Monday, December 31, 2012

Weekend Top Five 12/30/12

So now I think I'm caught up, at least for now :)

This weekend was the come down from a crazy holiday week and it was a good one as well. It certainly was nice having Hubby home fro the entire week following Christmas and by this weekend we had definitely settled into a comfortable pattern...Daddy and mommy sleeping in and the boys even sleeping in as well. Noah slept in later than ever before and woke up Saturday in what was probably the best mood he's had in five years. It's amazing how nice a household can be when everyone is being nice to each other.

So Saturday was a laze around kind of day for the most part. Both boys were able to accomplish something that a year ago each was unable to do. I will explain below.

5. Pajamas All Day Saturday
I didn't even realize until bedtime that none of us had gotten dressed fully. I had put jeans on to run to the store an Steve had put jeans on when they went outside but for the most part it was just a snuggle in kind of day

4. Outside Fun
We FINALLY had enough snow for sledding and the boys bundled up (yes, in their pajamas) and headed over to a tiny sledding hill by our house. Last year Noah could only make it down a hill maybe two or three times on his snowboard in an entire sledding session. It's amazing the difference a year makes. He took that board up, sailed down the hill his very first time and was even taking jumps by the end of the time at the hill.

3. Undecking The Halls
I usually always wait until New Years Day to take down he majority of the decorations but with the tree already down  it seemed just natural to finish up the job. we are keeping the outside lights up for awhile, just because I love the look of them when I come home. The boys have both had fewer allergy issues since we took the tree down and I wonder if it's because we got a different kind of tree than ever before of because they are truly allergic. I guess we'll wait until next year to find out.

2. Skating Rink
Since I had a commitment Sunday afternoon Steve took the boys to a skating rink that had free open skating on Sundays for Christmas Break. A year ago on New Years Eve I took the boys skating and although Noah was rocking the rink, Aaron spent the entire time last year whining on the side crying that it was too hard, even though the time before that he had done great. THIS year however, after we discovered that the kid now wears a SIZE 7 shoe and he's bee wearing 5s and 6s (yes, I have to find a way to buy new shoes for the 8 year old giant),  he went out onto the skating floor and continued the entire time, even participating  in the special skates like limbo and Dead Bug.

1. Final Good Bye
Although I was done teaching classes at Gymboree, I had committed to running a birthday party for a little girl's second birthday who was the very first little one I had "graduated" at 6 months old from her first play class. It was bittersweet as I have come to know the family very well over the last 2 years. However, the owner pulled another frustrating stunt right when it was time to leave, which was just a reminder about why I am so happy to be walking away from that job. So Steve had been itching to have a campfire in our backyard all week so we decided that the perfect kindling would be the stack of my lesson plans for the last 2 years. Steve and Noah had a blast making a fire and burning every last note card.

The Week Ahead
Tonight is New Year's Eve and we have bee treated to free tickets to a Hockey game tonight from Steve's work, followed by an indoor fireworks display, whatever that means. The rest of the week Steve will return to work and we will enjoy a week at home before the boys go back to school and I start my new career. I am getting very nervous about the new job for so many reasons. this week will also see my boys get a sleep over at their grandparent's and Steve and I will finally go out for our anniversary dinner. There are a lot of issues that need to dealt with around here as we transition into a new family plan. The boys also have their first basketball games next weekend so that should be an experience as well.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Weekend Top Five 12/17/12

Found this post from a few weeks back and need to  publish it for consistency.

5. Starting to Say Goodbye
Friday was the day that I started to let my gymboree families know that I was leaving. It was  a nice thing though because the moms and grandmas were all so happy for me that I was moving on to bigger and better things that it felt really good. Gymboree was very good for me when I got the job. When I started that job, our house was in full foreclosure and we didn't really have any hopes of getting out of it. Two years later, (with a little help that has now been paid back due to gymboree) our house is ours for good again. Also, if it wasn't for that job, I never would have thought about returning to teaching in the capacity of early childhood education. Not too back for a part time job, huh? Oh, and I got to practice my artistry on the front windows :)

