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State Fair


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Thursday, August 31. 2006

Today, our family took what is becoming our annual journey to the State Fair. We had a great time. A-girl was very quiet and often had a serious look on her face, as though she wasn't sure what to think of everything yet eagerly took it all in. The other two bounced from ride to ride, activity to activity as though they were being reuninted with a long lost friend. Lots of excitement and energy. L. told us it was the best day of her life.

S. usually takes a partial day off, we hit the "Kidway" early while the rides are one ticket cheaper than later in the day, check out the Little Farm Hands display and also the Miracle of Birth Exhibit. Then we add in food, other things to do and see along the way and its a full day despite it only being a few hours. Today, S. took the entire day off and had an appointment late afternoon so we stayed longer than usual and everyone had a great time. At one point A-girl fell asleep in the back pack on S's back and was drooling down his neck. How anyone could sleep that soundly in that position was amazing.

Our kids are fascinated by the Miracle of Birth Exhibit. This year, it moved to a newly renovated larger space. I had visions of not being crammed in and actually able to see something. That was not the case. It was a sea of people all crammed around pens of animals with new babies or viewing the live birth (in our case of a calf). We ended up watching the birth on a monitor. The calf was born breech and had a lot of breathing issues initially and required CPR. As the vets tended to the calf and one breathed air into her nostrils, I wondered if it was a good idea to have the kids watching this. They had just watched a sheep who had give birth a couple of hours earlier eat its afterbirth and I was thinking this may just be a little too much of a "learning experience" and I am still waiting for descriptions to come spewing forth when we are out with others for a meal or an equally inopportune time. I figured it was a little too late to leave then though as L was filled with questions of what was going on, why the baby calf was just laying there and why they were doing "that to its face and body". As the minutes seemed to drag on and the lifeless form of the calf just layed there in the straw I started to worry that this amazing miracle of birth would also be a tough life lesson. Luckily the calf started breathing on her own and the kids thought we could finally leave the building and head for home.

We munched on a few more "Sweet Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookies" and got to the van just as fatigue hit and the behaviour started to fall apart. It was a great end to our "summer traditions."

Sweaty


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Wednesday, August 30. 2006

Our basement room renovations are really progressing. The main room is very close to completion with the walls needing paint and the floor needing to go in. This morning we moved some of the toys down into the newly finished closet to get them out of the livingroom where we have had to walk through them for the past 7 years.

I was helping A-boy get dressed this morning as he was very excited about putting his toys in the closet.....I hope this enthusiasm lasts for years to come so I never have to ask them to put their toys away. He couldn't get dressed fast enough. As he pulled his t-shirt on over his head he exclaimed "I just want to get sweaty like Dad. Dad's always sweaty!!"

S. works so hard on the basement and its been quite hot down there over the summer so I guess A-boy has equated basement work with being sweaty!

Transitions


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Tuesday, August 29. 2006

Why are transitions so hard for some kids???

L has always had difficulty with transitions. Even as an infant she had trouble moving from one activity to the next and during the preschool years these transitions could result in hour plus (yes she made it to a three hour tantrum once alone in her room over the transition to bed) displays of intense emotions. This has mellowed a lot in the past years, however transitions trigger her to emotional outbursts like nothing else. Whining, complaining, crying and yelling are all part of these difficult transitions for her. Its also not just tranisitoning to things that aren't a favorite....its also at times moving from one fun activity to the next. Warnings, preparations and other techniques help minimally.

As the school year fast approaches, I thought I would try and introduce a few structured activities in preparation for the weeks and months ahead. Given the above desciption, it is likely easy to guess the outcome. It wasn't pretty although she did work through things for about an hour. I started to keep a "cooperation journal" this morning to look for patterns in the behaviour/reactions and also to give me a more objective look at the number of days we have struggles and the types of issues we seem to be struggling with the most. I tend to keep a mental note of those days but it is not complete and one tends to forget over time. Needless to say L is not happy with the journal and wants me to stop writing in it. I'm hoping it will be a tool to help both of us learn and grow in our journey together.

Veterinarian or vegetarian???


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Monday, August 28. 2006

It amazes me the way the brain just fills in for words as we read them or when letters are missing, parts of words are mispelled we can tell what it is supposed to be or when we fill in a familiar word for a similar one that isn't as familiar but has a common beginning as we read.

