Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time for some reminiscing

Yes, it has been a while.  Honestly, I think I'm going to have to close down the blog around the end of the year.  I would love to have the time and dedication I once had, but that does not look like it is going to happen any time soon.  However, I do want to finish out the year, to end on a good spot.  I will have to do a few more posts about previous events over the last two months or so, but for now, since it is the correct time, I will do my best to talk about our wonderful Mr. T.

I cannot believe he will now be in double digits.  Yes, teenage years are another momentous occasion, but I remember well moving into that double digit age range and how much older I felt.  Currently, having a son in the same double digit, it still makes me feel older, but not in the same way.

Reflecting over the past year, it really amazes me how your own kids change over the course of 12 months.  I think I was expecting it to be a gradual change at some point.  And maybe that is yet to come as they become more independent, wanting to spend more time with their friends or at activities and such.  But because he isn't there yet, I have loved to watch him grow up.  And yes, part of that is literally to grow up.  He will have another check in under a month, but until then, I would guess he grew another 2 inches or so over the past year.  He is now wearing the same size shoe as me.  His frame is much thinner, as a result, he is really feeling cold now that the temperature has turned.  Oh, how I remember that feeling too.

As far as the other aspects of growing up, it has been interesting to see how social aspects of school and outside of school have really taken shape as well.  He has this wonderful carefree attitude, if he is in a comfortable, safe setting.  I know he is worried about someone asking him what he is doing, but I know he is very capable of answering those questions too.  This week, the school ran a fundraiser at Chipolte, and I had a large sign made advertising the event.  Someone suggested that maybe one of my kids would be willing to stand outside during parent drop off on Monday and then possibly go on the morning news program to talk about it.  I thought Trevor would enjoy doing it, and he said he would do so.  The night before, I think he was second-guessing himself - also I'm sure wondering what his friends would think of him doing it - but I ran through what it was all about so he could talk intelligently about it.  So I went to school early with him just to make sure it all was ok.  Gwen and I hung out inside and watched him do his thing.  He was SO in his element.  This is one of his friends that came to talk to him about it.  For a while he was dancing around doing his attention-grabbing Trevor thing that he does.  And then after the first bell rang, we walked over to the morning news rehearsal.  He did not have a script, but was able to practice what he wanted to say.  I watched him while he was on the news and while he may have stumbled over a few of his words, he had SUCH confidence.  He was so in his element.  He is a natural public speaker.  Can you tell I was a proud mom?  All I hope for him is to find out if it is something he recognizes as his strength.  When I talk to him about it, he thinks he gets stage fright and doesn't always want to do it.  But when he does do it, he has such a light from within.

His relationship with his sister is one that has also taken a great leap over the past year.  Yes, they still fight, but they are learning the rules of fighting.  In that if they want the fighting to stop, one of them has to walk away, rather than continuing the argument.  But Trevor has recognized the value of another playmate, especially one that worships you.  Legos are the common play right now, but there also is variation to school, military, or Ninjago directly.

This morning, I told Trevor that Gwen and I had a talk about him bringing his cookies for a treat for his class.  She had said that there were quite a few classmates where the older sibling brought one of their class treats for the younger sibling in her class.  So she thought that Trevor should also bring her one.  Problem with that, is that she did not do the same thing in return when it was her birthday.  So I told her, I will ask Trevor, but that it was his choice, because she did not bring one to him for her birthday.  Sure enough, as soon as I talked to Trevor about it, he said right away, he would give her one.  And when I picked the kids up from school today, he was very proud of the fact that he did give one to her, and she was EXTREMELY appreciative, even saying, "Trevor, this is the last time, I promise, that I will thank you.  Thank you SO much!  I really appreciated that delicious cookie that you gave me" Because she had already thanked him 4 times previously.

His enjoyment of reading has also kicked up a notch.  He is finally reading books that are longer than 150 pages.  His current series is Eragon.  Now, he still gravitates towards nintendo or computer games, but he also has already read the first book, which I believe was over 500 pages.  So I will consider that a win.  I don't expect him to always pick a book over nintendo, but it is nice to know that it is an option that is out there.

Finally, I will say that he is starting to understand that there is a world outside of high school.  I was talking to him about it tonight, and I do know that it is pretty immature at this point.  I'm not expecting him to be able to picture his life at, say, 20 years old.  Because when I do ask him to think about it, he seems a little scared at the fact that I won't be with him to watch out for him.  We are still at the stage of testing boundaries and finding out what happens when you make a bad decision.  So right now he thinks that he needs to have a roommate in college so that he can get that person to do part of what he is expected to do.  Laundry and the dishes for example.  He also wants to get married early so that his wife can help him do his chores and such.  See a pattern?  I would say right now, he isn't ready to let me go.  And that is a good place to be, because I am not ready for that either.  But in the mean time, I will always enjoy all our conversations.  From what he did at school, to the things he and his friends do, to answering questions he has about what I remember when I was his age.

I love you buddy.  I hope your double digits are spectacular and I can't wait to see what they hold for you.
 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Her birthday week...and the end of baseball

As has been the case for most of Trevor's almost 10 years of life, we make a big deal of birthdays in this family.  So no, Gwen didn't have a good birth-day. She had a great birth-week.  It started off prior to her actual birthday with her "friend" party.  Due to other extended family members having a nearby birthday, we decided to go a weekend earlier than her birthday.  It seemed to work wonderfully.  It had been a few years since I have been at a place that puts on birthdays for you, and I will say it was spectacular.  We did a gymnastics party, and everyone there had a great time.  I ordered an extra 30 minutes in the gym, and didn't even spend the whole 30 minutes in the party room, so they got even a few more minutes at the end.  I couldn't believe the girls had that much energy and didn't collapse!

We were at baseball the next day and she couldn't wait to tell everyone about her friend party...because she also knew she had two more parties to come.  She wanted to be able to tell everyone that she was 6 after that Saturday, and I think she did, but she also knew that she really didn't turn 6 until the 3rd....in the afternoon as Trevor had to point out again and again.

So on the 3rd, she went to school to celebrate it there as well.  She brought Hostess cupcakes for her treat.  She was very excited.  She was able to stay at the after school program and get some extra treatment as well.  We had both kids school conferences that afternoon so before we picked them up, we got an earful about how well both kids are doing in their classes.  Gwen actually gets to split time between all three first grade teachers because of her reading and math ability.  I have heard nothing but great things about all three first grade teachers so I'm happy about it all!

We picked up the kids to go to Benihana for her "real" birthday dinner that evening.  We brought our gifts and she unwrapped them and got her big picks for the next Lego Friends stuff.  And yes, that was what had to be put together right away, as soon as possible.  Add another 1000 pieces put together by my hands.  She can do it entirely by herself, but she gets sidetracked by the new characters.  I wonder how many of those things she has now.  My guess would be approaching 30 now.  However, I feel like my kids each have their things.  For Trevor, it has been Pixar's Cars characters, with a few Ninjago characters.....although that show is done.  For Gwen it has been a little bit of princesses with a lot more Lego Friends stuff.  And now that the Lego Friends stuff are both boys and girls, they have taken over inhabiting the Princess castles and such.  So at least that princess stuff is sticking around.

And last but not least, she had her family birthday party on Saturday.  We were missing a few key players in said family, but we hope to see them soon.  With only consideration of our family, it was tough enough to find a day when something wasn't going on that would have conflicted with this day.  But the day too was filled with fun times and good food and wonderful presents for the birthday girl.  At the close of that day, was the close of her birthday week.

So today was the last day of Fall baseball for Trevor.  Today Gwen was again talking about her birthday party the day before, but this time it was her family party.  And through it all Trevor did his best to grin and bear it.  I feel like I have to have the same talk with him every year about how it will be his "turn" soon enough and actually this year, he made an effort to help her on her actual birthday.  On this last day of fall baseball, Trevor had good games.  He did well both batting and pitching.  Hopefully he got a chance to get a little bit better, but for now, it will be good to put it away for a few more months.  I explained to him tonight that it was up to him if he wanted to find time to go to a batting cage or something similar.  And the fact that today was the first day of hockey tryouts was the signal that we are gearing up for hockey as well.

It was a great year 5, but now on to year 6!  Happy Birthday Week Gwen!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In the groove

Well, here we are, second full week of school and I'm beginning to feel like I know what it is like to have two kids in school full time.  It is a whole other world.  I can run errands for more than one consecutive hour.  Granted, that isn't my idea of fun, but now I don't have to split it into multiple days if I don't want to.  I'm trying not to over-schedule myself with volunteer work and such, but I just can't seem to stop.  Library, envelopes, fundraiser stuff....and the classroom helpers haven't even been contacted yet.  Yes, we are still in the baseball/hockey overlap timing, but that will be done soon enough.  I'm needing to get ready for a big birthday coming up.

