Saturday, January 31, 2009

Stephanie's challenge

Stephanie at Organized Chaos posted a handmade/homemade challenge that I'm excited to participate in. So the way it works... The first five people who respond to this post will receive a gift, made especially for you, by me. The rules and restrictions according to Stephanie:

1. I make no guarantees you will like what I make.
2. What I create will be just for you.
3. It'll be done this year - as in sometime in 2009.
4. You will have no clue what it's going to be.
5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.
6. When you receive my homemade/handmade item, you must post a picture of it on your blog.

So you know there's got to be a catch... The catch is that you must repost this on your blog and offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog. The first 5 people to do so, and leave a comment telling me they did, win.

Sounds like fun, right?

Motivating factors

Nicklas is a smart kid. A really smart kid. Way smarter than I was at his age. We all knew this when he was going into kindergarten which unfortunately was incredibly easy and pointless.

(When he went to meet his teacher the first time, she did some testing to see what level he was at. She commented to me on how impressed she was with his letter recognition. I probably rolled my eyes at her as I explained that he'd been able to recognize letters as a two-year-old and he'd been reading since he was four.)

Being the well behaved, eager to please boy his is, Nicklas sat quietly and did everything he was asked to do in class. Even though he was completely unchallenged, he was content to sound out letters and learn to count to 20 with the rest of class.

First grade was a much better experience. Nicklas had been identified as having the potential to participate in a gifted and talented program and was invited to enroll at the elementary school in our district that hosts the GT program. All the other children in his class had GT potential and he finally participated in a class full academic equals. He had an incredible teacher who was creative, caring, and encouraging. She knew her students well - their struggles, their strengths, their abilities. She customized projects to personally challenge each student to maximize potential. She was awesome and Nicklas excelled in her class. His test scores remained one of the highest in the class and when it was time to go through testing for entrance to the actual GT program that starts in second grade, he was a natural choice.

Second grade begins. The Challenge program is more rigorous. The teacher is stricter and she's new to teaching second grade. (In previous years, she had taught the fifth grade challenge class.) But we have no worries. Nicklas adapts easily to situations. He's a rules follower who believes things are black and white and he has no problem adjusting to the new program. And it is an adjustment. Not only is the teacher new to second grade, several of the students are new to the Challenge program curriculum. (Sixty percent of the students came from Nicklas's first grade class and the other 40% are new to the school.) Nicklas does well his first nine weeks. He's in the top reading group and one of only eight students who are working a full year ahead in math. Nicklas's tests indicate high IQ and he's getting high 80%'s in math and reading. We aren't worried - he's working a grade ahead after all.

Midway through the second nine weeks, I start to notice that some of the papers he's bringing home have errors. Instead of 100%, I'm seeing 70%, 60%, and even the occasional 40 or 50%. I ask some of the other parents and receive similar feedback. I probably should have been concerned but I wasn't. It wasn't uncommon for other students to bring home lower grades. He still enjoyed school, his homework load wasn't that heavy, and I saw his teacher on a weekly basis (I volunteer in his classroom) and she never brought up any concerns.

Plus, Mike and I were dealing with other issues. Nicklas has horrible - HORRIBLE - handwriting. It's often difficult to read and we're constantly making him erase and rewrite things. During his parent/teacher conference, his teacher mentioned the students have to fill out scan trons for an individualized math program and he often has to redo his because the card is unreadable. And he often misses spelling words on his test that were correct but unreadable to the untrained eye. To us, this was a big concern and one we were working to address. So when a few papers came home with poor grades, I didn't think much of it.

Plus, how do you get upset with your child's grades when he's working a grade ahead? Especially when that child is often more hard on himself for messing up than you as a parent would ever be.

Then we got his second nine weeks report card. His grades dropped in every subject - the worst being math which had fallen to a 76%. Math is his favorite subject. We were shocked.

So Mike and I scheduled a conference with his teacher. Before meeting with her, I asked Nicklas why he thought his grades were lower. He didn't have much to say. He commented that even though he didn't do well in math, he's still in the top group in math. He also said that he understands everything he does in math but by the time he gets tested on it, he's forgotten the content.

