Thursday, December 9, 2010

Photo Retro

Nothing like a holiday season to take a normally hectic household and spin it into complete chaos. Welcome to my world. But, the past three weeks or so haven't been without highlights... or just randomness.

This is downtown Fort Wayne on Thanksgiving Eve. The (yet unlit) light display on the side of the building is an historic event in town: Santa, his sleigh and reindeer. I won't get into the whole history, but I will say it goes way back. People flock to the area, streets are closed off... coney dogs are consumed from Fort Wayne's famous Coney Island... and most years, umbrellas are raised. This year was no exception. We found a secret hiding spot where we could watch the lighting from the dry, toasty warm confines of our car. Let the countdown begin!


We hosted an early evening Thanksgiving dinner. It was a true blessing to all be together, given the Cameron brothers' recent string of surgeries. They hauled out The Settlers of Catan game, and well,... it was game on. Jenny and I did not play -- notice her knitting on the table... lower left of photo. She knitted, I watched. We learned that The Settlers of Catan is a long, long, long game. (Notice the time... after midnight.) I think James finally claimed victory somewhere around 12:30am. Or, as I like to call it, "what-the-hell-are-we-still-doing-awake" o'clock.

How do you win the love and admiration of all the kids? Two words: Reddi. Whip.

Cocoa and Calvin & Hobbes -- the perfect combination.

Sitting at the table after dinner, after homework... just enjoying the view of the tree.

And taking random crazy photos with the first kid to come by.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brush with celebrity

It isn't often in my life that I find myself in the presence of celebrity. However, I have had a few claims to fame including receiving a kiss on the cheek from Christopher Atkins (Blue Lagoon), meeting and having a photo taken with Sean Astin (The Goonies, Rudy) and absent-mindedly walking into Meijer for a poster board at the same time Sarah Palin was there signing her book. (Believe me, I wasn't nearly as excited about that last one as I had been for the previous two.)

When I arrived at work this morning, I noticed a semi-truck parked on our block, which we share with the Embassy Theatre in downtown Fort Wayne. There were also huge, custom charter buses parked nearby. I thought nothing of it, other than they were part of a stage production ready to perform at the theatre tonight. When I left work this afternoon, the truck was still in its place; and the buses were just returning and parking.

Then it hit me. And, I swear, I actually sucked in my breath when I realized who that truck and those two buses belonged to. None other than Indiana's favorite son... the rebel who "fights authority" (and authority always wins)... the guy who knows Jack & Diane personally...

John. Mellencamp.

I all but sprinted across the street and up the four flights of stairs in the parking garage. Because if John Mellencamp was going to be getting off a bus a few yards away from me? I was going to be driving by to take a photo. Period.
Well, all my slingback-pump-sprinting was for nothing. This is all I got for my effort:

But I know he was on the bus!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Two for One Special

I. I Just Can't Win

So yesterday (Saturday) I found myself in an interesting and unfamiliar situation: a morning/day in which I had no committments until 3:30pm. It was nothing short of a miracle that Bobby slept until 10am -- which was nice, since Jeff and I were working at our rental condo (painting) until 3am. I went to bed, while Jeff returned to paint... pulling an all-nighter. When I got up with Bobby, we proceeded to park ourselves in the den, where we played and I enjoyed coffee and one of my all-time favorite HGTV shows, Property Ladder. Before I knew it, it was time for Bobby to take a short nap, and I busied myself with (finally) putting Halloween decs back into their handy orange/black bins and taking them up to the attic. While up there, I slid the Christmas bins to the front for easy access -- it won't be long before we're into those. Jeff returned home, bleary-eyed, a little after noon. We sat together, just relaxing on the sofa... Jeff nodding off every so often, but then again, I can't say I blame him. And then I realized I felt sort of guilty. There it was... nearly 1:45pm on a Saturday and I was still in my fleece pj's, finishing coffee.

Guilty?!? Are you kidding me?!?!

I shot a quick text to Lindy, confessing my pangs of guilt. Her response? "Don't feel guilty! Enjoy it!"

