Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Hurts

You know the kids are playing with all their might when they come away from the fun worse for the wear.

Well...not really.

Both kids managed to secure small "ouchies" during the family celebrations last week.

During my family Thanksgiving, the movie Mamma Mia came on the television and craziness erupted as all of the cousins (along with Grandma and later Grandpa) began to dance, spin jump, and otherwise LIVE the music. They were having so much fun and it was just awesome.

Unfortunately, my little Drama Boy stepped up onto a stool, only to fall off a minute later and bump his head. During all of the merriment, this is what Aaron became in the corner. Luckily, a hug and a bath in Grandma's tub remedied the situation quite nicely. Yes, I am am that mom who takes a picture of her crying child. Bad Mom!

Then, two days later it was Noah's turn. Unlike my family, where there are a ton of kids, but almost all are pretty close in age, Steve's family has clumps of kids in each age group, which is always a struggle to find common ground with them.

They did though, through the help of a trampoline. G, my oldest nephew, managed to get the four little ones (my boys and their cousins the exact same age) to lie on their back while he jumped as high as he could to make them fly into the air. It scared me to death but the kids were having a blast so I decided to just keep quiet and take pictures.

While I was taking pictures, I noticed Noah looking strange in this one but didn't think much of it since he just kept on playing.

About 45 minutes later when the kids all came in, I finally saw the damage from his collision with his knee during one of his "flights". He refused to let me put ice on it and I was sure by Monday morning it would be a full fledged black eye. Luckily, it just became a scrape and that's about it.

So my kids came home from holiday gatherings with battle wounds but happy memories of fun times with cousins. I am so glad that they have cousins to grow up with as friends rather than just relatives that they see a couple times a year.

I hvae so much to share about things that have been happening, but I'll save it for another day. Have a great Tuesday or if you're like me, whatever day you get around to reading this :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Noah's Santa Theory

So I have so much to tell you about that has happened since my last post. But I'm going to pace myself.

I'll start with the newest Santa thoughts in the Wheelz home.
I have been quite convinced that Noah no longer believes in Santa. He really stopped in Kindergarten when some Jehovah's Witness kids in his class made it very clear that the idea of Santa was evil (yeah, thanks a lot). But he has generally gone along with it, since believing in Santa means presents from both the big red guy AND mom and dad.

Last year he had given up believeing, but a little unintentional trickery with the lights timer changed his mind and he was absolutely convinced.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when the authenticity of the Jolly Elf was again discussed. I have never actually told the kids that Santa is real but I have also never done anything to discourage the thought either. And we do visit him each year, just for the fun photo.

So I took the boys to see Santa last week. I picked Noah up from his half day of school and we headed to the mall for lunch and then the Big Visit. About five minutes before we went, I took the boys in to use the "family" bathroom and they started a little fight about something. I have no idea what. I managed to get it under control and we headed over to the "North Pole". There was no wait and the boys walked right up to him and settled in on his lap.

Christmas, 2008

Santa asked them what they wanted and then looked at me as he continued to talk. He told the boys that his elves had told him that they had been fighting a lot lately and that they needed to stop. The boys were amazed! I suppose any human can see a mom with two boys close in age and assume that there are daily sibling battles, but all the boys saw was that there really are elves watching them and reporting back. Noah asked for his Star Wars legos and Aaron asked for his drum set and we went on our merry way.

Now, fast forward to Saturday night at our family Christmas. Noah got a hold of my niece's DS and played with it for at least an hour. On the way home from the gathering, Noah wanted to know if he could change what he asked Santa for so he could get a DS instead.

I told him that he would have to write a new letter, hoping to keep him working on his writing skills. (I'm always looking for ways to get him to practice writing of the things that came up in his conference last month).

Tonight before bed, this was his answer...

"Mommy, I don't have to write a new letter to Santa. If his elves knew that we were fighting, then they heard me say I want a DS instead of legos. They'll get the message back to him"

I guess I can't argue with that logic. And the authenticity of Santa remains true for yet another year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday: Getting Ready For The Holidays Pt. 1

So everyone knows that Steve and I are "Christmas People." We love the holidays and get so excited about it every year. We even got married four days before Christmas and love going out for our anniversary and doing stocking stocking shopping for each other that night.

So with the personal turmoil we are in the midst of, I decided that I NEEDED Christmas even earlier than usual this year. It was warm out a few weeks ago so I took advantage and got (almost) all of the lights up on the house. Steve told me I couldn't light them yet. But I kept at him and we finally turned them on last week. Our house looks like a landing strip coming down the street since we're the only ones lit up, but that's okay.

