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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A reasonable explanation? Not really.....

Many of my facebook friends read my blog post about the incident at the rec center/ sprayground (see previous post). We discovered that 3 kids- all about age 6, had been left alone with no supervision. My friend, Abbey (who works at a different rec center), stated that that is allowed at age 6. Because of that, I did nothing at the time but continued to be bothered by it and wished I had said something. The responses from my friends ranged from "Call childrens services, call the news or my congressmen", and other such responses that made sense to me! Today we went to the sprayground again. Here is an update:

Today while at the sprayground, I noticed a sign with "rules" hanging on the gate that I had not paid much attention to before. It stated that "All kids under the age of 8 must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times." Okay, so 6 shouldn't be allowed right? In fact- seriously- who would actually leave their 8 year old their unattended?!?! I have a 10 year old and wouldn't leave him there alone!

So, I went in the rec center and told them about the incident last week and that they children were 6 but the sign states 8. Here is what the guy said- (I am still not sure I get it- I certainly don't agree anyway- but this is his explanation to the best of my understanding. I kind of hope I misunderstood.)-

He said that the kids may have been enrolled in the rec centers "summer program." He said children 6 and up may register and be left without a parent. He says sometimes during the day, the kids can go out to the play ground/ spray ground if they want but if they do go outside, there is no one specifically watching them to keep them from wandering off. He says parents are told this when they sign up so parents leave their children knowing this.

Seriously?! What kind of parent would willingly sign up for this knowing there may be times when their children are unsupervised?! At least if they are signed up that means the rec center has parent info in case of an emergency...but really?! How can the rec center allow them outside unsupervised (it should NOT be a part of the program if they don't want to supervise them!!) and parents should be smart enough to not leave their kids!! Ugh.... I just can't believe this but I am not entirely sure what to do about it. At least I know to never sign my kids up at a program where I won't be with them (not that I planned on it anyway....) Who is more at fault? The rec center or the parents or both? Who do I call about something like this? Anything specific that any of my readers would do?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Free Babysitting, Anyone?

Something happened yesterday that I still just can not believe was for real. The more I think about it, the more shocking and unbelievable I think it is. So, of course I have to write about it! That's how I roll....

During the summer, we often go the a local "spray ground." (it is on the grounds of one of the rec centers) It is free and filled with different sprinkler type attachments that get the kids thoroughly soaked. We went yesterday for the first time this season. (No pictures- I didn't take my camera because I have a ton of spray ground pictures already).

I was there with a few friends and their children. As usual, we were chatting while the kids played. A group of three children (that none of us knew) - all around age 6 (at least two of them said they were six) came up to my friend Autumn. This is basically how the conversation went:

Kids: Do you have a dollar we can have?
Autumn: No, sorry- what do you need a dollar for?
Kids: To get ice cream
Autumn: Sorry, I don't have a dollar, but that is something you should ask your parents and not a stranger (an awesome response I thought...)

The kids said okay and started to walk away...

Me: Wait- are you here with your parents?
Kids: no
Me: With a day care, babysitter or other friends?
Kids: no
Me: With a grown up?
Kids: no- our parents dropped us off.

What?!?! So the kids walked away and Abbey (my friend who works at a different rec center for the same city) confirmed that it is actually "legal" at the rec centers to be able to drop your kids off at the age of 6!!! Seriously?!?! I can NOT believe this! (Note- Abbey does NOT condone this- she was just informing us of policy....) Add in the fact that the rec centers and some other locations around here offer free breakfast and lunch to any kid- and what is to stop an irresponsible parent from dropping their kid off in the morning, they get free breakfast, free lunch and can run around crazy!

Get this though- the rec center does not claim responsibility for them and doesn't watch over them. I think in theory, this is meant for kids who have a scheduled class- the parents could drop them off and come back and get them after the class, but obviously some parents just drop them off and leave them to their own devices- with nothing but their own conscience to prevent them from doing so!

What if a kid gets hurt? How would they find their parents? According to Abbey, each kid is supposed to have a leisure card (costing only $1) that they scan when they come in- the contact info is contained on this card. Okay, I get that- but it isn't like they are keeping track of who has parents there and who doesn't. There is no way to be sure that kids are not dropped off unless they have one. There was no one watching over them to keep an eye on them. And, what is to stop a kid from wandering off and getting lost or from getting kidnapped, or an older kid/adult (for example, the basketball court FULL of older teens/adults...) doing whatever they want to them? Nothing- nothing to prevent that. How could the parents not think of all this?! These rec centers were never supposed to be free babysitting. It is a community resource to be used under adult supervision.

