Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring?

It feels like Spring today! There is even a pretty little pink bud on one of the hyacinths. We just had to get outside and play. The kids were content playing in the front of the house, pushing their Webkinz in strollers, pulling Tubby around on wagon rides, and doing some hockey shooting practice. Crispy and I took an initiative that was long overdue.....we began the HUGE task of taking down the Christmas lights. The Christmas display is so grand in the winter, and very beautiful. But the 400+ orange, yellow, white, green, and brown extension cords hanging from every branch and piled on every spot of sparse front yard ground makes quite an eyesore once the snow has melted. I am convinced that the reason our neighbor's house is still on the market for over a year now, is because no one wants to move in next door to white trash.


We probably got about 150 cords and just as many computer box cables picked up and put away before our arms and fingers were just too tired to do any more. My mom came out for the afternoon, bringing us some yummy lunch from the Big Bowl. The kids and I spent about two hours helping her set up her own Webkinz account and showing her around the online land. The kids are so excited to have Grandma play! When the other kids arrived home from school, we spent a nice afternoon playing at the park. Wearing his new little shoes for the first time, Thomas was such a big boy, climbing up the climber and going down the slide....it was quite a big feat for such a little guy. He did it over and over again. How do they have the energy to work so hard?


Michael had a playoff game out in Lakeville tonight. He was very happy to have Grandma come along to watch. I had miscalculated in my head how far away Lakeville was, so Grandma and I missed the first 10 minutes of the game. Too bad, because my son had scored his first goal for this high level team! It was an exciting game, and our team did win. I think that Grandma was impressed with the heightened speed and force with which this level of play is at compared to Michael's regular season games.


Jonny was once again left to babysit all the little kids (sans baby), basically without any warning. He had still been down at the park when we left for the game, tried calling my cell phone(which was on the kitchen counter), finally getting a hold of daddy to ask where and when we would be getting home? He is such a good kid! He deserves a treat, so here at 9:45pm, it is time to watch American Idol (his favorite show) before going to bed!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Who Are These Kids?

Laura had her first swimming lesson this morning......stubbornness at full tilt. She whined and complained about getting dressed. She acted like it was a death sentence walking out to the truck. She did not have a single smile to spare as we walked into the pool area. She did not have a word with which to speak to her very kind swimming teacher. She would not go in the water. After five minutes, and constant coaxing, she resigned to remaining near her class. Apparently, we were to consider ourselves fortunate that she was blessing with us with any communication at all....that in the form of shaking her head "no" to every little request or question. How delightful. Looking like a big waste of $42.oo.

In Laura's defense, she has been frightened by pools for over a year when the sprinklers unexpectedly turned on in the community pool as she was enjoying some quiet water play. But on the flip side, she is SOOO STUBBORN. Nothing will get her to behave on these kinds of days. She will stick to her stubborness no matter what. She could have been offered all of the toys in the world just to put her legs in the water, and she would have responded with her trademark quick shake of the head "no". ARGGG!

Crispy and Melissa had soccer games at the same time tonight. With Bob out golfing, I sent Melissa with the neighbors, and took my baby out to watch Crispy's game. Crispy spent the first half of the game in la-la land, playing with his shorts, picking at the dead grass, missing all the action even when it was directly next to him. By the second half, he found his focus, and was really into the game. In fact, he played his best soccer ever tonight. He did a great job as goalie for two shifts...he made some nice saves, and he had tried with great effort to stop the ones that made it in. He had a perfect breakaway towards the end of the game, kicked the ball three times in succession down the field, and made his first goal! That was pretty exciting! Athleticism is not a strong trait in our family, so this was a moment to remember! Hooray!

Later, I heard reports of how well my little girl did who usually just runs with the crowd. She was a "maniac" on the field, kicking the ball at least 12 times during the game (we get really excited if she just touches it once during the hour). She also had a 'three kicks in succession' down the field! Wow! It was an amazing report, and she was certainly proud of her accomplishments tonight. It is so wonderful to see these little boosts in self-esteem now and then.

Michael had a hockey game at 9pm....again the neighbors coming to the rescue and taking him to that too. Michael must be gaining some great confidence himself, as he volunteered to play with the opposing team. A team filled with big high school boys, none of which my son knew, and he was the only one to step out of his comfort zone away from his friends on the bench. For this son of mine who likes his routines and knowing exactly what is going on, I was totally shocked for him to make this move! It turned out to be a great game, and the natural competitive oppositional edge of friends stepped up the play. Way to go , son! What a day to be reminded of how different, unique, and independent these kids of mine can be!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mommy Guilt

Recovery day.....yesterday was a bit rough, so today was spent doing some much needed recuperation. A few loads of laundry, making a small lunch, going through some counter clutter, crossing a few "t"'s, changing a few poopy diapers, boring, boring stuff. Let's see.....I set up our new phones...that was kind of fun. Our old cordless of eight years has not been holding a charge very long despite trying new batteries, so we had to say good-bye. These new phones come with 4 separate headsets that we have in various places around the house. With the option to add two more, we should be well covered. The phones also have talking caller ID, so now we can hear if we want to pick up the phone and never move our lazy butts off the chair to go check. We can also check messages from any phone in the house. All very nice features for our very lazy bunch.

With Crispy's help, we put up the new baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. Tubby has taken quite a liking to climbing. When he is not playing hockey, he spends his time on his climber, going up and down, up and down. He is such a busy little guy. He likes to do the same thing on the stairs....however, falling down onto the harder-than-ceramic-tile at the bottom would not a pretty picture make. To put it nicely, Tubby was not happy about this new obstacle in his path. We got to experience one of his little baby tantrums which seem to be becoming more frequent these days. It is so funny how he throws himself backward and kicks and screams. What does he think he is going to accomplish?

Even with the slow pace of our day, I found myself stressed about the evening. Mondays are so busy and tough with activities for the kids. Melissa had riding, and I had another hockey lesson right after that, meaning that Grandma would have to meet me in the parking lot again at the arena to do a kid swap. Bob would have to go to the Marching Band meeting and deal with separate payments, forms, uniforms, and other things that had to be taken care of while there.....something he loathes to do. My house is still a pit, and I really need to have some time to pick up. I really should not be doing this hockey thing...there is not enough time. Stress, stress.

Once at the arena following over an hour long drive of detours from the farm due to construction on the main highway, kids safely with Grandma, I was able to take a big breath and enjoy my night. It is funny how I stress so much about going, and yet have a blast once I get there. This is the first thing I have really done for myself consistently since having all of these kids. Actually, I take that back....I was in the Community Band after Laura was born. That was a lot of fun, and it was great to be surrounded by music that had been such a huge part of my life. But I quit after only a year because of this stress I felt every rehearsal day. I really need to get over it and take this small amount of time for myself, right? Bob has golf and poker, and I wouldn't want him to give those up. I need to learn how to feel guilt free about going to hockey...for goodness sake, it is only one night every other week!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Drive



A bad headache day again.....this time it was a set up of a perfect storm as I had forgotten my evening and morning meds (beta blockers), the baby did not fall back to sleep after I got back from the concert until after 2am, I did not have my morning cappuccino or Cherry Coke, I had not been in my perfect bed with my perfect pillows, and the weather was wacky. Oh boo hoo for me.




