Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Doggie Day

Last Thursday, I walked into Petsmart and asked a question I never thought I would ask:

"Do you carry birthday treats and birthday party supplies for dogs?"

Yes, yes I'm that person now.  Friday was Shadow's 5th birthday, so of course we need party hats, a gift, a treat. . .you get the picture.  It's his birthday! the kids said.  We have to celebrate!  So there I was, asking a ridiculous question.

And guess what - Petsmart doesn't carry doggie birthday supplies!  Personally, I think they're crazy.  If someone like me, who is only beginning to become doggie obsessed, wants birthday supplies, don't other people who buy their dogs strollers and make their own dog food and cuddle up with their dogs in bed want to go all out for their dog's birthdays??  Petsmart - you're missing out on a whole demographic of people!

So, I was left to my own devices, which always means:  how can I accomplish my goal as frugally as possible?  I bought Shadow the cheapest single bone Petsmart sold, grabbed a package of hats at Meijer (which I told the kids to save so we can reuse them next year for his birthday), and called it done.  

I think Shadow was deeply touched by our show of love.  He listened to us sing Happy Birthday and wore his hat with pride.  I might have seen a wee doggie tear at one point, so moved was he.  Here is a snapshot of his special day:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Breaking

Spring break has come and gone, and we are back into the swing of real life again.  I counted the number of remaining weeks in the school year, though, and discovered we are only seven weeks away from summer!  This year has gone by ever so quickly.  It's been a good year, full of changes and new adventures.  I am looking forward to these last several weeks with my little students, and will miss them over the summer and next year!

Our crew spent a few days in St Louis over spring break, and visited the zoo and City Museum while there.  The zoo in STL is great - and freeeeeee!  You can imagine how much more I loved it with that price tag!  My 8-year-old had the time of his life.  We saw a bald eagle, red panda, gorillas roughhousing together (amazing sight!), penguins, hippos swimming and sea lions swimming over our heads!  We all enjoyed ourselves, though no one quite as much as my white-haired-animal-loving boy.

As I said, we also visited the City Museum (which is most certainly NOT free).  Oh my!  If you haven't been, let me try to explain.  It's sort of McDonald's play land meets caves meets rock climbing. . .it's like nothing I've ever seen before.  There is an entire structure called the MonstroCity on the outside of the building, spanning about 5 stories.  One has a funny feeling in one's tummy when one sees her 5-year-old daughter scrambling through metal coiling about 5 stories directly above one's head.  She was happily crawling through, silhouetted by the sky behind her.  I had to take several deep breaths.  Indoors, among lots of other physically challenging exhibits, there is a huge (and I mean HUGE) cave-like crawling/climbing/sliding structure, which includes a 10 story slide.  This structure also makes parents shake in their boots, because there are hundreds of nooks and crannies and tunnels and stairs for your children to disappear into.  We had the children stay together and took turns trailing little K.  All of these exhibits translated into sweaty, exhausted, exhilarated children.  We all recommend it if you're ever in the Show Me state!

And over the weekend, my husband and I celebrated our birthdays.  I looked in the mirror last night and asked him, "How did we get this old?"  I don't feel 42. . .I still feel about 25 or so.  My wrinkles and graying hair tell a different story, however.  And 50 and 60 sound younger and younger every year!

On the subject of my looks. . .my daughter was attempting to curl my hair with her brand new bubble curler the other day.  Shockingly, the curler was not making me into a raving beauty.  Knowing I had to leave the house in mere minutes and seeing the Shirley Temple-esque ringlets bouncing all over my head, I began to feel slightly panicked.  I ran my fingers through my hair, which only made it worse.  As I debated what to do with the mess, my dear 15-year-old daughter said, "In the words of the great 21st century American philosopher T Swizzle**, you gotta "Shake it off!" ***

**T Swizzle is better known to the general public as Taylor Swift.
***I'm sure you're dying to know how I salvaged my disastrous locks. . .I had the offending hairstylist pin it up into a bun. When I arrived at the party I was rushing to, my husband said, "Your hair looks really nice like that!" Score!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Seven Snippets

A glimpse into life around this joint this week:

  • We are currently in a glorious place of in-between.  We are in-between basketball and baseball, and I have to tell you, it's mighty fine.  No practices this week for either, and no games this weekend.  I love both sports, but I'm not gonna lie - staying closer to home for a couple weeks isn't a bad thing.  We still have musical practice and fencing lessons, but without three boys in a sport on top of those things, it's a welcome breather.  
  • In that vein, but on the other end of the crazy spectrum, I signed my five-year-old up for gymnastics.  Her sibs may have tried out a sport or a little class by now, but she has been happy (and in my opinion, not the worse for wear) to tag along to her sibs' activities.  However, she has been watching an American Girl gymnastics movie and is desperate to give it try.  This spring, therefore, will mark a first - the first time all five kids will be involved in an activity.  Can you understand then, dear reader, why I am relishing this tiny hiatus?  Tis a little calm before the storm.
  • Holy Week is upon us!  Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and my little preschoolers will be singing in church - I can't wait to hear them praise Jesus!  This week, I hope, will afford many moments to contemplate the great sacrifices our Savior made on our behalf.  
  • We had good friends over for dinner last night (and by dinner, I mean we ordered pizza and I did no work whatsoever in the entertaining department).  How lovely to enjoy the company of dear friends! What a blessing true friends are!
  • An added bonus to having company over on Friday night:  The frantic house-cleaning session after school to bring the house to a presentable (not spotless - I don't have those kinds of standards) level means that this morning we don't have to vacuum and dust and clean!  Woohoo!  Just laundry and grocery. . .
  • My mom visited this week for a couple of days, and it was lovely.  We spent Tuesday shopping with little K, and mom and I soaked it all in.  Mom bought K a Build A Bear, which K was super excited about.  When we got to the naming portion on the birth certificate (if you haven't made a Build A Bear, you haven't lived), I asked her what she'd like to name her pink bear.  "Fluffy", she answered after deliberating a moment or two.  Wanting to prolong the moment and her creativity, I asked her if she wanted Fluffy to have a middle name.  Without hesitation, she said, "Linda!", and so it was that Fluffy Linda was born.  I have to say, when I gaze upon her pink fur, she does indeed look like a Fluffy Linda to me.
  • And I'll leave you with this little gem:  Says a child of mine this morning:  "If all of my relatives died and I got to live with my best friend, guess what would happen?  We'd be a brother from a different mother!"

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bird is the Word

Yesterday after school, the kids and I headed out to the Suburban, parked in its usual spot with all the other teacher cars. As we approached it, however, I noticed something was amiss.

"What is all over the burb?" I asked the children.  "It looks like there are bullet holes all over the windshield!"

Upon further inspection as we got closer, we discovered that it was bird poo.  A LOT of bird poo.  Splotches of it, all over the entire front end of the burb.

"What on earth?" I exclaimed to the kids, who thought the whole scene was rather awesome.  "There is literally no bird poo anywhere else in the vicinity, except on our car!" And there wasn't!  The cars next to us and the parking lot around us were completely poo-free.  It was as if many birds took aim at our (newly-washed) burb and let it rip.

So floored was I over the disgusting scene in front of me, I felt compelled to count the poopy splotches.  32!  32 blobs of poo on my car, dear reader!  How can that even happen?  One of my daughter's friends told me later that afternoon that birds are attracted to the color red.  So truly, is that what happened? A bird and a few of his birdie friends were out for an afternoon flight, saw my beautiful red burb, felt the urge and took aim?  Can that even happen?  I'm beginning to think it might be a possibility.

Here is a shot of the poo-riddled burb, so you may join me in my shock and awe:

Actually, the picture doesn't do it justice.  It looked like a crime scene, if bird poop on a car was an actual crime.

Things I have learned from this experience:

1.  Never wear red outside.  Ever.

2.  Birds are mean, and also they have amazing aim.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Snippets of life around here:

My 5 year-old-daughter's current obsession is Uno.  She loves to play it all the time. And because I also love to play games, we play often.  But I have to tell you - she is no lightweight when it comes to this game.  She loves to hit us up with a skip, reverse or a +2, or better yet, a +4.  Every time she plays one of those cards, she looks at us with a smirk and says "Don't even think about it!" or "Too bad so sad!".  I blame her father for her cut-throat competitive spirit.

My 8 year-old-son is obsessed with mood rings (and eagles, hedgehogs, wolves, sonic and red pandas), and my husband told him one of his favorite Tracy Morgan lines:  "I can't find my mood ring!  I don't know how I feel about that!"  Ever since, we have heard this line from the all the children, said with varying accents.  It cracks us up every time.

At dinner tonight, the red panda-loving boy told us a joke.  I have to tell you, my dears, that jokes at our table by the younger set are typically erratic and completely off the wall.  But tonight, we actually heard one that made sense.  And it was a complete original!  It went like this:  "Why do pandas like loud noises?  Because they love panda-monium!"  I see a future in stand-up!

My eldest son recently won our school's spelling bee, and today he won a regional Lutheran school math competition for 7th graders.  I am so proud of him!  But it appears his prowess at his competitions of late is all due to his mamma.  No, it's not my brilliance in math and spelling, as I'm sure you were all assuming. . .you were assuming that, right?  Rather, it appears that my absence at both of these contests is the reason he won.  I almost always attend bees and competitions, and this year, due to sickness and work, I had to miss both.  So, it is obvious that I am the anchor in his boat.  I am considering skipping all of his future sporting events as well.  I don't want to get in the way of his success!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Hero

Last Friday night, my husband and I headed out to dinner.  We were alone, looking forward to an evening together to catch up.  Before long, we heard a weird sound coming from the back of the suburban.

