Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Crazy Hair Day

A few stripes of color

Add some gel

Ready for school

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

He Finally Saved Enough

A box full of dollar bills that has been collecting since Christmas with allowance money

An empty box after all of his money was gone

A happy boy (and his brother who also used allowance money for a game) with his his first self-purchased DS game.

There are so many reasons why I am glad we have started allowance with the boys. We don't give them a ton, but they each have a chart with all of their weekly chores. At the end of the day, they get a star for each of the things that are done. They get a quarter for each star on Saturday mornings. They usually end up with between three and four dollars. We are finding that the chores change once in awhile, depending on any specific challenges that the boys are fcaing. And their charts are very tailored to each boy individually.

But there are TWISTS:
They get "penalties" for each time they are mouthy. These also go on the chart and they get docked a quarter for each of these. Also, Noah gets an extra dollar if he has a tally free week at school.

For a while, I got lazy and stopped making the chart. It was quite obvious that without the chart visible, the kids started back sliding both with chores and mouthiness, so I started it back up again a few weeks ago. Like clockwork, the rooms are cleaner and the attitudes are better.

And the best part, there is no "Can I have that" at the store because they both know the answer will be "Do you have enough allowance?"

I never got an allowance growing up, but I am glad that we are doing it with the boys. And Noah was SOOOO happy with his new DS game since he bought it himself after saving for two months. He is now saving for an even more expensive one. I think the Easter Bunny may bring him a small gift card to help him during this next saving task:)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Big Big Bugs

This weekend had some interesting moments. We spent most of Saturday up at Steve's parents house for their birthday celebration. The kids had fun playing with their cousins, but we also have some stuff we need to work out before we go to visit again. But that's not a story for here.

On Sunday, while Steve and his brother were doing a home improvement project (see tomorrow's post), I had to take the boys out of the house. So I took them to our downtown public museum to see the new Big Big Bugs exhibit. Thanks to a gift membership, we were able to see the special exhibit and a planetarium program related to it. I wasn't so sure about a "bug" exhibit, but it was very fun.

First things first, Aaron HAD to go visit the doll room which he loves and Noah picked up a brochure about the bug stuff

Then we headed straight to the bugs room.

It was actually very cool. It was filled with HUGE animatronic bugs with information about them. There were quite a few exhibits for the kids to play with and touch.

They got to crawl underneath a stage with huge atlas beetles and pop their heads up as if they were beetle food

They returned several times to climb the big "spider web" that hung from the ceiling.

There was a wooden board game where kids had to move different bug pieces, only if the card described their bug, so they had to learn about the different bugs.

And on the other side of the room, the same board game was super sized with pieces you picked up to move and a volunteer reading off the cards descriptions.

Noah's favorite was the praying mantis that grew so large that it's claws came right out of the curtain it was behind

and Aaron grossed me out with the exhibit of which bugs are found in which rooms of one's house.

It was a very cool exhibit and I know we have to go back since Steve didn't get to see it.

Then we were headed off to the planetarium where they had a show about the night stars with crickets in the background. The show was pretty good except for when a "thunderstorm," came and somehow they actually made a tiny amount of water spray on us. Neither of the boys really appreciated it that much, even though I though it was quite funny.

And to make the trip complete, we got a flyer for free carousel rides from the guy in the parking ramp, which made for a fun end to the excursion.

Luckily, the boys were as excited to get home and see the finished product that Daddy had completed so there was no real protest about leaving two hours later. That is another benefit to a membership. We can always just come back again so they don't have to "hurry up and play".

So for someone who is as squeamish as I am of bugs, I actually thought the exhibit was pretty neat and I think I am looking forward to taking Steve back to it in a weekend in the future.

As for today, I am feeling more rotten each day, with sore throat, persistent cough, and stuffy head not wanting to get better. I have to sing in front of the chorus members tonight for placement for the concert and I;'m not quite sure how to do that in my current state, but I guess it just remains to be seen.

Have a great Monday.

Tackle It Tuesday: Out With The Old...In With the New

As anyone who reads me knows, we have an old house in which Murphy lives (you know...Murphy's law) It is also an old house in need of much work. In the almost eight years we've lived here, we have managed to make improvements little by little.

Usually with our tax refund, we are able to get something improved in our house as well as save a little for a vacation. This year, due to some challenges, we don't have enough for a vacation, so we are taking even more joy in the much over-do improvement we needed.

