Saturday, December 31, 2011

Traditions Lost and Found

I haven't done a Christmas post yet. Most likely, I probably won't. Yes, we had the usual opening presents on Christmas morning and I took a fine amount of pictures.

But Christmas this year felt non-exciting. Noah's surgery kind of brought things down a few levels and so did the fact that it never quite felt like Christmas since it rained the whole month of December instead of snowed. When one lives in Michigan, they really need snow on the ground for the holidays.

So looking back on the holiday season, I realized that there were a lot of "traditions" that we usually do as a family that we just kind of missed this year. I wonder if that's where we went wrong.

1. Sledding
We always go sledding as a family during Christmas Break. We were counting on this even more so this year since Aaron got a new "souped up" sled for Christmas and Noah got his first snow board. At this moment, they are both sitting on the floor of the garage, gathering dust.

2. Christmas lights
Every year, we usually take at least two trips in the car to go look at Christmas lights as a family. My parents took Aaron to a really neat display by them, but the fact that our van has now been broken for over two weeks, even after $200 of repairs, kind of brought a damper to trying to go out and see the lights.

3. Santa
We stopped the sitting on Santa's lap last year so actually this is the second year that that tradition is gone. But one still feels it's loss.

4. Trees in the bedroom
A couple of years ago I got the boys each their own mini tree for their bedrooms. This year, Noah never wanted to bother setting his up and Aaron knocked his over twelve times in the first day and decided it was in his way and we packed it back up. So Christmas never really came to their rooms.

5. Christmas Morning Excitement Low
The morning just felt like any other day, but with presents to open. There was no big screaming happy excitement this year. It was the first day of Noah's difficult stage of recovery, where Noah cried MANY times from pain that day, which kind of brought everybody down. Poor kid.

6. School parties
Every year but this one, I was able to attend the class parties, take pictures, and join in the merriment. This year I was working and missed it all. I definitely feel like something was lost and both boys asked why I couldn't have been there for them. It made me sad

7. No Christmas Break Fun
Usually I do all kinds of fun things with the boys over Christmas Break. Due to Noah's recuperation and money that would have been used for that purpose going into a piece of crap car that is still not repaired, we did NOTHING the entire two week period. Big waste of time off with the kids.

8. Non Existent Anniversary
Our 15th Wedding Anniversary came. And went. I think we may have actually smiled at each other in passing. That's about it. Not sure if we even kissed that day.

9. Black Friday
I used to go with my friend. That didn't happen and I did my only shopping online. I wonder if that set everything off to a bad start from the beginning.

10. Hormones
I'm off them for now. Enough said...

I know...major Downer Post. We did keep some of our usual traditions though. And we did enjoy those ones.

1. Christmas Eve Service
It was a really nice service at Cornerstone Church this year. Noah was definitely not in the mood to sing, but the service was nice and everyone got little mini flashlights to keep after using them during the service.

2. Christmas Eve Dinner Out
We very rarely go out to real restaurants any more so we kept our tradition and went to restaurant that the boys have been begging to go to. We took them to Logan's so they could throw peanuts on the floor. What seems like nothing to a grown up is pretty exciting to two little boys. Noah was bummed because he couldn't eat any of the peanuts (Day 5 after surgery) so he wants to go back again. Maybe NEXT Christmas.

3. Christmas Eve "procedure"
All stayed the same...watching Santa on NORAD, new PJ's before bed, family movie (Grinch) and Twas the Night Before Christmas story read.

And we even added a couple of new ones that I hope will become traditions

1. Movie Time
We decided to join the masses and go to a movie on Christmas Day (instead of the sledding that was planned). We took the boys to the Muppet Movie and enjoyed our trip down memory lane. We all enjoyed the movie and the break from the present opening. By the time we got home, there were a few presents left to open and I think we all enjoyed the new plan. Both boys have asked if we can do it again next Christmas.

2. Winterberry Pfaltzgraff
I found a 16 piece set of Christmas China that my MIL had given me over ten years ago that we had never gotten out, because we first lived in apartments and then had little boys who couldn't be trusted with good dishes. But I found them Christmas morning and decided it was time. I was so excited to set a pretty table for both of our big meals and I loved stacking them in the china cabinet to bring out next year. I think all three of the males in the house thought I was crazy by how excited I was but it was something that actually made me feel like a real person rather than a loser who couldn't make a nice Christmas for my family, so I reveled in this little joy.

3. New Year's Eve
We are going to try another new one this year. At age 7 and 9, the boys have never stayed up until midnight so we're going to let them try it tonight. I got some small fireworks to do in the driveway and then we will put them to bed. I have no idea if they're going to make it until midnight or not. I guess I'll have to let you know later.