4. Warehouse Sale with Sisters
Scholastic has a huge warehouse nearby which opens its doors several times a year to the public for shopping. Most items are half off and I love to go and stock up for the boys (and myself I have to admit). Last year I invited my SIL along and she made out quite well also. So this year my sister and sister in law decided we would make a threesome and head out together. It was a nice time of just the three of us shopping together and we even got to visit with Clifford the Big Red Dog. It's a good thing these sales are only periodically...they're too dangerous otherwise :)

3. Elf Hunting at the Museum

 My brother's family was in town for our annual family Christmas on Sunday so we packed the cousins up and headed to our local museum for some Elf and Santa Hunting. We had a great time and the kids actually found all of the Santas and Elves. My seven year old niece was the champion elf finder for sure, even finding the really well hidden ones (and one creepy looking one I must say).

2. Soundboard Duty
Noah is becoming quite capable of running the soundboard on the first and third Sundays of each moth fir children's church. He is getting more independent and his friend from church ha now decided to join him one Sunday a month running the computer while Noah runs the sound. A week later while we were at the big church service, Noah looked at the huge soundboard and says, "Someday I'm going to run THAT one!". I love that he is learning this skill as it could actually lead to something someday if he wants it too. Otherwise, it's just a cool thing to know and a way for him to serve in church and be proud of himself as well.

1. Family Christmas
We are a blended family and we are also lucky that we are able to get everyone together to spread Christmas cheer. There are 15 grandchildren, at least one born every year since 2001 until last year. It makes for fun and  craziness that the kids look forward to so much each year. Their cousins are truly some of their best friends and I hope it will stay that way for a very long time. I had forgotten my camera so I only got blurry pictures with my ipod but the funniest picture of the day was Noah opening his presents. He received a sock monkey hat from my MIL the week before and has not been seen without it very much over the last two weeks. So naturally, he was wearing it the entire day at my parent's house. While he was opening his presents, he was looking down and I snapped a picture. Then I started laughing. Upon looking at the picture, it looked as if a monkey was opening the gifts. The picture still makes me giggle every time I see it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

What a Week!

Whew! It's Friday night again. It seems like a month since last Friday night because it has been so eventful. I guess the only reason for this post is because I want to remember pieces of it to jog the many memories we've made.

I should really back up even more but that would be out of control so I'll just go back a week.

A week ago was Friday night, December 21st. It was also my hubby's and my 16th wedding anniversary. Rather than dinner and a movie as is our custom, we stayed home with a sick child, whom we now have decided that he has had the full blown flu...poor kid. Apparently so did the majority of his class so we are just glad it happened now instead of after school starts up again. Now if he could just get rid of this nasty cough it would be a good thing.

That day was also my last day at the job I've held for two years teaching mommy and me classes at gymboree. It was bittersweet and I will keep the rest of the thoughts about that day inside for awhile longer.

The next day was technically the first day of Christmas vacation. Since Aaron's cough was really sounding awful I remembered someone once saying that if a baby has croup to take them outside, so why not an eight year old? I found a very neat place nearby called the Critter Barn that not only had TONS of live chicks, bunnies and cats to hold, touch and play with, but also a live nativity performance and sheep shearing. Best of all, it was FREE. We went and had the best hour and a  half ever. Noah was in heaven picking up and playing with baby chicks, some of whom were only a few days old. The Nativity was interesting and I  learned a few things I didn't know about the manger itself. It was just a really really neat place to visit and I can't believe I never knew about it before now.

Sunday we had planned to go to the "Christmas Eve" service since our church was doing five identical services on Sunday and Monday and encouraging all of the regular attendees to come Sunday to leave space on Monday for visitors.  But sometimes even the best laid plans go awry and we decided to go on Monday night instead since we were heading to Detroit for the day for an impromptu visit with the bulk of the Wheelz Clan. Surprisingly enough, it actually ended up being a pretty good visit and the kids had a fun time playing with their cousins that they don't see as often. The boys' favorite part was eating their traditional Pile Of Cream, courtesy of my SIL.

Monday was Christmas Eve and due to (yes again) finances we had to skip our traditional dinner out after Christmas Eve services but we still had a memorable night. After church we came home and opened our Secret Santa gifts from each other and got some giggles out of the things the boys had picked out for us. I spent the day getting baking done and the boys spent time making a welcome sign for Santa.