Because I went psycho with painting a few months ago, our living room looks so nice now that I have been looking forward to adding some "festive" touches this year.

We leave one lighted garland up all year round along the top of the hutch. Kind of our way to keep Christmas all year long.

But I hung the stockings

pulled out the "play" nativity

Started pulling out the "real" nativity, but I am actually pacing myself on that one and only adding a piece every few days. It's driving Aaron crazy.

I have been after Steve for the entire time we've been in this house (7 years) to hang two sconces that I got as a gift from my mom in the living room. He finally did it a few weeks ago and I was very happy.

But I felt they needed a little more during my holiday mania. So I went to the store, planning to buy candle rings. I got dismayed when I found that the darn things were $5 apiece. No way! So I went to Michael's last weekend when everything was on sale and bought a long piece of (fake) poinsettia garland. When I got home, I broke out the glue gun and came up with these.

We've also had another quandary with the silly cat. Up until now, I have had the curtains in the front held back by ties with little fringe dangling. For some reason, the cat has decided that they are her favorite TOY and we have been finding them all over the house and then the tassels are getting destroyed as well.

So I had a ton of the garland left. Breaking out the handy glue gun again, I made holiday tie backs. I know they're a little on the "gaudy" side, but don't most beautiful holiday displays have a little bit of "over the edge" to them anyways?

I also decided when Noah was in Kindergarten that even though they bring home all kinds of "art projects" during the holidays, there is usually one that is their best work and I am going to pick one piece of "art" from each kid each year to keep with the Christmas stuff to display each year. All the rest will go into their keepsake bins. So I have a wall hanging of Noah's hands from Kindergarten, a sequin tree from last year and a stocking from Aaron from last year. I thought it would be fun to put some of them on the front window.

So this is the start to the decorating of the the Wheelz home. You'll notice...not tree yet. For the first time since Noah was born, we decided we are going to not only get a REAL tree this year, but we're actually going to take the boys out and watch Daddy cut it down. A true Griswold moment. I'm sure an interesting post will result from that one in December. Stay tuned...

I hope you're all looking forward to wonderful family celebrations for Thanksgiving as I am. Have a great and restful holiday week.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Very Crazy Sunday

It was definitely a busy day yesterday. After a pretty lazy Saturday where we pretty much did nothing, yesterday was a flurry of activity, with emotional highs and lows.

Church yesterday morning was rough now that everyone knows we're leaving. We have so many people who love and support us and want more details about our decision that we just don't feel comfortable sharing. Steve is even more upset than I that we have to stay four more weeks. We so wish we could just walk away and let the healing process begin for both our family and the church that has been so good to us that we are leaving behind.

Once church was over, I was able to put my focus back where it belongs... the family and friends that I love. I called Steve, who had to stay home from church with the kids, and we decided to meet for lunch and let the kids play while I shared all of the events from the morning.

After lunch, we were off to Hannah's (Deb's daughter) birthday party. Since her older sister had had a skating party, Hannah had one too. It was only the second time either of the boys had ever been on skates and I was blown away by how far they had come since last time.

Last time, Aaron had the plastic ones that fit over the shoes, but now his shoes are so much bigger that he had to wear the real ones. At first, he was just as wobbly and started whining like last time, but after a short time, he started really kind of feeling how to move and by the time we left he was actually having fun.

First, he stayed glued to the wall, which was a great way for him to start.

As he got more comfortable, he attempted to try let one hand go, and even both hands one or twice

It was very difficult for him to try to "Smile" for a picture when he was concentrating so hard, but I still love the expression he ended up with on his face

Of course, he fell a lot too. But unlike last time, when after one fall he cried and refused to continue, this time he smiled, got back up and tried again.

And later in the party room, he even tried to glide from one table to another without Daddy or Mommy standing nearby.

Noah also was much more confident this time than last. He still started off along the railing, which was a good thing.

But within ten minutes, I was turned around and heard him shout, "Hey, MOM!" He had worked his way into the middle of the rink and was off and skating

It became increasingly difficult to get pictures of him wiping out, because even though he rarely made it an entire lap without falling, he got up so fast and going again that I didn't have enough time to shoot the picture. I did get one, though.

Look at that happy boy go!

During this entire party, where all of the kids had a blast, the birthday girl's poor mother was not having such a great time. She has had a medical issue needing to be taken care of for quite awhile that flared up to unbearable pain by the time the party was over. I am sure she will share any details she wants on her own blog. So as the party was wrapping up, I finally offered to take her over to the Urgent Care while the daddies took the kids home and put them to bed. We spent several hours there while they ran tests and got her pain under control. Even though it was not a great circumstance, it was still nice to feel useful to a friend and I was glad I could help.

