Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Ahh...it's Halloween. I have to say that I'm glad it's over. Seriously. Halloween, for me, is one of those holidays that I like the idea of...I love the costumes, the decorations, the pumpkins...but if the actual day never came, I'd be okay with that. I guess I could just do without the whole trick-or-treating thing. I'm quite sure that when I was a kid, Halloween was right up there with Christmas, but the thought of dressing up the three kids and knocking on strangers' doors, begging for candy has just become old. It is getting better, though. All of us were tired of trick-or-treating at about the same time AND we were close to home. They did get a nice amount of candy...which will not be enough to end the begging the next time we go to the store. They also didn't eat a whole lot of it tonight...they just enjoyed sorting it all. They were pooped tonight...all three went right to sleep. No sugar highs for them this year. At least not tonight. That's more than awesome.

So, Halloween is over for another year. It was a crazy day but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Oh, and our Target already had most of their Halloween stuff down this morning and most of their Christmas stuff was up.

Hannah had a Halloween parade, party and program with her preschool this afternoon. For anyone interested, here is video of her program. (I'm pretty excited that you can now upload video to Blogger since I don't have to go through YouTube now!)

video

And here are some photos (of course) of the kids tonight.


L-R Jacob, Daniel and Hannah (don't ask what Hannah's costume is...we're not really sure ourselves) Our carved pumpkins...Hannah's, mine, Mike's (well, it was the pumpkin that the kids picked out for Mike) and Daniel's
Jacob's pumpkin

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

MRSA and Me

If you haven't heard about MRSA, you need to get out of the cave you're in and join us in the world of the living. LOL! Seriously, it's that antibiotic resistant staph infection that is freaking everyone out right now (myself included). Locally, the people who've had it (or have known someone who has) say that it begins with something that looks like a spider bite and then just takes over.

Anyway, Saturday morning, I woke up with what looked like a spider bite on my tummy. Great. Somehow I've contracted MRSA. I start searching the internet for stuff when I realize that I'm over reacting. Being a person that loves to cook and eat what I cook...and what others cook, I'm not the picture of thinness. I've got some tummy blubber. Okay...a lot of tummy blubber...but I digress. My jeans like to hide out in the space where my waist should be. And, because of the colder weather, my skin's pretty dry. Well, apparently, the waistband (specifically, one of the belt loops) of my jeans decided to rub up against one part of my waist to the point that there was a mark.

Even though there is an explanation for the mark, I've still got it in my mind that I'm going to die. Dad tells me that if I do, indeed, die, he'll make sure my headstone reads, "see, I told you I had antibiotic resistant staph!"

I put some Neosporin and a Band-Aid on it and go about my day.

I forgot that this time of year, because my skin is so dry, I have a hard time with Band-Aids. Once I realized that I was getting a reaction to the Band-Aid, I took it off and left it off. Sunday morning, the initial mark is a lot better but one of the spots that had a Band-Aid on it is all red and puffy. Nice.

Yesterday, I took a look at it and noticed that my first injury is looking pretty good and is almost gone. The Band-Aid mark is now itchy and still a little swollen. Great. And, of course, I keep thinking that maybe I do have MRSA.

I tried one of those "advanced" Band-Aids that are meant to totally enclose the injury...another lesson learned. Those do the exact same thing as regular Band-Aids. So, now I have two Band-Aid marks on my tummy. What's funny is they are shaped just like the sticky part of the Band-Aid. The good news is that I now have a good excuse to wear my sweat pants all day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Catch Up Post

I got the, "ummm...Barb...you didn't post on your blog today," from Mike so here you go.

Dad came in for the weekend and arrived late Friday morning. It was a nice visit. We really didn't do anything but that's okay. Dad headed back for home on Sunday morning...leaving behind a copy of Shonen Jump for Daniel that he's hardly put down.

We decided to carve up some of the pumpkins tonight. The kids were surprised at how hard it was to get all of the insides of the pumpkins out. I gave them each a sharpie and had them draw faces onto the pumpkins. I told them that it works best when they use large, standard shapes. Jacob and Daniel followed directions pretty well...Hannah, well, she's four. Basically, she drew a bunch of ovals all over it and called it a cat. Ummm...okay. I did the best I could do carve it out and she seemed very happy with it. I think it looks like a pumpkin with a bunch of ovals cut out of it but she really thinks it looks like a cat. Hey, at least I didn't disappoint.

After the pumpkins were done, I prepped the seeds and tossed them into the oven. Mike came home from work and immediately went to town on them. Apparently, he'd never had them before. Unfortunately for me, I only got a couple because by the time I was done with whatever it was that I was doing, they were pretty much gone. Oh well. Maybe next year.

Enjoying the seeds...I didn't expect them to go as fast as they did!


Jacob finished up his poster for his Truman Home project for school. I think it turned out great. We were going to have him write a couple of paragraphs about his visit on the poster but realized that it would be much more legible if he printed it out on the computer and glued it on. We also printed out labels for the photos (some were postcards since we couldn't take pictures of the inside.). The poster is due tomorrow and he'll be doing his presentation either Wednesday or Thursday. I'm still shocked at what they ask these kids to do. I don't remember doing anything like this until at least middle school. The bonus is they like to do it and are so excited to see it come together.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Cool Website for Little Ones

I had conferences with the boys' teachers yesterday. I was expecting a fight with Daniel's teacher, but it was a surprisingly normal conference. She did tell me that Daniel is actually ABOVE AVERAGE (compared to the rest of his class) in math. Huh. Big shocker there. Oh, and Jacob will start math tutoring, twice a week, after school in two weeks. It's funny that reading is his strong subject and math is his weak one and it's the complete opposite for Daniel.

