Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday's Hodgepodge, Because I'm a Blogger! A Blogger Who Actually Writes Something Dagnabbit!

Joining Joyce for some hodgepodge question and answers.

1. Pokemon Go...your thoughts? Are you playing? Do you even know what it is?

I know what it is, but I do not play. No one in our family does because our kids don't have smartphones. They would love to, though. Lots of their friends play, and there's always talk about it at soccer practice. It makes no difference to me if people like to do it, as long as they are respectful of the places they go to find the things.

2. What was something you collected as a child? Do you still have that collection? If you're a parent, what's something your own children collected? Have you ever camped out, stood in a crazy long queue, or paid a ridiculous sum for a "collectible"?

I collected nothing as a kid. I still collect nothing except a few shells from a few beaches. I am not a fan of collections. There was a time when I was in my late teens when my mom and I were out shopping together. I must have pointed something out that had a cow somewhere on it. My mom apparently thought it meant I had an undying love for all things cow and bought me a variety of things for every holiday, including a pair of overalls with a cow on the bib. Proving yet again that my family deliberately found attire to make me look ridiculous.

A couple of my kids have collections. Phoenix has a coin collection. Giant collects bottle caps. There is a giant communal baseball card collection started by Bryan when he was a kid. Because Bryan is a pro at collecting things.

3. "Collect moments, not things"...tell us about a moment you've added to your collection this summer.

Ah, there are so many. For sure the white water rafting on the 4th of July and the biking downtown and the many hikes in state parks. But there are also the small moments, like cuddling with Cuckoo in the morning and playing endless games of Hand and Foot (a card game) and watching movies on rainy days and playing in the yard and just general chaos and noise that make every single day normal and wonderful all at the same time.

(Can you tell I'm getting nostalgic and sad about my Phoenix starting his senior year?)

4. What's something collecting dust in your home right now? Any plans to do something about it?

Bags. Lots of bags by the front door. Weeks and weeks ago we cleaned out closets and dressers and put all of the outgrown clothing into bags. Those bags are now waiting to be transported to Kentucky, where my nieces and nephew will dig through the bags and claim the items they like. I'm trying to find a day before school starts to spend a day or two with the fam. Crossing my fingers that it will happen.

5. A favorite song relating to time?

I can't say that I have a favorite, but I've always liked this one. Perhaps because it takes me back to high school...

6. What's been your most frightening or your most interesting encounter with wildlife?

You mean besides the bats and the mice and The Great Spider Infestation of 2005?

7. On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong set his foot down on the moon. If you could travel to the moon would you go? Why or why not?

Maybe when I'm 80, after I've lived a full life and am willing to try all sorts of dangerous and stupid things. I'll go to the moon after I bungie jump off a bridge and jump out of an airplane. Except that the entire space program seems like a giant waste of money and resources to me. I don't really see the point.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

School is starting two weeks from today. The only reason I'm looking forward to it is because it means the end of summer work for the high school kids. As Buttercup said today, "Normally, I'm at least a little bit excited to go back. You know that feeling on the first day of school when you realize you kinda forgot how to write because you haven't done it all summer? I'm not going to have that. I've done more than enough writing over the last two months."

That makes me sad.

I know they are growing up and are not little kids anymore and it's a part of life and blah blah blah, but seriously. They only have a short SHORT amount of time before they go out into the real working world and never get the summer off again and wow, this Phoenix-is-a-senior-and-all-the-big-kids-are-in-high-school-and-in-4-years-we'll-be-down-to-two-kids-at-home-thing is really getting to me!

If you've like to join in with the hodgepodge, you have plenty of time. The link is open for several more days!

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thankful Time!

1. First and foremost, the poison ivy and mysterious rash are both GONE!! All that's left is for the skin to heal from the major trauma it endured.

2. As the end of summer break nears (Sadly, the high school kids head back to school on Aug. 3.), I'm trying to take a few hours of one-on-one time with each kid. This week, Cuckoo went to volunteer with me at St. Elizabeth's (The boy loves to work. He tags along with me all day, helping me pull weeds, trim trees, clean bathrooms, do laundry. And he's old enough to actually be helpful!), then we went out to lunch.

