Sunday, December 23, 2007
We baked sugar cookies in the shapes of angels and gingerbread men and reindeer. I think some of them seem to taste a little like cardboard. My Christmas baking this year has all been quite jinxed. I have made Christmas nuts each Christmas for several years. This year they are still good, but just not the same. I think I didn't bake them quite long enough. Then I took on one of my favorites (and usually very easy), frosted pretzels. How can you mess those up? Well, I did. We finally scrapped the whole project. Again, I make those every year. They are simple and delicious. I overheated my almond bark. It carmelized. It was ugly. And I got grumpy. Not good. Then the sugar cookies...that is a new project for me. In the past it's been gingerbread men, but my kids usually abandon me and I end up decorating way too many little men. And I might add that decorating isn't my forte. And then to top it off, nobody really seems to like to eat them. They just like the idea of making them. So this year we tried sugar cookies. I like them better. But I don't know if I didn't refrigerate the dough long enough or what, but I had to add so much flour to be able to roll the dough out that the cookies lost some flavor. A lot of flavor. Tonight I was going to make chex mix, but John stopped me. I wonder why?
But back to the Spirit...the stockings are hung, Gertie has been making fast friends with Baby Jesus from the nativity sets, and she likes Jofes (or Joseph, as some of us with more developed language skills refer to him) too. John and I finished up some shopping this afternoon. I am so excited for the kids to see their gifts. I think in the interest of packing less, we're going to let them open several gifts in the morning before we hit the road. It will be Christmas Eve (morning). That's close enough, right? We never do that, but I've always wanted to have a Christmas at home, the kids waking up in their own beds to their own tree. Maybe this is my year...sort of.
We were planning on leaving on Saturday until we heard the weather wasn't looking too good, so we thought we'd bump it up to Friday, but then Ethan stayed home from school, so that wasn't going to work out. Today was so windy that we were concerned about blowing snow making icy patches on the interstate. Ever since we flipped our van that one year, we are a little skittish about driving in poor conditions like that. So we'll try again tomorrow. The weather is supposed to cooperate.
I think it's been a blessing, the delay. We've had a good time together. Ethan felt fine yesterday and today. We got to go to our own church this morning, and it was a very nice service. I love my church.
Oh, and John wrote our Christmas letter this year. That is a first. I'm going to work on stuffing envelopes in the car tomorrow. Unfortunately, it isn't a first that we mail our Christmas cards on the late side. Oh, well. That doesn't bug me all too much.
On a sad note, my Aunt Darlia passed away on Thursday. She was far too young. It was cancer. She had married my Uncle Joe the same year that John and I married, fifteen years ago. They made each other very happy and she had a lot of spunk. My heart aches about that.
And my step dad has to have open heart surgery on the 27th. It is fairly routine, so they aren't too concerned that the surgery is life threatening, but he's been through the ringer the last few years. And it's hard on my Mama too. I'll try to get up there to spend some time as he recuperates.
So, as it gets later and later, and I get more sentimental and more sentimental, I feel a heart overflowing with gratitude at the blessings in my life. I love my husband and children. I married into a great family. My sisters are my best friends. Jesus Christ came to Earth as a baby with a plan to save me (well, okay, you too). I am healthy. And so many things that happen to me every single day make me smile. I have joy. And I can't wait to see my little sister's baby's face.
So, Merry Christmas, all. This may be it for me, as I am about to enter the internet free zone for a stretch. God bless you.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The big reason that we haven't decorated is that the living room is spread out about the house again due to the ceiling work. The beautiful good news is that it is going to be done on Friday. John and I painted yesterday and today in preparation for the crown molding to be installed this Friday.
Of course, we leave on Saturday morning for South Dakota to celebrate Christmas with John's mom, so there won't be much time to straighten things back up (but I'm certain I'll do it anyway because I am SO excited to see it all finished off and looking good).
This morning John and I went to Grace's orchestra concert. I felt foolish as I teared up watching her play her cello. She is just so different than I was at that age. She likes her own things and follows her own interests. And one of them is music. It is bewildering to me, but I'm so proud of her. She really enjoys it.
Ethan just walked in the door from school quite upset about an incident that occurred yesterday during math. He presented me with a letter he wrote that reads like this:
"Dear Mom and Dad,
I got in trouble for spraying another student. It is true. I did it. I'm sorry, I saw a spray bottle with water in it. We played with it and it got out of hand. If I went back in time I would have left it alone and done my math. I'm dissapointed to."
Ethan is in a more independent math with three other kids, so they are unsupervised most of the time. I think they usually do very well, but not today. Now he's been told he'll have to
return to his own class after he gets his math lesson assigned.
We gave him a thorough talking-to and John is preparing to give him a viscous snuggy.
These are some of our Christmas pictures this year. I love these kids so much. I told Ethan that on the way home from his piano lesson last night. I told him, "I love you so much that my heart feels like it's going to explode sometimes." He told me, "Save some room for Jesus and the rest of our family."
So I guess I will.
You ought to save some room too. Merry Christmas.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Anyway, back to Sunday. Ethan had a solo to sing, and he did a fine job. We were proud parents. Gertie remained quiet (enough) for us, as well as those around us, to enjoy the program.
Then we came home and got to see the Patriots beat the Steelers. We had a quiet afternoon, including, once again, naps for Gertie and I. I feel like I do a little too much sleeping, but it feels so good.
John pulled out the old Strat-O-Matic Football game and worked with Ethan all afternoon to create all the missing pieces. (He complained about it later, but I didn't believe he hated it even for a second.) He loves that game, and up until Playstation entered the picture, he would play himself every once in a while. Quite the challenge.
This is our busy night with Ethan going to piano, Grace to gymnastics and then Ethan to wrestling. There isn't time for a family meal together anywhere in there. I hate that. But John was talking about making stir fry. I love that.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Okay. Maybe a bit long for those parties not involved in conceiving this child, but enjoy it for as long as you see fit.
I thought all you grandparents may enjoy seeing this essay Grace wrote for English and Social Studies. I liked it.
Why I am an American Patriot
“Give me liberty or give me death”, quotes American Patriot Patrick Henry. I definitely consider myself an American patriot, not because I’m a New England fan (football), but because I love my country and would die for it. There’s just one problem: they don’t let eleven year-olds into the Army. So I’ve resorted to helping those who have joined.
