The Latest, In List Form

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Here is the latest:

1) We had a great Easter celebration, first with an Easter egg hunt at my sister's house, then with church in the morning and an Easter dinner here with Rich's family.
Hunting for eggs at the Fox's

Olivia hitting the jackpot

Cousins on the Kelly side

2) We helped cousin Olivia celebrate being two!*  (Or as she states her age: a big sister!)  We can't wait until October now!

3) We expanded the garden!  We have had intentions of doing this, but kept putting it off.  Probably because it was an annoying, more-difficult-than-it-should-have-been type of task.  Turns out, once you put rock down, pretty much just plan on leaving it there forever.  But now we can't wait to get it planted!

4)  Now onto baseball season and a continued hunt for a camper that we're happy with!

* If I may expand upon a story I alluded to in the previous post....

It was a busy day of getting things ready to host Easter and all the kids were pitching in to help.  I had asked Will to get out our gift to Olivia (a play cash register) and put the batteries I had bought into it.  This attracted the attention of the other 2 kids and they made it a joint effort. I was clear about being cautious of the new toy and leaving the play money and other accessories in their bags.  Not too soon after I heard, "uh-oh....Mom?".  I enter the room to see that they had placed Barbie coins from our play cash register into the coin slot on the new one.  And surprise!  They didn't fit and were wedged within the product.  That's right: there were three minds ranging in age from almost 7 to 12 and not one thought to mention that maybe shoving a foreign object into a new toy that wasn't theirs was a good idea.  Cue my total freak out session and summoning to Rich for help. 

A shout-out to Rich for being ultra handy in these situations, as there have been many Christmas mornings with non-functioning new toys that, after a trip down to the workbench, are in perfect working order.  Turns out this required total dismantling and a soldering gun to extract the pink coin, fix wires and proceed with the present-readying.  

Lesson learned: kids will always surprise you.  I mean, one minute they are giving you a well-prepared dissertation via Powerpoint regarding why they should have social media or watch a PG13 movie and the next minute they are shoving things where they shouldn't be.  Parenting is hard.

Spring Break!

Saturday, April 4, 2015
When it became clear that a sandy, warm spring break destination wasn't going to work, we knew we wanted SOME kind of getaway.  We decided to road trip down to St. Louis.  We have found we love to "explore" new cities and although we've been there, the kids were significantly littler and would appreciate it on a whole new level.

Plus, going to St. Louis meant getting to see my college bestie, Nicole, and her family of 3 boys all similar ages of ours.  It ended up being a great time!  We had a little of everything...seeing new attractions, visiting at their home, hotel swimming, city walking, and good dining out.  Everyone was happy.

If you ask the kids, they were most happy when with the Diehls.  It is amazing how they just fall into "knowing each other."  Truth - Paige and Luke have developed a texting relationship that keeps them more in touch such that it doesn't seem like so much time has passed since seeing each other.  They were two peas.  Now, it would be silly to daydream of one day the two of them getting married or something but if it happened, I would think maybe it would happen in Champaign - where they both would have gone to college and equidistant from their hometowns and Nicole and I would busily plan the details and go shopping and cake tasting together and maybe even wear matching dresses....

Grown-up Shot!

Goodbye hug
Walking around downtown near Busch Stadium  (We took this picture because that's a Cubs game on the jumbotron in the background!)
Budweiser Tour
City Museum.  Had my kids been littler, I would have been totally nervous and felt nothing but disdain for this place.  But since they're big...totally cool.  Rich and Cole are in the window of this plane.

At the Arch!

Having only 3 nights there leaves time for other things over break like To-Do lists, Easter, celebrating Olivia's 2nd birthday and other friend birthday parties.  Makes for a full, fun Spring Break!

Stay tuned for my next post with the working title: The Time My Kids Lost All Common Sense and Reason for the Love of All That is Good on this Earth.

