Sick

I think we’re all getting sick over here.  Alan is always off-and-on with sinus stuff, I’m struggling to breath (ok, that’s an exaggeration, but I’m definitely not breathing easily!), and Lex has a deep cough.  Just today I started feeling feverish and my cough has changed from the throat-clearing one that has become my norm to a hard cough that’s more indicative of a cold.  Sorry Eve, you’re probably next.  Thank goodness we have a four day weekend ahead!  I am ready for some serious R&R.  Bring on the snow!

Growing Up

I’m exhausted from this working nonsense.  I worked a whole day today, plus karate!  Luckily there were no drum lessons this week.  LOL!  Before bed I wanted to write a quick post about some growing-up observations I had with Lex this afternoon.

In the car on the way to karate I asked if he had any homework today.  He said, “Well, kind of.”  Apparently his ELA teacher gave them an assignment, due Monday, to write three things they want to accomplish this year.  “Basically goals, without calling them goals,” he tells me.  Goal setting is one of his least favorite things.  Right up there with vaccinations and trying new foods. All have left him on the floor, under chairs, in tears.  As I mentally prepared myself for a weekend of goal setting with Lex, he said, “I’m just going to write three down and then forget them.”  Um… ok.  Not really the intended goal, but certainly a suggestion I’ve made in the past in an effort to get him off the floor.  He then went on to tell me the goals he decided to set!  The first one is to get all of his grades up to an A, the second one he couldn’t remember, and the third was to keep his assigned 40-book challenge sheet up to date.  All good goals, I assume.  Then he tells me that he had a B+ in science, but when he checked it today his teacher had a put in a few more grades and he was up to an A again.  Check that goal off the list!  He also told me that he’s sure he’s read at least 40 books already (they are allowed to count books they read over the summer, so yeah, he’s read at least 40!), so he’s going to just write down a bunch of books he knows he’s read and be done with the challenge.  LOL!  Check that goal off the list!  Now he just needs to remember what Goal #2 was.

I realize this is not the intent of goal setting, and I will also confess that I am TERRIBLE at goal setting, but I did notice several points of growth in this conversation, and I shared them with him.  First, he didn’t cry over this assignment!  It didn’t even stop him in his tracks.  Instead of getting hung up on whether or not he could do the goals, he just wrote something down.  He’s a very honest person and in the past the idea of committing to something he didn’t know if he could accomplish really got him stuck.  Today he was able to write them down and move on!  Second, I remember (not so fondly) the days of elementary school when he was assigned to read for 20 minutes a day.  After reading for hours he would then fall apart because he didn’t “do his homework” because he didn’t time himself reading for exactly 20 minutes.  When I tried to tell him that he just read for an hour, he struggled to fill out the stupid form with a start and stop time because it wasn’t, in his mind, an “official” reading for 20 minutes.  Today he has the flexibility to say, “yeah, I read those books in the past, that counts!” and move on!  Awesome!!  Again, maybe not entirely the intent of the assignment, but boy these are big milestones for him!

The icing on the cake came at karate today.  As he’s walking into the dojo he notices that most of the other kids have these red sparring gloves on.  He turns to me and says, “Oh, I forgot, we are going to start doing sparring on Wednesday and I think I need gloves today.”  Umm… ok?!  But guess what, he went in anyway, without the gloves and all was fine.  They offer sparring classes on Friday and Lex hasn’t had any interest at all, though he told me later tonight that he’s kind of interested in sparring, but just doesn’t want to go to karate on Fridays.  :)  So anyway, I was watching the class today and they are wearing these big gloves and mouth guards and I’m thinking this might be the end of karate for Lex.  After class I asked him if he wanted to stop at the office and see about buying the gear.  He said yes!! YES!  He wants to wear those gloves AND is willing to wear a mouth guard.  A MOUTH GUARD!?  Can you believe it?  (He hasn’t actually put it in yet, so we’ll see how that goes.)  He’s even willing to wear the rest of the sparring gear when the class gets to that point.

Of course that means we have to buy all that extra gear, but hey, if he’s willing (and excited!) to wear it, I’ll buy it!

It’s amazing to think back to how stuck he used to get over seemingly the smallest things and how far he has come.  It really gives me faith in his future!  He is a pretty amazing guy!

2019!

Welcome to a new year!  A year that will result in another awesome year at our awesome house, a Masters degree for me, a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida, a new school for Lex (high school!), and I’m sure so much more.

