Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Recap 2013

The day after Christmas coma has arrived. Aaron has already been sent back to bed for a half hour for attitude adjustment and I can't seem to get my butt off the couch from under a blanket. I had the living room mostly clean before I headed to bed last night but it seems to have become a disaster overnight. I want to record some of the highlights and a few things I want to remember for next year.

Christmas Eve was a little odd this year since we didn't go to church on the actual Christmas Eve. Our church tried something new this year and did identical services on the Sunday before and Christmas Eve. Because Steve had to work on Christmas Eve, we chose to do the service on Sunday, which was fine but I definitely think I missed not going on Christmas Eve.

We got all of our baking done on Christmas Eve, as I have the last two years. Unlike last year though, the boys were completely into it and we made gingerbread decorated with candy before they cooked as well as sugar cookies that the boys frosted and decorated. The boys got along really well all day on Christmas Eve which was a change and they even went outside to play for awhile with no fighting that day. It was amazing!

After Steve got home we went out for dinner to On the Border and then came home and opened the presents we had gotten each other from Five Below. We got the boys to bed at the regular time and then settled in to wait until they fell asleep to bring stuff down.

Christmas morning was nice. The boys waited until 7:30 to come wake us up, which was impressive I thought. Present opening was somewhat uneventful except that we did surprise the boys with  the technology items they had been hoping for.  I got great video of both of them opening their big gifts. I made a breakfast casserole that was pretty good, even though neither of the boys liked it. We went to Frozen at Rivertown in the early afternoon, which was a very good movie. We came home and had our usual dinner, although it really wasn't all that well received my anyone. I think we were all just burned out from Christmas by then. The boys spent quite a bit of time on their tech items throughout the day which was fine since they were new but it is clear that we are going to have to ration their time on the devices.

Other fun moments from the day included Aaron trying out his new karaoke machine (Steve hooked our old TV up to the machine in his room). Noah's media player is old and refurbished (which he doesn't know) so I am panicking that it is going to crash at some point). Since there is a foot of snow outside, the boys are pogo-ing in the hallway and I am waiting for someone to break a bone before the break is over. But they're having fun in the meantime.

Now we are in day after coma. I am hoping to get out to Target at some point today and Steve is going to be gone all day and night for a barbershop thing so it's just me and the boys again. It was a pretty laid back Christmas and that is just a good way for it to be,. Not very many presents for the boys but they really liked what they got so that's all that matters.

Now for the Thank you cards. Hoping to get them done by New Year's Day.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013...My Newest Venture

So it's been another two months since my last post. To say it has been busy is a bit of an understatement, but isn't it for all moms? Trying to settle into a routine this school year has been a challenge, in many ways.

But, as things start to settle in some ways, things get busier in others. Today I completed a milestone though so I thought I would post a little about it since I am feeling nostalgic (and I need a break from the mind numbing existence that is facebook). I figure I need to write a little of my history of this journey so I never forget.

Back in January, I began the year that I would turn 40. I hated the view in the mirror, as I was EXTREMELY close to the 200 lb mark and disgusted by it.

I tried Weight Watchers yet again and by May had only lost a total of twelve pounds and was starving all the time. Then we went for my birthday family vacation trip to Florida and a few days after we got back I made a change that I hope to last the rest of my life.

Aaron had asked me to go play tennis with him and I agreed. We played for over an hour and I worked up a great sweat and felt so alive for the first time in a long time. A few days later he asked again and we did so again. At that time, I started wondering what it would take to try to run a little bit. I went out and couldn't even go three driveways before I was huffing and puffing and felt like I was going to die.

After some gradual increases, I got to the point where I could run a mile without walking and I made a crazy decision to try to run a 5K before the year was over. So I went home, searched the computer and found one  for September 15th, three months later. I figured I could get myself to that point. My goal was to run it in under 45 minutes.

A short while later, I started becoming obsessed with reading everything I could about running and even entered a contest to run a "practice" 5K. Crazily enough, I won and I found myself registered to run my first 5K on August 1st, six weeks earlier than I had planned!

August 1st came and I was scared to death as I lined up for the Metro Way 5K. It was not pretty. It was not fast. I even walked a bit of it. But I finished it with a smile on my face. My amazingly supportive husband and my sons were there and I was so proud. My time was just over 38 minutes. I figured for a first 5K for someone of my weight, it wasn't a bad start. AND I had my REAL first 5K only 6 weeks later.

Six weeks later, I found myself again at a 5K starting line. This time it was for the Grand Rapids Bridge Run and I was feeling more prepared this time. As I was getting lined up, the skies opened and huge raindrops came pounding down. I had given Steve and the boys permission to go to church rather than being at the waiting line this time. But as I was coming halfway through mile 2, I looked over to the Gerald Ford Museum parking lot and there were three awesome Wheelz Boys, cheering for Mommy. After turning the last corner, they had walked up the street and were there again waiting for me. This time Aaron even ran about a half of a block with me toward the finish line. I cut abut two minutes off my time and enjoyed the chocolate milk at the finish line before heading home to dry off and take a very long bath.

Then school started and I wondered if I was going to be able to keep up with this running thing. No question, it became more and more difficult as my schedule had something every night of the week and the skies became dark earlier and earlier in the evening. I figured the only way to get motivated again was to sign up for more "races". So I found one that ran through a local college, which looked like fun.

For the Grand Valley Turkey Trot the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I recruited my teaching partner from last year, who was one of the three women who motivated me to try this running thing in the first place. The forecast for the race was a 16 degree windchill and I was panicked about what to wear. I had to justify the cost of some cold weather running gear and even then I didn't  know if what I got would satisfy that cold of weather. I was also nervous because this would be the first time I would be running with a partner, after having spent 5 months only doing solo running in training. There were definitely good and bad moments of the event. The timing got goofed so I don't have an accurate time and the route was pretty uninteresting. But running with my friend Heather made the day great, with a chance to catch up and we were very evenly matched as running partners. (She has since asked me to do a half...yeah right!)

