Monday, August 30, 2010

A Great Weekend to End the Summer

It seems that we always visit Aunt Cassie and Uncle Paul in Cleveland when it's cold and/or snowy. We decided in the spring that we'd make a late-summer trip so that the boys could go fishing with Uncle Paul. The only "boy" that made it out fishing was Kevin, but it was fine because they left at 6:30am and ended up bringing home perch for dinner, so it all worked out for the best.

A crowd gathers, fascinated with the "cleaning" of the fish.

Cassie and Uncle Paul wanted to take the kids to the Memphis Kiddie Park, so they left with Katie and Kevin and I went with Mom and Dad downtown to do some sightseeing. All the times we've visited and we've never had the opportunity to walk around the city! Not having kids along helped because I'm sure we would have been dragging tired legs, but when they get older it is definitely something I'd like to do with them. The architecture and the history was amazing.

My cousin John lives downtown in a old tool and dye plant that they converted into apartments. He was able to fill us in on a lot of the history of the city while we were on the roof-top deck of his building, overlooking the city. I wish I would have taken pictures of that!

The U.S.S. Cod, a WWII submarine docked on Lake Erie

This is the Arcade, which is on Superior. I had seen this shot in black and white on a blog I follow called Shorpy. I was completely taken with it and really wanted to see it in person, if it still was around. Came to find out that it was the first building to be put on the National Register of Historical Buildings in Cleveland, and only the 9th to be put on there in the nation. It was built in 1890 and financed by a group that included Rockefeller.

My history-buff, nerd side is coming out. I apologize. But honestly, if you get the chance check it out! It is a gorgeous building that is now part of the Hyatt, but there are other establishments inside, and it is close to an alley that has a lot of nightlife. Looks like a lot of fun.

Wandering around, we came across this building. Recognize the name? It's the department store in The Christmas Story where Ralphie goes to tell Santa that he wants a Red Ryder B B gun. Fortunately, this too is on the Register and although the outside isn't as fascinating as the Arcade, the inside was gorgeous. As a whole, the building is called Tower City and inside, the majority of the used space is a mall.

Annnnd...back to the kids. They came back with stories to tell of all the fun they had at the amusement park. I'm sorry that I don't have images to share from there.

Originally, we were going to visit a Metropark and go hiking, so the boys all packed their camo shirts to wear while exploring.

That night, we had a seafood feast, with the fish that Daddy and Uncle Paul caught as well as an assortment of other sea fruit like shrimp and mussels that the boys devoured. Well, Lou at least tried a mussel.

There's such a rivalry between the cities of Cincinnati and Cleveland and I never gave the "mistake on the lake" much of a chance. But the more time I spend there I realize that it is like most places--it has some wonderful historical aspects, as well as some pretty neat things going on currently. Which reminds of the quote from Mohommed, Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled. We have learned quite a bit on our journeys this summer.

My Benny is a Kindergartner!

This boy was ready for school! And of course, in typical Benny fashion (no pun intended), when he woke up he decided he had to change his outfit that he chose yesterday.

I was inside the house getting ready and told the boys to go out and practice poses for the pictures. They asked what poses were and these are what they came up with when Kevin was taking their picture.

I wonder if they'll always be stair-steps. Or when they'll outgrow their father.

When we arrived at school Ben was out of his seatbelt with his backpack on before I had to say a word. Louie, Benny and I walked into school, with Benny holding my hand. We said goodbye to Louie where the hall splits and he went down to his classroom. I asked Benny to stand in front of his door so I could take his picture next to his name tag. He wasn't having any of that. No pictures of him by his seat, either.

As I was walking out I snapped this one of him working on a page in his binder. He's so grown up already. Not nervous about school whatsoever. Who says that kids need their mom until they're 18? This guy is ready for school and I'm...getting there.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm a real first grader now!

Last year Santa brought a book for Louie with the post's title and for whatever reason, it has been in the boys' top 10 requested books ever since.

