Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Ten Minute Breather

My gut was right.
It is not the time of life for me to get a job.
Tuesday, Oct. 18, my friend and principal of our elementary school called. The woman who was the long term maternity sub in 4th grade wasn't coming back. She needed someone the next day and for three and a half weeks after that. Seeing as how I had turned her down to take the maternity leave in the first place, she asked me just to take Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. She'd have someone else do Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I agreed. I can do anything for three and a half weeks.
And then things kept happening.

The afternoon after my first day of work, Cuckoo hit his head and got one nasty concussion. Memory loss and vomiting made things quite scary.

A week and a half later, exactly 3 hours after he was cleared for normal activity, he was dancing on one of the big boys' beds and fell off. He managed to slice his leg on the bed frame. Neither Bryan nor I were home, big kids rose to the occasion, and Cuckoo ended up with 21 stitches in his shin. He gets those out on Thursday.

Parties and appointments and 6 driving classes and Giant's soccer practices starting and Phoenix's volleyball practices starting and Turken's football team winning game after game in the playoffs and Buttercup's speech team competition (that I judged! (not her speech. Other participants.)) and illness my body was fighting with the little bit of energy I had left about did me in.

And then...

Tragedy.

The son of my former boss at the preschool where all of my kids attended and I taught passed away unexpectedly.

She didn't want us all to go to the funeral. She wanted us to keep the school open.

So on Tuesday and Thursday I was teaching preschool.

It's been a rough few weeks.

This one won't be any better.

But I wanted you to know that I didn't just disappear by choice.

Life got real around here.

I'll be done teaching 4th grade later this week.

I'm actually torn.

It has been wonderful being in an elementary classroom again.

I have enjoyed every minute.

I would love to stay.

Alas, now is not the time.

These last few weeks have proven what I already knew.

It just isn't the time.

My priority must be my family.

I can't be a great teacher and a great mom at the same time.

I want to be the greatest mom I can be.

I can be a great teacher another time.

Or not.

We'll see where life takes us.

One thing that has been beaten into me is the truth that we never, ever know what the next day, the next hour, the next minute will bring.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, October 14, 2016

We'll Just Ignore the Fact I Haven't Written in a Month TToT

This fall break week has been filled with unexpected fun. (Not quite like the unexpected fun of last year's fall break).

The week started with Grandparents' Day at the high school. My mom and dad both came, which was a treat in itself. 

My dad hadn't been up when the kids left for school, thus he didn't know what their uniforms looked like. He dressed like them purely by accident.

They both stayed through the weekend, which meant they could watch all of the boys' play soccer and football and still have plenty of time to just hang out and play games with us.

The high school soccer season has come to an end. That last game was an exciting one, but it ended in lots of tears by lots of people. The soccer team is one tight group, and there were 9 seniors on the team this year. No one wanted it to end.




Cuckoo's first season of playing a sport has come to an end, too. It was fun to watch, but not quite as emotional. 



Turken's season isn't over yet, but we'll throw some photos of his last game in here, too. (He's the one in maroon.)


It doesn't look like it, but Turken managed to bring that kid down, too.

My parents went to their separate homes on Sunday, and on Monday, the kids and I headed for my mom's house. We were going to visit the University of Kentucky on Tuesday, and her house was a good place to stay the night. On the way, we stopped at a state park we've driven by hunderds of times. (Falls of the Ohio, right on the Kentucky/Indiana border along the Ohio river. The name is deceiving, seeing as how the falls are no longer there. Ruined by a man-made damn.) Now we wonder why we hadn't done it before.

The rock bed and cliffs are covered with fossils. You can't walk 2 steps without seeing another one. The boys are pointing to some on the rocks below.

Big brother showing little brothers how to skip rocks.


We went around a bend and found about a hundred cairns people had built. Of course our kids had to add their own.
After the park, I called my brother to see if they were busy that night. They weren't, so we ended up spending a lovely few hours sharing a meal, taking a gander at the changes to their farm, and laughing our heads off. 

Turken taking a ride on my niece's pony.

Unfortunately, their kids were not on fall break, so the night ended early.

