Thursday, August 28, 2008

Being Silly

Looking silly comes very naturally in this house, right after running around naked. Jack loves to dress up, and here is one of his recent getups.

Yes, that is a lab coat, a captain Hook pirate hat, and a baseball medal. This kid has some imagination.

I miss him already and he hasn't even left for school yet. He's standing right next to me begging to play bideo games.
More sniff sniffs.

Doug Is a Buttman

I know this for a fact because when I was cleaning my air intake vent, and I turned it around to spray it in the sink I found this:
The surprises in this house may never end, but I love it anyway.
Way to go Doug. Whoever you are. You will live in the infamy of my home.

It Begins today

Of course I'm excited, and I'll post photos soon. Today is a big day.

Today our schedules are dictated by what the school has planned, and the school district calendar. It is kind of a big deal.


Monday, August 25, 2008

My So-Called Purpose Driven Life

I totally got this brainiac idea from a girl at church. She's reading this book-a 40 day introspective approach to life because she "needed something to do". I'm doing it out of curiosity, and because I think part of me is turning into my dad. He wins the award for owning, reading, and analyzing the most spiritual, self-help books there are on the shelves. Or at least owning them and intending to read them. He's got as many books queued up as Borders has in their bargain bins....

So far I'm on day three and it's an interesting little venture. I guess my problem lies in the thought that "God designed you. Everything you do, and are is God's plan". I don't really like that line of thinking, because in my mind, it negates any ownership of responsibility. Like, "Well, I stole that car, but it's okay because it was God's plan and part of his purpose for me." I have a VERY hard time with the idea that some poor guy died to absolve me of my sins, because even if it is true, there are too many people out there who use THAT as an excuse to not be really good people. The whole notion of people who go to church regularly being pious, good people is a misnomer, because while those people do exist, I've seen far more that indulge in the thought process of being a Christian for pretty much 2 hours on a Sunday morning, and then forgetting the message the rest of the week.

I wish there was some way to mesh my thoughts all together. I really like some things the Dalai Lama has to say on religion, and faith in general. I really felt a sense of peace, and was in awe when I attended a Bat Mitzvah for a former student of mine last year. I can appreciate the ceremony imbedded into Catholic beliefs. I really LOVE that the church and faith I choose to worship in encourages me to question everything, and so I will continue to do so.

At the very least, with this Purpose Driven Life, I'll gain some insight into myself. It's worth a shot anyway.

And if not, I can always raid my dad's bookshelf.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My New Ride

I don't have it in possession yet, but you can glimpse my new ride at:

This is my new race bike, and I'm totally psyched. I will be able to race my triathlons much faster, and I have set the goal of completing an Olympic Length race by this time next year, specifically the Accenture Triathlon in Chicago. That entails a 1 mile swim, a 20 something mile ride, and a 6 mile run. I can totally do it. At least, with the bike I can. The run, as usual will be my pitfall, so my runner friends (Keri?) can help me, I hope.

My mom and dad rock, as they sprung the cash for said bike. I say they're making up for all the homecomings and proms I never went to. They say they're proud of my efforts in the triathlon and other breast cancer races.

I haven't picked it up yet, but in addition to hopefully joining the "Women Who Ride" Club, I really want to take biking classes at the bike shop with a coach this winter. I'd like to do the Ride for Awareness for Breast Cancer,
but I'd really have to change around my treatment schedule at work. We'll see.

Maybe I'll inspire one of you to do it in my place?

Thanks Mom and dad. Thanks for supporting me in this new adventure in my life. I'm really, really excited about becoming a "biker chick!"

From the files of "I Can't belive I Just said THAT", OR "Things You Never Really Thought You'd Hear Yourself Say"

"Naaaate. Did you just pee in the sink? DID YOU JUST PEE IN YOUR SINK? "

Let's add to this his adamant protestation that NO he did not pee in the sink as he is standing Naked on the sink counter, and then telling us he washed it down so we can't smell it.

Liar liar pants on fire.

Never Believe a Word that Comes out of This Kids Mouth

I hear a LOT about how cute he is but....
From the "You can't make this crap up files":
Neighbor: "Nate was so cute earlier. He was at the door saying his mom wanted him to come home, so I told him to go home".
Me:" Uh Huh."
Neighbor:"But then he said, "My mom said I can't go home until you give me a cookie first".
Me: "Never, EVER believe a word out of his mouth.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Maddie's Birthday...A Photo Essay

Last Friday we had 2 parties for the little princess. We had a gathering at the local park with all her friends and her fave cousin Brookie Baby, and then the family party where everyone who loves her and wants to torment me helped her get lost in a girly sea of pink, Barbies, and dollhouse items.

