Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tobogganing Fun!!

Took the kids for some winter fun while we were in Ohio. My Grandparents took my parents here and my parents took my sisters and I. So... my sisters and I took all the kids to give it a try. Pete was a bit nervous but joined the group and went. Everyone loved it! FN (Favorite nephew) said we should make it a yearly tradition!! :)

** had to take the video out... it was messing up Pepper and Mom's computer's. To see the fun check out Cleveland Metroparks Tobogganing on You Tube.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Visit to GG

GG stands for Great-Grandma. She is my mother's mother and was a fantastic grandmother when I was a child. I really could not have asked for better. We spent lots of time with GG and my grandfather. They took us sledding and fishing and shopping and camping. My grandparents picked one weekend a month and took a different grandchild to shower love and affection on for the whole weekend. Things I remember doing on my weekends included working in my grandfathers garden and 'helping' him fix the roof. (Nothing was scary with Grandpa there) and going to the store (Ben Franklins or Uncle Bill's) with my Grandma and being told I could pick anything I wanted. The only thing I ever picked was a superball... it drove my grandma crazy that she couldn't talk me into something better. Both of my grandparents came to my high school graduation, and both of my graduations from college.

After my Grandfather and father died, my mother and grandmother bought a house together. Things changed then. Grandma needed my mother for company and care and my mother needed my grandmother for financial support. Their relationship began to deteriorate and they both felt stuck.... And miserable.... And they did not suffer in silence. A few years later, when my mother passed away my grandmother refused to go to the funeral. Then she took down all pictures of my mother off her walls and only talked about her two boys... to the point where people in her nursing home did not even know she ever had a daughter. This was very hard on my sisters and I but we tolerated it because of the history and the love we had always known from her. About 7 years ago, I gave my grandmother a "grandma's memories" book. It asks questions like: What is your best memory as a child? -- Describe your school...each time I visited my grandmother told me she was working on the book. Finally, after 2 years she gave me the book on Christmas. When I got back to my sisters house I read the whole thing.

Towards the end of the book was the question... "What is your biggest regret?" All she wrote was "my daughter" I felt so many things... devastated and hurt and sad and shocked... and mad. I wrote her a letter and told her how disappointed I was. That I wanted my kids to read this book and they would never really get to know my mother and I asked why would she write that knowing the book was for me. I told her how disappointed I was that my kids would never have my parents to be the grandparents like they had been to me. I reminded her how good my mother was to her until she started getting sick and really wasn't nice to anyone. She never responded to my letter. She cancelled the next years Christmas party.

Three years ago when she turned 90, I sent another letter with a birthday card. I told her that I wanted to just move forward. She was turning 90 in April and I was turning 40 in June. If she just sent me a card for my birthday I would know everything was ok. June came and went... no card.

I met with our church rector this year and told him I wanted to fix this relationship. He prayed with me but did not really grasp the depth of the issue. (He thought she was un-accepting of my lifestyle.... which was never an issue with her) but one thing he did say was that God helped us know what things were really important. As we were praying together, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe what she regretted was how things turned out with my mother. Maybe I had interpreted it wrong... or maybe I just did not want to be at odds with the oldest living relative I had anymore.

I was miserable just thinking about the visit. I have no idea what I thought would happen. It is not like this 93 year old woman could manhandle me out of her nursing home! But I was scared of what she'd say. Would she say she regretted me too? I took Pepper and Dori and our cute little puppy for back-up and dropped the other kids off at my sisters. Pepper picked out a perfect little gift on the way that I carried in to her room like a shield. When I handed it to her, she said, "You did not have to bring a gift, Pixie... you being here is present enough." We stayed about 2 hours, it went well. I left happy. :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas, 2009

Our family had a great Christmas. We tried to cut back on the spending so we focused on gifts we really thought the kids would like. We decorated cookies on Christmas eve between the church pageant and the candlelight service, and the kids each picked their favorite cookie to leave for Santa before heading off to bed. We woke up when the boys couldn't stay in bed anymore (just before 8) and all went up to sing to Star (our exchange student) for her birthday. After she opened her birthday gift we all headed downstairs to the tree. Everyone loved the final "family" gift... a trip to Disney planned for as soon as school is over for the year. My favorite gifts were kitchen towels from Pepper that said "Salt and Pepper" on them and 2 cookbooks I got from Pepper's family
Hmmm... think they are telling me I should be cooking better?!! Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wear what you want...

December 23rd was a big day at our house!! It was Macy's 14th birthday and she was very excited that she'd actually be IN school on her birthday... I think so her friends would give her cards and presents!! And it was Dill's "Wear what you want day" at school. We spent a great deal of time hunting for his pink pajama bottoms his brother got from Dad D... but we could not find them. Dill debated between camo pj's and the ones that eventually won out (in the picture). The tie was his choice and the shoes were big, heavy construction worker boots. What a fashion statement!!! :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Princess Kirby

Megamom gave us a great Christmas present this year. She and I drove all the way up to the top of Michigan to get her yesterday. Isn't she adorable? Her big brother was whiny and chewing on carpet... but not our Kirby! She was much too ladylike to behave like that! On the way home she either wanted to sit on top of my shoulder or she sat up with a very regal look. She already loves sitting on Pepper's lap, although in a few months as Kirby gets bigger Pepper may have other things to say about the arrangement!! She did not like her crate last night and cried for about 30 minutes before she settled in. This morning she loved playing with the kids before they left for school. Today we are getting her a new collar and tomorrow she meets our vet. Wish us luck on the housebreaking!!! :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lexi's movie review

Jay's daughter Lexi has been down for the weekend. We went and saw the new movie "The Princess and the Frog" today and Lexi wanted to write a review of the movie. It is her first time ever blogging-- so at the age of 9... in the 4th grade, I think she did an excellent job!! :)


I liked the princess and the frog because there were a lot of action and adventure. It was really funny; there were many twist and turns. Like many other movies there were villains, heroes and awesome characters all the characters had different personalities. Some of the ideals are to never give up, or to trick others that never did any thing. I liked it so much there nothing I don’t like about it. there sad parts, funny and sweet parts. You should see this movie!! Lexi.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shower time

Pete and Pepper were just in a play. It was fantastic. I love being involved with the community theater around here. The set looked great, Pepper and Pete both did their parts beautifully. Pete had one of the lead roles and Pepper played several minor roles (although she jokingly says she only got the parts because the director wanted to make sure she would drive Pete to rehearsals!)

Pete’s role was actually shared. There was “young Patrick” which was played by our Pete and “older Patrick” played by a college aged guy. The biggest complaint of all the actors and stage hands was that “Older Patrick” did not shower….Apparently ever. His costumes and his area of the dressing room quickly started to stink. (Warm costumes, hot lights, nervousness and teen hormones does not smell pretty)

They had the costume designer and the director speak to him. He did not take them seriously. It was a big issue because no one really wanted to hurt this kids feelings… but the funniest thing was how Pepper dealt with the situation.

The worse Older Patrick smelled the more often she would make Young Patrick… Pete take a shower. She could not control what “Older” was doing… so our young Patrick took enough showers for both of them!! Luckily, Pete loves taking showers so he didn’t mind. Or else he was so tired from all his late night rehearsals that he forgot he had already taken one…or two that day!!!

The show went really well. The review in the local paper said all nice things and Pete smelled damn good by the end. ☺

Some weekends feel that way....

This morning, Pepper went up to wake Dill for school. He rolled over and said, "But Mom, its Sunday!!"

Pepper said, "No, honey, remember we went to church yesterday?"

Disgustedly, Dill said, "Then WHY did we skip Saturday?!!" :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Big Boy's Lunch

After church today the girls all ran to the mall and we had an hour or so before Pepper and Pete needed to be at the theater so we went to Big Boy’s for lunch. It was just Pepper and I with Pete and Dill. We had a nice lunch, paid the bill and headed for the car. Once we were all in the car, Dill realized that he left his gloves on the table. We pulled around to the front of the building and Dill ran in to get his gloves. Now I don’t mean he WENT in and got his gloves…. Dill RAN in. Pete, Pepper and I watched him whip across the parking lot (yes, Nana and Dad B… he looked both ways first) then he zipped into the restaurant, past the hostess table, flew past the salad bar and several tables to get to where we were sitting. We watched him scan the table, talk to the busboy, and then we watched his head bobble back out again the same way. When he reached the car, Pete could not wait to scold him. “Dill, you shouldn’t run in a fancy restaurant!!” ☺

Monday, December 7, 2009

{w}rite of passage-challenge 1- character

I joined a blog group that gives out occasional assignments and then gives feedback on the writing. This week’s assignment is to take a character and make a story about them. I am selecting this person because Pete just did a huge assignment at school on her and I have always thought she would be interesting to meet.

