Friday, May 31, 2013

The Difference...

Sometimes I ask myself, how are Sam and Jack SO different, yet they were produced by the same parents and basically raised the same.

Case in point:

Sam gets a splinter:
Me: Let me look at it.
Me: Sam. I won't touch it. I may have to hold your toe at an angle so I can see the splinter, but I won't touch the splinter.
Me: I won't touch the splinter, Sam. But I am going to touch your toe.
I reach for his toe.
He pulls it away.
Me: Sam. I didn't' even touch anything. I need to look at it so we know what to do.

You get the idea...and the splinter never gets removed.

Jack was sitting on the floor the other night.
Me: What are you doing?
Jack: Pulling out my splinter.
Me: You need help?
Jack: No. Got it.
And off he went.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Confession...

It's day one of summer for my little sidekicks.  So today I awake bright and chipper (yea right), vowing to keep summer exciting, fun, busy, yet productive. We are going to do things!!

What are we going to do?  So I start to plan...start?!  I've already been planning...I've looked in the paper and on-line for lists of things to do with your kids in the summer, 101 crafts to make with your kids, 99 things not to miss this summer. Why am I planning all this, so I enlist the boys to make a list of all the things they want to do this summer.  "Challenge yourself! Try to make up 50!"

No...Let's not just make a list, let's get a board and write out our list, then cross off what we do so we have a sense of accomplishment! Then we can plan our next adventure by referring to the list!!  AND...let's make a homemade journal so the boys can document their summer in their own words. They can use one of my old cameras to take pictures while having a spontaneous picnic or a hike at Saylorville!

But wait...we are also going to read, read, read!  We will participate in the library program and fill out the book log that was sent home from school!  We will go to the library and the bookstore. We will read while sitting on our patio or while having a lazy day at the beach!  My kiddos won't lose anything over the summer!

We will play board games, card games and visit the local museums, zoos and science centers! More opportunities for picture taking and documenting!!  We will eat healthy...we have nothing but time to plan a lunch and dinner menu...TOGETHER!!!  I will buy healthy snacks that we will cut and put in snack baggies so they can grab something yummy from the fridge when needed!

I will start to exercise..again! We will take bike rides a FAMILY! We will shoot hoops and play catch!

We will watch movies, but not go over the suggested two hours of screen time a day! We will be so busy together, that THERE WILL BE NO TIME FOR VIDEO GAMES!!

Sam and Jack will bond this summer and when they look back, they will say this was the best summer yet!!
Yea...none of that is going to happen this summer!
Confession time, please don't judge.
If you are a planner and a summer "doer" more power to you! That's awesome.
But, that' not our family.
I won't wake up chipper...I'm not a morning person. The boys will get up first and then I will drag myself out of bed already figuring out when I can take a nap later that afternoon. I then check to make sure the air is on...I really don't like the heat and humidity.
The boys did create a list of things they could do this summer, but we have already lost it. Oh well. I think Jack had legos on numbers 1-10. I'm good with that.
I won't be putting our list on a board. Yes, I am a list person, but lists stress me out. I have to get things crossed off..that's what a list is for..right? So, no lists. I have attempted the homemade journal.  I even signed the boys up for an on-line class that gave daily ideas of what they could take pictures of and what to do in the journals. That lasted a good week..if I stretch the truth.
Will we read...we will. I love to read and so do the boys. Jack loves the library program and will be ALL ABOUT the library program. Until he reaches the goal. Then he's done. The boys usually read in bed before going to sleep. There is no way that Jack and Sam would sit at the beach and read...with all that water and sand! And about the beach. It's nasty. If you can get past the gunk, bird/gull/goose poop and dead fish (why are there dead fish in the sand anyway?) and find a spot to park it, that's an accomplishment. By then either Sam or I are so grossed out, we call it a day and head to the pool.
OH...the pool. The boys don't like to go to the pool in the middle of the day. (YEA!) It's PACKED! We went one afternoon and it was so crowded that the boys couldn't jump into the water due to SO MANY PEOPLE at the pool. One afternoon the pool was closed early due to the water being foggy because of the amount of sunscreen in the pool. So we opt to go in the evening. I don 't like the pool. I don't like putting on a swim suit. It's like my girdle..on the outside of my clothes for all to see. Yuck.
Zoos, museums and science centers...there's not a children's museum in our town. Jack would probably pull his hair out if I took him to the art center. Sam would ACT like it was fun, but he can only put on the act for so long. The zoo...only if its cool outside!
Eating HEALTHY? Absolutely...if that means Popsicles, smores by the fire (on cool nights) trips to tropical Sno and Dairy Queen.  Cool eats...that's what our summer is about!  Pre-baggied healthy snacks?  Probably not.
The furthest I have planned is our family sleep over on Friday night...AKA: we fill the living room floor with blankets and the boys nest. I get comfy on the couch and we watch a movie. Then we stay put and go to sleep..Until Jack starts smacking in his sleep and Sam starts to grind his teeth. It's great.
But the truth is that our summer just going to be our summer. Our summer won't/can't be orchestrated or planned.  I am just going enjoy it and go with it. There will be days that we do nothing but hang out. The boys may have to entertain themselves for a few hours (or a day) while I scrapbook in the basement. (I love my me time!!) I will put in a movie so I can catch a snooze! There are days that I will have to put on my outside sausage casing and head to the pool. We do have camps planned and swim lesson to take. We will play board games..a must while being in the basement during a tornado warning! We will go on bike rides. The boys will also catch frogs and hang out with friends.
So basically, we will just do summer.
Though I would prefer not to do the heat, humidity, bug bites...mosquitos.....


