Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cutest Little Patient at Lutheran...

Cooper had surgery yesterday to place tubes in his ears. We've been through it with Claire so we knew what to expect. Still, it is never easy to read the fine print of the consent forms... or watch the nurse walk your baby through those double doors.

I was at peace with the decision, procedure, facility, and doctor (his kids swim on the same team as ours... and he did Claire's tubes a few years ago) and it all went seamlessly. Prayers were answered. We were home about three hours after we left the house. Cooper managed to take two naps as he woke from the anesthesia pretty cranky.

We just had to take a few shots of him in his "gown." I really should have asked to buy it.. it was soooo cute. Especially with the diaper hanging out.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Recipe for Successful Four Girl Sleepover

Prior to gathering, drop off six year old brother at "boys only" sleepover. Add together two five year old girls and two third grade girls. Add two extra large pancakes and three scrambled eggs. May not substitute fried eggs. Definitely not. Feed above to five year olds. Then order $20.00 worth of chinese food. Quickly, while you pop the popcorn. Turn on movie and turn on electric blanket. Put annoying baby brother to bed early. Fluff pillows and check on status of crab rangoon. Become informed the popcorn is "not the buttery kind." Add wine (adults only).

Talk about school, best friends, and boys with third graders. Check regularly on the internet while the 8 year olds play. Then add the following:

6 braids
3 facial treatments
2 movies
1 pan of brownies

Put five year olds to bed at 8:45. One in top bunk and one in bottom. May substitute if negotiated ahead of time. Set timer for 10:30 for third grade girls to go to bed if you fall asleep. Darn wine. May repeat recipe... but doubling is NOT recommended.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Program 2009

This year Claire's preschool had their first annual Christmas program. She attends a Christian preschool - so they were "allowed" to sing as many songs about Jesus and the true reason for the season as they wanted. I must say, it was pretty refreshing to say "Merry Christmas" to everyone in the crowd and not worry about offending anyone.

Her class was dressed as shepherds and they really belted out some great songs. She was a little bummed about the costume.... as she felt it "covered her pretty dress." I, however, was amazed with what those teachers could do with some paint and a white pillow case. So we took some pictures with and without the costume.

She and her BFF, Phoebe, stole the show... and then completely rocked the dessert table afterward. We are so thankful for her preschool and the incredible foundation they are laying. We are especially thankful for Pastor Stan's lyrics to "Jesus Is A Rock and He Rolls My Blues Away..."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Video: Claire Goes to Cheer Camp

Some genetics just can not be explained.

Claire wants to be a cheerleader.

Not just "wants" in a five year old sort of way. Like they "want" the latest toy they see advertised on TV. The five minute "want." Oh no.

This is deeper. This has staying power. This is, as the Wonder Pets would say, "see-wee-us."

So, while her two older siblings were spending the entire day at a swim meet with Monte, Cooper and I accompanied her to a cheer clinic run by Huntington University. She attended the clinic for three hours ( a marathon to a five year old) then got to come home for lunch and practice for.... drum roll please..... a HALF TIME SHOW WITH THE CHEERLEADERS during the men's basketball game!!!!!!

It was phenomenal. The entire staff at HU was top notch and obviously taken with all the wanna-be's attending the clinic. Because the University is private and Christian, there was a prayer before the game and an announcement that all spectators be courteous and refrain from profanity during the game. Classy.

I regret I didn't get more video. But it was pretty difficult to film and take pictures while wrangling Cooper ... who couldn't decide between chasing all those basketballs and flirting with the cheerleader moms.


Striking a pose with official Huntington University Pompoms.....

After the half-time performance... with one of her "favorite cheerleaders." Can you see the resemblance?

I completely love this picture. I told her I wanted to get a picture with the cheerleaders before we went home AFTER the practice and BEFORE the game... just in case we didn't make it back for the half- time show. Apparently not coming back was NOT an option.

And I love the underwear showing. It's pretty impossible to take her seriously with that going on....

The piece de resistance... the video clip. Claire is the one wearing the red skirt.... and having ALL the moves...

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's the Simple Things You Miss...

when you don't have it. Heat. Hot water. A pediatrician's office that provides the H1N1 vaccinations without having to drive 15 miles and stand in line 2-4 hours with four kids. Ahem.

