Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas season memories

My memories of the Christmas season this year are for the most part, very joyous.  I was pleasantly surprised.  This first picture is not really related to the Christmas season.  It was a picture that I had to take after Gwen had found my bright red lipstick and tried it on without any help of a mirror or myself.  Reminded me of when Trevor got into my finger nail polish and put it on himself and all over my bathroom.  Thankfully, Gwen didn't get it anywhere except her lips and face.  And of course she was so proud.

Anyway, this Christmas season was eventful, and our annual festivities of Christmas haven't even started.  We got the largest tree we ever have...11 ft.  It was fun to decorate and admire until the base cracked and leaked water everywhere.  Then it tipped over.  Since then, it hasn't been able to be straight upright.  So next year or before next year we need a bigger tree stand.  

I wrote in this year's Christmas letter that I knew by next year at this time, Trevor would probably be able to beat both Russ and I at chess.  Well, I didn't even last a week beyond the letter.  Granted, I don't know much else other than how each of the pieces move, but Trevor already has such patience and foresight to know how to strategize a winning game. 

Music has probably been the biggest change to my family Christmas season memory.  As long as there is a song playing on our all-Christmas music station, she likes it.  Her new favorite is Rockin' around the Christmas tree.  I had a Kidz Bop CD in the pile of Christmas music that has a version of that song on it, which has been played plenty.  Along with the Muppets Christmas and a few other songs that I haven't heard on the radio.  What I will remember most about this year was that if Gwen heard a song on the radio, even just once or twice, it would often get stuck in her head and randomly she would belt it out.  My favorite is when she out of the blue started singing the song that we heard from Wham!...I think the title is "Last Christmas".  It really got me because she only had part of the chorus, and I tried to help her out, but I got stuck, and she filled it right in:  "Last Christmas...I gave you my heart..but the very next day, you gave it away.  This year, I'll save you from....."  Quickly, Gwen said "tears mom."  and she finished the lyrics.

So now we get into the creative side of the kids.  As I said before, Gwen really has been into building things, and while I have never seen that side of Trevor, he is creative in his own way.  He prefers to be creative with board games as in this instance.  I think he is finally realize that Gwen can be a playmate, especially with board games.  This game, doesn't really have a name, other than Trevor calling it a combination of all the games they use:  "Monopoly, Life, Jenga".  They use the car and houses or hotels from Monopoly, build garages and houses with Jenga pieces, then play out their lives with cards (career cards), money, and spinning the wheel from the game of Life.  I almost didn't want to make them move, but it was a school day.  I hope there are many of these days in the week off of school.  I like that I don't always have to be breaking up fights.

And these last two pictures, are for Gwen.  She asked me one day this week to build things with the Legos in the basement.  I'm not sure why they were out in the first place, but these are Trevor's legos.  He had gotten an airport to build a large airplane, star wars ships and figures, as well as other activities I'm sure that I don't even remember.  They eventually ended up in a box or two in the basement.  So anyway, they were out and Gwen wanted to play with them, so I put her where she wouldn't get into anything and let her go at it.  It took her at least an hour or so to come up with this boat.  The bottom part is part of an airplane but everything else she added.  I thought she did a great job.  It didn't seem like she was very interested in really playing with it once it was built, but I am just amazed that she saw all the pieces and picked them out in order to come up with what she did.  

So while there wasn't enough snow this season for it to be a white Christmas, I think that there will be ways for the kids to entertain themselves if they don't have a chance to be outside.  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

'Tis the busy season

Everyone always seems extra busy during this time of year.  It really makes me dread the next month that is coming because I know it will slow WAY down.  Perhaps to the point of wanting to shut my door and not leave the house.  But I digress....right now it is busy.  Last week was very busy for us.  Russ was traveling for the week, which in some ways made it less hectic knowing that I just had to know where the kids needed to go, rather than the whole family.  I also warned Trevor because I know he appreciates the little down time he does have with the ever increasing demands of homework, piano practice and the want to play video games.  That for sure has taken a back seat to everything else going on.  He maybe gets to play once or twice a week. 

So on to this week.  Monday was crazy with Chess, dinner, dance class and then directly to hockey pictures.  No time for anything that day.  Tuesday, I was off for a holiday PTA event but thankfully the kids didn't have to be brought anywhere to do anything.  Wednesday, the kids had their last swimming lesson of the session, but my better judgement said to abandon the swimming lesson to make sure we made the preschool Christmas program on time.  It was a very cute show as always, and the bells performance was wonderful. 

I decided that because we didn't have anything going on Thursday, we would run on over to the mall for our annual Santa pictures.  It was a perfect setting.  Just in case, I brought a book for Trevor to read, but in the end it wasn't needed.  We walked right up to Santa and no one else came to the line for at least 10 minutes.  That meant 10 minutes of in depth discussion with Santa.  It also meant that when the three pictures they tried to take of the kids didn't turn out, they were gracious enough to take 4 more before I found one I really liked.  Or at least where they both looked ok. 

The kids told Santa what they wanted...Gwen wanted a big Cinderella doll...although funny thing, she told her mom the day before she wanted a big Sleeping Beauty doll and I don't think Santa is going to bring her two...I guess we'll see.  Trevor was not very specific.  He preferred to talk about all the things he has done and ask a lot of questions about how old he was, and if our Frankincense (Elf on a Shelf) could stick around for the rest of the year because he was pretty much a member of our family.  It wasn't fair that he had to be away the rest of the year and miss his birthday and such.  And Santa thought that it wasn't a big deal if the Elf stuck around.  Ummm....maybe our Elf will write a departing note or something. 

So apart from that discussion, it was a very good trip to see Santa.  I hear that there are some families that ask their teenagers to at least stand behind or next to Santa for those same pictures.  I would even promise to keep all those pictures away from the public eye until they had kids of their own....I love to watch the kids grow up with the same Santa every year.  That is one tradition I am happy to continue.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Remembering years past with the kids, I always thought I would enjoy, as they would, the same Christmas traditions.  Most of the time, in fact, I insist on them.  This year, I have tried to allow for some changes, while keeping most things the same.  And then I see how some of the traditions have lost their interest.  I don't know if it is their age, or if it is truly not as interesting, or if I'm more of a scrooge than usual.

Here are some changes to year's past:  We got our Christmas Tree early, although not significantly, and it is at least 3 ft taller than usual.  We have always had it in the room with a vaulted ceiling, but this year we truly took advantage of it.  As a result, we had to buy more lights and garland...and maybe an ornament or two :-)

I have had to change out Gwen's Christmas Stocking at her request to a light blue Cinderella stocking.  The rest of ours are Winnie the Pooh red ones.  She had Elmo last year, but has never really gotten into him, so it really didn't make sense to keep her to that one. 

Although the traditions are still there, the feelings have changed:  Frankincense was scary at first to both Trevor and Gwen, is not as interesting, unless they use it as a weapon against the other sibling when they are doing something bad....for example Trevor says to Gwen, "Oh...Frankincense did you see that?  Gwen wasn't being a good listener.  Make sure you report that back to Santa."  I've been trying to balance it all out when I catch the kids behaving too, but it for sure isn't as magical as he once was.  The chocolate advent calendars are being used, but often forgotten in the morning.  I remember last year and the other years, 5 minutes would not go by when the kids were awake and they both had their chocolate in hand for the day.  Christmas movies:  Gwen has the choice to watch them twice a week or so while Trevor is at school and she would rather not.  Trevor, if given the choice currently wants to watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid which he got for his birthday.  It is a very good adaptation from the book, but over a Christmas movie?  I'm a little bummed.  The books are way too young for Trevor now.  He has to read 20+ minutes a day and thankfully he has a whole new selection with the series of Magic Tree House and the last three books of Diary of a Wimpy kid.  Gwen's only interest in the books are of course the one Princess Christmas book we have.  All the others could go out the door.  Again, I'm a little bummed. 

We still have yet to visit Santa at the mall.  I think I'm going to bring the kids next week on Thursday.  I have to add to my collection!  On the topic of pictures, I took the annual pictures in front of the tree and they both did very well at that.  Those are ordered and will be here soon so they will be sent out shortly.  I had my annual cookie swap, and got a good deal of cookies that have almost all been eaten.  Those were yummy! 

Something that they are both excited about is that they are both going to carry in two parts of the Nativity scene at church on Christmas Eve.  Gwen will have Mary and Trevor will have Joseph.  I couldn't have gotten baby Jesus if I wanted to, but I knew that would not be a good idea.  Major fighting would ensue.  But that is another thing that has lost interest - our Fisher Price Nativity.  It was opened and set up but not played with except the occasional song every once in a while.  Oh well.  Kids grow up, I guess it cannot always be as exciting as the first year.  I'm guessing Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning will hold the same magic.  That I'll hold onto for as long as I can!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gwen the puzzler

Well, she made it through the big even that was Thanksgiving and Trevor's birthday without a big hitch.  She was a big helper the day of his birthday which I was very thankful for.  It appears as though she is slowly learning that everyone's birthday is special to them for that one day and she cannot do anything about it, so she might as well enjoy it. 

