Friday, November 13, 2009

Spell What?!?

The things my kids learn in school never cease to amaze me. School is definitely a whole lot different than when I was a kid! After DS had the word regolith last year for a spelling word, I didn't think I would be stumped again so soon. Well, this time it was a word from DD's spelling list. What word did I not know? How many people know what triskaidekaphobia means (much less how to spell it!)? I certainly didn't! Not until this week, that is. Yes, DD's teacher assigned that word for spelling this week. So I learned from my 2nd-grader that triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. Who knew?! And yes, DD was able to spell the word correctly. Amazing. I guess that instead of asking "Are you smarter than a fifth grader?" they need to be asking "Can you spell better than a second grader?"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where Did It Go??

Wow! The summer just flew by and now the kids have already been in school for a week. Time seems to have this way of zipping past the older I get. We did have a lot of fun packed into the last month of summer break. One of the highlights was the visit of friends who moved out-of-state a couple of years ago. The kids (and I!) were excited to get to spend some time with them when they returned for a visit. My friend, J, may have a differing opinion though.....especially after DS & DD taped her eldest son to the floor of the playroom (using an entire roll of masking tape in the process!). And if that wasn't enough, DS also spray-painted him blue after that. Luckily it was only his arm.....which was still a bit blue by the end of their visit..... It must not have been too startling for J though, as she did let 2 more of her children spend the night with us later in the week. While they were visiting we also had some more "normal" adventures as well.....visits to the park, splash time in the fountain (great way to cool off on a hot day!), and a visit to the children's museum. (Please click on the pictures in this post to see the whole picture....they have been chopped off in the post somehow.)
Dale Chihuly blown glass sculpture in the stairwell:
Actual lightsaber prop used in filming the original Star Wars trilogy (temporary exhibit at the museum):Obi Wan Kenobi's spaceship prop used in filming:During this time as well was the local 4-H fair, in which DS entered 3 projects. I'm proud to say he received blue ribbon awards on all three, with his woodworking project being the scored a perfect 100/100!!
And as a final way to finish out the fun, yet very busy, summer, I took DS & DD to the state fair. We had awesome weather that day, and had a lot of fun. Even though we enjoyed the animals & exhibits, I would have to say that the best part of the experience (and it was their first time to the state fair) according to the kids was getting their first tastes of funnel cakes & elephant ears.

All in all, it was a very fun, busy summer. Now I'm just trying to come to terms with being the mother of a middle-schooler.......

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Just WHAT Is That In My Washer??

I did laundry today....4 loads. In an average week I do around 8 loads of laundry. I refuse to add up how many loads I've done in the past 11 years since the kids have come along (especially since DD spit up so much as a baby that I did at least 2 loads a day for about 4 months!). It never ceases to amaze me the things I will find in the washing machine as I'm doing the laundry. No matter how many times I remind everyone to check their pockets as they sort their laundry, there's almost always something that makes it through.

I've found more rocks than I care to count (both DS & DD have at different times "collected" them), enough coins to buy any entire vending machine's worth of snacks, lip balm (thankfully found before it made its way to the dryer), a few crayons (also found before the dryer), fruit snacks (unfortunately NOT found before the dryer.....putty knife works well to remove these from the dryer drum after it's cooled), assorted candy wrappers, a handful of uneaten candy, loads of tissues (always in the dark load when they appear), rubber bands, toy jewelry, a few rubber snakes, and more things that I'm sure I've forgotten.

There are three things that are even more amusing than the rest. One time I had a wet, furry toy mouse come flying out of the washer at me as I pulled clothes out.....this was only amusing after I realized that it was one of the cat toys and not a real mouse! Last year I heard something clunking loudly in the washer. When I went to see what it was when the spin cycle finished, I found.......two full-sized screwdrivers....yes, TWO! (It was later determined that these came from DH's pockets, not the kids'!!) Today I added to the list of amusing washing machine discoveries. This is what I found:
Yes, two orange disposable ear plugs.....which at first I thought were cheese puffs (not thinking at the time about the fact that had they indeed been cheese puffs, they would have completely dissolved in the wash water). Where did these come from? My son's pockets......where most of the strange things that have shown up in my washer originated. Over the years I've determined that you just never know what strange things will be found lurking in the washing machine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fourth Fun

We had a fun weekend celebrating the 4th of July. Unfortunately there was rain predicted for the actual 4th (Saturday), so the kids set off their fireworks on Friday evening instead. They had a blast! (Pun intended!) This was the first year, for many reasons, that they have had a chance to do their own fireworks. Between the smoke bombs,


and spouting fountain fireworks,

a great time was had by everyone. Also, thanks to my parents' competitive neighbors, the we were even able to see a lot of "traditional" fireworks shooting off high in the sky. The kids are now asking if we will buy them that kind for next year. DH, of course, is just as excited as the kids......

Friday, July 3, 2009

Zoo Adventures

Earlier this week the kids & I met friends (J & P) at the zoo for a fun-filled day. We had awesome weather...not too hot, not too humid....and had a fun time. We started out the morning at the Oceans exhibit, where the kids had a chance to pet sharks. Both DS & DD declined this opportunity. DD started to but got a little freaked out when the shark came close enough to touch.We then moved on to the area where the kids had the opportunity to touch a starfish. DD did decide to do this and was amazed at how different a living starfish feels from the dead ones she's seen in gift shops.Per DD's request we then moved on to the Dessert Pavilion to view her favorite reptiles. I don't know where she got her love of these things, but she has claimed snakes as her favorite animals for years. She's quite put out with me that I won't let her have one for a pet. From there we went all over the zoo looking at various animals in their habitats. One special exhibit that the zoo has on loan for the summer is the Kimodo Dragons.
After viewing most of the animals (and DD having a chance to also pet her favorite animals), we ate lunch & let the kids play in the spray park in the zoo. We then headed over to the adjacent Gardens to check out the butterfly house. One compliant butterfly even stuck out it's tongue at us:After viewing the multitude of butterflies (which DS was thoroughly bored by!) we checked out some of the rest of the Gardens area to see the frog fountain
as well as some of the pretty flowers that abounded.Then DS & DD spotted this fella:

and quickly decided it was time to go home. All in all it was a very good day. And one of the best parts is no one got hurt, no on got sick, and no one had a total meltdown. Gotta love those kinds of days!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gone To The Dogs

