Saturday, May 31, 2008

Party on the Farm

Yesterday morning, I woke up with my first ever adult ear ache. "Interesting" I thought to myself. " ear hurts." Then I went on with my day, which had been extremely busy with the kids at school. When I went to bed last night, I had been taking 50mg of Benadryl and 1000mg of Tylenol every 3-4 hours, thinking, "Wow, my ear REALLY does hurt. Hmm...."

This morning, I awoke to increasing discomfort. My left ear now felt nearly swollen shut, it hurt drastically to the touch, when I talked, and even when I walked from the reverberration of each step. "Hmmm....there might be something really wrong here. Ouch!" I kept on with my Benadryl and Tylenol cocktails throughout the day, certain that this must be allergy related. Though perhaps this will be my annual Spring brush with death.....maybe this will turn into a brain infection?

Bob and I had an early golf lesson in Chaska which went well as I was able to find about 90 minutes of acceptable relief between medications. This pro is really so good....I feel like there is an actual possibility that I will be able to play golf someday! I am still on the basics of a simple swing, but really, that is the most important foundation of the game, so I am happy to be learning it correctly. Bob is currently working on his short was fun to watch his lesson with the pitching wedges thinking that someday, I would be able to do that too!

This afternoon, we drove down to Grandma & Lyle's farm. It was meant to be a Wedding Reception/Graduation Party for them and Lyle's twin girls, but it pretty much ended up as just a graduation party. I felt bad for Pam, as she seemed visibly stressed today....that is not something that you typically see with her. It seemed like a nice enough party. The food was great, the hail and rain all ended before the droves of people showed up so that there was plenty of outdoor seating in the sparkling sunshine, the living room was FILLED with awards and pictures of the girls during their high school years (they were involved in everything possible), and my kids had fun playing games in the basement(where they could not incur any damage to party preparations). I was pretty miserable by the time we got there, so besides making punch and trying to keep a happy smile on(which hurt, by the way), I do not remember much else. After a quick peek at the sheep, we went home. We had to promise our disappointed kids that we would come back on another day....I think that they had expected more play on the farm today.....but after a few days of rain, the muddy ground is not so playable. I didn't even take any good pictures today.....I MUST be ill.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Olympics

Rain, rain go away.....Jonny and Melissa want to play.

Yesterday was a wash out for the school Olympics as it rained and rained the entire day. Today was looking to be much of the same. But to everyone's delight, the rain stopped early this morning, and stayed away for the rest of the day. So though while very wet, the Olympics were a go!

Tubby, Laura, Crispy, and I spent our day running back and forth from event to event, trying to catch our Olymiads in action. From the hurdles and 200 meter dashes, to high jumps, mini golf, and hockey in the gym, basketball throws, and shoe kicks, these kids were BUSY. The highlight of the event was the Tug of War contest between the countries. Boy, are these little kids strong! Jonny's country of Trinidad made it to the afternoon finals after winning all 4 of their preliminary rounds. I am pretty sure that the reason they were so awesome was because of their incredible anchor at the end of the line. You just might be able to recognize him too!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let the Games Begin

Olympic Games, that is.

Every four years, the summer Olympics are held in some country somewhere. So every four years, the elementary school holds their own version of the Olympic Games. The entire school is divided into several different countries (about 20), with a mix of all age levels in each. These groups have been meeting regularly since the winter months, learning about their country, making t-shirts, and planning and preparing for fierce competition. It is a big To Do, and really a lot of fun....most kids will only experience this once during their elementary years. But in the case of those who are currently Kindergartners, they will get the pleasure of experiencing this huge event again as 4th graders. Jonny is one of those lucky kids this year, as is Crispy who will get to look forward to this in another four years.

The events began today with the academic games: spelling bee, geography quizzes, and math meets. The afternoon was perhaps one of the highlights of the entire event. All countries gathered in their groups, and with flags held high, processed around the track to cheers from the crowd. Grandma C, Laura, Tubby, and I looked on from the stands, cheering and waving, as well as learning interesting tidbits and facts about each country from the announcer. Laura spent the time whining about wearing her sunglasses and laying on the floor of the stands. After the lighting of the torch, the kids sang a few songs to further get into the spirit. The official outdoor games will be held tomorrow beginning at 8:20am, and lasting throughout the day. All parents are encouraged to attend and support their students (of course they are). I know where we will be spending tomorrow!

With the exception of going to bed at 8:30pm this evening after snuggling with my kids in my comfy bed reading bedtime stories, that was the nicest part of the day. These headaches are much too life interrupting and quality damaging. So tired of them. And even more sad is that my Alex has to go through the same thing. And neither of us are keen on taking mega meds. I wish that there was a better answer other than moving to a better elevation and climate. Oh well, boo hoo for me....(and Alex.....)

