Friday, March 30, 2012

Glow-in-the-Dark Butt Butt



As a final Spring Break adventure, my Dad and Sue came for a visit yesterday. They generously brought another birthday celebration for David, complete with dinner and cake (chocolate this time, which was the only thing missing from the Spiderman cake). They also multiplied his collection of Hot Wheels track so that NOW our playroom looks like THIS:




We decided to try something new, which David referred to as "Glow-in-the-Dark Butt Butt." You can probably figure out what he meant.








The kids thought this experience was awesome, and I have to admit that I was entertained as well. It's a neat concept, and I kept laughing the whole time at the different decorations. It's also more challenging than you would think to golf in the dark! As soon as we left, David was asking..."when can go back there?"

Enough partying...we're planning to spend the weekend cooking and doing yard work. This time of year it's always a challenge for Brian to keep up with mowing our yard and the rental's. I can't believe the grass needs mowed in March!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Birthday Recap

We're really enjoying our week out of the usual routine. David's birthday yesterday was laid back and fun. In the morning, Brian was at work and I was trying to explain to David that he could pick what we did for the morning because it was his birthday. We are always home in the afternoon for naptime, so I was picturing a light activity, like the library or the park. He kept suggesting things like the zoo! the pool! Magic Mountain again!

Finally I talked him into going to the grocery to get donuts and then spending some of his birthday money on new Hot Wheels (on sale for 60 cents a piece - love it!). Then I made him take a nap in the afternoon because I could tell he was wiped from all the activity. Brian came home from work early and David opened a few presents while we waited for Aunt Mel to arrive. We went to City BBQ for dinner (his choice, isn't that hilarious?), and DQ for dessert. He made fast friends with another almost-4-yr-old at DQ and they were having conversation across 3 tables the whole time we were there. He was just giddy. It was marvelous.

This kid can put away the mac and cheese like nobody's business.



Allowed to have pop on birthdays!
Then we came home to finish up presents, chat with family on skype, and read the new superhero books he got before bed. He thoroughly enjoyed his day.

Some favorites:

Cars Duplos from cousins! He shrieked!

Luke was anxious to get ahold of the Spiderman soccer ball.
Building a collection of the Hot Wheels track that connects together and makes amazing courses.

I couldn't get David to stand still for a photo of Buzz Lightyear so Brian volunteered. David ran around for 20 minutes making flying noises and shouting, "To infinity... and beyond!" He also got the Toy Story movie and Lady and the Tramp from Grammy and Papa John, which he loves.

Today we had a well visit (David is 37 pounds, 60 %'ile and 40.5", 55%'ile), got haircuts, and bought summer jammies. Now we're playing outside until soccer practice starts. I'm looking forward to summer after getting a little taste this week...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

David: Four

David,

I am proud of you today and the way you have grown up over this past year. Age three is not necessarily an easy one, even for a low key guy like yourself. Your emotions are so raw and you are so sensitive - you find yourself experiencing many highs and lows each day.

But on the flip side of those intense moments, you are a middle-child to a tee. You go with the flow, not complaining when we aren't picking your choice, often going unnoticed while you entertain yourself in the corner, and just coming up for attention here and there. And I make darn sure and give it to you when you do. I want you to know how special you are, and that you are a good, strong, smart, and sweet boy.

When I asked you about inviting a couple of close friends to a birthday celebration, you wanted to make sure that Katy was on the list. You guys are buds, in addition to roommates. You're starting to find your niche with Luke too (wrestling and chasing are your common bond), but you guys still get in more screaming fits over toys than I would like.

And of course you love your friend Frank. You guys love each other intensely, and it warms my heart. And oh, man, you guys are wild. His mom and I have been noticing lately that you wind each other UP. I'm learning what it means to be a mom to boys.

Your teachers at church and school both love you. They say that you answer questions and are always sweet and polite. And you just love both places. You have always been excited to go (except once when you were going to miss something that we were doing while you were gone.) You like to go anywhere with us, though, even to cheer on your sister at soccer.