Our local art museum is sponsoring a public artwork display this summer entitled "Dog Days of Summer." Several local artists have painted/decorated life-sized statues of dogs that have been placed all over town for people to see. As a part of their kick-off celebration for this exhibit, several elementary and middle school students were invited to have their own dog artwork displayed at the museum for the next month. I am so excited and proud of DD as she was one of the kids who were selected! She is definitely a much better artist than I could ever hope to be. Congratulations, DD!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How To Get The Attention Of Lifeguards

One of the local high schools offers swimming lessons during the summer. Four days a week they offer "open swim" immediately following the lessons for the public to come and use the pool. Today was the third time I took DS & DD to open swim after DD's swimming lesson. I've always wondered just how much attention the teenage lifeguards are paying to the swimmers at times. Well, today I had the chance to find out.

We had been in the pool for about an hour when the incident happened. DS & DD were throwing diving rings out into the pool and then taking turns going out to collect them. They also decided that I needed to dive after a few as well. As I was coming up from collecting 3 of the rings I hear a loud, piercing scream. Of course it was coming from one of my children....DD. I got ahold of her and put her up on the side of the pool as I tried to figure out why she was screaming. At that point I noticed the blood dripping from her lower lip. So I climb out of the pool and walk her into the girls' locker room to check her out and clean her up. A couple of minutes later, after I had gotten the bleeding to stop, one of the life guards came in with a first aid kit to see if DD was OK. As I answered her that DD was fine, all I could think about was that the response time was not very quick. Hopefully it was just due to the fact that I had already gotten to DD and gotten her out of the pool & was obviously taking care of her.

Now you may be wondering just what happened to DD to cause the bleeding & screaming. Evidently DS had gone to get one of the diving rings and in the process kicked DD in the mouth. (He did apologize profusely when DD & I came back to the pool.) Ah, the joys of children. You just never know what will happen next.....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Always The Unexpected

I just never know what to expect during even the most mundane outings with my children. One would think that with only 2 kids, life would be a little more bland. But not with my two! We went to the bank this morning. Both kids had done chores for my mother-in-law (who currently needs extra help around the house & yard due to recent knee replacement surgery) and she had paid them for their efforts. So both DS & DD had checks they needed to deposit in their savings accounts. Now, I have taken both kids to the bank many times before without incident and had no reason to believe this time would be any different. They're 11 and 7 difficult could it be? I found out the answer to that today.

I had both DS & DD fill out their own deposit slips (want to start them early on knowing the ins and outs of financial responsibility!), then we headed over to the nearest teller. DD made her deposit first. As I was handing her the receipt, I noticed that the amount listed on it as her current balance was way in about $13,000.00 off!! I pointed out the error to the teller, who realized she had printed off the wrong balance. She quickly corrected her error (at this point I should have realized that things happen in threes!).

DD had picked up a sucker from the basket of suckers while making out her deposit slip and requested to be able to enjoy it at this point. She also then asked to get a drink at the water fountain. I gave her an affirmative response to both requests and let her head off for her drink while DS made his deposit. Just before he finished up, DD runs up to me saying, "Mom! Help! My sucker's caught!" I look over to see her holding out a section of her hair away from her head.....with the sucker dangling from it! I tell DS to finish up his transaction as I take DD to the bathroom to deal with the stuck sucker. (Luckily it comes out very easily by running her hair under a flow of water from the she ended up with very wet hair, but at least the sucker was out!)

One would assume that DS would be waiting for me just outside the bathroom door as he knew that is where we went. We were only in there for a couple of minutes, but when we exited the bathroom, DS was not anywhere to be seen! Someone else was at the teller's station where he had been. I started looking around (the bank is very small & it's very open with even the doors to the offices being all glass) and couldn't find him anywhere. I even looked out the door to see if he had gone to wait by the van. Nope! At this point the bank manager had come out of her office and noticed me looking around. She asked what the problem was, and when I told her I had lost my son she promptly started frantically looking around the lobby (she started by looking at the kids' area, which is stocked with paper, crayons, a small table, and little chairs....until I informed her that he was a tall 11-year-old!). At this point it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, he had decided to go to the bathroom. So I went over to the men's bathroom door and hollered in, asking if he was in there. And yes, that is where I found my son. (And when he came out, we had a little chat about letting me know if he was going to be somewhere other than where I was expecting him to be!) I must say, I never thought I would lose my 11-year-old, especially in someplace as small as our local bank. And especially as this is the child who has never been one to wander more than 2 feet from me at any store or such, ever! But I guess that just goes to show that life will never be dull with these two around!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Never Take Your Eyes Off Of Them....

Friday we had friends over for dinner. So DS & DD had K1 & K2 to play with that evening (K1 is 8, K2 is 2). Most of the time K2 played on his own, although he did join in with the older kids from time to time. So most of the playtime was spent with DS, DD, and K1 playing together. After dinner, while us grown-ups were visiting in the family room, the 3 kids went upstairs to play. Now they are old enough that one would think you don't need to constantly watch them. A lot of giggling was being heard. A lot. I knew they had been playing with a toy that is basically yarn coated in wax, but I could not imagine how it was causing so much giggling. So when we went to see what they were up to, this is what we found:Then we opened the door to the room they were hiding in....and this what happens when two girls gang up on one boy (in case you can't tell, that's a WHOLE roll of masking tape used to bind up his feet and hands):Needless to say they had been having a lot of fun! And this is why you never take your eyes off of them, no matter how old they are.....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The End of An Era

Today was the last day of the school year for DD & DS. It was an exciting day, yet a touch sad as well. Today was the last day of 5th grade, and thus the last day of elementary school, for DS. He has been at this school for 6 years.....Kindergarten all the way through 5th Grade. It's hard to believe I have a middle-schooler for a child! Surely it was just yesterday that DS was toddling off with his toy tools, mimicing DH as they worked around the house. Now he's old enough to use real tools all on his own to build/fix things. While I am excited for this new phase of his childhood (what little of it is left!), I am also sad to be finished with this phase of it with him. It also marks the last time DS & DD will be in the same school building, ever. By the time she reaches this point in her school career, DS will be a Freshman in high school!! To think of it that way really makes this all sink in even more.

