Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Day at the Apple Orchard

Today I went with Jacob's Kindergarten class on a field trip to a local apple orchard. This was Jacob's first field trip and first trip ever on a school bus and he was "just a little" excited.

Before today, they created these adorable apple t-shirts by printing them with real apples dipped in paint. This is Jacob with a couple of his friends, Mitchell in one picture and Samantha in the other.

While waiting for the tour guide, they sang their apple song with sign language that they had been practicing..... sooooo cute!!! Here they are doing the sign for "tree".

They got to pick apples to fill their own bag and then got to eat one right off the tree when they were done. I must say- that was probably the best tasting apple I have had all year!

Then, they got to see the factory on their tour. They showed the kids an old apple grading machine- used back in 1922. Then, took them into the factory with the new machine used today. It washes the apples, workers inspect them, then they are sorted by size (smaller ones put aside for juice/cider) and packaged for sale. It was truly a "working farm"- people were working and the children got to observe! I think I was as impressed as the kids were! (the first is the old one)

This is the new one (like 50 times bigger!)

They even got to taste some apple juice and watched a filmstrip about the life cycle of an apple tree.

Then everyone posed together for a class picture, with some apple trees in the background.

I think I had as much fun as the kids did and I am so glad I was able to go and spend time with Jacob. Poor guy often seems to be "stuck in the middle" between his big brother Kenny and the girls and I often feel I don't give him near enough attention. It was wonderful to be able to spend the day with just me and him. I just kept looking at him and couldn't believe how cute he was and how fast he is growing up! I love this kid! (Isn't he just adorable?!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Here We Go!! Wish Him Luck!!!!

Yesterday, September 24th, Aaron began a new journey. He went back to school. I am so incredibly proud of him and I know he will do great! He will still be working his normal 40 hour week (with occasional overtime, most likely) and attending classes in the evening- so he will be one busy guy! This quarter, he is starting with College Algebra and Chemistry to get some of his basics out of the way. His ultimate goal is to get an engineering degree (either "electrical" or "power").

We are both a bit nervous, knowing friends who have spouses that work, attend school, have kids, etc. We have witnessed their crazy lives and realize that is where our lives are headed for a few years. Yet, we are both excited too, because we know it will be such a great thing for him and our family.

Aaron- I am so excited for you and will do my best to support you as best I can! We love you and are grateful for all you do for us!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"We survived the 'Wind Storm of '08'!!"

Last Sunday, September 14th, was much like any Sunday. Except, a wind storm struck in the afternoon. Driving home from church was actually kind of comical as the dried corn stalks flew across the freeway like snow and tauno covers were ripped off trucks right before our eyes. I have seen strong wind bursts before, but not for such a sustained time as last Sunday. What was weird is there was no other storm- no rain, no thunder- it was even partly sunny at times- just so windy. They said the winds were hurricane force- meaning 75+ mph. It was, in fact, remnants of Hurricane Ike, which struck Texas in the days before. Indiana and Michigan got the rain, we just got the wind. It was surreal, really. Then, around 4:30, power went out in most homes in the area. One number said more than 400,000 homes in this area were without power- 2.6 million statewide! Later that night, as we listened to our battery powered radio, they were talking about the wide spread power outages and referred to the occurrence as "wind storm '08'." I thought, "Are they kidding me, why are they naming it?" But as the aftermath unfolded, it became more appropriate. Power went out Sunday and did not return until Thursday evening (we are among the lucky- a few- about 4,000 still don't have power right now). Cable (meaning TV, phone and internet) just returned a few hours ago (had to get on!!). Trees were uprooted and branches fell all over the place. Check out the following picture- not sure if it does it justice, but if you look close you can see 4 piles of branches in front of different houses. This is looking down the road from the end of my driveway.
Of course, there was a lot of things about the week that was just no fun, but it would be stating the obvious to list them. I came up with a list of things that were good about this past week with no power/cable. Either things that were a clear benefit, or at least making it easier to deal. Here goes, in no particular order:

1) The weather was beautiful- we would have had windows open anyway. Not a single day had a temperature over 75 degrees. No rain the whole week- just clear blue skies.

