Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August!

Oh my gosh, it's August 2nd.  Where the heck did that come from?
School just let out for the summer the other day, right? 
What?  That was 8 WEEKS ago?
What have I been doing these past 2 months?

Oh yeah.




Swimming,



camping,



grilling,





traveling,


birthday parties,


the park,


the lake,


grandparents' house,







finishing the fence,


working,


babysitting, 


puppysitting,



fireworks,

Cub Scouts,

Slip 'n Slides,

doctor appointments,

and everything else that goes

with have 3 kids.






Whew!   



Actually, I am really looking forward to school starting back up again.
Archie will be a 4th grader, Ichabod will be in first grade, and Roland will start Kindergarten. 
All three boys will be in school full time.
I can't wait!

I've gotten most of the school supply shopping done already. Both Archie and Ichabod want to use their backpacks from last year (which have held up miraculously well) so just Roland will need a brand new one.

I have 3 paper bags filled to the top with each of the boys required items.
Notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers,
school boxes, scissors, calculators, binders,
markers, colored pencils, glue sticks, rulers,
folders, highlighters, paint shirts, disinfecting wipes,
Kleenexes, and anything else the
school has deemed necessary to succeed academically. 





One final thing to be purchased: each of my boys will get to pick out
one new shirt to wear for the first day of school.



Oh, yes. I am excited. 



35 days and counting... 





Roland: Hi, John!
Brian: I'm not John. I'm Brian.
Roland: Well....you're both black.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Busy Summer!

I have not blogged in awhile. We have been ridiculously busy.
August is a mere 3 days away and it is set to be our busiest month yet.



Archie leaves for Cub Scout Camp on Sunday, so today and tomorrow will be spent prepping for that. Gathering items from a page long list, making sure he has the neccessary flaslight, sunscreen, bug spray and a camera to record his adventures.



Later today, Archie and my daycare boy will be setting up the tent they will be sleeping in. They are going to do it themselves, I will just direct. They will have parent help once the get to camp, but I want them to have a basic understanding of how to do it as well.




Once they advance to Boy Scouts in two years, the parental guidance fades away and they are expected to stand on their own two feet during many of their activities. It's one of the reasons why I like scouting; giving the boys a foundation to become independent and self reliant.



This will be the first time Archie has gone away overnight without being with family (excluding the little sleepovers he has with a friend here in town). I was suprised he felt comfortable going as he is not the most adventurous child. I am looking forward to hearing how his weekend goes. I do know this, he will be one tired kid when he gets back. 






Ichabod: Mom, my arm hurts.
Me: Why does your arm hurt?
Ichabod: Because my arm fell asleep and then I woke it up and now it's angry with me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Red River Valley

The Red River Valley Fair is in town!
 This elicits a number of feelings in people.

Many think of rides.

Caution: do not eat before going on this ride


Many think of food.

Love onions, not a fan of the blossom



Mmmmmm



(my favorite)


Some may prefer the games:

Might be cheaper just to hand him a few bucks and walk away



Because these prizes are so worth it!


 
And still others (like my mom) prefer the animals:

Where's Wilbur?



Oh, there he is :)



This calf is adorable


I see the fair a bit differently.


They are forecasting a temperature of 95 degrees tomorrow, with a heat index of 105. That's not just a bit warm, that's freakin' hot.


 

That's heat stroke hot.

Which wouldn't be so bad if you were spending all your time on the rides; there's a nice breeze as your body is being whipped back and forth 30 feet in the air.

This is completely safe. Yep.

But no, what do you spend MOST of your time doing at the fair? Waiting in line.


Which my older two do remarkably well.  At first. But even the most patient kid in the world gets tired of it after a few hours. My youngest, on the other hand, has the attention span of a goldfish.  Waiting in line for longer than 30 seconds is torturous.

Additionally, my youngest son does not do well in large crowds of people. He gets over stimulated (read:REALLY naughty) so I tend to avoid those situations unless I can take him one-on-one.

