Wednesday, October 23, 2013

my facebook post tonight

Just got back from chaperoning the middle school dance. Told the same kid to stop running about 948930 times. Saw a lot of heavily made-up faces, too-short dresses, too-high heels, boys ranging from 4 feet to 6 feet tall, and not nearly enough mustaches as I was hoping for. May have spotted some same-sex romance (G rated). Found a kid walking out of a janitor's closet. And I was even the focus of some gossip! Ah, middle school. You had me at hello.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013

I've been thinking about this space some in the last few days. I found myself wandering around my blog, reading old entries. It was a great reminder about why I started this in the first place - to capture, for me more than anyone - those little moments in my life that otherwise I'm afraid would become a blur in the day-after-day routine around here.

So, I'm inspired to add another entry.

The weather has turned. As I told the kids at the bus stop this morning (including a boy, not mine, who was wearing brr-shorts-brr), it is no longer post-summer. It is now pre-winter, and we need to start dressing like it. My son, for some reason, took that advice to heart and pulled out his winter coat. After a beautiful, glorious fall, I suppose we are due for some true-blue pre-winter weather. As much as I'm not feeling ready for it, I do remind myself that I live in the land of four seasons for a reason, and that winter isn't all THAT bad.

That said, I am going to escape this climate. One and I are flying to LA (as in, California) at the end of this week to visit a buddy of his who moved back to his homeland of California after his family tested out what living in the midwest would be like for a year. N's absence in One's life has been felt deeply. N and One formed a quick bond, and they became good friends. This is something that One has sort of struggled with. He has plenty of friendships with plenty of kids (boys and girls), but he doesn't seem to have that deep friendship with a person or two. That is, until N came along. We all got to know the family, and we all really fell into some serious like with them. It was a sad say this summer when they moved back. They suggested that we visit, so before getting cold feet about it, I booked us some tickets. One and I are flying there, just the two of us (!!), for the long weekend. I am looking forward as much to spending time with only One (one child! what a luxury!) as he is to the trip to see his buddy. I have high hopes for us. It should be a great trip.

Another One update - he decided to give soccer a go, inspired, actually, by friend N. Last spring, he went to a tournament that N's team was participating in, and he thought, "hey, that looks like fun," so he asked if he could play soccer. Turns out you need to try out to get onto a team, and turns out try-outs were that week. So, we bought the soccer gear in under 4 minutes flat, and off to try-outs he went. He ended up getting an offer onto the Classic B team, which has been a great fit for him. Nice group of kids, excellent (female, first ever, for my boy crew) coach. His skills and confidence have improved nicely as the season has gone on. He is done for now, and will pick it up again in the Spring. He plans to still play basketball in the winter, and we are awaiting word from which team he will end up on after those try-outs from a couple of weeks ago.

Update on Two - fifth grade is great. He has a fantastic teacher. I am a broken record with all of this good teacher reporting, but really, the teacher this year is wonderful. She's very solid, has high expectations, wants her children to learn core concepts. Plus, she's kind and interested in the kids outside of school and even came to watch Two and his friends play football one windy Saturday morning. I think she likes my boy alot, and she has mentioned that he is very kind to some of the other (special needs) children in his class. That makes me more proud than any 4 on a report card would. Beyond anything, I want my boys to have good hearts and compassion towards others.

Two's football season was ended quickly due to a broken foot. Bit of a story here, but basically he broke it during a neighborhood game of kick the can (and a brother may have somehow been involved in the accident) but we didn't believe he was that badly hurt, so we didn't take him to the doctor. For 8 days. When we finally took him in, after resting and ice wasn't helping him, we found out it was broken. He's now in a boot (no cast, thank goodness) and, for the most part, is honoring the no-running rule. He is committed to letting it heal so he can return to his fun, which will soon be basketball. Fortunately, the basketball coaches have seen Two play a lot (for one of the coaches, our neighbor/father to Two's very good buddy, in his court in his backyard) so the fact that he had to miss try-outs wasn't a huge problem. They know what kind of a player he is, so he will be placed on the right team. Poor kid. I think I'm done with beating myself up for not listening to him about his hurt foot, but... yeah... That was some bad judgment on my part.

