Thursday, August 30, 2007

Car Repair

Okay, it's actually the van, but whatever.

For about a year now, the blower for the vents either has to be on high or not at all. This is the second time it's happened, so I knew that it was nothing critical to the van running, so I've dragged my feet on getting it fixed. It's been particularly annoying this summer, though, because it's been so darn hot. So, we've either been freezing or sweating. I've noticed, lately, that my brakes don't feel right. The kicker was when the van began squealing. Okay...time for it to get fixed.

When we first moved to Virginia and were living in temporary housing in Herndon, I took the van in to have the blower motor and brakes fixed. I remember it costing a fortune and thought that if we add in a belt (I thought that's what was squealing), it just might cost us a child or two.

I held my breath when the phone rang this morning and it was the Dodge dealership on the other end. "We've figured out what's wrong with your van," the guy tells me. The squealing is indeed a belt that needs to be replaced. Okay. My brakes are shot and I do need new ones. Okay. I need a new motor so that the blower doesn't only work on high. Okay...what's it going to cost? $300 less than what it cost 3 years ago to fix just the brakes and blower motor. Seriously? Deal! The van will be ready for pick up later this afternoon. Sweet.

In the meantime, I'm driving Mike's Kia. It's always so strange for me to drive the car. It's so much lower than the van. When I pulled up in carpool to drop the boys off this morning, I almost hit the curb and it was really funny watching the boys get out. They are so used to being able to stand up and get out of the van that they were struggling to get out. It didn't help that the child lock was engaged on the back door so Jacob had to open the door for him (after teasing Daniel for a minute...which Daniel hated).

I really can't wait to get the van back...the first thing I'm going to do is put the blower on low!

Some Photos Dad Sent

Proof that Dad, was indeed, a Boy Scout! LOL! Click photos to make them bigger.

Dad (right) and Uncle John (left) in their Cub Scout uniforms in Redlands, CA. Is Uncle John holding a cat? Cute house. I'm guessing that it's 1951.

Dad in his Boy Scout uniform heading off to a meeting on his bike (also in Redlands). 1953?

I love this one. Grandpa in the 1930's getting ready to go to camp as a Scoutmaster.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Adventures In Scouting

The boys came home from their playdate this afternoon (they had a great time) and immediately had to get ready for tae kwon do. We ran out there and had class...then we ran over to the school for the Cub Scout meeting. I was really hoping that this wouldn't be very long since the kids were tired and hadn't eaten dinner yet.

The kids all go over to play in the little area that they had set up and I started talking to some familiar faces. Brandon and Crystal's dad (friends from TKD who also go to the same school) came over to say hello. Then Theresa (Zephan and Caden's mom) came in and sat down next to me. We listened to a brief overview of scouting and were handed registration forms while one of the leaders started building dens.

Ahhh...Boy Scouts is NOTHING like Girl Scouts. I tell you head was swimming from all of the code. Daniel's in first grade, so that means he's a Tiger Cub. Jacob's in third grade, so that means he's a Bear Cub. They will each be in their own Den (there are 5-6 Tiger Dens with 8 boys in each and 2 Bear Dens also with 8 boys a piece) and the whole school (all 15 or so Dens...the school is very active with Cub Scouts) make up our Pack. (Second grade is Wolf and fourth/fifth grade is Webelos...sixth and above is Boy Scouts.) The Dens meet a couple of times a month and the Pack meets monthly.

This Pack is pretty all-in when it comes to scouting. They've already announced the first family camp-out (in October), have given us basic info on the Pinewood Derby and about the big Blue and Gold Banquet they hold yearly. They also outlined the summer day-camp and overnight camps (they learn to shoot bow and arrows as well as BB guns). This should be right up Jacob's alley.

Theresa and I were able to wrangle our boys into the same Dens and we're already planning carpools to meetings. Now, I have to worry about uniforms.

Here's some fun trivia...can anyone tell me what percentage of Cub Scouts go on to become Eagle Scouts? (because "Cub Scouts is where Eagle Scouts are born!" That's according to our Pack Leader) I was actually shocked at the answer.

Next year, Hannah can join Daisy Girl Scouts.
*banging head on keyboard*

We're Saving George From a Life of Festering Sores and Insanity

Sorry...I had a Grey's moment there. I don't know why I was thinking of that episode today (Episode 109...Who's Zoomin' Who?) but I thought it was a funny title.

*Update* Okay, so I've discovered why the laundry room stunk of Tide. It actually wasn't Tide, but Downy. I also figured out what she meant by cleaning the washer. She scrubbed the liquid softener dispenser (leading to clumps of fabric softener on the walls of the washer) and she must have filled it full (instead of using the cap) of Downy when she did the load. I went to put the clothes in the dryer (she didn't seperate the clothes!!!!!!!!!!!!! One of my biggest pet peeves) and Jacob's black Tae Kwon Do shirt was covered in clumps of fabric softener. Needless to say, I'm not happy right now. I wanted to do towels and sheets today but now I have to re-wash what she "washed" and hang it back up before I can do that.