As far as the kids go, we have had a pretty smooth week.  Only hiccup was that Trevor got a nasty cold on Sunday night.  I thought he wasn't going to go to school in the morning, but seriously both of my kids make me feel like I'm running a psych ward the nights that they are battling the start of colds.  Gwen started her nighttime screams on Monday night, a day later and Trevor was at least down to moaning.  Although there have been some bumpy mornings and afternoons, it does feel like nothing is a surprise to the kids.  We leave the house whether the kids have everything they need or not.  We do as much as we can the night before.

Gwen has had a few school lunches now, and she still seems a bit puzzled by it.  Especially so by the fact that there are two main choices, but whatever your choice, you still get the same side dishes.  And yes, she has admitted to eating very little for lunch and come home starving, but I think this next month, she will know a lot more about the food she does like to eat at school.  I just hope it doesn't turn into bringing her own lunch 100% of the time.  She has one "homework" activity every night which is to read or be read to for a total of 20 minutes.  We were having a hard time finding something that she was interested in that could keep her interest (because of the length of the book) for more than 3 minutes, so I decided to bring out the magic tree house series.  Well, that was a major hit.  We are on book 6 in the series.  I know she is a ways off from wanting to read those kinds of books by herself, but I'm happy to have found a good bunch of books that I know will help her get through her reading time here at home.  She has started to have some math homework as well, and seems to be grumbling about doing her homework instead of being able to play with her toys.  She isn't as into screens as Trevor is, but I'm still trying to teach her the same habits of homework before playtime.  We got a call from her teacher after last week's school to see if there was any concerns on our part.  No she seemed to be loving school.  And her teacher thought that Gwen was doing a great job too.  Our conferences are scheduled for both kids on Gwen's birthday, so it will be a great place to put together the kids' goals for the rest of the school year.

Trevor seems to be gliding through his new year as well.  We had a hiccup as Trevor is known to do from time to time, but thankfully no real continual issues, so far.  I'm trying to maintain his independence on things that he needs to do for school and piano and such.  It is hard to not know if he is doing the work appropriately, but judging that is for his teachers.  I do not need to get in the way.  I'm thankful to have started our homework meetings again, so I can at least talk to him about newsletters and things we are getting communication about to see if there is anything I can help him with.

All in all, the house is getting cleaner and more organized, and I'm helping out a lot more with the school projects.  This is shaping up to be a great school year for everyone.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The First Day of School

I have to say, I enjoy Facebook on days like these.  It was filled with friends and family posting their pictures of the kids on their first day of school.  I, of course, added to our yearly ritual as well.  Thankfully, I'm not getting groans from the kids yet, but I'm sure they are coming.

Last week was our last hurrah.  We went to the state fair, ate lots of food, went to back-to-school night to drop off school supplies, Trevor forgot his, baseball practice then headed out to the lake for the only time all summer our family of four was there.  Thankfully, thankfully, THANKFULLY we got gorgeous weather both Friday and Saturday we were there.  We were able to be lazy and gradually enjoy waking up and walking around, and then the four of us went on a boat ride for the afternoon.  The kids stopped and jumped into the lake at three spots, and since the lake has not gotten rain for a while, the algae had started to bloom.  It is a river/creek fed man-made lake, so at least it doesn't have completely still water, but it was still bad on shorelines.  Saturday, we got to say happy birthday to a very fun girl, and visit with my cousins kids.  Again, THANKFULLY the weather was spectacular, so the kids played for hours in the water, went on a pontoon ride, and then got showered and changed for dinner.  After dinner, the kids got a little more time to play, girls on the ping pong table with Russ, and Trevor and JJ played their video games.  Then, they played a baseball game before ending on charades.  Gwen requests that every time.

We came back on Sunday, and it wasn't very good weather anyway.  We had a fun birthday celebration to get to!  First birthdays are always fun, mostly because the kid has no idea what they are getting into, but seem to understand that for some reason it has to do with them.  It was a great evening.

Monday, I spent the entire day getting ready for today.  Grocery shopping, whoops, I forgot one thing, so I had to go back a second time.  Major laundry to make sure all the right clothes were washed (more for the girl than anything).  All the darn paperwork that needs to be turned back in to the school.  Making the kids fill out their lunch wishes for the first month of school.  It took all day, but it all got done.

Then today:  Gwen was excited for the day, and found out the night before that Trevor said he was nervous.  At first, that shocked me, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  He's hitting that age where he really cares about what other people think of him.  Its not so much anymore about doing the work.  He has no issues with that.  His words about being nervous were something about how he was afraid the new kids would be mean to him.  I made him make sense of that thought by asking him what he would feel in the reverse situation.  I told him I had been a new kid and I was more worried than anything because I thought that everyone would have already made their friends.  He was also sad to see the summer go, but I think that is normal.  Thankfully neither kid was up late with nerves or excitement.  I remember 4th grade was the year I was up past 2am on the first day of school because of my nerves.  In the morning, Trevor didn't want to get up, but that's him not wanting to get moving.  He was up.  Gwen was not up, but was good getting moving, again because she was so excited.

We decided to walk to school, and while protesting at first, Gwen made it, and she told me that she did not want to walk home.  I figured I could accommodate because she would be exhausted and probably not willing to walk back.  Trevor was out the door and running to school.  Guess those nerves wore off!  We got to school in plenty of time.  I asked Gwen if she wanted me to walk her to class, and at first she said no.  I told her that I would say good bye to her at the office, and then she said she wanted me to walk her to class.  I was fine with that.  She found her hook and took out her stuff, and seemed very confident to walk right into class.  She said good-bye with a giant smile on her face.  I'm pretty sure she didn't see me choking up.  But I took a deep breath and moved over to Trevor's room.  I saw him going 100 miles and hour with a fellow classmate from last year.  No worries from him.

So I had a whole day to myself.  I treated myself to dinner with a friend at Crave.  I had a salad and dessert and didn't have to keep checking the clock!  It was amazing!  I filled the rest of my day with little things.  And quickly it was time to get the kids.  I met them in the front area, and Trevor was good, but Gwen was on the fritz.  She was SO crabby and I could tell hungry, thirsty and exhausted.  Now, she would never admit it, but immediately she was yelling at me that she didn't want to walk home.  I explained that I brought the car, but that wasn't good enough.  She couldn't even walk to the car.  *scream scream* *whine whine* I asked her to talk about her day and she didn't want to.  So I asked Trevor.  Then she wanted to.  We got home and she wanted to eat something sweet.  I had her finish her lunch.  It wasn't as uneaten as I thought it would be, but after she had eaten, it helped a bit.  She had homework to do, but didn't seem like she wanted to do it.  Anyway, bottom line, Gwen was tired, Trevor said he had a great day and was all smiles.  He really enjoys how often he rotates classes for different subjects.  They have about a third of their class as not being in their last year's class.  That is nice.

So for now, we will plod ahead to get into some sort of routine.  I have some big events to plan for in the coming weeks already, and I don't know how I'm going to pull them off.  We shall see.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Summer? The End

Well, I won't dwell on the fact that there are some things about the summer that weren't exactly perfect:  Namely the weather and the fact that labor day weekend is the first time all summer that we as a family will be traveling to the cabin.  Yikes.  But no, instead I choose to remember the great times we had this summer.  These last two weeks were done in style.  We had a few days of nothing on the schedule so the kids could just hang out at the house.  But mostly we had to pack in all the things we wanted to make sure we did before the summer was done.  I look at the list, and thankfully we did all the things we had to do, but did not do things we could do when it was winter.  Last week, the big event was Valleyfair.  It was a hot day, unlike last year, so we spent a few hours in the water park.  Gwen was happy in the splash pad, and going around the lazy river.  That's up my speed to at this point.  Trevor went on all the roller coasters this year, and even the giant swing.  Next year, he'll have to try Steel Venom when it is not closed for repairs and maybe the Power Tower.  New for him this year was Wild Thing.  To which he said, "was that supposed to be fast?"  Good for him.  He should ride those coasters while he can!

This week, we went to a friend's pool one day and the State Fair today.  Both gave us some great memories.  It was a hot day today, but luckily a friend gave us a great free giveaway and I never knew how many places had free water, as long as you had your own container.  We ate everything we could, and barring any investigation by CPS due to lack of nutrition today, I think we had a great one!  Cheese curds, mini doughnuts, frozen grapes, milk shakes, french fries (a LOT), chocolate chip cookies, lemonade, Icees, beer (for the adults), a giant pickle for Trevor, and there could have been more.  We visited the Twins shop, the skyride, agriculture building, the cows, pigs, horses, sheep, giant slide, butterfly building (Gwen lasted 3 minutes because she couldn't take the things flying in the room), the maze, trampoline, and tried to stay in the shade as much as possible.  Did I mention it was hot?  Thankfully they had a lot of "mist-ers" out spraying people or blowing a fan with a mist-er on it.  It was very nice.  And we lasted 8+ hours.  Gwen had a few piggy back rides, but really she did great walking around.  No big complaints.  Lots of smiles and good times!  That was really the theme to the summer.  Lots of smiles and great times!

