We also went and Santa Clause 3 today. But before we did that, we needed to rent and watch Santa Clause, and Santa Clause 2. So we did that yesterday and this morning. Then, we surprised the boys by taking them to the newly released Santa Clause 3. It was a pretty funny flick. After that, we took the boys to get measured for their tuxes for the big wedding after Christmas. This afternoon, we had a photo session for the pics that will go in our Christmas cards. Here are the out-takes...
Sunday, December 10, 2006
We also went and Santa Clause 3 today. But before we did that, we needed to rent and watch Santa Clause, and Santa Clause 2. So we did that yesterday and this morning. Then, we surprised the boys by taking them to the newly released Santa Clause 3. It was a pretty funny flick. After that, we took the boys to get measured for their tuxes for the big wedding after Christmas. This afternoon, we had a photo session for the pics that will go in our Christmas cards. Here are the out-takes...
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Me: T, which list are you on...naughty?... or nice?
T: Hmmmm. I think both...kind of medium, you know what I mean?
Me: I think you're a very good boy. You're probably on the nice list.
T: I'm still thinking the medium list, mom.
Me: Which list am I on?
T: You're on the I-Love-You list!
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Anyway, last weekend it was in the 60's and today it was 32 degrees. December came in like a lion with an amazing ice storm. Except for the fierce danger and all, I really love ice storms because everything, I mean everything is so beautiful! The whole neighborhood turns into a fairytale. Every single tree is covered in ice, which makes them look magical. They are all coated in a beautiful, shiny, ice covering that shines and twinkles in the snow. It took my breath away to look at the woods in our backyard. (Unfortunately, M had the camera today and I couldn't take a picture. Hopefully we'll have another ice storm so I can share the wonder with you.) The danger of the ice storm is the downed power lines and fallen trees, but as long as nobody gets hurt and folks aren't out of electricity for too long, I totally think it's worth it!) Because of the bad weather, the boys got a Snow Day yesterday. R was jumping up and down with joy and T was bummed because he loves Kindergarten. He soon got over his disappointment when he learned that R was going to be home to play with them. They helped M bring all of the Christmas decorations up from the basement, so I put most of them out today. I love how the house looks with Christmas up!
Today was a good day in the Smith household. T had his first hockey game -- usually he just has drills and practices. Although he claims to not like hockey, he had a huge smile on his face the whole time he played. He even got a goal! R had a good hockey practice too, ending it with a red, sweaty face, smiling as always. After hockey, I came home with T and made three gallons of hot cocoa for M to take to an outdoors Cub Scout outing. It was at the local Boy Scout camp and the older scouts ran the activities of the day -- archery, bb gun target shooting, tomahawk throwing (do you see a weapon theme here for some reason??) crafts and games. They had a blast! R even earned his bb gun badge because he was such a good shot -- he needed to get 35 points to get the badge and he got 37. Way to go R!
I leave tomorrow for a business trip to LA. I have an 8:30 AM meeting there on Monday, so I have to travel on Sunday. I hate traveling on the weekend, but the bonus of this trip is that I get to visit my sister! She's going to meet me at my hotel and we'll have some time together, which will be great.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I wish for no wars because people get killed.
I wish that no one was poor because they need food.
I wish for no litter because it hurts the invirenment (his spelling.)
I'm thankful for everything that I have
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Things have changed -- R takes showers now, often in the mornings.
While T takes his bath, R reads to me. Then we continue with our regular night-time routine -- get pjs on, brush teeth, R's allergy meds, books, song, bed. So, you see, my blogging time has disappeared. I have to find a new time for me to blog. I'm working on it....
- R is doing great in school (he's literally at the top of the class in math, science, reading, and social studies) but he still gets stressed out on Sunday nights. He gets a variety of aches and pains in anticipation of a long 5-day week of school -- poor boy. But, the time that these pains last is much shorter than before -- they last 10-20 mintues now versus the 3-4 hours that they used to last!
- T is a happy boy and a lot of fun. He still loves dogs, steam trains, and art. As a matter of fact, the other day he and I sat down to so some painting and I asked him what he wanted to paint. "Well, I want to get a really old piece of wood and do an aboriginal painting on it." "Really?" I said, "what is aboriginal painting?" "Oh, it's the kind of art that the aboriginese in Australia do. I saw it on that TV show that I watched with Dad." So he proceded to do this cool art piece using lots of dots -- as he was doing it, he said, "this is kind of like stipling, but bigger." When I asked him when he learned about stipling, he told me that I taught him. Good for me! My camera isn't working right now, when I get it up and running, I'll take a picture of the aboriginal art piece that is on display in our kitchen right now.
- Both boys are having fun in hockey/skating (remember, T doesn't want to play hockey, but he does want to know how to skate.) R even played goal tender at the last game and had a blast.
- M and I went to a BNL concert a couple of weeks ago and had a great time. We ran into one of his cousins and she offered us ticketst to a concert in Chicago that is tomorrow night. We got Uncle D and future Aunt J to babysit and we're going! It will be a blast!
- Today is the first day of deer season, so M is out freezing in the blind that he and Mr H built. Hoepfully he doesn't come home empty handed -- that venison summer sausage we had last year was great!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
We started off picking HoneyGolds. I was sure I'd forget what they were called, so I had the boys stand by the sign. Evidently the sun was very bright, because I have a couple of squinty faces here. (Also, notice the dog stickers on T's jacket? He gets one of those stickers each time he goes to hockey practice -- as long as he does his best and has a good attitude. It's amazing how that incentive has worked -- and he's even having fun now!) After the Honey Golds, we moved on to some Macintoshes.
