Wednesday, August 31, 2005

He's Got a Big Heart

At our wedding reception, Uncle B told my parents that M has a big heart. And he sure is right...

We, like you I'm sure, have been watching the devastation of that darn hurricane on New Orleans. It's a terrible, horrible, really bad mess (to quote a kids' book). All those people without houses, water, clothes, and food.

Last night M asked me if it was okay if we took in some hurricane victims who needed a place to stay. He figured that we could turn over our office and guest room to a family in need. Sure, I said. Of course.

Today he called me at work and asked if it was okay with me if we donated our tent trailer to a family who was suddenly homeless. Well, we were hoping to keep the camper one more summer, but how could I say no to a family that is suddenly homeless....Sure, I said.

Now, I know that neither of these ideas will come to fruition -- there are a lot of logistical issues to deal with. So, our donation to Red Cross will probably be it for us. But I LOVE that he thinks this way.

Uncle B hit the nail on the head.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Size Matters

While T was skating last Saturday (for that brief amount of time that he was on the ice) M noticed that the blades on his skates looked too big for him. He was "pushing buckets" (see my blog from last January about R on buckets) and had a hard time getting close enough to the buckets to be effective.
You see, T couldn't fit in his skates from last year, so we had him in R's old skates (with two pairs of socks). His wide feet seemed to fit okay in them, but they were a bit long at the toes -- and the blade was even longer. M checked online to no avail for wider skates, so he took the little tike to a hockey store in the next town over. Now, I questioned this since I didn't think that there was a chance in heaven that T was going to get back on the ice, but M said that he saw how much fun T had during free skate last year and thought that it was worth a go.

Well, fifty bucks later we had the most adorable pair of little hockey skates that you've ever seen. They look to be about five inches long and about three and a half inches wide. Too cute! M billed them as "magic skates" to T and T was buying it. M also got an amazing deal on a teeny tiny shoulder/chest pad thingy that is smaller than the size XS that we had for T (which was too big.) This all happened during the day yesterday and M said that they were going to hockey practice and I should meet them there after work. I wished him luck.

Fully expecting to see little T sitting on the sidelines when I arrived, I was surprised to see him out on the ice, pushing buckets around the rink. He was fully participating in the class and seemed to be having a good time. I arrived at minute 32 through the lesson and he stuck it out for the next 28 minutes. When he got off the ice, he said "mom, we played a new game called 'catch the coach' and I was really good at it" with a big smile on his sweaty face. I asked if he had a good time and he said, "oh yeah, it was great with my magic skates."

Give M another point for knowing how to work it with our sons :>

R, by the way, also had a great lesson. He did all sorts of drills between cones and is looking really good out there.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I'll Skate, But I Won't Play Hockey...

Believe it or not, today was the first practice of the ice hockey season. R was so excited that he had a "fuzzy stomach" last night and couldn't sleep. T wasn't quite as a matter of fact, he wasn't sure if he wanted to participate at all. He said, "okay, I'll learn to skate, but I'm not going to play hockey." Okay, we thought, at least he would go for it....

Until he had been on the ice for 20 minutes and was hot.

"Mom, I'm so hot I have water dripping down my back." He yelled to me from the ice with his little head bobbing up and down in his hockey helmet and face mask (and the rest of his body hidden in full hockey gear, including a teeny tiny cup to "protect my boys.")

"That's okay, honey. That's what happens when you play a sport. You'll cool off when you're all done. Now go back out there for another 15 minutes and then you can have juice and animal crackers," I said as a teeny tiny bribe.

Big tears start rolling down his face and major crying ensued. Hmmm... If he had wanted to do this to begin with I would give him the you've-got-to-finish-what-you-start speech. But, he didn't even want this so much. So, we took him off the ice, took off his pads and equipment, and he sat with me in the stands for the rest of the lesson.

R, in the mean time, had a blast.