This? Is why she's such an awesome friend. Because an awesome friend will already know what your normal, crazy-ass insane daily life is like and recognize when a "gift" day falls right into your lap. Further, she will have the perspective to remind you to not beat yourself up feeling guilty because you're not running across hell's half-acre, shuttling kids to various activities. She will recognize that everyone needs to embrace and enjoy unexpected downtime. Thank you, Lindy!

II. In Which I Eat My Words

During Jeff's gall bladder removal procedure, the doctor discovered he is prone to a condition which requires his diet to be pretty much nut-/seed-free. This restriction includes popcorn. Normally, a person may not bat an eyelash at this. Unfortunately, Jeff and I have carved out something of a "relaxation routine," of popping a huge bowl of popcorn after the kids go to bed, grabbing a Cherry Coke Zero ("DCC" from its former name, Diet Cherry Coke) and watching a movie. It isn't anything elaborate -- but it's our thing. Now, realizing he cannot partake in the main course, I resigned myself to only making popcorn when he wasn't around, so as not to eat it in front of him. I wished for an alternative for him -- maybe rice cakes...? Little did I know, the snack food industry had answered my prayers years ago. We were in the store a couple of weeks ago, and Jeff picked up a bag of Mike-Sell's Oven-Baked Puffcorn Delites.

I admit... I mocked him. Openly. Right there in the middle of the snack aisle.

"Really, Honey?" I smirked. "Fake popcorn?"

He valiantly championed his purchase, saying he used to eat those puffs as a kid. And they are quite tasty, thank you very much.

I doubted. And I mocked.

"They look like packing material," I said. "Little, buttery pieces of packing material."

One evening Jeff sat beside me on the sofa, with a few puffs and a DCC. I thought I'd humor him and try one.

Wow. Those little things are good. Delicious, in fact. Addictive.

Yesterday, after having sampled myself silly on Puffcorn Delites for the better part of a week, I took a look at the nutrition label. I hadn't thus far, simply because I didn't want to know the horrible truth, that my new little tasty snack wasn't the healthiest choice on the block.

180 calories and 12g of fat per serving. And a serving? Three cups. Three cups, people. In serving terms, that's a HUGE amount... and I have made it my business/obsession over the past several months to track servings/calories on what I eat. I have never run across a serving that ventured past, say, a half-cup.

So now I will happily eat my words... as well as those lovely little Puffcorn Delites.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Playing catch up...

Since my camera and the cord through which I download photos onto my computer decided to play nicely together (there's a major connection problem, and the solution is to get a card reader... it's on the list) I thought I would post the last of the batch taken at the end of October.

Our "family of pumpkins," all aglow on Halloween night. The little angry one in the back is mine... hovering just above everyone else... go figure.

And look who went full Martha Stewart with the fancy-pants carving! I have seen this type of carving done many times, but figured it was way too involved and time-consuming to actually do. Surprise, surprise... it isn't. Rather than carve, you really just have to scrape.

And here's the pumpkin-glowy "BOO" lit up.

This would be Tyler bringing to "life" a dead zombie look. I'm telling you, the Salvation Army store is THE place to pick up stuff for Halloween costumes, if you're creating your own. We got his full suit, shirt (and I think a tie... which wasn't worn), plus items for Kate, Jack, Charlie and Sam all for $25. The only other cost was $5 for a jumbo bottle of fake blood, and the boys were in business.

OK, Stacy... this one's for you. :) Kate as a mime. Thank goodness she was a sweet, friendly mime, as opposed to the eerie, creepy variety.

And one last shot of the "hardware" the boys (and a friend) received at the football banquet. I think most everyone on my personal email list has had enough already of the photos. Sorry folks. You're going to have to endure just one more -- the always mandatory "nice" shot, where no one is grimacing, sticking out a tongue or giving me his best "gangsta" pose. Charlie (left), their friend Jiya and Jack -- green squad MVP, orange squad MVP and orange squad Defense Player of the Year, respectively.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Payoff

For all those times...
... we've asked, "Is your homework done?"
... we made them run through spelling words.
... they took extra time on special reports and projects.
... we made them go to bed early.
... they were drilled on spelling words (again) in the car.
... I nagged at them to eat a good breakfast, insisting "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know."
... I threatened groundings if they didn't -- for the love of God -- stop talking and get some sleep!
... I asked them to run through spelling words, just *one* more time.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the payoff:

Three Principal's Honor Roll certificates for achieving straight A's

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What? Me, too?!?