Anyway, I also met with the Reading Specialist about Daniel. She's a really nice lady who told me that Daniel's progressing exactly how they'd expect him to. She also gave me a great website for alphabet and learning to read skills. Hannah and Daniel had a blast playing on it this morning. I just thought I'd share since I can't possibly be the only one looking for good educational websites that kids actually want to play. Just click HERE for the Starfall website. I'll also put a link to it on the side of the blog. Happy playing!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Truman Home

Jacob has a project for school in which he has to visit a local landmark. They sent home a list of about 40 different places the kids could visit (only one child per location) and Jacob chose The Truman Home in Independence, MO for his landmark. We took a good portion of the day and visited this landmark.

The kids had a great time (surprisingly). At the Visitor's Center, they showed us a slide show about the Trumans and the history of the home. They also gave the kids a packet which, when completed, could be brought back and they'd be sworn in as Junior Rangers, complete with badges. Jacob was all over that and couldn't wait to get started on it. We had to wait about an hour and a half until our tour, so we headed over to McDonald's for lunch and to fill out their Junior Ranger packet. They had so much fun doing that. Even Hannah was able to do it (with a lot of help).

The home itself is pretty neat. They only allow you on the first floor, but everything is the same as it was in 1982 when Bess Truman died...down to the calendar on the kitchen wall (complete with dates marked off until the day before she died).

After the tour, we headed back to the Visitor's Center to hand in their Junior Ranger packets. One of the official Rangers signed off on each of them and gave them their badges. Pretty cool. Here are some photos.

These signs were all over, directing the way to Truman sites


The boys work on their Jr Ranger packets


So does Hannah


A plaque in front of the Truman Home


The home itself


The kids sign their Jr. Ranger certificates


Admiring and showing off their badges


Horse and buggy parking only! (In front of the Visitor's Center)


Driving back home, the Kansas City skyline was so clear!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Happy Hump Day

First, I need to apologize for not posting this yesterday, but a big (late) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to Bobbi and Ed who celebrated theirs yesterday. I really didn't forget!

I've decided that what makes somewhere...anywhere...a nice place to live is the friends you make. I hated, HATED, Iowa because I had no friends. That's not to say that I didn't know people, because I knew a lot of people, but I didn't have anyone to lean on if I needed to. Virginia was filled with friends. We had a neighborhood full of people who really cared about us, as well as friends scattered around the area. It wasn't unusual to get phone calls from friends asking if we wanted to meet at the mall because someone needed to get out of the house and they figured I did too. I could always count on the occasional call from Michelle asking if I wanted to meet for coffee. 9 times out of 10, I'd run into someone I knew at the store, and usually get sidetracked chatting (for some reason, we could never talk and shop at the same time!) Or I'd get a phone call from a neighbor, late at night when Mike was out of town, because they saw my lights on and wanted to make sure I was doing okay. Virginia was a very special place and I made friends there that I will have for the rest of my life. That's one of the reasons it was so hard for me to leave (it also didn't help that it was so darn beautiful there!).

As soon as we moved to Virginia, it was instantly 1000 times better than Iowa because I had nothing there. Moving here, I compared everything to Virginia (and still do) and it's a hard place to equal.

Things are definitely looking up. My MOPS table is full of such wonderful women that I can see becoming strong friends with. We've already started a weekly playgroup and are planning a couple's night out soon. The way we've clicked is much like how my playgroup a few years ago just clicked (you know what I'm talking about, Sara). I love that!

With the addition of the MOPS Bible Study every other week, I'm able to meet women at the other tables as well, and they're all becoming good friends too. Yesterday at our MOPS meeting, they did a spoof on the game show The Price Is Right...they called it The Mom Is Right. Shanna (our MOPS Coordinator and she sits at my table too) brought up 4 girls from different tables to answer some questions for prizes. One of the girls she brought up was Bree. Bree is a riot. I found out at the last Bible Study that she's from some suburb of Chicago (Naperville or Downer's Grove, I think) and we were chatting a lot about the area. Well, here's what went down yesterday...

Shanna: Our next contestant is Bree
Bree: Whoooo!
Shanna: Bree...tell us where you're from
Bree: CHICAGO!!!! WOOOOO!
Shanna: Do we have any other Chicagoans in the audience today?
Bree: (pointing to me) BARBARA! I know you are girl! WOOOO!

Now, for a second, I'm thinking "really, I'm from Peoria and not Chicago, but the boys were born there." What came out of my mouth was this...

Me: (arms up in the air and pointing back to Bree) YOU KNOW IT BREE!!!
Bree: WOOO!

I just finally feel like I've found a direction here and that makes me so happy. Give me another 1 1/2 years (our average time in any one place) and I probably won't want to leave here either.

Monday, October 22, 2007

3 Posts for the Price of 1!

Man, are you getting your money's worth with this one! LOL!

****

I normally don't much care for fall or winter because I hate the cold so darn much, but there is one good thing about Fall: the return of comfort food. Summertime is typically too hot for most of my comfort food favorites, so I have definitely missed them. However, with my favorite weathermen forecasting 40's and 50's as highs this week, I have officially declared this week "Comfort Food Week."

Last night, I whipped up a lovely wedge salad (1/4 slice iceberg lettuce, tomato, walnuts, bacon, blue cheese dressing) with some warm and tasty chicken and dumplings. I don't think Mike got past the salad. So yummy - so yummy.

Today is my nod to Mom - beans and ham hocks with cornbread (non-sweet thankyouverymuch). I can't tell you how long it's been since I've had beans and ham hocks. I'll probably be the only one eating it, but that's everyone else's loss and more for me! LOL!

Tuesday brings a pot roast. And for Wednesday? Homemade macaroni and cheese. I think that is the only one I served throughout the summer since the kids love it so much. As for the rest of the week? I haven't decided yet. Maybe some tuna casserole or some chili. Maybe I'll make some brisket for Mike.