One of L's friends gave her a book for her birthday and she is currently buried in it. We started reading it last night together (her reading to me as her chosen 1:1 time) and she was fascinated trying to figure out all the characters and which horse went with which rider. We were to continue reading together this afternoon during quiet time, however A-girl took much too long to fall asleep (she spent over half an hour singing "Happy Birthday Lowa!" Happy Birthday me" nonstop and then finally turned over and fell asleep) so L had proceeded without me. As I was changing A-girl's diaper before her nap, L. was filling me in on the new characters that were coming along in the second chapter. She excitedly told me who they were and what they did. At one point she exclaimed "Anna's father is a large animal vegetarian!!" I tried hard not to laugh and asked if she meant veterinarian and she quickly said "yes that's what I meant to say!" Since S. is a vegitarian that word is much more common in her vocabulary. I am still left wondering what a large animal vegetarian might be like!

The three kids


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Monday, August 28. 2006

Happy 7th Birthday L.


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Monday, August 28. 2006


It is hard to believe that at 6:39 this morning, L officially turned 7 years old. She arrived ready to take on the world with a zest and joy of life that was huge. A couple of nurses commented on how she was going to be a wild one. I wasn't sure exactly what they meant but in the weeks and months to come, I completely understood. L. was the type of baby that couldn't/wouldn't settle down if there was anything going on around her that she might miss out on. There were long stretches where she slept maybe a total of 3 hours in a 24 hour period. She preferred to be held and in motion, turned out from you so she could take in her world. She was an intense, high energy, sensitive (easily became overstimulated with certain noises and scents, didn't like certain textures of clothing or food). As a toddler, she explored everything and would try almost any task or activity presented to her (and even some that she sought out on her own). As a preschooler, she started refusing to do certain tasks and activities (making letters, drawing) until she felt she could do them "the right way" In some of her other activities like swimming she started watching more and minimally participating until she felt she could "master" the skill being learned/taught and then would do it quite ease and grace often confusing all of us as she would sit for months/years at one level and then move through 2 or 3 in a month. Physical movement and activities are a favorite...especially those with a bit of a "daredevil" factor. Since she was very young, she has preferred to lead rather than follow, to take control and be in charge, to be on the move, creating, imaginary play and being outside. Most of that hasn't really changed at all in the past 7 years, although she is now a great sleeper and isn't so sensitive to noise, texture and scents. Her strong leadership tendancies will be very wonderful in the future, although they have created some (OK a lot) of challenges in the past. She is intense, enthusiastic, energetic, fun loving and has an isatiable appetite for learning.

She loves to sing and dance and can often be heard making up new songs and creating various plays, dances and performances that she and her siblings perform. She loves art of any form and recently was heard telling her father "Don't tickle an "arteest" at work!" Last week she decided to create and art museum and each child got a door to cover with their art.

She loves to read and is often seen buried in a book. She is often reading over my shoulder as well so I need to be more aware of what I am reading in my email/online. This is definitely a favorite school area and a strength of hers. Recently though, I think we would have to add science to the top of her interest topics in school as she has many "experiments" throughout the house. Pots, pans, water and any other bits and pieces of almost anything become the ingredients for her experiments. Perhaps a budding scientists in the works.

Physical activity continues to be a favorite for L and these activities include dance, swimming, roller blading, rock climbing at the Y gym, riding her bike, skiing (did her first mogal urn accidently this past winter in Colorado and now is hooked on the bumps), skating and this past winter she played hockey for the first time and absolutely loved it. This year she would like to try downshill ski racing and join the swim team.

I am looking forward to the year ahead to see what you accomplish at 7 my dear sweet girl. You never cease to amaze me with your abounding, unending energy and complete joy for life. Its always an adventure with you around and I am so glad to be along for the ride. I love you sooooo much.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

The butterfly party


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Saturday, August 26. 2006

L girl had her birthday party this morning and she had a fantastic time. 5 little friends joined her for some birthday fun. They painted little wodden buterfly or dragonfly bookmarks, made beaded bracelets or necklaces and then we headed to the park. There they had a great time destroying the pinata shaped like a 7 and then had lunch. After lunch L. opened her gifts and then they all went for a splash in the pool. It has been rainy and cold the past few days but the son was shining today. The water had not had a chance to warm up so was quite chilly. It didn't seem to phase them though and they had a great time. Long time friend A. surpised L. by being able to attend when initially she was not so L was very excited. As the girls were all leaving, L announced "That was the shortest party ever!" She was having so much fun that the three hours quikcly flew by.

