Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Joys of Opening Day Morning

I feel bad for people who live in Cincinnati who aren't baseball fans and don't get into the festivities of the beginning of the season. Everything--from the television, radio, to the billboards--is throwing this One Day in your face, assuming that you're as excited as everyone else about the Redlegs' return to the Queen City.

Well, you can go ahead and assume all you want about Casa Llena because we are completely on board with all the hoopla. I wish I could video the boys right now. They woke up and put on the Reds Rewind 2007, the DVD giveaway from the RedsFest four years ago. It's a highlights reel of that season and how I wish we had one from last season. Poor Charlie. He was just a newborn that year and keeps asking, "Where's Jonny Gomes?"

The most common used phrase to describe today is that "it's like Christmas." The thing is with cliches is that often they hit the nail right on the head. The boys couldn't be any happier if there were piles of presents for them under the tree when they woke up this morning. What gift will the Reds give us this year? With so many players starting the season on the DL it's still up in the air. But that's the great thing about Spring: it's rebirth, filled with hope for what's to come. So often it isn't the actual gift that you're excited about, but the anticipation of what could be in store for you.

This may be the year for our young Reds, and we'll be there rooting them on every step of the way!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Opening Day Eve

Tonight we ate our dinner in the basement so that we could have our first viewing of 4192, the documentary made about Pete Rose's path to breaking the hit record.

My opinion of Pete Rose the man has changed over time, but nothing can take away from the ballplayer that he was. This is the man that I want the kids to see. The guy who sprinted full-steam to first when the pitcher walked him. The guy who supported his teammates, encouraging them to be better than they thought they were.

Times may have changed, the work ethic of a ballplayer may have changed with the rising paycheck and the fame that comes along, but Pete stood out forty years ago because he was different than all the rest. He played hard, gave every ounce of himself for every game, and when it came down to it, he just loves the game of baseball.

For the kids to have passion for something in life--whether or not it is baseball--it a good lesson to learn.

Happy Mere

It is on a daily basis that lil' Mere grows and changes. She is such a happy baby! Is 22-months too old to call her a baby? I hope not. She is Miss Independent now, keeping up with her older brothers.

Each day she is talking more and more, and maybe it's only those who live in Casa Llena who understand her, but she is making great strides.

She is so funny, and even when the rest of us aren't laughing, she cracks herself up! I can only imagine what is going to happen when the flood gates open completely and she is a non-stop talker. Watch out!

We are so blessed to have this fiery little spirit in our house!

Birthday Fun

Louie had a good day. He brought "puppy chow" in for his friends and teacher at school; he was presented with a special ribbon and pencil marking his birthday; and he came home to a poster made by Charlie and a table filled with birthday cards!

How much fun are 7-year-old, really all kids, cards? The cards he received featured sports, superheroes, cartoon characters, and even two that played music!

Charlie was so excited to show Louie the banner he made. We tried to make it like the "Star Wars" font, but it didn't work out, but we did make a Darth Vadar on it with the warning "Beware the Dark Side."

When Daddy got back from the airport we headed to Frisch's for dinner, then brought back UDF ice cream for dessert in the basement. Uncle Billy, Grandma and Grandpa joined us for the special treat while watching a spring training game between the Twins and Braves. What more could a 7-year-old ask for?

They're all saying "Happy Birthday, Louie!"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 29th


My first born and such a special, special kid. Today he is seven and it is hard for me to fathom that I have a child all grown up. When I was seven I was into Velcro gym shoes (they were cool!), Rainbow Bright and Garbage Pail Kids. He's into baseball, Star Wars and video games (of which he has none, which is probably why he's so "in" to them).

He continues to be such a sweet kid, who works hard in all he does, especially in school and sports. He can be the voice of reason amongst he friends, often sounding "wise beyond his years," which cracks me up when I get the chance to overheard it.

He loves to dance and be silly. He loves to read. He has his favorite shows and movies (Rugrats, Star Wars, Batman--the '60s version). He fights with his brothers as much as he loves playing with them. He is a such a great big brother to Meredith.