T is always available for a good pose.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
- You never would have known that on Wednesday and Thursday of last week we had about four inches of snow! Crazy! T was thrilled -- he loves snow -- and played outside in the snow for an hour before school and an hour after school. He build a snow mound that was going to be a snowman at some point but never quite made it. He got hot chocolate both times when he came inside, which he appreciated greatly. R likes snow fine, but he agreed with me that it was too early in the season for snow. The basil and zinnias outside didn't like the snow at all and are officially dead. The mums, however, faired quite well.
- The honeymoon of getting the new glasses is over and R continues to have issues at bedtime. They aren't as drastic as before, thank goodness, but they are still there. Now there is the pretty consistent stomach ache (tornado in the stomach) that comes on at bedtime, as well as random things like a pain in his arm or itching all over -- all of which can prevent him from going to sleep before 9:30 or 10:00. His lack of sleep has given him some good circles under his eyes and makes him more emotional than usual. Other than that, though, he is doing well. He is getting more work done during class than he was and he's really enjoying hockey a lot. He played a little scrimmage today and scored nine goals!
- T is doing well. He likes kindergarten and is making friends there. We were in the grocery store yesterday and he saw a boy from his class. The boy said hi to T and T confidently said Hi back. He loves to do arts and crafts and really enjoys spending time with me in my craft room. He works on his own projects while I finish up mine.
- I was sick most of the week. I started getting a scratchy throat on Sunday night and woke up feeling bad on Monday. I had to go to some meetings on Monday morning and I went home at 12:30. I didn't go back to the office until Thursday, and I only stayed until 2:00 then. I managed to make it through the whole "half day" Friday. I had a cold/flu -- stuffy nose, plugged up ears, cough and fever. Luckily, I didn't have my usual sore throat, but I still felt HORRIBLE. It's a bug that is running rampant in my office. Two people who had it before me call it "the plague." I'm a lot better now, but still have a nagging cough. I have to sleep propped up with three pillows or else I end up hacking away all night or I move into the living room and sleep on the sofa.
- M has been fighting what I had. He had it a bit before me and has it a little bit now. I pray that he doesn't get the whole shebang like I did! He's been really busy with getting the yard winterized, coaching hockey, preparing Cub Scout meetings, and attending his two board meetings (and making me tea when I was sick).
- We picked apples a few weeks ago -- a whole bushel of michlimacs and honey golds. I didn't realize how big a bushel was until we brought it into the house (it didn't seem as much when we picked them!) I've made three apple crisps, two apple cobblers, one batch of apple sauce, two desserts of baked apples and we've had apples in every lunch. I think that I'm only through half of the bushel.
- Speaking of baking, T and I made pineapple upside down cake yesterday. (His choice.) Yummy. We had that after we ate chicken and dumplings. Yummy, again. Tonight we had leftovers and some baked acorn squash -- we are so in the Fall spirit around here :>
I have to go and read to the kids. Usually I also take requests and sing them each a song. I can't sing because I break out coughing, so the boys take requests and each sing me a song. It's pretty nice.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Me: How are those glasses doing R?
R: Mom, they're great! Everything is brighter now!
Me: Great, can you read those hockey cards better?
R: Yeah, I can even read the tiny letters where it says "goal tender" and "center" now. And I can read those Canadian last names that are hard to read.
Me: Great! I'm glad you like them and that they help.
R: I know, it's like I'm looking through a telescope at my hockey cards. Everything is close up and brighter. It's like it was dull before and now it's not. The words look cleaner or something.
Me: (By now I had tears streaming down my smiling face.) I'm so glad for you R. I'm so glad for you.
I've had tears a few times this past week for R. Tears of happiness that my boy can see so clearly and he's clearly so much happier. I've had tears of sadness that he has had to go through this tough time and we didn't even know there was a problem. But the tears of happiness outnumber those of sadness, by far. This part of his vision problem is such an easy problem to fix -- glasses. It's that simple -- glasses. We're still working on the other part of his vision problem, and now that he has glasses to correct two of his vision issues, it will be much easier to just focus on one thing instead of three.
Oh, and by the way, here is his dinner time prayer the first night that he got the glasses:
Dear God, thank you for my great glasses. They make it so I can see everything brighter and that's really good. Thank you for them too because I don't have headaches anymore and I'll be able to have good nights of sleep. Amen.
The psychological effect of getting the glasses cannot be denied. He had only worn them for about twenty minutes before he said this prayer -- and he believed that he would no longer have the headaches. Wouldn't you know it, he hasn't had a headache since getting them -- or a stomach ache either :>
He also loves them at school. He only needs to wear them for "up close work" -- so reading and writing. Basically, he wears them in the class room, but not at recess or at gym. He says that things are a lot easier now and that he can even see everything the teacher writes on the board AND he can see his papers up close.
I say, Thank You God, for giving my great boy clear vision!
(Note: My camera is acting goofy when I use the flash, so I put this picture in B&W. I'll take a color one outside so you can see the color of his glasses, which is green, his favorite color.)
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
It's a story about R....
R historically has loved school. Then came the night before school started this year and he cried because he didn't want summer to be over. But, to his surprise, school is fun (remember, "it's even more fun than first grade!") He has lots of fun in school and generally wakes up happy and ready to go to school. However, this year, he's had either a headache or stomach ache every night. Some nights are more severe than others. Some nights, he just mentions it in passing and then goes to sleep. Other nights (like last night) he's up really late -- past 10:00, which is two hours past his bed time. Sometimes his neck hurts; sometimes his jaw hurts; sometimes his chest hurts. He has great descriptions too -- a tornado in his tummy, a fire in his head; a magnate has a hold of his jaw.
