Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back at it!

Hi all. It's been way too long in-between posts. I decided not to fret about it and just write on a day worthy of being written about. Doesn't mean I'll get to writing about it right away, but I'm hoping to make it happen. Here it is Wednesday and I'm going to talk mostly Monday. I"m also going to delete my Cache Checkers blog and just talk about those adventures here.

First off, I hope everyone is doing well. If you keep up with my Facebooks posts you'll know that Dev, B and I recently returned from bringing our rat terrier Kit to the vet. She cut herself pretty bad on our woodland adventure yesterday. It had been a partly cloudy day, but knowing today was going to be rain, rain and more rain, the younger boys, Kit and I went to a park in the making.

A park in the making is most definitely what it is! It has one pavilion, a porta potty and lots of mowed grass. Right now the trails aren't really trails so we spent most of our time walking through the woods. B had one bumpy ride in the padded seat of our all terrain wagon. He was OK with it, laughing most of the way. We were there for a geocache, I am addicted, but also just a walk in the woods with colors all around us and dried up, crunchy leaves on the ground. So crunchy, Dev and I had to stop walking so we could hear ourselves speak! The more and more I hunt for these things, the more I dislike caches in the woods! Especially when there is no hint given! With the cloudy skies and leaves still on the trees, my GPS was slow to update. A find or no find, we enjoyed our time on that walk and Kit seemed fine, appearing from all sides, keeping us in sight, although she could definitely locate where we were by sound!

Monday started off rough. While my morning coffee was brewing I turned on my computer and as I sat down to check my email I heard a click and then the sound of a machine humming down to silence. A push of the button on the tower front and a flick of the switch at the back did nothing, like I knew it wouldn't. I called for my hubby who was thirty seconds away from leaving for work and he confirmed with an annoying smirk that, Yup, your power supply is capoot and I'm going out of town for two days, ha, ha, ha!

We have another computer in the house, the one I'm currently typing on (feel free to suggest Tim get me a laptop). He built it for my online store use and I'm not allowed to have any fun on it. I can check my email, update my FB status and type on my blog, but no games for me and most definitely not for the boys. Since Dev can't read yet, he clicks on anything and everything and that equals trouble.

So, I took my coffee down here in the finished basement where it's at least 10 degrees cooler. In the summer it's a great place to be, not so much so during the colder months. I actually did have some store work to do, so I turned the power on, sat down here and reached for my wireless mouse...but it was gone. Bryce loves to come here and spin in my desk chair. Wide, soft and with raised arms to keep him from falling off, he crawls into it and kicks off my desk, spinning so fast my stomach turns sometimes just watching him. In his excitement, he often kicks the mouse onto the floor or once I found it upstairs. It wasn't under the table, it wasn't upstairs and I spent a good 30 minutes looking for it. Finally I gave up and came back down here and tried to update my FB status using the Tab button. Oh, that was time consuming and so very annoying.

After suffering through that, I decided to continue to try and find it under more and saw how dusty and dirty my house is. I haven't done an in depth cleaning since the spring and realizing that was like sitting all healthy in a doctor's office during flu season. It's something I don't do because I'd probably get sick. So, like the flu bug, I tend to avoid such situations where I might catch myself the cleaning bug, but there are times that it can't be helped and looking for that computer mouse was the start of one of those times!

Since I was searching in the family room, I started the fight there. Tim had already moved the board games and the like from the fireplace mantle to Hunter's closet. With that done, the room already looked less cluttered. I continued by boxing up the old VHS and cassette tapes we hadn't used in years and also packed away the empty music CD cases. I cleaned up the DVD collection, de-cluttered the top of the big screen, wiped down the fireplace and surrounding area, moved in and out some toys between there and the boys' bedrooms. There aren't a lot of rooms in my house I can rearrange, but the family room is one of them so I moved the couch and treadmill around

Oh, the couch. I hadn't cleaned underneath the couch since the spring. My boys play in this room a lot. They jump up and down on that couch, they eat on that couch.... I wasn't quite sure I wanted to look under that couch. With a quick breath I toughened my You're already half way resolve and lifted the back of the couch forward and over onto itself. Hmmm. I won't go into all that was under there, but three kids and six months time....Yeah. I grabbed two Wal-Mart bags, one for garbage and one for salvageable items, and got into it. During this time, both Devin and Bryce were upstairs, keeping themselves occupied with just a little direction from me. Each time I went upstairs to check on them I switched off all the lights Bryce had turned on. Returning back downstairs it was a good bet I'd be switching them off again. Then suddenly, as I start to sort thru all that mess underneath the couch, Bryce appears and wants the intact but grimy Goldfish cracker underneath a dryer sheet and demands the hair balled and melted to the floor sucker. I had to carry him kicking and screaming from the room and bribe him with Blue's Clue's and a cookie.

I finally got everything separated and vacuumed up the mess and put the couch back down. Cleaning goes faster when you listen to music. That day, however, I turned on a recorded episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show I had saved. On it was the story of a stay at home mom who had survived a terrible plane crash but was horribly burned and scarred. It was a terrifying story of her struggle and survival while her family admits to considering taking her off life support during her three month, medically induced coma. My reason for bringing this up is this: Oprah had gotten a letter from another stay at home mom who wrote about being bored and mostly bothered by being at home with her kids all day. Oprah not only invited this woman onto her show, but asked her to spend the day with the burned stay at home mom and then come meet her, Oprah and talk about the experience on TV.

The mom who didn't appreciate the opportunity that staying at home brings a parent, the joys of seeing her children grow, of hugging and holding them whenever they needed to be, was humbled. She didn't see for herself, but she heard from the burned mama's own lips how her children 9, 7 and 4, were scared of their own mama's appearance and wouldn't go near her for weeks. She also heard of the grief and agony the burned mama's husband had for his wife as she lay covered in so many bandages that only her red painted toenails showed. She saw firsthand her new mama friend struggling behind her smile as she went through seemingly mundane tasks like making her kids breakfast and taking them to the park. This mama has to wear rubber gloves on her hands to give her children a bath and still, months after her accident, can't pick them up and out of the tub.

I don't mean to stand up on any soapbox for stay at home mom's. I am proud to be one, but I have to admit that I sometimes have the same feelings as my fellow stay at homer did when she wrote that letter to Oprah. For some reason or another, I decided to watch that episode instead of listening to music while I cleaned. I would have gotten the job done faster, but instead I cleaned, I listened and I appreciated.

But then I went back upstairs. Devin was screaming down at me how thirsty he was and that I needed to get him a drink. My once soft spoken and well mannered three year old had turned into a bossy and bratty four year old. I took the straw bottle he was shaking in my face and asked him to come into the kitchen with me. Once there, I implemented some tough love. With Devin watching me, I took his much loved blue straw bottle and I dropped it right into the garbage. He immediately started crying and when he settled down, I pulled it out, showed it to him and said that was exactly how I felt when he behaves the way he does when he wants something. What I did had been spontaneous and as he broke into tears I thought, Oh, my gosh! What have I done?? I have talked and talked about this all before and didn't want to say it again right then. Actions can speak louder than words and it looks like my possible overreaction, depending on your point of view, worked. Devin is using Please and Thank you's once again!

One more thing I'd like to add.... When Tim cleaned the games off the mantle downstairs and put them on the top shelf of Hunter's closet, he found something surprising. For some time now, Hunter has been doing great with his toileting habits, or so we thought. Apparently he's not. He's been hiding his accidents in a box on that shelf in his closet. I haven't noticed up till now because Hunter keeps the closet door shut and the bedroom door as well to keep Bryce out of there. Hunter hoards small items that are still a possible choking hazard to his little brother and they are all over the bedroom. So, it's back to putting Hunter on a schedule with certain must do's to get this back on track.

Thanks for reading all this and I hope it gives you a little insight into our lives! :) I do have pictures to share and hopefully can get them up for you to see when I get my other computer back.

Till I type again, take care!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

More words to write than pictures to show!

I blame it on my lovable hubby. I don't have many pictures to show because he took my camera with him on a four day trip...or maybe it's that Devin has been taking so many pictures that not only does it fill my 1.0 GB memory card but he drains the two AA batteries...or maybe it's because I take it away from my curious two year old and forget where I hide it.... Or maybe it's just me being lazy and missing photo opportunities.

Right now, I should go take a snap of what Bryce is doing. He let himself out the sunroom/computer room door to the back yard. We've just had a thunderstorm that poured rain down on us so hard, the splatter of the drops reached as high as my knee as we looked out from the cover of our garage. Bryce is out there, going back and forth between the fresh, cool, fun wetness in his water table and on the top of the closed plastic outside toy bin. He doesn't know where to begin, but the end result will be a soaking wet, happy boy!

I'm hoping the clouds that bruised the sky have passed on to drop their much needed water in someone else's yard. I'm glad we've had two good down pours in two days because we haven't had a single drop in two weeks! My grass is dead in spots, a first for us at this house since we moved here in early 2003. But, rain, rain, go away because Devin has his first T-ball game today!