We celebrated NYE in the usual homebody way.  We watched a movie, played some games, ate Cheetos (somehow that has become a tradition), opened our Family Fun Jar, and watched the ball drop.  Not only did we all stay awake until midnight, but we did so easily!  I was enjoying our evening immensely, but when we turned on the TV and saw all the people in Times Square, wearing dumb hats from Planet Fitness, even dumber 2019 glasses, and even dumber plastic bags — standing in the cold rain — I enjoyed our cozy family evening even more.

Nothing like late night math games for this geeky family! LOL!

A little Apples to Apples next. It’s kind of like the kid-friendly Cards Against Humanity. (It’s hard to get a good picture of my gawky teen/preteen these days!)

Family Fun Jar – 2018 edition

Lots of ticket stubs and programs in there this year.

Also Arlo’s tag. :/

Fireworks! We got the TV on about five minutes before the ball dropped. Once the TV was on, everything else was forgotten.

I tried for a nice family photo with 2019 in the background… but got this instead. LOL!

Today has been a quiet one.  I just finished book #6 of vacation, Lex and Alan played a lot of Minecraft and are now out shoveling water our of our driveway (crazy winter!), and Eve spent the afternoon at Macy’s house.

Happy 2019 to all.  Maybe it be a year of fun and excitement and peace and fulfillment. <

Merry Christmas!

The 2018 Christmas is officially on the books and a good time was had by all.  This year Joyce was able to join us too!  We did the usual: meals and presents and hanging out.  It was great.  Here are a few pictures.  All of mine can be found in this Photos album.

On Christmas Eve we went out shopping and ended up hanging out with these hysterical alpaca llamas.

Silly llamas!

Christmas Eve dinner was tacos a la Joyce and Tom.

Thanks Joyce!

Santa came right on time.

Lights on

Lights off. I can’t decide which picture I like better.

On Christmas morning the kids woke us up at a very reasonable hour (a sure sign they’re growing up!).  The Makey-Makey bedroom present was so good we had to drag Lex downstairs to open stockings!  Then we all waited patiently while Mema and Tom went to church and Katie, Rosy, and Joyce got here.

Love

Finally it was time for presents!!

So happy to have this smiling face with us this year!

And this one!!!

Presents kept us busy for awhile. Lots of Legos and Harry Potter stuff and books and candy and so much more.

Looking good, Grandpa Tom!

Still going….

Bodhi got all worn out. There were a lot of presents to and from doggies this year.

Mema wins the cute picture prize this year!!

I love this one. I want to do some editing to make the colors pop, but she was so sweet reading under the tree. <3

Superman!

For Christmas dinner we invited my friend and her two boys over.  We all enjoyed lasagna, salad, and garlic bread.  Yum!

It’s hard to get a good picture with everyone looking, smiling, and not blinking!

My camera took a few selfies on its way down the table.

Sistas!

The girl on my other side wanted nothing to do with selfies, but the boy was happy to smile with me. He’s always happy to smile with me. Lucky me!

Now we settle into the driftless middle days between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  I’m loving every second of it!  I’m on book five, with a substantial stack waiting in the wings.  I’m eating all the candy (maybe that’s not so good) and just relaxing.  Today we fed the fish at school (all still alive!), spent our Books-A-Million gift cards (add to that reading pile!) and Eve bought herself a few new fish.  Tomorrow, we go back to doing nothing.  Life is good.  :)

The holidays around here

We have nothing monumental going on these days, but lots of little holiday activities.

Alan and I went to his company party. It was fun to check out the fancy new hotel and to hang with his goofy buddies. I even thought to have someone take a picture of us!

We maybe got a little silly.

We’re doing lots of cookie baking.  I keep trying to entice the kids with new cookie ideas, but they always want to original tried and true!

Peanut butter blossoms. Yum!

Pretzel treats. We learned what happens when you cook the kisses too long. Its not a pretty site! These are the properly baked ones. The others we will eat quickly before anyone sees them!

Gingerbread cookies and decorating with friends.

Cookie decorating with teens and preteens gets a little interesting. Here we have two puppies in love.

And here we have a beheaded snowman with his head reattached, a sad gingerbread boy, and a gingerbread girl with a stake in her heart. Ya know, the usual cookie fare.

Lex had his winter concert earlier this week and impressed us all with not only his drumming skills, but also his ability to problem solve on the fly and keep cool under pressure (like when his amp isn’t working and then when it’s working TOO LOUD!)  He was a problem solver and handled it like a pro!