As these seemingly random pains progressed, I thought maybe it was stress. I'd ask him about his day -- everything was fine. School was fine. I'd ask about friends. He had friends that he plays with. I'd ask him about hockey. Yeah, hockey is cool -- he loves it. We thought maybe it was his eyes giving him a headache because he reads a lot, but he passed the school vision screening with flying colors. Sometimes I'd give him Tylonol if his head was really bad; sometimes I'd give him Pepto Bismo if the "tornado in his tummy" felt like he was going to vomit; once I gave him Tums because he had a "fire in his chest and throat." Eventually, he'd fall to sleep.
On what seemed to be a totally separate front, we had R seen by an occupational therapist (OT) at school for his horrendous printing skills. We suspected that he had slow development of his fine motor skills. He has horrible writing. He also hates to draw and does it poorly. At first glance, the OT thought he was fine, but then dug further and found some issues. We were dismayed and elated to learn that he has issues with his visual-cognitive integration, or as I explained to him, his two eyes and his brain don't work together as a team. One easy thing that she showed us is that if you put your finger out in front of him and then move it to his nose, he doesn't cross his eyes. One eye crosses and the other doesn't. Some of the issues he has are with teaming, tracking, and visual motor integration. Here is a great website that shows you how he sees sometimes and explains it a bit more: http://http://www.childrensvision.com/learning.htm#Teaming
This was a bummer to learn because my poor boy has a really hard time on doing pretty normal stuff. I was elated to learn this because there is a solution: vision therapy. The OT would work with him each week and he should progress and be fine after two years. If we wanted to, she said, we could take him to a vision therapist outside of school and we would get faster results. She also said that it would help him with his sports (how did she know that poor R can't catch a ball for the life of him?)
Great. I did lots of research on this and read lots of testimonials from other parents that have gone through this. I was super excited! Oh, and when kids have these problems, the very often get headaches from the disconnect between their eyes and their brain, and sometimes they get stomachaches from the stress of not performing up to par. Allelluia! We might have an answer. Let's get this thing going!
By the way, the OT was absolutely amazed that R can read and likes to read. She was very proud of him, saying that he is very smart and has so much determination to persevere despite his problem. It just warmed my and M's hearts.
Of course, this news didn't stop the headaches and stomachs and other various pains. One day last week, we actually kept him home from school one day because his stomach was hurting so bad. M and I thought that it might be stress still, but decided to eliminate anything medical just to be sure. So, M took him to the doctor that day and I made a slew of appointments. I made appointments with the: vision therapist and eye doctor (they won't do vision therapy without a complete eye exam), allergist, and dentist. The pediatrician made an appointment for him to have a CT to check out his brain and sinuses to rule out anything that might affect his headaches. M and I felt a lot better -- we were on the road to a solution. We would talk up everything that we were doing to R and sometimes he was okay and some nights he wasn't.
Fast forward a couple of days to last Saturday when R had is VERY thorough eye exam. T and I were in the exam room too. The doctor would ask R to read the first letter of the third line: F, R said. The doc would ask, Is that the first letter of the third line? Oh, it's an E, R would say. T looked at the board an looked at me and said, "that's a T, Mom." I know it is. Shhh. We have to be quiet.
I would say that R missed about 40% of the letters. The final word: he is farsighted and has astigmatism. The poor boy can't see!
The doctor asked again, How is his reading? Great, I'd say. He's very good and loves to read. Wow, he said, he is a very determined boy.
Then the doctor did some more tests to check out his visual-cognitive integration and confirmed the OT's diagnosis. R's eyes don't work as a team and don't transmit the same image to his brain. The doc gave R a paper that had a small outline of a circle on it and asked R to take a pen flashlight and move it under the paper so that the light was right in the middle of the circle. Each time he did it, the light was always about a half an inch outside of the circle. When the doctor cover one eye, R could do it no problem. Crazy, huh?!? The doctor had me look at R's eyes when he was doing some "center line" tests (making R look right in front of him) and showed me that his left eye moves from side to side very slightly in an effort to focus and work with his right eye. I was amazed. The doctor put his hand on my arm and said, R is making his eye focus. He's trying to get it in the middle. He does this every second and every minute of every day. He is working so hard just to see. I nearly burst out crying! My poor baby!!
The good news is that glasses will help the farsighted and astigmatism, which will make it easier for him to see and should lessen his headaches. We still had to get him to the vision therapist to get going on the whole working-as-a-team issues. (did you count that he has THREE things wrong with his vision! Can you believe it?)
So, here's this week's appointment schedule:
Tuesday: 2-hour vision therapy evaluation, get fitted for glasses
Wed: Total physical by pediatrician
Thurs: 7:00 AM CT scan
Next week is the allergist; the dentist is in three weeks. I think he has allergies similar to mine and I think that he clenches his jaw at night like I do when he's stressed. Stay tuned...
By the way, I'm looking into doing the vision therapy at home. There are some books, software, and kits that I can buy online. I'd like to work with him everyday for 30-minutes on it at home instead of twice a week for an hour at the office. R already feels like he "has no time to play" between hockey and Cub Scouts. I don't want to overschedule him. He'd have no free days if we go to the vision therapist. However, if I don't think we can do it at home or if we start and it doesn't look like it's working, we'll march him right over!
Monday, September 11, 2006
T: Mom, you're the best mom any boy could ever have.
Me: Oh, thank you T; your a great son too.
T: Well, that's because you're such a good mom.
Me: Ahhh, thanks T. You are such a good son.
T: You deserve it mom.
In the car on the way home from practice, T said:
T: We learned all sorts of things about the letter "A", mom. Things I never knew before!
Me: What did you learn?
T: So many things...like that "A" makes two kinds of sounds -- a long sound and a short sound. And lots of words start with "A" and lots of more things that I can't even think about now.
Me: That's pretty great, T. Mrs. Edwards is a great teacher.
T: She's the best kindergarten teacher I've ever had!