Then we have our meeting. We learn that there are no groupings for math - Nicklas and the rest of the class are learning the same concepts. We also learn that the program uses a spiral approach to teaching math so concepts are continually visited throughout the unit. And the most shocking to us - Nicklas did very poorly on his second semester testing (which the students had just finished taking last week). He did much worse than the previous semester in math and even missed content he's gotten correctly the previous time. And in reading, his score was second from the lowest in the class (and the student who received the lowest score won't be asked to continue with the program in third grade). His teacher didn't have his official math score but his reading went from 89% to 72%.

So his teacher, Mike, and I discuss the situation. According to his teacher, he's well behaved in class. He does what's asked. He pays attention for the most part (although his eyes sometimes wonder around the room and he doesn't completely focus, he still completes everything and gets to work when told.) He's given plenty of time to complete his assignments. But then she shows us some examples of his work. He's missing questions that he shouldn't, he isn't grasping vocabulary that should be easy, his writing is still very bad. She doesn't like to focus on grades but she has too.

And then she asks us what ideas we have. We were at a loss. We had no ideas. We hadn't really identified what the issue was, how could we identify answers? His teacher comments that she is shocked by his recent test scores. She knew his grades were dropping but she didn't think is was as serious a problem as the test scores indicate. This isn't reassuring to me.

We discuss some more. We think that when it comes to school work and homework, he rushes through. He just wants to get it done and he doesn't take time to check his answers. Mike acknowledges this is a problem and while I agree, I know this is typical of most students. But reviewing his work certainly can't hurt. We also decide to emphasize the importance of grades. Like his teacher, we haven't talked about grades much. I've always told Nicklas that as long as he does his best, I'll be proud of him. But I also know my son and adding a competitive nature to his school work can motivate him.

Speaking of motivation, Mike believes that's part of the issue. He thinks Nicklas doesn't have a reason or motivator to do well. He doesn't see the value in the work his doing and therefore doesn't give it the effort and attention he should. So we'll talk to him about this as well.

And that's it. That's all we've come up with - grades ARE important and double checking work is now a requirement.

So we talk to Nicklas. He's understands we're serious and he's fine with us making him double check his work. But only time will tell if our conversations are making a difference.

As we left the meeting with his teacher, she mentions that we can try everything in our power to motivate him. But until he's able to personally motivate himself, nothing we say or do will really make an impact.

Is that the case with Nicklas? Is he not motivated? Is he content for mediocrity? Do I lack the ability to help him?

It's time for me to step it up as a parent. As I've been following Heather's blog and reading her posts about the struggles she's experiencing with her daughters academic progress, I've been motivated by her commitment and involvement in helping Grace overcome her ADD. And while I don't know the answers to helping Nicklas, I'm going to do everything I can to help him.

It's not going to be easy. I need to teach him to be a good learner, an efficient learner. I need to teach him the value of getting the work done and doing it well so provides better opportunities in the future. School is his job and yes, I expect him to always do his best work. And I expect that he'll understand and value the importance of always doing his best work.

In the coming weeks, I'm going to be talking to parents, visiting the bookstore and scouring the internet for information and resources. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please, please send them my way. I know this was a long post and I appreciate you sticking with me through the end!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lunch with the Polack

Isn't he a cutie?

So this morning, Seeger and I got into a debate about Christmas. He kept talking about Christmas and the presents he wants. Confused, I explained that Christmas was over and he would have to wait a long time to have another Christmas. But he was insistent. I finally said (in my mom voice), "Seeger is Christmas is OVER." To which he replied, "Let me see," and proceeded to run to the window to look out at the snow. "See!" he said to me.

So yeah, Seeger thinks that snow means Christmas. If only that were true!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I need your help!

I'm working on a new quilt and I need help in deciding how to lay it out. I'm posting pictures of the blocks layed out in two different ways. Which do you prefer?

Me and my god

I just read an excellent post by Brandy over at It's like I'm... mmmagic! about her view regarding religion. I generally shy away from talking religion but so much of what she says hit home with me. I could have written her post (except for the part about carrying Sarah's hair around the playground. Oh and farting in public. I keep my farts to the bathroom.)

It's always nice to know you're not alone with your thoughts.

Snowy days

After missing out on much of the recent snowfall others received, we were finally hit yesterday and last night. Our city recorded 5.1 inches. I love snow! If it's going to be cold outside, I'd much rather have snow to compliment the freezing temperatures. I hate freezing cold with no snow, just gray, dreary, yuckiness.