Mike had a work dinner last night, so we got a sitter (Paige) and headed over. It was nice to talk to adults, especially ones that once lived in Winchester. Before we left for the dinner, we tried to impress upon Paige that it's important that the kids go to sleep at 8:30 since it was a school night (she's famous for letting the kids stay up until we get home) but the kids were up when we arrived home at 9. *sigh* I found myself doing a lot of eye rolling about Paige this morning...she dug through Hannah's closet and did some laundry. Two loads to be exact. She told me that she cleaned the washer because it was dirty and I can't figure out what that means. I don't think I would have minded as much, but she grabbed clothes that were clean and hanging up in the closets (I discovered this looking for Jacob's Tae Kwon Do shirt this morning). So, now my laundry is messed up. I've still got a load of clothes that Hannah's outgrown (I was also informed, by Paige, that the kids need new pj's because none of theirs fit...ummm, no) in the washer...oh, and they were already clean to begin with. Also, the laundry room smells overwhelmingly of Tide...I'm wondering just how much she used. I asked Jacob why she did laundry that was hanging up in his closet and he told me that Paige said she wanted his shirt to smell fresh. Huh.

She also went through cabinets to find all sorts of cleaners to clean the bathroom and kitchen with, and left them scattered around the kitchen. I had told her that the dishes in the dishwasher were clean and she could use those to give the kids pizza on...apparently she didn't think they were clean enough because the dishwasher (with the same dishes in it) was halfway through another cycle. I know she's trying to be helpful but she's not. Oh, and did I mention that she wanted me to take her to Target on the way to drop her back home? I like the girl, but she's killing me.

The boys have their first early release day of the year today. They are going home with Zephan and his brother Caden after school for a playdate. Theresa (their mom) is brining them home in time for TKD and then we have Boy Scouts. I'm tired just thinking about it. I hope they don't have much homework.

Now, I need to figure out what's going on with the laundry.

Monday, August 27, 2007

It Only Took Nine Months...

Finally. We finally found a synagogue out here. Our choice in Virginia was simple...there was only one. We were fortunate that it was one that we liked. We learned a lot from being members at Beth El: we like Reform, we like smaller synagogues and we like them to be understanding of interfaith families (it's hard not to be when 95% of your families are interfaith). We were starting to feel guilty about not belonging to a synagogue since the kids had already missed several months of Sunday School and we were concerned that the kids would be behind. With school starting up again, we were aware that we needed to get on the ball.

We had our choices narrowed down to two: Congregation B-T and Congregation B-J. Mike decided to go to the prospective member brunch at CB-T to check it out (even though we were pretty sure we were going to go with CB-J). Mike really liked this synagogue. It's a smaller (for the area) synagogue with about 500 families and they are sensitive to interfaith families (Mike estimates that about 1/3 of the families are interfaith). They offer Sunday School for all three (but Hannah will only go every other Sunday) and, at first glance, it appears that Jacob may be a little ahead since they are just now learning the Hebrew alphabet. Mike had talked to some others who were coming over from CB-J and said that there is some brouhaha (I love that word) going on over there and they're shopping around. I told Mike that the last thing we need is to be a part of some mess as new members and we decided to become members of CB-T. It's a beautiful facility and they have all of their services on-site. So, the kids will be starting Sunday School on September 9th and I guess there's a big family thing (Bobbi and Ed, you'll be here for it), which is nice. It's nice to have a synagogue again.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Sense of Accomplishment

I'm actually amazed at just how productive I am with the kids in school. I don't know why I don't get much done with the boys here, but it seems that nothing gets done with them here. Like yesterday...

I dropped the boys off at school and came home. I got laundry in the washer and began cleaning up. By noon, I had 2 loads done and put away, the first and second floors cleaned, vacuumed and mopped and was on my way to the grocery store. By 3pm, I had a load of towels done, groceries put away, a cake baked and frosted and the day's dishes washed.

There was a monarch fluttering around in my flowers yesterday. He was out there for a good 20 minutes and Hannah and I had a great time watching. No eggs or caterpillars yet, but there is still time.

Our hummingbird is still hanging around. He was mad at me yesterday for changing out the stuff in the feeder. He hovered where the feeder normally is until I came back out and then buzzed me a couple of times. LOL!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Meet The Teacher

Tonight was Meet the Teacher night at the school. I dropped the kids off at Tae Kwon Do and headed over. Daniel's teacher is a riot. She wears a microphone and has speakers set up around the room so that she can diminish the "I didn't hear you" complaint. Early on, she had mentioned that a student, earlier in the day, had talked about his imaginary friend. I spoke up and said, "I'm going to go out on a limb and say that must have been Daniel." She started laughing and said that she was glad that I was aware of the friend. She had given us each an apple because we are their teachers too and she had us write a letter to our kids. I thought that was nice. She is so full of energy and clearly loves what she does. She's all about making learning fun and making each child "shine." (The parent booklet that she gave us was called a "travel guide." LOL!) I like that a lot. No wonder Daniel loves her. He's also been a great kid for her. They have a behavior chart and Daniel's never been off of green. Today, he brought home a certificate for good behavior. This is the Daniel from preschool and kindergarten in Virginia. I really think that it was the move and the new school that made him act out the way he did last year.

