Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eight is Great! (Unless you have allergies)

I woke up early today to make the treat that Louie was bringing to school for his 8th birthday. I had a vague memory of being woken up overnight by Louie because his eyes hurt and his lungs were burning, but it didn't click that it might be more of a subtle overnight ailment that woke him up from his slumber.

I should have known that of all the kids Louie complains the least and if he was waking me up overnight he must not feel well. But it stinks! Who wants to miss their birthday at school? Charlie and Louie have been hit the worst with allergies this year, with poor Charlie waking up a few times with his eyes swollen and even glued shut. I gave Lou some medicine before we left for school, but he was so upset on the ride there that I couldn't make him go into his classroom.

Oh well...hopefully the treats will still be tasty tomorrow and Louie can relax today and we'll enjoy some family time tonight.

Louie, age 7
When Louie came into this world the day was much different than today. It was wet and chilly without a ray of sunshine. Today is a bit cooler than it has been but the skies are blue and the sun is shining brightly. I really hope he feels better to get outside and enjoy the day, but with me apparently not understanding allergies, going outside later when it's warmer with all the pollen probably isn't a great idea. Just because I've been a mom for eight years doesn't mean I know what I'm doing...

I would imagine that many parents feel like their first-born is their guinea pig. I have not a clue what I "should" be doing and I am just hoping that he is not being scarred because of it. He seems to be doing ok but I know that is in spite of parenting!

Eight-years-old today and feeling not all that great.
Louie is thoughtful and caring; without thinking twice he helps out his friends and siblings; he constantly thinks about and plays baseball; he still loves Star Wars, but now also loves Angry Birds and is a bit obsessed with Harry Potter. He hasn't perfected the use of the bicycle yet (a parental fault), but is a great swimmer as long as he has his goggles and loves to go exploring and is such a great artist.  He'll tell you his favorite subjects are reading and writing (stories), but he has such a curious mind for science.

My first-born is growing into himself and each day he makes me proud to be his mom. Happy Birthday, Louis Victor!

P.S. Here's another birthday memory from when Louie was four. How fast they grow!
P.P.S. Ok, here's Lou at five. I'm enjoying revisiting the past today!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

83 Degrees in March

 Today a record was broken that has been around since 1906; it got all the way up to 83 degrees today. It may be safe to say we won't see a big snow storm in the first part of twenty-twelve. We decided to take this opportunity to visit the zoo with two of our favorite people--Gracie and Maggie! (and Aunt Erin and Grandma!)

April is when the zoo does their Tunes and Blooms concert lineup, but there may not be any blooms left by then! Today was gorgeous with both sun and bursts of color from the flowers.

 They were bummed that the Tiger Canyon was closed, but were thrilled to see the rhino relaxing in the shade.

 The big and little manatees put on quite a show, but I couldn't catch it on my phone's camera.

 I had visions of Dudley's birthday trip to the zoo and these mini-Harrys releasing the snake.

 These folks behind them were not happy. I guided our group into the "wrong" entrance of the Jungle Trail and it impeded their crossing of the bridge. That, and me trying to get these guys all to stand together to take their picture with my camera. On my phone. Yes, I was one of those moms today.

There really is nothing better than a day spent at the zoo with cousins, is there? I loved that Meredith and Gracie held hands almost the whole day. Charlie even joined in the fun. I feel bad that Louie and Benny couldn't come, but I told them that with all this heat the animals smelled terribly! (It was true; sort of.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Erin Go Bragh

 Saturday was a glorious day to be celebrating our semi-Irish heritage. I'm pretty sure Kevin is 100% German, but from what I understand my dad's family is German and Hungarian and my mom's is German, Irish and a tad of Native American. We just celebrate all the holidays so we don't leave anyone out!