Church was amazing as always, including the first time the boys got to hold their own candles for the candlelight service.  The opening was crazy rocking and rolling a la Trans Siberian Orchestra and ended with it "snowing" in the sanctuary.

So as the boys get older it gets a little more difficult to keep the element of surprise for Christmas morning but I do believe we achieved it :) After the boys finally fell asleep and we got the presents under the tree, we got silly and decided to cover the entire doorway to the living room with wrapping paper, to keep our very curious boys from creeping in before we wake up.  It definitely achieved it's goal.  We were greeted in the morning with the boys jumping on our bed saying, "Mommy, Santa didn't just wrap our presents, he wrapped OUR ENTIRE LIVING ROOM!" It was funny when the boys were jumping through the paper until Noah decided to PUNCH through the paper and missed, hitting the wall instead. Gift opening was delayed by a tearful boy getting a band aid on a knuckle that had three less layers of skin.

Present opening went fine and the kids liked what they got. They funniest was that when I was wrapping this year, I was determined to put things in boxes for more uniform packages. I ended up putting each of the video games that they received in cereal boxes, stuffed with newspaper. By the time Noah was opening his last gift, he said, "Oh wow, this is a cereal box so I know it's going to be a great gift!" I can't fool these kids at all and I think I am going to have to work even harder next year.

We continued our Christmas Day tradition and took the boys to Rise of the Guardians that afternoon. The boys were blown away at how crowded the movie theaters were but our movie was old so it wasn't crowded. Santa was so smart he even put movie theater style candy in the stockings. It was a very good movie.

Wednesday morning was the day for playing with all the new stuff, putting stuff together and just relaxing.  And the best thing was that it FINALLY started snowing...and hasn't stopped since so we can finally go sledding at some point this weekend. The funniest present of the day was the sumo boppers we got the boys. They tried to head outside to play with them but the cold kept deflating them so it looks like they'll have to wait until spring. But while they had them, they were hilarious!

Thursday morning began our planned adventure for the week. We packed up the stuff and headed out for our road trip to a suburb of Chicago. We found a hotel nearby with an extremely low rate and checked in with about an hour to spare before our big event. I saw an IKEA and had never been to one before. We wandered the store and I think I'm glad that we don't have one of those near us or it would be hard to not spend money that I don't have there.  It was pretty cool since the colors are blue and yellow and Noah said "It's Michigan Everywhere!"

Then it was finally time! We got a really good deal on Cyber Monday and took the boys to Medieval Times. It is a dinner and tournament  where they serve you a multi course meal with NO utensils while a tournament on horses is played out in front of you. It was pretty cool and the boys LOVED it. They especially loved the battles with swords at the end. The pageantry was fun and watching Aaron attack and destroy his huge chicken slab was extremely memorable. Afterward, we returned to the hotel and let the boys swim for awhile before turning in.

So here we are Friday again. We got up and let the boys swim again before we hit the road to come home. The drive home certainly felt much longer than yesterday. Aaron's cough is still so prominent and even though I know it's a virus that the doctor can't do anything for, it still makes me sad when I hear it and I know that he's still feeling yucky. I heard that the tree might be aggravating it though so given that, plus the fact that we got a bad tree and it was pretty much dead already, I decided to take it down while the boys were out playing in the snow. Because it was so painful, we decided to clip the branches rather than try to take it out the door so it was definitely a memorable tree un-decking this year.

One thing that Steve and I agreed on was that since we had such a fun adventure planned for a couple of days after Christmas, it took the "let down" feeling that is inevitable after Christmas away and I will definitely remember that for future years if possible.

So that was our week. Another weekend ahead and another free fun family activity planned for New Year's Eve which should be fun. Next week is off school  and work but also money-less since I am now between jobs so it will be a week at home for sure. The best thing is that after I start this new job in January, I look forward to never having to post again the words "...since we couldn't afford to...". It's been a long ten years of being poor and I am sick of it and ready for it to end.