Jacob's teacher is nice, but she's much more hard core than Daniel's teacher. She will not give more than 30 minutes of homework a night, but they are also expected to read for 20 minutes each night (30 is preferable...not really a problem for Jacob) and practice their math facts for an additional 30 minutes each night, even though it may not be listed as's just expected. Ummm...I think that's actually 1:20-1:30 minutes a night for a third grader. I'm not complaining about the reading because I think that's important but I'm going to come right out and say that I doubt we're going to be doing 30 minutes of first grade addition and subtraction each night. I think he's pretty much got that down. She did laugh at the homework that's due on Monday...find an artifact that an economist (geographer, political scientist, historian) would study. She said that it was 30 minutes just describing what a political scientist was. I do get why she has to be a little more academic...testing begins in earnest in third grade. Don't even get me started on standardized testing. There is one test that I agree with...the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) test. They take this one in the fall and again in the spring. It's a what do you know/what growth have you had test. I don't mind those because there doesn't seem to be as much pressure for these. It's mostly a test to see where everyone stands. However, they also have the big state assessments that are in the spring. I hate those because you get teachers who are only teaching for the test (Jacob's included...and she admitted to it). Thankfully, Jacob tests well. No testing for Daniel until next year.

Oh...and I signed up for more stuff. LOL! I volunteered to help Daniel's teacher with various clerical/organizational stuff in the afternoons when Hannah's at school and for a couple of other things in Daniel's class. I might go in and help with workshops (centers) in the mornings, if I can get Paige (the one next door...not our regular! I didn't put that together until just now) to babysit Hannah for an hour for me. I also volunteered to be on the continent study committee for Jacob's class.'s a habit I really need to stop. LOL!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm Tired

But I think it's a good tired, and I think that it may be because I'm thinking of what I have to do this week.

After I dropped the boys off at school this morning, Hannah and I went inside to go to the room mother meeting. I found the other room mother for Jacob's class, Betsey, and we started talking. It turns out that her son has been really wanting a playdate with Jacob. We think that we're going to do something on Friday, but we wanted to see what the boys wanted to do first.

Unfortunately, we're still known as the "new family." I wonder how long that will last. It is kind of funny, though...introducing myself to people and hearing them say, "oh! You moved in the middle of the year last year, right?" I laughed when I heard them say it to Betsey, too, since she moved here just a couple of weeks before us. I do have to say that it was really nice to be walking out of the school, laughing and talking with other adults. I came out of that meeting feeling pretty good about being here. Maybe it's not so bad after all. Ask me again in another month.

I guess being a room mother also entails being available at Meet-the-teacher Night on Thursday, because we're the "face of Morse, besides the teachers." Whatever that means. Betsey and I decided to break it up a bit, but I'm still going to have to be there later than I had anticipated. Ugh. You should see the packet of stuff I got today. Class sheets, sign-ups, approved snack lists, party info...the list goes on and on. And that's just for co-room mother. The head room mothers got a huge folder full of stuff. If you ask me, it's more work than it's worth, but who am I to say anything?

We came home, I cleaned and set up the crock pot for dinner. I'm actually quite shocked that the house is still pretty clean after 4 days. The laundry's not piled up, the beds are actually made and there's a vase of pretty, pretty sunflowers on the kitchen table. It really is easier to maintain a clean house than it is to get a dirty one clean. I keep telling myself that, anyway. At some point, I'm going to have to tackle the laundry room closet and pantry cabinets. Someday.

We have Tae Kwon Do tonight and the boys should "officially" get their orange belts. Grandmaster Lee gave them to the boys on Saturday, but I didn't get pictures, so I'm hoping that Master Dave will give them again so that I can get some. LOL!

Apparently, I've been yelling at Mike in my sleep. I had no idea. Mike asked me yesterday if he had been snoring and I said that I didn't think so, why? He said that I yelled something about something being "ridiculous" so loudly that he woke up and apologized. I wonder what I was dreaming about.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hummingbirds in the Mist

I seem to have acquired Sue's bully hummingbird. LOL! We noticed him a few days ago and every day, he seems to come more often (Jacob's named him Tim). Today, he's been averaging a trip every half hour, which seems like a lot for a little hummingbird. After picking the boys up from school, I noticed a different hummingbird at the feeder and then, out of no where, Tim comes along and chases him off. He's done it twice, that I've seen anyway. He seems pretty confident that it's his feeder...we saw him sitting on the top of it for a while. Right now, he's perched in the tree in the backyard, waiting to pounce. Oh...I take that back. He's at the feeder as we speak. My little piggy bully hummingbird! LOL!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Funnies

I checked the weather blog this morning (as I do several times a day) and learned that we just may get hit by a hurricane in the next few days. LOL! Apparently, TD Erin has reorganized itself and is heading our way. Erin even has a redeveloped eye! It's funny to see the maps with this storm...seeing the classic circular cloud shape right over Okalahoma cracks me up. Click the link to the weather blog on the left to see the images.

