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.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog's Day

Phil may have seen his shadow this morning, but if this is the winter we have ahead of us, I'm ok with that. There's nothing like the sound of baseball coming through my *open* windows, although it worries me that if we're having a mild winter, does that mean the spring and summer will suffer because of it?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January 31st

Tuesday was a rare, gorgeous January day. It got up to 60 degrees and although a bit windy, it was a perfect day to be outside. After Meredith, Charlie and I picked up the boys we went to French Park to take a hike. Unfortunately, wanting to be detached from everything and just hang out with the kids and nature, I didn't bring my camera. Or even my phone, which I have been taking more pictures with than the camera.

So...what I didn't photograph:

Charlie walking up an asphalt hill with his wet jeans rolled to just below his knees, barefoot and holding Louie's hand. Louie's other hand is being held by Meredith as they trekked up the hill to our van. Benny was just behind them, though he was facing me because he assigned himself the duty of watching for oncoming cars.

It was warm, but certainly no responsible mother would let their child walk barefoot in January! After picking up the boys I realized that I left the bag of boots in the kitchen. We left the school, hurried back home and I grabbed the bag...not realizing that Charlie had knocked it over earlier and one of Ben's boots fell out. The honest soul that he is let us know that when we were at the park and I was scrambling around looking for the boot's partner.

Of course Benny was upset, but he agreed to be careful in his gym shoes while on the trail. He was obviously bummed because they are used to walking through the creek. He wasn't the one I had to worry about. We were three-fourths of the way through and Charlie misjudged the depth of the water and the ice-cold creek crept over his boot, soaking his legs and getting his socks wet. Crying ensued and our outing was over.

Charlie was sobbing hysterically and Lou and Ben were not happy that their hike was cut short, but all-in-all they were good sports about leaving the park. They knew that it stinks to be soaking wet and cold. We have since made plans to start our own "hiking club" complete with notebooks to keep track of what trails we take at different parks, what we find and what happens on our adventures. I'm excited about this.

Gung Hei Fat Choy!

  Happy New Year! Daddy got back from his trip to China just in time to celebrate Chinese New Year, and this is the year of the dragon. He brought with him decorations like the little dragon above that he gave Meredith.

 We tried to eat a traditional New Year's Eve meal so we had noodles and oranges which are considered good luck, chicken and vegetable stir fry, and egg rolls. Kevin said that he didn't have egg rolls, though, or even saw a fortune cookie on either of his trips.

I told the kids that there is an animal assigned to each year and of course they wanted to know what animal they each are. They then made a puppet for their animal. Louie is a monkey; Benny is a rooster; Charlie is a pig; and Meredith is an ox. Charlie and Meredith liked each others, so that is why it is switched. (And, in case you were wondering and I know you were, Kevin is a dragon and I am a horse.)

I do not remember why Charlie is crying in this picture...but the rest of the kids are having fun!

And this is a sign Charlie painted at school for Daddy's homecoming.