3. I also had some time with Giant. He had an orthodontist appointment, so afterwards we went shopping for school pants and a few new shirts, then out to lunch at the place of his choice.

4. I love summer break for all sorts of reasons, but one of my favorites is the morning time with Cuckoo. He is always the first one up (by far!), and he'll always come downstairs and cuddle on my lap for a while. That just doesn't happen during the school year. We talk, we laugh, we sit quietly. This week, he made the comment, "I want to grow to 48 inches and then stop growing." Can you guess why?

At 48 inches, he will be big enough to ride most of the big roller coasters at King's Island and all the coasters at Disney, but he'll still be small enough for people to carry.

5. Funny things happen all the time around here, but this week a non-family member got to be part of the craziness. Buttercup's best friend has been spending a lot of time with us this summer. She went to Ohio for 4th of July, but she also spends plenty of days with us thanks to the driving laws in Indiana. She has her license, but she isn't yet old enough to have passengers in the car with her. She can drive to our house, but she can't take Buttercup anywhere. So, she stays. One day this week, she left her window down while it was parked in our driveway, not knowing that our cat loves to sit on, under, or in our vehicles. When it was time to leave, as she was putting the keys in the ignition, the cat jumped from the backseat and landed right next to her on the front seat and scared the poor girl half to death. She screamed and screamed as Buttercup laughed and laughed and came inside to tell us so we could laugh and laugh. Eventually, when her heart got back to it's normal speed, she was laughing, too. :)

6. My dad's sister is closer in age to me than to my dad. She has two boys, and the younger of the two is only 10 days younger than Phoenix. They live in Michigan, so we only see them a couple times of year at family gatherings in Ohio. My cousin is a very good baseball player, and his team this year has been playing in tournaments in different cities every single weekend this summer. They didn't get to go to the 4th of July party this year, and we were very sad about it. BUT, this week his team is playing on the north side of Indy, so we went up to watch him play on Thursday. (He's a pitcher, so he doesn't play every game.) It was so nice to see him play and catch up with my aunt in the stands. To make it better, it was a great game, with my cousin's team coming from behind in the last inning to tie the game, sending it into extra innings, where they pulled ahead and won!

7. Friday fun day this week included hiking at a new-to-us state park on the west side of the state. Normal walks through the woods are no longer enough for my kids, so we are always on the hunt for the "rugged" or "very rugged" trails, preferably with hiking through water. Shades State Park had one, and it was a fun 1.25 mile jaunt.

Unfortunately, the trail didn't take us that long to hike, and they don't have another rugged trail. Fortunately, this state park is only 12 miles from our favorite state park, Turkey Run, so we jumped in the van and headed there for another hike on their very rugged trail.

8. Funniest quote from the day came after the hiking. We had brought extra shoes and dry clothes and changed into them when we got back to the van. We stopped for dinner on the way home, and when we got to the van Cuckoo said of the van, "it smells like cinnamon on the outside, and toots on the inside!" One major negative of a big van is the lack of trunk space/ability to keep stinky hiking clothes separate from the rest of the van.

9. Long story short, 'cause this is already a long post and I need to get this wrapped up, had an appointment to get furnace regular, routine service, the furnace heard me reschedule the appointment and stopped working within hours, called the company back and was able to get back on the schedule for original time. Furnace is fixed and the fix was free as the furnace was still under warranty.

10. I get to laugh throughout every day. Thanks to my kids, Bryan, and friends, I do a whole lot of laughing.

I'm off to watch my boys play soccer. Expect lots of photos, seeing as how this may be the only time all three of my teen boys will play on the same team together.

Tell me the good stuff, Readers! What has made you laugh this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Poison Ivy Won't Stop Me! TToT time!

First, I am thankful for modern medicine yet again. Last weekend, I gladly received a gigantic injection in my rear end in order to make the torture of the worst case of poison ivy I've ever had come to a quicker end. Seriously, it was disgusting. Just ask anyone at my dad's 4th of July party. They got to see me in all my oozy, weepy, painful glory. But, in just a couple of days, I was feeling much better and the oozy, weepy bit was all but gone.