At school, to celebrate the 5th-graders' achievements, they had them all stand up on stage in front of everyone at school (during the awards ceremony) to be applauded. Then at the end of the school day they had all the other students line the main hallway to applaud the 5th-graders as they left the building for the final time as students of this school. So DS has "left the building," moving from elementary into a new stage, middle school.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Watch It Wiggle....

I had an interesting "job" to do this week. On Sunday (Mother's Day no less!) I spent the afternoon making Jell-O brains. Yes, you read that correctly....brains made from Jell-O. Oh, the things we will do for our children! The brains were for DS' class at school. They are studying brains this week. Since today was the day I needed to bring them in to school, I made them on Sunday so I would have time to re-do them in case something went wrong with them. Luckily they turned out correctly on the first try. So for the past two days my fridge has been filled with "brains!"When I took them in to school today, the kids were highly amused. They used the Jell-O brains to be able to see in 3-D what the brain looks like (without having to have a "real" brain to look at.....a few of the kids were having enough problems with the Jell-O ones!).After studying the model brains, they were given the chance to then eat the brains as a snack. Nothing like watermelon-flavored brains to start the day out right!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beware of the Offerings of Children

Last night I had the opportunity to once again play the role of "Tooth Fairy" for DS. I had no idea he had a loose tooth (he had not mentioned it to me). He said he had no idea it was loose enough to come out. While I should have performed my role on Sunday night instead of last night, I can honestly claim that the delay was not my fault. DS forgot to put the tooth under his pillow (no, he no longer believes in the Tooth Fairy, but he continues to want to play along for the fun of it and actually put his lost teeth under his pillow in order to receive the customary payment for his teeth). I'm sure you're wondering what was so interesting about this particular lost tooth. Let me explain.....

Every previous tooth that DS has lost has been fraught with a bout of nervousness from him about whether or not it will hurt to come out. He's lost enough at this point that he knows it doesn't, but he still gets a little nervous. So I have removed all of his previous loose teeth for him as he has been unwilling to try to pull them out himself. Well, things were different on Sunday. I did not pull out that one. Neither did DS. The tooth was so loose that it fell out on its own while he was eating a snack in his Sunday school class at church. How did I find out about, you ask? I found out when he walked into my classroom, said, "Here, Mom, I have something for you." He then proceeded to drop the tooth into my open hand (with a huge grin on his face at the time). There were quite a few chuckles once the people sitting nearby realized what he had given me. It's not just every Sunday that a mom is presented with her child's tooth at church. Hmmm.....DD has a very loose tooth at the moment. Maybe I should be prepared next Sunday for another presentation.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Making Music

It's been a very busy time for DD with her piano playing. On the 18th she participated in Junior Festival, which is a piano "competition" in which the kids are basically competing against themselves. They get points based on how well they do, with different point levels achieved providing different color ribbons. At certain cumulative point levels (they accumulate the points year after year to reach higher & higher levels) they receive increasing sizes of trophies. This was DD's first year to participate in Festival. She was very excited to be able to participate, although a bit nervous as well. She performed in 3 different categories: Solo (in which she had to play 2 memorized songs), Duet (in which she had to play 2 non-memorized songs, which she did with her friend AP), and Theory (in which she took a written test over music theory). I am very proud of her achievements: Excellent (blue ribbon) in both Theory and Solo, and Very Good (red ribbon) in Duet.

Then this past Friday DS & DD's school had the annual student talent show. The kids who want to participate have to try out, and then those selected from the try-outs get to perform in the show. This is the 2nd year DD was able to participate. It takes a lot of courage to get up in front of over 700 people (students, staff, parents, etc) and perform. She played one of her memorized solo pieces from Festival, Ladybug Waltz, and did an excellent job! I am so proud of her desire to share her talent, and her being able to perform in front of so many people. For only having taken lessons for one year so far, DD is doing very well in increasing her skills as well as overcoming her shyness to share her developing talent. Great job, DD!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hair Yesterday, Gone Today

Last week, after much thinking about it and a decision to wait for more growth for a while, DD decided to cut her hair. Now for most of us, this isn't such a big decision. But for DD this was a huge decision as she has never before had a haircut---she has been growing out her hair for her entire life. So for her to get her very first haircut at the age of 7 years was a big deal. The other decision she made along with this was to donate her hair to Locks of Love, a charity that takes donated hair and makes wigs/hairpieces for children who are dealing with a long-term lack of their own hair (such as alopecia, or in fewer cases children with long-term hair loss from cancer----these children are the minority because in most cases their hair will grow back relatively soon whereas the alopecia children can no longer grow their own hair at all). I was so proud of her for this decision to help other children. In order to do this, and still have the length of hair she wanted after her hair was cut, she waited a few months after making the initial decision to cut her hair to make sure she had enough to donate. So now instead of hair hanging down to where she was sitting on it, her hair is now just barely below shoulder-length. Quite a change for a little girl who is so used to super-long hair! She loves her new hair length and is happy to have been able to help out other children in the process. She is also already talking about letting it grow out again to be able to donate her hair again in the future. It definitely makes a mom proud to see this desire to help others show up in her child.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Birthday & A Holiday

Yesterday was a very busy day. It was DD's 7th birthday, as well as Easter! It is hard to believe that DD is already 7 years old! The time has passed so quickly. It has been a fun 7 years and I'm looking forward to what the future holds for DD.....I am so proud of all she has accomplished already.

With the two events coinciding, there was a lot of excitement yesterday. Birthday decorations, birthday cake, birthday presents, family over to celebrate, Easter baskets & goodies, Easter egg hunts.....just so much going on! Because of when her birthday landed, DD requested a bunny cake this year (which she had had once before, when she turned 2 years old). It definitely made the tie in of the two events even more evident. Definitely a fun day!

Happy Birthday, DD!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go In The Water....

