Monday, November 29, 2010

Here, have a laugh...

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A thankful moment

This morning I was wrapping up the Christmas presents for the little girl whose name we got at church.  When I was in the basement looking for a box, I saw some books that had been put away to donate to the library.  Looking through the stack I found 4-5 books that any 5 year old would like.  I also saw a few stuffed animals that Katie had been playing with recently.  Hmmm.....

I took one small one upstairs to ask Katie if we could give it to another little girl.  I explained that this little girl probably didn't have anything to sleep with at night.  She had to leave all of her toys and stuffed animals at her old home, and it may have made her very sad.

Stuffed animals are like gold to Katie.  She is very protective of them - has names and ages for them all.  Some are related, some are students, etc.  As Katie thought about it, I got ready for her argument as to why she shouldn't give it away. 

Katie was quiet, and then asked "Well, do you think I could give her more?" 

So Katie found 2 stuffed animals to give away, and made me one proud mommy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Buddy the Dinosaur

Forget about Barney - Buddy is the new favorite dinosaur among kids.

PBS's show Dinosaur Train, follows Buddy - a T-Rex, adopted by another dino family.  Each show they learn facts about a new species of dinosaur as they ride on the dinosaur train.  (A magical combination of Will's two favorite things....if they could work Batman into the storyline, Will's head may just explode.)

Buddy the dinosaur was going to be making an appearance at the Mall of America today from 10-10:30 and 11-11:30.  I timed it so that we would get there right at 10 and be able to hop in line for Buddy.  Silly me - I totally underestimated the popularity of Buddy.  The 10:00 line was already closed, so we hopping in the 11:00 line.  That meant waiting for an hour.....  I figured we'd wait til Will got antsy, but he surprised me by waiting very patiently the whole time!  Here's some pics of Buddy and Willie....

 This is where the handler yells out "Don't worry Buddy - he only wants to give you a hug!" 
(Was Buddy about to bolt?)

Will really didn't even want to let go. :)

After Buddy, we were on our way back to the car when we were stopped by security and told that we were not allowed into the parking garage because of a car fire.  The entire walkway out of the mall was engulfed in smoke.  So, we walked around for a half hour and checked back - still couldn't go out.  We waiting with the others for another 10 minutes and then were allowed out to our cars.  I was relieved to see our car -- not on fire.  However - the car that WAS on fire was parked about 30 feet away.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

First snow

The kids had fun in the snow last weekend.  It doesn't look like this anymore - we still have snow all over, but it's settled and I can even see some grass patches.  However, it's not going to go away completely.

Will got stuck wearing Katie's old winter coat.  I can't say that the cold weather snuck up on us.  After all, it IS November in Minnesota - what did I expect?  I just didn't have a coat ready for him when we needed it.  Now, as you read before - we are set for whatever Mother Nature can dish out this season. 

Oh, damn, except boots....he still needs boots.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Giving Back

For the last 5 years we have bought Christmas presents for children in need. Just this past weekend I picked up the name of a 5 year old girl who had been removed from an abusive home recently and placed in foster care. Because the children are usually removed quickly and immediately - they only have the clothes on their back.

The name comes with her "wish list", needed items, and sizes. So far we have been able to pick up a Littlest Pet Shop Play set, a new shirt and crayons. I'd also like to get her a new hat, mittens, underwear, and maybe a coloring book or two.

So when you are in the stores this season - pick up an extra $10 gift if you can. It may help make a child smile.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sly Shopping

I usually pride myself in being something of a sly shopper - looking for the best deals, using coupons, etc.  Well today, I feel, I had a good shopping day.

Will has been in need of a new winter coat.  I found ONE on Craigslist that might work - it was a bit of a drive to pick it up, and wasn't entirely sure if it would fit.  So I changed my mind and tried the stores.  Yesterday I found one at Kohl's but was later having buyer's remorse.  I got the 3T (should have been a 4T) and the $32 price tag kept nagging at me.

This morning I awake to a coupon in my inbox from JCPenny - "$10 off a purchase of $25".  So I checked out the coats online and found that they did indeed have green winter coats (a prerequisite of Will's) AND they were on sale for $24.99.  So I loaded up Will and off we went to return the coat and get another one.

