Saturday, April 28, 2012

Blast from the Past

Brad's been catching up on some home videos lately, and I thought I'd share this little gem with you.  I dare you not to smile.

Drew, around 18 months...I think.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Project Life {Week 16}

Just a few pictures from this week...

 {Earning his keep by picking weeds.}

 {Earning his keep by helping Grammy make dessert.  I think he got the better end of the deal.}

{We often have breakfast for dinner, and chocolate chip waffles is our newest favorite menu item.}

{We spent Saturday in full throttle potty training mode, big boy underwear and all.  This warranted the "traveling towel" with which Reed was required to sit on wherever he was at.  Unfortunately, Reed was more successful sitting on the towel than he was using the potty.}

And a couple little additional stories:

I'll include the Park District brochure with Drew's and Brad's photos in it.
And I'll write about a special guest in Drew's preschool class.  Uncle Jeremy and three other law enforcement officers came to school to talk about bicycle safety, showcase a police car, and visit with the kids.  Apparently, Officer Uncle Jeremy made Drew feel quite special when he dropped into his classroom and announced himself as Drew's uncle.  Talk about the most popular kid in the class!  Such a sweet moment I want to be sure to record. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012


It's a pretty rad thing when we receive a message from a Pekin friend that Drew's photograph is in the Park District's summer program catalog.

So when Brad downloads it from the Pekin Park District's website, and scrolls down to page 10, we are shocked to find that not only is Drew's picture in the program, but so is Brad's.

And not just one picture.

SIX of them.

Pretty dang awesome.

But what's this?

Upon further inspection, I realize I recognize a few of these photos.  Like, really recognize.  As in, I took ALL of these photos!  Whoever works at the Park District and knows of this here blog, took all of these photos from this post.

To be sure, I am not upset by this.  We signed a waiver stating we were cool if they wanted to publish photos of my kid in their paraphernalia.  I wouldn't have thought they would've used my photos, though!  I'm just puzzled.  Who knows me and my blog to know that these photos were here? {Anyone with insight on this...I'd appreciate knowing how this came to be!}  

I'm pretty stoked to see my kid as the poster child for Pekin's T-ball and Tot Soccer programs.

Superstar.  Oh yes he is.

{Can we collect royalties on this or something???} :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kindergarten Round-Up

Last week, Hoover Elementary hosted Kindergarten Round-Up for students and their parents.  The parents had an informational meeting on Tuesday evening, and the students enjoyed some time at the school on Thursday afternoon.

Hoover is my alma mater.  From kindergarten through fourth grade, I was a proud Hoover Huskie.  I will very often tell people that, if given the chance, I would not go back to college or high school or (God forbid) junior high --- I would go back to Hoover.  I loved Hoover.  Loved loved loved.  And it will be Drew's first elementary school should we still be in Mankato in the fall.  Prayers upon prayers are being sent that we won't be here in the fall...but if we are, I'll admit that I'm a bit excited that Drew, too, will be a Huskie.

When I walked through the doors of the school on Tuesday night, it was like a time warp.  Some things have changed...yes...but much is the same.  The mural in the gym is exactly as it always was...that, for one, hasn't changed in the last 26 years.  The dome is still there, and still as awesome as ever, however the tree house no longer stands and it is the kindergarten and first grade classes that are in there instead of the "upper" classmen.  I remember what a big deal it was to "graduate" to the dome; once you reached 3rd grade your classroom would be there.  But now, the youngest ones are there and the center area is used for stations and circle activities.  There are some other changes, too (like the library and media center is where the kindergarten classrooms used to be, and the old library is now a 3rd grade classroom) but it is very much the way I still remember it.

When Brad and I entered the gym for the parents meeting, an overhead projector greeted us with the statement

"Welcome Class of 2025!"

Are you kidding me?!?!

Once my heart stopped palpitating, business carried on, and we were educated all about the kindergarten experience.  We learned all about the teachers, the day-to-day schedule, policies, lunches, the buses, etc etc etc.  And at the end, Drew became officially registered to begin school in the fall.