He was graduated from the Learn to Skate class into the Learn to Play class. This means that he's going to actually play 3-on-3 hockey at some point in the season. He's the wobbliest out there, but has an awesome I Can Do It and Put Me In Coach attitude. The coach complimented him afterwards and says that he's going to be a great hockey player some day. With a big, sweaty grin, R took a sip of his apple juice and said, "thanks coach."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Jargon of the Modern Business World

There's always new sayings in the corporate world that don't exist anywhere else. Here's a sample of my current favorites:
  • Visibility - as in "I need to have visibility of the situation." What happened to saying something like, "I need to know about that situation"? Since when are budget gaps something that you need to have "visibility" into or about?
  • Net - this has been around for a long time, but it kills me. "Net" means "in summary" or "the bottom line" as in "Net, we need to find $2 million to pay for that project."
  • Learnings - this is one that I've always sworn to never use, but I've given into peer pressure and use it. As in, "what are the learnings from that project?" What happened to saying, "what did we learn on that project?" I don't know, but I'm now guilty of using the word, "learnings".
  • Against - As in "we are working against a 12-24 year-old target." Doesn't that sound like we are anti 12-24 year-olds?? WRONG, quite the opposite. That statement means that we are targeting 12-24 year-olds, which means that we like them and want them to like us!
  • Transparancy - Related very much to visibility above. Used today in a meeting: "I need this to be transparent to the team."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Less is More

Me: R, what is your favorite part of first grade?

R: The three recesses, for sure....But there's one problem, mom.

Me: What's the problem?

R: Two of the recesses are really short because of the food thing.

Me: The food thing?

R: Yeah, in recess #1 we have our snack, then we get to play after. And at the middle recess, we have lunch first, then we play. Uhhh, mom?

Me: Yeah, R?

R: I don't mean to complain or anything, but you gave me too much food for lunch. I barely had time to play with Sammy 'cause I had to eat my whole lunch!

Me: I understand. I'll try to put less in tomorrow.

R: Yeah, that's a good idea.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

In Theory...

I went into the kitchen this morning and the boys were eating breakfast. T was having oatmeal (one of his faves) and R was eating Corn Pops. When I entered, T said, "Mom, dad says that oatmeal isn't cereal and you told me it is cereal. So I need to know, is oatmeal cereal?" I said that oatmeal was hot cereal and Corn Pops was cold cereal -- so there were different kinds of cereal. T said to M, "Dad is that what you think too?" M wasn't paying attention at the moment and asked T to repeat what he said. T said, "Dad, mom says in theory, oatmeal is a kind of cereal. Do you agree?"

M and I looked at each other...did he just say "in theory"? Yep, he did. Amazing. He's only four.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Random Thoughts

  • T got a new stuffed animal - a bear that he named "mashed potatoes" :>
  • We made pizza tonight with store-bought dough that we had to roll and shape ourselves (I refrained from throwing into the air, much to the boys disappointment. Half was with red pizza sauce and half was with alfredo "white" sauce. Added tomatoes and basil picked from our garden. Comments around the table included "we're the masters" from R, and "this is the best pizza in the world" from T, followed by another memorable quote from T "This is sooo good that it's not even good!" Gotta love 'em.
  • Bought school supplies for R today. The teacher gave us a list: 24 crayola crayons, 8 sharpened #2 pencils, box or kleenix to share with the class, elmers glue, two glue sticks, two erasers, pencil sharpener with a thingy to catch the shavings (we still have to get that one)
  • I made pancakes for breakfast (boys' request). When asked if they wanted syrup or butter and sugar, both wanted butter and sugar (just like their mamma likes them)
  • Picked three cucumbers and one bell pepper from the garden
  • Spent an hour by myself in the red adirondack chair -- a little piece of heaven. Then I was joined by the boys and we blew bubbles for a loong time. Another piece of heaven. By the way, Mackinaw is very good at jumping in the air and popping the bubbles.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Shaping Up

R starts first grade on Monday. Last night was a "meet the teacher" night at school. M took R to meet his teacher before I got home from work (I encouraged this because I knew that parking would be a NIGHTMARE after 5:30 when I'd get home.) R was telling me all about it and he was describing a girl who was there with her parents:

"Mom, you know those really mean girls from my kindergarten class year? And you remember there was the one girl who was beginning to shape up at the end of the year? Well, she'll be in my first grade class. Don't worry, it's okay, because she was the one that was shaping up."