This summer the family got to visit Dr. Johnson and family in South Dakota.  The kids were excited to be in a new state for them.  It was a lot of fun to see so many fireworks on the 4th of July.  We got out to play golf on the small par 3 course by our house.  I did not golf much at all this summer, but we had lots of fun other places.  We visited the city pool a few times and had some great weather and not so great crowds.  I was happy about that!  Trevor got to camp and I didn't have to do anything except bring him to the place.  He did not come home with a million mosquito bites, and he wants to do it again next year, so I'd say a success!  There was a lot of baseball played, by both kids and I'm sure it will ramp up from here.  Even Russ got in on the action when his Twin's Fantasy camp reunion game was played last weekend at Target Field.  Trevor got to really see him pitch and pitched himself on the very mound that the Twins also pitch off of.  It was a great experience for everyone!

Although Trevor says he's not happy that summer vacation is coming to a close, I think there is a part of him that will be happy to see his classmates again.  He knows that with summer ending, comes winter and cold and says he doesn't like the cold.  We'll see.  Next summer will be here again before you know it.  And with the kids having little tastes of fun things to do in the summer, I know we'll be doing a lot more of this summer, in the future summers.  But for now, I too am happy for school to be starting.  I love that I'm going to have time to volunteer more at the kids' school, and get a better idea of what I can do with my time having them at school.  So we'll see what this next change brings.  Hopefully lots more fun to come!

Friday, August 2, 2013

One month to go

We have one month left of Summer vacation.  This month will be remarkably less busy than the other two months.  Baseball is done for both kids.  Gwen was happy to be done playing with the boys.  She did really well and I think it really helped her get a feel for being pitched to.  She can usually get a hit, and did the last few games of her season.  Trevor wrapped up his season just two weeks ago.  Unfortunately they didn't get any hardware, but played their hearts out.  He was a bit disappointed that he didn't get to pitch in the playoff games, but his last game, he played 1st base the entire time, and I have a feeling that is where his calling is.  The kid knows the rules of the game and loves getting the opposing players out because they turn the wrong way off of first base.

Last week we had their team party at a local park.  It really was good to get together one last time with these people.  I hope to have the same experience this year at hockey.  I only wish it would be under warmer circumstances.

Also this week, the kids were for the first time in Camp Kota.  I had heard good things about it, but decided that this year both kids would try it out.  I had thought it would be a great fit for Trevor, but not sure about Gwen.  Turns out she loved it, and was very upset that she wasn't old enough to do the overnight outdoor camping experience that Trevor did.  Although Trevor had a cold all week, he still made it through and said he wants to do it again next year.  That week was the most time I had by myself all summer, and will be for the rest of the summer as well.  So count that as a win for everyone!

We have already gone to get the kids school supplies, so we are well on our way to being ready for school.  There are a few family or group activities that we have yet to cross off our annual summer list of things to do.

Oh...one thing I do have to document.  Gwen had her end of the season golf event a few Fridays ago.  Although Trevor was not in golf league this year, I asked and he could come to the event if he wanted.  They play a few games and such, so he said he would come along.  I honestly don't know what had gotten into Gwen but right away she started whining and yelling at me.  Before finishing the first game, I explained that if she did it again, we were going home.  Sure enough, she continued, so that meant we were going home.  Once she realized that I was serious, an all out temper tantrum ensued.  She was on the ground kicking and screaming.  Trevor was looking at her dumbfounded.  I know the entire golf course was looking over at us.  I finally got her to walk, although she did not stop screaming.  Trevor thought we were just going to move to the next game, but I explained to him that we were done.  So home we came, and after she had calmed down, I think she too didn't know where that came from.  I know kids do things like that, and I know it does happen a lot in the 2-3 year old range, but I'm trying to think of a time where she EVER did something like this before and I can't.  She can usually calm herself down to the point of at least quietly pouting somewhere.  Regardless, that day was shot for things to do.  So we just hung out at home.

So here's hoping for the last month of summer to be actually summer like!  Cheers!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summers are just so crazy!

Here we are, under 50 days before school starts, and there has been so much filling up our time.  We had thought to be done with baseball by now, but Trevor's team is in playoff mode.  They have their first playoff game tomorrow, and could be done for the season, but are hoping to win it to move on to next week.  Gwen finished up her season last week and got a very nice medal to commemorate her year as a baseball player.

Due to baseball, our 4th of July was quite short.  We decided to head out to South Dakota on the 4th, and stayed two days before going back on Saturday.  We were able to see Derek and Kyrsten's new place and enjoy some family time and great food!

Trevor finished his first round of hockey clinics last week and he seems to have had a good time doing it.  There were a bunch of kids that he knew so he could have some fun with them.  Previously, we have done clinics where most of the kids were from around the metro - Edina, Savage, etc.  So I think that was fun for him to play with his pals.

Gwen has been doing lots of "camps".  Mostly gymnastics, but one week was an American Girl Doll camp.  She was in heaven!  She had things to give to her doll and things that she got to do to herself.  She had a PJ party day dressing up like her doll and a spa day so she could have cucumber slices on her eyes while she relaxed and had her nails done.  She has had a few classes where she knew the girls going in, but she quickly makes new friends if she doesn't know anyone.  She found a girl from her school but not in her grade and they became fast friends because of their common background.

Last weekend I was able to golf for the first time in Minnesota this year with my dad, Russ, and Trevor.  It was a warm day, and very sunny.  Honestly, it was perfect.  I did not play perfect, but I missed my golf!  It is one of those things that really jump starts my happiness, so I didn't have to go to hot yoga that week.  I may be able to play a few more rounds this summer, but next summer, I'm going to have to use a way to go during the mornings since the kids will be in school.  Unless there is still snow on the ground.  Maybe then I'll rethink my idea.....

We saw the movie Monster's University last weekend too.  That was a fun show.  Pixar does all their movies so well.  And it wasn't too scary for Gwen either.  New experience #2 for the week was heading to the local aquatic center.  They have two large water slides, one that Gwen cannot ride yet, two diving boards, a smaller water slide into the deep water, and then lots of zero depth fun for younger kids with a play/slide climbing structure.  It was another perfect day that I had with the kids.  The weather was hot, the timing was great.  We went around 2pm so the first wave of people had headed back home, and the crowd just thinned out from there.  Gwen was slightly nervous in that she thought she was going to have to wear a life jacket, but when I told her that in the slides, you can stand up and not be under water, she was happy.  The kids lasted over 2 1/2 hours.  1/2 hour longer than I had hoped, but I was not complaining.  Again, lots of happy sun and warmth for me!

Both kids are taking their camps at the same place so they have gotten to ride the bus which gives me a full 3 hours of freedom.  I've finally felt like I was catching up with all those things I wanted to start in the summer.  Only took me half of the summer to start them.  Maybe it'll be easier next year.  Uh huh....

Our week concludes with our first summer trip to the lake.  Hoping there is more sunny/warm weather in our future.  I'll take sunny over warm....but it will be nice to be there!  Here we come!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

RIP Kermie

It is time to say good-bye to our first furbaby:  She came into our lives through Ramsey County Humane Society.  It said on her card that she was a stray, and picked up in an alley.  She was very anxious and had a large bruise on her nose from pushing against the cage.  When we got to play around with her, she continued to be anxious around us, but I felt like she was still a good fit.  We brought her home, and within a week, we adopted a second cat, this time from the Hennepin County Humane Society, and part of a litter of cats.  We decided that because we weren't going to be home a lot, having two cats to keep each other company would be best.  We decided to name them Kermie and Piggy (for my love of the Muppets) and found that their names seemed to fit them.  They were both born the early part of 1998.  Piggy gained weight fast and became larger than Kermie.  But Kermie was the responsible one.  Much more shy but still wanted attention, just not if there were a lot of guests in and around the house.

Even through babies and kids, Kermie really got it.  When the kids were of the age where they would chase after the cats and want to pull their tails, Kermie would wait until they were either up for a nap or down for the night.  You can see from the pictures above that when the kids were babies and couldn't get around fast enough to chase them, she knew she was ok.  Kermie was the one that you would find sleeping on top of your head.  Piggy was the one that was looking for any sudden movement on the bed to pounce on.  Kermie was the one that loved the laser beam lights.  Kermie was the older "sister" and like some older sisters that I know, really acted the part keeping her younger siblings in line.