In the first grade, we wrote letters to soldiers in Iraq, and in second grade, another classmate and I got our letters back. That letter touched me in ways I cannot explain. From then on, I’ve had a soft spot for soldiers and their families. A few years back, our church started watching kids at the National Guard while their parents supported each other, as they were going through hard times. I loved it when my mom said we could go. It was fun and I loved knowing that I was helping. It meant a lot to me, even though I was young.
In World War II, women were more common in the Army, not to fight necessarily, but as nurses. People started rationing rubber and other substances, and grew “victory gardens” so more canned products could go overseas to the soldiers. In the Revolutionary War, many patriotic merchants stopped selling tea altogether to support the war.
A Patriot has many qualities. They are responsible, respectful, mentally strong, and bold people that are quick to think and do the best that they can to help and support our country, and our world, and they’ve done a pretty good job too. I mean, if Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t have taken the time to write the Declaration of Independence, what would have happened? If Abe Lincoln would’ve just ignored the injustice of slavery, what would our world look like today? If Franklin Delano Roosevelt wouldn’t have sent us to Germany, or hadn’t helped with the Depression, what would it be like? Patriots are people who try to improve life for the people of their country. Without all these people, just think what life might be like for you and me.
So I guess I am an American patriot because I love my country and support those who do whatever they feel they can to make a difference, until someday I will have the opportunity to make a difference myself.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
And, on a different note, Ethan came home from wrestling last night having been awarded the wrestler of the week. He was so excited--is so excited. This morning he was telling me how he doesn't think anyone at school will get it. I guess he's the only wrestler in his class. I think they'll be happy for him just because he's happy, but he says they won't understand how hard he's worked for the last 5 (really it's only been 4) years. Do you think he's focused on a little glory for himself? I am still working on this with Ethan, but I'm proud of how hard he works at it.
We had a child care spending account this year through John's paycheck. We planned ahead because I knew I was going to work those three months full time. Anyway, I overestimated the amount I should have put in, and we now have about a hundred and fifty dollars left to spend. Now we are making arrangements to take Gertie to the sitter so we don't "waste our money". I just think it's interesting that we have created reasons to take her (and really there are things that need accomplishing. I am going to help John with his sabbatical project a bit, and this allows us to work together on it before I fall asleep in mid sentence after the kids go to bed.) I am not sure I'm getting this out right, but I sort of think either option is sort of a waste. It's like when I'm feeling full at dinner and there is still food on my plate, I stuff it in because I don't want to "waste" it. Is that really better? I don't think so. But, I guess I'll just get to spend some time with my husband, pretending like it's a date--and maybe we can squeeze one of those in there too.
The phone just rang, Grace forgot her cello book for her lesson. I'm still in my pajamas. Do I fully dress before I head out this time? I think so...
Monday, December 3, 2007
Well, it's awfully cold here in Minnesota these days. We had a couple inches of snow on Saturday and then an inch of ice on top of that. Ethan told me on the way to school today that he can skate on top of the snow. "Dad didn't believe me until I showed him."
This is Ethan at breakfast. Usually a couple frozen waffles and an egg, fried over hard with a broken yolk.
And here is my Gracie. She got contacts last week, and I'm guessing she's clocked upwards of 3 hours putting them in and taking them out. And by that, I don't mean she's messing with them all the time; I mean it takes her many, many, many tries to get them in or out. She is pleased to have them, though, and she's persistent. I know she'll get better. We go back tomorrow for a check on how they're working out. Maybe they'll have some tips for her.
I am not a primper. Unfortunately, I don't primp my girls nearly enough, either. Grace survived her young childhood fairly intact, but I know I could have done better. I know there were many summer days when I just didn't even comb her hair. I just don't like doing it. Not for myself and not for my kids either. This morning I took this picture of Gertie trying to capture her morning rat's nest.
I feel like I've never seen anything like the hair that she wakes up with. It adds a good 6 inches to the diameter of her head space. My sister Julie says she remembers Grace's hair being like this. I must have erased that from my memory, along with all other bits of unpleasant parenting experiences. Anyway, this morning I gave Gertie a bath and had the time to fix her up a little. This means that I combed her hair. I started to think about it, and I hate to admit (but I feel like public confession is good for accountability) that I haven't EVER done that before. It isn't as bad as it sounds (I hope) because she's got this curly hair, so it doesn't look like it needs it so much. Well, needless to say, it was a bit on the ratty side, but she sat still and seemed to enjoy the whole thing. She's just begging for a little primping. I promise to try to work it in a little more often. Here is the end result:
Well, I can't seem to get in the Christmas mood so far this year. I knew that this last weekend would have been the best weekend to decorate, but I just didn't want to do it yet. Really, I don't feel like doing it at all. Seasonal decorating always feels more like work to me than fun. I know the kids love to get the boxes out and dig out their favorites, and I do feel badly that I'm not too excited to do it. Maybe we'll have to get it done this weekend and that will put me in the mood I'm looking for. I don't think I am Scroogy about Christmas in general; I do love Christmas. It's just that so far I don't feel like baking or buying gifts or getting cards out.
Okay. That does sound Scroogy. I'll work on that. I don't feel like that's like me.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Gertie cries every time we lay her down for a sleep. She doesn't cry a long time, but she cries. Today we tried bringing in a cd player and letting that go after we left. It didn't help, but we'll keep trying.
John made a delicious corn chowder today. I think we'll have it for dinner. I can't wait. We laid Gertie down for a nap and I watched an episode of The Office on the web, and then John and I took a hot tub together. We got to talk about all the things we like to talk about but don't have time to much of the day. I like that.
Grace got contacts and put them in for the first time yesterday before we went to church. She said most people didn't notice. She was so excited. She really is growing up so fast.
Ethan started wrestling and came home all beat up last night. He cringed when I gave him a hug. Wrestling is on Monday and Wednesday nights. I hate that because church is on Wednesday nights. I don't want to see him give up church, but John doesn't want to see him give up wrestling. He kind of goes back and forth, but it seems ever undecided. So here we go again...