Long story short, that night I discovered that my other brother's kids DID have fall break this week, so we made some plans. After the college tour, we met at a nearby park (Raven Run Nature Sanctuary) for lunch and a hike.

My brother lets his kids live on the edge, too.

The whole group - 10 kids, 4 adults (Did I mention that Bryan wasn't on this trip with us?)

We then checked into a hotel for a swim and a sleep to prepare for the major hiking of the next day.

Daniel Boone National Forest/Red River Gorge/Natural Bridge State Park is one gigantic place with lots of cool features.

We started by hiking to the Natural Bridge and back down. Basically, we tempted fate and death all day long, starting with a run-in with a copperhead. No one was bitten, but the youngest nephew got within a foot of it before we realized there was even a snake on the path. The first three photos were taken in "Devil's Gulch".

My brother likes to encourage cliff exploration.

Phoenix peeking over the edge.

Buttercup wasn't deterred by the elevation either.

As long-time readers know, we must always take a "Help me! I'm falling!" photo. This was taken on top of the natural bridge. We eventually made it around to that point in the background.

After lunch, we took a one-hour drive to the other side of the forest.

Halfway there, we go to go through this:

It's a single lane tunnel through the rock. That's my mom's vehicle going in before us.

When I thought we'd never get to our next hiking spot, we turned off of pavement and onto gravel/dirt.

That dust is from my mom's vehicle still driving ahead of us.

Three miles later, we made it to the trailhead.

Another awesome hike with a smaller natural bridge, a waterfall, and rocks aplenty.

Nana and the grandkids.



The park is way, WAY better than my horrible, old-phone photos can depict.

The kids all hated to part ways, but responsibilities beckoned back at home.

We're home now. Being responsible, doing yard work, playing cards, and simply relaxing. Not much relaxing, though. We're throwing a major Halloween party in a couple of weeks, which includes a "haunted" barn and a maze through the back field. Lots to do! Lots to do!

I look forward to catching up with you all this weekend. I've missed you. 

Tell me the good things that happened in your week.



Ten Things of Thankful


 Your hosts


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sorry. This One's Mostly About My Kids. The Grandparents Might Enjoy It. TToT Time!

And with the close of today, another birthday season is behind us. In less than three weeks, three of our boys have birthdays. Cuckoo turned 7, Phoenix turned 18, and today Giant turned 14. We've eaten so much cake. So much ice cream. They've blown out so many imaginary candles (because not once did I remember to buy them). They've opened gifts and had friends over and had a day off of doing chores. All a birthday should be at our house.

I am thankful for the good health of my children, that they made it to these ages and these milestones, and they've done it so marvelously.

(That's three!)

4. Star and many of his classmates were Confirmed this week. (For you non-Catholics, Confirmation is the third and final Sacrament of Initiation into the Catholic Church. The first two Sacraments are made when they are young, with their parents and Godparents making the promises. Confirmation is the one the teens themselves choose to do, to make the promises and proclaim their beliefs, after a year of lessons and prayer and discussion. It's a super big deal.) It was a teary affair, for sure.

5. Even though we have 5 kids playing sports, it is the easiest sports schedule we've had since our oldest started playing. Three kids on the same team is a large part of that. :) Our weekends actually have free time for us to hang out and do yard work!

6. The high school soccer teams are playing well. They won their games on Saturday pretty handily. Now, if only we could get ONE Saturday game that doesn't include pouring down rain. They've had three Saturday games, and all three have had storms and/or torrential downpours. (In order to turn this into a thankful...at least the rain wasn't a cold rain. It's been plenty warm.)

7. Cuckoo is having a great time playing his first ever season on a real team. In his soccer game this weekend, he scored twice, then made some awesome blocks when playing goalkeeper. He has decided he wants to be a keeper, thus ensuring I will die from a heart attack. My heart can barely take it with Star being a keeper. It will be way worse in 8 years when Cuckoo is in high school. (Thankfully, though, Cuckoo changes his mind faster than he changes socks, so there is still a chance I won't have to suffer through watching another of my boys flinging himself in front of a charging player intent on kicking the ball my baby is trying to catch.)