In the wee hours of the morning, I dreamed of...


More specifically, Christmas decorating.

Personally, I blame Crate & Barrel, since I was looking at their new catalog (where halls are decked in not only holly, but an assortment of C&B products, perfect for your home as well...). Of course, these little decor nuggets fell into my head and popped to the surface somewhere around 4a.m.

I am one of the people who stop dead in my tracks when I see tinsel, stockings and ornaments in a store -- before mid-September. I usually do the mandatory eye-roll, perhaps shake the head a bit then proceed on to my destination. But, now... with the images and ideas creeping into my head, then jumping to life in my can I possibly ignore that?

Then, as I was getting out of the shower this morning, I realized the date: October 27. November 27 is about four weeks away. December 27 is about eight weeks away. (I know... my mad math skillz are amazing, yes?) My point? Christmas is just around the corner. Less than eight weeks. The planner/organizer living inside me suddenly woke up with a start. I must start getting ready!

But at least I promise to wait until after the pumpkins are cleared from the front porch before stringing up the sparkly Christmas lights.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Details,... Details,...

In our area of the Midwest, mid- to late- October weather can be dicey at best. So, this past Sunday, when we were blessed with a clear, sunny 70-ish degree day, nearly everyone took advantage of it.

I was (technically) outdoors, but spent three hours detailing our vehicles. Fun. Fun. Fun.

It was a "must," since both the car's interior was looking pretty bad; and the van? Oy vey. It was starting to smell.

Now, before anyone goes all judgey on me, let me assure you we are a fairly tidy family -- with the exception of a few bedrooms which appear to have had isolated tornadoes touch down. I function much better (and everyone around me is much happier) when things are orderly and clean. Actually, I'm kind of OCD that way. So, when I approached the driveway with a trash bag, a rag and the Armor-All, it was easy to see I meant business.

Two hours, a kitchen-sized trash bag and a stroller full of blankets, socks, books and whatnot, I stepped away from the van satisfied. Every last inch... every nook and cranny had been vacuumed clean and washed down. Biggest surprise? The number of petrified french fries I discovered. (Which, you know, kind of lends a little more credibility to the recent story about Happy Meals and their "shelf life." Eeew.) Most irritating find? The chocolate something that Charlie put in his cup-holder, only to have it melt and resolidify, melt and resolidify God knows how many times. If carpet and upholstery could shine, the inside of the van would blind you. There isn't a spot of anything, anywhere. If any of them so much as lose an eyelash in there, I'm going to know about it. It was at this point that I announced to Jeff that he and I were the ONLY two individuals ever allowed to bring anything into the van: be it food, drink or diversions.

The car was next, and proved to be a much easier job despite the fact that it looked as if someone just dumped grass clippings from mid-June all over the carpeting. When all was said and done, and the Shop-Vac had been retired for the day... I was pleased.

Yesterday on my way to work, I kept looking at the interior of the car, smiling to myself. Clean. Clean. Clean. (See? I am kind of OCD about it.)

And the first person to even think of leaving a candy wrapper, crumpled receipt, half-finished bottle of Gatorade in there? Well, let's just say, we'll be having a little chat as we roll the Shop-Vac out to the driveway.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I have no title for this post.