Monday, November 26, 2007
Thanksgiving has come and gone. We hosted for the first time ever. I was excited and it was fun. John made the turkey, I made a cassarole and a jello salad, neither of which were perfect, but both edible, and Julie made pies. Delicious.
Heather and Ryan and kids came from St. Louis. It was fun to have visitors in the house for a few days. We ventured out to the SPAM Museum. (What else would we do?) It was lots of fun.
I love this picture of Sawyer and Gertie looking at the train.
I took Grace and headed down to Iowa City with my sisters and my mom. My Grandfather's funeral service was on Saturday. My mom has a good friend from high school that offered to put us all up. It worked out so well. We had an emotional weekend, but it was shared with so much family. I absolutely love seeing my family. I love them all, and it was a treat because some cousins that I don't get to see often were there, and their kids. It's fun to catch up.
We arrived back in Austin with about a half an hour to spare before we headed off to Grace's baptism. It was so rushed (and I knew it would be) that I wondered if it was really the right time to do it. I did talk to Grace about it, and felt that God would honor whatever circumstance she presented herself to Him in. It was a great experience for her in her walk with her Lord.
And look at the picture I captured:
This is ridiculous. That is our pastor's head as he bends over dunking Grace. I think I had it on delay for red eye, which is totally unneccessary for a shot like this. It is a once-in-a- lifetime shot, and I get this. Very upsetting.
John fixed it by taking this:
So, we've covered Thanksgiving, funeral, baptism.
My other highlight is that while I was away, Ryan cut Ethan's hair. I absolutely love it. Every time that boy comes home from a haircut, I seem to feel disappointed in the job they do. Not so with Ryan's handiwork. I would drive down to St. Louis for another one of these. My son is so cute now. I love it. Thanks, Ryan.
This was too brief for all I wanted to say, but I missed my husband this weekend, and I want to spend some time with him. It's almost time for bed. I am so grateful for my family--the one I married into, the one I created with my husband, the ones that created me, and all the families of their families. They bring me much joy.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Gertie swallowed a penny yesterday. John and I go round and round because he really fights with Gertie about what she puts in her mouth, and I'm more likely to just let it go. Well, not anymore. I thought she was going to choke to death. It was horrible. He's been telling her "Only food in your mouth." She was telling Ethan that the other day when he put something in his mouth. Now she says to people, "Choke penny. Mommy scared." She's got that right. I'm joining in the montra now. (And looking for a missing penny)
We are going to watch Grace in her Seussical musical tonight. I am excited. She has told me she doesn't think they're ready, but I'm sure they'll do great. Then the other thing I'm excited about is that she'll be done with one more activity. Now she'll be down to gymnastics, and the Christmas orchestra for church, both things she is very excited about.
Gertie just woke up, so I need to sign off. I had so much more to say...
Monday, November 12, 2007
This is my 9-year-old. We had a great time bowling. We fought and fought with Ethan to put the bumpers up for our games, and I'm glad he finally gave in. He thought they were something else (I'm not sure what), but he was glad for them when we got there.
I loved watching the kids wrestle with this heavy ball as they tried to aim it down the alley. It was comical. (Of course, I couldn't see myself as I waddled up to the line. I'm sure it wasn't much better.)
They gave us a tour of the back where the big machine picks up the fallen pins and reloads them. It was very interesting. They also gave Ethan a bowling pin. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
When we were done we all loaded up into two cars and left. Without paying. I did realize this, so I went back, but my purse was in the other car. I love these gracious small town businesses. They didn't make me polish bowling shoes or anything, they just told me to come back later. I did.
We came home to blow out candles and eat cake and ice cream. Ethan had a great time with Kory and it was a successful celebration.
Yesterday I napped. It was beautiful outside and we've got yard work that needed to be done, but I napped. So did Gertie. She slept about 4 hours and woke up in her all time best mood. She was giggling until we tucked her in.
This morning John and I are off to run errands. Our door man is here and he thinks he'll be done today!
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Yesterday was a full day. I finished up a 3-day jury trial in Rochester. It was a very interesting case about a girl that had filed a complaint against a boyfriend for terroristic threats (I'll kill you) and assault by strangulation. She gave the police a statement on that night, but when it finally came to trial (a year and a half later) she was very hostile to the state and "didn't remember" anything. She would say that she told the truth when she gave the statement, but reading the statement did NOT refresh her memory. There was a neighbor witness to an assault, but she couldn't identify who the people involved were because it was dark out. And the defendant had an alibi witness (his step mom) saying that he was at her house. Anyway, the jury deliberated about seven hours before finding him guilty. I didn't leave there until 5:45, having a 45 minute drive home ahead of me.
The exciting part of the day is that we had 20 junior highers coming to our home after a bowling party. The house was in chaos after a long day at home with the kids for John. (He did make a delicious beef strogonoff that I scarfed down the second I walked in the door.) We worked like a skilled team of busy bees as we flew around picking up this and that and getting the snack table ready in record time. The bathrooms didn't make the list, but thankfully no one needed to use one! Gertie made it to bed minutes before they arrived and slept through the raucous perfectly. They had a great time playing a few games and chatting together. I know it had been a long day, but I thoroughly enjoyed the commotion.
But after that I was definitely ready to veg. Which I did.
Today is Ethan's day. He had a small birthday party planned at the bowling alley (weren't we just there?) and then back home for cake and ice cream. He had only wanted to invite three boys, two of which were coming, and one was a maybe (but I think that means probably not). Last night we got a call that another of the buddies was going to be going out of town. That leaves one. Not the conventional idea of a birthday party. We offered to postpone, but Ethan wants to go ahead. We'll have a good time as a family plus one.
I am excited for this next week of no work at all. John has graciously given me Gertie duty for the full week. He wants to really focus on his work projects. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to win her back.
The guy working on our doors is almost done. That has been a frustrating adventure (when I wasn't looking for an adventure) but I'm excited to finally have it done. I worry as I write this that I may be speaking too soon.