****

We put the kids to bed, as usual, on Saturday night. We let them sleep in the same room on the weekends but not on school nights because they just don't go to sleep when they are in the same room. Saturday was no exception...lots of goofing around. About 9:30, Daniel comes out for a drink and we hear a Hannah scream coming from the bedroom. Whatever it is, we know Daniel didn't do it, for once :). Anyway, after about 3 seconds of horrific screaming, it stops. That's never a good sign.

Mike and I run upstairs and Jacob says she hit her head on the bed. I look at her face and she's got a huge blue and purple mark under her eye and it's spreading. Mike goes to get ice and I give her some Motrin but it's still very ugly looking. Hannah calms down and tells us exactly what happened. Jacob was on the bed, holding a stuffed frog. Hannah was on the floor trying to get the frog from him. At some point, Jacob got tired of the game and simply pulled as hard as he could to make her stop. She flew forward and hit the bed frame (it was my old daybed with the metal frame). *Edited...I hadn't been able to figure out how Jacob could have let go and have her fall forward into the bed. It turns out that he yanked harder and did not let go.*

So, Hannah and I sat, for a while, ice pack on her face, on the couch. At some point, Daniel yells that it's not fair that Hannah gets to stay up (he'd somehow missed the drama). Mike tells him to come down and see why she's staying up. He comes down and thoroughly inspects Hannah's eye. "Oh," he says and heads back upstairs, clearly satisfied that she, indeed, has a good reason to be up.

Now, a day later, she's still a little swollen and very black and blue. It seems we've traded swelling for color. It does look a little better...at least her eye's open today. It really is painful to look at. Poor baby girl. She got a lot of sympathy at gymnastics, this morning, from everyone there. Unfortunately for her, as we were walking out, she ran smack into the door with her forehead and fell on her butt in front of everyone. She actually thought that was pretty funny. "I thought the door was open!" She said while laughing. All I could do was sigh and giggle a little.

****

My favorite weathermen have been saying for the past week that there was a storm coming Sunday night. The only questions were timing and severity. I took the dog out around 10:15 last night and not only was it freezing (the cold front pushed through) but there was a lot of lightning. I checked the weather blog (freaking football game pushed the 10:00 news back to 11:00) and there were a handful of reports of rain. Then, the thunder - oh my - house shaking thunder. I checked the radar and there wasn't anything really near us - yet. I had posted my report of thunder and lightning but no rain and was told that it was coming. Not long after, the rain started. After the weather on TV (at like 11:25!) I headed for bed, but was having a hard time falling asleep. After about 45 minutes of tossing and turning, I thought I'd heard the tornado sirens going off. I opened the window to see if that's really what it was, and yeah, that's the sirens. I went downstairs and looked out the back door and front door - rain and cold but nothing looked or felt off. Plus, my weather radio was completely quiet, so I thought that maybe it was just some police sirens or something. I go back to bed and Mike asks if we need to go to the basement. I tell him no and fall asleep.

I check the weather blog this morning and someone else asked why the sirens were going off last night. It wasn't just me! They really were going off. Apparently, all of Overland Park's sirens malfunctioned around 12:45AM and since we're right on the border, we could hear them. What a bad time for the sirens to malfunction.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jacob's Photo Post

Jacob took over 100 photos during testing yesterday. Mostly of his friends. I love letting the kids take the camera because I get such a different perspective on things. Here are some of the best ones.


Mrs. Lee. She is Grandmaster Lee's wife and she basically keeps the place running. She also gives the kids candy. They like her a lot.



Alex. He was testing for his high blue belt. He also got kicked in the face during sparring and refused to shake hands with his opponent. It was pretty cute and funny.



Stephen. He's a teacher at our school and was testing for his 2nd degree black belt. He and Mike tend to goof around a lot with each other. We wonder if he knew he was having his picture taken.



Jett in a locker. Jett is Jacob's age and a high brown belt (Jett and Jacob also are very similar in personality). He's also Stephen's (see above) oldest son and the only one in his family not testing (his mom, Roxanne, tested for her mid brown belt)



Lara. A second degree black belt and the boys' teacher. She's a sweetheart and could kick your butt.



Paige (our babysitter) testing for her mid brown belt. She got in some serious trouble from Grandmaster Lee for changing into regular clothes before testing was over.



Quinn comes out to see what's going on. Quinn's a year younger than Daniel and is Stephen's youngest. He and Daniel are the exact same child.



I just thought this was funny.



Peter. He's Paige's little brother and is the same age as Daniel. He's a sweetie.



Jett had Roxanne's (his mom) camera, which is why Jacob took mine. I'm curious to see the photos he got!

Testing Photo Post

I'm going to post two different posts for photos as Jacob took off with my camera mid-testing. I thought it would be fun to post pictures from his perspective as well. For now, here are photos from mine.


The boys practice their form one last time before testing.

Jacob and Daniel test for the judges.

Jacob and Daniel one-step spar.

Mike does his form for the judges.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Green Belt Testing

I almost forgot that today is Deb and Jeff's anniversary! Happy anniversary to you guys!!!

Today was testing day for the boys. They were going for their low green belts this time. It's easy to see that I'm making friends within the school as Hannah and I were not sitting alone this time. I love that.

As always, first up were the white belts. There were a ton of them this testing period. Probably 3 or 4 waves tested, including three from our school. There is a possibility that next testing, Hannah will be in there.

After white belts, the yellows went and after yellow is orange, and time for the boys. They all did a great job on their form and one-steps. They then headed to the back to get padded up for sparring. Mike was up first and looked great. I had several people tell me that they had never seen him spar so well.