Melissa cried on the way home from my parents house.....none of the kids wanted to leave. Because they only live an hour away, we do not usually stay overnight. But I think that is part of the piece that is so nice for the kids: to go away to Grandma's house and stay, have good food that Grandma makes for them, have Grandpa read them the Sunday morning comics...like a mini vacation. More quality time spent instead of fitting small moments into big family gatherings and parties. Melissa made me turn off the radio because she did not want to hear the sad songs that reminded her of "having fun at a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's house and now not." *wah!*




The gas meter binged on empty when we were in the middle of country roads coming the back way home. I have now had this vehicle for more than 3-1/2 years, and I still can not manage to check the gas gauge. I have only filled the tank 3 or 4 times before the empty warning light has come on. Not safe planning. As a first for me, I ended up filling the tank without turning the engine off(I usually always turn it to radio only to keep the kids happy and baby asleep, and thought I had done that today)....golly gee. In fact, with all the crazy driving I was doing in the cities this weekend, how much assistance the little kids needed in the truck without big boys beside them, and my pre- and post- headache symptoms making me a little "off", Alex can now write an entire book about 'What NOT to do While Driving'. Or maybe 'Driving with Dummies'.




As we pulled away from the gas station without creating any explosive fireballs in our wake, it began to SNOW. ARGGG!!!! Within 2 minutes, the flakes had become so large and plentiful that it was like a blizzard! We could only see one car ahead of us! Luckily we were only 5 minutes from home, so I knew the path well (however, it would not have surprised me at all to have ended up in the ditch considering my driving performance this weekend). The kids jumped out of the car in our driveway and caught the ginormous flakes on their tongues. Laura asked us if it tasted "spicy". Now that would be some interesting snow! But seriously, is Spring EVER going to arrive this year??




The rest of our Sunday was par usual....the kids had rehearsal from 5-8pm, Tubby would not settle down at church, so I stayed and helped in the nursery instead (getting puked on by somebody else's kid), Alex had youth group from 7-9pm, and Michael had hockey that most of us watched the second half of. My headache never ceased.....naughty thing. Oh....and it is snowing again. *sigh*

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Musical Saturday

You've go to be kidding me!!! When I woke up this morning, the ground was covered by about 3 inches of snow. AND, it was STILL SNOWING!!! What in the world is going on? Where is this elusive "Spring" of years gone by? What exactly are we suppose to do with THIS?



After getting over my little rant, we turned this negative into a positive. Since soccer today had been cancelled already yesterday due to the rain, I had made arrangements to take the kids to my parent's house for a sleepover instead. The kids were excitedly packing their things, finding their sleeping bags, and choosing just the right Webkinz to bring along. Laura was one of the first packed. As she waited, she sang us songs with the song cards I had used as a preschool teacher years ago. Here is just a sample of one of her songs (if the video will load!):
video


By the time we left after lunchtime, the baby was exhausted, super crabby, and ready for a nap. He sang his little baby sleepytime song for about 20 minutes in the truck before finally giving in. Once at Grandma and Grandpa's, he was awake as can be, but unfortunately had not been asleep long enough to ward off the crabbies. We enjoyed some relaxing time with the grandparents, and Laura gave Grandpa a Webkinz tutorial.



After dinner, Alex and I left for the Casting Crowns concert at the Excel Energy Center. To say it was awesome would be an understatement. It was really, truly fantastic. They are such a great group that God has blessed to do his work and ministry in the world. They are a talented bunch of musicians who sing UNapologetically about the truth in such a way that just grips you and convicts you. It is no wonder that they are the number one Christian music group and have won so many awards. It was great to be there with my oldest son and to share that with him. Two years ago, it had been Michael that I had brought with me to the concert.



We were pretty late getting back to my parent's house (well after 11pm)due to traffic....though I had parked in a great "secret" spot that we got out of immediately after the concert, I took a wrong turn out of the lot and we ended up on the wrong side of where we needed to go. We were at the same corner for over 20 minutes! It was kind of crazy. Thomas and Grandma were snuggled on the couch, but he had cried a lot, calling "Ma ma! Ma ma!" after we had left. Poor kid......he is certainly spoiled, but I am just not ready to give up my baby yet!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Webkinz Extravaganza

Webkinz Extravaganza is here! This day has been anticipated all month long! The kids have been preparing for this day by coloring pictures for a contest, and making plans about how to make the best use of this weekend at the local Webkinz retailer in town. Laura fell asleep earlier in the afternoon while checking out the web site for bargains and surprises. After a rainy yucky day at school, we all piled into the car with the neighbors with big dreams of this special day.

The small store had one tiny corner section dedicated to this special Webkinz event. There were special games and contests to enter to try to win a new Webkinz. The girls were proud to see their drawings on display. But the most excitement was drawn to the cash register as each person got one free Webkinz (from a selected assortment)with a $10 in store purchase! That meant a 2 for 1 deal since the kids had each planned on a new one anyhow. What a bargain! After entering the contests, the kids were itching to get out of the store and back home to register their new pets online. I didn't see another kid until I forced them to come to the table for dinner.

At the dinner table, we hemmed and hawed about whether or not to go to open skate this evening. Melissa's new skates arrived late this afternoon, and I really wanted to get her back out there. We learned that Erica (who had spent the day with us) used to be a competitive figure skater up until 1-1/2 years ago when she had to give it up due to problems with the bones in her feet (which had most likely been damaged from figure skating). She had started skating when she was only 2 years old! I tried to convince Alex to give it a try, to do it for Erica, so that all of us could go together. No luck. Erica's dad came to pick her up, and the rest of us decided to be lazy for the night. But boredom got the best of me, so at 7:30, I decided we would go to open skate even though it would mean only about 30 minutes of ice time for us. As we left, lo and behold, Alex wanted to come along, too!

After lacing everyone's skates, we ended up with only about 20 minutes on the ice. But it was a very successful 20 minutes.....Melissa realized that yes, she can still skate now that she has decent skates. She was so proud to push the skate helper out of reach and then slowing waddle to it. She exclaimed that we should come to open skate EVERY Friday night. This was the turn I was looking for from her after her disappointment last week with those other horrible skates. Alex realized skating was not as difficult as he thought it would be, and is now ready to skate with Erica next time. Crispy....well, like always, I spent most of my time telling him to get out of the penalty boxes and get out on the ice to practice skating. Though he loved hockey, he is always resistant to these open skate sessions. Probably not enough action for him. All in all, we spent more time getting our skates on and off than we did skating tonight. But I am so glad we went!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Little Hockey Dude



Despite the kazillion toys we have in our house, all that my baby ever plays with is a hockey stick. He plays with it from morning to night, scooting around on his butt, hitting appropriate targets (balls, rubber ducks, or a soft puck). He starts off by grabbing the target, throwing it some distance, then scooting after it, hitting it with his stick. We also have little goal nets that he shoots these things into. He travels all around the house this way. It is a rare thing indeed to see him without his hockey stick. It goes everywhere in his hands: to the doctor's office, shopping, driving the kids to school, everywhere. Blogger has not been loading videos lately, but I will keep trying to get one up of him and his innate sporting ability!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tubby's Big Day

Tubby-Tubby is not listening to me. He continues to grow up and learn new things even though I am begging him to stay little. He refuses to sit still, opting instead for exploration missions, cruising around furniture, and monkey climbing practice. He insists on trying new foods (though he is only beginning to actually EAT more than a 1 inch diameter size), and no longer communicates by solely crying, but by asking for "mah", or shaking his head "no".


