Monday, January 29, 2018

Things that have been happening

It's been winter, and while it's been a mild winter - almost warm some days - it's still winter. We've been mostly going about our lives as usual - school, work, homework, etc. There have been a few things of note though.

1. My grandpa - my dad's dad, my last living grandparent - died on the 16th. He was 98, and he was ready to die, and i am honestly happy for him. But it's sad for us, and we will miss him. The funeral was this past Saturday, and i couldn't help thinking that it might be a really long time before i see all of my cousins again, because the only times we've really seen them in the past few years has been at my grandpa's house, and since that'll be gone, we won't have a common place to meet up. So that is also sad.

2. Houston had exams. And it was SO much better than last year's exams! I think it's partially that he actually realizes that he has to study now, so i'm not just trying to drag him into studying like i was last year. But it's also partly the teachers that he has this year as compared to last year. Last year he had 2 teachers who gave him no study guide at all, and since he had no notes (why???), we had to go through the book and re-learn everything they'd learned the whole year. It was torturous, and i am SO HAPPY that this year's teachers were kinder.

3. Zane's room, you guys. For months and months, i've been trying to convince him to clean it, and it's gone through various levels of horribly messy. It's been a couple of months since he's been allowed to play computer or have friends over, and still he hasn't been able to clean it. I finally reached my limit and couldn't bear it for another day and went in and helped him clean the entire thing from top to bottom. And he was so happy. I mean, even while we were cleaning it, he was super happy. It took us 2 days, but it is now completely clean and organized and he is under strict orders to keep it that way. And so far he is cheerfully agreeing that it needs to stay clean. We shall see how long that lasts.

4. Katrina, Zane, and i went to Winter Camp with the youth group from church. We left on Friday and got back yesterday a little after noon, and we all collapsed from exhaustion. It was a good weekend - Katrina and Zane both loved it. Katrina got a makeover from her group and got her hair straightened. She hated the makeup but liked the straightened hair, so i imagine she'll be learning to do that to herself. Her cousin Gabriella went to Winter Camp this year as well, and she loved having her there. Zane had fun, though he couldn't actually remember what he had fun doing. Every time i saw him, he looked a little bit...lost? I think he really likes his group, but he's not awesome at the whole group dynamic yet, so he just does his own thing and is surprised when his group isn't there with him.

5. We got home from Winter Camp and headed to the Symphony a couple of hours later. I would not normally plan something so soon after being gone all weekend, but we got 4 free tickets from the library and one $5 student ticket, so our whole family could go for $5, and that is not something to pass up. Plus it was "Blockbuster hits;" songs from Broadway musicals that have been super successful. So there was Annie and Les Miserables and the Phantom of the Opera and Wicked and others. Everyone really enjoyed it, even though we were tired.

6. Zane went to school all happy and healthy, and at noon i got a phone call from the school that he had just thrown up and i needed to go get him. Poor little boy - he was miserable. I asked what happened, and he sounded all surprised when he explained that he was "completely fine, and then i started getting a headache and then i threw up and now i feel terrible." I took his temperature when we got home, and it was 101.4. There's the flu-type-A or whatever it is going around, and so while i would usually just throw him in bed and let him sleep it off, i called the doctor's office to just double check what i needed to be looking for, and the nurse was all, "Does he have a sore throat? Because those sound like strep throat symptoms...." He didn't mention it, so i said, "" and she was all, "Well, watch for that, and if his throat hurts then call back." And a few hours later, his throat DID hurt, so i called, and they were all, "If you can get here in 20 minutes, then we'll do a strep test today." So i dragged him out of bed and forced him to come with me (he would SO much rather have just stayed in bed and slept).  After the nurse checked his weight, he collapsed on the floor and just laid there while she took his temperature and the strep test thingy. The good news is that he DOESN'T have strep. So. Yay!

