It's Coming!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Everyone.  There is only 1 more school night after this.  I'm so excited for summer!  But the mere mention of that word brings on pangs of anxiety...

  • knowing my house will not truly feel clean again until fall
  • alone time - it will cease to exist
  • there will be bickering
  • there will be more meal-making

But there will also be new experiences, unscheduled days and nights, family trip(s), warm weather, built-in helpers, special events and more!  And I know that when the school year approaches I'm usually dreading the plunge into routine and tedium, so surely I enjoy summer once we establish its norm.

Here are a few wrap-up things from the year: Paige had her final band concert.  The boys had field day!  They have emptied out their desks / locker.  There are only picnics and parties left.
Flag ceremony to open Field Day

Will's Den

Will (in blue) dragging a tire in the relay

Cole running while playing a game with his class

A recent punishment for Paige is sure to show that summer will not be as simple as splash parks and sidewalk chalk like it once was.  Parenting is just a bit hairier now.  But with that comes more possibilities and interest.  So here's to our "big kid" summer.  Bring it on!

Also, happy 14 years to us, who got to enjoy a wonderful dinner out this past weekend!  After all, without this there wouldn't be those previously mentioned high-maintenance kids!

Keeping Up

Monday, May 11, 2015
That's right!  I have a blog!  I didn't forget.  So, let's get up to speed.

1) Paige had a wonderful first saxophone solo performance!  I don't have any still photos of this, but we were very proud of her memorization of her piece and mistake-free performance.

2) We have enjoyed watching Will's Diamondback baseball team go 3-1 so far for the season, with Rich coaching.  Spring weather is tricky to keep that schedule on track, however.

3)  Had the boys' annual rain gutter regatta event for Scouts.  We also won the world's coolest cake (decorated like a cub scout shirt) in the silent auction.

4) Cashed in a Christmas present from my mom to many of us for a wine and paint event.  So fun!
Mine's the best.
5) I chaperoned the 4th grade field trip to the outdoor education center. It was a beautiful day for it and I learned a thing or how to kill a giant spider with a water bottle in the back of the bus with screaming kids.

6) Had a nice, relaxing mother's day with time spent with Rich's mom and a visit to my Grandmother.
Together, we are moms of 11 kids.

7) Tonight, Cole got to attend a Kane County Cougars game with his scout den.  They had a private deck and Rich went with him.  I guess it was pretty awesome and we "totally have to do that."
The "selthie" I requested.


8)  Lastly, this past week my cousin, Julie succumbed to cancer that she had been fighting hard for over 2 years.  She surpassed her prognosis more than once and I no doubt believe that her positive attitude and drive to live helped her do that and check many things off her list.  She was special in that she always kept communication going within the family.  She was great at scheduling visits and remembering occasions with cards and phone calls.  

In talking about her loss with Paige, she said that she didn't know her all too well (since she lived far away), but one memory she has of Julie is that "one time at Great Grandma's, all the adults were sitting on the couches and Julie was on the floor playing cars with Cole.  And I remember thinking, 'she's cool'."  

I have memories of sleepovers with her and her brother, her teaching us cheers, marveling at a home video of her Junior Miss pageant, and our priceless visit with her last March.  While I wish we would have captured a picture of my sisters, myself and her on that visit, I know I'd rather remember her like the picture below...bright face, beautiful smile.

Seven Years for Cole

Monday, April 20, 2015
For some reason, age 5 and 6 seem similar, but 7 just seems old-kid aged.  Cole had a great weekend of celebrating this fact with great weather and 2 parties!  Friday night was a typical summer grill meal with family, where he was showered with wonderful presents that he was super excited for!  This included a bean-bag chair, Aaron Rodgers jersey (yes, Green Bay), another energy necklace (to add to his crazy accessory collection), Nerf gun, games and more!  His dessert of choice was a cookie cake!
What happiness looks like

So many reasons to like this pic: his sweet smile in his new GB jersey,  his dad's traumatized photo bomb, and Olivia just walking through the yard in her flouncy skirt in the background.

Green grass and sun!

On Sunday, we planned an afternoon kid-party for Cole.  I was a cheerleader for heading somewhere to celebrate this year (laser tag? mini golf? anything?), but Cole LOVES to have his friends over to play.  We invited 5 of his besties and they all were able to make it to the sports-themed party!  Despite the pending rain, we got our sports-challenge scavenger hunt in just before raindrops started to fall.  They boys had a blast.  Here are some tips if planning a similar shindig:
  1. Six 1st graders is plenty.
  2. Chocolate cupcake can easily get ground into carpet.  Remove all carpet or make white cake.
  3. Don't use frosting.  They may use the frosting for face paint.  You know, to be funny.
  4. A pinata in the garage is great! But warning: candy falling to a cement surface may cause mini sugar explosions all over.  Put a blanket down or just randomly throw candy at them like wild animals.
  5. Have a basement.  Put them in it.
  6. Have a plan, but be ready to abandon it if they're having fun doing what 1st grade boys to best...wrestle and be loud.
I love the interest in the present-opening

The crew
So, Cole, happy birthday to you.  You are sweet, snuggly, and kind.  You are becoming stronger-willed, motivated and tough.  Whether it be a secret plan with Dad to get donuts in the morning, or those smiling cheeks I can see from a block away as you coming running off the bus, you truly light up our days.

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