This evening DS had a swimming lesson. He takes private lessons at the local university's aquatic center. We have resorted to this method as other, more common methods of learning to swim have failed due to his extreme fear of deep water. I must say, he has done extremely well over the past several months and made great strides in his comfort level in the water, and thus is getting much closer to being able to actually swim on his own. Most of the time when we are at the aquatic center it is a relatively uneventful time.....just a swimming lesson, showering & changing afterwards, and he's done. Not the case this evening.....

DS had only been in the water about 5 minutes when there was a bit of a commotion at the other end of the shallow area of the pool (it's an Olympic-size pool so the shallow area is huge). Soon one of the other instructors was walking over to the near side of the pool with a young child. As she approached the parents sitting in front of me she says, "He threw up in the pool." OK, this is not what you want to hear when your own child is in that same pool! I immediately called out to James to get out of the pool (it's amazing how quickly he moved when I said that!). His instructor came over to see what was going on as well, and then she immediately had the life guard on duty call on the walkie-talkie to the pool manager to report the incident. At this point they both cleared everyone else out of the pool. I sent DS off to shower & change as this meant there would be no more pool time this evening! Clean-up efforts began while he was in the dressing room and it was rather amusing to watch all of these childless college students dealing with this issue (at least from this mom's point of view!).

I think this will go on record as the shortest swimming lesson of all time. And I am relieved that it wasn't due to anything one of my own children did!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Joke That Never Was

April Fool's Day was on Wednesday. Many people, including my children, greatly enjoy the antics of this day. My kids spend hours upon hours plotting and planning tricks to play on DH and me. DD spends the day waiting with bated breath for tricks to be played on her (she greatly enjoys this part as well....unless it is DS playing the trick on her!). DS, on the other hand, spends the day trying desperately to avoid being tricked. He tries to stay one step ahead in figuring out what just might be a joke on him so that he won't fall for it. For instance, his teacher this year had put up on the chalkboard that the kids needed to study for a Latin quiz to be taken that day (each day she lists things on the board, in the order that they are to be done, that the students need to accomplish in the morning....then it is up to them to manage their time wisely and get it all done). DS quickly figured out that the Latin quiz must be a joke (yes, they are studying Latin, but no quiz had been announced previously). So even though Mrs. B. was telling the kids that they must have forgotten that she announced it before Spring Break, he was sure she was trying to pull a fast one on them.....and he was right!

Well, I had no joke I was planning on playing on DS. He was sure I was going to though! On Wednesday morning I needed to call my Mom to ask her a question.....only when I called, my brother answered the phone & told me she wasn't there....she was at the emergency room! Now, I know this is not something she would joke about, so it never entered my mind that they would be trying to trick me (especially as they had no idea I'd be calling at 7:30 in the morning!). She had a nosebleed that wouldn't stop after 40 minutes, so my Dad had to take the day off work & take her to the ER. Now, when I told DS about this, he was totally convinced that I was trying to pull an April Fool's joke on him! Nothing I could say would convince him that I had actually called and that my Mom, his Grandma, was actually in the ER! Nothing! Needless to say, when I called later in the morning to check on my Mom, she got quite the kick out of this (and she had her nose taken care of & is fine). She was just waiting to see what would happen when DS got home from school that afternoon.

As soon as DS got off of the bus, he immediately asked if I was ready to tell him "April Fool's" yet! I tried again to convince him that I was not joking, but he would not believe me at all. This went on for a good 1/2-hour. I finally gave up. What finally convinced DS that I was not joking?? My Mom had to scan and email me copies of her hospital ID bracelet (with the date on it!) and her discharge papers (with the date on it AND my Dad's signature, proving he was there!) for visual proof that we were not trying to pull an April Fool's joke on DS and that my Mom had really been to the emergency room that morning! It was too funny! It was definitely better than any real joke I could have ever come up with. Never before have I been able to "trick" someone by not actually tricking them to begin with!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Legos and Dolls

Last week was a very busy week. The kids were on Spring Break. Now for some people, that means a less hectic time, a time to rest up and get energized for the last few weeks of the school year. Not for us! I think last week was just as busy, if not busier, than any other week we've had this year! Trips to the grandparents' house for the kids, 4-H workshops, swimming lessons, a sleep-over, and then to top it off an extra-special trip the kids had been looking forward to for weeks.

We took the kids to Chicago for a day! DD had decided that this year for her birthday she wanted to do something very different since having a party with her friends on her actual birthday was not an option (seeing as how it lands on Easter Sunday this year). She requested a trip to the American Girl Place in Chicago. DD had been saving up her Christmas money, allowance money, and birthday money to buy herself a doll and she was ready to make her purchase. DS heard her plans and decided against a party this year as well, thinking that a visit to the Lego store in Chicago would be a good replacement. DH & I gave the kids each the amount of money to spend in Chicago that we usually would have spent on their birthday presents. Anything above and beyond that they were responsible for paying for out of their own money. They both readily agreed and the trip was planned (it worked out well as Spring Break landed 1/2-way between both of their birthdays).
We visited the American Girl Place first. DD was beyond excited! (DS, on the other hand, was not so excited----he spent the entire time wandering around with us playing his Gameboy!) She was in absolute awe while looking at all of the dolls and their accessories throughout the store. The store was quite amazing. Two stories of dolls, accessories, books, and clothing, as well as a photography studio, doll hair salon, craft store (to make doll T-shirts or other accessories), doll hospital, sweet shop, and restaurant. As a treat (originally for DD, but DS greatly enjoyed the food as well, if not particularly the pink, dolly atmosphere!) we ate lunch at the restaurant after DD had made her doll selection & purchase. She purchased Chrissa (the "Doll of the Year") with her own money, which she was very proud of,and used her birthday money from us to buy a doll carrier and several books. (I do have to point out at this point that she ended up with an extra book as a reward for finally riding on the escalator in the store. She was terrified of it and refused at first to ride it, but after several attempts finally faced her fear and rode it.....and now loves escalators!)