Apparently yesterday, Jacob was in the bathroom and needed toilet paper. He called out to Mike, who said that he'd get him some. Then, Jacob yells from the bathroom, "It's in the laundry room, on the floor, in the closet." Mike said that it sounded so adult-like, and just like me. Apparently, I talk like that. Okay, so it was funny to me.

Hannah and Daniel were playing with these large building sticks yesterday afternoon. There was only one orange one, and I guess that was the most desired one. Anyway, Daniel and Hannah begin to fight over it. Mike tells Daniel that Hannah had it first so go downstairs and get another. Daniel tells him no that there are no more in the basement, this is the only one. Mike says that he's going downstairs and if he finds and orange one, Daniel's grounded. Mike stomps to the basement and Daniel hangs his head low and says to himself, "Ugh. I'm going to be soo grounded." LOL!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

This Just In...

Mike just called from Tae Kwon Do (he and the boys go to the main academy for practice on Saturdays) and they've posted the results of last week's testing. First, let me explain how their belts work. When you test, one of three things can happen: you can get the next belt up "decided" or "recommended" or you can fail and stay at the same belt. When you get a belt "decided," you have shown sufficient mastery for the belt and get it with no strings. When you get a belt "recommended," you've shown enough to get the belt, but you still have a little bit of work to do within the belt.

Last time, Mike and Jacob got their yellow belts "decided" and Daniel got his "recommended." (no real shocker there) At some point over the summer, they must have bumped him up to "decided" because that's what his old rank was listed as (per Mike). Anyway, all three got their orange belts "decided." I can't tell you how proud of Daniel I am. He worked really hard for this one.

Friday, August 17, 2007

What A Day

Boy, am I tired. I actually got a lot done today with the kids in school. First, let me update on the first day of school.

I go to pick up the boys and run into my whole neighborhood. I was able to dispense wisdom gained from a previous year of picking up kids in the afternoon (for example, why do the cars wait outside of the circle instead of pulling all of the way up? Answer: because the preschoolers get out 10 minutes before the rest of the school and their parents have priority parking before 3:35, except on preschool on Friday.) I also ran into Zephan's mom...he's just as upset about not being in Jacob's class as Jacob was. According to her, Zephan read the class list 5 times looking for Jacob's name. When he finally gave up, he looked at his mom and said, "Just great. Another year without Jacob in my class." We're going to try to get them together this weekend.

Daniel was the first to appear after school was over yesterday. He looked tired but was smiling. He said that he'd had fun but his eyes were stinging. I asked him if he had seen the reading specialist and he said no. I asked again, "are you sure you didn't see the reading specialist?" He rolled his eyes and said no. I tried a different phrasing, "did you see Mrs. L today?" "Oh yeah! She asked me where all of my teeth went!" He has no idea what a reading specialist is. He just knows who she is! LOL!

Jacob came out, angry that he only gets one recess this year. He was pretty happy about being told to bring a snack to school. "She's to only teacher that has snack-time!" He was so hoping that she was the one.

So, this morning I drop the kids off at school (I just knew that Mr. L, the principal, would be the one to let them out of the car which is why I spent a good deal of time cleaning the car out yesterday. My van's usually a train wreck.) Hannah and I went to pick up some cleaning supplies and we headed home to clean. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned (I've neglected the house a bit this summer). After about 5 hours of cleaning, I was exhausted. BUT, the first floor looks awesome. There are one or two clutter spots, but I don't know what I would do if we ever got rid of all of them completely. I was actually on my hands and knees, scrubbing the kitchen floor. I went through a couple of cabinets and organized them. I even wiped down the cabinet doors and the kitchen walls. Hannah was so cute, following me around with her little vacuum. She tells me that she loves to vacuum. I wonder how old she needs to be to actually vacuum. I know that Jacob can, and does a good job. Daniel likes to chase people with it. LOL!

This afternoon, I went to pick the boys up. Hannah and I are waiting in the lobby when I see Jacob's 2nd grade teacher walk by with her new class. She stops to say hi and continues with her class. Then, Daniel's teacher from last year comes by and does the same thing. I then spot Daniel walking down the hallway, his teacher a few steps ahead. He stops, looks at me and yells, "I'm supposed to ride the bus!" I look at him and say, "No, you don't ride the bus." Mrs. H, his teacher, comes over and explains to me that Daniel was so insistent that he rides the bus, she took him out to talk to the bus driver, who reassured her that he does not (I had to fill out a form the other night that said that Daniel travels to and from school by car and she thought that maybe I'd circled the wrong thing). I think Daniel's going to give Mrs. H a run for her money!

Jacob can't stop talking about the new Spanish teacher. He and Daniel think it's hilarious that she only speaks Spanish while they are in class. I told him that that's the best way to learn it. If you want to understand her, you have to learn to speak it. Jacob then tells me a story about how the only time he understood her today was when she stopped to yell (in English) at another student for bending some cards.

