Thursday, April 25, 2013

Great day...

Well, it's been a wonderful afternoon. After being a hormonal, not-so-nice teacher this morning which means happy times for all, our washing machine and laptop died within hours of each other. I really can't be too upset about the washer because it has lasted the length of our marriage (just under 17 years!), but the laptop is only a few months old.

We went out shopping for a washer after dinner because we can't live without one for more than 24 hours or the laundry room looks like the worst episode of HOARDERS you've ever seen. After realizing that the high efficiency front loaders really only give you lots of bells & whistles for a mere $200 more, we went with the common-sense-large-family-low-budget model, which I am actually looking forward to because it is bigger than the old one. It won't arrive until Wednesday, so that means a trip to the laundromat - can't wait for that!

Eric has since repaired whatever was wrong with the laptop so...woohoo! I love having a husband who can fix pretty much anything - except washing machines :)

Introducing...Grace, the willing model

We have been experiencing some spring-like days every once in a while so when we do get one, we spend every minute outside.  The sun was low in the sky and giving some great light, so I grabbed the camera to take advantage of anyone that was around.  Grace was the biggest victim this particular evening and Lyndsay took some amazing pictures. 

I had to take my turn of course, and try to get a shot of two sisters and get them to look like they actually like each other.

What is the purpose of a teenager exactly?

I think I realized last night that God gives us teenagers to truly test our resolve.  Sometimes on an hourly basis.  Why is it that things can be great and you think they're the best people; that you can actually take a little bit of credit for that and then an hour later you can't understand how they are even human?? 

I needed something to make me laugh or convince me that homeschooling is still something I want to do (oddly, both of those could go together) so I took to the internet for some inspiration.  First, I went to Simcha's post about dropping out of home school which didn't really convince me either way if I still wanted to pull my hair out on a daily basis or not.  Then I saw this post which was followed by 'COMMENTS CLOSED' so I knew it must have been a good one.  I spent the next who-knows-how-long reading the entire thing and mostly laughing, but also feeling annoyed at how her post brought about such responses. 

I will continue to wear pants and skirts when I feel like it and I will continue to dress modestly no matter what I am wearing. :)  Anyway, it did what it was supposed to do which was get my mind off of how I could get rid of two teenagers without anyone asking questions. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Week in review

The week started out normally and we were glad to get back to our art class with the E family. :)  Lisa even kept the kids for a couple hours afterwards and I came home to check on Sarah who was not feeling well.  I rarely have the TV on when the kids are around, so I turned on a cooking show and that's when the breaking news hit from Boston.  The feeling I had in my stomach was like the one I had when 9.11.01 was the breaking news...  When the kids got home and learned what happened, I reminded them to look for all the people that were jumping in and helping out instead of running away.  Thanks to some amazing police work, the people of Boston can live a little easier since both suspects have been apprehended as of yesterday (Friday).

The next day I was a chaperon for the Marian biology class' field trip to Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.  We were a caravan of four Cardinal buses (thank God they weren't school buses!)  It turned out to be a beautiful day with temperatures in the 50's and sunny with little wind.  I was in charge of eight students and was really impressed with their behavior.  You never know what to expect from teens!  :D  The rest of the clan spent the day at Grandma & Grandpa B's and enjoyed themselves. 

The rest of the week I'd rather not write about.  It was rough from a parenting and homeschooling perspective.  Those are the few days of the year (thankfully) that I just want to throw in the towel and let someone else do it.  It feels as though my effectiveness in teaching is completely absent, or that the kids don't care about any of it.  Maybe a combination of both...maybe it's spring fever.  Except for Wednesday evening; I went to Teresa's house, and we enjoyed some wine and good conversation which always involves a lot of laughing. 

I'm enjoying a quiet Saturday afternoon as Eric took the kids out and about for awhile.  It's very cold out (in the low 40's), but I did get outside to get some pictures of the forsythia. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

First meal from smoker and first injuries

It was a beautiful day (after about 1:00) and after attending the Notre Dame Robotics Day and Meredith's softball practice, Eric got the smoker ready for its first run.  He conditioned it yesterday (I had no idea smoker's were so needy) and he bought some baby back ribs to try.  The rub he used was great - with a little kick.  The girls didn't love them because of that kick, but Josh thought they were awesome, as did I.  I made some smashed potatoes to go with it and we had salad.  We are very blessed :)

I read this book over the weekend.  I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.  I read Immaculee's first book Left to Tell a few years ago and it touched me very deeply.  This book had a similar effect. 

Also, we had our first summer injuries today.  Lyndsay and Grace took their scooters up the hill and the trip back down didn't end gracefully.  Meredith came running back to tell Eric, and while we tended to the scrapes Josh went and got both scooters.  The injured were more concerned about each other than themselves.  Both had to throw out the shirts they were wearing, but... no broken bones!

We are looking forward to going to art class tomorrow as we haven't done that for two weeks now. 

