Sunday, January 25, 2015

Snow Hours

We woke to an inch of snow on Saturday. The sun was shining so I knew to kick the kids out sooner rather than later if they were going to get to play. Four hours later, it was gone. Generally speaking, this is the way snow showers go around here.

Ty watched a movie at the neighbor's house. He came home keyed up and excited. He really liked the movie and couldn't get his words out fast enough as he described scenes. He kept repeating, "there were white guys with guns" over and over. Erin, who is known for quick whit and sarcasm asked him if he'd been watching CNN. Ahem. As it turns out, Star Wars was the movie and storm troopers were the white guys. Ty is quite interested in light saber fights and now needs some new costumes.

Lauren, who has caught every single illness that has passed near her since she battled mono last summer was sick again this week. She had pleurisy. Fluid gathered in her lungs and it was extremely painful. It's viral and there's nothing to be done for it except ibuprofen every six to eight hours. It has literally been one thing after another for her this school year. She was finally on the mend on Saturday and spent it catching up on school work. She will be on an extended campus plan starting in February and is eager to complete some final projects at school to see that plan into fruition. Sister has Senior-itis too.
Lauren's best buddy kept her company all day Friday while she slept. He hasn't been able to get up onto furniture in a long time so Daddy gave him a lift to comfort Lauren. Brutus was in doggy heaven.

Ty and I had a break-through during school this week. You see, I have always naively believed one should start at the beginning when teaching new concepts. This approach bored my son to tears. One of our language lessons this week introduced the idea of finger stretching to teach how to put letter sounds together to sound out words. The concept worked well for his sisters before him. Ty smirked at me and easily read several three letter words. I was jumping out of my skin excitedly exclaiming, "Ty! You are reading!" He just stared at me for a minute before telling me he thought I was being weird. Apparently the basic phonic lessons I have been focusing on this month were not needed.. Furthermore, I moved ahead a few weeks in his math curriculum once he explained to me that he didn't need to count blocks because we always work with groups of ten and when three of the blocks aren't colored, that means there are seven. So, he is building large numbers in groups of hundreds, tens and units without hesitation. All of this time could have been more fruitful had my son been willing to tell me what he knew in the first place. 
My good friend Cherie brought her family over for dinner last night after her twins played hockey in Louisville. It was so good to see them as it has been way too long since we were last together. I lamented later I never grabbed the camera but quickly noted that blurry children would have been all I could have photographed because there was no way they were going to stop moving long enough to take photos. The adults relaxed while the kids played. It was perfect. We hope hockey brings them into the area again soon.
Sunrise on Friday. You have to get up early if you crave a colorful outdoor scene these days. January is just so brown. I am ready for spring.
A family I am no longer watching reached out this week to see if a play date could be arranged for Kate and her biggest fan. Five year old Gleason adores Kate. Sunday was spent knee deep in dress-up clothes, nail polish and crafts.

Tonight I filed taxes for one teen and ate ice cream in honor of another teen's first broken heart. She was too sad for chocolate or ice cream so it was pretty serious. Since I was not the one she wanted to confide in, I needed the ice cream. This mothering of teens gig is not for the weak of heart or the lactose intolerant.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Weekend Review

Greg taunts Brutus with his turkey call. Brutus' howling is adorable, just so you know.

I took Kate and her friend to four major name craft stores in search of scrapbooking supplies to update the kids' albums. Whereas they came up with several crafting ideas, I was rather disappointed by the selection. Apparently scrapbooking is a dying art. All the scrapbooking stores have closed their doors since my last updating weekend a year ago. On top of the lack of inspiration out there, I am feeling homesick for my girlfriends in Ohio who would gather together with me one Friday night a month for hours of crafting. It's just not the same without them. I suppose these will be my last old school style albums.

Makenna found herself grounded for the weekend. She spent it lamenting loudly how horrible we are to spend weekends with. She's delightful. She wanted to make sure we hated having her grounded as much as she hated being grounded.