Technically, he's not old enough to play but we know one of the coaches and it's all for fun at this age anyway. He's been to a few practices in which he only actually played ball for the first fifteen minutes. The rest of the time he joined in the fun with the kids on the bleachers. Tim has a good attitude about it all, but I admit I'm being pushy! I want him to get in there and play already, but I understand the need to follow his, Devin's, lead. Hunter has never been into sports, although he loves to watch, so I'm eager to get the ball throwing for Devin. We've been working with both Hunter and Dev in catching and using a bat and a ball on a T. Devin is being stubborn when it comes to wearing the dark blue helmet with the the grid like mask over the face. This helmet is made to be adjusted to grow with him by a nifty dial on the back that clicks with each new size. Much better than the helmets I used during summer softball that shifted just about every time I swung the bat!


I just took a break for a couple hours and it's back to pouring down rain. During this time away from the computer, I took a great photo of what Bryce was doing at the moment and sent it to all who are in my email address book. If you want to be included in my mailings, please send your email to me at :) You'll get email notices when I update either of my blogs, too.

I spoke of Dev first, so I'll continue with him. It's great having conversations with him and seeing him talk along with other people. We were in the store just today when he approached two little girls in a shopping cart and told them about the blue light saber he was carrying. Then he turned and gestured to the blue and white backyard bouncing ball in the cart and explained solemnly that he had to get a new one because his dad popped the old. After small chat with the mom about how those big balls come and go, we said goodbye and Devin turned to me and announced he had made some new friends.

The other night Devin insisted on having his light left on for bedtime so he could play a certain game on his bed. I agreed to ten minutes and set the digital timer. I closed the door behind me so the light wouldn't sneak under Hunter's door across the hall and joined my hubby in the living room. A few minutes later, I heard Devin's door open. I assumed he was going to appear with some excuse or another, but instead of thinking I'd meet him in the hall, I found he was shutting his door again from the inside and there on the floor in front of the door is a teddy bear. I took the teddy bear out to Tim and told him what Dev had done. We were both very curious, so I went back to Devin's room and asked him why his teddy bear was outside alone in the dark hallway. He said, I just don't want to play with him anymore. I said, OK. That's fine. How about I put him here, on the floor by your bed, so that you'll find him when you need him next. Without looking at me, he replied with a frown, No, thanks. Take him away. I don't want to be his friend right now. I did what he asked with thoughts bouncing around in my head of what a teddy bear could do to a 3 1/2 year old to be banished.

This past weekend he discovered that the Jeep Santa had left for him under the tree has a faster speed then any of us had thought. No longer can we just causally walk along side him as he goes, but now we must pick up the pace or Dev will leave us behind. A couple weeks ago he was refusing to give Bryce a ride in the passenger seat. When I told him he was then done riding in his Jeep, he hopped out and said OK as he ran the other way! I don't know if that rule finally soaked into that cute head of his, but now he lets B ride with him every time and when his younger brother isn't interested, Dev stays close until B changes his mind (which is pretty quick usually).

Our lawn tractor is another thing that Dev has gotten good at driving. He knows where the key is, how to turn the throttle up and how to activate the blades. He insists on wearing the ear muffs that Hunter once needed to attend parades or hockey games and often prefers to stand at the wheel instead of sitting between mine or his dad's legs. If he's inside the house when the tractor starts, he comes running out with those ear muffs and if he hears another lawn mower running, he goes to every window wondering if his dad is home and doing the grass cutting without him. The steering wheel is twice the size of his Jeep and much tighter to maneuver. Dev gets his hands on there and really turns with his arms to get the machine to go where he wants. I told him he must eat more meat and veggies so he can grow bigger and weigh more, than he won't need his dad or I to sit on the seat with him. He says he's OK with that, but I don't know. He's eating habits aren't very good!

Last Wednesday late afternoon, Devin traveled with his dad to an away baseball game his dad played in and then the two of them went from there to a hotel in Pennsylvania to stay the night before continuing on to my brother in law's second college graduation in Maryland. The only pictures they brought back with them was a whole lot of audience shots, some blurred some not, some crooked, some I couldn't tell. Dev was the proud cameraman of the day. By cell phone picture updates Tim showed me Dev eating a big waffle with an even bigger amount of whip cream on it and Dev posing happily on a smooth and sandy beach off the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD. Phone conversations told me of delicious BBQ's and fun birthday parties (Jamie's son turned one year old while they were there). It sounded like it was a good time all around and I am sorry that Hunter, Bryce and I didn't come along.

I seriously considered all of us attending, but there were a few factors I had to consider. One was, where we would all stay? There are five of us and two dogs. We would have had to rent a hotel room and leave the dogs at Jamie's? No, so we'd have to either bring them with us, put them in a kennel or pay someone to tend to them at the house while we were gone. But the biggest decision maker was the fact that Hunter is still in school. Sure, most kids would celebrate being able to miss three days of forced attendance, and believe me, Hunter would be first in line for his very own noisemaker...or three...but these are the last few weeks of school. There is no more homework and more fun days than work. They had a pizza party once with a small carnival after one day, they went and listened to the older kids play band instruments another, and they went to a wax museum. I know there's more I'm not remembering, but Hunter was actually looking forward to going to school and I didn't want to take him away from it. So, that's why we stayed behind and I terribly missed the two loudest people in my house!

Hunter did bring home a small piece of homework the other day. For many assignments he's allowed to type out his words instead of writing them. He brought home part of his work and had to finish typing out the rest. The assignment was to write directions on something and he chose the task of teaching someone how to clean their bedroom. Here is what he had to share on the subject:

Here is how to clean your room: First, you pick up your toys and put them back in your toy box. Next, you pick up your books and put them away. Then, you get your vacuum and vacuum the floor. Next, you watch out for ants. If you find an ant, kill it. If it is dead, get rid of it. If it's alive, kill it some more. Finally, you flush it down the toilet. Make sure the ant doesn't bite you and then you show your parents your clean room and they might give you $5.00.

It was only one ant! Tim read through it and had a good laugh and said Hunter made it sound as if we're infested! I was actually on the phone with Tim downstairs when I heard this pounding over and over again from above my head. I went upstairs to investigate and found Hunter beating at the floor with what I don't recall, but I did see the ant he pointed out, two black dots separated from each other. I haven't felt the house shake with anymore hits to the floor, so I think it was one unlucky scout ant who's disappearance was a signal to his fellow ants to keep away!

I'm going to end it here for now so I can give the boys an early dinner before leaving for the T-ball game. I haven't heard anything yet, but I have my doubts about it being played in this weather.


No T-ball game. The rain continues and the boys play the Wii with a holler from me now and then to knock off whatever they're doing that allows me to hear them all the way upstairs.

My youngest rug rat still isn't talking, but he's doing his best to sing along to Blue's Clues. I need to get a video of it, but every time I try his only interest becomes being the one WITH the camera, not the SUBJECT of the camera. That's the only time he seems to forgot his favorite cartoon! Tim can't help but joke about Bryce's big ears, and now the joke is if those ears really work! B only listens when he wants to listen. When he's focused on something, he's like Knight is when he sees even the smallest of his master's pick up his ball. Nothing else exists to him except for that ball. In Bryce's case it's Blue Clue's, the dog water bowl, the dog food, a pen, the toilet, the buttons on all electronics.... No matter how many times you say no or how many high octaves your voice can reach, Bryce has a set goal to create whatever trouble he can with whatever object he can. The closer you are to him, the faster he will do his job.

Let's not forget the Two Year Old's Temper. I think it deserves to be capitalized so I can express how much a big deal it is! I feel pretty confident other mothers who have been there and done that will agree. Neither of my older boys ever really had a tantrum or a screaming fit. Devin would throw himself to the floor, but that was it. No sound really came out of his mouth except for his cries that were made even softer by the muffling of the carpet. If I was able to catch Bryce in the act of doing something, or before he could attempt to make trouble for himself or me, he would simply stand there, feet rooted to the ground and his hands would go down to his sides. Where his body is still and normal though, his head is tilted up to the ceiling like he's asking, Why me? and then his mouth opens wide, it's in an expression that could have been the model for that Edvard Munch's painting called The Scream. Then, he really does scream. He screams so loud your hands flinch toward your ears and it's so long you wonder if the neighbors can hear through the open window and are considering calling the authorities. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does you might think, Glad that's not my kid!

He has silent fits as well. The other day I needed to get the lawn mowed so when Hunter got home, I closed all the bedroom doors (bathroom is always closed after the flushing of a washcloth and the bathing in that ceramic basin) and latched the stairway gate closed. I told Hunter I needed his help for about twenty minutes to mow the lawn. It takes much longer to do our lawn, even when I divide it into sections and do it over two days time. Though Hunter is quickly approaching 12, I can't trust him to care for Bryce. So I turn on Blue for B, suggest Hunter read a book in the recliner and I head out to the back lawn to check on them all in twenty minutes. If somethings up, Hunter will come out to the back porch and wave his arms. I was outside maybe three minutes, picking up the toys so they don't turn into plastic chewed on chunks, when I hear a crash through the open sunroom windows.

I rush up the back steps and through the closed sunroom door and find Hunter climbing back up the stairs. In his hands was the ceramic bowl I had put a snack in for Bryce earlier, broken into three pieces. Hunter was quick to say he didn't do it, that Bryce suddenly threw it over the stair rails to the landing below. I believed him, I knew Bryce did it and realized he was probably very upset with my denying him access to the stairs, his other brother and other potential trouble below.

