Friday, October 24, 2008

Growing Pains

Poor Jonathan....on what should be such a happy day for him, is not so for my sensitive young man. Jonny is turning 11 today, and is sad. School is going well, he has lots of friends, he even has today off of school due to parent-teacher conferences, he just got the part of "Jesus" in the new play at church, he is excelling with his new hobby-saxophone, and everything is going well....but he is sad. Why? Because it is his birthday today.....and that means he is growing up. Jonny doesn't want to grow up. Jonny has been such a kind, responsible, and enjoyable boy since babyhood. He has always been so bright and mature, easily fitting in with the older boys and seeming two years older than his actual age. I think that is finally catching up to him, and he finds himself now growing chronilogically older while grasping for years skipped past in childhood. He finds himself on the same train we all are on that cruises us through our 30's and 40's with lightening speed. He's growing up, and growing up fast. He wants to get off this train, but has already come to the mature understanding that the doors are shut and locked.....tight.

We tried to make the best of the day for him. Michael was given the day off of homeschooling to spend the morning playing video games with Jonny without the younger ones around. We then met Grandma and Grandpa for lunch at Jonny's favorite restaurant, Biaggi's. We all ate WAY too much.....but it is so hard not to when the food is so very good! Jonny got to open his presents from his grandparents, and take home a thing you can always count on is a balloon from Grandma C on your birthday. I don't care how old you are, that one balloon will make you smile and feel special all day. I know that is what happened to Jonny when they walked through the restaurant's doors.

We arrived home with 45 minutes to spare before Jonny's friends arrived for his sleepover party. Jonny's list was limited to good friends only, which brought it down to a more manageable 9 kids this year. Thinking this would be no big deal as his friends were all older this year, I was not too worried about being alone until 10:30pm when Bob was due to arrive home. Boy, was I wrong. Jonny has such a likeable personality that he draws friends from all personality types. You put all of them in close quarters, and something very ugly happens. Like mixing the wrong chemicals together....each on its own is perfectly harmless, but mix them together and watch out for lethal explosions!

After two hours of bickering, tears, stern talking to's, team pow-wows, and some basic lessons on behaving civilly, things were finally under control. (I was going to take the red-eye out of this picture, but then thought it was more appropriate to leave it in)We had some pizza, calmed some nerves, and the boys spent the rest of the evening making up games in the yard and running hard for the next 3 hours. With the exception of a few quieter kids who remained indoors playing plasma cars and bingo with the girls and I, I did not see much of those hooligans the rest of the night. Another plug for plasma cars if you do not have any yet.....GET SOME!!! Not only have they been a hit with my kids still almost one year later, but they are the hit of every single kid who walks into this house. There was not a single moment during the party that those cars were free....the boys even devised a plasma car tourney throughout the afternoon. One of our best purchases ever....and even little Thomas is starting to feel the joy. Bob ended up abandoning me and did not come home until around 1:30AM. I fell asleep on the couch with my baby before midnight to the sound of a happy group of kids upstairs. Apparently they all fell asleep before 1am on their own...all that fresh fall air I suppose. Good thing too, because everyone awoke in good spirits the next morning, had some doughnuts, and played nicely together for a few hours while waiting for parents to arrive (one actually forgot about her kid until I called more than 2-1/2 hours after pick up time!). Jonny left his tears to the day before, and seemed more relaxed to start a great eleventh year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday Drives, Veggietales Live, and Horseback Rides

Sundays are busy. Really busy. That's just with church. And 3 kids in 3 separate performance arts groups all rehearsing on Sundays. At different times. Add some hockey.....say two sessions, and Sundays are nearly impossible to handle. Oh, and I almost forgot about junior and senior high youth group in the evening. At a different church. How do we even manage?
One particular Sunday, I tracked my minutes driving to and from church. It was more than 200 minutes. And that did not count the driving to another location in the middle of the day. One may have found this driving time to be rather depressing, and at first glance, it seemed like it on such a dreary overcast day. But the drive along Highway 5 was bursting in peak of the beautiful fall colors of this season, making each pass a glorious sight to behold each and every time. I tried to take many pictures along the path, but at 60 MPH, they did not turn out as well as I had wanted. I even took some video along one of the most beautiful stretches. At 60MPH, I am sure that was a perfectly safe thing to do.

As if my life couldn't get any more exciting, I spent one evening with 4 of the kids watching singing and dancing vegetables on a stage out in Lakeville.
Don't get me wrong, I love Veggietales, and my kids think they are just seems like such a funny thing to talk about when you say it out loud. The show was entertaining, a good lesson learned about each of us being special, and some nice quality time spent with a group of my kids.

A cancelled therapy session allowed me to take my 4 middle kids back to Jordan for an afternoon horseback ride. This is something I have wanted to do with my kids for three years, and today was the day! The day was gorgeous, the trail a beautiful array of majestic fall color, and the horses mild and well mannered. It was a full hour through rolling orchard and woods, of one of the loveliest rides I have been on. Michael, Jonny, Crispy, and Melissa enjoyed this special outing without the littlest people in our family holding us back.
We ended our afternoon with some apple treats, and warming by the huge stone fireplace in the apple house. We couldn't leave without bringing more treats home to the others. Aren't we nice?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

An Orchard A Day, Keeps Kids at Play

Is there ANYTHING better in the fall than going to a good apple orchard? I think not.