2) When the power had been out just about 24 hours and I was trying to decide what to do with the contents of my freezer, my brother-in-law, Kris, showed up- surprising us- with a spare generator!!! It belonged to his office and they didn't need it so he thought of us and brought it to us. We hooked up our fridge and freezer to it, so we lost no food. One night, we even plugged in the laptop and watched a movie! Thanks Kris!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3) We have a gas water heater, so we had plenty of hot water.

4) We didn't have to suffer through a SINGLE political add commercial!!!

5) No irritating phone calls. The only working phone was our cell and anyone who has that number are people we actually want to talk to!

6) We grilled out for dinner every day! Can't beat a grill in the summer!

7) We got to chat with our neighbors more.

8) I got to hang out with my sister while I did laundry at her house. Thanks, Em!

9) We played outside a lot!

10) It gave me something to blog about!

11) Certainly helped me gain more appreciation for those who lived before all these modern wonders and makes me not take them for granted anymore.

12) Bathing kids by candle cool!

13) No electric or cable bill for a week!

14) Anything is better than the "Ice Storm of '04'" where power was out just as long (not as many people, but a lot still- including us) and we lost all of the food in our fridge and freezer and temps were sub zero and it was during Christmas. Thank you to my Mother in law who took us all in and let us stay with her the whole week it was out!

So, there it is- my positive spin on it all. The weird part is, that more than half of the schools in our district were out of power. There was no school for 4 days!!! The schools only get 5 calamity days a year (for things like this, power outages, excessive snow, etc). Who would have ever thought we would use them up in September?!?! I don't doubt we will be making them up at the end of the year...

We did do some fun things during the week. Such as:

Kenny played soccer. His team won (and scored...) for the first time all season!
We ate yummy treats and hung out outside!
We played at friend's houses- these pictures are at Amy's house:

Then, on Friday, when the boys finally went to school, Aaron was home, so we drove out to visit his dad, stepmom, sister (and her baby) and enjoyed a wonderful lunch with them!
I know this has been a long post, but I must talk about one other thing. I have decided that Ohio is full of a bunch of whiners. In a way it makes sense- we don't have much adverse weather here. Tornados are nasty horrible destructive things, and sometimes it snows a lot, but otherwise, it really isn't so bad. No hurricanes, land slides, earthquakes, volcanos, or other such things to worry about. Some people acted like this was the worst that could happen. Whining about how long their power was out, forgetting that down in Texas, some didn't even have a home anymore because of the same storm. Stories in the paper told of people who were so angry at AEP (the power company-as if it was THEIR fault so many lost power and it took so long to get it back up...) that they were going to deduct the amount of the lost food in their freezers from their next electric bill (can't wait to hear about the collections calls on that...) . So many complained that it took so long- that the power company wasn't doing enough. Here are some interesting stats. On any one day, AEP has 300 people repairing lines across the state. Last week, they had more than 3000 every day- other companies were called in from out of state to help. They worked 16 hour days- sleeping less than 6 hours and getting right back out there. The feeling of seeing these trucks in our neighborhood was a glorious thing:

These were some of the out of state volunteers. Aaron works for AEP in a desk job. He had to report to work dressed and prepared to go out and help the line workers if needed! Not actually repairing lines, of course, but helping as needed. They never called Aaron out, but a few others went. Some people who lost power went to shelters to eat and sleep (are you kidding me? Have you ever heard of a sandwich?).The exceptions are those who lost water because of no power- I really feel for them- I would leave my home too- what would you do if you had no water? I can't imagine! Local fast food restaurants (the few that had power) were running out of food! Finding ice for coolers was a challenge as everyone was sold out. I think this should be a sign to us all (us included) that, instead of finding someone to blame, maybe we all need to work on our preparedness a little. If we are prepared, it is much easier to be patient and deal with things without panicking.

I'm still here....