Melissa had an EARLY morning OT eval in Maple Grove. She did great....pretty much flew through the test by being so cooperative. She has so many OT needs that it was no question that she needs to restart weekly services this summer. There was mention of a new school aid program where Melissa can speak her thoughts and ideas into a device that then get transferred via voice recognition into typed papers. This will be fantastic for all of the stories floating around in Melissa's creative mind! She will be working on setting up and learning that program over the summer, leading to possibly using it at the start of next school year. This will also force her to be less sloppy with her speech, which is another area of constant need for her. I really liked this OT....she is one of the best that Gillette has to offer. Now we need to decide if driving an hour away each week is really worth it, or if we could settle for an OT she recommended that would only be 40 minutes away for us. Given our unhappiness with the last OT we had, I am not sure which to choose.

Directly following the OT eval, Laura had an appointment at the eye doctor in Minnetonka. Not wanting Melissa to miss any of the fun Olympic events at school, Grandma C was kind enough to meet us there to pick Melissa up when we had arrived and drove her back to school. Grandma then took lunch charge over the other kids at home. Laura, Tubby, and I made the best of the long 1-1/2 hours at the eye doctor's office for a quick 15 minute appointment. My headache continued to rage despite meds and a coffee break at the cafe, Tubby was getting extremely crabby from being forced to wake up so early this morning AND miss all of his usual nap times, and Laura was in one of her very stubborn moods, impolitely refusing to cooperate with much. She did get excited by all the pretty pink eyeglass frames for kids, and had picked out a beautiful magenta colored pair that looked adorable on her. Boy was she UNHAPPY when all was found to be well with her eyes and she did NOT in fact need glasses. This spilled over to her pouting at the Olympic ceremony (as mentioned above) while wearing sunglasses because of her dilated pupils. She really had wanted those glasses. What is so funny, is that the day she found out she needed to visit an eye doctor, she CRIED because she did NOT want to wear glasses. Silly, fickle little girl!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Little Buddy's Growing Up!

Christopher has always been my little buddy. His sweet, easy-going personality has made him a wonderful companion to bring any and everywhere. He accompanies me to hockey games, soccer games, therapy sessions for the girls, grocery shopping, practices of all kinds....everywhere. He makes mundane tasks a little more fun, and he can ALWAYS make me smile.
It was with great sadness that I sent him off to Kindergarten this year. My sweet, sweet boy, going off into an unknown world, with exposure to potentially bad behavior. Was I nuts for letting him go?

He has LOVED Kindergarten. Like all of his other brothers, he is especially bright. He got the hang of reading early on in the year, and it has opened up worlds of imagination for him. He has thrived on learning new information and trying different projects. We have learned that being creative and artistic are NOT his strong points, but no matter, for they do not interest him much anyhow. He has been a valuable part of his classroom as a positive role model for others, leader, and friend to many. He has enjoyed the respite of school, away from being sandwiched by 2 sisters with special needs, and doing his own thing.....BOY things!

Tonight, we celebrated the completion of his first year of school.....a Kindergarten "graduation" of sorts. Watching my little buddy on stage, singing with hand motions and eagerly attempting to volunteer for special parts, my heart caught in my throat as I realized how much he was really growing up. Next year, he will be away at school all day long! He has had a great first year, and has made some really nice friends....friends who are smart and sweet like he who are good for him as well as good to him. Judging by the look on his face tonight, he is also satisfied with how things are going and what school means to him.

After punch and cookies, we headed back to our house for a little celebration of our own with a yummy DQ ice cream cake. Not only were both Grandmas present for tonight's celebration, but Papa Don made a surprise appearance too! The kids were thrilled to have one of their favorite people in the whole wide world back in their house, and eagerly pulled on his arms to play "Jail" and "Hide and Seek". I wouldn't be surprised if they play these games with him for the next 15 years!

Crispy opened his cards and presents with great anticipation. Even though he already knew what it would be, he was very excited to open the brand new Gold Nintendo DS lite we had given him. It is tradition in our family that each kid gets their first Gameboy upon Kindergarten graduation. He has been waiting for this for two years! Kind of like a rite of passage, my little buddy is now one of the big kids.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Day for Remembrance

As is fitting for the day, we spent nearly 2 hours this morning at a Memorial Day service in the park. The boys (Alex, and his friend/guest) were participating in their first marching band performance of the year, so the kids and I, along with Grandma & Grandpa C, went along to the park to support them. We got front row seats on the lawn this year, allowing us to clearly hear the multitude of speeches and stories from a variety of people~ranging from war vets to high school speech contest winners. Though these services are SO LONG, it is really a nice way to spend part of the day......that is what Memorial Day is all about. Reflecting on the price paid for the wonderful freedoms we enjoy in this beautiful country of ours is very humbling and remarkable, indeed. What a calling to serve our country. The kids did an exceptional job. Though I am certain that they were bored to tears, not understanding most of what was talked about, they sat quietly and patiently on the blanket in front of us at our feet. I suppose it helped greatly that Laura was at home....she missed coming at the last minute because she did not heed multiple warnings to stop whining, so she was left behind with daddy who was busy taking down Christmas lights. Grandpa cuddled under a warm blanket with Tubby in the cold breezes kicked up by the lake. Tubby had a nice nap on Grandpa's shoulder as they stood under a shade tree.

