Friday, January 27, 2012

Little House in the Big Woods

Today Dakota and I had fun with the second chapter of Little House in the Big Woods.  For Chapter One we made a log cabin out of popsicle sticks that turned out really well. Today we read about what the family did on a typical winter's day and we went over alot of new vocabulary.  After we read and took our quiz we sang Buffalo Gals and Pop Goes the Weasel, clapping and stomping and pretending to play the fiddle (glad the curtains were closed!) Then we got out a carton of heavy cream and poured some (less than half of a baby food glass jar) and sealed the lid tightly.  Then we shook it!  And shook it!  And shook it!  For ten minutes.  About minute 5 we decided to add a drop of yellow food color to make it look like real butter.  This was fine, but it was REALLY yellow!  It had gotten very thick at that point.  After about 10 continuous minutes of shaking we stopped and, lo and behold, we had butter!  We added a shake of salt for taste and then put it on our bread.  Dakota, Mr. Picky himself, loved it.  We ended up sharing it with his dad when he came home for my promised egg and bacon biscuits for lunch.  Dakota tried a breakfast sandwich when we were in Boston and now he's hooked!  Later in the afternoon when our work was done, we watched Alice in Wonderland together in honor of Lewis Carroll's birthday and had chocolate cake to celebrate National Chocolate Cake day.  I hope that is a repeater! 

This evening my husband, our older son and I went to watch Dakota's basketball game and then, after a stop for ice cream, Dakota and Mom and Dad went to watch older brother's game.  Both boys won their games, playing hard and having fun.  I can't think of a better way to spend the evening then watching my two boys shoot hoops.  This weekend is jam packed with activities for both boys.  I enjoy quiet weekends, so this one will be a challenge, especially after being away last weekend and having so much to do all week. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

They are still your babies

Today I had another one of those "mom to an adult" moments when things are going badly for your adult child and you just wish with all your heart that they were little again and you could kiss away the hurt and the whole world would be better.  My three adult children are 26, 24 and 18.  They are wonderful, caring, responsible people and I am very proud of them.  I miss their baby days and the days I spent with them under my wing, but I enjoy the friendship I have with them now and I know it's the best part of what is yet to be.  When something goes wrong in their lives, whether it is a sick child, a lost job, a bad move, a broken heart or anything that makes them sad, my heart hurts right along with them.  I offer advice and I know that I have "been there and done that", but I also know that my advice isn't worth very much until they have "been there and done that" themselves.  I can tell them that "there is always tomorrow" and that "things will get better" and there is and they do, but while the crappy stuff is going on, it's so hard to see past it.  What I really hope that they know is that I am here for them, through the good and the bad.  I am always their biggest supporter and most loyal fan.  I may not agree with every move and I may not be able to say what I really feel all the time because I know that you have to find out for yourself, but I am here, arms open for a hug, shoulder available for a cry, ear ready to listen and chocolate cake baking in the oven :-)

So for all my loves, just and dad are here.  We will put our arms out to catch you when you fall.  Now that you are an adult, however, sometimes we can't keep you from the blow you have to take, but we surely will be here to cushion the fall and give you a safe place to call home.  We love you more than you can possibly know and, even though you may be officially an adult, you will always be our children and we care about everything that matters to you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Game Day

So yesterday we didn't leave the room for the most part because of the snowy, cold weather.  This morning we got up early and while it was still cold (wind chill 3 degrees!) it was sunny and bright.  We were told that the street our hotel is on goes straight into Boston so we drove that way, stopping at Boston College so the boys could walk around and see the stadium and then stopping again outside of Fenway Park so we could show Brian David's friend Trey and Dakota the outside, at least.  I love Boston and I am kind of disappointed that we didn't get to do more here, but I suppose that is to be expected this time of year.  The area is gorgeous in the snow, though, and the architecture is exquisite. 