On a non-school related note, we've seen some very cool butterflies in the yard lately. A monarch here and there, but there are a lot of others that have been feasting at the flowers. There was a beautiful swallowtail that was huge a couple of days ago and, today, I saw one that I haven't tried to identify yet. It hopped from flower to flower for most of the morning. Also, our hummingbird has returned. Actually, I don't know if it's the same one as earlier this year, but he's been seen every day this week. He seems to go back and forth between the feeder and the flowers. We seem to be in a very active nature season right now, and it's fun to watch!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

First Day of School

The boys started school this morning. They were so excited that they were up when my alarm went off a little after 7. I don't know how long they'd been up, but they were anxious to go. We left a little early because I wanted to walk them in and I knew that parking would be an issue. Luckily, we found a spot pretty quickly and I was able to see the boys safely into their classrooms. When Hannah and I came out, there were two officers directing traffic. It was a great idea to have them there because traffic flowed quite smoothly amongst the pedestrians. I'm curious to see how tired they are after school...especially Daniel, who's never had a full day before.

Daniel by his desk
Daniel with his teacher, Mrs. H.
Jacob by his desk
Jacob with his teacher, Mrs. P.
After we dropped the boys off, Hannah and I went to IHOP for a quiet breakfast. She loved the attention. Here's a picture of her at breakfast (sorry, I couldn't resist).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fall Show Watch

School starts tomorrow and that means it won't be long before the fall TV season starts. I do have to say that Mike and I have been enjoying the heck out of Last Comic Standing and The Singing Bee but that's about it as far as good summer shows goes.

First of all, Season 4 of Grey's Anatomy starts in 43 days... For those of you not wanting to count it out, that's Thursday, September 27th. Wow. That seems like forever when you put it like that.

Second, Private Practice (I wonder if I'll always call it the Addison Show)...the Grey's spin-off starts in 42 days, or on Wednesday, September 26th at 9/8 Central. It had better be good! LOL!

Third, Damian Lewis' (Winters on Band of Brothers) new show, Life, will be also premiere on Wednesday, September 26th at 10/9 Central (on NBC). Not only does it look like a good show, but damn Damian Lewis is hot. (and you'd never know he's British!) You can check out a little more about the show by clicking here. I don't know if it'll be good but I've got to root for my Band of Brothers guys. Unfortunately, their shows never seem to work out, even though they're really good (remember Boomtown? Loved that show!)

I'm also addicted to Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet (it helps that I think Meerkats are the coolest animals on the planet). That season started last Friday. Poor Flower. Her pups are missing. I hope she finds them, her family's had such a run of bad luck lately!

I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I can't get enough of Ace of Cakes on Food Network. I think Duff is hysterical but I sit and watch that show and wish that I could make cakes like that. LOL!

Now that this is all typed out, it seems a little sad and pathetic. LOL!!!

Back To School Carnival

Why is it that this type of thing always happens on the hottest day of the year? (yesterday really was the hottest day of the year so far) The kids certainly didn't care. Unfortunately, they had face painting in the gym and that's where they still had the PTO booth set up. What is wrong with me...I signed up for another committee. Glutton for punishment I guess. LOL!

The kids got to meet their teachers and the boys are excited because they are in the same "pod" this year. Their school is set up into 3 or 4 pods...and the grades are grouped together. They like to put older kids with little ones so 1st and 3rd grades are in the same pod. Daniel was really excited about meeting his teacher...her room is very cool. It's set up like a tropical oasis.

Then, we went out to the carnival. The kids were hungry and cranky for a little while but were much better after getting a bite to eat. We ran into several people that we know, including a family from tae kwon do. It's nice to be getting to know people here. Anyway, here are a few pictures.

Jacob hits the ball at the baseball booth (it wasn't as easy as it looks)

Daniel and Hannah show off their face painting
Jacob and Daniel make pixie sticks.
Hannah makes one too
Jacob and Daniel climb the wall to the slide
On our way out, Jacob asked if he could see the turtle and fish in the school psychiatrist's office. I told him that he had to ask Mrs. P before going into her office. We managed to find her just down the hall and she gave the go ahead. While Jacob was looking, she asked Daniel if he got to meet his teacher. He told her no. She looks at me and I shake my head yes. She asks if he thinks the room is cool. He says no. Not believing him, she says, "oh come on. I put you in there because that's where I thought you'd have the most fun!" At that moment, I realized that they personality match the kids with their teachers. At least that seems to be the case with my two. I just can't believe that tonight's a school night!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This Is Too Cute

I went out to move the hose in the backyard and stopped an attack on this cutie pie.
Yo-yo (my neighbor's cat) was chasing it across my backyard. It was only as long as my hand and scared out of it's mind. He sat there for a little while and then moved on. The kids thought he was pretty cute. So did I.

Yes, I'm a Joiner

We went up to the school this morning to find out who the kids' teachers are and to sign up for PTO stuff. Jacob's a bit upset because his best friend, Zephan, is not in his class. He doesn't know many of the kids and I think that might be a good thing. Kara from down the street is in Daniel's class. I think that Beth and I were more excited about that than they were. LOL! I ran into pretty much everyone with kids on the street at this thing. You know, I really thought that Morgan was the same age as Hannah. Turns out she's a year older and will be starting kindergarten. It's wild to think that next year Hannah will be in kindergarten. How nice will it be, though, to have all three at the same school?