The band played a few patriotic songs during the program, and as always, sounded stellar. After the program, the marching band once again lined up on the street, but this time treated us all to the first sounds of their summer marching program. This year, they will be playing selections from the opera, Carmen. The piece was quite out of the ordinary for a marching band, but well played. It will be interesting to see what they do with formations and the like upon their return from band camp in early June.

The kids were rewarded for their patience by getting to play at the park for awhile. Isn't it nice how it takes so little to make kids happy? And so cheap too! Yet we still find ourselves spending so much money on them. We really need to stop doing that...they do not need it! We had bbq pork and ribs for lunch with my parents, and another round of games before they had to leave for home. With as much as they have been out here lately, and how much they will be here during the next few weeks for events, they really should rent an apartment or something! We really tried to get them to buy the house next door, but after being on the market for over one year, it finally sold last Sunday. Hope we get nice neighbors!

I drove our weekend guest home early in the afternoon. It was nice having him here....he was so easy and good, and he helped to get Alex out of his room every now and then. Adding another kid to the mix is never any trouble anymore....numbers just don't matter after a certain point (I think that point was 5 kids). Melissa is so sweet and sensitive that she cried and cried when he left for nearly 30 minutes. She cried about how nice he was, how much she missed him already, and asking if he could stay for summer vacation. Funny thing is, I don't think that they even spoke or spent any time together while he was here. That's just how sweet and emotional she is.
Jonny and the kids spent the rest of the day doing activities led by Jonathan. They decorated their own t-shirts, played games for points, and did other things that kept them busy throughout the entire day. Bob and I worked on getting more lights down...what a daunting task. I wonder which was harder....putting them up, or taking them down? Oh well, in an odd way, I guess we were at least spending some time together.

We planned on ending our vacation weekend with fireworks this evening. The kids stayed up an hour and a half past their bedtime, waiting for the show. After bundling everyone up and heading down our treacherous hill to the backyard, it became clear that our show would not be possible. It was too windy to even keep a lit flame! We figured for our safety and the safety of the neighborhood, we would postpone our fun for another evening. The kids were disappointed, but understanding.....and pretty excited about staying up so late! And daddy rewarded them with their favorite bedtime event....a real life Mario story.....they even were visited tonight by Scooby-Doo! How special!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hello Summer, Did You Pass Spring on the Way?

It was HOT today. Our high temperature was 88 degrees. Ugh. It was great for the kids who finally got to play out in the water outside. Yucky for me who hates to be hot, but who also had to sit outside with them to supervise while they played in the water.
After church this morning, we had a large brunch, then it was to the front yard for outdoor play the rest of the day. The kids excitedly donned their swimming suits, grabbed colorful beach towels, and bounded out the door, as excited as if they were headed to Disney World. In the Small World of our front yard, the kids set up everything they needed for an afternoon of fun: a small pool filled with water, Dora Hopscotch(or as Laura calls it, "hop-scratch") sprinkler, water guns of all sizes, and homemade water balloons out of zip lock bags. The baby was just happy to be outside, clad in nothing but his diaper, climbing up and down the front steps, again and again. The girls began making up games in the pool such as "dunk tank" and "wishing well". The boys were boys, chasing each other (and the neighbor kids) with water guns, and throwing water balloons...some from as high as the second story bathroom window. They continued to play throughout the afternoon, despite the darkened clouds and loud claps of thunder that could be heard to our north. We never got a drop of rain. Certainly feels like summer today~it is a shame that the kids still have a few more days of school!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Vacation Day

We awoke to a beautiful cool morning with mild breezes beckoning us out to play. Bob & my dad had an appointment in Chaska with the awesome golf pro this morning, so we all got up early to travel back to the Golf Zone. While the adult males learned their sport, Grandma and I played mini-golf with the mini future golf pros in our company. The older boys (Alex, our teenage guest, and Michael) took to the more challenging outdoor course, as Grandma and I remained inside with the younger crew. Jonny & Crispy got the hang of it early on, and were soon many holes ahead of the rest of us. Grandma and I puttered behind with the girls who excitedly made shot after shot (after shot after shot after shot, and so on). Melissa had a nice pendulum swing on the rare shots she could curb her excitement long enough to let the ball stop rolling. Laura was more comfortable with her own unique center swing between the legs. Tubby occupied himself by taking off his socks and shoes one by one and tossing them into the streams running between the putting greens. Ha ha, he is so funny. Grandma beat us all once again, proving her innate athletic abilities. Now why was that never passed down the genetic ladder, I wonder? I managed to get some good camera shots of all of the little kids playing golf, but the big boys just ran away with their hoods over their heads. At least everyone was nice enough to cooperate for one group photo:
My dad and Bob had had a great lesson. My dad came away with some beginning confidence just as I had done the evening before. Bob said this guy is like the Oracle in The Matrix who only tells you what you need to hear, nothing more or less. Apparently, all 3 of us had completely different lessons, though we all ended up in the same place in the end. That is how talented this guy is....a true and effective teacher.
We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with my parents, playing games on the deck in the cool breezes, eating steaks from the grill, and watching the new National Treasure movie, which was good. It was a really fun and relaxing day....kind of felt like we were on summer vacation in the middle of this very very busy time of year. Ahhhhh.......