A crazy, emotional, sometimes fun, sometimes worrisome Sunday. So much for a day of rest, huh?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is It Too Much To Ask...

...for just ONE nice picture of two good looking boys sitting in front of a pretty tree smiling?

The boys got to sing with Steve at the local Botanical Gardens Wednesday night. It was so beautifully decorated with poinsettias everywhere. And trees throughout the entire place decorated in different styles of countries around the world.

An absolutely PERFECT setting to take some pictures of the boys all dressed up for the Christmas card this year.

Not too difficult, right?

Think again..

Closed mouth for Aaron

Aaron looking away

Noah looking away, Aaron's mouth closed, and blurry as well

What about if we try sitting down?

Noah has officially reached the "I don't know how to smile" phase of his life.

Gotta love a fake smile!

Here's Aaron looking away again

And then we FINALLY get a good one and Poor Aaron's face is so red and chapped from being sick all week that, even though Mommy loves it, it still isn't up to par for the Christmas card.

Not sure if I'll try again or just go with it.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot..

I actually got a nice shot with the boys in Santa's sleigh on the way out, even WITH Aaron looking off to the side.

Have I mentioned that I LOVE Christmas?


Are 3D movies for the entertainment of the viewer?


the entertainment of the non-viewers who get to see how silly the viewers look?

just wondering...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Nameless Tackle and Learning

Don't you just hate posts that bring more questions than answers?

We'll, this is one of them.

Today's Tuesday Tackle is something that I can't share until next week. But I will tell you that I am a little sad but very excited at the prospect (don't even THINK baby). I can't wait to tell you all about it next week.

In other news, Aaron is really starting to read. It is so cool to watch it. He is sounding out pretty much every three letter word I put in front of him. When Noah was going through this phase, he used to fight me any time something got difficult. According to his teacher, this is still the case this year in school now that things are actually starting to challenge him.

But Aaron is different. He keeps trying and trying until he get it right, even if it means driving the adults around him crazy asking for clarification over and over until he gets it.

These BOB books are awesome. Aaron loves being able to take a book and read it himself. They're in sets of 12 and we have added a new one each week. After just four weeks, and four books, he is trying to read other things around him. I got him the TAG reading system for Christmas to further encourage him on this journey. It is just amazing to watch your child learn.

Along these same lines, both boys have begun piano lessons as well. True to their personalities, both of them are learning how to play well, but it is the same as anything else. Aaron keeps trying over and over until he gets it right. Noah wants to go fast and just get it done. Lately though, Noah is starting to realize that after practicing every day, it really does get easier and he even said to me the other day, "Mommy, I probably shouldn't tell you this, but piano is kind of fun now."

So while I watch the kids going through so much learning, I am in the process of learning to let go and using this learning to make decisions that may be unpopular, but necessary.

I hope you are all having a great week. I will try to visit your blogs between classroom duty and teaching tonight.

Note: I was not paid in any way to "plug" the BOB books or the Tag reading system. I am just really excited at how well they work.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

No Picture Weekend

I have no pictures to share with you from our weekend. You wanna know why?

Because Indian Summer hit West Michigan this weekend and we spent literally the entire weekend outside. You could not have asked for a more beautiful weekend.

Thursday was Noah' conference. It went much better than I expected. He is doing great for the most part. He's showing lots of growth of maturity since the beginning of the year. I was surprised at how much they are stepping up the curriculum from here on out. They will actually be starting cursive writing and multiplication soon. I didn't realize all that started in second grade. But I was very proud of him and told him so. He was on cloud nine.

As reward for a good conference, I let the boys have a "sleepover" upstairs in Aaron's room. I was pretty sure that I would be moving them, but I put them to bed super early to give them a chance to talk and giggle for awhile before falling asleep. Twenty minutes after the initial night night hugs and kisses, Noah was begging Aaron to be quiet so he could go to sleep and by quarter to eight, they were both out. My kind of sleep over.

On Friday, both boys had school off. We had planned to go do something, but the day just kind of got away from us and we stayed home and played games all day. As soon as Steve got home, I headed out to finish Christmas shopping with Deb. It was a fun (and much needed) night out.

Saturday greeted us with amazingly warm weather and two little boys in very good moods. After I gave the boys their allowance for the week Noah was anxious to go buy a toy he had wanted. So after I taught a piano lesson and also Noah's lesson, we headed to get the toy. Steve and Aaron went on their own adventure. By noon, we were home with two very happy little boys, and we played outside ALL DAY. The neighbor kids joined in and I actually convinced the neighbor boy to take his training wheels off his bike and taught him how to rise a two wheeler.