We can make it two more weeks. I know we can. We have to. At least there's finally an end in sight...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Weekend Top Five 12/10/12

I am sitting here with a tummy that'schurning but I can;t decided if I am actually sick or not. How weird is that, huh?

It was a whirlwind weekend after a crazy busy week. By the time we tucked the boys into bed last night, I felt like it had been forever since I had seen my kids at bedtime.

This weekend was busy but it really was the end of several weeks of craziness. We had major school projects due, the start of basketball practices on two separate nights, my symphony week, which makes me gone every night until after 10:00, and, I'm sure as a reaction to the craziness, both boys were acting out in school. Very frustrating week. But the weekend was a culmination of it all.

5. Projects, Projects, everywhere
Noah handed in his diorama about the Iroquois Native Americans and Aaron started working on his diorama about the Tropical Rainforest. These alone have taken a lot of time in preparation as well as construction.  On top of that, Noah came home from school on Friday having learned to make these REALLY COOL snowflakes in art class. He continues to make a ton of them throughout the weekend. I love his artistic mind and hope I can keep finding ways to nurture it as he gets older and becomes more hormonal :)

4. Symphony Weekend
I sing with the Grand Rapids Symphony about three to four times a year. The Holiday Pops is the largest money maker for the symphony, but also the most demanding of performances, not because of the music itself, but because of the amount of TIME that is required. Rather than two performances and two rehearsals, we have two rehearsals and FIVE performances (one of which we are allowed to opt out of). Despite the very tiring schedule, I really enjoy the series, especially this year. The first night my parents came to the performance, the middle performance had my sister and her family in the audience, and the last night my in-laws brought Steve and the kids. There is something really awesome about standing on stage and knowing that people you love are in the audience SOMEWHERE. It always cracks me up on the performance that the boys come to because they jump up and down from way out in the mezzanine to make sure I can see them.

3. In-laws Christmas
It is always an adventure when there are gatherings with the in-laws. I will not go into details about the drama. Instead I will focus on the good, which is the happiness of the kids. After the concert, we went out for dinner to Chili's, which the kids love. Then we went back to our house so the kids could open their Christmas presents from them. My MIL has finally listened to me about requests for Christmas presents and the boys were quite happy. She got them character hats that they loved, including going to bed with them on that night. I am glad that they will have warm hats IF we ever get some snow for our Michigan winter.

2. Operation Christmas Child
I have wanted to have the boys be more involved in giving than receiving this year and one of the ways we did this was to participate in Operation Christmas Child at church this year. The boys fill boxes with toys for a child in a poor country that the child will receive for Christmas. If you pay for the shipping online, then you actually get to follow your box and find out where and when it gets delivered. The boys had a great time filling their boxes and also writing the paper about themselves that will go to their new "friend" overseas. At least it is one way for them to start thinking outside of themselves this holiday.

I have applied for what feels like a million jobs during the year 2012. I have worked every night for the entire lives of my children and it has become clear that they NEED momma home at night. We knew that the only way I could ever be home at night is if I could get a decent paying full time job during the day. Our other worry had been if I get a job, what do we do with kids during the summer? The week before Thanksgiving I got a call for an interview for a teacher position. Then I heard nothing from them so I was quite sad that I was again hopeful for nothing. Then, last Thursday, I got a call asking me to come in for a second interview on Friday afternoon. After much finagling of kids schedule after school, I made plans to go for the interview. About an hour before the interview, I got a call on my voice mail saying that they were going to cancel my interview and were comfortable enough from my first interview to go ahead and HIRE ME and they would be calling Monday (today) with details. The job is on the lower paying side until I get the continuing credits to make decent money but we always knew that if we were going to ever make decent money, one of us would HAVE to go back to school. It's very exciting to know that the year 2013 will most likely be the start of a whole new life for the Wheelz Family.

The Week Ahead
This week is another doozy, but that's a given being that it is two weeks until Christmas. Luckily, Christmas shopping for the boys is done and almost everything is wrapped. It is gong to be a busy week though. Aaron's IEP review is Wednesday and he is worried that he will "graduate" since he loves his speech teacher and is sad that he won't see her anymore. We also have Aaron's Christmas concert at school and a field trip to a nursing home on Friday. Both boys have basketball practices again and we have to somehow figure out a way to finish Aaron's diorama in the next three days. (I am sooooo looking forward to being home every night so that these projects aren't such a stress anymore). Next weekend will be a wonderful one, since I will have some time to hang out with my sister and SIL at the warehouse sale, take my nephew's Flat Stanley to see Grand Rapids, and our family Christmas on Sunday.