Plenty of playing outside and yard work was done before going to Mass Saturday night where Louie's PSR class was introduced to the parish before their First Communion. We came home to grill out some specialty chicken Daddy whipped up with corn on the cob, shrimp, and asparagus. And that's green apple juice. Not much Irish in that, but it was great for the summer-like day.

 Part of my day was spent making a surprise cake that when you cut it open you see a rainbow inside. I found it here last year after the holiday was over and vowed to make it this year. Could have been a better rainbow, but the kids and Kevin knew what it was supposed to be!

In case you were wondering, this is what happens to your tongue after green icing and green apple juice:

Unfortunately, all the hard work the boys put into their leprechaun traps was for not. That leprechaun made a wreck of our house (some might say that the he must come to visit more than once a year...) and trashed the traps, but did leave some delicious chocolates wrapped in gold foil. The boys are already designing their traps for next year!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hiking with Jedis

 Today Benny has his friend Eric over to spend the day with us, and in all actuality Eric is all the kids' friend, as they get as pumped for his visits as Benny does. We headed to French Park, one of our favorite hiking places. Today, instead of just bringing along boots they also brought their light sabers so that they could be Jedis in the woods. Even Mere, although I ended up carrying hers and Charlie's the majority of the time.

 First stop, the swings. The boys ran ahead of us and our (Mere's) short legs and they were doing "supermans" on the swings as well as rocking side-to-side.

 Meredith is obsessed with playgrounds and will point out everyone she sees. She has the amazing ability to see them off the side of the highway when we're traveling at 65 mph.

 After the swings we decided to take a new way into the woods, which gave us a great new part to explore.
 This is their first Jedi pose. Luckily the water wasn't as high as the last time we were here. Fingers crossed for no slipping into the creek!

 This is their second Jedi pose. Meredith wanted to get in on the action.

 I like that the boys can be problem solvers, trying to figure out together how to get through the creek. But then, I am a mother, and on top of that I am a worrier. I kept trying to channel Kevin as Meredith and I hiked alongside the creek.

 I love surprises! I was so excited to find this beaver carved on the top of a tree that had died. It is so cute--someone left a couple of other animal figurines to keep him company.

 I reckon someone set this here purposely, but it was neat to find a rock shaped like Ohio!

 This is something that I'll have to research more into, but we found this plaque on the ground. My first thought is that it's a marker for the French family's pets, but who knows.

Unfortunately, we only made it as far as the usual starting point for us. That is ok though, as the trail there leads up to the lot where we parked. The kids did end up getting a little wet and I think at this point they were starting to get hungry. Regardless, this sparked in us enthusiasm for exploring other corners of this great park!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Art Fair 2012

 Another mother and I helped the school's art teacher put on the Art Fair again this year, with the theme of "Let Your Art Shine." The second graders made their own vases with flowers and above is Louie's.

 The first graders made butterflies and above is Benny's version. Aren't all the colors great?

 Each class does the same project, but each one is so different, often reflective of the student's personality. It's really neat to see.

Along with the gallery portion, there was a table with ten projects that would be easy to do at home with things you find around the house, and then kids had an opportunity to make an craft. It went along with them theme--they made sun catchers!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Green Eggs & Ham Day

March 2nd is Dr. Seuss's birthday and the boys' school is celebrating "Read Across America Day" by having an illustrator come in to talk to the kids and show them his stuff.

Like the mid-bite shot? Louie is wearing his Horton ears and Benny found a shirt that reminded him of the Cat-in-the-Hat's hat.
 We started out the day by having green eggs, ham, and toast. Luckily, as you can see from past special days, we always have eggs and bread in our house! The boys had a great time with the speaker that came to their school and bought two of his books. The came straight home from school that day and set out to become illustrators!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Slew of Pictures

 On Mardi Gras we used our Frisch's coupons and went out to dinner with Grandpa and then he treated us to ice cream cones at UDF. Flavors included: chocolate (Ben); cotton candy (Charlie); peanut butter-fudge (Louie); and black-raspberry chip (Meredith).