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dear Sam...

Warning...long post!!

After MUCH contemplation, Jason and I decided to get Sam a phone for his birthday. I must admit, it wasn't an easy decision.  We went back and forth for some time about it. I was pretty adamant that he did not need one, Jason was more open to the idea (imagine that!) "Why and what will he use it for?" was my biggest question as a few other...was he old enough, did he really need it, what would he use it for, who will pay for it...and the biggest concern we had was the social media that would be available to him.

You want to protect your kids from EVERYTHING (yes, I know it's not realistic) and allowing Sam dabble in social media scares me. Some would say, just don't let him get on instagram or Kik or social media. But I do know that eventually Sam will get on those sights and I need to take a pro-active role.  At this time, Sam still appreciates our advice, guidance, suggestions and directions. I thought instead of waiting until middle school, where he will think he knows it all, I should take advantage of this time to introduce social media, while Sam is still open to the guidance. It was the right time for us and the right time for Sam.

Sam does have an i-touch which has opened some social media to him. I know all the passwords and check it ALL THE TIME!! Call me a stalker! I'm ok with that...and I have to say, I am surprised (and slightly shocked) what boys and girls, at Sam's age, put out there!  WOW!!

It's amazing how you assume that your child would know how to navigate social media...but Sam did need some guidance - more than once. Meaning: what is appropriate to say, comment on, like and post. Before he posts things, he must check it with us. That may sound crazy, but once it's out there it's out there forever and up to public scrutiny and interpretation.

We talked a lot to Sam about how even text messages aren't really private. the person you text can show others what you said or people can look at your phone and see what you have been saying. Sam did learn that the hard way, but it was a good lesson.

One thing that came up, that hadn't even touched my radar screen, was that the number of "likes" you get on something does not equal your popularity (lack of a better word), coolness or how many friends you have in REAL life!  Real friends are REAL! We are still working on this one!

So after much contemplation...and I mean MUCH. We decided to bite the bullet and get him a phone. Then I remembered an article I had seen in the paper about a mom that wrote a contract with her son about his new phone. I found the article on line, read it and made up a contract with Sam.

Here's the contract:

Dear Sam,
Happy Birthday!  You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good and responsible kiddo and your dad and I believe that you are deserving of a gift like this. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is our job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership. We love you madly & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.

1. It is our phone.  We bought it.  We pay for it.  We are loaning it to you. Aren’t we the greatest?!

2.  We will always know all of the passwords.

3.  Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.

4.  Remember, if you would not make a call to someone’s land line, where their parents may answer first, then do not call or text at that time either. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill. 
*Field trips and other school activities will require special consideration.

6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn,  do chores, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.

7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person. This is huge. 

9. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents (or your own) in the room. Censor yourself.

10. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father.

11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

12. Do not send pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation. Do not forward photos, texts or emails that would hurt another person or their reputation.

13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity. (and in your mother's scrapbooks!)

14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO=fear of missing out.

15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons. (Your dad will help you with this to no end!!)

16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then. Real ones...on paper!

17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.

18. Your friends cannot use your phone. Remember, what ever they post on your phone will have YOUR name connected. If your friends break your phone, you are still responsible for the cost of fixing or replacing.

18. You will mess up.  We will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You, your dad and I are always learning.  We are on your team. We are in this together.

It is our hope that you can agree to these terms. Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life. You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world. It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get. Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine.  We love you.  We hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.  Happy Birthday!
Mom and Dad

Jason and I read and reread this contract and thought it was awesome! We rock!!