After that, the Michigan snow season began and getting out to run became even more difficult than it was before. sister, who was another of the three women who motivated to begin this journey,  asked me if I was going to run the Whoville 5K with her. $30 for a race in the throes of winter didn't seem very feasible, but I still went ahead to enter. I was extremely nervous for this one as well, given that as of the morning of the race I had still never run in snow.

So December 15th (this morning) arrived and I bundled up, again having no clue if I was wearing enough clothes. My sister gave me a wonderful gift when I got there, which was yak trax which are basically coils that attach to your running shoes to make your run grip the snow.

The race did not have an official time and that wasn't the point of the race anyway. It was so very fun. The snow was coming down hard as I ran along the Grand River riverbank and it was absolutely beautiful. My frozen toes started to thaw a bit after about the first mile and a quarter. Every so often a Grinch would jump out at you to throw you off and Things 1 and 2 would hide behind trees and throw snow balls at you if you weren't paying attention. It was a blast and by far my favorite of the FOUR 5K races I have run in the past 6 months. It was fun doing it with my sister too! When I got back in my car, I saw that the wind chill outside while we were running was a balmy SEVEN DEGREES. I felt like I had conquered a mountain!

So here I am at the end of six months contemplating where do I go from here. I have many ideas. After today I know that I can handle this cold weather and don't need to stop. I have spent some time already today researching the next few races in which I want to participate.

But mostly I just think of how far I have come in six months and hope that I can stay with it and not quit. Yes I am a quitter and hoping to break that habit when it comes to my running. Will I be sitting here a year from now writing about new running

accomplishments that occur in 2014? Or will I discover that I just didn't have the discipline to push through? I guess only time will tell.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Bedroom Makeover

Yes, it's been awhile. Yes, we're still least in body. Spirit is another story...

Through the years, I have often tried to battle some of my despondency with a change in scenery in our home. Sometimes it results in my need to paint something. It often includes rearranging at least one bedroom.  In the past month BOTH have taken place.

The first was thanks to my good friend Chris at Dad of Divas. I was asked quite a while ago if I would be willing to try out some bedding from Sweet Jojo Designs and write a review.

Aaron has a long history with blankets. And bedroom switches. And beds. He is currently in a loft type bed about two feet from the floor, which was actually the top bunk of a bed from my parents. It works our well for him since he has so many blankets and stuffed animal "buddies" that stay on his bed at all times. As a matter of fact, his bed is always overcrowded with various animals, blankets and clothes. And his bedding was still a spiderman blanket from when he was four. It also had holes in all four corners from his chewing on the sheets and blankets at bedtime. So when the offer came to bring his bedroom and bedding up to his age, we were both pretty excited.

We went on the website and picked out a fun set with brown and blue circles that would go well with his blue walls. He was very excited about it and we cheered when it was delivered.

I'm not sure who was more excited, Aaron or me.
The set contained a comforter, pillow sham, dust ruffle, and matching window valance.  The very first thing we noticed was how incredibly soft the comforter was. I have to admit I wanted to keep it for myself :) Same was true of the pillow sham. The fabric feels so soft and almost silky and most definitely luxurious. I also like that the pillow sham zips closed so Aaron's pillow can't slide out.

We did have a few challenges making the dust ruffle work for Aaron's type of bed, however with a little creativity it worked and I truly love the color scheme. At the time of the photo we had not yet hung the window valance but it definitely looks like a pre-teens bedroom now, rather than a little boy's room. And even better, Aaron is so comfy snuggled in that not a single corner has been "eaten".

The company does have a few more accompanying pieces to the set, including some sheets, pillows, and wall hangings that would be excellent complements to this set and they are reasonable in price in my opinion. I love the material and the designs offered by this company and I am not surprised that Noah is now also asking for a set from this company. Maybe for Christmas...

A huge thank you to Chris at Dad of Divas and Sweet Jojo Designs for the opportunity to experience the luxury of a wonderful new bedroom set and helping Aaron to make the transition from a little boy into a young man.

Friday, August 2, 2013

What the Heck and I doing???

Seriously, a 5K or someone like me?? Absolutely ridiculous, right?

The story, just so I can look back and remember:

Just over two years ago, Noah was running the kids race that is related to the biggest race in Grand Rapids, the Riverbank Run. At that time, he asked me to run with  him and I knew that there was no way in a gazillion years that I could do it with him. And it was the time when I realized just how fat I had gotten, which has only gotten worse. I still remember that day like it was yesterday and I remember telling myself that SOMEDAY, I am going to run a 5K.

Fast forward to this past January when I started a new job/career, I had to get some actual clothes to wear and it was at that moment that I really saw how bad things had gotten, with rolls and rolls of muffin top over my pants. And then to make things worse, I stepped on a scale and had a number to reaffirm how bad things had gotten.  A REALLY BAD NUMBER!!!!!!!

So I found an online deal through weight watchers. So as I was working this new job in a VERY stressful situation, I also tried very hard to stick with an online program to lose weight.  However, I only lost about 12 pounds. Not much when you put it in relation to how much NEEDED to be lost. The program that had worked for me ten years ago just didn't cut it anymore.

So the school year ended, we headed to Florida for the vacation that was the main impetus for me trying to lose weight in the first place. The following week summer vacation had begun and I was still feeling ugly, fat, and useless.

Aaron asked me to go play tennis with him. Back when I was in high school, a friend and I used to enjoy going to hit balls back and forth.  Neither of us were thin or in any kind of healthy shape, but even so we could spend an hour hitting balls back and forth and having a good time. So I figured that maybe this would a good way to get some exercise and have a fun time with my son. So we went.