Most of the surrounding school districts closed for the day but not ours. Not even a two hour delay. We were already scheduled for a half day so I'm guessing a delay would have meant canceling for the day. A large percent of our kids walk to school and I feel so bad for them. It couldn't have been easy trekking through all the snow covered side walks. The Polack is a teacher at the high school and while he normally doesn't like snow days (because it prolongs the school year when they have to be made up), even he agreed that school should have been cancelled. In fact, he sent me an email this morning, replaying an announcement made to the teachers at the beginning of the day:

"Teachers, please check to see if the classroom next to yours has been opened. We are missing several staff members and need to make sure that each classroom is covered."

I spent the morning shoveling our driveway and sidewalk. Seeger helped for awhile before getting distracted with his sled. As I was shoveling, I saw Edward and Aubrey who live a few houses down the street from us. I've tried to befriend this couple. They're young and cute (something our neighborhood lacks) but they definitely keep to themselves. So I'm shoveling away and Aubrey is in the middle of the street, in her cute boots and cute skirt and cute coat and cute scarf, looking toward the entrance to our neighborhood. I'm not sure what she's doing but finally, she and Edward get in their car and drive down the street and past Seeger and I. I wave the neighborly wave and they ignore me. Once they get to the end of our street (to the entrance of our neighborhood) I see them get out of their car. Aubrey makes her way from the passenger side to the driver side and Edward starts walking back to his house.

It all starts to make sense. As Edward walks by (in his long johns and boxer shorts) I ask what's going on. He grunts something about Aubrey being nervous about driving in the snow. Cute little Aubrey needed her Edward to test it for her. Don't get me wrong. I'm all about being girly - to an extent - but it seemed too much to me as I continued my shoveling.

The drive to work wasn't too bad for me. I'm one neighborhood away from a major road and fortunately, the city mayor lives in that neighborhood. Those streets always seem to be the first plowed during a heavy snowfall.

Seeger's school was cancelled and Nicklas will be home by noon. I wish grown ups could take a snow day too!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hanging with the cool kids

It's a historic day in my blog world. I was minding my own business, lurking around, and catching up with my blog list. And there it was - I was tagged by fellow blogger Heather from Comparative Childhood!

Heather posted a word association game and invited me to play along. I feel like one of the cool kids! So the way it works - I read the first word and think the second word. Get it?

1. Spit it out::gum

2. Shadow::box

3. Database::info

4. Expression::emotion

5. Boss::pushover

6. Baby::blues

7. Mystic::pizza (I don't mean to steal this from you, Heather, but it's the only thing that comes to mind. I love that movie!!)

8. Kate::Moss

9. Boobies::small

10. Raid::bugs

I'm not going to tag anyone but if you read this, I encourage you to post your own word association game. And if you do, let me know so I can read it!

And because I have her undivided attention, I want to let Heather know that I love her blog. I don't think it's too heavy and I appreciate her introversion and self-evaluation. (And no, I don't think it means you never do anything frivolous!) Even though I don't parent a daughter or a teenager, I'm always interested to hear her stories about Grace and learn more about the mother/daughter relationship. I especially enjoy her posts about interactions with Grace's teachers and I definitely take something away from them that will help me in partnering with my children's teachers as they continue through the school-age years.

Oh, and I can't wait to follow her journey with the slug!

Now all of you go and read Heather's word association, as well as my favorite post she wrote (which I forwarded to my husband, a high school math teacher.)

Random pictures

I know I haven't been posting many pictures of the boys lately and since that's why many of you check this blog, I'm feeling a bit guilty. So last night I grabbed my camera and took a random photo of Nicklas and Seeger.
This is Nicklas eating grapes out of the fruit bowl. The kid loves his grapes. He always has one hand in that bowl while the other is sitting at the counter doing his homework/looking through the newspaper/reading a book.

Seeger had just finished eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was just a *little* messy. You may not know this but Seeger loves him some peanut butter and jelly. When he was younger, he would eat anything put in front of him. Not anymore - now he's very specific about his diet. In the morning, he wants Life cereal. For lunch and dinner, it's a pbj sandwich with peach yogurt. If we'd let him get away with it, that would be all he'd ever eat. Although I should piont out that he's expanding his palate a little bit. He used to only eat strawberry jelly. Now he alternates between strawberry and grape.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Conversation with Seeger....