When we got back to the room the guys got dressed in their Ravens gear and headed off to Foxboro.  I was worried because the stadium ended up being much farther away than I was told, but they got there quickly and all was well.  I ordered some soup and wings put on the pre-game show, hopped on the bed with my computer and happily wasted the day away, rooting for the Ravens and enjoying the quiet.  I can't believe that we lost the way we the game away rather than being beaten, but the guys were happy on the phone when they called, saying the experience was priceless.  Now I am waiting for them, still in the same spot on the bed, watching the Giants game and trying to get myself prepared for the long drive tomorrow.  Wish I was like Bewitched and could twinkle my nose and just be there.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Heading to New England

Yesterday we packed up early and headed out to New England for a weekend getaway and for the guys to go to the Ravens playoff game.  We had myself and the hubby up front in the truck (my car is still in the shop) and my sons and a teenage friend in the back.  We were packed in tight, cramming a few things inside with us because the rest of the stuff had to go out in the back of the truck and be exposed to the wind and cold under the tarp).  We made a breakfast stop in Joppatowne at DD and then had a good stretch up through Delaware.  Just before we hit NY we inadvertantly missed a turn.  We were a bit concerned when we were welcomed to Pennsylvania, but thought that was just part of the detour around New York that my husband's friend had mapped for us.  Forty five minutes later, however, we realized something wasn't right when we were still heading west and were in Bethlehem, PA.  We stopped for some pizza so we could regroup and the couple who owned the place were very kind and helped us with directions.  We could go back to the cut off we missed or we could go up through the Poconos and take the back roads to get back on track in Connecticut.  The time was the same for both, so we decided to go with the new directions.  All would have been well except that the road through the mountains had collapsed and we were sent on a detour way up through windy mountain roads and backwoods.  It would have been beautiful had we not been worried that we were REALLY lost and hadn't been in the car forever by now AND Dakota and Brian David starting feeling car sick.  Great.  We got back on track and....yep, another detour.  This time we had to stop at the end because the boys were feeling really bad and we got out and Dakota and I took a walk around this tiny little town.  We went into the post office and I chose someone and asked for directions.  He must have been an angel because he told me that just 3 miles down the road (in the opposite direction we were heading) was the highway entrance to Rte 84, which would take us all the way to Massachusetts.  He was right and off we went.  We were singing and laughing for awhile, but as we passed eight, then nine and ten hours in the truck we were all getting a bit worn, especially poor Dakota, who still wasn't feeling all that great and who was exhausted.  Twelve hours after we left home and four hours later than we should have, we reached our hotel.  Thankfully we had been out ahead of the snowstorm and the weather was cold and clear.  Our hotel and room were gorgeous and I thought things were looking up.  Brian took Koda to the pool and I headed out to get some food.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any so at 9:25 at night we ordered out and finally got dinner at 10pm.  Koda was so overtired and leftover car sick that he threw up when presented with his dinner.  However, he then stated he felt GREAT!! and went on to eat his dinner and sleep well.  Poor kid had a tough day lol. 

Today it is snowing and 8 degrees here in New England.  The bad thing is I doubt we will get to do any sightseeing in Boston. The good thing is that it's 1pm and we are all just hanging out in the room, the guys playing a tournament on PS3 and Mom enjoying her computer.  I took a walk outside with my husband earlier and it is gorgeous...exactly what I pictured New England to be like in the wintertime.  I saw a gorgeous blue jay in the trees and the river outside our hotel is frozen and covered with snow.  There's a gazebo outside too, nestled in it's own blanket of white, and we saw some rabbit tracks heading for cover under the few bushes that line the walls.  I think the guys are going swimming later and then we are getting some chicken from the market down the street, watching a movie and playing some board games. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spending time with my kids