Today Thomas mastered his little climber. After figuring out how to climb a step on Saturday morning (as we were all trying desperately to leave the house on time), he has been working his new skill on the climber. After many attempts up and down, he finally made it up TWO steps! He then practiced that up and down (only falling down 2 or 3 times) several times. He mustered up some more courage, then WHEE!!! Down the slide he went! It is so funny to see, as he is just a little guy in the 25% for weight and height....just this little miniature human, doing big kid things. But he sure thinks he is big stuff these days!



Now that Brietta is almost two years old, she has begun to calm down somewhat. It has always been our goal to let her roam free in the house, but she is yet untrained in many ways. As a puppy, we had to forgo a puppy training class we were signed up for due to her temporary (like 5 weeks long) paralysis due to an immunization reaction. Hockey got in the way after that, and we just never seemed to find the time to sign her up again. When that time finally became available this spring, we learned that lessons were no longer being given in Waconia, and that the closest ones were 45 minutes away! A bit too far at this point!


This week, we are letting her out for short periods of time to get her use to the house and to being appropriate with us. Thomas just loved it....he followed her around everywhere she went, tried to give her toys, would pet her, and was simply excited to have her around. He has always spent so much time just looking at her from behind the gate in the kitchen, and poking his fingers through the holes, trying to reach her. He did really well with her, and did not seem scared....perhaps a bit bugged when she would sniff his face, but who wouldn't be? Contrary to Tubby's reaction, Laura cowered on the couch, screaming as if she were in a horror film. She just wouldn't let up. Thankfully our dog is so psychologically sane and calm....Laura would have given a lesser mutt quite a complex.


After the kids came home from school, I encouraged them all to play outside on this beautiful day. I put Tubby down in the front yard so that I could work on Melissa's bike. I took off her training wheels, and installed a new kickstand that was 3 inches too long on the small metal frame. Finding a hacksaw, I impressed myself by sawing straight through that piece of metal. Must have been all that stick handling yesterday! In the few minutes that had taken, Tubby had found the full sized hockey net outside, and had scooted all the way over to it, across the rough concrete. Talk about bad rug burn! But this kid will do anything for hockey! We should have expected this since he has basically grown up so far in ice arenas.


Melissa rode her bike around the cul de sac for the first time without training wheels. She has been working on this at school, and she has been excited to try it at home. She still can not stop, but she was balancing and riding quite well. It is an amazing sight to see....one I was not sure we would ever get to experience with her.


We were having so much fun outside, that I had to throw together a very quick dinner before leaving for back to back soccer games. The baby played in the water table on the deck, as I frantically made a simple meal. Throwing some chicken nuggets and a few pieces of corn on the cob into bowls, Melissa and Crispy ate their dinner in the truck with the neighbor girl as we drove out to St. Boni. Tubby was soaked from his water play, so I stripped him quickly, intending to dress him when we made it to the soccer fields. He fell asleep along the way, and I dared not awaken him, as he had skipped his afternoon nap, being too busy with his new found skills. Now I had a naked sleeping baby in the middle of a breezy field as the sun was setting. A few extra blankets covered him well, and the ensuing hypothermia kept him asleep therefor hiding this little neglectful parenting secret. He did not seem to suffer any long term issues, as he was able to show daddy his new tricks late tonight when daddy came home from golf. Number seven's gotta be tough!




Monday, April 21, 2008

The Length of Two Hours

Mondays around noon have become hockey practice for us three Chicks. We have always been alone on the ice at that time, and today was no exception. We brought our sticks and some pucks along which we were happy to get some practice with. Stick handling is so much harder than it looks. Keeping control of that slippery little puck is tough...it might take some physics to figure it out (velocity vs friction vs strength or lack of it). It was an amazing workout. No one came to kick us out when our hour was up, so we stayed and continued practicing an additional hour until Michael called wondering when we would be coming home. It was a wonderful two hours that pretty much sped by.

We picked up DQ for my kids for lunch to reward them for their extra patience. We joked about putting back all the calories we just worked off by having a small blizzard. I am hoping for that raise in metabolism that lasts for awhile after heavy exercise coming to my rescue! We made a quick stop at church to pick up Tubby's blanket that had been left in the nursery last night. I was surprised to find his blanket, his bib, his puke rag, and his sweater all folded in a neat little pile on the counter. I hadn't realized so much stuff had been missing! I felt strange walking out....like I had just raided the lost and found.

Quick trip to the park after meeting the kids at the bus stop. Long ride to Waverly for Melissa's riding lesson. The main drag, Highway 7 is closed for repair. Taking a wrong turn, we were almost hopelessly lost in who knows where. Melissa suggested I just listen to "Daniel"....she knew I was not following his directions as he kept "recalculating". The GPS kept wanting to send us back to the highway, so he was not much help, either. Following my trusty compass instead, we eventually made it to the farm. Only 10 minutes late! But having left 10 minutes early, I guess that made us 20 minutes late?

Melissa accompanied me to Jonny's Cub Scout Pack meeting after dinner. I warned her that she would be bored, so as to be sure to bring her DS along. I had no idea how INCREDIBLY boring it was going to be. It was SO LONG and nonsensical, and disorganized. All the kids were advancing ranks. But instead of advancing each den as a group, each kid went through the steps individually. With about 100 kids, it was purely tortuous. To make things worse, we were missing the first storm of the season (I LOVE thunderstorms) sitting in the stupid cafeteria with no windows, but hearing the thunder and pounding of the rain. After 90 minutes of pure mental agony, I was hoping for a tornado to rip me out of this place. On the positive side, I got to enjoy some wonderful time with Melissa. We played tic tac toe, hangman, and had a few plates of appetizers. Jonny's group was finally called last (of course), and after enduring 2 of the longest and worst wasted hours of my life, we were set free. Jonny, on the other hand, had had a great time hanging out with his friends and goofing around....I had to DRAG him out of there. He didn't want to leave! I guess the length of time all depends on your perspective.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lovely Day for a Bike Ride

The cloudy morning gave way to the most beautiful day of 2008 yet. Bob was out golfing for the day, Alex and Jonny were back home from early church with daddy, and the rest of us were saving church for 5pm. After lunch, Jonny and Crispy used all their strength to bring up my bike and the cumbersome bike trailer from the basement. We pumped the deflated tires, hooked up the trailer, strapped in the little kids, and went on a very nice ride into town. The temperature was hovering just below 70 degrees. If every day of summer were like this, I would be a very happy lady. We biked the mile and a half to Angel Lucy park at the elementary school. Poor crispy was on his itty bitty bike with training wheels.....moving his little legs as fast as he could was still painfully slow for the rest of us. He really needs to accomplish riding on his new bigger bike!

The park was full with other families enjoying the day also. We spent 30 minutes swinging, and Crispy showing off his new monkey bar skills, before our trip back home. The ride back was a bit easier for Crispy as most of it was downhill. We got home with about 2 minutes to spare before heading off to performance rehearsals and church.

After dropping Jonny off at the church, we ran over to a few sport shops to look for a new pair of skates for Melissa. Luck was not on our side today as recreational skating is out of season. We did, however, find a beautiful new bike for Jonny. He has never had his very own bike that worked. And with how much he enjoys riding, he really deserves something nice of his own. I felt so sad for him the other day as I was trying to fix up Alex's bike for him (using a pair of hedging shears because our tools are NEVER where they are suppose to be). I was ecstatic to see a gorgeous red (Jonny's favorite color) mountain bike hanging from the rack. It was screaming Jonny's name. It is the coolest bike with lots of shocks, and an extremely comfortable ride. The best part....it was totally on sale for almost half off! I could not resist it after being so disappointed by the prices at Erik's Bike Shop 2 weeks ago (most were easily over $400)...that had led me to give Jonny Alex's bike instead.