My saddest bit of news is that my Grandpa died yesterday. He was my last living grandparent, and a great grandpa. I miss him already. I am blessed to have the memories he took the time to make with me. He was patient, as I remember it. He didn't like whining much (I'm sure I didn't do any of that). He was a man of few words, but I knew he loved me. He loved all his grandkids very much, I could tell in the way he talked about them all. We took this picture this summer. We were out at his old house after a hike. Grandpa didn't get out of the car, but we wanted to get a picture. I like this one, actually, even though it's a bit unconventional. I think it shows that he was a hard man, not affectionate, but that his family loved and respected him and surrounded him. I'm not sure I'm saying that right, and I'm feeling sentimental, but I loved this man very much, and I'm grateful he was chosen to be in my life. I've had great grandparents.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
We had our Halloween, which was a good time even though it wasn't the usual for us. We had almost no trick-or-treaters, so now we have more chocolate than I'd like to have on the premises. We trick-or-treated a few homes then headed off to church for our party. I think the kids had a great time with their friends. Gertie was allowed two pieces of candy, which she smeared all over her fingers and face, but thoroughly enjoyed. Not any great pictures, but I'll share anyway. My few pics of the kids out and about turned out blurry. It is ridiculous to me that I don't know how to use my camera any better than I do. In case any of you don't recognize an alien when you see one, that is the green-faced creature that resembles my son. The elderly woman in the center of the photo is actually Grace, and her friend Karyn is next to her. Gertie went as Piglet (costume donated by Cousin Becca).
We have a quiet weekend planned. I am doing load after load of laundry. It is scary to me how quickly it piles up. And yet, the socks continue to disappear. Very fishy.
Gertie was up at 5:13 a.m. this morning calling out, "Daddy, song. Mommy, song." Do any of you sing at 5:13 in the morning? I certainly don't. Needless to say, she took an early nap.
We have a man here working on fixing our doors, so our home is cold, except for the fire in the fireplace. I love that. And I can't tell you how much joy and satisfaction it brings me to have projects around the home finished off after I've been living with them for a year. It makes me smile continuously.
John even installed a new garbage disposal this week. Now if I could just remember that I can actually throw food waste into it, instead of into the garbage, we'll be set.
We watched Nacho Libre last night. I should say the kids watched; I slept. They loved it, and I was laughing it up a few times before I dropped off.
I'm going to take the boards out of our dock and see if I can help John get it out of the water. I don't think we should delay much further. I'm not expecting that project to go smoothly, but we'll see. Then I think I'll warm up in the hot tub. Aaahh.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Well, my 20-month-old daughter doesn't feel the same way. Gertie has chosen. It isn't me. I can't believe this is happening with the child I carried in my womb and nursed at my breast for a whole year. What is going on here?
I'll tell you. My husband is unemployed. He's not unemployed in an unfortunate sort of way where he brings in no income, sits on the couch watching football and drinking beer. No. He's on sabbatical. He still gets paid. And technically he's still got work to do, but he doesn't have to make any formal appearances outside the home.
Now there are many benefits to having him home 24/7. He is a help around the house, and he's available for watching Gertie when I want to attend a meeting or run an errand. He's getting some things done around here that need getting done. And I like him, so it's good to have his company, in general.
But I am discovering the negative side to this as well. Gertie is spending so much time with her Daddy that she is choosing HIM over ME! It is becoming commonplace around here to watch, but more importantly hear, her scream as she is passed to me when Dad walks out the door. It is not unusual for her to follow Dad around the kitchen crying as he tries to cook dinner while I beg her to join me in the family room. When I carry her off to bed she pleads for Daddy instead of me.
So if your husband starts talking of quitting his job or taking a sabbatical or even a lengthy vacation, start securing your position as the favorite parent as quickly as you can. Feed them anything they ask for. Brownies for breakfast? Good idea. Take them to the park whenever they want. No, I don't think you need a nap today. Let's go play on the slide. Don't make them share their toys. Who needs friends anyway?
And I don't think it would hurt to sabotage the relationship between your husband and your child either. It's not completely a bad idea to encourage her to color a nice picture on Dad's favorite shirt, or eat the last cookie he's had his eye on since breakfast.
This is war. I have changed a lot of diapers to earn my place in my daughter's heart. I won't give up without a fight. I can play dirty. Let's go.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I was trying to apologize to Ethan for being a bit irritable in the hot tub tonight. He thinks of it more as a small pool. I wanted to relax and he wanted to splash. Anyway, I apologize to him, and he says, "That's okay. I know I'm annoying sometimes." This breaks my heart. I want him to feel like he is safe and loved and enjoyed in his family and in his home.
We had a great talk after that. It started with him asking me, "Who is your favorite kid, me, Grace or Gertie? It's okay if it isn't me. I just want to know." Wow. I talked to him about my favorite things about him. That was easy. I love to watch him happy. Nothing beats it. And I wish you could have seen him when I picked him up from basketball camp this morning. He was so intense. All the kids were off the court except Ethan and one other kid. Ethan was dribbling across the court, darting in and out of cones. He did this endless times. He didn't look up to see if I was watching (which he often does). This was for him. He was working on improving his skills. He was serious. It was beautiful. I love his sense of humor, which is EXACTLY like his Dad's. They love to rhyme. Ethan's been rhyming since he's been talking. And it makes him laugh. I love that.
So I too am going to commit to engaging my kids more. From Grace down to Gertie, I need to stop checking out.
Friday, October 26, 2007
What is especially horrifying to me is that I had NO IDEA he had no shirt on until we'd been there for 45 minutes. How does a mother miss the fact that her son has no shirt on as they're leaving the house? As they're eating dinner?
These things happen to keep me humble, and to keep my judgements of others (and other mothers) in check.
I'll sign off.
May all your children be properly clothed.
A costume for you and a costume for me
I see cats, dogs, and even kangaroos,
Demons and devils and creepy things too
You could be an EMT,
Spiderman, Superman, even the Black Flea
A princess, a fairy,
Some cute, some scary
Bumble bees are the bee's knees,
Grab a friend and be parakeets
If you feel jumpy, hyper or cocky
You could find a costume with football or hockey
You could be a cowboy or cowgirl
or dress up as a giant pearl
Have you picked out a costume yet?
Better do it soon so you don't forget
Grace wrote this poem for a class and I thought it was pretty cute. Although I happen to know that she hasn't yet chosen a costume. We aren't very Haloweeny around here this year.