I got sweaty. REALLY sweaty. And it was wonderful! It felt sooo good to feel like I had gotten my heart pumping and been active with my son. A couple of days later, Aaron asked to again, this time with Noah asking as well. So we went. And again, I got a great workout and came home feeling not only like I had exercised, but maybe I was actually showing the boys that we could be out playing together instead of sitting inside watching a dumb screen.

For some reason,  the next day I decided to go out  and see if I could run a little. I couldn' all! We live on a main street with tons of little tiny feeder streets so my goal was to walk a street, then run  a street.  All the way to the end and then do the same coming home.  I wish to anything that I could have timed myself on that very first outing so I could know now how far I had come.

The next day I decided to try a little more running and a little less walking. And for the next couple of weeks, I am not really sure where the training went since I didn't start logging it until the end of June, other than I jumped into it whole hardedly, hating every moment but feeling like I was growing stronger with each run.

Somewhere in those first few weeks, I came up with an idea. I am going to run a 5K! Where did this idea come from?  Who knows. But I went online, used literally the LAST $30 in our checking account (yes, it's been another very difficult summer) and registered for a 5K race in September. I figured if I made a financial commitment, maybe I would actually follow through. You see, I am good at STARTING things. Not so good at FOLLOWING THROUGH.   I of course didn't tell Hubby, being sure that he would second guess me and scold me for spending the money. As I will mention later, he has been surprisingly supportive of this. Maybe his prize will be a skinny wife someday :) Doubtful but miracles can happen I suppose.

So began a journey. I was running in just regular tennis shoes and somewhere in that first couple of weeks, managed to injure my left calf. The injury has progressed as training continued to a point that I am in constant pain. But I will come back to that. I figured if I am going to do this, I NEED to get some shoes.

Having mentioned already that there is certainly NO money to waste on something frivolous like running shoes, I pulled out the trusty Kohl's card and found a pair of a brand I know to be good and bought them, after trying on basically every pair of women's running shoes in the store.I knew that I was supposed to go to a running store and get fitted and all that, but that would have definitely been out of capability for us. Do I believe that they are PART of the problem with my injury? Possibly. But they are still very comfortable and I do think they are better than what I was wearing before.

I have had to make a couple of other purchases, namely running shirts and shirts, an arm holder for my ipod, and a headband since apparently I am a sweating machine. I had been afraid to mention these purchases to Steve, since we don't even have the money to buy food right now, but surprisingly, he has been 100 percent supportive of this adventure so it was okay.

I joined two different running web sites to track my progress and followed a 5K training plan that seemed to be a good fit for me.  About mid July, I found another race and knew there was no way I could waste more money that we didn't have on a race registry, so I entered a contest for a free entry, figuring that if I won, maybe I would be ready.

Lo and behold, I won! Oh Crap! Now I have to follow through on this.

Just as I was registering, the pain in my leg was progressing to a point where I had to change my training to every other day, trying to fit cycling or swimming in on the other days. But the week leading up to it, I ended up not even being able to cross train, for reasons that I am too depressed to get into here.

So the day of the 5K came. I felt like I was prepared in some ways, and in many other ways, I must be a complete idiot to even try this.  I will tell of the event in my next post.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend Top Five June 16 2013

Wow, missed quite a few weekend to fives. I guess i kind of got off whack when we went to Florida and never quite got back on.

Friday Steve was gone for a barbershop show so the boys and I just hung out and read more of Matilda. I had a massive and horrible headahce every day this weekend so I will be seeing a doctor soon for that.

Saturday, Steve took the boys to the Saturday slip and slide that they went to last year. Noah found an eighth grader who was into pokemon so I guess they spent the entire time sitting and talking about it (grrrr). Aaron, as to be expected, spent the entire time in the dunk tank and loved every moment. Steve fell and hurt his foot so that pretty much did him in.

Meanwhile, I headed out to my team teacher's baby shower. Interesting for sure.

Sunday was Father's Day. Since we got to church on Monday nights in the summer it was good to sleep in for awhile. Steve knew of an old movie theater south from here that shows new run movies at low prices and wanted to go check it out so we went for a road trip to Plainwell after lunch at Moe's, everyone's favorite eat out place.  We saw Epic in the theater and then we went downtown Plainwell to Dean's Ice Cream for ice cream and a walk aong the river. A very relaxed and fun little road trip.

We came home to no power and a run away dog, just to make the evening interesting and got the boys to bed early.

I added to my nightly walk/run and did a two mile loop Sunday night.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Strange Happenings

With my "baby" finishing up elementary school this week, I got quite nostalgic the other night. I started blogging the year that at Noah entered kindergarten, both because I needed an outlet to a very stressful start of schooling for him and also because a friend on min told me I have lots of strange stories to share.

So fast forward six years and  my teaching partner and I have been chatting/ laughing about some funny or strange happenings during the five months that we've been working together. I am writing them here just as a way to remember...

1. What Happened To The Fish???
Aaron was sad earlier this year that Noah always has named all of our pets and he wanted one of his own. After some discussion, twp danio fish, named Leopard and Jaguar, joined the Wheelz Family.  For a short while, Aaron did okay with feeding them but then, as predicted, forgetfulness set in. So our fish friends were then moved to a common area in the house so we could all work together to keep them fed.

A few weeks into the venture I was shocked that they were still alive, since I've killed every fish I've ever had quite quickly. Then, one morning on the way OUT THE DOOR, I heard water dripping and sure enough, there was a leak in the tank.

As we were leaving for school. I quickly grabbed a big bowl, filled it with new fish water (that I kept in a jug for this purpose), moved the fish to the bowl, locked them in the bedroom where they would be safe from Minnie Cat,  and set off for the day.

After picking up the boys from school, I figured we were going to need some new food and other supplies for the fish before we went home to fix the situation. So we stopped for those items..

When we got home, I went in to check on our fish friends. The first thing I noticed was that there were NO FISH in the bowl. Upon looking further, I found ONE of the fish bodies dried crusty and stuck on the floor.

