Monday, December 23, 2013

Are YOU still here?

I usually start an overdue post with saying "I'm still here."  While, that's great....a better question might be "Are YOU still here?"  Do you check back with hopes of a new post even when they are dashed again and again?  Hope so.

We celebrated our family Christmas here at home Sunday morning (just yesterday).  The kids had a good time and I would say it was fairly calm and quiet.  Let's see if I can give a re-cap.

Hans got a new ducky chew toy that squeaks and homemade dog treats, compliments of the Girl Scouts.  Molly got a new scratching box thing filled with cat nip.

Will got a new maze ball, some Skylander figurines, books, bed sheets, yo-yo, PJ's, Despicable Me 2 (movie), a magic set, and a combination safe to keep all his goodies secure.

Katie got a new chair, books, 2 fidget friend things (they make noise...that's all I know), a knitting loom for scarves,  yo-yo, Rubix cube, clothes, earrings and a necklace, and Rainbow loom bands.

It seems there were some little stocking stuffers too - candy and whatnot.  Santa gave me a gyroscope that I have been looking for the last few years.  I had one when I was younger and thought they were just awesome.  The kids weren't that amazed by it, so I guess that's why Santa gave it to me.

John got some IA state sweatshirts, lotion and a new pillow.  I also have another gift coming for him, but shipping has totally been derailed and it hasn't arrived yet.  Free 2 day shipping has turned into 2 week shipping. 

I got new snowboots!  I haven't had snow boots since probably 7th grade.  Once I was out of elementary school they weren't necessary anymore, nor were they anything I thought about getting for myself.  Sort of like not having a winter coat in college.  I just didn't need one.  (I went to a college that was connected via tunnels and you rarely had to set foot outside.  If you did, it was just to run across the street.)  Now that I am forced to be outside more by dog, kids, and husband I have been wearing my hiking boots.  While warm, they have no traction on ice and are very low on the heel so they allow all kinds of snow in.  Now if I fall on the ice while walking the dog, it's my own fault.

Anyway - I also got a new coat and a shirt from Athleta.  You know that annoying commercial on TV for Jarod Jewelers?  The catchphrase is "He went to Jarod's."  Maybe it's a MN thing, I don't know...anyway you are supposed to be really excited just by the fact "He went to Jarod's" because anything they have is great.  Whatever. 
Well, I get it phrase will be "He went to Athleta."  Because before I even open the box, I KNOW I'm going to love what ever is inside.  It's a women's apparel shop that specializes in more comfortable active wear.  They are wonderful.  So yes, I got a new down-filled coat and an awesomely cozy new shirt.  Oh and gloves!  I got new purple gloves.  

Katie also bought me a Peanuts character serving plate that I may just have to bring along to the other family gatherings in IA so that I can properly display my baked goods. :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving week

It's Monday - a short week this week.  I've been working this morning and now I am trying to decide if I should go to the store or wait for a phone call.  I just KNOW that the phone call will come the minute I walk into the store. 

That's been the hardest thing about working from home, I spose - deciding when I can run my errands.  There are things that HAVE to get done some days and while I don't have time limits - the stock market does. 

The phone call I am waiting on is from my boss.  We were going through things around 9....a good time of day to go through things.  Then, mid-conversation, clients "pop" in unannounced and we have to switch gears.  I got some things done for them quickly, and now I am waiting to finish going through things with the boss.....waiting for about 3 hours.

We have Thanksgiving letters that HAVE to get printed today and mailed out.  If I were there in the office, I would just print them and be done with it.  But the way it works now is that I send a test letter to our joint printing "queue", he prints it to check margins, etc and then tells me it's ok to load the other 170 letters.  I do that - send it to the queue and he prints them.  The last 3 letters have been printing oddly.  The "z" and the "k" in the address label of the letter are substituted as a funny symbol.  It doesn't happen on my printer - only his.  I have had him reinstall the driver, but still it happens to about 15 letters.  I am told it is a printer memory problem by some software tech people but I think that is bull and of course they won't give me an answer as to how to solve it.
So while working virtually has it's pluses - it also seems to make some tasks take a lot longer. 
You can't just shout something across the room - which we used to do a lot.  You have to send a text or email and wait for a reply.  And then wonder why the other person isn't replying soon enough.

I just checked our joint schedule and I see that he has an appointment from 1:30 - 3.  That means that I can safely run to the store and maybe even squeeze in a workout.  Will a shower be asking too much....

And of course he will be free to touch base at around 3:30 - just as the kids are getting off the bus and chaos is beginning to unfold.  That seems to be the norm for a few days of the week. 

On a positive note - I don't have to worry about scheduling time off for Thanksgiving.  I just go.  We haven't talked about holiday pay.....I send him monthly invoices for what I expect to get paid.  Should I be nice and not charge for Thanksgiving - which is what a normal, hourly person would do - or should I just charge for it anyway?

You all know I'm not going to charge for it, so I don't even know why I'm asking. 

On a side note - I'd appreciate any positive vibes you have to send to a friend.  The associate pastor of our church, Pastor Kristi, is in Rochester today.  Her husband is having surgery today to remove a brain tumor.  He was just diagnosed last week.  They are absolutely some of the most sweetest, kindest, sincere people you will ever meet.  They could use a good thought.  Their Caring Bridge page has been added to the list in the upper right corner.

Monday, November 11, 2013


I have now been 36 for a little over 24 hours.  Doesn't seem too bad. 

We went out to eat last night and had a good time - the kids ate well and were manageable and agreeable, which goes a long way.  And of course, we had key lime pie for dessert. 

Katie, Will and I all auditioned yesterday for the "Shrek" musical at church.  Will didn't have to read or sing since I convinced him that his first year should be a small, group role.  He'd rather be Peter Pan.  I sang Away in the Manger, and Katie sang Jingle Bells. 

She is a quiet girl - not one to seek a lot of attention in front of people, BUT she flips a switch when it's time to audition or get on stage.  I'm serious - you can SEE it happen.  She gets up, stands next to the piano and belts out Jingle Bells, complete with expression and hand movements.  I knew she'd do fine, and it was fun watching her.  But what was MORE entertaining for me was watching the audience react to her.  Their jaws were hanging open.  I got so many comments and whispers about how she blew them away and that they forgot what a good singer and little actor she is.  She read her scene, and again - had them laughing.  She didn't use the script provided because she's had it memorized already and she did with such little attitude that everyone really enjoyed watching her.