Tim wasn't sure if I should share this next piece with you. I see nothing wrong with it, but there are many different attitudes out there, as we all have experienced or seen I'm sure. I may not have mentioned it here before but I know I've shared it in phone calls with many of you. Bryce gets his knee and thighs stuck in the space between his crib slats. The brat did this every night! If it didn't happen between the time we put him down and he fell asleep, it happened at three or four AM when he realizes he's stuck and lets out a painful cry that sends me running to his bedroom. A couple times I got myself a bit worked up too because I couldn't get his knee out by just turning his body with the leg or gently working it up and down. Something had to be done.

Crib pads were not going to work. We've watched what he does. He starts by lifting his leg above him to flex like a dancer stretching, toes down, then he lowers his leg inbetween two slats, back or front of the crib, where ever he happens to be, and it falls in perfectly between the smooth wood. Suddenly he's wedged in there above the knee like a piece of building material lowered into a pre-cut fitting. He can't lift his leg up nor can he move from side to side. He's stuck, scared and crying out in pain as he struggles to get his leg out. We come a runnin' and help him get free, hush the cries and soothe the tears while whispering complaints to each other about how the heck we are gonna solve this.

Since he first started doing it, many months ago, we began attaching a blanket to the front of his crib and securing it with the top part that flips up and down to make it easier to reach a bigger baby on the lowest mattress setting. Sure, that worked to prevent his leg from getting stuck on the front side but the back and even the sides sometimes, the threat was still there, ready to grab and hold him tight. We had some left over tongue and groove pine paneling left over, so we pieced it together and secured it to the crib slats on the back and sides. It doesn't sound all that great and most definitely doesn't look all that great, but now he can't get jammed between the slats and the blanket is still working for the front. Now and then his leg sneaks under the blanket and we rush upstairs and repeat steps one, two and three, but overall it's working and there are no more bruises on his legs, from the crib anyway!

I am finally finishing the flower beds I started when I found out I was pregnant with Devin. Thanks to those of you who gave me home improvement gifts cards for Christmas. Because of your generosity I was able to purchase red retaining wall bricks to match the red in my roof and the shutters by the windows. My plan was to transport the out of control purple ground cover that I can't remember the name of. My once bright green thumb has faded to a pale shadow of its former self . When I first put in the original bed when I moved here, I was good at it, loved doing it and it looked great! Then I got big and pregnant and didn't tend to it, then didn't make it out with a newborn, when I finally could again, I was repeating that cycle. Now I've done a lot of spring cleaning and work on the house all around. It's not finished so I won't be sharing a photo until it's done.

What I started to say was I transported that ground cover to the second bed I never finished because it was now ready to be finished so I could redo the original bed, still with me?...but something went wrong. Two days after I replanted them, they were dried up and dead. They were hard to move around because they were overgrown and the roots were spread out, but I was confident I had tucked the root balls into the ground and topped it off with some steaming mushroom mulch with an aroma that I'm sure drifted off to attract Peppy la Pew. After another day it was clear the petite flowers weren't just out of bloom, they were dead. I pulled them out and evenly spread the black mass inside my small wall and am still contemplating getting new flowers this season or waiting until next year. ??

While outside with and without my boys, Kit made her canine breed proud. I wrote on my Face Book page about the bunny nest she found in our abandoned dog kennel. Unlike last spring where she just dropped the dying baby at my feet, this year she practically tossed it ten feet to land in front of Devin and I. Then the darn dog killed a chipmunk two days after I took a picture of one while it sat on its back legs on my front step. I had seen the cute critter there five mornings in a row, like he was waiting for me to make a memory out of him. Kit brought me its punctured body. While mowing the lawn I almost chopped up another carcass but turned away in time to just squish it under a wheel. You can use your own imagination of what it looked like after that. The last one she caught in front of all five of us as we walked into our garage through the big door. The poor thing had no escape route as the back door of the garage was closed. It turned one way, then the other before accepting its fate. I was mad at her for a long time when she first killed the baby bunny and then kept killing chipmunks because she kills just to kill. I didn't yell or smack at her because that's what she's supposed to do. I think though, after that first kill, she could tell by my tone that I didn't really like it because she kept following me and putting her front paws up on me while outside. Inside, she would watch me from where she lay and then want to snuggle down in my lap. She's a good dog and a great addition to our family, even though she drives me as crazy as my boys do!

That's it! You can carry on with your day. I'm sure I haven't taken up too much of your time! :P

Be safe!



Sunday, April 26, 2009

My boys in one word each and then some more!

Hello everyone. I know it's been about a month, but life and all that! :) I'm happy to report that my website is up and running! At this moment it's missing some colors and such and I haven't posted any new pictures yet, but one thing at a time!

Before my boys and I went north for Hunter's spring break, I had planned on posting a blog update that used a single word to describe each of my boys lately. Now, it's only a one word introduction because my blogs will never be that short. Ever! :)

I'll start with Hunter. His describing word is AWESOME! When I saw his report card this grading period, I actually went into a cheer. Natalie (my cheerleading coach) would be so proud! 'A-W-E...S-O-M-E! Awesome, awesome. TOTALLY!' You might remember how upsetting his last grading sheet was. He had gone down a lot in math, from an 83 to a 60. He had just started double digit multiplication, but part of his problem is his printing. He can't keep his columns straight and everything gets mushed together and he ends up computing the wrong numbers. I also felt the need to contact his teacher to ask her why we weren't warned of his falling grade. We very well may have been able to turn it around before that report card.

I wasn't really given an answer to my question, but at home I put Hunter to work with more math problems. You can imagine his reaction; sighs, grumbles, comments. But he sat down to it and this report card was the result. I had to celebrate and it did make Hunter smile, although he tried to hide it.

But on the other hand.... He's been having bathroom accidents again. Only three, but they've all happened in the past month or so. I'm not sure what's going on there. He says he's just forgetting, but we're talking about it. He's always made comments under his breath about things, but now his comments are louder and he's giving his opinion, which is good and all, but he's doing it during times when he should keep his mouth shut. For example, we were at a friends house and he told the mom, 'But you should have...'. The woman knew she should have, but she doesn't need someone else's 11 year old kid telling her that.

Someone asked me how Hunter did during the annual Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. I don't remember if I shared anything with you all about it. If I did, I'll be brief. Both Tim and I were very proud that Hunter chose not only the design of his car on his own, but he was out there in the garage and with his dad's help, if needed. He sanded down his car the way he wanted and prepared everything for the wheels. He drew out a color design for it and painted it. It was all him. He didn't win any awards except a ribbon for his participation, but he was OK with that. Dev was old enough this year to have his own car. While Hunter was doing his, Tim shaped out a Wii remote control out of Dev's block of wood. Devin painted it white and I used a color pencil to create the buttons. His car was a hit and he eagerly accepted races against the older scouts.

Hunter showed A LOT of patience with Bryce just today (4/25). Hunter's door is always closed during the day. He has many small toys and other things in his room that would spell trouble if Bryce were to find them. So when the door is open, it's like Bryce can tell the difference by the sound between it and the the other three doors in that hallway. Tonight B made a break for it and eagerly dove into the wooden chest Hunter uses for his toys, passed on down from my younger years . Hunter talked sweetly to him and coaxed him out with a bribe of a squishy ball. It worked. Bryce followed like a horse to water and Hunter was able to close his door without creating a tantrum.

Devin's one word is Stubborn, and definitely with a capital S! He puts up a huge fuss about using the potty and absolutely refuses to do number two. If you were to tell him no to something, or heaven forbid, if you were to turn off the Wii, he can be ear shattering sometimes. He's also telling me he wants one thing for dinner, I make it, but no, he wants something else to eat. He's gone to bed hungry a few times because of this. He loves his original style Sunny D so much that he cried and cried when his dad brought home the "smooth" kind. Dev recognized the difference because the usual gallon jug we have has an orange cap and this one had a yellow. I had to send him his room to finish his fit. I finally got him to give it a taste, and ya know what? He liked it, the brat! :) He's still annoying Hunter non stop and taking things from Bryce at every turn, but then my middle child tells me he loves me, gives me a sloppy kiss and says he'll make me happy by doing a head stand.

Bryce can be described with a simple but powerful word; terror. He is the cutest little monster in bare feet. I've shared some of the things he's done with a few of you, but here they are again, and more! He poo'd and took off his dipe and scooted his dirty bum across his bedroom floor. He poo'd during nap time, took the dipe off...enough said.

We have to keep the bathroom door closed at all times now - he flushed a washcloth and we have a septic tank. Thankfully all seems well, but leads me to wonder what else he may have flushed?? He walks around with his finger in his nose more than he does without it. I have overcooked many things in the microwave because I assume the digital timer is showing the time, but actually, all four spaces are full courtesy of his small fingers and I end up burning popcorn or blowing up a hot dog because I'm adding the time needed to a screen that says something like 7052 already! But, before I can overcook anything, I have to find the missing microwave turntable.

Is there a career out there that inspects chewed up food?? Every meal Bryce will partially chew his food then take it out and place it in front of him and push it around with his finger before pulling it apart. Gross! And his latest surprise was discovering what we call creepy crawlers, a very slow brownish red bug that attempts crossing the great terrain of Mt. Laundry. Usually I vacuum them up or relocate them outside, but some have starved to death, or, as what happened just the other day, have had their legs pulled off by Bryce. Oh, that was sad. The poor bug couldn't do anything but lay there and wave its two long antennas....

