Saturday, January 3, 2015

Whirlwind trip

About three weeks ago, I had arranged to visit my parents for a few days before Christmas. The thought was that the kids and I would drive down after Joe's cello recital, have "Christmas" early and then drive back after only 2-3 days. Just as I was talking to a friend about this, my brother sent a text that he was coming to visit!

We hadn't seen each other in 18 months, so I was STOKED. I changed my plans with my parents and the kids and I drove down on the 31st. We had a huge dinner with my parents, sister and her family. George had his first sleepover ever with his cousins and did great! In fact, he spent two nights with them! He's been asking for a sleepover for ages and this was a great way to test the waters, so to speak.

The next day, Joe went to hang out with friends and my sister and I hit the mall. We went to All the Stores!!! that you can't take kids into. Our brother arrived that night, just in time for another HUGE dinner. All our kids were so excited.

Unfortunately, that night Joe got sick. He spent most of the night throwing up and he slept the entire next day. Literally. He dragged himself to the recliner in the living room, slept, woke up to take a bath, and went back to the chair. He didn't even have the energy to drag a shirt over his head. My mom roused him enough to take him to bed and he slept all night. He woke up Saturday his usual, snarky self.

And really, really, really unfortunately, a bug seems to be going around. Camille threw up once, as did Cole. George has been hit the worst. The poor boy rarely gets sick but when he does, he makes it worth it. He was complaining of his stomach hurting Saturday morning and then threw up riiiight in the middle of family pictures.

Oh, yes. You see, my sister and I went "Everyone will be together! Let's do pictures!" She got the photographer, we picked a color scheme and everyone looked lovely and charming. We got a group shot of our parents and the grandkids and then kicked the kids out to do group up photos. Five minutes later, Joe ran in to tell up George had puked. Poor boy. And poor my extended family, who will now get the stomach flu.

But! Happier note! The pictures are going to be awesome! I'm so happy we have them! The visit itself was perfect, seven insane kids and one demented cat and all! Just a word to the wise: if you want to do family pictures, do them at the beginning of the trip, before your parents have stuffed you full of turkey, ham, bread, cheese, pasta and lots of wine. Otherwise, your pants might not fit. I have no idea how I know this...

Christmas Re-Cap

Wow, where to start. We've had a little more than two weeks as a family and reality will hit Monday morning. I do not want reality to hit and am firmly in denial that I will have to drag my butt out of bed at six in the morning. Nope. Nope. Annnnnnd nope!

We  began the season with presents at my in-laws. They helped us by a new TV so their gifts to us were light, which was perfect. They got the kids one outfit, books and ornaments. Cole also got a game. I received a pretty, new infinity scarf that I just love. I wear alot of solid colors (in short, I have the wardrobe of a goth business professional) so I love scarves to brighten things up!

Christmas was awesome. I had a touch of insomnia and was awake beginning at 3:30. It was actually very peaceful to sit cuddled in the recliner, typing, with the Christmas lights and presents around me. Camille and George woke at six but played in her room for 45 minutes until everyone got up. Santa brought baseball cards and chocolate in their stockings which kept them occupied until the coffee brewed. Once we were all fully awake, they tore into their presents: a Sonic Screwdriver, Chicken AT-AT walker... thing ("MOM! IT IS NOT A THING!"),  a sewing kit so someone leaves my sewing stuff alone, lots of Star Wars and Percy Jackson.... and science kits. Oh, and LEGO. For a solid week the kids have played nicely with each other. There has been some Star Wars/LEGO mash up going on in the dining room and a Nerf war daily. Happy kids, happy parents.

The day after Christmas our music teacher, and friend, took the little boys to see Big Hero 6 while we took the older kids to see A Christmas Carol at the KC Rep! I won tickets through a website and the show was awesome! It had some cool special effects and just the right amount of audience interaction. Joe was "meh" about the whole thing but Camille really liked it!

I've been so spoiled. Adam and I have taken turns sleeping in and the kids are old enough to get their own breakfast, so we can sleep past seven. Everyone has been helping with the cleaning. It's so nice to see my husband for more than just and hour in the evening. We've been watching lots of Doctor Who together and drinking pots of tea. He's even watched a couple episodes of "Outlander" with me. He doesn't care much for the show but he doesn't hate it, so there's that. (Kinda like me and "Top Gear." It's okay but I'm not in love with it.) I've had help with the speech therapy runs and TKD. I'm not ready to go back to school and work! Bah!