And onto Three. He's just a honey, until, that is, he isn't. He can be the sweetest boy, just touching my soul with his sensitivity, and he can also be incredibly stubborn and difficult when he doesn't want to do something. He's also playing soccer, which he loves because of all the running. I volunteer on the playground once/week, and he runs and runs and runs during recess. Loves to run and chase and be chased.

He also has a great teacher, and she has implemented spelling homework which I sort of love. Which is saying a lot, since I am not a fan of homework for kids this age. He needs to come up with rhyming words from a word chunk ("in" or "ip") and then, as a family (yeah, right, the big brothers aren't so into this), we are to come up with long words that have those short chunks hidden in them. It's a great exercise to talk about words and how they are constructed. He's fairly grumpy (see, stubborn and difficult) when doing the homework, but he gets it. And his understanding of language is improving.

One last quote from Three, before I run to get him from school. He was complaining about his hair being too long (it's luscious and curly and thick and beautiful), and he asked if it could be cut shorter. "You know, mom. Like, short. Like, now? When I run? It just poofs out behind me like a parachute."

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Door County 2013

In Mid July, we took our annual trek to Door County to stay in the Big Green House in Fish Creek. This is our 4th summer at this rental house, and I really don't think I could find a better spot. It's in a perfect location. It's big enough to handle our group-size. Best of all, it's cheap.

This year, we did things a bit differently. I invited a couple of different (friend) families to join us, and then our (family) families came up for the second half of the week. It was great. It was fun to have new blood with us, and it was, of course, good to be with the regulars too. The switchover of people happened on Wednesday (mid-week), so it was almost like we were on 2 vacations! Brilliant!

Anyhow, here are some photos from the week.

We started off at Bay Beach in Green Bay, which is the best bargain around. Love those swings!

And I love this face!

a moment of brotherly love - One can be such a good big brother

Now, to Door County. With our first half of the week guests, we did a lot of mini field trips. We (I) decided to visit some of the nearby lighthouses, since we had a fun time trekking up to the lighthouse on Rock Island last year. First stop was the lighthouse at Peninsula State Park. Turns out you have to pay for the tour (the hell?), so instead, we stayed outside and posed along the rock wall.

love this face too

and this one

and this one too

Later that day, we went to our favorite spot, PC Junction. Ended up with a very short wait for a spot in the bar (where they deliver the food by train). I was reminded why we normally don't eat there (the food isn't bad, just uninspired). One and his friend below have been friends since kindergarten. Recently, there have been some initial awkward boy-girl moments when they are first together, but then they forget about it, remember that they are friends, and have a great time together. 

Chilling on the porch of the Big Green House. By the looks of what's in his hand, my guess is that the kids just returned from a walk down the street to the candy shop.

A lot of soccer was played in this park.

The weather was mixed. Some days were sunny and hot. Others were windy and cool. We proudly represented our Door County sweatshirts.

Failed attempt at a human pyramid.

Love that face!

Potential Christmas card?

Continuing on our lighthouse quest, we went to the Cana Island lighthouse. Like the one at Peninsula State Park, we had to pay for entry. This time, I opted to pay. It was a total rip off. We paid to walk across to the "island" and along the grounds, and then had the option (which we didn't take) to pay extra to walk to the top of the lighthouse. Dumb. Kids were grumbly. I was regretful. I did enjoy this sweet little flower, however.

Sunset park in Fish Creek. A favorite.

The old crew left. Boo. But then the new crew came! We went to Peninsula State Park beach.

Cousin love is the best.

Baby K and his parents (my brother!!) were with us too!!!!

On our last morning, we took about 23792 pictures of all of the grandchildren for a christmas card for my parents. Most of them turned out like this. I guess it was bright that morning.

getting one last upside down hang in before checking out

Last stop was at Julie's for our goodbye breakfast. Always bittersweet. So good to have a great week of vacation, and so sad to see it end.