It's been too long to remember what we did in the couple weeks before we headed north for Hunter's spring break, so I'll just get to that.

The 440 mile drive up to my hometown was uneventful. My boys are good travelers! A DVD player, snacks, toys and Magnadoodles help pass the time. I don't remember what time we got there, or what we did that Friday night, but I do remember my sister, Tiffany, sending me a text during the long drive north asking where I was and what time I thought I might arrive. I replied back my answer and thought her text was odd because I knew she was jealous I was going home and she wasn't.

About 20 minutes after we arrived I heard a car door slam and Tiffany appeared outside the window of my parents house. She had tricked me! She drove down from Marquette (five hours) to spend a quick Easter weekend with us! We were all very happy to see her.

On Saturday Hunter, Tiffany and my mother-in-law Linda went geocaching together. Read more about that in my The Cache Checkers blog (as of now, 4/26/09, 9:30 P.M., it hasn't been written). That night we had an early Easter dinner of a juicy pork tenderloin with a tasty strawberry rhubarb sauce. I remember the asparagus with hollindaise sauce and deviled eggs, but I can't remember what the other good fixings Kathy made were. We had the holiday dinner that night because Tiffany had to head back home Sunday morning.

On Sunday morning the Easter Bunny left a letter for Hunter, Devin and Bryce. It said there were nine eggs of a different color for each boy. Once found they would find inside some one or five dollar Bunny Bucks. Once collected, they could use them to buy things from the Easter Bunny Store. All they had to do was find it. Hunter looked right at the door with the sign Easter Bunny Store hanging from the knob, but he walked right on by! Eventually he came back and opened the door to a whole lot of good stuff for him and his brothers. The Easter Bunny out did himself, well, herself, this year. Thanks, Grandma! :)

I don't know in what order we did these things, but my parents took Hunter and Dev to Monsters vs Aliens. It was a hit with all four of them! We met my father in law for lunch during the opening day of the local dairy twist. After that he joined us at the park during one of many trips we took there (my parents live a stones throw away).

We visited my sister Amanda in Charlevoix. I can't believe how big her baby has gotten! He'll be a year old next month! She kept Dev and B for me while I took Hunter, Rayne and Randi geocaching (you know where to go) and they all had fun jumping on the girls' Easter present; a full size trampoline with safety net. She cooked me my all time fave dinner of yummy spaghetti with garlic bread! I don't get that meal at home because my hubby doesn't like it anymore (what's wrong with him??).

We also had dinner with my mother in law, who often eats alone because her hubby works nights. She made the boys their favorite dish of fish sticks and french fries while she and I had some tasty shrimp. The boys enjoyed the bubbles their grandma gave them and jumped on her bed, well, Devin did anyway!

There was a P.S. on that Easter Bunny letter. It said that their favorite fuzzy creature had given their mom some money for a new Wii game for Hunter and Devin and that they could pick them out when she took them to Traverse City. (I left out Bryce! What a bad bunny! LOL)

I remember it was our last day there when we went to the city. We went to the mall in hopes of riding the carousal, but luck wasn't with us that day. The colorful horses were shut down for maintenance. We did stop at JC Penny for Grandma. We also went to Petsmart and brought Kit along with us. Her retractable leash wasn't returning to its housing, it was out all the way and staying out. Hunter carried her inside the store while I found a leash and opened it up, then Devin enjoyed himself walking around the store with her. While sniffing dogs her size or just a bit bigger, Kit got mean. Then a Great Dane appeared around the corner and she stopped and went the other way! I also picked her up a simple bed to put in the front passenger seat of my van. That's her usual perch and now the bed will collect her hair and not the seat to pass onto the bums of my passengers! Grandma got her kitty something as well, and then we did some geocaching there.

We also dug for buried treasure! I'm going to write about that in a separate entry so I can include pictures.

We had a great time up north with family. I tried to meet up with a couple of friends, but unfortunately, that fell through. I'm told they will get together with us this summer. We did have a bit of a hiccup on the drive back down to Ohio. The DVD player that keeps me sane died. We had to find a Walmart and pick up a new one. We also came home to a house with no groceries...but that isn't anything new!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Red Envelope Day

Some information taken from

When: March 31st, 2009

Get a red envelope. You can buy them at office or party supply stores.

On the front, address it to:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington , D.C. 20500

On the back, write the following message:

This envelope represents one child who died because of an abortion. It is empty because the life that was taken is now unable to be a part of our world.

Please mail the envelopes with us on March 31st, 2009. Not before and not after. If we all do this together, then the President will be overwhelmed with our message in a short amount of time.

If you agree with our motivation, please forward this event to every one of your friends who you think would send one too. There were 50 million children in the United States that died without having a chance to live. We are hoping to match that number with these red envelopes.

Those who believe abortion is wrong find it hard to use their voice and when they do, they are left feeling ashamed. I believe it is true that those who feel abortion is wrong are in a minority.

So find yourself a red envelope and help us show the President that we have found our voice and what we have to say needs to be heard.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Back to life, back to reality....

Hey all -

I'm saying back to reality because staying at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs was most definitely not my reality!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you need to read my blog updates more often! :P Quick background - because of Facebook, I found an old friend who couldn't brush me off so easily like she has in the past. (Love you, Katie!) She hasn't been very good about keeping in touch, but she was getting better at it and we both started talking about my flying out there to see her (it's been 10 years). We planned on my coming out there before Bryce turned two in mid May, leaving on a weekend and being gone a couple week days, which meant Devin would have to be taken to day care until I returned. Then my husband found out that the conference he would be going to over the week of his birthday would be in Colorado Springs. My sweet hubby suggested I come along with him, that is, of course, if I could find someone to take care of the boys while we were gone.

I was short on time because the tickets needed to be bought fairly quickly. I called my parents who said they'd have to check their calenders and while I waited I called my sister Amanda who said she would do it if my parents were unavailable. Thankfully my parents came through for me, so a ticket to Colorado was mine!

My parents arrived late last Saturday afternoon. On Sunday morning we took them to their first NE Ohio pancake breakfast which is a big deal around here. They tasted the sweet nectar of our local trees atop pancakes that soaked up the thin syrup like a sponge. By the end of the day they said they felt they had a handle on the boys' routine, so Tim and I packed up and headed to the airport to catch an 8:00 A.M. flight Monday morning.

It got very windy that night but the rain stopped and we were airborne without a problem and headed for Houston. Every seat on that plane was taken. Anything left open was filled by passengers waiting on stand by. Like my hubby, the man in the window seat must be a frequent traveler because his eyes were closed when we buckled ourselves in and didn't open once during the two hour and forty minute flight south. He shifted a bit, but he never looked upon the wonder outside that window. I hadn't flown since our flight to Florida back in 2004 when we boarded a cruise ship, so my eyes were glued to that small portal for some time.

We had about an hour layover in Texas and then we boarded a much smaller plane, two seats on one side of an aisle, one seat on the other. Tim told me that most of his travel time was spent on these smaller and much louder planes. I had the window seat this flight and even though I've seen it before, I was just in awe at the marvel that is air travel. Until we were embraced by the clouds, I looked down at the landscape like it was all a model, a child's play land or an adults hobby town. But then, ugh, I remembered I hadn't taken out a piece of chewing gum. It not only helps the ears but it calms my stomach and head.

We landed in the second largest state without incident and walked to our rental car. Seeing what they assigned us I had to wonder if Enterprise felt we deserved something nicer than the typical four door vehicle. Did they know I was a mini van mom, soon to be driving to practices and games (more of that later), or see Tim as the truck guy that is and will forever be? They gave us a silver Dodge Charger. It didn't take long for my hubby to roll down the windows and crank up that base! He sure did look good behind the wheel! :P

We cruised to the hotel where we were greeted by a gentleman in a suit. He welcomed us to The Broadmoor, gave us a colored map and verbal directions to where our room was inside the West Tower. He also put a cream colored placard with a computer print out of our last name. We drove up what I'm sure in warmer months is a well groomed drive and pulled in under a two columned overhang and were greeted by two handsome valets. One opened the door for me and then took our bags out of the trunk while the other opened the door for Tim and then drove the Dodge away. Both took notice of our name behind the windshield and greeted us formally. That was the first sign of the little details that makes The Broadmoor stand out among other hotels (but not like I've been to a lot!).

If I remember right, the hotel was built in 1918 and it still had probably the same look as when those gold colored trim glass doors first opened! I like flowers and all, but there was way too many of those prints for my liking. I don't think there was a single stretch of carpet that wasn't all flowers or bordered in flowers. All the chairs were high backed and comfortable, most a thick dark wood with tasteful designs carved along the majority of the exposed wood. To save time for all of us, let's just say we were treated like celebrities.

We asked the valet to keep the car close as we were just dropping off our bags. One thing I wasn't prepared for was how often I interacted with a hotel employee and felt I needed to tip. Tim didn't have anything to give the man who wheeled our bags up to our room. I had a five dollar bill but thought that was too much to give him. However, during the walk to the elevator he told us some of the history of the hotel, where we could find what we needed while there and some local attractions we might want to visit. He was very well spoken and a wonderful representative of the hotel. He deserved that five dollar bill of mine.

