Monday, January 25, 2016

Winter camp

This past weekend the 5th-8th graders went to winter camp. Houston didn't want to go this year, but Katrina was thrilled to go. Beth and i went with our group of girls, five of whom went.

Fifth graders are kind of insane. And also, they love candy more than anything else in the world. Our friend Andrew, who was in charge of an insane number of boys, pointed out that screaming is a close second.

It was a crazy weekend, completely filled with activities and craziness from before sunrise until after midnight every day. It was exhausting.

But i think that it was really great for building relationships with the girls who were there. I think that it strengthened the relationships between the girls. And the speaker was amazing.

One of my favorite parts, honestly, was that Katrina kept popping up all over the place. She came with our group for a couple of things, but mostly she was with her own group and would just come running over to say hi when she saw us. I absolutely love that she still wants to do that. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Before school, Zane came down with his sweatshirt/jacket zipped all the way up, and i, suspicious, asked him what shirt he was wearing underneath. He got all sheepish and admitted that it was a pajama. I sent him back upstairs to get on an actual shirt. He came back, i checked that he had on a real shirt, and off we went to the rest of the day.

It was only after school that i realized that he'd simply put a shirt on over the pajama, which was already on top of another pajama.

So in this picture, he's wearing a short-sleeved pajama shirt, a long-sleeved pajama shirt, a long-sleeved regular shirt, and a jacket. Guess who's going to getting their clothes checked a lot more closely in the future....

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Karaoke, middle school style

This is the face of a happy boy who has just been reunited with his favorite hat. He forgot it in Kentucky and just got it back tonight. Joy!

Houston had a Christmas party with the "Willing to Wait" group tonight. The first thing he told me about the party (Well, the second thing. The first was that when they did the present-picking, he was the last person to get to pick and ended up with his own present. He was okay with that.) was, "We did karaoke!"

Me: "Really?! What song did you do?"
Him: "Um, what?"
Me: "In karaoke. Which song did you sing?"
Him: "All of them?"
Me: ".....?"
Him: ".....?"
Me: "So, like...did you all sing all of the songs?"
Him: "Yes...."
Me: "As a group?"
Him: "Yeah." (Meaning, "Duh.")

Apparently they assumed middle and high schoolers wouldn't sing by themselves anyhow, so group karaoke it is! Yay!

Anyhow. He had fun. I'm happy that he's found a group he enjoys being involved in. And i'm incredibly amused that it's one in which he's going to have to talk about sex. Or lack thereof.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Zane hugs

Katrina and Zane randomly decided that they needed to dress up in crazy clothes today, because why not? I think that they went to the basement to play, saw all of the dress up clothes, and were like, "HEY!" Whatever the reason, i think that they are hilarious and awesome.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    

Zane has this thing that he does in church, when there's no kids' church - when he comes into the big room with everyone. He mostly draws pictures for everyone sitting with us, but when we sing, he hugs people. He starts with the adult closest to him (provided it's someone he loves) and hugs them really tight for the entire length of the first song. He usually hums along to the song. When the first song ends, he moves to the second person and hugs them for the duration of the second song. And then, if there's a third person, he moves to them for the third song. And then he works his way back down the line if there are more songs.

They are the best hugs EVER. He's not fidgeting or trying to escape. He's just hugging with all of his might. 

Best. Random habit. Ever.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Lazy Saturday

It was a very pajama-y day today. We played games and read books. The kids played on the computer this morning. I slept in and did lots and lots of laundry. And we all stayed in our pajamas all day - at least, the kids and i did.

Juanito slept this afternoon in preparation for his overnight. He starts his new position tonight.

Beth came over as Juanito was getting ready to leave, to watch Sherlock and bring chocolate, because she's really nice and knows that chocolate and friends are a happy combination.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Pizza Movie Night

My mom and dad joined us for Pizza-Movie night for the first time, and it was totally great. We made a million pizzas (okay, eight) and watched "Galaxy Quest," because it's a great movie that my parents hadn't seen AND because it has Alan Rickman in it and we wanted to watch something in remembrance of him. (Because he died yesterday, and we are all sad.) And everyone laughed a lot and gasped in the right places and generally thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

Sometimes i wish that we had a bigger family room in which to watch movies, because i love having people join us, but it does make for some cramped seating. Tonight my parents, Katrina, and Zane were all on the couch, and Emma was miserable until she could join them. My dad pretended not to like it, but i think that the evidence is a little bit stacked against him....