More in March

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
So here are few more noteworthy events in March:

1) 7th grade cheerleading tryouts are Thursday.  Paige is heavy into practicing and though she feels confident, she certainly has worked hard to get there.  Hoping for the best.  In addition, she has had a couple of  band concerts and will perform a solo in the near future.  I can't wait for that!

Fine Arts Festival.  First chair Alto Sax

2) We've had a little accountability snafu with Will with respect to school work lately.  I'm not going to lie; I've lost sleep over this.  He is SO incredibly diligent with his school work and the whole first semester of this year has been able to keep his own system of checks and balances enough that I had let go of the reigns a bit.  Unfortunately, an assignment slipped through the cracks that will significantly affect his report card grade.  I keep trying to remind myself that his 4th grade AT reading grade probably won't be a major component of his college applications.   While I know this is true, I definitely dislike grades that I feel don't reflect a student's true understanding and level of effort.  Live and learn.

3) I got a great visit with a high school friend (and her daughter) recently!  Here's to 30 years of friendship!

Jamie and I.  First met on the playground in 2nd grade.

Alli and Cole.  Truth be told: she had a crush on Cole.  More truth: Cole was digging it.
4) I'm going to ignore the flat-out blizzard we had yesterday morning and talk about spring-like weather and outside play and visions like these that I'm just so ready to have more of...

5)  Today Cole and I were talking about chocolate as I was quizzing him on his spelling words and he said, "You like chocolate, but you don't eat too much because you're a veterinarian."  Me: I think you mean "vegetarian," which is a person who doesn't eat meat, but actually I'm a dietitian. Cole: Oh yeah! That's what I meant.

I tried hard to validate his comment by saying I knew what he meant, about eating right, etc., but I REALLY wanted to say you were WAY off!

6) Bring on Spring Break and just a break from the norm!

Spring Has Sprung!

Thursday, March 12, 2015
So, the fact that it's dark out when we wake up now doesn't have us down, because simultaneously the weather has finally broken into spring-like temperatures!  The past few weeks has found us with little illnesses here and there, muscling through state academic testing and longing for this spring change!

I got a very rare and unique time away this weekend with my sisters to visit a cousin who is 2 1/2 years into a cancer battle.  It was a difficult trip to coordinate and schedule, but it finally happened and I so enjoyed getting to see Julie and travel with my sisters!
This is after we bickered a bit about how fast Sarah was walking and how she was making us sweat.  I got the "W" for that argument when my fitness band later texted me and asked if I had been exercising!

Us and Julie's mom in front of her beautiful home in Raleigh, NC

While I was away, Rich held down the fort and the kids had some cousin time at my parents' (which also could have been called a daycare facility with all the kids they were responsible for at one point that day).  While looking at Paige's phone, I found this great picture I had posted on Facebook, but want here to remember...

So now we are gearing up for a little trip to St. Louis for a Spring Break getaway!  Before that, Paige will have cheerleading tryouts for 7th grade.  Then, Will is going to be starting baseball (with Rich coaching).  Cole will do the park district league one more time which is more towards summer.  It will be busier than it has been, but at least nicer weather will have us WANTING to get out and about more!

And I leave you with an Easter funny:

Cole and I were looking at Easter goodies in a Fannie May flier that came in the mail.  I pointed to one treat and said they looked too rich.  Cole asked, "Why?  How much money are they?"

Today We're Doing Well

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
It's very easy to get caught up in worry.  We worry we're doing too much.  We worry we're not doing enough.  We worry about the weather.  We worry about what we eat, who's leading our country, who's leading our school districts.  We worry someone might do bad things.  We worry we weren't thankful enough when someone did good things.  We worry we're too rigid - or that we're not rigid enough.  We worry we're not enjoying life enough - or that we're not working and planning enough to enjoy life later.

It can get a little cumbersome and counterproductive.

Though definitely guilty of worrying, I try very hard to make a point to only worry when worry is warranted.  The thing is that I MAY look back and wonder why did I waste time worrying about this?  But I don't think I'll find myself thinking I should have sat around and worried about this more.  

