Monday, August 30, 2010

400th Post

Good morning.

As I sit here, there are messes all around, laundry piling up, dishes waiting to be put away, bills to be sent, papers to be notarized, calls to be made.

And what am I doing?

Sitting here. Doing nothing.

And actually I think it's okay. School starts next week and we will go back to having a clean house again. And clean laundry.

And as of this writing, I know not either what school my children will be attending, nor what GRADE Aaron will be in. A long story that I won't go into, but nevertheless driving me crazy. Hopefully more answers will come today.

The real reason for this post is to say after all of my bellyaching about last weekend, this one was great.

Friday night, Steve took Noah to a scout outing at the local minor league baseball stadium. After the game, the scouts pitched tents right on the field, watched the movie UP on the the big screen and attempted to fall asleep. From what I understand, very little sleeping occurred, but Noah and Steve came home in very good moods and had a blast. They met up with a family that we used to be really good friends with a few years ago, and I vow that we will all go as a family next year.

Meanwhile, while Steve and Noah were gone, Aaron and I had a date of our own. Nothing fancy. Aaron decided he wanted to go to Piazza Hut for dinner and then rent a movie afterward. I love one-on-one time with either of the boys. They talk so openly about such interesting things when the other one isn't there to belittle them. We still got t bed kind of late though.

Friday night overnight was rough for me. I can't believe how difficult it was to sleep with Steve and Noah gone. I didn't fall asleep until after 3 AM and the cat woke me back up at 5, looking for her men. So we were all pretty much exhausted Saturday morning.

Saturday morning dawned early. They required all scout families to be off the field by 7:30 so the boys were home early. Usually Steve is working on Saturday mornings so the morning already felt weird. After running to the grocery store and having lunch, we headed out to the public museum. Steve and Noah of course had to wear their matching scouting at the the Whitecaps shirts for the day.

We had a good timee at the museum. We have a gift membership but we haven't been in awhile. The museum was hosting a Silly Saturday with games so we kept busy with those. I had the idea of putting the big foam floor puzzle together. It took awhile to get all three of the Wheelz Boyz on board, but it only took us about fifteen minutes and we had fun going up to the top floor and looking down on the puzzle.

We also went to a planetarium show, where it took Steve approximately 15 seconds to fall asleep with full fledged SNORING throughout the entire show. That's my man!

our Sunday adventure takes a little background. We headed over to the Aquatic Center. We had wanted to go to Great Wolf Lodge this summer but the funds just weren't there so this was definitely the next best thing. The center is full is different activities with a slide, splash pool, vortex pool, cannons, diving boards, tubes pool, and of course, THE COURSE.

the reason I say it like that is because of my water obsessed Aaron. As you all know, the kid must be engulfed in water completely to feel happy. Last time we were there, we didn't let him go on the big inflatable obstacle course, simply because I was worried that he wouldn't have the swimming strength if he fell off.

Well, after another session of swimming lessons a few weeks ago, I decided I would let him try it. If he struggled then he would answer his own question and not ask again.

Needless to say, the stinker didn't struggle, and he spent about 2 and a half out of the three hours we were there on the course, over and over and over again. He was just so happy.

We really had a great time. We also found out that beginning today, the rates are dropping to half what we paid yesterday. A little disappointing, but still thinking $20 was a great price to pay for an afternoon of splashing fun. We are actually toying with the idea of doing Aaron's birthday part there this year. It would definitely be memorable for him.

So the weekend was definitely better. One of the big stressors of the Wheelz Home is trying to work itself out and the other one will work itself out before the end of next week, even though I have no idea what it will be at the moment.

This week will be one o last minute stuff to get ready for school. Also, my big excitement is going to the U of M game this Saturday with my parents. I am not sure what Steve will do with the boys all day, but I'm not going to let it spoil my excitement.

Off to laundry, I go!

Have a good Monday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My First Attempt

Yes, most people's first attempt at crocheting clothes is usually for a child. I have always been afraid to try anything but afghans. Deb taught me how to crochet back in college and I have dabbled with afghans off and one through the years since.

The other night though when I took Lily out for her last potty chance, I noticed the little thing was shivering like crazy. So I came inside and decided to see if I could actually make something that would work. I have4 piles of old yarn lying around, as swell as random hooks all over. So I went on the Internet to see if I could find a simple freebie pattern.

I found several and sat down to try my hand at puppy sweaters last night.

About an hour and a half or so later, I had something.