(Ok, I may be a LITTLE biased here - I realize that.  BUT, she did really well. And it takes a LOT of guts to stand up in front or 30 people or so and SING......ALONE.....with everyone watching.)

I told her how well she did on the way home and how proud she should be of herself.  Then I asked, "How did I do?"

"Well, Mom, you've done better.  You weren't the worst, but you weren't the best."

Brutal honesty.

We should know our parts by early December.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I AM still alive

Spending more time at the computer working every day means I spend less time at the computer doing the enjoyable things I used to do! (Like blogging here.)  I have started writing a few times and then I get a "chime" that a work email was delivered and I switch to that. 

But not today!  Today I am determined to get something written here!  Let's see - what's been going on...we had Halloween!  Hans was a butterfly, Katie was a devil and Will was....drumroll......Batman.  That's 3 years, I believe.  Talk about easy costumes!  Overall, this Halloween was pretty low key.  I have a picture of Will, but nothing of Katie I just realized.  And no pictures of our pumpkins that John carved.  (Amazingly, of course!)  We had a Batman symbol, a cat, a bat, and a scary face. 

We had school conferences, and both are doing great.  Katie and Will are both in high math and reading classes and enjoying them very much.  Katie is just finishing up a 3 week project on health disorders and diseases.  She chose epilepsy and presents her research during a school health fair Friday afternoon.  I WILL have pictures of that! 

Will starts basketball after school today.  It is every Wednesday and lasts til mid December I believe.  He is VERY excited! 

Hans and I attempt the CGC test on Saturday again.  There are 10 test items and we only failed 3 of them last time.  I'm hoping for 8/10 this time or better.  It's still the "accepting grooming" that give us problems.  The kids, John and I can brush him and he's totally calm.  But let someone else take the brush and it becomes playtime.  However - if my hand had an overpowering smell of chicken that seems to keep him distracted enough to allow someone to brush him.  So I (literally) am going to go out between test items and lather my left hand in "broth a la chicken."  I can't "treat" during the test, but I can have a smelly hand.

Auditions for the church musical are this weekend too!  The musical will be "Shrek!"  Will wants to be a part of it this year as well so I am taking him with us and asking that he be made part of the "townspeople" or "kingdom" mob.  Katie wants to be "Gingy" (the gingerbread man).  I have a list of possibilities, but am very happy with anything outside of Shrek, Fiona, Donkey or Farquaad.  Pinocchio seems like a LOT of fun, but I'm not sure if I could talk and sing in a squeaky voice for that long!  Otherwise, the "shoemaker elf", "fairy godmother", or other fairy tale creatures will all be fun.  Each has lines and solo parts.  I bought the DVD of the musical so we watched it the other night to get a better idea of what each part consisted of.  We should find out in December!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New Office

I picked up a filing cabinet this weekend along with my new computer. It has a dual monitor - so that's something new to get used to. So far it is awesome and makes things a lot easier to do. They are also nice giant sized monitors and I've been able to get new programs running very quickly on it. The last step is hooking up the printer to this computer. Things are being a little funny here and there, but I'll get it figured out. Work has been good and I'm getting things done on all fronts.
Will got an ant farm for his birthday in July and I just got around to ordering the ants last week. We got them yesterday and put them into the "farm." It's a plastic case full of a gel type material that also serves as their food source. They are tunneling away and I'm happy that I think only 2 are dead. (Out of approx. 30) It says that their life span is about 1-3 months, but some will die sooner while others live longer. These are harvester ants. They are bigger than your everyday garden ants - very easy to see their chomping mandibles. Oh, and they sting. There were warnings everywhere about how you are NOT to touch them or handle them. They came in a vial, and in order to get them into the case we put them into the fridge for about 10 minutes. Since they are cold blooded, the temperature change slowed them down so that I could pour them in without them going wild and escaping. After about 30 minutes they seemed to really perk up and started tunneling a few hours later. By this morning they had about 4 tunnel areas they were working on. I'm supposed to remove the dead ants - and there are 2 (I think) laying on top, but I want to make sure if I open the case the others don't get out. I think I will wait until there are more tunnels and less ants on top. Plus, they advised waiting a few days to make sure the ants are truely dead....sometimes it's hard to tell. Another cool thing is that when the ants die in the tunnels, the others will bring them to the top and leave them there. At least they are supposed to.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood today - literally.  I took Hans for an extra long walk this morning and I think I am going to do another one after this.  Yesterday afternoon I was going to force myself to do a workout DVD from Netflix, but then I suddenly realized that I could go for a bike ride instead.  (One of those realizations that come after the kids have been in school for 3 weeks.)  Don't worry, Hans got his morning walk too - and training class last night.

Work has been really unpredictable this week.  I don't have a lot going on right now - I have projects that I have been chipping away at, but nothing pressing - so I've had some more free time.  I figure I will take it while I can get it.  I cleaned the kitchen counters yesterday as well as sorted out the fridge.  Today the windows could use a washing....

I also had a dentist check-up today.  I had a loose crown that had been loose for a bit, but I was just trying to ignore it.  She popped it off and reapplied some better adhesive to see if that works.  She was pretty confident that it would, but the alternative would be to put in a "post" and build the crown around that.  This was quick and easy and hopefully is fine for another 10 years.  I also have 2 areas where the "pockets" of my gum are pretty deep.  I have been aggressively trying to take care of these areas each day, but the pockets aren't getting better - (the other areas sure are - my hygienist barely had to clean ANY plaque off and commented that she was amazed at how little I had.)  So they figured that there is bacteria in the pocket that we can't get to.  They inserted 2 doses of antibiotics into the pocket area and over the next 28 days, that should clear up what's there.  They were super easy going in, but now it feels like I bit into something and part of it got jammed into my gum.  Ever had that happen?  It's annoying and a bit uncomfortable. 