She even picked out her own cake from Dairy Queen, the 5 Princesses of course. This is HIGH larious since neither John or I encourage the girly girl stuff, but she loves it anyway.

At the park...WHEEEEEE!

Siblings. Nate is helping open presents. Or tormenting her more likely.

Brooke has a tantrum. She wanted more cupcake. Ursula the Sea Witch (what she calls her mother) told her no.

At home during the water gun fight. Nate hates getting wet, so he was running away. I'm not sure what happened with his shorts.

Who invited Rambo Chick? Internet world: Meet Richie's girlfriend Anna. They've been dating for over a year, and I just found out her last name about 2 weeks ago. My brother is classy like that.
Aggravating little kids and the pregnant lady.
My brother: Politically correct attire as usual.
Apparently, you can hyphenate this name in many interesting ways.
Who me? I didn't do anything. I swear.

Taking aim. Chicks with guns.

"It my dorday! Happy a YOU YOU!"
Brooke goes to Hollywood.
She got this ginormous dollhouse from my mom. My sister got her the accessories. She LOVES the dollhouse.

Princess "No Why". John and I got her this costume. Cheryl and her girls got her one that is MUCH NICER that she likes more than this one. We're keeping both though, in case one suffers plastic high heel shoe damage.
Richie got her a balloon. She kept walking around going, "MY BIYOON!"
Cake time!
All the kids, mid song.
Birthday girl. Notice the bows. That was my sister's other contribution: to accessorize.

It was a great day. She had a super birthday and LOVED the attention.
And now it's back to life as normal, sort of.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Now, How in the Hell Exactly, Am I Supposed to Respond to THIS Mess?

When you register your child for kindergarten, there are no less than 3,127 necessary and required VERY IMPORTANT documents and papers and forms you must fill out and you have to sign in order to guarantee your child to a free and public edumacation. The "free" part still floors me because aside from the couple hundred I've spent in registration fees, there's also the exorbitant amount I've spent on school supplies. Apparently when the powers that be wrote the phrase "free and public education" they didn't take into account the ridiculous amount of money I pay in taxes, and school supplies at that time consisted of a gigantor piece of chalk and a slate on which to write on.

You don't want to screw up any of these VERY IMPORTANT documents, because you, as a parent, don't want to mess up your kids' chances of getting that MD from Harvard. So, when you get a letter in the mail asking you to write down 2 or even 3 interesting facts about your kid just so their teacher can get to know them a little better, you want to make darn sure you say the exact right thing.

I have no idea what to write about my kid.

Of course, there are tons of things I find interesting about him. Like, how he needs to strip buck naked in order to go poop. Or his choice of clothing combinations on some days. However, having been a former teacher and having actually asked parents to do the same thing, I think I know what kinds of things the teacher is looking for. And I can't help her one bit. To be fair, the sheet also said I could list fears and excitements about starting school, but how the hell am I supposed to write that "Yes, Jack is very excited about school, because as of August 18th, he still thinks he's going to Jedi academy and will learn proper light saber techniques while in your hands."?

I'm at a loss.

John said I shouldn't write anything. That I should let them "learn him on the fly". I don't think that's fair to anyone. The kid is pretty complex, and even after knowing him intimately for 9 months, birthing him, and being his sole care provider for 5 years running, I still haven't totally figured him out.

I could say his favorite color is black, and we're hoping that will be both the start and end of his experience with the Goth, never mind the teenage years.

Steph said I should write that he will be the first kid they send to the office this year. I'm sure that's a pretty accurate statement, but I don't want to paint Jack as being that kid right off the bat. Besides, he's not malicious, he just never stops vying for attention.

Steph also said I could write that he's very inquisitive and always wants to know the why of something, and she's right. I could write on this form that I find it very interesting that my kid has been talking in complete and comprehendible sentences since before he was 2 and he hasn't stopped since. In fact, he even talks in his sleep. He never shuts up, and he's ALWAYS questioning something, which wages such an evil war in a mommy's head.