John takes him mom home today. We are sorry to see her go. It's been a good couple weeks.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Our day was a good one. I have a busy day tomorrow, but it's a good day for me. I have Bible study in the morning, volunteer with Ethan's class in the afternoon, a meeting later, and then church at night. I have crammed it all in, but Wednesdays are usually shot anyway, and these are all things I love.
And do you remember the friend of Grace's that died of a brain tumor right before school started? They are planting a tree in her honor tomorrow at Grace's old elementary school. Her mother requested that a few students from her class be present, if possible. (She would have been in sixth grade this year, and that is over at the middle school, so they'll have to be transported over, and miss a little school.) Anyway, Brooke's mother specifically mentioned Grace as a girl that Brooke talked about as being a good friend, and that meant something to me and to Grace, to know that, because Grace didn't get the opportunity to say goodbye when she wanted to. Now we know that Brooke knew that Grace cared about her. I just thought that was a neat bit of closure for Grace.
When she came down, I asked her to let Uma out, which she did, but she didn't even look out the door. So I said, "Would you check on her to make sure she's okay?" My obedient daughter did this without complaint, even though it was a ridiculous request, and it was then that she saw her Dad and her brother relaxing in the hot tub that she didn't know existed. She had a very confused, but excited look on her face. I threw her a swimsuit and she was out the door in record time.
It is a memory we get to share. And I hope we'll pile them up.
Monday, October 22, 2007
The fun part is that we didn't say anything to the kids. It was so cool watching Ethan's face as he arrived home from school on his bike. He walked back there and the guy was still here giving us some instructions. His smile was huge. He gave his dad a big hug and thanked him (like it was just for him). He is still smiling.
Grace was at play practice until the tub was filled up and the guy was long gone, so she didn't even see it in the back yard. We haven't said a word, even Ethan is keeping this secret.
It is still heating up. We're at 90 degrees now, so I'm hoping John and I can get in before bed.
We are going to wake up a little early tomorrow morning and take a quick dip. The plan is that Ethan and John are going to go out and sit in the hot tub at 6 a.m. Grace usually wakes up at 6:15 or so. I'm going to make up some reason to send her to the back yard and she'll catch them out there soaking in the new tub. This should be good.
Ethan is sleeping in his swimsuit!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
We went to the parade and had a great time visiting with many old friends. (The kids complained that there wasn't enough candy because we were at the end of the parade and many people had run out by the time they reached us. I feel like I saw plenty of candy wrappers in the back of the van, so I doubt their version of events.)
I've probably already gone on about this at some other place, but I love parades, and especially marching bands. There were many of those, and I loved them all. I love the way they march in unison in their crisp-looking uniforms. I love the music. I can hear in my mind that I'm repeating myself, so I need to stop, but it was fun.
Gertie has caught a cold so she is VERY clingy and whiny. She had a fever the first couple days, and slept horribly on through the trip, but she's slept okay since then. (This is her little sick face on the way home.) I have bible study in the morning, so I'm hoping she's feeling better. If not, I'm sure John will watch her, but I like to take her, and I think she likes it too.
We brought Marge back with us. She'll stay for about ten days, I think. I'm looking forward to having her here. We thought she'd get to see Grace play tennis yesterday, but that was canceled because of rain, so tennis is done. We'll have a chance at flag football for Ethan today, but it's a bit nippy out, and John's mom is allergic to the cold, of all things. In South Dakota it is often cold. And it's pretty darn cold in Minnesota as well. But that's where we are.
I started this earlier today. I feel like I just list off the schedule for all to read, and you probably don't care as much about the schedule.
Tonight Ethan felt bad about getting creamed in football.
I made John the Almond Joy dessert he's been talking about since he ate it almost nine years ago. I baked the dessert while I talked on the phone with the doornob guy while Gertie followed me around fussing and begging that I pick her up. I didn't get the cake out of the oven on time, so then I sent John to the store for another cake. I love that man (and he loves me now that I made this dessert he had to wait nine years for).
Gertie has been dancing while John has been playing the guitar for the last half hour. The dancing should be called spinning, because that's what it truly is. I love to listen to John play the guitar. Every time I hear it, I'm so glad he does it. It's never enough.
Well, that was last night, and I was waiting to upload some pictures, but that is a bust, at least for now, so I'm going to publish anyway. I'll try with the pictures again later.
And that was a couple nights ago. Obviously I'm having technical difficulties. I thought this was published. I have added the pictures in, though, and hopefully this one would take.
The only thing I think I'd add is that John and I took a walk tonight after Gertie went to bed. We had a great time. It was dark and chilly and we just caught up on the day. I liked it. I miss it. I want to do it often. We'll try that.
John is complaining that while watching TV, you are enjoying your show, and then the commercial comes on and the volume is increased by ridiculous amounts. Does anyone else notice this? It drives me crazy. I don't think they should be allowed to do that.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Okay. It's been waaay to long since my last post. I know this. I don't know how the time got away from me like it has, but I do know that I've been trying to come up with something worthy to report for several days now. I've even started to write, but I just end up deleting it. Things are going well, but I don't have any great stories to tell.
I'm forcing myself right now to write, because we are leaving for South Dakota in about forty minutes. It is Dakota Days in our hometown, and we like to go back for that each year if we can. It is a good time to catch up with friends. A lot of people seem to be around for the weekend. I'm looking forward to it. They have a parade and the kids always think it's a lot of fun. I'm not sure how Gertie will like it. The last parade she seemed a little upset at the noise level as the bands came by. I have discovered that I, on the other hand, just love the bands. I am not the least bit musical. I can't carry a tune, and I don't play any instrument, but I love to watch them march by in their uniforms and big hats, and I love the big band sound. It's my favorite part.
Grace won't be in the marching band, she'll be in the orchestra. I'm sure that will be nice too. I love to listen to her play the cello.
Monday will be Grace's last day of tennis. They'll have a meet here in Austin. And next week is Ethan's last week of flag football. I'm glad because it's getting colder out there in the early evenings. He doesn't seem to mind, but he's moving around. I'm sitting in a chair. That get's cold.
We may have a short reprieve before all the activities pick up again. I asked Ethan if he wanted to play basketball. He said he'd like to wrestle again. I'm okaywith that if it's what he wants (and it seems to be). It just seems like such an emotional roller coaster each year, but we'll roll with it, I guess.