When we got a third cat - a kitten - a little under two years ago, it seemed like Piggy's health was going downhill.  At the time, I thought Kermie would outlive all of them.  She lived such a relaxed life.  She would still play fight with Piggy and play around with the new kitten as well.  But she never had any problems.  Unfortunately, over the past year or so, she started losing weight.  She wasn't the heavy one to begin with, and it wasn't dramatic until the last few weeks.  Then this weekend, her whole attitude changed.  Even as recent as a few days ago, she was within what I would consider her normal behavior.  She was jumping up to get onto beds and chairs, but this weekend, that all stopped.  She spent most of the days in our bathroom waiting for the sink to drip water.  So I knew she needed to be seen.  I made an appointment on Monday morning for that afternoon.  I tried many times to make sure she was comfortable or to drink or eat something, but she just wouldn't or couldn't.  Russ decided he was going to take her to the vet.  We had the kids pet her, and while they were at the vet, I prepared the kids for the thought that she was going to be gone because she was sick.  When the blood work came back that Kermie was in severe kidney failure, we knew it was time to explain the facts.  All of us were crying, and trying to grasp the concept, particularly for Gwen.  She hasn't had to deal with any sort of significant death in her lifetime.

So, it is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to our first furbaby....at 15 1/2 years old.  We all love you and hope you enjoy your time following the laser light in the sky.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gwen's weeks

Ah yes...the girl of the group.  That week of the last week of school was also pretty active for Gwen.  The Saturday morning was her dance recital.  She was able to sit with me and watch the other performances so she didn't have to entertain herself in the waiting room.  Her's was the 3rd performance of the day.  I can't help but laugh that I get the "get away from me, mom" picture as well as the pretty, posed picture after the performance.  She loves her dance.  I have a feeling that we will be spending a lot more time at dance lessons in the future, once she can sign up for more than one.

Similar to previous years, her dance recital falls on the same weekend as BAA baseball tournament weekend.  She is in BAA this year, and unfortunately, her first game was too close to her recital so she couldn't play in it.  Trevor is in traveling baseball this year, so he didn't have a tournament this weekend.  Thank goodness, because I don't know how we would have been able to pull it all off.  Actually, Gwen is liking going to most of the games because there are a group of 4 girls around her age, or at least willing to play with her in most of their activities.  Anyway, this year, it still was a dance/baseball weekend, but Gwen did both and Trevor didn't have his baseball that weekend.  So below is a picture from the game that Gwen did attend.  She is getting good at watching the ball hit her bat and getting a hit most times she is up.

 Fielding is another story.  She would rather play in the dirt than watch what is going on.  Now, to give her credit, hardly any of the kids are ready at every pitch when the other team is up to bat.  So when it does get faster paced, hopefully she will be ready.  I do think she has learned a lot so far!  And she hasn't had to miss too many games.

So on Monday, was her Kindergarten graduation.  There are a few pictures here of her with some of her classmates, during the singing presentation, one with her teacher, and the picture they take when the kids are in a high-school sized cap and gown.  I still have Trevor's from when he was in Kindergarten.  I for sure am going to use it for pictures at each of their grad parties.

Gwen did not participate this year in the Talent Show.  She had quite a few people in her school that were in her dance class.  Maybe if there are still a group of them, they could get together and dance their performance.  I could see her doing that instead of a piano performance, like Trevor has done.
 Gwen had a wonderful time at the zoo as well. However, she was a lot more timid when it came to the giraffes.  I guess the size was slightly overpowering.  She also didn't care to look at the sharks in the tank, or really, any animal that would have the potential to "get" her.  I don't know why it extended to giraffes, but it did.

So as a result of being a younger sibling, Gwen got the chance to tag along to the tournament last weekend.  She loved the pool, and loved the fun she could have with the other girls that she knew from the siblings of Trevor's teammates.  I think all of the parents appreciated the break that the kids could get from their siblings during the weekend and that they always had someone to entertain them.  Hopefully we will have that as long as Trevor wants to play both baseball and hockey.  

Finally, the last two pictures, I couldn't help but take because at her game last night, Gwen was able to play her favorite position: catcher.  She played it one other time, but I was not there to see it.  She practices her throwing, back to the pitcher, and I would say that she practices her catching, but really, she practices her dodging, more than anything.  She moves to the side and sticks her glove out hoping to catch it.  It is pretty cute.  And she loves being in all that gear.  Thankfully it wasn't too hot.

She is also starting her week long camps, through the summer program here.  The first week out of school it was a VBS program, and this week it is Gymnastics.  Boy does she love her gymnastics!  I signed her up for two consecutive weeks.  She is finally able to put it all together, and is really working on her cartwheels.

So there you have it!  The month of June is more than halfway done!  It's only about 75 days until school starts again...but who's counting????!?

Trevor's weeks

Both kids had a pretty exciting and event-filled last week of school.  I wanted to get it all down a while ago, but of course, time slips away.  I'll try to do a post for each kid that primarily focuses on that last week of school.


So Trevor started off the week on Sunday going to a Twins game with Russ.  I had gotten some good seats for Russ, and it worked out to take Trevor, so off they went for the 12:10 game.  It was a kids giveaway for a Willingham jersey to the first 5,000 kids.  Trevor was lucky enough to get one.  The seats were directly to the right of the Twins dugout (looking at the field), so they could see the players going into the dugout during their at-bats.



It was a bright, sunny day, and after the last out of the first inning, Trevor was thrown a ball from Dozier.  You can see the change in Trevor's smile after he got a major league baseball!  The ball is now sitting in a case, so it will never be played with again.  There is a nice grass mark on it as well.

So because I was curious as to if either of the boys were going to be on TV, I had been recording the game.  Russ texted me about the ball Trevor caught, but it wasn't anything that you could see from the game on TV.  They cut away after the last out.  But the game went on, and the Twins had a home run hitting time.  It isn't very often that there was a game like that.  And then, at the top of the 8th inning, one of the reporters went out into the stands to do a little report on what was happening in the game.  My mom called and asked me what Trevor was wearing at the game, because she thought she saw him!  Turns out, she was right!  Although I wasn't sitting watching the game, I did a little rewind, and saw him.  So did Gwen.  He is enjoying a helmet bowl of ice cream, and no one nearby knew that they were on camera.  Now he not only got a ball, but he was also on TV.  What could be better?


So back to school he went.  Monday was nothing too big for him, but Tuesday was the talent show.  He did well enough and I enjoyed listening to him during the evening performance.  They got their annual trophy for their participation which is always the best part.  Now, on Wednesday, a different event happened for him.  Because of a drawing done from the kids who won lunch with Tony Oliva, a ride in a limo and DQ, one of the kids got to swap days with the principal.  That person was Trevor.  So the day he was able to swap was the Wednesday of this week.  I asked Trevor to dress up like the principal, which meant a collared shirt and tie.  He was somewhat against it until I told him that he may have to give a speech at some point, and he should look his best for it.  So he agreed, and went into school for the day.  He was able to help out with the arrival of students, be on the morning news, and observe some of the classrooms.  I was at school for my weekly Wednesday envelope duties, so I snapped a picture of him in his "office".

He said he was going to try to get extra recess for the school, but then learned it wasn't his job to do...yet.  Maybe some day.  The principal had to go and sit in Trevor's class for the day, and they had some school work for him to do as well.  Another memorable day for Trevor.

Last day of school, the 3rd grade had an all-3rd grade party with a Hawaiian theme.  I was able to help out, and Gwen helped me helping out since it was in the morning.  The kids are very anxious to get out and start their summer vacation, but they had a good time as well.

So we made it through that week....from Trevor's perspective, he had a lot going on.  The next weekend we didn't have a tournament, so we were able to go out and play at the zoo with his cousin Adam and a good group of the Johnson family.  The weather was forecasting rain, but it held off the entire time we were there.  We got around to see almost everything, and the kids were troopers!  One of the most unique experiences I've ever seen while there was that they opened a feeding time for the giraffes.  Anyone that wanted to was able to feed the giraffe.  Trevor was psyched and did what was expected.  He even felt how sandpapery the tongue of the giraffe was.  You had to buy the crackers for the giraffe, so it wasn't free, but I think it was well worth it.

Since the zoo, we have been doing the summer activities and baseball tournaments.  The last tournament is this weekend but previous to that, we had a tournament in Rochester.  This was the first tournament where the kids decided they were going to stay in hotel for the weekend.  They had two games early on Saturday, and had Friday off.  Trevor was really excited to get down there, but we first had to wait for Russ to come in from his business trip.  He landed around 3:30, and we picked him up and drove to Rochester.  When we got to the hotel, first thing to do was to jump in the pool.  (Kids, not really first thing for the adults).  Even though it was close enough to dinner time, the kids didn't care.  They started arriving and came to the pool to swim, even if they weren't staying in the hotel.  We decided to order pizzas and eat them in the commons area, where they usually have breakfast.  Dinner was served close to around 7:30 and the kids (and adults) had a lot.  Because of the swimming, they were not as rowdy as usual, but still pretty high energy from all the excitement.