So Christmas is done. I am having a hard time taking down the tree. I definitely want my living room back, but the tree we got this year is so incredibly healthy that I don't have the heart. We stopped watering it a week ago and the needles are still completely soft and it hasn't dropped a single needle yet. Crazy!

2012...who knows? If I don't expect good things then I can't be disappointed. Not the most positive outlook at the moment, but definitely the most honest one at this time.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

'Twas The Week Before Christmas

"Twas the week before Christmas and what did we do
Spent it recovering but NOT from the flu

Little Boy Noah has had sickness galore
So surgery was scheduled so he'd be sick no more

Little bro Aaron went off for a stay
with Grandma and Grandpa not too far away

A quick dinner out for his last solid meal
before it is time to begin the ordeal

The day started early before the sun came out
a gown and slippers but never a pout

Bundled up snuggly with his new blanket and monkey
a few sips of medicine and now he feels "funky"

Sitting and waiting for two hours to pass
Angry Birds and TV shows make the time go quite fast

The time came to go and there were a few tears
A reasonable reaction when one has some fears

So quickly it's over and he's back in the room
Slushies and Popsicles and Disney movies too

The nurses exclaim over and over again
what a wonderful patient our Noah has been

Three hours later it's time to go home
A ride in a wheelchair and we're ready to go

Home on the couch it's time to heal
and constantly get asked "How do you feel?"

Throat pain continues but it's controllable now
Especially since we finally know how

Four days have passed and life is returning
To normal except for some minor stomach churning

So the week before Christmas has passed in a blur
In the long run will be worth it, we are all quite sure

The stockings are hung and Noah's returning to his bed
So that tomorrow night it's Santa's living room instead

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We're Ready!

It's December 13th. 12 days until Christmas. 7 days until Noah's tonsillectomy. 1 day before Holiday Pops concerts start and I spend every evening performing. 4 days before kids are home from school for two weeks. Lots to do as we come down to the final stretch of the holidays.

Believe it or not, I think we're ready. I really have no way to anticipate recovery time for Noah so I finished shopping and wrapping presents last week so I won't have to deal with that next week. The tree is up and beautiful. We had a wonderful family gathering last weekend where we actually got a picture for the first time ever of our large blended family, including 13 grandkids all looking forward and smiling at the camera. Christmas performances at church and school are done and class party supplies are purchased and sent to school.

Aaron is excited about his solo sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's house while Noah goes in for his surgery. I have a few little gifties for Noah to help him stay quiet during recovery. I have heard various suggestions about what soft foods to have on hand so I will pick those up this weekend. Aaron got his tonsils out when he was two and doesn't remember so it was a very different experience than it will be this time around.

I know it will go well. I really like this ENT...the same one that did all three of Aaron's procedures when he was a baby. I am glad that we are getting this done since I know it will bring better health to our entire household. Noah is a little nervous, but right now he is more excited that he gets a new video game for his recovery.

So I think we're ready for the surgery....and for Christmas.

Now all we need is some snow. Michigan needs a White Christmas!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekend Top Five 12/5/11

Whew...the start to December came in with a blast this weekend. I have to say we have had a memorable start to the holiday season.

5. Cutting Down the Tree
This is our third year of cutting down our own Christmas tree. Rather than a cold snowy day for tree hunting, it dawned with rain...and a lot of it. After some discussion, we realized there would really be no other time to go so we decided to head out in the rain. Crazily enough, the rain stopped as we arrived at the tiny family farm we tried out this year. We drove out, picked out our tree, loaded it up and just as they were bundling it up for us, the skies opened and it started pouring. It worked out just right for us. Steve told me on the way home that he had never cut down a real tree before we started this tradition two years ago. I love this "newish" tradition and can't imagine it stopping anytime soon.

4. Christmas Cards
Yes, this seems pretty silly as a bullet. But considering the last two years it was something I never quite got around to, I am quite pleased with myself. Since the boys had to be to church early Sunday morning before their performances, I ordered some cards from Walgreens with this picture from the tree farm, brought them along and got them all done while waiting for church to start. Let's hear it multi-tasking! :)

3. Angel Alert!
The musical went really well.. The first service was WAY better than the second, given that the kids were all tired and had been been there for hours by the time the second performance was over. Aaron got to be a Wise Man's helper and carry a huge banner. Noah was a Shepherd and provided the slapstick comedy to the performance. Right up his alley, right? So they had a great time and I was very proud. I am hoping that they both are willing to try out for bigger parts during the next performance but as long as they have fun and are positive about it, I won't push very hard.