Millie and her little sister Pidge loved playing outdoors. I had only been their nanny for about 2 months, but I already knew that they were both adorable young handfuls. Pidge would do anything Millie would do and Millie would do anything! I was enjoying writing quietly in my new leather journal when I realized it had been too quiet outside where the girls were playing for too long. I glanced out of the second story window from the main house scanning the yard to locate the children. Scanning the horizon I thought I saw a glimpse of Millie’s bloomers darting behind the flower shed, but I could not be sure.

I listened carefully and thought about the job I had recently taken on. My choices were limited since I was a single woman. I smiled to myself thinking this was the best job I could get since my goal was to keep MY bloomers on! I blushed at such an unladylike thought.

Just then I heard a loud cracking sound and a sudden scream. I ran down the curved stairwell and flew out the door in the same direction I heard the scream. As I rounded the corner of the flower shed, I saw the girls. Millie was standing over her little sister, trying to comfort her. Pidge was lying on the ground crying. Beside the girls were two large branches with a pair of old long john’s stretched between them.

“What is going on here?!” I asked, already piecing together the mystery.

“Well, we made this stretcher and we wanted to try it out,” Millie explained quietly, “So Pidge jumped off the roof so I could put her on it and get her fixed up.”

I stared in disbelief at the girls, shaking my head at their silly ideas. As I picked up Pidge to carry her into the house I said, “You need to stop having these crazy, far-fetched ideas, young lady! You act like you think girls can fly, Miss Amelia Earhart!!” ☺


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Little Boy Blue

Friends of ours have been foster parents for several years. They have had several children live with them over the years but none as long as Little Boy Blue. He came into foster care when he was two years old. He was not speaking at all and his development was very delayed. Our friends started by teaching LBB sign language and that developed into age appropriate language and speech. LBB had several food allergies and needed special care in many ways. When he started kindergarten this year he had many behavior issues and his foster parents were both working hard (and succeeding) at getting LBB to do well there too.

It was decided in the courts that LBB be returned to his biological parents after three years at his foster parents home. LBB was removed this morning (Sunday) while his mother and foster brother of 3 years were out of town looking at colleges. They did not even get a chance to say good bye.

Foster parenting is a very challenging job. Watching the energy and love my friends poured into making little boy blue's life better was always amazing. I hope they know what a beautiful gift they gave to LBB by providing a loving, stable home for him when he needed it so much. My thoughts and prayers are with Little Boy Blue and both of his families.... :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Swim Team Championships

I am sitting in the 8 and under championships waiting for Dill to start his last meet of the season. Dill HATES swim meets. He complains about going to swimming practically every day. The funny thing is every time Pepper and I go early to watch him or pick him up… he is having a wonderful time! It is very frustrating trying to figure out what it is exactly that he does not like about it. I am looking at the stat sheet right now. He is listed as the 5th fasted swimmer IN THE WHOLE LEAGUE!!! That means that out of 179 boys…. He is coming into this thing faster than 174 of them! When I was a swimmer I was listed right around the 178th place…. The only one slower than me probably only had one arm!

When I asked him what he really did not like about swimming he said he did not like AWAY meets. Knowing my boy, that does not surprise me. He likes the familiar. He likes knowing the building, where we parked the car, where we sit each time in the stands, where the bathrooms are…. I can understand that. But when you play on the team, you are expected to try to make it to all the meets- home and away.

At one away meet, I tried to tell Dill that away meets were a mystery… an adventure. A new place to explore… he did not buy it. He stood on the deck and cried.

At another, I tried rationalizing with him. Telling him that all high school pools are basically the same. Just different school colors. That time he told the official he felt like he was going to throw up so they removed him from the pool.

Then I tried using guilt. Telling him he was one of the oldest kids and he needed to be an example for the little kids. He just stared at me, sullen and sad.

Once I tried the “you are doing it because I said so!” approach. I still had to drag him to every event, with him all pouty and sad.

Almost every time we are at an away meet he still pulls it together and swims. (Except that time they thought he was going to vomit in their nice clean water!) Each time he does well. Each time his coaches tell him how much they appreciate him and how his teammates needed him… especially for relays and medleys. He gets ribbons for almost every event he does. Pepper and I… as well as Dori, Macy and Pete all tell him he did a great job. He knows he does well.

So what would Dr. Spock or any other famous child-raising specialists recommend? What am I supposed to do? Cave? Tell him he doesn’t have to swim? Tell him he does? Argue and fight and force him into his little Speedo?! These are the types of things that they should teach you in high school home ec. Class. They wasted my time learning to make scrambled eggs and keep my checkbook balanced… THIS is the kind of thing I really needed help with.

Well, today, Dill barely complained. It helped that this meet is 45 minutes from our home and we had to be here at 7 am. I basically dressed Dill while he was still in bed and had him in the car before he knew what was happening. What I told him a few days ago was that we should look for a McDonald’s near the meet. He looked like that might be workable. I told him that EVERY time he went to an away meet without whining and complaining I would take him to McDonald’s afterward. He loves McDonald’s. Trying a new McDonald’s is ok. They all look pretty much the same. The employees all wear the same uniform and they serve the same food. There is something comforting about those golden arches. He decided no complaining at the away meet was worth it to get to go to Micky Dee’s!

As we got off the highway Dill started scanning the horizon. “There’s one!” He announced, “it is near that big bank and the Krogers and the gas station with the flags.” He announced it like he felt certain that even I could locate it on our way back home. Once we got to the meet, I spread out the blanket I brought for him and two little friends came over and sat on it with him. I told him I stuck Uno cards in his backpack and the other kids got excited and asked him to get them out. He was all smiles and having a great time while I organized his clothes and found the sock he dropped on the way back from the locker room.

“This is fun,” He told me quietly as someone else was dealing the cards. “remember, we are getting McDonald’s later, right?” Yes, my boy we are. Don’t let any of those so called child-raising specialists fool you…. Bribery works. ☺

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Y2K and Camp Touch Me Not

December means the 10 year anniversary of Y2K is coming up. Y2K was this huge, big deal back in 1999. Everyone worried that we would have major power outages and that terrifying events would occur. Horrible things like riots, food & water shortages, communication and transportation systems going down. Many people kept food/water stored in their basement. Personally, Pepper and I did take a couple of extra precautions as ‘just in case' measures but I KNEW we would be ok.

What we did do…. we kept about 10 jugs of water in the basement (at our house if the power goes out we can’t even flush!!) we also made sure we had both cars fuel tanks full of gas and we celebrated New Years Eve with friends who lived VERY close to a nuclear power plant… it made sense to us at the time!

Why I knew we’d be ok…. The summer of 1999 was the first year that we went to Camp Touch Me Not with Dad D’s family. I was so panicked about that trip! Dad D explained that there was no water and no bathrooms…. No electricity and no real shelter. We would just be staying in the tents we brought with us. Oh, and there were bears and big cats in the area.

As we packed, I realized had NO idea how much water my little family would need for the long weekend. I had never really estimated how much water it took to brush our teeth, wash, clean dishes, cook with etc…. I had always just taken for granted that water would just come out of our faucet!

As we drove the 8 hours it took to get to the remote camp I was focused on what I was forgetting that we would not be able to do without once we got to this camp. My main thought was that I did not think we had enough water. Every time our caravan of minivans stopped to eat, get gas or go to the bathroom…. I was in the store buying water. All of the kids had water under their feet in the van by the time we arrived. It was in our roof rack luggage carrier and stowed everywhere I could find a spot. I was obsessed. Pepper had no idea how much water we would need either…. She had never even been to Girl Scout camp so she could not help me stop obsessing about the water.