We read the book before going to bed tonight and compared the differences and similarities between Louie and Henry's experience in the first grade.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Grab Bag 4

The boys started out the summer with barely wanting to put their heads under water. That isn't exactly true. At Grandma and Grandpa's Benny is comfortable going under, but he didn't do a whole lot more than that, and wouldn't go under at all at lessons. Louie was lucky if he got the back of his head wet, but would never put his face in.

All that changed this summer, thanks to three swim instructors, Alycia, Sammy and Brian. We are much indebted to them for helping our boys overcome their fears and develop swimming technique. When the second session was over the boys received a check off sheet saying that they are able to go on to the next level. On both, the instructor wrote that the two of them have progressed more this summer than any of the other kids in swim lessons. Louie and Benny were busting their buttons.

I now realize that what I thought was a good intention might have prohibited them from being a good swimmer sooner. I wanted them to swim without the "crutch" of goggles. I feared that they would only go under if they wore them, and what would happen if they fell into water and weren't wearing goggles? (Ah, the fears of a mother!) When they found some that we bought last year, I finally broke down and let them take the goggles to swim lessons.

I'm not sure if it would have been the same if I let them use the goggles from the beginning, but both boys gained confidence from using the goggles, even to the point where if they forgot them they still went under, though wouldn't do the strokes for as long. I feel like a bad parent for holding out on them for so long, but I guess it all worked out in the end!

One thing I learned from swim lessons is that I really need to get better at taking pool pictures! The first one is Benny jumping off the board, then Louie. I don't have any that are better than this!

Cheering them on, Alex, Meredith and Charlie

Grab Bag 3

The last weekend in July we went on our annual family camp out. I was nervous about going this year because Meredith was more mobile than on our last camp out. Regardless of what you might think, taking an infant is so much easier than taking a 1-year-old! Fortunately, my mom has a "cage" that was a big help. Meredith was able to be part of the action, but we could limit was she was exposed to (i.e. rocks that she wants to put in her mouth; hills to fall down; cars that want to run over kids). What was neat was that it was the cool place to hang out for the older kids. They all took turns getting in there and playing with her. Meredith was in heaven!

The kids and I went up on Thursday, after the boys' swim lessons. My parents were going up that day, as well as my aunt and uncle. I hated to leave Kevin at home, but it's such a hike for him to go from our campsite to work that it really isn't worth it. The rest of the group would come after work on Friday.

Did you know that Charlie had a black eye? Amazingly enough, his brothers had nothing to do with that. He fell into our coffee table an instantly looked like the offspring of Rocky. Here, it is a few days old and looking quite a bit better.

My dad had to go into work on Friday so Mom and I took the kids on a hike. The boys are extremely into hiking and exploring these days. The trail wasn't very intense, which was good because I had Meredith hanging off the front of me while I was taking pictures and hiking. I'm pretty sure I was chewing gum, too, so we are lucky that no major catastrophes occurred!

I didn't get the camera out the rest of the weekend. I can't remember why. The days were filled with playing games, riding bikes, and swimming at the pool. At night we stargazed and sat around the campfire. This is the stuff that summers are made of and I wish we would have done more of it this summer!

Grab Bag 2

A few weeks back we went to a "Touch-a-Truck" day in Sharonville with some our friends in our neighborhood.
It was a very impressive showing of different vehicles used by our public servants. There was bunch of military vehicles, cop cars, fire engines, a tractor and even a Hummer limo. My boys were all that impressed with the Hummer!

The boys with Alex on the Coast Guard boat

Charlie in the military truck

Louie and Anna posing in front of a motor

There was also a helicopter in the middle of the park. The whole time we were there, there was a couple of guys watering down the ball field. Was there a game that night? No, when we were walking away from the park to our van another helicopter was landing on that spot! What an exhilarating thing to witness. The boys were completely freaked out!

Grab Bag 1

I have decided to randomly put up posts when I find pictures that correspond, or when a memory pops in my head. Sorry for the lack of order to come, but at least I'm posting. Right?