8. Turken had his first football game this weekend. Seeing as how in a list of kids on his team, smallest to biggest, he is the penultimate, the coaches weren't expecting a lot out of him in the way of blocking or tackling. Little did they know, he has been trying to take out three teenagers his entire life. While the force he can produce won't budge a 15 year old, it will stop a third grader in his tracks. In this one game, he single-handedly tackled 5 boys, all behind the line of scrimmage.

9. This is the first time in 8 years that Buttercup isn't playing soccer. She was expecting to miss it, especially when the games started. Thankfully, she isn't missing it one itty bitty bit. She's getting to do all the things she couldn't do when she was practicing every day of the week. She is a tutor for and organization called School on Wheels, which provides help for kids who are homeless. She is on the speech team, and she is a co-leader of the Mock Trial group. She is also teaching ERE (Sunday school) to 2nd and 3rd graders at our parish. It's amazing how much time a person has when she's not playing a high school sport! :)

10. Ok, enough bragging about my kids. When did this blog turn into a brag sheet? I'll talk about someone else's kid for this one. (I love the kids my kids have befriended.) Star and Giant had some friends over, and they were playing a version of flashlight tag in the yard where, in order to tag someone, the person who is "It" had to throw a ball and hit someone else with it. (Mind you, it was pitch-black dark outside when they were playing, and these friends aren't exactly familiar with the terrain.) There was a chase, and the kid being chased slipped and fell on the wet grass. The boy who was It ran up to him and asked, "Are you hurt?" It was only after the boy lying on the grass muttered "no" that he threw the ball and tagged him. Such thoughtful boys. ;)

Wow! I did it! For the first time in weeks I got a thankful post done!

Tell me. What happy things have happened in your life while I've been gone?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful


 Your hosts


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Little Random Catch Up

My dad is on vacation, so I have a bit of reprieve from his "You haven't blogged" texts, but I'm going to get the jump on it and give a quick update to the goings on around here.

For the first time in 22 years of marriage, Bryan took a day off of work to simply be at home. After that one day, we've come to the conclusion that we'll ease into retirement. That conclusion was easily reached when, three hours into the day, as I was cleaning bathrooms, he showed up in every one as I was cleaning it. While scrubbing the sink in the final bathroom, sensing his presence, I turned to look at him, and he exclaimed, "I'm not following you! I'm putting this away!" Perhaps we'll approach retirement in half-lifes. He'll take another day off in, say...11 years. Then one more in 5 1/2 years.

For the last four weeks, I've been listening to Cuckoo ask, "When are we going to have my birthday party?" I finally scheduled it for last Friday, when the elementary school had a weird extra day off. Let's talk about the difference in parties for the big kids when they were young versus parties for the little kids now.

Big kids...Cute, handmade invites for a themed party, full of planned activities. Phoenix had a bike parade party, where each guest brought his bike. I supplied items for them to decorate their bikes, as well as horns and personalized license plates. Star had a Nemo party, where we had a fun obstacle course of all the things Nemo's dad and Dory had to go through to find Nemo. Buttercup had a princess party, where the kids AND THE MOMS dressed up.

Cuckoo...No theme. No planned activities. Just 5 kids here to play.

Big kids cakes... I once made individual cakes in the shapes of the faces of Elmo and Cookie Monster. I didn't know which cakes each kid would want, so I made one of each for each and every person. It took me hours and hours to make them.

Cuckoo's cake... I spent five minutes putting green icing on a 9x13 cake, then sticking some cars, a fuseball, and paper goals onto it to give the impression of the video game Rocket League. We had no candles, so we sang and he pretended to blow candles out.

And you know what? The kids and Cuckoo had just as much fun as the big kids did at their fancy parties.

I bought myself a chainsaw. I'm officially the coolest person you know.

Between the trimming of the driveway trees Star has been doing all summer and the fun I've been having whacking of tree limbs left and right with my chain saw, we've made one gigantic burn pile. It was right next to the even more gigantic burn pile that's built up over the last 5 years. Over the long weekend, we began attacking it. We had a fire going for two days straight. Not only did we get all the recent trimmings burned, we burned so much old stuff we found and burned three Christmas trees from holidays past.

It was quite the walk down memory lane.

And yesterday, the poison ivy started popping up on my legs and arms.