Let me tell you…we had way more water than we needed. And Dad D forgot to mention that there was a K-mart about 30 minutes from the camp… and a small park about 10 minutes away with public drinking water. Not to mention the fact that it rained three of the four days we were there!!

We all had a great time at Camp Touch Me Not. We didn’t really miss the electricity or the running water…. Did miss flush toilets though!!! We went back the next year and DID NOT bring a lot of water…. A gallon or so per person. That year, Macy ate 7 S’mores the first night (that I counted, it may have been more) then threw up all over the inside of the tent… she hit EVERY sleeping bag and EVERY suitcase…. We really could have used more water that year!!

BTW… Y2K passed by with barely a glitch. A couple gallons of that water may actually still be in our basement. It was a good lesson for me though. It made me realize that getting myself worked up about the unknown just made things worse. Not that I still don’t do it... occasionally. :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Family Compound


Thanksgiving is always spent at Dad D’s family’s home. It is lovingly called “The Compound”. It is a home on about 10 acres in a rural area. It was Dad D’s childhood home. His parents still live there with his sister and her family (husband and 5 kids). It is quite expansive with a huge great room with cathedral ceilings and 8-10 bedrooms and lots of bathrooms and a kitchen that can serve the 40-50 people that show up for celebrations like Thanksgiving. The whole extended family comes for the holiday, some from more than 200 miles away.

One of the most amazing things about this group is there ability to adapt and accept whatever comes their way. Dad D showing up several years ago with Dad B and Pepper and me and all our kids barely seemed to make them blink. Both our exchange students were just welcomed in as well. Wanna bring wine? Wanna bring a giant slushy maker? Got 4 or 5 friends because each of the kids want to show up with someone… not a problem. They just roll with everything.

The kids love to go there. The whole lowest level is a kids paradise. It is like going into Santa’s workshop. There are toys, video games and all kinds of different and new things each time they go there. Outside there are always four wheeled ATV’s and a paint ball field. The adults have all kinds of foods to sample and taste throughout the day and there is football on in one room, drum sets and board games in another room for the teens and little pockets of people everywhere to visit with.

One of the tasks after dinner is to plan for Black Friday shopping. Getting up and out to the mall by 4 AM is a tradition. The guys stay home and watch all the kids while the rest of us head out for great deals. We looked through all the ads and discussed where everyone wanted to go. My favorite part of shopping is going out to lunch when we are all done. We shop for HOURS and meet up at a small restaurant… we all get lunch even though it is only about 9:30 in the morning!

I look forward to spending time at the compound with Dad D’s family. What a great group. We all decided not to do the Black Friday early morning shopping trip this year. Going out in the cold at 4 AM is always exhausting.. even though there is an amazing excitement at getting to a good sale. There just did not seem to be any deals good enough this year to get us out of bed so early. I did miss getting to go out to lunch with everyone… I’ll hope for good, can’t pass up deals next year. BTW... we still left all the kids at the compound over night and let the guys watch them all... we don't want to break ALL the traditions!! ☺

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Helicopter Parent

I confess I am a helicopter parent. According to Jim Fay, that is the type of parent that “hovers” and rescues and worries. Actually, I am a helicopter person. I know this about myself but cannot help it. For example, I know that I should have let my children start cutting their own meat much earlier than I did. My 16 year old rarely needs to cut her own even now… it is just a habit. I do think it is easier to have everything cut up and nicely arranged on the plate before we start eating…I don’t even let Pepper cut her own usually…

I am also a champion worrier. I glance at my friends and family and can usually tell when something is bothering them. I predict when things will be a problem and try to head it off for them and save them from pain and hurt. I do not think these are necessarily bad traits… although the fact that the people in my life do not seem to possess this skill towards me is occasionally irksome.

This morning was a challenge for this helicopter person. Dori is struggling in English. It is an AP class and not easy. Believe it or not, because we have 5 kids we went to 23 conferences in the last 2 days. Our ratio: 22 good ones to one bad one is pretty good. But it is really hard to just let the one slide when I know Dori could be doing well in the class. Her teacher told us that she had a “major paper” due in class on Wednesday. He had assigned it a good month ago and it would help or hurt her grade tremendously. Dori started writing it at 4 PM on Tuesday afternoon. This behavior stresses me. Pepper and I bite our tongues trying to let her do things her way. Amazingly, she completed the entire paper (with only a few frustrating incidents) by 10 PM. She made two copies and asked me to read it over. I thought it looked pretty darn good. Before she shut the computer off I told her she should email a copy of it to herself as a back-up. She looked like she was going to tell me that was unnecessary, but she did it anyway.

Dori does not take long to get ready for the school bus. The other kids start trying to get her up 30 minutes or so before the bus comes. She usually gets up 25 minutes later and comes flying downstairs to grab her phone with about 30 seconds to spare. To her credit, she made the bus this morning… without the paper. She called and text me several times during her bus ride trying to convince me to drive her paper to the school. Pepper and I talked about how easy it would be to just take her the paper… but she has not been taking responsibility for her actions and is not treating her family in a very loving manner right now. We decided she had the ability to solve this problem on her own.

She had her emailed copy of the paper that would prove she had done the work. She could get to a computer in the lab or library to print the paper again. Formatting would be a bit off (one of her biggest concerns) but she could do it.

According to the other kids, she was pretty mad at me on the bus. I am sure I am no where near the top of her ‘faves’ list at this point. There may be a bit of the silent treatment over this Thanksgiving break… but I think knowing she can handle a stressful situation, take responsibility and problem solve on her own is important. She will probably never know how much stress I was feeling not caving in and just taking the paper to her. Do you think next time she will start working on her paper a little sooner? Do you think she will take responsibility and be prepared? Do you think she learned that she is so capable and so smart she does not need her helicopter Mom every step of the way? 'sigh' Me either…

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Travel Bingo

A couple years ago I bought a game called Travel Bingo. I thought it would be a great way to make family time in the car go by quickly. The idea is that everyone gets a game board with things that can be seen out a car window. The items are things such as: bird on a wire, flag, a church, water tower, bridge, tree, mailbox, cow, stop sign, etc. As we drive past things and the kids see these items they cross them out on their card and the first one to get a row filled out on their card yells “Bingo!!” I thought it looked great!

Recently the kids found the game and decided to give it a try. I overlooked a couple things…. First Dill likes to play “Imagination Bingo” This is a great game when Pepper and Dill play alone because Pepper just laughs at his creative finds… his siblings however, are much less tolerant of Dill yelling out “Bingo” because he just saw a cow and a water tower in a church parking lot!!

When all the kids play there is also the ‘sneaky’ factor. No one wants anyone else to know where they saw a Flag or a RV parked behind trees. This is fine until someone yells “Bingo” and cannot PROVE that they saw the items they crossed off!

Now remember, through all these games, I am driving. So now my idea of a peaceful family game has really all but vanished. I am scanning the horizon and out the side windows so that I can either verify or contradict the actual presence of birds on wires, cows in fields and yield signs on side roads. I am referee for the kids all saying, “You did not really see such-and-such!!” and I love the phrase, “You can’t count that, cuz I found it first!!”

But all this is NOT the worst thing about this game. The worst thing I could never have predicted when I first purchased this game. The worst thing is when Pepper plays. I had no idea how ‘into’ this game Pepper would get. When Pepper sees something on her Bingo card she gets all excited. She does this great intake of breath because she is happy that she found an item. This would be fine, except she makes the same sound when I am about to run into something. So there I am driving along and not really paying attention to her playing with the kids and all of a sudden she makes this great intake of breath and I think I am about to hit Bambi! The sound scares the heck outta me!! I practically have a heart attack because she saw something like a railroad crossing sign!! Dill thinks it is hilarious and wants to play the game even more often!!!

The only saving grace is that they all love this game so much we should run out of Bingo cards soon…. I think there was 300 in the box…. I only have about 212 games to go!! ☺

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Holiday Hopes

There is an excitement in the air around my house. It is the countdown to Thanksgiving and the countdown until Christmas and the countdown to the New Year. It will also be a celebration of many days in a row without school. This brings joy to all of us especially since even Pepper and I work for the schools. So the thought of this upcoming Thanksgiving weekend brings a little smile to my face.