Today, chatting with Lindy, I mentioned that WH (that's "Wonderful Husband") texted me at work to say he had just finished vacuuming the stairway and the second floor of the house. That's pretty darn wonderful -- hence the "WH" moniker. I told her it wasn't as if he did this to earn points. Rather, he did this in response to my bringing up the idea of hiring in a nice lady to visit two times a month and give our home a good once over in the cleaning department. It isn't as if I'm too good for working around the house. It's just that with the six kids, work, school, sports, activities, etc. there are some days when I begin shuttling kids or cars around town on my way home from work, and don't even see the inside of our house until 8-9pm. At that point, there are kids to get to bed and another day to plan for. My point to WH this morning was, we do the best we can, and even delegate several household chores to kids. And, yet, I still look around and wonder when exactly a pack of hooligans broke into my house and ransacked it. And because with a toddler who makes it his job to get into as much shit as possible every day and NOT put things back where they belong, well... things get out of hand pretty quickly.

However, as soon as I so much as formed the thought, WH was all "Oh, hell no" about it. Reason? Bringing in an Amish woman to clean was like offering an open invitation to steal our stuff. First of all, I don't know why he immediately assumed I wanted to hire an Amish woman. Perhaps the close proximity of them to our side of town? I have to admit -- I'll bet they do a bang-up job. Anyway... if we did happen to go with a nice Amish woman, a.) our electronics would be safe, and b.) aside from our electronics, I doubt there's much here she'd want.

Regardless, I am not hiring a woman (Amish or not) to give our house a good, thorough scrub twice a month. Instead, a flame has been lit under WH's backside, prompting him to not only vacuum, but clean* the garage today. I guess I'll take what I can get.

*Note: using the term "clean" here is done so ONLY if you coung moving a bunch of crap from one side of the garage to the other, and supervising a pick-up from Goodwill.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In which I 'fess up to being a big crybaby

So, here's the thing. I've become my mother.
Not completely, since I'm sure she'd argue that we are quite different in some ways. However, when I was a kid, and we'd be watching a particularly sappy movie on television, it was just a matter of time before I'd hear a huge sniff, and turn to see my mom wiping tears away.
"What?!" she'd say, starting to laugh through her tears.
And if my dad happened to walk in? Oh, my gosh... forget it. He'd give a good-natured hard time, laugh and go get her a box of tissues.

Now, that crying person is... me.

Gradually, over the past God-knows-how-many years, I've noticed a tendency to well up with tears if a really sad song was on the radio. Or, say, a really good, heart-string-tugging Hallmark commercial came on. Then, last Christmas, we were sitting in church and the pastor asked us to all stand and sing with the choir.

Oh. No.

I had been secretly crying to Christmas carols at that point for a month. And now, here I was, biting my lip to keep from completely losing my shit while everyone else harmonized on "O Come, All Ye Faithful." I tried averting my own attention by focusing on Bobby, pointing out all the pretty lights in the decorations. It worked. A little.

Fast forward a few months to March, when we kicked off the month with Bobby's first birthday. I couldn't even sing Happy Birthday to him, because I couldn't make it through the song without breaking down. Then, my beloved Butler Bulldogs became the unexpected, Cinderella-story of the entire NCAA basketball tournament. As they ticked off wins from the Sweet Sixteen to the Elite Eight, I would celebrate each win with an enthusiastic cheer -- and teary eyes. The day they made it into the Final Four, I got a double-whammy: as they were winning their game, Jack, Charlie and Sam were winning a tournament game in their indoor flag football league.

I. Was. A. Mess.

After that, during the boys' baseball season, I became extremely grateful for my sunglasses and their ability to cover my teary eyes. The boys had phenomenal seasons (Jack had his first Grand Slam!), ending with Sam's team AND Jack & Charlie's team winning their division championships. As long as I could keep the tears from sliding down my cheeks, I was good. Come to think of it, it was so damn Hell hot out there, anyone who noticed might just have assumed the tears were sweat.

Earlier this week, Lindy tipped me off to a new Kenny Chesney song, "The Boys of Fall." I am not a Country fan in the least; however, I gave the song a listen (finding the eight-minute video online) and almost completely lost my composure. Hello?!?! The song is about football!! How can I possibly cry at football? (It's a hell of a video, people. Check it out. Bring a tissue.) And in the past 24 hours, I have worked up a good cry about a half-dozen times thanks to the Chilean miners rescue. I really think you'd have to have a heart of stone to NOT cry for each and every one of those men, their families and friends as they emerged from the Phoenix capsule. Naturally, for me, getting all worked up and not letting out a good cry has resulted in the mother of all headaches. And the continuing urge to cry.