Monday, December 22, 2014

2014: The Year in Review

Wow, this year has gone by fast. At the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted our theme this year to be peace, hope and healing. I think I did get my wish! We had a fairly peaceful, quiet year. I feel a bit more healed after the mess that was 2013. As for hope... depends on the day, honestly, but yes, I am seeing more hope for the children in certain areas.

I finished my book, began cross-stitching again, made more crochet hats for the NICU and discovered my love for reading. As of the last count, I have read 39 books this year! I think I've read more than that but I know I forgot to record some.

And now, the highlights

Camille turned 8! I gave everyone a Goo-Be-Gone recipe and Cole began saying some of the most hilarious things! No, he hasn't stopped either!

Camille has a Snow-Much-Fun! party early in the month. My old laptop died an EPIC BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. The kids had school conferences and I blogged about how I hate some people. 

Adam had a birthday and Camille informed us that life is half over when you turn 40. At 35, neither of us were amused. I discovered The Hunger Games. We had more meetings at school, more "games plans" for our children and God and I were not BFFs. Hey, we were on speaking terms but eh.... I realized I was living in a Good Friday and hoping for Easter Sunday. After all, Every IEP is a Little Lent. 

Cole turned four. Joe turned ten. Easter and our 12 year anniversary. Our community was hit with two tragedies but love won in the end. I also learned that our parish is going to be getting the CGS program and we received a sign via a lady bug that everything will be okay. 

Camille's first Communion and the March for Babies! We marched with my parents and sister's family and it was so much fun!

VBS went much better than I ever thought it could. George and Cole played t-ball and George was on FIRE. My sister had a healthy baby and Camille and I began taking Communion to people in nursing homes.

Our Annual Trip Up North. Adam went to Spain for a week and I Did All The Things around the house. George learned to swim on his own!

School began, I had a birthday and did not burst into a hysterical sobbing mess when George began kindergarten

The Royals kept winning and I was a baseball widow. I found a grey hair and began looking into hair dye in bulk. I also began coaching swimming again, yay!

Mooooore baseball and Halloween. And, oh, blue fever. Baseball. So done with baseball.

NICU Thanksgiving, George turned six and grew about a foot!

Crazy-ness and fun. Adam and I will be seeing all our siblings over break and we are both excited!

It seems like nothing much happened and, in some ways, I'm okay with that. 2013 was so nuts that I needed this year of peace, hope and healing. I wanted the peace and hope and healing to go on into 2015 but I hope to add some good excitement into the mix. Maybe I'll find a summer coaching position! Or we'll go on vacation! Something fun, filled with family bonding. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mundane Family Stuff

As if life with the Herd could ever be boring! (Could it be? Please? Just one year?)

George has his piano recital Saturday. I actually ironed his dress shirt, forced him into a sweater and scrubbed him until he shown. He looked so handsome! I was afraid he would refuse at the last minute or would make it to the stage and not do anything- but he didn't! He did great! Of course, the kids in his class are 6 to 8 years old, so it was about what you would expect for beginning students. George kept looking for us in the crowd and I finally stood to the side with the other picture-taking parents so he would see me and play. He did; he tried very hard but the "drums playing without a drummer" confused him. Still! He got up there, played and did an excellent job!

The other day, I heard "Mary had a little lamb" coming from the playroom. I walked in and CAMILLE was playing it! She taught herself some beginning piano from George's book! I am so impressed!

Joe's recital is Saturday and I've been hearing the cello more frequently now. He's beginning to out grow his half size cello and will need a 3/4ths one soon. Adam's already begun looking for one. We're going to keep the half-size, though, since George has shown an interest in it. We joke that he can't begin until he grows into it!

We took the kids to the zoo on Sunday. Santa was diving with the penguins and we knew the kids would like that. They did, although it was a creepy Santa with all his scuba gear on. I mean, really creepy. You could have your picture taken with Santa and the penguins. I thought it would be Santa in front of the tank but no, he was in the water, in front of the glass! Creepy, creepy.