Jonny was quite surprised upon seeing this new item in the truck after church. Once home, he spent the evening riding around. His report is quite positive and he gives the bike several thumbs up. Alex went to youth group for 30 minutes after his girlfriend left....they had been working on a project for Language Arts. I hope I will get to read it. They are both so smart that I am certain it is quite good. Tubby & I spent the night watching Michael's hockey game. I had fun chatting with some other moms, and Tubby enjoyed scooting around, hiding under tables and chairs. Finally back at home, we watched Survivor, then crashed before the beginning of another busy week. And for a Sunday, today felt really good!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

March of the Pelicans

Crazy morning at the Zajac household. Jonny had a soccer game. Michael was going paintballing. Melissa and I were heading up to a Girl Scout Earth Day event in Maple Grove. Laura needed a neb. My parents were on their way to watch the boys' soccer games. All of these things had the time stamp of 9:15am. And though it truly felt crazy at the time, with everyone trying to get ready with appropriate gear and necessities for the day, running around making lunches for later, water bottles for 5 of us, collecting wayward soccer jerseys, shin guards, supplies for "camp", phone calls for rides and announcing hockey cancellations, arranging who goes where, when, and how...time stopped still with a simple text message: "Sharon's in the hospital." Followed by more.."They're doing some tests." and "They think it's MS."

Whoa. This couldn't be. See, Bob's brother and Sharon are blessed. They are a rare find of people that really have it ALL together, and are blissfully happy in love and life. They married last May, and we have all been positively affected by their overflowing love for each other and for the Lord. This love has no limits, as it bubbles over and touches the lives of everyone they come into contact with. To be with them is to experience love. To watch them is to experience life. And for a brief moment, that all came to a screeching halt.

The tests confirmed that Sharon indeed has moderate MS. With the extent of it, she has most likely had it for a while and just not known. Despite what could have been viewed as a devastating diagnosis, Bill & Sharon took it all in stride, and thanked God that it was not something worse. Now they wait to learn more and find out what to do next. The rest of us remained in mild shock throughout the day.



******************



Jonny played well and had a good game. Crispy played later in the morning and said he had fun too. Both boys felt special that Grandma and Grandpa had come out to watch. They would have stayed the afternoon to watch Melissa's game too, but it became clear that we would not be back in time, as we were scheduled for a tree planting at that hour. I think all the kids still at home enjoyed special time with them. Too bad they don't live next door!(hint, hint)


Melissa had a great day as well. A few of the girls did not show up at the designated meeting spot, so we were allowed to bring the neighbor girl with us for the day. This was nice for Melissa as she is very comfortable with Kirsten and enjoys spending time with her. Even though the weather was dreary, windy and cold, the girls had a great time playing recycling games, picking up litter around the park, making a planter with real wood, hammer, and nails, completing a medallion hunt, making an herb garden, planting a tree, and making a chalk mural. The other mom and I were freezing, and I was trying to keep the baby warm with miscellaneous blankets. It was warm in Waconia when we had left this morning, so we were only prepared for spring. However, by this lake, it was at least 20 degrees colder and windy, and I was NOT prepared. Four bone chilling hours later, we convinced the girls that they wanted to go home. They reluctantly conceded, and with a tree in one hand and a packet of flower seeds in another, they piled into the truck, recounting all of the fun activities of the day.


Once home, things settled down quite a bit. The girls (including Kirsten) became busy with Webkinz. Crispy and I worked on riding his bike without training wheels. I have never taught any of my kids how to ride....Bob has always done that. I don't think I am doing it right, because it sure seems to be taking a long time. Tubby was happy to be out of the cold stroller, and onto the floor where he could scoot around freely again. At 5pm, as Michael was walking in the door from a day of paintball, it began raining Lil Kinz (small Webkinz) in our foyer. The kids were all eagerly reaching up their arms excitedly grabbing these little falling gems. After that event, I'd be surprised if any of them will be able to recall anything else that happened in their day.


Looking out at our lake, I noticed it full of big white birds. The egrets have been out there for over one week, but the lake seemed especially full today. As I looked closer from my deck, two beautiful birds flew overhead....they were pelicans! They took their spot in the lake with the rest of the clan. What a treat! Each year, the pelicans make a 7 day stop in Waconia on their way to the Florida coast. Every year, they have spent this "rest stop" in the Lake Waconia Bay. But here they were, resting in our lake today! Perhaps it is due to so much ice remaining on the big lake this year? I called the kids out to view, and they were only marginally impressed. We were a long way away, and they did not look like anything much more than large white blobs floating on the water en masse. But before they returned to their brand new Webkinz, two more big birds flew overhead, allowing the kids to get a glimpse of their massive beaks. What a good example of how time and life just continue to march on no matter what else may be in the way.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's My Headache's Fault

Huge headache day. Like a fool, I promised the kids a trip to our community center, Safari Island, when Crispy came home. Despite meds and vegging out all morning long, I could not escape the pain of it all. So ultimately, would it really matter if I made things worse by taking my kids out? Probably not. And even so, at least they would be having fun, even if it meant me suffering more.


The kids were thrilled, and we pretty much had the climbing room to ourselves. Laura was easily able to access all parts this year, climbing rope ladders and sliding down super quick slides that force you to crash into cushioning at the bottom. Tubby was not so sure of the ball pit. Though he LOVES balls, he was not thrilled about the sinking feeling he was experiencing in the midst of the thousands of them. At least he could not escape, so I got to spend the hour just laying in the ball pit with my baby. It was surprisingly comfortable.....all pressure points were perfectly supported, and the balls pressed into my aching muscles caused by my headache. It ended up being the most comfortable spot of my entire day!
In an effort to overcome feeling so overwhelmed lately, my headache and I signed Jonny up for golf lessons, baseball, tennis lessons, and basketball camp. We also signed Laura up for swimming lessons beginning next week, and Crispy and Melissa to start in the summer. Yeah, that will really help me out.


I took the kids to open skate tonight with the neighbors. We picked up a used pair of figure skates for Melissa that were pretty and white. Though pretty, they were a disaster for her feet, and the poor girl could hardly stand due to the flimsy ankles. No amount of lace tightening could help this bad pair out. I felt so bad for her....things are hard enough for her, but she had been becoming more and more successful on the ice lately. This made her feel worse than her first time. Poor girl. I will have to order some cool skates for her with tons of firm ankle support online. I don't know what I was thinking picking this pair up earlier today. Blame it on the headache.



Laura did great. I had found a skate helper at the shop I bought Melissa's skates in, and Laura was cruising around the ice for an hour. Those little legs just kept going, and she was getting fast! I think she will be the next skater in our family. I did not get much practice in myself, but my back was spared this time from further strain thanks to the aid of the skate helper. The kids also had a blast pushing each other in a little pink folding chair we had brought to use as an additional skate helper when both girls were on the ice. We ended our evening with ice cream at Culver's. A very nice end to what started out to be a suffersome day!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Two Teas

I had the privilege to experience dates for tea twice today. The first time was this morning, at Crispy's school. It was a Parent Appreciation Tea in the Kindergarten classroom. The kids had spent the week practicing how to pour punch from the punchbowl, pick up cookies using a napkin, and decorating the tables with original artwork. The kids were so proud to be the hosts. "Mom, may I pour you some punch?" So polite and such good etiquette for a bunch of 5 & 6 year olds! They finished the "tea" time with a collection of favorite songs and finger plays...their teacher is a talented woman who plays the guitar and sings with them almost every morning. Crispy handed us a pretty window cling butterfly he had made that we added to our growing collection on the library window. Soon we will have a whole fleet of them!