Like this except Roland doesn't turn into a blueberry.
Now add to that the amount of money one would reasonably spend at the fair (because if you're going to go, you might as well make it worth the trouble). Admission prices, a treat or two and tickets for rides. Now multiply that by 3 because that's how many kids I have. Also, add to that the fact that I intentionally cut back my hours at work to spend time with my boys this summer (and I don't regret it but it does mean I don't have extra money for unnecessary things).  I am doing daycare, yes, but only for 2 and I'm not charging the full amount because I think daycare prices these days are ridiculous.  (But that's a whole different blog post.)


So. I did not tell my boys the fair was in town. Instead, we are going to their grandparent's house this weekend and will enjoy their fantastic working A/C. (Ours sucks something awful.)  We may play a few water games outside and perhaps visit the beach. For free.  And I refuse to feel guilty about it.


Besides, the Douglas County Fair is in August.




Roland: Mom, would you be really mad if I accidentally dumped this water on the floor?
Me: No. I wouldn't be mad if it was an accident.
Roland: What would you be?
Me: I would be frustrated.
Roland: What's frustrated?
Me: Frustrated is when I say - Roland, go play!
Roland: Yeah, and then you go like this: (sighs heavily and rolls his eyes)

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Real Fourth of July

So, after our adventures with tornadoes, the fireworks show was rescheduled for the following night. Ichabod again decided not to go. Archie and Roland were excited, as was Archie's friend who was spending the night. I filled a backpack with water bottles and snacks and tossed 2 blankets in the van. We met at my parent's house again and all rode together in their 12 passenger van. (The 12 passenger was actually a downsized vehicle. They used to own a 15 passenger Econoline Van. I learned to drive on that behemoth.) 

Try parallel parking this beast!


 Oddly enough, we found parking immediately, and very close by the field. The bleachers were already quite full, which was fine as we had no intention of sitting in them anyway. We all trooped to our usual spot next to the flagpole and spread our our numerous blankets (all 13 of us wouldn't fit on just one or two blankets). PJ and Little Red arrived shortly thereafter, as did another friend of mine.

(My family doesn't seem to be able to do things in small numbers.)

Once we all got settled, there was still some waiting time before the show started. Amidst the chit chat and munching on snacks, I watched the American Flag. It was huge, for starters. And there was a perfect breeze to keep lowing lazily in the wind. It truly was beautiful, and downright mesmerizing. The motion was fluid,  reminding me of watching the waves in the ocean.

This doesn't do it justice.

There was something about watching that flag that made me proud to be an American. Leave all your arguments about war being right our wrong, or whether or not our president is doing a good job or a million other things people like to debate. I am proud to live where I live.





The show started right at 10:30, and it was amazing. Well worth the wait.
I lay on our blanket in the grass, cuddling with Roland while professionals blew up things in the sky and our flag was flying in the wind. It was a perfect night.







Archie: Stop pretending you're perfect, Roland. You're not God, you know.
Roland: I could totally beat up God.
Archie: No you couldn't! God could make your head explode if he wanted to! 
 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Independence Day Fireworks

     I'm a little late catching up with my blogging, I meant to post this one right after the fourth of July but I keep getting distracted (darn you, Minecraft!) But, better late than never. (Right?)
    
     The fourth was a Monday and I normally work at the group home every other weekend (Friday and Saturday overnights). However, my boss was going out of town and needed someone to cover her day shift on Monday and I just couldn't pass up time and a half. My only stipulation with taking the shift was I needed to be done at 9pm instead of 10pm so I could take the boys to the fireworks at MSUM. My boss convinced the night staff to come in early, so it all worked out. The 14 hour shift went by relatively fast (8am- 9pm) and I spent most of day looking forward to enjoying the fireworks that evening. This would be Archie's 3rd year going, and Roland's first. Ichabod is completely terrified of fireworks and has steadfastly refused to go. Even when we were doing the little fireworks at home the other day, he was nervous. I had purchased a few boxes of snappers (the little wads of paper you throw to the ground and they pop) and he was semi-okay with those, but still managed to plug his ears while throwing them.



