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Birthday Celebration


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Friday, August 28. 2009

Despite cool temps that would could have dampened many beach goers spirits, we celebrated L's 10th birthday with an awesome celebration. She planned out everything including her cake (and decorated it herself) and it was great fun. The guests arrived at our house in the early afternoon and then we (and a few good friends) took the kids to Feed My Starving Children where we packed meals for two hours along with other volunteers (80 people total). We were able, with the other volunteers, to pack 16200 meals which was enough to feed 44 children for one year. Our group filled 2 tables and we were able to pack 10 boxes which held 36 packages of food with each package feeding 6 people (2160 meals). L had also asked for cash donations instead of gifts and donated $201 to FMSC which will provide 1182 meals and feed 5 children for a year. What a very special way to celebrate a very special girl on her birthday! From there we headed to the beach. The girls had a great time in the water. The boys played in the sand and the adults chatted on the beach while wrapped in jackets. The kids enjoyed water play, sand play, beach volleyball, the playground, dinner and making home made ice cream. As the sun set we decided to head home to eat cake and ice cream (I had also forgotten a spoon to get the well frozen ice cream out of the ice cream maker and a plastic fork was not cutting it!). The kids enjoyed cake and ice cream, games in the dark and a bonfire.

































A decade ago


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Thursday, August 27. 2009

A decade ago this evening, we were awaiting and eagerly anticipating the late arrival of our first born, L. We had dined with our friend B at a local restaurant and my water broke as we were leaving. I didn't have any contractions yet so after contacting our doula and our clinic we headed to the airport to pick up my "little sister" C., walked the lake with our troop (Us, little sister, doula and two dogs) until the wee hours of the morning as contractions would only happen during movement and then eventually headed to the hospital and L arrived at 6:39am.

She launched us on our parenting journey. Boy was it a huge learning curve. She slept little, cried lots, loved to eat and taught us so much about love and life. It has been such an honor to be her Mom. She has incredible energy, a zest for life and a smile that melts your heart. It is so amazing to watch her grow and develop over the years. She brings so much to our lives and to our family.

L is very excited to be "hitting double digits" and has been chanting "I'm a tween" all evening. It is fun to have her sharing in so many of the birthday "traditions" in our family. She chose the photos for her birthday book (posted below) and designed and decorated her birthday cake (a beach scene that has to be completed just before eating as the figures she has to put in the water and sand can't fit underneath the cake cover). She planned the details of her party and today we picked up food and other party things and she was in charge. Our kids are always involved in the process, however this is the first year that she truly did most of the planning. Our baby is growing up.

L loves reading, singing, dancing, acting, swimming, track and field, skiing, skating/hockey, biking, camping, being with friends, horses and nature. She is an awesome big sister and loves to organize games and activities for her siblings, friends and neighbors. "Camp Fun" has been a hit this summer and she is definitely the director with AJ and others as the "junior counselors." It is amazing to me to watch her take a role as a "mother's helper" and beginning to babysit.

It seems like only yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital and soaking in everything about parenting. It is so hard to imagine that 10 years have already passed by in what seems to be the blink of an eye. Truly amazing.

We love you L and can't wait to celebrate you tomorrow on your special day.

Watching our girl grow up. Birth to 4 are pre-digital.

L's first Birthday


4 Years old


5 years old



5 years old



6 years old



7 years old


8 years old



8 years old

9 years old


Our incredible 10 year old!!! These are the photos she chose to reflect who she is at 10 years old.










Happy Birthday Precious Girl!!!!

More fun at the pool


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Thursday, August 13. 2009

This week has actually felt like summer. It has even felt hot. With a few consecutive days in the 80's we have been enjoying the water as the pool closes next weekend. Its hard to believe that our pool fun is over. We decided to go for a quick swim late this afternoon and had a great time. As we were getting ready to leave, A-girl announced she wanted to jump off the diving board. My initial reaction was "You can't do that, you are too little!" but luckily I bit my tongue and asked her which diving board. She told me she was going to go off the small one. I suggested she get a life jacket that they have available but we quickly realized that that wasn't an option as it is against their rules. AJ told me she couldn't do it, I shared the information with her and she was not going to believe her brother so we asked the lifeguard nearby and A-girl finally trusted her. A-girl was so determined she was going to jump off the diving board. She was confident and I just love that spirit. I told her that we would come stand beside her on the edge and that she could easily swim to the side and get out. She got in line, and without looking back went to the end of the board, jumped in and swam to the side. Her siblings were close by and they had a great time taking turns jumping beside her on the high dive. They also had a great time jumping in from the side and trying to soak me and LJ.