Before I completely take my red-eyed, quivering-chin award and call it a day, let me add that I am not alone. Someone I know -- someone of the male gender -- has previously been called out for crying at a movie. And it wasn't even the All-Time-Male-Approved-Movie-to-Cry-To (Brian's Song). Are you ready for this? It was... The Little Mermaid. And, he's further admitted to crying at the close of some Lord of the Rings film, but I forget which one.

And now, after coming clean and admitting to being a big crybaby, perhaps I'll just let the tears flow freely the next time I find myself moved to do so. What's the point of holding it in? None that I can see. Other than the fact that I will end up looking like a big, ol' sobbing raccoon as mascara runs all over my face. Hello, waterproof mascara! Where the hell are my tissues?

And Mom? If you read this, you totally have permission to call me out, poke fun and laugh if you catch me getting all sappy. You owe me a few.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lobbying for June, July, August, November, December.

Why did I leave out September and October?

Simple. They are the months from hell, thank you very much.

September and October are frantic, harried and leave us feeling like we've been run over with a runaway dump truck. Not only is there school for the kids, but marching band practices and weekend competitions... football practices after school for two-and-a-half-hours and Saturday games. And let's not overlook the college student who needs rides to campus and back, as well as rides to work. And back. All this shuttling around town? Well, let's just say I swear I saw Jeff perusing the spray paint display at Menard's. He had stopped at "Taxi Cab Yellow."

Tomorrow marks the half-way point in our eight-week whirlwind. And to mark the occasion, Jeff is celebrating by having gallbladder surgery. And two weeks from tomorrow... shoulder surgery.

Oy vey.

So, tonight... as the kids and Jeff sleep, I am writing while waiting for a critical* load of laundry to finish in the washer, so I can transfer it to the dryer and call it a night. Since I will be on post-op nurse duty for Jeff all weekend, I anticipate catching up on blogging in addition to working from home and reading. Catch you all later.

*Critical because this morning Sam had to borrow clothing from Jack and Charlie -- his drawer was empty. Super. That might be because of the hideously malformed pile of clothing growing out of the laundry basket in the corner of their room. When you make it home past 8-9pm more than a few evenings in a week, the laundry do suffer.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I gave myself 15 minutes this morning to sit down and write a post. Then I got sidetracked by Facebook and currently have about 15 seconds to write something here.

Lots going on lately, just rarely find time to sit myself down at the computer and write. Which, really, contradicts the fact that I call myself/consider myself a writer. Because, seriously... if you are a writer, you must write.

Watched the season premiere of one of the best shows on television last night, Grey's Anatomy. Really connected with Cristina's character when she says to the hospital therapist, "Girls are either born simple, or they're born... me." I have tried to "simplify" myself in the past, and haven't felt like I succeeded. And, while I am still a far cry from being considered "high maintenance," I would love to be one of those women who can focus solely on the important things in life, (God, family, friends) and let all the s**t roll off her back. Unfortunately, I find myself worrying about or obsessing over unimportant things... things that distract me from where I really want to go.

Thankfully, there is always hope -- always a chance for change (note the parallel to Meredith's closing monologue on GA). Every minute, there's a chance to be re-born...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

One in the W column...

Jack, #3 (on the right) Charlie, #6, at QB... ready for the snap

So, I've landed with both feet firmly planted in football season. There's just something about the chill in the air (minus the drizzle) and the sound of ref's whistles. I love it. And, despite some early season drama with the boys, during which they were considering chucking football for baseball, their season opener was fabulous -- a 26-6 win. Charlie scored two touchdowns, and Jack ran the ball quite a bit. (Missed a TD for himself after an opponent decided to trip, rather than tackle him. (And nothing was called?! WTH?!)
Here's looking forward to a great season!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I'd like to imagine I'd have something more meaningful to say following nearly a month hiatus. However, in the wee hours of this morning, when I wsa obviously still flying high from the soy latte I foolishly drank around 9pm last night, random thoughts began flying around my head, prompting a "WTH?!" thought-bubble after each one. And in keeping with some of my blog peeps' crafty, witty ways, I decided to christen today as "WTH?! WEDNESDAY." My own entry is as follows:

  • My cell phone rang somewhere around 3-4a.m. No one was there when I answered, so I hung up. That call was immediately followed by another, in which some girl demanded, "Do you know somebody named Julius?! I went from zero to bitch in 1.3 seconds and told her she had the wrong number. Jeff said I should have told her, "He's sleeping right now..." However, I wasn't in the mood to start trouble and almost guarantee that somewhere, poor Julius would be getting his ass kicked promptly.

Feel free to contribute your own "WTH?! WEDNESDAY" offering in the comments. I haven't yet figured out if there will be a prize, or what said prize could possibly be, but there's got to be something for putting up with rampant insanity and stupid people.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'd go Amish, but they use cell phones, too

So, this week started innocently enough. A good day at work, great cardio class, I got serious about a training diet and (for once) didn't blow it. The week was off to a wonderful beginning. And even better? It was a 3-day work week, since we are heading out Thursday for a family camping trip -- a "last hurrah" of summer, before college classes begin for Tyler, and the rest of the kids head back to school.

Then, Monday afternoon rolled around.

School registration for Jack, Charlie and Sam. The school didn't have the A/C on, and it was hot. Africa hot. As in, "this-should-be-considered-a-warning-you-are-about-to-enter-a-circle-of-hell" hot. Whatever. We handled everything fairly quickly... at least moreso than I had anticipated. Then it was off to the high school to help Kate. It had just started raining when I got there, but shuttled Bobby and myself into the school ASAP. We got hit with a few raindrops, but no major downpour. At some point in the following two hours, I set my Palm in the stroller cupholder, just in case, so I could hear it if Jeff called. Apparently one of the few raindrops landed in said cupholder, puddled together and proceeded to fry the living s**t out of my phone. Fabulous.

Throughout the next 24 hours I silently lamented the loss of, ... well... everything. Did you hear me, people? Everything. Contacts, phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, anniversaries, notes, shopping lists, the list goes on. And for a brief time, I was absolutely sick over the possibility of having lost hundreds of photos. Irreplacable photos that I should have transferred to the computer, but hadn't. Luckily, Jeff managed to pull the memory card, and there they were. Safe and sound.

In retrospect, I should be ashamed of myself, getting all worked up over a simple piece of electronic equipment. But wouldn't any other person get just as freaked out if their cell suddenly curled up and died? With as many people I know who use their phones for much more than making phone calls, I would tend to think I am not alone. Still, I feel like some spoiled brat, pouting and being all bajiggety over a phone.

A year ago, I was caught running a 5K in a monsoon, and my phone freaked out when it became waterlogged. You would have thought I'd learned my lesson then. You would be wrong. I swore then I should just go Amish and shun all things electric, bright and shiny.

Then you see a buggy pull up at Meijer (yes, I live in borderline Amish country) and see the dad chatting away on his cell phone, and you realize there's just no winning.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A short while ago, a friend posted the following on her blog, relating to a Facebook post which warned of her mood that day: “Warning: I am crabby today. Like I could eat small children for breakfast. That is all.”

I was having one of those mornings today, when all I wanted to do was continue sleeping – but my alarm had other plans for me. As I rolled out of bed and got my “grump” on, I began noticing various things in my path that both shocked and astounded me. I see these things every day, but somehow saw them with fresh eyes today.

Case in point:

People, do you see the number of toothbrushes? If you can’t see it clearly, let me point out there are 12. These constitute the kids’ toothbrushes. I do not have 12 kids, although some days, holy hell it feels like it. There are currently five toothbrushing kids and 12 toothbrushes. (Bobby brushes with supervision, so his toothbrush lives with mine and Jeff's in our bathroom.) Believe me, while we enjoy cavity-free check-ups, no one brushes so often as to require more than one toothbrush.

