opportunities for fun. I have heard from her adaptive physical education teacher at school, and from Melissa herself, that she can now ride a bike without training wheels! That had been a rather lofty goal set at the beginning of the year. I am really looking forward to seeing that at conferences on Thursday. She never ceases to amaze me!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Official End of Hockey Season 2007-08

One last day on the ice for Crispy today until next season. Daddy, Grandma, and Lyle all came today to cheer him on, as well as Jonny. Crispy was quite a bit more focused toady (perhaps because of much coaching we provided in his ear all morning). He skated his best, tried to get the puck, and made contact with it once, and possibly even twice! Though he is still the slowest on his team BY FAR, it was nice to see him do his best and give it a good hustle. He was very happy to have a cheering section. He really enjoys hockey and says that he wants to play for 50 years...when he gets too old, he says he wants to be a coach. His lack of speed and experience do not seem to diminish his enjoyment of the game...precisely as it should be!!! The best part was getting a trophy at the end of the game....those little things are pretty exciting!

I spent the afternoon driving back and forth to church with the JAM kids and special rehearsals. Because of timing today, I had to bring the older kids to 5pm is a nice, alternative (and loud) service, but we all like morning church a whole lot better. I was also suffering from a monster headache that came out of nowhere and hit me like a ton of bricks at 3pm. My medicine did not even make a dent in the thing. The sermon was good, but actually a repeat of one I had taken to heart last year about shining for Christ in the workplace. Obviously, my workplace is in the home, and it is something that has been overwhelming me lately. I think I feel more stressed out now than when I went to church this evening....I just want to do the right thing, which is so difficult in a 24/7 job situation with no breaks.

Bob had stayed home, doing dictations. I convinced poor Crispy to skip his hockey banquet tonight(actually, we would have only made it for the last 30 minutes of a 2 hour long event, so it would have been fairly pointless), and I brought the baby up with me to crash on my bed. After a quick nursing session, Bob took the baby so that I could rest for a while. These new headaches are horrible....they move quickly from pain in the head to all over muscle contractions and joint pain. The last few have been nearly incapacitating. I feel I can barely function or see straight. Yuck. Poor me. Boo hoo. I need a new plan, but besides moving to a higher elevation to avoid these barometer changes, I feel a bit stuck. In desperation, I am trying an old muscle relaxer tonight. I hope I feel better in the morning.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Double Duty

I am not in any way condoning stem cell-embryonic research, but on days like today, it would really be helpful to have a clone of myself. Actually, when I think about it, it would be very helpful EVERYDAY. The clone could do all of the cleaning, laundry, organizing, and partial cooking(I would want to do some of that myself, as a hobby), and I could spend the entire day playing with my kids. It sounds lovely.

Jonny was off to the Pinewood Derby this morning with Grandma. I was very bothered by not being able to go.....Jonny and I had made the car together (along with the help of 4 dads from his den), and we had looked forward to this as special time together for quite a while. Crispy, the baby, and I left 15 minutes later, driving out to Bloomington for his hockey Jamboree....the big event to end his first hockey season. The girls stayed at home, properly addicted to the computers in the library, playing Webkinz online with each other. It is funny to me that even my just-turned-4-year-old is playing online multi-playered games just as well as the oldest of them. Games, online chat, checking messages, making your own house, buying and selling in the Webkinz world....I watch her play and don't have a clue about what is going on.

While I was at the arena, Jonny called me to update his race. Each car raced down the track 8 times, and averages were taken (all done by computer) to determine winners. Though Jonny did not come close to winning, at least his car came in first and second on a few of the rounds. It wasn't a total slaughter like most years, so we at least have made some progress. He was also proud to bring home a second place ribbon for "Cutest Car". Out of nearly 100 cars, that's not too shabby!

Crispy was back in la-la-land today, meandering back and forth on the ice, as if he could care less about the puck. Sometimes I would like to have one of those little transmitters to put in my children's ears to instruct them from afar: "Crispy! Pay attention! Go get the puck! Help your team! Pay attention! Wake up! Focus! Love you!" It reminds me of Alex at the same age when he would just stand on the soccer field, looking at the dandelions popping up all around on the green grass, skipping circles, singing songs to himself, and every now and then looking up to proudly wave at us on the sidelines, beaming ear to ear. That is the memory I hold dear in my mind of Alex's sports involvement....who cares how many (if any) goals he had made...those smiles and excited waves were genuine and heartfelt, and more precious than anything else that existed in the game.