We had her preschool conference last Thursday and it went very well.  Right now she is not very interested in drawing or writing, and actually I'm sort of surprised.  When she is at home, if I ask her to create a card for someones birthday she loves to do it.  If we break out new pens, pencils, or markers she right away wants to use them.  But if she is at preschool it seems as though she does the minimum for what is asked and then runs to the next thing.  Perhaps preschool is too fun and if she can play first, she would love it.  She is also working on her friendships and working out conflicts without the help of the teacher.  I'm debating on picking up a few more days of child care here and there to see if that would be fun for her.  But overall it was a great conference!  She is one great kid!

Something that I've finally put together is that she is different from Trevor in the way that she plays.  I have always known that she likes her dolls where he liked his cars, and I simply figured that you play with cars different than you play with dolls.  But she also likes Legos.  She wanted to play with Trevor's lego people which I just thought was an extension of dolls.  She also wanted to put the legos together to make houses or vehicles for the Lego people.  And then there has always been her love of puzzles.  She can put together the 50 states in under 2 minutes if she feels up to it.  I love that if we are ever talking about different states, like yesterday morning I was explaining my love of Hawaii again and Trevor started asking about Texas and Gwen ran to get out the states puzzle so she could put it together and Trevor could show her which state we were talking about. 

It seems to me that it she really enjoys putting things together....I wonder if this will translate to a career for her in some way.  Maybe a fashion designer...that is something I would see as fitting her interests....  Have I explained how she cannot get enough of my jewelry?  She loves the necklaces and one class ring that I have in my jewelry box.  When she asked to wear one, I explained when she was wearing a pretty dress I would let her borrow them.  Now, whenever she is wearing her two playdresses, she runs upstairs and grabs one of the necklaces and class ring and wears them throughout the day.  Putting together the perfect outfit is a must for this girl.  And what gets me is that she has a whole box filled with her own jewelry and she will play with it, but she knows it isn't good enough to actually wear out in public.  *sigh*  Maybe if I hit up Claires she will be satisfied....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankful for my little Turkey

Another year has come and gone.  Another year where it is getting harder and harder to remember my life before being a mom.  Although in some respects it seems to be getting more challenging, I would say that in the same respect, it brings a bigger rewarding feeling as you get through it. 

We spent the day how I thought Trevor would enjoy it.  He requested that I make him his eggo waffles for breakfast...I guess I make them better out of the toaster than he does?....I threw in a quick batch of pillsbury sweet rolls that both kids enjoyed.  We headed to Benihana for lunch since that is Trevor's favorite place to eat...but on Sundays they are open at 1pm at the earliest.  If anyone has ever eaten there, their lunch portions are not much smaller than their dinner portions.  So while we wanted to eat dinner on the early side, most of us were pretty full after the big lunch. 

But the lunch was a fun time.  Backtracking a bit....for the past two days Trevor has had a little head cold.  Nothing by far to worry about or to derail him from anything, but as I have previously mentioned, he has a hard time sleeping, nightmares, talking in his sleep, etc.  So he isn't exactly well rested.  Hopefully tonight will be different, but during the last few days he has been very lethargic.  So when we were out to lunch, he seemed tired, but I think he still ate ok and had a good time. 

We came back home, had dinner, sang, open gifts, ate more and played with a lot of his gifts.  As a slight side note....Gwen did a great job today letting Trevor be in the spotlight.  I think it helped having her birthday recently and yet also having some extended family too.  She is beginning to understand her day will come again and she respected Trevor's wishes to open his own gifts, blow out his own candles and more than one occasion today both kids hugged each other and told each other they loved them.  (it warms a mom's heart)

We were able to drag he away from his most prized possession, the 3DS to play with the dart guns, but he also really enjoyed every single gift he got.  The kitten and Trevor and even Gwen got squealing over the spy R/C car.  And because we started the nighttime routine early enough I'm pretty sure I won't be seeing much of Trevor until he reads and rereads his Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  At least he can put a bunch of reading minutes into his reading log now.  But I also had to repeat to him the fact that he CANNOT wake up before 6:30am to read.  And that he would have plenty of time to read before and after breakfast if he got a good night's sleep.  I am happy that he does love to read. 

Looking back at the past year, I know that this year is going to be a significant improvement for Trevor.  We have really found a groove and a lot of his interests and can make sure he gets to enjoy life and learn a lot too.  I can't wait to see what this next year brings to him.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

One crazy week

It was a busy week for us, ending on a "last day of being 7" for the young man.  Both kids had school until Wednesday this week and the only activity that didn't happen was Chess club on Monday.  I'm sure Trevor would have wanted it to happen, but at least we were able to keep mostly busy until Thanksgiving.  The kids even had swimming lessons on Wednesday, and I'm sure because most people left for the weekend, she had a private lesson.  Trevor had a few less kids in his class as well. 

Thanksgiving Thursday went off without a hitch...I think.  I did my usual turkey, stuffing, rolls, green been dish.  The kids were kind enough to help with the cleaning the night before and day of.  We had a houseful of 15 people, still missing a few folks but had a good time.

This year Black Friday started Thanksgiving evening.  I picked up a good friend at 10pm and we didn't get back home until about 3:30am.  Strangely enough, I didn't pick up anything more than some stocking stuffers for Christmas, mostly some REALLY good deals on home stuff and some snowpants for Trevor since his have gone missing.  We went from Toys R Us to Herbergers to Kohls to Target.  Kohls was a complete disaster and the one store I could have done without.  Herbergers was the one I came out of thinking that I got a really good deal and it was very well run.  It was a very different night than in the past because of how early the stores were open.  I do think I like it better this way because I could come home and sleep for a little while before the kids woke up.  It did take me most of the day to recover from everything that had happened that day. 

So the rest of the day was pretty low key...finishing up the cleaning...laundry....just relaxing....then Trevor and Russ were going to go to the Wild game, but Trevor decided he didn't want to go.  So Russ took Gwen instead.  I thought Trevor was going to get upset, but he didn't.  He genuinely didn't want to go.  So he and I had a little time to ourselves.  I decided I wanted to have a little date night with him, and we went to California Pizza Kitchen.  He said he was going to be embarrassed only with one other person, but when we got there, and he saw that it wasn't like a table for 10 and only the two of us, he was good.  I had a very peaceful and pleasant conversation with him.  Because we were at a mall, I also asked him to come and get his Christmas sweater with me because I knew they were still having good sales.  That spawned some questions about if I like to shop or not.  I know I have said it before, but I really need to do that more often.  The night ended with us chatting right before he went to bed about what a good time we both had that night.  And I also know that Gwen had a great time too. 

And now it is Saturday.  We spent the morning seeing the new Muppet movie, and I was VERY VERY happy.  I'm glad I had the kids watch the Muppet Show because a lot of it references that as well as a bunch of the Muppet movies.  The kids are familiar with The Muppets Take Manhattan but none of the other ones.  And I know they probably didn't appreciate the 80's music as I did, but WOW....I have a big appreciation for Jason Segel.  I watched him on SNL and learned he co-wrote the story and if that guy doesn't have a perfect understanding of the Muppets I don't know who does.  I hope they do well with the movie!

And now we begin the preparations for the kid to turn 8.  I think I'm ahead of the game and feeling pretty good about being ready for tomorrow.  More to come tomorrow on that event.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's Trevor's Turn

With his actual birthday coming up, the time has come to focus on Trevor.  Much to the disappointment of Gwen.  Which is strange because at least Trevor has to let her tag along to his birthday party and I let her have her friend party without Trevor. 

So today was the party, because having a birthday on or near Thanksgiving is not very travel friendly for his friends.  We move it usually to the weekend before so we can stay in the same month.  During the summer, he had asked to have his party at a place termed Chutes and Ladders.  It is an outdoor park that does have some water spraying involved.  I tried to explain that even if the actual park was closed, that they turn off the water around Labor Day.  Trevor thought that as long as it hadn't snowed by his party, he could still have it there and possibly even involve getting wet.  Oh how quickly he forgets how yucky it gets in the fall.  Strangely enough, the same day as his party is the day that we get snowed on. 

This was the second year in a row we decided to get out of the house and let someone else help with the party planning.  Good for me because although I can be organized enough to plan a party, I usually don't like trying to stay low stress when I have to entertain the guests.  This year we went to a party place where they had mini golf, batting cages, a soft foam ball pit/ball shooting area, arcade, bumper cars, and laser tag.  The place was packed with people.  Some probably close to their teens, and some younger than Trevor's group.  But really, it was a great age at least for him to be there.  They didn't get to do the batting cage because it didn't move as quick as he wanted it to, and I didn't know really how it all worked anyway.  But otherwise the kids did get to do everything else.  Laser tag was Trevor's favorite.  Gwen was happy playing the arcade games, doing a mini golf round, and she got into the ball pit early enough to avoid the huge kids. 