2. Decorating the Tree
Steve had to go sing Sunday afternoon so I decided to pull out the ornaments and decorate the tree. In past years, the kids have usually complained about helping so this year I didn't even offer. The funny thing was, since I didn't offer, the boys were extremely interested and we had such a fun time. Noah took his job of making the colors spread out very seriously and Aaron had fun with all of the "special" ornaments asking stories about them. We put it in a different place this year and I love our living room this way. If only I could put presents underneath without a cat of dog tearing them open. Oh well!

1. FIRE!
So having gotten everybody calm and in bed ready for the school/work week, I was just finishing singing to Noah when there was a constant loud banging on our side door. Our neighbor had a fire in his house and we had to get our children out and the cars out of our shared driveway. The kids went to our neighbors while firefighters handled the fire and it was over in about two hours. But having had a very strong fear of fire my entire life, I am still a bit freaked about it. Way too close for comfort. I am praying for my neighbors as they decide whether they are going to fully rebuild or not. Aaron was a bit nervous so as I was bringing them back home, I had the fire chief talk to the boys and he felt better. I did too.

So the weekend was definitely memorable. Noah starts basketball this week and the kids have their school Christmas concert as well. Still no snow. Michigan Christmas without snow just doesn't work so the atmosphere better start churning soon.

Have a great week!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's December Thursday Thirteen

December already? Yup!

Wow, what a year!

This month always seems like such a whirlwind that I always need to remind myself to slow down and take it a day at a time. I sat down with the December calendar to plot it out since there is always so much going on.

There's a lot coming up in the next couple of weeks leading up to the "Big Day". Christmas shopping is done for the most part, including wrapping, which usually isn't even touched until the week before Christmas. Tree isn't up and I no longer have a day off from work during the week, due to teacher problems at work. Yeah, I got a total of two weeks with a day off before I had to go back to every day again. So getting things done is even more difficult than I anticipated. The funny thing is, I'm really not too stressed about it all. I'm not sure why, but instead I am actually feeling pretty calm heading into the busiest time of year.

13 Things coming up:

13. Kids' Church musical practice Saturday. It will be fun to see it all put together for the first time.

12. Chopping down the Christmas tree Saturday afternoon. It will be weird doing it with no snow on the ground but at least we'll be able to get a good look at all of them before freezing our fingers off this year.

11. Angel Alert! Musical performance at church on Sunday. This will be the first time either of the boys have been part of a production like this. I hope they have fun and want to do it again.

10. Noah's first basketball practice is next Wednesday. I really hope the enthusiasm he has at this moment continues.

9. Aaron's speech assessment will come back before Christmas Break and we'll be forced to make a decision on what we will do regarding him being "labeled" as a special education child

8. School Concert next kid playing the recorder, the other the kazoo. My ears are ringing already.

7. Scholastic Warehouse Christmas shopping items will then be complete

6. Family Christmas celebration...I love this big family of mine!

5. Only two more weeks of work until I get a break...woo hoo!

4. Symphony Holiday Pops...4 nights in a row of concerts. I love the music this's all carols and two songs from the movie Home Alone. And it looks like I'll be healthy enough to actually enjoy performing for them this year. Icing on the parents coming to the performance on Sunday afternoon.

3. Noah's tonsillectomy 5 days before Christmas...a little pain will pay off in a lifetime of better health than his mommy has had. We're all hoping he will be feeling better by Christmas

2. Our 15th Wedding anniversary..are we really that old????

1. Christmas Eve Church Service...going at 2PM this year so we have the entire evening to enjoy as a family...provided Noah is feeling okay.

Such a fun time of year. I should totally be stressed. Maybe I will be tomorrow.

But not tonight.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

(Not Very) Wordless Wednesday: Bathroom Overhaul

Nine and a half very very old house...nasty bathroom with chipped paint, rotting wood, moldy walls, and falling apart surround. No money for redo but a woman fed up with being grossed out every time a visitor uses her "facilities".


A trip to Home Depot, a quick lesson in scraping, mudding, priming and painting a bathroom and the woman goes to work...

There required an additional trip to Menards for goggles after dried putty invades her eyes during the sanding process, but having forgotten a mask, a kitchen towel and clothespin suffice quite nicely for protection against the "elements".

After four days of stealing time between working two jobs and running a household of men and beasts (and the same number of days taking baths instead of showers)...

Above the window before and after

The divider between shower and sink area before and after

Two holes over the toilet left over from a falling cabinet before and after

It is by all means NOT a great looking job. It's really not even a fair looking job.

But it's fresh, clean, probably much safer (I'm sure one of the exposed layers had contained based paint) and it is no longer a room that makes me cringe any time someone (including myself) needs to do some business.

Someday I hope to do the room correctly. But for now, I have to admit that I am quite pleased with myself.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Noah's Poem of Remorse

Sometimes the nine year old in our house just makes me smile, no matter how angry I can feel at him at times.