AJ succeeded in getting water on my lens.

LJ loves to jump also.


L was getting sprayed by the kids so looked the other way.




LJ always keeps things stirred up.


Lovely!


There goes A-girl!


AJ on the high dive with her.


L on the high dive with her.






Another year of great swim memories.

A quiet reminder


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Thursday, August 13. 2009

I am seeking reminders this afternoon that there is a calm side to my two and a half year old.



A side that is not trying to bounce watermelons off the dining room table only to discover "That ball not bounce mama!," wrestling with his older brother, singing as loud as possible, taking freshly folded clean laundry and punting it throughout the bedroom, taking the lunch (noodles) that I was going to eat after the kids had had their fill and dump it into the sink, run water on it and throw in a bunch of shredded cheese to top it all off and then while I was tending to that mess completely plug the bathroom sink with more noodles that he got from who knows where!?! There is that calm quiet side.....we just don't see it very much, perhaps once or twice a week! He is such a "live life to its fullest, experience everything completely" kind of a kid. For him there is only one way to do things....full bore. The louder, more physical and thrill producing the better. He also believes that he is where he is to be an entertainer of others occupying the same space. He is a character through and through. If he makes you laugh, his job is complete. Once in a while we do see the calm, quiet, reflective kind of a kid, its just rare. One thing is for sure, this little guy keeps us smiling and very active. We love you buddy.





Searching for his beloved ant which he managed to find again only to hug it a little too tight. He continued to carry it around for about an hour and then placed it in his boat and took it for a ride in the lake.




Always a character. He quickly discovered you could have a lot of people laughing hysterical if you put on the various costumes in the waiting area of the dance studio.


A frequent look we get when we re about to take a photo. Honestly don't know where he picked this lovely trait up from as the other kids do not model this and for good reason.


Why would you sit on the floor a build a Lego creation when you can be on top of the table and be a part of it?


My once free flowing bathroom sink.


Play in the sand box turned wet and messy.






Now I lay me down to sleep........


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Wednesday, August 12. 2009

....in a new bed for AJ and a new bed and room for LJ. This morning, we tidied things up in the boys' bedroom, took plastic off and unpacked "stuff." Things are not quite all put away as we are not putting up one of the shelves that was there so things aren't quite finished yet. A new light fixture and ceiling fan are going to go in tomorrow. AJ chose the color of paint for their room. Jamestown blue looks a lot more on the green side when we got all the old stuff in. He also chose the print for the new sheets. I tried to convince him to go with various patterns that would have been a bit better colorwise but I should know better than to mess with sports perfection. As he was settling down to sleep tonight, he made his way down the bed reading all the sayings (Swoosh, Wack, Goal etc) and naming all the balls. LJ was also excited about the bed and the 4 of them watched anxiously as the bed was constructed. It took him a while to settle down and fall asleep in his new bed but all in all it was a fairly smooth transition for night one.


It was really hot in the room and we worked hard to get everything ready to set the beds up.

Anticipation.










Beach Adventure


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Tuesday, August 11. 2009

It is mid August and it is hitting me that summer is quickly drawing to a close and on its heels is back to school and work and all things related. I was in a bit of a funk as I have not had enough huge water, sandy beaches, lots of trees, deep in nature, totally relaxed, removed from some responsibilities/tasks etc lately (well in years) as we don't really vacation and I haven't had opportunities lately to soak up what I need outdoors to rejuvenate my spirit and fill my energy reserves to be able to tackle all that comes my way. My reserves are depleted and there isn't really a break in my future to rebuild and I need it. The thought of starting a new school year this low on energy is not inspiring.

Last evening, while S and I were grocery shopping (after putting the first coat of paint on the walls in the boys' room) on date night, we ran into a friend and while talking about various summer things, she mentioned a lake that they have been going to that has sandy beaches (much grainier than the lake I enjoy in MB but a good stretch of sandy beach) and a great playground and no charge to get into the park area that it is in.