     Anyway, Ichabod decided to opt out. One part of me is sad that he misses out, another part of me is happy that he isn't bowing to peer pressure to attend when he really doesn't want to. Stick to your convictions kid! It's a good thing.

So, 9pm rolls around and I pause for a few moments to chat with the staff coming on duty and then head out the door. I race home, change into pants, gather a few necessities (mainly a blanket to sit on), and herd the boys out the door. We pull up to my parent's house and hop out, everyone is excited and milling around. (My parents have 5 kids still living at home, all under high school age). A few of them have friends over, plus there are a handful of neighbors and such.  They have gathered to light off a few fireworks in the street before heading off to MSUM. It's a bona fide crowd. And then it happens:

     The tornado sirens go off.........CRAP!

There is a rush of parents gathering kids and shooing them to their respective homes. I wave my two into their grandparent's house and begin helping my dad gather chairs and unspent fireworks to throw into the garage. In the midst of the chaos I also call my friend, PJ, who was meeting us at the college. He was already there with a munchkin of his own. We establish they have cancelled the fireworks for the night and they are urging everyone to leave the campus and find shelter.  PJ asks to come over as he lives over in Fargo and my parent's house is closer. I tell him yes and ask him to call me when he gets closer so I can direct him. I pop inside to check out the radar on TV. Some fantastic weather heading our way with three or four spots that could produce tornados. Back outside again with my dad to check the sky.  It had taken on a decidedly purplish color. We shooed in a stray kid or two and PJ arrives with Little Red in tow.  Fireworks were cancelled for the evening but God had other plans.



It was spectacular!


Unfortunately the kids couldn't see it because we didn't allow them out of the basement until the danger had passed. There ended up being a tornado touch down a few towns over but no one was injured and no property damage.  It was an eventful Fourth, with or without fireworks.







DMV Lady: Hi! How old are you?
Ichabod: I'm five.
DMV Lady: Wow. You're really big!
Ichabod: Like your mom!

Friday, July 8, 2011

AAARG!

So those of you that know and love me are aware that I am writing a book, and have been for many...many......many years. The same book. I truly am the queen of procrastination.




I started this book when I was 10. I was going through a heavy Stephen King phase and managed to kill off every charater in the book by the third chapter without even knowing who the killer was. To say the book has gone through a few rewrites since then is an understatement. I have put it away for years only to come back to it and wite a chapter or two, get irritated with it, and put it away again.



Or, I really do intend to write but get distacted by little things, like getting married, giving birth (three times), or playing Minecraft. 



I pulled the book out again this year and have made some decent headway on proofreading it, fleshing out the charaters a bit and refining my outline of future chapters.  But I am still stuck in the same spot.

STUCK!

Well, the other night, I dreamt I got past that spot! It was awesome, and I remember feeling so relieved and plowed through the rest of the chapter and the one following.
     But gosh darn it, I don't remember how I did it!
Hence the title of this post: AAARG!  

(sigh)








My husband was going to Chicago for a week for work. Ichabod was very upset by this. He tried a new tactic yesterday: "Dad, if you go to Chicago for a whole week, I am never speaking to you again." He quietly added, "......or listening to you either."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Noisy Family Fun

Well, the fourth of July has come and gone.



I actually went out and bought fireworks this year, and not the pre-packaged ones from Walmart.



I strongly dislike Walmart. Unfortuantely, I can't afford not to shop there.
But I digressss....


We went to one of the many firework distributers in the FM area,
this one happened to be near Fleet Farm. 




 I wandered up and down the aisles with my boys in tow,
examining the vast array of thing that go BOOM!

 I wanted to strike the right balance with the fireworks we purchased;
exciting enough to amaze my boys,
but not so exciting our neighbors call the cops.
We live in town and happen to have 3 different cops living within a 5 block radius of our house. It wouldn't take but a minute for them to show up on our doorstep.




So, we spent 20 minutes inspecting our potential purchases and asking a very helpful sales lady for assistance determining which fireworks we wanted to blow up. Smoke bombs were a must, as were sparklers. I grabbed a few boxes of snappers and began perusing some of the higher priced wares. A large green ball appropriately named Dakota Frog, caught my eye, and I mentally earmarked it to come back to later.