Once back out in the car, I set up Richard (my TomTom GPS unit) and looked up the Air Force Academy and saw it was about 15 miles away. We took the exit to the visitor's center and were surprised that the building was inside the main gate. We pulled up to a female soldier who asked Tim for his ID, his reason for being there, where the rental car was from and looked in both the back seat and the trunk. I lived four years on a base in Utah and never had my car searched, but I can understand her precautions. Along the two mile stretch to the visitor's center we passed a couple of scenic pull overs which we enjoyed on that windy day. I don't remember for sure, but I think the only picture I saved from that trip is the one of the chapel. The day was grey with brown grass and naked trees. It just didn't make for a pretty picture.

There was a small museum in the visitor's center. It consisted mostly cadet pictures and what they have to do to be accepted and what they do while there. It also had a dedication to the first academy graduate to get the purple heart. Tim wanted to get himself a shirt, but they were very pricey. I had my eyes on a pair of earrings but changed my mind. I did pick up a toy jet for Devin.

Afterwards we headed back out and stopped at a liquor store and picked up a bottle of wine. We were going to see Brandon, a high school classmate of Tim's, and his wife for dinner and weren't sure what to bring. We picked a bottle that goes with everything and found we need not have worried as they love all wine and had two wine racks plus a bar full of other yummy adult beverages. While the men took the biggest hunks of meat I have ever seen outside to the grill, I stayed in the kitchen and drank a Corona with a fresh lime and chatted with the lady of the house and the cutest one year old blondie I have ever met. The children's names are alluding me, but they have a four year old boy and their daughter just turned one. Even though her mama says she was sick, the little thing was an adorable ray of sunshine on that chilly evening. Her laugh was the softest I had heard in a toddler and it was contagious.

Tim doesn't know this but I saved him from a serving of peas! Along with fresh steak we were being served salad with veggies, mashed potatoes and it would have been peas if I hadn't shared the fact that Tim has banned the small green balls from touching any of his dinner plates. So instead we got sweet corn kernels and they had chocolate chip and macadamia nut cookies for dessert. Oh, yes. I also had a few too many glasses of wine.... If you've read my geocaching blog then you already know that I missed breakfast with my hubby and couldn't get out of bed until almost noon! If not, click here after you've spent all your time reading this one! :P It was an enjoyable evening and I'm glad we got to see Brandon after all these years and meet his wonderful family.

To find out what I did with a hangover echoing through my head, read the blog I mentioned above. Afterwards, I headed over to see an old classmate of mine. One I hadn't seen in just about ten years! Katie has lived in Colorado a few years now. Before then she was in Virginia, but has now found a good place in the high altitudes of the Centennial State.

I hadn't traveled all that way to do anything special. Just seeing her and reminiscing was my primary objective. I actually arrived at her house about a minute before Katie did, so it was her "Mini Me" who answered the door. Rae-Ann looks so much like her mom, I thought I had gone back in time. That moment was one of many I would have of Katie in her younger years. Some of those looks...whoa!

Katie and I decided to go out for a couple hours by ourselves. There was a Mexican restaurant down the street where we could talk about the good 'ole days. Besides Rae, there was the oldest Martin, or Marty, and then the middle child, Taylor, whom Katie referred to as Stump. I hadn't heard her younger brother Kris's nickname in a very long time! I could see Kris there in Taylor and I think the trophies on the wall reflect some of his uncle's great sportsmanship.

However, the kids weren't all that keen on letting us go. I asked them if I could have their mom for an hour or two because I hadn't seen her for many years. They said OK, but we would soon find out that they didn't mean it. They acted out as kids tend to do. It started not long after we sat down with a phone call from one of the boys saying that he got into a fight with his brother and Marty's glasses were broken. The eatery was slow and dinner arrived not long after, but Katie had only just begun enjoying her Spanish rice when her cell phone rang again. Her other son was calling to tell her that they had now broken the leg off the small table by the front door. Katie predicted that Rae would soon call because the other two did, and she was right! We finished up and headed back to the house where Katie asked me to stay behind in her Jeep. What was said between her and the children is for her and them alone, I'll just tell you that while eating some ice cream at the local Dairy Queen, Katie experienced another blast from the past. We couldn't text on cell phones back when we were young, but Rae-Ann used this technology to fulfill the wish Katie's mom once hoped for years ago; that her daughter would have a daughter of her own that would do unto her all that Katie had done to her mom. In Rae-Ann was all the drama young Katie had layered on her mom over the years. Hmmm. Maybe I should stop complaining about having all boys? :)

I was out late that night, but there was still a shivering valet waiting to take my car. I saw no one in the hallways or the elevator and my hubby was snoring when I let myself into the room. The next morning I headed over to Katie's again. I didn't have to share her with the kids as they are all in school. We had plans to meet another old school mate, Tom, but when Katie called and said we were on our way into Denver, he said he wasn't feeling well and to have lunch without him. So instead Katie showed me the good and the not so good side of the city. We eventually slid into a Wendy's and had a simple lunch with a lot of talk. Right as we were about to order Tom called and said he was ready for lunch. He was on the other side of town and we were hungry, so we said we'd come over when we finished. What I remember most about the city is the new football stadium. It's not a closed circle but is open on two of the sides and the tops of those sides make a wave instead of being circular. Also, when no one is in the seats you can see the color is blue, but in the middle of one side you can see a horse made up of white colored seats with two red ones for the eyes.

With the delay before seeing Tom we could only stay a couple hours. It was great seeing him after all these years and apparently he has a much better memory than I do! Some things I remembered, like him being the first boy to give me a pair of earrings, but other things, like my telling him to get off the back of my tandem bike and leaving him behind, I don't remember. He says it's because he was shaking the bike and made us fall, and if that's true then it serves him right! LOL

We headed back to Katie's to discover along the route that my dinner plans had been cancelled. I came into the house with Katie and we discussed with the kids what we should do. A few ideas were tossed back and forth but none of them panned out because of time, money or lack of desire. Katie suggested I tell them what geocaching was all about. At the time I didn't think she was truly interested, but we had nothing else to do and the kids perked up at such a strange word.

I told them briefly what it was and showed them on their computer where to go. They said they wanted to try it so we all climbed into Katie's Jeep and I put my GPS in her window and told them what it was and what it would do for us. (I'm not going into a full description about it. If you'd like one, please see my other blog.) I had found two caches hidden not far from each other less than two miles from the house. When I shared the name with them Taylor knew right away where it probably was. The names are usually a clue of some sort, either in location or a hint of some sort of the actual hiding spot. Once there I showed them my handheld GPS and how my hubby gave me this one because it was more rugged and made for being carried by hand, unlike my TomTom on their mom's windshield which can break if dropped and the antenna would be covered if I were to carry it outside the car.

Skipping over the details here, I'll say all three kids and their mom were hooked! Katie has since, with the kids and with adults, found five caches and she's only been doing it a week!

On Thursday Katie was supposed to work but she decided to play hookey and came up (or was it down?) to the hotel to have lunch with Tim and I. After that she wanted to find one more cache with me. It was great seeing her and now she won't be able to get rid of me! :P

Later that evening my GPS led me to an old stone church that had been refurbished and turned into a restaurant and bar. There I met one more childhood friend. Erika left the school we both went to back in the 3rd grade. It was my good luck that my hubby had a biz trip in that state and even better luck that three people from my past were able to meet up with me. She didn't have a lot of time, but in that short span we shared memories of people, places and things. It was great seeing all of them again. We've exchanged phone numbers and emails and I'm hoping we'll stick to our promise of keeping in touch.

On Friday morning we returned our flashy rental car and boarded the same flight we took to get there and backtracked. Our layover in TX went by so fast that when we arrived at our gate they had already been boarding the plane for twenty minutes. Like our flights to Colorado, the flights back to Cleveland were booked full. I had a window seat again in one, and like before, the man with the best view in that tin can closed the blind half way and went to sleep in the other.

Our last flight was full of bumpy turbulence, but that wind helped us along and we landed 30 minutes early. We caught a shuttle to the truck and I called the house to let them know we were on our way. My parents had a couple problems with some things inside the house, but it sounded like the boys were wonderful and it was overall a great time. My parents were quick out the door the next morning, skipping breakfast and on the road before 9:00. It wasn't because we were back and they wanted out as fast as possible, (at least that's what they led me to believe! LOL) but because my grandma back in Michigan was in need of their assistance and they wanted to get back for her.

OK. That took forever. A couple things I'd like to say about my boys. Number one is a question to myself. Why, oh, please tell me why, did I go through the effort of scrubbing the walls of pen, marker, crayon and pencil when there is still a toddler who doesn't know any better in the house?!? Hunter prefers a pencil because it's easier to erase and they don't use pens all that much in school, but he was writing a letter to his cousin and I wanted him to use a pen so it wouldn't smear. I think some blame should fall on Hunter. Why he pushes his chair in every other time but not this one is beyond me, but he left the chair out and the pen in the open position. Bryce almost always sits next to his brother at the table. Many a picture I have taken with Hunter doing his homework and Bryce scribbling on paper next to him. Hunter left, Bryce switched chairs. First Bryce turned the page of the notebook, leaving Hunter's letter clean of ink scribbles but covering his homework on the next page. Then he made circles and lines all over my Amish made table, which bothered me the most, then he climbed down and left his mark all over both sides of the dining room half of the kitchen island. He was decorating the second side when I found him. I won't be cleaning that again any time soon.