Here's the kicker...the other one has never been found

Now, this story has evolved into a "Finding Nemo" scenario that had poor Leopard and Jaguar jumping to their freedom. We are two sick preschool teachers, huh?

2. Strange Maladies in the Wheelz Home
We've had two recently...

A. Sting?
Everyone gets stung by bees, right? Well apparently, only I have the talent to turn a sting into a medical mystery. As we were driving home from the park awhile ago, I suddenly had extreme pain in my side and I was sure it was a sting by the feeling. It hurt so bad that I actually had to pull over and no one ever saw what it was that got me.

The welt grew and grew and grew for over a week when I finally had to see a doctor and take antibiotics for it.  About a month and half later, there is still a red blotch in that area and a scab about a quarter inch across...crazy

B. Puff Eyed Boy
Aaron seems to have allergies and they only seem to show up beginning of May each year. This is the second year that it has happened but definitely worse in degree (and it is still going on at this writing).

The poor kid doesn't just have "allergies". The kid's eye (always the left) blows up, turns purple, oozes all king of nastiness and eventually sticks closed. We get sopped everywhere wondering how he "got the shiner".

If I mention, yeah my kid has allergies, then everyone just says, "yeah, it's bad this year." But then if I share some pictures, it become "OMG!".

So after a blood draw at the second Dr appt in a week, we will hopefully get some answers but for now the poor kid is being drugged up a storm to try to get him normal before we leave for vacation this weekend.

(Aaron got a hold of my camera and was fascinated with taking pictures of his disgusting eye)

Follow up...Aaron is allergic to elm, birch, maple and oak trees.

Yes, weird things happen to us. But we always have fun stories to tell as they evolve so that's good.

You always need a good story to tell, right?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring Break ReCap 2013

So I know that no one reads this anymore but that's okay because it's now become my own personal journal of family goings on.

Spring Break this year was great. We stayed home, given that we are leaving for a real family vacation in seven weeks. But this year we managed to have something special each day of the break, which was my goal for the week.

Personally, a week of NOT stressing over my job was the biggest bonus of all. I hadn't realized HOW stressful this job had become until I had a week free from the panic feeling I was experiencing each day. Another nice thing was making dinner each night, being able to try new recipes and being home to EAT with my family each night rather than rushing off to piano lessons that may or may not show up on any given weeknight. Steve certainly liked not having to rush home every day from work to be with the boys so I could leave too.

The last day before break is always the school's fine arts fest (talent show) and BOTH boys chose to participate this year. Aaron played a piano solo and Noah played a trombone solo. I was very proud of them both for their efforts.

The first weekend of break was Easter weekend. Saturday I found a local church Easter egg hunt outside, which  was finny because we have never done a local hunt and this is the last year Noah can do it because he "ages out".  Normally, we try to do things outside on Easter Sunday after dinner, but given that the day was rainy and cold, we found ways to spend time together inside instead.  The boys picked out some projects for us to do together over the week so we started on them.

Boys loved their Easter baskets this year. In past years, we've given them quite a few gifts in their Easter baskets, but this year I really wanted to scale back. And the cool thing is, they didn't even notice. They LOVED their stuffed friends (yes, ANOTHER sock monkey for Noah) and each got an mp3 player for our trip next month.

That afternoon, Noah and I started on one of the projects for the week, a 100+ piece wooden 3D puzzle of a dragon. We really enjoyed working on the project together and it did indeed take the entire week to complete.  He is so proud of his accomplishment and is asking when he can work on another one.

Easter evening we took the boys to my parents for a sleepover, which they LOVE. The next morning, they were treated to a movie with their cousins before coming home Monday afternoon. I enjoyed a day to try to get my house in order before the busy week started.

Tuesday was the day Noah had been waiting for for weeks. He FINALLY had a play date with a friend. As I have said in the past, one of the problems with the boys going to a VERY small school is that friendships are a tricky thing, especially this year, which has been very rough for both boys. A new boy moved into the class this year, and...fingers crossed...could FINALLY be a friend for Noah worth having that could be a lasting friendship. I really really really hope so. He really needs a good friend... don't we all? So this boy came over for a few hours Tuesday afternoon, which Noah loved but Aaron not so much. Hopefully this friendship will last and we can have many more play events with this young man. He was a pretty nice kid.

Wednesday began my goal to have fun with the boys over break. I wanted to do some activities that were different than the norms that we always do, but not break the bank in doing so. We took advantage of the reciprocal membership we have to the local museum and took a road trip to Lansing to visit a science museum there. We went once last summer but haven't been there since. The boys had a great time and even found some activities that we hadn't discovered the last time we visited.

Thursday we tried out a new attraction in Grand Rapids. Given the cost, we only paid for an hour, which ended up being plenty of time. SkyZone is an indoor trampoline park with wall to wall trampolines, a huge foam pit, two dodge ball arenas, and a basketball court. The boys had a good time until Noah was told he couldn't play dodge ball without wearing these big nasty goggles. I even told them I was okay with me if the glasses broke but they still wouldn't let him so he was pretty upset the rest of the time and I am not sure that he will want to go back. Definitely disappointing.

Friday was another attraction that I went back and forth about. A  local arena sets up an "indoor amusement park" which cost a little bit of money but with the coupon online I figured it was the last day of break so we had to go out with a bang. The kids got to try their hand at trampoline bungee, bull riding, and other inflatable fun. There was even a "game show" that we tried to be part of but it was still fun to participate in the audience. Boys even got to try  "jousting". It was a fun day but probably once was enough.

Saturday Hubby ended working longer than we anticipated so I brought the boys shopping with me and then they went to the free movies at the mall while I got more shopping done. Afterward, it was home for taco dinner and then the two semi-final basketball games.

Sunday was an at home get ready for the week kind of day, which is good to have once in awhile.