After the party, L was sitting on the couch winding down and commented "I miss my cake." Apparently her butterfly cake was a success. Most kids had seconds and there isn't much left of it....the true sign of a yummy cake.

Thanks to all who made L's day so special.

The lost has been found


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Saturday, August 26. 2006

Do you recall a month ago when the older children hid A-gilr's birthday present because they didn't want her to find it and then couldn't remember where they had hidden it? Well it has now been found!

Our livingroom is the central area for toys/games and recently the "dog sleeping bag" had found its way out there instead of being in its home in the kids' room. We had asked them to put it away and as L. picked it up, she reached inside and found the large bubble tumbler for her sister's birthday. The most hilarious factor of all of this is that they have been playing with that sleeping bag all month long. The tumbler was just light enough that apparently no one noticed as they dragged it from room to room.

A-girl was presented with it this afternoon and was quite excited. It didn't seem to phase her that it was a month late. She was very happy carrying it around the back yard proudly exclaiming "My bubbo!"

"Its all about being with friends."


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Friday, August 25. 2006

Today was filled with preparations for L's little birthday party tomorrow and with three kids, already tired from the busy weeks' activities there were some bumps along the road. Her special butterfly cake got baked this morning with the help (?!?!) of all three kids. At one point when they were all crying because they had no space on the 2 chairs they had lining the counter, couldn't see what I was doing (I could barely reach the mixer because they had chairs lined up in front) or because someone else got to break the first egg and I found I was dreaming of making the cake in the middle of the night in peace and quiet while the rest of the house slept. We managed to get it made and then baked and the rest of the day progressed. L was so excited to ice and decorate the cake. Once again they all helped make the icing and then we proceeded to ice and decorate.

I so wanted this cake to be "perfect" for her as she was so excited about it. I also wanted her party to be extra special. I started to get anxious about all the things needing to be accomplished. I admit, I am a bit of a perfectionist and therefore have limited myself in terms of doing things or trying things because "I won't do it right.", "I'm not good enough at that." or "My house isn't clean/tidy/organized enough to do that/have anyone over." I am aware of the tendancy to want everything perfect (which is really unattainable) so am able to keep it in check most of the time, however there are times when it rears its ugly head and messes with me and those around me. Today was one of those days.

At one point in the decorating process, I had added cocoa to the icing because L wanted a brown body on her butterfly and we figured chocolate icing was the way to go. I am an amateur at cake decorating so didn't realize that adding cocoa would change the consistency of the icing that I had followed directions precisely to make and the decorating had gone smoothly until then. Well the icing was so thick I couldn't get it out of the decorating tip. I then thinned it according to their recipe but it was still to thick and when I tried to squeeze a bit through the bag burst and I decided to try over again with some of the remaining white icing. I commented on how that didn't work out as planned but I thought I could fix it. L., without missing a beat said "Its OK Mommy. Its not about the food anyway. Its about being with friends."

What a very wise thing for an almost 7 year old to say. She is so right. Too often we let the "details" get in the way of what really and truly matters.

Her cake is far from "perfect" as I am not a cake decorator by any means but we had a blast, had a great time together and my little girl thinks it is a great cake. Tommorow she will celebrate with a few little friends and everything will be wonderful because "its all about being with friends."

My oldest child


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Friday, August 25. 2006

Tonight as I was brushing L's hair after their shower, I asked her what the best thing about being 6 was (since she will be 7 in a couple of days). She replied, "Not being the oldest kid." I didn't quite follow the logic of that since she is the oldest kid and what does that have to do with the best part of being 6 years old! The look on my face must have indicated I didn't understand her so she proceeded "Well, I've always considered Dad to be your oldest child cuz he's more of a kid than an adult or a parent."

There it is confirmed. I knew all along he was my oldest child and now I learn the kids include him in their birth order configuration as one of them as well!

Not so perfect picture


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Thursday, August 24. 2006

For those of you that know me, you know how much I enjoy taking photos and when I have time, scrapbooking. I love to capture candid moments, events, nature and just about anything. The camera has been having issues lately (take a picture, the flash goes, all seems OK, however the image on the screen is completely black or over-exposed and totally white). This evening it experienced a slip from the hand and fall to the concrete of the picnic shelter floor. All seemed to be OK and it allows you to do some functions, however it will not store the image to the card which is an issue. Unfortunately I was not able to capture a lot of the playgroup birthday party, the wet free for all in the playground afterwards or the pure joy and excitment on the faces of any of the 20 plus kids there. It appears the life of that well used camera has come to an end.