We found a new coat right away - tried on the 4T, Will was happy with it.  As we were walking to the checkout I realized that 24.99 wouldn't get me the deal, so I picked up a shirt for our "Christmas Kid" from church. ***(See tomorrow's post)  So basically I got that shirt for free.

We returned the more expensive coat, and as we were walking back through JCPenny's on our way to the car I remembered something for John for Christmas.  It happened to be on sale - and was $25.  I tried my coupon with a different cashier and was able to get the $10 discount once again. :)  Score.

Bonus - Because it's November, and my birthday month, I also get a $10 gift card from the mall.  I just have to bring in a voucher that was e-mailed to me and show my driver's license.  Soooo...go to your nearest mall's website and see if you can register with them for coupons and special offers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Swimming Lessons

Our swimming lessons came to an end last week.  Katie and Will had each been taking lessons since September.  Will and I did a parent/child class on Monday mornings and Katie did Level 1 on Tuesdays after school. 

Halfway through it seemed that Katie would be forever stuck in Level 1.  She'd MAYBE put her face in the water one time, but that was it.  She liked going, but never seemed to improve on the skills. 

Then we got her goggles.  Not just any goggles - we went to Foss Swim School (whose lessons are too expensive for us to rationalize).  They do, however, have a swim store and fit Katie's goggles for her.  They look more like a small scuba mask than swim goggles - less pressure on the eyes.  AND when the band developed a small tear in them after 2 uses, Foss replaced them for free!

Wow - swimming lessons are a lot different now!  Katie is going underwater 25+ times a lesson!  She can front float, almost backfloat and loves to dive for rings.  She's still at Level 1, but I'm pretty sure that when we do lessons again in the spring - she'll move up to Level 2 by the end.

At least I hope she moves up....I'd hate to have Will blow past her.  He loves the water, doesn't mind going underwater too much.  At least he'll do it a few times each lesson.  In the spring he'll do a class for 4-5 year olds.  I don't hav any pictures of him swimming cuz I had to be in the water with him this time!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And overnight, it's winter

This is what we woke up to this morning.....

5 1/2 inches so far, but it's only 9:30 and this is expected to go through tonight.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Computer Help

Will now has a friend to help him on the computer.  Molly loves to watch the pointer move around and around.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Na Na Na Na Na Na...They Say It's Your Birthday.....

Since I've exposed everyone else's pictures on their's some to show you I'm a good sport.

My favorite animals - Muskie and Gizmo

Picture, courtesy of Katie

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


We're a couple months into 1st grade now, and I think we're getting the hang of the whole thing.  The day doesn't seem to be too long for Katie - she's not overly cranky. (Except on the weekends when the schedule is nonexistent)

Katie has a field trip this Friday - just as the weather is about to turn on us, of course.  Her and her class are visiting a farm in the area that is part of the park district and offers tours, classes, etc.  They'll be there all morning...outside.  So let's hope that it isn't snowing and blowing.

She has to take a lunch with her because they won't make it back in time to eat at school.  She's taken her lunch one other day as well, and I'm hoping to get into the habit of 1-2 times a week, but haven't been organized enough for that yet.  Eating at school is certainly less work, but as I write the 3rd lunch check for $43.00, I'm wondering if it's worth it.  In about 20-25 years the lunch price has about doubled.  I remember being able to take a $10 bill, and that would buy me a 10 punch lunch ticket.  Now, it's $2.15 a day, I guess the increase isn't that bad.

As I've been thinking about things to pack for Katie's lunch I've been thinking about my own school lunching experience.  When I was in 1st grade, I took my lunch every day.  I didn't eat a school lunch til sometime in 2nd grade, I believe.  I was worried they would force me to eat things that I didn't like.  Honestly, I didn't like much of anything. 

I had a ritual every morning...same thing every day.  Dad wakes me up.  I get dressed, have a bowl of Captain Crunch while I watch Bozo The Clown.  Finished getting ready for school, and Dad and I would load into the car because I got a ride to school....even though my brother had to walk.  Hey - I'm the baby, remember?