So that brings me to my thoughts on this whole dentist issue.  I went to my appointment today because it had been scheduled for a while, and I don't want to skip it and put it off while I look for another dentist.  I had a very frank conversation with her and Will's hygienist (who is really quite wonderful) about my concerns about the care that we are receiving with their practice.  They were about as upset as I was to hear that Will had a second abscess, she re-examined the x-rays from his previous visit (and showed me) but we could see no evidence of any type of infection festering in that tooth.  Over the past week as I have been thinking about whether to move us to a new dentist and where and I am really sick of pointing fingers in places that they probably don't belong.  From what the oral surgeon said the filling in this tooth looked well placed and would not comment on anything the previous dentist had done. 

The reason we changed to our current dentist in the first place was because the pediatric dentist we WERE seeing in Eden Prairie had told us that Will had a cavity which she recommended treating under general anesthesia given his age. (He was like 3/4)  It was a tiny little thing and his first one.  John and I didn't want to do that so I went shopping for a new dentist.  We came to this one and she said, no, she wouldn't recommend him to go under general - she would just fill it normally.  Finally!  We got the answer we were looking for - so we went with her.  That was Will's first abscessed tooth. 

Now - what would have happened had we gone the other route?  I hear people say all the time in regards to the medical community - if you don't like what one dr says, keep looking til you find one that says what you want to hear.  Maybe we went the wrong route?  Maybe the exact same outcome would have happened either way.  I feel like blaming what the dr's are saying is just a way of not pointing the finger where it should be pointed - at me. 

And maybe there doesn't need to be any finger pointing - that's a bad expression.  What I mean is that if there weren't cavities in the first place -there'd be nothing to fill.  I had weak enamel as a child and therefore, at the age of 3, had all my baby teeth capped.  It was a process - that's for sure (one that I still remember very clearly) but I had no cavities in my baby teeth.  It could be that Will and Katie have inherited a bit of my weak enamel - or it could be that we are just not brushing as well as we should be.  Either way I think I need to shut up and do the work.

When people need to lose weight, or get in shape they can bellyache about how the fast food industry is out to get them or they just don't have to time to be healthy, or their dr picks on them, etc.  But either way the only way things get better is to take responsibility for it and do what needs to get done.  So that's where I'm at.  I feel like we don't do much candy or pop - but it IS there at times.  With Will's dairy allergy it has become a lot easier to avoid - that's for sure.  I'm flossing Will about 4-5 times a week and have been for the last 6 months.  I need to make sure I'm doing that for Katie as well.  The brushing is automatic and always has been, but we just need more adult interference there too. 

Ok - this post got way too involved and I didn't mean it to.  I need a walk.... and some ibuprofen.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Day after

Will did a great job yesterday and was very brave.  The tooth came out and is now healing well.  He says it doesn't hurt at all, but I am still doing ibuprofen every 8 hours.  Today will probably be the last day we'll have to do that.  He stayed home from school today - although judging by his energy level this morning, I probably could have sent him. :)  He'll be back in full force tomorrow.  Tomorrow is picture day, library check-out day, AND first spelling test day.  He will blow a gasket if he misses that. 

Work has been really slow this week because our servers went down. I don't have access to my e-mail and my boss has been in training the last few days.  (Oddly enough like 10 miles from my house!)  I am hoping that e-mail gets restored today.  Next weekend I have to go to Rochester to participate in a 5k that we are sponsoring for one of our non-profit clients.  (My only 5k of the year!)  While I'm down there I will pick up my new computer and a new filing cabinet to use for the home "office." 
I'm a bit excited about the filing cabinet because it will free up 2 plant stands that I've been using instead and basically hide all sorts of disorganized mess. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good thoughts today...

I would appreciate any good thoughts you can send Will's way today.  He has an appointment at 1:30 for a tooth extraction. 

Remember last year we went through this?  I can't remember if I blogged much about it or not, but I must have mentioned it.  Anyway - this would be his second abscessed tooth.  From what I understand an abscess is caused by bacteria or decay getting to the pulp part of the tooth.  In adult teeth it would call for a root canal, but they don't do those in baby teeth so they just take the tooth out.  What kills me is that most of Will's cavities (4 total, I believe) were so small they were filled without even numbing him.  This one was bigger - he had it filled in January and I do remember them numbing him.  None of the cavities caused him any pain or discomfort.  His tooth that had to come out last year had a tiny one that they did NOT numb for.  Does that mean that they don't get all the decay out?  Obviously that's impossible to prove and no medical professional is going to tell me it's the dentist's fault because the cavity shouldn't have been there in the first place.  But, I suppose we will be shopping for a new dentist.  She's filled 4 cavities, and 2 have resulted in loss of tooth - that's not a good statistic for me. 

Because he's gone through this before he knows a bit more of what to expect (and so do I) - that's good and bad.  He is being beyond brave and has plans to take his stuffed shark along because he has enough teeth for both of them.  I also ordered new books he's been wanting on Amazon, which will be delivered to our door by the time we are home AND have a new Lego set hidden for him under the bed.  That should give us some time to cuddle together for the next 36 hours or so. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Happy Birthday to Hans!

Here is little baby Hans....

And here is Hans today - 1 year old!
I would have totally forgot about his birthday, but his foster mom (who housed the 8 puppies while they were being adopted) sent us birthday wishes already.  He's already had treats and a walk this morning so I think he's happy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Second week

We're halfway through the second week of school and have only missed the bus to school once.  :)  It was my fault.  The bus comes much later this year - we are towards the end of the pick-ups and I guess I waited too long.  We saw it pull up out the window Monday morning and I think I cursed under my breath.  As Katie was making a run for the door to head out and try to catch it I made them hide away from the windows to appear as if we weren't here - and then I drove them to school. 

Hans and I have gone for a walk/jog every morning since school has started.  He takes his CGC (Canine Good Citizenship) test this Saturday.  It could go either way - pass or fail.  I have full faith in us that we will pass 8 out of 10.  It will be a stroke of luck if we pass the other 2.  The "dog allows itself to be groomed" and "dog allows itself to be petted" give us fits.  Both get Hans really excited...then the licking starts....and then the pawing and mouthing start.  Licking won't fail us....but the mouthing and pawing will.  Once the licking starts, it's only a matter of time.  During the test I can correct with my voice and give instructions/praise, but I cannot treat or give corrections with the leash.