Then of course the weather hit throughout the time we were there.  Thankfully, we were able to get home at a decent time, but everyone was pretty hungry.  Immediately, Trevor wanted to get back outside in the snow.  Also thankfully, his snowpants from last year still fit him.  It wasn't quite enough snow to make a snowman...I think...but I know he had a good time sweeping the deck off and finding other fun things to do with the snow. 

It's Trevor's turn to be in his favorite place - the spotlight.  Although officially 8 days away, I think because of the party, I'm calling it in his birthday week now.  I'm excited to see what he makes of his special week!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's Time to Play the Music

So I have no idea who reads this blog.  I do know that it is mostly my immediate family and that my intention for writing this is to give it as a gift to my kids when they are old enough to have their own kids.  Regardless, I don't know how many people understand my interest obsession with The Muppets.  So I will create a short backstory....  Yes as a child, I watched Sesame Street.  I really liked it.  Even when my younger brothers were watching it, I would also enjoy catching an episode or two.  But really I became a true muppet fan when my dad and I would watch the weekly show when it was in its first run.  I know as I was older, I could sometimes catch it on syndication but I will always remember The Muppet Show as an occasion where my dad and I saw it together. 

When Jim Henson died while I was in Junior High, I was very sad.  I knew there would never be another Muppet Movie or Muppet Show like what he had put on in the past.  Granted I was a bit of a snotty teenager thinking about all this at the time, but oh well.  I would like to clarify that I am obsessed more with the Muppets associated with the Muppet Show and Muppet Movies, not necessarily Jim Henson, but I also knew of the association of what he brought to the whole creative side of things.

So I grew up, met my love, and brought along with my obsession.  I have all Muppet Movies, I had acquired a bunch of VHS tapes that I have let go....I think...and tried to continue to collect any DVDs that I don't have, that I think are worth seeing.  Like I said, since Jim Henson's death there haven't been a TON of movies that have measured up to the Jim Henson era.  We named our two cats Piggy and Kermie (both girls) that we got in 1998.  I have a tattoo of Kermit that I got in 2006.  I do have the first 3 Seasons (of 5) that they released via Disney.  Oh, that reminds lucky is it that Disney now has acquired The Muppets?  It's now a permanent attraction at Disney World much to my LOVE!!!  Plus, Disney has got a great marketing strategy and plenty of funds to draw from!

I am extremely tempted to get the whole series via a non-disney supplier of the Muppet Show.  I do know that Disney decided to edit the shows individually and not include everything as originally shown.  It makes me sad, but I don't know that I'm the type of person to care a whole lot about one particular show, I just like being able to watch a show here or there and get into the big skits like Pigs in Space, Swedish Chef, and Muppet Labs.  I do wonder how much longer they are going to wait to release those last two seasons!  Maybe after their new movie?

Yes, I am very excited to see the new Muppet movie.  Like I said, its now a Disney property and they are promoting the heck out of it.  I already got a free movie pass when we do go.  But the reason I'm really writing is that although I had watched most of the Muppet Show series, I thought I should break it out in preparation for the movie.  I would like the kids to be at least knowledgeable about the music they will hear at the movie.

And so it begins.  I decided to start at the beginning even though I thought the beginning was a bit slow.  Fortunately, I hit the kids at a perfect time in their lives.  Because the show was less than a half hour, it keeps Gwen's attention and Trevor is ROLLING around laughing so hard about everything in the show that he often misses most of the next thing that happens because it is so fast moving.  It just gives me such a warm feeling to be able to share this feeling with them.  Thankfully, I think I have a good thing to throw on the TV when we are looking for a quick pick-me-up. 

For those of you that are interested:  I'm pretty sure that Trevor's favorite part is anytime Stadler and Waldorf talk.  He knows they do or say something funny.  But the one he is currently quoting all the time is a skit that Fozzy did about the Wild West where he came in and held up the saloon with pickles.  You have to ask him about it if you really want to see something fun!

So 15 more days until the release!  It's time to play the music!  It's time to light the lights!  It's time to get things started!!!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Deck Project

Funny thing about how projects always seem to become more than what they are intended to be.  And other funny thing, they never seem to be COMPLETELY completely done, there are always improvements to be made or grand ideas to put in to make it even better.  But with today comes the point to that we can say the deck project that was originally slotted to take a month, started the beginning of August has come to a close.  We had our final final final inspection that was passed in a matter of seconds after the inspector arrived.  I went back and looked at our permit record and noticed that although originally it was something that started the beginning of August, we had the first inspection with footings on Sept. 12th....which means from the time that there was absolutely nothing but holes until the final deck board and railing was up was a little over 7 weeks. 

Originally the project simply entailed tearing off the old deck boards and replacing them with new ones.  However, once the deck boards came off, there was warped boards, no appropriately used footings, and glued ledger boards (instead of screwed in).  So basically the frame was completely unusable.  Ok...tear everything out.  Dispose of old lumber.  Draw out new plans.  Discuss with city building and planning on a few occasions.  I have to say....I LOVE our city building and planning people.  EVERYONE that I dealt with, permit approval, inspectors, even the operator getting me to the correct person was so fast in getting back to me, or so helpful with questions I had (even if I had no idea what I was asking about) and generally had a very laid back attitude which for me was nice. 

Because we had to go the route of getting a permit, we decided to wrap the deck around our 3 season porch.  We had to have 14 footings.  We found 5 but the previous builders were only using 2 for the deck and neither was actually doing anything other than leaning on the concrete.  So we had someone else come out and dig 11 footings because we could use 3 of the ones they already had.  And then the same company came back and poured the cement and put in the anchors.  Then came the construction.  My dad came over once a week, sometimes more as we were his designated Habitat for the Family house this quarter.  Since he has retired, he has been doing Habitat for Humanity via 3M once a week in St. Paul or wherever they are working for that month.  Russ had been working on the deck during the weekends whenever he could get a free minute or two.  Derek and Brian came over and helped out as well. 

And now we have this gorgeous, beautiful, large deck that is fully inspected and good for the life of the house, or at least as long as we are going to be there.  We were planning on having a deck party but with the yucky weather coming up and the lack of time with other events going on, I think we are going to try to keep it clean and have a joint Thanksgiving/Deck party on the same day. 

Thank you to my dad for making this all happen and thank you to Russ for rearranging your house project plans to help make it happen as well.  It is beautiful!  I am posting the deck pictures on facebook because I feel like I mess up the format of this when I post pictures.  The only picture I did not take is the one of the bench that was added after the inspection today.  Perhaps more benches will be built as we have a little bit left over decking material.  Or maybe I can get my privacy fence after all. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

The month of October

I feel like a broken record when I say that I cannot believe how packed our months have become, from now until the new year.  I know it isn't going to slow down at all until then, and at that point, I wish it would speed up to get through the dead of winter. 

October was filled with so many things, and even things that aren't a usual annual event for us.  We had two weddings, three birthdays, plus non family birthday parties and Gwen's own friend birthday party and just as it slowed down we had to get ready for Halloween.  To say I did not do a very good job being a mom this Halloween would be an understatement.  I had to make some priority changes and we had a deck project thrown in there to keep up with as well.  So instead of going to a pumpkin patch or even carve our pumpkins this year, we made sure to get vaccinated, put new tires on the car and head over to some fall/Halloween or birthday parties depending on the child. 

But let me start with the first part of the month.  We went to two extended family weddings, one out of town and one in town.  The kids had a blast at both and got to dance the night away.  In between the two weddings was Gwen's birthday with the family.  She was given princess and fairy toys, games, and clothes which she loved.  She is at the point where she does not believe it is her birthday until she blows out her candle after everyone has sung to her.  Of course when she had her party with her friends a week later, she then expected to be turning 5, I mean she already was 4 right???? 

**completely side note, I don't remember if I recorded one of her favorite explanations of rooms in our house.  she is quite literal when I ask her to go to the bathroom:  if I ask her to go to the bathroom before going somewhere, she tries to go upstairs because those are the two rooms that have baths in them.  I have to say that she needs to go to the potty room because the bathroom on the main level only has a toilet and sink (or half bath for those of you knowledgeable enough in looking at houses).  The bathroom cannot be called a bathroom unless it has a bath in it. 

So she had her party with her friends and we tried to play some games, but she was not happy with the choice of musical chairs.  I don't know if she assumed she should win because it was her birthday or had to win for a different reason but I had her doing something else pretty quick. The hit of the party was making their own crowns.  Whoever was the buyer at Target that came up with that one got a huge bonus I hope!

The other two weekends of October involved deck work.  There will be another post and pictures to follow on that when the final inspection occurs on Wednesday.  So instead, the kids did not go to a pumpkin patch, or get to carve pumpkins this year.  We were able to partake in a family Halloween party last night, which I think was better than any other cold walk through a corn maze.  Although I am a little sensitive to the cold, so it is probably just me talking.  The kids got to see a bunch of their friends in their Halloween costumes and hang around with them for a few hours. 