 Grandpa got the winning flavor (Paintball!) that turned your tongue all sorts of colors and Benny claimed it tasted like cake icing. Grandpa was kind enough to let all the kids try it and they all say that is the flavor they are getting next time.

 The weather has been unseasonably warm in February so we took the opportunity to go to a park with Grandma, Gracie and Maggie. Meredith loves chasing the very-mobile Maggie around!

 This is the beginning of Meredith's "potty sticker chart." She picked out scratch-n-sniff strawberry stickers and is doing pretty well so far. Nighttime and sometimes naps can be a problem, but her muscles will mature and she'll be able to hold it for longer period soon enough!

 Charlie missed Daddy so much on the first day that when I walked into our room that first night I found a Yoda picture that he had made to surprise Daddy when he came home. He even found some handy Kroger stickers to tape it to the wall!

This is a picture we took to send to Daddy to show him how well Meredith's doing on the potty (she gets a piece of candy for going potty). She didn't care for the phone's flash, however.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bear Comes to Visit

 This is the third trip for Bear to Casa Llena, as both Louie and Benny had the chance to bring him home for a visit when they too were in Miss Cathy's class. He probably isn't, but to hear Charlie tell it, he was the last person to get to bring Bear home. He was pretty pumped that the visit coincided with Valentine's Day!

Bear got to meet the other bears that live in our house. He got to have a special treat with Charlie and Meredith. Charlie taught him all about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while they watched the movie. Bear also got to be a part of our special Valentine's Day dinner. It was a good day!

Celebrating Valentine's Day

 We started off the holiday with a special breakfast. Often, the "special"-ness comes from the fact that Mommy hasn't been to the grocery and has to use her imagination with a limited supplies of goods. So we had pink-dyed eggs with sausage links and toast with a heart cut out of it. They were pretty excited about it.

The kids went to school with their special valentines for their classmates. They had little baggies filled with goldfish crackers with a tag that read, "Our friendship is GOLDEN" on it. Benny gave us all a surprise when he pulled out a valentine he received last year (yes, he is a hoarder; and yes, he comes by it honestly). It was a lenticular valentine showing two different puppies. (Spell-check is saying that it is spelled wrong, but I got the word off of the boys' Star Wars puzzle that call it that.)

Well, Mister Benny takes a Sharpie and blacks out the "To" and "From" for whomever gave it to him and then writes his own name. He then gets a bag of sunflower seeds to give to this special girl in his class (she plays softball so it makes more sense to him to give it to her than goldfish). At the party that day (according to the little girl's mom) she didn't realize that Ben had given her a special valentine and was sad that he didn't give her goldfish. Luckily, he had an extra bag that he was going to keep for himself, but shyly slid it over to her. Later, she wrote him a thank you note for the seeds.

That night we had a candlelit dinner with all the kids and had this red velvet cake for dessert. It was such a lovely day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Introducing: The Newest "Big Kid"

 We were generously given a large amount of furniture (we have issues with saying "no," especially when it's such great stuff!) and this was the great push we needed to move Miss Meredith up into her "big girl room." The furniture was getting to Cincinnati at 3:30pm so we had only a few hours between church and that time to find the best deal on a bed. Daddy didn't disappoint.

When it time to go to bed, she climbed in with her baby nestled in next to her and went to sleep. It was actually her two oldest brothers that had the qualms about it. They both asked questions like, "Is Mere going to be ok in there all by herself?" even though she's been in her own room all her life. I hushed them before she could hear it because I think it's pretty easy to "create" worries for kids that they wouldn't have had in the first place!

She had a great night of sleep, in fact, I had to wake her out of her cozy nest to take the boys to school. I worried all night that she'd come waltzing down the steps of course, so I left a bunch of lights on, but those worries were all for not. Now, if we can only have her part with her beloved paci...