The problem is, as I walk around my school building I see many kids that are not looking forward to the school break. One little girl I work with was very disappointed that during conferences when she found out that the kids had two half days. She asked me, “Can I still get lunch before I go home?” If she did not have lunch at school, she would not have lunch at all.

There is another little boy that has been having escalating behavior problems for a couple weeks now. The classroom teacher is being as patient and kind as she can be but the behaviors (like cutting other children’s coats and kicking adults in the room) are escalating to the point that they cannot be dealt with as minor offenses. We are trying to piece together what is going on. He looks so sickly and small. He reminds me of what the children must have looked like in that V.C. Andrews series called “Flowers in the Attic”. He eats two breakfasts and two lunches while he is at school. His mother says he does not really eat much at home…. Hmmm. We are noticing that his behaviors get worse toward the end of the day. Is he tired? Is he telling us he wants to leave school? Is he saying he doesn’t?

How will the long breaks from the consistency of school affect this little girl and this little boy?

I am thankful for the upcoming break. I will enjoy my Thanksgiving meal and the time I spend with family and friends. Sleeping in and hanging out with my kids are blessings that I truly love. But these children... the ones that I know of and others I don’t... ones who will not have enough to eat, a warm place to sleep and loving arms to hold them during this season will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy 50th Skip!!!!


Today is Skip's 50th birthday. What is a big milestone birthday for if not to be harassed a bit by friends?!! :)

You Know you are 50 when…


• your joints are more accurate than the national weather service.


• your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.


•Your back goes out more than you do!!


•the twinkle in your eye is only the reflection of the sun on your bifocals.


•you finally get your head together and your body starts to fall apart!


• you feel like the morning after when you haven’t been anywhere the night before!


• It takes twice as long to look half as good!


•Many of your co-workers were born after your last promotion.


• People call at 9 PM and ask, “Did I wake you?”


• You can live without sex but not without your glasses!


• You look forward to a dull evening.


• Your mind makes contracts your body can’t keep.


• The Pharmacist is your new best friend.


•There is nothing left to learn the hard way!


• Your idea of a night out is sitting on the porch.


• You don’t remember when your wild oats turned to shredded wheat.


• You sing along with elevator music.


• Getting lucky means finding your car in the parking lot.


• Your secrets are safe because your friends can’t remember them either.


• It takes longer to rest than to get tired.


• Your childhood toys are now in a museum.


• You enjoy hearing about other people’s operations.


• You don’t remember being absent- minded.


• You get propositioned by AARP.


•Your little black book only contains names ending in M.D.

Seriously.... Wishing you health, wealth and happiness today and for the next 50 years!!

Love,

ilene :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thank you...

Lord…

Thank you for the restful night sleep last night.

Thank you for the privilege of waking up snuggly and warm next to my true love this morning.

Thank you for the beautiful sounds of my children playing and bickering, as we got ready to head to church.

Thank you for the opportunity I had to eat breakfast with my family because we arrived at church one service to early (Son did not have to acolyte at the earlier service today)

Thank you for the up lifting and song filled worship service and the thoughts on joyful stewardship.

Thank you for the sense of accomplishment my family had cleaning the church grounds together.

Thank you for the opportunity to watch the kids nap on the way home in my rear view mirror.

Thank you for neighbors who wanted my kids to join their kids for a playdate so I could go shopping.

Thank you for the shopping cart I over-filled at Sam’s Club and the cashier that I gave practically my whole paycheck.

Thank you for the strength you gave me… since I had to unload ALL the groceries alone.

Thank you for skill to put the groceries away, clean the fridge, get dinner ready, empty the dishwasher, set the table and make chocolate chip cookies so my family could enjoy dinner together.

Thank you for my family’s full stomach’s and our time together tonight working on homework and playing games together.

Thank you for the time I have this evening… watching TV, playing on my computer and relaxing with my feet up in my favorite chair.

Thank you for the restful night I will have tonight and the job I will go to tomorrow.

Thank you for the beautiful day and the enjoyable weekend.

Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings in my life…

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Congratulations!!


Congratulations to my sister S and my new brother-in-law. I wish you both many years of happiness.

Love,

ilene

Thursday, November 5, 2009

To my oldest daughter in the year 2019


Dear Daughter,

I have waited 10 years to give you this letter. Your teen years were rough on both of us. I felt like I was in a tight spot sometimes because you were the first, so I had no experience and I did not have my Mom to talk to about what I was like at 15… 16… 17 and so on. I do remember my mother telling her friends that I was worst at 15 and I know by 23 we were the best of friends, so I have had hope for you and I.

I was so different then you as a teen. I was quiet and shy and did a lot of sulking and suffering in quiet desperation. You are so boisterous about every injustice and thing that you perceive as an unfair action. I think teen perception is definitely cloudy, it is like a superhero cape that makes a person feel invincible, super smart and all knowing, yet does not allow the feelings or needs of others to penetrate it.

Teens have it rough. Going from childhood to adulthood is not easy. As a parent, sometimes it is painful to just witness it. Just like all babies hurt when they are teething…. There just is not a way to get around it. Parents can just be there and watch it happen. It is a part of growing up.

In 2009, when you were 16, the economy was horrible. People all around us were losing their jobs and their livelihood. Foreclosures and bankruptcies were on the news daily. Pepper and I were pretty confident that we had enough seniority and jobs that were high enough in demand that we would not lose everything, but medical costs, groceries and gas prices made just day to day living challenging.

It was a never-ending fiscal battle with you in those days. First, everyone but you had a cell phone, then texting capabilities, then contacts, then a school jacket. There were also the yearbooks, school pictures, fund raisers, new shoes for gym and new swim suits to match your swim team. There was money for the movies, date nights and dances. There were gifts for friend’s birthdays and “Secret swimmer buddies”. There were school trips and instruments… then instrument reeds. There were summer overnight camps and a flight to California with your church youth group. There was two parts of driver’s ed…each with their own fee and going to the Secretary of State to get a license. Then there were all the times I would finally get to drive my car… only to find the gas tank drained. Then we bought a third car, and thought there would be peace.

You came home one day in early November telling us not to worry about the “F” you have in English and that asking you to empty the dishwasher was really more than we should ask. You mentioned you needed a laptop and a $500 Fastskin swim suit for your state swim meet. You also said we never compliment you or do anything for you. You said how no one understood how hard your life was… and that we did not care. You were angry that we paid for a housekeeper but refused to support your swimming by buying you the new suit. You stated loudly and repeatedly, “What do you want from me?! I am never good enough for you!!” You ran up to your room saying you hated your life and no one cared.

I am so glad those days are long past us, daughter. I am so glad that we meet once a month for lunch and talk on the phone every Saturday and you tell me all about your life and loves and the things that make you happy. I am so glad that it is so easy to be together and that everyone can tell how comfortable we are with each other and that I love you and you love me. Those teen years were so hard…. I am glad it is not 2009 anymore!

…. Of course, in 2009, your little brother Dill was 7. So he is 17 now. I am probably writing a letter to him “To my youngest son in the year 2029” ☺

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Update on Baby Mohammed

I keep checking on Baby M. to see how he progressing here at kindergarten. The first week was definitely the roughest. The second day of school was better than the first… until about 1:30 in the afternoon. At that point, he decided he’d had enough. He simply walked over to me and said, “I am going home!”

I said, “No one is here to get you. There is just a little bit of time left.” I tried to redirect him, but he would have none of that. He shook his head, stood his ground and would not budge. I decided to give him a little time to think about what activity he wanted to do next, so I walked over to a table with kids all hard at work.

In a flash, Baby M opened the classroom door and yelled, “I am walking home!” as he flew out the door. I ran out right after him… feeling like I was back at my old job, chasing kids down the hall. He almost made it to the exit when I caught him. He dropped to the ground and started kicking and crying loudly. This brought the Occupational Therapist and the Social Worker to my aid and we tried to talk Baby M into walking nicely back to class. He decided to kick and thrash about even more and was absolutely opposed to the idea of going back to his classroom. The three of us decided that we needed to move Baby M to a better place (not the busy entry way to the school) to deal with this young boy, so we picked him up and carried him to a near by empty classroom.

The principal walked past us as we were moving Baby M. I am sure it was quite a sight. She did have the good sense to just walk on by. Baby M was shocked. His arms and legs were held (mainly to stop the kicking and hitting) as we “flew” him down the hall. I had to make the comment that kindergarten children came in a much more convenient travel size then upper elementary school age kids.