After lunch we headed down the street to the Lego Store for DS's birthday treat. He was quite excited to be surrounded by so many of one of his favorite toys! There were several very large Lego models built and on display that intrigued both kids. Poor DS had quite a hard decision to make as he tried to figure out just what he wanted to buy. So many Legos to choose from! After filling a small container with loose bricks that you can choose from on your own, he spent a very long time trying to decide which model-building set he wanted. After a while he had finally narrowed it down to the fact that he definitely wanted a Star Wars vehicle.....but there were several of those to choose from! With some very much appreciated help from one of the store employees, DS finally narrowed his choices down, one-by-one, until he chose a set that will make the Twilight starship from Star Wars Clone Wars......and to top it off, it was on sale for 1/2 price! What a deal! He was almost as excited about getting it for such a good price as he was about the Lego set itself!

After finishing up at the Lego store, we headed back to the parking garage to load up and head home. The kids, as well as DH & myself, had a wonderful, fun-filled day in Chicago! The kids had never been there before and were quite intrigued with the sights to see (especially Lake Michigan & the Sears Tower) as much as they were with the two stores we specifically went to see. All in all, a wonderful way to help them celebrate their birthdays!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Musical Performances & Flying Objects

Last night was DS' last musical performance of his elementary school career. The fifth-graders did a lot of musical numbers from the '20s all the way through Elvis. They played selections on the recorders they have been learning to play all year. I was highly impressed with how well they did! Of course, it seems that something unexpected has to happen during these performances. No, it wasn't when the gymnasts were doing their tumbling act.....they all survived without incident. No, no one choked on the strings holding the recorders around their necks. Instead, it was taken from the stage out into the audience (and no, the audience didn't cause the incident, they received it!).

During one of the numbers, a few kids came up to the front of the stage to mention times when they listened to music (while exercising, while at the beach, while doing homework, etc.). Well, one girl came up and said, "While bowling." And these children had props in their hands. So, yes, she had a bowling ball in her hand....which she swung like she was actually bowling. Only she wasn't supposed to let go.....but she did!! Yes, that bowling ball went flying out into the front row of the audience! Stunned looks from the kids on stage, gasps and squeals from the audience (especially the front row!)! Followed by relieved laughter as the bowling ball bounces as it was made of hard rubber & was hollow (it was one they used during gym class, so it was made to be light and rather harmless). The girl leaped off of the stage, chased the bowling ball until she caught up with it, ran back, and climbed back up on the stage. All of this happened very quickly. There was a short pause in the music, and then it started up again.....once all of the kids on stage had stopped laughing.

So, once again an excursion to my children's school has provided us with unexpected amusement. You just never know what's going to happen next over there!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Case Solved!

DD has been missing her glasses since Thursday. The kids had a 1/2 day on Thursday (as well as Friday) for parent-teacher conferences. I know that she got off of the bus before lunch with her glasses on her face. By the time I realized she was no longer wearing her glasses it was a little after 4:00pm, while at her piano lesson. I figured she had just taken them off sometime before we left for her lesson (she only needs them for reading and other such close-up work) and forgot to put them back on before we left. We have spent the past 3 1/2 days looking all over the house (even in strange places like under the couch, in her dresser drawers, in the fridge, etc.) for DD's glasses with no luck in finding them. So this morning I even had her look in her desk at school, thinking there was a distinct possibility I had misremembered seeing her with them when she got off of the bus on Thursday. No luck....they weren't at school either. So today I was at a loss of where else to possibly look and almost resigned to ordering her a new pair (which would, of course, had to have been paid for out-of-pocket since the vision insurance won't pay for 2 pairs in under a year) when a funny thing happened. I posted a status update this morning on my Facebook page that I was frustrated about DD's glasses having gone missing. This afternoon I checked my Facebook page to see that DD's piano teacher had commented on my status update that she had found a pair of glasses at her house. So after school today we headed over to the piano teacher's house.......YES!! They were DD's glasses!! I was so relieved! Evidently DD had worn them to her lesson but taken them off and set them aside while waiting for her turn at the piano, then forgot to pick them back up. So DD has her glasses back. Case solved!

Proud Moments

Today was the end-of-the-9-weeks award ceremony at my children's school for the 3rd 9-weeks grading period. Spring was definitely in the air as all of the school children were more restless than usual. They did, however, cooperate for the most part and remain quiet when necessary, thus proving what an overall well-behaved bunch they are. I am proud of DS and DD! They both made the A/B Honor Roll again this 9 weeks! Great job DS & DD! Mom is proud of you!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I need to remember something tonight......DD lost her first tooth!! So I need to remember to play the Tooth Fairy. She was quite nervous about this occurrence (it had been very loose for several days but she wouldn't let me near it), but excited at the same time. This afternoon DD & I went to one of the local high schools to see their performance of "Once Upon A Mattress" which is a version of The Princess and the Pea. DD absolutely loved the musical (she loves going to the local high schools' theatrical productions), but about half-way through the first half of the performance she became panicked as her loose tooth wiggled enough to cause the gum to start bleeding. She was adamant that I not pull it there (she wanted DH to watch when she had the first one taken out) but was not happy at all about the bleeding. I quickly gave her a tissue to help staunch the little bit of bleeding so we could make it through the rest of the performance. As soon as we got home, she grabbed DH's hand, I reached in, and out the tooth quickly came. She looked up at me and said, "Did it come out already?" in quite a bit of astonishment. She was sure it would hurt, despite her older brother's reassurances that it would not (and despite having watched me pull out one of his just a couple of weeks ago without him even flinching). After getting over the shock, she ran to look in the mirror to see what she now looked like. Her comment? "Mom, I think that after a while people's smiles start to look a little boring, so losing teeth is one way to make them interesting again." Said, of course, with a big, gap-toothed grin.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Time Marches On

It's hard to believe but today DS turned 11 years old! Where have those years gone?? It seems like just the other day that he was born, learned to walk (at the ripe old age of 8 1/2 months!), learned to talk, went off to his first day of school..... So many firsts have come and gone. And yet I keep reminding myself that there are so many firsts yet to come. As DS himself keeps reminding me, only 5 short years until he gets his first driver's license, 7 short years until he is first considered an adult..... I am sure somewhere in there will be first dates, first love, and somewhere in the more distant future his first child will bring another set of firsts.