7. As long as i was going to the doctor's office anyhow, i dragged Houston and Katrina along so they could get flu shots. Neither of them was very happy with me. Katrina was really hoping for the spray vaccine so she wouldn't need to get a shot, but apparently they don't make those anymore because they're not effective. And as soon as she heard that, Katrina started getting all teary and worried and working herself up to be panicky. Houston got the shot first and just looked at me sadly the whole time and then was like, "Huh. That really was just like a pinch." Katrina, meanwhile, worked herself up to a full-blown panic attack. She was gasping for breath and i was honestly worried that she was going to pass out from hyperventilating. I just kind of hugged her while the nurse gave her the shot, but even afterwards, it was a good 15 minutes before i was able to get her calmed down and breathing again. So that was a first. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Crocheting the sky

Katrina, Beth, and i are each making a scarf in 2018 by doing one row every day, whatever the color of the sky that day. Katrina and i were talking about it today, and both of us expected that, at this point, the scarves would be almost entirely gray, but we've actually had a surprising number of blue-sky days. We're each choosing whatever color we noticed, and so at the end of the year, our scarves will all be a little bit different.

Back in December, Katrina and i went to Michael's when all of the yarn was on sale and bought several skeins of yarn - a couple of shades of gray and a couple of shades of blue, thinking that that would probably pretty much cover it. And then...for the first few days, the sky was straight-up white. So we went back to the store to get white yarn, and that's the second most-used color so far (after blue). 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Egg experiments and snowy days

Katrina and Zane went back to school on Thursday. They were SO hoping for a snow day, but although it was really cold, there was almost no snow to keep them from having school, much to everyone's disappointment. According to Katrina, there were a LOT of kids who were missing from class both on Thursday and Friday, so apparently a lot of families that were on vacation just skipped the stupid 2-day week.

Our friend Keren was in town this weekend, so she and Beth came over for pizza on Friday. We all agreed that it would be totally lame to watch a movie when we never get to see her, so instead we just talked a lot and played a game and talked some more. Yay! Friends!

Zane has been doing experiments with eggs. One egg, mostly. It's gone through several stages now. The first stage was to put the egg into a glass of vinegar and just let it sit there dissolving the eggshell. Zane was extremely suspicious about this process and was delighted with it actually worked. By the second or third day of being in vinegar, the eggshell had completely dissolved and the egg was all rubbery and weird.

Stage 2 was putting the egg into water so that it could get even more filled up with water. Zane wanted to add food coloring to the water, so the egg got giant and also got red. (If i were doing this experiment myself, i'd totally have left the egg un-colored, because now we can't see the inside. I might suggest doing it with another egg for that very reason.)

Stage 3 involved putting the egg into corn syrup and then leaving it for 2 days again. Corn syrup apparently has very little water in it, so osmosis makes all of the water in the egg flee out of the egg, leaving the egg totally squishy and fold-able and weird. Except for the yolk, with is totally hard. It's the weirdest thing.

Stage 4 was simply putting it back into water to see if it would re-hydrate, which it totally did in only a couple of hours. Eggs are weird, y'all.


It snowed last night, the kind of snow that is perfect for sledding and snowman-making and packing in general. Plus it was almost warm - the kind of a winter day that actually makes you want to go outside rather than staying inside curled up under blankets on top of the heater. Zane and Katrina (and Juanito) wanted to go sledding, and i sort of made Houston come along for the walk, because he didn't want to sled and really would rather have stayed home and i am a meanie. Except that then he totally had fun and used the fancy snowball-maker/launcher to throw snowballs for an hour until his hands got freezing cold because he wasn't wearing gloves. (What is WITH my kids?! Houston and Zane keep leaving the house without a coat too. This is Michigan, you guys! It is cold! Wear a coat!)

Katrina and Zane went up and down the hill for forever. Zane's friend Phineas and a couple of his siblings came out to go sledding with them, and by the time they got home, they were soaked and freezing and exhausted and happy. Juanito and Katrina tried to make a snowman, but it kept falling apart, so Katrina gave up and went back to sledding, and Juanito gave up trying to roll it and just built it up on the park sign.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018!


Christmas day we stayed home and opened presents, played games, and just hung out. The kids all got new pajamas, and i've hardly seen them wearing anything else for the past week. They changed to leave the house, and then they get right back into their pajamas when they get home. I'm glad they like them, i guess! 