Each day after that has gotten better. At this point, he has been moved for half of the day to a smaller classroom where he can work on specific skills development at his level and the routine is very structured. He was a little nervous the first day, but that is already improving. Baby M is not on my caseload at this point, so I won’t be keeping tabs on him, but he does have a little piece of my heart… and all my hope. Any day that I feel overwhelmed and just want to walk out the door at 1:30 in the afternoon will remind me of Baby Mohammed Ali. ☺

Saturday, October 31, 2009

No Power... no problem

We woke up this morning to a very dark, cold house. Our power went out during the night. When our power goes out that means that we have no lights... or water... or heat. It also means also there is no TV, no internet, no cooking and no flushing either!! We called the electric company... they had no idea how long it would be before the power was restored. Pepper and I decided that taking the kids to an early matinee was the best option. We saw Coraline... which I had never seen before, but I liked it.

We came home after another call to the power company...they said we should have power restored by 6 PM...and a quick run through McDonald's. We went home and got things organized for Halloween. Pepper, Dad D and the kids all carved pumpkins. (I do not like that activity... so I took pictures) and put the finished Jack-o-lanterns on the porch. (dad D's pumpkin is the posted one!) We had minimal power through the afternoon. Then it went out again. When we rechecked with the power company first they said it was fixed... it wasn't. Then they said it would be fixed between 11 and 1 AM. :( It was actually up and 100% sometime between when we left to trick or treat and when we got home. (Yea!!) It would NOT have been fun to come home from trick or treating in the dark with no power.

Here are some of the best things we saw in our neighborhood....

A sumo wrestler suit that was mostly deflated
Michael Phelps
a cute little yellow Peep
an OctoMom... with 8 baby dolls
Little girl in a sparkling power suit
a carved pumpkin that was used as a light post
The hanging Scarecrow that scared the heck outta Pete
and the kids kindergarten teacher with her 3 daughters.

Hope everyone had an enjoyable Halloween. I'm gonna go check the candy and see if there are any questionable ones that I need to take out of the kids stash. :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Parades


I attended two school halloween parades today. One at the school I work at and one at Dill's school. I have a complaint... they changed the music! Every other year the parades have always been to the Monster Mash. How can anyone not be in the Halloween spirit with Monster Mash blaring over the school PA system? This year, at my school they had creaky doors and drum sounds, and some generic spooky music.... I did not like it at all. Then I went to Dill's school (That is the Wizard costume Dill made in this blog picture!) they had NO music. The kids just walked around and waved. In their defense, their parade is usually outside but the weather was not agreeable so the parade was inside. But since it was inside this year..... bring on the monster Mash!! "I was workin' in the lab late one night......" :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

costumes

Its costume hunting time again... Our three oldest all wanted to dress up in black fish net stockings and skimpy dresses. They have fake lip piercings and very dark eye make-up... I guess they are dressing up like some sort of Emo singers. Maybe Avril Lavigne when she is depressed or Madonna back when she was with Sean Penn. They all put their own costumes together, so I did not say too much. I guess I am just happy that they don't dress that way every day!!

We suggested to Pete that he go as a football player... since he already had the uniform. He said that would be fine, except he wanted to go as something bloody. I guess it a 6th grade boy thing. We suggested a bloody football player... he loved the idea and asked if he could cut his old football in half so it would look like it was coming out of his brain. Hey, whatever floats his boat!!

Dill has not felt well for the last couple days and is going a bit stir crazy since he has been home from school. He actually made his own costume. He cut two holes in a piece of blue satin to make a cape then took yellow and black felt to make stars and moons to decorate it. He is a wizard. He is even using a leftover bag of his sister's spider web string to make a beard. I can't wait to see the final product!

This Halloween reminds me of the Halloween's I had as a kid. My Mother did not believe in "Buying" costumes for us. Unfortunately she wasn't much of a seamstress either!! Every year we had a choice of a ghost (she didn't mind sacrificing a white sheet or two for the cause) a gypsy (always fun to get to go through Mom's jewelry box and get to wear all of her cheap stuff) or a superhero (usually an old pair of pajama's and a towel for a cape). Ok, we weren't very creative back then, but we had fun and still got lots of candy and treats! :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Canned Sunshine

When I was about 10, my Uncle Larry brought home a souvenir for my sisters and I from Florida. Opening up his bag, he pulled regular looking soup cans with labels that said “Canned Florida Sunshine”. My parents laughed and said they thought these were the most clever things ever… my sisters and I were less than thrilled. I waited until everyone went to sleep then got up and found a can opener…. Life is full of disappointments.

This time of the year, when I leave for work before the sun comes up and get home as it is getting dark I really wish for a little of that canned sunshine.....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ginghamsburg


Pepper and I went to a conference in Tipp City, Ohio for the last two days. It is the second time I went, first time for Pepper. It is an extremely well run conference. The place is actually quite amazing. It is a huge mega church in the middle of the Dayton suburbs. One of the fund raisers they have been doing is called, “Its not YOUR birthday” The pastor challenged the congregation to match the funds they spent on themselves for Christmas with a donation to the poor and starving people in Darfur. The first year the congregation came up with thousands of dollars. It was an amazing project.

What is even more amazing is how much we as Americans have and spend. Why do we have gifts for each other on Christmas morning? Why so many? Why do I feel compelled to spend so much on my children? My siblings? My extended family and friends? Quite often I have to ask friends and relatives what they want and then just go out and buy things for them. And they do the same. We all have cars. We could all just get what we want if we want it so bad.

I really do want to cut WAY BACK this year. Now, we say this every year…. It doesn’t really work. If we spent just $10 on everyone we bought gifts for, the amount would still run over $400… and we spend at least three times that amount. I suggested to Val last year that we try to at least make a donation to a charity “in the same ballpark” as what we spend on ourselves and family. We did try. And we talked about doing something for the community together as a family. We tried that too.

I am not sure how to make significant cut backs in what we spend at Christmas this year. We do not know how to change things with our family and friends. We do not want it to feel like a ‘punishment’ to our kids… but really- do we want them to learn that getting material things is all that Christmas is about? We want to replace all the store-bought-gifts-ripped-open-in-5-minutes routine with something better. I welcome any suggestions…..

check this out, it explains more than I ever could...

The Sudan Project
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dw9b1Sv0B0#watch-main-area

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Easy As Pie.

Megamom has been talking about her daughters new sport…. Baton twirling. She was just in a parade and loved the sparkling costumes, the little tattoo she got to wear and all the excitement around her (and I am talking about how excited Megamom gets talking about it, I am sure her daughter was excited too!!) It actually reminded me of my own mother who was also a baton twirler in high school.

Mom used to get her fire baton out every fall when I was young. She kept it in a corner of the garage, so it was usually while the whole family was cleaning that we would come across it. We all begged her to show us how to do it. It really never took to much convincing for her to say yes. (I think it was probably a combination of wondering if she still ‘had it’ and getting out of cleaning the garage for a while.) Dad would always have fuel to put in it and we would all get ready to watch.

My job was to hold the garden hose, “just in case something went wrong”, Dad said. I always secretly hoped that I would get to spray. The idea of getting to soak my mother down with water would be hilarious, plus I would also get to be the hero that saved the whole neighborhood from burning down! I took my job very seriously, but it never happened…. there was always a chance though!

Mom always started out slow and cautiously. She would show the 3 of us the mechanics of how to do each spin and twirl. We all knew these moves. We all had received batons of our own just about every Christmas…. Why did Santa think we even wanted one?! I loved watching the way the flames lit up my Mom’s eyes as the fire twirled close by her face and the whooshing sound of the flame in the wind as it started to spin faster. She would work up to throwing it in the air. Our eyes would be wide open and we held our breath. She caught it every time. This was the sport. It was not what we did with our batons, Mom had skill. She looked so graceful when she twirled that baton.