This weekend has been a good one as far as seeing my kids goes.  It's different now, with the girls living on their own, and you can't just take it for granted that you will see them every day or even each week.  Saturday I got to go shopping and to Panera for lunch with Keri.  I haven't seen her in over a week and it was nice to have the time to chat and catch up with her over wonderful fuji apple salad and some french onion soup.  Saturday night Kris and her husband and daughter came over to watch the Denver/New England football game with us.  We had orange and blue balloons and streamers and were excited to see Tim Tebow take on Tom Brady in the playoffs.  Unfortunately it was a blow out by half time and they went home and we went to bed, but not before enjoying time together and getting to play with our grandbaby for awhile.  Sunday was the Ravens playoff game and the two Brians got to go to the game and Dakota and I went over my brother in law's to watch.  It's usually loud and very crowed there, but today was very pleasant, with just a couple of people.  I got to chat with my friend, Rhonda and Koda got to play outside with his buddy Wyatt.  I watched the game with my brother in law and mother in law and had a really nice time.  Now tonight, at home, it's a little stressful because we seem to be having conflicting ideas on if we are going to New England or not.  I wish the boys weren't involved because I feel like they are being pushed and pulled up and down and we don't even know if we can get tickets.  I hate chaos and stress and, while it's calm here, that's how I feel inside.

Purple Friday

Today was Purple Friday here in Baltimore.  Our Ravens are the Division Champions and are playing a big game here on Sunday.  Constellation Energy, my husband's parent company for his job, was one of 18 stops on the Baltimore Ravens pep rally tour.  We let Brian David get out of school at 12:45 and took Natalie home early to her daddy and the four of us headed downtown to enjoy the festivities.  The pep rally wasn't really on a grand scale, but Dakota sure had fun.  The boys were the only kids there, and of course, Brian David isn't really a kid.  They got in on the dancing and people were fawning all over cute little Dakota.  He was given a purple clapper, a blow up #1 finger, beads and even a very cool Ravens head hat from a guy way up high in the bucket truck.  He got his picture taken with Poe, the Ravens mascot and both boys got their picture taken with a very pretty cheerleader.  Afterwards we walked through the harbor and had an early dinner together at Hooters where we laughed at videos I had on my computer and at too much information shared by Brian David about a hot new girl he's chasing after.  I love spending time with the three of them more than anything. When I am with them it is absolutely the very best place I could be. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

She's got control!

My granddaughter may be little, but she has all the control!  Tuesday she had a meltdown day.  She seemed to have had some sort of nightmare or something that had her terrified of being anywhere but clinging frantically to the front of me.  She wouldn't sleep and she wouldn't let me put her down without screaming hysterically until I picked her up again.  If I put her on her blanket on the floor to play with her toys and sat with her she would claw her way to my lap and up the front of my shirt and press her cheek to mine, sobbing the entire time.  It was alternately pathetic and enraging.  I barely made it through those ten hours with all my sanity and she was the same way with her mom that night, but yesterday, Wednesday, she was her sweet, pleasant self for the most part.  She played, "read" her books and ate well.  She slept in her crib for two hours in the morning and in her swing for an hour in the afternoon and entertained us during dinner with her coos and games.  Her looks are changing and I see her mommy shining out from behind her eyes.  She is an engaging little girl most days with a sweet personality and a quick smile. 

As far as our schooling goes, we got in as much as we could on Tuesday, but it was difficult between the screaming and clinging coming from Natalie.  What we did accomplish was done on the blanket in the livingroom with her attached to me in some form or another.  Yesterday we had an excellent day, starting with a book about mammals and babies and a movie called Animal Mothers for Science.  Health was a SchoolExpress packet on character (we are working on the six pillars of character) and History was a book about the facts and legends of Davy Crockett.  We had finished our Magic Tree House book Winter of the Ice Wizard and started our new one, Blizzard of the Blue Moon.  This one has the cloze questions that go with it and Dakota's favorite, word wall words.  We began our new Meet the Masters program for Art that I purchased over the holidays.  We did the preview on Tuesday and then each lesson comes with three parts, a video/audio presentation, a learning packet and an art project.  Yesterday we did the presentation on Vincent Van Gogh and for music we listened to Don McLean's song about Van Gogh and discussed the artist's life.  Dakota had a wrestling match on Sunday, basketball practice Tuesday and wrestling practice Wednesday so we have PE all wrapped up.  We also started cursive handwriting and we continue to do our weekly spelling unit and work on for games and printed papers.  I am trying to get him to do either a journal entry or a story starter every day and we just completed Unit 15 of his math, another one on subtraction.  Today we begin geometry and I will be thankful for the change of pace.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Baby It's Cold Outside

We have been having unseasonably warm temperatures all winter, but today was cold, only around 30 degrees, and we had snow flurries tonight.  I had to take my son and granddaughter to the bank, the library and Walmart, but we were home by 11:15.  I wasn't cold then, running around out in it, but for the rest of the day, in my house, I have been freezing!!  My nose, toes and fingers all feel like I have been outside all day. 