After dinner, it was after 9:00 and they had to be at the field the next day at 8:00am.  They fell asleep rather easily...at least in my room, and woke up pretty good too.  Unfortunately, the kids had a rough bunch of games that weekend, but had more swimming both Saturday and Sunday before heading back home.

Now through this whole time, Trevor once said to me, "Mom, that was the best day of my life!"  Do you know when it was?  On Friday night before going to bed in the hotel.  Well....I know Trevor lives in the moment...so it didn't really surprise me, but after the other days that he had had prior to that, I was a little surprised that it took a swim in a pool with his teammates and some pizza at a hotel to become the best day of his life.  Here's to many more, Trevor!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The end of another school year

While these past few months have flown by, it is hard to believe that it is the end of 3rd grade for Trevor, and the end of Kindergarten for Gwen.  We got their report cards on the last day of school, and for the 3rd year in a row, they told them which teacher they were going to have to start next year.  I got the teacher I requested for Gwen, but did not for Trevor.  They changed the configuration for the Gifted and Talented program.  They had previously had two multi-age classes - 4th and 5th combined - but decided to start the year next year with one teacher for all 4th and one teacher for 5th.  So that means, that for a lot of these kids, they are going to be with generally the same kids for 4 years straight.  I guess there are pluses and minuses to both, but it is somewhat hard to see the more positive aspects of it when there are some hard personality conflicts between a few of the kids.  I was so hoping for a relief from that for next year.

Regardless, the reports for both of the kids were great.  I didn't even think it was possible to improve on Gwen's report card from midway through the year, but she did.  I think she got along and listened very well to her teacher, and loved all of her classmates.  There isn't anything I would do any differently over the course of the school year.  She has grown so much, with the help of her classmates and teacher.  I hope she will have a wonderful 1st grade in her transition to eating lunch at school.  That's really what I think is going to be the most tricky for her.  I can bet though, that she won't be the first person who will have a big adjustment to that part of school.  So I'm not really that concerned.

Trevor also either improved or stayed the same as to his report card elements.  I think responsibility-wise we have really made improvements on how he handles his school work, and hopefully can carry that in to the next year.  One thing that I hope to work with him on is his ability to realize when a problem presents itself that he doesn't know with certainty, that it is ok to ask for help.

Gwen and I were able to help out at the all 3rd grade party the last day of school.  It took place in the morning, so that's how Gwen got to come with us.  She loved feeling like a big kid, as she always does.  She even got to have a sno-cone since they had some leftovers.  Their theme was Hawaiian.  To bad the weather was more winter like than Hawaiian.  This weather has just been so crazy!

Both kids got their yearbook, and while Trevor doesn't really pay much attention to his, I think it may be interesting for him to have and look back on when he is older.  Gwen on the other hand, eats that stuff up!  She is able to tell you all the kids that she knows, and it is primarily the older kids because they help them being the bus patrol.  She also knows a bunch of kids from dance, Kids Safari (after school program) and any of the siblings that go to Trevor's sporting events.  When she got her yearbook, she spent a good hour plus paging through all the pages of her yearbook noticing who she knew from each class.  Because she is in the afternoon class, she was able to participate in the 5th grade clap-out.  The 5th graders get to walk around the school at the end of the day while the rest of the students and staff clap for them.  Gwen said she got a little sad to know that they won't be back at her school next year.  I have a strong feeling that she is going to be one of those kids that during her clap-out, she will be crying.  Maybe even Trevor's too.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  The summer vacation has started.  We still need to do a little bit more work on setting expectations for the summer.  We might have to invest in something to keep the mosquitoes out of the backyard because Trevor doesn't to be out side when they are swarming.  Next week Gwen's activities start, with Trevor's 3 times a week hockey clinics.  I'll just be happy to get the long sleeves packed away.  Maybe even the winter jackets?  Please?  Bring on the summer weather for summer vacation!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Who knows which is more busy

You know, you go through your head, you look at your calendar, and you think...."well, if I could just get through May....June will slow down", or "If I could just get done with school, then my time will really free up".  Or how about, "Once my baby is in 1st grade...all day school...then I'll REALLY have a lot of free time."  Yeah, right.  It's all a big joke.  I ran into one of Trevor's classmates family at a garage sale, and she was talking about how that idea never ends.  It goes well into "when the kids are out of the house...." to "when I retire....."  You always think you will have more time on your hands.  And it NEVER happens.

So you do your best to enjoy as much of it as you can.  Having two kids in various activities does make it hard to make it to everything, but with the help of the village, you do make the best of it.  I decided to run out to Chicago for a day and a night to see the Rolling Stones in concert.  I think it was the first time I was actually old enough to remember all the sights of downtown.  We didn't see it all, but I really think I got a taste of it all.  Thanks to Russ, we stayed in a ritzy hotel for the evening, and thanks to the weather, we didn't get rained on at all.  It was overcast for most of the day, with rain threatening, and actually during the concert, there was a flash flood warning but we never saw any of it.  We went to the park and ate at the park cafe, we found a speakeasy and had a few martinis.  We enjoyed over 2 hours of great Stone's music and had no problems getting back home the next day.

The kids got some extra time playing around:  Gwen got a playdate in the morning, to stay in the after school program, and then had a playdate at night during Trevor's baseball practice.  She LOVED it.  That girl and her social wants.  It sounded like everything went smoothly too...no fighting or what have you.  When I came back, she had her dance recital practice, and then had another small playdate.  Now, I would think that once school gets out, this time may be a little less hectic, but I'm thinking, probably not.

Trevor, also got to be in the after school program, but he's enjoying playing baseball as much as he can.  Last night, they had their first winning game!  Unfortunately, they had the late game so they weren't done until after 11pm.  On a school night!  I took Gwen home at about 9:30 and she crashed as her head hit the pillow.  I was able to keep track of the scores through an online scoring program that one of the dad's uses.  It was so FUN to watch that winning game.  Trevor pitched two innings and did really well!  It was for two innings that I was able to be at, so I was happy that I didn't miss that.  Hopefully it will give the team a little boost that they need to get some more winning games!

This next week continues to be busy with Kindergarten "graduation", talent show, Gwen's dance recital tomorrow, baseball practices/games, and year end parties.  It was a very fun year, I think, for both kids at school.  I can't wait to see which teachers they get for the next school year!  And maybe the weather will warm up soon???

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Two weeks into heavy baseball

So it has been about two weeks since baseball has started for both kids.  Technically, I guess it is only 10 days or something, but I look at a week as Monday - Friday.  Since we are almost at Friday, then it is almost two weeks ;-)

Trevor's first game, which was the same night as Gwen's baseball pictures, ended up being washed out.  The field was unplayable, so I guess that means that they will have to make up that game at some point.  So then his first game became the tournament over the weekend in West St. Paul.  It was a late game on Friday, and two games during Saturday, where there was snow, wild wind, and rain.  PERFECT weather for baseball, let me tell you!

The first game was a bit of a disaster.  The team didn't even score a run.  Most of the batters looked scared. The pitchers were walking everyone or the fielders couldn't field a ball to help the pitcher.  The two games on Saturday were more of the same.  Trevor pitched for an inning on each of the games on Saturday.  He struck out 4 of the 6 outs, and threw a ball to first for another out.  So he was feeling pretty good about his pitching.  He is a very nervous batter, and so far has only got on base by walking or for a fielder's choice that  didn't put him out.

He's had two games since then, and pitched in the first one.  He struck out two, hit a batter, and walked another, but ended up with quite a few hits, so much that he went over his 50 pitch count.  So he didn't finish that inning.  The good thing is that he isn't not throwing strikes.  If the fielding was better by everyone, I think the team would do a whole lot better.  And from what I know, they know how to field, it's just they have all the bad luck during the games.  If they could put it all together, I know they could win a game.  Because of their coach, and the good attitude of the kids, they are still happy to be playing!

So for the past two weeks, Gwen has also been gearing up to play her baseball games.  Her season was pushed back a week because of the weather, but they had two good practices last week before their games this week.  She is the only girl on her team, but she knows 3 other boys from being at her school, 2 of them in her class.  The reason I put her in baseball was because they don't have a similar option in softball.  If I wanted her in softball, she would already be in a league where they kept score, outs, standings, etc.  I thought this league, where there are no outs, everyone gets to bat, and no score is kept would be a lot less stressful.  Plus, if it was impossible to be in two places at once, if she had to miss a game, I wouldn't feel bad.

Unfortunately, for her first game, I had my last PTA meeting of the school year.  So I had my mom bring her to her game.  Trevor had a baseball practice, so he hitched a ride with his friend.  I don't know how I could have done this week without Trevor being on the team with a good friend.  Anyway, I was getting texts from my mom about how Gwen was doing.  They actually had a half hour practice before the game, had one inning and then they were done.  It was a hot day, so no one complained.  She was up to bat, and was told she had two more pitches before she got her hit!  She was so excited!  Then, she got to be the catcher!  Super happy to be doing that as well.  She got to tell the batters where they were supposed to stand and where to go after they hit.