So today, being the last day of October, and Halloween I thought I would close up the month with a post.  This week is the start of the next month, Trevor's birthday month, Christmas shopping planning, and oh yeah, Thanksgiving.  Already planning my black Friday strategy.....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The vacation from school

Well, this week was a week that Trevor only had school on Monday and Tuesday due to the MEA teacher break.  Gwen had school on Wednesday, but not Friday.  So the kids had some extra time to harass play with each other.  Towards the end of the summer, I knew it was getting to the point where they are disagreeing more than agreeing to play with each other and so when this break came up, I was going to have to plan for some activities to keep them off of the other one.  Wednesday Trevor went in for his flu mist, Thursday we did a kid swap at a friends house, Friday we visited the new Disney Store at the MOA, and Saturday my mom took the kids overnight. 

Through the past week, it is clear to see that both kids really have such an incredible appetite for playing around:  Gwen with her dolls, singing songs, dancing, crafts like painting, coloring, gluing and has now discovered how to pump herself on the swings at school.  She has been asking me a lot when we are going to Disney World.  Because we are keeping it a secret from the kids, I cannot tell her that we are going, but I also don't want to discourage her from thinking we aren't going to go - because whenever she had asked throughout the past year, I had said that we will go back when she is 4.  Now that she is 4 she expects to know.  And she wants it to be today. 

Gwen is really getting into the tween shows on Disney Channel.  Anything having to do with A.N.T. Farm or the songs that the lead actress sings, she has memorized.  She also has been wanting to watch Shake it Up....that show deals more with dancing though.  So I guess she has a show for singing and one for dancing. 

Trevor has been very interested in his Chess learnings and wanting to try to learn how to beat anyone and everyone.  He has his next meeting tomorrow and I know he is hoping to move off of pawns and rooks so he can start putting more of the pieces on the board and play an entire game.  But I'm not worried.  He will keep coming back if he feels like he can learn more...and from what I hear there is a lot to learn.  Another thing he recently discovered is a website called Brain Pop.  It was a link given through the school but it requires a subscription.  I didn't look at it in great detail, but they gave a free 5 day trial membership so I signed him up for it.  He spent most of his time learning about the various revolutions and wars up until World War II.  Which then lead him to ask about playing Risk.  The trial membership expired today, and I think I'm going to have to see how much it costs to pay for the membership.  I can see and hear everything that he does on the computer and I was impressed at how it kept his interest yet explained about things like the American Revolution and Spanish-American War. 

This week will be all about finding ways to use their costumes.  Gwen can wear hers to dance class tomorrow.  Trevor's school costume party was cancelled for this year, but he has been invited to go to another location for a different kind of costume party.  Gwen can also wear her costume at Sunday school next week too.  I wish it was going to be as nice next Monday as it is going to be tomorrow.  Unfortunately, the costumes are not exactly warm for the kids. 

So we are plodding on.  Today is 9 weeks until Christmas.  Are we all ready for that???  So much to do, so little time!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

So much to do, so little time

Through the past few weeks, there has been so much going on, and so much to record but never enough time or motivation to get it all done.  I know this feeling is only going to get more and more the continual feeling for the years to come, but looking at it, I often wonder why.  I have a child in school M-F from 9 to 3 and another in school from 9-12 M, W, F.  This is 50% more "time to myself" than last year.  Last year I was even in school, taking 2-3 classes and getting everything done.  So where is my new found alone time?  Gone.  I now clean the house, prepare the meals, do the laundry, run errands, and make sure the kids are ready and available for all their activities.  Thankfully, I am not a single parent, so I do have help, but we all have additional commitments outside of our immediate family. 

For the first part of October, we have had two weddings and three birthdays.  Our family has had wonderful memories as a result:  Gwen getting to dance her heart out, Trevor getting some yummy food.  Trevor has had some sadness in knowing that his birthday is not in the immediate future, but at least he has been planning his own special day. 

We also had some new activities:  Trevor started chess club and Gwen started her dance lessons.  I know both had a wonderful time, and I think Trevor (aw heck...who am I kidding...I was surprised how much he enjoyed it) had a different philosophy about chess club.  He said he won 4 games and lost 2, which I was happy about.  I knew he wasn't exactly a beginner but I wouldn't move him  up to intermediate.  Their lesson last Monday was on pawns and rooks.  They had to play games with all pawns and see how many games they could win and then they can start adding rooks in.  It sounds like a great program and we'll see how often he wants to do it. 

We already had Trevor's first conferences.  We were given a lot to consider, but told that he was a great fit for the type of classroom that we chose for him, which was a good thing.  I had my first big event for the school and seemed to go off without a hitch.  We had another monthly meeting where a decision had been made to cancel the school costume party.  They will be replaced with an all-school service project that some people are very excited about.  But of course there are some that are disappointed too.  But the school has to do what is best seeing as how it is less than two weeks out. 

I always remind myself that pretty much from the start of school to the new year is crazy busy, but that doesn't mean that our responsibilities lessen any!  So until then, I'll just try to do my best and getting what needs to be done, done.  In the mean time, we will make sure to do the most important things:  making the wonderful memories that the kids will remember for a lifetime!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A conversation worth recording

So today was the first day of Sunday School for Gwen.  That meant Trevor came to church and left for the Children's Liturgy during mass.  We were talking about going up for communion, and although we had already discussed it previously he asked to stay behind.  I had asked him to come up with me because they will do a blessing for those not old enough to receive the communion.  Facts are this:  once we hit January, we will start preparing for his First Communion.  I believe it is a once-a-week meeting for a few hours and then middle to end of May is when the event happens.  So although he has been asking for a few years now when he gets to receive communion, I have always said when he is 8.  That is how old he will be.  So today, he asked me why his friend, who is already 8 hasn't had First Communion.  I explained that unless he has gone through the preparation, he would not be allowed.  Trevor also tried to explain that he has tried the bread before (I think he either did it as part of his Sunday School or perhaps in Vacation Bible school.)  Without getting into too much detail I explained that there was a difference between the blessed bread at mass and the bread that he had tried.  I knew he wasn't exactly happy with my answer because I know he is trying to find out if there is any way he can have communion, but he moved on.  Next he asked me how old you have to be to have the wine at communion.  I explained that when you receive you first communion, it is the whole thing, you can have both the bread and the wine.  He was a bit surprised at that.  But the next comment made me use every ounce of patience not to break out in laughter:  "So, does that mean I get to have wine parties?"  Meaning: because he was old enough to drink the wine at church, that should mean that he should be old enough to drink wine everywhere....right?  Oh Trevor, I love your mind.  I think he did know the answer to that one but I think the fact that he will get to try it on his first communion satisfied him for the time being.

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Sweet Gwendolyn Caroline

Well, the mom made it through the big day.  It was a tricky one to navigate through, what with a wedding on the weekend that was out of town and a house to get organized for another 15 people.  Yes, we probably went overboard with the presents, and Trevor had a hard time dealing with the fact that it is Gwen's special day.  But I did my duty and talked with him about it, and had my alone time with him on the walk back from school.  He did become very proud when I let him "buy" his own gift for her, and she was genuinely so happy that he got her the only doll that she didn't have yet - Pocahontas.

This birthday was one of the only times where either Trevor or Gwen had a birthday during the week that conflicted with people who worked and this time Trevor going to school.  Last year Gwen's was on a Sunday, before that a Saturday, and really, she didn't remember her Friday birthday, I would bet.  Trevor's has always gotten into the Thanksgiving break during the birthdays that he would remember.  I think it was good for Gwen to be able to celebrate her birthday at school and then come home and have her time to celebrate it with her family....then later on with some friends. 

She is very easy to read when it comes to gifts....I guess we are all lucky in that respect.  She loves all things princess and you can often find the same gift that comes in variation to each of the princesses.  The look on her face when she opened all bazillion presents she got was so happy and grateful (at least that is what I'm hoping).  And now mean she has so many new toys to play with that she will enjoy them for the weeks to come before she will get more princess stuff.

She is excited to start dance next week, and then she will be in her prime.  I cannot wait to see her in her new little outfit and remembering the dances she practices.  Little Miss Gwen, you keep me on my toes and can always surprise me with all the little details you put into your playing.  She quietly recites the lines from all the princess movies, or songs that she sings (current favorite is "SWEET CAROLINE....BUM BUM BUM....good times never seem so good...SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD" - she's getting ready for wedding number 5 this weekend!!!) and loves to play with all sizes of dolls.  From the new squinky sized to the big "sister" dolls she has.  She even dresses up as the princess herself and plays out the movies. 