Dakota and I picked out books at the library and when we got home I made lunch while he put in the video we got on Thomas Jefferson.  I was pleasantly surprised that it was exactly the right age level for him and it encompassed earlier history lessons and then told specifically what Thomas Jefferson's role was in history.  It was called Getting To Know the U.S. Presidents:  Thomas Jefferson.  I hope there are more of them so we can learn about some of the other presidents this way.  Afterward, we watched a Magic School Bus and then got into our paperwork.  Dakota started practicing writing in cursive today and this was a big thrill for him.  He started a new spelling unit and worked on his language arts pages.  Math is really dragging out the two digit subtraction, but it was easy to skip over some of it and we will finish up on Wednesday and begin geometry.  I let music, art and PE go today since we got a very late start.  Yesterday was the wrestling tournament,so PE was taken care of anyway.  Dakota read a few of his books from the library and he and I read three more chapters of our Magic Tree House Book Winter of the Ice Wizard.  It's okay, but there was no lessons to be found for it and I like the ones that teach a history lesson as well, but this is magic and fluff.  I am excited to start the next one, which is the author's newest book, #47 Abe Lincoln At Last.  We wrapped up the day with science and read a book about the life cycle of sharks.  We compared it to the life cycle of frogs we read yesterday and decided that tomorrow we will read about the life cycles of kangaroos.

Tonight was spent setting up Brian David's old desktop computer in Dakota's room.  He got to play a few games on it, but I really need to clean it up and get everything off of there and put his games and sites on so it's safe for him to find just what he needs and nothing more.  His room is really getting crowded, but it has everything he needs in there to enjoy himself.  Now if he would only just take advantage of that...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Weekend

This weekend has been busier than I would like.  Koda had wrestling Friday night and his dad took him while I cleaned up and then we all went to Brian David's 9pm basketball game.  I love watching that boy play basketball.  He isn't a great shooter and he doesn't dribble well, but defensively he is a beast and he plays with incredible intensity.  He always has and it's always fun to watch. 

Saturday morning I was up and out by 7:30.  I picked up some paint from a fellow freecycler then hit the grocery stores.  Things are so expensive and I had few coupons since most of mine had expired at the end of the year.  I got alot, but spent alot and that stresses me out.  When I got home the guys took our dog Raven to the vet.  She has a skin infection, but the vet hit them up for Frontline, two shots, a well visit fee, some kind of wipes and two medications.  $185!!  Ridiculous! It was 65 degrees today so the windows were open and the screens in.  It was beautiful, but winter's only saving grace for me is the anticipation of snow...which so far has been out of the realm of possibility considering the temperatures.
 I cleaned and made dinner while the hubby tried to fix my car.  He went and got a new alternator and put it in successfully, but it was refurbished and didn't work.  Now he has to do it again today.  We did have a nice family evening watching football, though. 

This morning after coffee and checking email we were out the door to Dakota's first wrestling tournament.  It was in Woodlawn and we needed to be there by 10:30.  Now it's no secret that wrestling isn't my thing and this particular match did nothing to help my cause.  Nothing happened until noon and, while the kids were supposed to be warming up, most of them were shoving chips, candy and soda into their mouthes while there parents did the same.  I've met very few people there that I felt I had anything in common with save the two coaches and another couple there.  When Koda finally did wrestle, his first match was against Jesse from our team.  It was a good match, but Koda lost.  I don't think he had any idea what to expect in terms of intensity.  The second match was...well...not so good.  Brian was out at the car and by the time I texted him "Dakota's wrestling" I had to text, "It's over".  Dakota had a not so nice attitude after that, which I hope I nipped in the bud.  For his final match, though, he was angry and he wa better prepared.  His opponent was 8lbs heavier and had another year's experience on him, but Koda held his own.  He made it through all 3 periods and fought well.  He lost in points and finally was pinned, but I was proud of him.  He could see me at the side of the mat and his eyes would find me, wild with a hint of panic, but I would lock into his stare and yell for him to get up and he would zoom back in and refocus, doing what he needed to do.  He was very proud of himself when all was said and done. 