Not without noting though, watching her with all these boys, she is definitely out of her element.  All the boys are so rough and high energy, part of the time she just stands around and watches them.  She has tried to keep up with them, but it really isn't in her nature.  After pictures last week, she asked me when she could play softball.  I think she really misses her girl friends.  I'm glad we tried it, just to see how she would like it.  It would also be easy to keep her in baseball if she really enjoyed it.

So this week, Russ is out of town in Canada.  Looking at our schedule we have 6 baseball events, 1 dance event, 1 meeting for me, all within the span of 4 days that Russ is gone.  I was doing my best to make it all work, and really looking forward to yesterday (Wednesday) being our least busy day.  It was just a home game for Trevor.  It started off fine, Gwen and I went to our usual envelope stuffing at school during the morning, but when we got home, Gwen was barfing.  She tried some sips of water, but it came back up.  Again and again.  Waiting a little over an hour, and trying again.  Nope...well she didn't go to school, but I was trying to figure out how baseball was going to work.  Luckily my mother-in-law works so close and has offered her help whenever I need it.  HELP!!!!  So she came over after work to sit with a sick Gwen while I went to watch Trevor play.

She only got sick one more time, and took a nap as well.  She had a freezie pop (because she can't tolerate carbonated beverages and doesn't like gatorade) that she did keep down and went to bed when we got home around 9:00.  Thankfully she slept through the night and has not gotten sick since last night.  We are still not going crazy with food or liquids, but she is slowly getting her energy back up.  We won't be going to school or her baseball game tonight, but I think I'll be ok to let her come to Trevor's baseball game and sit by me.

During the day yesterday, it really brought me back to going through the exact same thing in grade school.  When I had a stomach bug, I got it bad.  I couldn't keep anything down, but after you are sick you are SO hungry and thirsty.  Gwen was begging to have water, just like I used to.  But as soon as she got a sip, she was sick.  Within 2 minutes.  Then she was crying that she was sick.  I remember going so far as to suck on a wet wash cloth because that should slow down your water intake, only to get sick 5 minutes later.  It was SO not fun.  Gwen seemed to find some understanding when I told her that when I was a girl I went through the same thing.  I am slightly worried in that she said that she is looking forward to going back to school so she can tell her classmates she got sick 5-6 times that day.  Good grief.  Well, at least she is looking on the fun side of being sick!

Then, to ad icing to the cake, I have a cold, in addition to getting some not so good health news from members of the extended family.  Lots of prayers for everyone involved.  It just hasn't been a great week this week.  I'm hoping to hit the hot yoga on Saturday morning to let it all just melt away......

Sunday, May 5, 2013

What used to be the start of the summer season

Has become the kick-off to the really busy season.  Over the past few weeks, we have been able to get out and do a few things as a family.  Primarily because baseball has been having to be pushed off because of the snow and cold weather in the area.  They have been practicing in the gym, but there really isn't a whole lot you can do in a gym to simulate outdoor baseball games.  Their first game is on Wednesday, and Gwen's first practice is on Tuesday.  So it starts.....

But before this week, we have had a few fun activities for the family:

We decided to hit the theaters.  Somewhat of a last minute decision.  I might have decided to have the kids watch the original Wizard of Oz movie before going to see Oz, the Great and Powerful, but as it was, they knew a little about it and knew that it was a Disney movie, so it was going to be a good show regardless.  Now I have not seen Wicked.  So I'm not familiar with that story line, but I had thought that the movie said that it was based on the book series.  It must have followed some track to be aligned with the Wizard of Oz movie.  I don't know if Wicked then was not a part of the original story or not.  It was a very good show, and Gwen did well enough with the "intense spots" of the movie.  She asked me to cover her eyes.  The next week, we rented the Wizard of Oz movie from Amazon and now the kids have the whole story.  I would bet we'll be buying the latest Disney movie when it comes out.  Maybe Gwen will enjoy it enough to not have to cover her eyes for so much of it next time.

The next adventure was going to a local hotel in order for Russ to get a points bonus for the hotel chain he usually stays at during work trips.  For staying one more night in April, he was able to get the equivalent points for staying 3 weeks for business.  The place had a pool, hot tub, and sauna as well as a concierge lounge and nice restaurant.  We did stay during a school night, so it was a little tricky to try to have a good morning routine and know how long it was going to take us to get to school in the morning instead of our usual 2.5 minutes.

Our most recent adventure involved going to the lake for our summer kick-off opening weekend: the Kentucky Derby.  We were missing a few key players due to other activities, but they were all with us in spirit.  Usually, we find some lucky hats to wear for the running of the derby, but we decided to swap that idea out for bandannas in a show of solidarity for my aunt Barb.  She is on her second treatment plan for cancer and halfway through.  It was wonderful to see her cheering on her horses as usual and to get the annual picture of the winners.  The youngest kids played very well together and it was nice enough to have them playing outside, just not nice enough for a boat ride yet.  Sadly, we won't be able to enjoy a boat ride until baseball season is done, sometime in July.  Having not played a baseball game yet, we aren't really sure how well the team is going to do, so it will depend on where they finish as to how long the season ends up being.

I refuse to bring myself or the family down in the depressing state of the weather this year.  I have tried my best to simply ignore any temperature below 50 degrees.  When it was even colder than that, I was constantly looking ahead in the weather forecast for the time when the temperature was warmer in order to count down until those days.  Even Trevor was fed up with it.  He is the most optimistic kid I have known and when he wasn't finding the positive in it, you knew that it wasn't a good day.

So there we are.  We kicked off the season and it is now in full swing.  I hope the weather cooperates!  Whatever that means.  Really though, I just hope all the kids have a good time and enjoy whatever activity they are doing.  Bring.it.on!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Things are changing.....

It is so cliche to say that the kids grow up in the blink of an eye.  But really, over the last month, the kids really have grown up and come so far from where even I once was in my life.  Facebook is amazing in that you can keep in touch with people from all points in your life, and I am further amazed at how many different ways people's lives can go and yet still feel connected to everyone in some strange way.

But back to the kids:  Last week, we got an installed Gwen's bedframe for her bedroom.  With that, came the end of a 7 year era where someone was sleeping on a bed that was on the floor.  Gwen was thrilled of course to be getting off the ground, but it also made me realize that she didn't need any of her 3 step stools that we had for her to help get up higher to things in the house.  She can reach all the faucets to wash her hands in the bathroom, brush her teeth and the like.  

This week, Gwen and the whole Kindergarten class went on a field trip to the nature center.  It is amazing to see these kids and how much they have all grown in the past school year.  They are almost first graders!  Gwen had her first lunch at school, well, on the field trip anyway.  I will say, I'm concerned about next year and her speed of eating.  She, like me, is a slow eater.  She is also a picky eater.  She is also a social eater.  So put all these things together, and I have no idea how she will get through the day eating probably less than half of what she eats now.  She averages about 20 minutes to eat, but that is without any friendly distractions.    When she got back from her field trip she was very hungry and had eaten about half of her lunch.  Today at school they talked and made a note to their parents about going on the field trip.  Gwen's favorite part of the trip, and she mentioned it again and again and again, was the bus ride.  I seem to remember that it was the same thing for Trevor.  But I also know that she was telling everyone she could that she got to go to school in the morning.  She is looking forward to starting 1st grade, being a big kid, and all that it entails.  That's going to be a totally different ballgame!

For Trevor, we have been working on becoming more dependent on me for reminders and such.  I have been amazed at how much it has taken off my plate.  I think he thought that it meant I was going to leave him alone completely, but because of our weekly touchbase meetings, we can evaluate things that are happening and find new ways of doing things.  It has been a drastic shift for me to be much more hands-off, but I know that it means he has to figure out his own way of doing things.  While I know he can't grasp what it is going to be like in high school or even middle school at this point, I think it is a good idea to at least put some thoughts in his mind now, rather than have a whole shock to the system in a few years.  He is in the middle of some standardized tests which helps determine if he is accepted into the next gifted and talented program at his school.  

He's also ramping up and getting into the swing of things for baseball.  We have found out that for our first really traveling tournament, we will be going to Rochester.  With hockey this year, we will also be traveling, probably out of town as well.  So here we go.  The weather could use some improving.  Poor kids have only been able to do some fielding in the school gyms until the ground is good enough to play on.  Yeah, the weather is a whole other issue.  Everyone has stopped selling winter gear, but both kids have changed shoe sizes and don't have good boots anymore.  With the snowing and melting, raining and such it sure has been wet on the snow gear!