In our practice classes he HAS passed both of them, but not consistently.  Last night we had class from 8:30 to 9:30, and then BOTH instructors (one of which was the owner) and one of their 13 year old daughters stayed for 40 minutes extra to work one on one with Hans.  They are amazing and truly want to help dogs and owners.

Hans (and I) do much better with each other when we are in a class together.  It is a good experience for him.  If we pass the test I think we will try a "Performance" class.  They are a bit more athletic and active in content and will give us a fun way to connect and work on balance and him being aware of his body.  If we don't pass the test....then they are going to let me re-take a few weeks of Adult Obedience II and re-test in October. 

Katie started piano lessons yesterday.  She practiced last night with no major meltdowns - actually no meltdowns at all.  She did a nice job of keeping her patience.  I remember practicing trumpet pieces over and over - especially in the beginning and getting SO angry with myself and upset because I couldn't get them right the first few times.  Sometimes walking away and trying again tomorrow is a good idea.

Will is a little upset that he doesn't have homework yet.  Spelling lists start next week - so I'm enjoying the ease into our afternoon routine.  Will is supposed to be practicing his addition facts - sums through 10. 

Ha!  Yeah, right.  Yesterday in order for me to get him to agree to practice those, I had to promise him that we would do multiplication worksheets when we were done. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


September begins and with it a whole bunch of other things.  School started yesterday.  The kids were pretty happy to go back.  Katie's only big complaint (she has a lot of little ones) is that the bus is too full to find a seat in the morning.  I remember the feeling - I used to hate that too.  Yesterday as the bus pulled up, Will (a.k.a. Mr. Confident) had this immediate look of sheer panic.  I suggested that he might want to sit with Katie the first day.  So they squeezed in with another girl - because all the seats were full. 

Today when he got on the bus he said "I'm not going to sit with Katie today."  Katie was fine with that.  I watched them get on the bus and where do you think he sat?  Yep - with Katie. :)  It's nice to have a big sister on the bus, even if you don't want to admit it.

Yesterday also marked the fist day I could work at home without any kids.  Actually it was the first full length day at home with no children in over 9 years.  It went by fast.  I had a meeting in the morning til 11, I had to make a couple stops at school to drop off Will's water bottle and try to iron out some mistakes with Will's dairy-free lunch, then it was more phone calls with the school nurse and e-mails with the teacher.  All in all I think I got about 2-3 hours of work in, which is just about right for the first day alone. :)

Today I have a list of things to get done and then I am helping out in the lunchroom today through Friday.  Helping the kindergartners/1st graders carry their tray and enter their lunch number, answer questions, and remind them to eat. 

Katie's classroom is pretty unique this year - they are really trying to think outside the box and not have such a cookie-cutter education plan.  There are no desks in her room - they have some high tables, low tables, footstools, couches, and bouncy/fabric chairs.  She says that (so far) there are no assigned seats, but they do have temporary groups to work with.  Since her class is half 4th grade/half 3rd grade, they are spending most of the first week getting to know each other more.  So far she doesn't remember any 3rd grader's names. 

Work is going well.  I got a raise - did I tell you that?  No probably not.  I have some projects I'd like to get done this week to feel better about my productivity.  I've given myself a hard rule that for most days - I need to make myself be done by 3:30.  That's when the kids get home and it's always a bit of chaos getting homework done and supper going.  Hans is happy that we have restarted our ritual of going for a walk as soon as the bus picks up the kids.  He was so funny yesterday when the bus took off - he immediately started walking the direction we used to go last spring, like we'd been doing it everyday since then.  It's also nice to be able to go at our "training pace" which is pretty quick.  I wasn't able to do that when "Pebbles" was along. 

Oh, speaking of "Pebbles" - she has a baby sister!  Happy and healthy and everyone seems to be doing fine.

Friday, August 30, 2013

End of Summer Vacation

Summer is winding down and tomorrow is the last day of August.  I'm so glad that we had a week or so of hot weather finally.  We were able to do some final (and first) days at the beach as well as some swimming.  We also spent a long weekend in IA and we able to visit the pool as well as tube in the creek out at the farm.

Today we have plans of a possible park visit, taking lunch to John at work and meeting Katie's new piano teacher.  Yes - Katie starts piano lessons on September 10th.  Hopefully it doesn't create extra battles for practice time, etc.  Will is doing basketball after school once a week, but that doesn't start until October I believe - I better check though. He's pretty darn excited and practices a few times a day....I don't think he'll forgive me if we miss it.

We met the kids' teachers this week too and got their desks/supplies all set up for Tuesday.  Will has a desk and is sitting right by his best friend Ethan.  We'll see how long that lasts.  Will seems pretty casual about the whole thing.  Will takes a test at the end September to see which reading and math class he will be placed in. 

Katie is in a new type of class this year.  Some classes are trying a multi-age approach and mixing some grade levels in the same homeroom.  So Katie has the same teacher she had last year, but will be with 4th AND 3rd graders.  There are 28 kids in her class (I think) and so that makes 14 3rd graders, 14 4th graders and they are evenly split boy/girl ratios as well. The 4th graders that are in her class are ones that she likes and gets along with very well.  Some of her closest friends are in another class, but they are in the muli-age/family track as well, and we are told that those classes will be mixing a lot so she should get to see them regularly.  And then Katie will be pulled out to go to a 5th grade level math class and a 5th grade level reading class. 

We gave papers to the school nurse documenting Will's new allergies and they are going to supply him with a dairy-free lunch everyday.  I was thinking about packing him a lunch everyday, but I'm not that organized so I'm glad that he will have that option.  She gave me a copy of the dairy free menu - there isn't a lot of variety, but I think it will work for now.  If he gets tired of a certain option, that's when we'll take lunches.  I can wrap my head around packing a lunch 1-2 times a week versus 5 days a week, non-stop. 

On the allergy front, Will had some "planned" exposure yesterday.  He had a birthday party to go to and I explained to him that they were serving pizza and cake, both of which would have milk in them.  He peeled his cheese and toppings off the pizza - because that's what he usually does anyway, but ate a whole piece of cake.  He also brought home chocolate coins in his treat bag, and since he'd had milk already, I told him he could have 2 of those as well.  The cake was at about 6, the chocolate at about 7.  At bedtime - no stuffy nose. 