It always impresses me that people can make some things look so darn easy. Pepper can memorize anything she reads instantly. Taking college courses with her was always frustrating. Skip can whip up a dinner for 20 and not even break a sweat. Our rector can come up with a perfectly personalized prayer on the spur of the moment. Sometimes, my kids are impressed with how easy I can make driving look, especially when they try to move the car around our yard. My kindergarten students are impressed with how perfectly I can cut out a circle. Everyone has skills. I probably owned and had access to 20 batons growing up and a mother just wishing she could impart her knowledge on me…. But, Baton twirling was not one of my skills. Now spraying that hose… I bet I’d have been damned good at that!! ☺

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gems from the Kindergarden

It is amazing how many adorable things kids in kindergarten do or say. Here were a couple this week that made me smile….

I picked up a little boy for a speech screening, he looked unhappy but came willingly to my office. Once we were in the room I asked if he was ok. He burst into tears and said “My Mom’s gonna be so mad at me for inappropriate school behavior.” I was impressed that this little guy was using such big words so I asked, “What is inappropriate school behavior?”
“It’s a red note,” he sobbed, “my teacher gave it to me to take home.”
“What did you do to get a red note?” I asked. He glared at me and slowly and more clearly this time (since I was obviously a bit dense) "In-appropriate school Be-havior!"
I said, "But what is inappropriate school behavior?" He shrugged his shoulders and said he did not know. I explained about not listening, yelling out, not keeping hands to self, running…. The little guy shook his head at every inappropriate school behavior I could think of. Now I was just as baffled as he was. He was still sniffling as we walked back to his classroom saying, “my mom is gonna be so mad…”
I walked him into his room and noticed that he had a substitute teacher. I asked, “Can you tell me what did John do to get a red note? He doesn’t know.” She glanced at John and said, “Oops, I put that note in the wrong cubbie…”
…………………..
A little girl and I were coloring together and she said, “I am going to Uncle T’s house tonight to sleep over.”
I said, “Is it fun to sleep over there?”
She said, “Yep, I am taking my fan too cuz Daddy told Uncle T that he and Mommy were going on a date and it was gonna be hot.” ☺

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Grace


Some things just should not be. This morning Pepper and I were at a funeral for the child of a woman in our theater group. The baby, a little girl named Grace only survived a day. She was born way to early…. She was actually not due until the new year. She will be buried long before her first Halloween. We knew most of the people at the funeral. I was surprised. I worried that I would not know anyone. Theater people in our community are very loyal, and very supportive of each other. It is good to be a part of such a group.

The Priest spent a good deal of time saying that Grace fulfilled her earthly mission and was now a saint in heaven. He wanted to make sure that we understood that she was a saint and not an angel. He said that guardian angels were there to guide others to heaven…but saints were people that had fulfilled their earthly mission and had earned the privilege to reside there. Her earthly mission, according to this priest had been to grow..... To kick from inside the womb.... To breathe for one day.... To be held in the lap of her mother once.... to squeeze her mother's finger.... and then, to die.

I have a couple thoughts on this……..

First, I think Guardian Angels are important. I thank God that my children have a few looking over them and since I am a person that gets lost easily in this life, I am sure I will need a couple of them to find my way in the afterlife.

Second, every funeral should have a 2 year old in attendance. Grace’s big sister was there and gave her parents someone to hold and to stay strong for. She also gave all the overwhelmed, somewhat speechless adults in attendance something wonderful to focus on. She was a bright light for everyone there.

Lastly, Pepper and I talked on the way home about Grace’s earthly mission. She made us realize that we have been sweating the small stuff. Our kids leaving their backpacks in the middle of the floor or not picking up their dishes and a late phone bill or misplaced library book do not matter. We have a handful of very wonderful kids. They give us gifts, just by their presence, everyday. We have friends that are there in good times and bad. We have family we can count on and love very much. We have a home and jobs and so many other blessings. We are truly blessed. Sometimes it takes someone very small to send a message that big.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sadie

Pepper and I have been talking about adding a new member to our family. Megamom is really tempting us with a dog named Sadie. Sadie is a 2 year old golden doodle that needs to be ‘re-homed’. She is housebroken, all done with the ‘chewing’ stage, loves kids and dogs and cats and she is priced right (Megamom is GIVING her to us!!) She is part golden retriever (which is what Carmel was) but is curly haired. I love Golden retrievers but I don’t think I want another dog that looks just like Carmel right now. This would be a great pet for us. Dill keeps asking why we can’t get another dog. He misses his cuddle time with Carmel and being able to go for walks with the dog. All the kids miss having a dog around. I miss coming home to a dog and taking walks with her too.

Pepper and I talked to Megamom today…. We want her. It may take a few weeks before she will actually be at our house, but I am very happy with our decision. Stay tuned for more about Sadie…. ☺

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Are you ready for some football?!!

Played a little catch with Macy and Pete in the yard today. Both kids are getting very good at throwing…. Pete likes to throw super far and hard… we do still need to work a bit more on his accuracy! How can he find every single little puddle of water or mud in the yard?! His team is 2-0 and they are playing another team this Sunday that is also 2-0. The coach has called for extra practices and the kids are all taking it very seriously. Stay tuned for the results….

….Speaking of coaches. Several years ago all the kids went to a special week long camp on football fundamentals. I was really surprised that all the kids wanted to do it. Dori was just starting middle school and Dill was not even in kindergarten yet… but the coach of this program was very motivating… and quite frankly did not take no for an answer. The kids had a great time the first day and when the practice ended the whole group had lunch together. As they were eating the coach announced that everyone was expected to be on time the next day. Anyone that arrived late would have to run a lap.

The next morning, of course, every one of my kids were running late. I did my best (by driving faster than posted speeds!) but the kids still got there about 5 minutes late. The coach was standing by the fence to the field asking the line of late arrivals why they were late. He sympathized with each athlete, then told them to run a lap around the track before joining the other players on the field. I stood listening while Dori said to her siblings (in her middle school head-bobbing way) “I am gonna tell the coach we are NOT running a lap! It is STUPID and we won’t do it!! You guys just have to agree with me. We won’t give in… he can’t do anything about it!!”

I thought about letting Dori know why that was not a good idea but they were next to talk to the coach. As they walked up to the coach, Dori barely had her mouth open to argue when the coach spoke. He looked right at Dori and said, “Since you are a girl YOU only have to run half a lap.” Dori’s jaw dropped and said, “Girl’s can do whatever boy’s can do!!” She turned to her siblings and said, “Come on, let’s do a WHOLE lap!” Off they all went and the coach gave me a quick wink before turning to the next late arrival. Did he have my girl’s number or what?!!! ☺

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Macy's Bangs

Yesterday, Macy mentioned that she thought her bangs were getting too long. Since they go down to her chin, I would have to agree. Macy has a love hate relationship with her hair. Throughout elementary school she liked to keep it very short. So short, in fact that she was often called a boy. At times, she liked that, at times she didn’t. When she started middle school she started to let her hair grow out. At this point, her hair is quite long and quite pretty.

She asked me to cut her bangs. This stunned me. I can barely cut out coupons from the Sunday paper and my 8th grade daughter wants me to cut her current pride and joy?! …. Her mane of hair. It reminded me of a story from a long time ago when my Grandmother thought my bangs were too long.

Grandma used to babysit me and told my mother that she thought my hair was getting too long. My mother just kind of ignored my grandmother. She was waiting for my hair to get long enough so that she could pull it all back into a pony tail. (Pretty much the ONLY style my mother could do, so I would wear a pony tail from kindergarten until I finally rebelled in about 4th grade)

So the next day, since my mother did not take care of the issue, Grandma decided to “help” by cutting my bangs for my mother. There were 2 problems with this plan. First, I was about three and did not feel the need to hold still for a hair cut and second, Grandma only had pinking shears. Pinking shears were never meant to cut hair. (Those are those scissors that have zigzag blades… they make sewing patterns look good and paper look great…. But bangs: yikes!!)

Apparently, Grandma kept trying to make them straight across…. Then tried again, and tried again…and again…. I basically had eyebrows and stubble when she finally gave up. When Dad got home he said Grandma might as well have used a weedwacker!!

So Macy, I will leave your bangs to the professionals. ☺

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why I feel old today....

Pepper and I gave a lecture at our old university today. We got to speak to grad students in the same class we were in.... about 20 years ago. It was amazing how young they all looked!! Did you know that people do not sling their backpacks over one shoulder anymore?! That was the cool way to carry your books when I was in college. It is very uncool now. Everyone uses both straps. Everyone. Everyone in college also wheres flip flops. I was feeling a bit old. But I had to come home to REALLY feel decrepit.

