Sunday, July 31, 2011

Home again, Home again

I'm taking a break from unloading to cool in the a/c. It was a hot weekend. Not completely unmanageable,but quite muggy. We had fairly shady spots, lots to drink, and a really great swimming pool to retreat to in the afternoons when the humidity became oppressive.

Meredith is sleeping in her crib. Lou and Ben are relaxing on the couches in the basement watching the '60s version of Spiderman shows. And Charlie is on the couch in the living room watching Tom and Jerry. With a big gash in his head. No, this didn't happen when we were camping, just minutes after we got home.

I carried him in the house because he had fallen asleep on the way home. But he had other ideas than sleeping. He wanted to watch Grandma and I unload the van of Grandma's things and he pulled the blind down out of the wall, on top of his head. We have a pretty big window and the blinds that cover them are also very big.

I was outside when it happened and I heard the crash, saw that the blinds were no longer hanging, and I heard the screaming. But I didn't rush inside. Terrible, I know, especially knowing what I know now! However, this was a "Charlie cried wolf" story in that he complains or cries about everything, and most of the time the hurts aren't as serious as the screams are making them out to be. This was not the case here.

There was quite a bit of blood but I think that's common with head injuries. I got him to slow the tears by having him suck on a popsicle while I took a look at the cut. I couldn't find it, partly because he didn't want me touching his head and partly because there was already blood drying in his hair. I called my mom, knowing that she wasn't far away and she came because I was not sure how serious it was going to be.

Grandma saved the day in helping Mommy clean up the cut, put ice on the big growing bump, and put on a movie to calm down poor Charlie. The bleeding pretty much stopped when he stopped crying, so we figured that even though we can't see the cut it mustn't be that bad.

Charlie is resting comfortably, has finished his popsicle, and is trying to talk me into taking a shower tomorrow as opposed to when I'm finished unpacking. That's not going to happen, but I better get out there and finish unloading the second vehicle before I decide that a shower sounds better than a car full of camping stuff.

Oh, and not one picture was taken this weekend. I feel bad for that. It was such a lovely weekend, despite the heat, and we had a wonderful time. We must have enjoyed it too much to stop and take get out cameras. The only thing missing was our favorite camper: Daddy.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Today the kids are home.
Today we're getting ready to go camping.
Today the high will be 97 degrees with a heat index of over 100 (this will continue through the weekend!).
Today we found out that Kevin probably won't be home until next Thursday.
Today I will go to the grocery for the first time in almost two weeks.
Today the boys will be going with Grandma and Grandpa to our campsite while Meredith and I finish packing up for the trip.
Today there are 25 days until the first day of school.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mysterious Garden

So the kids have been gone with Kevin's parents for almost a week. Kevin has been gone to China for two weeks. I have had a lot of time on my hands!

This has also been the hottest time of the year thus far, so one of my main duties has been keeping the garden watered. I love our garden, and I love gardening even though I know almost nothing about it and am probably making many mistakes in it all.

But we do get some produce from it and this morning I was pleasantly surprised to find beans on the vines! I did not get to water yesterday because I had a yard sale with my brother and his fiance, but luckily the rain took care of that (and our yard sale!), so maybe they were already there then. For breakfast I had some right off the vine and it was delicious!

I am continually amazed at all the miracles occurring in the garden, and too often I am rushing to get the watering and weeding done that I don't get to notice it all. I am thankful for this time without the kids and with Kevin being gone to appreciate some of the things that have gone unnoticed. Although, I'd rather have them here and be able to enjoy these little mysteries!

My poor radishes have failed again this year. Or, I should say, I have failed the radishes once again. The squash are growing wildly but no fruit just yet. The corn is doing amazingly well. Who know about the carrots; they may just be all green and no root. The tomatoes are so-so. They are growing well and there are quite a few tomatoes (I had one yesterday!), but half of the plants have bugs (aphids and white flies), so I'm trying to correct that. I'd like to not use a chemical, but I may have to turn to that. No more eating off the vine!

I know that I could be a better gardener, but I feel like I am laying the groundwork for when I have more time. Like, after my days aren't filled with the kids. I am making mistakes now so I will be a veteran gardener later. (That's what I'm telling myself!)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sandy Baby

I play sand volleyball in the summer and the kids usually go to the game, not to watch, but to play at the park. Kevin is normally the one who supervises, but this past week Uncle Josh and Uncle Billy got the honors.

Mere is going through some crazy attachment thing and does not like it when I leave her, even when it is with someone she loves. Fortunately, while Uncle Billy threw batting practice for the boys, Uncle Josh took over and used that magic only uncles have to put a smile on Meredith's face.

By the end of the game she was having a blast and didn't want to leave.

