Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Not Very Wordless Wednesday

We're off to









We're traveling by










It will probably take








We're so















We're going to see





















We''ll have fun in the hotel










We're going with














We'll be back















Promise to miss me? I expect there will be hours worth of blogs in my reader when I get home.
I look forward to it.

Have a wonderful rest of the week.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hydrangea Week 4

I think it's safe to say that my little hydrangea is going to make it. I know everyone else is probably sick of my weekly Tuesday post about my little plant, but I am enjoying seeing the progress. Go little plant...grow like the wind!

I wonder if it will get any flora this year...and what color it will actually be someday.

Next step is to figure out what covering I need to put around it. Some people say mulch but someone once told my husband that mulch can impede water getting to the roots. I have some research to do next week after we get home.

Here's the latest progress.

Week 1














Week 2














Week 3














This week













Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Idea of "Vacation"

It's kind of hard to get motivated for the "work/school week" right now. I have finished packing Noah's, Aaron's, and my suitcase for our trip and the suitcase is sitting in the middle of the hall waiting for Steve's stuff. Most people would think I am being silly in how excited we all are about a four day trip to St. Louis, but that's okay. We didn't get away for a vacation at all last year. We can't afford trips to warm islands like so much of the rest of our family.

For us, the time away from life for a few days will be priceless.

The first "vacation" I ever took didn't happen until I was married for four years. My sister had planned to get married in Disney World so along with my dad, step mom, brother, and his girlfriend at the time (now my sister-in-law) we bought tickets fro a trip to Disney for the wedding. This was the trip where I discovered I would never fly again...but that's another story.

My sister ended up moving her wedding date up and held it on the football field at Northwestern University. Don't call her unoriginal.

But we decided to go anyway. We had such a wonderful time just the six of us and I am glad we got to go once before any of us had kids.

Once kids started coming, I always wanted to make an effort to take a "vacation" each year. Steve has wonderful memories of family trips (remember those station wagons when you were piled in without seat belts?). He has such fun stories of trips he took camping and other trips with his cousins. We have both wanted that for our family.

Luckily, we have been able to plan small trips almost every year. We have been to Mackinac Island (Poor Jenny was SOOO pregnant with Odin in the heat),

Wisconsin Dells (I was pregnant with AA and couldn't get on the water slides at Great Wolf Lodge),

Jenny holding Baby Odin, Noah in the car













and Lake Geneva (Jenny pregnant for Kira this time).



Noah at 3 years, Baby Aaron











We didn't take a vacation last year together while Jenny was pregnant for Ronin.
I hope one of these years my sister and her family will be able to join us.

So this year we are off to St. Louis. Matt's family went last year on their way to Texas and they enjoyed it. The nice thing is NO ONE is pregnant this time. We have NO restrictions...woo hoo!

So, back to the beginning of this story. I am having a very hard time putting together meals, lunches, and babysitter schedules (our babysitter is on vacation this week, too) for the two days before we leave because I just want to GO. It is supposed to be in the 50's here all week and 70's there.

So although we are not whisking away to a tropical island, the time away with my family will indeed be the break we all need. I look forward to coming back with fun or silly stories and pictures to share.

P.S. If anyone out there lives in the St. Louis area and wants to recommend fun activities for our trip while we're there...I would love to hear them. We're kind of winging it. :)

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Butterflies and Contests

If you are a regular reader, please do not be offended that I haven't been commenting as much this week. Has anyone else been going crazy entering contests instead of commenting on posts?
I was planning to give away two really cool pairs of socks my sister gave me, but I couldn't figure out how to attach the button so I will save them for the next time around. You will love em though...they're awesome.

Today was Noah's field trip to the Meijer Butterfly Garden's. Every parent from his class went. It was beautiful day. I got a couple of shots of the whole class before we went in: (Noah is 2nd from the right)














a pretty good one of my two by the flowers (they're just SO handsome)...















and the forbidden likers (not lovers...they're five).















I love this picture. They were told that if they stood still with their arms out, then a butterfly might land on them. Noah started doing it (far left) and the rest of the class joined in.















I am actually not much of a photographer so I am quite proud of my butterfly shots.














I hope my dad sees them...I think he would appreciate the artistry.












Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mystery Plant Week 3

Thanks to Queen Mommy , our mystery plant is no longer a mystery.
It is a confirmed Hydrangea.
And it has shown quite a bit of growth this week.

Exhibit A Week 1














Exhibit B Week 2














Exhibit C This week














I'm so glad I didn't pull it. It may actually be big enough to hide the gas pipe coming out of the front of our house in the next ten years.

Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Grandma and Grandpa Are Home

Yes, after FOUR long months of being down south in the warmth, they have finally come home.
I am so happy they are able to go and enjoy some time away, and my dad's health NEEDED the warmth for awhile there. But it is a LONG time to be away.

So today we went up to visit. Most of the cousins were there as well. Matt and Jenny brought their crew up (along with MANY MANY MANY bags of baby clothes for us to sell in the garage sale in a couple of weeks). Unfortunately, Shannon's crew and Baby Annabelle couldn't be there. As the menagerie was heading outside for a walk, a neighbor offered to take a picture:



The cute little blond on the end is the granddaughter of a neighbor who spent the entire day at Dad's house playing with Madison and Piper. Kira was so happy to have other GIRLS to play with.






The highlight of the day, by far, was the short stop we made at a hill at the end of the street. Wow, those kids had a lot of energy. Grandpa decided to get in on the fun...














But when all of the other kids started rolling, Grandpa hung back and Aaron stayed with him.










Then, of course, there was the general rolling around...

(I love this shot of Odin on the far left)

L to R: Odin, Maddy, AA, Grandpa, Piper, Noah






and I think if Grandpa were still coaching football, he would have had to have been proud of Noah's first "tackle" (while Maddy and Piper look on).














Then there's always the chance to jump on daddy (and Uncle Steve)...




















and take a break with Grandma.




















So much for "church pants". I think it will take an entire bottle of shout to get the grass stains out but the memories were indeed "priceless".

Gotta give credit to Jenny for the pictures....My camera batteries were done :(

Have a great afternoon.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

100th Post

I can't believe I'm to my 100th post already. I have only been blogging for 4 months. Actually, I have been dreading this post because I always think of things that would have been better to publish after the fact.

I am curious to see what ends up on this list when I am done.

Just for fun, if you comment on this post, please share things that you have in common with my list. It would be fun to get to know my commenters better.

Where to start...

1. I am 34 years old
2. I was born in May around Memorial Day
3. When I was younger, there was a tornado watch on my birthday every year for, like, 5 years in a row
4. My sister still teases me about it
5. I lived with my aunt and uncle for two years
6. I had four other roommates throughout college
7. One of them is still one of my best friend (Deb)

8. The others I don't even remember their last names
9. I am the youngest of 3 kids
10. My husband is the youngest of 4

11. We both sometimes feel like the black sheep

12. It keeps life interesting

13. I am raising two little boys

14. I always wanted a girl
15. I think God knew what he was doing when he gave us two boys
16. I don't think I could have handled a girl

17. Most of the time, I don't think I am handling boys all that well, either

18. I began playing violin in 3rd grade
19. I began playing piano in 5th grade
20. I played in community and school ochestras all the way through high school
21. I chose to major in piano in college
22. I haven't touched the violin in at least 15 years
23. My first job was at Fuddruckers
24. I loved it...it still remains my favorite part time job I ever held

25. There have been so many others that I keep losing count
26. I have taught in 4 different schools
27. I have worked in a music field in 7 different locations (churches and schools)

28. My first music job was a dance school accompanist
29. I was in high school
30. The dance teacher gave me a fruitcake for Christmas that year

31. It was the only one I have ever received

32. I threw it away

33. My parents divorced when I was 7
34. My dad remarried when I was 8

35. My mom remarried when I was 9
36. My dad's took...my mom's didn't

37. My step-mom is one of my closest confidantes
38. I went to college to escape life
39. As a result...I found life instead

40. I never went to church when I was little
41. I started in high school as a way to develop friends
42. I became active in campus ministry
43. I finally made REAL friends there
44. I met my husband through campus ministry in college

45. All of my close friends to this day were also made through the same campus ministry

46. I struggle with my faith every day
47. I wish I didn't have to admit it
48. But this list is bringing that out in me
49. Noah is my oldest child
50. I worry about him all the time

51. Too much as a matter of fact

52. He is the carbon image of me

53. I worry that he will struggle the same way I did

54. He is smart, opinionated, and talks WAY too much

55. Just like me

56. I hope he can work through it better than I ever did

57. I need to let go

58. Aaron is my youngest child
59. He is the social one
60. He will be on stage someday

61. He has a way of charming anyone he meets

62. He also has a way of bringing out the worst in Noah

63. I think little brothers are just like that

64. Steve and I dated for about a year before we got engaged
65. I fell in love with his voice before I fell in love with him