This weekend, though, I have a rash and horrible itch from head to toe from an unknown origin. I'm wondering if the steroids they gave me have run their course, and things that weren't completely eradicated are now able to rear their ugly heads. If it goes on much longer, I'll be heading back to a doctor.

BUT, before and through the entire itchy, oozy episode, some good things happened in our little world.

The little boys and Buttercup and I got to spend a long, relaxing, fun day in Cincinnati with one of our most favorite families in the world.

Despite my poison ivy, we had loads of fun at my dad's 4th of July party. While it was a small crowd this year, there was a crowd, so my dad was happy.

We stayed a few extra days in Ohio, so I was able to spend Sunday with Donna and Melody and their families.

On Monday, Bryan, the kids, my mother-in-law, and I headed to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania, for a day of white water rafting. It was cold and rainy the entire day, but we all had a fabulous time.

Because of age requirements, we had to split up. I took the big kids on the middle-sized rapids (unfortunately, everyone had to be 16 in order to go on the part of the river with the biggest rapids.) and Bryan and his mom went with the little boys on the smallest rapids.

In case you noticed, there is one extra big kid. Buttercup's friend came to Ohio with us this year.
Bryan headed back to Indiana, but the kids and I stayed in Ohio an extra day. We spent the morning and early afternoon at one of my favorite places in Canton, McKinley Monument and the surrounding park.

At the Garden Center. There's all sorts of things to keep kids occupied, including a touch garden, a taste garden, a tree house, trails through the woods, a maze, and music. 

Did you know President McKinley was from Canton, Ohio? This is the monument where he and his wife are buried. It's also a popular place for the locals to work out. (The person in the orange shirt was one of about 15 people working out that day.) Those 108 steps (I counted when I was a kid.) are rough! It's way more fun to slide down.

There are lots of pretty, old stonework and water areas in the park.

Other good things...

We bought a minivan. With the number of drivers we have in the house and the schedules we keep, we rarely need the big van to transport the family all at the same time. But, we do need it to go on road trips to visit family in Ohio and Kentucky, and to take vacations. While we were in Ohio, the big van flipped 200,000 miles. We want it to last as long as possible, so we got the minivan for every day driving.

AP and SAT scores have come in, and I couldn't be more proud of Buttercup and Phoenix. They done good.

Green beans are coming in fast and furious. I'll be able to do some canning this week.

It was the high school's moratorium week (aka no practices allowed), so we were able to have everyone home to eat dinner together every night.

Seeing as how it's 10:00 on Sunday night, I'm wrapping this post up. Time to take some more Benadryl.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, June 30, 2016

BASEBALL! - June's Photo Blogging Challenge

For most of the last 9 years, our family's sports life has been dominated by soccer. So much soccer. In the last couple of years, though, our kids have been branching out. This month has been unusually consumed by baseball. Very fortunate for this blogger, seeing as how P.J.'s theme for this month's challenge is "Baseball".

Pretty sure I've said it before, but I'm going to say it again. I am so glad we live so close to the capital of Indiana. We have the opportunity to do so many things we otherwise would not get to do. For example, this month we were able to go cheer on our high school's baseball team as they fought their way to a state win. The game was held in our city's minor league stadium and drew a crowd bigger than most minor league games. Our unranked home team was playing against the #1 ranked team. It took extra innings, but in the end our team, full of talented teens with whom my kids attend school, WON!

As I mentioned in at least one previous post, Turken is our only child playing baseball. His team has done very well this season (#! in the league) and was playing for the championship. This, of course meant a longer season than normal, which meant lots of extra practice time for him and lots of extra time to kill for Cuckoo and me. We played some 1v1 baseball. It's not nearly as fun as it sounds, especially when you play with a tennis ball because we didn't have a baseball in the car. (Tennis balls hit by a 6 year old go faaaaaaar.)

When playing defense, my boy takes "down and ready" seriously.