At dinner tonight, T said something that makes me wonder if he gets a finder's fee or something:
T:Mom, don't you hate it when you try to fit everything in your closet and you can't fit it all?
Me: I suppose, but I have a nice big closet now.
T: Well, you can have even more room in that closet for the low price of 19.99.
T: Yeah, you can buy this thing that you hook up to an ordinary vacume...and they'll give you two large bags, three medium bags, and one extra large bag absolutely free! Can you believe it? It's not available in stores, though.
Me: That sounds pretty cool, T
T: Yeah, are you going to get it. It is a low price....
Me: I'll have to think about it
Thursday, September 07, 2006
T: Mom, you're taking me to kindergarten, right?
Me: Right, T. I'll hold your hand and walk you into the classroom.
T: Right. Good.
Two hours later....
T: Mommy, you're not going to work, right? Because, you know, today is the first day of kindegarten and you told me you'd take me in.
Me: You got it, T. I'll be right there with you.
So, it came time and we loaded up in the car (me, M, and T), drove to the school, parked the car, and walked hand-in-hand-in-hand into the school. We waited outside the classroom with other slightly nervous kids and their parents (some of the parents were slightly nervous too, I could tell.) We parents introduced ourselves to each other and tried to introduce the kids to each other..."Oh, hi Jimmy, it's nice to meet you. This is T, he's in your class too." T looked down at the ground; Jimmy looked down at the ground; the other mothers and I just smiled and shrugged (what are you going to do?)
When it came time to charge, I mean walk into the room, it was a bit chaotic. There were moms, dads, kids, backpacks, newly purchased school supplies, and papers to turn in everywhere. It was a bit chaotic. All the moms and dads were carrying their kids' backpacks and the teacher was announcing that the Children Should Carry Their Own Back packs. It's Their Responsibility Now Moms!
After the backpacks were hung up and the papers handed in and the school supplies put away, the kids were told to get a book and sit on the carpet and look at the book. M and I took that as a cue for the parents to leave. We gave little T a kiss and told him that we'd meet his bus after school. He had a bit of the deer-in-the-headlight look on him, but I knew he'd be fine.
He had a smile on his face after school and even sang us a song about an acorn, along with this question:
T: Mom, do you know what the part of the acorn that a squirrel eats is called?
Me: No, what is it called?
T: The "squirrel meat!" Isn't that crazy? I learned that in kindergarten!
Yes, that's crazy...and I love kindergarten.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
We had to walk through the parking lot and I have a you-must-hold-my-hand-in-the-parking-lot rule, so R grabbed my hand. After we crossed the parking lot and started seeing some other "big" kids, he looked at me and pulled his hand away a bit. I said, "you don't have to hold my hand here if you don't want to." He gave me a little smile and a nod and held on to my hand firmly. As we walked into the foyer of the school, we saw two kids from hockey and cub scouts... Hmmm, I thought, what will happen now with the holding-hand thing? He looked up at me with a little smile as he pulled his hand out of mine, and said "Hey, Andrew, Hey Zach!" We all chatted a bit about the summer while we waited for the principal to let us in the hallway. As soon as she let us in and we joined the crush of people, R grabbed my hand again as he strolled past his old kindergarten and first grade classes, confidently saying Hi to his teachers of years gone by. He's a big kid now, my boy. (But he still needs his mom.)
After school, I asked how it went. "It was great. I love it. I can't wait to go back tomorrow!"
That's what I like to hear....
More tomorrow about T's big day at kindergarten.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
R was realy nervous about riding his bike. The second time out, in the Spring, R wore a lot of his hockey gear (elbow pads, knee pads, gloves) to protect himself from getting hurt. This time out (last week) M gave R a pep-talk explaining that he had to have confidence in himself. As I took the picture above, I could hear R saying under his breath "I can DO it. I can Do it. I can DO it." We've taken him out a few time since and he can even start by himself. R says, " I can ride two miles without any help, maybe even six miles. I'm really good now." I'm so proud of my bike-riding-boy!
Friday, August 25, 2006
It seems that a bathroom stall door had fallen off its hinges onto T's head. M became aware of this by the blood-curtling scream that T let out on his way to go to the bathroom. M bolted away from his table at the restaurant right outside the bathroom door and went into the rest room, finding T on the floor with the door on top of him. He had stopped screaming by then, and was looking a bit removed from the situation. He already had a big 'ol bump on his head and now has some beautiful colors around the bump.
The manager of the restaurant wasn't there, so M made the waitress write down what had happened so that there was a record of it...just in case.
After getting a baggy of ice to put on the bump, M loaded the kids in the car and started heading toward the hospital, which would mean that he would pass my office.
"Do you want me to pick you up on the way?" M asked.
This was a tough one. OF COURSE I wanted to go, but I also had a job to do, which meant leading a meeting from 8:30-10:00 (he called at 8:20.)
My mind raced....Is this something where I'm needed? Or Is it just something little and M's just taking him just to confirm that everythingis okay. M assured me that it didn't seem too bad -- T was talking coherently and whimpering a bit because it hurt. M said his pupils were fine too, but he wanted to have him checked out anyway.
What to do....What to do?
I asked to talk to T. "Hi T, how are you doing?" I asked
"Not good, mom" he said, "the ice isn't even working! It still hurts." (He actually sounded pretty good to me...a little pain was expected when a door falls on one's head.)
I talks to M again and he said, "hon, it's probably nothing." Okay, I said. You go and I'll go to this meeting. I'll call you when it's over and if needed, I'll join you at the hospital." After all, he probably won't even be in to see a doctor over the next hour and a half.
So I went and led the meeting.