As far as my life, I have been reflecting on that as well.  Having been volunteering as my main source of time commitment outside of family, that has been shifting too.  My two year stint as PTA treasurer is coming to an end in a little over two months.  We have a great replacement named, and since I'm not going anywhere, I know it will be an easy transition since I can be asked questions if something is in question.  But as of this September, I won't have a kid to look after an average of 5 days a week.  I'm goaling myself to find something part time, or get more involved in church/school volunteer opportunities.  It depends on what we need to do.  I for sure would love to get more time at hot yoga.  With the summer, I know I won't go as often as when the kids are at school, but it sure is nice when I get the chance to go.  So peaceful.  

So there is time to think about the coming changes, but they sure are coming.  And coming fast.  Did I mention that Trevor and I can almost wear the same size shoes?  Yeah, he's growing up....in the blink of an eye.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wow...it has been a whole month

I would guess that is the longest I have gone without blogging.  I know a year ago, I was doing it almost every day while we had our Disney trip in early March.  When you really want to remember things, you know you have to write them down right away or they will slip away from you!

As is true with our lives these days, so much has happened in a month!  A month ago, Trevor still had two weeks of hockey left.  He finished out those last few games strong and we also had the year end hockey party.  It was at an indoor batting facility that also allowed us to use an open space to play dodgeball.  The kids and the coaches also used the batting cages, and we ate and had a very good time.  This was Trevor's 4th year as a mite, and next year he will be a squirt.  I'm learning so much about hockey and it seems as though Trevor really enjoys it.  Hopefully he'll have a great team next year and I'll know a bunch of the parents that I have gotten to know over the past 4 years.

Out with hockey and in with baseball.....Trevor had his first tryout experience a week after hockey was done.  Being new to the tryout experience, I had no idea what to expect.  Neither did Russ, except he had his own tryout history to rely on.  However, since we were young, they have really restricted the ability for parents to watch their kids try out.  I guess there have been parents who have taken it upon themselves to argue about a kid's tryout to try to get him/her onto a different team.  So now parents don't get to watch.

Before we left for Florida, Trevor found out he made a team with his best friend, and knew 3 other kids on the team.  That means he know almost half of the team.  He had his first practice this week, and anything I tried to assume based on the previous year's schedule is completely thrown out the window.  This weekend, the coach will be signing up for tournament/game schedule and he asked to send him any dates that weren't good for us.  His reasoning is that because the team is only 11 kids, if there are more than 2 of them missing, I don't know that they can even have a game.  Unfortunately, we did find out that this year (for the first time) their Bloomington team is hosting a tournament over Memorial Weekend.  Similar to the Bloomington Hockey tournament, parents are required to volunteer and be there throughout the tournament.  So this isn't one that we can miss, even if we wanted to.  Bummer!  So baseball will be a learning experience for us.

Gwen has been signed up for "instructional" baseball, which is what Trevor did in Kindergarten.  The alternative option for Gwen to play softball would have her on a team with 1st and 2nd graders where they keep scores and outs.  Since she didn't have any t-ball last year, I think she needs more of a less pressure setting so she learns how to hit the ball, rather than throw her in somewhere where she doesn't know yet even how to make an out.  Also, this way, if there is a scheduling conflict, I won't feel bad at her not making a game because they aren't keeping score yet.  Fortunately, we have about a month before baseball for her starts, so one less thing to worry about in April.

Also on the Gwen subject, she has really taken an interest in drawing and coloring.  She has gotten a variety of writing instruments and coloring pads which she does at least once every day.  She even wrote a note to hear teacher (at my request) asking if she could bring her sketch pad to do during choice time.  He approved, so she has been enjoying the attention she gets from her classmates when she shares her drawing toys with them.  She is still very happy with her Lego Friends toys and got another set for Easter.  I *think* she is done with all the major sets.  I have no doubt that they will come up with more....what a goldmine that stuff is.  Gwen found an older girl in Florida while we were at a restaurant that had a small Lego Friends set. She brought her sticker book about Lego Friends so she made a quick friend with this girl.

This month we also had our first full week of a family vacation in which we didn't have a major event planned.  Don't get me wrong, I love Disney trips, but they can be a bit tiring, making sure you get the most out of the trip.  Going to Florida for an entire week where we just had to worry about when to golf and meet up with people we wanted to see was a very different experience.  We did go out to see a Twins spring training game, and it was a very nice day for it.  It was windy and cooler than we would have liked, but the stadium remarkably kept out most of the wind.  #7 didn't play that day, but we did see a home run and the Twins did win the game.  We had three rounds of golf scheduled.  Trevor played two of them.  Gwen was asking to play golf with us, but I think it is another few years off before she is going to be able to make it at a nice course for 18 holes.  We did take her to the driving range and putting green.  She was satisfied that she got to use her clubs.  We found a morning to head to the beach to get some shells and to bury Trevor up to his neck.

My Grandpa turned 90 earlier that month, and we got to celebrate with him one day that he came over to visit.  It sure is nice to see him and for the kids to get to get to see him as well.  Gwen pulled out all the stops with Grandma Joannie as they both enjoyed basking in the sun by the pool.

But we are back home now, having had two baseball practices, primarily indoors.  Sounds like there will be a strong possibility that Trevor will be a major pitcher for the team.  Between my nerves and trying to get Trevor to understand the reality of what being a pitcher actually involves vs. what he thinks about in his mind, it is going to be a very interesting season.  After his first practice, he said he was glad to be back doing baseball stuff.  He has already started throwing the ball at the wall even though there is still snow in the yard.

Apparently, it is also the season for everyone to need new shoes.  Gwen doesn't exactly have a functional pair of sneakers at this point in her life.  She has many fashionable pairs of shoes, but with her feet outgrowing most of the current pairs, it was time to get a few new ones, and Trevor actually also complained that he thought it was soon going to be time to get a new pair for him as well due to his toes hitting the tops of his shoes.  So I just had a big box of shoes sent this week and T is only one size away from being in the same size shoe as me.  My mom was remarking how again, he seems to have shot up another inch in the past few months, so now he hits me slightly above my chin as opposed to by my shoulder like he did last year.  I was seriously hoping to make it until he was a teenager before he outgrew me.  Fat chance of that I'd say.  Now we are going to have to hope that it isn't before he's 11.

So anyway....before this post ages another day, I'm going to submit for now.  Pictures are something I haven't updated in a long while, except for the occasional mobile upload.  I have so many things on my to do list.  And the days seem to fly by.  Wherever will I find the time....until tomorrow I guess???

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A busy week for Trevor

With the changes to Trevor's way of doing things, as well as hockey and a few more events, Trevor has kept himself very busy over the past week.  This weekend was the last Bloomington hockey tournament.  They have a Minnetonka one next weekend, but the parents don't have to be as involved as this past weekend.  Trevor also decided to come with me to the Gopher basketball game on Saturday and last but not least, we had a baptism to attend and visit with relatives on Sunday.

Starting off with his school work and changing his homework routine and anything having to do with getting ready for school.  It started off rather difficult, but then was really easy.  Now we are back to somewhere in between.  I know I have to let go to the point of letting him learn from his mistakes, and I know for sure that I'm not oblivious to what is going on, I just need to point him in the right direction, when he asks for help.  A big change is talking about his results of tests and such.  He has gotten to the point in his class where he has met all the requirements of a 3rd grader and they are doing their expanded curriculum things like analogy word tests and reports on the current unit which happens to be Egypt.  So first step is to do the homework that is assigned by the due date (sometimes this might be studying for a test).  Then when they get the test or report handed back, we get to look at it and see how he did.  For the most part, Trevor looks at the test and says, well, I only got 6 wrong, that's pretty good.  Well 6 wrong is relative and since they don't have grades yet and are only evaluated on if they took the test or not, it is up to us to determine if that was a good grade or not.  So I need to put it in perspective.  If he were in middle school or high school and got a 14 out of 20, what grade would that be?  A C-.  That is a much easier thing to evaluate based on his own desire to get a good grade which then leads to getting into a good college, and job beyond that.

But that is the key thing that I know Russ is having a hard time with Trevor on.  It is finding how to motivate him to get what he wants.  For the most part, school comes easy for him.  He is taught something and he can repeat it back in test format.  But he can't teach it back to someone and when it comes to written tests, explaining what he knows and why, he doesn't do so well at it.  But they aren't graded on that part.  He does what is expected of him and that's it.  If it is something that is interesting to him, he will go at 110%.  He researches and wants books on the subject, he wants to talk to adults about what he knows, etc.  So if you ask him to take a test on something that he doesn't really care that much about, he'll do it but that's all you'll get from him.  If you ask him to do homework on the current math topic, he will do it as fast as he can and not put a lot of time into it.  So if he doesn't get an A on a math test, there really isn't anything I can do to motivate him to want to get a good grade.  It is something he has to want for himself.  With Chess or baseball, there is no need for motivation.  He is motivated to do as good as he can, so you will often find him practicing baseball in the backyard in the spring and summer and reading books or playing against anyone who will play him in chess.  When it is swimming or hockey, he does it because yes, he does enjoy it, but there isn't that motivation there to do better.  He does what is asked of him.  I don't doubt that like school, the motivation might come later.  But while Russ and I both want him to be motivated to do better, it isn't something we can will onto him.