Me: "Seeger, before you cousins come over to play today, you need to pick up your room."

Seeger: "Awwwww....."

Me (pretending I didn't hear him): "Please go upstairs and pick up your Candyland game and your soft things."

Seeger goes upstairs and comes down five minutes later.

Me: "Did you pick up your game and soft things?"

Seeger: "Yes."

Me: "Great! Now go back up stairs and pick up the rest of the toys in your room."

Seeger goes upstairs and come down five minutes later.

Me: "Did you pick up the rest of your toys?"

Seeger: "No, I just closed the door so you couldn't see them."

Conversation with Nicklas....

We're watching tv and something sappy happens in the show. I start tearing up and sniffling, trying to be discrete so no one in my family makes fun of me for crying. I hear Nicklas making strange noises too.

Me: "Aw Nicklas, are you crying about this show, just like me?"

Nicklas: "No mom, I'm trying not to laugh at you for crying about this show!"

He and The Polack bust out laughing.

So much for discretion.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

We can make this work

The Get Fit Challenge is going well. Mike and I have been following Weight Watchers for three weeks now and we've lost weight at every weigh in. Yay, us! We've also meeting our goal of doing a cardio workout at least three times a week. It's tough to do. We'd like to work out together but with a 4 and 8 year old, our options are limited.

Luckily, Mike had a great idea. We've started taking the boys to his school at night after dinner. Nicklas works on his homework and Seeger watches movies on the projection screen. Then Mike and I do labs around the second floor, stopping to check in on them every lap. The boys enjoy it and we like spending the time with each other while working up a sweat.

(Of course Seeger is watching a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

The things I do for a little cash...

I've been incredibly busy this week at work. My projects are catching up with me and deadlines all seem to be hitting at once. I'm finding there aren't enough hours in the work day to get everything done.

But this is my fault. I contributed to my busy schedule by signing up to participate in some research studies. One of the benefits of working at a University is the opportunity to earn cash being a human subject in a research project. (You know the cereal commercial that boasts you loss weight by eating one bowl of cereal for breakfast, one bowl of cereal for lunch, and a light dinner? Yeah, that study was done at my University.)

I once spent 84 days in row ingesting eight servings of grape juice. That's 5,376 ounces in 12 weeks. (Needless to say, I can no longer drink grape juice.) Sure I gained 10 pounds but I made $100 in the process.

This week, I'm doing a speech perception study. Four days in a row, I've been going to the speech lab to listen to Alice, Beth, Claire, Dave, Earl, and George on the computer. (Yes, George. This has been puzzling me. Why the A, B, C, D, E names and no F? Instead of something easy like Fred, they skipped the F and went straight to G for George.) I get to hear them say sentences like, The tip of the knife is sharp and The queen likes to wear silk socks, only their voices sound unnatural because they've been altered to mimic the sound that people with hearing loss may hear through their cochlear implants.

Although the sessions only last an hour, they are painstakingly boring. I hear a sentence and I'm supposed to click on the picture of the person who said it. I can barely tell the different between the men and women, much less which one actually said it. It's hard to stay awake. Unless I'm doing the sentence transcription part. That's my favorite. I listen to a voice who says 60 different sentences. I'm supposed to type what I hear or what I think they say. As with the voice identification testing, the voice is altered. Its very deep and muffled and sort of reminds me of a voice from a scary movie. This makes me think it's saying very dreary, dark things so I end up typing things like The dog likes to go to the cemetery and She is very afraid to die. I can picture the researchers laughing their asses off at my translations.

For the four sessions, I'll earn $40. I'm also starting another study and had to do the preliminary testing this week. Its looking at the relationship between Vitamin D and strength training. I have to lift weights with a trainer three days per week while taking Vitamin D (or a placebo). The study lasts 12 weeks. I'm still going through the initial testing (I met with a trainer so he could record how strong I was. Yeah, I'm below average. That's right, I'm a wuss.) Next I have to lie in some sort of weird machine while it scans my body for a half an hour. And then I have to do a three hour glucose/blood test. Sweet. All this for $250.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mmmmm.... donuts....