That spark of information was all I needed to head out on a beach adventure. Today was a great day for the water as temps were in the high 80s. The kids were reluctant to go somewhere new and weren't keen on the longer ride in the car but once there, they had a great time and this beach is on our list of great summer spots.

The boys tended to stay and play in the sand while the girls did a lot of swimming/water time as well as sand time.













Hot, tired, hungry and ready to go home.

Ups and Downs


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Sunday, August 9. 2009

Ups and downs are just part of life. Sometimes it is hard to find the up in a down and at other times it is very simple. Our weekend seemed filled with the obvious ups for most of the downs.

Down 1: Van broke down again.



Up: We were close to home and weren't on the freeway. We were close to a garage.

Down: It closed just before we got there. S talked to someone inside, told him of the overheating and difficulty steering and was told they couldn't look at it til Monday as they weren't sure what was causing that. It was very hot and humid so we sat in the van trying to figure out our strategy to get home and where we needed to be. We had started the van again to see if it still registered hot. As we were sitting there, a technician came over and told us to turn it off as he noticed a belt hanging down from our vehicle and came out to look. He told us we could not drive anywhere.

Up: The belt was still in one piece and looked good. It just needed to be rerouted. Someone else inside stated that they were closed and that we couldn't be seen til Monday. S relayed that to the tech and he stated "yes we are closed but this is an emergency. You can't take this anywhere. We could try to get you a loaner car." When we asked if it could hold 6 of us, he said no. He went back in, got keys to the tool cabinet and he and another guy fixed everything at no charge.

Down: I walked home with the kids. LJ was a constant "whyner" (gotta love the why stage) and whiner which was a tad difficult to handle.

Up: Our house certainly felt a lot cooler and a lot less humid than the outdoors and even though we only have one window unit for the entire main floor, it seemed wonderfully cool.

Down: We were over an hour late for a work picnic due to the problems with the van.

Up: We made it and had a fun time anyway and the severe weather held off til after the picnic and we were home.




Down 2: LJ decided to study the laws of gravity with a watermellon and the dining room table. The result was a bit of a mess.



Up: The end result was a great time.



Down 3: Its actually hot here and on the hottest day yet of the summer, we didn't make it to the pool.

Up: We took on the project of taking apart the bed in AJ's room to prepare to put up the new bunk beds to make it AJ and LJ's room. As the process unfolded, we got prepared to paint.





Down: Once again, the shoddy work of past owners has made a simple project a lot more complex. S thought he was taking on a half day project and it no longer looks that way. The room is closer to receiving its first splash of fresh paint but presently S is at his favorite home renovations store picking up a brush so we can tackle peeling/cracking ceiling paint and bubbled paint on the walls. The last folks just painted right over several layers of wall paper so we're in for a treat.



Up: The kids have put AJ's mattress down in the girls room (it pretty much fills the floor space as there isn't really any to begin with) and have planned a sleepover. They are having a great time playing together at the moment (a huge up for this momma of four that tend to have their fair share of the normal sibling not so positive interactions).

Another lost tooth


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Friday, August 7. 2009

AJ lost his tooth at lunch time today when he bit into his chicken and cheese sandwich. It was one of his capped teeth so the kids had a great time checking out the metal on the inside surface as well as the numbers and letters engraved in it. With the space created, hopefully his two front teeth will shift over to his left and make things a bit more even. They have shifted to the right as he had knocked out/had to have removed due to injury the front three and the two middle ones coming in shifted. I am still not used to seeing him with teeth in the upper front so we'll have to see what happens next.


Oh where oh where has my..............


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Friday, August 7. 2009

............ dog jumper gone?!?!


Poor LJ. Initially he was afraid of the jumper but his big sister L took him in alone, got him used to it and he was hooked. Nap time Thursday afternoon was very hard as he cried for about 45 minutes yelling "You meanie Mom!! I just want to jump! I just want to jump. Let me go and jump! No sleep!"

The kids were up and on the jumper (our 4 and 4 neighbor kids) at 8am Wednesday. We were all away when the jumper was picked up late that morning and LJ was sleeping when we arrived home so he awoke, was ready to jump and the lawn was empty. For the rest of the day and much of the next, the poor kid was very sad and kept asking to get the dog jumper back!

Oh where oh where has my little........


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Tuesday, August 4. 2009

..........house gone, Oh where oh where can it be?!?!