If you want to read about the day he was born, you can go here. Much has changed since that rainy Monday seven years ago, but one thing's for sure: Louie keeps getting better and better.

P.S. He is looking so much like Kevin with each passing day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

City Mouse, Country Mouse

On Saturday our "friends from the farm" came to visit us. It's not like Trent and Nick don't go to the city and it's not like my kids aren't familiar with a rural setting, but the two families do live fairly different lives.

Good news: kids will find things in common and play together no matter what.

We took our friends to the Museum Center and we all had a great time. The favorite part for our guests? The Cincinnati History Museum, with the miniature replica of the city and its neighborhoods and historic landmarks with working trains and street cars. And that is the picture that I captured above.

They were excited about this picture (and running around the streetcar), but unfortunately our camera doesn't have the ability to clearly show that.

This was the first time that I had been to the Cincinnati museum since my Grandpa passed away and it was a bit tough. I have so many good memories of our outings there, especially on this street car where Grandpa and Bennie the volunteer worker sat here and talked of their memories riding the street cars while living downtown. With as many trips as we took down there, I really wish we did more of them. I guess you can never have enough. I just feel like I have more to learn from Grandpa, know about him and his life.

Anyway, enough of that sad stuff. We went through all three areas, ending up at the Children's museum. Amazingly enough, I think that part might have been the least favorite of the kids! We left after that to go home for lunch. Nick and Louie have March birthdays so for dessert the kids decorated their own cupcakes with lots and lots of toppings! Hard to see?

With lots of sugar comes lots of smiles :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Today while I was at work the big task at home was to find the boys' spikes from last year's baseball season (they weren't found); then try them on (couldn't); then, if needed, head to the store to find appropriate spikes (mission: accomplished!).

My co-worker had a coupon they could use, so Kevin stopped by before heading to the store. It was neat because the kids got to stop in and see for the first time what it is that I do when I leave the house. I don't think they wanted to leave!

But leave they did, and found what they were looking for at the store. Even Charlie, who is not old enough to play this year, got a pair of spikes. Meredith, who actually learned to say "spikes" for the trip, did not get any. Maybe next year, Mere. Maybe next year.

Practice: three days away

Opening Day: four days away

Life is good.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Second Cousin Mania!

Today our house has the pleasure of hosting my cousin's son, Thomas! Charlie and Meredith woke the great surprise of Thomas's happy face saying good morning. They both have been great helpers with their second cousin, and Meredith especially has been showing Baby Thomas the ropes!

However, when she saw that he had his paci in his mouth when he was getting ready for his nap, she went right in to get hers. So much for being a big kid!

Baby Thomas is eight months old today, and is getting in his first tooth. I love pictures when babies are sucking on their gums!

Spring Training Begins

Today teams were announced and Louie and Benny will be a part of the "Rays" team, and Kevin will be one of their coaches!

Their practices begin next week already and they'll have a full month of practices before starting games.

Let's just hope that the rain starts weaning itself off because every park around here is currently in a swamp-like state!

Good luck to the 2011 Rays team, and if you're interested in the boys' schedule let me know. Once games begin, they'll be playing 2-3 times a week!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


A worry that many parents have is the toxins that kids are exposed to, and what possible effects there are. I thought I heard something about there being scientists who are working on making chemicals non-toxic from the start so that the worry is completely eliminated!

I was hoping to make a link to the article, but wasn't able to find anything. Maybe I dreamed it up? It didn't occur to me that it was even possible to make chemicals that weren't "harmful" in one way or another.

Definitely an interesting approach. Did anyone else hear something about this?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Happy Heart

When I woke up this morning I saw this on the fridge. It made me so happy for many reasons: I love spring; I can relate to all of these; I love being able to see a bit into my kids' minds.

I especially love the "I smell Baseball" because that was always a big part of my spring as a kid, and still is. He could have easily put that in any of the other senses but he chose "smell," the sense tied most closely to memory. And I'm hoping that very soon we will be making many baseball memories.