Not sure if it was going to work or not.

While we were eating lunch today I decided to try it.

I couldn't quite figure out how to get it on her and I through it aside, giving up.

Noah, however, was not to be deterred and insisted that he could do it.

With a little finagling and a less than thrilled pomchi, it worked.

And I think it's pretty cute if I do say so myself.

I think getting it off of her is going to be another matter though. And I wonder if she will run away panicked next time I bring it out, after the wrestling match we had this time around.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday Thirteen: Things That Make Me Smile

With all the Doom and Gloom I've been spewing lately, I figure it is time to portray a cheerful demeanor today, no matter what. I was just sitting here balancing (for lack of better word) the checkbook and looking outside at a sunny morning and listening to the birds. With less than two weeks before school, we're on borrowed time for the hullabaloo, especially when I STILL don't know for sure where Aaron will go to school. But I've been so stressed that I haven't been appreciating every moment I have.

I know this seems random, but that's kind of my state of mind at the moment.

13 Things that make me smile

1. Watching my boys try something for the first time

2. Watching my boys ACHIEVE something for the first time (very different from number one)

3. Listening to my boys actually play together with REAL communication

4. A laundry free basement floor

5. A call or email from my husband signed "IRLY"

6. A day free from dog poop or pee in the house

7. Answered prayer

8. Walking the dog when she is actually walking and not pulling/biting on the leash

9. Ice cream

10. Devotions with the four of us before bed

11. Singing

12. When I see major improvement in a piano student's playing and knowing that I had a hand in it

13. When my boys come to me and say, "Mom, we haven't had enough hugs yet today to be healthy" (Our goal is seven per person per day)

While writing this list, I actually came up with a whole bunch more. Maybe I should make this a Thursday thing for awhile. I think it would do me good to focus on the things that are going well.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Weekend

For lack of a better title. This weekend was strange.

The struggles that the Wheelz home are facing seem to be coming full force and the stress of them is starting to take a toll. As a result, I had a massive nervous breakdown by the time Steve got home from work Saturday afternoon. What was supposed to be a fun afternoon of going to the city pool for its last day of the summer turned into me just needing to get away. I knew it was wrong, but I just needed to go.

With no direction. No purpose. No destination. No clue.

Just go.

I know, shame on me. But I grew up with a mom in her bedroom crying pretty much all day every day and I just can't let my kids grow up with that same memory. Knowing that I was losing it, I felt it better to get out of the house. Luckily, Steve was somewhat willing (although he didn't really have a choice) to let me go. He gave me two hours to just be gone. I drove past the huge water slide downtown Grand Rapids. I drove out to the mall and looked for shirts for Noah for school. I wandered around the brand new Meijers in a bad part of the city.

Pretty much a big waste of time.

Eventually, Steve did call me to see when I was coming home and when I did, I arrived home to the garage FINALLY cleaned out. One of the MANY things that set me over the edge was the messes that the boys are constantly making, getting into things they have no business touching and destroying tings that they shouldn't be anywhere near. The garage was a big part of the final straw.

I can't say I was in a hugely better mood, but I did manage to make a pretty good ham dinner, which made things feel better. And we did watch the first half of a family movie before putting the kids to bed.

By that point, I pretty much collapsed too. Emotionally drained and still just as panicked about our situation as I was before.

So Sunday morning dawned and it was time to go to church. I was really thankful that our new church makes me excited to worship and it may have been the saving grace. I was still pretty much a mess Sunday morning, but at the same time, I was hopeful that SOMETHING would speak to me while we were at church. As a matter of fact, all the way to church, that was my silent prayer. "Lord, please speak to me this morning. Please show me something at church today that will let me know that everything might be okay."

Surprisingly enough, He answered this prayer. The music of the morning was awesome. All songs from the radio that spoke directly to my heart. Steve didn't bat an eye when the tears started falling while I was singing my heart out. That's another nice thing about an auditorium type of church. No one sees you if you don't want to be seen. I even came home and had Steve make one of them my ringtone on my new phone (Thank you Linux). I figured at that point I was done learning for the morning. Silly me. The messages at this church are always awesome but this one really spoke to me. My feelings of loneliness and heartbreak were spoken to with hope.

Not sure how I'm going to act on what I came away with yesterday. I love that after church each week, I have something concrete to share with the boys about what I learned in church that morning, which is what we did over lunch. And then, Steve remembered the verse from the morning and we talked about it again during family devotionals last night.