And it's days like those of recent that make me realize that really...we're doing well.  Things like:
  • A long, conversational midweek dinner enjoyed by the whole family
  • Being read to by Cole
  • Verbally thankful kids
  • Kids telling jokes that legitimately make me laugh hard
  • Good grades
  • Happy mornings
  • Hearing Paige talk my ear off
  • Seeing confidence build in Will as he tackles daunting homework
  • Compliments by teachers
  • Seeing Cole run downstairs to get a hug before Paige heads out for the day
  • Seeing Cole and Will play hide and seek together
  • Countless hugs.  Just countless.  People say this will end...
 ...but I'm not going to worry about that now. 

A Grow Update

Monday, February 9, 2015
It's that slow time of year.  We're really just bearing down and muscling through the gloomier part of winter.  Luckily, there have been a few fun things!  The Super Bowl was recently and paired with a blizzard that allowed the kids to stay home on Monday! (Thus, further supporting my recommendation to switch the Super Bowl to Saturday.  Way more fun!) 

Also, I celebrated a birthday.  This corresponds well with the fact that I just had to take a couple ibuprofen after a 3.5 mile snow hike yesterday with the Cub Scouts.  Aches and a raw heel from my snow boot rubbing and I'm feeling my age!  All three kids were with us and did awesome, despite the rugged terrain.

But I was thinking that while I have been recording family happenings, I haven't gone into specifics about the kids lately.  So here is a crash course in what they're up to:

Favorite subject: Science (likely because of her teacher who she adores)  She has been selected to be a part of a "Mission to Mars" program in which they will have special prep classes after school leading up to a field trip to a place to study space exploration.

Favorite pastime: drawing, listening to music, friends, TV/movies and books

Favorite clothing: tank top with comfy shirts over it.  Namely,  a light pink and silver Coca-cola shirt.

Favorite food: yes

Favorite way to get in trouble: careless mistakes on school work, being misleading

Favorite moments: when she comes home and confides in me the "social" learning details that come with junior high

Favorite subject: specials (what they call the extra classes like music, art and P.E.).  His AT reading and math are getting challenging, but he is keeping up well!

Favorite pastime: after school hockey, iPod play, getting his neighbor friend Jesse to play

Favorite clothing: anything Chicago sports or under armor / nike, etc.

Favorite food: burgers.  And not from the kid menu.

Favorite way to get in trouble: being utterly rude and disrespectful to siblings, also being obnoxious and not knowing when to quit

Favorite moments: his compassion for others, whether it be his baby cousin, an old man in a restaurant eating alone, or meaningful hugs for me.

Favorite subject: P.E. hands down.

Favorite pastime: Ipod play - particularly a racing game that his dad is equally enamored with.  It's a cute little partnership.  Biking - even among the snow piles.

Favorite clothing: hooded sweatshirts and sport pants.  Unless his friend and he have arranged to wear their Bears jerseys.  Then that.

Favorite food: bread and butter, and fish of all types.

Favorite way to get in trouble: acting as if rules don't apply to him

Favorite moments: when he still wants to sit on my lap, and still getting "mail" from him...sealed with stickers.

There you have it!  The kids as of February 2015!

And More of January Before It's Over

Sunday, January 25, 2015
Okay, so here's more of what the first month of 2015 has brought:

1) Paige got braces!  This was planned and is expected to last 2 years at the most (hopefully less if you ask her).  After a full week of getting used to the aches and pains, she is back to eating normally and smiling with much less hesitation!
Not thrilled.  But getting fro-yo to cushion the blow.

2) We are updating a bit in our basement!  Actually just looking for a new couch with a pull-out bed to host guests more comfortably. But, hopefully it will make the whole basement family room a little more cozy and movie-night-friendly for the fam.