We stopped to check and discovered a bolt in the tire.  With a sigh, we headed toward Walmart to see if they could fix it.  Walmart on a night out together!  It's a dream destination!

But before we got far at all, the bolt came out and we had a flat.  My husband quickly pulled over into a funeral home parking lot, which was thankfully well lit.  We bundled up with what we had, and got out into the frigid night air.  The "real feel" temperature was -2.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the cold? Within two seconds I was frozen through and through, certain frostbite and lost digits were imminent.  My husband doggedly read the manual, not complaining or slowing in the tedious work of lowering the tire and assembling the jack.  Several times he had to adjust the equipment, since the directions were apparently written with the expectations that one's fingers were fully operational and not nearly frozen.  He had to consult the manual repeatedly as well, while I lamely aimed my iPhone's flashlight in the near vicinity (usually) of the area he was working.  I was also in charge of scanning the area for unsavory characters, of which there were three, and also multiple police cars flying by, lights flashing and sirens blaring.

I'm tellin' ya, dear reader,  I would have given up multiple times.  The whole scene was overwhelming, freezing and horrible.  Truly, as cheap as I am, I would have called for roadside assistance, or abandoned the whole dang vehicle and called a taxi.  It was cold, it was frustrating, and it was distressing.

My husband, however, never slowed down in the quest to get us operational.  He kept on reading and rereading the manual in the semi dark, crawling under the suburban on the damp, filthy concrete, and generally being awesome.  He even sent me into the car to get warm at one point (when my flashlight services were no longer needed - but I still ran surveillance from the front seat), forgiving me even when I accidentally turned the key too far and started the car, probably flooding his face with carbon monoxide.

It took about 45 minutes, all told, due to the weather conditions, but he got 'er done.  And I was so thankful.  When he got back into the burb, I told him I had never found him more attractive.

And since it was only 8:15, we proceeded to our dinner destination and enjoyed the rest of our evening, crisis free.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Most Devoted Family Member

"He likes me!  He really, really likes me!"

I hope you read that in your best euphoric Sally Field voice.  Who is "he", you might wonder?  Yep - you guessed it!  The dog!

I have never seen such devotion in another being!  This dog is happy to simply be in my presence.  Why he is so happy to be with me is unclear, but it is rather sweet.  Two examples:

Yesterday I brought home the crew after school (minus one daughter, plus a son's friend).  I pulled into the driveway, then headed down to get the mail.  As I approached the bottom of the driveway, I saw a bag laying on the ground.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a tied grocery bag, full of dog poo.  That is how we live now, people.  Bags of dog poo tied off in our driveway.  After a moment, I saw my husband and eldest daughter rounding the bend on a walk with the dog and realized the dog poo bag was not to be a permanent fixture, thankfully.  As my husband approached with Shadow, he (the dog, not my husband) began pulling at the leash, going crazy to get to me.  He jumped up and loved me in his best doggie way (snowy, wet paws and all).  After a few moments, my husband wanted to continue his walk, but poor Shadow really, really wanted to come inside with me. Since the dog needed the exercise, my husband kept walking him.  He pulled and strained at the leash, desperate to come back to me.  All the way around the block, my husband reported later, Shadow pulled and pulled to get home.

This morning, Saturday, all three boys were up slightly before 6 am.  On a school day, two of these boys don't want to get out of bed at 6:30. But on a Saturday?  Please!  They might miss something if they don't get up ASAP!  I certainly don't need to get up with them anymore, but even though they were quiet, my husband and I, and the dog, heard them get up.  Having much work to do today, my husband got up soon after, and the dog eventually followed him down, hoping for breakfast.  In an effort to let me sleep in a bit, my husband shut the gate at the top of the stairs (a remnant from our baby/toddler days - sniff!), and placed a gate also at the bottom of the stairs.  After some time, I drifted off for a few minutes, only to be awakened by persistent whining and whimpering at the bottom of the stairs.  I finally admitted defeat, got up, and opened the top gate.  My daughter opened the bottom gate and the dog bounded up the stairs, hysterical with joy just to be near me!  I'm telling you - not even my children are this happy to see me!  I petted him and told him what a good dog he was etc. etc., and then decided maybe I would just lay down for a moment longer, to put off the cleaning I must do this morning.  Shadow happily licked my hand and lay down next to me on the floor, content.

Is this normal?  Does everyone's dog have one person they are so attached to?  It's equal parts hilarious and endearing.  He's a mamma's boy!