Oldest son (18) had three friends stay over last night. I’m sure the video game-playing stretched into the wee hours of the morning. When Jeff, Bobby and I came down to the kitchen shortly after 7am, all was quiet. I peeked into the den and saw a boy-foot hanging over the back of the sofa. It’s entirely likely no one will move until well after 10am. Maybe even noon. Regardless, I am at work, and Jeff gets to deal with it. But I digress…
These boys are headed to college in a few weeks. And while one might wonder if kids are ever truly prepared to leave for college, I saw this in my kitchen sink:

A bowl of Ramen noodles.
They are ready for college.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Snapshots of Randomness: Or, What You Rediscover When You "Clean Out" Your Phone

I admitted a long time ago -- publicly, even, in a magazine article -- I am a packrat.

I acknowledge it. I own it. I embrace it.

This past Monday, I got to play "Executive Traveler" and took the company jet to our offices in Greensboro, NC. My agenda for the day consisted of five hours' worth of meetings and a tour; then I stepped back into reality, catching a 4:45pm commercial flight from Greensboro to Cincinnati, then Cincinnati to Fort Wayne. During my three hour layover in Cinci, I treated myself to dinner, then settled in with a Starbuck's soy latte to await my boarding call. I began looking back through old photos, and realized I had a whole lotta. Many of these photos were taken with the sole purpose of appearing here on the blog, but -- for whatever reason -- never made it.

Until now.

Here, we have Jack and Charlie and their good friend, Coleson, posing in front of the Barbie exhibit at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis. The Indy field trip in May included a great tour at the State Capitol, followed by an afternoon at the museum. If you think this photo will make them cringe when they are 16, rest assured... I have more. And video of them dancing --with the girls from their class -- in the Barbie Fashion Show exhibit. Hello, Blackmail.

Next, we have Seamus McPimp, a.k.a. Jack. This is what happens when you agree to buy the boys some St. Patrick's Day garb to wear to school. I never had the heart to tell him I ended up seeing the exact same hat, worn by a 7-year-old pageant hopeful in an episode of "Toddlers and Tiaras." (And, by the way, we were at Wal-Mart. I'm sure not one shopper batted an overly-mascara'd eyelash at a 10-year-old boy dressed like an Irish pimp.)

Here is the company jet I got to ride in. I went totally tourist and had to snap a shot as we walked over to board. I sent the photo home in a text so Jeff could show Jack, Charlie and Sam. He reported they were impressed. :)

Still cleaning. More photos to come.......

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Deep Sea Adventure

Last Friday, we had a friend and her family over for dinner. She said she'd be bringing dessert. Fabulous. Want to know what else she brought?


Yes, you read that right. Octopus. Or, I should say, octopi... since it was a little plastic container with several of the little eight-armed/legged creatures inside.

They weren't pets. They were snacks. Well, I'm sure the grocery store intended them to be snacks; however in my house? They were something akin to a Ripley's Believe It or Not episode. The kids all peeked and poked at them. Then we put them in the fridge (for fear they'd start to stink) and went about our evening.

Later, after Lindy and family left and we were cleaning up the kitchen, we re-discovered the octopi in the fridge. One of the kids hadn't seen them yet, so we cracked open the lid on the container yet again. As I told Lindy, the "dares" started flying around, and before we knew it, we were all chewing on an octopus leg. (Except Charlie, who stared at us like we were insane. He may have been right.) And the only reason we didn't try the entire octopus, was because on the way over, Ryan tried one. I can't even re-document his experience, because it makes my stomach flip every time I even think about it. (You can click on Lindy's site from the link above and read it for yourself.)

Verdict? It tasted like a rubber band soaked in teriyaki sauce.

Funniest comment was Sam's, when afterward, he came up to me and said he was sure he had a tentacle caught between his teeth.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not to be forgotten...

Congratulations, Sam and the entire Garrett State Bank team!
2010 Clemente division CHAMPIONS!