John has fallen asleep on the couch for a quick cat nap before we hit the road. Gertie has fallen asleep in the chair. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. My guess is it's bad. I was trying to hold her off until we got in the car at three p.m. I guess she couldn't wait. I'm thinking she'll take a very short nap, and not sleep any more after I transfer her, but we'll have to see.
Well, I'll load the last few snacks into the car, and be ready to go before we take off. Thanks for reading, those of you that are sticking with me. I'm trying to get used to this letter to everyone.
Monday, October 1, 2007
It's been a good day today. I got several things accomplished, and that always feels good. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen every day. I am always surprised how long phone calling errands take. Can you make phone calling errands or does that make sense? Anyway, it seems like that always takes all day, somehow. I am trying to do some things on the computer that require a few calls to technical support. That takes hours. I hate those calls. You just can't budget enough time. Maybe I just have large, unsolvable problems. I don't know, but I'm still working on a few issues.
John is feeling a bit better. He'll have an MRI in the morning, and maybe we'll get some answers, or rule some things out. I'm glad he's pursuing it. He did make a delicious pot of chili yesterday. I'm so glad that I married such a good cook. I love to eat what he prepares.
Gertie and I made a quick visit to the park while Ethan was in piano. We had a good time sliding on slides while Ethan had a "perfect" lesson. We've been working on practicing, mostly trying to remember to do it. It's paying off.
Ethan and I are having some issues with his attitude. Maybe I should say I'm the one with the issue. He had a friend over yesterday and they made a huge mess of the upstairs. Ethan likes board games. I'm glad he does. But he took out about six board games and left them all out. Gertie plays up there all the time too, and she gets into that stuff. So anyway, I asked Ethan and his friend to pick up after themselves, and then I went about doing other things. This morning when Gertie and I went up there, it was still a disaster. I picked it up because I didn't want it to get worse, with the board games especially. The whole time I'm thinking about how I don't want to be a maid to my kids. I want him to be responsible for himself.
Well, on the way home from piano I was talking to him about this. I asked him if he thought he did a good job. He said he didn't know what a good job is. I said we have a problem if you don't know what a good job is. Then he gets upset and says that what he meant is I'm the one, as the parent, that determines what a good job is. I think this is ridiculous because he is smart enough to know when he's done a good job and when he hasn't. This makes me mad because he doesn't want to take responsibility for the bad choices he makes, and he tries to blame others. This is not a new game for him.
I told him he'd be cleaning up after dinner tonight by himself, and I expected him to do it with a good attitude, and to do a good job. He needed to determine what a good job was.
I have to hand it to him at this point, because he did do a good job, he did it with a good attitude the whole way through. He can really turn it around, which is also not a new game for Ethan. It made me proud of him to know that he could do a good job, and with a helpful heart, but also a little privately frustrated to know that he just doesn't care to obey sometimes.
Probably a boring story for many of you, I'm sorry. I just think it's so hard to be encouraging and discipline your kids all in one day sometimes. I don't want to ride him too hard, and I want him to enjoy his days and his friends and his home life. My expectations are high, but it takes a lot of effort to see them through. Sometimes I fail to do that, or I forget what I've disciplined. (That's one reason I think disciplines should be immediate and not last forever.) I want him to grow up to be responsible; to recognize his faults and turn them around.
I have to realize I can't always control his attitude, but I need to just hold his feet to the fire. I love parenting, but it is hard. It was physically taxing when they were young (and I'm in that stage too right now), but now it is full of decisions on how to best reason and influence and shape these more mature thinkers. I have to remember to do that prayerfully.
I work in Rochester the rest of this week. It's been a while, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to be working with the same judge that I worked for for three months. It will be good to see him again.
Patriots 10, Bengals 7. Top of the 2nd quarter. Go Patriots!
Saturday, September 29, 2007
(Oops. Sideways again. i thought I had that figured out.)
It's Saturday morning. John went to get donuts when he picked up his Saturday morning paper. We are spread out over the dining room table with newspaper, donut crumbs, laptop and cereal bowls.
Grace likes to eat cereal after donuts because otherwise you get a stomach ache. I agree, but I just live with the stomach ache. I don't know why we like donuts so much when they make us sick, literally. They are just so good going down. I ate a chocolate cake donut with nuts on it. I love those, and the cake donuts frosted with maple and nuts. Yummy.
Anyway, everyone slept in this morning. I love that. Well, Gertie and I didn't sleep in. She woke up at 6:50 a.m., which she's been doing more often lately. But that's really okay. I'm kind of an earlybird myself. We had a good morning. And I like the quiet house knowing that my family are all settled in with those precious sleep faces on, including John.
John back is feeling steadily better and better. It's hard to trust because it collapsed on us last week, but he just needs to continue to take it easy. Don't get overzealous.
On the agenda today is get Grace's room into order. The issue is mostly clothes. You need to see this. Granted, she is super busy. I feel like I didn't see her this week. She had a tennis match on Tuesday that brought her home at 8:30 p.m. Bedtime at our house is 8 p.m. Wednesday night she came home from tennis practice at 5 p.m., only to leave for church at 5:30. Thursday was another tennis meet that brought her home at 7:15.
I really miss this messy girl of mine. I hate it, to tell you the truth. I am happy for her to find things that bring her joy, but I like having her around. I don't know if this is just another phase of this journey into becoming more independent and separating from Mom and Dad a little, or if I need to pull in the reigns. I praying about that.
Ethan fell off his bike on the way home from school yesterday. Thankfully, I was with him, and he wasn't hurt too badly. He had a sweatshirt and jeans on, but he was a bit shaken up. He said his backpack strap got caught in his spokes. That was a bummer. Here he is loving up his little sister. Gertie calls him Egan now. She LOVES this brother God picked out for her. It brings me much joy to watch them together.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Anyway, she starts crying as we're leaving, crying hard. I don't know if she's just mad because we're leaving, or if she's hurt or what, so I ask her. She tells me, "Ouchie. Elbow." Then she continues to sob. We drive home, I bring her into the house and I do notice that she won't move her left arm. She is still crying. Hard.
I load her in the car again and take her to Urgent Care. By now she'll just barely move her arm, and I'm starting to wonder if I really need to be here, but when I hand her pink bunny to her, she only grabs it with her right hand. The left one stays stationary. Uh-oh.