P.S. Eight days.

I recently updated some posts with pictures back in February, in case you want to look back on the month that I skipped.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Growing Pains

Last night Charlie woke up a little after 3am crying in pain. He has been eating like a horse lately (e.g. we normally have to work to get him to finish one plate of food, and he has been eating two plates +), so we are assuming that he is having growing pains.

Lou and Ben have obviously grown, but not with the difficulties that Charlie is feeling these days. He gets the pains behind his knee caps and it was obviously bad enough last night that it caused him to wake up in the middle of a deep sleep.

He took some Tylenol and went back to sleep fairly easily. I'm planning to rub out the muscles in his legs before bedtime so that it makes it easier for him. I've read that they should be drinking a lot to help with the pain, but that is something that we struggle with Charlie as well. Good news is that Charlie is on his way to not being the shrimp anymore!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Is there something wrong with this?

Charlie is waiting for the boys to get home from school. It's a gorgeous, warm day and he can't wait to go outside to play with them. But while he waits...

He found a radio-type-thing, small so you can put it in your pocket or strap it on your arm when you go walking or running. It's white and a metallic blue and has all sorts of buttons on it, as well as a round screen. It has become his hand-held video game device.

The boys do not have anything like this, but they covet the ones they see their friends play with, these games that have a mixture of letters and numbers that mean nothing to me. I'm not sure if a child will be negatively affected either by playing with a hand-held device or not, but it's strange to me to be pretending to play with one.

Charlie tells me what each button is for, who all the characters are and what they can do, what weapons they have. He's come up with an interesting story, to say the least. I haven't figured out if the boys will hold a grudge against us when they're older because they were the only ones that went without.

Controlled by the Weather

I've written before about how I do my best to not listen to the weather report because more often than not the forecast tells us it's a bad idea to enter out into the world, and then the day is over and no impending doom as occurred.

Today we decided to venture out and take a walk around a lake with some friends. It's a potentially dangerous idea because if you're on the opposite side of the lake when it starts to rain there's zero place to go for cover. The forecasters were using words and phrases like "torrential," "moving rapidly" and "positive omega forcing," none of which I'd like to be caught in.

Fortune was on our side, however, and we had a delightful walk and the kids even got to run around the playground before we went home for lunch. So, I'm done with it. I do like Larry Handley, but I think I'm going to skip the weather newscast from now on.


For someone who was born with bone straight hair (only after having kids has my hair gotten some wave to it), I am so very excited for Meredith to have not only a gorgeous red color to her locks, but for her curls that are coming in as well!

Today she woke up with a big one sticking right up on top of her head and it is just so darn cute. It looks like we took a tomato paste can and wrapped her one strand of hair around it. Lou and Charlie got little curls on the back of their heads, but they didn't get anything on top. I think she's the real deal: both red head and curls! Slowly but surely those hairs will start growing in.

Please disregard the face covered in yogurt. We're concentrating on the hair!

Roller Derby

When we got the invitation for a friend's roller skating birthday party I thought for sure we'd end the day at the emergency room. Fortunately that didn't happen for Louie or Benny, or any of the others invited!

Not surprising was the fact that Louie enjoyed playing the games at the rink more than skating; or, that Benny fell a couple of times, but really had a great time on wheels. It sounds like the party was split, on those who were comfortable on skates and those who weren't. I did not share my reservations with the boys because I wanted them to have a good time, but I was always terrified at skating parties. Put me on a court, field, whatever, and I'm fine. But put me on skates or skis and it's over. And from what I know about Kevin, he feels the same way!

As I've gotten older I've learned that it's great to try new things, but not to be discouraged if the new things just aren't for you. Regardless, it sounds like all the kids had a great time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's Day, Revisited

Non-traditional SPD meal of hot dogs, mac 'n cheese, grapes and green milk

I didn't get many other St. Patrick's Day pictures of the kids from St. Patrick's Day, but I did get a few stories out of them. Charlie went out to the playground with his class and while they were away a leprechaun came into their classroom, wreaking havoc but also left them gold coins that were actually chocolates!