Our whole family is so blessed to have a kind, caring, generous and close-proximity family.  I don't even want to imagine what it would be like to not have all of you around us.  Thank you to Bubba, Papa, Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle Tinkerbell, Aunt Kelsey, Cousin Ethan, Uncle 'Bacca, Uncle Derek, Aunt Kyrsten, Aunt Tracy, and Aunt Amy.  You all did make this the best birthday a 4 year old princess could have.  We love you all!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Needs to be recorded

I am behind, yet again, and I know I'm going to have to take a fast forward, before I can catch up again.  Tonight is the eve of Gwen's birthday and I still have to decorate her door, an idea I got from a parent friend.  Thanks Shena!  Anyway, I have been thinking about the fact that I wanted to record a little quirk about Trevor that he seems to have inherited from me, but a little from Russ as well, as Russ does do some talking in his sleep.

I do know that I do, or have in the past, moved around a lot in my sleep.  I do remember that my mom has said that I have walked downstairs and not remembered the event the next morning.  Trevor has always had difficulty sleeping well at night.  It gets bad directly before (like 1-2 days) before he gets hit with a cold.  The way that it gets bad is through nightmares.  If he is in the middle of a bad cold where he coughs through the night or has trouble breathing through his nose, he often wakes up uncomfortable throughout the night.  So I'm often in his room trying to comfort him, giving him ibuprofin and such.

So he has woken up crying out on a few occasions, but like I said, it is usually attributed to a cold.  Sometimes when he has these nightmares, he will get out of bed and come looking for me.  And then not remember any of it in the morning.  When he is upset, and it seems to be probably something he was dreaming about, he may or may not try to talk to me about it, and if he does - whatever he says is gibberish.  I've come to understand that unless he doesn't go to sleep, whenever I see him after I say goodnight, he is sleepwalking and cannot hold a conversation, or will not remember it the next morning.  I've tried to ask him to repeat what he said, but he can't even hear that.  The only thing I try to do is guide him back to bed and make him as comfortable and calm as possible so he can continue to sleep without being bothered by nightmares.

One night last week I woke up shortly after I went to bed and found Trevor sleeping in Russ's spot.  He had pulled his pillow pet and blanket with him but was still sleeping on Russ's pillow.  I didn't have the energy to move him and figured when Russ came to bed he would move him himself.  Well, an hour or so later, Gwen woke me up because she had to go to the bathroom.  I quickly scooted her out so she didn't see Trevor and want to join in the family bed.  Russ heard her get up and came upstairs to try to help.  I told him he might as well stay in Gwen's room because Trevor was in his spot.  So we both went to bed.  I woke up before 7 to take a shower and Trevor was still in the same spot as earlier in the night.  But when I came out of the bathroom he was gone.

Later on, Russ asked me if I knew why he was in our bed.  I told him I thought it could have been a nightmare.  But he hadn't been talking to me at all.  I asked Trevor if he remembered having a nightmare last night and he said no, why?  I asked him if he remembered why he came into my bed last night and he didn't believe me that he did.  That one surprised me.  I figured that he woke up from the shower and just went back to his room to change for the day.  But I don't think he was fully awake when that happened either.  We spent most of the next few minutes with him arguing that he never was in my bed and me promising that he was.

So that will be something to watch for the future.  Hopefully he wouldn't just walk outside to sleep on the lawn or something like that.  That would be pretty crazy.  But I guess I will continue to check in that guy for the years to come anyway. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

At some point a shift happened

So yes, kids get older. Their interests change, they discover things that are new and things that they like. And I also know that a big change does happen when they get teenagers. But really, since the start of school, both kids have really surprised me with their likes that have changed recently.

Trevor's change has been very nice from a homework perspective. I know some of it has to do with the ease of his reading now. Over the last part of the summer, he has really enjoyed rereading his Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and even started writing in his journal part of the do-it-yourself book. So I've tried to run to the library before we head out on a longer car ride in order to get new books for the kids to enjoy in the car. I want to try to distract the kids in other ways than the movie. So for Trevor, I thought he was more interested in the series books, but nah...he'd rather do a comic strip book like Garfield. And he'll reread the books many times, which is also a bonus for me. For his class, his homework is to read at least 20 minutes every day and record how much he reads in a journal which I have to initial. His teacher then gives out a prize at the end of the month for the kid that has read the most. I haven't even had to set a timer for the 20 minutes, it ends up being close to an hour before he realizes he has been reading for a while. Now we just have to make sure to have books that remain interesting to him. Thank goodness for libraries!

Then there is Gwen. She has always loved music, and has gotten some enjoyment out of some of the songs that Russ plays. A newer show on the disney channel is called "A.N.T. Farm" it is about a gifted program for kids that are 10-11 years old that go to high school. I'm guessing that it is targeted at 10-11 year olds, but Gwen LOVES the show. She made me put a picture of the show on her "about me" poster for preschool. I've been looking on other kids and yep, the shows on PBS kids, Nickelodeon, Disney Jr...and then Gwen with A.N.T. Farm. She loves the songs that the main character sings and the title song from the show. She asks to watch any show that is on the DVR or cable box we have from the series. I guess part of the issue might be from me because I've been having the radio on Radio Disney which plays a lot of the tweener songs on it, and she knows most of the words, but oh well. She still loves her baby dolls, princess dolls, and playing dress-up so she isn't 10 years old yet!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A new routine I am still not used to

Ah well, you think you are going to get more time, but nah...probably not. I do eventually think it will slow down, but honestly not until next year. I remember this feeling going from back-to-school straight into Gwen's birthday to Trevor's birthday to Christmas. I guess that's what happens when everyone's birthdays are so close together.

Anyway, we went through a few first days of school here! Trevor's was on the traditional day after Labor Day. Gwen actually had a school gathering, what they called open house for her preschool where we went and dropped off her school supplies. It was only supposed to run from 9 to 10 or you could come in the afternoon but do you think I could get her out of there? Even after I had let her go into the childcare the week prior. Nope, she was ready to spend the whole day there.

Thankfully, Trevor was SO excited to get back to school, and never mentioned one word about being sad that he wasn't going back to his old teacher's class. I think it helped that we met his new teacher and she made him feel very comfortable. The weather has been so nice that we have been walking to and from school a lot. Because his classroom is the farthest away from the front door I have also found an alternate entrance that the other bikers and walkers use for the time being.

His second day of school was a "rough day" as he put it. He has a hard time keeping his ears open if something is going on. For example he is watching tv, and I try to call to him, he wouldn't hear it. If he is reading a book, same thing. If he is playing his imagination games, nope...gone. So it didn't surprise me that he missed his class being called in from recess. By 15 minutes even. So he was told that if he did it again, he would get a pink slip (something that he is terrified to get). I guess his teacher also asked him repeatedly to focus on some classwork which he did not do. That got him another pink slip warning. So that day wasn't the best. But on Friday, he found out that for their weekly choice time, as long as they are able to go outside for recess (as in if the weather rain, or below zero temperatures/wind chills) they are able to use their Friday choice time as additional outside time. I can tell you at that moment, his school year turned around. He LOVES LOVES LOVES recess. His favorite subject in school is gym. I am pretty sure there is no way to tire him out until the clock turns 9:01pm. He is just full of energy. So that was a big score.

So immediately, I knew I had to figure out how to remedy the recess situation. Explaining to him to pay more attention would not do a bit of difference. I decided to get him a watch with an alarm on it, set to a minute before he was supposed to come inside. So far, so good. I'm not sure if we have the correct time set to come in or not. I may have to adjust it a few more minutes, but he knows to be listening or at least come closer to where they call for classes so he has yet to be late back to class since the watch.

And then Gwen has really been trying to adjust to her new schedule. She goes to preschool M, W, F from 9 to noon. It is a half hour longer per day and one extra day per week than last year. She has I think 4 more kids in her class than last year so it is a bit more to get used to. She has enjoyed seeing a lot of her friends come back and meet new ones as well. The strangest thing I think is that perhaps it is because she has a big schedule adjustment, or because she is having a growth/development spurt, but she is ALL out of sorts. She is sassing off to her friends and family (I am not certain about her preschool teachers...I hope not). And then today, she fell asleep in the car at 10:30 in the morning. Her sleeping has been out of whack. I guess I would call this period one of disorganization for her. So probably is some sort of growth thing. I hope she grows out of her choice of words soon. It worries me that she doesn't really have a whole lot of respect right now. Not to say I don't think I could remedy it by taking away her favorite things, but I just don't want it to have to come to that. Goodness....I never would have thought boys and girls would be THIS different!

And then there is my routine. I am so confused right now. I generally don't have any idea what day of the week it is because I'm thrown all off. I volunteered at school a few days this week and will continue to do so at least once a week, plus PTA responsibilities, plus wondering if I have too few or too many activities for the kids....blah...never ending. Only 20 more days until Gwen's birthday. Gotta get that started soon! Here comes the rush of days...weeks...months!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Finishing up summer vacation

As per usual, I am a little behind on the posting. Over the past few weeks we have been trying to get those last few things done before knowing that school is coming, as well as cooler weather, to not be as hot doing things as used to be. I have had the chance to go to a Twins game, take Trevor on a lunch date to one of our favorite restaurants, and go out to the Science Museum. We did also get a chance to meet Trevor's new teacher last week and make sure that we are all ready to go for the start of school.