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

So cold.

It's been snowing steadily all day. The kids came home from school, did their homework quickly, and then Katrina and Zane (and Juanito) went sledding. Houston and i stayed in the house, where it was warm. Because it is COLD outside.

So cold.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Snow day

Last night, Katrina and Zane set about carrying out every single superstition in the world to try to get themselves a snow day today. They set a white (or silver) crayon on every single windowsill in the entire house, put ice cubes in the toilet, slept with their pajamas on inside out and backwards, refused to say the words "snow day," instead saying only "yad wons" (snow day backwards), and yelled "SNOW DAY" into the freezer.

And today we had a snow day. So...i guess it worked.

Most mornings, Katrina wakes up with her alarm, but i have to wake Zane up and drag Houston out of bed. This morning, all three kids were up and wide awake and raring to go by 7:00. Katrina and Zane played in the woods by our house for a couple of hours, we snuggled under blankets and watched a movie, and then we went to the park to go sledding for an hour and a half.

And then Katrina and Zane went with Juanito to zumba. Houston snuggled up next to me and took a nap for an hour, until i woke him up to go to a meeting that he wanted to go to for "Willing to Wait."
He doesn't seem to have a very clear idea of what he'll be doing with that group, but he's excited to belong to it. Afterwards he said, "Before i went, i didn't think i'd probably like it, but it was really fun!" So. Yay!

Sunday, January 10, 2016


I love Katrina's sense of style. Ever since she was little and started picking out her own outfits, i've always loved it. She used to choose things that i would never have put together, and it wouldn't exactly...match, but it would look adorable and it would be exactly her own personality and style. I hope that she never stops dressing in outfits she loves, choosing instead to wear clothes that look like everyone else's.

I mean, i don't want her to wear clothes that are going to make her get made fun of. I want her to fit in enough that she's accepted. But i also want her to keep her sense of fun and cuteness and flair. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

High Ropes

Part of Keren's job is facilitating a high ropes course. She invited us to come up to her workplace today, to play on the high ropes for a couple of hours, just us and Beth and her brother and niece. (Beth and Keren and i all stayed on the ground. They don't like heights, and i felt better when i could keep an eye on the kids and make sure they were actually following safety protocols.)

Needless to say, the kids (and Juanito) were absolutely thrilled. All three kids climbed up with no trepidation at all. I'm pretty sure that Houston did every single element at least once, and did them all well. He even did the "flea hop," where you have to jump from one tiny platform to another to another, even though that was the only thing that actually scared him. Later, i asked him which element was his favorite, and he was all, "All of them!"

Katrina just seems fearless when she's up there, smiling and laughing and having a grand old time. At one point, she made her way across some looped ropes, with much effort and difficulty, and just as she finished, i noticed that her line was tangled around the second rope from the beginning, so she had to go all the way back and untangle it. And she did, giggling even as she was dangling midair, tangled in ropes and looking like a marionette.

Zane was incredibly brave. He tends to be our most cautious child, but he attacked the elements that he felt like he could do, and totally enjoyed doing them. Near the end of the time up there, he tried going across a difficult element - one wire, where the only thing to hold on to was a few dangling ropes - and when he was just under halfway across, he got too scared to continue on and ended up going back. After that, he stood quietly on a platform for a while, resting and getting his nerve back, but then he went back to climbing around again, and kept having fun.

And Juanito had fun totally showing off, dancing on the balance beams and walking across ropes without hanging onto anything. There was exactly one element that he tried and failed at. (I was kind of shocked when he huffed away from that one and didn't try it again.)

After everyone was exhausted and hungry, we went to Keren's apartment to eat, have birthday cake for Keren, and hang out for a little while.

Yay for fun adventures!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

It's day 7, and i'm already at a loss for anything to write about....

But THIS? This is the face that Houston makes when you say "Naked." I mean, sometimes the word just comes up naturally, like, "I can't come look, because i'm getting in the shower and i'm naked," but more often, honestly, i throw it about just to irritate him. Because i'm just a brat.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Zane has a test in social studies. I have a test in patience.

Helping Zane study is like pulling teeth.

It might actually be harder than pulling teeth. It's certainly harder than pulling baby teeth that are already loose and just need a quick yank. I've never pulled any other teeth.