Louie's class did some sort of math and science activity that involved rainbow sherbert and Skittles. Hmm. They had a good time, but I never got the full story on what they were doing.

Benny's class had stories, made special hats, and then did a categorizing activity where they each got a bag of Lucky Charms cereal and had to see how many of each piece they had.

Below are the highly anticipated pieces that the boys did in the Art Fair. These were taken before the kids got there, so no photo ops for the artists.

Benny's hand-flower-heart

Louie's magic mold fish with sand and shell

This was earlier in the evening, too, but by the night's end all the students made their impression on the Picasso quotation.

Nature vs. Nurture

Most school mornings go like this:
  • I quietly wake up Louie and Benny at 7am so that Charlie can get a few more minutes of shut-eye (this doesn't always work).
  • They come down to the living room where their clothes are laid out, often items that they have picked out the night before.
  • They eat breakfast, usually cereal or cinnamon toast with juice.
  • I have to remind them (multiple times) to be quiet when brushing their teeth because Meredith's room is right by the bathroom.
  • If need be, they put on their coats, hats, gloves; put their backpacks by the front door; then plop down on the couch to watch Arthur or Martha Speaks.
Today I found the three boys on the couch poring over a Oriental Trading Company-type catalog. They were getting ideas for birthday parties--theirs and other people's--and other ideas for get togethers we could have.

Of course, I jumped right in and joined in the fun. Not sure if this is something that they have learned from their crazy mother, or if it's something already hardwired into them.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

(I downloaded this from my phone so I could be sure to have a picture to share with you!)

The boys were so excited to wake up this morning and see what mischief the leprechaun caused over night. They set a trap, and it had fallen, but there was no leprechaun to be found. What they did find was a chair and ottoman turned upside down; the coffee table upside down; their box of markers and crayons dumped out (Mommy was not happy about that!); laundry baskets dumped out; and the milk in the fridge was turned green! Where the sneaky leprechaun went, he left shiny pieces of chocolate for the kids. This was a great incentive for the boys to clean up the messes!

I'll have to update later or tomorrow about what fun things the boys did in school today for St. Patrick's Day. Everyone is wearing green and also a shamrock necklace, and bouncing off the walls with excitement. And to top it off: a high of 70 today!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Doubts/No Doubt

Kids are really good thespians. They know what to say and what to do to get their parents to take pause and wonder if they really are (scared/hungry/tired/hurt/etc.). This talent gets really good at night, just after they are put to bed.

Last night it was Benny and (of course) Charlie. They were both "scared." They sat on the top step calling my name, making it sound more like a song than calling out in fear. I've been able to manipulate my hearing to know if there's cause for concern, but every once in a while I second guess myself. Last night there was no doubt. They weren't scared of anything, they just didn't want to go to bed.

I do feel bad for them. Because of the time change they wake up before they're ready, then are put to bed before they are ready. But please don't feel bad that their mom isn't listening to their needs. Last week Benny had a legitimate fear in his voice. He came down and we talked it out (the fears, concerns on his mind--things that are common with both children and adults), then he went to bed feeling better.

All I had to say last night was that if they didn't get into their beds we weren't going to put out the leprechaun trap that they've been working on. That got them jumping up and scrambling for their beds.

See? No doubt.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Taking a Cue from Amanda

My friend Amanda has a really great blog where she posts almost daily. That, in itself, is pretty amazing but the posts are really great, as are the pictures.

I may not be able to write as eloquently as often as she does, and I definitely won't be taking shots like she does any time soon, but the point is to write about the little things every day and when all compiled together they are a special treasure, a collection of my life together with my family, and that really is my point in doing this.