Dakota Frog
I did pick up one of their 'party packs' that had a decent variety and seemed to adhere to MN laws (for the most part). I tallied up my total and then decided to let each of the boys pick a firework, providing they were each under $5. Archie chose a parachuting one, Ichabod chose a very tame package of glow snakes, and Roland found one that just emitted sparks. I headed to the checkout and saw my husband had a few, including the Dakota frog I had been eyeing. Our total came to just under $30 and the sales clerk handed each of the boys a freebie to boot. Not bad!




 In our back yard we have a large dirt pile
(because really, what little boy doesn't like dirt?)





that my trio had previously turned into a volcano. The volcano made a good launch pad and we proceeded to fill our neighborhood with the smell of gunpowder. Not a single dud in our 5 packages of smoke bombs and it turned out the 3 freebie were the actually pretty great. The Dakota Frog was very tame but enjoyable and all in all it was a pleasant evening.  No one got hurt, burned or even mildly maimed. It was a great kick off for tomorrow's firework show at MSUM.....








Ichabod was making himself some oatmeal in the microwave and was trying to decide which button to push and asked, “Mom? Which one is play?”



Friday, July 1, 2011

MineCraft

I have a confession to make. Today I let my son play on the computer for 4 hours straight.
No, that wasn't a typo. FOUR HOURS.
I didn't intend to.

One of my boys' favorite pastimes include watching Daddy play various 'shoot 'em up' games on the computer.  I can hear their voices floating up from my husband's downstairs office:

"Dad, kill that guy over there."

"Dad, hit that zombie with an axe."

"Dad, what happens if you squish the alien?"

and so on.

Well, my husband's co-worker recently introduced him to a ridiculously simplistic game called Minecraft.


Realistic rendering this is not
 From what I gather, this is basically playing with Legos on your computer.  Now, we have several hundred dollars worth of Legos. Possibly close to a thousand (my boys have doting grandparents). In fact, we have an entire room dedicated to Legos, appropriately dubbed 'The Lego Room." (To be fair, I gave up my office to make way for the Legos because we have a frequently visiting munchkin who likes to dine on these colorful plastics when no one is looking.)  All the Legos are now in one room and I can close the door and limit her access. 
     So why would I let my son sit on his butt for four hours and do this virtually when he could be doing this in real life?

He was sitting at my computer in the living room, not having been playing for very long when suddenly he said,  "Mom! Hey, look. There's a guy walking around in my world. He just showed up. He's following me."

I have to admit, when I realized what he was talking about, I giggled.

For quite awhile.

I explained to my son, "Honey. That's Daddy. You're playing the game together. He's on his computer downstairs." 

I swear his face lit up.

They spent the next four hours playing MineCraft. Sometimes they worked together to build something, other times they were devising their own creations in a shared world. They'd call to each other, my husband mostly giving hints and helpful clues, Archie wanting his dad to check out the newest thing he'd constructed. It's all Archie talked about during supper and later, when I was tucking him in, he had a notebook and pencil on his pillow. I glanced at his partial drawing and Archie spent 5 minutes explaining his new design for a enclosed staircase so his avatar wouldn't walk off the edge and die.

Yes, kids need exercise. They need fresh air, they need to ride their bikes and climb trees and get dirty.  But Archie playing this game with his dad is important, too.  Although, tomorrow I think I'm gonna kick his butt outside.