We have had a drip (more like a steady stream) coming from our kitchen sink for a good six months now. You could always tell which appliance was running by how strong the stream from our kitchen sink was. The bathroom shower caused a pretty strong drip, the washer downstairs pretty much created a waterfall, and when everything was off, a constant slower drip was enough to drive someone (me) batty while I was sitting next to it using the computer.

In addition, our old original cast iron sink was so nasty, with scratches and scrapes in the basin, as well as so much gunk caked in the handles and the edges that I could never get it clean. Plus, since Steve is the sole dish washer in our home (yup, I'm, THAT lucky), he really wanted a sprayer for doing dishes.

So, this year's home improvement was a new kitchen sink. Steve had replaced much of the plumbing underneath so he was well prepared when his brother and our niece got to our house this Sunday to help hm install it. I got the boys out of the house and they had it done in about an hour and a half. Apparently, Murphy decided to stay away, thankfully.

The biggest challenge was the weight of the thing, estimated at about eighty pounds. Steve has since said that he's pretty sure he could have done the whole project by himself, if it hadn't been for the weight of the sink FALLING INTO the cupboard when they first removed the seal around it. You can definitely see how gross the thing was.

And for the final product..



I'm still getting used to the look when I come into the kitchen because it's so different. But it sure is pretty.

BTW, it's National Pancake Day and IHOP is giving away free pancakes, in hopes that you will take the money you would have spent and donate it to a worthy charity. The boys are both having pancakes in school tho "celebrate" the day as well. There sure are some weird "holidays".

Have a great day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Holiday?

Not sure when today became a "holiday" in elementary schools, but Noah was more excited to go to school today than he was on the day of Valentines or Christmas party. Can you guess what day it is? Here's a hint...

He was so excited about 100's day. I think it helped that his teacher REALLY pumped it up, promising surprises all day. He must have counted his 100 legos at least a dozen times this week and packed them carefully in a suitcase of sorts to present to his class.

I'm so glad that 2nd grade is still young enough to be willing to wear goofy glasses to celebrate 100 days of school. The first and second graders all wore them to the all school assembly this morning.

And Noah was excited about flag raising (what they call the weekly assembly) this morning as well. Since this month is healthy heart awareness month, they had an after school fun run on Tuesday. He stayed and ran with about a dozen other kids from the school. During the assembly they were called up one by one and received a certificate

Followed by receiving his very own water bottle. He was one excited boy when I left to come home this morning. I hope it means he has a good day.

He had a couple of emotional days with another friend from school this week. I was glad that the teacher brought the two boys together and talked it out before anyone got hurt. I was proud of him for talking to us about the problem this other boy was causing, rather than acting out on it.

I guess it IS okay that he's growing up in some ways.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Daddy Makes the BEST Forts


There is a huge in-law rant forming in my head right now and I am struggling to not vent here. I can't promise anything though. This is the reason that this blog has not been shared with the in-laws. AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's my scream. Now I can go take a shower and calm down and not take it out on my readers.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekend Top Five: 2/15/10

This weekend held a holiday (kind of). It also held the start of the winter Olympics, which we spent a lot of time watching. It also stretched into a three day weekend since both boys had Friday off for in-service/winter break days. We had a pretty good weekend even though it had its usual ups and downs in dealing with two high energy boys who seem to both be going through difficult phases at the same time. I won't go into details, but we are definitely struggling in the Wheelz home at the moment.

But we did have some fun times this weekend. We tried out another church and I am saving that story for its own post this week. Here are the top five from this weekend.

5. Friday Day Off
We had the day off on Wednesday because if a snow day, but the boys didn't want to spend the day running errands, so we had to push it to Friday. After haircuts, I had to go replace my second "new" camera that had once again broken, and with store credit, clearance prices, and the very last bit of tax refund left, I was able to get the camera that I had wanted in the first place. The boys were very good during the two trips back and forth to the store during the adventure, so as a reward, they decided to go to the children's museum.

We have had a membership there for a couple of years and have always enjoyed it. We took a few months off from going since it started getting a little too ordinary for them, so I wondered how they would do. Our membership is actually up next month and we've been trying to decided whether we should renew or not. It seemed as a good a place as any to try out the new camera though so we went.

The kids had a blast. After two hours (when our meter had run out), the kids were still playing and begging to stay. That's a sign of a good time. And I got a great chance to try out my new toy.