I love Christmas. I love that there are so many more lights on or street than in past years. Now we just need some snow.

Have a good week.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Catch Up

So Hubby came in tonight and said, "You know, it's been two months since your last blog post.". This kind of cracked me up since I figured no one ever reads it anymore but I figured that it has been nice having the journal of our weekends so I will try to pick it back up again. I did find two posts that I had written and never posted so I went ahead and posted those. This past week and weekend have quite eventful but I will wait until Monday to post about it.

Lots has been happening, that's for sure so stay tuned :)

Weekend Top Five A Big One 10/22/12

So as boring as last weekend was, it was the complete opposite this past weekend. I am actually having a hard time getting anything accomplished today as I come down off of the busyness. Noah too was in quite a doozy of a mood this morning and I am sure he is feeling the effects as well.

But as busy as it was, it was all GOOD busyness so that's a bonus. I think I could do a top ten from this weekend but I will stick to the meme of Five just to be consistent :)

5. Friday Night Barbershop
Hubby has been a barbershop singer since he was in middle school and has finally found a quartet to help him reach his dream of becoming  district champion, followed hopefully someday by becoming an international champion. About six months ago (I think) he was approached by three guys were looking for a fourth to complete their quartet. They have worked very hard to prepare and this past weekend was the District competition. Steve had to spend the entire weekend in Battle Creek (about an hour or so away) for the full convention but after much discussion, I decided to take the boys over for the preliminary competition on Friday night, given that the rest of our weekend was booked and I really felt it was important for us to  be part of this event.

We only stayed for the first half but Daddy's quartet blew the rest of them away. they were so much better and really in a completely different league than the rest and it was exciting to hear that they had made it into the finals the following night.

BTW...twenty four hours later, my hubby became a DISTRICT CHAMPION and now will be completing in April to perform on an international stage in Toronto next summer. We're so proud of Daddy!

4. Saturday morning at the Farm
We have had an annual trip to a local Pumpkin Patch with many of the cousins for quite a few years now. This past Saturday was our trip. All fifteen cousins were there and all over the place. I can't believe how much easier this trip is for the Wheelz Family now that the boys are older and don't need quite so much supervision. I had to laugh when, given all the activities and farm animals, the boys spent most of the time trying to pet a farm cat that was lurking around the entire time. The kids picked out excellent pumpkin choices and I am looking forward to getting them carved this afternoon with them.

3. Cousin Fun and Football
We all headed back to grandma and grandpa's after the farm to celebrate the cousin birthdays from this quarter, of which Aaron was part of. It was also a time to watch the first half of the football game (Go Blue!) between Michigan and Michigan State. The kids did pretty well playing together and we stayed until halftime before the boys and I had to head home, knowing Sunday was going to be a busy day as well. Oh, and it was good to be home to watch the last nine seconds of the game, where Michigan kicked a field goal to win the game 12-10. Go Blue!

2. Church
It is so weird t go to church without Steve. I had planned to stay in children's church to watch Noah run the soundboard since I hadn't seen him in action yet, but I decided against it. One thing that made me so happy was being approached by another mom form a boy in his Sunday school class saying how eager she was for her son and Noah to get together for a play date outside of church. I have never been approached by someone that way and it is exciting to finally make a connection at church beyond the superficial stuff. I am planning to take a Monday night off of chorus in a few weeks and attend the event to find a life group in a few weeks, which will helpfully help me o dig deeper into some relationships that might help me o become stronger spiritually. And already this morning that mom texted me inviting Noah to a birthday party for that boy next Saturday, a first for Noah as well.

1. Family Memories of Grandma
As you know, my grandma passed away a couple of months ago and my aunts had asked my siblings and me to come to their house for an afternoon to go through the remaining items from her apartment to see what we would like to have as heirlooms/mementos. Truthfully, my siblings and I were all dreading the day, not knowing what to expect.