Me: What are you doing, Ichabod?
Ichabod: Making a picture.
Me: That's sounds nice. What is the picture about?
Ichabod: A boy. But he's really sad.
Me: He's really sad? Why?
Ichabod: Because his mom won't let him play the Wii.
(Ichabod was currently grounded from the Wii)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brand New Day

     So. After several suggestions from friends and family, I have decided to start a blog. I believe it was encouraged mainly because of the strange and often hilarious antics of my children but we'll pretend it's also due to my fantastic writing abilities too.  A little self delusion is a good thing.
     Since this is my first post, I will do a little bio. I have to admit I have not fully investigated this site to see what it's all about so I may do a copy and paste to the bio section later. But, as I said, that's later.
     I am a 30 year old mother of three, married for almost 9 years. My boys (we'll call them Archie, Ichabod, and Roland) are 9, 6 and 5 respectively.  If you can do the math (which I am sure you can) you'll figure out my husband and I had our first child out of wedlock. Archie was one when we got married, and two when we finally had our wedding. He wore an adorable tuxedo that was ridiculously cute and more expensive than I wanted but definitely worth the money. 
     I am one of nine kids. The youngest six in my family are adopted. I am white, the youngest five in my family are black. I am only mentioning this now, because I truly forget that sometimes.  I will have known people for years (and speak about my family often) and people are noticably surprised when they meet my brothers and sisters. Some have actually been a little miffed that I didn't mention it. (It's my fault they make semi racist jokes?)  Our ages are: 31, 30, 28, 25, 14, 14, 13, 12, and 10.  The oldest 3 have 3 kids each so we are quite the crew when we all get together.  And yes, my oldest son is only a year younger than my youngest sister. They go to school together. I am raising my children the same time my mom and dad are raising theirs. It's actually quite fun. My parents live 5 blocks from me and I talk to my mom nearly everyday.  She lost her mom very recently and posted a message on her sister's Facebook wall the other day, commenting on it being the longest she had ever gone without talking with her mom. I miss my grandmother very much but am more saddened by my mom losing her mom. I really don't know how I will handle that someday and prefer not to think about it.
     I work for a company that provides services to people with developmental disabilities. In plain speak: I work in a group home. I love my job. I have been doing this my entire life. My parents cared for children with special needs in their home when I was a child, so I grew up doing this job. I can't imagine doing anything else. Some days I feel burned out because caring for people with diabilities can be high stress. Most notibly because you CARE. As anyone who works in this field can tell you, it can be unbelieveable difficult not to bring it home with you at the end of the day. I personally feel it's impossible. To do this job well, you need compassion so bringing a little of it home with you comes with the territory.
     Currently, as I sit at my computer, I have six kids running around my house. Two are mine (my third is spending the week at Grandma and Grandpa's in Alexandria, MN); one is a 'daycare' boy (I use the term daycare loosely because he's really just a friend of Archie's that I am watching during the day for the summer); and three are a trio of sibilings I used to do daycare for two years ago but have sinced move to Florida. They are up visiting their grandparents and are spending the day here. 
     A few cautions if you plan on reading this blog long term:
First - my typing is atrocious. I will do my best to proof read my posts before I hit that orange 'publish post' button but I am sure many things will escape my notice. Feel free to point them out and make fun of me. A little humility in life is important.
Second - I tend to use a lot of run on sentences and get a little wordy at times.  Okay, a lot wordy. I'll try to reign it in, but no promises.  
Third - as my little brother loves to point out: I love parentheses. I forget to close them. A lot.
Fourth - to make my inept typing worse, a few of my keys stick. Most noticably the spacebar, the letter B and the letter N. It's gonna come up. Just putting it out there.
Fifth - I talk about my kids. A lot. I define myself primarily as a mom. It is waht I do 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Yes, I am a wife, I have a job, and do many other things. But I am a mom first and foremost.  Heaven help me when they all grow up and leave home.  
     So that is what is going on right now. One thing I do plan on doing with this blog is to end with quips and quotes from my kids. Kids do say the darndest things and my youngest is.....well....really weird. I love him to pieces but his brain is wired a little differently than most and his views on things are a little skewed. Most of the quotes will come from him but a few from Archie and Ichabod will be sprinkled throughout as well.


Conversation with Roland:
Me: Roland, did you eat breakfast?
Roland: Yes
Me: Roland, I don't see your bowl. Did you eat breakfast?
Roland: Yes.
.....
Me: Roland, did you eat breakfast TODAY?
Roland: No. I ate breakfast yesterday.