Friday, August 28, 2009

Operation Summer Wrap-Up

Ahh, summer. Like someone on the radio said today, "We got cheated." It rained the entire month of June and into July. It also didn't get hot until mid-July so it didn't even feel like summer. The radio personality had said that he wanted 6 more weeks of summer because of all of the rain and cool weather.

Normally, I am right there with him. Even if we have absolutely beautiful weather, I never want summer to end. However, this summer I feel ready for the transition to fall. We had a busy and frugal summer and overall a very good one.

My Dad's death in late June did make the beginning of the summer difficult, but keeping our wonderful memories of him in our hearts, we were able to go on to enjoy things as a family. Things like July 4 fireworks, going to the lake almost everyday, having playdates with neighborhood kids and other friends, lemonade stands, a backyard campout, a Cub Scout campout (husband Dave and Andy), going to Dairy Queen, enjoying homemade popsicles, free movies, eating scrumptious summer fruit and going to the Science Museum on rainy days.

Harry and Malcolm started karate, Lilly taught herself how to make breathtaking gimp crafts and Andy took a shot at organizing the basement. I didn't learn anything new, but I was with my kids the whole time as they built memories for Summer '09 so that was even better than a new skill.

I was also thrilled that my older two had so much fun at camp for two weeks doing field trips to quaint beach towns with penny candy shops and swimming, Six Flags Amusement Park and a water park to name a few. They also enjoyed nature walks, S'mores and good old fashioned fun making new friends and crafts. My twins also had a blast at a half-day sports camp where they got to decorate their own T-shirts and play soccer, baseball and basketball. Everyone enjoyed week-long swimming lessons too.

I'm always amazed at how fast the summer goes by, but when I look back on how much we did, I wonder how we fit it all in. There are a lot of exciting things coming up for fall for us.

Lilly is going to be testing for her black belt in karate in September, going to a new school (her old school only goes up to 3rd grade) and was accepted into a competitive advanced academic program at said school. She also wants to learn violin in her spare time and maybe join the swim team she was recommended to do by her swimming instructor this summer.

Andy is sad that Mom dropped the ball and didn't sign him up for football in time. It was going to be his first shot at it, even though in our city, he was been eligible for the last two years. I even groveled a bit and they just can't take him as their teams are closed. I know he wants to do a sport, I just have to sell him on an alternative. Nothing is as good as football would have been. Sorry, bud!

Harrison and Malcolm are going to afternoon kindergarten! I can't believe it. The funny thing is I'm totally ready for it and not weepy like I thought I'd be (well, the school bus hasn't picked them up yet). It's time, they're ready and I'm ready.

Dave and I are going to work on finishing our basement for the coming winter and I am actively looking for a part-time job I can do while I have no kids for 2 1/2 hours for 5 days during the week.

I'll let you know how everything turns out for us, but for now, bring on the fall!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Horsing Around at a Local Farm

I didn't have a picture of Andy at the farm without other people in the picture, but here he is!
Harry patting the bunny. Better get some more food for the animals, Harry, your cup is empty!

Lilly feeding a goat.

Harry (left) Malcolm (right) Colt named Cooper (behind)

Malcolm overcomes his fear of the petting zoo! Yay, Malcolm! Same bunny that Harry liked, but there were a bunch more.

Crazy Weather We're Just Not Used To!

I hope you've enjoyed the link to the photo I posted a few days ago. I was amazed to see the size of Hurricane Bill taken by the International Space Station!

In New England, our joke is that if you don't like the weather, just wait 10 minutes and it will change. This is so true. I've seen the temperature go from the the high 60s down to the low 30s in one day, for example.

However, this was a horse of a different color. We had a tornado watch here in New England yesterday evening. I can only remember 4 watches in my entire life growing up here. Plus, years ago, there was an actual tornado that came through and broke my parents' GIGANTIC, Ohio Buckeye tree right in half. I was away at college during that one. My loved ones and our property was just fine.

I remember another watch when I was about 12 years old. The other 3 happened in the last two years, two of which happened THIS SUMMER including said one last night.

I have seen on TV the kind of devastation that tornadoes can do, but here, they are very rare. There are a lot of hills and even mountains that make them unlikely because they weaken so quickly. So, I am a newbie when it comes to those kinds of watches! Dangerous snowstorms and extreme cold are nothing unusual to us, well, in the winter.

If you're not a weather nerd like I am, you may not know that a "watch" means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form and "warnings" mean that one or more have been spotted. The one earlier this summer was indeed a warning, but for a short time. It hit about 10 miles from here and was actually a "microburst" and not a tornado.

Last night's was nothing more than a "watch" but it lasted for three hours. My husband who was commuting home from work (and worrying us all sick) said he could see layers of different color clouds that were swirling around! I did notice that the air was EXACTLY like it was a few weeks ago when we had the warning: oppressively humid and still. Tornado behavior 101.