I still needed stuff for lunch.  I would make a peanut butter sandwich at home.  No, not PB&J, just PB.  I didn't like mixing the two.  At that time, it was still ok to take peanut butter to school.  Now, it's much different.  Before we go to school, Dad and I would drive down to Kwik Trip where Mom was at work.  In those days she had to open the store at 5, or some God awful hour, so we'd pop in so I could say hi and grab some much needed lunch necessities.  Here's my list that I picked up every day....

1. Peanut butter sandwich (from home)
2.  A bag of cheese balls
3.  A Twix bar
4.  A bottle of orange juice

I'd cram all these things into my stylish red Kwik Trip insulated lunch bag, and I'd be off.  Mom and Dad never pointed out that eating lunch at school would be much cheaper than my current menu, not to mention healthier. :)  However, in those days they were happy to see me eat anything....  Plus, I'd save half of my cheese balls and one Twix bar for after school snacking.  See, how I budget?

Now that I've made you all sick...see if you can eat my school lunch menu for a week straight.  I know I couldn't.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Take the time to read this - very powerful

Another mom wrote a wonderful blog entry about her son titled "My son is gay".  Here is the link to the full story - and GREAT picture of her adorable son.  For those of you with slower internet connection - I've copied and pasted her entry below.  PLEASE take the time to read - it's worth it.

Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5. And I am his mother. And if you have a problem with anything mentioned above, I don’t want to know you.

I have gone back and forth on whether I wanted to post something more in-depth about my sweet boy and his choice of Halloween costume. Or more specifically, the reactions to it. I figure if I’m still irked by it a few days later, I may as well go ahead and post my thoughts.
Here are the facts that lead up to my rant:
  1. My son is 5 and goes to a church preschool.
  2. He has loved Scooby Doo since developing the ability and attention span to sit still long enough to watch it.
  3. Halloween is a holiday and its main focus is wearing a costume.
  4. My son’s school had the kids dress up, do a little parade, and then change out of costumes for the rest of the party.
  5. Boo’s best friend is a little girl
  6. Boo has an older sister
  7. Boo spends most of his time with me.
  8. I am a woman.
  9. I am Boo’s mother, not you.
So a few weeks before Halloween, Boo decides he wants to be Daphne from Scooby Doo, along with his best friend E. He had dressed as Scooby a couple of years ago.  I was hesitant to make the purchase, not because it was a cross gendered situation, but because 5 year olds have a tendency to change their minds. After requesting a couple of more times, I said sure and placed the order. He flipped out when it arrived. It was perfect.

Then as we got closer to the actual day, he stared to hem and haw about it. After some discussion it comes out that he is afraid people will laugh at him. I pointed out that some people will because it is a cute and clever costume. He insists their laughter would be of the ‘making fun’ kind. I blow it off. Seriously, who would make fun of a child in costume?

And then the big day arrives. We get dressed up. We drop Squirt at his preschool and head over to his. Boo doesn’t want to get out of the car. He’s afraid of what people will say and do to him. I convince him to go inside. He halts at the door. He’s visibly nervous. I chalk it up to him being a bit of a worrier in general. Seriously, WHO WOULD MAKE FUN OF A CHILD IN A  COSTUME ON HALLOWEEN? So he walks in. And there were several friends of mine that knew what he was wearing that smiled and waved and gave him high-fives. We walk down the hall to where his classroom is.

And that’s where things went wrong. Two mothers went wide-eyed and made faces as if they smelled decomp. And I realize that my son is seeing the same thing I am. So I say, “Doesn’t he look great?” And Mom A says in disgust, “Did he ask to be that?!” I say that he sure did as Halloween is the time of year that you can be whatever it is that you want to be. They continue with their nosy, probing questions as to how that was an option and didn’t I try to talk him out of it. Mom B mostly just stood there in shock  and dismay.
And then Mom C approaches. She had been in the main room, saw us walk in, and followed us down the hall to let me know her thoughts. And they were that I should never have ‘allowed’ this and thank God it wasn’t next year when he was in Kindergarten since I would have had to put my foot down and ‘forbidden’ it. To which I calmly replied that I would do no such thing and couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. She continued on and on about how mean children could be and how he would be ridiculed.
My response to that: The only people that seem to have a problem with it is their mothers.