This past Saturday we had two birthday parties for Louie's friends. The first one was at Run, Jump 'n Play and all the kids were invited. It was the first time we have been there and it was a lot of fun! The other moms were impressed that Charlie kept up with all the other boys. They obviously don't realize that you can't tell Charlie that there's something he can't do. (Unless you want him to walk any sort of distance--then you get the whining!)

Benny and Charlie were wiped out afterward, which was good because the next party was only for the the guys in Lou's class. This birthday boy moved at the end of last school year, so it was the last hurrah for him and his friends. It's so sad how close they all get and now this little guy has to start all over in a new school. I'm glad Louie was able to go over and have a fun time with his friend.

But the point of this post is that after the birthday parties we were supposed to go down to Fountain Square to watch a movie. All summer long there are movies on the Square, first a children's movie, then one for older folks/kids. We were going to bring a blanket and a cooler and find a spot to watch the newest "Ice Age" film.

It didn't work out that way. Instead, I sent Kevin with the kids to the movie rental store and then set to work to make the living room almost as exciting as watching a movie on Fountain Square. I pulled out the bed hidden inside our couch.

I do not recall the last time this was put to use and I know for sure that the kids have never seen it. This fact was confirmed when they got home and I heard the collective gasps from the boys. You would have thought there was a bounce castle or something of the like in the living room. They were so excited!

They did try to bounce on the bed, but I quickly informed them that the beds that are hidden in couches have lots of bars that would hurt pretty badly if you landed on them. The settled for snuggling up under the sheet to watch Everyone's Hero, a cartoon movie about a talking baseball and Babe Ruth's bat, Darlin'. Who also spoke. Kind of corny, but the boys loved it.

You can't leave Meredith out of the mix, either. Her time on the pull-out bed didn't last long, though, as she didn't get it that walking around on it was a bad idea. All in all, we had a wonderful evening, and even got to go to bed fairly early. Very nice!

Denial ain't just a river...or so I'm told

Today Louie started first grade. It's hard for me to believe that the summer has rushed by and we're beginning a new school year. And that my first born is in the first grade!

I tried to remember what it was like for me in first grade. I had Sister Agnes Frances, one of the last nuns to wear a habit regularly. For me, she fulfilled all the stereotypes of nuns. Kind of scary for a five-year-old! Louie's teacher is the polar opposite. She is such a sweet woman, giving each of the kids a "First Grade Kit" last night at the Open House. Included was:
  • a Starburst: You will be a shining star in school if you smile and always do your best!
  • a Penny: To remind you that you are a valuable member of our class!
  • a Sticker: We will always stick together and help one another!
  • Smarties: You are going to learn SO very much this year!
  • an Eraser: Remember, it's okay to make mistakes. That is how we learn!
  • a Hershey Hug: We all need hugs! If you need one, let me know.
  • a Lifesaver: I am here to help you! Do not be afraid to come to me if you need something.
I thought that was a sweet (no pun intended) way to get the kids to know that they are welcome to her classroom. Louie is very excited.

Again, this teacher is quite young, but she definitely has her act together, as I felt Louie's kindergarten teacher did last year. They must be approaching the preparation for teachers differently these days. I have been very impressed! The teachers coming out of college are able to hold their own with those who have been in the field for years.

Anyway, today I had to work a little to wake up Lou. It's my fault for not putting him to bed early, then waking him up at 7am to prepare for this day. But once he was up, he was ready to go. In part, because he got to wear his new gym shoes for the first time!

I got a special breakfast for this morning and then we headed out to take the pictures that we've done since he started preschool. And I hate to tell him, but we'll be doing it until he graduates from high school. Unless he lives at home and goes to college. Then we'll take it then, too (is that motivation to get him to move out? ;).

Look at this crew! They are all so excited for Louie to begin 1st grade.

Kevin was able to stay home for a bit to take pics, then see Louie off to school.

He was pumped to see that he has the coolest job on the first day of school!