This has been one crazy week, as I am sure many will agree. Thanks to Hurricane Ike remnants, we lost power last Sunday afternoon (the 14th). We finally got it back Thursday evening, but our cable is still out. This means no TV, internet or phone. (How are we surviving?!?!) The cable company will give us no estimate on when it will be repaired. So, until then, I am checking my email rarely, as I can, from other sources. I have a cool blog post of the whole experience going in my head for whenever our cable is fixed. I will save the rest of the story till then. Just wanted everyone to know that all is well and I will be writing more soon!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Point Me Towards the Money Tree, Please!!!

Just a short 3 weeks ago, I was longing for school to start. I was ready for a routine again and looking forward to peaceful days as two out of my four children spent the day at school. But, as I expected, reality has smacked us over the head full force. Sure, the days are a little quieter with only half the usual load, but, I am finding, no less busy. At least the afternoons are perfectly quiet to accomplish what I can because as of 3:30- the peace is over until all are in bed. At 3:30, I pick my sleeping babies out of their cribs and put them straight in the car. We pick up the boys and are home by 4:00 where we get started on the mountain of homework brought home by my 2nd grader. Really, did I even have homework in the 2nd grade? If I did- it wasn't enough that I remember it. This takes AT LEAST one hour- no joke. While my Kindergartener has yet to bring home homework, the teacher has warned will come! So, once homework is done, I must rush to make dinner with 4 crazy children running around and causing trouble since Aaron isn't home yet. Then, we eat quickly before rushing off to our evening commitment- whatever that may be on any given evening. Then of course, there is baths, reading and bed. Whew- just writing it makes me tired.....oh wait- I actually did all this today- no wonder I am tired.

Anyway, that really isn't the point of this post. As if all of the above hasn't overwhelmed me enough lately, not a single day has gone by this week where my children's backpack did not contain a request for money. It started simply- $8 needed for Jacob's upcoming field trip (and $4 for me as a chaperone, since I would like to go along) to the apple orchard. Then, $1.50 for a plain white t-shirt that they will make apple prints on. Then, $12 each for a special school t-shirt that they can wear on "spirit" days instead of their uniform shirts. Next, it is $4.50 for a subscription to a reading magazine for Kindergarten to use in class. Then, today we hit the mother load. They are instituting a policy that any chaperones going on a field trip or to camp that will be with small groups of children need to have a background check. Now, I do agree with this because I certainly don't want some creepy bad person with my children. However, they are "so kindly" offering the services of a mobile unit to do background checks that will come right to the school. They offer background checks with the FBI and some other agency for the "bargain" price of $40 for one or $70 for both!!! What???? $70 for probably some fingerprints and then running my name and prints through a database on a computer? Are you kidding me? But if I don't, I can't be a chaperone with a small group- and then I look like a bad parent for not volunteering (unless someone knows another way to get a background check? I think I had one done when I was subbing about 9 years ago, but that was 9 years ago.....) THEN if that isn't enough- they sent home a notice of school fees for the year- including camp fees (all grades go to a science related camp- required), field trip fees (so....why do I still have to pay extra for the apple orchard???), science lab fees, etc. This totals about $200 for both of my children.

And, can you believe- that in addition to all that sent home today- was also "market day" fliers??? Do they really expect us to fork out money for market day when we just got notified that we need to chop off an arm and a leg?

So, if someone knows the address of the nearest money tree, could you please pass it along so I can mapquest it?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

It's a Contest!!!

This is my friend, Bonnie. Bonnie has posted a very cool contest on her site. Check it out here.

As you can tell from her picture, she is a lot of fun and always brings smiles when she is around.

I am happy to officially enter her contest with this post. I know she makes/ gives away cool things!

You can enter too- check it out before it is too late- deadline is Monday the 8th!! Good luck!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Today I turn 31. (I got the picture on the left from google images and just thought it was cool. Count the balloons!) Even now that I am becoming an "old woman" :), I still love my birthday. It is my day that I can look forward to for the year. I like to celebrate things and, so far, I still don't mind getting older. Actually, I feel like I fit more into my skin then I ever did before. Right now, I am married with young children- which is what others my age are doing. When I was married at 20 and had my first child at 23, my peers were still going to college (I was too, actually) and were single, dating and did not have children. I don't regret this even a tiny bit, I just find it interesting. If I had it to over again, I would do it all the same. I just find I am enjoying my 30's. I am more at peace and content with life than ever before.