Is the situation that has got me panicked any better? No. I'm I any less worried? No. Am I doing a better job dealing with it today? So far, yes. That's all I can do. Live it One Day at a Time and remember that how I portray myself to my children is what they will remember. I've only got one chance to get this right. They don't need to be exposed to our adult problems. At least not unless they HAVE to.

On the bright side, Sunday afternoon, we did manage to pack the bikes up and take our second family bike ride on the Kent Trails. This may become a Sunday tradition for quite awhile. Thankful for family time for sure.

Have a great week.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Making His Own Fun

You know the summer is wrapping up when every day by 1:00 in the afternoon I am getting begged for DS time. I generally try to keep the rule that TV goes off at 10:00 AM and doesn't go back on until after 4:00. I know that it seems like that still leaves a lot of TV time still, but at least it's not in the bulk of the day. That also doesn't account for days that are terribly humid and miserable, or raining.

But on a beautiful sunny summer day, which most of them are, the boys know that the no technology rule stands. I try to live by it for the most part too, but not quite as successful, I must admit.

When I was little, I remember turning off the TV in the morning after Price is Right and then being expected to be outside until dinner at 5:00. I also VERY RARELY remember my mother ever actually doing anything to amuse. I was expected to find things to do, either with neighborhood kids, or on my own.

So this week, I got tired of Noah asking every day all afternoon, when can I play my DS? I told him, "You will go outside between 2:00 and 4:00. You can take a book or do other things but you'll stay outside." To be fair, I actually stay outside most of that time too, mostly because the dog needs to be out.

The boys are quite different when it comes to the "Stay Outside" requirement. Aaron for the most part would rather be outside all day, riding his bike, climbing on anything he can think of, or getting wet in way he can. Noah, on the other hand, would rather sit inside all day and would be happy to sit with his legos, pokemon cards and books if I let him. Learning to love being outside more is another benefit I hope he gains from scouting.

So when I made the stay outside for two hours declaration again yesterday, I was pleased when I heard Noah say. "Well, Aaron, just like Phineas and Ferb say, It's up to US to make our own fun!"

And I was pretty pleased to see what they actually came up with.

If you re not familiar with the above mentioned Disney Channel show, it's main premise is two boys finding some radical things to do in their back yard to entertain themselves each day of the summer vacation, usually annoying their big sister in the process. Everyone who knows me knows that I am pretty picky about what the kids watch, but I have to admit that this show (other than an occasional "stupid" once in awhile) is pretty funny and quite intelligent.

So the other day, while I was getting out of the shower and getting ready for the day, I heard the boys tramping up and own the stairs and heading outside with every single Rubbermaid tub I had (and I have a lot). I am trying to be be better about just letting them go with their imaginations as long a no one's getting hurt. Next I heard the water running outside, which is for the most part okay. After about 45 minutes, I still hadn't heard any fighting (unheard of) so I went out to see what they were up to.

A Homemade Spa. I asked Noah, "How do you even know what a spa is?" and his answer was of course, Phineas and Ferb had made one.

Of course, a small lecture had to follow to Aaron, who had hammered a hole into the bottom of one of the tubs so that he could stick the umbrella in, but I was still impressed with their design. And they have sitting in their spa every day this week.

The boys have been exploring the garage when I am outside with the dog and Noah found my old roller blades. They're size 8 and way too big for him. But he is convinced that they fit him just fine and has been out roller blading with them every day. I guess that is going to have to be one of his three Christmas presents this year. So, he "made his own fun" again yesterday when he tried to make the umbrella catch the wind and blow him along. He was pretty sad when it didn't work, but not discouraged. He just told me that he needs to wait for a windier day.

And when I put the sprinkler on for Aaron (did I mention his water fetish?), Noah decided to join in the fun, which was kind of uncharacteristic for him. Until I saw how he decided to play. Yup, umbrella activity number three. Good thing this was a dollar store umbrella, because the sprinkler activities did it in and it went to garbage shortly after this photo was taken.

Other sprinkler fun...

How about seeing if your head gets wet if you stick it into the water with you helmet on.

Silly boys.

Today we are babysitting the neighbor kids and I am heading in to turn off the TV. I wonder what kind of fun 4 kids (more like three since Aaron is wandering around being grumpy this morning) can create today. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

And keep the camera ready.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Snapshots of Coast Guard Festival

Visiting the horse that showed us where to park. We learned years ago that it is better to pay the $5 and ride the trolley in than to try to deal with parking and traffic downtown Grand Haven.