I am feeling quite horrible today, cough, headache, sore know the drill. So I went to take a bath while the boys were happily trying out a new Wii game I had rented for them for the day. I was so impressed at how well they were sharing.

About ten minutes after I get in the bath, I hear screaming, crying, and banging around. Hubby and two boys were in an all out battle about the Wii game. Of course, I got out of the bath a few minutes later and sent everyone to cool off in their own respective rooms.

I sat down to the computer to try to cool down myself when Noah came out to present his note of remorse, as he does very often when something isn't right. It is on a TINY piece of paper, as all of his drawings are minuscule in size. I had to read it twice before I realized it was a poem:

I hate to admit it
I yelled quite a lot
And I did get punished
But mad I am not

If you are reading this
It might seem tart
But your sons love you
With all of their hearts

Where did he learn the word "tart" ?

Yup, gonna keep this little scrap of paper forever.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Concert High Post

Hopefully others who have experienced "concert highs" will understand this :)

I just got home from my first performance with the symphony chorus for this concert season. We performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (the Ode to Joy one) and it was by far the best the chorus has ever sounded. It is just SO much fun to do be part of this ensemble. It is one thing that I do for myself and I love being part of a large singing ensemble performing wonderful music. Since I'm not on facebook anymore, I will probably post the review here just so I have for future reference.

So because of my concert high, I am feeling pretty happy so I was reflecting on this past week and thinking about the many good things that transpired. It is always good to think on the positive when I can...

A. Symphony performance-already stated above...went well and another one tomorrow night

B. Conferences- also went great.
No surprise with Noah, still holding straight A's at this time, although he has made it clear to both his teacher and myself that 4th grade is hard. It's about time the little stinker was challenged :) The best thing that came out of it was seeing that for the second year in a row, he has a teacher who recognizes his amazing creative talents and she is actually nurturing him by letting him doodle his comics on his papers. As she put it, "I know he's listening so I am okay with his doodles and besides they make me smile." She is even entering some of his comics into a scholastic contest. It is amazing that a first year teacher can be so in touch with kids like Noah. We are so lucky to have found the right place for him.
Aaron's conference was CRAZY. His teacher started out by stating, "You know, this kid should technically not even be here and he has the highest reading scores in the entire class, which consists of kids almost two years older than him!" She went on to discuss him in great length about how special he is and how I need to stop worrying anymore about having made the wrong decision to go ahead and put him right in first grade last year. She said that even though his writing is indeed at the first grade level, which matches his age, his reading and math scores are at second (or third in the case of reading) grade level and he talks, acts, and looks like a second grader in every way. He fits in well with his peers and as she put it, "Aaron is really discovering who Aaron is this year". It was so amazing how she talked about him. So I need to FINALLY stop worrying about whether we made the right decision last year and just continue to focus on the special little guy that he is. He will be working with the speech therapist once a week to help with his stuttering.

C. Work- went well this week. It is partly knowing that this is my last week of working all five days and it feels good to know I will get a little breather next week. I even spent some time painting a turkey on our front window which was hilarious because as talented as my son is artistically is how UNTALENTED his mother is. I will post a picture soon just for laughs.

D. Health- Got Aaron on antibiotics for bronchitis and had his well child visit as well. Got Noah scheduled for tonsillectomy five days before Christmas so it should be a interesting Christmas break. I am sick yet again like I get every symphony performance so I'll just keep pushing through knowing I will have Monday to relax and rest (in between loads of laundry).

E. Christmas Preparations- Almost finished shopping for one of the boys. Thank goodness since my income is about to drop drastically. All Christmas music has started on one of our local radio stations and it makes me smile to listen to both boys singing "O Holy Night" out loud in the car as we drive from place to place. Noah is asking for decorations, which may start appearing next week some time.

F. It snowed! I know in a month from no I'll be complaining but there is nothing like the first snowfall of the year to make a true Michigander smile.

G. Noah's Basketball Placement-Went well. He tried to say the night before that he didn't want to do it but that is the way he is with trying anything new. He gets nervous and works himself right out of trying. The Upward Program is a church league for children. It will have around 600 kids playing this season and there are devotionals before games and during half time. The kids are also expected to memorize scripture as part of the program as well as learning all of the skills of the game. I hope it will be a good experience for him. As of now, he is excited about it, which makes me happy.

So my concert high is starting to wind down. I wrote about my "joys" from this week and now that I am coming down it is time to take a bath and head off to bed. Tomorrow afternoon I have three piano students performing downtown and two of the three are not ready so it may be a shaky afternoon but we'll get through.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Let the Crazies Begin!