Then, it was Jacob and Daniel's turn. They do their best to match the kids up with height and age, and this time was no exception. Grandmaster Lee told the kids that there is no crying in Tae Kwon Do (he was joking) and we all thought that it was funny when the testing instructor actually told them, "no crying." They tell the boys to begin and both boys coume out kicking. Since the tournament, Jacob has a lot more confidence sparring and Daniel's love of it has been reinforced. All was going well until the end when Jacob took a kick to the stomach that had him upset. He held it in until he walked off, though. When they called time, Daniel could be heard saying, "ohhh," since he didn't want it to end. He's so funny.

We found out on Thursday that once you hit low blue, you have to start breaking boards as part of testing. That means the boys should be breaking boards at testing in April. Since this is quite an accomplishment for anyone, especially the kids, we decided to stay to shouw our support for our school. Mia, Peter, Quinn and Alex, all students in the boys' class, had to break a 1 inch board with a kick. The question came up that, "what if they can't?" That question was answered this afternoon. they give the kids about 7 tries to break the 1 inch board before they switch them to a 1/2 inch board. About 1/4 of the kids could break the 1 inch board and the rest had to use the 1/2 inch one.

Then, we watched as the brown and black belts took the floor. A first degree black belt, Stephen, from our school was going for his second degree and it was crazy what all they had him do. He had to break a lot of stuff. He had to break 2 inches of wood with his left hand, than another 2 inches with his right hand. Then two inches with each foot. On the second foot, Stephen felt a snap in his ankle and told Mike that he thought he broke his ankle...again (he had a fracture a couple of months ago). He didn't want anyone knowing because they would not have let him continue with testing. Of course, gossip at our school spreads like wildfire and by the time Stephen had to do his form, we were all on pins and needles watching the poor guy's ankle. He really sucked it up because he made it through his form, sparring and 3-steps (once you hit blue belt, you have 3-steps and not 1-step sparring). Amazing. Crazy and stupid, but amazing.

After testing, a group of us headed over to Arby's for a late lunch/early dinner. The kids had a blast playing with their friends as we basically took over the restaurant. Thankfully, it was pretty empty.

It was a long day, but it was fun and hopefully in a week, the boys will have their new, low green belts.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Grey's

I can't even describe last night's episode. This scene says it all.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Poll

We got previews back from Hannah's picture day. None of them captured a good Hannah smile, but we want to order some anyway. The question is, which one? If everyone can take a minute to vote for your favorite, it would help me decide which to order. They look a little off because they had some stuff on the side that I cropped after scanning.

Photo 1


Photo 2


Photo 3

Photo 4

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's A Small World

I got an e-mail from my high school friend, Sara, this afternoon. Almost before I could finish reading it, there was a response to Sara's e-mail from another high school friend, Amy, in my mailbox. She included me and a couple of others in the e-mail (I haven't talked to Amy since graduation) to say hi and to let us know she's getting married. I noticed that her e-mail address was a government address...and that it looked a lot like the same county as the one I live in. I thought that it couldn't possibly be, but I e-mailed her and asked her where she was that she had this address anyway. Almost immediately, I got a response from Amy. It turns out that she lives about 5 miles from me. LOL!!! We've exchanged information and are hoping to get together. What a small world.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Just Checking In

It's been so crazy around here that I've hardly had time to breathe much less blog.

After Sunday school, I took the kids up to the pumpkin patch while Mike stayed home to manage his fantasy football team (here's to you, Mr. Fantasy-Football-Manager-Guy). Of course, taking the kids out into the middle of a big pumpkin field the day after about 3 inches of rain may not have been the best idea in the world, but they had fun. I'm now considering opening our own pumpkin patch here at the house since we have about 15 pumpkins and/or gourds decorating the front of the house. Why in the world do we need that many pumpkins?

Yesterday, I decided I was tired of the pigsty that our house had become and cleaned. I waited until after Hannah went to school (partly because she had gymnastics in the morning and I had to do some grocery shopping if we wanted to eat at all this week) to begin the cleaning. I had hoped to get the whole house done but was only able to achieve a state of clean on the first floor. I guess it's better than nothing.

This morning I had my Bible study, which I'm loving every minute of. I found a Mom's Devotional Bible at Borders that is really awesome. It caught the attention of our study leader, who took off with it for most of the class (she'd give it back when we needed to look something up but would then ask to borrow it again). We had an interesting discussion on the Apocrypha (Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees). One girl asked the question that if the Scriptures cannot be added to or taken away from, how come they are not included in all Bibles? Can anyone give a good explanation as to how they are/are not the Word of God? We just kept going in circles.

The boys had early release (have I mentioned just how much I HATE early release days?) and we scheduled a Go See It! for Daniel's Cub Scout Den at a local farmstead. The kids had a great time but I had absolutely no interest. I do have to say that it was nice to get to know some of the other moms a little better.

Then, we had Tae Kwon Do. I've got to tell you, this pace is beginning to wear more than a little thin. I need a break. We got invited to a playgroup tomorrow but I don't think we'll be attending. I just need a day to hang out at the house and catch up on laundry. Plus, it's supposed to storm tomorrow and I'd really like to sit back and enjoy the weather.

So, that's about it from here. I'm so freaking tired.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Family Night Camporee

I pretty much had the van packed and ready to go when Mike got home from work. We finished up packing and headed out. We had found out that we needed to eat dinner beforehand so we hit a Burger King on the way.

Just before we got to BK, I saw signage that I hadn't seen since we lived in Virginia. Our bank has opened a branch here! We are so excited because it means that we don't have to bank by mail anymore.