My details about Tuesday, March 15th, 2011? It's been raining almost all day. Mostly drizzling, but now it is starting to really come down at about 4pm. The good news, though, is that the temperature is rising. It might be about 50 degrees or warmer out there! The kids are eager to get out there and see how durable their rain boots are. None of the boys' old boots fit Meredith, so we went and got her own pair the other day. She will not be left out of anything!

Meredith's had a runny nose for a couple of days and that, along with the time change, have had her sleeping in rather late. I'm glad that so far there hasn't been much to stand in her way because sleep really is the best remedy for so many ailments. (I wonder if I'll be saying the same thing when she's a sleepy teenager who doesn't want to get up before noon!)

When she got up Charlie was already at school and she and I had breakfast together. She loves these bowls with a straw built right into them. She sucks up all the milk before she's had more than a couple of bites of the cereal. Then, of course, is pretty much done with the flakes. She like tangerines, though, and had some of them. Afterward, I folded clothes while she played with the blocks, put things in her purse; then curled up on the couch. She still isn't feeling well.

At school today Charlie learned all about Transportation. He told me he made a really cool painting using truck tires, but it is at school drying. I'm so happy for him that he has gotten more confident in himself and enjoys going to school. He is so proud of all the things he has accomplished this year!

When Charlie got home we had lunch, then ran errands before going to pick up Lou and Ben at school. It's such a rough time of day for the two of them. I really wish there was an easier way to get the boys home from school but there is not, so they unhappily squirm in their car seats until they either fall asleep or decide to watch a movie in the van. Today Meredith fell asleep and Charlie watched Lady and the Tramp.

After we got home from school, Mere went to her bed and Charlie crashed on the couch and now Louie and Benny are playing hockey outside with wiffle ball bats and a plastic hockey puck. I'm hoping that these equipment (instead of the real sticks and ball) won't bust out a window in the garage door. They got a really neat hockey set for Christmas, but we have yet to figure out how they can play without doing major damage involving broken glass and a ball flying out into the street while cars speed by. We have plans to take it down to the nearby tennis court that is lacking a net.

Anyway, this is nothing earth-shattering, but it's a snapshot of our day. And, hopefully the start to a better documentation of the kids.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Unexpected Visit

Saturday night Uncle Jeff called to say that he was in Ohio and he was coming down on Sunday to visit. The boys had church school; then we went to church. I had to work the majority of the day after that, but when I got home I was greeted to Jeff, Nate and Grandma and Grandpa, as well as a delicious pizza dinner!

The kids told me all about all the fun they had playing with them during the day. The highlight for the boys was playing "hockey" in the driveway. They also all got to watch an Ohio State basketball victory on TV. The visit wasn't on the calendar, but what a nice day it turned out to be.


This nice day can be offset by the next day, when the time change was fully felt by the boys. It was difficult to get them to go to bed when normally they get to stay up an hour earlier. Monday morning comes and I literally have to carry them out of bed. I then had to dress each one individually, then give them a "special" breakfast just to get them to eat! I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for their teachers! It seems like schools could start an hour later for a week to break them (and us!) in. I'll have to put that in the suggestion box...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Family Dinners

One of my favorite things in the world is having family dinners. It's not often that we don't eat together as a family, but so often it is rushed; or the radio is on in the background, making it a noisy meal; or there are those who are starved or not hungry, so that makes themgrumpy. There are many things that can detract from how nice a family dinner can be.

Today's dinner was one of the ones that I really cherish. The kids are all getting along, taking turns talking. They eat their meal without complaint, but not so rushed that they talk with their mouths full. Kevin and I get to have a discussion with the kids about the day. It was really nice.

I guess it's all the other days that makes meals like this stand out and make me appreciate them for what they are!


I can't believe that I already missed a day to post.

It was a great day for the kids. The warm weather was welcome and they went outside shortly after breakfast, playing in their rain boots because our backyard may not dry out until July.

I had to work the majority of the day, so Kevin and Uncle Nate took them to the zoo later in the afternoon. Apparently it wasn't the best day to go there for an outing as most of the animals weren't ready to come out and show their faces to eager kids. The lions, however, were all wound up and gave the kids a show.