And I don't buy that maybe these parents can't afford daycare- there are tons of options for poverty or low-income free/cheap daycare that is GOOD SUPERVISED CARE! I really believe the parents are taking advantage of the system- dropping their kids off to get a free lunch and play and do "whatever" while they go and do who knows what with their "freedom."

We couldn't even believe the kids were brave enough to go to a stranger and ask for money. We all mentioned how we never would have had the guts to do that as a kid. But, I figured that they are probably left alone often enough that they manage to do what they feel they have to do!

I always hate to pass any sort of judgment on parents- I am far from perfect as a parent. I just don't see this as okay at ALL- I wouldn't even leave my 10 year old there alone! I don't see how anyone could just drop off a six year old without direct supervision and leave without worrying themselves sick! This is just so scary to me! Also can't help but wonder what kids who are raised that way will be like as adults....

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Love Dad

Thanks to a little fun, a little crazy and a lot of love, I think Aaron had a great Father's Day! It started with a GREAT breakfast:
The kids are really good about getting up and watching cartoons so sometimes Aaron and I get to sleep in "a little" bit. I got up a little after the kids did and saw this random bowl of cereal (with milk...) sitting on the table. At first I was upset thinking one of the kids poured it and left it to waste. But, when I questioned the kids, Jacob said he made it for Daddy's Father's Day breakfast!! I noticed then that it was sitting right in Aaron's spot at the table. I thought it was so sweet and left it there for Aaron to see. By the time Aaron got up a little later, I estimate it had been sitting there about 2 hours. I showed it to him and he even took a bite- making him a waaaaay better sport than I would have been! But, then I made him a "real" breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and fried potatoes!

Later, we broke out his Father's Day gift: (which I put together BY MY SELF!!!)
And enjoyed a fire:
And of course.... S'MORES!!!
(This is where the fun and crazy comes in.... imagine 4 kids around a fire, fascinated by the newness of it, a little hyper, and trying to make smore's!!!)

Seriously though, it was soooo fun and I really think we will ALL enjoy this gift!

Afterward, we ALL smelled of smoke, so baths were in order all around. After bathing the girls (hence the wet hair in the photo...) Ellie went into her room and hollered out, "Mom?! How do you spell 'love'?" So I told her and then went to see what she was doing:
I just LOVE this!!! (of course, Meghan had to join the picture too... :)) They are both Daddy's Little Girls!!

Happy Father's Day, Aaron!!! We Love You!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Long is 10 Years?!

Not very long at all I have come to learn!! I remember the day 10 years ago from today like it was yesterday! 10 years ago today:

- was no doubt one of the scariest but best days of my life

- I learned what it felt like to completely give my heart away.

- I personally witnessed one of the greatest miracles God has given us.

- I understood a little more how my mother feels about me.

- I had more pain then any other time in my life to date, but didn't care!

- I got to hold this perfect little angel for the first time and melt into his blue eyes:
Kenneth James was born 6/16/01 and weighted a whopping 9 lbs 11 oz!! That is huge in it's own right- but considering he was my first, made him seem that much bigger! He was due June 7th, but had no desire to be born so the doctor induced labor on the 15th and he was born the 16th (at 12:06pm). I was in awe at this perfect baby boy God had given me and I loved him instantly and deeper than I had ever felt love in my life. I still thank God for him (and all my angels!) every day!

I simply can NOT believe I have been a mom for a DECADE! Wow! I feel like anyone who has done something for 10 years should be an expert at it by then, but I still feel like such a novice. My kids remind me everyday that there is no such thing as an expert parent- even after 4 kids, I am still learning every day! That is probably why it doesn't feel like it has been 10 years!

Kenny is an amazing kid! He is so sweet and compassionate and always well behaved. He is always helpful and rarely talks back. He is friendly to EVERYONE! I have never seen him treat other kids mean (except his siblings occasionally, but even then, not often!) and he always sees the good in everyone. He is so innocent still- to the point of being a bit naive for his age, but that is okay! I don't really want him becoming like the world or feeling like he has to be like the other kids! He is smart and works hard and, even better, plays hard! I am lucky to be his mother!

He had a great day today! We played at a park this morning and then he went to lunch with Grandpa at Steak-n-shake. My kids have come to look forward to this one-on-one time with Grandpa! Then, this evening, we had pizza (his request), cake and presents!!! I was quite proud of this cake- it was chocolate and vanilla swirl on the inside.
(a baker I am, a decorator I am NOT- I can make things taste great, but not so good at the beautifying part. This is as good as it gets!!!)

Then presents!!!! He got a new bey blade arena and new bey blades (his second set).

Did you know bey blades have been around almost 10 years?! I seriously never heard of them at all until a couple months ago!!! The boys started asking for them after seeing kids at school play with them!