Gardening Lessons Learned

Most of you know that I am new to gardening. And if you've been reading my blog all year, you know that I only survived the winter by thinking about all of the beautiful plants that I would have in the Spring and Summer and hopefully, Fall. I drooled over gardening catelogs, bought three books on Midwestern gardening and anxiously waited for the plants to come. I planned and replanned what I would plant and where they would go. I also ordered some bareroot plants from a catalog.

The beautiful plant above is a variety of phlox, which I love.

We also have an amazing butterfly bush that attracts the most beautiful butterflies (I *have* to get a picture of them!) We have a variety of hostas, which I had never seen before, but are prevelant in the MidWest. I've planted daisies, marigolds, pansies, petunias, snap dragons, ivy, and a bunch of other things.

I've even planted things that I've forgotten about! Some of the dryroots that I planted started coming up and I couldn't remember what they were. One was a plant that I put infront of a hibiscus bush by the front entry way. I remember that the plant is supposed to be 18" tall. Well, the darn thing keeps growing and growing and now it's as tall as I am! Taller than the hibiscus bush! I've been intrigued about this mystery plant. What is it? How pretty will it be? Will I be able to put the flowers in an arrangement in a vase? A few weeks ago, it started to grow skinny pine-cone shaped flowers. Cool! It's almost time for it to bloom. M wanted to cut it back, but I told him not to -- we have to see what this thing wants to do. I don't know what it is, but it looks like it's going to be great, I told him.
Okay, he said, let's see what this thing is.

foreshadowing side note: My allergies have been extremely bad lately. My eyes have been dry, itchy, and watery. My nose has been itching so much that I nearly rub it off each day when I try to "scratch" it by rubbing it. I've been taking Alerest lately to combat this crazy allergy.

Back to the story....

We had our friends, the H's over last Sunday. He grew up on a farm and she does flower arranging sometimes for the grocery store. They've helped me identify my unidentified midwestern flora and fauna in the past. As they were leaving, I asked them what this very large mystery plant is. They both kind of chuckled and Mrs H said, "Oh, Sandra, let's just get out your shears now and get this out. It's a weed. You don't really want it. It can't be what you ordered from the catalog. It just took over and what ever you planted didn't have a chance. You don't want it." Hmmm.... But she also told me that Queen Anne's Lace is a weed last week and I love Queen Anne's Lace. So, I didn't think anything of it.

I mentioned to M that it looked like those skinny pine-cone shaped buds were going to get yellow blooms and it would be so pretty. Oh yeah, M said. I meant to tell you, I was talking to a neighbor yesterday and at some point he asked us why we have that plant so prominantly in our front entry way. Guess what it is ?


The most harmful pollen producer of all plants. The plant that 90% of people who suffer allergies are allergic to!


After telling me that, M, with my permission, went out front and pulled out every darn leaf, stem, and flower from that darn plant!!!

We now have a big gap in the front entry way...and that's just fine with me :>

Thursday, August 11, 2005

One for The Bucket, Three for Me

Last week I mentioned all the blueberries we have in the house. They are a result of going blueberry picking last week. It was a pretty hot day - high 80's and lots of humidity. I found a farm 15 minutes from our house that ran a u-pick business, so we headed on out to the farm. I was motivated to get LOTS of blueberries -- for muffins, cobbler, and to freeze. We explained to the boys to only pick the ripe ones -- the dark ones. There were lots of pinkish ones on the bushes and I didn't want any of those in my cobbler!