Another mom pointed out that high schools often have Spirit Days where girls dress like boys and vice versa. I mentioned Powderpuff Games where football players dress like cheerleaders and vice versa. Or every frat boy ever in college (Mom A said that her husband was a frat boy and NEVER dressed like a woman.)
But here’s the point, it is none of your damn business.

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.
If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one.

But it also was heartbreaking to me that my sweet, kind-hearted five year old was right to be worried. He knew that there were people like A, B, and C. And he, at 5, was concerned about how they would perceive him and what would happen to him.

Just as it was heartbreaking to those parents that have lost their children recently due to bullying. IT IS NOT OK TO BULLY. Even if you wrap it up in a bow and call it ‘concern.’  Those women were trying to bully me. And my son. MY son.

It is obvious that I neither abuse nor neglect my children. They are not perfect, but they are learning how to navigate this big, and sometimes cruel, world. I hate that my son had to learn this lesson while standing in front of allegedly Christian women. I hate that those women thought those thoughts, and worse felt comfortable saying them out loud. I hate that ‘pink’ is still called a girl color and that my baby has to be so brave if he wants to be Daphne for Halloween.

And all I hope for my kids, and yours, and those of Moms ABC, are that they are happy. If a set of purple sparkly tights and a velvety dress is what makes my baby happy one night, then so be it. If he wants to carry a purse, or marry a man, or paint fingernails with his best girlfriend, then ok. My job as his mother is not to stifle that man that he will be, but to help him along his way. Mine is not to dictate what is ‘normal’ and what is not, but to help him become a good person.

I hope I am doing that.

And my little man worked that costume like no other. He rocked that wig, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

30 days - continued

Ok - let's take another crack at this. 

I'm thankful for...

20.  The Internet.  Yes, I like the option of being connected. 

21.  Music - I've even branched out lately.  Not everything is Pearl Jam.

22.  PBS (especially kid's programming) - Right now, they are the reason I'm able to work on this post. :)

23.  Coffee - some morning, (like this one), it hits the spot.

24.  Netflix - ok, maybe a silly thing to be thankful for in the giant scheme of things, BUT I still am.  Almost finished with The Tudors (I'll post about that another time)....

25.  my dishwasher, washing machine, microwave, all modern household appliances.

26.  clean sheets.  (Not that I change sheets very often, but when I do - I like it.)  I read online one day that it's recommended you should change sheets, at the very least, once a week.  And all these people posted that they do it way more often than that.  Let's just say I don't do it once a week....and leave it at that.

27.  Family time.  On those days/nights when we are all together at home and are able to play games or make something together.  A favorite of ours is hide and seek...although Thursday night John had the kids playing tackle football...

28.  Craigslist/Free Cycle/Ebay etc. - Anywhere I can find something I need/want cheaper than what I'd pay in the store.  So far, I'm not having any luck finding stuff on our Christmas list....but I'm optimistic.  Two years ago - I managed to get all the kid's Christmas presents at one of these outlets.  It's harder now that they are older and more specific about what they want.

29.  Hugs and kisses.  Ok - this is an easy one, but it's getting hard!

30.  Blog post ideas.  This idea took up 2 days worth of posts, and if you read them all - well, you deserve something I guess. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

30 of Thanks

November seems to be the month everyone posts 1 thing a day that they are thankful for.  Well, I don't have the discipline to do it every day, so I thought that I would do 30 all at goes....

I'm thankful for....
1.  My husband, John.  He is wonderful!  Thanks to John's hard work and easy-going lifestyle, he's the reason I've been able to stay home with the kids for 6+ years.  He's usually pretty easy to please and has no temper whatsoever, and patience that goes on and on.  Seriously, his fuse is miles long!

2.  My 2 kids....Katie and Will.  A no brainer, right?  These 2 are great, and I can't remember life without them.

3.  My parents.  Married for 48 years, they provided a safe and loving home for our family, instilled a powerful work ethic, and spoiled me - the baby.