As for Drew, he gathered with all of the other incoming kindergarteners on Thursday afternoon, for an hour and a half introduction to Hoover.  He was pretty excited about going...before we actually got there. Because we had talked it up as being just another day of school, we didn't mention that he'd be there without us.  So as he and I are walking up the path to the front door, Drew asks me, "You're staying, right Mama?"  Ummmmm.... nooooooooo.  To which he promptly did a 180, began walking back to the car, and said, "I'm not going!"  Needless to say, it took a bit of convincing, and an eventual bribe, to get him to stay.  And when I returned to pick him up and enthusiastically asked, "Did you love it?" Drew very matter-of-factly said, "No. ... But I liked it."

Fair enough.  

We can now look forward to my favorite supply shopping!  Yes!


On a similar note... we had spring conferences with Drew's preschool teacher at the beginning of March, and she reaffirmed our belief that Drew is so ready for Kindergarten.  And if you'll excuse me for being quite proud of my little man and allow me to brag about him a are some of her very positive reflections:
  • "very capable and self-sufficient"
  • "stays with his group [of friends] - makes choices based on them"
  • "always on task and a good listener during circle time"
  • "great helper at clean up"
  • "is writing his name and other letters - beginning to spell words and show interest in writing"
  • "enjoys big play but does not get rough or carried away"
  • "grown a lot this year - still can be reserved or tentative"
  • "great friend - plays very well with others"
  • "cooperates and shares so well - enjoys his main friends but will branch out at times"
"Drew has had a wonderful year and is very ready for Kindergarten.  He has made wonderful friends and is such a fun loving, pleasant boy.  I love his laugh and sense of humor.  He is very appropriate at school and listens well."


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Project Life {Week 15}

The photos for this week:

The great chocolate bunny massacre of 2012.  
{Super creepy, isn't it???}


 I set up a fort in the boys' room on Thursday morning.  I thought it was pretty rockin'.

 The boys did, too.  For about 20 minutes.  

We spent Friday afternoon in the Cities, enjoying a playdate with the Vriezes.  Does everyone else already know how impossible it is to get four kids to sit still in the same spot for two seconds so I can get just one picture???   Of course you do.  I'm just an idiot.  This was the best I could get. 

The first garage sales of the season yielded several new puzzles and games for the boys. 

When Reed uses the big boy potty, his reward is M&Ms.
When Reed uses the big boy potty when Mom is at work, his reward is M&Ms on ice cream.

This week also includes three significant stories that I want to include in our album, but they have no coordinating photographs.  The first is that Drew has written his first letter to Santa, asking him for an iPod.  I'll be including his letter as well as some journaling explaining his urgency in writing to Santa so soon.  Second, Kindergarten Round-Up was last week at what will be Drew's new school in the fall, if we're still in Mankato.  I'll be including the sticker that was on the parents information folder as well as lengthy journaling on both the parents' meeting and Drew's introduction to the school.  And finally, I'll be including a journaling card explaining all of the church contacts Brad had last week.  He received four phone calls and had one meeting for job prospects at four different churches.  Seems as though spring is the time search committees kick things into high gear.  Good stuff.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Egg-stravaganza

{& Project Life, Week 14}

Our celebration of Easter revolved around a new tradition, some old traditions, and time with spent with family.  What else could anyone ask for???

The New Tradition: With help from the wonderful world wide web (and Pinterest) I found THIS 12-day activity plan for Resurrection Eggs.  I made my own eggs using some of our extra plastic eggs (I'm pretty sure I'll never have to buy another plastic egg these things multiply when they're tucked away the other 11 months of the year?!?!) and some rub-on numbers I had in my scrapbooking stash.  It turned out to be a really delightful activity for the boys.  Every night, they looked forward to opening an egg and finding the treasure inside.  Drew was a rock star when it came to answering some of the questions about each Bible story.  It's so amazing to hear him speak of Jesus and His Word.  I love it.    

An Old Tradition: Easter Egg Dyeing.  We used a couple egg dyeing kits I had gotten last year on clearance after the holiday, although I really wanted to do the Kool-Aid trick using muffin tins.  There's always next year.

An Old Tradition: Gathering with family to celebrate the holiday.  We had been hoping to go to Des Moines for the weekend to be with Brad's family; however, I had my first night of work on Saturday and I don't think Brad wanted to travel again, alone with the boys, so soon after having gotten back from spring break.  My mom's family, though, was scheduled to gather here at mom and dad's house on Saturday, and as it was often difficult to drive the distance from Illinois for our Gushee gatherings, we were thankful for the convenience of this one.  There were 21 of us here, including six of the great-grandchildren.