As soon as I got back to my desk, I called M's phone -- no answer. Three minutes later, I called again, no answer. Two minutes later, I called again -- no answer. Now, I asked him to leave his phone on even though the signs at hospitals say to turn them off. Hmmmm...now my stomach was hurting. Where are they? What's going on? I should have gone!!! (It turns out that he didn't have reception at the hospital. He had left the phone on.)
I googled the hospital's phone number, got patched through to the ER, and got patched right on into Examining Room #1. M answered the phone and sounded worried.
It seems that T had not passed the hopping test. They had him hop on one foot and he would fall over after two hops each time. Now, this is a boy who has been hopping and skipping since he was two years old! This lack of balance is a symptom of a concussion. He was waiting for the doctor to come in with his test results.
To find out if he had one or not, my little baby had to have an MRI. They tried to tell M that he couldn't be in there with T, but M would have nothing of that.
He told them, "Look, I am going to be in here, so if you want to get me a lead apron, that would be fine, but I am staying with my boy." T was nervous to go in the machine that the nurse called the "big donut." But my baby boy did okay.
While M was telling me this, he told me "honey, I used the visualization technique that we used on you when you were in labor. I took T to his happy place."
"Oh, where is his happy place?" I asked.
He answered, "I just took him to your happy place, I figured he'd like it there too. I took him to the beach and described the warm, warm sand and the cool water lapping at the beach. He liked it there and he did great." What a great dad!
So, T does have a mild concussion. We've been watching him all day and making him take it easy. He hated it when R got to go outside and play "monkey in the middle" with the neighbor kids and T had to stay inside with me. Evidently, the "Benji" movie we watched together, making cookies with me, and doing a pottery project with me just didn't make up for the monkey-in-the-middle-fun that his brother was having. "It's NOT Faaiiiirrrrr!" he would wail at different moments throughout the afternoon.
M and I will be taking turns waking T up every couple of hours tonight to make sure that he is okay. I told T that we'd wake him up a few times in the middle of the night and ask him some questions. "What kind of questions?" he asked, looking a bit worried -- like it was a test and he wouldn't know the answers. I told him that we'd just ask him something like what is his name or what is the name of his dog. He looked at me for a minute, "My real dog or my stuffed animal dogs?" he asked.
I think that he's going to be just fine.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
R's birthday was a week ago today (I know, I'm a bit slow here!). He's getting so big! The above picture just cracks me up -- a tie dye shirt with a gun?? The funny thing is that this picture represents him so exactly -- he loves guns, any kind of guns . But he hates the idea of hurting people and he wears his heart on his sleeve.
Last year, R took up reading by storm. He reads everything possible -- signs, lables, blog comments, and of course, books. (Sometimes he watches over my shoulder while I read blogs and check the comments on my blog. I had to hide his birthday-list blog so that he couldn't read the CaliforniaGrammy comment about his present.) He used to be really proud of this ability to read, visibly proud. I'm sure he's still proud, but he's much more non-chalant about the whole thing. It's like, of course he can read.
He is sooo looking forward to hockey this year. I can't belive it's his third season! Amazing!
He looks up to his dad so much and wants to be just like him. Besides being just like dad, he also wants to be a pilot, a police officer, and a soldier. Such ambition!
He's like a fish in the water and just recently earned a dollar for swimming from one dock to the other at the yacht club (about the length of a swimming pool). He gave up a couple of times, but after his little brother made it, he quickly jumped back in to try again -- and made it.
R is very dramatic. I little injury means that he's dyyyyinnnngg. Can you tell that he isn't too happy with the rain on this boat trip?
Along the same vein as his drama is his ENTHUSIASM. When he is excited. He. Just. Can't. Contain. Himself. He jumps up and down quickly and kind of shakes his hands in front of himself, all the while having a gigantic grin on his face.
Friday, July 28, 2006
- We left home at about 10:30 and arrived on The Island at about 3:45. That timing's not too bad considering that we made five bathroom stops (all at McDonald's along the way) because T thought that he was going to have "emergency poops" (our family name for diarrhea). T had been sick the previous two days and his tummy still wasn't better, but thankfully, no emergency poops -- just an unhappy tummy.
- Seeing the ferry made everybody happy. I love the customer service of the Shepler's Ferry -- they valet park the car for the duration of your stay; carry everything and load the ferry; then bicycle your luggage (all 8 pieces, including a box of snacks/food and a cooler) to the hotel. (There are no cars on the island, so bikes and horses are the only means of transportation.)
- We checked in with the Race Committee to learn that they probably weren't going to be in during the night, so we spent time on the beach throwing rocks and had a nice dinner outside watching the ferries come and go.
- After putting the kids to bed, I made rum-and-cokes for me and cousin J, who stayed in our room for the night. She was on the island waiting for cousin B, who was on the same boat as M (al in the family!)
Here's T on the ferry, happy to be going to the island.
There are so many beautiful flowers on the island.
- I got a call from M on Monday morning at 8:00 saying that he thought they'd finish in an hour to an hour and a half. We all got dressed, ate yogurt and Special K bars, and headed out to the finish line.
- They finished at 9:15 and we were so proud! It's fun to wait on the beach on the finish line with all of the other wives and kids. Lots of anticipation in the air, with people struggling to determine which boat is which coming under the Mackinac Bridge. M and his boat finished a very respectable fourth. Congrats team!
- After watching them finish, we hurried over to the marina to greet them at the dock. They were all tired, dirty, smelly, and hungry, but very happy to be in. Of course, they all had to do all of the post-race work of getting the sails folded and the lines coiled.
- Uncle B promised to buy breakfast if we all made it to the restaurant by 11:00. It was one hungry crew at that table!