Phew! Halloween is over. Yay! Now for the real stuff.

As much as I love the hullabaloo of the holidays, I do have to remind myself on a regular basis to take things one day at a time. And the next 2 weeks, there are going to many moments of one HOUR at a time. Why is it that we have weeks where we have absolutely NOTHING to do, and then weeks where there are four things that need to get done every day?

Thankfully, my boss informed me this morning that she may have finally come up with a solution to me getting a day off each week. And boy do I need a day off.

Our craziness goes into full force beginning on Saturday. In the next week we have:

10. Noah's basketball trials and placement on Saturday
9. MIL and FIL performing in a play that we are expected to take the boys to and pray that they actually sit quietly and pay attention the entire time on Sunday
8. Symphony week all week next week, meaning mommy will be gone every single night until after 10:00 with performances both Friday and Saturday night-Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (The one you all know as Ode To Joy)
7. Conferences for both boys
6. ENT appointment to schedule Noah's tonsillectomy
5. 7 year well child visit for Aaron
4. Daylight savings time-always throws the boys for a loop for a few days
3. Sonatina Festival next Saturday where three of my students are performing
2. Day off of school Friday meaning boys will have to come to Gymboree with me all day
1. Speech assessment for Aaron
I know I am missing a couple of things but I seem to be drawing a blank at the moment.

All of these are in addition to the regular work five days, four evenings, homework, housecleaning, carpooling, etc.

I am sitting here thinking about the approaching week with less stress than I would have figured. I think it's because I am thinking about where we were a year ago. Last year at this time I was starting an overnight stocking job, which turned out to be miserable and made me sicker than I've ever been for the entire holiday season. On top of that, we were facing foreclosure during the entire holiday season last year. And I was desperately applying for any job I could think of...with no success and the resulting despondency that accompanied unemployment.

So as I think of last year's approaching holidays, I can't help but be thankful that this year should feel a little more smooth. No, we really aren't really any better financially than we were last year, but I do have a couple of things to put under the tree for the boys, our extended family celebrations are planned and on the calendar, I have a job, and for the moment at least, our house is securely our own. I'd say that is definitely a better place to be than a year ago.

So the next week is going to be crazy. But it's okay. One day at a hour at a minute at a time...we'll get through it.

Whatever it takes, I am going to enjoy the season this year. I am going to try very hard to NOT let it go by in blur.

I am going to smile and wish goodwill upon others.

Here we go...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Scrooge

I have become a Halloween equivalent of the Scrooge.

I don't know. I use to like it when I was little so I'm not sure what changed. But really, I could take it or leave it. Thankfully, the kids go to a school that doesn't celebrate it so I don't have to deal with a sugar filled party during the day followed by door to door begging on a school night. I have no creative skills to make costumes and just can't bring myself to spend $20 for a thin veil of fabric that will be worn once so my kids can go begging at houses of people whom we don't know.

See, I told you...Halloween Scrooge. It's not for any big personal beliefs reason. I don't have any opinion on the "holiday" itself. I just really don't care about it either way.

So Monday night we will probably be handing out candy to the other neighborhood beggars and heading to bed on time.

But I have to give in to the kids' participation in the festivities at least a little. So tonight, there is a safe trick or treat Halloween alternative that I we will bring the boys to. It looks like fun and the boys are fine with re-wearing costumes from previous years in order to participate. So we will head to a local college, trick or treat from dorm room to dorm room, play fun games in each of the building lobbies, and come home for bed with our annual sugar high accomplished.

We'll get through Halloween and then finally be ready to start the preparations for the real holidays.

That's when I go overboard in the other direction. I imagine I will start playing Christmas music once November arrives. Yes, I'm one of THOSE people.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oh How The Years Go By...

The song in the title of this post by Amy Grant from quite a long time ago is running through my head this morning. As are tears of sadness as well as joy.

My baby boy is seven today.

He has made it very clear that he is finally a big kid.

And he really did look older this morning.

Okay, you may be a big boy now.

But let me tell you something...

You'll ALWAYS be my baby.

Happy 7th Birthday Aaronator!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Fun

Another weekend over and a new week begins. It is a beautiful sunny afternoon outside and it makes me grateful for how gorgeous the weather was all weekend long. Thankfully...since we had outdoor activities planned the entire weekend, which is daring in October in Michigan.

Saturday was our annual cousin family trip to the pumpkin patch. We had smaller numbers this year than in past years, but we had a very fun time. Aaron has been talking about the zip line at this orchard since he went last time two years ago and was so excited to slide down it again. Noah was pretty much all over the place, as he was the entire weekend, but he had a good time. He has been wacky ever since he started a new medication that FINALLY worked (he was diagnosed with walking pneumonia last Thursday) so I am counting on him finally acting normal again after his last dose tonight. But I know he had fun running around being crazy so I won't deny him the happy memories. We came home with four cute little pumpkins that I am hoping that we get carved/painted some time before Halloween.