I am in serious picture taking withdrawl. Perhaps there is some program out there for those obsessed with taking photos and then suddenly forced into retirement like me.

Parties in the rain


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Thursday, August 24. 2006

We have been very fortunate this summer to enjoy beautiful, sunny, hot days. Today we had two parties to fill our day. The first was S's work party at a cabin on Turtle Lake and the second was the playgroup birthday party at a little park off of Lake Harriet (Luckily with a picnic shelter).

The weather was cold and rainy but it really didn't seem to affect the first party. The only thing that was very different from years past was the amount of swimming and time in the water. Most of the kids still swam briefly. Great food, great company and lots of kids full of endless energy having a great time doing whatever their imaginations led them to (at one point I believe it was playing Pirates of the Carribean with the boys trying to capture the girls).

The second party was most affected by the rain. It was much heavier and a thunderstorm rolling through with a fair bit of wind (A-girl was very scared during the wind and I couldn't help thinking she was having flashbacks of camping and her "Dorothy" in the "Wizard of Oz" experiece) and a dumping of rain. Luckily the picnic shelter provided us with lots of space to dance, make a craft, eat dinner and visit til the rain let up. The kids then proceeded to play on the playground in the huge puddles and ended up going home very muddy and wet. Of course A-boy was one of the first to introduce the "wet play" by standing in the rain, getting soaked and then proceeding to take a water bottle which he filled at a nearby tap with water and dumping it on his head several times. Since it wasn't very warm out, he began to shiver and was too cold to eat dinner. Then the heavy rains hit and puddles fromed outside the shelter and on the playground. Most of the kids were drawn to the water and the muck and the majority were soaked before they left for home. Sliding down a muddy slide into a huge puddle, swinging over/into huge puddles under the swings and just running and dancing through the many puddles formed by the heavy rains. The kids had a blast. This was likely the best part of the party for them. On the other hand, all of the parents likely had visions of naked kids riding home in the car and being the stars of the next TIDE commercials as they watched the wet muddy play.

Despite the challenges of the weather, we all enjoyed ourselves and are winding down our summer with the completion of two of the last "annual events of the summer". Its hard to believe we are heading into fall.

On "parent time"


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Wednesday, August 23. 2006

There must be some unwritten law that when you want/need to move quickly, your children pick up on that energy and move as slowly as humanly possible and create as much tension, misbehavior and chaos as possible.

This morning, I had a quick errand to run to drop something off at a friend's house for the playgroup birthday bash tomorrow afternoon (our playgroup that started out almost 7 years ago with all of us having our first babies has grown from 7 families with 7 kids to include 10 families and 25 kids and a few years ago we started an annual birthday bash for all the kids so they could all celebrate together). It took over an hour to get everyone out the door. A-boy didn't want to get dressed and then decided he needed to eat a second breakfast before he could leave which in turn had A-girl sitting down to her second breakfast. Then L and A-boy needed to spend a long time in the bathroom. When everyone was finally in the porch ready to go, my keys were no longer where I had set them the hour earlier. I wasted no time and grabbed S's keys and headed out the door. Turns out A-girl had taken them and put them with her "baby"

In the store they had a million questions about everything, had to go to the bathroom (yes the same one who went not 15 minutes earlier!) and were all talking loudly at once needing my undivided attention and I was trying to figure out which item was the most economical for a group our size. L was very excited though as she found the perfect cake pan for her butterfly themed birhtday party on Saturday......a butterfly. It seemed expensive but I quickly realized it was cheaper than buying a cake so I let her put it in the cart. It will reappear many birthdays over....perhaps A-boy would love a butterfly cake at his next party?!?! Then it was onto the store next door to pick up a couple more things for L's party. She has everything pretty much figured out as she is so detail oriented (how many kids can recite the dates they lost their teeth....granted she only has lost 2 but this is the kind of detail she remembers along with who gave her things, what people wore at different events and so forth).

