Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sorry. This One's Mostly About My Kids. The Grandparents Might Enjoy It. TToT Time!

And with the close of today, another birthday season is behind us. In less than three weeks, three of our boys have birthdays. Cuckoo turned 7, Phoenix turned 18, and today Giant turned 14. We've eaten so much cake. So much ice cream. They've blown out so many imaginary candles (because not once did I remember to buy them). They've opened gifts and had friends over and had a day off of doing chores. All a birthday should be at our house.

I am thankful for the good health of my children, that they made it to these ages and these milestones, and they've done it so marvelously.

(That's three!)

4. Star and many of his classmates were Confirmed this week. (For you non-Catholics, Confirmation is the third and final Sacrament of Initiation into the Catholic Church. The first two Sacraments are made when they are young, with their parents and Godparents making the promises. Confirmation is the one the teens themselves choose to do, to make the promises and proclaim their beliefs, after a year of lessons and prayer and discussion. It's a super big deal.) It was a teary affair, for sure.

5. Even though we have 5 kids playing sports, it is the easiest sports schedule we've had since our oldest started playing. Three kids on the same team is a large part of that. :) Our weekends actually have free time for us to hang out and do yard work!

6. The high school soccer teams are playing well. They won their games on Saturday pretty handily. Now, if only we could get ONE Saturday game that doesn't include pouring down rain. They've had three Saturday games, and all three have had storms and/or torrential downpours. (In order to turn this into a thankful...at least the rain wasn't a cold rain. It's been plenty warm.)

7. Cuckoo is having a great time playing his first ever season on a real team. In his soccer game this weekend, he scored twice, then made some awesome blocks when playing goalkeeper. He has decided he wants to be a keeper, thus ensuring I will die from a heart attack. My heart can barely take it with Star being a keeper. It will be way worse in 8 years when Cuckoo is in high school. (Thankfully, though, Cuckoo changes his mind faster than he changes socks, so there is still a chance I won't have to suffer through watching another of my boys flinging himself in front of a charging player intent on kicking the ball my baby is trying to catch.)

8. Turken had his first football game this weekend. Seeing as how in a list of kids on his team, smallest to biggest, he is the penultimate, the coaches weren't expecting a lot out of him in the way of blocking or tackling. Little did they know, he has been trying to take out three teenagers his entire life. While the force he can produce won't budge a 15 year old, it will stop a third grader in his tracks. In this one game, he single-handedly tackled 5 boys, all behind the line of scrimmage.

9. This is the first time in 8 years that Buttercup isn't playing soccer. She was expecting to miss it, especially when the games started. Thankfully, she isn't missing it one itty bitty bit. She's getting to do all the things she couldn't do when she was practicing every day of the week. She is a tutor for and organization called School on Wheels, which provides help for kids who are homeless. She is on the speech team, and she is a co-leader of the Mock Trial group. She is also teaching ERE (Sunday school) to 2nd and 3rd graders at our parish. It's amazing how much time a person has when she's not playing a high school sport! :)

10. Ok, enough bragging about my kids. When did this blog turn into a brag sheet? I'll talk about someone else's kid for this one. (I love the kids my kids have befriended.) Star and Giant had some friends over, and they were playing a version of flashlight tag in the yard where, in order to tag someone, the person who is "It" had to throw a ball and hit someone else with it. (Mind you, it was pitch-black dark outside when they were playing, and these friends aren't exactly familiar with the terrain.) There was a chase, and the kid being chased slipped and fell on the wet grass. The boy who was It ran up to him and asked, "Are you hurt?" It was only after the boy lying on the grass muttered "no" that he threw the ball and tagged him. Such thoughtful boys. ;)

Wow! I did it! For the first time in weeks I got a thankful post done!

Tell me. What happy things have happened in your life while I've been gone?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful


 Your hosts


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Little Random Catch Up

My dad is on vacation, so I have a bit of reprieve from his "You haven't blogged" texts, but I'm going to get the jump on it and give a quick update to the goings on around here.

For the first time in 22 years of marriage, Bryan took a day off of work to simply be at home. After that one day, we've come to the conclusion that we'll ease into retirement. That conclusion was easily reached when, three hours into the day, as I was cleaning bathrooms, he showed up in every one as I was cleaning it. While scrubbing the sink in the final bathroom, sensing his presence, I turned to look at him, and he exclaimed, "I'm not following you! I'm putting this away!" Perhaps we'll approach retirement in half-lifes. He'll take another day off in, say...11 years. Then one more in 5 1/2 years.