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy 16th Anniversary to Us

Sixteen years ago today, Bob and I were walking down the aisle, saying our "I do"'s. Wow, we were just kids back then, our lives ahead of us. Never in a million years did we imagine we would be where we are now. Neither of us had interest in a medical carreer, we both had planned on Master's and doctorate degrees in Psychology, and we certainly had no interest in moving from the cities we had always called home. 3 or 4 kids in a predictable private school following the same path we had as kids. That was what we had planned.

Look at us now.....yes, only an hour from the cities, but hey, we are surrounded by country farms on all sides of our home. Seven kids (and two angels awaiting us), in public school (!!!), two medical degrees, and a house with a lake view. Our oldest son now the same age as we had been when we first met, with a girlfriend that may possibily be his own wife someday! Where has all the time gone? But even after all that time, I sometimes still feel like we are just kids, only we are now playing with more pieces in this game of life.

Bob took today off of work to recoup, nap, and take down some Christmas lights. The kids were off of school early today, so we had a houseful from lunchtime, on. Bob's Anniversary gift to me was a lesson from a really fantastic golf pro in Chaska. This guy was amazingly talented in reading people and understanding exactly what they needed to hear in order to get the concept understood. Where I had been so confused in my swing and missing the ball, the instructor got me hitting the ball 100% of the time....effortlessly. That, in itself, was worth the lesson. I went into it feeling like a hopeless golf playing loser, and came out as a baby-stepping-future-golf-playing-hopeful. Very good change in attitude!

We decided to include our kids in our Anniversary dinner. Odd, I know, but it seemed like the right thing to do. We have such little opportunities for family activities, and they are such an integral part of our marriage, that they deserved to celebrate with us! We piled everyone into the truck (including our extra guest) and drove out to Don Pablo's for one of the best Anniversary dinners we had ever had. It DID feel like a celebration, and it felt totally RIGHT to have our wonderful kids with us. I like all the funny glances we get from people as we parade by with all of the kids in can always see people making comments to each other and looking on in awe and surprise. Makes me smile inside! Melissa made it worth it when she said "Thank you for taking us out to the restaurant for your anniversary. That was fun!" as she bounded happily up the stairs to bed. This may just be our new Anniversary tradition!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Carnival Therapy

Today was Laura's last day of swimming lessons. What a wonderful experience this has been for her. Not only is she learning the important skill of swimming, but she has blossomed in self confidence as she worked on her own, out of the shadow of her siblings. Though she needs to repeat this beginner class (she is still leary of getting her face wet or jumping into the pool), the personality boosters are evident in other things she does.

Laura had a long afternoon in Maple Grove with 2 therapy appointments, one hour each: one a physical therapy assessment, and the other, occupational therapy. In the waiting room, she was just a stitch....jumping around with her Hollywood Dora shades on, playing hide and seek, and being simply silly! My normally quiet and shy youngster was all out extroverted today! This frame of mind was very positive in the therapy rooms as in the absence of her stubbornness remained a very cooperative little girl.

As expected, she did just fine with the OT portion, just a few little things that we can work on at home. Physical gross motor skills are another story. Improvement has not been that great over the past year, and she is at least one year behind normal, so she will resume weekly PT appointments. This will not only help to catch her up to her peers, but increase her own enjoyment of activities most kids take for granted (like riding a trike or scooter or even climbing steps). We will certainly re-enroll her in special ed services this fall...the school has done wonderful things for Melissa in that department, so we know it will be helpful to Laura too.

All the kids beat us home, including the son of a friend who will be with us until Monday evening. But Grandma C was there, in charge, meaning that the kids got a warm welcome and snacks on their arrival home. The kids love it when Grandma comes because she actually gives them attention, feeds them food, plays with them outside, and takes them to the park. Things that their overwhelmed Mommy can never seem to do all in the same day. I look forward to these days as a Grandma myself someday (hopefully some long day away from now!).

We all went to the Carnival at the elementary school where Jonny and Michael were already stationed at their service posts. Jonny was a kitchen helper (like a real life "Bubba") and Michael was running the mini-golf game(where Melissa got a hole in one!). For just a small fee, we had 80 tickets to burn on games and food. Grandma bought the kids balloons, dinner, and an extra hour playing games. Between all of the golfing, baseball and basketball throwing, dunk tank hitting, inflatable obstacle course managing, bounce house jumping, ring toss and bowling ball rolling...the kids got a work out! I think that going to a carnival once a week over the summer instead of driving all the way out to Maple Grove each week will be plenty of therapy for my girls. And because of our very high out of pocket deductible, the carnivals would be a lot cheaper (and more fun for the other kids in tow). I think we have ourselves a new summer plan!