Happy Birthday, DS!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No Relaxing Allowed

Just when you think there might be a moment to sit and informs you differently. At least at my house that's how it works. Tonight I was in the middle of cleaning up after supper while DH was out running a few miles. DD was supposed to be practicing the piano. DS was driving one of his remote-controlled vehicles around. As I was finishing loading the dishwasher I was just coming to the realization that I was no longer hearing the piano. It was just as I was turning to see why that I hear the loud thud followed immediately by the piercing scream along with DS calling out, "I'm sorry! Are you OK?!" I look over to see DD on the hardwood floor next to the couch (OK, she is a good 7 feet away from the piano she was supposed to be practicing!). As she was crying to hard to tell me what happened as I held her, I asked DS what occurred. DD had climbed up on the back of the couch (it's a reclining couch so it's a rather tall back) and DS had accidentally knocked her off when he bumped into her while driving his RC vehicle. DD proceeded to fall onto the hardwood floor, landing on her right elbow and right knee.

After getting her calmed down and examining her elbow, she was still complaining of it hurting. So to be on the safe side (seeing as how 3 years ago she broke the other elbow in a similar fall) I decided to take her off to Urgent Care for X-rays. DH was not back yet, but I knew he would be soon, so I left DS home to let DH back in the house (DH did not take any house keys with him when he went out for his run because the rest of us were home at the time). At the clinic X-rays were taken and the clinic doctor determined that DD just bruised the bone in the elbow (although the films will be sent to the radiologist tomorrow for further examination to be sure), so for now she just needs ice & pain medication.

Upon arriving home, no one else was home.......we arrived well after DH had to leave for a meeting of the fathers of DS' Boy Scout troupe. Since he had no idea when we would get home, DH had to take DS with him. Ah, the joys of parenthood.......nope, life is definitely never dull around here!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Growing Up

It's amazing how quickly the years go by when your kids are growing up. It seems like just yesterday that DS was born. Then he started school. Then in first grade, as a little 6-year-old, he joined Cub Scouts. He has absolutely loved being in Cub Scouts. He has had the chance to do all sorts of things, from camping to horseback riding to making and racing pinewood derby cars, and the list just goes on (and of course none of us will forget that scouts is where he learned to whittle, thus providing one of his more recent injuries & trips to Urgent Care!). It has been a wonderful bonding experience for DS and DH as well, as they attend the meetings and activities together. Well, part of that journey has now come to an end. On this past Saturday DS' Cub Scout pack held their annual Blue & Gold Banquet to celebrate the achievements of the scouts. DS and his fellow denmates (they were 2nd year Webelos.....the last year for Cub Scouts) received their Arrow of Light awards:This is the highest achievement a Cub Scout can reach. I am so proud of DS for this accomplishment! After receiving this award, it was then time for the "Crossing Over" ceremony for those scouts going on into Boy Scouts. DS and one other boy from his den crossed over on Saturday and are now Boy Scouts. So while one piece of the journey has ended, another has begun. I am looking forward to seeing what all DS accomplishes in the future, both in Boy Scouts and in other areas of his life, as he moves forward and continues to grow up. And while I will continue to miss my "little baby" I am excited to watch my son as he grows into a young man. Congratulations, DS, I am proud of you!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Yes, She's Definitely My Child!

Having given birth to these children myself, there is obviously no doubt they are mine. They seem to be determined, however, to keep proving this fact on a continual basis. I have always been accident-prone----from the first broken arm at age 3 (and first set of stitches at around the same age!) and through numerous other broken bones & various injuries over the years it has been an undeniable fact of my life. And as you can tell from previous posts about DS, he seems to be following in these footsteps (albeit in a different manner than I did.....cuts with a pocket knife, burned while camping.....). Well, DD is determined to continue to prove herself as my child as well. While she had her first (and I keep hoping her only!) broken bone at age 4 (she broke her left elbow....strangely the same thing I had for my first broken bone), today she decided to be a walking accident-waiting-to happen.

Immediately after the kids got home from school, we headed out to DD's Daisy Scout leader's house to pick up some more cookies that had been ordered (gotta love Girl Scout cookie time!) so we can make more deliveries. While getting back in the van to come back home, DD managed somehow to close her upper left arm in the sliding door of the van. Luckily (for all the screaming & crying going had to really hurt!) she only ended up with a large bruise. Then less than 30 seconds after we had walked inside after getting home she somehow stepped incorrectly and twisted her right ankle. Thankfully it was minor enough that after a few minutes she was able to walk on it without any problems. She did decide at that point that she was going to play with a toy that she could play with sitting down in one spot without moving around. I wonder why.....

Monday, February 16, 2009

If It's Hot......It Will Burn!

This past weekend DH and DS went on a camping trip with Cousin I and Uncle J1. For some reason they find winter camping to be much more enjoyable than warm-weather camping. Personally, I will stay where it is warm. They had a rather "interesting" trip that did not go quite as planned.

At around 10:30pm on Saturday night I received a phone call.....yes, they were calling from the middle of the forest 3 hours away. DS had come down with some intestinal symptoms and nausea. OK, I can talk to him on the phone, but what exactly am I supposed to do from 3 hours away on the phone??? Anyway, I talk to DS for a few minutes then to DH. I found out after they return home the next day that they ended up not being able to spend the entire night at the campsite (which was 1 1/2 miles from the car) & had to hike back to the car for the night. By the next morning DH and Cousin I also were experiencing the same intestinal symptoms as DS (although to their relief, not to the same extent as DS).....and they also realized they had lost their toilet paper supply somewhere in the hike back to the car in the middle of the night. Thus their trip was cut short and they headed back home......with several stops along the way.

By the time they finally arrived home, DS was feeling mostly better, albeit very grumpy from the lack of sleep. As they were relating the tale of their camping experience to me (which we highly suspect was a result of a mild case of food poisoning) DS says to me, "Mom, my hand hurts." I look down.......and see a burn on the outer back side of his right hand!! OK, so you tell me about the intestinal issues but no one thinks they need to mention the burn?? Evidently DS had decided to see if the portable propane heater they had brought along for the first time was hot.......AFTER it was turned on! They answer? YES, it was hot! Hot enough to burn him......and leave the pattern of the mesh grid that was over the heating element on his hand. And while it would have been best to have treated the burn immediately after it occurred, I treated & bandaged the burn as soon as I was told about it. I guess next time I better check to make sure they have the proper type of first aid gear packed for their camping trip.