I thought you would never find another interest other than cars, but you have gotten on a superhero kick lately. It's a nice change of pace, but you are still faithful to your first love. You just LOVE vehicles of all types. I find myself wondering how that will manifest as you grow older.

You deserve a great year, and I'm hoping and praying that you get it. I can't wait to see what age 4 brings. We love you so much.

Love, Mommy

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Party and a Road Trip

We kicked off Spring Break with two busy days. First, we did a little mini-party for David. Given the option of a full-blown party at the house or taking just a couple of friends somewhere fun, he chose to go to Magic Mountain to play in their massive kids' gym.  The nicest part? The only prep that I did was make the cake.

Happy Sweat, as someone described it

One view of the gym.

If there are balls, Landon is IN.

She's getting to the age where she finds "friends" and then we don't see much of her.


Wildcat Dads. David's birthday always falls during March Madness. I'm always backing his cake with a game on in the background.

Plenty for Wild Man to do, too.

Miss Mags!


Pizza!! And the only shot I got of Frank - he and David can't stop wrestling long enough for a photo.


Spiderman wins the cake theme this year! He has been a theme all around - lots of Spiderman gifts, too.

----

Next we took a road trip up north for the day to visit Abby and her boys. Of course the best part is getting to catch up with my cousin that I don't get to see often enough. The kids also had a blast with the growing collection of farm animals and toys.

First stop - a new batch of baby chicks!

Abby said they only look cute like this for a couple of weeks - so our visit was well timed.

Perfect to ride tractors here.
Heading to the chicken coup.

So happy.

The goats need to be coerced.


Nate and Luke were napping while most the pictures were taken, but Nate is super cute!

Friday, March 23, 2012

This Week: 14 people in the basement and a birthday preview

Have I ever mentioned the fabulous and generous friends that we have? Without family in town, we have to depend on friends to help us out with various things, and we are so fortunate that the guys in our group are willing and able to help each other with DIY projects. They've taken turns at each other's houses doing projects from time to time, although I always worry that they help us more than we help them. Seriously, guys! Get a project going soon so we can help!

So I owe a great big THANK YOU to Jason, Dave, and JT for spending their ENTIRE Sunday here at our house last week, helping Brian replace our patio door. (And to their wives, for giving up their husbands for the day)

To explain the need for a new door (besides the wood rotting via carpenter ants), I thought a video was necessary to see how difficult it was for the kids to come in and out of it: (also, I would NOT recommend one of these roll-up screen doors. They are very difficult to operate, especially for the kids)

video


They worked all day to evict the ants and get the new door installed. I made dinner for their families, and just as they were finishing eating and would finally be able to return to their comfy homes? The tornado siren started blaring. We turned on the TV to see a really nasty storm, with rotating clouds, headed right toward us. So we took our pan of brownies and all the kids and shoved 14 people into our basement. It also happened to be a slow moving storm, so we got hang out there for a good 30 minutes before the TV down there (that my sister is conveniently storing along with some of her other stuff) told us we were in the clear. Good thing there were toys! And chocolate! Beth was singing, "It's the end of the world at the [last name]'s", so we were able to stay distracted. I think those people deserve more than brownies for all that!

But thanks to them, (and Brian taking a day off this week to finish it and some other odds and ends around the house), our new door looks like this:


With internal blinds down!

And WORKS like this:


video


So I'm very grateful to all who made this happen.

We're also gearing up for David's birthday next week. Because both of the kids are on spring break after today, David's class celebrated his birthday yesterday. I wanted to make something fun for his "birthday snack" but not TOO complicated. I happened to be in JoAnn's and saw these chocolate pretzel rod molds in the shape of race cars, and voila! It wasn't very difficult at all.

You just melt chocolate, put some in the mold, and stick a pretzel in. Refrigerate. Done.

And the mold was $2 - or $1.25 if you have a coupon (in the paper every Sunday!)

I even splurged on another dollar to get the little bags to serve them up.
A few things that I learned and I'd like to remember for next time:

1) It takes longer than you think because you have to wait for one set to be done in the refrigerator before you can pour another set.

