Friday, August 31, 2007

So Much Vacation

Well, it's been a while. Beth arrived and we went to Minneapolis. We had a great time taking the kids to the science museum. They just messed with everything they could get their hands on. At one point we found this great exhibit where it was a huge sandbox with water kind of running through it from some different spots. There were a few shovels and the idea was to create dams and rivers and watch how the flow of water changes. Very cool. Our whole bunch of kids climbed into the sand and they were all over this thing. Gertie pooped so I took her--all sandy--to the bathroom to change her, leaving Beth alone with all the cousins. When I came back I was told that they weren't supposed to be in there with their feet, just their hands. Well, we had seriously abused that exhibit, but no harm done. It was fun. The boys ran and ran. We had talked to Julie who thought we better leave by 4 p.m., but I said, We'll never make it to then. We did. Even Gertie. It was a great memory of which I have no pictures because I forgot my camera for the whole trip. I know Beth eventually took a few with her iPhone.

All the sisters followed that up by treating Mom to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater that evening. It was a celebration of womanhood through song (or something like that). It was fun to listen to all the old tunes.

The next morning we were a little worn out and grumpy, but we forged ahead to the Sculpture Gardens. It was again so much fun. The kids ran around taking in these sculptures. It was beautiful and fun. I'm glad we did it.

We stopped off to see Mom on the way home and then here we are. My living room was done. We put the furniture back in place. If I did absolutely nothing else all week long, I'd be thrilled. I love having the dining room back and the living back. I took some pictures so you can share my joy.

As Grace has shared, we found out that a friend of hers died while we were gone. That was heartbreaking. We went to the visitation last night and we'll attend the funeral today. As a mother, this is heartbreaking.

When we came home last night John and Gertie were coloring the steps and sidewalk with some chalk that Aunt Ann had given us. Gertie was covered in chalk also, but she was having so much fun. (I realize this is ridiculous, not knowing how to turn these pictures. I'm sure it must be simple. I'll try to get educated soon.)

I almost forgot to mention the kids' conferences. I had these ideas that I'd take the camera and get pictures of them, but when it gets down to it, I guess I'm glad we remembered the school supplies. They probably would have been embarrassed anyway. I am excited for both of them this year. Ethan's teacher is planning on sending him to 4th grade math. I have some concerns about doing it that way (like what happens in 5th grade when 6th grade math is in another school?) but my hope has been that he'll get some truly challenging curriculum in math, so maybe this is the answer. If it doesn't go well, then we can always reevaluate. I think he's pleased. That was a concern of his as well. When his teacher asked him what his hopes for the year were, he said, "I want to work on improving my handwriting and keeping a clean desk, because those things I never did last year." What a brown nose.

We went to Grace's conference with her homeroom teacher. She has been placed in honor's math and reading. My hope is that goes really well for her and she'll have many other kids who are on the same page now that the pool consists of all Austin 6th graders. We talked to her teacher about her concerns of being labeled the smart kid and how she wants to avoid that and her teacher talked with her and encouraged her in the best way. I was so pleased. I knew the teacher had probably been through this a thousand times, and she told Grace that everyone at this age tries to avoid being labeled. They just want to blend in. She also talked to her about the future and the reason to try her best all through school, and make choices that push you toward better preparedness for college and career choices if you want them. She also talked to her about there being so many new kids at Ellis that she'll have many peers just like her. It was great.

P.S. I'm determined to remember to take pictures galore when we go to Iowa City this weekend. It will fun with many to see.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


There was a girl in my class. Her name is Brooke. I feel closer to her now than ever before. We were never really close, she was a lot bigger than me and in first grade my mom would send me notes in my lunch. One day she saw one, she was joking, but she said, if i see another one of those notes I'm gonna punch you to the ceiling and back. it scared me at the time, but forgive and forget. we became pretty good friends in fourth grade, but last year, in fifth grade, around September or October, i found out she had a brain tumor, but i thought it was under control, and so did the doctors i think, but they didn't. she was in the hospital the last week of school. i didn't know about this until a few days ago. I hadn't seen her all summer.

By August 24, she lost control of at least one arm and one leg. I wanted to see her so bad, but by the time i found her mom's last name, we had to leave for vaccation. by the time i got back, she had died.

You might wonder why the subject is Jeans, you see, because of her religion she had to wear skirts and never cut her of the things she asked her mom before she died was "can i wear jeans?"

Monday, August 27, 2007

Well, I've been trying to write for a few days now. I get started and then I get called away or something goes wrong with this old computer of ours. Now all my news seems old and I'm tired of talking about it even though you've never heard it.

The new news is that Gertie woke up at 2:07 last night during a thunderstorm when I just opened her door the smallest crack to see if her windows were open. They weren't. I raced around closing the necessary windows and John raced into her room to comfort her back to sleep. I think he thinks it was the thunder that woke her up (which is possible, I guess). Anyway, he cuddled her and then laid her back down and she screamed for a long time, so he brought her into our bed, where she was wiggly, but quiet until she started saying, "Eat," repeatedly with enthusiasm. Well, I'm not getting up at 3 am to fix my toddler a midnight snack. No way. But I am pushover enough to get up and get her a drink of water, with the promise that she's going back to her bed right after. She guzzles the water. I take her to bed. She screams for an hour straight. I do go get her--she's standing up--and hold her in the big brown chair in her room until she falls asleep, which isn't long. I have to sing the whole time, though, even though I'm dead tired. Now I try to get up and put her back to bed. Trouble. Now I'm parked on the hardwood floor right next to her crib singing again. I can't believe what is going on here. I move to the brown chair by myself and sit there--still singing--until finally at 4:25 am I am able to sneak out holding my breath.

What was that? I don't know, but it better not happen again.

Today I go to Julie's to stay a few days and visit with Beth and my Mom and Julie. We're going to the dinner theater. I have wanted to do this forever, so I've very excited.

I think most of you know the ceiling in our living room collapsed when we were gone for our class reunion.
Our new ceiling finally gets put in in the living room today as well. I can't wait. This is how we've been living:

Yes, those are our huge living room chairs in the dining room. Each meal I fantasize that I've lost 40 pounds as I try to squeeze into my place at the table. The fantasy becomes much more difficult to bring to live after I've eaten.

Anyway, we're just going to have him put the drywall in and not finish it off yet, because we want to consider doing something fun with the ceiling. I have looked into tin ceilings. They've expensive, but a possibility. There are lots of fake tin ceilings as well. I'm not sure if they're trustworthy or not. The cheap version would be to paper bag it like it was before. I actually liked it. Any opinions or new ideas?

The big kids went off to play with friends yesterday and Gertie and I went to the multicultural fair here in town. It was fun. She discovered bubbles. I wish I'd had the camera, but no such luck. I have taken these pictures the last few days and talked all about them in my prior blog attempts. Now I'm just going to show them to you. They're cute. This morning I did discover how I could go back and work on my previous blogs. There they were, waiting for me. Oh, well. Too late.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

Well, if ever there was a night to babble on, this is it. I came home so excited that I could finally blog from home and use some pictures, but I couldn't get on. I'm still not sure why. But I spent much of yesterday and ALL of today working on this computer and downloading virus software and spyware software and we are so good to go. I can't believe how much of my day is sucked up by technical support people and downloading and running scans. We were a mess.

When I wasn't on the computer we were registering Grace for middle school. I am excited for her. She's growing up so fast, and changing. It's hard to let her make her own decisions about what she gets involved in. I don't want to insist she does things my way. It is her life. But on the other hand, I believe we (meaning John and I) have some wisdom to offer. I want to have balance. She was involved in every single thing there was to offer at elementary school. She liked it, to my knowledge. And she probably was too involved. But this year, it seemed like she was pulling out of everything academic related. She's a sharp girl, and I want her to be challenged and learn, and that may or may not happen in class. They offer a few extracurricular programs and I wanted her to give a couple a try. We didn't see eye to eye, but we worked it out. She is a reasonable girl. I am a reasonable mom. As our Heavenly Father says, "Come, let us reason together." I am parenting prayerfully, though. I want to do what's right.

On a lighter note, we had another little fellow over, Derek, that I was watching for a friend tonight. Ethan and Gertie, Derek and I rode our bikes over to the park tonight. We've had so much rain here. There is just a minimal amount of flooding in town. The sand was wet, the slides were wet, but we had good fun. When we came home I threw Gertie--the dirtiest of the pack--into the tub for a bath. While she was bathing, Derek's brother joined the crowd and the boys were "helping" Gertie scrub up. The floor was very wet, their shirts were very wet, but there were smiles on faces and we all laughed hard.

Now, for the serious backtracking. I am just including a little photo album from our summer so some of our family and friends can catch up with our pictures. I've never put this many on, so I hope it goes well.

This is my Ethan playing in the little league. He did very well. John says what he lacks in power he makes up for by paying attention, and knowing what the plays should be (even if he can't pull it off, he's aiming for the right place). He did well for his team this year. He took a serious grounder to the mouth one night, and made the play BEFORE he fell apart. True hero in my book.

This is John and I at my 20 year class reunion--did I say 20 year? I meant 10. I had so much fun catching up with so many classmates I haven't seen in years. I stayed up into the wee hours all weekend long. I asked, "Where do you live?" and "How many kids do you have?" so many times that it all blurred together by Sunday, but it was a blast. My class looks great, and everybody seemed to be doing well too.

This is my beautiful Mom and sister Julie as we celebrated my Mom's birthday with a lunch cruise this year. We just had a great time, despite the rain. Julie (my thoughtful gift-giving sister) got my Mom this lovely corsage. She was happy and we laughed and talked and sang "Happy Birthday." A great day. I love you, Mom.

When we saw Mark and I told him about my blog, he said he'd never do that because he doesn't trust all those sickos out there. I was afraid to put his kids up before I had permission, which he graciously gave when we saw him at Myrtle Beach.

So this is Zachary and Grace at the ball game in Greenville.

And this one is of Allison and Gertie at Mark's hotel. I love this picture. Gertie was hiding in the curtain, and Allison drew her out. Allison has a sweet heart and devoted much time to loving Gertie.

This is that beautiful baby that I was so afraid to travel with. How could I have such evil thoughts? She is the sweetest peach, and she treated us just right all the way to our front door.

(I have absolutely no idea how to turn this picture right side up.)

And last, but not least, my kids at Sunset Beach. I didn't take nearly enough pictures, but Tate made it into this one. We had such a great time relaxing and playing in the surf and sand. Thank you, Dad and Judy, for making that possible year after year. We love to see everyone all at once. A treasure and a big smile.

Junior High!!

today i registered at the local jr. high! I got my locker and registered for conferences next week, and i've gotten several comments on my teacher, good ones too! I am really not that nervous, sure a little bit, but not too bad. I decided to give tennis a try this year, but we'll see if i like it, as for the rest of the year i want to do gymnastics and track. I'm also interested in the school newspaper, stock market game, drama club, & this science olympiad thing. I'm at least going to information meetings for theese. I am also in orchestra and chior, wich doesn't give me a study hall, so we'll see. As you can see, i'm very involved, probably too involved, but i'm NOT going to be in everything.

My high today would be... registering for school, it's happening, JUNIOR HIGH!

my low would allergies bothered me quite a bit today, and that was just plain annoying for picture day, along with the fact that i had to straghten my glasses last minute, howerver my picture was great.

That's it today, I have to sweep the ktchen floor, poor Cinderella!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

We're on Our Way Home

Well, we have left the sand and surf for Minnesota. It was a great time of relaxing, visiting and eating--way too much. The meals were quite a production since we were cooking for 15.

It was fun to reacquaint with my sister Abby. She's a lovely young lady. I love knowing her as an adult. John was impressed with her thoughtful opinions and her sense of humor. Could it be that it goes so well with his? Anyway, we enjoyed you, Abby, if you're out there.

Beth's baby belly is bigger than I thought it would be. She seemed tired, but still fun to be with. She didn't venture out to the ocean too much, but when she did, I found her great company because I had to spend much of my time along the shoreline watching Gertie splash in the tidal pools and pile up sand on my legs (anything to please the toddler), and that's where Beth hung out. She didn't want to surf with the big baby growing going on.

We didn't get to see turtles hatch this year, and that was dissappointing, but when we thought of all the times we have, we still feel blessed.

Mark and Janine were good enough to host us for a late night overnight before we drove ALL THE WAY to Indiana today. Most all of it went well. I think there is even hope that we'll arrive at home late tomorrow. I'm trying not to set my hopes too high.

I can't wait to get home so I can post more pictures and get this going with a little more everyday life news. Actually, it will probably be less interesting than the travel diary, but such is life.

The kids are excited to find out who their teachers are and start school. I always love the fall when all the schedules kick in again. It's a good feeling after a crazy summer.

Pray for safe travel for us tomorrow, happy parents, happy kids. We're on our way home.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Beach Day

Yesterday we went down to myrtle beach to visit the cousins, now today they are coming down here. it's been pretty much a beach day though. I've been going over to the Casslers' to play card games every night, and last night Ethan and our cousin hunter joined us. like i said, it's a beach day, and a lazy day.

My high so far would have to be....well, it hasn't been a bad day, but not that great either. I don't think I can come up with a high or low today, at least not yet.

Maybe I'll write about our day with the cousins.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Just Another Day at the Beach

Well, here I am, sitting at the kitchen counter while my sister Julie runs the Beach-week Beauty shop. She's dying hair; I'm going to have her cut my hair, Grace is looking for a new style. She says she doesn't mind. Really.

We've been enjoying the beach. The big boys are into charging waves, boogie-boarding, hunting small fish in the tidal pools. That's only the beach activity. When they venture inside they are playing Pokemon in closet (we think this might be to avoid the younger kids), Playstation and board games and card games. They're having a great time.

Grace has been accepted into the bigger kid crowd. There are many teenage kids around here that are friends of my Dad's family. They have included her in surfing and even the late night games. She walked into the house at midnight last night. That was strange for me. She's growing up. Too fast.

Tate just plays in the waves along the shoreline. He jumps waves and falls into them. He hunts fish. He's got a big smile and entertains himself much of the time. He loves it. He's also built a super cool dribble sand castle or two.

Our Gertie likes the water. She'll go out into the deeper water with me and she seems to really like it. Mostly, though, she likes to bury me in sand a little, then she'll rinse off, then add a little more sand. I don't get to body surf as much as I used to, but I'm having a great time playing with her and visiting with Julie and Abby.

John has been running for groceries many times, and he's in charge of the feast tonight. I think we're having shiskebobs (I realize I have no idea how to spell that).

All is going well and we're having a relaxing and fun time catching up with each other. Beth has been cooking for us the last few days. She made picadillo, which has been a beach tradition for the last few years. We eat that up. She made something new for lunch today which was a noodle dish with other healthy things. It tasted healthy, but good. She's got a belly to behold and she's a little sleepier than I remember her. Can't wait to see that baby.

Maybe I'll try to take a few pictures today so I can post some. Mark and Janine are coming over for their vacation today, so we're going to visit them tomorrow. That should be fun. We're going to try to lure them to Sunset Beach, too, for a day.

Well, it's almost my turn. I just love a haircut.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

@ the beach-finally!!

we're here. the water is awesome- just cold enough to be refreshing, but you can get in without shivering and stuff.

The waves are great, in fact, my mom said so far, in all the years we've spent a week at the beach (4 or so), that this was her favorite day for ridin' waves, plus the water was warm.

so far my high today has been hangin in the waves, but i'll have to get back to you later with my low, it's only mid-day!!

I'll write later if i get a chance.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thar She Blows!

Just to back up briefly, this is our kiddos with their Great Grandpa. I love it.

And then...

If your dad gives you a dollar in the morning before you ride through the Smokey Mountains in the back of a minivan, and you use that dollar to buy two bags of gummy worms, one package sugar-coated, and you eat the whole two bags--minus one half of one worm (only because your mom glances to the back of the van and tells you not to eat all your candy at once), then you just might start to feel very ill very soon.

Your mom may offer to let you sit in the front seat, and you might even start to feel better, until she needs to take the seat back to help dad navigate.

Now this is when the story takes a nasty turn. I think it was the movement of crawling to the back of the van again, but in NO TIME AT ALL, he was screaming for the puke bag. It was ugly, it was stinky, and we ALL suffered with him. Gertie, who was sitting next to him, was very scared. She started screaming. Ethan was crying. Mayhem had broken out.

But John and I remained calm. We got through it.

We arrived safely in SC in time to make it to a ball game with the cousins. Janine bought the kids some delicious ice cream. (Ethan had recovered enough to eat it!) It was actually a breezy night, a good night for a game. I know we were losing when we left (early), and I realize now I have no idea what the name of the team we were rooting for was. It was a great time, though.

We woke up, had a nice morning before we headed off for our final day of travel to the beach. We ate lunch at Chick Filet. It was good, and we'll definitely go back (Ryan).

Heather bought Gertie this Magna Doodle, which turned out to be a frequent life saver--all except for the part about her not being able to erase it by herself, so I kept craning back to grab it every time she cried out, "Rase, rase, rase, rase." Needless to say, I eventually did what it takes to teach her to do that for herself . My opinions have changed about my little Gertie. She's not such a bad traveling partner after all.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Ain't She Sweet?

Hi there. I've been helping Grace with her post, and I just love this girl. I thought I would join her in her high/low post, which is a game we often play around the dinner table.

My high today must have been eating a great lunch at the Cracker Barrell with my whole family on vacation. Actually, the whole day was good, even driving in the car--again. We are relaxed and having fun and enjoying each other. It is good.

My low must have been...well, it's hard to come up with a low today. It hasn't been all that high, but it really hasn't been that low either. I guess it was pretty depressing to be driving along the interstate and looking at the temperature gauge to discover it was 111 degrees out there on the pavement. That is hot! Of course, it didn't affect me personally too badly, because, once again, I was sitting in the car for much of the day.

High and Low

Hey- we're on vacation in Nashville, Tennessee. Mostly today we just went swimming and tomorrow we're heading out to visit our cousin in South Carolina, then heading to the beach with some other family. Don't really have much else to talk about today. It was kind of a lazy day.

Today my high was when we had the pool to ourselves for a few short minutes.

My low was when I lost one of my favorite earrings, sterling silver turtles. They're my favorite because my parents bought them for me at the beach we're going to. Plus, I LOVE turtles.

I'm going to try to do a high and low every time I blog.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A New Day

Today has been a lazy day on our very slow trip to the beach. It was a day without driving, following a day with much driving, that went better than I expected for Gertie, and it didn't even involve drugs to induce sleep--in her or in me.

Yesterday we stopped off to visit my Grandpa, who turns 95 in a few days. He was looking great and we shared a meal before he shooed us out the door.

The kids have played hard today at the pool in the sweltering heat. Gertie and Sawyer made beautiful music together.

Heather worked with Grace to make this very cool book Grace plans to fill with her summer memories this year. Isn't it cute?

This is my first time, and the pressure is on to be creative, and I come up short. But I will forge ahead. Tomorrow is a new day...