(Technically, this should have run before the previous post, as Sam's team won their championship three days before Jack and Charlie did. My apologies, Sam.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Despite Freddie Mercury absolutely spinning in his grave with my rendition of "We Are the Champions," I am proud to say Jack and Charlie's baseball team won their division tournament tonight. They won against the team that placed first in their division, with J&C's team placing second. It was an epic battle, ending with a score of 11-5 in our favor. It was a truly amazing game, played well by young men who have grown from simply a "group of boys" into a TEAM throughout this season.

It was worth all the cross-town treks for practices and games.
It was worth sitting on bleachers in hell-hot sun, sweating and frying my skin to a crisp.
It was worth getting drenched as we ran to the cars, after black skies ripped open and dumped on us.
It was worth all the 11pm loads of laundry to have uniforms clean for the next day's game.
It. Was. Worth. It.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Quite possibly the cutest shoes ever made...

Technically, these are knock-off Crocs. But when you see these adorable little rubbery crocodiles, you can't help but call them CROCS. (Thank you to the JumpingBean company and Kohl's for providing this adorable addition to Bobby's wardrobe.)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Whassup, Dog?!

So, tonight, I looked at poor Buddy, our dog, and realized someone needed a good brushing.

Thirty minutes later, it looked like a dog exploded in our front yard. I was tempted to take a photo of the massive amounts of undercoat fur piled up, but it would simply cement my status as Worst Pet Owner of the Year.

Who would have thought one medium-sized dog could hold THAT much undercoat? And, if there was any doubt as to my assessment of the situation (it looking like the dog exploded), Jeff returned from the store, stepped out of the van and said, "Wow. Looks like the dog exploded."


Dear Buddy,

I am so sorry for making you sit through summer thus far with the equivalent of three fur coats on. Brushing you isn't a huge chore, but somehow we all end up "too busy" to do it. Therefore, you have my word -- from here on out -- you will get brushed regularly, ending the sweltering madness you have experienced lately.

Much love, Mom

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer, so far... in 24 Frames

Mama Robin in our crabapple tree. She had a nest-full of babies to protect and feed. We were privileged to have watched the entire process. Best memory? The morning she took on -- and defeated -- two squirrels trying to climb HER tree. Lesson learned? Never, ever screw with a mom protecting her babies. You. Will. Lose.

His brother's keeper... Jack watching Charlie at bat.

Charlie at third,... waiting to cross the plate.

Sam at bat -- the lankiest, eight-year-old powerhouse I've ever seen.

Game rained out.

Nothing better in life than a push from a big brother.

No matter how grown up you feel at age 8, there's still room for swinging on a hot afternoon.

Or, when you're 10-going-on 11...

It turns out there IS something better than a push from a big brother... when he comes around and gives you a kiss each time you reach him.

Rare moment of peace...

Life lessons at the park: Sometimes in life you have to run up a hill...

...and most times it's easy to come back down. But even in the easy times, you may fall...

...and see others do the same...

...and sometimes it's OK to be the "last man standing."

There are times when you need to see things from a new perspective... different than what they usually are... (p.s.--it's a bike rack)

There's always room to learn -- even on summer break. We tried the "Mentos & Coke" experiment. Drop about six Mentos in a 2-l of Coke, stand back and watch the eruption. (I promise the "eruption" was higher and more dramatic, but I was too busy watching and forgot to snap a photo at maximum height.)

We had a great celebration. Congratulations, Tyler... graduating with high honors is a huge accomplishment.

Father's Day morning... having coffee and reading the paper, enjoying the start of a beautiful day.

Nothing says "I love you" and "You're the best dad" better than FIRE. The other part of Jeff's gift was a bag full of graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey bars.

A great night for roasting marshmallows. Or charring. Whichever you prefer.

Mmmmmm. S'mores.

Our neighborhood hosts an annual Family Fun Fest right before the 4th of July holiday. The entire weekend is full of parties, swimming and family-friendly events. It screams "summer." Here are Bobby and Daddy as we wait for the fireworks show over the golf course.

The summer night sky, waiting...

Ooooooh,... aahhhhh....