We spent the afternoon with a friend in town for another tea. Laura came with me today, and had a great time playing with all of the little daycare kids and new toys. For the rest of the evening, she asked, "Can we go to your friend's house again?" I brought Jonny and Melissa over to meet us there after school, and witnessed how non-friendly my children are. Jonny was sitting in the sandbox next to one of my friend's sons who was just one year younger than he, and did not once say a word to him the entire 20 minutes they sat there. To be fair, neither of them were talking, but still, for Jonny who has SO MANY friends, it was weird. Like he had no idea how to strike a conversation. I expected it from Melissa, who was so shy that she spent the whole time quietly whining to go home. I will certainly have to look for a therapeutic friends group for her over the summer. I think I may have to see if I can get a discount for older siblings (Jonny)to join too. They must just be so use to being at home and with each other that they are like fish out of water around other kids. I will need to be doing a better job fostering communication skills at our house. It was all so strange. I know they can do better!


Bob took Jonny to soccer tonight and reported that he did a great job being in the game and participating in his position. That was good news, as our kids tend to hold back and blend into the background in sporting events. I look forward to seeing him play sometime...though at this point I do not know when that will be, as we have scheduling conflicts over the next few weeks! Tubby and I took Michael and a substitute goalie on an hour long trip to Inver Grove Heights for a hockey game. It was a super physical game...lots of checking from really BIG kids on the opposing team. It was reminiscent of the Wild's playoff game #4, without the fist fights. Fortunately for us, checking was their only strategy, and our guys basically skated circles around the other kids and won the game easily. Also was good for our goalie from Waconia who is pretty tiny, and only had to defend our goal a handful of times in a 60 minute time span. Michael did well, and kept up a good fight. He fought through 2 guys who were team checking him on the boards, didn't give up, and even emerged down the ice with the puck in his possession. This upper tier hockey team has had such a good influence on his playing ability! The parents of this highly competetive SouthWest Metro team are not so receptive to us Waconianites. No one EVER says a word to us. Tonight one of the ladies smiled at my baby. That is the most we have ever gotten from anyone. It is pretty ridiculous. I am certain that we will never be so competetive that we would turn to be so snooty. I am glad we will never meet in regular league again. Another reason to be happy to be in friendly Waconia and not in the cities.


We ended our long day with watching the Wild lose. Bummer. Exciting game though...good hockey! Now the pressure is on to win Saturday's game, or else the season is over! What will we do then? Watching baseball on tv is not quite the same thrill!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sprinter Comes to an End

This Spring-Winter(Sprinter) needs to go for good....it has been much too long. And as much as I REALLY like winter, and am not looking forward to the heated days of summer, it is really time to get the kids outside and have a real Spring. I hesitate to say, I think it is finally here!

The past week has been a busy blur, as will the rest of the weeks from here on out til the end of school. It's been filled with many soccer game cancellations(3 of the kids are in soccer), the long awaited begining of games last evening, hockey games for Michael, open skate excursions for me-sometimes with, but mostly without my kids, watching the Minnesota Wild in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (meaning staying up WAY past our bedtimes), horse riding, skate lessons, girl scouts, cub scouts, digging out the winter duds again, then digging out the spring stuff...sometimes trading them in midway through the day, doctor's appointments, early school patrol and marching band drop offs, trying to get organized, making sense of what needs to be done next for the girls, teaching Melissa double digit subtraction (I realized today that she has been getting stars on all of her math homework despite the fact that nearly every answer she has written is WRONG, so no one at school is bothering to correct her and teach her the right way), and watching Thomas play hockey and walk around furniture.

Nothing too exciting to report, just the usual stuff around here. I will attempt to post-date some posts with pictures of highlights from the last week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Starting Soccer

After about 6 game cancellations due to snow last week, the kids got to finally start soccer today. Crispy and Melissa were both so excited! Crispy is still quite timid around the ball, and tends to let everyone else kick the ball first. But he did not get into any fights today, so that was good. Tubby had a great time scooting around on the grass....he kept scooting onto the soccer field: he wanted to play!!! Melissa would rescue him each time and have him practice walking back to our spot on the sidelines.





Melissa had a perma-grin on her face, and was jumping up and down for joy during the entire hour of her soccer game. She even got right in there each time the ball was close by, and KICKED it too! Last year we had to wait all season long for that! We are looking forward to Jonny's first game on Thursday (if it does not get rained out).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Let's Play Hockey!

I gave up my afternoon spot at Open Skate....there was just too much to do, so little time today, and the weather was gorgeous! We were having our Chicks with Sticks session tonight in Edina, so I would still be getting skating in today before the sun set. Tubby fell asleep after lunch, and I somehow managed to get him to stay asleep as I put him on the floor. This allowed me to get a lesson from Michael on stick handling, so that I would not feel like such a dork later at class. It was time well spent, and I now feel comfortable holding the thing in my seemingly huge *pink* gloves.

Melissa had riding this afternoon. She just loves it. She seemed a little more distracted today and less strong. That is kind of the way with her....ups and downs. Too bad for her, or maybe good for her, Susie led the girls in a rather hard workout today. Lots of trotting, standing in the saddle, using all of their stomach and leg muscles. For Melissa on a GOOD day, this is HARD work. To her credit, she continued to try the best she could, and was visibly struggling with the exercises and handling her horse at the same time. A side-walker is still near her, though not using a lead rope, so Melissa controls the horse on her own, but help is directly next to her if she needs it. She managed without it, but it was very comforting on a day like today knowing help was right there.

We had to boogie directly over to Edina from Waverly~about an hour's drive~ for my hockey session. I arrived with only 4 minutes before the start....not enough time to make it with putting on all those pads. Grandma ? met me in the parking lot and I quickly handed off the baby and the little girl who REALLY needed to go poop, and I ran to the locker room. I think I made it out being only about 10 minutes late for class...not so bad for a beginner. I waved to my little girl in the stands before they headed back to Waconia....Grandma still had a long night ahead of her, bringing Jonny to a den meeting. Mondays are still the toughest day of the week for us!

Hockey was a BLAST! I love it! It is so much fun. With the extra practice that us 3 Chicks have been putting in, we rose to the level of the formerly intimidating ladies dressed in black on the other team. We were now evenly matched with them, making the scrimmage *almost* real. I tried my hand at goalie for one shift....not bad, but I want to SKATE, not sit around all game. I am so excited for the real league to start up in the fall. There is even rumor of a summer league beginning when our own ice arena opens up next month. That would be GREAT! It is so exciting to have finally found exercise and a sport that fits me so well. Since I HATE being hot, being in a cold arena is the perfect atmosphere for me. The skating is not jarring to my joints or pelvis, and the need for proper posture in order to balance keeps my back in check, avoiding the previously certain back pain that inevitably accompanies any other exercise I have attempted in the past. I love it, it is FUN, it is challenging, it is doable, it gets me out of the house, it gets me exercise I have not had in 10 years, and it is something I can practice with the rest of my kids. Is that not PERFECT?!? WAHOO! Now, if only we could "check" in our league.....that truly would be perfect!