2) Re-melt the chocolate each time before you pour a new set, even if you think it still seems pretty smooth.

3) Also, wash the mold between each set. If there's any leftover from the last batch it can cause the next one to stick, and therefore break.

4) Start out with less chocolate than you think you need, because if you have extra, it spills over the mold like the bottom one in the picture.

Spring break/birthday week is here! We've got lots of fun stuff planned, and I'll be sure to share some photos. I know SO many people traveling right now, so be safe, everyone!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March so far, in photos and video

I have tried desperately to get a video of him tearing down the street on this thing, but I can't because I'm always chasing him. I actually have to trot to keep up with him - he's that fast.

Remember how I said he has torn up 3 pairs of shoes? This is why...

But it makes him so happy! (Until he has to go inside. Then God be with you.)  



video
David is so proud of himself riding his big boy bike. And when I bought this at a garage sale over a year ago, I didn't realize that he'd be in a perfectly timed superhero kick when it came time to ride it.




Girl Scout Cookie sales were incredibly successful this year. All we did was let people know we were selling them (and send a sheet to work with Brian), and BAM! Over a hundred boxes sold. The rest of the troop did just as well, and we will end up with a really nice fund heading into next fall. (All of these are the ones for Brian's work.)

Katy went to work with Brian one morning to personally deliver the cookies he sold. Everyone loved it, so I have a feeling that will boost sales for next year. :) The boys and I met them for lunch to bring Katy back for school, so it was a fun little adventure.

Katy came home from school and said that a boy in her class gave her this note. At first I thought, "Haha!" and then I thought, "Wait....WHAT?!?!" (He's a good speller, though, for a kindergartener.)

My mom is half Irish and her favorite color is green. So she's always enjoyed St. Patrick's Day.

So it didn't surprise me to see what she put together for the kids. We go to church on Saturday night, which is typically a more casual service, so we let them wear their St. Paddy's shirts. But we left the wigs at home.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Updates

*I feel a bit out of touch here, mostly because I've been trying to use all the possible quiet time around here for my decluttering project. It's been somewhat of a challenge to keep up with 40 bags. On the days that I accomplish my assigned decluttering, it is such a marvelous feeling. And I'm creating quite a pile of stuff in the garage and basement that I intend to turn into a garage sale. But there are so many other things that demand my attention during nap time (Girl Scout planning, birthday planning, menu planning, kitchen clean-up, laundry, etc.), I'm a little bit behind where I'm supposed to be. But you know what? If I don't finish by Easter, there's always the week after Easter, right? And I'm not sure if anyone can tell from visiting how much I've gotten rid of - most of it is clutter from drawers, cabinets, backs of closets, etc. Most of the stuff that sits out is still important enough to sit out.

*This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a Girls' Weekend with my mom and my sister celebrating my mom's 60th birthday. Mel and I drove over to Mom's house and we got pedicures, went shopping (for hours and hours) and had a lovely dinner at a restaurant with live music. It was lovely and relaxing and I laughed a lot. I had lots of adult conversations without interruptions. And I got to shop around for kids' shoes without worrying that my kid-meter was about to expire. (Wait, who was this a celebration for again?) Fabulous time. And don't go worrying about Brian back at home - his folks came up to hang out with him and the kids, so they had a good weekend as well.

*This weather is UNBELIEVABLE, in a good way, for once. Sunny and 70's all week, we are spending tons of time outside, and I'm planning the summer as if it were right around the corner. But that's the beauty of it! We haven't even started spring officially yet! We have lots and lots of nice weather to look forward to. It makes all the difference.

*David is telling everyone we see that he is about to be 4. He is SO excited about his birthday. I gave both kids the choice this year - either to have a party at the house with several friends - or to pick one or two friends and go do something fun (like bowling or movies or something). They are both excited about taking a couple of friends on an outing. So David has chosen his activity and we're in the process of getting that arranged. He has requested cakes in the form of any of the following: Lightning McQueen, Mack (from Cars), Superman, or Spiderman. He's gotten into superheros lately so we might go that route. He's also riding a bike with training wheels and doing really well on it.