66. We were married at Christmas time
67. We were married for six years before we had our first child
68. We moved to Wisconsin two weeks after we got married
69. We lived FAR away from all of our family and friends for the first two years of our marriage, due to Steve's internship
70. Then we moved back so our kids would know their grandparents
71. I think these are the things that make our relationship so strong to this day
72. We learned to rely only on each other

73. I have only had two pets in my life
74. The umpteen goldfish that I've killed within a week of purchase don't count

75. Steve and I had a pet rabbit named "
Thumper"
76. She was spoiled rotten

77. She was littler trained and had full rein of the house

78. She came when called and thought she was a dog
79. I wrote a whole book about her, complete with scrap booking picture techniques and rhyming text
80. Amazing what dumb things we had time for before kids,
doncha think?
81. We got rid of her when Noah came along

82. We don't know where she is today
83. Minnie the cat came along a year ago
84. She loves all three of the boys in the house
85. She'll come to me if no one else is available

86. She is VERY mean to grandmas and babysitters

87. We think she sees them as a threat.

88. I have had 6 cars
89. My first one AND my current one are both discontinued
90. My favorite was a Ford Escort my step mom found for me for student teaching
91. She liked the stripe on the side

92. I liked the sunroof

93. It was a stick shift

94. Steve never learned to drive it

95. His legs couldn't fit under the steering wheel

96. He is 6'4"

97. I am 5'4"

98. We don't notice the difference

99. Others Do

100. I am very interested to go back and see what facts I actually just wrote.

Well, it probably isn't very good reading but I am making the commitment to not go back and change them. If these were my first instincts, then I think they must be print worthy.

Let me know if you actually made it through the list.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Noah's First Class

Noah started his first martial arts class tonight. I was planning to put him into Tae Kwon Do but it just didn't work out and I wanted to get started before school got out. I found this class through Grandville Community Education and Steve took him to his first one tonight. The instructor has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do so it is comforting to know that the tenets are there. Unfortunately, Thursday is my full day/night of teaching so I couldn't go.
As a matter of fact, it is really bothering me that I won't be able to see him in ANY of his classes because I always teach on Thursday nights. I can't take one off because I am taking one off already in two weeks for our trip to St. Louis.
I am actually surprised at how much it is bothering me. I can't believe he will complete an entire session and I won't have attended a single class. I remember my mom not going to anything of mine and I always swore that my kids would never feel the same way. It's my job as a mom to be part of whatever they do and I feel completely cut off. I guess he tests for his first belt in week 10 and I am going to HAVE to take that night off. I WILL NOT miss his first test.
Steve said he did really well. There were only two other kids in the class, which I think is too small but Noah seemed excited...he came running out of bed when I walked in the door to tell me "I really like Mr. Ernie". It still unnerved me when Steve told me that he needs to buy "protective gear". He's only five. I know I would feel better about this idea if I were seeing for myself what they were actually DOING that required protective gear.
The purpose of putting him into the class is not for any reason other than the discipline related to the study of martial arts. I think it will be good for him to learn other ways to solve conflict besides fighting.


Speaking of discipline issues, we had a REALLY GOOD day today. Mommy didn't raise her voice a single time. Noah earned a STACK LOAD of tickets. Here is a picture of how he likes to count his tickets to see what he can "buy". I don't think he's figured out the whole budgeting thing yet, but he will soon enough.

Have a great Friday.

I will be posting my 100th this weekend...YEA!!!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Random Things

I haven't been tagged in awhile. I was tagged by both Amy and Chrissy for this one. Here are the rules:

1. Link to your tagger
2. List 7 Random/Weird facts about yourself
3. Tag 7 More people
4. Go to them and let them know they have been tagged.

I did this tag once. But it might be fun to see what else I can come up with. It is kind of hard considering I just composed my 100th to post this weekend. I wonder what will come out of my brain as I think...

1. I am a somewhat picky sleeper. I can't sleep if there is any noise anywhere (including Steve's snoring). I also am unable to sleep in any mode of transportation. My husband, in contrast, sleeps in the car if we are traveling for more than a half hour ANYWHERE. Needless to say, it is ONE of the reasons that I always drive when we go places. But we won't go into that right now.

2. I am very bad at typing. When ever I type anything, I just randomly hit buttons and don't look at what I'm writing...yes, I am a glorified "hunt and packer." If it weren't for spell checker, I really would not be able to type anything. I am a good speller, just bad at typing.