(Addy snuck away as I was taking this photo.)

When I see these kids together, it makes me think about what my cousins and I must've been like when we were together at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  I don't think we had our noses stuck in DS's or iPod's or other handheld games, I'm sure, but the time we had together was pretty awesome.

The Classic Old Tradition: Easter church service followed by an egg hunt.  The four of us went to the later service, and when we came home, the Easter bunny had visited us!  {He's really great about giving Pastor's kids, and their parents, a little leeway when it comes to dropping off the eggs.  He's knows it wouldn't be easy on us if he came before church, so he comes during.  Such a good bunny.}

Does anyone else think Drew looks like he's 10 years old in this picture???

The eggs are from the bunny, and then everyone gets a basket from Grammy and Papa.  The grandkids are sure to be stylin' in their matching PJs!  We also gave Drew and Reed baskets from us, which included a couple movies, cars, new card games and coloring books - all things I had in my go-to gift box in the basement.  

Good times.

{And for the sake of expediting blog posts, these pics will be used for Week 14 of Project Life.  As for Week 13, which I never blogged about... the pics from spring break, the treasure hunt, and the hotel pool will all be included.} :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Slight Detour

Alternately titled, "A New Road"

Or "A Different Direction"

Or "Why in the World Was She Left Behind?!?!"

Some of you know, and perhaps others of you have figured it out (you smart cookies, you) and perhaps some of you really don't care.  And maybe the reason why isn't worth all the suspense and you'll be totally disappointed.  If that's the case, you care too much about this blog. ;)

While we had talked about taking a little family trip to Pella over Spring Break, something suddenly came up {in the spirit of Marcia Brady} and I had to stay at home - to fill out these forms

and attend an all-day orientation for my new job.

I have thought about this blog post a lot (perhaps I care too much about this blog!) - about which way to take it.  I realized I would risk sounding spoiled or privileged or pretentious by writing it.  Other words, like ungrateful and irresponsible, also came to mind.


Because I didn't want to find a job.

I didn't want to have to find a job.

So at the risk of all of those things (and more) I'll take a chance and be honest.  It's probably not necessary for me to lay it all out there - translation: share with you all of my brutally honest feelings - because while I do totally and completely hate the situation we have been in the past several months, I do realize that we have it pretty good.  

Last fall, I could have applied for and easily gotten a seasonal job.  Hindsight - I should have.  But I just wasn't ready.  While I thought I had my head on straight and was thinking all the right things about doing whatever we needed to do to support and protect our family, even if it meant me going back to work... I just wasn't ready.  It was a bigger deal than I anticipated, and a much harder decision to make than I would have dreamed.  So I stalled.  And prayed.  And hoped that it wouldn't have to happen.

But sometimes we don't get our way.

"My ways are not your ways, Lord..."

Look.  I've been a stay-at-home mom for over five years.  While not everyday is great, some not even close, I love what I do.  I love being at home.  I love being the home manager and maker and mom.  I love taking Drew to school and scheduling appointments and running errands and doing laundry and cleaning the bathrooms and making dinner (well, maybe not those last two)... it's not so easy to have to switch gears, especially when it's changing in a direction I simply don't want to go. 

Brad had a handful of inquiries and interviews in the fall, but during the winter months it seemed as though the phone calls and emails dwindled and there wasn't much contact.  As much as Brad and I try to not let money rule our lives, that green stuff buys our groceries...and it doesn't grow on trees.  So, in the spirit of doing what needed to be done, I begrudgingly revamped my resume and began sending it out shortly after the new year.  I wasn't totally sure what kind of work I was looking for.  It's hard to know when there still is no inkling as to when and where Brad's next job is going to pop up.  I certainly was not looking for a career, and I wanted something that I would actually enjoy.  If I was going to have to be away from the boys the majority of my day, I would at least like to actually like what I would be doing.  And I felt weird applying for a job that would expect any kind of longevity when I simply wasn't sure how long I would be there.  Maybe none of those things should've been considered, I don't know.  Maybe my situation doesn't warrant me being so particular.  Maybe I needed to have the mindset of "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit."  Maybe I needed to find better fitting big girl panties and actually put them on.  Buck up, camper.  Wah wah wah.  Get over it.