He woke up this morning about 8:00 and holy hell......his nose is so stuffed up he can't blow out of either side, exactly the way it used to be.  So now we know a timeline (sort of), and I'll be looking to see when the stuffiness goes away again.  It's a good learning experiment for him too because his nose has been totally free and clear for about a week, and to suddenly bring it back like it was makes him realize how much he hates the feeling.  So on the next special occasion - he will be able to decide if it's worth it or not. 

Oh, there was the sliding door - someone has already gone out to practice his basketball dribbling.  And it's only 8:30 am.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Last time I wrote about nothing really happening.  Well, good or bad things are happening now.

School starts in about 2 1/2 weeks.  We get the teacher letters today.  That's always an exciting milestone.  I "think" I know who they each have thanks to a snafu on the school's website a few weeks ago where they accidentally posted teacher assignments.  We'll see if they were right.

I was in charge of the school supply kit fundraiser last year where parents could order a kit of school supplies that the teacher requested.  I have about 85 ordered and they will be delivered to the school next I'm told.  Still waiting for FedEx to contact me about that.  Anyway, once they are delivered I get to sort them and get them put in the correct classroom.  (Note: When I say "I", I really mean Katie and Will.  I think it will be a fun project to do together and I am fully prepared to pay cash.)

Ok, that was the good, now on to the bad.  We'll start with the not-so-bad.
Will has been stuffed up for quite a while now and I knew there was more going on than just random stuffy noses.  So on Wednesday at his yearly check-up I had the dr. do a blood test for allergies.  She ran through the gamut of things that it will test for - mostly environmental causes.  At the end I said I wanted him to be tested for milk as well.  She added it on, but mentioned that she really didn't feel it was necessary because his symptoms didn't match.  Well, add it anyway to appease a crazy mom.

I got a phone call from her yesterday with the results.  The only items that came up positive were dust mites/mold (which confirms the fact that I am a crappy housekeeper and need to get a little more OCD about some things), and milk.  The milk actually tested much higher than the others.  The dust mites/mold were a level 1 and the milk was a 2/3.  (This is on a scale of 1-6, with 4-6 being severe.)  The allergy screen measures the level of allergen-specific IgE in your blood. That is, it measures the concentration of antibodies your body has created to against a particular food allergen. 

(Can you tell I copied and pasted that last part?)

She suggested going dairy free for a month and see if there are any improvements.  I think a better idea is to try 2 months and go from there. Especially if I have to tackle the cleaning aspect of t too. We may be able to re-introduce some types of dairy slowly and have a better picture of what is going on. 

Honestly, I am SO stupid when it comes to seriously avoiding certain foods or ingredients.  I've been blessed with no family history of allergies - diagnosed anyway and we haven't had to have things like this on our radar.  I figured you just avoided milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter.  There, you're done.


Did you know that some types of gum have milk in them?  Cans of tuna?  Yep.  Thanks to some wonderful friends who have a lot of experience with diet restrictions I know a lot more, BUT I'm still learning. 

Ingredients we have to avoid if we want to take this seriously (and really, is there any other way to take it?  I mean if you want to see if going dairy free will help his symptoms, then you have to go whole-hog.)

  • Acidophilus Milk
  • Ammonium Caseinate
  • Butter
  • Butter Fat
  • Butter Oil
  • Butter Solids
  • Buttermilk
  • Buttermilk Powder
  • Calcium Caseinate
  • Casein
  • Caseinate (in general)
  • Cheese (All animal-based)
  • Condensed Milk
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cream
  • Curds
  • Custard
  • Delactosed Whey
  • Demineralized Whey
  • Dry Milk Powder
  • Dry Milk Solids
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Ghee (see p109)
  • Goat Milk
  • Half & Half
  • Hydrolyzed Casein
  • Hydrolyzed Milk Protein
  • Iron Caseinate
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactose
  • Lactulose
  • Low-Fat Milk
  • Magnesium Caseinate
  • Malted Milk
  • Margarine (most)
  • Milk
  • Milk Derivative
  • Milk Fat
  • Milk Powder
  • Milk Protein
  • Milk Solids
  • Natural Butter Flavor
  • Nonfat Milk
  • Nougat
  • Paneer
  • Potassium Caseinate
  • Pudding
  • Recaldent
  • Rennet Casein
  • Skim Milk
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Sour Cream
  • Sour Milk Solids
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Sweet Whey
  • Whey
  • Whey Powder
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Whey Protein Hydrolysate
  • Whipped Cream
  • Whipped Topping
  • Whole Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Zinc Caseinate

Once I get better at label reading I will be able to spot these items more quickly, but that still leaves restaurants.....and the state fair.  Luckily for me, Will hates cheese curds....but I can still eat them.  I also need to contact the school and let them know and then tackle the school lunch calendar and decide what to do there.  I spose I will have to send his lunch with him to be safe, but we'll see.  Luckily - and I mean a HUGE CAPITAL LETTER "LUCKILY" it is no where near life threatening.  It's entirely on the "annoying" symptom list and so I am thankful for that. 

You know, I'm not in the mood to discuss the next crappy thing on my list.  I'll never be in the "mood" to discuss the next thing, but I will address is - later.  We want to have a talk with the kids first after the weekend and then I'll spill the beans here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Man, there is either no time to post or nothing to post about!

I was gone this past weekend to Omaha, NE for a breastfeeding conference.  It was a lot of fun....6 of us moms road tripped there 12 hours round trip in a minivan.  We had a good time and met some other fun moms as well.  I'd explain some funny things that happened, but most of it was a "you had to be there" sort of context. 

John is taking some days off this week and we are going to do some fun things as a family - Como zoo, county fair, beaches, bike rides, etc.  Supposed to be a nice week - weather-wise.  Although, it could be a bit warmer if we wanted to go to the beach....

Will took 10 things to the fair and Katie took 16.  It's always fun to hunt for those items on display at the fair and keep track of what ribbons they won. 

We are down to the last 3 1/2 weeks of summer vacation....oh that reminds me - I have to call the bus company to get the bus pickup changed to our address.  They have us walking a block away - like they usually do, but since we are the only ones getting picked up, they are usually very nice about changing it. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We'll see

We may be getting a second house!

Will is trying to talk John into building him a tree house.

"You me my tree kingdom!"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Will's Birthday!