As the clouds got darker and darker, we noticed the trees were blowing one way and then a few seconds later, they blew in the opposite direction. Since it was only a "watch" we didn't have to go to the basement right away or as New Englanders call it, "down cellar".

However, as I always am, I was glued to the weather reports. A severe thunderstorm warning then came ON TOP of the tornado watch and advised us to go to the basement "just in case" tornadoes were spawned from the current thunderstorms.

The kids and I were in the middle of our Friday night pizza and Dad wasn't home yet. He was delayed because of weather-related downpours. We took our paper plates down to the unfinished part of our partially-finished basement along with a battery-operated radio. We were down there for a good 1/2 hour before THAT thunderstorm was over and then we could go back up and wait for the watch and/or tornado spawns to happen.

All's well that ends well. No issues, hardly any wind, but we were so glad to see Dad walk through that door. In our basement, we also have our food pantry so the kids got into a post-dinner snack. I was less than pleased that there were crumbs on the floor, but that was the extent of the storm damage.

Apparently, Hurricane Bill had nothing to do with it other than "he" was pulling the humid air in our area into the cold front, causing the storms in our area. The coast got a good beating, but we don't live close to it.

We had to miss my sister-in-law's baby shower today because it was still going to be stormy for the entire drive up to Canada (where my husband is from). It was a bummer, but everyone waiting for us understood completely and didn't want us to make a drive that was not safe for us and our 4 darlings. It's at least a 7-hour drive with the kids (including stops, meals, snacks).

Apparently, another one of my sister-in-laws from a different part of Canada was able to make it to the shower, however, she and her two kids had been hiding in HER basement (they call it a basement in Canada) on Thursday! She had never experienced ANYTHING like it and I felt like a veteran compared to her. Sadly, there was a tornado near where she lived and a young boy wsa killed. Hopefully, we newbies won't have to worry about cowering in our basement anymore this summer!

Anybody got any good storm stories? Anyone else a weather bug like me?

Welcome, New Followers!

Dear Friends,

I was so happy to see that you both joined and will follow my blog. I think it was about the best news I'd had in a very long time. Thank you in advance for bearing with me while I get through the rest of this crazy summer. You will see my updates increasing more and more!

Keep reading and again, thank you!

Monday, August 10, 2009

There's Something About Harry

My son, Harrison ("Harry") is by far, the biggest "mess-magnet" I've ever met. I say that in a loving way because it's part of him. Also, he's really taught me how to react calmly to coming in on the WORST messes I've ever seen! For example, when I had given him and a bunch of friends some cookie cutters to make cool gelatin shapes in a baking dish while I quickly ran in to switch the laundry, I came back to find my potato masher, my hand egg beater and pretty much any other kitchen gadget you can imagine being used to make "mincemeat" out of the pan of gelatin. It was everywhere too, on the cabinets, on the floor, you name it. I just thought to myself, "How creative and how FAST many hands can destroy a pan of gelatin!" It just doesn't pay for me to lose my temper over something like that. I need all of the energy I can get and can't afford to drain it on things like that.

Another positive is his immeasurable tolerance for mess does help him in many situations to handle things with no fear (textures like fingerpainting...well it starts with fingers, swimming underwater, having no qualms about getting caught in the rain, letting his ice cream cone drip down his arm and letting his sister do his hair with WAY too much hairgel!).

His identical twin brother, Malcolm, is the kind of kid that likes order. If he sees a cabinet door slightly ajar, he will close it as he goes by. He always puts wrappers, napkins, etc. in the trash right after he uses them. Oh, and yes! He USES napkins!

Harry is guaranteed to wear the entire popsicle, bowl of soup, stomp in the only mud puddle within a 5-mile radius, decorate his face with marker and yes, play in the toilet before I can catch him. Since he's now 5, I hardly have to worry about that now, thank GOD! I don't have enough room to tell you everything that Harry has spilled and then played in whatever beverage puddle he created. He's even been known to float small toys in this accidental mess.

One day, he wanted to be a "Mud Monster" (see photo). He put mud on the back of his neck, in his hair and...brace his mouth! When I explained how it was really unhealthy to put dirt in your mouth, his reply was, "A Mud Monster has to have mud EVERYWHERE on his body."

In summary, Harry is the one who comes out of the lake soaking wet and throws himself down in the sand (becoming covered with sand just as we are trying to leave and load up into the van), puts marshmallow fluff in his hair (if I don't stop him first), had no trouble potty training because accidents were "fun" (for him) and occasionally "drinking" his beverage by cupping his hand into the cup and slurping from it.

Every child is unique and wonderful in their own way. Just don't run out of paper towels and hopefully, not patience.

Stay tuned for the latest Harry stories. (warning: sometimes not for the squeamish).

Monday, August 3, 2009

Photo Opportunities!