 It was a great week with my boys. It wasn't because of the things we did, although I think they had a good time. I think we all just really enjoyed the break in the routine and had some much needed-low stress- fun time together.

Although I am panicking about finances this summer, I know that a summer of three months of hanging with these two special boys is going to be wonderful.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Free Paint Saturday

This is NOT an advertisement for Ace Hardware in any shape or form.

But....every so often that particular store hosts a "free paint" Saturday and each time, I go to pick out a fun color to inspire my next painting project, which are of course my favorite projects around the house.

This past Saturday, among a bazillion other activities we had planned for the day, was a free paint Saturday.

The boys were kind of in a funk so I decided to take Noah out of the house for awhile and we ended up at the hardware store and I told him to pick out his favorite color paint to paint his loft bed.  I can't believe it was exactly three years ago to the weekend that Steve and his friend built Noah's bed. But in that time, the bed has gotten drawn on, scraped up and banged, bruised and dirty. So, I bought four cheapo paintbrushes and set Noah to work.

We really didn't know how far a pint of paint would stretch and I was shocked when Noah actually asked me to help him so as Steve headed upstairs to take a nap, (it WAS his birthday after all) Noah and I set to work. Aaron was feeling a bit left out so I put him in charge of photography duty during the project, as you will see soon.

As it turns out, a pint is just enough to do two light coats of MOST of a loft bed. Just enough to make a ten year old VERY happy and just enough for his attention span to take.

 It all started a few weeks ago when Noah had a slight case of stomach virus and decided, rather than running to the bathroom to get sick, he would do it OVER THE SIDE of the loft, splattering nastiness all over the carpet remnant from my parents.

Middle of the night, not gonna wash carpet so Steve and I cut out the nasty stuff and decided to get to the rest later.
 What does that have to do with painting the bed you ask? I figure, if we have to get the floor all nasty from paint, why not have Noah paint the bed BEFORE we clear out the rest of the carpet remnant, saving us the trouble of covering the entire floor.

Here is the room BEFORE the project began.

Everything cleared out and ready to begin

Noah really did a great job for his first attempt at painting. After awhile, we settled into a routine of him doing the first coat and I would follow behind with a second coat.

 And so begins Aaron's photo shoot of the vent.

Yes,  I spared you the many many many pictures Aaron graced us with of our rear ends

Yes, this is how we were all feeling after about two hours of painting :)

The finished product!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

It's March...

...and if I check back, I wonder if I'll see any posts written during the month of February. Yes, it was a busy month for the Wheelz Home, as I am sure it is for all of you as well.

What have we been up to? I will try to summarize but I will most definitely miss some stuff.

Yes, this pretty much takes over our lives in January and February but what an amazing and wonderful program Upward is. It is accepting of all children, no matter their ability, it includes learning bible verses and half time devotions, and really gives the boys a deep sense of belonging. This was Noah's second year and he really found his forte at being a solid defense player. He only scored one basket all season but he is so proud of his defensive playing that it didn't bother him that much.

This was Aaron's first year and it is definitely a learning curve. He had some down feelings when he wasn't doing well and it was nice for Noah to reassure him that his first year he didn't very well either. Aaron did, however, play amazingly well his last game of the season and I wish I had video from his first game to compare to his last game so he could see how just far he progressed over the three month season.

The final celebration was a magician who called Aaron up on stage to be the helper, which of course Aaron loved. Their prize for the season was their very own Upward basketballs. Now if the snow could just melt so the boys would stop bouncing the balls in the house.

Snow, Snow, and more snow
We certainly made up for our snow-less year last year. We have had a snow event  almost every week, and along with it various school closings and delays, which made the month very tricky indeed. There have been two days where the boys' school was closed and mine was only delayed so the boys had to spend the day in a preschool classroom. The second one was much better than the first, but I am really hoping this doesn't happen much next year. It is trying for all of us.

Snow was also the activity of choice every weekend in February. After discovering that Aaron, like his big brother, wanted to snowboard rather than sled, we spent the entire month in search of a snowboard for each of them and finally found one. When we weren't sledding/snowboarding at various hills around he city, the boys even made their own hill in our front yard. It is so cool to watch the boys start at the top of a huge hill and make it all the way down, even steering. Yes, there were some mishaps, including Noah trying to do WAY too big of a jump and injuring his knee (that we even thought was going to take is to the ER) but it's all in the name of the game.

We live in Michigan because of snow winters and warm summers, but now that it's March, we're definitely ready for the snow to go away for the season.

The month of February brought fun school activities like Valentine's parties, Crazy hair day (the boys went purple), Noah got to be Student Spotlight and bring Minnie Cat in for a visit, and conferences. The conferences went as expected for both boys. Same things as always needed to be worked on, test scored are of course fine for both boys and I let the teachers and principal know that the boys will be ending school a week earlier than everyone else,m due to our birthday trip to Florida in May. I was pretty honest with Noah's teacher about how he is feeling this year so we'll see what happens with that.

GSRP is chugging along. I am still pretty frustrated at the limitations that Creative Curriculum creates and don't often know what I'm "allowed" to teach and what I'm not. I am just praying that I am doing a good enough job to keep my job next year. I am also so annoyed that the teacher I am teaming with is leaving at the end of the year and I have no idea what to expect at the start of next year with a new lead teacher. Too many unknown s at this time.

New Pet
PhotoAfter taking Minnie to school for Noah, Aaron mentioned yet again that none of the pets have ever been his so I decided that it is finally time for Aaron to have a pet(s) of his own. So we headed to the pet store and Aaron picked out two Tiger Danios for his tank. Now, I have never been able to keep a fish alive for more than a week so this will definitely be an experiment. As I write this, I know we need to go do our first tank cleaning. He loves to watch them and I am hoping this will be a good thing for him. And I REALLY hope they stay alive for awhile.