You can see why I chose to look at these pictures today. I took them a while ago and forgot about them. After a rough 24 hours, I found myself needing to laugh. The longer I looked at them, the more I realized something. The things we take for granted. Heat. Hot water. Medical care.

I've been inconvenienced. The over-abundance of blessings that make up my life are all still there. But instead of counting them, I've been dwelling on something else.

I'm glad God called me to look over these pictures of the two busiest boys on earth. They got me back on track.

It's the simple things you (almost) miss.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Best of Days... and the Worst of Days...

Today has NOT gone the way I had hoped it would. Or planned.

We missed church... due to one snotty toddler, one crabby preschooler, and two wiped out school aged urchins. Too many nice days + too many playdates = too much attitude.

Just 14 days after a $1,000 furnace fix, both the furnace and hot water heater quit. Again. Why does it always happen after I decide to throw caution to the wind and let Cooper eat his applesauce himself? Drat. Showers at the Y. They may start to think we are homeless.

Cold shower for me. Freezing. Cold. See above.

I decided to make a cake. Our new oven does not have a locking mechanism. Cooper decided to open the oven while both of us were our of the kitchen. Thank God for "little mama" Claire who alerted us to the event and saved all of us from something very scary. Ordering oven lock today.

The homemade... from scratch .... carrot cake with the homemade cream cheese frosting ... burnt around the edges due to my "hotter than average" oven. Not to fear though... the middle decided to even things up a bit by being closer to raw. Ugh. I managed to salvage it with aluminum foil and cutting the edges out before serving. It was just about the ugliest thing ever. See picture.

And... to top it all off (pun intended), I forgot the candles to go on the cake. So... we ravaged the junk drawer and came up with last year's models... a 5 and a 7. The kids let the birthday boy decide whether he wanted to be 75 or 57. Even though he's only 43 today. For many reasons, it was the worst of days.

But. It's November 15th. The day we celebrate my husband's birthday. And not just because he's another year older. It's because on days like these... when I'm short tempered, dripping and cold, failing basic cake-baking, narrowly avoiding a trip to the ER, and wondering if I'm developing dementia.... he's right there. Smiling. Calm. Blowing out (last year's) candles. Eating the cake. Having seconds. Acting like it's all right. Making me believe that it is. And that makes today ... the best of days. Happy Birthday Sweetheart.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ready for Some Football?

There is a new trend on Sunday mornings at our house. Grayson (6) wakes up and immediately comes into our room and asks.... "Mom... it's Sunday. Do you know what that means?"

To which I always respond.... "Yes... two cups of coffee and church."

"AFTER that." It's FOOTBALL day."

Indeed. My deepest apologies to the Creator. It seems that despite years of Sunday School, it appears the "day of rest" shall be henceforth known as "Football Day." I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that one. I'll learning to pick my battles. As long as kickoff starts after the sermon.

I can now tell you that the Mannings are a trifecta in terms of football boys... and I know which teams Peyton and Eli "QB" ( Grayson tells me that's slang for quarterback) for. I also know Cooper (the other Manning) played in college but didn't play pro due to a back injury.

Uh huh. We're crossing off toys from the Christmas list and adding an assortment of NFL and college jerseys. We are no longer inviting the kindergarter neighbor girl over to play dressup (Princess Leia to our Luke Skywalker). Today she wore her "Future Cheerleader" T-shirt and cheered for him politely from the sidelines. They actually held hands walking up to the house. They looked so... teenager. Ish.

My heart skipped a beat and my mind flashed ahead a few years. Gulp.

He and Monte and a neighbor have been outside most of the day... in their football attire.... catching, throwing, running ... and throwing out football terminology. No scratching, spitting or patting each other's butts. Yet. I now only have control of my TV during time-outs and halftimes.

I hope you are ready for some football. I'm warming to the idea. Slowly.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pearls from Mom ...

We've been talking a lot around here about the value of money. While Santa and the elves may have a money tree growing in the backyard... we haven't seen one pop up yet here in Indiana.

Emma has a lot of ideas about "getting a job" when she gets older. I've been instructing (oops - I mean - "gently guiding") her to do something different. Please kids.... don't get jobs.

Here's a pearl. Get a degree. Get a career. Get a passion.