Ladies and Gentleman,

I FOUND MY CAMERA!!! It had gone on the missing shortly after an early summer trip to a pool. This pool is part of a Club that costs almost as much as my mortgage to join for the summer even if you just use the outdoor pool and no other amenities.

Our family managed to get a trial weekend. We wanted to go swimming one Saturday and was told we could swim for free on the Saturday and Sunday and talk membership with the director when she comes back to the office on the Monday.

Well, talk membership we did but we couldn't talk turkey. In other words, we couldn't afford it.

Then, my Dad died and of course, you don't take a camera to a funeral! However the next time I wanted to use it, it was not in the usual places. One of these places is our minivan which was purged before the trip down to attend the funeral.

It wasn't in the minivan and ONLY trash had been put out to be taken away, so I took comfort in the fact that it wasn't accidentally discarded. I looked at some secondary places that things usually end up when we purge the luck.

I had it in the back of my mind that it MUST be here someplace and wasn't too panicked, but WHERE? Today, I went so far as to call the Club and explain that no, we weren't members, but did anyone find a camera two months ago while we were mooching the facilities?

The manager is going to call me back tomorrow. However, he doesn't have to because, lo and behold, my son moved his bike just the right way this evening and I saw the arm strap peeking out at me! Here I am! What did I miss? That's right, it was in the garage, which is a dwelling for purged items from the van, but not THAT part of the garage!

So, you will begin to see many photos on this blog VERY soon as my camera and I have reunited!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dinner with Dessert First!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

You should count on me posting much more regularly now. I took an unexpected hiatus.

Life has been throwing a lot at us. After my dad passed away in late June, my husband has been needing to go into work early/stay at work late and I have been very tired. I'm also having trouble keeping up with the demands of my kids and my house.

I have had a temporary medical condition with low adrenaline since Fall 2007. It makes me very tired. I was even unable to sit up and hug my husband when he left for a trip yesterday in the middle of a nap that I desperately needed. It took me until this past spring to feel like I've had normal energy, but after my dad died, I suffered a setback.

If there is a lot of stress in my life, I tend to get extremely tired because I have barely enough adrenaline to cover it. Things were improving until recently.

My husband had an upcoming business trip following a weekend that we were supposed to be at an out-of-town, but driveable, family event. Running all of the scenarios of whether all of us should go, one parent takes two kids or whether one of us should go was very stressful. As it turned out, David went this weekend and will be jetting off to his business trip directly afterwards.

Pretty much what has been happening is, if the kids don't have camp or some other activity first thing in the morning, I get up and then end up crashing on the floor until sometime about mid-morning. The kids are allowed to watch TV and eat cereal until I'm conscious.

I have had to resort to this against my will. We are the kind of parents that limit screen time and revel in our children's creativity when they are not plugged in. We also do a lot of outside play and go swimming at the town lake on an almost daily basis.

Today was another one of those days though. If I try to force myself up with the kids, I end up taking a nap later in the day or when my kids had camp, as soon as I would drop them off I would come home and take to my order to be able to function at a very minimal level later in the day.

I keep telling myself to just get up with them and take a nap later as needed. I'm going to go back to my doctor and he's going to check my blood again this week. I want to make sure my adrenaline is still in the normal range and hope that things get better again soon.

Today was no exception. I had visions of getting up with the kids this morning and jumping full-force into cleaning up my cluttered house. I've made a decision that we will no longer live in this mess, even if the kitchen and bathrooms are clean and sanitary.

Well, no. I slept in again. I was planning to clean like a dynamo in the AM, watch Mass on TV ('cause I will NOT take my brood with me to church by myself), take my kids grocery shopping, out for ice cream and then go swimming...all before dinner. What ended up happening is, once I got conscious, I did some laundry, cleaned up the kitchen from the night before and THEN went grocery shopping. After shopping it was 6pm! Surprisingly, no one complained about the lack of swimming. Thankfully, the clouds looked ominous enough that the kids didn't even think about swimming as they hate thunderstorms.

I said to myself, what the heck and took my kids out for ice dinner time...because they had been so helpful at the grocery store. Sure enough, the ice cream held out their appetites long enough for me to put away the perishable groceries and then make a feast of ramen noodles!

These are probably the farthest thing from a healthy dinner, but heck, I love them! Lilly had just had them at a friend's house yesterday and put the bug in my ear...or in my tastebuds? Yuck...

They ate them with the 4-piece set of easy-to-use, dishwasher-safe, resusable chopsticks that Lilly had convinced me to buy. I threw in a bowl of peas for them to share just so they wouldn't lose their memory that Mom always serves vegetables with dinner, even after having dessert first.

So, 4 Dairy Queen "smalls", ramen noodles and a movie on TV later, I'm going to go tuck in my darlings. Tomorrow is another chance for me to get up on time!