On one hand, you're all like, "Wow! My kid is friggin' genius because he's so smart and just wants to know more," and on the other hand, your evil half is yammering, "Please, please please, just shut the hell up. Stop talking. Please Stop talking." Which makes you feel even more guilty because you KNOW you should just be answering questions and fostering creativitiy and love of life and learning and blah blah blah, but ENOUGH already with the questions of what happens when someone dies, much less a Jedi. I don't know if Jesus won his bowling tournament during last night's thunderstorm. I'm not quite sure WHAT happened to the bad guys that put nails in Jesus arms (thanks church for that one!). I don't know the answers to everything. Ugh.

So back to the dilemma about what to write. What's so interesting about my kid anyway? He's a typical kid, and I'm pretty sure I have typical expecations of him as far as kindergarten goes. I don't want him to be the smartest, or the best at anything. I just want him to be a good, kind friend, with the added bonus of enough smarts to learn a few things along the way. I think he'll be just fine, really, except for the whole never stopping talking thing. That is going to drive his teacher ape, but for 5 afternoons a week, better her than me.

That's one of the benefits of being "free and public".

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Field Museum

Last Monday we took the kids to the Field Museum downtown. It was great. We just didn't realize that it was Free Monday, but it was okay because the Field doesn't get overly crowded and we got to go in pretty much all the exhibits-even the ones you usually pay for. Here are some highlights....

Getting ready for our first ever train ride.
Cheeser doodles!
Such a magical thing...the first train ride!

Screech, halt, speed fast....repeat.
In the museum we got 'shrunk' and went under ground into the dirt. Nate LOVED being one with the bugs.
He's smaller than a penny!
Check out the size of that grub!
Jack is a bug.
Look close! Can you see John and the kids up there?

Train ride home.
Such a good day!
Dinner at Rainforest Cafe. Maddie loved the frog.
We ate near Elephants. It was so cool.
The only thing I'd do different is learn the bus system instead of taking the trolley and/or waiting in line (2 hours with 3 kids, no way. We cabbed it ) for the free trolley. The cab ride wasn't too bad, but the bus would've been cheaper.
More adventures to come!!! I have to get it all in before school next week!

Friday, August 15, 2008

FIREUP! Go Jen's Jocks!

I got notice a couple days ago that my fantasy football league is ready to get started up again. By the way, Juli, your AVATAR is totally hot!

All women, all the time, it's the best league ever, because we trade based on who looks hot in tight pants. Sometimes we actually trade to have good teams, but since we're all relatively new to the idea of fantasy league-ing, it's a lot a lot a lot of fun.

This year we're playing for something. Vote on the right for what you think we should do.

And if you're a woman, try and get into a fun league like ours. You can be competitive if you really want, but the best thing is getting e-mails regarding engagements, and births for people you don't really know (I was brought in by a friend, and she's the only one I really "know" in the league out of 14 women), and also exchanging addresses for Christmas Cards. Women are amazing creatures, and to blatantly steal a quote,
"Our friends are our friends friends."

Incidentally, if you have any drafting pointers, I'd love to hear them!!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Sweet Cheeks

Dear Maddie,

Two years ago today you were the best surprise to happen into our lives. This teeny tiny peanut who didn't ask for brothers named Godzilla and BamBam, but you love them all the same. You have this amazing love/hate thing goin' on with Nate, because you're like twins, but worse, being 13 months apart. We know that when he's throwing keggers in high school, he's going to be telling you to bring all your hot friends.

You're an amazing little girl. All girly girl, but when the situation calls for it, you can grab a lightsaber and keep up with the boys no problemo. You are my constant companion, as if you know you need a second line of defense always, and I don't really mind. You are strong willed, independent-already buckling your own carseat, getting in and out of your chair at dinner, and now climbing out of the crib, and you have really just the sweetest demeanor and disposition. You are smart and funny, and you love to cuddle and be held onto and loved. Daddy and I really don't mind accomodating because you're our baby.

However, as you've learned the hard way at times, we're not about to baby you by any means. You will know right from wrong, and how to do most anything by and for yourself.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing you in your ballet leotard and slippers this fall. I'm very much looking forward to taking you to see the Nutcracker someday, and other live theater performances, and doing other mom/daughter girls' nights out. I will be your friend, but not your best friend, because I'm your mom too and I need to draw a line in order to discipline you and love you the way you need and deserve to be. I hope you make good choices in life in who your best friends will be, because without them you will be lost, just as I would be without mine.