The thing is, even when he is amenable to studying, he's hard to keep focused. Add in two siblings, a dog, and a dad who wander around and do things like "exist" and "occasionally say words," and he's just distracted beyond all reason. Even without distractions, he often ends up sitting upside-down on the couch, with his butt in the air. (Why, yes, he is ADD. How did you guess?)

This afternoon we studied and studied and studied immigration and emailed his teacher, because he hadn't brought home his notes and i wasn't sure about which countries they were actually studying in particular, which was somewhat important, and studied some more. And then we took a break to review multiplication. And then we studied.

And he's really smart, and once he actually pays attention and gets the information into his head, he's really great at remembering it. Getting it in there, though? TORTURE. For both of us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

I brought the kids to school this morning.

I came home to the scene of a grizzly murder.

Emma looks absolutely dangerous there. As if she actually has killed Oatmeal (the snowman) on purpose.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Books, books, books

A couple of years ago, i had a GIANT list of books that i'd been meaning to read, that i wanted to read. I kept not reading it, though, because i'd finish a book and think, "What should i read next?" and then not remember what any of those books was, so i'd search Goodreads for books that looked interesting, add them to my list, and choose one of those to read. So my list kept getting longer and longer, and i was never, ever going to read them all.

And so i decided that i would stop the madness, and i made it my New Year's resolution to read (or admit that i never would read) all of those books before i added any new ones to my list. And i started reading, and first i read all of the books that i recognized the names of. And then i started re-looking up the books and trying to remember what they were, and reading the ones that immediately made me interested again. And the year ended, and i made it my New Year's resolution AGAIN to continue doing the same thing.

And in about November of this past year, i got down to about 30 books left on the list and looked at them and thought, "I just...don't feel like i even remotely want to read most of these." So i scratched off all but about 10. And then i thought, "I probably want to read these? Eventually?" But i also just really missed reading books that i really wanted to read. And so i just decided to throw the rest out for the time being. 

All through December, i barely even looked at a book. It was kind of sad. But after Christmas, i started reading again. I've turned to my "list of books that i really want to read that weren't on that list from two years ago," and i've started reading those books, and it is glorious to be reading books that i'm really excited about reading again. I look at my books and think, "I could read THIS! Or THIS! OR THIS!"

The obvious lesson here is this: I need to actually read the books on my list when i first get them, rather than adding and adding and adding.  Now we'll see how good i am at learning from past mistakes....

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Our Advent Activities this year

For our Advent calendar with the activities this year, we did some of the same things as we've done in previous years, but i tried to add in some new and hopefully fun things and took out some of the things we've done year after year, that the kids have kind of outgrown. And so this was the list of activities for the month of December, leading up to Christmas:

  1. Start Secret Santa
  2. YouTube search "Funny Christmas videos"
  3. Make snowflakes
  4. Gay Men's Choir downtown
  5. Put out shoes for Sinterklaas
  6. An Evening in Bethlehem (a recreation of Bethlehem when Jesus was born)
  7. Christmas Mad Libs
  8. Make cards for teachers
  9. Build a snowman (out of cups)
  10. Make paper garlands
  11. Curl up on the couch and watch a Christmas movie
  12. Christmas Fair with Mrs. Claus
  13. Candlelight Christmas service at a church downtown
  14. Do a silly photo shoot
  15. Fazoli's Christmas party
  16. Band concert at school
  17. Christmas craft
  18. Sleepover on the floor while watching Christmas movies
  19. Celebrate Christmas with Beth and Keren
  20. Watch a Christmas movie
  21. Christmas party with the cousins
  22. Drive (or walk) around and look at Christmas lights or decorations
  23. Open stockings
  24. Celebrate Christmas with the entire family
  25. Christmas!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015, in lists

Five states we visited:
1. Colorado
2. South Dakota
3. Kentucky
4. Ohio
5. Florida (Well, only me, but i'm still putting it on the list!)

Four special destinations therein:
1. Tony and Meloni's wedding
2. Mount Rushmore
3. The Badlands
4. Harry Potter World (Only me. But STILL.)

