Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Happy birthday Jackster! (oh yeah... Mommy too!)

Jack and I celebrated our 6th and 31st birthdays with a trip to Red Robin! Yummmmmm..... That has become our birthday hot spot, who can pass it up? I ordered my standby, the Whiskey River BBQ burger. Interestingly enough, I don't think either kid has ever ordered a burger- Neily always gets spaghetti and Jack changes his mind every time.

Then it was back home for some gigantic cupcakes and a Batman party!

Think someone's excited?!

We had a great day! Jack loved all of his presents- Bakugan, Clone Trooper Blaster, and Playmobil. The next day, we headed out to camp with friends to finish out the weekend!

Our trip to see the Florence Freedom!

On our big summer to do list, we had a planned a trip to see the Reds. Since the Reds are in first place (woohoo!) it's next to impossible to get good seats, and we didn't think the kids would enjoy nosebleed seats. We decided to hit the Florence Freedom instead. They're a minor league team in the area, and we've been told they were a great family friendly spot. They did not disappoint! The kids enjoyed being so close to the field, all the kid zones they had set up, and even got autographs!

The Florence Freedom mascots, Liberty and Belle

What's a baseball game without the sugar?

Batting practice


Great seats!

Scrambling for the foul ball... that came no where NEAR us.

This is definitely something we'll be doing again! They were so into it, because they could actually SEE the game and watch the plays. So much fun!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Yes, we're still here!

I know I've been terrible about updating this place. In my defense, it's because we've been having a lot of fun! I can't believe summer is almost over. Whoops! We're making really good progress on our Summer Fun list. One of our last things to check off was making popsicles, YUM! The kids really enjoyed making these and they were pretty healthy! They cut up their own fruit and we filled our molds with fresh fruit and grape juice. Perfect summer treat.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Goodbye, 1st grade!!!!

This post comes with a heavy heart. I am genuinely sad to see first grade end. Neily has had a wonderful year and a wonderful teacher that I don't want to let go! We feel very fortunate that Neily had Mrs. Stutzman this year, it was truly a gift. Neily went to bed crying last night because she was so sad to say goodbye. I didn't have much to offer her, because I have shed tears as well! I did tell her that she is lucky to have been in her class and that Mrs. Stutzman will never forget her. Luckily, Mrs. Stutzman has a daughter just a year younger than Neily, so I know that we will see her often. I look forward to the day the girls might become friends and play sports together. That didn't do much to make her feel better, but she'll make it through today.
I sent her off with a heavy heart because so much has changed this year. Just by looking at the pictures, it's obvious. She's grown a mile and lost any trace of that 'little girl' look that she had left. I see her getting into things like music, jewelry, clothing, and friends. She's growing up and I just can't stop it. I wish I could freeze her right here, this age is magical to me. She is a person all of her own making.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Baby birdies!

When Jack and I came home today, I spotted something in the yard that looked like a mess of branches. When I walked over to it, I immediately spotted four baby birds on the grass and realized it was a nest that had fallen from our tree. I almost cried! Poor little guys. I thought they had died immediately, so I rushed Jack in the house, but then I saw that at least some of them were breathing. I got a pair of gloves and tried to put them back in the nest as gently as I could. Two of them were upside down on the grass and one was very weak and couldn't hold its head up when I tried to pick it up, so I'm worried it broke its neck on the way down. They were all breathing but not making much of a fuss, so I'm not sure if they'll make it or not. I nestled them back into the safest spot I could find in the tree, and keep checking on them. Sadly, I have not seen the mama bird return, but the birds haven't woken up yet, either, so maybe she is watching and knows they don't need her yet. They are sleeping soundly and at least three of the four are breathing. I can't see the fourth one, he's underneath the rest. Good old Google tells me that orphaned baby birds are actually quite a wive's tale, and that the mother most likely won't abandon them if she smells me on them (but I used gloves just in case). I just hope that she'll find them in their new home. Again, The Google tells me that they have a good chance anyway- that another bird may feed them if it hears them crying. Poor birdies... they're so sweet and tiny.
Looking at these pictures, they are far less sweet looking in photos- they look pretty scraggly and gross, but I swear in person they are very downy and cute.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To My Loves