In honor of the day, I thought it would be fun to list 31 random facts about myself that you may or may not know and likely don't care. Before I started blogging, I remember my friends who blog all did a "tag" between each other where they listed as many random facts as they could. It was fun to read. I was not yet a blogger so I could not participate, but now I am- so here goes. They are in no particular order- just as they came to me.

1) I was born September 3, 1977 at 11:30 pm. In February, when my mom found out she was pregnant with me, my dad predicted I would be born 9/4 at 1:30 in the morning. Good, huh?

2) When I was 3, I spent 6 weeks in the hospital right before Christmas for surgery on a bone infection in my heal that would have been fatal if not treated.

3) I wore braces for 3 1/2 years

4) I have two brothers (one older, one younger) and two sisters (both younger).

5) I met Aaron in March of 1993. We married in August 1998.

6) I am severely addicted to chocolate and sugar and consume entirely way too much of it.

7) My other favorite foods are long pastas (spaghetti, angel hair, etc), messy cheeseburgers, pizza, raw green peppers, watermelon, fresh pineapple, mexican, cajun & spicy foods.

8) I hate fish and never eat it in any form.

9) I have two boys and two girls. I always wanted a large family and, though many think I am absolutely crazy, I sometimes think I would like another.

10) My girls are twins. I never wanted twins but as soon as I saw them both on the ultrasound, I was thrilled and couldn't wait.

11) I had a miscarriage before becoming pregnant with the girls.

12) I still check on all 4 kids before going to bed.

13) I can't stand the sound of someone chewing, even though I know I make sound too. I would honestly rather hear nails on a chalkboard then someone crunching.

14) My favorite color is purple

15) I love all types of music, except rap

16) I am not truly proficient in any instrument right now, but I have played the clarinet, trumpet and piano at different points in my life.

17) I enjoy baking and could bake everyday but don't because I would eat it all.

18) I used to weigh nearly a hundred pounds more than I do now. (okay, I have gained a few pounds back, but I'm trying....)

19) I never get tired of watching the same old reruns of The Cosby show, Full House, Everybody Loves Raymond

20) I have a bachelors degree in Elementary Education, but have not taught, aside from a very brief period of student teaching.

21) I have done daily child care for 12 years, ages newborn to 12 years old. Both in a daycare center and home child care.

22) I abhor and deeply fear spiders. I know it is stupid. I get tense as soon as I see one and the bigger it is, the less likely I am to deal well.

23) I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (mormon) and yet have never been to Utah, or anywhere west of Lincoln, NE.

24) Other than a few day trips to Canada, I have never been outside the USA-but I long to go to Europe.

25) I grew up in a small village where everyone new everyone. When I was real little, there was one small grocery store, no fast food and one traffic light. There was less than 600 kids in my high school (about 180 in my class). It is now a city- completely different!

26)Despite growing up in a small village, two girls I grew up with were murdered during our senior year. It is a long story but it was a terrifying event that has stuck with me- it was a couple fellow students that did it. They are still in jail and I hope they rot there (though they won't- they will get out when they are around 50 I think.)

27) My favorite author is Dean Koontz and I have read every book he wrote under that name (I think he wrote some under a "pen" name that I haven't read). My favorite genres are mystery and historical fiction (the kind that teach real history around a fictional tale.)

28) I only shower at night before bed- not in the morning. I would rather stay up a bit later and therefore sleep a bit later than go to bed earlier and have to get up earlier to shower.

29) I think it is cool that I am 31 and all of my parents, parent-in-laws, grandparents and aunts and uncles are still living.

30)My favorite subject in school was math.

31) I have strong emotions. I cry at any feeling- and I can't help it. Whether I am mad, sad, happy, embarrassed,scared- whatever- the tears come and I am helpless to stop it, despite how much I hate it. I am also easily embarrassed and am constantly worried about what others think, though I wish I didn't.

Well, after all that, I feel a bit silly and embarrassed, but I will post anyway. I hope my readers have enjoyed this and don't hold it against me!