Good night!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Navy Pier & Shedd Aquarium

At least the kids can say we went somewhere for spring break, which we don't normally do.  We left after Mass Sunday and headed to Chicago!  It was bright and sunny (and just a bit chilly) so we headed to Navy Pier for the afternoon as the forecast called for rain the next day.  It wasn't that crowded except for large groups of girls that were there for a cheerleading competition.  We opted to enjoy the outdoors instead of watching that.

We ate at the Billy Goat Tavern and later had Garrett's Popcorn so we felt like real Chicagoans!

We walked all around and met three people from Germany who had the most beautiful dogs.  They were big and looked almost like St. Bernard's, but after asking them, they told us they were a European breed:  Leonberger.  The dogs were so laid back and friendly.  It was a father-son duo :)

The kids were anxious to get to the hotel and check it out.  We were an hour early to check in so we walked around for a bit, but it was getting colder so we ducked into a Bed Bath & Beyond to stay out of the wind.  After finally checking in, we just relaxed for a bit and then headed to the pool.  They were so excited to go swimming.  We sat in the hot tub for a bit (I can only handle about 5 minutes of that!), and left the pool just in time for happy hour.  We got a drink on our way back to the room, changed our clothes, and Eric and I went back down to the lounge for another drink while the kids laid around and watched Disney channel (which we don't get here anymore).  We brought some food so we just stayed in the room for the rest of night watching the Notre Dame women's basketball game; and later, the men's final four game. 
The next morning after a great breakfast in the hotel, we left for the aquarium.  It turned out to be warmer and sunnier on Monday.  Now that we have a family membership, we didn't have to wait in the line to get in and we were able to see all of the exhibits and the aquatic show.  The show was a little disappointing and I'm glad we didn't pay 'extra' for it. 

We saw so many cool creatures, and we all talked about how it reminds us of God's power and wisdom.  However, after you've seen a few fish, frogs, and other reptiles, you feel like you've seen them all!!  We were all tired and had rubbery legs so the ride home was quiet.  It was a great way to end spring break! 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Eric turns 40!!

There is something nice about having a birthday on a Friday or Saturday - the weekend becomes part of the birthday celebration, intended or not.  The kids helped decorate the house with some blue and black streamers for Eric's birthday.  We made the angel food cake, Lyndsay frosted it and Sarah and Lyndsay helped wrap the large box we were trying to camouflage.  I got the ribs in the oven around noon and the kids waited anxiously for Dad to arrive from work and then for grandparents to arrive.  Eric said dinner was better than a restaurant (he's so kind!)  Grandma C. was not sure about the cauliflower mashed potatoes, but decided that she really liked them.

The traditional paper throwing battle was more involved this time because there was a lot more paper, a big box to hide in, and things to use as shields!

Eric was very surprised to get the smoker and is looking forward to preparing some great meals for us!
We have a little surprise planned for the kids starting tomorrow so they are full of questions and getting them up for an earlier Mass in the morning might be easier than normal :)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

More spring break activities

I already posted that Monday was a project day.  Tuesday was a shopping day.  The kids needed bathing suits and Old Navy was having a sale.  We had other things to do at Home Depot and Wal-Mart too.  We started out great and I was thinking how lucky I am that I actually like to hang out with my kids.  They were jamming to Taylor Swift and everyone was in a good mood.  The picking out of bathing suits and all the drama that usually goes with clothes shopping was actually pretty smooth and the obligatory dressing room visit wasn't bad either. 

How quickly things change! 

By the time we got to Wal-Mart, the two that should know better, were literally running in the produce department (for whatever reason, it doesn't really matter to me), kicking each other and just generally acting like 4 year olds.  My dad said at least we fit in at Wal-Mart and I said that's why we go there.  :D

So by the time all of the things on the errand running list were done, I was ready to drop them all off at a 'safe place'  (no questions asked, right?) and wondering why I ever think it's a good idea to take everyone shopping together. 

But the next time we're all at home together with nothing to do, I'll think it's a good idea for us all to go run errands together.  Deep down, I'm glad that we do things like that together. 

Wednesday I had some donation request letters to finish and get mailed.  Eric and I were asked to be co-chairpersons for the Knights of Columbus Annual Lourdes Dinner Dance Auction, and of course we agreed.  Eric has been wanting to do more for the KofC since he really hasn't been able to do a lot after becoming a member.  This was quite a project in itself.  I asked Lyn and Grace to help me with the envelopes: one needed to be at the printer letting me know if each one printed okay (sometimes they don't) and one needed to read me each address so I could type them in quicker.  Grace read the addresses and subsequently threw all the letters on the table when done so they were in no order whatsoever.  Lyndsay was only partly paying attention to the printer (because the cat is much more fun) so some of them had to be retyped and reprinted.  Then the envelope-stuffing took a while longer because the letters were out of order and we had to search for the matching envelope.  Then we went to the post office, and then off to visit Grandma & Grandpa B which was nice, as always. 

This morning we had two dentist appointments and then went to visit my niece's new dog.  The kids enjoyed the visit; I was reminded how much work puppies are!!  After lunch we went to the park for a while to enjoy the sunshine and get some good tree-climbing in and then headed downtown to the chocolate cafĂ© for some popcorn. 

We are all looking forward to celebrating a big birthday in the family tomorrow - 40!!!