3. I PLAYED today. We went to the park today after Noah got out of school. Shamefully, sometimes I sit and watch the kids play. Not today! Today, I was the troll in the Billy Goats Gruff. When Noah came to head butt me and push me off the bridge, I decided that instead of drowning, I could turn into a beautiful princess. When you're the only female in a house of boys, it is your RIGHT to be a princess when the mood strikes you.

4. I am a pianist who HATES performing. Put me and my piano behind any vocalists, instrumentalists, or even with another pianist and I am in heaven. But solo...NO WAY. I suffer from performance anxiety to this day.

5. I am a nerd...first rate, all encompassing, complete and utter nerd. I wear the same clothes and hairstyle that I had in high school (with a little variance). I really have no style and that's okay with me. My mom used to call me a nerd the whole time I was growing up and I didn't realize it was true until after I was in college. By that time, it didn't matter anymore.

6. My husband and kids love me anyway.

7. If Noah had been a girl, his name would have been Holly. If Aaron had been a girl, his name would have been Leah. The middle name wold have been Eleanor either way, after my grandmother.

I know...not very interesting but it's the best I can do between listening to my husband run up and down the stairs a bazillion time to tell Aaron to be quiet and go to sleep.

I think everyone has done this one. The only person I know for sure who hasn't is Beth. So tag, Beth, you're it.

Happy Thursday.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mystery Plant Week 2

Last week, I got a ton of response over my mystery plant. The overwhelming consensus was to leave it alone. I think that is good advice. Margerie at Margerie's Blog suggested that I post it each week to show the progress. I thought that was a fun idea so here it is on week 2. I don't think it looks much different other than I did trim down the twigs a little bit. I think the greenery may be a little higher.
There were also a few questions about how dark the soil was. It was planted in topsoil and I got one of those plant fabrics to cover around it because the weeds in those beds last year were out of control. I covered the fabric with a little more topsoil just to hold it down. I am trying to decided if I want to put mulch or something else. I have had conflicting reports about mulch. Any ideas?

Another follow-up: Yesterday's post about the devotional. I got several emails asking what book I use. Like I said before, I love this book. there are three sets, 2-5 year olds, 6-9 year olds, and or pre teens. They have separate ones aimed at boys or girls. And they have two in each age level. I got it at the Family Christian stores a good two years ago when we started praying with Noah. I think he is ready to move up a set but since Aaron is still in the first one, we are repeating it the third time around. They are all spiral bound, which is why I think it has lasted the test of time.
Each day starts with a verse, followed by a story, followed by three questions about the story and then a prayer. I have always used the prayer as an echo. The second page is a fun activity. We have done a lot of these activities and Noah really enjoys them.




Have a great Tuesday.

Something new

So today was the first day back to school after Break. We had a little bit of struggle getting out of bed, but not too bad. Because of the ticket system, Noah was doing a pretty good job of trying to eat his breakfast at a decent clip so I decided to try something new.

My friend, Beth had mentioned that she started doing devotions int the morning with her son, Alex and they both enjoyed that time. We have always done the boys' devotions at night before bedtime. We have a great book that we use that I highly recommend to anyone looking for an appropriate book for young children.

So I thought, why not try to do the devotions in the morning while he's eating breakfast instead? I think he really liked the idea. Then, instead of just reading about how to act and then going to sleep, we are able to put them into the context of the coming day. I think they will help me with facing my own day, as well as Noah.

Today's topic was "helpfulness" I was able to use it to praise him for taking care of his pajamas without being asked and also talk about how not talking so much in class will help other people learn.

An added bonus for both of us, he got ready for school on time without me nagging him.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Making Ronin Laugh

I am feeling nostalgic about Spring Break being over. The next break we have will be summer, then my little boy will be heading to "real" school as a first grader. So, instead of feeling sad and depressed about it, yet again, I will still ponder the happy fun of our visit by sharing some of the many ways to make my nephew, Ronin, laugh.

Aunt Jenny starts with some well placed kisses












Big Sister Kira tries the tickle method












Cousin Aaron lends an ear for a toy snake
















Big brother Odin seems to bring a smile out of him by simply his presence.












Noah's Valentine monkey did the trick EVERY time.


I












In reality, this is one happy baby that pretty much smiles at the drop of a hat, puts himself to sleep amidst the loud noise of four other kids running around, and just emits the epitome of a happy baby.

Happy Monday.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Whirlwind Trip

Spring Break is now almost over. I'm glad we did something memorable, even if It was for one quick night.