4. Princess and the Frog
The latest Disney movie finally made it to the second run theater and we surprised the boys by taking them on Saturday. Steve was not so excited about going, but I think he loved it as much, if not more than the kids, because of the music. The movie is based out of new Orleans during the Jazz Era, which is some of Steve's favorite music so he was in heaven. I understood what the reviews were saying about the story characters not being as strong, but it was definitely typical Disney in story and style and we all had a good time. The boys asked if we could go back to Disney just to ride the Princess and the Frog ride :)

It will probably become part of of the Wheelz Family collection at some point.

3. Dinner Out
We don't go out on the weekend much anymore and last weekend both boys at separate times mentioned the fact. So since our little teensy tiny (long story) tax refund came in, we decided to take them to Moe's (our favorite Mexican fast foodish restaurant). We really had a nice time and I think the fact that we barely ever go out anymore helped the kids to really appreciate it when we do.

2. Valentine Buddies
I have always gotten the boys a new buddy for Valentines Day. They enjoy them. I won some cute little Yoo Hoo Buddies from my friend Chris' blog (Dad of Divas) and I presented them to them for Valentine's Day. One made kissing sounds and the other laughing sounds. The kids loved them immediately and Noah begged this morning to take his to school (no).

Their love of stuffed animals (especially Noah) helps me to see the innocence in them still, even when we struggle with their growing desire for independence. I will keep this tradition up as long as I can get away with it.

1.Yummy Treat
With lent starting on Wednesday, I figured this was my last chance to really go over board in indulgence for awhile, so I found this recipe on one of Deb's blogs (Just a Mom's Take On Things) and decided to try it. I love baking with the boys. I have Noah read all the directions and Aaron do a lot of the measuring. I think they learn a lot from it and I hope that they will remember those times when they get older. They're kind of like a homemade candy bar, but made with chocolate cheerios. They are soooooooooo good but soooooooo bad for me. I can't even start to figure out points for them so I think we'll just call the next 48 hours a wash until lent starts. I just know if we can get rid of all of it before Wednesday but I guess I'll have to do my part and try :)

The Week Ahead:
It feels like a long week stretching ahead of us. Five full days with not really anything exciting in store. I really have to get going on finding a new location for my student recital in May. I also have to get the house ready for Steve's brother to be here next weekend to help put in the new sink. Steve's family are a group of high stress people who have a way of making one feel small just by being in their presence so I don't know why I try, but after 13 years, I still keep at it. I may have to take one afternoon and head outside with the new camera to play. And I won't even feel guilty about it (maybe).

Have a good week.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

I'm sure no one has noticed, but I have been AWOL this week. Lots on my mind and lots to do.

But I wouldn't be doing my duty if I didn't share a valentine post going into this weekend.

I am lucky enough to have three valentines.

But we will probably not being doing anything amazingly spectacular for February 14th this year.

I have always given the boys a little buddy (stuffed animal) which I will do again this year. I scoured (yes, scoured) the mall on Wednesday looking for slippers for Steve since his are falling apart, and when I finally found some at sears, they had to order a different size. I paid them and then got home and found out that for some reason the order had been cancelled on their end...probably because they didn't have the stock after all. So as of now, I have nothing for my Honey.

Last year, Steve spent Valentine's Day performing singing valentines with barbershop quartet and the visited me while I was working, which was pretty cool.

After searching my entire picture folder I can't find a single cute picture of the boys as babies in cute little valentine wear, but I did find a picture that I took of the boys on Aaron's first valentines day, 5 years ago.

I tried to take a picture of the valentine that Aaron made in school and was sent to me in the mail (so sweet) but my NEW camera died already and I am rendered camera-less once again.

So Happy Valentine's Day to those of you who love this holiday, dislike this holiday, or have become indifferent. Spend the day telling those around you that you love how special they are to you. That's what I plan to do.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Missed A First

I know I am going to miss a lot of firsts in my children's lives. It goes with the territory of them growing up. I was not the first one to discover the first tooth (babysitter). I was not at home home when Noah lost his first tooth (Steve). I know there are a whole bunch of others that I can't remember right now that I've forgotten.

Heck, I'm not even the first girl in my son's life anymore (K at school holds THAT distinction)

And this weekend I missed yet another one. Steve took the boys to his brother's "lake house" on Saturday for a day of outside fun with daddies and kids. It was made VERY clear that moms were not invited. So Steve packed the boys up Saturday morning and headed out.

They got home around 9 in the evening. Both boys were half asleep and bee lined straight to bed so I didn't get to hear about the day. Steve was tired and didn't feel like talking either so he went straight to the computer to veg. And I was left to wonder what kind of day they had had.