Dear Eddie, Neily, and Jack,
It's just before noon on Mother's Day. It's so pretty and sunny out, but just a little cool. I'm in the house by myself and I can see the three of you from where I sit, working and playing in the yard.
I look around our house and you are everywhere. The wrapper to a juice box straw discarded on the rug, leftovers from our lunchtime picnic earlier this week still on the bench at the door, my Mother's Day gift from Neily (a flower pen in it's own decorated pot) sits in front of me.
It's hard for me to see the blessings of where I sit sometimes. I wish I had the fancy Pottery Barn desk for the computer instead of the rickety armoire that I'm sitting at. I think about how nice it would be to have a pretty, bright laundry room in lieu of the slightly scary one in the basement. Yesterday the dog threw up on the wood floor that I'd just spent 30 minutes mopping and I really wanted to strangle him.
But this morning, when I opened my eyes on my 8th Mother's Day, the first thing I saw was a tiny clay pot resting on top of a handmade card. No one was in the room, Neily had sneaked into the room before I woke and laid it next to me. She loved me enough to leave it and sneak out, letting me sleep. She woke up and remembered instantly that it was a special day, and knew she wanted to do something. I thought about how selfless an act it was, and how hard that must have been for a 7 year old. She knew that I would find it and she wouldn't get the satisfaction of seeing me open the gift. It warmed my heart that she had made something, hidden it from me, and then given up the privilege of seeing my face when I opened it. Every time I look at that little clay pot, I will see so much in it.
Jack bounded in, bursting at the seams waiting to give me his present. Just yesterday as I was heading out the door to meet friends, I said "What I really want for Mother's Day is to wake up to a clean house! Will you clean for me while I'm gone? That's what I REALLY want..." Jack immediately jumped up and said, "You don't want a silhouette?" and seemed crushed. I knew exactly what he meant- on Wednesday, he brought home a wrapped gift from school and told me that under no circumstances was I to peek under his dresser. I didn't. He chased me up the stairs last night asking me if I really only wanted him to clean, or did I maybe want a silhouette, too? Was that something I'd always wanted? I told him that yes, I have always wanted one of those but I didn't know how to make them myself so maybe we should find out. The smile on his face as he hopped off will not be something I will forget.

Dear Eddie,
Without you, I would not be here right now, and we would not have this family that I am so thankful for each day. I look at Neily and I see you. That is such a gift. I love to tell people who sweetly say that she looks like me that she, in fact, looks just like her daddy. I think about the moment we found out that we would be parents, and the day she was born. I love to tease you about your music but secretly adore it when our kids hum some crazy song that only you have heard of. I think it's even more adorable when Neily asks you to fill her iPod with Hannah Montana and Black Eyed Peas, and you do it, without much complaining. I think about the stressful year when our house was on the market and we dreamed of more space, moving away, and leaving this silly little house behind. I realize now as I look at the front window that this is exactly the view I want to see and I'm content and happy here. Don't take that too literally, if we hit the jackpot, I won't refuse to leave this house.... ;) I love you for being the best father our kids can dream of, and for always being on my side. I appreciate that we are showing our kids the value of loving someone, and showing them that we are important to each other.

Dear Neily,
Before you were born, I could imagine you in our family. I knew I would have a little girl and buy her sundresses and put bows in her hair. I knew you would be smart and funny. Now that you are 7, it's hard for me to believe. The moment you came into our lives, we were a family and I will always be grateful to you for giving us that gift. Sometimes I look at you and feel overwhelmed because you're so pretty and sweet. You are passionate about everything you do. Everyone likes you and gravitates toward you. I can't think of a better gift to possess than that, you have always been confident and fun, and I hope you never lose that. You have a contagious laugh and are always smiling. You and I are very different and the mother/daughter relationship is not an easy one to figure out. You challenge me in ways I never thought possible, and I know that it's only the beginning! I will always be on your side and I will always give my best to you. You are such a GOOD person and I love you!