This year, instead of giving us all presents, my parents instead paid for our whole family to go out for a few fun outings. So on the 26th, we all went bowling. Zane turned out to be quite an amazing bowler - he basically won both games on his lane (beating most of the rest of the people as well), losing only to Juanito, who wasn't actually there. Houston and Zane took turns being Juanito, so Zane was half of Juanito's score, but he (Zane) was really, really disappointed and sad that he didn't actually win. Nothing any of us could say ("But...YOU were being Dad! You're the one who got him all of those points!) made any difference. Nevertheless, a fun time was had by all. 

On the 27th, we went to Rebounderz, a giant trampoline playground, basically. They also had a super high platform you could jump off of into a blob, and all of the kids loved doing that. I was all, "Sure! I'll do that!" until i got up there, and then my body was all, "Nope." After several false starts, i finally leaped off, and then went to do it again. And i did! And then, a while later, the kids wanted to do it again, and i was all, "Sure. Okay." Except, even though i had already done it twice, i could not make myself jump a third time. I think it was partly because between the second and third jumps, i saw the sign that was all, "If you land on your feet, you'll break your ankles," and that's the way i kept landing, and i didn't want to tempt fate. So i stood up there, trying and trying to make myself jump until people i didn't even know were yelling, "You can do it!" from across the room...and then i took the walk of shame back down and slunk off. 

But anyhow. There was much jumping by all, and a ninja track that you could do, which was harder than i thought it would be, and i was super impressed by lots of people, but especially my brother Rick who absolutely rocked it.  

And then we went back to my parents' house for pizza and games. Houston has recently discovered a love of cards, so i dragged him into a card game when we needed another player, and taught him to play Spades. (He already knew how to play Wizard, and Spades has a lot of the same rules.) And then we played and played and played until it was after midnight. (We did switch it up and play "Alisha's game" after  a while.)

On the 28th, we went roller skating. Katrina and i love to skate, so we were totally excited. Houston and Zane had never skated before, so they were like, "?????" And so i taught them how to skate. First Houston, because Zane kind of disappears sometimes and Houston was there. I so, so, so wish that i could have videotaped Houston learning how to skate. Imagine a giraffe on roller skates, and you probably have a pretty good idea. He fell and fell and fell, but he just kept getting up and smiling and laughing and eventually he got it and did awesome. And then Zane, who was a much harder sell, because if he doesn't catch on to something really quickly, he wants to just give up. He tried and couldn't figure it out and wanted to quit a bunch of times, but in the end, he totally persevered and ... sort of got it. I still wouldn't say that he can skate, but he's a LOT better than he was.

The rest of us skated like crazy. Katrina isn't a fan of going fast, but she was out there the whole time, having a blast. Someone started a game of tag, and most of us out there - my brothers and sisters and a few of the in-laws and even some of the nieces and nephews - totally played. There were people everywhere, so it was kind of tricky and i'm sure the rink owners wouldn't have approved, but we didn't knock anyone down, so i'm calling it fair.

The 29th we had pizza-movie night and watched the rest of season 10 of Doctor Who. Yay!

The 30th we completely rested. I didn't have to work, and we all stayed in pajamas and watched movies and read books and played games and didn't do much of anything.

On New Year's Eve, my parents, my sister Chellie, and her kids all came over to ring in the new year. We ended up spending most of the night playing the new game i got for Christmas called Codenames.  (Excellent choice, Juanito!) At first my dad was all, "Meh. I'll just watch," but we forced him to play, and by the end of the first game, he was completely hooked. It's an excellent game, because you can play with any age and any number of people, and i haven't met anyone yet who didn't enjoy it. Yay!

New Year's Day, Beth came over and we watched the first movie of the Lord of the Rings. My kids were all, "But...i haven't read it!" And i kind of said, "Um...yep. That's okay." Because i like the story, but i just cannot like reading those books. 


When the movie ended, the kids all wanted to start on their new projects. Except Houston - he's been working like crazy on the computer that he's building for a project for school. Zane did two experiments - first he blackened an egg and made it look all silvery, and then he put an egg in vinegar and is currently letting it dissolve the eggshell. Katrina made a confetti journal. 

Which brings us to today. I went back to work. Houston slept until 1:30. Zane slept on and off all day. And Katrina's cousin Gabriella came over and the two of them played together all day while the boys were off sleeping. (Those two get along SO well, and i love that they get to have that close relationship.)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve!

We spent most of the day at my parents' house, celebrating Christmas.