*Katy is finishing a piano class, which she has loved. Now we'll start the debate about what's next in that department. But right as that ends, she starts soccer. And the Girls Scouts celebrated their 100th anniversary on Monday - she got to wear her vest to school and we had cake at our meeting.


*Luke is really seeming like he's rounding the corner and headed toward 2. He has already torn through 2 pairs of sneakers since the "playing outside" season began. TORN THROUGH. And he wants to be outside every second of every day. And when it is time to go in, you are going to carry him kicking and screaming, pretty much no matter what. I made the mistake of letting him ride his little scooter to pick Katy up at school. But when we couldn't go to the park after school, I ended up carrying him, kicking and screaming, and his scooter, chasing David on his bike...sweating like crazy for half a mile. Now I insist on the stroller. But he also gives the BEST hugs. And his language is really coming along - he says lots of phrases now like "Here We Go" and "Shoes On." But only those of us in his immediate family understand.

So much more to say...hopefully I'll have pictures of our most generous friends helping us install a new patio door this weekend.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Close call

I'm writing from the laptop that I smuggled up to bed with me last night, because when I went to bed, the levy was passing by FORTY VOTES. Out of THIRTY THOUSAND.

I didn't sleep well, as you can imagine.

But this morning, you might hear me breathing a five-year long sigh of relief. It passed. By 500 votes (51 %). Wow. Thank you, Lord.

Next thought...man, those 49% are gonna be MAD. I wish there were a way to do it without making everyone so angry!

But I feel strongly, with every fiber of my being, that this is best for our community, even if 49% don't think so. So I'll take it. And I am thankful that we live in a place where we have the opportunity for good education for the masses. I'm taking today to appreciate it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Nervous

When the alarm went off this morning, I let out a big sigh. It's Election Day. Our community has had March 6th on the tip of its tongue for months, since we heard that they were going to try for another levy on this day. You may remember that the one in November failed. This one is requesting less money, only 5 years instead of permanent, and lots of things have happened since November. Unions have made concessions. Two schools will be closed in the fall. And there is a huge laundry list of programs that are all cut as of this fall. If the levy passes, there is also a list of which ones will be restored next January (about half). You can guess all the programming cuts: bussing, sports, extracurriculars, art, music, reading intervention, gifted and talented, college prep, etc. The magnet school program, which is lottery selected for grades 1-5, is cut, no lottery for next year's first graders. We had considered that program for next year, but now we will remain in our home school. (Which, by the way, I have complete peace about, since they made that announcement. One year at a time, but for first grade, we'll forge ahead).

It's been a heated debate, and I'm exhausted of it. Let's just vote and get on with it. No one knows whether it will pass or fail. Sixty-one percent voted against it in November. But I am not exaggerating when I say that I got down on my knees this morning and prayed that it would pass. I know that I am a worrywart by nature, and I can be overly dramatic at times. But I am very very concerned about what another failed levy would do for the schools and the whole community. I NEVER thought I would consider moving again. I love this community and intend to be a lifer. But we will not stay here and ride the downfall of the district. (Okay, that statement is a little dramatic).

I even wrote a letter that I intended to send to the local paper (they post letters every week, and 90% of them have been levy-related for months). But Brian talked me out of sending it. (Well, he didn't fully talk me out of it. But I was going to send it, and then he said some things, and so I didn't.)

Katy has also been aware of the debate this time around. When we drive around, she counts YES and NO signs. "Six yes's, four no's, Mom!" This morning, David said "Mom, it isn't fair that Katy has money to give to the schools. I don't HAVE any money." I quickly explained that only grown-ups are being asked to give money to the schools. (And maybe I should give him a couple of dollars for his birthday?)

And again, I also feel badly because there is no easy answer. I know some people are really hurting financially or are on fixed incomes and they really can't make it work. I wish there were a way to have decent schools without causing people financial pain. But we have to do the best with the system we have. And strong communities have strong schools - you cannot separate the two. And it costs money to have strong schools, and therefore a strong community. What should we do? It's a million dollar question (quite literally).