So, the joining part. I had promised Jacob that if no one had already done so, I would sign up to be his room mother. We get up there and I see that there's only one name for his class (there are two room mothers) so I grab a pen and write my name in the second spot. I told Daniel that next year, I'd be his room mother. I'm handed a couple of fliers about various room mother meetings and am told, "see you next Tuesday in the cafeteria!" (that's when the first meeting is) Ummm...okay. I ended up signing up to be on a few other committees...after the first time you sign your name, it becomes way too easy to put your name on stuff. It's not until walking out of the building that you realize just how much you've just committed yourself to. I felt like it was MOMS Club all over again! LOL! I tell you what...this PTO is a huge Moms Club. I think I've found something I can throw myself into! Yay!

We also stopped by the Cub Scout booth. Daniel was mesmerized by the pine cars they had displayed and enthusiastically told the guy he wanted to be a Cub Scout. So, I've committed (Daniel positively and Jacob tentatively) to taking the boys to the first meeting on the 28th. I knew that things would pick up once school started!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Last Few Days of Summer

I have to start with a funny (to me) story. Yesterday, we decided to grill up some steaks. Yum. I had also made some au gratin potatoes and threw some corn on the cob on the grill for dinner as well. At some point, I went out to check on the grill and had asked Mike to stir the cheese sauce for me. I guess the oven timer went off so Mike turned it off. I come back in and finish the potatoes and get them into the oven. An hour later and I'm getting the corn and steaks off of the grill. I go to get the potatoes out of the oven and notice that it's not very hot in there. I look up at the top of the stove and see that the oven's off. Apparently, Mike had turned off my pre-heating oven instead of the timer. I was really upset at first but then realized that they're just potatoes and they were cooked...for the most part. LOL!

Today was the first day of Hannah's fall gymnastics class. Unless there were a couple of kids absent, there are only 2 other little girls in her class. She enjoys the heck out of this class. At some point, Kristy (Hannah's teacher) asked the girls if they could show her a bridge. Hannah jumps up and says that she can. She gets onto the ground, puts her hands by her sides and picks her tummy off of the ground. Kristy looks at her and tells her that's great...but that's a table. Not a bridge. You have to have your hands behind your head for a bridge (think backbend). I tell you what...Hannah can absolutely explain to you the difference between a bridge and a table. LOL!

We also went over to Hannah's preschool to drop off and pick up some paperwork. She's so excited. She's really excited to find out that Gwen, a little girl down the street, is in her class. Lisa and Morgan may also be in her class, but we're not sure just yet. She starts on September 5th.

The other night, I was walking through Wal-Mart and they had a lot of summer stuff marked down. I picked up two slip and slides for $10 ($5 a piece...just for clarification). They tear the crap out of the lawn that I've worked so hard on this summer, but the kids love it. They've beatten themselves up on the thing but they don't care. LOL!

Tomorrow, we head over to the boys' school to find out their teachers. They're also going to have PTO sign-ups, so I'm going to be all over that. Tomorrow night, they have a big back-to-school carnival that the kids are looking forward to. Should be fun.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Photo Post

The boys had Tae Kwon Do testing today. Hopefully, they'll get their orange belts in a week. They looked really good out there! Here are some photos.

Hannah makes a friend while waiting for the boys to test. There was another little girl who desperately wanted to color with them but was way to shy to ask (her mother told me that she probably wouldn't color, even if invited). You can see her little shoes in the left-hand corner.
Mike does one of his one-steps.
Daniel does his form.
Jacob and Daniel do their one-steps. (Their teacher, Master Dave, is sitting at the table on the far right side...the way he's sitting there, he looks a little frustrated! LOL!)
Mike spars with another yellow belt.
Jacob spars.
Daniel (in the blue helmet) and Jacob wait to spar.
My soon-to-be orange belts!

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Special Treat

I belong to a group for Christian women raising Jewish children (there's a group for everyone, isn't there?) and someone posted that it's not too early to start thinking about the upcoming holidays (we're planning to do an early Rosh Hashana dinner when Bobbi and Ed are here in September). That led to a discussion about challah and whether or not you can eat it whenever and wherever because someone's mother-in-law told her that she couldn't (you can). Anyway, that led to challah recipes, one of which I made this morning. Stuffed Challah French Toast. The kids loved it. The kids love it when I make challah in the first place, but dump jelly, syrup and brown sugar on it and they're in Heaven. LOL! Daniel asked why there was yogurt in his challah and I told him that it was actually cream cheese. He thought that was really funny. Anyway, this recipe's a keeper.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's Thursday

We had something happen last night that we don't seem to get much of...a good thunderstorm. We put the kids to bed and about five minutes later, Jacob comes out and says that there's a lot of lightning outside. I step out to take a look and there was lightning like I've never seen before! Gary, chief meteorologist at our NBC station, said that there was a 'gust front' approaching...look to the north and west and you should see the cloud and lots of lightning. There it was...clear as day. It was one of the coolest weather things I've ever seen. I don't know how clear these photos will be, but if you can make it out, it's kind of cool. It was like a huge blanket heading for us. It was even cooler because the rest of the sky was completely clear. I've never seen clouds like this. (The white part is the edge of the 'gust front' and the black is the clear sky)

It seemed to take forever to get to the house. About 10 minutes after it passed, the rains began. And, oh did it rain! Coupled with the thunder and lightning, it was an awesome storm and we got about 1.9 inches of rain.