For the last four weeks, I've been listening to Cuckoo ask, "When are we going to have my birthday party?" I finally scheduled it for last Friday, when the elementary school had a weird extra day off. Let's talk about the difference in parties for the big kids when they were young versus parties for the little kids now.

Big kids...Cute, handmade invites for a themed party, full of planned activities. Phoenix had a bike parade party, where each guest brought his bike. I supplied items for them to decorate their bikes, as well as horns and personalized license plates. Star had a Nemo party, where we had a fun obstacle course of all the things Nemo's dad and Dory had to go through to find Nemo. Buttercup had a princess party, where the kids AND THE MOMS dressed up.

Cuckoo...No theme. No planned activities. Just 5 kids here to play.

Big kids cakes... I once made individual cakes in the shapes of the faces of Elmo and Cookie Monster. I didn't know which cakes each kid would want, so I made one of each for each and every person. It took me hours and hours to make them.

Cuckoo's cake... I spent five minutes putting green icing on a 9x13 cake, then sticking some cars, a fuseball, and paper goals onto it to give the impression of the video game Rocket League. We had no candles, so we sang and he pretended to blow candles out.

And you know what? The kids and Cuckoo had just as much fun as the big kids did at their fancy parties.

I bought myself a chainsaw. I'm officially the coolest person you know.

Between the trimming of the driveway trees Star has been doing all summer and the fun I've been having whacking of tree limbs left and right with my chain saw, we've made one gigantic burn pile. It was right next to the even more gigantic burn pile that's built up over the last 5 years. Over the long weekend, we began attacking it. We had a fire going for two days straight. Not only did we get all the recent trimmings burned, we burned so much old stuff we found and burned three Christmas trees from holidays past.

It was quite the walk down memory lane.

And yesterday, the poison ivy started popping up on my legs and arms.

Because for the life of me, I cannot figure out what that crap looks like.

And lastly, I'm starting to panic about this year's Christmas card. It's September, and I don't have a clue what to write about this year. It's been a pretty boring 2016. (for our family. It's all relative.) For 12 years people have been looking forward to our Christmas cards. There may big one big disappointing nothing from us this year.

So, I'm off to do more things. That's what I do these days. So many things.

I haven't read a single blog post in over a week. I haven't checked Instagram for about 2 weeks. I haven't even been on Facebook for more than a cursory look once or twice a day. We're in a phase of SO MUCH TO DO!! I miss you all, but this is how it is for now.

Have a lovely day!


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I Didn't Just Have Fun. I Learned Some Things, Too! or Dyanne and I Take St. Charles

As you may or may not know, I went on a little jaunt to visit my friend, Dyanne, in a little town near St. Louis a week and a half ago. (It is the only city between Joplin and Indy, and good for us, it's almost exactly halfway.) We had a roaring good time, and if you want to read the details of what we did, you're going to have to read Dyanne's post about it. I'm only going to reveal the things I learned while on the trip.

1. I am absolutely the WORST selfie-taker on the planet.

When Dyanne was about to leave her house, she took a cute photo of herself buckled into her car and sent it to me. When I was leaving my house 20 minutes later, I did the same.

Minus the cute.



I even counted to three before I took it.

Still blinked.

A pity the selfie-taking couldn't end there...

 Dyanne is a pro at selfies and takes bunches of them. Unfortunately, she kept including me.


While she poses, confident in her gorgeous selfie ability, I sit there resembling Long Duk Dong after his first teenage drinking party. For the love of all, I could be tried and convicted of public intoxication by that photo alone.


Seriously, not once the entire weekend did I look AT the camera.

Only one solution for such selfie ineptness...


No, not strangle the selfie-taker! Wear sunglasses!

2. There are many, many creepy places around the northwest side of St. Louis, made creepier by the fact we were always the sole visitors to the locations. 

Everywhere we went, my first thought was "How pretty!" but that thought was quickly followed by "This would be a great setting for a horror movie!"

We were constantly on the lookout for dead bodies.

For example...