Now we are home for the day and relaxing.  Hubby is back at the auto parts store trying a new alternator and Koda and I are playing Words with Friends and watching football in the livingroom.  Time to plan for tomorrow and get my act together for the week.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Our first day back

Tuesday we got back to our homeschooling routine.  The day went well and we enjoyed playing math war and the states/capitals game in addition to our regular work.  We started new units in Science (Animal Classification and Life Cycles) and reviewed the American Revolution one last time before moving forward in History.  In Health we began Character Building activities.  Wednesday was a bust after a car break down and repairmen in the house all day for the furnace and cable, but I am looking forward to another great day on Thursday.

Turned off and tuned in to family

2012 really started off with a bang....not just the fireworks kind.  Before noon on New Year's Day we had a fire outside in our trash cans.  It was pretty scary and intense and burned up our Comcast connection wires for internet and cable.  We cleaned up and kept our schedule for that day, having lunch at my moms and a Ravens football party at my brother in laws.  Monday, however, we were home all day and we were completely internet and not tv.  It actually turned out to be a really terrific day!  We watched two movies together, played Scattegories, chatted, laughed and read.  It made me realize how much we are "plugged in" and, while I love my tv and computer, a tech free day may be in order a few times a year to allow us to refocus on each other.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Today was the first day of 2012.  It started out pretty peaceful until a lady came pounding on our door.  When I opened it she screamed "fire!" and when I looked outside our five trashcans and a stack of four older tires that had come off our car were on fire...really on fire!  My husband had cleaned out the back yard this morning, including the fire pit from last night and obviously it was still smoldering.  It was very scary, but luckily the worst damage was Dakota's lingering fear and the black soot that is all over the back yard and that our dogs are dragging across the kitchen floor.  Thank God no one was hurt, but that was sure not a nice way to start the new year. 

At two o'clock I took the two boys to my mothers for lunch.  We walked into the basement to my eighty year old mother and stepfather and four of their eighty year old friends (and one 60 year old "youngster").  Without my even having to ask, my boys were polite and friendly and my eighteen year old had them chatting about sports and school.  The old men were thoroughly enjoying themselves and by the end of lunch the ladies wanted Brian David to meet their granddaughters.  I am so proud of him!  He is such a great kid and always makes me proud.  Koda hung in there til the end, but had a little behavior issue just before we left.  Oh well.  What can you say?  He's Koda, and a little issue is much better than what it could have been!

Afterward we met Brian at my brother in law's house for a Ravens party.  As usual, it was packed to the gills with Ravens fans, loud and smoky.  I spent a good deal of time upstairs talking to my nephew's wife, who is such a smart, mature young woman.  We compared Kindle Fire notes and chatted about family. 

Here at home, Koda is in bed, Brian David is playing Angry Birds on Kindle and I am doing a few more minutes of work before calling it a day.  Come on 2012.  I am ready!.....well, I'm getting ready......maybe not.