The boys had TKD class with the brown belts last night because they missed Tuesday. Normally, we'd just skip it but with testing on Saturday, we wanted them to get their two practices in. They loved it. I guess it was the first time the boys ever sparred against each other. They thought it was funny. I wish I had seen it but Hannah and I stayed home. They've been asking to go to that class again.

The milk consumption in the house has slowed considerably since discovering the local milk. We were averaging better than a gallon a day (with the new milk, where as with the old milk, we were less than a 1/4 gallon a day) and are now down to about 1/2 - 3/4 gallon a day. That's more like it. I knew it was the novelty factor that was making them drink all of that milk. Now that it's in the fridge all of the time, they've slowed. They had been drinking it exclusively but have now gone back to the water/milk combo and that's better. I had been really worried about the amount of milk they had been drinking in this heat, but they seem to be okay.

It's so strange to think that a week from today, the boys start school. Where did the summer go? I find myself really sad about it all. I don't want them to go back to school. :( However, it does mean that MOPS will be starting up again and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Family Picnic

Okay, so it was 3 million degrees outside, but we went to the company picnic at the farmstead anyway. I froze 8 bottles of water and stuffed them into a backpack (they were defrosted in literally 1/2 hour) to take with us. The kids didn't seem to care about how hot it was, though. They got to fish and feed baby goats from a bottle. Jacob caught 2 fish, Daniel caught 1 fish and Hannah caught 5 fish! Here's a photo of them fishing (I would have had more photos to share but my batteries died and I thought that I'd put spares in the backpack but didn't).

Mike helps Hannah while Jacob tries to snag a fish
Daniel tries for a fish, too

They also had people doing caricatures. Here's ours (the "OZ" is not a Wizard of Oz reference. He's wearing a hat from the Omaha Zoo!)...

And Jacob...
And Hannah...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Just Lovely...

(I love the length of this Warning...not really)

The National Weather Service In Pleasant Hill Has Issued An Excessive Heat Warning... Which Is In Effect From 12 PM Tuesday To 7 PM CDT Friday.

A Ridge Of High Pressure Currently Centered Across The Lower Mississippi River Valley Has Trapped Hot And Humid Air Across The Central Plains. This Airmass Is Not Expected To Go Anywhere Over The Next Four Days Allowing The Heat To Build Up Across Eastern Kansas And Much Of Northern Missouri. By Tuesday Afternoon... Heat Index Readings Are Expected To Range At Or Above 105 Degrees For Several Hours Across Areas Along And South Of Highway 36 From St Joseph... To Chillicothe... And Macon. Additionally... Overnight Temperatures Across The Warned Area Are Not Expected To Cool Much Overnight... With Lows Bottoming Out Only As Low As The Mid 70s In Rural Areas... And Staying Near 80 In More Urban Areas. An Excessive Heat Warning Is Issued When The Combination Of Hot Temperatures And High Humidity Is Expected To Result In Heat Indicies Exceeding 105 Degrees For At Least 3 Hours... For Three Or More Consecutive Days. Be Sure To Drink Plenty Of Fluids... Stay In An Air-Conditioned Room... Stay Out Of The Sun... And Check Up On Relatives And Neighbors.

Wild and Crazy Weekend

Okay, so not really. Actually, it was pretty tame and uneventful. Not a bad thing, in my opinion.

It's been so hot here that it's almost impossible to be outside. At one point yesterday, our heat index was 117 degrees...actual temp was 97 with dew points in the mid 70's and humidity at 80%. A very good day to stay inside. We're already at 86 degrees. You know it's bad when your low temps are 76 degrees. Ugh.

Because of the heat, Mike decided to wait until late yesterday to mow. After about five minutes, he comes in and says the mower just died. Like a part came off or something. I went out to take a look and discovered that a part had, indeed, fallen off. The spark plug literally unscrewed itself. It was still connected by the doohickey but I had to screw the thing back in. LOL! I've never heard of that happening before. After a couple of minutes, Mike was back on his way. When he was done, he looked like he'd been swimming. He also made the comment that he almost made it a full season without actually mowing the yard! LOL!

While Mike was mowing, I went to check the garden. Good thing I did because one of my zinnias had fallen over. I don't know if it was hit by something or if it just got top heavy and fell but I was so upset. I ended up digging it up and replanting it in a deeper hole. So far, so good.