Anyway, we headed off and arrived at the lake at about 5:30. We had been told to get there early because there is just one way in and they were expecting about 900 people. I would say that we were amongst the first 100 people there and got our pick of the campsites. We were lucky to be able to camp with our pack. Some people filled up their areas and had to camp outside of their packs.

We began setting up the tent. We got a brand new one specifically for this campout since the one we had would have never held us all. Big mistake not putting it up once beforehand. Luckily, another Mike, who was set up right next to us, came over to help out. It took about 1/2 hour to put the tent up (even though it felt like an hour) and we were quite pleased with it.

Above, Mike puts the finishing touches on the tent

Below, Jacob helps with the sleeping bags

Above and below: Camp city fills up. By the end of the evening, there were no open spaces for tents!


Once we got the tent up, the kids played with their friends while we chatted with their parents and the pack leader, Rodger. One of Jacob's friends, Alex, arrived with his parents a little late and had never put up their tent before either. Mike and I went over to help and Lisa (Alex's mom) told me that we were clearly seasoned campers since we knew what were doing. I laughed and said that no...we'd just had a lot of help ourselves and were quick to learn. Apparently, she said something to Mike as well, who also told her that we were a mere 30 minutes ahead of them camping wise. Above, Mike chats with Rodger, our pack leader (Cub Master)

Below, Mike helps Lisa and George put up their tent


After it got nice and dark, we headed over for the bonfire. They had some of the packs (including ours) perform skits and had a Native American dancing demonstration, which was very cool. They also did a flag retirement ceremony, which had Daniel very upset. It was very difficult to explain to Daniel that burning the flags is how you respectfully dispose of worn out flags. He kept yelling, "why are they killing America?!?" He was almost in tears when they put the first part in the fire. It wasn't until the end that he got it. After the bonfire, we headed back to camp where the kids played for a while and it was lights out at 10:30. Oh, and I forgot to mention that at one point, Daniel wandered off in search of one of his friends and got lost. Lost and found discovered him and another little boy and were able to bring him back. They said that they were happy he was wearing his uniform because they could track us down by our pack. Typical Daniel. Above, Jacob and Daniel pose with some Boy Scouts

Below, Hannah has fun with her new friend, Georgia

Sleeping was rough because we were on a bit of an incline and we kept sliding down to one side of the tent. It also got pretty chilly and I kept waking up because of the cold.

At about 3:30am, it began thundering and lightning. Of course it did. Then, it rained. And rained. And rained some more. At about 6:30am, there was a huge crack of lightning and a huge BOOM! which told us that it struck very, very close by. Mike and I both became a little nervous at this point. We took a look outside and saw that some families had already broken camp and left. We decided to hang out for a little bit to see if the rain would let up. After almost an hour of waiting, we decided to go ahead and make a break for it. We heard George in the next tent over say, "if you're going to go, I'd do it now!" We put the kids in the car and packed up. After the first trip to the car, it began to rain again. Heavier this time. At this point, I've decided that I'm soaked so I may as well accept it and just try to work quickly to get the tent down. What took 3 of us 1/2 hour to put up came down in about 3 minutes.

We get the tent loaded into the van and I go to open the driver's side door when I'm harassed by two Boy Scouts. They said something like, "a little wet, are we?" Ha ha. Yeah, shut up. I get into the van and the kids are amazed at just how wet I am. It's literally like I took a shower with my clothes on.

Anyway, we get home and Mike pulls his car in next to the van in the garage (we took two cars since Mike thought he'd be going straight to TKD after the campout) and I look at his seat and he has a big bath towel in there. I yell, "is that a towel? I'm soaking wet, and you have a towel?" Mike says, "yeah, it's a towel. The one you made fun of me for taking last week. I don't look so stupid now, do I?" I scream, "You are stupid!" and head inside. As of 9am, we had about 1.6 inches of rain and it just started up again. I am pretty glad we didn't wait for it to pass like we had thought about doing.

So, our campout ended a little early. Even though it rained and was cold and we were almost killed by lightening, we still had a good time. It's nice to spend time like that as a family.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pumpkin Patch and Tae Kwon Do Photos

Before I get to the pictures, a funny conversation from tonight.

I'm sitting in the viewing area when Paige (our babysitter) runs in with paper towels in hand (the kids were cleaning the mirrors and windows to look good in the pictures) and says:

Did you say something to him?
Me: What?
P: Because he said something to me about cleaning.
Me: Paige, what in the world are you talking about?
P: Then he must have overheard my dad and Mike talking about me over cleaning your house.
Me: Who is the "he" you are referring to?
P: Master Johnson!
Me: What happened?
P: He told me to clean the mirror and I told him that I hated to clean and he said, 'that's not what Mike and Barb say.'

And now...the pictures, as promised.

Hannah on the hay ride out to the field

Hannah and Mrs. M, her teacher

Hannah's preschool class...is there anything cuter than a bunch of 4 year olds at the pumpkin patch?

All of the kids from our school who participated in the tournament last week with their trophies (Paige is the tall girl in the back middle)

Daniel, Jacob and Master Johnson

Is It Already Wednesday?

Where has the week gone? I can't even remember Monday. Seriously. Was there even a Monday this week? (and how do I begin to follow Mike's awesome blog?)

I had MOPS yesterday and I have to say that I have the best table ever. We all just kind of clicked. So cool. We've already got a playgroup going and are going to try to do a Mom's Night (or afternoon) Out once a month or so. Two of the girls at my table are pregnant and due in December and we've already started plans for a joint baby shower. That should be a blast. A few of these girls are also in the Bible Study that I'm in on opposite MOPS weeks. I've got to tell you that I'm so excited about making friends. That's what makes where you live great. I'm finally starting to really feel good about Kansas. Do you hear that, Mike?