- M needed a nap (to say the least!) so we all slept for two hours, and then the boys and I crept out so that M could sleep for another two,
- We had a great time after he woke up just walking around the island and having a wonderful dinner out lakeside at a great restaurant. (I had scallops and tasty wine; M had prime rib, and the boys had kid food -- mac and cheese and chicken strips.) We were all dressed up in our going-out-to-dinner-on-the-island-clothes.
- A nice ice cream cone eaten while watching the sunset topped off the night.
The boys and cousin J listening while Uncle B calls in his finish on the marine radio.
A beautiful finish by the lighthouse.
- M's brother D finished the race at about 3:00 in the morning. When we woke up, we met him and his girlfriend for breakfast. After breakfast we gave them the key to our room so he could shower and take a nap. We headed off of for the island tour.
- This is a tour that the boys and I took last year while M was sleeping. M wanted to go with us this year and it was a lot of fun. The tour is via a horse-drawn carriage and goes through downtown, the butterfly house (T's favorite), arch rock, and the fort (R's favorite.)
- After the tour we went to the annual anniversary party of a couple that M has known for years. They got married the Sunday after the Mac race 10 years ago and celebrate every year on the island.
- Then nap time.
- Then party time on the boat, which M hosted. We hauled up from home the rum, cokes, crackers and cheese, and bought some chips and salsa at the little island store by the marina. T was dreading the party because it would be "boring" but it ended up being on his list of favorite things from the trip. The boys got to run around the big boat, playing on deck and down below. They even got to take a quick dip in cold Lake Huron with Uncle D!
- Dinner with Uncle B topped off the day. We made reservations early (6:30) so that it would be a reasonable hour for the boys (the rest of the crew had reservations at 9:00) but we didn't end up leaving the restaurant until after 9:00. The poor boys almost fell asleep in their chairs. But, as usual, they were very well mannered and got lots of compliments (as they did the whole trip).
The horses that pulled our carriage. Much to T's relief, they didn't "toot" the whole way so he didn't have to hold his nose the entire ride like he did last year.
We were each honored to have the butterflies land on our heads.
R was one of the lucky ones to have two butterflies land at the same time.
The trick was to be able to take your hat off so that you could see the butterfly that landed on you -- without the butterfly flying away. Both boys were successful at this amazing feat.
M and the boys overlooking Lake Huron. I made the fruitless suggestion that M take off his glasses so we could see his eyes.
More to come....
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
We've done lots of fun things on the island and have eaten lots of good food -- including ice cream and fudge, of course. We're going to the Mainland today and will head up into the UP (Upper Peninsula) for a bit. M will go on over to Wisconcin and for two more races next weekend and the boys and I will head home on Friday. I'll blog more then!
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Okay, about last weekend... Two things came together that named the weekend "train weekend." The first thing is that I promised T that we'd ride a real steam train this summer. Real, as in real-size, not those small ones that they have at the zoo. T loves steam trains. To my chagrin, he is over Thomas the Tank Engine because he's not real. (There goes about $600 worth of toys and videos! Well, at least they lasted for two kids -- and T has been into them way longer than R ever was.) T loves steam trains so much that he actually got tears in his eyes when I broke it to him that they don't run any more and you can only see them in train museums. He's going to fix this when he grows up, though. He's going to run a steam train that is a store and he's going to sell his train drawings and train models. Anyway, last summer I read about a train museum about an hour and a half away, so I marked it on the calendar that last Saturday we'd go to see that steam train.
The second reason it was train weekend was that we rode the train into Chicago, where we met M's mom and she took the boys on another train out to her house. Yes, you counted right...three trains in one weekend! A steam train, an Amtrak, and a double-decker commuter train.
We had a great time at the museum. The train that we rode is beautiful, but very slow. Even T got bored on it a bit because we went so slow. He and R did enjoy the museum, especially the Pulman first class car from the 1940's that had stateroom in it. There was also a great model railroad with a bunch of trains running on it that used to take up a man's entire basement -- he worked on it for over 30 years until the day he died, so they say.
The very best highlight of that museum is that housed there is the actual train that is the Polar Express. It's the train that was the model for the movie. It's in the barn right now, getting all repaired for the Snow Train excursions that it does in the winter. Boy oh boy, were the boys excited to see that train, and boy oh boy is that engine HUGE! The coolest story of all about that train is that it's number 1225 and it has been that number all it's life, even before it was the model for the Polar Express. (12-25, get it? Christmas.)
The next day was the trip to Chicago. The boys had fun on that train too. They especially enjoyed the snack bar car :> T was a little sad about leaving me for three days, but he held up pretty well and only cried a bit when he saw gramma and realized that I was leaving. He also told me that he cried at her house for awhile, but then he "got a better attitude." I turned the kids over at the train station, waited two more hours for my return train, and then took the three-hour trip back home. That was a lot of train time for me! The boys went to Gram's house because I had a three-day business trip and M had a boat race. They all had a great time at Gram's house. R was really excited about it even before we left, and T had fun too.
Here they are waiting for the train. It was over a half an hour late. Notice T's newest train t-shirt? It's has a picture of the 1225 on it.
R was Mr. Cool on the train.
T enjoyed his yogurt and other snacks during the ride. He also enjoyed watching the freight trains whiz past us as we went along our way.
This weekend is the big race -- Chicago to Mackinac Island. M started the race today at about noon. The boys and I will drive up to the island tomorrow morning (it's about a 5 hour drive for us) and will take the ferry to the island. Hopefully, it will be a fast race and M will get there either late Sunday night or early Monday morning. I hope he comes in at a time when the boys and I can go out and watch him come in -- it's very exciting and fun. You can keep track of his fleet at this website http://trackinfo.fistracking.com/mac2006/. He's in the GL70 fleet (that stands for Great Lakes 70-feet.) His boat. Pororoca, doesn't have a tracking devise, but we can guess that he's somewhere near the fleet. You never know how they're going to do. Two races ago, they did great -- first in the fleet and third overall after handicaps were taken into consideration. Last week, they were last in their fleet. I just hope they get there safely and soon!