Jonny and I had to run out from the carnival early to make it out to St. Boni in time for his baseball game. This left Grandma with the trio of Laura, Melissa, and Crispy who were all on their best behavior and having a great time. Grandma ? met them for dinner and to drive them home as Jonny and I had left with the baby in such a rush. We were running behind (surprise), and to our horror, arrived at the baseball field with no other maroon shirts in sight. Were we at the wrong field? We spent the next 10 minutes frantically driving around the city, looking for kids we recognized at each field. No luck. We finally called Bob to ask him to double check the field and time for us online. Hmm....we were on the right track, so we circled back to the original field. Now there were 6 other maroon shirts warming up their gloves. By gum, we had been early.....we had made it there FIRST. Can you even believe it?!? Never considered that as a possibility!

The game was great, and tied at 22 to 22. Gotta love Pee Wee baseball. I worked with Jonny a bit on his batting (using some encouragement I had learned from the golf pro who gave me a few lessons), and Jonny hit the ball! It was great to see the relief on his face. He is doing a great job on the field, really playing his position and stepping in for others when they are after the ball. A great team player. Tubby was content to snack and flirt with all the adoring baseball moms on the sidelines. Babies just have a way with people, don't they? They are good therapy for anyone, any age.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Better Side of Crazy

Today would have been a lovely day for a bike ride. I must have had that thought 100 times today. Things kept getting in the way of that elusive ride. Not that it was busy and crazy like yesterday, just steady with little things in the way. So the only one who got in a bike ride today was fact, he must have gotten in about 3 today! Lucky boy!

Melissa's class was nice enough to have another opportunity for parents to join them at the park today for lunch. We did not quite make it there for lunch, but it was very nice to surprise my little girl as we played with her at the park for over an hour. This 'no friends' thing of hers is really so sad. To see her all alone, all the time, without hardly any interaction with anyone else in her class. My heart can barely take the pain it must feel like for her. Kids are suppose to run carefree with their friends from one thing to another, giggling all the way. And who does Melissa have to giggle with? No one. So sad. She has been begging to homeschool next year. I will have to take it under prayerful consideration over the summer for both of our sakes. I do not know if she (or I) could handle another friendless year at the public school.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and it was relaxing to just be hanging out at the park with my kids, with no place to go. Thomas was pleased to explore new climbers and slides, and managed to make it through the event without any fingers getting smooshed by any quickly moving second grade feet. Laura survived a flinging from the merry go round, and learned that perhaps it is not always fun to try to play with the bigger kids. Crispy fit right in with the second grade crew: made me think again of how nice it would be to boost him up one year and pull Melissa back, keeping them in the same classroom for moral support alone. Of course, we will not do this, but I really wonder if it would work?

After Melissa's class left the park, the other kids and I went to our new favorite uncovered eatery in town: Whole Hog Heaven. This place has been open for a year, but until reading an article in our local paper yesterday, I had not realized it was a restaurant...I thought it was a place to go to rent a pig cooker for your next outdoor Luau! I had picked up dinner from here last night and it was fantastic! Pulled pork, chicken, beef brisket, and a fabulous BBQ sauce......we just had to have it again this afternoon. Even the baby ate it up. By the way, Thomas is 14 months old today! Boo hoo hoo.....
Laura and Thomas fell asleep after we returned home, which led to a very quiet afternoon. It was a good time to mentally destress from the recent busy-ness of life. I picked up Jonny at 5:30 from his first trip to ValleyFair with his School Patrol buddies. They arrived at the school soaked from head to toe, and all smiles. Jonny had a great time trying out ALL of the big rides, and discovering that he enjoyed them all. I was glad that my awesome kid got to have a fun day to himself without so many responsibilities for once. Grandma ? helped continue to ease that responsibility burden more as she came over this evening to take charge of the little kids in my absence.

Alexander had a recognition event of his own this evening. He received an Academic Letter at the High School for his great grades and effort. It was pretty neat watching him get his first high school award.....something that he earned all by himself. Only the first of many, I am sure. Way to go, Alex! You make a Mommy proud! Too bad Daddy was not there....I did send him a Pix message of the event, although it took me the entire event trying to figure out how to do it and then finally giving up until Alex could do it for me. It is embarrassing to be so technically declining.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just Breathe

I must be really off of my game these days......I had two Grandmas at my house this evening, and I still felt like I could not keep it all together. Jonny's baseball game overlapping with Michael's band concert, a missing glove, baseball snacks, buying new cleats on the run, uniform for tonight in the dryer, waiting too long at the pick up line for dinner, picking up kids across town who had a spontaneous playdate after school, a crying baby, a lost water bottle, a missing camera battery, a girl who needed her butt wiped, neighbor kids ringing the doorbell for the 30millionth time, barking dog, ringing phone, make it stop!!! Oh, and Bob won't be home until Thursday night. Things are just so it ever going to change? I feel so STRESSED!!!