We were due to pick up the rental car at 9 AM. Because we don't have a credit card (by choice), we had to use a debit card, utility bill, and pay stub. I had all these things and headed up to the counter.
She opens the utility bill...it's a shut off notice...can't use it. I scrounge the car for the comcast bill, and it works.
Then we move on to my pay stub...it's from more than 30 days ago...can't use it. Now I have to call Steve at work to fax a copy of one of his pay stubs...it takes two tries before it goes through.
Get in the car...can't figure out where to put the key...it's a push button start.
Pull out of the parking lot...car lurching...car to the store...didn't change gears the right way.
At 10:16...we are FINALLY on the road.
3 hour drive was thankfully uneventful.
Played with cousins for a few hours after we got there. I got my baby fix by playing with baby Ronin.
Kira playing "Robot"











Noah was bouncing off the wall after awhile...he just couldn't handle the noise level and the excitement so we decided it's time to head over to the hotel for a swim. So frazzled mommy, two psycho boys, sister-in-law with three kids of her own in tow, bags for her, luggage, blankets, pillows, and inflatable beds all slink into the hotel to check in and relax in the pool. Odin (my nephew) gets stuck in the spinny door...Aaron is already climbing on the luggage carts...I go to check in.
"We don't have your reservation"
OH COME ON!
Apparently, our reservation is at the OTHER Comfort Suites on the other end of the city. I still don't see why
they couldn't just let us stay there.
So, back to the car with everything. Mommy loses it in the parking lot, yelling at a child (one of mine) who was running in a busy street , saying a "bad" word (stupid) in reference to the hotel policiy, which Odin is in shock that Aunt Kristi said.

We FINALLY get to the right hotel and check in. Swimming was fun and relaxing.
I tried to take some pictures but the cameras both fogged up. We did get a shot of the boys (tummy and above that is) when we got back to the room.


Aaron, Odin, Noah











Thankfully, dinner out with 5 kids and slow service at Chili's was calm and successful. It was the only time we got to see Uncle Matt the entire visit.

The weather actually looked pretty good the next morning so we decided to make the zoo a go. But first, Aunt Kristi had to get her "girly fix" by playing with Kira's hair. Kira had just gotten it cut with really cute bangs but she wanted "pretties" anyway so up to her room we went. After some fun, we ended up with goofy...



















but we forgot to take it out and it stayed in most of the day. Good thing I'm raising boys, huh?

The zoo was fun. The kids were happy to just be outside running. Well, actually, running at the beginning, DRAGGING by the end. We did get a couple of cute shots of the group...

in front of the buffalo,






Odin, Kira, Aaron, Noah







and during a snack break.




Aaron, Kira, Odin, Noah, Ronin, Aunt Jenny



A fun but short visit. The boys were as sad as I was when we returned the car this morning.

On the tap for today, naps all around and possibly Open Swim for Noah.

While writing this, I have broken up at least a dozen fights. I AM SO SICK OF THE FIGHTING!!!!!!!!!! I am thinking of just letting them start fighting it out and not putting so much effort into actually getting them to be nice to each other. It seems as if I am the only one who cares about how everyone treats each other. (sorry...venting moment)

Back to reality now.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

We're off!

After all the worry all week, we are finally off tomorrow morning. I wish Steve could come with us. The boys and I will be saying a prayer before we drive out the driveway. We pick up the rented car at 9 AM (van is still not done), fill up at $3.49 a gallon (Are ya kidding me?), brave the rain storms (could be severe the entire time), hopefully swim (again barring no BIG storms), probably skip the zoo (storms, again), hopefully get the boys to sleep in the hotel room (remember my break of dawn boy), and hopefully make memories that will last.

I am so excited to see my brother, sister-in-law and nephews and niece again. I love living out my dreams of a little girl through Kira. Here I am with her at the Brookfield Zoo in December.
I know I'm biased, but isn't she the cutest thing on Earth?



















Noah and Aaron both refer to their cousin Odin as their "friend", not their "cousin". Here they are (Odin on the left) at the Brookfield Zoo over Christmas.



















The last time we saw Baby Ronin was Christmas, and I know he's grown a ton in three months.
Here is Noah holding him and making him smile.



















I always love getting together with Matt (brother) and Jenny (sister-in-law) because I know the fully accept Steve and me for what we are. They may not always agree with everything but I know I can tell them anything and they will be on my side.

So, there are some worries clouding our trip, but I know it will be wonderful when we get there and just have time to visit.

I will miss you, oh blog-world, but I will hopefully bring back some fun memories to share with you all.

BTW...Thursdya morning weigh-in...down 2 pounds...Yea!


Happy Thursday/Friday!