Well, R took those instructions very seriously and looked for the darkest ones possible. After determining which berry on the plant was the darkest, R would pick it gingerly and come over to show me what a great job they did. T, on the other hand, had a fabulous time picking and eating as many berries as he could.

Here is R showing "the perfect blueberry" and T in the background (probably with three berries in his mouth."

Like I said, I was motivated, and I was a powerhouse picker. We got seven pounds in total. I think that I picked 4, M picked 2 1/2 and the boys picked about half between them. Here are our buckets at the end of the morning:

All in all, it was a fun time. They put all of our berries into two bags - the picture at the top shows T with the 5 lb bag and R with the 2 lb bag...yummers :>

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Here's to my Sistah...

Years ago, my sister and I declared that August 10th is "sister's day". We decided that we needed a day to celebrate each other. Often one of us forgets the holday and feels horrible about it, but we always find a way to aknowledge each other. That day is here. So here's to my sister...

She's an amazing person because she:

  • Has an incredible ability to make you laugh. She can take any situation and find something knee-slapping funny in it. Even if she's making fun of herself. I can't have a conversation with her without laughing....and I love that!
  • Has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. She gives of herself not only with her husband and three children, but with shut-ins at her church, her friends, and her extended family.
  • Can whip up a tasty meal in no-time for a crowd without any stress or worry.
  • Is a stay-at-home mom who is always on the run doing fun and educational things with her kids.
  • Keeps up her spiritual life through church groups and Bible studies.
  • Will dance with her kids in the living room just for fun.
  • Gave me and our mom a foot massage and pedicure on Mother's Day to show us she loves us (and it felt wonderful!)
  • Teaches Sunday school at church and an "Art from the Masters" class at her son's elementary school.

She's just really great and I miss her the most of anything or anyone in California. I love her so much!

By the way, I must say that I'm so thankful for the reasonable prices of the telephone and internet, which makes communication so much easier and quicker than the snail mail and prices of yesteryear.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Harvest Time

Gardens and freezers are full here in the midwest, as they are in most of the country. Berries are ripe for pickin'. Our little vegtable patch is chock full of peppers, zuchini, crook-neck squash, and tomatoes (not ripe yet.) Here is what I have in my freezer from this year's harvest (either picked from our garden or u-picked from a local farm:
  • 4 bags of sliced strawberries
  • 6 bags of blueberries
  • 3 loaves of zuchini bread
  • 4 bags of sliced banana peppers
  • 3 bags of blueberry muffins (8 muffins in each bag)
  • 1 jar of strawberry freezer jam from our neighbor(we've already eaten 2 jars)

We've also had strawberry shortcake, strawberries on pancakes, blueberry crisp, blueberry cobbler. Yum! Here's a picture of a recent harvest.

Friday, August 05, 2005

And We Could Have Gone Camping...

We were sitting at home, after just deciding that we weren't going to go to the local campground for the weekend because we were worn out. We were trying to get the energy up to do something fun with the family, when M looked out the window and said, "there's a nice breeze out." I said, "good, let's open the windows." M looked at me again and said, "there's a nice breeze out for sailing." Oh, that's what he meant!

We headed out for the boat after changing into our swim suits (the kids like to swim at the beach while M docks and cleans the boat. I get the good end of the deal because I play with the kids while M does the grunt work.) But we didn't get that far.

After eating our Subway sandwiches as we were sailing around the lake, the wind picked up and we were "honking" (going really fast!) and having a great time. The kids were cracking up and I was mostly having fun and kind of worried about the kids as we were heeling. The kids and I were on the high side and M came over too because we were doing so great and he wanted to balance the boat out. Everybody was having a great time, until.

The wind completely shifed.

With all of us on the same side of the boat....YIKES.

The next thing I knew, M said, "we're going over". And we did. We went over. Capsized. Got wet. In the water. Boat on it's side. YIKES.