So while I have always had the goal of providing my children with a loving home and raising them to be good, responsible Christian people, I think I need to focus more on just getting them to adulthood in one piece. For DS, that's only another 7 years 3 weeks 4 days to go! Think we'll make it?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Crisis Averted: Priceless!

I have decided that one just never knows what will happen when spending time at my children's school. I went in today to take some pictures and help out in DS' class. His teacher had divided the class into groups of 4-5 students and each group formed a business. Each business decided on a product to make to sell. On Sunday several kids met at the store with Mrs. B. to purchase the raw materials needed, and today was the beginning of product production. One group is making notepads. Another is making slime. DS' group is making play dough. A fourth group is providing a service instead of a product----they are offering tutoring. The last group is the one that tried to create a school-wide crisis this afternoon.

The last group is making plastic spoons dipped in chocolate. To do this they needed to melt the chocolate for dipping the spoons into. They first dumped an entire bag of chocolate chips into a plastic bowl, then they placed the bowl in the microwave, and lastly they turned on the microwave. Here is where they made their mistake! I am not sure how long they put the chocolate in the microwave for, but it was definitely too long! I was walking around taking some pictures of the kids working diligently on their projects when I hear DS' voice call out, "Mom! The microwave is smoking!" Sure enough, when I look over at the microwave in the corner of the room, there was a ton of smoke pouring out of it. I called out to Mrs. B. She ran to the microwave and pulled out the bowl of chocolate, opened the nearby window, and held the smoking bowl out the window. DS ran to the other window and threw it open. I grabbed the nearest stack of papers and started waving the smoke away from the smoke detector (oh-so-conveniently located close to the microwave of course!) hoping to keep it from setting off the fire alarm. (Most of the kids meanwhile had the looks on their faces reminiscent of deer in the headlights.)

Luckily we were able to keep the fire alarm from going off, so the entire school did not have to empty out (which would have sent over 700 students out into 12 degree weather!) and the fire department did not have to come to the elementary today. So while it was intended for the kids to learn about supply & demand as well as things like profit margins, they also had another lesson today. When melting chocolate in the microwave, only heat it for short (we're talking like 30-second intervals here!) amounts of time and stir it before putting it back in the microwave for longer. Whatever you do, do not try to do all of the melting in one long segment of time. Instead of melted chocolate you will end up with burnt chocolate and melted plastic.

Cost of worksheets for classroom learning: $0.05 each
Cost of pencils for doing worksheets: $0.10 each
Cost of hands-on learning instead of worksheets: Priceless!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Just When You Thought It Was Over.....

I'm sure many people thought our floors were completely finished.....nope! We had installed, sanded, stained, and polyed the hardwood floors months ago but due to time constraints with DH being in school (as well as all of the various activities the kids are involved in) we had been unable to install the baseboards and quarter round. Well, we have finally installed them! Woo-hoo! The baseboards and quarter round are now all installed throughout the areas where we installed the hardwood floors. Here is a picture of a small area between the garage and basement doors:
Here is how it looks down the hall now. It is so nice to have the finished look now instead of seeing all the rough edges along the wall. We also painted the hallway before installing the baseboards.....nice, fresh, new feeling in the area now!Here is the dining room. The table is the one we had before installing the hardwoods and it now matches nicely!And a view of the floor, table, new patio door, and the antique secretary we were given that also matches the new decor nicely. It is so nice to have it all finished!And before you think our flooring project is over, rest assured we are not done yet! We still need to install the tile in the entryway by the front door. Then we will be done. We are planning on getting that done this month (one can make plans you know!). And hopefully the installation of the tile will go much more smoothly than the installation of the hardwoods did!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

You Whittled What???

DS has been involved with Cub Scouts since first grade. He is now in 5th grade and preparing to soon transfer from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts. He absolutely loves scouts. It has taught him many skills. Some skills are very useful. Some skills make a mom cringe. One of those skills is whittling. Yes, my DS learned how to whittle and became skilled enough (although that may be a subjective assessment!) to earn the "whittling chip" award and granted the privilege of carrying his pocket knife to scouting events.He has been reminded many times to be very careful with his knife, and for the most part has been cautious. There have been a few minor nicks along the way, but for the most part he has whittled safely. Until tonight. This evening after supper he had gone up to his room (and was supposed to be getting ready for his scout den meeting) and was whittling a stick. Well, he whittled more than that stick. He whittled his finger! His right index finger to be exact. And since he's right-handed, I'm not sure exactly how he managed to do that since that's the hand that holds the knife. He claims to not know exactly how he did it either...... So off to the local Urgent Care we went because it was a deep cut, right on the tip of his finger and into the nail. Luckily they have this nice product called Indermil, kind of like super glue for skin, that they can use in some situations instead of stitches. That is what they used on DS tonight to his relief (he does not deal well with anything medical so he was greatly relieved to not have to get stitches!). So now we get to keep his finger dry for the next 48 hours and not let it be scrubbed or soaked for the next to figure that out when it's a finger on a hand that needs to be washed multiple times a day......guess he'll get to use some baby wipes to clean his hands for a few days. And there will definitely be no whittling for a long time while we review the safety precautions he needs to take so that he only whittles wood and not flesh.


Now that I have your attention....I'll get on with my story.