Greg and I had a date for lunch today. We decided we have to go to the Home Depot on our dates because we don't really know how to behave anywhere else. Our behavior is questionable when we are without children. Greg was drooling all over the smoker aisle. 
Our neighbor text she felt safe seeing Superman flying through our yard this weekend. The weather was fantastic and our little superhero caught up on some much needed vitamin D. I noted his laundry this weekend consisted of four pair of underwear, two pair of pajamas, one pair of socks and six costumes.
Oliver has fully recovered from his procedure last week. Convincing him to relax is difficult at times; however, he naps with flare when it's his idea to do so.  Take a load off, buddy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What We've Been Up To

Caramelizing onions. It couldn't be easier and the flavor impact is incredible. Add a little grilled guacamole to a burger, top with those babies and whala, heaven on a plate! Do yourself a favor and make some.

I have been reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker again. Acknowledging my privilege in this world is beneficial, to say the least. Interrupted was fantastic too. I am processing just what it is I am supposed to do with these convictions.

I resigned from one of my families as of Jan 1 and feel like my load is more manageable now. Ty and I are working through school and he is surprising me with his interest. Of course, I have surprised myself as well. There was a handwriting lesson around the words poop, fart, pee and butt. I am not proud but Ty giggled clear through said lesson and has bragged about it repeatedly. I am Mom of the year, obviously.

Teenagers are wimps. That is all. The same cold that barely slowed Kate and Ty down last week has grounded Lauren and Makenna. Very little school was attended this week and there were some knock down drag outs over priorities. Parenting teens can be such a joy. I now possess an extra phone. I am Mom of the year, obviously.

Last weekend, Greg and I took Makenna, Kate and Ty to see Annie. We all enjoyed the outing after coming to terms with the price-point of a matinee. There is a reason we do this less than once a year. I found the remake to be adorable even though there will never be a replacement for Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan. Half way through the movie, Ty leaned over and announced we should have gone to a good movie. I guess we came away with a mixed review. Afterward, we took the kids to our favorite Cuban restaurant. Live music and energetic crowds were very entertaining. At one point I was singing along with the band and discovered Makenna trying to hide under the table. Once Greg asked me to dance, she announced she was running away. Greg now wants to take all our teens. He is seeking the empty nest a little more than anyone with a five year old should.

Oliver had an appointment with the snip clinic this week. I felt rather anxious about his appointment because that surgery on top of vaccines sent Brutus' health into a tailspin as a puppy. Oliver is thus far no worse for the wear. He returned very happy to see his family and was immediately jumping onto furniture and running through the house which was strongly discouraged by the vet. Let's just say five month old kittens aren't known for being compliant. We're glad to have him home.

So we have this theory around here that any little project can quickly become a big project. We call it the domino effect. I wanted a few organizational items in the kitchen. One was a basket mounted on the inside of a cabinet door for aluminum foil and sandwich baggies and the other was a paper towel holder mounted on the inside of another cabinet door. I keep the paper towels off the counter so they aren't within reach and over-used. Our paper product budget was insane a few short years ago. We still go through a lot but have curtailed it significantly. I digress....the point was that I spent under $15 and made myself happy. I am easy to please. Greg went to install the paper towel holder for me and discovered the paper towels were wet. Further investigation revealed everything under the sink was soaked. Our disposal is leaking. Again. We replaced it six years ago. Is it sad that Greg grinned and asked if I wanted to go on a date to Home Depot with him this weekend to replace the disposal? Yes! A date night! We are pathetic.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Year

Rumor has it a new year has begun. As it turns out, those things are always ushered in with the month of January. Whereas I am not a fan of January's temperatures, I do appreciate fresh starts and the restoration of routine. I always spend the first few days in my post-holiday purge mode. Several trips to Goodwill are under my belt and I am content to let the rest sit awhile. Spring purges will commence in March. I am a little predictable.

Ty officially started Kindergarten at home on Monday. We knew we'd need a trial run to see where his cooperation level would stand if homeschooling was an option. He has the attention span of a flea. Ask him what he's learned at the end of the day and he will tell you he doesn't know but it takes too long. However, his short language lessons have taught two year old Anna some letter sounds. This is just one more example of the differences between boys and girls and why kindergarten teachers deserve sainthood nominations. My one may end my career. He is so smart but unwilling to demonstrate it when asked. He attended a preschool program in December and impressed the teacher with how well he followed directions. He did as well as the regular students and better than some. Time will tell what this means for his academic future but he asked for additional work in math today. It's a mixed review thus far. However, I suspect being Chase from Paw Patrol won't be an option in a standard classroom so that alone may gain some cooperation moving forward. 