On the way home, I picked up Crispy's "new" bike at the service shop(we had bought this bike for Jonny when he was 5, but he never got to ride it because the brakes were maladjusted). Crispy has been eagerly awaiting learning how to ride without training wheels. Too bad it was after his bedtime by the time I got home. We ended the long day by watching the Minnesota Wild game. This was their third playoff game in the series, and it was another overtime game in which we won! Now THAT is really great hockey!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Fashion

Melissa was a proud participant in an event that every girl dreams about.....being a part of a fashion show! Did it matter that it was in a Nursing Home, or that she was wearing her own clothes, with no hair stylist or makeup artist to attend to her? Not at all! She was so excited to be a part of it all, and by the looks on the faces of all the other girls, so were they.


Melissa wore her Palm Sunday dress for the "formal" part of the show...so pretty and springy, carrying a small basket filled with purple confetti "grass" and Easter eggs from home. For her second outfit, she chose her beautiful 1970's style PJs that match her American Girl doll, Julie. Melissa followed all the hash marks on the "runway" perfectly, and kept a sweet little grin on her face all the while. Pretty cute! Following the show, the girls passed out cookies and lemonade to the residents. It was a good experience for them, and good exposure for them to help out with community service.


We hurried home to change into real clothes, pick up the other kids, and race Jonny off to church early so that we could see some of Michael's game in Edina. Michael's Showcase games are an incredible thing to watch...so fast and skilled are the players....no wonder these guys won State titles! It is such a good experience for Michael (#2) to be surrounded by this atmosphere...it really encourages him to step up his game and I think he has discovered that he has a lot of untapped skill that was buried somewhere during his unchallenging regular hockey season. At the sound of the last buzzer, the kids and I hurried back to church for their performance rehearsals. I had planned on a trip to Target during the hour I had to wait, but Laura INSISTED on going to the Sunday School classroom. I could not dissuade her, so I ended up checking her in too....mismatched clothes, uncombed hair, boots on the wrong feet, and all (see, I had not planned on her being anywhere that mattered). Honestly, she looked like a child picked up from a homeless shelter. Certainly NOT fashionable. Really impressive in our "ritzy" church. Tubby and I decided we may as well stay at church at this point, so we ventured into the sanctuary and sang along with the worship songs. Tubby was too happy after all the good vibes, and we ended up leaving about 10 minutes later. Oh well....I had already been to church in the morning with the big boys, but twice is always nice since the services are so different (though the message is the same). Tubby and I had a fun time hanging out in the truck, playing with phone chargers and maps. Can you stand the excitement of it all?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Replanned Saturday

Snow on the ground, rain falling down, gray skies not going to clear up.....not my idea of a perfect Spring day. All 3 soccer games were obviously cancelled. A BBQ that we were planning on having this evening with the families of Bob's golfing buddies was cancelled. All of Spring as we typically know it to be seems to be cancelled.

Us "Chicks" (with Sticks) took this wide opening in our schedules to go to Open Skate in Chaska. Before hitting the ice, we stopped at this totally "local" sports bar for one of the best burgers I have ever had. This was a nice compromise to the cancelled BBQ...I had had my heart set on burgers today! We spent a solid 90 minutes on the ice today, practicing our hockey player skating, and I, my backwards stopping. I just can't get it...it is so frustrating to know what I want to do but to be unable to make my body do it. Because I am able to skate backwards with some decent speed, it is quite dangerous to be without braking ability. I worked on sharp 180 degree turns instead, flipping myself forwards to make the stop. Not ideal, but it is better than making crash landings on my face each time.

Jonny had a birthday party to go to this evening that thankfully, was not cancelled. He enjoyed an evening with his friends bowling and eating pizza. He was having so much fun, that he hid under a table when I came to pick him up so that I wouldn't find him. Silly boy! We had a late dinner(almost 8pm), as our cancelled Saturday turned out to be quite busy after all. Imagine that, a busy Saturday for us!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sprinter

Stupid Sprinter.....there is nothing to do but sit inside and play Webkinz all day today....and I am pretty sure that is all that we did. I can't believe we were just down at the park the other day in Springtime bliss, and now we are stuck in the house because the world is covered again in snow.
To brighten our spirits, I took all of the kids (besides the Bookends) to open skate tonight in Chaska. We had a great time, and the girls are starting to get more comfortable standing on those slippery blades. I did not get any practice in tonight because I was holding up the girls. I need to get them some skating aids cuz my back is not going to be able to take this. Melissa amazes me with how well she can stand while holding the wall. Way to go, girlie!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Discovery~The Window




Thomas discovered the window today! He has been standing up at furniture quite expertly, and today found the front window. He had a great time looking out, watching the garbage trucks today, and later watching the SNOW fly. Welcome back, winter. Ugh.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mental Health Day

This morning, I drove out to Minnetonka once again to visit our favorite developmental pediatrician....this time with my other daughter, Melissa. One of the perks of a husband who is a pediatrician, is the access to the best docs around. This doctor is so wonderful. She always spends plenty of time with the girls (sometimes 1-1/2 hours!), listens intently to everything we have to say, and is so smart. She makes appropriate recommendations and seems to always be right on the mark with diagnosis and therapies. She really grasps the whole picture very well. This is a very good thing, as I currently find myself quite overwhelmed with the things both girls need.

Melissa did great...she did an amazing job explaining the online Webkinz game to the doctor in great detail. This came about because Melissa had brought her entire box of 13 Webkinz along with us to the office, and proceeded to arrange them in alphabetical order on the table with seemingly effortless speed. Her strengths are so great and easy to see...if only they could help and expand over her present social weakness that brings her so much sadness. The doctor recommended finding a therapeutic friends group for the summer and restarting OT after a formal eval. She agreed that the school should really be picking up some of this slack and that it is ridiculous that Melissa is not getting real OT services in the classroom any longer. She is referring us to a special OT in Maple Grove who is a no-nonsense go-getter who will help us get the services we need.

Melissa and I spent the rest of the day together and had a great day. After a trip to Costco with lunch, we went over to the kid's salon and Melissa got her hair trimmed. It was such a slow day for the stylist, so she practically begged us to stay so that she could put french braids in Melissa's hair. That did not take much arm twisting....my daughter LOVES braids, but is not blessed with a mother who can do them very well. She gave her new look the highest of 7 year old praise, "It's awesome!" She was so smiley and happy, feeling very special indeed.

We made it home just before the other kids came back from school. After a quick snack, Laura and Thomas settled into the wagon, and we descended the steep hill next to our house, leading us to the park at the bottom. It was such a nice day, and with the impending return of winter forecasted for tomorrow, we had no excuse but to get ourselves outside TODAY. The kids had a blast. Laura can manage all the equipment this year with ease, the boys played a tag game, "Black Cherry" with the neighbors, and Melissa was busy excavating, finding numerous "dinosaur bones" and naming each one. Thomas loved the freedom to scoot around on the vast expanse of open pebble turf. He seriously did not stop moving for the entire hour we were at the park...I have never seen him work so hard...this was bliss for him! He also did a good job listening to the few "no!"'s from me when an occasional pebble would stray towards his mouth. He always stopped, dropped the tiny rock, and then clapped for himself to celebrate a listening job well done. He is so cute!

What a nice time....lots of appreciation for what we have going on today: our family, health, strengths, smiles, home, happiness, and sunshine. All things important to stock up on, and the perfect ingredients for a successful mental health day break.

video

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Bob, er...um...Mario!