I'm not a girly girl mommy, but I love you more than life, and I hope you know that I won't discourage purses and Barbies and funky frilly things. I do draw the line at Bratz dolls (those hydrocephalic zoned out looking slutty dolls scare me) and random body piercings though, so don't even think about it.

Your brothers adore you. Strangers think you're the cutest thing ever. Daddy and I love you and we always will.

Happy Birthday baby girl.
Mamma needs a new pair of shoes! Thanks Jen for her new stylin' footwear!
Check them out! Check THEM OUT!!

Carrying a baby...or Spiderman. She knows all the words to the theme song by the way.

Sweet, fun loving, happy girl.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Well, if You're Gonna Get Cancer, This One's a Good One To Get

Apparently, the oncologist told my grandmother, "This is a good cancer" because it is apparently readily treatable to maintain status quo- not really curabel. I'm still confused about the "good cancer" "bad cancer" thing. Is it like, "good cop, bad cop"? Hmmm...

Gram has a less aggressive from of the mesothelioma and will undergo physical therapy to gain strength, and in 2 weeks have a CAT scan to compare lung tissue from the end of July. Based on PT and CAT scan, she will be a candidate for chemo, the kind that doesn't make you sick or lose your hair. She's very excited about not losing her hair.

I think prayers have worked for her. Everyone's concern and love, the prayer cards in churches, everyone keeping her in their thoughts. A few weeks ago I was told she had 2 months to live, now, this seems doable. My stance on organized religion remains unchanged, my stance on the power of good people does not. I thank everyone who has read this and well wished. She will be okay for a while. Long enough to tell her great grandkids a million times over how much she loves them.

I'm sad she'll probably miss Maddie's birthday party on Friday, but she can't intentionally expose herself to sick people, and John and I have been fighting colds all week. This I understand, it's not worth the risk for her, but we'll be thikning of her for sure.

By the by, how does one find out the ribbon color for mesothelioma? I recently found out the ribbon for brain cancer was grey (an odd choice, no?), but can't find any info on this one. Let me know if you are able to find out!

For now, continued prayers for her strength and perserverance for what lies ahead.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Busy, Busy Like Bees

We have been REALLY busy lately, so I'm trying to backtrack recent events. It doesn't help that I am also computer illiterate and thought that when I posted photos the blogger site was jazzed up, but really I needed to toggle to something different and long story short, when it comes to these big magic screens with buttons I draw blanks. Jack will know more about computers after he starts kindergarten than I ever will, but that's okay. It's good to have someone in the know in the family.

This is my grandmother, less than a week post surgery. We find out today what her treatment options are, if any. She looks pretty good though, and complained mostly about how messy her hair was. She complains more about her coiffure than a woman a third her age, but she is also of the generation (my other grandma does this too) who goes every week to the beauty shop to get their hair did.

I'm lucky if I go 3 times a year. Still, she looks good.

This is Steph with Brooke and Maddie visiting Grammies. Brooke is into showing people her nipples, and I have a cute photo of it, but I won't post it. It just doesn't seem right somehow....
John took the boys fishing again. Doesn't this look like that Green Acres photo...also titled American Gothic I believe? You know, the old scary dude with a pitchfork and his disgruntled biscuit making wife in her black dress and white bun?

I digress. The boys had a blast, mostly Jack fish, and Nate our future entymologist (if he doesn't succeed in his one man mission to annihilate the ant species entirely) got the worms.

Little fishy.

Littler fishy.

This is neighbor Joe. He's actually my parent's neighbor, but when I see him I say, "howdy neighbor". He's that kind of guy.
Neighbor Joe working out...I mean pushing Nate and Maddie in the Flintstone mobile across my parent's yard.
Neighbor Ray picking tomaters with Jack.

Fresh outta the garden.

On to Nate's last t-ball game. He did good.

Here he is on base. Thumbs UP!

Action shot, running to second.

Picking up speed and rounding third. You can hardly see him he's so fast.

Check out the medal. So totally cool!

Nate and Coach John. When Daddy's wearing the grey, he doesn't get called daddy. Always "Coach John".

I swear these two look like twins, and sometimes they act like it too. John really GETS Nate. I mean...REALLY gets Nate.