Never underestimate the power of the fans. For the final championship game, the teens skipped soccer practice to cheer their brother's team on. They even made signs.

But most of the credit has to go to the coaches. The success of a team full of 8 year olds is dependent on the ability of the coaches to teach, encourage, and inspire their athletes. We had the best ones in the league, and their number of wins reflects it.

Throughout this month, my kids were surprised many times with my knowledge and understanding of the game of baseball. I really blew their minds when the pitcher in the high school game balked, and I could explain to them what it means.

Thanks to my dad, I spent many nights at baseball games throughout my childhood. Between watching my brothers play, taking the hour-long drive to Cleveland to watch our hopelessly terrible Indians play, or using his season tickets for the newly opened minor league field in our home town, I got a good education on the ins and outs of baseball. I don't mind at all that I finally have a kid who loves the game.

How about you? Has your month been taken up by any baseball? Do you even go to baseball games throughout the summer? What's your favorite baseball food? (Mine is Cracker Jacks. Love that stuff.)

If you have a hankerin' to join us in the challenge this month or in future months, head over to P.J.'s blog. Next month's theme will be announced on July 1.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

More Random, And It Only Took Me a Week and Three Hours to Write

So, we have pet vultures now. A whole volt of them.

Or a committee.

Or a venue.

So many words to describe a group of vultures.

There's even a separate word to call them when they are eating. A wake.

And when they are flying? Yup, another word. A kettle.

These are things you know when you have pet vultures.

What you don't know is why there is a need to be so specific when talking about a group of some of the ugliest birds on the planet.

It reminds me of trying to teach 4 year olds the words for a single goose or a flock of geese.

The days and weeks that I had to say things like, "See that one bird in the grass? There's only one, so we call it a goose. See all of those birds in the parking lot? Since there's more than one, we call them geese."

And the days and weeks that I had to hear things like, "So if it's in the grass, it's a goose, and if it's in the parking lot it's a geese."

It's enough to make a mother consider leaving her child to be raised by said geese.

Back to the pet vultures.

There are three.

We're just calling them the vultures.

They've been living in our barn for at least 3 weeks now. Every time we go outside, we hear them making a ruckus on the metal roof or see them come swooping out of the barn loft window.

We were a bit startled at first, but honestly, I'm glad they're here. My days of cleaning up nasty dead animals are over!

Of course, our little zootopia we've got going here doesn't leave many dead animals for either of us to dispose of.

To illustrate, I'll describe my time in the garden the other day.

As I sat in the dirt, plants all around, the cat comes looking for attention. He rubs up against my back and legs, but my hands are covered in mud. I couldn't pet him. He wasn't happy that I was ignoring his pleas, so he nipped me. I tossed him to the next row and continued to pull weeds. In protest, he plopped himself down directly on top of 2 green bean plants.

As he sat glaring at me, the chickens came a calling. Their favorite garden pastime is scratching in the grass clippings between the rows, flinging grass all over the new baby plants, thus killing them before they have a chance to give us their yummy veggieness. Seven chickens wander all around me and the grumpy feline.

Next up, the dogs. Roy is content to simply rest in the shade of an apple tree a few yards away. Hershey, on the other hand, must be righthereinmyface, with not a care that he is stomping all over my fragile carrot stalks. He didn't even give the cat or chickens a second glance, and the animals didn't even have the decency to scatter in fear.

After I got the dog and cat off the plants (there really is no way to make chickens do anything without causing way more damage) and back into the grass, I sat myself down to continue with my chore.

Birds were singing. The breeze was blowing through the trees. The sun was shining.

When seemingly out of nowhere, not one, not two, but three rabbits came speeding through the garden. I'm guessing they are the same rabbits that chewed the green beans plants down to nubbins. They went careening into the orchard, chased each other among the trees, and came back for another round bout the garden, paying no attention to the dogs, the cat, or me.

Not only weren't they petrified, they weren't even nervous. The were frolicking for Pete's sake!

So, zootopia continues.

At this rate, I won't be the least bit surprised if, when I'm out picking raspberries along the perimeter of our property, a coyote or two sidles up next to me looking for a scratch behind the ears.