We will return next year.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Typical Monday

On Monday, I was a mad woman. Hosted 7 wayward pre-teens who were supposed to go tubing with neighbors but those plans fell apart when the tube broke. Forced them to participate in a "bake off", which, in the end, just meant they (I) made cupcakes and they decorated them with disgusting things like whipped cream and m&m's. Well, for the record, m&m's are not disgusting but also totally not necessary on a cupcake. In between all of this, I cleaned bathrooms, did laundry, and installed a window shade on our bathroom window. Not too shabby. I'm pleased. Also got Two's football gear and picked out paint colors for my windows (new plan! less clown-like! it's good!). And then I worked for 4 hours.

Monday, July 15, 2013

mystery family field trip #2

Hi there.

I'm just going to pretend that it hasn't been 5 months since my last post.

So, this past Saturday was ... interesting. Really, really stressful at times, but really, really good too. We took our second Mystery Family Field Trip. Faithful reader(s) may recall that we did this last year for the first time - heading to Field of Dreams in Iowa. That was a sweet day, and encouraged us to try it again. This time, the mystery destination was Lake Geneva, aka Bob's happy place. 

We finally found a parking spot and trudged to the lake. I spotted a boat rental company, and, after a quick conference with Bob, wandered over there on some false mission (but really, to find out the prices/availability of speed boat rentals). I ended up reserving one (which, in itself ended up being a bit of a trial - I am realizing that one of the ways One's anxiety comes out is through what he perceives as foolish spending of money). Anyhow, our boat rental was a couple of hours away, so we went to the beach for a bit.

The beach was very crowded. Also, not free. Bob took the kids while I headed back to the car and to "run some errands" for the boat - namely, to find some ibuprofin to treat Two's sore throat, as well as some muscle ache stuff for One (what are these guys with all of these somatic complaints? retirees?) at the quirky little general supplies store in town. I also bought some snacks/drinks for the boat ride to add to what I had packed from home, but I was kicking myself for not bringing a little cooler. One more impulse purchase later (a plastic 5 gallon "pickle bucket" and a bag of ice at a grand total of $5) and problem solved!

Anyhow, we did the beach thing. 1 hour there (my total time, after those errands) was plenty. I'm not a beach fan. The texture of the sand kind of skeeves me out. We then headed over to the boat rental place. Two declared, "this is the BEST mystery family field trip EVER!"

Unfortunately, that sentiment ended as soon as we boarded the boat and set off. Choppy waters! So many other boats!!!!! Bob and I have very little boating experience, so we were totally over our head. I put on my game face, but Bob and the rest of my crew (see what I did there?) were unhappy and nervous. Which quickly led to a family meltdown. Bob was (at this point, sorta quietly) freaking out. One was cowering on the floor, crying, begging me to return him to shore. Two was showing his anxiety in his not-so-pleasant way (by becoming angry and a bit of an ass). I finally agreed to turn back, and then Three started crying when he realized he wouldn't get a chance to be on the tube (which we spent an extra $40 to rent). 

As captain of the ship (oh yes, I was piloting that damn boat because Bob refused), I made an executive decision - just like that captain on the new Bravo reality show did when their customers were doing cocaine in the bathroom, are you watching that show??? - and said, "I am going tubing with Three. someone else has to drive the damn boat." 

Cue One dissolving into even a bigger puddle of tears, and Two becoming enraged that Bob was allowing me to do that. "You are a fucker!" he yelled. "She is going to die!!!" Meanwhile, Bob threw his own little temper tantrum (something about not knowing the "rules" of tubing, and that he NEVER thought TUBING was a good idea), and sweet Three was pleased as punch that finally he would get to go tubing. My thoughts were mixed - part of me was dreading getting into the water, and another part of me was relieved to leave the crazy that was the boat.

We slowly puttered along, and it was fine. Fairly splashy, not too cold. Good enough. Three was thrilled and I was tolerating it. And then, for some reason, Bob got the idea to go faster. So he sped up. The tube started flying thru the water, and then we started catching air. Three was woo-hooing, and I started screaming, "NOOOO!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!" and furiously shaking my head. This got translated into even faster speeds. My heart was racing, and I started to believe that Two's fears would indeed come true. They finally slowed down and I yelled to NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! "Oh, sorry" Bob said. We resumed to puttering.