All three kids seemed to have taken an energy boosting pill as we walked in the door. Unfortunately I missed that as I need more energy to keep up with them. A-girl refused to hold my hand and would "break away" constantly from me and find things of interest in the store. If she did hold my hand she would dig in her heels and lean backwards as I tried to walk so it was like pulling a stone around the store. We had picked up the one thing we went in for so I figured we'd just head for the check out as I would have had to go there to get a cart anyway. Then there is also the issue of her undoing the belt and standing up in the cart or climbing out every time you turn to get something so it isn't the most relaxing thing either. Of course the same child needed to use the bathroom again and as I waited I couldn't help thinking how much quicker it would have been to come alone! But alas, the question of where to leave the children since the closet, home alone and the van are not options. Then there were some other "goodies" L wanted for her party and as we would check things out, A-girl would empty the shelves or rearrange them. A-girl was the absolute horrid child as one stands in line at a checkout (you know the one that requires you to go for a massage or chiro appointment for severe back pain)...although she was very quiet. She threw herself backwards and hung upside down off my arm, grabbed for the candy they so thoughtfully put there with an ear to ear grin and then when I needed to set her down to take out my wallet, she took off running as fast as she could with the other two on her tail all screaming and yelling. Several little old ladies watched the chaos. One said "My, you are very busy!" I think she really meant "Holy crap lady, can't you control those urchins!"

Shortly we were in the van and headed home. I was ready to have a peaceful lunch, followed by a very long quiet time. That unwritten law took over and well.......it didn't happen.

Horses


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Tuesday, August 22. 2006

Yesterday, two of my kids had a wonderful time with the horses and the third....well lets just say it wasn't a good ending. L and A-boy were part of a class of 16 kids that enjoyed 2 hours of walking, trotting and cantering on horses. A-boy was led for the walking and then had a rider with him for the trotting and cantering. L was on a lead rope for all three. They had a blast. L had one moment of "not so great" when she was stung by a wasp. Luckily for all of us, she did not inherit my anaphylactic reaction to wasp stings!

A-girl watched happily from the fence and kept saying "me too", "My turn", "me go horsey". Before the children got a chance to try bareback, A-girl was able to sit on the horse that the smaller children had been using. This was the same horse A-boy had been riding and she had been wonderful. A-girl sat in the saddle, relaxed, happy and beaming ear to ear. Suddenly something from the field or horse ring next to the ring we were in startled the horse and she quickly moved to face the "danger" she perceived. A couple of staff moved quickly to steady the horse but ended up moving it further from me as I and another staff tried to grab A-girl. It all happened so quickly, we couldn't grip A-girl and she fell from the saddle of the Morgan horse. She was very upset, however, thankfully, unhurt. One of the other Mom's was a RN so checked her out and she was fine. She doesn't have a mark physically but emotionally she has some healing.....and so does Mom!

As we drove home, the two older children talked non-stop about the horses and riding, brushing and feeding them. I was glad that they had enjoyed the morning so much but sat there wishing I had made different choices so A-girl's morning had turned out differently (could we have done something differently so she still could have sat on the horse yet wouldn't have fallen if/when the horse startled) and worrying that she may be hurt and it wasn't yet detected. As I was finally seeking peace, L comments "Mom, you know if anything happens to A-girl its your fault because you put her on that horse." Thanks L. I am deeply aware of that in a way that only a parent can truly understand. It is thoses times when you try to give them the experience they seek and then something unexpected happens and they end up hurt either physically or emotionally, you wish you could go back and change things. You feel you have failed them as a parent that is to protect them and yet give them experiences to develop and grow. Luckily, A-girl is fine. I feel so fortunate and thank God as I am very well aware of the other possible outcomes from a fall from a horse. Hopefully, her recent fall will not keep her from the enjoyment of horses.

Curly Hair


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Tuesday, August 22. 2006

My father is 82 years old and knows and uses and lot of sayings and cliches. While we were visiting last week, he told A-boy that if he ate his crusts he would get curly hair. A-boy has a tendancy to leave the crusts of his bread and toast. It was funny to hear my Dad telling A-boy that as he used to say it to me when I was young. A couple of days later as we sat eating breakfast at my cousin's cabin, A-boy said to me "Momma, look at the back of my hair!" Confused, I checked out his hair but didn't really see anything. Before I could ask him to clarify, he asked "Is my hair curly Momma? I'm eating my crusts!" Oddly enough, his hair is getting longer and at the back it is starting to get a bit of a wave in it.....perhaps the old guy is right!



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