Anyway...not to get too sidetracked, Trevor did have a great week outside of school.  He had his 3rd grade mallet performance.  That was a fun show to watch.  Every 3rd grader got to play a mallet song and sing if they weren't playing.  I know his piano helped him know how to play his piece, but man he really had a doozy of a song!  I think next year is the recorder performance.  I remember when I was playing a recorder in 4th grade.  I don't really know that I'm looking forward to all those 4th graders playing their recorders......

The very next night we had Trevor's First Reconciliation.  We had 4 weeks of prep, religion meetings, and then this one service.  He of course wanted to be a reader and of course we got the remark that I feel as though we always will:  "Wow Trevor, you really have a gift for public speaking!  I wonder what you will do with that when you are older".  To which Trevor thinks that after he is professional baseball player, he thinks it will fit in perfectly to becoming the President of the United States.  Anyway, they had 5 priests to perform the sacrament and invited the adults to take part as well.  Now, I had my first reconciliation when I was in 4th grade, and if I remember correctly, that was the first and only time that I had done the non-communal form.  So that night I had my second.  Trevor didn't seem to be nervous and I think got out of it what he needed to but it was another momentous night of our week.  

The weekend was primarily about hockey with a few other events sprinkled in.  Trevor had a really good tournament, as seems to be the case very often.  The last game of the weekend he scored a goal, but they said it didn't count.  The team and the coaches "counted" his goal anyway and he got the "lunch bucket" award for his play during that game.  I can't tell you how many times the parents were saying that we were all glad that hockey was coming to an end this year.  It is a long season and it would be nice if we got a break between hockey and baseball, but that just isn't in the cards.  We will have a week long break to sunny FL so maybe when we get back most of the snow will be gone.  With this latest dumping and snow day it is hard to believe that there is enough time for it to melt when baseball is supposed to start the beginning of April!

On to the last few weeks of school in March!  This week the kids already didn't have school Thursday and Friday, and Gwen was even off on Wednesday, but add in this snow day today and I think we'll be ready for school to come back again next week sooner than Monday!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Parenting...tough stuff

It really isn't anything to get worried about, but being a parent is sometimes hard.  You try to be the best parent you can be, and then get information that you are probably contributing to the problem.  It is hard not to feel like a mini failure.  Our school has been lucky enough to have had 3 seminars with a very cool teacher, parent, coach, and tutor named Megan Stone.  She also has been working with the entire staff at the elementary school to coordinate a complete effort from home to school when it comes to basically empowering kids.  Her subject is called Tools for Schools.  Part of it is learning and teaching your kids organization techniques, but also just to key the kids into taking control of their schoolwork as though it is their job.  Actually, school is their job but it isn't something that they can just sit and enjoy, they need to be an active participant.  Where the parents (and me in particular) can throw a wrench into things is how much we take over things for the kids.  I solve problems, I set schedules, I remind rather than let happen what will happen in order for the kids to learn from their mistakes.

So last week, I heard basically the same message from two different sources that I need to let Trevor figure things out for himself.  This is NOT to say that I ignore questions or talk through issues with him, just that he is the one that has to come up with the questions on his own, if he gets stuck.  If he forgets something, gets a poor score on a test, or makes a behavior mistake, it is up to him to figure out how to change it for the future.

One of the big changes is having a weekly meeting, just him and I to discuss the next week of activities and homework.  It is a chance to plan out our next week, have him sync up his planner and let me know what he needs from me.  We also chat about feelings, highs and lows from the previous week.  This week he expressed his fear to me that I was trying to push him out of the nest, basically.  He said he thought he would feel very lonely.  I reassured him that I wasn't going anywhere, but that it is better to learn these skills now, especially how to remind yourself of something important, rather than continue to depend on me to remind you when I'm not going to be able to drive you to your job and remind you all the things you need for your events in your life.  But it was at this meeting that it was very evident how dependent Trevor had become on me.  And it was also then when I knew I didn't do a very good job at teaching him independence.  Now I know I'm not the worst mother out there.  Today on Dr. Phil there was a mother with older teenage kids that she still flossed their teeth for them among many other things.  So no, I know I'm not an extreme parent.  But today, it was SO hard to bite my tongue and let him go without doing a number of things that I constantly remind him to do.

Another thing that we are going to continue to work on is open communication between his teacher, Trevor, and I.  Right now, we primarily communicate via email, and now that Trevor has his own email, he will get cc'd on everything appropriate.  The only thing that may not be included are feelings that he might be embarrassed about that he would not feel comfortable directly talking to his teacher about.  Really, when you think about it, what good does a parent/teacher conference do when the child isn't there to contribute to the discussion or make plans how to work on his/her own strengths and opportunities?

So here we go.  On to a new place.  It is interesting to me that when it comes to teaching Gwen these same things, I feel as though she is already ahead of the game.  Although she doesn't have homework like Trevor does, she is much more willing to take charge of her things she needs to do for school.  Trevor was much more willing to let me help him.  I guess it is just the natural differences between the kids, but hopefully when Trevor succeeds with his tasks, it will cause him to take such a big pride in his work that it will be worth the difficult learning times ahead.  Only time will tell....

Friday, February 15, 2013

I've been away for too long

Once upon a time, I said that once the new year hit, things would slow down for me/our family.  Ah....such was the case years ago when the kids didn't have very many after school activities, or even had school all day.  But that isn't the case for us anymore.  I was looking forward to Trevor having religion class this year and Gwen will start next year, but it seems to throw more of our time away rather than being a good value for us.  Not to say we will forgo it, but it just makes us so busy!

So there is school, Chess club, piano lessons, swimming lessons, religion, hockey, dance, the request by the kids to do their after school program twice a week, homework and their own personal play time.  Gwen is the only one with time to get together with her friends, and it always happens during the mornings that she doesn't have school.  She doesn't have as much time taken up by activities, but rather than being run to errands all the time, she prefers to hang out.  I think they would be more likely to get together with friends if we lived in a neighborhood where the kids were within walking distance of a good friend.

But what has been going on with the kids over the past few weeks?  We had conferences, and the kids got their semester report card.  Trevor's was not surprising.  He continues to do very well academically, and needs to work on slowing down...taking his time...and really understanding what is being taught.  He has a wonderful teacher, and we are so blessed to have her willing to work with us to find out what works best for everyone.

Gwen...well, Gwen is Gwen.  Honestly, I was shocked at her report card.  After her fall conferences, I finally felt at peace with the decision to send her early.  She seemed to be fitting in both socially and academically.  Now...with the report card, I'm still not understanding how she could be doing so well.  They don't have grades.  They simply explain if she meets the standards for Kindergarten.  If she tests above those requirements, she can get an "exceeding expectations" score.  It is the same numbering score as Trevor, the simply have different requirements.  I made darn sure to not compare kids, especially since I don't want to make it a competition.  These kids are SO different.  But it seems as though Gwen is meant for school.  She is in a wonderful mix of kids, she is being challenged, and her teacher really enjoys what she adds to the mix of kids.  She loves going every day and talks about how she wants to go the entire day.  Hopefully we can continue the momentum next year.  That will be a very tricky thing.

After conferences, I went to Vero Beach, FL for a moms only weekend.  It was interesting to be away from the family during a somewhat busy time.  3 other moms and myself decided to stay at a very nice spa/hotel right on the ocean for 3 nights.  While we had no interest in the spa itself, it was such a nice hotel facility.  The offered free coffee and tea in the morning, hot chocolate early afternoon and wine in the evening.  The area of the city we stayed in was really quiet.  We found out the first few hours we were there, the city motto was: "Home of the newly-wed and almost-dead".  Because it wasn't heavy honeymoon season, there were a lot of elderly people there.  While we were there, at the hotel I think we came across 3 families, one of which were from Spain I believe.  They were European at least.  We had such a good time, simply laying in the sun, eating really good food, or enjoying live or DJed music in the local watering holes.  However, even there, we were lucky to see 20 other people.  I have no idea how these places can stay in business.  I guess they depend on the off-season slow down when they have peak timing.  We also stayed a block away from a hotel owned by Gloria Estefan.  If we ever go back, we'll have to look at that place.  But really, there wasn't anything to complain about.  We didn't have to worry about the kids.  We could simply de-stress.  And I came back completely de-stressed.  It was SOOOOO nice.  Add to it a few hot yoga sessions and I can continue the good feeling for a few more weeks until we go back as a family at the end of March.

So while this isn't a lot of new information, I figure I'd at least acknowledge that I need to get back on the blogging wagon.  Its time for the annual not-exactly-valentines-day-celebration-but kinda..... nice dinner and a movie!  Yipee!!!