The day went by well enough. Laura had another great swimming lesson that we made it to ON TIME. The teacher tricked all of the little trusting kids today by letting their faces drop below the water as they jumped in. Laura was last in line, so I really had figured she would refuse to jump in after seeing all of her swimming commrades go under. But either she was not paying such close attention, or she figured her beloved teacher would NEVER do such a hideous thing to her, and she trustingly jumped in, only to be met with the same fate as those who had gone before her. She was surprised, confused, and not very happy with this outcome. Her teacher had to do a bit of convincing to get Laura to trust her again. They ended up with some sort of truce, and Laura was sure to keep her face WELL above the water for the rest of the lesson.

We spent some time playing in the indoor playland before going home....a little treat for Laura's swimming efforts. Michael had kept Tubby in there for me so that I could watch Laura's lesson in peace....what a nice boy! Thomas is still not feeling well, so he began his whining tirade upon my entering the room, even though he had been perfectly happy with Michael for the previous 45 minutes. It made for a less than enjoyable stay in the playland, and I felt bad for cutting Laura's time down to only 20 minutes. My baby was driving me crazy, and I had to get him home to give him an overdue nap.

The afternoon was spent basically holding my sleeping or crabby baby. I wonder if he will get over this soon? Despite antibiotics, his nose remains running yellow/green. Unfortunately, he was enough to scare away a visit from Mary and her kids today......a visit that I could have really used to recharge for the next few weeks. Oh well, I am sure this will all be a distant non-memory once the bustle of summer vacation arrives.

Jonny had his first scrimmage tonight, and though he was down and out as I watched the first half of his game, he ended up excited as they pulled ahead and won during the end of the game. Grandma ? was his designated pick up person this evening, so she got to witness the joys of the first win. Jonny is trying so hard to find a sport that suits him, and I think that he would like it to be baseball, and perhaps basketball. He still has a mind block about batting, but his fielding skills are improving. In fact, his favorite position to play now is second base: right in the middle of all the action!

Meanwhile, my mom and I were at Michael's band concert....very impressive for a large group of 7th graders. The kids played fun music, Grandma C played a good game of audience beach ball, and Michael even looked like he was having fun (shhhhhh...don't tell him I said anything!). Such a good music program here. We were not successful in convincing Grandma to stay and watch the American Idol finale with us was getting too late. Boy, is it nice to finally kick back and breathe again. Hmmm...wonder if I will make it through tomorrow?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kites and Bubbles least favorite day of the week. Always too busy, even when nothing is added. This afternoon found us in one of those wonderful added end of the year activities that seem to be becoming a daily habit at the elementary school: it was Kites and Bubbles day, and "All are welcome to attend". Translation, "if you love your son/daughter in any way at all, you will most certainly want to be here for them as they run around with their friends ignoring you but at least happy that they are not one of the other kids (who quite frankly probably do not even notice)whose parents obviously do not care enough to take one hour out of their work day at the end of the school year for what will be the first time out of 18 in these last few weeks to come." Never mind that it is cold, is threatening rain, I have a baby with pneumonia or something, plus two others for a total of 3 little kids in tow during nap time, none of which can handle flying a kite, I can't find any of the 8 bottles of bubbles I KNOW we have around here somewhere.......we still all piled into the truck with one rainbow colored kite and a large nylon parachute with "great" expectations for the afternoon.

OK.....I'll admit, it was fun. The kids did not care that the kites were getting too heavy with raindrops to remain airborne, they were just happy to have an excuse to run. It was just fine that we arrived bubbleless, because there was an automatic blower providing plenty of large bubbles for everyone to pop. The parachute provided my little ones with lots of creative ideas from "giant kite" to "parachute monster". And the sick baby was happy to be outside, like always, and was even happier to be given empty bubble containers to play with. The hour swiftly went by, and before we knew it, we were headed back up to the school to collect backpacks and papers. Jonny has school patrol this week, so we searched for him outside to say "hello", then waited in the truck for his shift to end, the kids happily snacking on a box of Girl Scout cookies they found under one of the seats.

All the fresh air must have gotten the best of my kids, because Laura & Tubby fell asleep before we made it home. They ended up riding out to the farm with Melissa and I, still asleep. In fact, before we arrived at our destination, Melissa fell asleep also! That is the kind of dreary day it was, I guess. Since we were a bit early for her riding lesson, I let her sleep for about 10 minutes before bringing her inside......she was a bit groggy upon awakening, but managed her horse just fine after a few minutes of waking up. Laura continued sleeping throughout the lesson, leaving me to merely peer through the arena window to watch my daughter ride while running through the rain every 5 minutes to check on my sleeping littler daughter in the truck. Tubby awoke halfway through the lesson, thrilled to play with the cat and talk to all the horses. This little guy loves animals!
After Melissa's lesson, we drove straight home to pick up the boys and head over to Jonny's end of year Cub Scout BBQ that had started 45 minutes prior. Though I usually dread these events, all of the kids had a great time and everyone ate a lot...even my very picky girls! (Oh yeah, Laura finally woke up after a 2-1/2 hour nap!) Even though we were inside the shelter building because of the recent rain, the bonfire remained stoked outside, and its aroma wafted into our building, creating that relaxing campfire atmosphere.