Meanwhile, I spent about two hours hanging adhesive hooks and Christmas lights around both front windows and the door. I felt quite accomplished.

Sunday had some extremely difficult moments at church that need to be dealt with in a possibly not good result this week. But after we got home, it was another awesome day outside. Since many of the lights had fallen, I rehung them using a different kind of clip. Another couple of hours spent on a ladder, but mostly I just spent the day sitting outside enjoying the beautiful day. They are numbered before the snow starts flying around here.

As if you can't tell, I am feeling really good about this weekend. I love it when we can get the boys doing well and all really just enjoy each other, like we did this weekend. Maybe I should have taken some picture this weekend to have them to remember when things get difficult again.

Or maybe I'll just keep them fresh in my memory and use the picture in my mind.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Trick Or Treating Alternative


For several years now, I have been wishing for an alternative to trick or treating on Halloween. Most of the houses in our area don't participate, so it ends up being more walking and freezing than actually candy acquiring. So I found a local mall that was doing an inside event this year.

I was amazed at how crowded it was. The employees at the mall that I talked to were surprised too. The event was supposed to run from 4-6. We got there right around 4:00. The line for the jump inflatables was already down the mall, so we started out with trick or treating.

The majority of stores had an employee right at the door handing out candy, but a few were sticklers for trying to get people to actually come into their stores, probably in the hopes of buying something. I also thought this sign was funny because we noticed last year that the trick or treaters generally don't even say "trick or treat" anymore. They just stand there with their bags open. I made every kid say it before I gave them candy this year. It's the principal of the matter :)

After we had been around two of the four wings, the kids were starting to get restless because of some of the lineups. So we skipped the biggest lines to keep them moving, which they were thankful for.

Before we were even halfway around, another type of sign started appearing. Apparently, everybody in the mall had not anticipated the crowds that would turn out for the event. The boys weren't disappointed though, because they just wanted to get to the play area anyway.

Noah was less enthusiastic about the whole event until we got to the table that was giving away old beanie babies instead of candy. His new "buddy" has slept on his pillow every night since and has even made a trip to school.

Aaron's favorite, as always, was hugging the walking characters that were there. I wonder how old he will be when he grows out of it. It's still cute for now.

Unfortunately, the play area and the inflatables were still WAY too crowded, so we headed over to the brand new Barnes and Noble in the mall to browse instead. The kids loved that it was a bookstore "with two floors" so they were content to sit and read for quite awhile before we headed out for dinner.

After dinner, trick or treating was still in full swing and the kids were happy to just give out candy to those coming to our house before turning in for bed.

Even though it was crowded, Steve and I both agreed that we liked this better than what we've done in the past and I hope the event continues for years to come.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday: How Many Bags?

Just like most of the population around here, we took advantage of a BEAUTIFUL Sunday afternoon this weekend and got our yard raked up. We always have to do two attempts, since our tree dumps leaves so late, but the first is always the major job.

We got the kids outside by bribing them with permission to jump in them as we were doing the majority of raking. At first there weren't very many leaves, so the boys found other ways to amuse them selves. It resulted in pulling out the now unused stroller, and taking turns racing each other down the sidewalk. After awhile, Aaron grabbed the doll stroller and it turned into "races" until Aaron, as was the case all weekend long, started whining about it. So Noah decided to "drive" his stroller through the sidewalk where we were working, and loved the leaf attacks from Daddy that resulted.

After the pile got bigger, we decided to do the same as last year and make predictions about how many bags of leaves we would fill before the job was done. Everyone made a prediction:
Aaron said
Noah saidDaddy saidand I saidStay tuned at the end for the winner

So seeing the piles , the boys finally got to jump. I was all motivated to try to get an artsy shot of two happy little boys jumping into leaves together.Howeeevrer, in reality, it didn't really come to fruition. I had the camera on the wrong setting, and as I stated earlier, Aaron was not being the most agreeable that day. But it was still cute, albeit a little blurry.

After the fun, we really needed to get down to business. After a run to the store for heavier garbage bags, and a little bit of unpleasant coaxing to the children that they needed to help, we made a lot of progress. Noah helped with raking and both boys got the hang of BIG armfuls of leaves going into the bags.

We did finally get the work done, and I even got started on hanging lights around the windows for Christmas. No, I'm not going to light them yet, but in Michigan, you have to take advantage of warm weather when you get it, or your fingers freeze when you're setting stuff up. I'll work on it more when we get another stretch of warm weather.

Last year, the winner of the bag prediction game was Noah. Guess who the winner was this year?
That's right, me. The leaves are now in the back of Steve's truck and on their way to the city. And we have a string of four houses with very nice looking lawns. Bring on the snow!