We had Will's birthday party on Saturday.  It was his FIRST party to have friends over.  I meant to do it last year, but the weeks totally got away from me.  We had 3 of is friends from school over for a couple hours and they had a blast.  We played 4 games of "Joker's Playhouse" - a board game of superheros.  That literally filled up the first hour of the party.  (I was a little worried because I didn't have a lot planned out.)  They were all big superhero fans and all wanted to keep playing so that they could each be a different superhero. :)

Then we decorated little wooden treasure boxes that I picked up for the party.  We used markers, stickers and jewels.  They played in Will's room for 15 minutes, during which time they took out an electric fan.  Then we had donut holes, fruit, kettle corn, and ice cream. Honestly, I think the boys were quieter overall than the girls at Katie's party!

That blaze of fire is made up of the donut holes.

Will and his friends scrutinizing a superhero puzzle.
After Will's party we headed up to a friend's house to go swimming and visit.  It drastically had cooled off so weren't sure how the swimming would go - but their pool is heated and so it was warmer in the water than out.  The kids obviously had a blast - both went down the slide AND the diving board - even without goggles!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Almost birthday-eve

Tomorrow is Will's birthday eve.  We've had a countdown going for over 2 weeks now, so we are all a little excited to have it so close.  Thanks to Will's science camp, I got the presents wrapped.  Stay tuned for pictures. 

I was able to get out and do a semi-normal run yesterday with the dog.  He can go about 2-3 minutes and then I can tell he needs to walk.  But his legs are so darn long that my jogging pace is just his quick walking pace, so I think he can go farther when it isn't so hot.  If it's too hot tomorrow for him I may go alone and just walk him in the afternoon.  And the previous "commenter" is right - a dog walk certainly counts as exercise - especially in this heat.  But I don't reach that euphoric "high" that I get when I run for more than 20 minutes.  It's that "high" that kicks my bad energy in the butt.  I almost get there yesterday, but then cut it short in order to have a nice conversation with the neighbor across the street who was out walking.  That was a mood lifter on it's own too.

Today it rained this morning and that squashed our chances at getting out at all.  Swimming lessons started today.  Katie is on Level 3 - they had them jump off the diving board - without goggles (gasp!).  That's a first for Katie.  This is a Level that will be a good challenge for her.  Will is on Level 1, and I think he can do most of the things required of that level, except the back float.  His challenge will be listening. :)  But that goes for all of us.

Monday, July 8, 2013

New content

Ok - you want new content?

Here it is.  It's hot, it's humid and we are busy. :)

Will started science camp today.  It will be good for him to have to pay attention to a teacher for 3 hours a day again.  We start swimming lessons tomorrow.  The kids have gotten so much better at swimming - I'm very proud.  I tell people all the time that Katie and I are pretty much at the same level right now.  After this round of lessons I have a good feeling that she will surpass me.

I'm (trying) to work away like a busy little bee.  It is VERY difficult to keep the kids off the tv, iPad, and iPod during the 3-4 hours I try to work each morning.  Either I let them have an hour of that or I continually deal with getting interrupted every stinking 5 minutes.  This morning I have told Katie that if she lets me work for a bit, she can have the iPad while I take Hans for a jog/walk.

That's another thing - I haven't been running. At. All.  First of all, it's way hot.  But that doesn't really work for an excuse because I used to get up at 6:30 to run in the summer.  I was awake this morning very early and thought about it - but that didn't last too long.  It's fairly cool right now so I guess I better go do it.  It's hard to run with the dog yet - I'd still rather go by myself, but I don't have the time or opportunity to take him on a half hour walk and then come back and do a half hour by myself too.
I know that the exercise will help improve my mood and self image - it always does.  Damn it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The things you learn from Facebook....

According to my college's post on Facebook this morning George R. R. Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones series was a professor there in the 70's!  So I did a bit of digging and confirmed it.  This is from his own website:

"Fortunately, I had a master’s degree from the best journalism school in the country, and after sending out several hundred queries, I was hired as a journalism instructor by Clarke College, a small Catholic women’s college in Dubuque, Iowa. It was a two-man department. My friend Charlie Ellis taught television and film, and I taught the print journalism courses. I was also the faculty advisor to the student newspaper, The Courier, which was great fun and got me in trouble constantly."

Pretty interesting, at least to me.  I guess they should invite him back to speak, right?  Or at least give alumni advanced copies of his next book.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can you tell who is who?

The other day I was looking for my 3rd grade picture so that I could tell Katie whether or not I had pierced ears in 3rd grade.  Turns out I did.  So I got mine pierced at the beginning of 3rd grade, when I was 8.

Then we noticed how similar our mouths looked.  I thought it would be fun to see if you could pick out who's belongs to who.



Monday, June 17, 2013

Katie is 9!

I have been going through a lot of old photos lately - thinking about scanning them all onto the computer so they don't fade.  I'd like to do that to a lot of old photos at my moms house as well as the in-laws.  Both have so many pictures that I'd hate to see lost.  I'd like my kids to have them as they get older.

Speaking of older - Katie is 9!

Happy Birthday Katie!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Birthday Party Haze

The guests have left and the house has been put back in order - pretty much.  Oh, and the dog and cat have been given free reign of the house again..

- made their own mini pizzas
- played tag outside
- made candy mold suckers
- decorated make-your-own puzzles
- decorated bandannas
- ate fruit pizza
- Katie opened presents
- played ninja
- watched The Princess Bride
- ate popcorn
- played toilet paper mummy (Thanks for the idea Anne!)
- played hide-and-go-seek
- made bracelets
- giggled

Some of these things I just had in my back pocket - just in case.  (mummy, puzzles, bandannas) And I'm glad I did because the "I'm bored" whining came way too early.  So there was plenty to do.  The noise level DID go down a bit when the male guests left, but then it seemed to creep back up again at times. 

We ended up with an even number of girls staying over (Katie and 3 guests) - remember me talking about that?  Well they are not kidding - even numbers are WAY better.  There were so many times when one girl would pull only one other girl aside and whisper or talk or whatever, and that's ok because there's 2 left.  But if there was only 1 left - that would have made for more drama I think.  And the one girl that kept pulling only one other girl aside comes from a home with 2 older sisters - 12 and 14.  She seemed to have a lot of "older" girl speech and game ideas. 