The next morning, I was finally able to look at some pictures that Steve had captured on his cell phone (he doesn't like using my camera so I hadn't even sent it with him). It sounds like the day was filled with many ups and downs, which I pretty much expected.

But the highlight of the day seems to be ice skating.

I have taken Noah ROLLER skating numerous times, both for birthday parties and by ourselves and he is getting quite good.

They had extra skates lying around the house that someone decided to have Noah give a try. They started out pushing chairs around the ice.

But I guess Noah turned away from that quickly and ventured off on his own.

He just looks so small to me in this picture

After awhile, he even started playing ice hockey with some other people.

Noah has always been very good physically, but isn't really interested in organized sports much. We have tried soccer, swimming (which will continue because of safety reasons), self defense, gymnastics, and baseball. Although we will do little league again this spring (since Aaron can play this year too), there really isn't anything that he LOVES to do. Which is fine with me . But I am glad that he is out trying new things and finding success when he does.

You may ask where Aaron was this whole time...

Yup, puzzles and books

So I missed Noah's first time ice skating. I was glad Steve took pictures and I'm glad that he was able to find something fun to do during their day away. And even better, now we have one more thing that we can go do together on our "date days".

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Guilty One

I finished staining chair number three yesterday. Kind of frustrating because even though I'm using the same can, it is WAY more red than the other. A completely different color. I can't do it over again though...I refuse.

And I was pretty upset about it all night last night. I think I may have figured out why it happened, but it's too late now so I just need to keep trucking along.

And I thought the bad color match was the worst of my problems with the chairs.

Until I woke up this morning, glanced at the chair and noticed something even more strange.

Hmmmmmmmmm.................who could have done this?

Then, I saw another clue

I think I know who the guilty part is

I guess she's all tired out from all that destruction

Thanks a lot Minnie for wanting to be SO involved in this process. Now come the question. If I stain them again, will the color be even more distorted than it already is? Or do I leave them in there for posterity?

I guess I'd better remember to put the cat downstairs when I do chair #4.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

T13: This Old House

I've got no new interesting photos today. Nothing really exciting to say. Life is trucking along and I've got a million things to do. Tax refund is due to come next week and it's gone already with outstanding bills. Steve's siblings are annoyed at us because we can't afford to give them $100+ for birthday presents for their parents. I have a chair that's half sanded STILL on my kitchen floor and one more still to go. I am trying desperately to try to get back into the Weight Watcher's state of mind but my snacking was SO far out of control that 23 points seems pretty much impossible.

With that in mind, my T13 is things that need to be done around the house...some in the works for the near future and some not even a glimmer in the eye at the moment. They are all on my mind because, SUPPOSEDLY, Steve's brother is going to come over in a couple of weeks to help with the sink project (see #12 below) and I really don't like people seeing our house in THIS bad of shape.

This Old House needs:

13. FINISH chair project

12. Kitchen sink and faucet desperately need to be replaced (hopefully with any leftover tax refund money after all the outstanding bills). There is now a steady stream of water coming out at all times, especially when other water is running somewhere in the house at the same time

11. Carpet remnant from my parents that's been sitting in the basement for months needs to be cut and placed in our bedroom. Requires moving everything out of the bedroom (UGH)

10. Baseboards in our bedroom are only half way painted and the others need to be done while carpeting is being put down

9. Living room carpet needs to be cleaned

8. Chipped paint in the kitchen needs to be touched up

7. Basement needs to be cleaned again

6. Baseboards are still needed in upstairs bedroom

5. Edging on windows upstairs never got placed when the bedroom got replaced (4 years ago)

4. Bathtub/Shower surround has peeled away from the wall, even after Steve tried re-caulking it

3. Paint is peeling very badly in bathroom

2. Still missing one knob from cupboard project long ago. Haven't been able to find one in any of the Menard's stores.

1. Found mouse droppings again the other day.

Obviously, not all of these are going to get taken care of before the Judgement Crew (Steve's siblings) come through, but it would be nice to at least make a decent showing. We are the Clampetts of the family anyway so I'm not quite sure why I am even worrying about it.

Complaining done. Off to go finish chair #3.

Have a good Thursday.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

300 Posts! Almost Wordless Wednesday: Action Shots

This is my 300th post on the Wheelz Blog in just over two years of blogging. Not sure if that's really a milestone or not, but the number stuck out at me while I was trying to decide which picture to post for WW today. These shots were the result of me saying, "Aaron, I want to try out the new camera. Jump for me."

Silly Boy!