Your choices of career may not be the same as mine or your dad's. In fact, there is a good reason why they shouldn't. Your passion about your career should reflect who you are. What you are good at. What you care deeply about. What you are excited about doing. What you can do for the next fifty years without developing an ulcer.

I've been so fortunate to blend my career with my family. I didn't consider that when I chose my field. Family was NOT on my radar at the time. But I wish someone had advised me to its benefits at that time. Consider the ability to work part-time. You may not ever chose to. That's OK. But I guarantee you will appreciate having the choice.

You have to love it. Ideally, it should give back to you as much as you give to it. Rare? Maybe. Dig deep. You'll find it. Ask me for examples. If you glow telling stories about your work... you've chosen the right thing. It's all about making connections. The personal ones.

Let me be clear. Money is not the defining factor. If your passion calls you to teach, teach. If it calls you to run a business... do it. If you are a stay at home parent... make it your calling.

I hope you can witness moments that help define you. Grow you. Touch you. Make you want to be a better person. And know when you haven't been all you could have been. It's a pretty big decision. Take the time. We'll help.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Made for Her...

Emma is just not into clothes. Well, I should say she doesn't beg to go to the mall shopping for them. I guess it's just as well. Time enough for that later on.

I saw this outfit at the mall and it just seemed as though it was meant for her. And... bonus... it was on sale. Same for the sweater coat. The stars aligned. I bought it. It fit. She liked it.

Don't you just love it when an outfit comes together?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pearls from Mom... the Introduction

One of the most favorite periods of my life was my Milwaukee time. It was instrumental in shaping who I was to become... personally and professionally. I lived on my own in a big city, ate new and strange foods, made friends completely different from any others before... and had my car stolen.

But it was the people I met while working at Columbia Hospital that have left an indelible impression on my soul. The patients and my colleagues. It's impossible to say who had the most influence. One patient suffered a horrific stroke... and gradually over time... improved to a level no one had predicted. I had the pleasure of knowing him a loooong time. He knows my kids. Well, three of them anyway. He used to say some "funny" things during therapy to regain his language skills. And when he did, his partner would say.... "There's a pearl for you." Many of those "pearls" stay with me to this day ... because of the memories associated with them.

I want to impart some "pearls" of my own to our children. Things I want them to remember about their childhoods... our lives together ... and things I want them to know about me... back before they even existed. Imagine! I had a life before them. Gasp!

So... not all of these "pearls" will be posted here ... but some of them will. Some of you may be in them. If so, it is only my intention to honor you in the place you hold in our family. And to help to give the kids both roots and wings. Sort of like Milwaukee gave me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Boo To You! 2009

Halloween is the kids' Holy Grail of Holidays. They love the decorations, trick or treating, and resulting loot just as much as they enjoy the Christmas season. They often lament that the day does not last long enough. Today it did.

The day was looooong ... with a swim meet, a harvest party at church, trick or treating in the arctic cold ... followed by a halloween party. It it were not for the sugary boosts shovelled in their mouths, they may not have made it. But they managed to perservere.

Our neighborhood does Halloween in a big way... we had lots of dressed up kiddos, a visit from the Aboite Firetruck and firemen passing out candy and giving rides in the firetruck, and neighborhood grills providing hot dogs to hungry kids and parents. Good times.

Despite the unexpected layering to their costumes because of the cold, I think they made the best Cleopatra, Cinderella, Ninja, and Elephant that I've seen.

We hope your Halloween was just the right balance of silly, spooky and fun!

Monday, October 26, 2009


I am beginning to see how being an aunt or uncle could be a lot of fun. I've not experienced the pleasure of buying the loudest or most obnoxious toy or letting a kiddo have WAY too much candy, cookies, etc. before dinner. But I just might be getting my chance.

Sarah and Kevin (friends extraordinaire) brought these to my kids for our pre-Halloween gathering. Gummy creatures. The size of dinner plates. Octopus tentacles, centipedes, and other squid-like rubbery nastiness that make squeaky sounds when you bite into them. Eeewww. Revolting.

The kids LITERALLY ate them up. I've heard little else but how cool Kevin and Sarah are. Amidst complaints that we would never buy them something like that.