Yep.  Maybe so.  But I'm being honest here.  It's just not that easy. 

I applied for jobs at the school district, at a garden center, a nursing home, with the county, and at a couple businesses.  All fruitless.  At the beginning of March, I applied for a job as a Caregiver with a company called Home Instead Senior Care.  I interviewed on Friday, March 16 and received an offer of employment one week later.  I had orientation on Tuesday, the 27th, met my first client this past Monday night, and have my first official night on the job this Saturday.

I'm still not crazy about it.


I'm not totally dreading it.

That's progress, people. 

The nitty gritty on the job: Home Instead Senior Care is a company that provides care and companionship for seniors so that they are able to stay in their homes.  I am employed as a non-medical Caregiver - someone that will provide companionship, home helper services, and/or personal care assistance to clients - basically my job description includes doing anything from playing cards to taking a client to an appointment, cooking dinner, light housekeeping or helping them with their daily grooming tasks.  It is considered part-time work - due to the nature of the job hours cannot be guaranteed - but depending on the week, I could be working upwards of 30 hours.  I will have one client, one night a week to start with, but my boss already called me this morning with a potential new client to start next week, and several hours of coverage for May for two other Caregivers that are taking time off.  I obviously have a lot of flexibility in my personal schedule, so I'm hoping that that will lead to the opportunity for more hours.

I know in my heart that I like to help people.  I'm not always that good at it, but it really is something I desire to do.  I want to do good.  I feel like this job will be a good fit for me.  I hope it will be.

I also received a call earlier this week from a local retail store where I had applied.  I'm hoping to receive another call soon to arrange for an in-store interview.  The hours there will potentially be after-store hours, so I'll be able to manage both work schedules.

Who knew?  After all of this, I could end up with two jobs.

Now that's funny.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Break 2012 {According to Drew}

The boys returned last Wednesday (the 28th) from their five day spring break trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  They had beautiful weather while they were there so they were able to enjoy the golf course, the backyard and four different parks - from what I hear, anyway.  You'll remember that this trip was just for the three guys; I had to stay behind and was forced to spend some time all by myself. ;)  The boys, however, had the pleasure of Grandma and Grandpa's company, Grandma's sweet treats, and some super quality time together.  

I commissioned Drew to give us the picture play by play.  You'll see that there is so much more to a photo that I would describe as "fun at the park" when Drew is doing the narrating!

"I was waving a big bubble."

"I'm hitting balls."

"And there Reed is hitting balls."  
"Yeah, see?  He's trying to hit the ball but he's really missing it."

"That's the car I was talking about.  We were riding in the cart with our flip flops.  That's the cart where we find Grandpa and Daddy's golf balls.  Grandma's the driver.  We were at the golf course.  See Grandpa way back there?"
Brad tells me that Reed has a long way to go in learning about golf course etiquette.  He might've said something about there being a lot of screaming...

"Right there we're washing the balls with that little thing that you put the little balls in the red thing and then you push it down and up and down and up and there's a brush in there that scrubs them when they're dirty and two green towels to dry them off to make them nice and clean.  Grandpa's [golf ball] was number 4 and Daddy's was number 3."

"Now we're riding bikes around the track that Grandma made on her deck.  You go around the chair and around the table and we come back around and through there if you want then spin around that and come around here and come around here and come around here and that's it."

"We're playing at the park.  You put your toes on the blue little thing.   We slide down the slide and Reed tries to climb that very big ladder backwards.  And then we go down those two slides.  Reed's kinda doing the wrong thing."

"I'm watching Tom and Jerry and that was the first one and then the second one and before Daddy turned on the TV we went to the store and buyed my new car with my money.  And when we came back home, that's when we turned on Tom and Jerry.  Reed thought he'd play Guess Who? and watch Tom and Jerry at the same time."

"That's when we were helping Grandma and Grandpa pick up sticks and weeds to make their yard nice and cool.  And guess what?  And then me and Reed did some funny things... rolling down the mountain.  And we went "whoa whoa!" and fell down on the grass and rolled.  And then Reed pretended he fell down on the ground and put his legs up and then I did the same things that Reed did.  Over and over until we hopped back to Grandpa."
Helping pick up the yard earned each boy a dollar, with which they went to Walmart so they could pick something to buy.  They both bought a new Hot Wheel, which is what Drew was referring to in the above picture.