Even without all the family activities, I have been also trying to get my stuff together for all the other non-kid tasks I have going on. But really, I want to make sure the kids use their last few days of summer vacation as having fun.

My dad, brothers and I all got to go to a Twins game, and it was always fun to spend a very nice night at an outdoor ball park. AND not have to worry about keeping an eye on someone. We were two rows in front of a person who caught a foul ball, and the game score wasn't very good for the home team, but it was a wonderful event with the family.

Last Wednesday, I was able to get Gwen excited to try out her childcare again before her preschool started up again. I used that time to get a few of my work things done, but also to take Trevor to Benihana for lunch. I have to say it is SO much less expensive for lunch than it is for dinner. We have to remember that for the next time we want to eat there as a family. Trevor was at first not wanting to go because he wanted the family to be there with us. Then he was worried about how much money I was going to have to spend. So he offered to pay for us. I explained that it was my treat, and that I wanted to spend some time with him, just him and me. When we arrived and were seated at a full table, he said he was much more excited. He was worried that it was going to be just him and me at the table. He said he was going to be embarrassed. I let him get an adult order of shrimp and along with most of the table, we ordered double the shrimp sauce. We mostly talked about whatever was on Trevor's mind which, at the time, was how he was sure that this meal was going to cure his cold. He seemed to feel it working and wanted to remember all the steps that he did during the day to drive the cold away. It was a very pleasant conversation and again, one where I didn't have to keep an eye out for the kid running around.

Last Monday, Gwen, Trevor and I went with my dad to the science museum to spend the day. It was meant to be just Trevor, as Gwen is a little young for the science museum, but we made do. We started off in the body section, and Gwen accidentally found the sneezing girl. It FREAKED her out. For those of you that don't know where it is, it is a mist-blowing mechanism that is meant to explain that if someone does not cover their mouth when they sneeze, the germs can travel up to 15 feet through the air. Last time we were there, Trevor loved it. I was surprised that he didn't race right over there and that Gwen found it first. But once he found it, if we were ever in the area, he tried to become the scientist of the area, explaining and demonstrating the activity to anyone around. But then he saw the lab area. It stated it was for ages 8-13 so when Trevor really wanted to get in, the people working the area said that if an adult went with him, he could still enter. So I went with and we did the cheek cell demonstration. It worked and he saw his cells. He also got a small magnifying glass to take with him which he really likes. Gwen tried to play along but was more interested in the things outside the lab.

We headed to the 1st floor which was called the big backyard. I had no idea they had a mini golf course there. My dad decided to be scorekeeper, so the kids and I had fun just playing around. It was a nice enough day so that we even got a splash or two in the water. We came back in to eat lunch and play in the dinosaur and weather area. Finished up with the news anchor jobs and headed back home.

That afternoon we headed up to the school to visit with Trevor's new teacher. Trevor was won over the minute he found out he had a "job". If you don't know, Trevor loves to be asked or find out he can be a helper in some way. I think he sees it as a teaching-type thing, so ever since he found out that he is going to be a lunchroom helper for the first week of class, he has been saying that is why he is looking forward to going back to school.

That brings us to Labor Day weekend. We were at the lake from Thursday night through Sunday night. It is always wonderful to see and play with family. It wasn't warm enough for us to go on a boat ride, although Gwen did get her swimming in on Friday morning before a cool front came in. Trevor also decided he was going to start writing in a diary/journal. He has been reading and rereading his "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books. He has 3 reading books and one activity book and the activity book was where he started his journal. In two days he wrote and illustrated 32 pages in his book. When he finds something he likes, he really goes all out. I don't know that we are going to be able to make it to his birthday without first getting him a new journal. Although with school starting up, I'm not sure how much time he will have.

I am happy to say that I had a glass of wine to celebrate making it through the summer. I hope all you moms did too!

Friday, August 26, 2011

A few more summer activities

As the summer comes to a close, I have been getting ever more steadily busy. School's starting to request forms, supplies, volunteers for activities, then always my own lists of things to do before the kids start back at school. Luckily some of those things involve not doing what kids would consider boring. Over the past two weeks, we were able to go fishing while boating in Lake Minnetonka, and I took the kids to our nearby outdoor mini golf course.

While the kids do boat in Wisconsin, Russ hasn't been able to make it out this summer due to our busy schedule. He is the fisherperson in our family so when his dad invited us on his boat, we knew we were going to be able to get fishing. Now, let me backtrack for a little bit. Trevor has been enjoying a PBS kids show called "Wild Kratts" which is mostly about a two brothers that turn cartoon and are able to experience what it is like to be animals living in the wild. One such show was about small and large mouth bass. Before and after the cartoon part of the show, they will talk about an animal and explain how even kids can make a difference. So when they talked about the bass, they talked about how when fishing, they never use live bait. And whenever they catch a fish, it is on a catch and release mentality.

So while we were driving out to the lake, Russ stopped at a bait shop. Trevor went in with Russ and came out talking about how even though Russ bought a bag full of live minnows, as well as small canister of worms, he was going to use the fake bait. I think that while we were continuing to drive to the lake, Trevor was talking about how the minnows needed to be free. Which is why Russ made it clear to him that although he didn't have to use the live minnows, he was not to let them go free. Well, it seems Trevor had other ideas. As soon as we were at the boat dock, Trevor, Russ, and Gwen were on the boat and Russ had to come back to lock the van. As I was walking up to the boat, Trevor had a slight smirk on his face, and Russ was very unhappy. Can you guess what happened? Yep, Trevor had opened the minnow bag, and dumped them over the side of the boat while Russ had been walking the keys back to the car. And nope, he didn't have any remorse. He was so happy to say they were free. I couldn't help but chuckle, while my back was to Trevor of course. While there were still worms to use, Trevor refused and just used the fake bait. He caught 5 or so fish off of the docks, then another 3 or 4 off of the boat, all using fake bait. Russ tried to use the worms, but then switched to the fake bait. I'm not sure what was on Gwen's line, but I also know that she put the line in the water caught and reeled in her own fish off of a dock that same day. We were all very successful. And by all, I mean those fishing. I am not exactly up for that type of excitement.

The other day, I found a morning where the kids and I could run out to the nearby mini golf course. It was a beautiful morning, and no one was there right when it opened. So we could take our time and not feel rushed. It is amazing how not feeling stressed, pressured, rushed or anything can make for a wonderful time. Trevor enjoyed keeping score and he and I actually tied exactly. So while he didn't win, I think he was ok that we tied as well. Of course at the end, both kids were amazed at how the last hole collected the balls. So after our round of golf I took the kids to our neighborhood ice cream shop called Scoops. Trevor had been to the ice cream place when he was at the parks program. This year, he missed the one trip they made. Strange thing though - he actually had a choice between blue moon and superman and he chose superman. I had a yummy pineapple coconut flavor and Gwen had her chocolate shake.

So we have one week left to the start of school. We have a few more things to do before school starts and then we'll see what our schedule changes to be. I have hopes of having more free time but something tells me I might be wrong in that thought.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gwen's luck

I guess it really isn't luck. She may simply be going through a growth spurt or something when she becomes a bit more uncoordinated and falls down a lot. She is the girl that has fallen down the starts, fallen off of a high swinging swing, fallen off of a playground flat onto her stomach, and then gotten the cuts and bruises from skinned knees and ankles and such. So this past week with it being a bit more stressful than normal, yep she was at her finest. Thankfully nothing ever is a huge deal, but I always feel so bad for her. On Friday before the wedding, she was outside without any shoes on. I asked her twice to put her shoes on because with the hot asphalt and cement I knew it would be trouble with her. Well, she forgot to step up onto a landing and skinned her ankles pretty good. Right where her crocs hit her ankles and she would hate to have a bandaid on her feet. She was already needing a rest time, so this just compounded the fact.

The wedding went off for her without any crashes or scrapes thankfully although she was tired throughout the day, which I expected. She also went to my parents house that night and came back the next day without any incidents. Sunday night, she woke up once complaining that her ear hurt. I gave her some tylenol and she went down for the rest of the night. I asked her about it again in the morning and she said she was fine. She hadn't had a cold or runny nose so I didn't think it was an ear infection. She has had a few of those. So then the next day, she didn't sleep for longer than 30 minutes before she was complaining about her ear again. So I explained to her that the doctor was just going to check her ear and no shots (because that is what she is afraid of now) and possibly get some medicine. Again, no pain in the morning, eating fine, no runny nose so I was pretty confused. We saw the doctor and I explained the situation to him. He looked in her ear and explained that he thought it was swimmers ear but that she had a big buildup of wax that they needed to remove, otherwise the medication would not work.