This inflatable jumper arrived at noon for our block party this evening. Needless to say, the neighborhood kids that are home are already in there having a great time. They are also looking forward to a pinata, water balloons and lots and lots of jumping!!

A glipmse at my future


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Monday, August 3. 2009

Up until this evening, my kids have enjoyed my company. They haven't tried to walk in a different direction trying to pretend they don't know me, they haven't asked for me to follow "way far behind." or to not accompany them because I was boring, too old, out of fashion or one of the many other things an older kid thinks are not too cool about their parents.

This evening, I had the chance to be out with just L. She had a book club at the library as part of their summer program and afterward we were running some errands. I always enjoy the one to one time I get with my kids and this evening was no exception. I love hearing what is important to them at that particular moment/time in their life, encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings and let them know how special they are to me. As I turned off the ignition in the parking lot of our last stop and we were getting out, L matter of fact states "Mom, when we get back in the car and are going home, could you not talk so much. I am trying to read. This book is really great and you are very distracting!"

Ouch.

I realized in that moment that we are shifting in our relationship. She is growing up and is definitely hitting the pre-teen years. She is so incredible. Lovable, sweets, intense and I can only imagine life with our four kids in the next few years as they all grow, mature and become teens. I was reminded once again how just being there, continuing to initiate communication and interaction is so important yet becomes increasingly difficult.

Sorry kiddo, your Mom isn't likely going to stop talking and let you slip away into the world of books. I will give you space to grow, learn, explore and develop but I will also be right along side supporting and loving you no matter what.

More Birthday Fun


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Saturday, August 1. 2009

A-girl has thoroughly enjoyed the past few days celebrating her birthday. Thursday evening (her actual birthday) was very full with an annual celebration with playgroup friends. Most of us met 10 years ago this fall in a parent/child new baby class in the neighborhood and have been meeting together ever since. With 10 families and 26 kids it is quite the bash. Her birthday was forgotten in the shuffle but she still had a great time. Later in the evening, we joined AJ and his team for a last game of the season celebration at our favorite frozen custard shop.

Friday again was very full. Started off with an early morning gymnastics class through the dance studio that all three of the older kids participated in. Then off to a park to play with our homeschool group. Then home for a quick bite and off to the last day of the Virtues and Values camp they have been attending all week. It was a field trip and LJ and I had been invited to join in. LJ was quite tired and needing a nap and non-cooperative so I thought we were headed home (which would have been great since I had a cake to ice and food to prepare for a birthday celebration that evening for A-girl). When the director of the program (also the director of the Annie Jr play that L was in earlier this year and a very dynamic person) asked LJ is he was coming with her, he replied that he was (although he had been fussing that he just wanted to go home when I tried to get him to answer me). We went and had a great time.

We had a birthday dinner celebration with our very special friend A and our friends/neighbors J and N and their kids C and W. Our other neighbor T joined us for cake. A-girl had a very specific menu that she requested (turkey bacon cheese burgers and corn on the cob and green and blue butterfly cake). We ended up eating later than planned because I had joined the kids on the field trip and couldn't complete everything in a timely fashion. Considering I was icing the cake when folks were arriving, I am surprised we ate at a reasonable hour at all! Since the neighbor kids W and C were not going to be able to celebrate with A-girl at her kid party, we did a couple of crafts that she had chosen to do and the kids had a great time.

This afternoon, A-girl had two friends K and J over to help her celebrate her birthday. She had hoped to have a pool party but the weather was not cooperative. With temps barely (if at all) creeping out of the 60's and strong winds it just wasn't pool party weather. Luckily she had chosen 3 little art projects to do and those along with a few games, some food and fun on the swings filled the time with ease. She wanted another butterfly cake, this time with purple and blue frosting so of course Mom obliged. She enjoyed her days of celebration and I hope that her 5th birthday celebration was a special as she is.

Thursday, Birthday Girl:




Friday:

A special lunch time celebration with the cup cakes that neighbors S and T dropped off for her.




On his first bus ride.




Singing time at the nature center after a hike and snack.







Saturday:

I was disappointed that the camera didn't capture the true purple color of the main part of the butterfly and instead it looks dark blue. It matched the purple in her dress. This picture was taken just before her friends arrived and she ended up changing her dress as it had gotten very wet filling water balloons.





















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