It started out as a lovely walk on a curving path through native Illinois plant life. It ended on the top of a hill overlooking the dam and lock on the Mississippi River.




But when I took that photo, this was behind me...


Pretty sure there were mole people living underneath our feet.

How about another example...

The signs led us to believe we'd be seeing some turtles and other wildlife if we just took the short little walk down the path.

But then the path looked like this...


and the view looked like this...


All around, as far as we could see. No water. No turtles. Just this vine covering EVERYTHING. And it was silent. Not even bird sounds.

Creepy to the nth degree.

I was afraid if we stood there much longer, the vines would overtake us and we'd be trapped forever.

But! That wasn't as creepy as the nuclear waste dump.

OK, we probably could have expected this one to be creepy, but seriously, when you see that on the list of things to do in or around St. Charles, MO, how can you not go take a look??

Once again, they tried to make it look pretty...


but that is one GIGANTIC pile of rocks behind the flower.



The museum at the bottom of the hill claims that there is less radiation on the top of the hill than there is in our own backyards, but I don't know if I buy it.

Majorly creepy.

But still not as creepy as this last one...

We struck up a conversation with the park ranger lady at the museum and she said, "If you like to visit odd things, you need to go down the road and have a look at the bunkers!"

Yup. That nuclear waste dump used to be the site of the world's largest explosive plant, and they needed safe places to store all of that TNT. Hidden bunkers. Dozens of them scattered around a nature preserve.

Of course we had to go see them for ourselves!




We found lots of them. One was actually open, so we parked the car on the side of the road and had a look-see.

Well, I had a look-see. Scaredy cat Dyanne stayed back and took a photo (which she put on her post).

Unfortunately, when I stuck my head in, there were noises coming from the inside. I wasn't about to stick around long enough to find out what was making them. So, no photo of the inside.

3. When given the chance, I will eat my weight in desserts.

And by given the chance, I mean any time without my kids. I hate being a bad example when they're standing right there watching me.

But I outdid myself this time.

Gigantic ice cream cones after our Saturday creepy adventures? Sure!

Use Dyanne's casino winnings ($12!) to have pie at almost midnight? Count me in!

After lunch dessert? Of course! We're kind of full, shall we split one? Heck NO!

Really, if you were there, no way you could have resisted. They had creme brulee cheesecake for Pete's sake!

No exaggeration, I gained 5 pounds in those two days.

It's all the fault of the restaurantuers. If you ever go to St. Louis, have we got some recommendations for you!

4. Surprisingly, I really do know people everywhere I go.

The kids claim that it's true, mostly because every time we leave the house I run into someone I know, and I usually stop and chat for a while and the kids hate that.

I just chalk it up to me knowing a lot of people and the south side of Indy being a relatively small place.

But then...

After pie at the casino, as we were standing up to leave, I heard, "CHRISTINE!" I instinctively turned  around and there, walking towards us, was a woman from our old neighborhood. She has a son the same age as Buttercup, and back in the day, we hung out all the time. I hadn't seen her in years.

So of course I had to stop and chat.

Dyanne took it way better than my kids do.

To those of you waiting patiently for a new post *cough* Kris's mom *cough* or not so impatiently (Dad, you can stop texting me the number of days since my last post now!), I'm sorry it took so long.

See you on the weekend!

Have a lovely day!

Friday, August 12, 2016

My Kids Have It, but Clearly It Didn't Come From Me

One of the million or so papers I had to sign or fill out at the beginning of the year was an inventory of sorts the 3rd grade teacher sent home. While I wasn't looking forward to filling out a 2 page paper, I was thankful it did not require a check, as so many of the beginning of the year papers do.

Question 4 or 5 asked for me to give the teacher three words to describe Turken. Not a fan of those questions, but for this marvelous teacher I would do it.

1. Funny. (The boy is hilarious.)

2. Kind (He wouldn't intentionally hurt a fly, either physically or mentally, let alone a kid in his class. His brother, Cuckoo is a different matter, but we're working on it.)

3. Intelli... That doesn't look right.

3. Intelle...Well, that doesn't either.

How in the world is it spelled?!!

Friends, I had to look up the word in the dictionary.

In case you're wondering, it is spelled I-N-T-E-L-L-I-G-E-N-T.

No irony here.

And that's how things are going around the coop.

In case you were wondering.

So, I'm taking a break.