We were all graced by two Native American dancers that dressed from head to foot in tribal gear, and danced a few authentic dances to tribal music. The feathers and colors were outstanding, the movements in all that garb was impressive to say the least, and the music interesting....perhaps a bit surprising to my unsuspecting little ones in the front row. When asked for volunteers to come up to learn a dance, Melissa quickly raised her hand. Standing in the back with my noisy baby, I watched as a very nervous Crispy grabbed her arm and pulled it back down. She pulled it from his grasp and raised it again, this time being noticed before he could "save" her (what he thought he was doing). It came as no surprise that Jonny also volunteered to be up in front. The kids did great, doing their best to follow simple, but FAST dancing routines to unusual music. Melissa was THRILLED at her bravery and accomplishment.....she was absolutely beaming. Tubby did his own butt dancing to the beat and sang along with the Native American sounds. A little something for everyone.

For a Monday, this wasn't so bad after all.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Finally, A Weekend NOT Dictated By the Kids

With Jonny's last game yesterday morning, the longer than usual, sad and soggy soccer season of 2008 came to an end. Yes, the kids (Jonny, Melissa, and Crispy) loved it, even in the rain (and snow!). But 3 games each Saturday, and 3 games during the week, added to all of the regular activities made much too much "busy" for this Mommy. Take away the Sunday hockey games and play rehearsals at church that both ended 2 weeks ago, and all of a sudden, we can see our weekends again! Incredible!

So what did we do with all that extra time? Filled every moment of it with being busy, of course! Only this time, the kids' activities (besides the one early morning game) did not have anything to do with all of our plans. It almost felt reminiscent of some sort of life I use to have long before 'activities' got in the way.

On Saturday, with thanks to my mom and dad who came out to be with the kids, Bob and I spent an ENTIRE day golfing with our neighbors at a charity fundraiser in Glencoe. This was especially sweet as our neighbors seem to be even busier than we are, even though they only have 3 kids. But they are the type of athletic family in which their kids are in tons of sports, at high levels, meaning tons of practices and games. They are so committed to their kids' activities, that both of them usually always go to all practices and games. I can't even imagine that kind of time....I am always grateful when I can send the kids off to some practice with them , so that I can try to catch my breath before tackling the next item of business with whomever is next in line for attention.

I am not sure that any of my golfing lessons took hold of any intelligent cells in my brain. It was quite frustrating to miss so many shots (like literally not even hit the ball), when last year (after NO lessons) I had hit everything....not far, mind you, but at least I hit everything. We were able to use a few of my shots anyhow, and the main point of the day was to have fun.......we certainly managed that! It was great to spend adult time, being able to laugh at ourselves, enjoy an absolutely gorgeous day outside, and end the day with a fantastic pork chop BBQ. We may all be a little crippled for the next few days, but hey, it really was worth it.

Sunday was another magnificently beautiful day. It was fitting to be Celebration Sunday at church this morning......celebrating God, all He has done for us and given us, and all that we get to give back, because WE GET TO BE THE CHURCH. The kids were blessed with a visit from one of our missionaries from Africa....we have a partnership in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, and wonderful things are happening through ministeries that the kids have been able to be involved in over the past few years. In the Christmas Eve collection alone, $100,000 was collected for our adopted mission. It is always so moving to hear the stories of lives literally being changed around the globe by offering things that seem so small to us (spare change, shoes, prayers, etc). It has an even more personal place in my heart as it is the country where my brother had spent a year of his time directly helping the same people that my family may be indirectly helping now!

In addition to great messages and motivation, the kids made African drums, the younger kids took home balloon animals, and everyone was handed a bag of State Fair mini-donuts on their way to the parking lot. Walking to our truck in the gorgeous sunshine, our ears tickled with the music of the live worship band under the big top tent in the parking was truly a celebratory day....God is good and great indeed!

We spent the rest of the day in the cities at a brunch gathering to celebrate some family events. My wonderful Aunt Betty was in town from Oregon, so this was our chance to see her and visit with other cousins I have not seen since last year when my aunt was in town. Bob and the sick baby beat us there. Lots of food, desserts, punch, conversation with adults as the kids gathered in the was great. The highlight for the kids (besides playing drums on some video game) was making ice cream in the ice cream ball. Not only did it keep the kids busy rolling the ball for 30 minutes, but they had a delicious reward to show for it. Can't beat homemade ice cream!YUM! Though sunny, today was quite chilly. Thinking it would be like yesterday, none of us had jackets or appropriate clothing, so we spent most of the day freezing outside, but happy to be there nonetheless.