Dev is doing great. The weather is warmer so he's been going in and out about twenty times a day. He loves his big Santa gift. He drives that Jeep all over the back yard and we've been out to the pond to feed the fish. He doesn't mind Bryce as a passenger and neither of them want to come inside, even when the light is fading and the cold air comes back to remind us that summer isn't here quite yet! He can't seem to hush up and has even corrected me when he thinks I say something wrong. Like 55 minutes on the timer isn't 55, it's 5-5 minutes. He also reminds me to turn off the light when leaving a room and, listen to this! If I'm dumping poo in the toilet and don't close the lid, he tells me to put both seats down! Hooray! LOL

Hunter Bud has gotten himself in trouble three times this week. Devin had been hitting him and instead of telling me, Hunter kicked him in the crotch. They were downstairs when I heard Devin start screaming and crying. He was able to tell me what happened and Hunter hung his head because he knew it was wrong...or he was mad he got caught. We had to have a talk about that and then a few days ago he lied about what homework he had (it was a writing assignment), saying he was only supposed to read from his Ohio History book when he was supposed to write a letter to a pretend friend saying why he signed his name to the Declaration of Independence. I didn't realize this until I was helping him gather his things back together to put in his book bag and glanced at his planner. It was bed time already so instead of getting up and watching cartoons in the morning, a fresh piece of paper and sharpened pencil were waiting for him.

The third incident happened just today (Thursday). I asked him what homework he had and he pulled out a two sided math work sheet and said he had to write a comparison between what he eats today and what the settlers ate back in the late 1700's. Wow, I said, that's the most homework you've had at one time. I asked if he had OT or ST because he leaves the room to work elsewhere and sometimes misses out on classwork, but then I read the following in the communication notebook:

Hunter has a ton of work. I asked him to stop reading. He did not stop and most of what he is bringing home is "in-class" work. Check planner.

His love for books has finally gotten him in trouble. He always stopped before but it sounds like this time whatever story he was reading just wouldn't let him go. I understand that completely, but I only get in trouble with myself, or my hubby if he runs out of undies, when I choose a book over my chores. Hunter got in trouble with his teacher. I told him that what he did was disrespectful to her and that he can only read books during his free time or if he asks his teacher and she says yes. I also told him he can read a book on the bus instead of playing his Nintendo DS, but I don't think he's going to trade the video games for a book yet!

All right. I'll end this novel here. I still have quite a few new pictures to post. If you read this entire thing, I thank you! Hope you are all well. I don't have my new email up and running yet, so you can still continue to use or Everyone be safe and I hope this weekend feels like spring wherever you are!


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dear Mom and Dad. What the heck are you thinking? :)

I dedicate this update to my parents, Eldon and Kathy, who have agreed to take care of my boys next week. This is a cross between a belated update and a letter to them.

I've been delaying this update hoping I could get my website up and running. I've had enough of the poor service from my provider. I've complained about them over the years; website down, no incoming or outgoing email. Sometimes no incoming but have outgoing, sometimes vice versa. It's been pretty pathetic so I told my hubby I was going to make the change. He told me he'd find me a new provider, but the man went one step further and got things pointed in the right direction, but too soon! I didn't have my site ready to transfer over and now, poof! Gone. I've been in touch with my provider, who made a snide remark about my transferring providers as well as gave me the info I needed. I'm hoping I can figure it out myself as my hubby has been working late and would like me to do other things besides work on my site.

In the mean time, I've been doing some spring cleaning around here. From jobs as easy as dusting to a bit more in depth like cleaning and organizing closets to things that take a bit more elbow grease, like washing walls of caked on food, decorative crayon/marker/pen designs and wavy, zig zag creations of juice from the spout of a sippy cup in the pudgy hands of Bryce. I think I'm going to miss those reflections of light on those dried up liquid tracks on the walls of my hallway. There are some marks I've left alone, some I haven't gotten to yet. I'm in no hurry as I'll be cleaning them up for the next three years at least!

I considered delaying the posting of this update until after say, 10:00 A.M. Saturday morning, when you, dad and Kath, will already be on your way from Northern Michigan to NE Ohio with no Internet access and the chance to turn around. What I share in this blog entry might make you think twice, but you were game and prepared when we arrived for the Christmas holiday. After telling them about B knocking our Christmas tree over and taking off all the ornaments, and I'm sure I told them other, wonderful, memory making things as well, they came up with a solution. They picked up a live Christmas tree to avoid a repeat scenario and will be planting it whenever spring finally arrives in N. Michigan. They are two, so if they split up and each cover one half of the house, they might survive my boys OK! :P

Why, do you ask, are my parents coming to visit? Why not?? It's not just a 48 hour drop by and go, the kind we're used to around here, but they are staying for a WEEK! My wonderful, amazing, terrific, and superb mom and dad said yes to my request of caring for my boys while Tim and I left on a plane Monday through Friday. You see, my hubby has to go on another business trip. This time he's headed to Colorado Springs, CO for a conference. My thoughtful hubby remembered my interest in visiting my friend and cousin Katie who lives near Denver. We have discussed it, but never really came to a decision. Than he found out where his conference was going to be and he said if I could find someone to take the boys for that week, I was welcome to come with him.

I called my parents with high hopes, and they didn't let me down! They had to check their schedules of course, but my dad was fairly confident they could pull it off. Thanks to them I can get away for a few days and stay in a nice hotel and see people I haven't seen in years! Not only does Katie live in Colorado, but so do two other people I went to school with. I'm very excited to go and fortunate my parents gave up a week of their lives in Michigan to spend with their grandchildren. I know it's a long drive and they have their own lives. I travel so often back to Bellaire because I want my boys to know who I'm talking about when I say Grandma and Grandpa. Your saying yes and showing your excitement when we talk or in your emails proves to me that you want to be with my boys as much as I want them to be with you.

So, they will arrive here sometime Saturday afternoon. They'll take a part in the daily routine in our house, get themselves reacquainted with the surroundings and on Monday morning, take the place of Tim and I for five days. Hunter wrote them a letter to say how happy he was that they were coming and told me he hoped Devin wouldn't annoy them too much!

I'm pretty sure they'll read this before heading out, so, Dad, Kath, here are some things you can look forward to!

Bryce loves Cocoa Puffs. It's his favorite cereal. Even though it turns his poo almost black, I don't mind him eating a big dry bowl of it in the morning. One morning though, he had one of these bowls and afterwards I cleaned up his chocolate face and let him loose to continue running circles around the house. I went downstairs to fold another load of laundry and when I came back up with an armful, Bryce's mouth was dirty again. I wondered if he had found some lost Cocoa Puffs. I didn't think much of it and started down the hall to the bedrooms when Dev called out, Mom, look at his hands! I looked and they were covered in something brown...and then I breathed in that smell. A smell that seems to coat my nose even when I know no one is poopy. A stench I can pick up on in the food court of a busy shopping mall. 21 month old Bryce was covered in his own poo!

He was not just covered in it, oh, no. He was eating it! What I thought was chocolate on his face. No. It was poo. What I could see on his tongue and on his tooth. Poo. There on his shirt, his pants and in his hair. P-o-o, spells poo! So Bryce got his bath at 10:00 in the morning and he was not happy about it. Afterwards I inspected the floor, the recliner and couch, the banister and the walls, but it seems B was still focused on the poo on him and hadn't outsourced any of it yet.

You'd think I'd remember to do one simple thing. How can I not notice when I pass it by 50 times a day? You'd think I'd remember what happens when B takes notice and what I have to spend time doing afterward! I'm talking about the easy task of pushing a chair in at the table when it's not being used. My passing it over this week led to me brushing off and then vacuuming up salt he made a pile of between his legs as he sat happily in the middle of my Amish manufactured table. Hunter is very good at remembering, but he left his half drunk root beer there and Bryce helped himself to the puddle he created by climbing up from Devin's empty chair. I often let Bryce scribble on paper while Hunter is doing his homework next to him, but B thinks that sitting on the table gives him a better viewpoint of his artwork. Maybe it does!

During a wave of spring cleaning, I cleaned out and organized our craft supplies. I found an ink pad at the back of one of the drawers and decided that it shouldn't be in there. I put it on the top of the organizer to return to later. As Mommy Syndrome dictates I didn't return and it stayed there until I saw it some time later in the black hands of Bryce who was standing in the living room fussing at it with lips, teeth and a tongue as black as our lab! Not only that, but on the floor were two little ink foot prints. Now you might be asking, what were Tim and I doing while our child was eating black ink? Tim was watching TV and I was reading a book...B was right behind Tim and behind the table from me. That just goes to show you how quick and silent they can be! I think he may have shook the craft organizer trying to get a drawer open and knocked the ink off the top. I can't say where I was when that went down. I plead Mommy Syndrome.

And the last thing one should know when spending time with my Bryce is not to using a scolding voice when he's holding something hard, like a baseball! If he knows he's not supposed to have it or thinks you're going to take it from him, he'll throw it. He's Tim's boy and brother to Devin, so he throws surprisingly well and his force and aim is just right for knee height of a woman my size! (Bring your shin guards, grandma!)