One of the surprises I chose for Bob's birthday today was to do all of his laundry. Normally, he does his own, because he is very particular about how his clothes come out of the dryer, and each time I have tried to be nice by doing a random load, I have been reprimanded enough to never want to do that again. Today, I tried my best to wash his clothes according to his precise specifications, and managed to get through about 3/4 which equalled 4 jam-packed loads. We took a break in the afternoon to bring Bob lunch at work. He was having a slow afternoon, so we even got to stay for awhile and eat lunch with him. The kids were just giddy to be at Daddy's work....we do not make that trek often. Laura was hoping Daddy could come home with us. We distracted her with a new Webkinz from the hospital gift shop instead.

Busy busy day, turned not so busy with the cancellation of 2 soccer games this evening due to ground that is much too wet from the recent snow and melt of yesterday. This let Bob and I go out to dinner (while an almond cheesecake baked in the oven) at his favorite restaurant, Don Pablo's, for his birthday. I don't remember the last time, or if ever, we have gone out on his birthday. Grandma came over after work to stay with the kids, including the baby, so we had a completely childless meal....it was wonderful! Thanks Grandma!

A quick drive home, and life returned to busy as usual, as I nominated myself to rush off with Michael and the neighbor boy to their 9pm hockey game. Bob stayed back at home and put the kids to bed. Tonight was special, as daddy told the kids one of his famous bedtime "Mario" stories. The kids love to hear these silly stories of one of their favorite video game characters, and from what I can tell, they are pretty well animated. Tonight, the kids even got a special visit from Mario himself! Really, would you expect anything less? Their daddy goes all out in everything he does!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Borrowing Freedom

One of the best quotes regarding the stable where Melissa rides her horse, is the tag line of Freedom Farm itself: "It has been said that 'in riding a horse we borrow freedom.'.....I decided to fulfill a dream to share that freedom with those whose lives, minds, and bodies are not as free."~Susie Bjorklund, Freedom Farm

When Melissa started riding this past fall, it was as though a huge cloud had been lifted from over her head. In all of the difficulties she endures on a daily basis, she was able to shed them all outside the barn door, climb on her horse and just BE. No worries, no conflicts, no struggling, no anxiety, no shyness, no failure, no lack of self-esteem, just pure 100% being a happy, normal kid. Though her disabilities may not be as readily apparent as some of the others who ride with her, they are real and challenging, and often seem unfair. For her to be successful in her riding ability is heaven for her on earth.

Getting into this program is easily one of the best moves we have made for Melissa. Restarting the program in full swing today gives her encouragement and hope to get through more difficult parts of her day. With her best friend still in Florida since December and there until May, Melissa has had a very long and strenuous winter at school. She has been alone on the playground and left to play everyday with her imaginary friends. She has finally been added to a "friends" group that works on relational skills with a school counselor, but much of the damage to her self-esteem has already been done. Her current skills are more befitting of a Kindergartner, not a second grader.

Riding her horse Ted, Melissa looked like all was well with her world again. School happenings no longer mattered, difficult fine motor tasks were non-existent, and she didn't have to struggle with proper breath support in order to make her horse understand what she wanted him to do. She got to "take it easy" while getting a workout....an emotional, esteem-building, physical core strengthening workout all disguised in a heavenly freeing horseback ride. How can you beat that for one sweet, wonderful little girl?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Happy 15th Birthday to My First Baby

Wow....15 years already have gone by since my first little tiny baby was born. I am sure that because he was the first, that the memories of his birth are so vivid. The little striped hat, putting Vaseline on his dry little hands, the srunched up face with the already smart looking eyes staring back at me, the itty bitty toes, the soft, velvety skin on his cheeks, and soft fuzzy hair on his head. Now that little tiny baby is taller than I am! He is certainly not a baby anymore.

Alex was always a happy little boy with an easy smile and smart, quick working brain. With the exception of a short, but very unhappy stint in middle school that seemed to go on forever (but was less than 18 months), his personality is quite similar to that of my little boy of more than a decade ago. He is a sweet, kind, brilliant, and helpful teenager. All of his siblings love him and look up to him. And though taller than they, he does not look down on them, but enjoys their company (even though he will sometimes want for nothing more than to run away from all the chaos and noise). What a nice boy!

We indulged him today by going to morning church (his first birthday request), then meeting up with the grandparents and Barb & Alan at Houlihan's for lunch. We were also there to celebrate Bob's birthday, which is a mere 2 days from now. Eating at a restaurant is a luxury for us, one that we rarely do with all of the kids. At 11:15 am, on a rainy Sunday morn, the baby asleep in his seat, there were not many other patrons inside, so the time felt fairly stress-free and fun....not too many worries about noise were required. The kids loved eating out, Alex got to eat ribs, and Bob got to have some birthday chicken fajitas. I tried a Mojito, and decided that I could make a better one at home with all of my fresh mint. I'll need to figure out a non-alcoholic version....maybe a slushie kind to give to the kids. The mint seriously may overtake our home one of these days when we are not looking.

Alex's girlfriend spent the afternoon with him, and we inhaled some banana cake with chocolate frosting before everyone began going out our revolving front door. The kids had their regular Sunday evening rehearsals at church, meaning a 45 minute round trip drive x3. Bob dropped off 2 of the kids on one of those drives on his way to Michael's hockey this evening x2. I made it to Michael's second hockey at 9pm, after feeding and bathing my very dirty children before sending them off to bed, and Alex's quick little present opening session (held in my bathroom as I was washing the girls' hair in the tub). I was impressed with Michael's hockey play tonight...he played so well, and skated so quickly. He was totally into the game, and there was no indication that he had just come off of a heavy duty advanced team game just an hour prior.

What a jam-packed day, as Sundays typically are around here. Good-night, all, and again, Happy, Happy Birthday, Alex!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Time For Me

Work, work, work, I try not to complain....all the cleaning, laundry, constant picking up that never ends, and leaves little reward. This morning was all about cleaning the garage (again), working on the basement, putting away Easter stuff, digging through mountains of laundry, driving kids, blah, blah, blah, shower at noon, blah blah. Even so, I would pick this over the daily grind in the real world any day. So, thank you, Bob, for working for us...I know that I wouldn't be able to do it (I'd have to take half of my days as sick headache days....probably wouldn't fly too well with any employer!).

After a very productive morning (though no one could notice), I treated myself to tea with a friend. Tubby and I enjoyed a few hours in her comfortable home with a gorgeous view of Lake Waconia, hanging out, chatting, talking about everything, dreams for the future, listening to music, playing with kids, and of course, drinking tea. What a refreshing break from daily humdrum routine. I think that both of us could use this on a regular, more frequent basis....and perhaps she, even more than I, as she does day care in her home and is literally stuck there every day. She also sent me home with a super cool air purifier to try for a week in our home. Maybe this will help some of the headaches and sniffles.

After time that went by too quickly, I reluctantly went "back to work", and made a huge batch of chili for my family before heading off to the Point of Grace/SELAH concert in the cities. Even though Tubby was pretty cranky, Michael offered to watch him so that I could leave before Bob returned home from work. I met up with Pam just a few minutes before the concert start, and we found some seats in the balcony. Though far on the side, they were close enough to see the singers' faces, perfect for viewing the big screen, and quite comfortable. Due to a pregnancy complication, SELAH had to cancel, but had been adequately replaced by one of Pam's favorite singers, Fernando Ortega. I was not familiar with his work, but he played the piano and sang beautifully. The string quartet with him was fantastic...I could listen to cello and viola play all day. Like usual, Point of Grace was as good as ever and did not disappoint...I think that we have been going to their concerts since about the time Alex was born!