In order to remove the wax, they had to flush it out with water. Because she had swimmers ear, it was extremely painful for her. So yeah, she was screaming, I couldn't even watch, just tried to console her as best I could. They flushed a syringe full at least 6-8 times and when the doctor looked again, it hadn't done much. So he had to remove it with a tweezers. That also was painful but at least it was quicker. Then they had to put a small sponge in her ear to keep the medicine close to the eardrum. The poor girl was so scared but understood that we were trying to make her better so she was apologizing and thanking the doctor for everything that was going on. He said she was melting his heart and now that everything is all over, they decided to give her a prize out of their prize box. So I took her home after that and she fell asleep in the car.

We've since had the sponge removed and need to keep doing the medicine drops for the rest of the week but pain seems to be much much better. The nearest we all can figure out happened is all the swimming she loves to do in the lake when we were there two weeks ago. She hasn't swam in a pool since then, only her usual dunks in the bathtub. So we are just hanging out until we get the all-clear. Hopefully she gets through her terrible spills and becomes a graceful girl.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A big wedding

So our entire family was in a wedding this past weekend. The summer has been focused on events leading up to the big day and we took part in as many as possible. I'm pretty sure my mom friends thought I was being my neurotic self trying to make sure the weekend went as smooth as possible. I guess I sort of forgot to include my husband in some of the planning that went on. Sorry honey!

I believe I will have some pictures to add to some of the notes in this blog, but for now I will simply run through what I remember and how we took part.

First off, the kids had vacation bible school at their church for the week. I had told everyone that was involved that we would not be able to attend on the last day, or the singing in church the following Sunday due to the wedding. We were all very excited and although Gwen didn't really understand, she enjoyed counting down the days and me having her and Trevor practice their "walking down the aisle" together.

So on Thursday, I was making my lists...things to bring out to the rehearsal, things to bring the day of the wedding, things to bring for the overnight at my parents was a lot to remember! I'm glad I like lists! Russ got in on Thursday night without a hitch, thank goodness. The boys were off right away on Friday morning to go golfing. The girls got to sleep in a little bit to go meet for lunch, followed by getting their nails done. Gwen has been sleeping past 8am and I knew that she also doesn't like to eat breakfast right away in the morning. So for both days, I packed some fruit in a cooler with her water, some cheese-its, and cheese sticks for in case she was hungry at various times. Yep....we tried to feed her "lunch" of her usual chicken and fries but she wasn't hungry. Or only hungry enough to be hungry again in the car ride on the way to get our nails done. When we went into the nail salon she quickly found the kid pedicure seat and played around in it. She is ok if you want to paint her nails, but cutting them or picking at them freaks her out. She came over and sat with Kyrsten and I while our pedicures were being done, and she made sure to tell me that she didn't want them picking at her toes like they were doing to mine.

So when it was her turn, I asked them to do a modified manicure and pedicure. Gwen did have to stop the woman from using the clippers (I think there was a small language barrier) but she got the pink and even got a little design on both her two fingers and two toes. All us ladies got a pedicure and manicure for the wedding. I was happy that Gwen was pacified until we were done. Either watching us or getting her nails done.

We then had to run back to the mall to pick up a few missing pieces of Trevor's tux. While I know Russ could have picked them up Saturday morning, I didn't want to add to his to-do list because we were getting up early on Saturday and they got to sleep in. Gwen was still pumped up to get onto the next thing, so she stayed awake through both car rides to Kyrsten's house. We headed over to the church for the rehearsal shortly. We had a pretty clean practice where Gwen and Trevor did their practicing with their practice pieces....fabric petals and no rings on the pillow.

Then we headed off to the rehearsal dinner. So, this happened to be at the same place the guys played golf at, and Trevor was at the point where if he thinks he knows where he is, he should have complete run of the place. That, or he simply is going through a phase. He didn't have any interest in eating, or hanging around the inside. He wanted to be outside with some boys, putting or whatever else they could do not around parents. Yikes. Gwen found a few girls her age and loved to show her dolls around and play with them. I could not believe how well Gwen handled herself. Even in comparison to Trevor.....NOT that a parent should compare kids, because every kid is different and unique :-) But COME ON!!! Anyway...I digress. The food was wonderful, the conversation was great, the toasts were awesome! I knew I had to bring the kids home early because the next day was going to be full. I was proud that I kept both kids awake all the way home because I knew Gwen needed a shower before she went to bed. As I gave Gwen a shower, Trevor fell asleep on his bed.

That leads me to the day of the wedding. I didn't even get to talk to Russ much because he stayed behind to chat with the relatives, and there were things I needed to explain and write out for him to do. Namely, because the kids were going home with my parents the night of the wedding, he needed to grab Trevor's pillow (sleeping, not ring bearing). So I explained how the morning was going to go, and wrote down a to-do list for when they woke up. I was up before 7 and I had to wake Gwen up around 7. She wasn't too happy with me, but warmed up to the idea that this was the big day for her! I again packed a cooler full of snacks and water for her, and headed out. We met Kyrsten and Libby at the hotel so that I could leave a car there for Sunday morning. We then were driven to the hair and makeup salon to get our hair done. Again, Gwen was pacified by watching all that was going on and sat still for 95% of her hair getting done as well. I helped a little because I waited to get my make-up done for most of the time her hair was getting done. She also had a bit of play dough from her gift bag from the night before. After hair and make-up was done, we had a little breakfast and headed over to the church to get ready.

We hung around the church, took some pictures, eventually met up with the guys because they had some more food, and waited for the ceremony to start. Pictures were a little tough on Gwen as I think by 12:30 she was already starting to fade. I know they got a handful of pictures but after the first set, she really needed prodding to even step into the pictures.

The ceremony was at 2:00 and the kids did great. Gwen had a little difficulty with the aisle runner, but she didn't show it on her face. Trevor tried his best to look all serious with his "job" of having the real rings and presenting them to the priest.

We all got to blow bubbles to present the couple into their horse and carriage ride. Then there were more pictures. The wedding party got to ride in the limo to more pictures. Gwen and Trevor too. After these pictures, I sent the kids with grandma to hopefully have Gwen take a nap in the car. From what I understand, she did take a nap. Unfortunately, she woke up disoriented and having to go to the bathroom. After some quick thinking by Lee, she got all situated and was ready for the rest of the evening. As soon as dinner was served Trevor was off like a bolt of lightning with some of the family he knew but were helping him get out of his rules that we had set for him. Trevor being Trevor.... We told him that unless he asked either his dad or I to go out, he could not. So he said he asked Grandpa. He was telling everyone that he was going to breakdance, and that he was a really good dancer. Didn't last more than 5 minutes on the dance floor before wanting to go outside again.

It was a lot of fun for everyone involved. The happy couple is now off on their honeymoon and we are the lucky family that gets to watch their kitten while they are gone. If anyone has gotten this far in their reading, I also wanted to thank Derek and Kyrsten for making us a part of their special day and their special events. I know Trevor will remember it for many years, and Gwen has found some new favorites....favorite hairstyle, favorite nail activities....favorite was a wonderful time for us all. Thank you!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Beautiful weekend

Thinking back, I cannot remember the last time where we went to the lake and had a perfect weather weekend. Well, Russ was going to be out of town last weekend, so after the kids' golf banquet, we drove to the lake. Right away we put on our suits, rode up the creek and jumped off the boat. That is quick becoming a tradition with the kids and I. The creek is usually much warmer than the lake because the water is more stationary and absorbs the heat of the sun faster because it is shallow compared to the lake. After a little over an hour of this, we went back to the cabin to have our dinner at the Stone's Throw. Yum. We got to eat on their porch. Heaven. We grabbed some ice cream at the camp grounds. They actually had a brownie treat that I could buy for Gwen because unless it is DQ chocolate soft serve, she doesn't care for ice cream. So when I just asked for the brownie, they gave it to me in a wrapper. Gwen ate most of it after having a pretty filling dinner. Trevor got his favorite - Blue Moon.

We got back and hung out before heading to bed. Gwen had taken a nap in the car because Friday morning was pretty early for the kids. We had to be out of the house by 7:45 for golf. But when Gwen naps, she doesn't go to bed much before 11pm. So after that night, I was rushing to get back into the water. Gwen was game as soon as I was, and Trevor wanted to play baseball. After a while, with the bugs and the heat, he too came down to the lake. Gwen rotated between swimming and playing in the sand. Although there isn't much sand on the beach, she still was able to shovel wet sand into the bucket and dump it out.

We came back from lunch and Gwen and I hit the water again. This time I was on a raft. I was determined to get a strapless tan for the wedding this weekend. There were plenty of waves so I took an anchor and tied myself to it. Gwen jumped off, or rolled off more accurately, to both sides of the raft. Somewhere around 3pm my dad, Brian, Kelly, and I all rode up to the Tiki Bar to have our yummy VooDoo drinks. We were back around 5, or maybe 5:30? And then my dad took both kids back up the creek. It didn't take them more than two seconds to decide. My mom threw some burgers and hot dogs on the grill and had a yummy dinner ready when the kids got back. I heard they got to touch the bridge, were good listeners, and got to go really fast for a bit. Gwen was screaming in glee, Trevor was screaming in terror. I guess that's why he won't go tubing, he doesn't like the extreme speed unless he has some sort of seat belt or similar safety device on. He loves rollercoasters and going fast, but I guess the thought of flying out is too much for him to enjoy a fast boat ride.