Crispy and I stopped at Burnsville Mall on the way home to do some much needed mall shopping for the upcoming church performance. We had a nice lunch together, and he was a great little shopper. I finally got to buy some jeans that are long enough for me to wear, which was a nice bonus for my day. Though I did not get to spend the day as I had planned with Jonathan, it ended up being a wonderful one on one time with Christopher instead. And like Jonny, his kind and helpful demeanor puts him at risk also, of being overlooked and taken for granted in our busy family. I hope they both had a good day and felt special today, because they sure are.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Pinewood Prep

Jonny, our responsible, helpful, and sadly, often neglected son, has his Pinewood Derby this weekend. I had intended to devote this weekend to spending quality time with him as he seems to be overlooked and shuffled from one person to another (family or otherwise). But two days ago, Bob informed me that he was working tomorrow(derby day). Being that Crispy has his end of the year "hockey tourney" this weekend, I now am stuck doing that instead....he can not be sent alone for such a big, end of the year deal, and besides, who would get him dressed? He is much too young to independently deal with all of that gear. Grandma Z will be coming to the rescue again tomorrow for Jonny. She IS the appropriate choice as she has probably attended more cub scout events with him than I have.

So, tonight had to become the focused time with Jonny. Our den was responsible for the derby this year, so Jonny and I put in our time (3 hours) this evening. We helped check in all of the cars. It was kind of fun to see all the kids come in one by one and to view the extreme variety of cars up close. I am always amazed at how different each one looks, though they all begin from the same slab of wood. Kind of like the uniqueness of humans, I guess. During the slow times, Jonny hung out with his friends, and got to see his car race down the track a few times. His car turned out to look pretty cute, but once again, is not going to be much of a quick racer, I am afraid. Oh well. Poor Jonny. He seems excited about tomorrow anyhow.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Oh, Nothing

Whoa....I've got nothing. Nothing to say. Nothing going on. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

How exciting is that?

I tried to replace our broken doorbell this afternoon. I got to use a drill to make a 5/8inch hole in our outside stuff. After attaching all the wires, the button lights up, but there is still no sound. I have run out of ideas on how to fix this. Maybe tomorrow I will have to disassemble the whole thing and try again. Whee.

Michael had a band concert this evening that was very good. I am glad he is sticking with it....I think he will have a lot of fun when he makes it to marching band in high school. Marching band music always show off the brass sections!

I feel very tired....maybe getting yet another illness. I am so ready for this sick season to be over. Laura has just gotten off of her steroids and is back to normal again(the steroids turn her into something like a very petite version of the Incredible Hulk). It would be nice for her to get through the rest of the winter without incident.

Funny tidbit...Jonny wore a collection of Sanjaya(one of last season's American Idol finalists) buttons to school today. I asked him if everyone said "Ooooo!" and "Ahhhhh!". He replied with quick wit, "No, but they said, 'Boooo!" and sighed 'Uhgh'." It made me laugh. Sometimes he is so very funny.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What's In Your Sandwich?

Since I have been concentrating more on dairy free dinners to accomodate my lactose intolerant son, we have been eating rather well. Living in a cheese loving family, Alex has had very limited options through the years. Our favorites include such things as grilled cheese and tomato soup, broccoli and cheese soup, chips and cheese, quesadillas with cheese, cheese and crackers, cheese box, poppy seed chicken (made with lots of sour cream), etc. Poor he was born into the wrong family.

This past month has been spent catering to his nutritional needs first, and it has gone better than expected. We have found lots of good things to eat, increased our fresh fruits and veggies, and after the first week, we all seemed to have survived cheese detox. Trips to the grocery store have actually been fewer, and dinners have often been composed from seemingly nothing into something very interesting and yummy. But sometimes we have cheated at lunch...afterall, Alex is at school, so we can then have whatever we would like.

Today was one of those bad eating, lazy lunch days. We stopped at McDonald's after picking Michael up from band. This is something that we do not do often....ever since seeing "Supersize Me" a few years ago, a compelling documentary-type DVD that will open your eyes to how entirely horrible fast food is for you, if you are not yet convinced. For some odd reason, I ordered a fish sandwich. As it was sitting in it's box on the table, Crispy was reading it saying, "Zero Fish! Zero Fish!" While I corrected him, instructing him that it actually read "Filet-o-Fish", I stopped myself and realized that his interpretation was probably much more accurate. This kid is wise beyond his fast food loving years.

To make up for the horrible lunch, I made a gourmet dinner....eggplant parmesan, fettucine alfredo, and asiago cheese bread with oil dipping sauce. It was wonderful. So sorry for Alex.....a little bit laden with dairy products....I hope his plain bread was tasty.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Grossology: Day 2

I heard a very tiny joke on the radio this morning that I actually could remember more than 30 seconds later : This is the one day of the year that tells you what to do~ March Fo(u)rth. Ha ha!

I decided to march forth with my cleaning today. Garbage. Out of all the rooms came many little bags of garbage from the floors. I am talking bedrooms today, because my pile of papers is still sitting on the table, glaring at me...I think that it grew teeth overnight and is just waiting to pounce and attack, so I am staying even farther away today. I can't believe what little piggies I have living here. If there were ever a fire, we would all be question.

I can't remember if I have blogged on this or not, but Melissa will be taking some extra private horseback riding lessons beginning this Monday. Her trainer envisions that Melissa will be able to ride independently this year, and would like to move her up to a new group of riders at that level. These extra lessons will bring her up to par with this new group. Melissa is thrilled. That meant that I had to get on the ball and order her some new riding stuff ASAP. Thanks to the wonderful world of ebay and other online shops, her new purple helmet, purple boots, pink gloves, and purple and pink riding sweater all came in the mail today.