4.  My brother and sisters.  (Yes, even my brother.)  As we've all gotten older, we've grown even closer. 

5.  My in-laws.  My husband's family is terrific!  They've always treated me like one of the family.

6.  Our neighborhood.  It became evident while trick-or-treating how many great neighbors we have.  So many made such a fuss over Katie and Will, knowing that they are the two "little" ones in the neighborhood.  We even had people bring things over to the house for our kids because they weren't going to be home for Halloween, but still wanted to make sure the kids felt special. 

7.  Our church.  It took me a while to find a church I really felt comfortable in.  The first Sunday we attended church here - I knew we'd found our spot.  The bulk of their ministry is about helping to provide for those in need.  So, our church doesn't have the biggest kitchen or the fanciest instruments, but they sponsor schools in El Salvador, help provide weekly meals for members of the community, buy Christmas gifts for shelter kids, etc. 

8.  Our schools.  Living in the midwest, we really are spoiled by having such great teachers and school systems.  Katie's 1st grade teacher is very warm, compassionate, caring, organized - seriously, my favorite teacher of hers, so far.  Will's preschool teacher is so energetic, creative, and caring.  He blushes whenever we talk about her.

9.  Our home.  (even messy) I'm glad to have a roof over our head and warm beds everynight.

10.  Sunny days.  If it's going to get cold, which (odds are) it will, I'm happier as long as the sun is out.

11.  Books. Now that Katie is reading, books have taken on a new meaning for her.  I'm thankful that I have time in the day to read when I want.  (Even if it's fluff)

12.  Friends.  Again, seems like a no-brainer.  I'm thankful that I have a few friends from high school and college that won't ever disappear.  Conversations pick up right where they left off.   I'm thankful for the new-er friends I've made as well.  These "mommy" friends are priceless when you need someone to lean on and remember you are not alone.

13.  My body.  I can still move, bend, stretch, etc.  (Even though I've been SOOO sore the last 2 days...)  I can run, walk, breathe.  Usually you don't know how long you'll get to do these things, so each day you can is good.  :)

14.  The cat.  Ok - there I said it.  I'm glad we have a pet you can actually touch.  Although it gets harder to love her when she is constantly dumping over the garbage can....

15.  My nieces and nephews.  (Not that I intended for you to come after the cat....)  It's been such a joy watching you all grow up, make decisions on your own.  Remembering when you were all born and what an excitement you were...

16.  Our country.  Seems like one of the better places to live.

17.  Family members who have died.  Some I'd only gotten to know briefly, others played a big role in raising me.  I'm thankful I had a chance to spend time with them.

18.  Having an opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom.  I've been able to do lots of volunteer work in the last year or so - at school and with non-profits.  I'm thankful I've had this time...and also thankful that I'll get to go back to work outside the home someday too. :)

19.  Beer.  (It's Friday, ok.??)

Getting a little harder now.....I'm going to post this 1-19....and get back to you with 20-30.  Is that cheating?  No.  It's my blog - I make the rules.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Big Brother!

Today is my big brother's birthday....he turns 42....(but acts like he's 24, if that.) :)

I figured it's a good excuse to post some pictures.....

Brief run as high school basketball player...guess we'll never know if he actually made the shot. 

Jeff with Kevin, Donny and baby Joey. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Post Halloween Candy Fog

We are solidly in the post-Halloween candy fog.  The kids haven't been too candy crazy.  There's probably something to be said for not banning it completely.  There's less taboo around candy as a whole, and so the fact that they can have a few pieces isn't a big deal to them.

I did, however, donate a big bag of candy.  There's a woman in a neighboring town who makes a meal once a week for those in need.  She feeds about 100 people a week - from infants and toddlers on up to the elderly.  For some, it's their biggest meal all week - and only home cooked one.  It may even be the only time they have to speak with other people.  I thought it was a great idea, and she survives only off donations.  She said everyone loves homemade cookies and treats.  So I dropped off a bag of our assorted candy, along with 5-6 cans of soup. (There had to be SOMETHING healthy in there.)  The next time I make cookies, I will double the recipe and drop them off as well.   

Halloween morning we had a birthday party to go to for our friend, Noah!  Noah turned 4 and had a Buzz Lightyear Yoga Party.  It was a BIG hit. :)