When we got home I asked her if she had fun with Uncle Josh. She said, "Yeah! He's cute!" Apparently she has found someone else to wrap around her finger :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

What We've Been Up To

We are entering in to the final weeks of July and I haven't posted since the beginning of June. You can see what's happening to our summer! Below I'll post some of the highlights of our summer so far. The boys made a list of things they wanted to do in these months and we're doing a pretty good job of knocking them off.

Kevin has been in China for just about two weeks now and when he gets home (hopefully soon!) I'm hoping we'll be able to do some of our Summer List '11 activities with him!

The posts below are mainly photos so that I don't overwhelm myself with trying update the kids' lives :)

Slip 'N Slide Time

We've had some hot-hot days and the boys have been enjoying the different backyard water toys we have. Notice, this picture was taken from the inside of our house...

Family Wedding

On June 18th, we had Kevin's cousin's wedding and we all were invited. The kids were mainly shy through the reception, even though there were more than enough kids their ages to run around with.

Meredith and Aunt Jill

The kids, being goofy as long as their parents were around

She is very possessive of her Mona, and would not share with the sweet little girl who wanted to play!

Although Benny and Charlie said that they would rather hang out in a chair, the music was too much for Louie and Meredith and they decided to bust a move.

cheeks :)

These are some pictures taken by Charlie of Mere and she is very good as saying "cheese." As all of our kids have had, she has some really great cheeks that I love.

Final Game of 2011

This game was rescheduled three times before they were able to play, due to the amount of rain we had this season. Finally, the game was set for a Friday night, June 24th, and...the other team doesn't show up! Fortunately there was a concert going on in the park, the other team's coach was there, and after about an half hour delay they were able to round up enough kids to play against our Tampa Bay Rays.

The boys were gone for a week at the beginning of the month and we were worried that they wouldn't get to participate in this last game. The reason why it was such a significant event? They played on the big field, as in, the high school field. With dugouts. Under the lights. They had their names announced and the national anthem was played and in between innings there were "baseball songs" on the PA system. They had made the big time!

In the first inning, Louie played first and Benny was the catcher. They had some hits, made some good plays throughout the game. Luckily, I brought a camcorder to record most of it. Because of that, I don't remember all the details, but Kevin could probably tell you. I do know that Louie had two doubles. He was very excited about that.

Coach Kevin

Brothers: At Bat, On Deck

Benny and Louie always batted right after each other. It was a neat thing to see. They stood together, warmed up together, cheered each other on. For this age (7 and almost 6), they were pretty intense and took each at bat and play seriously--most of the time. Being so young, every once in a while their minds wandered.

I'm really looking forward to the years to come, seeing the boys play together. Next year, Charlie will join the team. He will play with Benny and Louie will move up--to a league where the kids pitch and you're allowed to steal, slide, and all the other good stuff that happens when kids play and parents get out of the way.

A Backyard Picnic

This was on June 30th, during the week all four kids went to VBS. Turns out, even though Meredith continues to point to the church and say, "MY school!" every time we pass it, she only lasted 30 minutes before someone called to say that I needed to pick her up.

When we got home we decided to make it special and have our peanut butter bagels, fruit and vegetable sticks outside on a blanket. It was a very warm day, but thank goodness for the tree that provides a nice shady area.

It was a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon, but the kids wanted to get in the water, so I brought out the water snake and hooked it up for them.

This picture cracks me up! All of Meredith's swim suits were at Grandma's so she went in her diaper and she was in heaven. Do you see that look on her face? She is surely a water baby.

All the while I laid on the blanket and read the newest addition to the Anne of Green Gables series. Life is good.

Celebrating with "Tom and Jerry"

After putting a lot of work into Benny's Star Wars party, I was kind of wiped out. Because of that, I didn't put a lot of effort into the boys' request for a Tom & Jerry party family. I'm mad at myself because what a great theme! It is something that all in attendance watched and loved and we could have had a lot of fun with it. As I look back, I'm going to say that we did the episode where Tom and Jerry hang out by the pool in California. Some mayhem ensues, but we just skipped that party, which is a fortunate thing because who wants either Tom or Jerry to have a bad birthday party? (By the way, Benny is "Tom" and Charlie is "Jerry.")

My beautiful goddaughter, Maggie, who just loves the water!

Not sure what the girls were doing here. All the kids sat at the kids table and that is fun for them and the parents actually get to eat their dinner.

The sad excuse for party decorations. I really don't think they minded.

Benny and his godmother, Aunt Joanie

The kids with Grandpa and Grandma

Charlie and his godmother, Aunt Erin

Clifton Gorge and Young's Jersey Dairy

Friends invited us to go on a day trip to the Yellow Springs area of Ohio. It was about a little over an hour away and we started the day at Clifton Gorge, which was a short walk from the Clifton Mill.