For all that you hear these days of kids not behaving in the classroom and the lack of respect and decorum that today's kids have in comparison with kids of a couple of generations ago, I have witnessed the complete opposite. Twice a week I volunteer at my children's school. One day I help out in DD's classroom and on the other day I help out in DS' classroom. I was in DS' classroom yesterday. Yes, they can occasionally get loud and off-track from what they are supposed to be doing. But DS' teacher has come up with an ingenious method of bringing them back under control that works amazingly well. I have witnessed many teachers over many years use many methods to try and bring classrooms under control. Let me tell you, I have never seen anything like this! I was stunned at how immediate the response from the students was. Not only was the response immediate, but it was with 100% participation....which is the key to its success. If they didn't all respond immediately and in the same manner, it wouldn't work. What is it that she is doing you ask? Well, she has this small desk bellthat she rings whenever she wants them to get back on task. All she has to do is ring it once and every single student immediately stands up wherever they are and are completely silent. They have immediately come to attention as if they were in the military. I haven't witnessed anything like that since the days when I was in the Air Force ROTC back in college and a senior officer would enter the room! Amazing! Very stunning to see that kind of response from 4th and 5th grade students (it's a 4th/5th grade mixed class). She even once accidentally bumped the bell when setting something on her desk and once again they were up on their feet and completely silent. All I could do was look on in wonder.......wondering if that would work with the kids when they were at home! Somehow, I think not. But it is obviously extremely effective in the classroom and more effective than any other method I've ever seen put to use. Kudos to Mrs. B. for such a simple yet completely effective method of controlling classroom behavior!

Monday, January 12, 2009

And The Award Goes To.....

Today my children's school hosted the awards convocation for the 2nd 9-weeks grading period. Now some of you may remember what happened with the convo for the 1st 9-weeks (if not, see the posts for October 20 & 29, 2008) amusing host of "Murphy's Law" in effect. So today I attended prepared for just about anything to happen. Both DS and DD made the A/B Honor Roll for the 2nd 9-weeks grading period and went up to receive their awards. Many other children went up to receive their awards as well. And thankfully nothing went wrong. I'm sure the principal was much relieved. It was a blessedly uneventful convocation with just lots of smiling faces and cooperating equipment. A good way to start out the new calendar year for sure. Congrats to DS and DD!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Tale of Two Customer Service Experiences

Well, nothing like starting out the new year with dealing with customer "service" departments from various companies. In the latest dealings, at least they cancel each other out I bad experience with one company followed by one good experience with a different company. Does that put me at neutral??

It started out with our cell phone. The day after Christmas DH went shopping with my Dad (an interesting experience in itself, which I can't blog about because I didn't go.....learned that lesson many years ago after a 3-hour shopping trip to get my Dad one pair of shoes!). During this outing, DH dropped my cell phone and it broke apart.Poor guy, he tried to put it back together, but it wouldn't stay together. Interestingly enough it would receive calls and I could hear him talking on it (when I called him from another phone), but he couldn't hear me. So we needed to get a new phone. Now, unlike most other people with cell phones, we don't use our cell phone enough to warrant a "contracted" service phone, so instead we use a prepaid service through TracFone. This is much, much cheaper for us in the long run as we spend maybe $50/year for the number of minutes we use on average. So we ordered a new phone from TracFone to replace the broken one. Here's where it gets interesting. We selected 3-day shipping. Took five days to actually arrive....and that's with originating only an hour away! Tracking through FedEx showed they sent it 3 states away before sending it back where it originated, then finally sending it on to our fair town.....only to hold onto it for another 24+ hours before finally delivering it. Ugh! Once it was finally in hand, I went online as instructed to switch the same phone number from the old phone to the new one. It didn't work. Then came the fun of dealing with Customer "Service." They call it "service" but I'm not sure they understand the meaning of the word. It took 4 1/2 hours, 8 people (none of whom were native-English speakers which only made it that much more difficult to communicate), and much frustration to get the phone number switched to the new phone.......only to have it end up being able to make but not receive calls. A cell phone is not very useful if you cannot receive calls on it! One guy even tried to convince me it was a problem with the cell phone tower causing the issues. At that point I gave up and decided to call back a different day to try again with different people. Amazingly enough when I tried the cell phone 2 hours later (ummm.....that would be about 6 1/2 hours after starting the whole "quick and easy" process!) it miraculously was able to receive calls as well. Thank goodness because I really was not looking forward to dealing with more customer "service" people about this. Whew!

Now on to my other, much more pleasant, experience. DD received an American Girl doll (Mia) for Christmas, much to her delight. Mia had been ordered back in October and inspected upon arrival to make sure everything appeared to be OK. Everything appeared to be OK. The one thing I neglected to check was the toy doll-sized MP3 player she arrived with. It was supposed to play music at the push of a button. Unfortunately on Christmas morning DD discovered that this particular one did not work. Even changing the itty-bitty button battery (that DH made a special trip to the store to buy) did not fix the problem, so it wasn't just a dead battery issue. Also, one of Mia's leg warmers was sewn shut so it couldn't be put on the doll. So 2 problems for the price of one! So I emailed American Girl's customer service department (since I couldn't call on Christmas Day because they were closed). I wasn't very hopeful of getting replacements since Mia was 2008's "Girl of the Year"----dolls that are only made for one year in limited quantities, along with the accessories in limited quantities. Of course, that is why I had ordered her well in advance of Christmas...... Amazingly, I received an email back the next day stating they would be sending replacement pieces immediately! The new leg warmers arrived the following Monday (note that they arrived before the previously mentioned cell phone!), along with a new set of headphones to go with the toy MP3. Unfortunately, we did not need the headphones, just the MP3.....which was not included in the shipment. So I called immediately and talked to a very nice lady in the customer service department. She did all she could and was unable to locate a new MP3 in stock (not surprising considering it was at that point the last day of 2008 and all of Mia's accessories had long since sold out). She offered to have a supervisor do some research to see if one could be found anywhere and they would get back to me in a few days. I assumed I would not hear from them for about a week considering the New Year's holiday and weekend. Imagine my surprise when only 3 days later a box is delivered containing.......the toy MP3 player! And it worked!! DD was sooooo excited! I was thrilled with the rapid response to the issue from American Girl! They impressed me even more with their customer service when I received a phone call from them today checking to make sure that it had arrived in working condition and that we were pleased with the resolution to the issues we had had with Mia's accessories. I have never before had any customer service department follow up with a phone call like that. I must say I am extremely impressed with the level of customer service provided by the American Girl company. And of course, so is DD who now has all the working accessories she wanted to go along with her doll (which she has hardly put down since receiving her almost 2 weeks ago).

I am glad that the experience with American Girl followed the one with TracFone. I much prefer happy endings. And that was definitely a happy ending.