Welcoming in the new year

Last night we welcomed in the new year with a family game night.  We had Kris and Natalie and Diane and MomMom over with the four of us.  2011 was definitely the year of entertaining for us!  Our home has become the place to gather to have fun and that is a wonderful thing!  Our evening started at around 6 with Dakota and some friends dancing and playing XBOX and Aunt Diane and MomMom arriving.  Brian David was singing in his room and my husband decided he needed to go outside and burn our entire Christmas tree in the fire pit.  This took him about 3 hours.....   Diane, MomMom, Koda and I played Words with Friends on our Kindles and chatted and ate.  Kris and Natalie came about 8 and the gaming began.  For some reason my friendly, in a great mood for the past week or more husband decided to be to put it nicely.....a pompous poop.  He wouldn't play games with all of us and then decided to put me down and "be on Dakota's side" when he got out of control.  Embarrassing, really, and confusing for the kid.  Oh well.  We've been through this before.  Dad has decided to come to the rescue when I have needed to come down harder with discipline on one of the kids.  He feels I am being unfair and the child needs saving.  The child, of course, sees this as a golden opportunity to pit one of us against the other and get constant attention, so he jumps right on it.  I am not sure what to do about it. Dad wants to be his friend and he is a good one.  He is a wonderful companion and they play together constantly, which now leads to Dakota thinking he must be constantly entertained by someone. The problem here now is there are no boundaries and when things get out of control or it's bedtime or dinner didn't get eaten or the child needs to wear a coat etc, Dad is the hero saying all the right things the child wants to hear and I am the bad guy, saying that dinner does indeed need to be eaten, coats do need to be worn, behavior does need to be modified. Bodily functions are no longer rude, even in front of relatives or friends.  Screaming, racing around, not listening...normal now.  And what will happen, once again, is that after a few months of this Dad will go on to fulfill his work and football obligations and I will be left to pick up the pieces and get things back in order, only to have this happen again next December.  I have years of this yet.  It's wonderful......

Anyway, the six of us who did play games had a great time. Logo proved to be no fun at all, with questions this time that were just ridiculous.  We moved on to Apples to Apples, always a crowd pleaser, and Dakota had everyone laughing with his version of the word "chimpanzee", coming out more like a french accented "shim-paaan-zee".  Adorable and hysterical.  We finished the night with Scattergories, which Dakota did really well for, especially at seven.  He hangs in there really well playing with all adults.  MomMom really enjoyed this one and, before we knew it, it was 11:30 and we crowded in the livingroom to watch New Year's Rockin' Eve.  I got to dance with my granddaughter, who giggled the best she could with limited lung capacity from this darned RSV.  We counted down together and then the boys went out front and popped our confetti filled balloons we made earlier before Dad took them up on the roof to watch the fireworks at the Inner Harbor. 

I had an okay 2011.  The biggest blessing was, by far, the birth of our granddaughter.  Lots of my daughter's friends had beautiful babies this year.  So many little ones!  My oldest daughter and my son in law moved back home to Baltimore after a long fifteen months in North Carolina.  My younger daughter took a chance, moved away, moved back home and then found a great roommate and moved out on her own close by.  My oldest son, who started out going through his first true heart break, became a man, learning to deal with the adversity and come out a stronger person.  He enjoyed his last football season and put in his first college applications.  Dakota, the youngest of our family of six, sailed through the year, starting as a kindergartener and finishing halfway through a very successful first grade year.  He played basketball and baseball, tried arena football and started wrestling.  He started a new co-op and has blossomed from a little kid to a big boy.  He lost his first tooth...and then lost five more!  The tooth fairy has become very familiar with 3023 Vermont Ave lol.  My husband and I have made it through our twenty second year.  There were good days and not so good days, but all in all it was a good year for us.  We stepped into our new role as grandparents with ease and we are enjoying our extended family. 

So what will 2012 hold?  I am very nervous about it.  It will be a year of big change as our Brian David graduates high school and moves away to college.  He is staying close by, thankfully, but I just can't wrap my head around the fact that this boy is hitting these milestones.  He has always been the family's baby and thinking that he has essentially been through his entire childhood is just too much for me.  I hope that I can handle the next twelve months with grace, enjoying every minute instead of dreading the next day.

So welcome, 2012.  Please be kind to those that I love and hold dear in my heart.  Let my children enjoy a healthy life, true love and much happiness.  Let my husband and I continue to grow together and don't let changes put distance between us, but rather pull us together.  Let my mom continue to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle as she turns 80 this year.  Let me look back, on New Year's Day 2013, and say "Wow, I hope this year is as good as the last!"