3) We helped to finish painting a bathroom of Rich's mother's.  She had fallen and unfortunately broken her foot during the project, so we finished it up and now have her sweet lab, Maggie, while she recovers....
FINISHED!  But still lacking her decorative touches!

While we were painting, the kids played with the dogs and built this cutest snowman ever just waving 'hi' in the backyard!
We try so hard to get Maggie to feel comfortable here.  One day she'll come around.  (Pretty sure she thought I was gone when she was hanging out here, but really I was in the shower.  Crack. Me. Up.)

4) This weekend was the boys' Pinewood Derby for scouts.  Their cars were completely their own design and I was in love with both!  They ended up only fair in the speed department, but looked good doing it!
Cole's is the Bears car and Will's is the breast cancer awareness car.  These are keepers.

The Tigers!

The Webelos

Another Bulletted List

Monday, January 19, 2015
(Disclaimer: this post was supposed to be longer, but since Blogger is acting up, this will be a 2-parter!)

One great use of bullet points is to offer a lot of information in a clear, succinct manner.  Because I'm averaging two posts here a month, it has become my go-to format.  So, here we go!

  • First, I never posted a New Year's Eve party picture!  Here's proof of the usual games and cousin sleep-fest:

  • Next, Paige had a friend shindig for her birthday!  Seven friends came over and played games, danced and ate.  In lieu of gifts, she had them bring donations for a pet rescue group.  We just dropped it off the other day and it was SO fun seeing some of the recipients of the food and treats.
    It was an Ugly Christmas Sweater party!

    Pet donations

  • THEN...the kids got to cash in a Christmas present of trips to an indoor skydive center.  It was awesome!  The pictures speak for themselves!
    Cole - Nervous face, but DID IT!

    Paige - with a smile!

    Will - no fear

    THEN, there was 1 day of school and then 3 off for frigid temperatures.  That's THREE unexpected days off after 16 for Christmas break! (I say, with slight disbelief and a bit of paranoia).  But this winter has been kinder overall than last winter, I'd like to think.  And have no fear.  We are actively looking for someplace warm to travel over spring break!  But I don't know how well I'd do without having scenes like this:

  • Morning fog coated trees and bushes in a crystal layer.  Beautiful and peaceful!

    Boys - with a goal of tunneling all the way through.  They did it!

Happy Twenty Fifteen!

Thursday, January 1, 2015's the new year and I'm so glad to see it come!  But December was filled with things I loved, so I'm going to jot them down here!
1) First, Christmas with my (getting older) kids.  Here's a glimpse of what I'm talking about...

I am thrilled they still bond over all things track, but they are just bigger.  Like, they decorated this tree and put the track up with no adult help!

2) We had Christmas with the Cumpata's!  It was a wonderful celebration with gift games, charades, good food, a Santa visit and time spent together!
Santa, Olivia would like a phone.  Thank you.

Family pic

Kinetic Sand!!!
3) We had Christmas Day!  The kids were thrilled and shared thoughtful gifts among each other as well.  We had Grandma Kelly here and were later joined by my parents and Aunt Lavonne for dinner.
She got a phone! (Wait, maybe that was meant for Olivia)


4) We traveled down Route 47 for the first time in a while to see an Illini basketball game with the Garbaciaks!  Had a fun time cheering on the Illini to a giant win!
Will at Murphy's.  He was a fan, which worries me a bit.  Paige, on the other hand, was mortified by the "vandalism."

Alma Mater pic!  In the rain.

The quiet quad

Sporting the orange!

At Assembly Hall (a.k.a. State Farm Center, but whatever)
5) Christmas on the Kelly side!  We had a celebration a few days after Christmas, and while it was our first without Rich's dad, it was so nice to find the time to celebrate with just us together - like he would have wanted.
Almost all the cousins

Oh yeah!

Cole and Chip.  Snuggle buddies.

Okay, so 2015 can officially begin!  I'm caught up!  (Well, with the blog, not the laundry, taking down decorations, cleaning, organizing or errands, but I have a whole year!)