It was warm and lots of animals were out. Since there was a football game going on, it wasn't crowded and the zoo keepers were able to talk to us. We learned that there will be baby penguins before the new year, which elephant is the "alpha female," how elephants talk, that all the penguins have names and more. Even the lions were out and we heard them roar! It was pretty cool!

The not cool part? The bird show, where my family chose to sit next to one of the perches so the damn birds were flying over us. Oh, then as we walked by the elephant enclosure, one of them was flinging dirt at people. Yeah, I almost got elephant dirt flung on me. Cute. Not.

The last day of school is Friday, so I'm making a list of all the fun things we can do over break. We've hit the zoo and I think the little boys want to go to the children's museum. Add a bounce house or two and a trip to visit my parents and we will have a busy break!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

2015: The Year of....

The past few years seem to be marked my a general upheaval in life, either externally, like a new baby or a move, or internally. (Emotional turmoil for the win!)

2013: The Year I Did or Experienced All the Hard Things
2014: The Year I Rediscovered All The Things I Love

I want 2015 to be the year I get my body back. I want to finally, this fall when Cole is in K in the mornings, to go to the gym. Get rid of the 40 extra pounds. I'd like to feel good about my body again. I NEED to do but I've made promises like this before. Can I? I'll let you know in a year.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Quick Takes Friday: John the Baptist and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

1. I teach kindergarten CCD once a week. (Note: Never again. Never, ever, ever again.) When they first come into the room, I have a children's bulletin with coloring activities at every spot. They work on this for a bit before our story. This week it was about John the Baptist and it had a picture of him baptizing people in the river; the kids were supposed to find the differences between two pictures.

One little boy was confused as to why John was drowning people. I quickly explained full-immersion baptism, which the kids probably haven't seen. (It's clear the children all attend Mass but our parish doesn't do full-immersion baptisms.) The group thought for a moment and then someone's eyes lit up and he said, "Oh! Like when you dump a bucket of ice on someone's head?"

It took everything in me to not burst into hysterical laughter. I mean, great connection, right? But how hysterical would it be to baptize people via the ALS ice bucket challenge?

2. George began piano last month. He likes it and is doing very well. We finally went and got him a keyboard. He practices frequently, much more than a certain older brother of his. (I'm looking at you, Joe.) Of course, this creates draaaammmma because Cole is not taking piano lessons. Cole likes to go up to the keyboard, turn it off and scream, "I DO PEE-ANO TOO!"

Keep in mind, Cole takes preschool music classes at the same place George takes piano and Joe has cello lessons!

3. Camille now wants to take piano. It's official; I coach swimming so my kids can take music lessons.

4. Speaking of swimming. I have four weeks off until the next session begins. This is working out well, since both boys have recitals, Joe has a strings concert and its generally just a busy season for us. I may pick up some hours here and there but I'm off for awhile.

5. My older two kids have several sticks of deodorant each. Cole has been swiping one and applying it. My four year old now smells like a tween boy who is having a love affair with Axe.

6. I think we over bought for Christmas- again. At least I can put some of Camille's away for her birthday.

7. I got to read a short story a friend wrote and helped her brainstorm the title. It was really fun to talk shop with a REAL writer- she's published! You bet I will pimp her story out when it goes live.

hop over to Jen's for more quick takes!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Justin and the Herd Review Movies and Act Adorable

My brother-in-law, Justin, has a YouTube Channel where he and his friend Vash "review" movies. I say "Review" because they mostly fight about the movie. (Spoilers: Justin likes them, Vash sleeps through them.) Most of their reviews are family friendly, if you want to follow them on YouTube.

Justin came home for a wedding (and Thanksgiving but, you know, mostly the wedding) and took the Herd to see Penguins of Madagascar. While I thought he should have taken them alone so Adam and I could get ready for Thanksgiving (yeah, that's what we're calling it now), he was too terrified to take four children to the movies alone. Whimp. Thankfully, Adam wanted to see the movie so he went to help out. I stayed home, made cinnamon rolls and enjoyed the sounds of peace and quiet. It was quite worth it because, well, watch the adorableness!

For those of you who follow this blog for information about CAS and speech therapy, the six year old is the one who has been in speech since he was 22 months old and was once non-verbal. I never, ever thought he would be able to do something like this! People, this is the result of hard, hard work and years of therapy and listen to how good he sounds!