Last night, everyone had Tae Kwon Do. The first class after the big tournament. I was chatting with Alex's mom (I really need to find out her name)...the same thing happened to him that happened to Jacob. The only difference was that he left right after, so he had no idea that he had a trophy coming to him. Alex's mom had me fill her in on what happened after their round. Mike has the tournament bug and was asking when the next one is (next spring). We are to head back up to the school tonight all uniformed up and with trophies for pictures. Master Johnson has hired a professional photographer to take pictures of everyone. I thought that was pretty cool.

I also talked to Dave (Master Johnson) about when Hannah can start TKD. He said that once he gets another orientation class going, she can start. He doesn't want to just throw her into the class that the boys are in because she'd be too overwhelmed. So, just like the boys did, she'd start in the orientation class for about a month and then move up to the boys' class. We haven't told her yet since we don't know when that's going to happen (they just ended an orientation class) but it may be before the end of the year. Ugh...then we'd be doing TKD Monday-Thursday for a month or so. I already feel like we live there as it is! LOL! That's okay. I can think of worse places to be.

Daniel also had his first den meeting last night. Jacob, Hannah and I did not attend, but I hear that it was a lot of fun. The family that hosted has a firepit in their yard and the kids got to make s'mores. They also made a family scrapbook to take home (not my idea...it's actually a requirement as a den activity). His whole den earned their Bobcat badges (everyone has to earn the Bobcat before you can earn anything else. It's the basics of Cub Scouting...the motto, promise, handshake, salute...you get the idea.) and it's already on his uniform. Jacob was disappointed that he has yet to get his, but he will at his next den meeting next week. (I hope it's next week and not tonight!) The boys are having a blast with Scouting. We got an e-mail yesterday about Jacob's den hosting another den campout at the beginning of November. His den really loves to campout. We are also attending Camporee (family campout) this weekend. So much camping. We should be pros in no time! Sometime between now and Friday, I have to get a bigger tent (the one the boys took last week barely held them) and two more sleeping bags. After this weekend, we should be ready to camp at a moment's notice!

The boys have picture day today, but I didn't get any photos of them before they headed out. Sorry about that. We have our morning routine down pat and if I try to throw something else in there, it really messes me up. Take my word for it...they looked good!

Hannah has a field trip to the pumpkin patch with her preschool this afternoon. Should be fun. Stay tuned for pictures!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Girls' Night Out and a Guest Blog

It's been such a busy weekend that I'm just now up to blogging about it.

Friday night was Girls' Night Out for me and Hannah since the boys were off being wilderness men. Soon after the boys left, Hannah and I headed out to dinner. One of her favorites is Outback since she can get snake (steak for those of you that don't know Hannahese). After a very nice dinner, we went bowling, which seems to be a favorite activity for the two of us. My average is beginning to increase the more we go, so that's pretty cool (I bowled a 154 and a 147 this week). We came home and Hannah was in bed and asleep by 8:20. Not a bad night for me. Hannah just loves Girls' Night Out (this is our second time doing it) and talks about it endlessly for the next several days.

And now...a guest blog by Mike...

The Moon, Kata, & God

Part I: The Moon

I took the boys camping on Friday night. The campsite was in Missouri and about 75 miles from home. The weather was nice, a little hot, but very clear. There were about seven scouts with five dads (two dads, including myself, brought two boys).

The boys were helpful in putting up the tent. We were camping right off of a lake and the boys were anxious to go fishing. All the scouts spent an hour fishing off the docks or taking canoes into the lake all came back with the result: No bites, no nibbles, no fish. But with setting up their lines, hooking the worms, and trying to catch fish, Daniel and Jacob earned their fishing belt loop.

After fishing it was time for dinner. Not being much of a cook myself, we planned for hotdogs and chips. The boys had a blast skewering their hotdogs and sticking them in the fire. Some dads actually brought steaks, seasoned them, and then skewered and cooked them like hotdogs. If I knew it was that easy - we would have been eating steak!

When it became dark, the scout master called all of the boys around the campfire and broght out a whiteboard and markers. He then announced that we were going to earn our astrology belt loop. The scout master quizzed the boys on the meaning of words like meteorites, astroids, planets, sun, and the galaxy. He then pointed out certain stars and planets.

He then asked the boys if they knew the main star of our solar system. One boy shouted out "the sun". He was then instructed to grab a marker and go to the whiteboard and draw a picture of the Sun and write out "Sun" next to his picture. The next question was: "What's the planet closest to the sun?" The boy that answered "Mercury" came up and drew Mercury near the Sun. Jacob correctly guessed that Earth was the third planet and drew it accordingly. He even included a little moon! With a little prodding by dad, Daniel correctly shouted out Neptune. Not knowing how to spell Neptune, Jacob accompanied Daniel to the whiteboard and whispered the spelling letter-by-letter so that Daniel could complete his picture. Daniel had an ear-to-ear smile that he was able to do this exercise with the older scouts. It was too cute!

The last requirement to complete the Astrology merit badge was to find the moon with a pair of binoucalars. The moon wasn't out but the boys would spot it at 6:00 am on Saturday morning and thus completed their Astrology merit badget.

The rest of Friday night was spent cooking s'mores, telling jokes and stories around the camp fire, and just running/goodfing around. The night wound down around midnight.

It was a fairly hot night and didn't really cool down until 2-3 am. Everybody got up at 6:00 am to see the moon and to see if they could catch fish. Everybody ate at 7:30 am. I couldn't find the bagels that Barb packed, so I gave the boys doughnuts and juice boxes. The other dads whipped out skillets and cooked bacon and eggs over the open fire. I have got to learn how to cook! Fortunately, the cooking of hot dogs and s'mores was enough for partial credit towards their Cooking belt loop.

In the course of about 14 hours, the boys put up a tent, went fishing, cooked their dinner, stoked the fire, hung around their pals, and earned three belt loops.