Juanito and Houston both missed the entire celebration, which was really disappointing for both of them. Houston tried really hard to believe that he wasn't sick (I kept asking him, "But are you SURE you feel good? I don't want to get people sick!) and went to church with us and went to my parents' house and took the family picture and then said, "I think i should go home." So that was sad.

The rest of us had fun opening presents and playing games and eating food and talking about all kinds of random stuff, as families tend to do. It was loud and chaotic and a bit overstimulating at times, but completely fun and happy.

And now i'm going to brag for a moment. The kids draw names to exchange presents, and Katrina got Gabriella, who loves horses and has a brand new room with lots of blank walls. So Katrina drew two horses that are so, so great, which go along with a painting that Juanito did.

Katrina, Zane, and i got home at 10:30ish and found a note from Houston on the door saying, "Wake me up when you get home, please!" So we all went up to tell him what presents he had gotten and to see how he was feeling. And he was feeling much, much better, so they all begged to open their presents of Christmas pajamas - we always open the pajamas the night before Christmas so they can wear them and wake up in their nice new jammies.

A couple of months ago, Katrina and i were walking through the store and she saw a unicorn pajama, which she immediately fell in love with and begged to get. I refused because i am mean, but then went back later (and then again to a different location because they didn't have anymore left) and bought it. And then we went back to the same store a few weeks ago and they didn't have any and she was mightily disappointed.

And so, when she opened her pajama, she was so, so, so happy. She ran and put it on and then exclaimed, "I love it SO MUCH!" and then flung herself in my lap and cried and cried because she was so happy. Awwwww.

Also, Zane has Gryffindor pajamas, complete with a robe, and Houston got some with a weeping angel, which is terrifying from the back.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Two sleeps until Christmas!

On Thursday, we celebrated Christmas with Beth! Juanito made a whole delicious dinner for us - ham and mashed potatoes and corn and maybe some other delicious food. Beth brought crackers (the British kind, not the kind you eat), and we had fun all getting to do those. We opened presents. One of the presents Beth gave Houston is a tiny "finger hand," which Houston absolutely loves, and ever since he opened it, he's been going around petting people with it and trying to freak them out. We ate cake and pie and just generally had a really good time. Yay for good friends!

And speaking of good friends! Today we traveled to Lansing, where we met up with Karen D. and Amiya! They're at Karen's brother's house this weekend in Ann Arbor, so it was convenient for both of us to drive to the midway point and hang out. Yay!! We met at a pet store and walked around there for a while, then went to an old used bookstore for a while, and then got lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall-type place. We figured it would be more fun for all of the kids to be not just sitting at a table for the entire time.

Amiya is absolutely adorable. Adorable! She is super smiley and engaging and so, so cute. All of us just love her (and Karen!).

We usually open our stockings on Christmas Adam (the day before Christmas Eve, of course, because Adam came before Eve), and since we weren't going to be home tonight, we opened them in the afternoon. A couple of months ago, all three kids were like, "Fidget spinners are the stupidest things in the world!" And then one of my girls gave me one, and i brought it home, and all of them could not stop wanting to play with it. So we got them each a fidget spinner for their stockings, and they've all been playing with them since they opened them.

And then tonight, we went to my parents' house, along with the ENTIRE FAMILY of approximately a million people (Fine. Thirty-ish. But when we're all packed in to my parents' house, it's a lot of people!) for dinner. Dinner was chaotic and loud but also delicious and fun.  And then we played Tripoly with nearly all of the original family plus several grandkids. And it was entirely fun.

So. What i'm trying to say is, it was a really fun day! Yay!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

5 sleeps until Christmas!

The countdown to Christmas continues! 5 days an counting! Except that for us, the parties start tomorrow, and we have Christmas 4 times in the next 5 days!

We've been finishing up last minute shopping, wrapping presents, and watching Christmas movies with abandon. Yesterday we started drying some oranges, which finally finished drying tonight, so tomorrow we're going to string those up and hope they look pretty. Today we made stars out of string, and those are drying, so tomorrow we'll see if we had any success. So tomorrow will either be a day of "Yay! We made lots of cute things!" or "Wow. Both of these projects failed. Sigh." Or, i guess, one could fail and one succeed. Details.