Well, I am somewhat wise to this situation, because I am also responsible for doing the same thing to Ethan when he was about this very age. It is called nursemaid's elbow. With Ethan I was lifting him up by both his hands at the same time, and setting him down, lifting him again, and setting him down. He was loving it, until he started crying. John happened to be out of town, so I loaded Grace and Ethan into the van and headed for the emergency room. I'll never forget that as we were driving along, Grace said, "I know you didn't mean to hurt Ethan, Mommy." I was ready to be hauled in to jail, but the doctor didn't seem at all concerned. I guess this is fairly common. They just snapped his elbow back in place, and he was ready to go.
And that's what they did for Gertie today. She screamed while the "provider" pulled and tugged on her arm, but once it snapped into place, the pain seemed to have disappeared entirely. She grabbed her bunny with both hands again, and we made our exit.
I haven't received any notice that I'm under investigation by Child Protective Services yet.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Back to the morning routine, though. Ethan, on the other hand, will try to sneak the tv on or read a book, or play with Gertie or anything but focus on the tasks at hand for getting ready for school. So what occurs is I hound him CONSTANTLY. Have you done this? I told you you need to do this. Ethan, don't forget to do this. Ethan, you need to be doing this. It truly is ridiculous. Someone was telling me the other day about the mother that was waking her son up so he'd get to college on time. She thought that was ridiculous, and so do I. However, I feel like I can see myself doing that if I keep up this same pattern. Now, I realize he is only eight. There is a lot of life between now and then, but I am thinking I need a new strategy. We (Ethan and I) tried to create a chore chart from a template on Works. Well, we had two extra chores to add, and it was messing the whole thing up. Finally, I gave up. I know that's pathetic. You'd think I'd just get out a magic marker and a piece of paper. Not so. Maybe I better do that tonight.
Anyway, John and I had a great morning. John's back was feeling better for the second day in a row, so we tackled some yard work. He pruned the roses back, they needed it badly. Then he moved on to the garage. It's been needing some reorganizing. He was feeling so good that he could accomplish some things.
Ethan's school called us at about 1:15 to tell us that Ethan's braces were broken. John went to pick him up and I took him over to the orthodontist. She fixed them in about 4 seconds, after waiting about twenty minutes. The wait provided just enough time for Ethan to beat me 4 out of 7 games of tic-tac-toe. I was trying to win. I couldn't believe it.
We arrived home in good time to practice piano before his lesson. As we came home from his lesson, John was taking the homemade fries (I love those) out of the oven. Something in his back snapped and he is back to square one with pain. He tried to eat with us, but it wasn't pretty. He's been icing and heating, popping pills and trying to walk around, but this is so discouraging to him. I think he might have pushed too hard today. Please pray for him.
Grace was so concerned because the play tryouts were after school today, and she also didn't want to miss tennis practice the day before the meet tomorrow. I guess that all worked out well, too. She was able to audition first and then get off to tennis. Their last meet was rained out, and it doesn't look too promising for tomorrow either. We shall see. I did call the tennis coach last week to talk about his plans for the meet that ended up getting rained out. He said he was planning on pairing Grace with a more experienced player this time, and also maybe talking to the opposing coach to see if they could accommodate her inability to serve yet. (No other schools include the sixth grade in their program.) It was a good conversation. I just wanted to know what he was thinking. We'll see how it goes.
John had rented Syriana from the library. We are going to try to watch it. I just remember falling asleep at the beach house while watching it, waking up confused, and those that stayed awake said they were confused as well. I want to try again, though.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
We arrived home in time so that Gertie and I could ride over to pick Ethan up from school on my bike. I had been working so hard with him when we'd go in the morning to make sure that he knew where he was going so that he could ride by himself if he needed to. Well, yesterday he needed to. He made it to school just fine...it was the coming home. I guess he got lost. I'm not sure how lost because I was napping (I love napping), but I figured we must need to review the return trip route as well (even though it's the same as the route he takes on the way to school, just in the reverse). He led the way, and figures he now understands where he went wrong. I love that kid.
Gertie played in her new sandbox, which she LOVES. She stands at the back door and asks for "box, sand, box, sand" and then gets quite upset with me when I say no. So I said yes this time.
And then she did it. She made the stress face right while I was snapping pictures. She's been doing this since she was so tiny. It is very strange, and now she'll do it on command every once in a while, but this one was voluntary. Notice the little fists that go along with it. Strange child.
Well, shortly after this picture was taken we raced off to football with Ethan. He is fun to watch, he's so serious about football. I love it--
and yes, I also love to chat with all the other moms that deliver their strapping young boys to the field to burn up energy. We have a good time.
I took this video mostly with my Dad in mind, but he'll probably never see it. I know it will be grainy, but look for Ethan, he's the center, and he sticks with the blocking to the end. They were just scrimmaging, so it isn't a real game. Maybe if this is works out, I'll try to get a good piece of game footage when it comes along.
And last, but not least, as I've been down here blogging, thinking my kids are all in bed, Grace comes in to show me the t-shirt she just decorated for school and the homecoming football game tomorrow night. I love it, and I hope you do too.
So, my husband is relaxing on the couch with a football game on the tv. The homework is done, the teeth are brushed, the kitchen is clean (well, sort of) and I have kicked off my shoes and I'm playing on the computer. Life is good.
I thank God for these moments. I thank Him for the way His Word convicts my heart right after I lose my cool with my son who wants a second bowl of mush when there are six minutes to bed, then he adds too much water so he won't eat it.
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14
Saturday, September 15, 2007
my mom gave a bit of an update on me. I know you might want to hear my opinion on tennis, but I'm not talking about it any more.
anyway, today Ethan had his football clinic. we also played a little mini-football after we took a short walk with my dad (he's still feeling poorly). Gertie was enjoying watching her bro
go crazy, but then she decided to join in. these were taken right after our workout.
I have been so busy with school until 3:00, sports until 5, and then homework!!! school has been fun though. i like most of my classes, like most of my classmates and teachers, school is more challenging too. overall things are going well though.
i also started Sunday school and youth group this year. I am having a ton of fun. I've started getting up at 6 am to do a bible study with my mom, and i like it so much.
it feels so good to be blogging, but i have to go to bed. I'll try to write again soon.