Kate was sent home from school Wednesday with what the nurse thought was a case of pink eye. It ruined her perfect attendance. School policy insists she has to have a doctor's note in order to return to school stating she is no longer contagious. She does have an eye that looks mildly irritated but there has been no drainage and she has cold symptoms. I will not take her into an office where she is far more likely to pick up something worse than pink eye unless she needs medical treatment. As it turns out, I have a policy too. There's been a small battle of wills and Kate has returned to school. The school nurse may not be a member of my fan club. However, throughout this process we discovered we never received our new health insurance cards and since we were required to change providers, this is a problem. Open enrollment back in October failed to process our order. Awesome. I am glad we discovered this before we had a medical emergency. Now we are just hoping we can get this squared away efficiently. I kid myself.
Oliver keeping Kenna's homework warm. We are about a day away from "the cat ate my homework" around here. And that won't stop anyone from leaving it lying around.

Ty was running up and down the hallway in his sleep last night. It was hilarious. I swear the boy never walks anywhere. He landed in bed with me and was immediately out cold. I couldn't resist a shot of his gorgeous eye lashes. I am very much aware I am biased but seriously, they are amazing.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Celebrating Sunshine

So the sun came out today and it was beautiful.

Wrapping up 2014 feels a bit surreal. It's been a year of growth, challenges, beauty and grace. God is good all the time and thanks to His on-going patience with me, I am starting to see that more clearly. Even in the muck, there is something to be appreciated. I thank God for all of it.
One Thousand Gifts being revisited was life changing. I promise to continue noting gifts daily. It's good for my soul. Today, the sun tops the list. It really is incredible.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Weekend Review

The neighbors upgraded their game system for Christmas and handed down their old Wii. Ours has been out of commission for a few months. Whereas I have not missed it, Ty has and is thrilled to be in bowling competitions with his Daddy again. Of course, Mario is back too.

Ty has been paying attention to advertisements and often lets me know of products he believes we need. There was a conflict in Jay C on Friday because they didn't carry Oxy Clean dishwasher detergent and that one has "powerful clean". The fact he was dressed as Captain America complete with shield and binoculars made his pleas even more endearing. He gets attention wherever we go and one would think he'd appreciate it but despite all the costumes and appearances of being out-going, he is rather shy until he's comfortable around someone. I find myself explaining frequently.

Friday's weather was amazing. Kate and I quilted on the porch swing while Ty played with his remote control tractor from Grandma Carol. He had that thing doing flips, spinning on it's head and climbing walls! It's a pretty impressive toy, to say the least. Anne and I slipped away for a walk just before sunset. Not ten minutes later, I ran out with the camera to capture that sunset. Greg just laughed and recalled I had run out of the house to stand in the minute of sunshine Christmas Eve offered despite dinner being taken up. At this point in the winter, I take what I can get. The long gray days wear me out if I allow them.

I invited Greg to out on a date because we were given three gift cards for Christmas to local restaurants. He asked me who that date would be with and I suggested me. He thought about it for a minute and declared his work wives were likely sick of him by now so perhaps that was a good idea. He's a real charmer. As it turns out, I have missed him anyway.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

We had ourselves a merry little Christmas this year. Mom and Dad drove over yesterday and spent the night  to help us celebrate. We enjoyed a tea party, lots of sweets and an amazing dinner. Before church, we put reindeer food in the yard and had a dance party Ty refused to participate in. I asked him what he was going to do if a pretty girl asked him to dance some day and he simply said he'd tell her no. Dad got tickled and wished him luck with that approach.

When we arrived at church Ty asked when we were going to start the fire which sounded far more alarming than he intended. We woke him when it was time to light the candles and sing Silent Night. He would have been quite disappointed if he'd missed it while taking a little Christmas Eve nap. Having him curled in my lap was perfect.

Justin: Mom, how appropriate is it for me to give you a gift in a Victoria Secret bag?
Me: Are you serious? That would be highly inappropriate.
Justin: Um Mom, can I borrow a gift bag?