Mighty unfortunate for the vultures.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ten Things of Thankful week 158

I have poison ivy on my jaw and shoulder that itches like itches so bad I can't even think of an appropriate simile. And there is a fly that keeps buzzing around me and landing on me, including on my actual eye. Yet I will sit here and shoo the fly and not itch and be thankful for all the good things for which I am grateful this week!

I'm a trooper like that.

1. With Phoenix home and baseball over, my days are so much more wide open. I can stay home and cook dinners and people can actually sit down and eat them together.

2. Seeing my boys walk up to the house when they arrive home from soccer practice each night puts a smile on my face every time. Nothing like 2 hours of seriously hard workouts to bring brothers together. I love sitting with them, despite the sweaty stench, when they get home, just listening to them laugh as they tell stories of what happened at practice.

3. The one thing I sometimes regret about moving to the farm is that our kids don't have the opportunity to ride their bikes to friends' houses or even have people over all that often. But, as Bryan and I talked about yesterday, if we had lived in a neighborhood surrounded by their friends, I doubt our kids would be as good of friends with each other. So, I'm thankful that we had the chance to move out to the middle of nowhere.

4. Bryan and I were able to get together with some of our best friends for dinner on Friday night. In the busyness of life, we rarely take the time to do such things, so it was extra fun to do so.

5. Let's give it up for Willis Carrier, the inventor of air conditioning. With the passing of each 90+ degree day, I love him more.

6. We're getting some produce from our garden and around the property. We've been eating plenty of lettuce and green beans and black raspberry cobbler lately.

7. I went to a funeral this week for one of the kindest people I've ever met. I didn't know her well, but I've known her for over a decade. She is the kind of person who makes you feel special just for having the chance to have met her. I kept looking around the church at all these people that I know, wondering how they knew her. It was quite a diverse group of folks. I've been to lots of funerals, but this one hit me harder than most. Partly because she was the kind of person the world needs right about now, but also because she was only 7 years older than me. Yes, sadly she is gone, but looking around that church, you knew how many lives she touched, how much kindness and joy she spread around, and how all of those people have learned from her and will continue to spread kindness because of her.

8. I have been at a loss for summer shoes. I want sandals, but I don't want a pair that has a piece of plastic between my toes and a skinny piece of what seems to be wood as the only barrier between the ground and my foot. I refuse to buy shoes that aren't comfortable the moment I put them on my feet. I had pretty much given up on having any sandals ever, until that dinner with friends on Friday night, in which one of the ladies was wearing a kind of shoe I'd never seen before.

People, I have found my shoe nirvana.

Yoga slings are the best things to be invented since the air conditioner. The soles are made out of yoga mats for crying out loud! I bought the one and only pair I could find in my size yesterday, but I'm considering buying them in every color online now that I know my size. Seriously. They are Fab. U. Lous.

9. On Friday I took the kids downtown and we rented bikes, individual bikes for the older boys, and a surrey for Buttercup and me to pedal the little boys around. In case you've never been here, Indy has a beautiful area downtown called White River Park. It is where the baseball stadium and several museums and the NCAA headquarters are, but it also has a canal walk that leads to the White River, where there are more walking and biking areas. As the boys say, "It was lit." (For you of the older generation who may not know, that is a good thing.)

10. Saturday was our 22nd wedding anniversary. I don't even know how that is possible, but it's true. The kids were gracious enough to not care that we abandoned them for the afternoon and evening, as we went to test drive minivans and buy some shoes and spend two hours having a leisurely dinner at a new restaurant in a nearby town. It was a lovely evening with my groom.

So, how has your week been? Let me in on the good stuff!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Sunday, June 19, 2016

We're All Back Home Together Again!, TToT I don't even know the number anymore

This will be the most thankful week ever!

Two weeks ago, Phoenix and 70 other juniors and seniors left for a 2 week summer field studies out west. They've been rock climbing and white water rafting and hiking up mountains covered in 2 feet of snow and hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and biking almost 40 miles around Durango and heading out to the backcountry for three days to sleep under the stars.