Now, you might think B is sounding like a handful, but his brother is almost two years older and about a head taller. First I'll says he says the cutest things like, Let's rock and You're going down while playing pirates with his dad. After seeing me snacking on a couple small candies from Hunter's school Valentine's Day party, he brought another piece of candy to me and said, I brought you something. Can you open it for me? He can surprise you with hug requests and knows how to compliment, but what's the opposite of a sweet child?

Dev whines A LOT these days. He hollers no and cries over simple matters and has been spending time alone in his bedroom or on his bottom with his back to a wall. Hunter said the other night that Dev may hold the record for the world's biggest whiner!

When he's not whining, he goes up and down on the pee pee coaster. Sometimes he's eager to run to the toilet and use it like a big boy, and sometimes he screams and cries. I tried making it a game, like how many times can we give Mr. Potty our pee to drink and watch him swallow it down like a whirl pool. It worked great the first few days, but not so much any more. Before he would tell us when he was poopy, but now he doesn't and when we find out, he throws a fit and tries to run away. But when he does create those small bubbles he aims to pop, he is one happy little boy and eager to slap out some high fives.

And then there's our open floor plan. Our living room and dining room are together in a rectangular shape with a kitchen separated by an island that is like the tip of an arrow. It leaves plenty of room to run around in circles, which the littlest man of the house loves to do. Devin has been running circles around B for a long time, but now, Bryce is running too and soon they'll be making risky passes like Nascar drivers. Right now, though, Dev wants to crash like a race car, but the one he wants to see crash is Bryce. They'll be running in circles, Bryce leading the way laughing the entire time, when Dev will come up behind him and make his move. He puts his hands on his back and gives a little push. Usually nothing terrible happens. Bryce falls down, catching himself on hands and belly, still giggling, maybe a little gasp. But sometimes Dev gives a little bit harder push or Bryce falls on a toy or maybe Dev pushes him at the wrong place in their track like he did last week, when B fell face first into the short wall of the kitchen island. His nose was immediately bloody and cheeks streaked with tears. Devin was quick to apologize and he's been better about keeping his hands off his brother. I'd holler at him about it, had him sit on his butt enjoying nothing when I catch him, but it wasn't until I told him about what blood is and that it really hurts when you bleed that Dev took it easy with Bryce. He still pushes at his brother, but it's in the living room area, the widest part of their personal race track and not around the walls. Still he needs to be reminded and although they are having fun and it makes me smile, accidents happen.

He had a great time with a couple of sticker books. The have now been tossed out because he would stick and peel off and stick back on and peel back off until the stickers would fall out and to the floor as he walked with the book. We found stickers on our socks, on the seats of our jeans, stuck to the top of the dogs head and Kit was seen doing a little dance to get one off her foot before she tore at it with her teeth (brings back memories of my dad putting tape on the cat's feet. He did it first, Kath. Honest!). I thought I collected all the stickers but I still find some in the clean laundry or stuck to a toy.

I'm looking forward to the warmer weather. More trips to the playground, but on cold and rainy days, a trip to the soft playground in the mall is great entertainment. The last time we went Dev followed around one little girl with curly blonde hair. I tried to get a picture, but they were moving too fast. He never really said anything and she didn't mind the attention!

Even though Hunter is in school all day, it doesn't mean you can't take my place yelling at him when he's home. :) OK. Don't yell at him because he thinks he has to get up so darn early to catch the school bus. Your an early riser, Kath, so you'll probably stay up with him. Me, I rise slowly to make sure he has his lunch and he's not wearing his dad's pants and then I crawl back into my warm bed. So if you want to go back to sleep, go for it!

Don't yell at him when he gets distracted by his brothers while trying to do his homework or by his own pencil or fingers. If he wants to do the homework in his bedroom, that's fine, but please do check on his progress or a 20 minute assignment can turn into an hour.

I know you wouldn't yell at him unless he was in danger or putting someone else in danger, but when was the last time you yelled at a kid? My sisters and I haven't been under your roof in years, I won't say how many, but a long time! I know you're out of practice, so, please do yell at him if he plays a computer game that is inappropriate for his younger brother, who likes to be with him after school. Please do holler when he swings back at Devin for hitting him. It's actually great that he's not sitting there and taking it like he has in the past, but I'd rather not have them getting into fist fights when they are still so young! And do scold him when he hesitates to the question, Have you brushed your teeth? Of course, if you feel the need to yell at him or any of my boys for other reasons or to hug them just because, please do so. :) (But do remember what I said about Bryce holding something hard!)

One more thing about Hunter before I sign off is this: He takes a spelling test every Friday. I can count on one hand how many times he's gotten two or more wrong. Even though he sees his great scores and he hears praises from us at home and his teacher at school, he didn't have the confidence to participate in the spelling B. He said he didn't want to be up in front of the whole school, and I can understand that part! Anyone have any suggestions on what I can do to help him get the courage to join his classmates in an event like this? I know he would have done very well.

Apparently I'm not getting any email and haven't been able to send out using my account for some time. Hopefully I can get my site back up and running soon! I know you all can't wait to lay your eyes on some good looking boys! :)

Hope everyone is well!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

School reports, wonderful poo and bath burps.

Hello everyone. I hope all who read this are enjoying life and good times. It's getting better here now that we're thawing out! It's predicted to be in the 47 today (Monday), 58 tomorrow and 61 on Wednesday! There is a downside though - out with the snow, in with the mud.

Let me start with Bryce this time around because he's behind me now, climbing from one side of the back of my chair, standing there and patting me on the back before climbing back down on the other side and doing it again.

If you haven't been to my web site yet, please visit and check out the duet he and I have going in video form. I've been trying to get him to say ma-ma. Yeah, yeah, it IS usually da-da, but he's my kid so I'm gonna try! I should have turned my camera on about ten minutes before, when Bryce was real interested in the going back and forth we do through out the day. I didn't think about taking a video until after he had walked away. I grabbed my camera and went down the hall looking for him and found him "reading" books in his bedroom. So his participation wasn't as eager in the beginning, and in the middle, there's a pause where he either forgot what he was doing, or just wanted to stare at the camera. It's still cute to watch.

While that was fun to be a part of, something else wasn't. I let Devin choose a new toy after I had done something to him on accident (which I'll mention later - serious mommy guilt!). He wanted an ambulance so we brought the toy home, which is about the size of his garbage truck, but if you haven't seen pictures of that, then I'll say it's about the size of your typical bathroom trash can. Why I thought of that as a comparative, I haven't a clue.

Anyway - Bryce was playing with the buttons, opening and closing the doors and pushing it back and forth, sitting next to the kitchen island, but on the living room side. I don't know what he did but I heard his pain cry and found him standing up in the place where he was sitting with the ambulance a few feet away. I knew he hurt himself something awful, because his mouth was open with eyes clenched tight, but nothing was coming out. It was like he was behind a sound proof glass wall. But then he inhaled and that transparent barrier shattered as my baby let loose. There was no blood so I cuddled him for a bit and when he settled down I took a look at him. He had small, angled indentations on his left cheek and the bridge of his nose (which is probably what hurt the most) and a purple mark just below his eye brow. I've been trying to imagine what he did, but he's 19 months, so it's anything and everything!

Bryce loves to take a bath and his baths are taken with Devin. They both splash and dump cups of water, ignoring most of the toys in there with them for a cheap restaurant kid drink cup! Devin is much better at dumping, but Bryce has no complaints. The more Devin pours the water, the more Bryce laughs. Faster and faster they go. Pretty soon, Dev is getting B with the water and he gasps as he partially drowns and then laughs. No matter how many times you tell him it's too close, Dev always gets closer and Bryce continues to gasp and laugh. At the end of bath time one night, I reached in to get a thoroughly soaked B and he let out this huge belch. Too much bath water!

Not only is Devin helpful in rinsing his little brother in the bath, he's been helpful in taking off his own wet Pull-Up and putting a dry one on. A few weeks ago, he was wearing one Pull-Up all day long because he was making it to the potty (pee only), then he just stopped. He was going through so many I ran out and didn't have enough training underwear as back up. I called my hubby at work and asked him to bring home some more and he came into his house, a house where testosterone rules, with a package of pink Pull-Ups! I could not believe it. I said, Babe, did you not notice these are pink? He said he saw the 3T-4T size and grabbed them. Uh-huh. Pink for girls, next to them would have been blue for boys. He scowled at me and said, That's what you get for asking me to get them. OK. So now his three year old son is walking around in Disney princesses and the colors pink and purple!

So, Devin is being helpful by telling me he's wet and proceeds to take off his pants and wet diaper and throws it away and puts on a dry one. I don't always know he's doing this until he tells me so or I see him throw it away. Unfortunately, he does more than pee in them. One time he hollered for me and I found him with poo smeared down his leg and the Pull-Up around his ankles. Another time I found him with legs clean of poo, but the circular poo, hence the cleaner legs because it stayed in a single clump, had rolled out of the dirty diaper and onto the floor. Tim was the lucky one when a third time, home alone with the boys, Dev took his diaper off and, I'm guessing it got stuck, sat his poopy bum down on the carpet. Wonderful times! Thanks for the great memories, Dev! I think he's going to tell us he's poopy now BEFORE he takes off the trainer. Better yet, he might just go sit on the potty. Fingers crossed everyone!