February was a month of looking at the calendar for the five months and saying, "huh".  Trying to figure out schedules of many big events coming up, and figuring out the money to spread them all has taken a considerable amount of time . The first is figuring out the "big trip" to Florida in May. I really didn't want to go to big parks for this trip. I wanted it to be a relaxing beach and water trip for my birthday. But then. Hubby put in his two cents worth and now we will be spending two of the days in "big" parks. Lots and lots and lots of money :(

On top of the Big Family Trip, we have other trips to start working on. Hubby is on the verge of his dream of performing in a barbershop quartet on an international stage coming true. International will be held in Toronto Canada this coming July. After much discussion, it looks like I will NOT be able to accompany him on this dream adventure, which makes me very sad. But in reality, right now we're not even sure how we're going to find the funds to send HIM to Toronto so that is causing much worry in my mind. Frustratingly, he doesn't seem to be worried about it which really is ridiculous. I shouldn't have to be bearing all of the worry all the time.

So since we won't be going to the big competition with him., we decided that we are going to go to the preliminary in Traverse City in April, which again is creating more planning havoc, and another chunk of money that we just don't have.  I wish I wasn't the only one worrying about everything all the time. It would be nice for someone else to share the burden once in awhile.

And of course, I am already starting to worry about how we're going to survive financially this summer.

Getting Skinny
LC Lauren Conrad Crochet Fit and Flare DressLooking at the cute little sun dresses that are out this season and knowing that we are heading to Florida in a couple of months for my 40th birthday has started a panic within. I have spent the last year deleting EVERY picture taken of me due to the large weight gain I have had. I want to actually have pictures of me when we go to Florida and I don't want to cry each time I look at one. All of these things, combined with the shocker as I stood on the scale last week have created new resolve. SOOOOO...I re-joined Weight Watchers a week and a half ago. I don't have time to attend meetings so I bought a three month online package, which was quite inexpensive compared to the alternative and I have jumped in with gusto. I have let everyone around me know that I am doing it, for accountability, and in doing so have found two other people also just starting it and have even found a girl at work who will do it with me, weighing in together on Monday mornings.

I have tried numerous times over the years to try to get back on the bandwagon. But for the first time, I am truly motivated and I am going to do it. I don't want to be unhealthy anymore. I know I don't have enough time before our trip to get skinny, but even a little bit will set the ball in motion in the right direction and I will hopefully begin to start feeling good about myself for the first time in a very long time.

And I want to wear a cute sundress in Florida.

So here goes March...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Weekend Top Five 1/27/13

Well, it was definitely an interesting weekend. After a very interesting week. The week was insane since the boys ended up with two snow days, which would normally have been wonderful if I hadn't had to bring them to school with me since our school DID NOT get a snow day. Which also would not have been so bad if the boys had not walked out into the hall right when my principal was walking by and questioned why kids she didn't know were in her school. It was a BAD situation.

That on top of some pretty unruly, mouthy, irresponsible boys has now resulted in a complete ban on screen time (TV and video games) until further notice in the Wheelz Home, which also contributed to a very interesting weekend.

5.Celebration Dinner
Friday was my first paycheck from my new job. Even though it is pretty much gone because of the difficult month we've had in transition, we did decide we needed to splurge and took the boys out for a celebration dinner at IHOP, their favorite restaurant. It was very yummy and the boys loved their happy face pancakes.

4. Basketball Week 4
This was an interesting week for basketball. Aaron's game was first for the first time and Noah spent the time "critiquing" which was funny since he isn't really a whole lot better per say. HOWEVER, having watched his brother first must have lit a fire in him and the kid was amazing during his game three hours later. He was not only focused, but fast, energetic and a mad man playing defense against some pretty fast guys. He didn't get any baskets but it totally didn't matter since he played such amazing defense. The game actually was the most fun game I've ever watched as the teams at this age are really starting to play the game rather than having to be TAUGHT how to play. Even the coaches and other refs who had been there all day were commenting on how fun that game had been. It really makes me look forward to next week's games. Aaron will get there too, it just takes awhile. It is still his first year.

3.Griffins Game
Steve got free tickets to another Grand Rapids Griffins game Saturday night. This is definitely a fun perk from his company. The boys were excited because it was "Griffin Gnome" night and everyone got a free Griffin gnome to take home. Noah was hilarious as he took his out of the box immediately and kept it out to dance with during the entire game. Although I have never been a big hockey fan, I have to say that these games really are a lot of fun and I find myself hoping that Steve gets a few more free games before the season is over. We got home after 10:00 and I have never seen the boys beg to go to bed as much as I did that night.

Oh, and yes, Noah is back to wearing a constant Sock Monkey Hat on his head again :)

2. Sledding Snowboarding
We bundled up Sunday afternoon for a fun adventure at a new sledding hill. Unfortunately, as a result of how tired we all were from the night before, the adventure was extremely short lived but Noah did make it down a more steep hill on his snowboard than ever before and even Aaron made it down on the snowboard about half way before wiping out. I really hope there will be a better snow outing before the snow goes away.

1. No Screen Time
It makes one realize how easy it is to simply say, "okay yeah, let's turn something on" when you make the rule of no screen time in the house. I have set parameters of how they need to act before we let them have it again and I wonder if they will ever be reached. We did play a few more games than usual, that's for sure. I hope when we come out on the other side of this experiment, whenever that may be, then we won't have to do it again.

The Week Ahead:
Who knows? That's kind of how I feel about my whole life right now. Who knows?

I know that if the kids get a snow day then I'd better get one too since I don't want to have to deal with that again. Also, Aaron is getting sick so I can only pray that that doesn't get worse this week since I have to work every day. What's ahead this week? Who knows?