Saturday afternoon was spent getting ready for Aaron's birthday party with the cousins on Sunday. We managed to get the yard raked, mowed and cleaned up and ready for the festivities. I actually enjoy raking leaves and the clean look the yard has after it's finished.

Sunday dawned another beautiful day. Aaron asked for a pinata for his birthday party and we were so lucky that it was sunny and warm for the pinata activity outside. He picked out a cute spotted dinosaur and Steve hung it up and was ready for action. Aaron took three swings (although I think he could see from under the blindfold) and cleanly knocked the head right off the thing. Since the candy didn't come out, each child that wanted to took a shot at destroying the thing and kids wasted no time digging right into their candy loads. Aaron had a blast opening a pile of wonderful gifts, eating cake, and playing with his cousins. Although we stayed pretty low key this year, Noah told me later that night that it was the "perfect kind of party" that he wanted the same thing next year. Aaron went to bed smiling with his arms wrapped tightly around his two new Angry Birds stuffed animals.

The week ahead is a busy one. Aaron's actual birthday is tomorrow and I managed to find a teacher to cover some of my classes tomorrow morning so I can take treats up to Aaron's class. It will be the first time this school year that I have actually been able to be involved with anything at school so I am happy to have it. My BABY will be seven years old. I think that makes ME old too...

Heading out to enjoy one more beautiful afternoon:)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thoughts on a Cold Wednesday Night

It's cold outside...and wet. The perfect night to curl up in bed with a book. And that is exactly what I intend to do as soon as the boys get home from choir practice and I put them to bed.

It's been a rough week around the Wheelz Home. Noah has been sick for a week and doesn't seem to be wanting to break it any time soon. I've been sending him to school most days anyway just because I have to go to work...the guilt which is tearing me apart. My boss is gone and the new people we hired just quit so there is no one to take my place if I don't go. Talk about pressure :( I do think he's on the mend but it has been hard to see him under the weather for so long.

Meanwhile, little brother has luckily stayed healthy considering we are heading into his birthday weekend. I had a crazy run around for 48 hours trying to track down his birthday present since it has now been officially discontinued and it was hard to find a store still carrying them. We are also experiencing some Big Brother jealousy this time around which we have never had before.

Waiting to hear about job applications that were put out last week. That is kind of keeping the Wheelz Family on pins and needles a little as well.

And believe it or not...I started making a dent in Christmas shopping already. And kind of having fun with it. Knowing that funds are going to start dwindling soon when I drop hours (hopefully soon) is driving me to get started every time I see sales one the things that I want to get the boys for Christmas. You know what I think my dream job would be? Christmas shopping for rich people (with their money of course) who don't have the time to do it for themselves. It is so much fun to get things for people that you will make them happy and then I love the anticipation of their smiles when they open them. That job would be so much fun.

Big time on my mind...I got an email from Aaron's teacher today saying she referred him to the speech therapist in the school for further evaluation. I should be happy about this since I spent the years from when he was 2 until 5 trying desperately to get a referral and everyone kept telling me he was fine when I knew something wasn't right. Now, when I have finally let my guard down and believed that he really was the same as everyone else, I get this email about special services he may need. I should be happy. I know I should be happy that they want to give him some help, But actually, I am upset. And sad. And even a little angry. I think I need to sleep on this one and get a fresh perspective on it in the morning. And then be patient to wait to hear from the woman who is supposed to be calling. I wish I had known he was going to be referred BEFORE he got evaluated so it didn't seem like such a blind side.

SO those are my thoughts on this cold fall evening. Aaron's birthday and our annual extended family trip to the pumpkin patch will bring some much needed cheer and celebration this coming weekend. I hope that after we get through these next two days, we can truly just relax and enjoy the time this weekend letting go of all this stuff.

As a matter of fact, I'm counting on it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Wonderful Nothing Weekend

The title pretty much sums up our weekend. Fall is always such a busy time for us that we were surprised when we headed into last weekend without a single plan.

The boys were wonderful enough to let me sleep in a little on Saturday morning so I was in a pretty happy mood when I got up around 8:30. After some reminders that rooms had to be cleaned on Saturday, we headed out to run some Saturday morning errands.

First stop was the craft tables at Lowe's. They have crafts approximately twice a month and the boys enjoy them because they get to do all of the construction themselves. It was pretty funny because during the one last month Noah decided to forgo the directions and ended up having to take it apart and start over. This time, he read the directions thoroughly before he started and stuck to the directions completely. I love it when he learns things that way and actually follows through on them.