As soon as I brought her home from school, she tried them all on. We spent time adjusting the pretty helmet (this part was not so much fun for her), and getting the gloves on just right. She looked so adorable in her matching purple and pink gear! She headed over to her Fur Real pony, Roy, so that I could take a picture. As I turned for my camera, she said, "Oh no!" and covered her face. Big drops of blood were dripping from her nose, and one had splashed on the floor next to her pony. Michael grabbed a pile of kleenex for me as I helped Melissa lean her head back. The nose wouldn't stop bleeding, and I was not quite sure what to do....we have been blessed to not have to deal with bloody noses here more than 3-4 times. Crispy brought me an ice pack, and Michael brought me the rest of the kleenex box. We had now gone through about 1/4 of the box, and it was not slowing down in the least. I was getting a bit concerned, simply because this is unfamiliar territory for me, and I had no idea why it was bleeding. I noticed what looked like a squishy bloody bugar at the end of her nostril, so I took a new kleenex to wipe it away.

Well, that apparently squishy little bugar, was anything but little. As I wiped it away, it kept coming out. I pulled a mucousy, bloody snake, more than 12 inches long from my sweet little girl's nose. As the clot kept coming, Melissa began freaking out (as did the rest of the kids at this point, and I must admit, even I was beginning to become a bit nauseated)....I could not tell if she was just scared, or if it was hurting...perhaps it wasn't really a clot after all, but a string of brain matter unravelling through her nasal passageway? The kids were screaming, now hiding in the other room, Michael ran outside, and poor Melissa was beside herself in fear. The baby sat on the floor, just staring up at her....he looked so confused, yet fascinated and sat motionless , just watching. When it was finally over, we all breathed a sigh of relief, and I relaxed, now sure that it was not brain matter, but just a big clot. Upon removal, all bleeding stopped, and Melissa was free to run away and cower with her siblings. I never did get that picture taken...somehow, we lost the Kodak Moment.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Grossology: Day 1

Daddy's home!!! He made it home last night around midnight. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately for him because I am sure he was tired) in our weekend sleep depraved states, none of us were able to stay awake long enough to welcome him home. All the kids were very happy to see him this morning as he went from room to room, waking them up for school, bearing little gifts from Arizona State U...the last golf course he had played on. Thomas, too, was so happy to see daddy, and gave him a tight hug...I suggested daddy just take him to work with him today, but Bob declined that offer.

In order to make Bob feel at home again, I made certain to leave everything just as out of place as it had been when he left. Actually, Monday mornings are simply the worst because of our busy weekends. I am rarely home to pick up, and all the kids are home making messes all day. My Mondays are always spent trying to recover the house. I never look forward to it.

Today I was doing really well...getting little bits done in almost every room. But the pile of papers from school for 5 kids, and all of the Community Ed forms for spring and summer that needed to be filled out were making quite the mountain on my dining room table. Ugh. It would probably take me less than 20 minutes to go through and attend to it all, but it just seemed too overwhelming today.

With procrastination in my back pocket, I was fueled to do anything BUT the papers. I did 3 loads of wash, including pillows(obviously I am avoiding REAL work now), cleared off the counter by the coffee pot that has not been cleaned in 4 years, washed the smudges off of all of the stairwell walls, and played some games with Laura. After squeezing in a shower, I decided to completely overhaul my master bathroom(working around all of Bob's junk cuz I don't know what he REALLY needs in there)....decluttered the junk I will never use, scrubbing the shower and floor clean, changing the bath mat, and making my sink and tub sparkle. I am pretty sure that this all took more than 20 minutes, but at least I was not stressed, as I the paper pile would have made me.

Once I had a clean tub, I thought that I would take it one step farther and clean out the whirlpool jets. This is the tub that I bathe my 4 youngest babies in all of the time, and they deserved it to be pristine, right? I filled up my tub with warm water and a little bit of my Shaklee germicide (BTW, I absolutely LOVE all of this stuff from cleaners to dishwasher soap to laundry....EVERYTHING!!!!). I have never actually cleaned the jets before...we have probably only used them a handful of times in the almost 5 years that we have been here (the noise is too much for the kids, and I never have time to sit in the tub~besides when I was pregnant with Thomas~and when I do, I can't stand that pounding sensation....I am a very weird lady, I know: I don't like chocolate, shopping, or relaxing in hot tubs....yes, I am a freak). Anyhow, I turned on the jets, and to my disgust, my perfectly clean and shiny tub turned into a mud bath. Instantly, black and gray foamy water filled my tub.....FILLED IT. It was so very disgusting, that I had to call the kids up to see it. They were horrified. I am not sure that they will ever take a bath again.

After draining the gunk, another rinsing/germicide session took care of the rest, and my tub was once again sparkling. It looks so inviting, especially now that my back hurts from cleaning it. Maybe it will stay that way for a few years when I will then have time to sit in it again. I will most certainly be cleaning the jets ahead of time if and when my spa day in my bathroom ever arises.