The kids were all watching "Ripley's Believe It or Not" and a segment came on about a water skipper. A water skipper is the original water ski. So there is ancient, old, black & white footage of these guys in old fashioned bathing suits zipping around on plywood boxes with little motors attached to them... Macy asks, "Is that what you had to ride on when you were growing up?!!" Ummm..... no!! I wasn't even a twinkle in my father's eye in the 1950's!!!

By The Way.... I decided to wear two straps on my backpack while Pepper and I were hiking back to the car across campus..... I don't think it helped my cool factor much.... and I am sure my inability to get the darn thing off at the car really made me seem uncool and old!! (stupid tight straps!!) :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Where's my girdle, Mom?!!"

As Pepper and I were leaving work today that is the call we got.... from Pete, our 11 year old son. We just never know what to expect him to say when he calls....

Being two Mom's does have some tricky moments while raising sons. With Pete starting tackle football this year, we had all kinds of new things to learn. Trying to figure out where all the pads go inside football pants was a little tricky. Personally, I thought protecting Pete's little butt cheeks was important, but how was I supposed to know those pads went on his thighs!?? Another problem was that Pete got an extra tail pad.... where to put the other one threw me for quite awhile. Then there was the whole cup issue. How the heck did I know what size to buy?! Then they had "good" cups for $6.00, "better" for $16.00 and "best" for $32.00. Someday, I do want grandchildren but $32.00 for a molded piece of plastic with air holes?!!! I decided "better" would work just fine. Speaking of the cup.... it is sort of shaped like a triangle... so Pete asked if the triangle tip went up or down. Hmmmm..... well, we tried both ways and went with the way he thought was more comfortable! (Pete picked point down... someone tell me if that's wrong before he has to change in a locker room with the other guys!!)

By the way, a football girdle goes under the football pants and holds all the pads... which makes where the pads go a lot easier to figure out! Life is full of learning opportunities!! :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dreams

I do not usually remember any dreams I have. I am sure I have lots but I just don't remember them. Well, if I wake up in the middle of the night (usually to go to the bathroom) then fall back to sleep I can sometimes remember. I hate having to stumble through the bedroom and into the bathroom blindly (no sense putting on my glasses in the dark!!) so I really try hard not to NEED to get up, but my bladder is the boss!! The other night I guess I drank too many liquids before I went to sleep and had to go to the bathroom around 3 AM. When I fell back to sleep, I actually had a very vivid dream. In my dream, I was at work walking down the hall and all of a sudden my feet were tangled in a spider web. I kept walking down the hall trying to get away but the spider web kept getting bigger and would not let me go. I thought (even in my dream) that it was weird that I was all alone, since usually the halls are very busy with activity (it IS a school building!)

I am sure I was dreaming about work because I was thinking about all the things I needed to do the next day, but why the spider web? Some people would spend a lot of time analyzing this dream. Does it mean I feel trapped at work? Am I all tangled? Am I afraid of spiders or something lurking in my workplace? One more little tidbit I realized when I woke up....

While walking to the bathroom in the dark I stepped on a dryer sheet that was on the floor and it stuck to my foot the rest of the night under the covers... :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Aunt Dorothy 2

Back in January, I wrote about my Aunt Dorothy. She had sent me a letter telling me how much she missed getting to see me and my family at the Christmas gathering this year. She sent pictures and updates about the people that were there and she wanted to know how my kids and everyone in my life were doing. I find family gatherings like that a bit stressful so I avoid them. But I wanted to see Dorothy so I had decided back in January that I was going to next year's Christmas party. I did not write a letter back to her. I did not call her. She died last night.

Yesterday, was the anniversary of her wedding. She had a nice dinner with my uncle, then went to bed and died in her sleep. She requested to be cremated and wants no funeral service. No one will get together for a final good bye. I was talking to my sister, L and we thought it was funny that she is the one person that never missed a family function and now isn't having one. The REALLY funny thing is how much I hate functions like these and how much I really wish I could go to this one.

When my father died, I wasn't there. My Mom pulled me aside and said it didn't matter that I wasn't there at the end of my Dad's life... that I had been there when it counted. I wasn't there when my Mom died either. I should have written back to Dorothy, I could have at least called.

Sometimes, I forget why I started writing this Blog in the first place. Some day, my kids will be able to look back and read these stories and maybe get to know their mother and little better than they would have without it. They may get to know the funny side and the side that was so proud of them. They will get to know what I did at work, what amused me and how lucky I feel to get to watch them grow into adults. They also get to know the imperfect, makes mistakes me. So, for today, I want to tell them that regrets suck. But everyone has them. We can only do the best we can do.

Good Bye Aunt Dorothy, rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Super Girl

I was helping in the cafeteria at breakfast at school this morning ...which means I opened a LOT of milk cartons and help kids open those little individual serving boxes of cereal (when they do it half of the container ends up on the floor... I think they are sealed shut with super glue!) ... and I hear loud sobbing at one of the tables. I look over and see a little boy with huge tears running down his face. Since it is only the first days of school it is not unusual to hear kindergardeners cry, but this little guy sounded like someone just told him SpongeBob was cancelled! I went over to him and asked what was wrong. As he gasped for air through his sobs he points down on the floor and points to a half eaten pop tart that is lying on the floor below his little swinging feet. (Kindergartners feet can not touch the floor). I said, "Oh that's ok, we have lots of pop tarts. I will get you another one. Do you want some more juice too?" When I came back to the table with another pop-tart and an apple juice he looked at me like I was a super hero! I had this incredible urge to brush my cape back off my shoulder and stick out my chest like Superman!

After school, I was helping to get the kids all loaded on their buses.... a little girl was standing near me and she reached up and tugged on my shirt tail. I knelt down and said, "Hi! What's up, sweetheart?!" She put her arms around my neck and said, "I really like you... you are so-o-o pretty!" What ego boosts these kids are!! I think I am really gonna like working with them!! By the way... in Baby Mohammed's class they send out colored notes at the end of the day (a green note means and excellent day, yellow means some behavior concerns and a red note means not a good day at all) Baby M waved his green note at me when he saw me... he made it through the whole day without any behavior issues!! Oh Happy Day!!! :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Beware of Kindergardener!

My job for the last three years included dealing with special needs students that were fast, big and often needed physical handling just to comply with simple tasks. For example, one student was fast and did not like to wear clothes. So I spent a lot of effort and energy chasing him down the hall at a full speed run then trying to wrestle his shirt, shoes, pants etc. back on him. (Shirts and shoes are required in school!) If you know me…. my age…. (which has a ‘4’ in it!!) and my size (definitely not little or athletic!!) you would know that this is quite funny… for everyone watching--- not me!!

So the thought of moving to a building with almost all kindergarteners seemed like a much less physically demanding position. (read: easier) For the first few days the principal asked me and other non-classroom teachers to be in the classrooms just to help the kids get the hang of what school is all about. (Things like walking in a line, pushing in their chairs, opening milk cartons at lunch, tying shoes… you know, easy stuff. ) This job, I would soon learn, is about as easy as herding butterflies!!

I also had baby Mohammed Ali in my class. He was just fine until his mother walked out of the room. I had been warned that some kids cry or get upset when they are left at school on the first day…. But baby M was just plain ol’ P.O’ed!! As soon as his mother was out of sight, he suddenly dropped to the floor, flipped over the whole wall of cubbies, knocked over two bookshelves, threw a bunch of papers, ripped posters off the wall and TRIED to throw a stapler! This little 3 footer also suddenly developed the mouth of a sailor. He looked so adorable as he screamed, “I want my Mommy you dumb b-----!” On a professional note as a speech therapist…. The entire phrase was articulated perfectly…. He will not qualify as speech impaired!! Wish me luck... round two with Baby Mohammed starts Monday morning. :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

School's starting again!