Here's the website that can give you all the details of the race. You can even find M's boat and see his name on it.
I got this photo from the website. It shows some of the boats starting the race. I think that these are about half the length of M's boat. Isn't it beautiful with the city in the background?
This picture has nothing to do with the subject of this blog, but I sure thought that it was a cute one of T and my zinias...
Friday, July 14, 2006
R reminded me today that it's only 18 days until his birthday. Accordingly, he has written a birthday wish list. Here it is:
- Power Rangers Magi Staff
- Lazer Tag
- Ultimate Power Super Man Action Figure
- Game Boy
There are other things that he wants, but he can't think of them right now. I'll add it to the blog when he remembers.
Friday, July 07, 2006
M got home in the morning and took a quick three hour nap and was good to go. While he napped, I packed everything up for our trip to his folks' house. The drive was a really long one -- six and a half hours, but it was great to get there and jump in the lake. After a nice dip, we had yummy hot dogs and polish dogs out on their newly built (and beautiful) deck.
The next day, Sunday, was the day of The Party. All of M's brothers were there, even the one from Colorado (with his family). So, as R mentioned, it was another weekend of cousins! When all the cousins get together in the Smith family, it's four boys and one girl (just like in my family.) It rained all morning and into the early afternoon, which had a lot of us worried about the party. But, just as people were about to eat and we were trying to find room for everyone inside, the sun came out from the clouds and we were able to eat on the deck. You should have seen the food spread -- lots of tasty food everywhere you looked!
After dinner, we all headed back down to the beach and stayed there for a few hours. Finally, it got dark, and we were able to have the Firework Show of the Century. M is Mr. Safety, so he lined up all of the chairs a safe distance from the beach, got a bucket and a hose out and ready - and got the fireworks all set out on a table. I made sure that we were all as bug-proofed as we could get -- long pants, long shirts, socks and shoes (with socks over pant hems) and bug spray everywhere. T, M and I were fine, but as usually, sweet R got 7 bites that night! Poor guy. But, he says it was worth it to see the great firework show that M and his brothers put on. It was really fabulous! I love to see those things shoot up in the air and light up the sky :>
Speaking of lighting up the sky, you should have seen the amazing show that was put on right here in our small time. It was incredible! The different fireworks kept going up so fast, that M said "this is like a finale the whole show!" That firework show was after sitting all day watching an incredible six-hour air show. It was really a great show, with the Thunderbirds and the Canadian Snowbirds as the highlight, and of course, the great other arial acts including a wing-walker. Yikes! We booked it back home on Monday night so that we could see the air show here in town. (The drive back only took 3 1/2 hours, a lot better than the long trip there!
We had a really fun day at the air show, but it was hot. Because it was in an air field, there was no shade, so we brought lots of drinks, but also bought water to drink and pour over our heads (the boys loved that part as they pretended to not like it. "Not again mom!"
All in all it was a fun weekend!
Here are the five cousins all eating dinner. You can't see G too well, but this was the best picture I could get at the time!
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Some time over the weekend, we'll light the $200 (or so) worth of fireworks that M and his brothers have bought for our enjoyment. I love lighting the really big ones that shoot up in the air and explode over the lake -- just like the professionals :>
We'll come back on the morning of the 4th to see the really cool air show that is in town this weekend. Have a good weekend everybody!
Here's a cute picture of C and T dressed up as dogs during the Varners visit last weekend -- just something to make you smile.
And another picture of the four boys. Don't you wonder what each one is thinking? They all have such different expressions on their faces!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
My sister left yesterday after a fun action-packed four day visit. Here are some of the things that we did:
- Visited the zoo and pet the giraffes. (Everybody loved this, especially KL)
- Went to the park and climbed the rock-climbing walls
- Visited the Amish farmer's market and bought tasty cookies and apple-cinnamon bread
- Went to the local museum
- Spent a day at "the club" -- swimming, sailing, playing in the sand, and bbqing
- Jen helped me move all of my scrapping and card-making materials into my newly finished craft room (we had fun organizing the suplies into baskets and drawers and cupboards)
- J and I went to a card-making class
- K and I made cards in the craft room
- J helped R with some video-game tricks on the Nintendo. He was right when he told R, "I'm pretty good at video games, I can probably help you out a bit."
- A major super-soaker fight between all five kids
- Lots of grilling - hot dogs, hamburgers, salmon
- Lots of great breakfasts -- eggs, pancakes, donuts, apple-cinnamon bread, tasty cereal
- Plenty of good conversation between me and my sister :> (enhanced by a variety of tasty wine coolers -- and a lot of them based on the full recycling bin in the garage!)
By the end of the visit, we were all quite satisfied with our cousin fix and all very tired. All of the cousins wanted the stay to last longer.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Happy Father's Day to my dad. He's taught me so many things over the years, that it's hard to narrow them down to the ten top things that he's taught me, but here it goes...
10. Dad always said that if you can read, you can learn to do anything. So, I thank my dad for giving me my love for reading. Dad is a reader too -- and he likes to have books too. I love to be surrounded by books (I dream of one day having a library with bookshelves from floor to ceiling and one of those cool sliding-ladders hooked on so I can grab any book at any time. Of course, all the books would be in alpha order by author and/or subject.)
9. Dad also gave me a love for business and I probably got my business sense from him. Although, he would have loved for me to start my own business as a child (I remember something about making and selling lollipops when I was eight years old) or joined his business, I know he is proud of my career and my success in the corporate world (which is a hard world for him to get along in, the entrepreneur that he is.)