Weekend Top Five 1/20/13

5. Movie night and A Good Cry
Talk about ups and downs in a short time. After dinner we settled in for Family Movie Night. The movie of choice was Tooth Fairy. If you haven't seen this movie yet, I highly recommend it. It was very funny and we all really enjoyed watching it together. Afterward, we put the kids to bed and I finally had a chance to let down from the emotion of the week (really the past two weeks) and sat and cried. As silly as it sounds, it felt really good. The last couple of weeks have been so overwhelming and frustrating that I have been working so hard to hold it together that I needed a chance to finally just let go and let it overwhelm me. I was shocked at how may tears came but when it was over I was just exhausted enough to fall asleep and was ready to face the morning fresh on Saturday.

4. Growing Independence
I have been working so hard to try and make the boys be more independent with their school supplies, but I didn't realize that there are a million things around our house that we still do for them that they could (or SHOULD) do for themselves. The funny thing is that it took working with four year olds every day for me to have that light bulb moment. So this weekend was our first foray into building the boys' confidence with more independent choices.  It was definitely a learning experience for all of us.  At dinner Friday night, and again at lunch on Saturday the boys were shocked when I gave them a "sharp knife" to cut their own meat. How did they get to be this age and we were STILL cutting up their meat for the? Crazy! Aaron also turned his own water on for is shower and even tied one shoe for the first time. And taco night Saturday night? Rather than making their tacos and salads, we put a bowl of meat and the toppings on the table and they did it all themselves.

I know you are probably all thinking I am a terribly mom for doing it all for them this long, but at least it hit me and we are fixing it now. The bets thing is that if they start doing more "little things for themselves, then I think the bigger ones will become easier going forward.

3. Basketball Week 3
Two games a hour apart made for our first travel challenge of the season. it worked out though but I unfortunately missed Noah making his first basket of the season. My parents came to the games and the boys were excited to have them there. As I have stated a million times before, we are sooo lucky to have my parents as part of my boys' life. I wonder if there is anything so special as a strong relationship between kids and their grandparents. Aaron struggled to find a place for himself on the court and Noah made his first basket, even though I missed it bringing Aaron to his game.

2. Playworld
It was a really cold weekend and the boys were bursting with energy so I took them over to an indoor play place for awhile Sunday afternoon. This is a place that Noah has been going to since he was a toddler and I haven;t taken them in a long time, really figuring that they'd outgrown it.  I was right in one respect. The don't really PLAY on the equipment anymore. Instead, the spend time finding ways to make little kid equipment play worthy for big kids, not always ending up in the most appropriate play for everyone. They weren't naughty, just showing that they're growing up. Noah, as always, made me laugh when he stuck play balls up his sleeves to "show me his muscles". Too funny.

1. Church Service
This series has been interesting, about upgrading our lives in different respects. This week's message was about upgrading your "thought life" which was a good one for me to try to get my view of the things that are worrying me in my life into perspective. Looking forward to next week and the message it will bring.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Weekend Top Five 1/13/13

Coming off of my first week of my new job I had really wanted to spend some time relaxing this weekend, and I kind of did a little. My first week at work was a mixed bag of stuff that I will probably not talk about on this blog but it's going to be a rocky ride for sure.

5. Haircut One (and Two)
I avoided getting my ID made at my new job since I was waiting for money to get my haircut this weekend. That was apparently a bad decision since I now look like a fifteen year old boy. I went Friday night to get a haircut but the girl did not understand what I wanted and I left very unhappy. Saturday morning I took a shower thinking it would be better afterward. However, quite the opposite was true and I headed back (with boys in tow since Hubby was gone all day) for another attempt to remedy it but it ended up that she pretty much hacked it all off in an effort to "fix" it.  Good thing hair grows back :(

4. Basketball Week 2
Saturday was a long day since one of the games was at 9 in the morning and the other not until 2 in the afternoon so the boys and I were pretty much dragging time all day, since Hubby had to work and then go to Lansing for a barbershop performance that night. Neither boy scored and Noah didn't even get a shot in. There was not particularly great playing by either of them but they didn't complain and Noah finally got a "Christ likeness" star for his behavior on the court so he was proud of that. Aaron's coach doesn't give stars to every one so he was sad that he hadn't gotten one that week.

3. Shopping One and Two
We finally got a paycheck on Friday so I was able to get some groceries. The boys were so funny since they woke up Saturday morning, went to the fridge for milk and Noah says, "Whoa Mom, look at all the food!" Pretty sad when your ten year old has a fit of gleeful hysteria just because there is actually food on every shelf of your fridge. We are still in transition so it will be a few more weeks before we actually get into a comfortable routine but at least we can eat for this week so that's a good thing. Then, Sunday afternoon I went to attempt to get a pair of pants for work, which of course was depressing and unsuccessful once again. I'll try again in two weeks.

2. Flat Stanley travels again
We took my nephew's Flat Stanley to the Presidential Museum Saturday afternoon and then Hubby also took him with them to Lansing (capital of Michigan) so as soon as I get the pictures developed he will be on his way back to Illinois. I hope he enjoyed his stay in Michigan with us.

1. Church
I was very tired Sunday morning and Noah didn't have to run soundboard so since Steve slept in from getting home from Lansing late, I toyed with the idea of staying in bed too,rather than going to church. I was glad that I fought the urge though. The service was about how to bring happiness into your work life which is a message I needed to hear after the week I had last week. I also had invited my partner teacher to the service and I am not sure if she went or not, but if she did, I am excited to talk about the message with her tomorrow. In addition, the music was uplifting as always and I got a chance to chat a little with the mom of a friend of Noah's about the situation at my new job and get some perspective. It was definitely a good thing that I decided not to skip.

The week ahead:
 Hopefully armed with the message from church I will be able to stay positive this week, despite the negative attitude of my partner teacher. This week also holds my COURT DATE to fight the ticket I got two months ago for supposedly running a stop sign. I can't imagine how I am going to fight it but I have to at least show up in the off chance that the nasty officer won't show up and I can get out of it. Otherwise, our insurance is going to skyrocket and we are going to be in BIG trouble.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Weekend Top Five 1/6/12

Let's see...first weekend of 2013, last weekend of Christmas Break. Should have been a biggie, right?