Dear Jack,
You are my little man. I never knew how much I wanted you until the moment I laid eyes on you! You are mine. Sometimes you tell me stories, and I find myself just watching you and laughing to myself. You are smart and silly, and you think of things in a way that is uniquely yours. You are sensitive, sometimes too sensitive! Sometimes I see so much of myself in you that it's eerie. I hope that as you grow, you continue to be as caring and sweet as you always have been. You make people laugh, which is a true gift. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and can't hide how you feel. When you're happy, everyone knows it. When you're not, EVERYONE knows it. I've never known a child who got in more trouble because they were having fun than misbehaving. When you smile, your eyes light up. You love with your whole heart and we love you back! You have the biggest heart and thank you for sharing it with us.

Thank you to all three of you for making me a mommy!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


We are thrilled to announce that our school levy PASSED with flying colors last night!
Ten years ago, we received our first introduction to school levies in Ohio. Here, schools are funded largely by property taxes. When expenses go up, schools have to raise property taxes. To do that, they have to put a levy on the ballot to ask voters. It is not a great system, but it is what it is and we will support it. Our neighboring district, Little Miami, has failed 5 consecutive levy attempts and they are in a fiscal emergency. The state has taken control of their school and budget and the schools have been cut to state minimums. That means no busing, no gym, art, or PE for K-8, no electives for high school students, pay to play for sports, and the list continues on and on. Their property values have tanked (our exact house in Little Miami is worth $15K less) and you cannot sell your house because no one wants to move into the district. There have been a lot of tears.
No one wants to go broke paying their taxes, but there are certain things in America that are a fact of life and this is one of them. You have to support your schools- if you don't, what WILL you support? In Indiana, you may have lower property taxes, but you still pay for the schools through your sales taxes, your license fees, etc. We ALL HAVE TO SUPPORT THE SCHOOLS.
It became a very important issue in our house and we tried to be very active in the cause. Seeing what happened in Little Miami turned us into some serious activists. We live in a fantastic district and we will do anything we can to keep it that way. Not surprisingly, there are some who just wanted to see the levy fail and they did anything they could do see that happen. There was talk of how wasteful it was that our teachers are the highest paid teachers in the county- at an average of 45K per teacher. Anyone who thinks that $50,000 is too much to pay a teacher, PLEASE- raise your hand. I want to talk to you. Anyone who believes that teachers shouldn't be making double that amount for what they do for our children, stand up. Because I will never understand that. Neily spends more time with her teacher than she does at home, and I am forever grateful to Mrs. Stutzman for all that she does. I know that for every hour she spends in the class, 2 are spent working outside the classroom. Our teachers attend our after school functions, our sports games. They are worth ten times that amount.
I went to dinner last night to celebrate a friend's birthday and we were watching the numbers roll in. When the first set of numbers came in quite low in favor of our levy, my stomach literally ached. I had not prepared myself for the idea that our levy would not pass. Suddenly my mind started to race- what will I tell Neily? How can I explain that her favorite teacher's job is in danger? How am I going to tell her that her gym teacher no longer has a job? The loss of the extra activities that put our school at the top- spanish classes, cooking classes, dance activities, etc- suddenly seemed like they were slipping away and I was physically ill. Eddie was texting me with the latest results that he was seeing and those numbers weren't much better. I honestly had tears in my eyes.
Throughout the night, our numbers slowly started to turn and we had a lead (a very small one!) of 51% for the levy and 49% against, it was about 200 votes. A few more precincts came in and we bumped up to 53%. By the end of the night, we were at 57% for the levy and it passed. My friends and I gave a quick cheer but I could not get past the numbers for Little Miami... their levy had failed again. It didn't feel right to celebrate when our friends two miles away were in tears. Their hope was taken away last night and they have a long road ahead of them. I felt sad that my children were so lucky and they were not. Parents just want the best for their children and it should not come to this to get it. Every child deserves an amazing education and it's time that they get it.
Sorry for the heaviness of this post, but this was SO important to us. We passed out signs, we stood with our children waving signs to support the levy, we attended rallies to show our support, and it was worth it. We are proud to be Kings Knights! If you live in Ohio, PLEASE write your senators and representatives and ask them to find another way to help Ohio schools. This has to change, because what is happening in Little Miami should not happen to our children. That was my original purpose in writing this post, the first few paragraphs will eventually be sent on to my local representative in hopes of change.