All in all it was a success.  Today Katie wants her ears pierced.  She's been talking about it for quite a while, and I'm ok with it - more so than John is I think.  All the girls here last night had their ears pierced and they were talking about it too.  I think we are going to do it this afternoon.  Maybe.

Does this look like a jumbled mess? 
I hope so - cuz that's what I was going for.

That mummy on the left is Katie.

Katie and her friends...and Will. :)

Friday, June 14, 2013


Update to the party -

So I e-mailed the other 2 moms and said that we decided to turn the party into a girl's sleepover, if they'd like to come.  One said yes, one said no - they had done 2 sleepovers in the last week and were paying the price.  (Today that same mom e-mailed and said her daughter is sick and can't come to any of it!  Too little sleep, too many germs.)

So we are having 4 girls stay overnight and I think that's just perfect.  Katie has come around - she just doesn't like loud parties, crowds, and is worried about not being able to fall asleep.  I think once we get this first one under our belt, we'll be good. 

Katie has been invited to 3 birthday parties in the last 6 months or so and each of them included a sleepover for just a few of the guests.  In each case, Katie wasn't invited to sleep over - she was fine with it and so was I.  It seems to be a very common thing to do these days and is even one of the suggested "DO'S" on many sleepover tip-type websites.  Yes, I read sleepover tip websites.

However, it just felt odd not including everyone when our party list wasn't that long to begin with.  So the only ones excluded will be the boys - but you'd be surprised how many websites there are telling you how to throw co-ed sleepovers too!  I'm totally a stick-in-the-mud on that one.  We'll skip those.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Need your input

Ok, I need some help.

Katie is having her birthday party on Friday night. There will be 3 boys and 4 girls coming.  The party will be from 6-8 and we are making little pizzas, decorating scarves, making bracelets and have games to play.

We invited 2 of the girls to stay overnight.  The two Katie picked are probably not the two that I would have thought she would pick, but I wanted to leave it up to her.

Here's the question - will the other 2 girls feel bad and left out that they didn't get invited to stay over too?  How do I handle that?  DO i handle that?  I am actually good friends with the moms and have also thought about e-mailing them to give them a heads up and to explain that we'd love to have them spend the night in a couple weeks too.

I also offered it up to Katie to invite ALL 4 girls to spend the night so as not to leave anyone out and - being a TRUE introvert - she basically had a panic attack at the thought of 4 other people spending the night in her house.

So - you tell I need to be concerned with their feelings?  Should I e-mail the moms and explain the situation?

Monday, June 10, 2013

New week

It's Monday - a brand new week.  It's supposed to get warmer this week, muggy even.  It figures.  Go from unseasonable cold to muggy and humid overnight.  It rained Saturday night and about half the day on Sunday.  It sure looks like it could rain now too - but according to the weather channel, it shouldn't. 

We are having t-ball again tomorrow and it even looks like it could be *gasp* sunny!  Today we are hoping to get to the park. 

Hans started obedience class last week.  We are signed up for classes at a dog training place in the town next door.  I thought I would give them a try versus the pet stores this time.  Here were my options:
1. Take an adult 1 class at the pet store where we took our first puppy class.  The instructor was very nice, seemed knowledgeable, but the space left something to be desired because we were a little cramped, and it was the furthest away.

2.  Take an adult 1 class at the pet store where we took our 2nd puppy class.  It was very close by, but the space was terrible.  Way too cramped and very hard to control dogs when they are inches away from each other.  The instructor was very gruff, which is necessary at times, but she also had only been a trainer for 18 months.

3.  Take an adult 1 class at the professional dog trainer's facility.  Didn't know anything about it, other than I'd heard from some dog-people it was a good place.

All 3 were within $10 of each other, so I figured I'd give option 3 a try.  The first week, they didn't want any dogs - we just went over requirements of the class, type of leash, type of collar, etc.  When I explained the issues I was having with Hans (a little pulling on walks, and a LOT of pulling when he'd see other people or dogs.  I've had 2 burns across my hand from the leash and 2 fingernails bent backwards.  Boy, do those hurt.)  They suggested that I come early the following week and get Hans fitted for a prong collar. 
A prong collar has blunt prongs that squeeze the dogs neck when tightened.  It's supposed to replicate the mother dog grabbing her pups by the neck as a correction tool.  It looks intimidating, and I'd heard good and bag things about it.  During the week I did a bit of reading up on them and they are actually a quite gentle training device - more so than the choke collars or slip collars that were suggested as well.  When I went to have Hans fitted, the owner of the place did it himself and spent about 30 minutes with me showing me effective ways to use it, put it on and remove it. 

He told me that a lot of how Hans reacts in the prong is going to be based on my body language and how I hold the leash.  We tried an exercise - he told me to tense up my body as much as possible, arms, legs, shoulders, hands, etc.  Then he brought another dog close to Hans and Hans FLIPPED OUT.  He was lunging, trying to get close to the other dog, whining, etc.  They removed the dog and now he told me to relax as much as I could, slow, deep breaths, and to close my eyes.  They brought the dog back and I couldn't even tell he was there.  Hans was as still as a statue.  And just to drive the point home, we tensed up again brought the dog back, and I had "crazy Hans" again.  Weird.

So now we've been walking with the prong, and using in for 10-15 minutes at home doing our exercises and he's been doing great.  We only have the collar on when we are training.  I even was able to walk Hans through a group of about 5 kids, up to a lemonade stand and buy a cup. :)  He was totally calm, which never would have happened before.  There was only one issue.  We were walking by 2 dogs in their front yard.  I purposefully walked out into the middle of the street so Hans wouldn't get too close.  We are doing well around other dogs (excitement wise) but I still need to take it slow.  Of course these dogs aren't tied up, no fence whatsoever so they run out to us in the middle of the street.  Meanwhile the owners are sitting on their steps calling their dogs back (who aren't listening) and Hans is going crazy - probably because I'm all tensed and stressed and surprised at this sudden surge of dogs.  So Hans is yelping and jumping and going all crazy and sounding like something is hurting (because it is) and I'm trying to get the owners to come take their dogs away - which they eventually do.

For the Canine Good Citizenship test, you can't use prong collars.  So in adult 2 classes, they work on switching back and forth. 