Trolley ride to the shore

"Mom, look, I can stick my head out the window!"

Now that's a big ship

Last time we toured the big ships, Aaron was scared of all the steep steps,. This time he navigated them like a pro.

Going up

Going down

Wow, we're up high

Navigating the ship

After the big ships, it's time to find ways to use up 4 hours until fireworks. Steve's attempt at teaching the boys the two person somersault.

Not too successful :(

Reading a new comic book while waiting (and watching the crowds grow REALLY BIG)

Finally the fireworks are about to start.

They were way better than any 4th of July display we've ever seen and may even have given Disney World a run for their money.

And Aaron even watched a few after after his usual hiding fit

Trolley back to the car. notice all of the buses lined up to take people back.

The boys were excited to sit in the front with the driver.

Despite the biggest crowd of people we have ever maneuvered with the kids, we had a great time and look forward to it again next year.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Miss Lily

Miss Lily has been with us just over two months now. Our neighbors are dog people (complete with barking all night dogs at times) and we have been conversing with them often as we are trying to figure out this little pup. They have two larger dogs (one's a pit bull) that were a real problem when we first brought Lily home. After some MAJOR socialization lessons, they are now all best friends. If either Lily or the neighbor dogs are out, everyone is whining that they aren't together. And Lily has learned how to get through their fence to go over for a visits whenever she wants. It's really strange to see how they are so attached to each other now.

We are amazed at how much she has grown in two short months. I'm not sure how much she weighs since we haven't been to the vet in a little while (even though she's due again), but looking at pictures makes it obvious.

House breaking has definitely been an adventure. And not in the good sense of the word. Every time we think we've got it under control, she back slides again. It gets very frustrating. She does great for so many days in a row, and then blows it. I can say happily that she has not gone Number One in the house in several weeks. It seems that whenever she goes Number Two, it's when we were busy with something else and not watching her signals, so I can't FULLY blame her.

Our neighbors warned us that right about the same time we get housebreaking under control, Miss lily would enter her Terrible Twos. Boy were they right! The little stinker will not leave ANYTHING she finds on the floor out of her mouth. The good thing is that it makes the boys pick up their stuff since they know Lily will eat it if they don't.

She is also becoming a MAJOR stinker to Minnie The Cat. She jumps at, nips at, and paws at the poor cat. I would feel really bad for Minnie, except for the fact that Princess Minnie can go ANYWHERE in the house, unlike to the dog, to get away from Lily and instead she just sits there staring at her.

Like I don't have enough problems with sibling rivalry with the boys, now I have it with the animals too.

Things got better when I'm on the computer, since I gave her one of the old laundry baskets with a blanket and all of her toys right on the floor next to me. Since she follows me around everywhere I go (ALL THE TIME) this way she has somewhere cozy to sit while I'm at the computer.

I got a temporary fence up in the back so Miss Lily can run around on her own, but if I'm not back there, Silly Lily sits at the fence and barks instead of running around. I really hope she grows out of this phase.

I think she has fleas again. I'm not sure. My other neighbor assures me it's because she spends so much time outside, but it really does freak me out if we're going to have BUGS all the time. I feel so dirty when we have bugs in the house. So I got some flea spray for inside the house and also treated the grass with bug stuff.

I also struggle with the fact that no matter how I CONSTANTLY clean, the house smells like dog. And Lily smells like dog. I really don't like the smell of dog. Not much more to say on that except for...Yuck!

She used to walk nicely on her leash and now she just wants to pull on you the whole time we're on a walk. My back has been hurting pretty badly again the last couple of weeks and it doesn't help to have the dog pulling me along, putting more stress on the already painful area.

Yes, Lily is fully part of the family. But I also have quite a few concerns coming up in the next few months. We're on borrowed time until her first heat comes, in which case we need to squeeze blood from a turnip and get her fixed. I also don't know what to do about her when I get a job this fall and I really don't know how to get her to go to the bathroom outside when it snows, considering she won't even go now if it's raining.