Leaving Bryan and the kids to fend for themselves.

I'm meeting up with a friend for the weekend.

I'll tell you all about it on Sunday in my TToT post.

I'm sure there will be a photo or two.

You just might recognize both me and the friend I'm meeting.

Try not to vaporize in this oppressive heat and humidity while I'm gone. Oh the insanity of this humidity!

Have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

It's a Sports-Lover's Favorite Time of the Year! TToT Time!

The Olympics have begun!!

Oh how we enjoy watching these stellar athletes competing for those gold, silver, and bronze medals.

This week, I'm thankful for...

1. Swimmers

2. Divers

3. Water polo players

4. Soccer players

5. Gymnasts

6. Technology that allows us to watch races being raced in another hemisphere.

7. My family's interest in sports. One of us have played or raced in just about every sport in the Olympics, and those we haven't, we know enough about to know what's going on. Except for rugby. That one makes no sense to any of us.

8. In other news, I'm also thankful for opportunities to get together and visit with friends. There were several this week.

9. The soccer boys had the annual Red vs. Blue games, where our school's teams play each other (JV plays the JV2 team, then after a short break plays the varsity team). It is the only time in their lives that Giant and Star played against Phoenix. Everyone, players and spectators alike, thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Giant getting to the ball before a varsity player.

Phoenix taking a kick.

Why being a goalkeeper's mother is nerve wracking. Star slid in front of that player in order to keep him from scoring. See the ball?

Luckily the varsity player was able to jump over Star. That doesn't always happen.

10. The high school kids had a great start to the school year. They all have friends in their classes and they all are happy with the teachers they got. I am enjoying watching them all enjoying their teen years.

So, what good things are you grateful for this week? Have you been watching the Olympics? What's your favorite event?

Have a lovely day!




Ten Things of Thankful


 Your hosts


Saturday, July 30, 2016

School Stuff, Do With My Life Stuff, and Funny Kid Stuff. TToT Time!

When I taught 5th grade, I wouldn't let my students use the word "stuff" in their writing.

Even now it bothers me to see that I typed that.

But I'm leaving it.

Probly ain't gonna bother no one.

:)

It's the last weekend before school starts. Can't say I'm happy about that fact. Although, I'm happier than the folks whose kids have started school already. One of the big, nearby public school systems started on July 26. Just the sound of a July start date doesn't sit right.

But, there's no point in whining or I-wishing. We'll get to the thankfuls...

1. Kids' imaginations are awesome. Completely out of the blue from the backseat, Turken asked, "Mom, who is your best friend?" I answered his question, and after a pause continued...

Me: Why did you ask?
Him: I don't know. It just came out of my mouth.
Me: What was going on in your head before you asked? What led up to it?
Him: Nothing. I think there is a hole in the bottom of my brain. Sometimes things just fall out into my mouth and then it just comes out.

2. Two of my boys went outside their comfort zone and tried something new. I was pleased as punch that they did, and even happier when they had a great time.

3. Phoenix, Bryan, and I had our meeting with Phoenix's counselor to begin the college application process. Good heavens, is it ever a process. An action plan is in place, and he'll be hitting the ground running on Monday.

4. I'm getting closer to figuring out what I want to do with myself when the kids are in school. I mentioned to a friend that I was really missing the classroom. I do love working in a school. Two days later I was offered a full-time job (for which I did not apply) to teach first grade. Cuckoo's class to be exact. I turned it down, but I will be putting my name on the sub list.

5. Also, I can't remember if I told you, but I found a volunteer opportunity that I think fits perfectly with me and my life at the moment. In mid-August I'll be training to be a Family Friend with Safe Families. It is basically an organisation which helps families who are in danger of having their children put in foster care.

6. I'm thankful for friends who know me well and let me know about opportunities I may be interested in, even if I do turn them down. ;)

7. I just got back from dropping Giant off at freshman orientation. Some tears were shed. Thankfully, not from sadness but joy. I always cry at drop off, but it was extra emotional this year, since Phoenix, as a senior, was there to greet him when he got out of the car. I am so glad we were able to have all these kids so close together.

8. I am glad the National Conventions are over. Perhaps we can take a break from political memes for a while. Are ya with me?

9. Libraries are the bomb dot com. We've been using ours frequently lately. While there are now more books lying all over my house, I don't mind. It means lots of reading is getting done.