Because for the life of me, I cannot figure out what that crap looks like.

And lastly, I'm starting to panic about this year's Christmas card. It's September, and I don't have a clue what to write about this year. It's been a pretty boring 2016. (for our family. It's all relative.) For 12 years people have been looking forward to our Christmas cards. There may big one big disappointing nothing from us this year.

So, I'm off to do more things. That's what I do these days. So many things.

I haven't read a single blog post in over a week. I haven't checked Instagram for about 2 weeks. I haven't even been on Facebook for more than a cursory look once or twice a day. We're in a phase of SO MUCH TO DO!! I miss you all, but this is how it is for now.

Have a lovely day!


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I Didn't Just Have Fun. I Learned Some Things, Too! or Dyanne and I Take St. Charles

As you may or may not know, I went on a little jaunt to visit my friend, Dyanne, in a little town near St. Louis a week and a half ago. (It is the only city between Joplin and Indy, and good for us, it's almost exactly halfway.) We had a roaring good time, and if you want to read the details of what we did, you're going to have to read Dyanne's post about it. I'm only going to reveal the things I learned while on the trip.

1. I am absolutely the WORST selfie-taker on the planet.

When Dyanne was about to leave her house, she took a cute photo of herself buckled into her car and sent it to me. When I was leaving my house 20 minutes later, I did the same.

Minus the cute.



I even counted to three before I took it.

Still blinked.

A pity the selfie-taking couldn't end there...

 Dyanne is a pro at selfies and takes bunches of them. Unfortunately, she kept including me.


While she poses, confident in her gorgeous selfie ability, I sit there resembling Long Duk Dong after his first teenage drinking party. For the love of all, I could be tried and convicted of public intoxication by that photo alone.


Seriously, not once the entire weekend did I look AT the camera.

Only one solution for such selfie ineptness...


No, not strangle the selfie-taker! Wear sunglasses!

2. There are many, many creepy places around the northwest side of St. Louis, made creepier by the fact we were always the sole visitors to the locations. 

Everywhere we went, my first thought was "How pretty!" but that thought was quickly followed by "This would be a great setting for a horror movie!"

We were constantly on the lookout for dead bodies.

For example...

It started out as a lovely walk on a curving path through native Illinois plant life. It ended on the top of a hill overlooking the dam and lock on the Mississippi River.




But when I took that photo, this was behind me...


Pretty sure there were mole people living underneath our feet.

How about another example...

The signs led us to believe we'd be seeing some turtles and other wildlife if we just took the short little walk down the path.

But then the path looked like this...


and the view looked like this...


All around, as far as we could see. No water. No turtles. Just this vine covering EVERYTHING. And it was silent. Not even bird sounds.

Creepy to the nth degree.

I was afraid if we stood there much longer, the vines would overtake us and we'd be trapped forever.

But! That wasn't as creepy as the nuclear waste dump.

OK, we probably could have expected this one to be creepy, but seriously, when you see that on the list of things to do in or around St. Charles, MO, how can you not go take a look??

Once again, they tried to make it look pretty...


but that is one GIGANTIC pile of rocks behind the flower.



The museum at the bottom of the hill claims that there is less radiation on the top of the hill than there is in our own backyards, but I don't know if I buy it.

Majorly creepy.

But still not as creepy as this last one...

We struck up a conversation with the park ranger lady at the museum and she said, "If you like to visit odd things, you need to go down the road and have a look at the bunkers!"

Yup. That nuclear waste dump used to be the site of the world's largest explosive plant, and they needed safe places to store all of that TNT. Hidden bunkers. Dozens of them scattered around a nature preserve.

Of course we had to go see them for ourselves!




We found lots of them. One was actually open, so we parked the car on the side of the road and had a look-see.

Well, I had a look-see. Scaredy cat Dyanne stayed back and took a photo (which she put on her post).

Unfortunately, when I stuck my head in, there were noises coming from the inside. I wasn't about to stick around long enough to find out what was making them. So, no photo of the inside.

3. When given the chance, I will eat my weight in desserts.

And by given the chance, I mean any time without my kids. I hate being a bad example when they're standing right there watching me.

But I outdid myself this time.