Eight of the books i read to the kids:
1. Harry Potter books 6 and 7 with Katrina
2. Harry Potter book 3 with Zane
3. Furiously Happy (with me editing out the swear words)
4. Let's Pretend This Never Happened (again, with me editing out non-child-appropriate parts)
5. The Bridge to Terabithia
6. Hyperbole and a Half (mostly - we have a few chapters to go)
7. The Last Present (from the Willow Falls series)

Six (groups of) far-away people we saw:
1. Tony and Meloni
2. Karen D
3. Juanito's family in Kentucky
4. Rick and Ashley and their kids
5. My South Dakota relatives
6. Sam and Shelbi and their family

Ten fun places we went:
1. Detroit (and, briefly, Canada) with Beth
2. The Pirate exhibit at the museum
3. I'm putting the U2 concert on the list, even though i'm the only one who went. Because it was amazing. 
4. Camping with my parents
5. Kalahari with my entire family
6. Great Wolf Lodge with Karen D.
7. Houston and Katrina went to Winter Camp
8. Juanito took a trip to Detroit with his scooter
9. Balloon Festival
10. Shipshewana

Fourteen random things we did:
1. Houston got a concussion
2. Katrina got her hair cut short
3. Juanito was an artist in ArtPrize
4. We all got used to having a dog again
5. Katrina ran in three 5Ks.
6. The kids got to see the king and queen from the Netherlands
7. The kids got multiple hermit crabs, all of whom eventually died
8. We watched a house on our street get completely demolished
9. Katrina finally got a door on her room
10. Houston made himself a tabletop out of bottle caps
11. Visited ArtPrize a ton
12. Juanito and the kids dressed up as zombies and scared people for the Zombie Dash
13. Zane was in Boy Scouts again, and loved it
14. Houston learned to crochet, and Katrina learned how to knit on a loom

Eight things we loved:
1. Juanito loved Zumba...
2. ...and building his speakers and amplifiers
3. Katrina loved running
4. Zane loved listening to books on audiotape, especially Percy Jackson and Harry Potter
5. Houston loved Doctor Who
6. Zane loved riding his bike
7. Houston loved chickens
8. Katrina loved drawing, especially girls with fashionable clothes

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year + bragging a little about Katrina

It's January 1, 2016, and i feel like i should be doing a whole "This is what happened in 2015" or "This is what i want from 2016" type of post, but the idea of doing a "This is what we did all year" post is exhausting and overwhelming, and i'll probably just end up not doing it at all, and the idea of doing a "These are all my hopes and dreams for the next year" is also just exhausting and overwhelming, and so i'm just going to skip the entire New Year's thing.

I COULD do a whole, "This is what we did all of December," since - geez - i didn't post, like, at all, all month. And i might do that, tomorrow. Or the next day. Or ... eventually? Maybe not.

This is what i AM going to do today: I am going to start blogging again. I skipped a couple of times, and then a few more times, and then i just completely got out of the habit and got overwhelmed.(Apparently i get overwhelmed easily? And completely overuse that word?) I think that i have to remember that i'm blogging because, years from now, i'll want to remember what we did. What life was like. It seems like i'll always remember, but my memories from the kids' early years are already hazy and faded, and i'm so absolutely thankful that i have my blog posts from back then.

So this is just me, getting back into the habit. And as a bonus, i'll post something i've been wanting and meaning to post for a could of weeks. Katrina got the "Be Nice" award, which is something to be really proud of. They only give it to one kid per grade per month, so only nine kids from the sixth grade will get it this year. The teacher writes about the student and reads it at assembly, and this is what she wrote about Katrina:

To be yourself in a world
that is constantly trying
to make you something else
is the greatest accomplishment
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Katrina, it is a true honor to be your teacher. You are a student who always give more than is asked, always remains optimistic even when those around you are not, and always shares your true self with everyone. You embody what it means to notice, invite, challenge, and empower your peers.

You notice when others around you need help, peers and teachers alike. You offer your time, your thoughts, and your encouragement freely and willingly.

You are open and inviting to others. You never complain, and your cheerful attitude is contagious.

You empower others when you share your ideas, concerns, and your heart. You empower them to be themselves.

Katrina, the thing that impresses us the most about you is your fearlessness. You are comfortable with who you are, you are secure in what you think, and you are not afraid to stand up for what is right. What's so impressive about that, you ask? You do it without requiring the accolades that others fight over. You don't ask for anything in return. You just do it because that's who you are. And that's why we always want you to remember:

You are 
than you believe
than you seem
than you think
more than you know
- Winnie the Pooh