My kids think it is pretty great too.

We have been to quite a few already this season, and none of us have any plans to be done quite yet!

Here is just a sample of some of our favorite places.......

From a small hidden gem in Delano:

(farming lessons from farmer Curt)
(searching the fields for a perfect gourd)

(playing in the huge corn kernal pit whose comfort rivals my Tempurpedic bed)

(carfully cuddling the baby chicks)

To Deardorff close to home:

(pretty pumkin patch)
(a hunting they will go)
(taking a break in the hay piles)

Celebrating Grandpa's Birthday at Sever's Corn Maze:

(before we were lost)

(navigating the dangerous toddler area)

(BOO!)(making it to the end......YES!)

To our Ultimate Favorite.......Minnesota Harvest, in Jordan:

(wagon ride out to pick apples)

(self-designated apple taster)

(working together)

(apples in abundance)

(fabulous apple treats and lunch)

(lots of free wagon rides)(and of course, a corn maze!)

Where are we off to next? I vote for horseback rides back in Jordan!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Back to School

The first month of school has come and gone.
As is true of every year, it is so hard to see the summer go, and give up my kids to the school system calendar and schedule. Time is passing by so quickly, and these little people are getting bigger and bigger way too fast. Much too quickly, indeed.

Alex is starting his second year of High crazy is that? He has a driver's permit. He has the ability to be responsible enough to wake himself up every morning....even the three days a week he needs to be at school nearly an hour early. He has a list of Advanced Placement classes on his plate. He has been asked to learn to play baritone for concert band, valve trombone for jazz band, and mellophone for marching band...he is also teaching himself tenor sax. What happened to his trumpet? He is looking at beginning college courses next year. He is planning on going to college in Canada, and becoming a citizen upon graduating. He's got plans. Even if he still doesn't know what he wants to do with his life.

Michael is in his third year of home school. The last year for him, before jumping into High School next Fall. He is getting into some better habits, and working a bit harder on his schooling. He will be starting high school Algebra this week. He is still resisting marching band this winter, though he will not get to choose to not choose it. He has already completed hockey try-outs for the year and is starting regular season practice tonight. He will be playing on a high level hockey team....because the developmental board thinks it will be good for Waconia to get their egos smashed and handed back to them game after game after game. Whatever.

Jonny has started middle school........though reluctant at first, his year looks promising. He is in the odd fifth grade class out, meaning no switching teachers throughout the day. His teacher is new to the school, well-rounded, kind, smart, and untainted by the negative atmosphere. This has left Jonny with a much more positive first year than the other boys had encountered. He has eagerly started playing the saxophone. He is currently finishing his last year of cub scouts. He remains very active in performance arts and youth group at church. He will remain my busy child.

Melissa, Melissa. Excited about the new third grade year. With her best friend by her side, and a lovely young man as her teacher, everyday is party day in the classroom. She is encouraged, becoming more confident, exercising independence, and working hard...allowing helps for her disabilities. She continues horse entirely independently. She is playing soccer this fall, very enthusiastically, jumping literally for joy when it is her turn to be goalie. Switching to a new and friendlier girl scout troop offers more positive experiences for her.....and I get to once again be Cookie Mom. Singing, singing, at church.....this year alone in a sea of unknown faces..good job, Melissa.....keep up the good work.

Christopher has one word to describe everything in his life...."AWESOME". School is awesome...his teacher is awesome....lunch is awesome...first grade is awesome...being a new cub scout is awesome.....selling popcorn is awesome....he is doing just awesome. His try-out for a special part in the upcoming church play went awesome. Hockey is going to be awesome. I, on the other hand, really miss my awesome little boy, as he is gone to school all day long this year.

My little Laura remains at home. From the pseudo excitement of potentially starting preschool to separation traumas over the summer, my little girl remains at home with me for one more year. MOPS and Sunday school classes (often times twice each Sunday) are plenty for her to get a taste of an organized classroom. The rest she learns at home-school preschool. She is quick on her skates, and eager to try soccer in the spring. Dance classes? Depends on the day you ask whether she wants to start these or not. My little helper, and Tubby's little friend..........she makes me laugh every day.

Tubby is a busy one and a half year old cutie, who couldn't possibly get any more cuter than he already is. Though still short and sweet, he likes to be a big kid...and manages to be quite the monkey boy. Climbing on everything, walking up the stairs, managing his environment to suit his desires, running, and driving cars. Making hockey goals with his "deh", a wicked swing with any stick and ball set he can round up. Balls, sticks, cars, animals, bugs, water, sand , and rocks....Tubby is all boy. Still my baby, yet somehow not, I wish he could slow down with the growing up thing.

....I wish they could all put the growing up thing on hold......indefinitely.