And then something strange happened... The mood in the boat seemed to lighten. One was actually sitting in a chair, drinking a soda and eating potato chips. Bob seemed happier, and laughed about something. Two seemed sullen still, but at least he wasn't throwing things or punching people. I finally said I was done, and One volunteered to tube with Three. I was able to return to the boat, and One entered the water for a bit. After a while, we decided tubing was done, and we just motored around, oggling the big mansions. Each of the boys took a turn driving the boat. 

It wasn't until today in talking with Bob that I got the whole story of what happened when I was on the tube -something about some realization he had about how his mood affects the others (yup!), a connection to some fucked up shit from his childhood, and how, if our children express emotions, that is fine, perfectly normal, to be expected. It was, as Oprah would say, an Ah-Ha moment. 

We ended feeling fairly triumphant that we all survived. We drove to Janesville to eat at Olive Garden, and we debriefed a bit. I suggested that we all spend time away from each other on Sunday, so as to not ruin this happy little ending from Saturday.

And so we did. Three played with a friend, and we went to the pool for a bit. One has been playing video games all day, and is heading over to a friend's house. Two has been gone with another fried all day - first to swim at the Union and now to little league baseball games. Bob is working, and I have been very, very lazy. And it has felt very, very good.

At first, I was using the words "family dysfunction" when thinking about our meltdown on the boat. I have since decided that's not correct, or fair. These messy times are exactly what should be happening in families. This is where we act our truest selves (not pretty) but hopefully where we learn to grow. Which we did. What we got out of this experience was much more than summer fun. We were stressed, pushed outside of our comfort zones, challenged to interact with each other in their moments of stress. We gained insight - individually and as a family - about how we function together as a team. I'm proud of us.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

found the pictures!

And here they are!

Ice skating:

Looking at a sleeping baby 

Holding our favorite baby:

overdue update

Oh boy. It's been so long. I don't know if I even remember how to do this.

So, how are you? Notice anything different? Since the last time I blogged, I developed a new skill. Which I am showing off now. I discovered that the whole "type a sentence, type a period, and add two spaces" is only for typing on typewriters, and we who use computers are supposed to only use one space. I was vehemently against this news when I heard it, but I've adjusted and actually, it is quite freeing. One space - that's all you gotta do!

Wow. This has the makings of one of the most boring posts in history.

So, life has been good, really good. It's now winter. 4th grade tackle football season ended great. My boy's team only won one game, but they played with heart and soul, and my boy had a great time playing. Basketball has begun. One and Two are both in a tri-county league. Twice/weekly practices (for each boy) started in November, and games start this coming weekend. Each boy has at least 2 games/weekend through February. I've embraced basketball and know I'm going to learn a lot.

We went on a great family vacation to Baltimore/Washington DC and then to NYC over Thanksgiving week. A definitely highlight of the week (and year) was meeting my newest little nephew, who had the good sense to be born while we were there in Baltimore. I was at the hospital and got to meet him within an hour of his birth, and I connived the way for my 2 eldest to meet their baby cousin. We had a fun time doing some light sightseeing in DC and in NYC too, but the best part was spending time with our east coast family members.

We are wrapping up what's got to be the longest winter break in history. Kids were off of school for two extra days at the beginning of break due to a huge snowstorm. Bob and I had planned to do some last minute, but essential, christmas shopping on one of those days, so we had to scramble and do it on a different day. We have entered the phase of parenting where we can leave our children home alone for a few hours, so we took advantage of that opportunity. Ah, what a difference a few years makes, and these little bursts of freedom are so, so lovely. Earlier in December, Bob and I did some other Christmas shopping, and we also went on a date one night while the kiddos were home alone.

Christmas was fun, low-key, relaxing. We hosted our regular Christmas eve party with a bunch of extended family whom we love and don't see regularly. Unfortunately, a nasty little stomach bug swept through our family during this time, but we soldiered on and still hosted our party. We had our traditional steal-a-gift game, which is always good fun. We also made true blue 1960's hippie Indian chicken curry, and the house smelled simply divine.