So the other day, Mike, the boys, and I went to visit our new puppy. We are eagerly anticipating February 10 - the day we bring home Freddie. (Like the name? I picked it out. It was between that and Artie and although we decided to go with Artie, for some reason, I would say Freddie every time I talked about him. Thus, Artie wasn't meant to be.) The boys loved playing with him and it was nice to meet the breeder face-to-face before actually shelling out the dough. You can tell she really loves her dogs and cares where they end up.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures. (I know, I know - how is that possible? I ALWAYS take photo's and I even had my camera with me. But for some reason, it never occurred to me.)

It was a two hour drive there and another two hour drive back, mostly on back roads and through small towns. On the way home, we stopped at a Subway/Dairy Queen/gas station for lunch. I HATE eating fast food from gas stations. In fact, I rarely do it. But with the Get Fit Challenge and lack of choices, Mike and I felt Subway was the best option.

After finishing his food, Nicklas asked if he could go to the bathroom. Of course, the only restroom is the gas station one - super gross, I'm sure. After a few minutes, he hadn't returned so I went to check on him. This is what I saw....

He'd gotten side-tracked by the donut display on his way to pee. He was just staring at those silly donuts, oblivious to everything else.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More quilt camp projects

I mentioned in my previous post that I got a lot done at quilt camp. In addition to the Cappuccino quilt top, I quilted a bulls-eye baby quilt for a friend of ours.

I also made another baby quilt for the school fundraiser. I put together the top, got it quilted, and started the binding. Since I was just using four inch blocks, it went together pretty quickly. I spent a total of four hours on this.

I was also able to work on constructing blocks for my shadow quilt that I'm doing. I didn't get any pictures of it but I took photo's of everyone elses projects!

Here is Bobbie's Cappuccino quilt (the one she doesn't like but I do!)

Kathy was in a black and white block exchange so she put her blocks together. This inspired our group to do our own black and white block exchange. It's our project for 2009.

My aunt Cheryl is a relatively new quilter. She attended her first camp a year ago but boy has she been pumping out the quilts. For show and tell, she showed her four patch posey she made for her granddaughter.

She and Bobbie are both working on a bulls-eye quilts. Here is a photo of Bobbie's.

My mom did a Crazy 8's in pinks and browns. I love her fabric choices!

Nancy is working on a quilt for a college friend who always organizes their reunions. Everyone is going to sign blocks in this Hiram College quilt.

Celeste worked on quilting this traditional quilt top she recently completed.

Quilt camp wasn't even over before everyone started talking about the next camp. I don't think anyone is going in March but many have decided to attend in May. I hope to go to and I'm looking forward to the theme - Cupcakes!

Quilt Camp at Camp Tecumseh

I'm back from quilt camp, refreshed, inspired, and excited about everything I accomplished. I had so much on my to-do list and I'm happy to report that I was able to cross everything off.
After arriving Friday morning, I immediately began cutting for the Cappuccino quilt pattern. I cut and cut and cut and cut. SEVEN HOURS LATER, this is what I had...
The pattern called for construction of three different blocks. I needed 15 of Block A, 24 of Block B, and 24 of Block C. I did block B first because it used the smallest pieces - the outside strip was only one inch wide! FOUR HOURS LATER, I finished...

On to Block C... This one only took THREE AND HALF HOURS! (Seriously, I didn't realize how much time it took to put together a quilt. People always ask me and I guesstimate because I never keep track. Since I was hoping to make this entire top during the weekend, I decided to keep track. I was shocked!

Finally, it was time for Block A. I was looking forward to this step since it was only 15 blocks and the pieces were bigger. I hoped they would go together faster and they did. They only took two and half hours.

I spent another two hours laying it out and putting the blocks together. After adding the border, I had my quilt top - nineteen hours later. TA-DA!

Funny thing though, after laying it out and looking at it, I declared to everyone that I HATED it. I was not happy with the look and I couldn't get into the pink and red. I'm not a big fan of red in quilts. My intent was to make a Strawberry Shortcake quilt and I didn't feel as though I had achieved it. Everyone else disagreed. Both my mom and Bobbie (my mother-in-law) raved about to. (Although Bobbie was doing the same pattern and she didn't like hers - which I thought was beautiful.) Now that it's finally together and I've looked at it some more, I no longer hate it. It's actually starting to grow on me.