He also got his own Nintendo DSi!!! Now both boys have their own! (Jacob got one for his birthday too- both DSi's I scored used but in perfect condition on Craigslist!!! Love that site!!!)
And of course, a new game to go with it!!!
And of course, there is more fun to come!! Tonight was just a nice, low-key evening together at home. The nice thing about having family so close, is birthdays sometimes go on for a while! We will be celebrating with the family next week!

Happy Birthday Kenny!!! We love you so much!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Grandma and Grandpa Came to Town!! (And Julie is Married Now!!!)

Last Monday (June 6), Aaron's mom and Stepdad, Bob came to visit!! (Life has kept me from posting sooner- but, better late then never, right?!) It was very exciting to see them and visit for a bit. They live in Florida and we had been seeing them at a rate of about once every two years. This actually made the second visit in 2 months!! They brought dinner over (made life easy for me! Thanks!) and we enjoyed a great visit. Here is Ellie cuddling right up to them!!

Jacob put on a piano recital for them!!
We finally got some decent video of him playing, so here are a couple of songs for you to enjoy (Thanks to Grandpa Bob!!!!) Here, is playing "Big Chief Running Bear":


And this one is "King Tut":

After he finished playing, his shyness took over and he ran off. So, Grandma Janet and Aaron thought it would be fun to try to plink out his songs....
Let's just say....they have nothing on Jacob (he he!)!!! But, it was fun! We also enjoyed a yummy treat that I made- these strawberry tarts!
They were so easy, but sooooo good! All it is is sugar cookie dough baked into a mini-muffin pan. Then, they are topped with a mixture of cream cheese, powdered sugar and whipped topping, then topped with fresh strawberries!!

Then, Janet gave me this blanket she made special just for me!

Isn't it beautiful?? She said she saw the yarn and thought of me and that now whenever I needed my chocolate fix, I could cuddle with this blanket!! I thought that we so very sweet and thoughtful! I have truly had a very hard month- between the miscarriage, and several other things- so I have needed a chocolate fix pretty often! Maybe this sort of chocolate fix (versus the edible one....) will keep me from gaining MORE weight!! We love you Grandma Janet and Grandpa Bob!! We wish we got to see you more often!


My sister, Julie and her boyfriend, Shawn eloped!!! This happened Friday night, June 4th.None of us knew until afterward. We suspected they were going to do it but didn't know when. We are so very happy for them both. This picture isn't the best because she took a picture of it with her cell phone, sent to my cell phone and then I uploaded it from there. Hopefully I will get a bigger picture soon (Julie...hint, hint...)

When I asked her where they got married she said this: They searched on line to find someone and was looking at a certain site of a minister woman who does weddings in her basement. They recognized the background in a sample photo (same as that above) as in the picture of a friends wedding. So, she e-mailed that friend to see if it was the same person. That friend responded and said it was and they had been very happy with their experience. So, they called this minister, made an appointment (they had gotten their license two days before) and got married in her basement!

I am happy to call Shawn my brother-in-law. He is a great guy- works hard, loves my sister and treats her well. Their first baby is due in November (a girl!) and I am excited to meet my new niece. Julie has certainly had her share of trials the last couple years and so she deserves every bit of this happiness she has been blessed with!

Congratulations Julie and Shawn!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Let the Summer begin!!!

So, originally, this was going to be about 3 separate posts, but I never had time to do them, so here they are in one big (but hopefully not too big) post.I will keep mostly to pictures and try to keep the words brief. (okay, after finishing the post I can say it probably does get a bit wordy- but that's me!) But, the events all have one thing in common- they symbolize the kick off of summer!!! Yay!!! I have been waiting for summer since about November!

The official start of summer may not be until the end of June, but in Ohio, MEMORIAL DAY is always the "unofficial" start to summer. Our church always does an amazingly fun picnic. This year was no different. What WAS different this year is that I played in the band! Last year at this picnic, a small community band came and played for us. I had been interested in picking up my trumpet again and they were interested in more players, so I joined them! This year, the band was asked to play again so it was a little weird but fun to play for my church family! Here is a very non-flattering pic of me Aaron took while playing. I was tempted not to post it, but oh well- it is what it is!
I am really not that good and have virtually no time to practice, but I enjoy it and am gradually improving. I figure it is better than not doing it at all! Here is a picture of most of the group that I swiped off of facebook- (You can't see me because I am off to the left- see the trumpet player in the red hat to the left? I am two more left of him)
The group is a lot of fun with people ranging in ages from their 20's to their 80's! Aaron and Meghan decided to dance together for part of one song. I captured this with my cell camera...