8. One thing that I always knew growing up is that I was very much loved by my parents. Dad would tell me many times a day that he loved me and that he was proud of me. When he was especially proud of me, he would slap my knee about five times really fast, and give me some great, enthusiastic words of praise. Although my knee would be numb, I would be happy knowing that he was so happy. I have incorporated this enthusiastic love into my parenting skills -- minus the knee slapping.
7. I learned from my dad's experience that it is a good idea to wear a retainer when the orthodontist says that you should. My dad had years of braces, then didn't wear his retainer, and now has crooked teeth. Thanks for taking one for the team dad, I wore my retainer night and day and have straight teeth.
6. I watched my dad be spontaneous over the years and I saw what joy it brought him. I'm not as spontaneous as he is, but the spontaneity that I have must come from him. Mom, remember when we were packing for that camping trip and you and dad went to the grocery store. Remember how he saw that ad for a boat for sale -- and you came home from the store with a boat to tow on our trip? I know that wasn't mom's idea. It had to be dads.
5. I really enjoyed spending time with my dad one-on-one when I was a kid. I can remember singing with him while he played the guitar, or hanging out together on Friday nights when mom came home late from the bank. I even remember helping him practice a lesson that he was going to give in a Bible Study class. From that, I learned that in addition to fun family time, it's special to spend one-on-one quality time with your children.
4. I can whip up some mean scrambled eggs, putting in whatever ingredients I have in the fridge and pantry. Dad's "mystery eggs" (as in, "can you guess what is in here?") taught me that it's okay to have some freedom when it comes to cooking eggs.
3. He taught me to "close the gate", which means that you need to finish the job once you start it. This phrase comes from a story long ago, when I was nine years old, and I was in charge of opening and closing the gate on Sunday night when my dad took the garbage down the driveway. The tricky part of this job was keeping our dog, Kruggie, inside the backyard. Well, one Sunday, I got stabbed by one of the wires on the gate and started bleeding and crying, saying I needed to go into the house, but dad told me that I needed to stay and close the gate. At the time, I thought he was mean, but not many years later, I learned that he taught me one of the biggest lessons of my life -- responsibility. And, for that, I am thankful.
2. When growing up, my dad would tell me and my sister that a happy marriage takes work. I heard it often enough that I would eventually just nod my head and say, I know dad. I know that he wasn't trying to say that marriage was hard work, but that one shouldn't take it for granted or take the person you're married to for granted. I'm thankful to him for showing my mom the respect and love that she deserves...which allows me to show my husband the love and respect that he deserves.
1. Finally, the number one thing that dad taught me is that Life is an Adventure; enjoy the ride and love the people that are on the adventure with you!
I love you so much Dad! Happy Father's Day :>
photo credit: my mom 2006
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Enter this oh-so-quaint yacht club about an hour away from us. It's absolutely wonderful. There is a beautiful old club house that used to be someone's lake house back in the 1920's or something like that. It has a big old family room and a nice sized sun porch. Upstairs are two apartments that members can rent for a week at a time each summer -- hopefully we'll be able to do that next year. There is a kitchen for the apartments, with two of everything - two sinks, two fridges, two stoves -- for the weekly renters. And there is a big kitchen for the club members to use when they are there -- and, of course it's used to cook the dinners and lunches that the club has too.
There is a little sandy beach (they bring in sand) with a grassy portion too. The lake only comes up to R and T's belly-buttons, so it's perfect for swimming for them. There is also a playground (albeit old, but still fun for kids.) Behind the house is a shed that has all sorts of water toys, which are available for the club members' kids...the boys sure love that! There is a whole bunch of picnic tables, patio furniture, and lounge chairs scattered around the beach and patio area. It's so quaint, it looks like a page out of the 1950's social clubs or something.
Oh yeah, and there are sailboats, docked on very nice SOLID docks. They race the boats a couple of times a month.
Okay, that's the backstory. Here's my real story...
Last Friday night, M had the opportunity to sail on Lake Erie, something he's never done before. We got a babysitter for Friday morning (I have half days on Friday's now that it's summer) because M had to be at the boat in Ohio at noon. His race started at 5:00 in the evening and he sailed all night, getting to the finish line around 3:00 in the morning. After a nap, he headed back home and we saw him around dinner time.
On Sunday, our club had a brunch. We had a bunch of things to do around the house, but we figured we should go to the brunch since we're new members. We want to meet other members and be social. We brought swim suits just in case we wanted to take a quick dip in the lake. As we were eating our tasty brunch, one of the other members asked M if he was going to race that day. M told him that we didn't have our sails back from the sailmaker, so we couldn't sail yet. "No problem, I have an extra boat you can race. It will be fun." M looked at me with excited eyes, and I said, sure why not? (I was to leave on a three night business trip the next day, but luckily had done all of the laundry while M snoozed the night before. All I had to do was throw it in a suitcase.)
These boats that they raced took two people to sail, so R was M's crew! R had a great time. They sailed three races that took four hours (from 1-5pm). Of course, R had on his life vest. Safety first!
T played on the beach -- he started off by himself, but then joined the other boys.
T had a great time splashing and swimming in the water and making sand castles, while I hung out on the beach watching him play in the water. I also got to chat with some of the other wives who were on the shore. T and I made a quick trip to the local general market to grab some food since we didn't plan on being there for so long. Here's a picture of M and R getting ready to get the sails up and head to the starting line. The picture below it is of the other boats getting ready to head out.
Here are all the boats out on the race.
M and R hung in there on the races, even taking a third place (out of 7 boats) for one of the races! They had a break in between the 2nd and 3rd races, so they came ashore. That's when T said that he wanted to sail too. So, M had both boys on the boat for the last race......which means...that I, for hte first time since having kids.....was able to read a book on the beach!!! One of my all-time favorite past times. How nice :>
All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.