I helped T fall in the water so he wouldn't hurt himself on the side of the boat. After falling in and under the water and coming back up to the surface, I grabbed the kids. They had their life vests on (safety first, M always says). The three of us were under the sail. I've never capsized before, but I didn't think it was a good idea to be under the sail. Would it push us back into the water? Would it squish out all of the air? So, I pushed the boys about three feet to where I saw light -- right by the boat, which was on its side. Once we were there, we could breathe, but I knew right away that it wasn't a good place to be. What if the boat turned more on its side, right on top of us? So I started telling/yelling to the boys to get out of there, we're going out away from the sail.

I realized two things at this point 1)T was screaming and crying his head off and 2) I didn't know where M was or if he was okay. I yelled for M, but no answer. I figured I'd get the boys out safe and then figure out where M was. By now I could focus on T's crying and realized that he was upset that his Bug Juice, which was in his hand still!, was geting "ruined". I yanked the plastic bottle out of his hand and told him we'd get more later, which increased the crying.

I kept trying to get the boys out from under the sail (all this has taken about 2-3 minutes, but seemed like 30 minutes) but found out that their bodies and legs were tangled in the lines. I yelled to M again. This time he answered that he was trying to right the boat. I yelled not to right the boat yet because the boys were tangled. M swam under the boat to get to our side and helped me untangle the boys.

We got to clear water and I had the boys float on their backs to rest in their life jackets. I looked up and a family in a cushy boat came over to save us. I pushed the boys up into their boat and they warmed them up with towels. The family was a mom and dad, a 2-yr old girl, and a golden retriever. They threw me a life jacket, which was great timing because now that I had the kids safe I realized that I was really tired from guiding them along and treading water!

We watched in the safety of the boat as M tried over and over to right the boat. Meanwhile, we'd see a variety of boat equipment (oars, life vests, buoys) and Subway trash float by, all refuse from our capsized boat. A guy on a jet ski came by and helped M get the boat up. It was full of water and they had a hard time keeping it up. Finally, success.

Long story short, we got our boat, Yankee Doodle, attached to the ski boat and we pulled her into the beach area. M hung onto Yankee Doodle's stern while we towed her to keep her upright. About 90 minutes of bailing later, we all got in and got her to the dock. Surprisingly, we didn't lose the motor or battery during this adventure. M thought that they both had come up missing, but the were actually dragged behind the boat the whole time, gathering pounds and pounds of lake grass as we went.

The "net takeaway" (as they say at work) from this adventure is to never have both M and me on the same side of the boat.

Final words? T said that he had wanted to go on an adventure, but not that kind of adventure. R said he thought we were never going to see the boat again. M said if only he got the boat up before it "turtled" we'd all have been right back in the boat right away, but he said he's glad we're all safe and wants to go sailing again tomorrow. I said let's thank God for keeping us safe and maybe we can splash on the beach tomorrow and think about sailing another time.

Monday, August 01, 2005

R is six years old! Posted by Picasa

Six Years Old

Each time your "baby" has a birthday, a mom can't help but think about the day he was born. R will be six years old tomorrow.

I know it doesn't sound old to all of you been-there-done-that moms, but to me, he's old!

This is the boy who...

... took over 72 hours of pitocin-induced labor to get into this world.

... knew over 50 baby sign language by the time he was 16 months old.

... always wants to please and gets terribly upset if he's disappointed me.

... gets so excited some times that he can't help jumping up and down and up and down with pure joy.

... wants to be a pilot, a soldier, a firefighter, a policeman, and a stay-at-home dad when he grows up.

... has the sweetest smile a mom could ever want to see.

... says, "I'm not trying to complain or anything" before he says anything that might be taken as an insult so he won't hurt your feelings.

... loves to teach his younger brother anything at any time.

... loves to learn anything at any time (and then explain it to you ad nauseam once he's learned it)

This is my first born, and he's six tomorrow...