Of course, it isn't the beginning of summer without GRADUATION PARTIES!!! We were invited to a few, but due to scheduling, we only made it to two. The first was Aaron's cousin, Elise:
This is one of her senior pictures. Isn't she adorable? Her party was on Memorial day right after our church picnic. Her parents know how to throw some pretty amazing graduation parties (she is child 4 out of 4, so this was also their last!) At Elise's request, they even had Karaoke! I took this shot because it had several from Aaron's family in it. From left to right is Aaron's cousin-Evan, his uncle- Mike, don't know, Elise, don't know, don't know, Aaron's cousin David. Everyone had a blast. I chose to help them all enjoy by NOT getting up there to sing! Some people should never Karaoke- I am one of them! Ha!

Yesterday, was Jackie B's graduation party.
She, as well, is just adorable. Jackie was one of the young women in our church while I was a leader there. I was her leader from the time she was 12 to 16. She is an incredible young woman and I just love her! I am so happy for her with all she is doing.

Of course, what better kick off to summer is there than the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!!

Can I just say I could not possibly be prouder of my boys???!!!! They both did so well this year. Kenny was in 4th grade and Jacob in 2nd grade.

This is Jacob with his teacher, Mrs. J:
She was really great and worked hard to challenge Jacob- he is working far above grade level right now!!! I really appreciated him having a teacher who knew this and pushed him even farther ahead. He earned several awards during the last day of school ceremony: honor roll 4th quarter, honor roll ALL YEAR, effort roll 4th quarter, effort roll ALL YEAR, and perfect attendance 4th quarter. (they are graded on "effort" as well for each subject and when they score perfectly in effort, they get the "effort" roll).

He also won a special award called the "G.O.O.D Student" (Go On Or Defeated) award.

There was once a teacher (who taught at my high school!) who had a stroke and was left blind. Instead of giving up, he kept going. He now gives motivational speeches to schools about staying in school and keeping on even when tough. He gave each 2nd grade teachers 2 shirts to award to students in their class who fit the 4 criteria (good attendance, good listening skills, good work habits, good citizenship). Jacob won for his class!! Not that I was surprised- he always works hard. He is perfectly behaved at school (wish he would do that at home...). At school, they have a chart where each student starts the day on "green" (for good behavior) but as they misbehave, their color is changed. Jacob's color was not changed once all year!!! In Kindergarten, it was also never changed and in first grade only a few times (mostly for forgetting to bring homework home- not really for behavior). He is an amazing kid and will do amazing things in 3rd grade!!!

Kenny also did great! Here he is with his teacher, Ms. W:

He got effort roll for 4th quarter and effort roll ALL YEAR! He didn't make honor roll, but he worked very very hard for every grade he got- his grades were so very close to honor roll and he is reading above grade level. We are so proud of him. He always gives it his all and is also perfectly behaved at school. 5th grade next year will bring so many exciting opportunities for him!!! He will get to be in the band for the first time (at first he said he wanted to play trombone and now he is saying drums...). He is also interested in Karate, so we will look into that. I think it may be good for him. He is an amazing older brother and his level of compassion amazes me! He will be 10 in just a couple weeks and I can't believe I have been a mom for a decade! I can't wait to see the amazing things I know he will do as he grows.

And, one more thing- what would summer be without FRIENDS to visit with!! My best friend, Jackie, from- well- all my life (we met when we were 6) comes to town to visit her family/ friends usually in June and she got here this week. I don't get to see her or talk to her enough so I always count down the days to when we can see each other. As an added bonus, our friend Lynette was also in town this weekend!! In high school, it was always the 3 of us together. We got to hang out together again!! The last time we were all together was 4 years ago when Jackie got married. Before that, I think it was college the last time the 3 of us were together.

I think I have posted this picture before, but it was the quickest one I could find (I have a ton but don't have a scanner so if I wanted to use a scanned picture, it takes advanced planning!)
This was after a high school marching band competition in 2004. It is me, Jackie and Lynette. Unintentionally, our pictures are almost always in this order. Here was us last night before we went out:Again, it is me, Jackie, Lynette!

Jackie now lives in Nebraska and Lynette in Alabama, so it was pretty neat that they were in Ohio at the same time. We enjoyed a yummy dinner and lots of talk talk talk!!! Later in the evening, Lynette had to go home (she had her 4 month old baby with her- soooo cute- and had an early morning flight) so Jackie and I went out for ice cream at Cold Stone. There were some crazy storms all around! While out driving, we actually saw a huge bolt of lightning come all the way down and hit something less than 50 yards in front of our car! It was so loud and bright and sparks flew everywhere. Then, everything around us went black! It was so scary- I had never actually seen lightning as it hit something before!

Of course, there is so much more to do this summer!!! Within the next few weeks alone, there will be cub scout day camp for the boys, Kenny's birthday, summer reading programs, zoo trips, sprayground trips, outdoor play and much, much, more!!! Yay for Summer!!!!!