Here's some pics of the kids at the Twins game last week - because I don't have pictures of the dog class.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

We had t-ball!

We had our first t-ball practice last night!  Finally!  It was sprinkling quite a bit so we were all wet after an hour, but at least we got 1 in.  Some of us were in foul moods after the hour
*cough* Katie *cough*....but some snacks and juice boxes seemed to help. 

Will did great - good solid hits and ran TO the ball instead of digging in the dirt.  Of course, I didn't have my camera - so we'll see what happens next week.  It LOOKS sunny for now...

Work is starting to pick up a bit.  I have projects to work on now and they very similar to what I was doing 10 years ago so there isn't much of a learning curve there - just a remembering curve.  It's hard working in an isolated bubble - I can't just shout over my shoulder when I have a question or something to say - I have to wait longer for a reply.  We converse mostly via e-mail and I try to schedule chunks of time that I am "on the clock" so I am not just working on and off for 20-30 minutes every hour.  However, when an e-mail comes in that I need to deal with, I need to deal with it.  So it makes it hard to track hours, more of an estimating situation I spose. 

Tomorrow is "Pebble's" last day at our house and I think it will be a positive move for everyone.  She is going to stay with her grandma who is visiting for like 3 weeks and then to a preschool center (kind of an expensive one, at that!)  But I bet we'll see her once in a while because that school always goes to the concerts in the park by the library - as do we. 

Let's see...what else - oh, it's the last day of school today.  Will got pushed and fell down and hit something hard on the floor at school - he came home with an ice pack from the nurse and a bloody nose with a big bruise on his cheek.  He was also quite sad. :(  Don't worry, he's over it now, though.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Brownie points

I went to a few garage sales this morning.  Anymore, I'm pretty picky about the ones I stop at, so I'm sure I miss some 'treasures."  But today I got stuff that is going to score me BIG mommy-brownie points.

Katie has been reading the Gregor The Overlander Series of books by Suzanne Collins.  She just finished #3 and has been begging me to go to the library and get #4.  I found it today at a sale!  In fact I found #3 and #4, so I got both of them because they are pretty hard to find. 

The rest of the stuff are things I wouldn't buy "new", but I figured this was a deal.
- and extra Play Station2 controller (we only have one, which works for us - but figured we could use another one at times.)
- a wireless guitar for Play Station2, Guitar Hero (we haven't had anything like this before and the kids have been wanting one.)
- 2 Guitar Hero games

I got all this for $7.00 - so I figured it was worth it, and I was assured everything worked.  I passed up an entire Play Station Rock Band set up for $25.00.  If it keeps raining, I know what we'll be doing.

We have church pictures this weekend, so I have to dye the gray out of my hair before then.  We are also going to the Twins game on Sunday so it better not rain on us, or be too hot, or be too cold.  Not asking too much, right?  T-ball was canceled for the 2nd time this week.  We haven't been able to have a practice or game yet!  If next week doesn't cooperate I think Will may call upon his own superpowers to do something about the weather.  Just one day without a bunch of rain would be nice.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I've been working at home now - officially - for 3 days now.  I have found that I can get 2 hours in quite easily during the day, then it becomes harder when Will comes home at 11:15, and then it becomes impossible at 3:30 when Katie comes home.  Knowing that, I will be able to work out a better schedule.  Once summer rolls around and there isn't homework to do between 3:30 and 5 it will make a difference too.

"Pebbles" is going to go somewhere else starting some time in June.  I can't manage to have her here everyday all day, and when the Katie and Will are gone at camps this summer here and there - she will be by herself for a good chunk of the day and that would be very boring, in my opinion.  Trying to have her here a few days and somewhere else a few days gets too confusing.  And when her and Will ARE together - they play very well, but they also play VERY LOUD.  I can't imagine talking to the owner of a 2 million dollar account while kids are screaming in the background. 

While working today I pulled up some older accounts to re-learn some things that have changed in the system and familiarize myself with things that are still the same.  I found all these old forms that I had filled out over 10 years ago and it was totally surreal.  So much has changed since I completed these forms!!  I wish I could tell my "then" self how great things turn out as the years go by. :)

Have a great holiday weekend!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mid week news

Well, not really "news", just an update I guess.  The windows are in - city inspector comes in about a half hour to sign off on the job and close out our work permit.  I installed the smoke detectors yesterday (new ones have to be in every bedroom with carbon monoxide detectors on every level.)  Given this update to the code we now have 3 smoke detectors within 2 feet of each other upstairs.  I had no trouble installing them, but I probably should test them quick.

They work.  Well, they beeped when I pushed the button anyway.  Here are some pictures.  I had to take one of the front window from far away because it was too sunny to have the flash work, and so the picture turned out too dark. 
Front window - Before - note the fine picture of "Dancing Potato"

After - we changed the window from 4 rectangle panes to two rectangles with a larger square in the middle.  Basically taking out the middle divider.  Seems to let in more light.   

The back windows.....sliding door stayed the same.
The sun-room before...

The sun-room after....
We didn't change the 2 triangle windows up on top.  The painters are supposed to come in the next 2 weeks to stain the trim so that it matches the walls.  Note the SIXTEEN blinds on the couch that will have to go up later.  Although, I do really like the room with no blinds too.

Also on the home improvement front, I can wash clothes again today!  Our washer had slowly been going down hill, not spinning very fast in the spin cycle.  So I would wash a small load of clothes, then they wouldn't spin so they'd be sopping wet.  I take that whole mess out of the washer and divide it into 3 even smaller loads. (Like 2 shirts and 1 pair of pants) Then I would spin THOSE groups 2-3 times each.  All in all, 1 load would take an extra hour if I kept on top of it, which I never did - so I would get like 1 load done every other day or so.  I was getting VERY backed up, but refusing to spend money on a new one when it wasn't completely dead.
So I did some hunting and (thanks to the Internet) found what I thought was the problem - the clutch drive.  I also found a YouTube video showing how to replace the part, showed it to John and asked "Do you want to do that?"  We got the part ordered, and John put the washer back together last night, and low and worked!  One load - one spin. 
P.S. - On that first load the sink that the washer dumps into actually overflowed, so we had water everywhere....BUT it had nothing to do with the initial problem, and seems to be all better now!
I've never been so happy to wash clothes.