We then broke down the camp and left around 8:45 am for the Tae Kwondo Tournament.

Part II: The Kata

We went to the Tae Kwondo Tournament at the urging of our instructor, Master Johnson. The tournament has two main sections: Forms (or Kata) and Sparring. Forms are a prescribed routine of kicks and punches to demonstate power, profiency, and an sense of rythm. Sparring is full contact fighting, but with the protection of head gear, arm and legs pads, and a chest protector. The divisions of competion were broken down by age (essentially children, teenagers, adults, and seniors - and yes, I fell into the senior group!) and by belt class (low, medium, and black belts - all three of us were in the low belt class).

Master Johnson wanted the boys to compete in Form to build up Jacob's confidence in performing in front of a crowd and Daniel focusing on speed and power. He left the choice of competing in Sparring up to the boys - who both initially declined for fear of getting hurt.

As I was going to be there anyways, I signed up for both Forms and Sparring. I signed up for Forms to basically kill some time and signed up for Sparring to try and teach the boys to face their fears. Like them, I had a fear of getting hurt. I've been doing this for 6 months and bearly have gotten back into shape. I told them that during their lives they will face situations when someone is going to push them around and will challenge them. There will be times when someone won't let reason resolve the situation. They will have to either stand up or back down. Nobody likes getting hurt, but on reflection, it's almost always more painful when you back down and don't stand up for yourself. So, I entered the ring with the hopes of showing the boys how to face your fear, that fear is self restricting, and if you don't give it into you will build inner respect and confidence.

The Tae Kwondo tournament started by lining up all of the competitors by rank, taking us through some basic exercises to the background of Queen's "We Will Rock You!" The boys loved this and have been thumping with their hands and the feet the riff to this song.

Next was a demo by the high ranking blackbelts. We saw demos on board and brick breaking, self defense, and Forms. One blackbelt did a standing back flip and while in mid-air, backwards, broke two boards with his legs over his upsidedown head and body. It was jaw dropping!

Next was Forms. The kids went first. Daniel and Jacob were in two adjoining rings, with Barb helping out Daniel and me helping out Jacob.

The judges call the kids two-by-two and score them. Best scores win - with the top three earning trophies. While the boys are grouped in eight for expediency, they are actually competing with three other boys (two groups of fours each competing for first through third).

Jacob went before Daniel. Jacob is the star of his class and had been repeatedly told he had a great shot at first. I personally made the mistake of having told Jacob he was our families' best shot at a trophy - because I'm old and slow - and Daniel has dad's sense of rythm. This may have gotten Jacob overly confident. I thought he rushed through his Form and didn't really focus on power or rythm. Because Barb had been working with Daniel, she just caught the tail end of Jacob's Form.

Daniel was then called out on the adjoining mat, so Barb and I ran over. We had told Daniel to focus on completing his Form and not winning. This was the best we had ever seen Daniel. He didn't stumble and remembered the sequence of the kicks and punches. Seeing all the 6 year olds perform, was too cute!

Daniel's section finished before Jacob's section. The judges lined up all the contestants in Daniel's section - and the by the way they lined up - we were guessing that Daniel had earned third. We were very excited to see that he won something. We soon discovered that we looking at the line from the wrong direction, and what appeared to be third was actually a first place finish! Daniel was stunned and we were the proud parents. I ran up, hugged Daniel, and hoisted him the air, shouting: "That's my boy, that's my boy!" Daniel was all ear-to-ear smiles.

I was then called over to my ring to do Form before I could see Jacob's results. As I was lining up, I glanced back over to Jacob's ring and saw Barb hugging Jacob. They never came over to see me perform and I knew something was wrong.

As it initially turned out, Jacob did not place and was so upset that he missed my performance. Because of this, my family also missed my performance.

There are no group limitations at the adult level - but there are not a whole lot of low belt seniors. There were five in my group - so my goal wss just to medal, top three of five.

One of my instructors told me at level to perform each block, kick, and punch with enough power that it could break a board. To yell (kiop) very loudly and dramatically at the end of each sequence and not break closing stance until instructed. I thought I pulled this off fairly well and liked my chances of scoring in top three.

As they were announcing the winners of my division, Barb ran over and said she had to chase Jacob out the door as he announced he was leaving because he didn't win. As she, Daniel, and Hannah were chasing down Jacob, the judges began announcing the winners of my division. Third place - my name is not called. Second place - my name is not called. Crap this getting close. First place - they announce my name and with a fist pump and smile, I claim my winners trophy. As I am walking up, I am thinking "Damn, this will look good in my office for all to see. As I receive the trophy, the judge shakes my hand and whispers in my ear: "Sorry, we ran out of first place trophies - all we have left are "Special Recognition" trophies and he handed it to me. Walking back out of the ring, I'm now thinking: "Crap, I can't bring this into the office, it looks like a "I participated and didn't get hurt trophy." Without my family witnessing my performance or a trophy to show for it - you will all simply have to beleve I won this thing - I swear I did!

At this point, Barb has successfully stopped Jacob from leaving. Master Johnson all came up to us and told us their was a scoring mistake with Jacob. The judges had accidently paired Jacob's group with four older boys. They wanted Jacob and his group to reperform. Jacob refused. Not sure about the other boys in the group. To settle this, they took Jacob's groups original scores and ranked him - and Jacob finished third. At this point, Jacob didn't believe us and thought we were handing him a charity trophy. It was high drama. Neither Barb or us could settle him down. Master Johnson couldn't really do it either. Jacob eventually settled himself down.