Gigantic ice cream cones after our Saturday creepy adventures? Sure!

Use Dyanne's casino winnings ($12!) to have pie at almost midnight? Count me in!

After lunch dessert? Of course! We're kind of full, shall we split one? Heck NO!

Really, if you were there, no way you could have resisted. They had creme brulee cheesecake for Pete's sake!

No exaggeration, I gained 5 pounds in those two days.

It's all the fault of the restaurantuers. If you ever go to St. Louis, have we got some recommendations for you!

4. Surprisingly, I really do know people everywhere I go.

The kids claim that it's true, mostly because every time we leave the house I run into someone I know, and I usually stop and chat for a while and the kids hate that.

I just chalk it up to me knowing a lot of people and the south side of Indy being a relatively small place.

But then...

After pie at the casino, as we were standing up to leave, I heard, "CHRISTINE!" I instinctively turned  around and there, walking towards us, was a woman from our old neighborhood. She has a son the same age as Buttercup, and back in the day, we hung out all the time. I hadn't seen her in years.

So of course I had to stop and chat.

Dyanne took it way better than my kids do.

To those of you waiting patiently for a new post *cough* Kris's mom *cough* or not so impatiently (Dad, you can stop texting me the number of days since my last post now!), I'm sorry it took so long.

See you on the weekend!

Have a lovely day!

Friday, August 12, 2016

My Kids Have It, but Clearly It Didn't Come From Me

One of the million or so papers I had to sign or fill out at the beginning of the year was an inventory of sorts the 3rd grade teacher sent home. While I wasn't looking forward to filling out a 2 page paper, I was thankful it did not require a check, as so many of the beginning of the year papers do.

Question 4 or 5 asked for me to give the teacher three words to describe Turken. Not a fan of those questions, but for this marvelous teacher I would do it.

1. Funny. (The boy is hilarious.)

2. Kind (He wouldn't intentionally hurt a fly, either physically or mentally, let alone a kid in his class. His brother, Cuckoo is a different matter, but we're working on it.)

3. Intelli... That doesn't look right.

3. Intelle...Well, that doesn't either.

How in the world is it spelled?!!

Friends, I had to look up the word in the dictionary.

In case you're wondering, it is spelled I-N-T-E-L-L-I-G-E-N-T.

No irony here.

And that's how things are going around the coop.

In case you were wondering.

So, I'm taking a break.

Leaving Bryan and the kids to fend for themselves.

I'm meeting up with a friend for the weekend.

I'll tell you all about it on Sunday in my TToT post.

I'm sure there will be a photo or two.

You just might recognize both me and the friend I'm meeting.

Try not to vaporize in this oppressive heat and humidity while I'm gone. Oh the insanity of this humidity!

Have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

It's a Sports-Lover's Favorite Time of the Year! TToT Time!

The Olympics have begun!!

Oh how we enjoy watching these stellar athletes competing for those gold, silver, and bronze medals.

This week, I'm thankful for...

1. Swimmers

2. Divers

3. Water polo players

4. Soccer players

5. Gymnasts

6. Technology that allows us to watch races being raced in another hemisphere.

7. My family's interest in sports. One of us have played or raced in just about every sport in the Olympics, and those we haven't, we know enough about to know what's going on. Except for rugby. That one makes no sense to any of us.

8. In other news, I'm also thankful for opportunities to get together and visit with friends. There were several this week.

9. The soccer boys had the annual Red vs. Blue games, where our school's teams play each other (JV plays the JV2 team, then after a short break plays the varsity team). It is the only time in their lives that Giant and Star played against Phoenix. Everyone, players and spectators alike, thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Giant getting to the ball before a varsity player.

Phoenix taking a kick.

Why being a goalkeeper's mother is nerve wracking. Star slid in front of that player in order to keep him from scoring. See the ball?

Luckily the varsity player was able to jump over Star. That doesn't always happen.

10. The high school kids had a great start to the school year. They all have friends in their classes and they all are happy with the teachers they got. I am enjoying watching them all enjoying their teen years.

So, what good things are you grateful for this week? Have you been watching the Olympics? What's your favorite event?

Have a lovely day!




Ten Things of Thankful


 Your hosts