A special dinner was waiting when I got home from work. Kevin grilled chicken for dinner and it was delicious! I married a really great cook, and as you know "chicken on the bone" is the boys' favorite meal, and grilling is our family's favorite method of cooking. It helps when Kevin's the one doing all the work--ha, ha!

Today was a small "taste" of what's to come with us knocking on Spring's door. We are all very excited!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Success of the Art Fair

Yesterday was a very long day, but it was well worth it. the Art Fair was during the school's conferences, 2pm-7pm. We had to wait to set up in the cafeteria (the "art gallery") until after lunch was finished. Another mother and I walked in as the last class was walking out.

We were still hanging art work when school let out and the kids, parents, teachers and others walked in to see what was going on. There was a lull in patrons until conferences got in full swing and after that we had a steady flow of parents, grandparents and, of course, the artists!

It was awesome to see the kids so proud to show off their hard work to the ones they love. They were excited to do the potato stamp painting project we had set up for attendees (parents participated, too!). And both kids and parents took home the idea sheets for easy to do at-home art projects--made from things that you most probably were going to throw away anyway.

I wanted to get involved in the Art Fair this year after volunteering last year. It was run by an outside company that had all the kids' artwork in frames that you could buy. They had kits and supplies for sale. They had projects for the kids to work on at the Art Show, but you had to pay to participate.

That was the table I worked at, and I can't tell you how heartbreaking it was to turn away kids who just wanted to create, use their imaginations, but didn't have the money to pay for the project. Now, I can't tell you what I had for lunch yesterday, but I can tell you that I recognized those kids' faces when they came up to the project table (fun! free!) this year.

That was the focus this year, the famous Pablo Picasso quotation: Every child is an artist. It is important that kids know that you don't need fancy supplies or kits to create. You should have seen what the kids made last night. We have quite a few artists on our hands!

I've been having trouble uploading the boys' art from the fair. I'll update in a later post!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I never would have guessed that the jump from one kid in grade school and one kid in preschool, to two kids in grade school and one kid in preschool (and a crazy toddler running around) would be that big of a deal. It's been a busy year, and has gotten even more so since I decided to get involved in events at the boys' school.

I'm coordinating the art fair (which is happening today!) and next month, a recycling project/contest where the winning class gets to have dessert with Mr. Redlegs! I'm enjoying both projects immensely, but it has been keeping me on my toes, and then there's the trickle-down effect with the rest of the family. Fortunately, these are the two main things I've decided to get involved with, so after April I'll be done!

It's been nice getting to know more of the teachers and staff at Louie and Benny's school, getting to know the other parents. It's such a great place and I believe that it is not just up to the staff to make a school great--the parents have to get involved, too. For me, I guess I'm taking baby steps into full-blown involvement!

I have some last minute details to do for the art fair, so I better hop to it. Hope to have some good shots from the event to share with you!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A New Start

Today starts Lent and with it I am going to make myself commit to writing at least a blurb each of the following 40 days. Things have been hectic around here, but I'm only hurting myself (my poor memory) by not recording things about our days on this blog.

Last night we had our annual Mardi Gras gathering. The weather was mild and we spent part of the night outside, the boys playing baseball and Grandma and Grandpa making up probably the best shrimp I've ever had--coconut-beer-battered shrimp. If I can get the recipe from my mom I'll share!

I don't have any pictures from the night (which, when that happens, is probably a reason I don't blog more often), but we did pull out the video camera to catch the girls in their first film shots together. I think. We definitely don't video the kids enough!

In years past we have gotten a King Cake, but this year we did sundaes instead because Charlie won a giant sundae basket at Lou and Ben's school FunFest. And Joanie came out the winner as she had the baby in the bottom of her bowl. Well, she actually ended up biting the poor thing's leg :)

OH! And I'm very excited to share that Gracie asked me if I wanted to be Maggie's godmother. I am very honored and cannot wait for the big day!