I'm sure it will hit me soon that my kids are growing up right before my eyes. I think that we've been keeping so busy that I haven't allowed it to sink in yet. It's neat to stand back and watch the person that Louie is becoming. And that person is a pretty neat little guy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Yesterday we had a reunion of sorts with a family that my family grew up with. They have four kids that matched up with the four of us, except for one on each side. Does that make any sense? Regardless, it was a fun day at the pool, followed by a nice cookout and catching up while watching the next generation run around.

It was neat to see Ben beating Lexi with a pool noodle while they were in the water and instead of crying she gave it right back to him--all in good humor, though. Because they really are like brothers and sisters and for me, that's a neat thing.

And so, through all the excitement of the day, I didn't get a single picture of the little boys and little girls that have grown up, found the loves of their lives and some who have had kids. I also didn't get pictures of the parents responsible for all this, and how they look exactly the same as they did 20 years ago. Amazing. Hopefully those genes were passed down to all of us!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Good Day

Time is quickly slipping away before Louie and Benny start school and so we had errands to run and a trip to the zoo planned for today.

My rant for today (and many days since I've started collecting them) is this: is possible to make a relatively easy task any more difficult? There are the most bizarre things on the school supply list (12 large glue sticks--do the kids eat them for snacks??) and things that are almost impossible to find (4 black thick dry erase markers. Almost all the ones I've seen have only one black and then an assortment of other colors filling out the set of 24. I'm not buying four sets of 24 to get the four he needs for school!).

So...I wasn't overly successful in the school supply shopping, but Benny and Louie each got a new pair of gym shoes to wear on their first day. All my kids have wide feet and this makes it a bit difficult to find shoes that fit well, but our helper today was very patient and kind and helped us pick out the right shoes for the boys that will hopefully last until the new year.

After these two stops we headed to some place we haven't visited all summer--the zoo. The boys have been pretty upset about it but something they don't take into consideration is that there isn't animal deodorant in the world yet and the zoo stinks. It's crowded. It's hot. Things that they would realize once we drove there, got out of the van and joined the swarms of people who thinking summer visits to the zoo are da bomb.

Today was a relatively mild day and I figured with a lot of schools in session, it might not be too bad. We all had a nice time, especially Meredith. This was the first time she's been there where she was excited to be there. She squealed with delight at seeing the gorilla a stone's throw away from us. She kept pointing to all the fish and manatees in the tank. She gasped when she saw the lime green lizard scurry up the branch right before her eyes.

It will be fun to keep going back to experience these things with her. But the thing that really got her excited was her first ride on the merry-go-round! She started out on the baby seal next to Charlie who was on the shark, but soon moved over to the zebra who was wearing a jeweled harness. (A sign of things to come??) She loved going up and down, checking out the paint job on her ride and watching her brothers on the panther and gorilla.

The day ended up getting pretty warm and the water we brought along ran out so we had to pack up and leave. Here are some shots from our day:

This poor guy (gal?) seemed very tired and hot. S/He probably didn't appreciate the boys making Gibbon noises at it.

We finally got to see the Komodo Dragon! Unfortunately, it was taking a bath and we only saw a bit of its head and tail. Not good for picture taking. We did see a lot of other lizards and the boys even got to pet one.

Meredith was loving her trip to the zoo.

Not the most exciting pictures of Baby Girl, but she was being really cute and pointed to all the animals she saw.

This is her checking out the baby seal she was riding.

Louie on the gorilla and Benny on a panther, leading the way.

How does this thing work?

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Ok, the last time I said it, it was more tottering around but this time it's the real deal:

Meredith is a full-fledged walker! She is so proud of herself and we all are too. The little lady was strutting her stuff all over the house, filled her pants and chased her brothers. They ran away screaming because they thought she smelled pretty badly. She thought they were playing a game and being so excited that she can finally (kind of) keep up with them, she ran with them and screamed as well.

That got some good belly laughs out of this mom!