Last Sunday, Bryan and Buttercup left for a week-long mission trip in West Virginia. They have been building a fire escape, framing a wall, putting siding on a house, hanging out with the locals, and getting to know folks from other parts of the country also there to work.

I have been at home with the other four boys, getting them to soccer games and practices and tryouts and baseball games and practices and get-togethers with friends and the library to print things when our home printer died and all the other things that need doing around here.

I am so, so, sosososososososososo thankful to have everyone home (Well, Phoenix isn't here yet, but he will be tomorrow. They are currently in Topeka.) safe, sound, and able to drive people to all of their things.

I am thankful for modern technology and social media. I was able to keep tabs on everyone through photos posted on instagram and facebook.

In addition, Phoenix has even text me and checked in several times over the two weeks. When he left, I didn't tell him he had to, but I'm glad he did. I get all choked up thinking about how much fun he's having while doing so many new and exciting things.

Back here at home, I'm thankful for awesome families with whom we've spent many hours on the sidelines of soccer games. We've had our fair share of horrible experiences with parents I was embarrassed to be associated with over the 8 years we've been involved with club soccer, but the last couple of years have been great fun. Things are changing drastically with the end of this season (Buttercup has decided not to play soccer anymore, and rules have changed as far as age grouping goes, so Giant's team had to be split up.), and we're going to miss the camaraderie.

And I'm back. That was all written on Saturday afternoon. It is now Sunday afternoon, and I have 45 minutes to finish this before I leave to pick Phoenix up at the high school.

I am thankful for fabulous coaches, specifically, today, for Turken's baseball coaches. This season, his team is ranked #1. It isn't because the coaches gathered up all of the best players during the draft. The team has kids who have a very difficult time running from base to base. About 2 weeks into the season, all the coaches in the age group were told that a little girl wanted to join a team. No one wanted to take her. Our head coach said, "If it was my daughter, I'd be heartbroken if no one would want to take her. She can join our team." (This is the only girl in the league. I have no idea why she's playing baseball here instead of softball.) This sweet girl couldn't hit or catch a ball when she came to the first practice. Through the season, the coaches have practiced and encouraged and done a beautiful job with these kids. Now, every kid can hit and catch and participate fully in the game. Tomorrow they play in the semi-final championship game. Give up a cheer for them if you think about it!

Friday night, three of the boys and I headed downtown to our minor league baseball field to watch our high school boys play in the state championship game. (I love living so close to the capital. There are so many opportunities to see and do things we otherwise wouldn't get to do.) Going into the post-season, they weren't even ranked. In this final game, they were playing the #1 ranked team. In extra innings, we won!! I got all teary watching these boys, some of whom we've known for over a decade, play such a great game and take home the trophy.

Star is 15!! Based on behavior from most of his life, I never thought I'd see the day, but he is becoming such a responsible, thoughtful, helpful, outgoing young man. This summer isn't exactly a fun one for him. Most days his schedule includes 2 hours of trimming trees, 2 hours of school work, and 2 hours of soccer practice. On top of that, he empties the dishwasher without being told and takes the little boys out to work with him in the yard. He did a great job being the "man of the house" while Bryan and Phoenix were gone, and even did the unenviable job of locking the chickens up each night. (It is creepy out there in the pitch black dark!) He's busted out of his very quiet bubble that he lived in all through elementary and middle school and is making friends left and right, having a blast in high school. It's been wonderful to watch the transformation, and I'm looking forward to what will be coming in the next few years.

On this Father's Day, I'm so grateful for my dad. While there have been plenty of rough patches through the years of divorce and remarriage and all that came with it, I always knew he loved me. Completely. I knew what it was like to be loved, and as a result I could recognize true love when Bryan came along.

Lastly, I am thankful for my awesome husband. I can't even begin to list all the reasons why. You long-time readers already know. :)

Aaaaaaand, time's up. Time to go pick up my (6'2", not a chance I'll be able to pick him up even if I tried) baby!

Your turn. What good things have happened in your life this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts