Thursday, July 30, 2009

Snowflake is Found!

Anyone who has friended me on Facebook followed me through our Snowflake ordeal yesterday.

It was quite the adventure I must say.

To start at the beginning, Tuesday afternoon we came home from the library to find the hamster cage in about six pieces on the floor, bedding everywhere, and the hamster was nowhere to be found.

I was quite sure she was gone for good. My biggest worry was how to find a little corpse somewhere before it started to stink (I know, morbid thought).

I started painting our living room (stay tuned next Tuesday) so I had to move the couch several times. The entire time, Minnie (our cat) was hovered around the bottom of the couch. We assumed that meant that Snowflake was somewhere in the couch. But I was worried that I had squished her from moving it so many times.

While painting, I found quite a few "droppings" against the wall behind whee the couch was and was feeling hopeful.

Then Thursday night, our bedroom had a stinky smell and I made Steve (my hubby) search the entire bedroom, including under all of the clothes for our tragic end to the story. Thankfully, nothing turned up.

SO when I woke up Thursday morning trying to prepare for a garage sale and Deb coming over with two of her three girls, I wasn't ready for the adventure that was awaiting me in the kitchen.

As I let Minnie into the kitchen (we put her in the basement at night), she beelined for the dishwasher. Let me just add that our dishwasher stopped working about six months ago and the only reason I haven't let Steve dispose of it is so that I have more counter space.

After watching her hover, I went and filled a small plate of hamster food in the off chance that Snowflake might indeed still be alive.

I moved the dishwasher out to discover a good size pile of fluff, with droppings mixed in. I knew we were on the right track.

Then , I heard rusting inside.

She was actually still alive and I knew where she was!

As I sat at the computer writing a facebook update, I turned around and saw a little nose peek out. At that point, things were definitely more hopeful so I called Noah in to try to lure her out. He was so excited at the prospect of his little friend returning.

My next step was to call Steve and find out how to actually take the dishwasher apart. After removing a few screws, the bottom front panel came off and we were able to see Snowflake at all times, making her capture even more imminent.

After awhile, I tried lifting the dishwasher, though fearing that I would squish her. I proceeded anyway. While Noah lied underneath with a flashlight making sure she was safe, I lifted the dishwasher. She started to run out and Noah almost caught her when she ran under our cabinets right next to the dishwasher.

The end was almost in sight. She kept popping back out. This time, I grabbed two cookie sheets and formed a triangle to "trap" her and Noah was finally able to grab her and return her safely to her abode.

Later as I went to check in her, I learned that Winter White Hamsters actually "scream" at you when they're scared. I went out to the pet store to make sure this was normal, which relieved me since I was worried that we had scarred her for life.

At this writing, she still has not eaten, which again has me worried and she has also not come out of her self-made burrow all day. I hope she returns to her social nature in a day or two, and I hope she was not sickened or harmed in any way during her adventure. For such a little creature, she really has become a part of our family quickly.

Have a great weekend. It looks like it's going to be a busy one for us.

See you on Monday with my recap.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Help Me!!!"

Hi. My name is Snowflake. I came to live in the Wheelz household about three weeks ago.

I have been SOO happy, even though the queen of the house (a cat named Minnie) has been stalking me.

Last week, Daddy Wheelz came home to find my cage overturned on the floor, but I was smart enough to stay hidden in my little burrow until they found me and set everything right again. After that, Daddy Wheelz instructed Mommy Wheelz to ALWAYS put my cage in Noah's room and close the door to keep me safe from Queen Minnie.

Today I was forgotten as they left for the mall. Mommy Wheelz came home to find my cage overturned yet again (thanks to Queen Minnie) and I am hiding somewhere in the house. I am too scared to come out so I am just praying that I can be found safely and soon. Everyone in the house sounds awfully upset at my absence.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekend Top Five 7/27/09

As I sit here on Sunday night trying to put together a Top Five, I truly cannot think of what we did yesterday. Seriously, my mind is a TOTAL. BLANK It's actually a little scary. I don't remember yesterday. I think that's a problem. I think I'll go think about it a little more.

Okay, it's about an hour later and it took looking back at my camera to remember. Pretty sad, huh? I guess it's related to my first one below. Here it goes:

5. Sick Mommy
I get sick every year during the week of VBS. I'm not sure why. A couple of years ago I actually missed Wednesday, but luckily I had taught all the motions to the youth so I wasn't really missed.
This year, it waited until Thursday afternoon after the final morning of VBS. My throat started hurting so badly, followed by nasty sinus congestion. The sore throat lasted all the way through Sunday night, only subsiding with massive doses of Tylenol, combined with Benadryl.

4. Friday Bedroom Stand Off
It was just a VERY BAD situation. I sent the boys to their rooms to clean at around 1:15 in the afternoon and I told them that at 2:00 if the rooms were clean, I would take them to the pool.

I will leave ALL details of the horrible day out, but the short of the story is: 6 and a half hours later, Aaron's room was finally picked up, hours of crying had taken place from both mom and child, and Aaron was finally eating dinner and being tucked into bed.

Too many factors contributed. Remember the story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? That's how I will remember last Friday.

3. Playworld
Knowing that we needed to get out on Saturday after the SIX HOUR STAND OFF on Friday, we headed to Playworld to run off some steam. Usually we got to Playworld with other kids, but I was glad that this time we chose to go just us. Rather than playing with others, the boys actually played with EACH OTHER and I think it was good for them to really enjoy each other instead of all of the bickering that has been taking place lately.

While the boys were running around, I had thought ahead this time to bring some cards with us. So for two hours while the kid ran, jumped, crawled and bounced around, Steve and I played TONS of games of Uno, even altering the rules A LITTLE to make it more fun.

2. Noah's Personal Library
While hanging out on Aaron's bed for six hours on Friday, I had a very long time to think about come changes that could be made in his room to avoid this circumstance again. One of the thoughts that came to me was the need for another garage sale that I need to pull together very soon.
So Sunday morning while we were supposed to be at church (I just wasn't feeling all that well yet) I started an all out war against the plethora of books in the house. I sorted them into numerous piles, including living room (hardcover only), Aaron's room (Clifford, Little Critter, and Froggy books), garage sale, and Noah's room. Along the way, I rearranged (yes, again) and brought a small book case into Noah's room. While I returned upstairs to once again work on resorting Aaron's stuff, Steve and Noah set about putting the rest of the books into the book case.
Noah was NOT HAPPY about having to actually do work (imagine that?) so I told him that it was like having his own library and he had to line them up neatly in order to be able to see all the titles, just like at the real library.

He was indeed inspired and ran to not only make a sign for his door, but also proceeded to lead Aaron through how to "rent" a book from his room to take back upstairs.

1. Mommy/ Daddy/ Boy Dates
After so many sibling fights over the last few weeks, and quite a few squabbles between me and the boys, I felt the need to separate them for awhile on Sunday. As I have mentioned before, I LOVE taking Noah on outings with just the two of us. It is special time that we never get together anymore. Aaron and I still get time together while Noah is at school, but I rarely get any one on one with Noah anymore.
So while Steve took Aaron to the zoo, I took Noah to a movie and ice cream.
We saw Monsters vs. Aliens, which I really didn't want to see, but it was cute and Noah LOVED it. Some somewhat inappropriate bathroom humor, but nothing that we couldn't talk about if it comes up at another time.
By time we all got home, Noah and Aaron were happy to play together nicely the rest of the night and a good day was had by all.

The Week Ahead:
At this writing on Sunday night, I am still felling a bit yucky, but I am definitely on the mend. I am hoping that tonight will be the last night to take medicine to survive the night. My bell ensemble is starting rehearsals back up for the coming year next week so I have A LOT of work to do this week to prepare. There are two neighborhood churches holding VBS programs this week. I am hoping that at least on of them will be free of charge so the boys could go do that this week while I am doing bell work. It really isn't any fun for the boys to tag along while I am working. I am also hoping to see my parents this week.

I hope I can make it a good week with the boys. I only have a few precious weeks left with them before school starts and I want them to be great for all of us.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Until Next Year...

Another year of VBS has come and gone.

This year was definitely much more relaxed than any year in the past. The energy with the kids was very high, yet we leaders were very calm and the days just seemed to glide by. This was my ninth year doing the music for our church's VBS programs. Three years ago, the CE director and I revamped the entire thing, adding youth leaders and an actual bible study component for the youth as well. We also added in a Thursday night program for the youth to present skits of what the VBS was about, interspersed with the songs from the week as well.

Our Thursday night program is pretty cool. We start with a hot dog dinner, followed by the program, ending with the giant water slide in the back yard of the church.

Here were some of the highlights from this year:

For the past few years, I have ironed logos onto shirts for all of our youth leaders. They liked them okay, but the iron ons usually fell off and the kids didn't wear them afterward. This year, the youth asked if we could tie dye instead. I think the shirts turned out looking pretty good on the kids and I imagine we will keep this tradition next year.

Noah and Aaron were itching to tie dye as well, which I did let them do the second day and wear the rest of the week.

I LOVE this picture.

The favorite song from this year was "Get Down". The kids loved it during VBS. And it didn't stop after we came home. On Monday after the first day, Deb's girls came over for a few hours to play and the the kids were inspired to continue "getting down" in the bathing suits in the driveway after playing in the sprinkler.

I love the opening and closing every day when the entire group gathers in the sanctuary to do the songs together. There is something so special about everyone worshipping together. For some reason I wasn't brought to tears this year, but I still loved the feeling as much as always.

We added another segment to our VBS this year. Each group met twice with a Spanish teacher who did some Spanish speaking activities with them, including teaching them all to sing "This Little Light Of Mine" (there was a jazzy version in this year's song collection) in Spanish. It was so cool to hear 200 hundred people singing it in Spanish on the closing night. I think I might do it with the kids for Cherub Choir this year as well.

The favorite craft of the week was the lantern they all made. Both kids insisted on having them on as nightlights last night.

Here are the best smiles I captured from the boys this week:

Noah waiting for his turn at "Chomp, Chomp, Stomp" (Duck, Duck, Goose)

Aaron's beautiful smile doing the motions to one of the songs.

It was a fun week. I woke up feeling pretty awful Friday morning, but I tend to get sick every year during VBS week, so I'm, just glad I got through it without missing a day this year.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: No Title

Just a fun picture of my goofy little boys

Tackle It Tuesday: Noah's Bedroom AGAIN

Yes, I am quite the glutton for punishment. With the kitchen cabinet MOSTLY done, did I take a break from home improvement mode? NOOO

Noah's room has been a source of contention for me for awhile now. It has gone through many designs.

It started as a cute little light blue nursery with painted animals on the wall.

Then, it turned into a little boys room with white on top, blue on the bottom, and a border through the middle of diggers and other construction trucks.

But then two little boys started peeling away at the border during nap times and bedtimes and it finally just came off.

So I had registered through Glidden to receive a free quart of paint. Just enough to paint a border of red around the room to make the room a little more mature looking, but also more versatile as his styles and ideas change for what he want his room to be like. Unfortunately, once again (you'd think I would learn a lesson) I didn't prime first since I thought it would go on pretty thick and I ended up with even more color variances.

After a run to the store to buy one quart of red paint, I did it. It is colored enough that you wouldn't notice the old line (unless you knew it was there, which I always will see first thing).

So I did this all while home alone with Aaron and Noah.

The week had been HORRIBLE with the boys fighting and I just needed to take a break from them.

Noah has decided that now that he is seven, he needs to HELP with every fix it project around the house.

So while Aaron was up in his room throwing what ended up being a three hour temper tantrum about picking up his room, I set Noah to work.

I let him unscrew all of the nails from the wall that was going to be painted, and then I wondered if he really could handle a bigger task.

The kid never ceases to amaze me.

I gave him some spackle and he set right out filling EVERY SINGLE hole in the doorway and in the hallways (which will be my next painting tackle, hopefully soon). I only had to show him a few times how to scare the left over spackle off the walls. He needed quite a few reminders to take his time and not rush through the job, but I have to say that I really was impressed with how well he did and I am actually thrilled that I can put him to work on projects around the house.

Wonder what room will be painted next? You'll just have to stay tuned...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekend Top Five 7/20/09

Weekend top Five participation seems to be down. I finally figured out how to get Mr. Linky going again. Please sign below if you post about your weekend.

Here's my Top Five:

5. Harry Potter
I managed to make my friend's husband angry this weekend. On purpose you may ask? Well, not ENTIRELY.

I had to go grocery shopping Friday night and I invited Deb to come with me. They were also have in $1 root beer floats at our local Culver's and they're my favorite dessert of all time. While we were eating our desserts, we remembered that we needed to take my frozen groceries home. As we were driving home, I mentioned casually, "Hey, since we're out anyway, let's go see 'Harry Potter' " We kind of laughed it off, but then while I was unloading the groceries, I mentioned it a little more seriously, and sure enough, after a unpleasant call to Deb's husband, we were headed out.

Now, I am usually in bed at the time when the movie started (10:30), but I am still glad we went. For those of you who haven't seen it yet, I wont spoil it too much. But of all six, it may go down as one of my favorites. I found myself giggling more during this one, even though it was sadder than any of the previous ones. I had re-read the book a few days earlier, and I was glad I had.

4. Cinderella-itis
Please don't read this and think of me being a COMPLETE slob. We have a pretty yucky kitchen floor that doesn't come clean, even when I mop it. In addition, there were quite a few big spots where paint had dripped last fall when I painted that I could never get to come up.

I have been feeling mighty restless about my house lately (as you can tell from all the painting I've been doing) so Saturday morning while the kids were playing I'd had enough if the floor.

I took extremes and got the Comet powder cleaner and started out cleaning each individual 3 inch square of the floor. After 90 minutes, only HALF of the floor was clean, and it made me realize just how badly it had needed it.

I managed to get rid of ALL of the green paint splotches, and even some of the floor varnish that spilled back when we first moved into the house. The worst part is how paranoid I am about dirt dropping on the floor now. I am wondering if now that I did a deep cleaning, if the regular weekly mopping will make a better difference.

Once can only hope.

3. Children's Museum
I know this is on my list a lot of weekends, but this weekend actually had a bit of a variety.

As I briefly mentioned last week, we are really struggling with Aaron's behavior. He seems to be really happy or really nasty, with no in between. The NASTY seems to be around more often than not. While we were in Wisconsin a few weeks ago, I ended up having to take him to the car while Noah and our friends spent more time at the zoo.

So this Saturday at the museum, his nastiness came around again. After several time outs, he still insisted on screaming at me, calling me nasty names, and all around horrid behavior and I had had enough. So we headed out and sat in the car for an hour and a half while Steve and Noah enjoyed the museum.

But that NOT where the story ends.

I found a parking spot right in front of the museum and my friend Deb, who was there with her kids as well, called me on the phone so we could visit while the rest of the kids were playing.

Hubby decided to entertain me while I was stuck in the car. It was a riot!! He grabbed several puppets from the farm exhibit that is there, and proceeded to perform fun little puppet shows for me through the window, while Deb and I were continuing our conversation as well.

I don't know what we are going to do about Aaron at the moment, but I think there are going to be quite a few more experiences that Aaron and I are going to miss until we get this under wraps. At least now that my hormones are finally starting to even out, I am better equipped to deal with them and I am handling the outbursts MUCH more positively than I have been for the last few weeks.

2. Saturday Night Camp Out

Hubby is an Eagle Scout and grew up camping every weekend with his family. I, on the other hand, have NEVER been camping in my life (other than music camp in cabins when I was young).
Steve has been itching to go camping since we first met fifteen years ago, and is now determined to get the kids to like it.

So he borrowed a neighbor's tent and pitched it in the backyard. The boys had more fun playing in it all day on Saturday.

Then Noah begged to sleep in it that night. Saturday was an unusually cool day for the middle of July, but I decided that if Steve was willing to sleep out there with him, it was okay. So Steve set up beds for him and Noah and then brought out a little TV to watch a movie. (Yeah, REAL camping ). I predicted that they would be inside by 11:00. By quarter after 11, I decided that they may actually make it through the night and I headed to bed.

In all actuality, they made it until around 4 AM when I heard noises. Noah went straight to his bed and bundled up since he was so cold. BUT, Steve was unable to head to bed.

Guess why?

Little Brother Aaron who was not allowed to sleep outside wanted a sleepover with Mommy. Poor Steve! There was no room left in the bed for him and he spent the remainder of the night ON THE COUCH.

1. VBS Preparation
This will be my 9th year preparing the music for our church's VBS program. (It would be my 10th, but I sat out the year that Noah was born since it was only two weeks after). Three years ago, I revamped the program and decided to make youth lead the music, with me in the back leading them. I think kids enjoy following other kids better, and it gives another level of energy to the music worship time.

For the last few years, I have "made" all of the leaders shirts, which included printing, cutting out, and ironing logos on up to 30 shirts. This year, the kids decided they wanted to tie dye instead.

So after church on Sunday, we headed outside to dye the shirts. As luck would have, it started to RAIN, increasingly intensely, as the activity went on, but the kids still had fun.They each wrapped their shirt individually in a grocery bag and I brought them home to rinse and dry Sunday night.

After taking off all of the rubber bands and throwing in them into the washer, I can see the way they turned out. I think they are going to look great. At least better than my hands do after three washings :(

I will be doing more tomorrow, and probably a few more each day with the kids who come for the first time and by Thursday they should all have them.

The Week Ahead:
VBS, VBS, VBS! Pretty much it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Like Mommy, Like Son

Aaron cracks me up sometimes. He is such a little musician. Not structured by any means, but his mind is definitely an artsy one. The kid is all about any kind of musical instruments.

Last Christmas it was all about the drums

and the guitar

He is VERY big into conducting with anything sticks he can find, usually wanting someone to make music of some kind for him while he's waving his arms around.

He even has an ictus, for you musicians out there

And a few weeks ago at the children's museum in Illinois, he's added one more to his repertoire.


While most other kids run around just making noise with the little colored bells (that are tuned to the diatonic scale, for those of you who know what I'm talking about), he stood up holding them on his shoulders, just like he sees my bell group every week.

And played them with such a concentrated, yet amused face

that I couldn't help but take about a dozen shots. He looks up the entire time he plays, just like I TRY to get my players to do. And he is so proud. "Look, I'm Mommy!"

And how cute is my niece? TOO cute!

I know I will have to show these pictures to my handbell players at church. It is they who have inspired this four year old to imitate them so closely.

I wonder what will become of my artsy, free spirited little boy with the explosive temper, yet winning smile and charm. Although I will not rush time, I look forward to see where he will go in the future.