We stopped at Biaggi's for dessert (this is our new concert "thing" we do). I had my sights set on my favorite: butternut squash ravioli. But something strange happened when the waiter mentioned the green olive pesto crusted tilapia(I'm not sure how to spell it)...I ordered it! And I hate fish! But it was very very good....and my daddy is going to be so proud of me! I only ate half of it to save room for dessert, and even had the waiter box it up for tomorrow's lunch...so I am planning on eating fish again. How weird. Maybe I am finally growing up.

What a nice break today.....I feel energized to get through the busy busy weekend and start a fresh new week on Monday!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Tisket, A Tasket, Too Many Baskets

What a happy springy day! My mom came out here in the afternoon to beat the rush hour traffic....we were having dinner at the elementary school tonight. After a quick lunch, we HAD to go to the park. On a day like today, it would have almost been a sin not to. Laura was a bit dismayed to be taken away from her laptop, but warmed up to the idea of being at the park after riding the swings for a few minutes. Thomas had his first ride on the swings also....he seemed quite content swaying back and forth, "singing" the whole while. Laura has been busy composing her own songs these days. She has gotten very good at rhyming words together and putting them to song. A few days ago, she sang this song while picking up Crispy from the bus: "I don't want to go to JAM, I just got to make a plan....", and then something else I can not remember. Today she sang, "I'm coming back to you, I'm coming back to you, I'm coming back to you, in the Lord!" Watch out, American Idol!

The spaghetti dinner at the school is one of the highlights of the year. Alex even came with us tonight....it was great spending time with him! A silent auction fundraiser is held along with it in the gym. Many baskets are available to bid on, all with unique themes and items such as trendy toys, books, baking supplies, camping gear, gift certificates, etc., donated by student families from all of the separate classrooms. The kids love walking up and down the aisles, picking out their favorites to bid on. Unfortunately, their favorite baskets are typically favorites for many other kids also, meaning fierce bidding wars. Some years we get lucky, but I do not recall last year being one of them.

Tonight started off well, and it looked like we were going to win some nice items. After dinner, Jonny stayed behind to serve his student council clean-up shift. We came back to the baskets to check our bids, and wouldn't you know it, we were outbid on nearly all of them. In the 10 minutes left, we scrambled up and down the aisles, increasing bids on the ones we REALLY wanted. This was difficult as 100s of other people were scrambling too! It was kind of crazy...and HOT in that small gym. The other half of the gym was filled with face painting, clowns, and a teacher DDR dance off contest, so it was very noisy also. Alex and the other kids retreated to the park outside in the glow of a beautiful orangy-pink sunset. Not to be left empty handed this year, I put some bids on things we needed anyways like beach towels and sports balls that other people were not so flocked to. Even so, it was looking like we would be lucky if we even went home with one or two baskets.

In the end, the Grandmas and I made quite the haul. My mom won this gorgeous pink and green handmade quilt, and Pam got a BARGAIN on a new DVD player (she out-bid me!). I was shocked when I brought my number up to the table and 7 baskets were listed in my name! Oh my! Well, the money all goes to the school, so it is a great donation, but 7 baskets amounts to about 40 new items in our already bursting home. The favorites were a Hannah Montana basket with shirt, purse, books, and old fashioned alarm clock with bells for Melissa, and some really great sports balls for the boys (all the ones we have are pretty cheap). The kids were pretty excited as we walked to our truck, laden with baskets in every arm. I guess we were pretty lucky this year!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Have Herbs, Will Cook

Nothing is much better in cooking than using fresh herbs....this is even better when the herbs come from your own garden.....this is even BETTER when your garden is growing on your kitchen counter top! The once little herb garden started on Valentine's day is now a jungle on our center island. In particular, the mint and basil are having a contest to see who can overtake my whole kitchen. The basil is at a bit of a disadvantage as it continues to grow upwards, increasing its risk of death by fluorescent bulb....but the large leaves it produces gives it leverage to try to snuff out the shorter plants. The mint has had enough of basil's guff, and has taken off over the edge, growing around the back, and sideways, producing a rather impressive collection of green, minty, goodness. We have now become in the habit of pinching off a leaf every time we walk by to attempt to control the population problem (it also is a nice calorie-free treat!).


I have been using the basil to make bruschetta, pizza, and to top off our eggplant dish this evening. I have so much right now, that I will be able to make a batch of pesto...I have not done that in about 10 years! Garlic bread was sprinkled with fresh parsley. These herbs have been great! I have been inspired to cook even more than normal. If this is any indication, we have gone through 20 pounds of flour since March 1 ! It has all been a part of our going back to nature type of movement around here....getting rid of the processed gunk and chemicals that litter our lives. It may be a bit more work, but it is so much better, and tastier too! I just need to find some good recipes to use up my mint (Mojitos have been suggested!). I should have thrown some in with the Bananas Foster dessert this evening.


Quick update on Tubby: Thomas is consistently eating food equalling about the size of one quarter now. Not at one time....taking itty bitty bites, so that when all is said and done, the TOTAL he has eaten is the size of a quarter. It is a start, and at least now we know he CAN swallow. He enjoys food with taste...he just balks at boring old baby biscuits. Thomas is also very proud of his ability to stand at furniture, and is getting daring enough to take small sideways steps while hanging on. He inevitably ends up on his butt, but at least he is trying!


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fool's Day Terror

Nearly every morning, Bob is the one who wakes up the kids for school before he goes to work. This is normally done in a kind, and fun, sometimes silly way, which usually makes the kids smile as they start their day. This also works great for me, because I am in NO WAY a morning person, so it gives me a few minutes to accustom myself to the difficult task of having to get out of bed. This morning was different.....instead of hearing giggles and laughter outside my door, the house was filled with crying and screaming.

My husband thought it would be a funny April Fool's Day joke to wake up the kids by pretending that the dog (Brietta) was running through the house. He stomped up the stairs, scratching at the doors with a comb, yelling, "Brietta! Down! Brietta stop!" and "Help me girls! Brietta has your Webkinz and is chewing them up!" Well, my girls are terrified of the dog to begin with, and are currently enamored with their Webkinz, so this was probably the worst scenario they could imagine to come to pass. What kind of nightmare are they awakening to? They began to cry, cowering on their bed, fearing for their lives that the dog was going to bound into their room. Bob then quickly let them on to his secret (but I'd bet permanent emotional damage had already been done), and he continued on to the boys. Though the boys could see that it was only Daddy running up and down the hall making all the ruckus, they continued to anxiously search for Brietta and save their precious toys. Even Thomas shot up next to me in bed, with a grave look of concern on his face as his eyes were glued to the door.

What a way to wake up. Crispy said he just wanted to stay asleep until it all passed.....Melissa told all her teachers about how "Daddy was mean"....Michael was forced to get out of bed 3 hours earlier than usual....Jonny still looks confused......and Laura was fine once she was settled in on the couch with her laptop. To counter the horror of the morning, we spent the ride to school telling funny, and more age appropriate jokes like me telling the kids I had to pick them up early for a doctor's appointment later that morning. This got the smiles back on the faces of my little kids, and they all had plans of jokes they were going to tell other people throughout the day. I forgot to warn Alex about an orthodontic appointment in the afternoon, and had to call the school to ask them to let him know what time I would pick him up. That would have made a good joke if it were not a real appointment! I am glad he showed up at the door on time vs ignoring the call and brushing it off as me just kidding once again.

This little video clip is Laura working on her computer just like Daddy and her big brothers do. I had been watching her do this for several minutes before I grabbed my camera which of course, distracted her. I'd say she is typing about 90 words a minute! Too cute!
video