We have two more days of school and we are all looking forward to vacation!!

Karate

Lex had a belt test this week.  He’s now a brown belt!  That’s just one level below black belt!  (However, they way they do it there’s actually a variety of brown/black combinations to get through before you get to the true black belt.)  Sensei is sick so Shidoin Paul ran the test.  He said the nicest things about Lex at the end.  Then he went home and told his wife (whom I work with) how proud he is of Lex.  <3

And because I’m feeling nostalgic these days, check out Lex’s first time in a karate gi and his first belt test.  Eve too, of course.  Oh how I wish she would rejoin!

FLL 2018 – Our final competition

This is Lex’s final year in FIRST Lego League.  The program runs through 8th grade, then they are able to move on to FIRST Robotics (no Legos, lots of machining and Java programming).

I coached again this year and we again had three teams, with 27 kids total.  We went to the state competition on Sunday.  It was the usual big, crazy, busy, 12hr day.  We had a blast.  This year the teams brought home two trophies too!  Green team earned one for their research and Red team (the team Lex was on) won one for their innovate robot design. Lex was pretty instrumental in that.  I was happy for him to have that accomplishment on his final year.

The robot design presentation where they show their robot, their code, and their favorite missions.

Project presentation. Red team chose to figure out an innovative way to feed people in space.

A very happy Red team (with two equally happy tag-along little brothers).

I’m happy with how well the season went, how organized we were at the tech center, how many kids had a great time, how well Lex connected with another kid on the team, and overall how we’ve grown the FLL team in Hartford.  I’ll miss it next year… but not enough to coach again! LOL!

Now, if you want an awwwww moment, check out little Lex at his first FLL competition.  <3 <3

Oh, Christmas Tree

We got our tree this weekend and it’s PERFECT.  It was a great field.  Lots of perfect trees, so it took us just moments to find our perfect one.

An almost perfect family photo. The photographer had no interest in being in the picture. :(

This handsome boy loves being in pictures with me. Or at least he humors me and smiles for the camera. :)

Eve finally agreed to take a selfie with me. Um… thanks?

Alan and Lex took care of cutting and wrapping.

These tall kiddos want to put up all the high ornaments. I guess I’m in charge of the lower part of the tree these days!

In the evening Alan and I went to my DBS holiday party.  I was apprehensive, because I’m lame like that, but it was nice and we only stayed for an hour anyway because we had tickets to see Matilda!  We left the party, picked up the kids, and headed to the theater.  Like the fancy family we are! LOL!

I love this crazy bunch.

 

Hi

Hi all! It’s December!  I’m sitting at drum lessons, listening to Lex practice his Jazz Band piece.  It’s pretty cool.  On Monday he auditioned for a District Band program, which is basically just a weekend of middle school kids jamming together.  It’s pretty selective, but he’s good and he auditioned on three different instruments (timpani, snare drum, and bells), so he’s feeling pretty good about things.  We’re hoping to hear the results soon.  Not that we really need more things to fill our days.

We are wrapping up the final week of Lego League, and (hopefully) our final year with it.  Lex ages out of it next year and I’ve already made the announcement that I won’t be coaching if he’s not participating.  I’ve basically taken over the program though (I have a bad habit of doing that!), so I’m hoping I can slip out without too much disruption.

The usual holiday parties have set in, plus field trips, concerts, and plays (that we’ll be in the audience for), but whenever I start to feel too stressed, I just remind myself of last fall and feel grateful for all I’m NOT doing this year!

I put up the advent boxes again, but this year the cat is taking them down for me every night.  Not helpful!  Eve has been putting them all back up each morning.

My favorite reindeer.

The advent boxes are looking a little worn. Number one is even missing a top. This might be their last appearance… though when I mentioned that to Lex, he got sad.

Eve is helpful.  She’s growing right up, but still a very silly, Harry Potter series obsessed child.  She has a crush on Draco Malfoy and wants to own all of the Harry Potter merchandise that exists in this world.  She might be a little materialistic.  :)

A friend asked the other day if we are hosting a cookie party again this year.  I said, “uhh…., honestly, it hasn’t even crossed my mind.”  :/  It would be fun, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I haven’t even made any cookies yet!  We put up some decorations last weekend, and we’ll get a tree this weekend. Maybe that will kick start the holiday spirit. :)  In the meantime, I’m enjoying my own little drummer boy right here.