Afterward, we headed over to the party store to see if we could find an inexpensive costume for that evening's pumpkin path sponsored by our city. It's kind of like a trick or treat through the park deal. We didn't find anything reasonable and left without a purchase. And strangely enough, the boys were absolutely fine with it.

As the day rolled along, it was beautiful, hot, and sunny all day, unusual for an October afternoon and we stayed outside playing most of the day. The boys discovered treasures that had been left untouched most of the summer (roller blades, scooters, etc) and they decided to continue to play instead of even going to the pumpkin walk, which brought relief to Steve and me. (We really don't need all that candy in the house anyway)

Sunday was yet another GORGEOUS day out and after we came home from church, we again settled in for a day of outside nothingness. Thanks to our neighbor selling her very large picnic table in her garage sale last week, we had a blast sitting out on the table, reading, coloring, and even doing Aaron's math review and Noah's spelling review for the week outside.

Steve and I also spent sometime working on resumes and other career related stuff. We are working to figure out a way to make our lives better for the future. A couple of quick prayers sent our way on that front would be awesome if you are so inclined.

At dinner Sunday night, Noah and Aaron both declared it a "GREAT WEEKEND". I asked them why and nobody could answer.

It was just a great weekend of being together doing nothing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Guess What They Want Now?

We made a quick trip to our favorite apple orchard a couple of weekends ago to pick some apples. We enjoy the slide that comes out of a barn that goes quite fast, petting the goats and seeing the cute tiny brand new baby goats, and in the past Noah's favorite part was the "kitty barn". The kitty barn is just that...a barn FULL of new born kittens that Noah has loved each time we've gone.

But this kitty barn.

To which Noah was disappointed.


Yes, the pen filled with bunnies was an immediate hit!

Noah has always been fascinated about the stories of the pet bunny Steve and I had before the busy were born. We have a picture of our dutch rabbit sniffing a Newborn Noah right before we had to find a new home for her.

So the entire time we were at the orchard, Noah continued to return to the bunny pen. And pick up the same bunny over and over again.

He named it "Nibbles" since it was the one that kept eating his jacket. And Steve's jacket.

They were so sweet and soft that it did remind us that it was probably the best pet we've ever had.

But alas, Minnie Cat and Lily Pup are part of the Wheelz Family at this time.

But boy were those bunnies sweet!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An Apple's Journey

A. Noah checks out the selection and picks the very best apples he can find. Schwallier's Country Basket is the best apple picking orchard in Grand Rapids. They are sooooooo good!

B. Aaron is ready to take his bag home

C. Both boys help to peel the caramels and only eat a small few :)

D. As the caramel melts, it's time to insert the popsicle sticks

E. Aaron helps drip the caramel onto the apples

F. Picture Perfect

G. Noah declares them "Sticky but Delicious!"

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I'm Back...

...and really happy to be!

I made a dramatic decision this week to stop facebook for the time being. I already miss seeing what's up with my family members and I KNOW I am going to miss the pictures of them all, including pictures of a new baby niece who was born last week.

But I also know that the changes will be for the better. Some of my hopes in this change are:

A. I plan to stay in better contact with family members and friends through email or phone calls. Less stalking...more talking. That's my goal. I just made that up myself..see how returning to blogging brings back the creative juices :)

B. The time that I previously spent finding out what was going on with my family and friends in the cyber world will now be spent finding out what's happening with my family in my very own house.

C. I missed writing. Real writing, not just one liners about random things that happen. That is why I started this blog originally. Although it went through several stages, it started out as a way to chronicle our lives and write funny stories that I would want to remember. That is what I want to return to. BVelieve it or not, I used to love writing when I was a little girl and wanted to be an author at one time. (Actually, I secretly still do).

So yup, I'm back. I will still not be sharing the knowledge of this blog with my in-law family. This is mine. And I am so excited. I have so many stories and pictures that I haven't put on here that I will want to record for future memories. Since I am unable to write when kids are around, I will be able to only blog after kids go to bed, which should make it not interfere with our family time...the biggest reason for shutting down my facebook obsession.

I'm back. It feels so good to be writing again :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy School Year 2011!

So usually I do a post about the first day of school and the pictures of each of them as they head out the door. But as I was uploading the pictures from the first day today, I started going back through some old pictures (I always get nostalgic on the first day of school) and got a little stunned. I found a picture of Noah on his first day of second grade and compared it to the picture of Aaron this morning on his first day of second grade. It was crazy.

Check this out:

They both had a great first day. They were so excited to be back that they RAN into school without even saying goodbye. I could be sad...but instead I am happy that they have a place to learn where they are happy to be and feel safe.