But it was a wonderful afternoon. The visits were relaxed and enjoyable and the divvying up of items went well.  We all received a nutcracker from grandma's very large collection. Of course, we made the mistake of letting Aaron hold his and it is broken already but that's to be expected :)

I also came home with some baby pictures of mine. Before yesterday, I had NONE. Grandma had letters that we had written to her from when we were little, as well as pictures I had drawn when I was only three years old. It was really neat.

The Week Ahead

We have Aaron's birthday on Thursday, as well as some extra things I need to do at Gymboree this week which is causing some nerves. I haven't figured out how we're going to do Aaron's birthday yet, given that I have to work that night. He is a very excited boy about turning eight.

Weekend Top Five 10/14/12 Boring Weekend

It was quite a dreary sloshy wet weekend.  We only left the warm dry confines of our house briefly each day. Otherwise, it was a weekend in for the Wheelz Clan...including missing church. Bad Wheelz!

5. Movie Marathon begins with Muppets
It was definitely a movie marathon weekend, given the rainy weather. A better mom would have spent more time with games than movies, but I am NOT a better mom. I enjoyed snuggling under blankets with the boys. Part of this was also related to #3 below, though. I was a muppet kid, as was Hubby so it is fun to have kids who are muppet fans. We watched the movie twice more this weekend and the Aaron got settled in on our mini-pullout sofa and slept out in the living room for the night. He has actually ended up in the living room almost every morning for a week now. We're not sure why he does it but as long as he's getting sleep, we're not going to push the matter for now..

4. Organizing
Saturday morning found a rainy morning and kids who had no desire to get dressed. As a matter of fact, momma wasn't really in any hurry either and since Daddy was gone to work, that seemed just fine. As I was wandering around the kitchen aimlessly, I again got frustrated with the clutteredness of our little house. As I was sitting in the kitchen, I espied the to cabinets we have had in there for filled with various unmatched plastic dishes, and other various junk that has been thrown in there throughout the years and the other our "craft cabinet".  I realized that the days of preschoolers doing various crafts are kind of gone, replaced by two boys who enjoy doing their own thing at their desks in their rooms. And having one of the cabinets with a door falling off, even after Steve replacing it countless times, created a drastic decision in my mind....time for a change. So after much much much rearranging, re-rooming, and yes, throwing stuff in the garbage, we had a much less cluttered, much more roomy kitchen.

The mania continued on Sunday when I attacked Aaron's room with a garbage bag.  The kid just doesn't know how to clean and there were various bins full of junk everywhere. So armed with a garbage bag and a plan, we went to work on Aaron's room. It ended up going pretty quickly and Aaron was a happy boy to have a place for his stuff again.

3. Noah's Legs
Noah came home from school Friday afternoon complaining of his legs hurting. By Saturday morning, he was limping around saying the top of his thighs were sore. This was a theme for the rest of the weekend and he spent much of the weekend on the couch with icy hot on his legs. I emailed his gym teacher to give her a heads up and she said that it is very normal for his age and he probably is really experiencing pain. Poor Kid!

2. Dinner experiments
I am trying very hard to broaden our meal horizons, given that I am home very few evenings of the week for dinner. We have failed miserably at getting the kids to eat casseroles of different sorts, which would actually make our lives much easier as evenings start getting busy with sports in a few weeks. So I tried a new experiment, which had wonderful potential.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out too well and there was much complaint from the boys, who are usually pretty good about NOT speaking too loudly out against foods I make. It's not going to stop me and I will stick to my plans of making something 11 times before the kids are allowed to say they don't like it. Personally, with a few adjustments, I think it was a great dinner and I am definitely going to make it again, whether they like or NOT.

1. Weekend Plan Rain Out
So yes, we didn't make it out of the house much this weekend and the one thing we had planned did get rained out. A community Trick or treating event got cancelled for rain, so we really did pretty much laze around the entire weekend. I guess it's pretty good thing though, given that next weekend is going to be a doozy.

The Week Ahead
Not much, especially given that next weekend is going to be absolutely crazy. have a good week.