A little yoga while he reads, I guess. 


10. I could not be happier with the fact that Cuckoo can read. He is the kind of kid who must have attention at all times and will do anything to get it when he doesn't have anything to keep him occupied. It was always worst in the car. Now, car rides are a breeze. He brings a book, and we don't hear a peep out of him for a good 10 minutes.

So, what happy things do you have to report this week?

Have a lovely day!


Ten Things of Thankful


 Your hosts


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday's Hodgepodge

Two posts in one week?!?!

Yup. Over-achieving blogger comin' atcha.




1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your summer so far? Why?

Well, summer break is only one week away from being over, so regardless of what I rate it, there's not much chance of changing it. Thankfully, it has been an ok summer. Super fast and quite odd, with all the summer work the teenagers had to do. We managed to have some fun and get some much needed work done around the property. Unfortunately, we've only been to the pool once. That is a big fail.  I'll give the summer a 6.

2. July 26th is National Aunts and Uncles Day. Did you have many aunts and uncles growing up? Were you especially close to any one or maybe all of them? Are you an aunt? Share a favorite memory relating to one of your own aunts or uncles or relating to a niece or nephew who calls you Aunt.

We lived in the town where my dad, my grandma, and my great-grandma were all born and raised. My dad's siblings all moved away, but we saw them pretty frequently when they came back to visit Grandma. While I always enjoyed my aunts and uncles, I was actually closest to my great-aunt, Donna. (I even wrote a post about her a few days before she passed away.)

I have lots of nieces and nephews. My goal is to be the favorite aunt they have. While visiting them anytime is a treat, I especially love it when they come stay with us for a few (or more!) days.

3. What's your favorite food dipped in chocolate? What's your favorite food dipped in cheese?

Can't say that I'm a fan of anything dipped in chocolate. I used to eat peanut M&Ms every day, but I don't know if that counts. I do like ice cream with chocolate sauce on it. As for things dipped in cheese, tortilla chips. The cheese can be in a nacho form, with spinach and artichokes, or any other cheese dip form, as long as I can dip a tortilla chip in it.

4. When were you last astonished by something? Explain. 

I don't know how, but I'm still astonished every time I read comments on FB. The level of hatred and lack of empathy and actual thorough thought is mind-boggling.

That, or, if I actually get this done, I'll have posted two days in a row. Pretty astonishing after the dry spell I've been in.

5. Surf board, paddle board, ironing board, Pinterest board, score board, clip board, bulletin board...which board have you most recently encountered?

Each night, Sunday through Thursday, I iron Bryan's clothes for the next day, so I'm gonna have to go with ironing board. I would like to try paddle boarding someday, though.

6. What's your favorite story from scripture? Why that story?

I think I'm going to have to go with the story of Martha and Mary. While serving people is good and noble and expected, it is also necessary to stop the busyness to enjoy and appreciate the people in our lives, including some time with Jesus.

7.  If you were to travel from the east coast to the west coast in your own country, which five cities would you most want to see?

This is a tough one. While I love to travel, and I do have an appreciation for cities, I much prefer small towns and off-the-beaten track traveling. (Long-time readers know that, thanks to posts like this one.) Now that I think about it, I've gone to most of the cities this side of the Mississippi and many on the Mississippi and a few out west. The only east coast city I haven't seen and would like to someday is Boston. From there, I'd go west, hitting...maybe...Denver...a city in Texas, maybe Dallas or Austin...San Francisco...LA.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Based on this morning's debacle, this family needs to get it's collective butt off the proverbial couch and get in gear. At 9:51 this morning I was talking with Bryan about a get-together to which we were invited and happened to look at today's box on the calendar. Lo and behold, something was written in it! Phoenix was scheduled to get his senior yearbook photo taken at 10:15 at a location 20 minutes from our house. The boy had just woken up and was two bites into a bowl of cereal.

We have enjoyed that "nowhere to be" attitude of summer, but that lackadaisical state of mind is, sadly, coming to an end.

Good news, though. He was only 10 minutes late to his appointment and the person ahead of him was just finishing. No one was put out by his tardiness.

Any of the questions or answers jump out at you? You're welcome to join in the linkup if you're so inclined. Just head over to Joyce's blog.

Have a lovely day!