Pictures courtesy of Daddy's phone

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wooden Shoe Gardens

I'm thankful for a lot of things. I'm thankful for good friendships. I'm thankful for fun outings. I'm thankful for unexpected surprises. How amazing is it that I got to experience all three in one day!

A few years back I came across a book called "Wooden Shoe Hollow" in the Museum Center's gift shop. The area that the novel takes place is a real area of Cincinnati close to the Spring Grove Cemetery. I purchased the book for my grandpa as a Christmas gift knowing that he'd love the history in the book as well as the area--he was born in that section of town. My grandpa read the book, shared it with his friend who is particularly interested in German-American culture, and then passed the book on to me.

I loved it, not so much for the story that it told, but for the insight into what Cincinnati used to be like at the turn of the 20th century. It fascinates me and when I like something I tend to ramble on and on about it, so when Amanda came across a sign that said "Wooden Shoe Gardens" on a road she often takes she knew just who to share that information with.

 And then, she saw that it had fallen on the ground. As though no one cared about it. Like it was forgotten and needed to be salvaged. We were the gals to do it. We set a date and went out to "save" this piece of history. Well, it turned out to be quite a bit bigger than actually thought. And it was in pretty bad shape, which is probably why it had fallen down to begin with.

Although bummed, we soon realized that there was land to be explored. Maybe not on that particular day when the temperature was below freezing, but someday soon. We left and I decided that I was going to do some research. What is/was this place? Is it open to the public? Could we hike through when it gets warmer? I'm excited to see where this leads.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wax Museum

  For the last few weeks Louie's class has been preparing for the annual Second Grade Wax Museum. The "great American" that Louie got to portray was Jackie Robinson.

 He did a fantastic job with researching and writing a speech, then memorizing it to tell each time someone pressed his "start" button (the red circle on his chest).

It was pretty warm in the cafeteria where his class's museum was located. That, on top of the fact that he gets   a little nervous speaking in front of people gave him a somewhat unhappy look on his face, but afterward he said that he enjoyed doing it.

There was a mix of characters portrayed and one that stuck out in my mind was the young lady who portrayed Jane Goodall. Her family must have had some sort of relationship with the gorilla expert because not only was she very thorough in her speech, one of her props was a "scrapbook" that had real pictures of her mom as a baby with Goodall and gorillas!

There were some parents who were concerned with the kids having so much pressure on them to do speeches in front of people at this young age, but I disagree. Coming from someone who considers herself shy and extremely uncomfortable in public speaking situations, I wish that I would have had the opportunity to practice this skill early on before the self-consciousness of the teenage years sets in and then there was no hope! Congrats to Louie and his classmates; they did a terrific job!

Cincinnati Cyclones

 A co-worker of Kevin's had extra tickets to a Friday night Cyclones game a few weeks back. They were free; it was $1 City Barbecue sandwich night; and the kids have never been to a Cyclones game. It was a perfect fit!

We didn't realize that these "free" tickets were in the third row! I spent a good portion of my pre-teen/teenage years going to games when they played at the Cincinnati Gardens. It was a smaller venue so I wasn't too far away from the ice, but I was never this close!

 I'm sure they would have loved the experience regardless of where we sat, but to see the players' bodies slamming against the walls right in front of us was quite a sight for them! Meredith's attention somewhat waned toward the middle of the second period (we only stayed for the first two because the boys had basketball bright and early on Saturday), but luckily there were twin two-year-old girls sitting right in front of us. They bonded over their love of suckers.

Anyone know how to rotate pictures?? Sorry about this...
It was closing in on 9pm so we had to leave with the Chicago team leading, but there were five goals scored overall so they definitely witnessed an exciting game. We had a safe trip home, but it wasn't that way for everyone. There was a car who attempted to cross the bridge and ended up on its back. The next morning we woke to ice-coated cars and canceled basketball games. Too bad we had to leave the game early, but we did enjoy the day "stuck" at home in our jammies.