Hannah's really enjoying her gymnastics class. Last Friday was the last class for the summer session but she starts back up a week from today (we switched to Mondays). I can't believe the things she's learned to do. For her age group, they have 3 levels and she's in the bottom one. Still, they're doing front and backward rolls, bridges (backbends), cartwheels and handstands. In the middle class, they start working on backflips! It's amazing to see these kids, who are the same age as Hannah, doing some of these things. In the upper class (Mini Twisters), they actually start learning to do stuff on the balance beam, vault and uneven bars (aside from just walking on the beam or hanging from the bars). Once they turn 6, they can join the Twisters team and actually start competing. These kids are talented, for sure. What I really like is the lack of pressure in the gym. The Twister team practices at the same time as Hannah's class and there's a lot of laughing and smiling as well as working. It's a very warm environment and I like that, so does Hannah.

The boys have Tae Kwon Do testing next Saturday. They're going for their orange belts this time. Daniel decided to take it seriously this time and there's no doubt he's ready. Some of the one-steps are a little hard for him but he's got the form down and I have no doubt that he'll get his belt. They even get to spar this time so Daniel should do well with that.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Buzzed By A Butterfly

I was dead heading some flowers this afternoon when I was buzzed by a monarch! He went right by my head and then circled me a few times. I wonder if he thought I was a flower! LOL! He (or she, I couldn't get a close enough look) was huge! I don't know if it's the same one that's been flying around or if it's a different one but it was so awesome! I hope this is just the beginning!

A Few Other Thoughts For A Thursday

I finally got around to getting rid of the 5-6' tall weeds that have been dead for a few weeks now. I just didn't know how I was going to do it (not having the motivation also didn't help). They came out a lot easier than I had anticipated. The freaky part was that there were about 20 grasshoppers living in the weeds. Nice. They were probably about 3 inches long and scared the heck out of me. They were more than confused as to why I was taking their home. There were also a couple of wolf spiders that were mad at me for disturbing the ground. I swear that one of them tried to stare me down. If it could have, I'm sure it's hands would have been on it's hips, yelling at me. They waited patiently for me to finish and then disappeared into the ground. LOL!

After the weeds, I decided to do something I've been wanting to do since we moved in. I got rid of two of the mini pine trees in the back yard. I hate those things. Luckily, they have really shallow root balls and came out with minimal effort. My neighbor, Kim, was in her backyard at the time and I asked her if she'd like the trees. She said, "heck no!" So, off they went into the brown landscaping bag. And I didn't even feel guilty about it. I have two more of those pine trees to remove and 4 small shrubs and I'll be happy. But I'm not doing that until fall. were right about the compost pile. I've been putting the clippings and dead headings in a pile and turning them a few times a week. Every day, it seems like there's more and more dirt and less actual garden waste in there. Too cool.

Got Milk?

There's a dairy farm in the area that I've been meaning to take the kids to but haven't gotten the chance (it's a little bit of a drive...about 50 miles). However, I've heard that they sell their products at HyVee (hate HyVee...just reminds me of Iowa LOL!), so the kids and I headed up there to check it out. They have more milk than I've ever seen! You've got your standard Whole, 2%, 1% and Skim, cream, half and half, etc. Then, they have flavors: Chocolate, Banana, Root Beer, Orange Cream. They also had fresh butter. I can't believe how much milk I ended up buying. Mike and the kids loved the root beer (tastes like a root beer float, so I'm told) and the orange (think Creamsicle). Jacob calls the whole milk "yummy" because that's what the bottle says. "Can I have some yummy milk, Mom?" LOL! The nice thing about this brand is that they're local. They also don't use the antibiotics or growth hormones. And, it looks great in the fridge...I love the glass bottles. Small steps, I guess. But I thought that Debbie would be proud of me.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Happy August!

We got our official sign yesterday. We don't have a way to put it up yet, so it sits on the front porch. We'll stake it into the garden soon.

We've been seeing more and more monarchs around lately. I haven't seen any in the yard since the other night when Dad was here but we saw at least five on our way to Tae Kwon Do last night and 4 on the way back. That was pretty cool. I'm hoping that they find the milkweed in the yard and decide to lay some eggs.

For the first time in 5 years, Mike and I have all the proper stuff for the cars. Both cars have Kansas plates, we both have our Kansas driver's licenses and both cars have Kansas insurance. The only thing that kept us from having all of that in Iowa was that Mike's car had Illinois plates. We had the plates and insurance in Virginia but no driver's licenses (licensed in Iowa). My poor van has been plated in 4 states, where Mike's has only been plated in 3. LOL! We've got quite a collection of plates going.

It's so funny how quickly I got used to NOT hearing the tornado sirens going off (Virginia didn't have tornado sirens). There's only been one time, since we've been here, that they've gone off for a tornado warning but I'm thrown every time the first Wednesday of the month rolls around. Does Illinois still do it on the first Tuesday, or am I remembering that wrong? If I remember right, Iowa did theirs on the first Wednesday, too.

This morning, Jacob and I were talking about how, when I was in high school, I dissected a cat. He asked me how. I picked up Guillermo and kind of showed him how we took the skin off (obviously, I didn't actually do it) when I noticed just how white his whiskers are getting. At some point, I called him an old fart, which literally sent Jacob into a laughing fit for almost an hour. Apparently, he'd never heard that phrase before. LOL!