My original intent for this quilt was to donate it to the raffle at Nick's school's fundraiser. I had a bunch of Strawberry Shortcake items to go with it and I thought it would be perfect for a little girl's room. But since I didn't like it and I wasn't sure how much the fundraising committee wanted another quilt, my mom made a deal with me. I'm going to finish the quilt for her and in turn, she's going to donate a matching set of three Vera Bradley bags she has from Vera's latest trunk show.

I finished some other projects at quilt camp and I will post those soon!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A maltipoo for you...

I finally decided on the breed of our next dog. Drumroll please....

It's a maltipoo!!!

I wanted a dog that was smaller and one that doesn't shed much. I've done tons of research and made a pro/con list on several breeds that I was considering. And the maltipoo won, hands down.

That was the easy party. After deciding on the breed, I spent hours looking for a breeder to buy from. It was tough. I wanted a good breeder but someone who wasn't charging $2,000. I wanted someone I could visit prior because I wouldn't trust having a dog shipped to me. I finally found someone who I feel really good about. She's two hours away. She only breeds maltipoos and malteses. She is the owner of both parents, neither have medical concerns. She really cares about her dogs. We emailed back and forth several times and she was so patient in answering all my questions. And her vet raved about her.

So the family and I are going to visit her puppies on Monday. If all goes well we'll put a deposit down and once we return from vacation in three weeks, we'll go pick up our puppy. I'm super excited!

Here is a picture of one the puppies from the recent litter. She has four boys and one girl available. KEY-UTE!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm feeling better now!

Even though the boys were home all day and I was stuck at work, I'm feeling much better. I've been feeling swamped with everything at work and I got a lot done today so I'm happy with my progress.

Plus tomorrow is quilt camp.

YAY, quilt camp!

I have serious ambitions for this weekend. I want to make the Cappuccino quilt. I also have my bulls-eye baby quilt that needs quilted. A woman from the TPA gave me a quilt top that also needs quilted. We're planning to raffle this off at the school's spring carnival. And finally, I have another baby quilt to make for the carnival.

Like I said. Serious ambitions.

Here is the fabric for the baby quilt. So cute!

Baby, it's cold outside

For the record, it's no longer pretty outside. It stopped snowing last night so everything is turning all mushy and icey and dirty and ugly.

Today is my birthday and the temperature is -15. That's the real temp. The wind chill is forecasted at around -25. School has been cancelled so my kids are at home enjoying a relaxing day. And I'm at work. Working. On my birthday. Kids. At home. Boooooo.

It's so cold that my nose hairs froze together when I walked to my building this morning.


A quilting we will go...


Can you tell I'm super excited?!?

Quilt Camp is held at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, Indiana. Here are the projects for this camp. I'm planning to do the Cappuccino pattern in reds, whites, and pinks. I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures to post!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

These days are ouuurrrr-rrrr-rrrrrr-rrrrrsssss

Right before Christmas I won tickets to see a traveling Broadway show from an Indianapolis radio station. The performance was last night at Clowe's Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus.

A free date with my husband. Yay! And the seats were awesome. Halfway up the main floor, right in the middle.

Thanks WTTS!!! I received the tickets by being a VIP member. You should sign up too! In the past two months, Mike has won a CD, he was called and asked if he wanted tickets to see a comedian (who's name escapes me) at the Murat (we couldn't go as we were out of town), and I got the Happy Days tickets.

Let it snow

Sure the wind chill is in the negative digits, the city can't keep up with plowing the roads, and all activities for tonight are getting cancelled.

But it sure is pretty outside right now! This is the of the building I work in - the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering.

And just across the street, Lambert Field House. I love snow!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ham and cheese crackers

Since we bought way too much food for the open house, my family will be eating more broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, celery, mushrooms, grapes, cheese and crackers than we ever thought possible. Last night, Mike and I stir-fried some of the veggies and added rice for our dinner. The boys can't stand food mixed together so I picked out the carrots and broccoli for them and also gave them some cheese and crackers to eat. Seeger loved making sandwhiches out of them!

And since I had the camera out, he begged me to film "a movie" of him. He's such a ham!

Decisions, decisions...

Since Nicklas received a guitar for Christmas, he's decided he wants to take lessons. This was expected so Mike and I are happy to sign him up. But here's the thing. The kid is in a lot of activities. He has swimming two days a week, he does Boy Scouts every one to two weeks, and soccer is getting ready to start. Then in a few months, it will be time for baseball. It's all getting to be a bit too much.