Happy School Year 2011!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tuesday Tackle: Aaron's Room

So I did a "venting" post nearly a month ago and then not another word. So I can be fairly sure that no one is reading this anymore but I needed to document the next in my ongoing series of room re-dos.

Aaron has been in his current bedroom for about a year and a half. Before that, it was our bedroom and I had painted it mint green with a "flower" border just so that I had one room in our house that wasn't ALL boy. Aaron has been in that room without complaint. He has a spiderman comforter and blue curtains on his windows, however it still didn't speak BOY with mint green walls.

So as happens EVERY summer end/fall, I got in the mood to paint about a week ago. Aaron's room and the living room are on tap. Because we have been in limbo for a year now over whether we were going to lose the house, I haven't spent much time making any kind of improvements in the house. Happy to say, about twenty four hours after this posts, we will be OFFICIALLY out of foreclosure and our house will be our own again. Yay!!! So it seemed a perfect time to make up for lost time and masculinize AA's room.

I can't believe the difference a coat of paint makes. All of a sudden the green room with various colored toys and accessories now seems to all match and definitely looks like a boy's room. Aaron is so happy with the change too.

Noah is asking for a room improvement now as well but he's not on tap for a paint job. I've got some other ideas in store for him, maybe some time after school starts. And the living room desperately needs a new paint job ever since we pulled up the carpet.

Now if I could just convince my boss to give a day off once in awhile this fall so I can work on my house and we'll be all set.

Six days until school starts so we're off to go bowling.

Monday, July 25, 2011

This Kid Needs A Pool!

Aaron is our Water Boy!

He loves to be all engulfed in anything wet.

He has a bit of an obsession with dunk tanks and begs every day to be in one.

I found a small sprinkler for him this year but rather than playing with it the correct way, he took the spinning top off and created a "fountain".

Then it became clear to this creative little boy that he could indeed create his own "dunk tank" by sitting on the chair and pretending to fall in.

This activity has continued to evolve over the last few weeks but he spends more time out with his creation than anywhere else these days.

Most kids play in kiddie pools.

Apparently all mine needs is a Rubbermaid bucket from the garage :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Boys Exploring the Dunes

One reason we are lucky for living where we do in Michigan is our close proximity to Lake Michigan. In less than an hour's drive, we can get to the "Big Lake" to play whenever the fancy strikes us. In the past couple of years, we have frequented the beach in Grand Haven, particularly because it had the scenery of the lighthouse and because it contained fond memories of our college years. But it was missing the one element that I remember so well from my childhood...sand dunes. So a couple of weeks ago, we decided to drive a little further north and try out the other nearby state park beach, complete with sand dunes.

We are loving it!

We had so much fun that we returned again this past Sunday, this time with my sister and her three kids. After lots of swimming in the bigg-ish waves, the four boys set off to explore the dunes. With varying degrees of success in the "stay together" instruction, they had a great time. They found a couple of tepee type structures in which to play "warriors" and also a big branch that extended over a two foot or so drop. I remember climbing on sand dunes when I was a little girl and I am happy that the boys are going to makes these memories as well.

After several rounds of back and forth between lake and dunes, we decided it was time to head home. As we were leaving, my sister and I started noticing "battle wounds" on the happy little boys' bodies from branches, but I chocked it up to "boys will be boys" and after a good shower and antibiotic cream on the scratches, my boys are already asking if we'll be back this week for a third Sunday in a row.

I may not be able to provide a big summer vacation for my boys. But I know that this memory will be one that will last, as it has for me for well over 30 years.

So, in response to the boys' plea if we're going back this week...given the forecast of highs in the 90's and humid, muggy air, I'd say that the chances are good :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

How to Enjoy A Splashpad

In our area, ever the last few years, splash pads have been springing up all over the place. They're safer, easier, and less expensive to maintain than city pools and do a great job keeping the kids cool in the hot summer weather.

Aaron is a water MANIAC. He is one who from day one has always wanted to be engulfed in water and will do anything to be wet, no matter what the weather outside or what he happens to be wearing at any given time. So therefore, the boy begs every day to go to the newest splash pad that was recently installed right around the corner from us. And true to hos personality, he has a blast every single time, with a bucket and a smile :)

Noah hasn't been so enthusiastic this year about splash pads this year. Each time we go, I bring his bathing suit but he's not interested. He finally told me why the other day and so now I understand his thought process. The last time we went with some friends though after we were there for well over and hour, just as we were getting ready to leave, he asked to put on his suit and join in the fun. Unfortunately, I had to tell him no. I felt so bad. But I am hoping that means that he is ready to join in the fun next time.

Which I'm sure will come very soon.