Nah, more of a weekend to try to get our affairs in order before life changes for  the Wheelz household.

Not a huge weekend but enough to write down I guess

5. Dinner out

Thursday night the boys went for their promised sleep over to my parents and Steve and I finally got a chance to go out for our anniversary (which was three weeks ago). We went to our favorite restaurant and had yummy burritos/enchiladas but really just enjoyed some lengthy time of just being able to talk. We talked about how things have been up until now, we talked about how really really really bad they are at this very moment and how there is actually hope for them to get better (hopefully) next month. We talked about two possible trips this summer as well as other planning we need to do for the future. Basically, it was just really awesome to sit and talk without being interrupted every two seconds but a child feeling left out whenever mom and dad try to talk for a second without them being part of the conversation.

4. Flat Stanley is Visiting
My nephew's class has sent Flat Stanley to visit. If you don't know who Flat Stanley is, you probably haven't had an elementary school child in the last ten years. So we spent some time taking him around to various venues. We have a few more visits for him to make next weekend and then we will be sending him home to Illinois. This weekend though he got a chance to visit his cousins at their grandparent's house, see a Lake Michigan lighthouse and the beach, and help Noah run the soundboard at church.

3. Clothing Misery
Since I am starting a new job tomorrow, you would think our money solutions would be solved. However, things are worse than ever until my first check on the 25th and I have a total of three outfits to wear for my new job this week. So while the kids spent time with their grandparents, I spent the better part of two hours at a Goodwill store trying to find something to wear this week. I came away with two pars of pants and a pair of shoes for $15 and then proceeded to put one of the pairs in the wash not realizing it was "dry clean only" and had to throw them away. So I am now starting this new job with a total of two outfits to wear in five days. Yeah, I'm not a loser or anything :( I don't even know what teachers wear at this school and I am likely to be labeled a nerd within the first five minutes of my first day no matter what anyway.

2. Basketball
For the next eight weeks, basketball will be taking over our Saturdays. With both boys playing at different churches and various times every Saturday we will definitely be busy. Their first game was this past Saturday and they both did pretty well. Since this is Noah's second year, he kind of knew what to expect and he was much more active and aggressive than last year. He even tried for a few shots. Aaron did great too and even made the very first shot for his team. Both boys' teams lost but that totally doesn't matter in a church league and I think it is going to be a great season for both of them

1. Haircuts and Mall
So thankful for free child haircuts at JCPenney on Sundays. I was able to take both boys in for much needed haircuts on Sunday afternoon, and then follow it up with a trip to Panera Bread for free smoothies and sweets thanks to their little rewards card. Afterward we wandered through the book store for awhile and really had a nice couple of hours wandering the mall together. I even ran into a Gymboree family that didn't know I was leaving which was kind of funny.

The Week Ahead
As I sit here pondering the week ahead I feel a gush of anxiety, worry and fear. I start back to work full time tomorrow but still have a full piano load every night as well. I am panicked because I don't know much about this program I am teaching, I have NOTHING to wear, my kids were NOT doing well in school before break so I don't know what is going to happen there, I am going to be completely exhausted from all of the double work load, and I don't know what I can sell to get enough money for gas this week. So really what should be an exciting evening for me is really just plain PANIC. I can't really do anything about it tonight except for planning out lunches for all of us tomorrow, trying to get the backpacks packed, and praying that my lead teacher will be patient with me as I try to figure out where I fit in.

I don't know...I just don't know...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Plan in Gift Giving

It's a new year so I am now looking forward to a fresh new start. But before I do, I have to post my present theory from this year, just so I remember NEXT Christmas.

I decided to make a conscious effort to only give gifts that the kids actually wanted this year, not just random stuff just so there were a bunch of presents under the tree.  I also know that as the boys get older, their desires will become even more expensive and I want them to start getting used to having fewer things wrapped on Christmas morning.

So the plan this year was something I found on a website about a month ago. It goes like this:
Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read

I loved this idea but I had also picked up a couple of things that I wanted the boys to have for outside since it is hard to make them go outside when there's not much to do around here. So I added:

Something for inside
Something for out
Something you will laugh about

Here is what we ended up with this year:


This was hard to narrow down but we did it. Noah finally got a a game for his 3DS and Aaron got the drum set that I kicked through aisle after aisle on Black Friday (no carts available), only to discover 12 of them still on the shelf the following morning when there was NOBODY in the store.  I think I may be done with Black Friday shopping for good.

Aaron has gotten quite talented at turning music on his keyboard and then creating percussion with it on the drum. I had many people tell me I was crazy for getting an eight year old drums but I truly love listening to him play them.


These were not met with joyous excitement when they opened the huge boxes, but when we used them two days later on our trip and they realized they could put two people's worth of clothes, PLUS their blankets, pillows, buddies, etc. in them with room to spare, they realized how awesome these duffles were. I was excited to get such a deal.  Kohl's Black Friday was good to me for these...$100 adult sized duffels for $20 apiece and they will probably take them to college someday, as well as make packing for our road trip to Florida this Spring much easier.

Aaron even climbed inside his to check out the space:)


I originally intended this to be clothes but as I started thinking about things that would be more useful, we ended up with headphones for Aaron's keyboard and snowboarding goggles for Noah. Both were a huge hit so it was a good decision to stray from original intention.


There ended up being several "somethings to read" thanks to the Scholastic Warehouse sale a couple of weeks before Christmas but you can never have too many books, right?


Science kits and legos


Soccer ball with net that was NOT fun to assemble and football with lasers to play with in the dark


These are HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!

I'd say we did pretty well this year. Noah has said that he noticed fewer things under the tree this year but he also said that it was cool because he liked EVERYTHING  he got this year for the first time.

That's a home run if you ask me.