And he's only in second grade.

Plus academically, he's working a grade to a grade in a half above his peers and this brings a whole new dimension to homework and study time.

Like I said. It's all a bit too much.

So we made a deal with him. We told him we'd sign him up for guitar lessons and let him try it for a few weeks. Then he has to decide. Guitar/soccer/swimming/scouts is too much to do at once.

(Side note - when I was growing up, my father's rule was only one activity at time. I hated that I couldn't do softball or gymnastics or soccer or any other activity because I'd chosen ballet lessons. I felt like I missed out on different experiences. I vowed to give my children lots of opportunities. BUT what's the price of overscheduling children? I don't want to go the extreme opposite of my father and hope we can find the happy medium.)

And now Nicklas is very nervous and upset. He doesn't want to choose, he doesn't know how he'll choose. He keeps asking why he can't just schedule everything on different days. He was crying when I kissed him at bedtime last night. (All his personal struggles seem to come pouring out at bedtime.)

I know if we decided for him, it would save him a lot of heartache. But I really think this is something he needs to do. As someone who works in a university setting, I've seen the helicopter parents. (Only, now they're called lawnmower parents.) That mom that called the residence halls to ask for the semester menu so she can pick out her son's meals for him. Or that dad that calls his daughter's professor to find out how on earth she received a poor grade when he in fact did most of the work for her. And my favorite, the mom who her walked her daughter and her daughter's friends to each of their classes the first week of classes "so they wouldn't get lost". (These are all true stories!)

I want my children to be independent, to be creative thinkers, problem solvers who aren't afraid of the unknown. Who aren't afraid to tackle the trials and tribulations that life hands us.

So this is a decision that Nicklas needs to make. We'll guide him through it. We'll suggest a pro and con list. We'll ask what he likes and dislikes about each activity. And in the end, he'll make a decision. And hopefully grow a little bit during the process.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy retirement, Tom!

As I mentioned in my previous post, yesterday was the open house in honor of Tom Kubat's (my father-in-law) retirement from the Lafayette Journal & Courier. I'm posting the following pictures for family and friends to enjoy.

This first one is a picture of the boys waiting for Mike and I to finish our shopping at Sam's Club. 13 lbs of cheese, vegetables, fruit and $125 later, and we were ready to go.Matt, my brother-in-law, has a friend who works at a sign printing business. He made three banners for the event - free of charge. Super cool!

Here is a photo of Mike and Matt working hard in the kitchen. They did all the cooking + they got to bartend. Now they're talking about opening their own restaurant!

Here are all of Tom's awards on display with the help of Miss Anna Vanna. She's such a good model!

The kids did such a great job at the event. We had to get there way early to get everything prepped and ready to go and they were such troopers despite being there for over 8 hours.

The older cousins...

And the younger ones... I don't even want to know how many M&M's Seeger ate!

Here is a photo of Tom receiving his Governor's Award from Indiana State Senator, Ron Alting.
Just as the party was picking up, Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski (in the yellow shirt) stopped by with a gift for Tom. I love that he had to wait in line to talk to him!
Eric Van Cleave (in the sweater vest and jacket) was probably a favorite guest of the Kubat's. They love that guy!

Here is a photo of my mother-in-law Bobbie (in black checked jacket) with some of her work friends.

Finally, the last photo from the day (and the only picture of me!). Sure, we're in front of the men's room door and Seeger is swatting Nick's hand away but that's the Kubat family. Take us as we are!

Just a few words about Tom. As I've come to know him over the past 12 years, I've learned how much family means to him. He is a great husband, a great father, and the best grandfather. I see how much Mike looks up to his dad and I truly believe Tom is one of the reasons why Mike is such a great husband and father. I've also witnessed Tom's dedication to his career as a Sports Writer. He worked long and hard and was a traditional journalist who was able to adapt the rapidly changing world of mass communications. I'm pretty sure he doesn't realize how much of an influence he was to our community. As a transplant to Lafayette, it took some time for me to get used to meeting strangers for the first time and having them ask if I was related to Tom. (This has happened to me well over 100 times.) They always had great things to say about him or his reporting. In fact, I don't think anyone ever complained to me about a story he did (and Purdue fans are pretty passionate about their sports!)
His writing will be missed.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend update

It was a busy weekend, starting Friday evening with a funeral (sad) but afterward, Mike and I got to hang out with my cousin and his wife and play some board games (happy!). Saturday was spent doing all the shopping, cleaning, and laundry we've been putting off. Oh and we got Guitar Hero World Tour for our Wii. Yay!!!