There were definitely some spots on the trail that were less safe than others. I always liked exploring on my own as a kid and try to allow my kids to do the same, but today was not one of those days!

Charlie has yet to grow his big boy legs, even though the day we went was he and Benny's birthday. On this day he was officially 4-years-old.

It is a gorgeous area of Ohio, one I would imagine that many people who have never been here (and maybe some who don't travel around the state much) would be surprised to see. There are regions of our state that aren't corn fields. There are caves and hills and many beautiful landscapes. I love living here.

This was our stopping point. We had walked about an hour to this bridge one had any idea how long it would take if we continued on the path. A local we ran into on the trail offered to take our group in the back of his pickup to the beginning of the trail, but we just decided to turn around and go back the way we came.

This did not make the group of boys + one girl happy. There were lots o' complaining and I ended up carrying Charlie a good portion of the way. But...there was light at the end of the tunnel.

We went to Young's Jersey Dairy and everyone picked out their own ice cream. Louie got cookies 'n cream (he's just like his dad; he finds a favorite and doesn't branch out from there); Charlie got bubble gum; and Benny got chocolate. I got "Cow Pie" and I recommend it highly. It has all different types of chocolate in it, as well as pieces of toffee. Regardless, from the looks on the kids' and moms' faces, you cannot go wrong with any choice you make. Especially after a long, hot walk!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Birthday Celebrated, Star Wars-Style

When my kids are in kindergarten they get to have a friend birthday party. Benny has turned six this July and we invited his buddies for a themed celebration of his choice. Currently, my three boys are obsessed with Star Wars, so that is what I set out to create. I need to point out that I know very little of the series of films, tv shows, etc. Fortunately, a friend let me borrow this book that was essentially a college course for me on anything and everything Star Wars!

I struggled for a while on what to do with a possible group of sixteen 4- to 7-year-olds. Some of these kids know what they were talking about when it came to this topic and I feared being called out by them. Silly, I know.

From reading the Ultimate book, I took three major battles and came up with games for each. I should rephrase that, I borrowed a lot of ideas from multiple websites to come up with something that would work with our group and our house.

The set up of the party went something like this:
  • Boys arrived and were given a Padawan poncho and belt that I just cut out of some neutral-colored fabric I bought on clearance.
  • When all had arrived Adi Gallia (myself) sat the young group of Padawans down and gave them an overview of the day, including the Rules of the Jedi Temple. (Even though the lightsabers I was about to give out were just pool noodles, I feared sending home a crying kid. No worries, all the kids had a good time.)
  • Then we went into the activities portion of the party:
After the opening speech they were given their lightsabers. All blue (I tried to keep everything the same, focus on the fact that they were Padawans at a Jedi Training Academy. They all took well to this.) Before the Link"Battles" they had to do the Arturu Lightsaber Training--keep balloons afloat for 30 seconds. This was fun.

First, we had the "Battle of Naboo." They had to go through an obstacle course to save a slave from the camp. The "slave" was a blow up ball that they could take home for a prize. (I'll post more pictures from the games later.)

Next was the "Battle of Geonosis." This essentially is the Clone Wars that all the kids are familiar with. I filled up clear 2-liter bottles with water and blue food coloring and then had some green 2-liters filled with water. On the front of the bottles I taped pictures of the bad clones--Bobo Fett and Jengo Fett--and set up a game of bowling that I called "Blaster Ball." I told them that there was a new weapon called a "blaster ball" and they had two tries to take down as many clones as possible. This was the favorite game of the day.

The last activity was the "Battle of Yavin." This is when the Rebel Alliance finds a fault in the Death Star and destroys the ship, even though Darth Vader escapes. Many parties have used this scenario to bring in a pinata and we did the same. I made the Death Star using the paper mache technique, along with spray paint, a white paint pen and electrical tape.

Afterward, the kids got drinks and plates of food from the snack table while I announced the names of the new Jedis and Benny out certificates to his friends. We took a picture of Benny shaking hands with each guest.

My sister and brother-in-law's dog, Zissou, who was Chewbacca for the day. Everyone loved this, especially his belt!

Afterward we opened gifts, and when each friend came up to hand Benny's his gift he had to say what his favorite Star Wars character was--Yoda was by far the favorite. This, again, was an idea borrowed from one of the many party idea sites out there!

I just made cupcakes and put Darth Vader and Yoda erasers on top of each one. That was much easier for me than doing one of the many cool but time consuming cake ideas out there!

Thank you to Benny's godmother and aunt, Joanie, for taking all the pictures. She took a ton so I'll put up some more in a different post. Thanks also to Uncle Josh who provided the soundtrack for the day--Darth Vader's theme song and random sword fighting sounds, as well as Chewy shoutouts. The kids loved it all!