The tourament was now moving to Sparring - and Daniel and Jacob announced they wanted to Spar. After a first place finish, Daniel now had confidence he could compete. Jacob was so angry at his third place finish, he wanted to Spar for redemption. Jacob and Daniel had found their own path into the Sparring ring for their own personal reasons, and papa was proud. I no longer had to Spar to try and teach the boys about facing fear - but I was with Daniel, I took first place in Form and now it was time to kick some ass!

Jacob was first to Spar. In practice, Jacob is very reluctant and defensive. He doesn't like the thought of hurting anyone and really just works on blocking. He needs to be constantly coached to kick and punch. Today was different. He was aggressive. Jacob was paired against a bigger kid. He stayed in the center of the ring. He executed lots of combinations. While he connected a lot, Tae Kwondo scoring is hard. You must actually make your opponent move backwards with a kick or punch to score. It was a three minute match. Jacob lost 2-1 and kept the bout very close. I came over to Jacob and whispered how pleased I was of the effort. No backing down. Good execution. Great sportsmanship. Papa was proud! There were only three in Jacob's division who chose to spar. Because he lost the first match, he finished third and claimed his trophy. It is tough to stand in there and take and give full contact punches and kicks. Jacob really earned his trophy!

Next was Daniel. Daniel loves Sparring but typically doesn't take it seriously. A lot his kicks and punches are rather random. But Daniel came out and, like Jacob, took this seriously. Daniel was also paired against a bigger kid. He threw good combinations and gave a great effort. I was coaching him from the sidelines - and everytime I said something he turned back to look at me and smile. I sooned learned not to say anything so he wouldn't turn away and get sucker punched. Daniel lost 2-0. He was also called out a second time, gave another great peformance and came up short again 2-0. The judges declared a two way tie for third and gave Daniel a 3rd place trophy. Daniel suspected this was a charity trophy and didn't want to accept it. I generally agree with that thinking - but if you can stand in the ring for two full contact bouts at age 6, you've earned a trophy!

Now it was my turn. Like my boys, I was outsized. I stand 5'6'' and was paired against a guy who was 6'3''. In this sport, height is a huge advantage. We bowed and the bout began. In the first few seconds, my opponent and I each landed a round kick on the other. The referee yelled: "point" and the judges scored 3-0 that I landed the kick (and moved my opponent backwards). I was up 1-0. Barb was in the first row of the stands about 10 feet from me. Our eyes met and we gave each other "a holy crap, I can actually win this thing look".

That first kick was the only one I could land. My oppenent was too tall for me. I couldn't connect kicks and moved to the inside to avoid his kick and punch. I punched the tar out of this guy. I easily out connected him. I couldn't move him backwards and all my punches went for naught.

My opponent became a poor sport. He protested almost everything I did. I also blocked his kicks hard sending him to floor several times. You don't score points for blocks. All of his protests and theatrics though, did rally a small crowd to my side. He did land two round kicks to my weak side and I found myself down 2-1.

At this point, I should have changed something up - but I didn't. I continued to block kicks, move inside, and tried punching him backwards - very tough to do with someone wearing a chest protector. I came in with a hard left hook, even though he is so much taller than I am decided to try and duck the punch. I ended up hitting him square in the jaw which is highly illegal. He bitched to the ref, and I apologized. But I have to tell you, that that punch felt great - it was orgasmic. My best shot of the day and it was illegal.

Now the weight of the equipment was wearing on me. I used too much energy working inside, and the equipment now felt heavy. I left my weak side open again and was scored against. I had lost 3-1.

The boys were really upset. They thought I won. It probably looked like to the average person that I had won. My opponent was out punched and fell down at least twice. As it was explained to me aftwards, Tae Kwondo is about technique and is scored on technique- not on power.

I came over to Barb and smiled. Didn't matter that I lost, it was way cool to go into a ring and duke it out - and I lived to tell about it. Besides, I still had my Special Recognition trophy! Two of the five in my group, decided not to spar - which handed me third place trophy.

I also need to comment on our dojo. We had about 30 people compete. We were a tight nit family. Everybody rooting for each other. The families helping each other out. The high black belts coaching in between sessions. It was a very cool feeling.

End result: Three Ginsbergs in a total six events. Total trophies won: 6 (two firsts and four thirds).

We then went to out to dinner. After coming home, we were all exhausted. We took baths and ended the evening.

Part III. God.

It's now Sunday morning and we are at synagogue. During the family service, I began reflecting on the week. The camping trip was a great father-sons experience. The girls had a girls night out on Friday and had a great time at Outback and bowling. We all learned so much about ourselves and each other at the Tae Kwondo tournament - we all passed our individual tests. It was now time to thank God for giving me my family and for our love of each other.

-Mike

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Photo Post

The boys had a great time at their campout. We also had a very successful Tae Kwon Do tournament. Can you believe that Daniel got first place in his division in form? Shocking...that's for sure. Mike promised to guest blog later, but for now, here's pictures.

Jacob fishing



Daniel putting a log on the fire with some help



Jacob, Daniel and Lara (one of their TKD teachers...she's all of 15 and a 2nd degree black belt) share a laugh



Hannah, Mike, Jim, Deb, Mia, Crystal, Brandon, and Martin (in the hat in the back) watch the boys spar



Most of their TKD class...back row...Crystal, Brandon, Jacob...front row...Mia, Daniel, Peter and Alex



Daniel competes in form

Daniel and his first place trophy



Jacob competes in form (this one's a long story...the short story...he competed against 8 other kids when they were only supposed to compete against 4. He didn't place. Once they realized the error, they re-split the kids up and using the scores, he ended up getting 3rd in form)



Jacob decided to spar. This was the best job he ever did sparring.



Jacob earned 3rd place in sparring.



Daniel decided to spar as well (he also got third)



Mike spars. He got third as well (but a first in form)



The boys and their trophies. They really cleaned up today.