She still won't drink milk, and the doctor even suggested trying chocolate milk, but to add it at home to whole milk. So far the only chocolate milk she'll drink is skim from the store. Her doctor said we're definitely not worried about extra calories at this point. I just worry about the habits forming. I will try it.
Gertie is talking up a storm, and even making lots of short sentences now. She is fun to hang out with. She'll try any word she hears. I like that girl.
Well, on to John. His back has been pretty bad ever since we left the beach, and he's even gone to the doctor once since we've been back, but yesterday, he couldn't walk. It seems different this time because it seems to be getting worse, not better, like it usually does. We took him in to urgent care and they gave him a shot that helped a little, at least he could move. They prescribed him a different pain killer and want to keep him on the anti-inflammatories. The new thing is they said they'd send him to the pain clinic to see if they could help, or even send him to a back specialist. He chose to start with the pain clinic. He truly doesn't have a lot of hope that they'll be able to help, but I think it's worth looking into. We'll see where it goes.
Grace went to the football game with some friends last night. She is growing up, and I miss her. She was going to go to the game with her dad, but that wasn't going to happen. I did love that she took some notes so she could update him when she came home. When she walked in the door, she pulled a notebook out of her pocket and read to us that the opposing team declined two penalties in the first quarter, and Austin declined one. Then she said she really didn't do too great a job watching the game for what was going on. I can relate.
Anyway, I'm resolved to actually take some pictures today. Ethan goes to a football clinic this morning to kick off flag football. He is fired up. I'll take a picture or two. Maybe I'll post again.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
This afternoon Grace had her first tennis match. It was about an hour away, but I really wanted to be there to support her, so I took Ethan and rode along with another friend and tennis mom. We watched her daughter play and had a good time. I was starting to wonder if Grace was going to get to play, when there she appeared. It was a hard game for her. Both she and her partner weren't very good, and they had never played a game before. They were badly beat. As her mom, it was hard to watch because I knew she was having such a hard time of it, but she persevered. I am so proud of her. She isn't even tempted to give up on tennis.
We didn't get home until after 8 o'clock, and that's usually bedtime. Grace hadn't had a chance to practice cello or to work on homework, thankfully there wasn't much. This night just flew by, but they're tucked into bed now, sleeping soundly I hope.
Grace's allergies are so bad right now you wouldn't believe it. She is ENDLESSLY sneezing and blowing her nose. Her meds are in the mail, but it isn't soon enough. I think that made the day even more frustrating for her.
I'm ready to hit the pillow. My heart feels anxious about how my Grace is doing tonight. I am thankful to God for these growing pains, though. I pray I'll be what she needs in a mother and she'll learn to lean on Him when her heart is aching.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I worked in Rochester today. It was fairly uneventful, except the day was cut short. That is always a blessing to me. I do actually like working sometimes, but I always feel happy when something cancels or gets cut short.
Ethan had a piano lesson. I don't know what to make of that kid. He seems to like piano. He never says he hates it. But I have to remind him to practice, and I don't always remember. So he is pretty inconsistent at his lessons. Some weeks he does well, and some weeks, not so much. His teacher is very patient, though.
Gertie found a piece of chalk in the house and colored the kitchen floor blue, the dining room floor blue, and the screen door blue. All this occurred while we were all floating around the kitchen cleaning up and doing homework and things like that. I don't know where she found it or how she got away with it. So many places. She loves to color so much that I am in a state of constant paranoia that she's going to find a pen or pencil or crayon laying around (yes, that happens in my house!) and she'll go for the walls. I just know it is coming.
Anyway, I'm tempted to erase this post. I read it and it's really not worth writing down. Some days nothing really noteworthy seems to happen. Maybe those days I should just let it go. I am thankful for ordinary life. I like the way this day has gone. It's been uneventful, but Gertie was in a good mood. John and I snuck away to take his mower into Sears. (Yeah. It sort of felt like a date). I worked and saw a good friend in Rochester that I don't see much anymore. A good uneventful day.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I ask that on the way home I could be picked up, unless it is inconvenient (Mom works or something).
The reasons for my request are:
· I stand outside for 20 minutes in a hot, orange vest, and when I’m already sweaty, walking home is too much.
· It cuts into my time for daily activities.
· Ethan and I argue all the time, so we decide that it’s best not to talk to each other, and it gets boring.
· It gives me a headache in the sun.
Thus, I ask, in best interests of me and Ethan, if there is any possibility we can be picked up.
Please sign below in agreement.
John x ___________________________________
Ethan x___________________________________Jessica x__________________________________
Okay. This is no longer in effect, but as I was transferring documents and cleaning up the computer files I came across this. Last year Grace had to walk home from school with Ethan several times, and it wasn't going that well, for the very well-articulated reasons stated above. The reason she had to stand outside for twenty minutes is because she was on Patrol, where they assist the kids in crossing the street after school. Anyway, we were enjoying it again, and thought you may as well.
Friday, September 7, 2007
just thought i'd give an update. School for me and Ethan started on the 4th. Every class is good. bun i am just SO happy to be back in school. My back is starting to hurt though. but we're working on a solution.
Beth is here. She has set me up so I'm wireless on my new laptop and she's been transferring files all day. It is heaven. I feel so like you now, Heather. John is worried I'll get carried away. I swear I won't.
In other news, the kids have completed their first week of school. All went well. I'm glad the weekend is here and the week was a short one. I have missed the kids. Grace has expressed a few times that she misses her family. She is at tennis until almost 5 p.m. every day. I miss her. By the time she comes home, eats dinner, does homework, prepares for the next day (which is an exhausting task, if you know Grace) it's pretty much time for bed.
My mom is coming down this weekend to join Beth and the rest of us. It should be a good time. We have nothing special planned, but I'm still looking forward to it. I finally put my suitcase away this morning. I don't want to go anywhere for a while.
John declared that this morning, for the first time, he feels like he has nothing to do. A new feeling. I'm sure it will be fleeting. I think he meant mostly in relation to work, though. I like having him home, but find it strange that we do so much running around and projects and errands that it seems like we hardly really see each other most days. I don't like that.
Well, Grace just got home, so I'm signing off. Quality time.