Yep. I smiled at Kevin and Sarah as I handed over the perfectly sized little bundle of Halloween goodness to their little Yoda. But all of you know what I was thinking about.... the Christmas present. Oh yes, revenge will be mine. And it will be sweet.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Tricks and Treats

Last night we were fortunate enough to have two Halloween parties. At dinnertime, we invited over the "Littlest Yoda" (as my kids called her) to practice her Trick or Treating skills. It turns out she got to practice her saber skills as well with the local ninja.

I let all the kids put on their costume for a little bit before we left for our adult party. I don't know what was the most fun for them... dressing up themselves or watching their normally "uber-cool" parents transform into nerds.

Yoda's parents got some good shots of the kids too. They brought along some Subway and "treats" for our kids. Watch for a separate post on those.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's a process....

this "thank you note" writing business. I believe in it and it's a "must do" in our house. But... they are often embarrassingly tardy. I apologize if you sent a gift to this newly five-year-old are still patiently waiting. They are coming. One slow pen-stroke at a time.

When you get the sticker adorned envelope with your name and hers so painstakingly crafted, please lift your eyes heavenward in thanks that we both made it through the process.

Claire has already stated that next year, she's only inviting ONE person. That way, she'll only have to write ONE thank you note. Hee hee.

Monday, October 19, 2009

When's the Best Day ....

to get a quote for a new furnace AND hot water heater (to the tune of $4,000)?

Probably NOT on the fourth day of the Team Savage stomach flu, 6 weeks prior to Christmas, on the day that your dog dug up the new landscaping, or six/seven months away from a potential move.

I don't know if there IS a good day for this sort of news... but for us, today WAS NOT it. If only a glass of wine didn't sound so revolting right now. Grumble .... scowl... frown... etc.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Claire's 5th Birthday Party

Claire's big party day didn't go as planned. We had planned a park party outside with a lot of running, swinging, and fresh air. You know, something appropriate for the "turning five" crowd.

When the weather report predicted ongoing showers all day... we went to plan B. That involved calling party places at the last minute starting with "Can you accommodate a group of preschoolers tomorrow?" I didn't have high hopes. Luckily, one place she has always wanted to go ... didn't hang up on us. They actually bent over backward to accommodate us. Of course, it was at a place with breakables. And paint. Excited as I was to book a "plan B", it made me want to pour a stiff drink.

It went off without a hitch. An hour and a half was just the right amount of time to create a masterpiece, have a cupcake (or two), open presents and read a book. Cooper didn't stay... a momma can only keep so many hands from breaking something. Everyone else had a great time... especially the birthday girl.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday Claire !!!

She's the quiet one. She's slow to warm, quick to observe, and only invokes the deep belly laughs when called for. She's not one to complain or whine over every injustice and is just starting to recognize and speak her own mind. Change and new situations are not things that make her comfortable ... but comfy jammies, books, her family, and "not soft blue bear" do.

She's five years old today ... and sporting a brand new haircut (because she saw fit to start the hair modification process herself). We think it makes her look at least six ... or six and a half.

So, how did she celebrate today? With a bunch of adoring ladies at the salon oohing and ahhing over the new do, followed by the entire beta fish swim team (and coaches) singing to her after swim practice... finished up with presents, chocolate cake with all the princess-y trimmings and an assortment of bedtime stories.

What makes this five year old girl smile? New nightgowns (no pajamas "with legs") for her anymore, Littlest Pet Shop accessories, and anything Barbie. And... of course.... the whipped icing off of her cake. Not necessarily the cake itself.

Happy Birthday Claire. We love your blossoming personality, willingness to try new things, and developing dry sense of humor. Love you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Big Boy Haircut

Apparently, at Claire's soccer game Saturday morning, Monte got equal compliments on our "cute little boy" and "darling little girl." I thought that was really nice ... until he told me everyone was talking about Cooper. Wearing blue. All over.

OK - as much as I love the curls, it was time to cut the hair. I didn't even bother to take the camera. I predicted he would be a fart in a skillet... and he was. I knew what his reaction would be. I just wasn't prepared for mine. Tears. Quite a few. It' s a really good thing I went to our family hair place. All the girls know me (and all the kids) and they treated us like family. Of course, they've known Cooper as long as I have. Kleenex, Diet Coke, knowing glances, and a few tears later, it was all done. He looks like a boy. And about three years old.

I still can't get him to slow down long enough to get a good shot of the curl-less wonder. This is the best I can do. Wish I could slow time down just a little bit.