Erin was our early riser this year and woke the little ones so we could open gifts at six. Her energy was great fun and we hope the remaining teens forgive her soon. Ty was pretty excited as he woke us. "Santa came!"

Mom and Dad hit the road around the time Justin and Erin headed to his family's gathering and Lauren went to work. Greg napped early since UPS needed him throughout the night and he will be returning for an early shift tonight as well. The house has been restored and all evidence of Christmas is packed away in the attic because I am a bit manic about the clutter once the packages are opened. But if you know me, you already know that. Merry Christmas friends.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Party

I hosted a little party for some of my most favorite people on the planet today. I think we all had a pretty good time. Collectively, we have four videos of our phone call from Mrs. Claus but I have been unable to get them to post. It was a blast despite my technical difficulties. Mrs. Claus told Makenna the elves would like her to quit calling in her request for Ed Sheeran to be stuffed down our chimney. "Humans down chimneys are strictly prohibited". Makenna was a little disappointed. Devyn told Mrs. Claus a joke only she understood and it was adorable, of course. All of the kids were able to talk about something special in their lives. It was a highlight from our day. A special thanks to Mrs. Claus for taking the time out of a very busy day of bustling to call.
I amuse myself.

By the time Ty finished icing his cookies, they looked like cupcakes!

We added a craft this year....lots of fun with glue, pom-poms and markers

Mr. Maverick. Does it get any cuter than this?

I  love these kids!

Best buddies, Ty and Devyn enjoying their cookies together


The reindeer will be well fed this year

This sweet girl melts my heart

'Twas the Night Before Christmas reading before our special phone call from the North Pole

The expressions say it all.

Mixing reindeer food is serious work.

Anna, she is an original. We all adore her.

Hot Potato to Brian Setzer's Christmas cd? But of course.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Weekend Review

This weekend was good for my soul. On one miraculous evening last week, all four of my girls were home at the same time and we laughed together to the point my head was splitting. I took the opportunity to ask them about Ryan's birthday. We collectively decided to take some time on Saturday afternoon before Greg went back to work to go to dinner together. It has been almost two years since all seven of us went out to eat together with budgets, schedules and my odd diet making it difficult.

Kate, Ty and I worked on a Christmas light scavenger hunt. It was a blast. Kate took her clipboard with the list attached in the car and tried to cheat the system with "memories" of such and such. I had to remind her we were seeking the items in light displays together. She held the power of the pen and clipboard and took her job very seriously. There were times I had to remind her to relax and enjoy the lights. I suspect she inherited that from her mother. To do lists can suck the joy from simple things if we let them. It was fun.

Holiday baking has been scaled back this year but our traditional favorites were prepared. And we are all set for this week's Christmas party with my smallest friends.

A Living Nativity display was set up to raise money for the Salvation Army. Live animals and the chance and see what all this craziness is about? We were in. It was another awesome way to distract us from missing Greg this weekend.

I took Kate and Ty to evening church the night of Ryan's birthday. The cheerful message was about redemption. Fitting, I think. Ty kept the candles after the service. They brought him such joy. We'll likely be singing Silent Night quite a bit in the future if it means he gets to hold a candle.

So I have felt guilty for not providing a Christmas tree for Kate and Ty. Yes they have a little one in their room but Santa won't be putting anything under that tree. I looked for simple options Oliver wouldn't destroy and discovered branches in a vase on Pinterest. I decided to try it since I am fairly certain Oliver no longer gets on the table. I arranged it with Kate's help and sent a photo to four contacts. The response was varied. Some thought I was kidding and others thought it was pretty. Two of my teens are horrified and one is impressed. Greg has not commented and I am going to assume his silence follows the golden rule, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all". It may make it until Thursday but I am not making any promises.

Speaking of Oliver....I have failed to mention we found Spidey a new home a few weeks ago. He was destructive and had a rough personality. He tormented the other animals and wanted nothing to do with people unless they were sleeping. Once he started using the bathtub instead of the litter box, I was finished dealing with him. He now lives on Justin's 15 acre farm and has fit in quite well. In fact, rumor has it he has run off their previous cat of two years. He is a handful and will likely make quite a mouser for Justin's parents.  It's a win-win situation. Spidey wasn't content as a house cat and we are all sleeping again.