The kids enjoyed a movie and crashed pretty early that night. Mom and I went to the casino and both of us came back even money. Sunday, we woke up and went swimming one more time, ate some lunch and headed home. I think the temperature all three days was somewhere in the mid 80's. On Saturday I didn't get hot enough to jump into the lake. It was pretty windy which cut down on the humidity. But for me, it was perfect. Lots of sun. Lots of swimming for the kids. It is how the lake weekends should be. We definitely missed Russ, but hope to have many more of these trips with him in the future.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Trevor's 2nds

Well, Trevor has added to his trophy collection and now we have used a trophy display that was given to him for his birthday last year. This actually came about more because one of Gwen's bed rails broke off of her bed and has now made to move her bed so the railing can be used again. When Trevor saw how "cool" Gwen's room had become because she was now sleeping directly under her calendar, he wanted his room changed around as well.

So now Trevor's room has been rearranged as well. His one request was that his bed was also under his calendar. His room now has a large space in the middle, all ready for his sleepovers, so I don't have to keep moving the bed around to make room for the air mattress. I saw that we had still not found a good place, other than the floor, for his trophy display. And now that his room was rearranged, I asked him where he would like it. We found a place, asked my dad to help hang it up, and immediately his 2nd place trophy from baseball went onto it, along with his accumulated golf and talent show trophies.

I would say this year's baseball was a great success. The team ended the season 2nd place in their bracket, although their bracket had the upper 4 teams removed and playing in their own bracket. And I know all the kids, and coaches wanted to win that 1st place game, but it wasn't meant to be that day. I think slowly Trevor is beginning to understand that 2nd place is still ok. Given the fact that not every team made it to the weekend, and not every team got a trophy. The trophy that they got was very nice. He loves to show it off to anyone, even the people that were there to watch him get it, because now he can talk about his growing trophy display.

Last Friday both Trevor and Gwen finished off their golf lessons with their own Junior Tournament. Trevor again took 2nd place in his 5 hole league and again was upset by not taking first, but it seems that 2nd is really in the cards for him this year. Add to these two 2nd places, the fact that he is going into 2nd grade this year, and it may have helped him start to graciously accept not coming in 1st place. He is still very competitive but really has had some good experiences with teammates watching to observe how they react to the news. As parents, we are trying to be supportive and happy at Trevor as long as he is a good sport and tries his best.

Congratulations Trevor on a great baseball and golf season. May you continue to enjoy the sports and have wonderful experiences in the years to come.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

First boatride of the season, birthday, wedding #2

Sorry for the lack of effort on trying to get some of these in, but hopefully I'll get through them while giving them their due, or is that do? I don't really know. We were up at the lake on my dad (Papa's) birthday as our first boat ride of the season. The weather had been very warm previously so the lake water was a nice 81 degrees. Everyone except my mom took a jump in the lake, but Trevor was nice enough to splash Bubba so she at least got a taste of the water.

I'm pretty sure the fact that you cannot see your feet or the bottom of the lake confused Gwen a little bit just like it does Trevor. We put her "life jacket" on that she will jump into a pool with, but she wasn't happy to jump into the lake with. I had to catch her the first few times, but after almost losing my contact I had her do it on her own. Really though it was just sitting on the ledge of the boat and sliding in. Trevor was good after the first jump and never did his traditional cannon ball, but maybe that was reserved for the next trip.

So the kids got to take part in their favorite activity with Papa, which is blowing out the candles and opening the cards/birthday presents. I really hope the birthday honorees are ok with how they throw themselves on them and "help" them for these activities. I still have to remind both kids that when they are at their friends' birthday parties, it isn't like our family that lets them blow out their candles and open their presents. It is their time. But thanks to our family for letting them take part!

Anyway, Kevin, Kelsey and Ethan arrived on Friday night and while it rained Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, the kids did get in a little bit of swimming Friday morning and Saturday afternoon before we had to head off.

It was on to wedding number 2 of the year for us which was actually Russ's family friend which I can now affectionately call one of my pseudo-psisters.

We all were invited to the reception but unfortunately Russ was not able to attend because the golf tournament was all out of whack because of the rain the day before. I think it was perfect for the kids because Gwen's favorite part was the dancing and Trevor got to hang out with Derek and Michael, Kyrsten's brother. I didn't have to keep bothering them to sit still, and act polite because they had both had a good nap in the car ride back and made it all the way until 10:30 before coming back home for the night. Tracy was asked to sing before the dance part of the reception and did a wonderful job. Then she danced the night away with the kids there even if she had never met them before. I think everyone had a great night.

So then we get up the next day to run up for a fun shower on Sunday afternoon. It was a pretty packed week! But it was great to be with everyone and say hi and have the kids have as fun of a time as they did.

Next up: baseball weekend!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Atlantic City and the Pseudo-Psisters

Eventually, we will have some pictures to post on facebook, but I think we are a ways off because of how crazy-busy life has become for the next month or so. And I'm not talking about me! I was lucky enough to get to go on a trip out to Atlantic City, NJ with three lovely ladies, two of which were classified as brides, a "moh" and a bridesmaid (me). The schedule was put on mostly by moh, and a quick snapshot is as follows:

We left on a flight Thursday evening flying direct to Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the plane was over an hour late because of a weight imbalance with the luggage. Uh...ok. Nice job with that one. We arrived and went out to rent the car to drive around an hour into Atlantic City. Although it was almost 2am by the time we checked into the hotel, it was a great view of the city all lit up. I'm not sure if anyone in our group had ever been to Vegas before, as I know I have not, so I'm guessing it is a similar sight to driving into Vegas with the lights everywhere.

We checked into our hotel and talked to a very nice check-in guy who helped us by telling us about some local facts. We were near the edge of the shady sort of town, but there were plenty of ways around. He explained that the bar at the hotel closed at midnight. There was a great diner less than a block away. A wonderful seafood restaurant across the street. How to quickly find our way to the boardwalk, and also a menu for a pizza place that delivered late.

So we all went up to our room and crashed for the night. How sweet is it that we got to sleep in until 10:30 before rolling out of bed? It is an extreme luxury for me! We slowly meandered over to the recommended diner and found that they served breakfast throughout the day as well as other foods for a very cheap price. After getting some food, we wanted to check out the boardwalk. We saw the beach, and although it had a funky odor, it was interesting that there were plenty of people swimming and lifeguards every block or so on the beach. There was also a lot of construction. Although the weather forecast was a bit scary coming into town, we didn't see rain during the day on Friday. It was pretty humid but in the mid-80s was pretty tolerable to me. Our first stop was at the House of Blues restaurant to grab a drink right on the boardwalk tables. We said our cheers and then decided to check out some of the casinos. We were happy to find $1 blackjack seats for everyone and the dealer and one other player were very kind to us. No one lost a ton of money, but no one was ahead a lot either, if I am remembering correctly.

I believe it was at the casino where we were told to check out the beach bar back where we started. So we did. It was very nice as how many places have a bar right on a beach complete with dancing? It was early enough in the afternoon so that it wasn't completely packed so we grabbed a table near the dance floor and before we left some people at the bar remarked that they picked up the front row of tables to make more room for later in the evening. They said they had a huge crowd at night. We left after a couple hours but it sure was nice to sit in the sun with drinks and hoppin' music!

We went back to the hotel to grab some drinks at the bar with an order at the pizza place. We all were ready to go out for the evening so we grabbed a taxi to the Tropicana Quarter which is the Tropicana as a casino attached to a little mall that included shops, a few nightclubs and a karaoke bar. That is where we spent the evening on our way out, in the cab, was the only time during our trip where there was rain. And it was HARD rain. I wonder how the beach bar did that night?

We got back early the next morning and slept late again. Some of us headed out around noon to get breakfast from the cheapo diner and then moh and I headed out to the boardwalk for more casinoing. I stink again. We did the $1 blackjack and I won some of my money back after being down $40 but I still enjoyed being there.

We met the rest of our crew after we walked around a bit and sat at the other beach bar. For a late lunch, we ate at the Hard Rock Cafe, and then for the evening we hung out at the casino. Pink bride won over $170 in slots that evening! The rest of us didn't get our money back. So for our closing number, we went to the delicious seafood restaurant across the street from the hotel. Yum Yum.

Unfortunately, we had to wake up at 3am to catch our flight back to Minnesota. We had to get back to Philly and arrived in Minnesota shortly after 8am. I had a nap and just kept on going. Russ had to leave that evening for his trip to Tennessee.

Overall, it was a spectacular trip. Except for the flight delay on the way out, it was wonderful! And us pseudo-psisters are going to have to plan next years trip, perhaps to Chicago? Not likely that we will get to go out on free airfare again. Thanks to everyone for making it such a wonderful event!