During our Christmas eve party, we skyped with far flung relatives (long story, but my brother is now stationed in Mongolia, of all places - read his blog), so we chatted with him, as well as his lovely bride and their new baby in Baltimore. Yes, my brother has to live in Mongolia for a few months while his wife and baby are here in the US. Actually, they are currently HERE in Madison, which has made for a very fun week. My boys have fallen head over heals in love with their sweet, teeny little cousin, and he is a star on One's Instagram page.

Christmas day was us 5 at home, happily playing with our new goodies (the big gift this year was huge flat screen tv and a mini-basement remodel, updating it from a play room to more of a hang out space). My parents came over for dinner, which was steaks on the grill, roasted sweet potatoes, and spinach salad, and it was delicious, especially since my stomach was cooperating that day.

New Years Eve was very quiet. We were anxiously awaiting our beloved Baltimorians to arrive, which happened late due to some unnamed airport delays. I ended up driving to my parents' house at around 8 pm to see them. I left a headache-y One and a tired Three home with Bob. Two scored an invite to a buddy's house for a sleepover that night. We all stayed up talking until past midnight and skyped again with Mark in Mongolia (and learned that they eat horse milk soup there - a fact which has haunted me since hearing it). I broke my own personal rule and drove on the streets after midnight on NYE; however, it was very, very quiet. People must have taken the "don't drink and drive" ad campaigns seriously - at least, they did in the neighborhoods I was in. As an OWI assessor and sober driver, I appreciated it. I sort of wondered if I would be pulled over simply for being on the roads, but no one took a second look at me.

I have worked some these past 2 weeks - 12 hours total each week. Enough to get out of the house and away from the madness. We have been a bit sloppy with childcare - Bob has stayed home with the kids one day, my parents popped in for a few hours a couple of different days, and one day we even (gasp) left them home alone for a few hours. That made me feel strange and unsettled, but a bit relieved too that they could handle themselves alone. However, when I came home and found out that the boys walked down to the bay a couple of blocks away to skate with other neighbor boys, I thought, "oh. hm. that sounds potentially dangerous and like it could become a news story awfully quickly. As in unattended-neighborhood-gaggle-of-boys-drown-in-icy-Monona-Bay." So, we have spoke a bit about safe ice vs unsafe, and we (I) have decided that the bay is unsafe, until I can observe it for myself.

We hosted a party for 2 of Baltimore's best the other night. I decided my New Years Resolution (which I'm not really into making) was to have people over more often. We used to entertain all the time. Really, before kids, early in our marriage, we'd have different groups over to play cards, play games, whatever. It was a blast. I miss that, and I've decided to try to get some of that back. So, to kick it off, we hosted a little local-relative get-to-know Baby K party the other night. Bob ended up working late into the eve out of town, so it was all on me. Other than our garbage disposal failing, it was a seamless event and fun to do. Encourages me to continue on this track.

We squeezed in a trip to Tenney Park for ice skating. (If you are local and haven't seen the new shelter yet, you must. It's gorgeous.) We have attended several basketball games (One and Two are in the tri-county league which means lots and lots of basketball, which means I'm finally learning a bit about this game). We are bracing ourselves for a rough re-entry into real-life tomorrow (first day at school since, when? December 18??). I have enjoyed the break from the homework and the schedules, but I also know it's time to get back into it. Best for these boys of mine to reconnect with their communities of friends and get some structure to their days.

I will leave you with some photos of, well... not what I was planning to post. I'm searching for photos I thought I just threw on my computer from my ipod of Baby K, but I can't find them. I did find these gems of two of my boys from years ago. Here is Two, around the age of 1 1/2, on the beach.

 And here is One (age 3 1/2) and One (age 1) and a bunch of kids in our little wading pool at our new-old house in Middleton. Wow. These pictures feel like they happened a lifetime ago.
I will sign off now, so this post isn't delayed any further. I hope to be back with pictures of what may indeed be the cutest baby in the world - my little nephew K.