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. :)