Today was the open house for my father-in-law. In December, he retired from his 40 year career as a sports writer at the Lafayette Journal & Courier. That's right - he worked there for FORTY years. Amazing. I can't stay in a job for more than 4 years, much less 40. It was great to see so many people come to acknowledge and support him, including our city mayor, a state senator, and state representative. I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

I haven't mentioned on this blog yet but Mike and I have created a Get Fit Challenge. We're working together to get healthy and lose weight. We've done some weight loss challenges in the past that had a competitive focus to them but instead of working against each other, this time we're working together. We have specific goals and rewards for meeting those goals. We've only been doing the Challenge for a week now but it's going well. We went on three walking dates this week, followed the Weight Watchers diet, and all together, we lost 14.2 pounds. (Yes, you read that correctly - isn't it amazing?!) I'm guessing most of this was water weight and I'm sure next week won't be quite as successful. But if we can stay at about 2 lbs each per week, we'll be happy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The dreaded letter

Mike and I received more mail from the IRS. They are still saying we owe (with penalties and interest) $2,473.04, despite the fact that I've faxed them corrected documentation of our 2006 W-4. They never responded to my fax or inquiries. The fairy tale continues.

So guess how I'm going to spend my afternoon? Yep, I'll be on hold for hours, listening to terrible music in hopes of talking to a live person about the situation.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Taking a world tour

After scoring money for both his birthday and Christmas, Nicklas has been thinking about what he wants to buy. He considered some Wii games but since we have 17 (yes, SEVENTEEN!) he realized he doesn't really need a new Wii game. Mike took him to Best Buy to look around and he told us what he really wants is Guitar Hero World Tour. Since it's $190 and he only has $115 saved (he's a lucky boy, isn't he?) he and Mike have been thinking about some creative ways to come up with the rest of the money.

First, he took back a few duplicate Christmas presents he received. This gave him about $45.

His next idea (which was suggested by his dad) was to sell our current Wii guitars on ebay. I'm not much of an ebayer but I have been successful at selling a few things. (And buying. I'm really good at buying things on ebay.) So I set out to see how much we could get for our wireless guitars. I posted the first yesterday with a goal of getting $25. I listed it at $20 and included a Buy It Now price of $35. It sold in four hours.

Since Nicklas has enough for World Tour, we've decided to keep the second guitar.

Needless to say, we are all looking forward to Nick's purchase. I'm sure Mike and I will enjoy it just as much as him!

Mousie and Mavis

Today, I failed as a mom. It's "M" week at Seeger's preschool which means he is encouraged to take things to school that start with the letter M. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you might remember that Seeger has had his letter M item planned since November when he asked my friend Beth if he could borrow her cat's toy mouse. (Instead, she gave him one if his very own.) He loves his little Mousie from Beth. It quickly became part of his family of tiny animals that he sleeps with every day.

He decided if he couldn't take Mousie to school, he'd take Mavis, one of his Thomas trains. This came with some difficulty too. Seeger has A LOT of trains. Different sets, different tracks and all scattered around the house. I'm usually good about keeping the toys organized but with a two week vacation where we spent a lot of time at home, I let Seeger have at it with everything. And I haven't been motivated to get it all organized. (Hey, at least I got my Christmas decorations put away!)
So we looked for Mavis with the wooden tracks in the family room. No luck.
We looked for Mavis in the basement with Trackmaster "Mommy" trains. No luck.
Mavis also wasn't with the grey boulder track set. (There were other diecast trains, but no Mavis.)
We went upstairs to Seeger's room. No Mavis in the Thomas Carrying Case. Nor, the tub for the overflow trains. (I wasn't lying with I told you I need to organize his toys!)
Score! Mavis was in his Take Along Tidmouth Sheds. (Not to be confused with the Trackmaster Tidmouth Sheds, something Seeger also owns.)
Seeger was so happy! Even though he didn't have Mousie, we finally found Mavis.

Anyone wanna set the over/under on how many days it takes before Mousie pops up?