Upon leaving the party, I took the baby and the girls to the nearby mall on a quest for jackets, but to no avail. We did come out of there with 6 bags of summer clothes for Melissa. Being the first girl, she does not have hand me downs to wear and must get a new wardrobe each season. Lucky kid. We met my aunt, parents, and Jonny & Crispy for a scrumptious dinner at Don Pablos where the kids were entertained by a waiter-magician. Crispy was super impressed when the guy pulled his magic ring from behind Crispy's ear. A very cold 30 minutes at a park by my parents' house, a baby choking on his own lungs, a few potty breaks at Grandma's house, then back on the road leading to home in the driveway at 10pm. Back to reality early tomorrow morning........*Sigh*

Friday, May 16, 2008

Going Green in More Ways Than One

In the midst of all the crazies, my new toys arrived last week.....reusable shopping bags! I have been waiting for these for awhile, and am so happy to have them. It is funny, but since starting with the Shaklee cleaning products, I have been becoming much more aware of health conscious and earth friendly items. We have been eating better: much more cooking from scratch, fresh produce (which is still hard to find around here), and much less freezer prepared items. We have gone from bottled water to 2 Pur water filters in the fridge: this has also saved us some money. We have tried an air purifier in our home. Though I LOVED the clean smell, like a fresh opened window, we did not notice a real difference, so at this point can not rationalize spending the $$$$.

Now, I have never been one to even consider going green. It always seemed to be too much hassle, I didn't have the time, and quite frankly I didn't quite care. But by baby stepping along, perhaps we will be making some small difference on this earth, leaving a slightly smaller footprint than originally planned? These bags have been great....the first time I used them, I left them in the truck (!), so I made Alex go out and get them. I was excited to use my new toys!! We easily packed more than $300 of groceries in the 6 bags, and 2 insulated bags. Another trip of $250 worth proved even easier. They pack better than paper or plastic bags, they are easier to carry, feel more sturdy, and are pretty, too! I could give up the insulated bags though...not very impressive, and one of the handles already broke. These bags are always in my truck, ready to go. Love them! I also have a set of 6 nylon Baggu Bags in hot pink. These come in their own individual carry pouch into which you can fold the bag. I have 4 in my glovebox! The others have been great for throwing Laura's swimming stuff into when we go to the pool, and as catchall bags for the large amount of swimming gear I brought with us to the hotel. These bags are going to be great for Target trips and trips to Costco. They are similar in size and shape to your typical plastic bag, but hold more and have great handles you can sling over your shoulder. The bright color makes me smile!

In a surprise move, Bob has sent me TO the green. That's right, me and all my unathleticism are going to learn how to play golf. Bob has been trying to reteach me how to play for our tournament tomorrow. He decided to get me emergency lessons from the golf pro in Waconia instead. Calling yesterday, he got me in for an early afternoon appointment, and one for this morning. (Why can't making doctor's appointments be that easy?) My first lesson went really well. Everything the pro told me made sense, and I was able to loft the ball for the first time~repeatedly!! That is, until he left. Then I couldn't hit a thing! It was so frustrating! My lesson this morning was more of the frustrating kind. I am way over thinking everything and just can't let it go and trust myself to hit the ball. Arggg....I hope things go better tomorrow. I am excited about learning the sport, however.

Today the kids and I participated in Drive Thru Difference sponsered by KTIS 98.5fm~ the cities Christian Radio Station. We printed out a pre-made letter, went to McDonald's, and paid for the people behind us. We watched them through the rear view mirror as they received their letter from the cashier....they seemed so confused! They were still at the cashier window as we pulled away. I hope it helped brighten their day!

And speaking of brightening days, Laura and I bought some flowers yesterday. We now have 3 hanging baskets, a pot full of Gerbera daisies, pink geraniums, and a few various others. Laura and Crispy helped me plant them around the front of our home. They were so cute, each getting a basket to work on. I also moved a hosta and a hyacinth plant. This all sounds like no big deal to most of you, but I have no kind of green thumb whatsoever, so this was impressive for me! With the addition of flowers, and recent removal of some of the Christmas display a few weeks ago, it is starting to look warmer at our house.

Currently, I am wiping green bugars from my baby's nose. This has been going on for more than a week, and he now sounds like he has pneumonia. So nebs and antibiotics for this poor little guy. No wonder he is so crabby! At least he gets distracted when we are outside, and always finds ways to be happy out there. He was working so hard at the park today, climbing the huge climbers over and over again to slide down the large tube slides at the top. It was clear that his diminished breathing capacity was making this difficult for him. So this afternoon has been low key as both he and Laura fell asleep, and the rest of us have watched a DVD about Benjamin Franklin. Got to get at least a little bit of history in before the end of the school year!!