"That's when we were swinging at the wooden park and I got off and there's a little tire tunnel that I can't go through cuz I'm too big."

"That's when me and Reed were trying to climb up the slippery rippery slide.  I'm in front of Reed.  And we're trying to climb it up to the wooden park and we found a really small guy and he liked to punch.  And there was a big guy - not a grown up - that took care of him."

"This was the first picture, then we were going to do another one and that's when we were going to head home but daddy forgot a few stuff like our teddy bears so Grandma threw them at me then Daddy had to turn back because he forgot our games and stuff and then Daddy said I couldn't have candy but then he changed his mind and said I could have just one.  Then we left McDonalds and Grandpa was at home."
Did you get all that?  In English - they took these pictures before leaving Wednesday morning.  Before they pulled out of the driveway, they realized they had forgotten Teddy & Tigger, and then after about a half hour on the road Brad realized he'd forgotten Drew's backpack with their toys in it.  So they made an early pit stop for lunch and Grandma drove out to bring them their things. 

"That's the second picture that Grandma and Grandpa took and Grandpa was being silly so we would look at him but Reed wasn't looking, he was looking down instead of at Grandma but then we started to head home and then that's all.

Do you have any more pictures?"


I talked with the boys every day - sometimes on the phone, sometimes via Skype.  I missed them.  A lot.  And Brad says they missed me, too.  They had a little "mommy/homesickness."  On Sunday, Drew said he wanted one more play day then he wanted to come home.  And they missed me at bedtime, too.  Or maybe they just missed their pillows.  :)  I think they were easily distracted, though, by all the fun at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  

Next time, boys, let's do the whole spring break thing together, k?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Little Fishies

One of the things we don't do very often with the boys is go swimming in a real which I mean something bigger than the inflatable kind that fits in the backyard.  It's not my most favorite thing to do, and Brad enjoys it, I think, but it isn't something we've made a big deal out of for our kids.  {If you remember, I did take Drew to swimming lessons for a couple years (2008 and 2009), and it is something I should have done with Reed...however, I have forgotten now why I decided not to...}


We traveled to Montevideo on Saturday afternoon as Brad was to do pulpit supply for a church there on Sunday morning.  We were able to stay at a hotel Saturday night, and while we were going to leave the boys at home with my parents for the quick trip, we decided somewhat last minute to take them along and create a super-mini vacation for just us.

The highlight, of course, was the hotel pool.  The biggest perk was that we had the entire pool all to ourselves, and we enjoyed every single inch of it.

True to their personalities, Drew was timid and reserved, and Reed was a go-getter - in and out and all around.  {I have decided that we need to invest in life jackets for future pool experiences like this for 1) the obvious safety precautions and 2) I think both boys would have ventured out a little farther past the stairs had they had them.}  But we had fun, nonetheless!

Some highlights...

 Venturing to the deep end.

 Reed took a lot of reminding that the floors were slippery.  He constantly wanted to go in the pool, then jump up out of it.  I guess he finally decided it would be safer to sit.

 I forgot to grab some of our splash balls from home; thankfully, this big pink ball was waiting for us in the pool.  It provided entertainment in a number of different ways.

 Strong, superman daddy.

 One fish

 Two fish

 Silly fish!

 Drew eventually showcased his bravery, and his trust in mom and dad, by venturing off the stairs to see that he could stand on the bottom of the pool!  Once he realized this and felt safe, he was jumping all around down there!  So, SO proud of this!

 And then there's Reed, who really shows hardly any fear.  By the time we were about finished, he was  sticking his head darn near all the way under water to blow bubbles...

...and reappearing with this big goofy grin on his face!

Our mini-vacation also included pizza buffet at the Pizza Ranch for dinner, followed by baths and a family movie all cozied up in our hotel beds.  We watched The Muppets and everyone highly recommends it. :)

We easily could have spent a couple more days together, just us.  Well, I could have anyway.  As much as there are times I need a break from the boys, sometimes a girl needs to have a little time away WITH her boys.