On a sad note, I don't think Devin will be going to gymnastics anymore. The past few times we've gone there, he's refused to go in, and once in, he refuses to cooperate and sits on a line while the other children bounce, roll and flip around him. When we're home he wants me to look at him do the things he's learned in gymnastics, but once there, he's a brat. It brought back memories of Hunter not wanting to play the piano anymore. All was fine there, though, until Mr. Miller moved away and then his replacement moved away and Hunter had to start all over again with a third instructor. I didn't push him then and I won't push Devin now. I would have loved to be involved in gymnastics and I took piano lessons but quit. But they aren't me so I'll back off. Gymnastic lessons last all year, so we'll try it again in the fall.

Tim has a different car seat in his truck. Once Devin is in, there is front part like an arm rest that is pulled over his head and down in front of him. Then you have to snap the belt into the buckle between his legs to secure it. The straps are at their longest and still tight on Dev when he's in his winter coat. I'm not very familiar with this car seat as I rarely have the truck alone with the kids. One day I did, though, and when I pushed down on the buckle of the car seat...I pinched Devin between the legs and he screamed and cried...that's why he got a new ambulance.

A couple weeks ago, Hunter's class was scheduled for a field trip to a science center. Since I now have a part time day care provider I was going to chaperon, something I hadn't done since Hunter was in Kindergarten. The day before the outing a group from the science center came to the school and talked of what the children would see and do. In a note Hunter brought home later that day it said the field trip was canceled because of some safety concerns. When I asked Hunter about it, he said some boys were sniffing one of the items the science center group brought with them and others had thrown some red powder up in the air. So some bad choices from a few ruined it for all. And for me. I wanted to go on that field trip! :P

It ended up being a good idea that they didn't go because I got a phone call late the next morning saying Hunter had thrown up and had a fever of 102. I had decided to take myself shopping and was about 40 miles from the school when my cell phone rang. I had to call Tim, who I knew was in a meeting, but I caught him at the right time. They had just taken a break and he was able to pick Hunter up and meet me back at the house. Hunter stayed home the next day as well, so he got a four day weekend, but he really wasn't himself until Sunday.

Hunter had his first book report due last week. It was actually called a book commercial with an oral presentation. He picked an AR book, which is a book he's read and been quizzed on for comprehension. He had many to choose from and it took him two days of looking through them to decide which one he wanted to talk about. He choose Swindle by Gordon Korman and when he brought it home I was a little concerned because it was fairly thick and he only had a few days to put his commercial together.

The assignment was to take a small paper bag and put on the front the book title and author's name and then an illustration about the story. On the side panel the main characters and a description about them, the back panel a short summary and the last panel (the bag would be cut flat and it was planned to be in that order), Hunter's rating of the story, one to four stars and why he rated it the way he did.

Then he had to gather together four visual aids. Hmm. The main visual aide we should have had was a baseball card since the story revolved around that. Hunter doesn't own any of these and we probably could have made our own if our computer didn't think it has a perpetual paper jam (grrr)! We went over his main characters and summary and decided he'd cut out a house and we'd prop it up and he'd use two of his Star Wars characters for the two best friends in the story, then a small stuffed doberman pincher from a McDonald's Hotel for Dogs Happy Meal and a ghost finger puppet (because the house is supposedly haunted).

The hardest part for Hunter was the oral presentation. Well, following all directions for the oral presentation was rough for him. It involved writing cues on index cards he would refer to while standing in front of the class. He sat at the table with paper and pencil with the goal of writing down the main points of the story. Half an hour later, he had written down only two things. I've talked with Hunter before about him not writing things down. His reading grade has dropped because he's not putting thoughts down on paper. He told me that he has so many thoughts in his head, he can't get them down. Tim, the teacher's and I are working on this. A new goal has been added to his IEP. I'll talk more of this after the book commercial.

So I sat down across from my son and took the paper and pencil and told him I'd act the scribe. This way I learned about the entire story in ten minutes with Hunter talking and me jotting down what he agreed were the main points. I actually copied everything but the title and author's name for Hunter onto his paper bag. He'd need a double sized paper bag with his printing! I sent in the work Hunter printed out and my notes from his re-telling so his teacher can see that he did do all the work himself. I put his index cards together and we did a practice run through, a small part of which you can see in the video on my home page.

When he finally had his turn in front of the class, his teacher wrote in the notebook that he did an excellent job. During the practice run, Hunter never even looked at the cue cards we created. He said he didn't need them during his presentation, either, and that his classmates and teacher laughed and were grossed out during the part where one of the boys reaches his hand up into the body cavity of a frozen turkey!

Hunter's grades dropped in reading and TEN POINTS in math. He is now one point above failing in that subject. I had no idea he was doing so poorly. We knew he wasn't asking for help and had an emergency meeting that resulted in Hunter putting a book on end at his desk to let the teacher know he needed help. He doesn't like to ask for help and we're thinking it might be because he doesn't like the attention drawn, although sometimes he thinks he can just do it without help.

A few weeks ago I had another meeting with his teacher and we talked about how his writing comprehension isn't where it should be. As was very evident in his re-telling of the story to me for the Swindle (do I underline that or use quotes??) oral presentation, he has no problem comprehending it. But when asked to write the words down himself, he falls very short. During that meeting, math was mentioned only ONCE. She said that during the math test this year, Hunter can't go back and forth with a scribe; he can't say yes in one area and not the next. It's either an all or nothing thing.

In the teacher comment section of his report card, she wrote, Doesn't ask for help. This really irked my husband because there was a meeting about exactly that and if he's not asking for help and she can see his grade going down hill, then he thinks, and I agreed, that she should be offering him help or finding out why he isn't asking for help and determine if the current set up, if he's using it, is working like it should. Some fault lies with Hunter, can't blame the teacher for everything :). He often refuses to use extra paper and tries to work out a problem in a small space that his big, blocky printing just doesn't fit into. His works gets squished into each other and he ends up computing the wrong rows or can't make out what he wrote among the jumble. He has absolutely refused to use large block graph paper in the classroom. The teacher and OT said he actually got mean about it. He doesn't want to use anything that makes him different from the other kids. Instead we're trying to get him to use a piece of scrap paper so he'll have more room. If he thinks he has room on the actual worksheet, he uses that. I'd love to have his worksheets be printed where there's no space between problems, but they don't come that way.

Hunter didn't like it at first but he's accepted the fact that he has to do two things from me, math and writing, each night on top of the homework his teacher assigns for him. He has to re-write the math problems on a separate piece of paper and he does a writing assignment. The last one I had him do was, Imagine you can fly. Where would you go? He gave me three good five sentence paragraphs, but the paragraphs were more like a list, like, I would do this...I would do that.... I re-wrote his ideas into a three paragraph story and we talked about the differences in how the paragraphs looked when compared to each other and how they sounded to read them. If you're curious, Hunter wanted to go to Australia because he would get privacy there and eat his favorite snack of cheese without interruption. He said he'd wear his best looking outfit, fly very fast but not let anyone see him because he'd want his super power to be a secret. He concluded that he'd fly to important places and be people's hero because he knew himself to be a good person.

My sister Tiffany called me two Tuesday's ago at 10:00 PM. I knew she and her hubby Mark were wandering the countryside again as they tend to do a couple times each year. I was a little perturbed with her for calling me and saying she was on another jaunt and currently in West Virgina. I admit I got a bit mad because they had once again set off from their home in Marquette and my house wasn't on their itinerary! That was on Sunday and when she called Tuesday night, there were two thoughts in my head. Either it was an emergency or she was coming my way. I''m happy to say that she was coming my way!

They thought they'd be here between 1:00 and 2:00 A.M. Well, I'm sure you read or heard about the ice storm that hit Kentucky. Well, they got into some of that and then the winter storm warning in my neck of the woods. I told them I wouldn't be up when they arrived but that Tim and I would get the camper nice and warm and the bed ready so they could just crawl into there and I'd see them in the morning. When I got up with Hunter at 5:45, their car wasn't in the driveway! I called and got Tiff and they said their were sitting in a block of ice and had to pull over often to knock the build up off their windshield wipers. They were in Akron which is, on a typical day, a 45 minute drive. I headed outside to try to shovel away my worries with the foot of snow in my driveway when they still hadn't arrive at 8:00 and Tiffany didn't answer my call. At about 8:30 they finally arrived and I was so relieved.

My BIL immediately went into the camper and fell asleep. Tiff came in and had some breakfast. Hunter was home to see her because school had been canceled that day. We didn't do much with the terrible weather and they left the next morning, but it was great to see them even for such a short time. I'm looking forward to hugging her again in the summer.

You've shown your love for my boys and I if you've read all of this. Many hugs and kisses to you! Hunter has a four day week this week and next. I'd love to just pack up and head north, but not this time. Two years ago my sister Amanda came down from Charlevoix because her girls had the same days off as Hunter. No visit from them this year. She has said that she'd like to come down this summer and take the girls to either Cedar Point, which is about two hours away, or the water park, which is twenty minutes away.

Everyone take care.