Would I do it over again? Believe it or not, I'm not sure. I am a person who likes things cut and dry and NOTHING with this puppy has been that way. Nothing is the same from day to day and she is not consistent or reliable in any way. But nevertheless, Miss Lily is here to stay. As much as she's driving me nuts, the house would definitely feel empty without her.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lemonade Stand





Drive bys


Now off to FINALLY buy the DS game that he's been saving for since July

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thursday Thirteen: What I Learned From My FIrst Time Camping

So you know that we went camping last weekend. What you may not know is that it was the first time IN MY LIFE that I had ever been. I went to music camp in cabins when I was a tween, but that doesn't REALLY count. Not like this where we had to plan out sleeping, meals, and activities for three days and two nights. Steve has been teasing me the entire 15 years we've been together about going camping. So we finally did. This is a partial list of the things we did right and the things we may want to change next time. Hopefully will serve as a reference next year :)

1. No matter how many extra clothes you bring, there will never be enough of some things (long sleeve sweatshirts and socks) and you will have to wash ALL of the clothes again whether you wore them or not. Another word about wardrobe. What mother in her right mind would pack sandals and water shoes, but NOT sneakers for hiking? Goes on the list of biggest OOPS of the trip.

2. Within five minutes of arrival, boys will be off playing in the woods, looking for and finding other kids to play with,. It was definitely a first... sending them off to play and not knowing where they are for an hour or more. Steve (and many other moms around) assured me that this is normal for a campground but it still took some getting used to.

3. Two tents are definitely a good idea, even if we could technically have all fit in one. Good for extra room to store food while sleeping, clothes that haven't been worn yet, extra blankets, and wiggle room.

5. Even when your husband scolds you for buying two twin air mattresses for the trip, bring them anyway. The same husband will be thanking you for those mattresses after the first night of bad sleep on a hard ground.

6. Bring spray bug repellent, NOT wipes. Made that mistake...won't make it again

4. Pick a campground that has many fun activities for the kids. Not only did this campsite have three different playgrounds, it also had a craft cabin that was open for a few hours each day and a beach.

7. Hang up the clothesline for wet clothes earlier in the day, and DON'T hang it over poison ivy. We're still waiting to see if any of the remnants will show up in the next couple of days :(

8. Don't make too much food for each meal. I was so worried that we wouldn't have enough for the boys to eat that we ended up making too much. And DON'T forget the salt or ketchup. Otherwise, you'll be making a hike up the hill to borrow them from the scouts nearby.

10. Don't worry about running out of firewood. Give a man a hatchet and free reign to make a big fire, and he'll be in hog heaven (at least, mine was)

11. If you're going to let the boys slide, run, and roll down a big huge dangerous hill, DON'T WATCH. It only gives them a chance to cry when they get hurt. Every other time, they just come slinking back covered in filth.

12. It's okay to send some family members off to do an activity without mom so she can break camp in peace. That, and nurse the remnants of the feast that the mosquitoes enjoyed from her feet and ankles.

9. Dollar store is a great place to prepare for a camping trip. A small bug keeping cage can amuse a boy (and many kids that he meets while at the camp site) busy for hours. And yes, the bugs will come all the way home with you, whether you want them to or not.

13. It never fails. One of the kids will complain the entire first day and then find his stride the next day and never want to leave. The other child will have a wonderful time the first day and be a weepy tired grumpy mess by the third day. And mom and dad will be exhausted and feel like they've walked a bazillion miles. But EVERYONE will be counting the days until they can return and do it again!

Oh, there is so much more that I could share. Everyone keeps asking me how I liked camping. I guess it's no big surprise considering I'm not really an adventurous type by nature. The thing that surprised everyone the most was that I had a really good time. Steve and I were commenting that it actually was easier in some ways than hotel traveling, since we didn't have to worry about kids being loud or getting into trouble since they were outside the whole time. And definitely much cheaper.

Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to a camping trip again next year.

Wordless Wednesday: Who Says Only Girls CAn Be Pretty?

Monday, August 2, 2010

We went camping this weekend. It was my first time as well as the boys'. I spent pretty much the entire week last week getting ready for it. There's a lot to share about it, but I am going to post about it later this week.

We have been dealing with lots of stuff around the Wheelz home lately. Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxing and fun, but it seems as if each day is holding more and more struggles. It is the reason that my posts have been much further spread apart lately. Despite all of the struggles, I don't look forward to school starting in a month and back to the rat race of running around constantly. I am truly living One Day At A Time right now and I wake up each morning hoping that this is the day that everything will work out and I will feel as if our life is normal again.

Maybe I am feeling even more out of control this morning since we missed church yesterday, due to camping. But doubtful since this morning isn't any different than any other day.

Stay tuned tomorrow. Hopefully, I will be able to put on a happy face again and pretend that everything is okay. That takes energy too.