Overall It was a great summer! This is Pete and Dill after a great day on the lake. Lots of camping, spending time with family and friends. Terrific weather. Time to go back to school! Kids are already in bed, Pepper and I are trying to get on an earlier-to-bed schedule too. Going to start a new job (same district... different building) in a different school. Excited and anxious... and ready to get started.... :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Plaques

At my grandparents house there was a plaque in the kitchen that read, “All of our visitors bring us joy, some by coming, others by leaving” If you knew my family, you would understand the sentiment! As people came into my Grandparents house I would often try to figure out if they were people that my Grandparents were happier to see come in or go out… the plaque actually made quite an impact on me.

When we were decorating the RV I decided that I wanted plaques to be part of the decor. I wanted plaques that sent positive messages to my kids. You know the cheesy ones like “Live, Love, Laugh” and “Family makes a house a home” I really do love those! We spend quite a bit of time in our RV throughout the summer so decorating it with cute sayings as well as pictures of family and friends makes it very homey.

I have always remembered the plaque my Dad had in his bar… probably one of the main reasons I wanted to expose my kids to more positive expressions. I have brain cells that will never forget this saying… “I found the perfect woman, I could not ask for more, she is deaf and dumb and oversexed and owns a liquor store” How the hell can I remember THAT all these years and can’t remember to buy eggs and toilet paper at the grocery store when that is what I went there for?!!! :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Harvey has a home

We have a new family member. His name is Harvey. Isn't it cute? Yeah... that is because you do not feed, water and clean up after the little bugger!!! I am amazed at the amount this little guy can input... and OUTput!! He was actually J's niece's rabbit. She had two and thought this one was mean and too active for the other one. So, while we were camping she decided to 'let it free'. Well, Harvey had no idea what to do.... he and probably many, many of his ancestors had been born in captivity. So, he spent hours just hopping around all of our campsites, although he did look quite content. After awhile every time I saw him hop by, he simply looked like future road kill or a easy meal for something lurking in the woods. The kids did not have to work very hard to convince me to bring him home with us.

On our way out of the camp, some guy peeked to see what the kids were holding and told him that rabbits love banana's. I did not know this... but we are actually going to try it tonight. Hmmm, hopefully it does not make Harvey have any stomach issues...

One other story about Harvey.... Pepper made a very nice salad the other night. She diced up lots of carrots and celery and put the scrapes in a little bowl and told Dill to give it to Harvey. Does Dill take the scrapes? Nope!! He took all the nicely diced veggies! Pepper was none too happy about where all her hard work went!! Oh well, he is a cutie though! :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tubing on the river

My children are already asking me to go ‘tubing’ with them. It is August so it is pretty warm…. Although the temperature was 48 degrees last night…. Brrr!! It is really not a difficult sport. The object is to get your butt balanced in an inner tube and float down the river at a leisurely pace. The most strenuous part really is watching the bank until you see the path that will lead you to the truck you parked (without going past it!) and climbing up the river bank carrying the inner tube and any other stuff that needs to come along too. (like the cooler, the sun block, the bug spray, the children’s inner tubes, their empty water bottles, their shoes, sunglasses, etc…. )

Between the hauling of the tubes to the river and that last, most strenuous part is the real joy of tubing. First, there is making sure everyone has a tube and can get on it. (It is very embarrassing when you aim your butt for the tube hole, miss and end up soaked up to your neck! … yes, that has happened to me. I try for the “I meant to do that” expression, but I don’t think anyone buys it) Then there is tying the tubes together so they float down the river as a group and no one gets left behind. With this, there is also the consideration of making sure that the kids are separated enough…. J gives them all paddles to help “push off the sides” but I think the oars are more for splashing then for any real functional purpose.

So, off we go. A lot of tubes floating at a really slow pace. Four adults and a whole lot of kids. The adults are trying to adjust their butts in the tube (dragging butt on river bottom= no fun!) The kids are all trying to thwack each other with their oars singing “99 bottles of pop on the wall”…. Oh, the joy!!

Going down the river to where the truck has been parked takes about two hours. However, that is going straight down the river without stopping. There are 2 problems here. First, we never go “straight” down the river in our tubes…. We zig zag. Just like a sailboat fighting a headwind, we bounce off one bank and zip across the river to bounce off the other one. The second problem is we stop. We stop to look at fish. We stop to see how deep the water is. We stop to let someone pee. We stop for a splash fight. We stop to switch tubes. We stop to see flowers, turtles, bugs, whatever else there might be there to see. After 4 hours of this cursed “relaxing” I am looking for the truck…. Any truck. I want out.

By this point, my sunblock has worn off so the parts out of the water are burnt and hot, the parts in the water are cold and getting wrinkled and pruny. My beverage is long gone, the bugs are biting and buzzing. I have been splashed and bounced off too many banks and my tube has gone under too many low hanging branches…. Many with big spider webs… ick.. I am starting to notice that the air in my tube does not seem to be as full as it was at the beginning of the trip and I fear I may be riding on the mini-titanic. We round a bend and the kids all start to cheer. I perk up, straining in the distance to see the bank we are approaching. I am expecting to see my beloved Chevy 4X4 Pick up truck. Instead, I see a rope dangling from a tree.

The kids all love this rope. For them, this is the highlight of the trip. They climb the tree, swing out over the river and they are instant Tarzans and Janes. Silently, I wonder how no parent has yet tied a noose in the end of that rope and ended all this suffering!!

Being the loving parent and good sport that I am…. I cheer as each child climbs the tree and swings out. I encourage the kids to take turns and I laugh with the other parents about how skilled the kids are. Meanwhile…. I try to find a little shade for my hot spots and a little warm breeze for my cold ones. I wonder silently if my butt cheeks will ever feel normal again. The only thing worse than having to stand in this 8 inches of water is knowing that I will have to remount that horrid tube again.

Well, summer is ending and I have once again survived ‘tubing’ season. I will always treasure the memories I have of seeing the kids having so much fun on the river. This may surprise you after reading this…. But when they ask me again next year if I will take them tubing…. And you know they will…. I’m gonna volunteer Pepper!! ☺

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Treasure Hunt

Our family is on our last camping trip before school starts in a couple weeks. Skip and Pepper have gone off to the store leaving me in charge of the kids. Since Macy is still sleeping (and I will not wake the bear!!) and the boys went off to the camp treasure hunt I poured myself a cup of coffee and got comfy in my camp chair. The campground we are staying at has a staff of a couple college kids that come up with activities during the day to help keep the youngest campers happy. They play water games and basketball with the kids, do crafts and nature walks… it is usually quite a variety of things.

I am not liking the treasure hunt thing though!! For most of the activities the college kids keep the kids in a contained area and do things with them. For the treasure hunt the college leaders simply hand each pair of kids a piece of paper and yell, “Go!!” On this paper are things like ‘paper clip’, ‘staple’, ‘Map’, ‘gum’, ‘ribbon’, ‘band-aid’, ‘something green’ …… and about 20 other things.

So here is what happens after the college kids yell, “Go!”. They sit down and have a nice conversation or turn on their iPod’s or take a nap and wait for the kids to come back with all their things. Meanwhile, hordes of kids come barreling back towards us unsuspecting parents yelling, “Mom, I need a BAND-AID, receipt, a map, a bottle of glue, a pencil, a staple and a piece of gum….. HURRY!!!”

“HUH?” I really hadn’t heard past BAND-AID and wonder who and what is injured. Pete quickly explains his list and all the things he needs and I am cursing to myself thinking that when the schedule said “Treasure Hunt” I did not realize it was MY treasures the kids would need to acquire!! So I set my coffee down, get up from my comfy chair and try to help the kids locate all the things they need. Teens from another camp come over and try to help find things on the list….. things are as busy as a bee hive in my camper and it is spinning out of control. Finally, the kids decide that they have pillaged as much as they could from our camper and all move on in search of the few remaining items.

They were like a little cluster of locust zipping through Charles Ingalls wheat field…. They left ruin in their wake. The first aid kit is spilled all over the floor, books are mangled trying to get staples out of them, no drawer is closed, and every cupboard is open…. I am in shock, but only for a minute. I know the plot of those damn college kids. They want me to tell my kids that they can’t go to the next activity (water games) because they have to clean up the huge mess they made. Thus giving them ANOTHER hour of free time to listen to their iPods and nap…. I don’t think so, my young friends…. Put on your bathing suits, prepare for the little horde of locust….. I will clean the mess you caused…. My children are coming your way and I may give them each two candy bars and a tablespoon of sugar before they get there!!! ☺