The three of us sat down and talked about each number and we did need to do some editing. 

And then as all kids do, Sam surprised us...after he read number one. He got teary. He was sad. He understood number one to be that the phone is mine (his mother's,) I will carry it around like I do my phone and will hand it to him when he ask for it. We had to explain it was his, but we had control over it.  That helped.

So, then we are eating dinner and his phone ring, a friend calling. He gets up and answers it. He comes back and sits down.  I am looking at him like WHAT THE @*&^@!! I told him, "We don't answer the phone during dinner!" He looks at me and said, "My contract says I am to answer the phone."  oh. So, we took that out of number 3 to just don't ignore your phone when your parents are calling.

Later that night, he was sitting on the couch. Something was up..I could tell. I asked. He answered, "I'm scared to use my phone. I am afraid I'll break a rule."

I explained to him, that he will have questions, he will mess up...then we will sit down, talk about it and start again..that's life. We want him to know that we are on his team and that we were new at this and we are learning right along with him.

So, I asked him if he was or had done any of the above things? No, he responded. I told him that I suggested that he then keep using his phone in the manner that he was doing...because that is exactly how we want you to use it.

He smiled. Then went off to text his friends.

Click here to read the original contract created by a mom for her son!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

House Addition Update...Water, Water, Water...

The house addition is moving along, but slowly.

After putting in the footings, we waited all week for someone to show up to put in the forms. Meanwhile, it rained and rained and the hole filled up with water. We thought about scratching the idea of an addition and just go with a pool. 

Finally on Thursday night, workers showed up to drop off the forms for the walls. At that time, they pumped out the water. This made Jason happy, he couldn't stand having water in the hole.

While pumping the water out, they used a huge crane to lower the bundles of forms into the water...I mean basement.

You can see that the water is mostly pumped out and
the forms are ready to go for Friday.

I must admit, I was so elated, that I texted several people and said that our WALLS had arrived. Jack and I had an extensive conversation on how the workers would use a crane and lower these walls onto the re-bar. Jack asked  how they would cement the walls together...I told him I wasn't sure, but I would take pictures and let him know when he got home from school! I KNOW!! It was a completely blond moment!! I had NO IDEA what these things were in my basement!

So when the workers started to put up the forms on Friday, I had an AH HA moment!!

The forms are all up! Which, then the cement is poured in between the forms and allowed to set overnight. I get it now.

The workers showed up on Saturday morning to remove the 6:30 in the morning! It rained during the night and rained the entire time they took the forms off. I took this picture from my upstairs window. That is why it is so grainy...or I should say "screeny."

So excited to see our basement windows!!
The walls must cure now for about 4-6 days.
And then they went to leave...

The truck was stuck. So they put plywood under the tires...didn't work at all! These are the back tires. check out how deep in the mud the tires sunk!

The front tires got spun in pretty deep too!

So, as I write this Monday evening, the truck is still stuck.
We hope maybe they will come on Tuesday to get the truck.
It's a bit on the large size for a lawn ornament.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Came down the stairs the other morning and found Moose laying in her bed.
Not unusual.

What she had in her bed was what made say hmmmmmm. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Home Addition Update....

Things are moving along...which we are very happy about!
The workers dug the hole in one day! YEA!!

I am taking these through the screen from the window that overlooks the hole.
Jack couldn't wait to go down the "steps" to check out the hole.  Unfortunately, when digging they ran into an old lateral which was full of ground water. It drained and drained....

When the basement guys came, two day later, they had a little water to deal with. They said it was no big deal...not the first time they built in water. They all put on their mudders and away they went!  They did have to bring in a sump pump to pump out most of the water, but it did not slow down their work!

Water basically all gone!  They then started to dig trenches around the edge of the hand!! That is where the cement would be poured and the footers placed in the cement. MUDDY!!!

It is addictive to stand and watch!!

A better shot of a trench dug by hand! Amazing!!

In came the cement. You can see on the left side how the trench is now filled. A big bummer emerged for the guy in the green.  The cement truck couldn't drive around to the right side of the hole, because it would drive over (and crush) our laterals.  So they filled a wheel barrow and rolled it over to the trench on the right.  thank goodness they took turns trying to push the wheel barrow through the mud! Finally...someone put down some plywood to help with the rolling.

Here's what a large hole in the rain storm ends up looking like! A small waterfall on the left side and so much water you can't see the bottom!! For awhile we thought about ditching the idea of the addition and going with a pool! The poles sticking up are the footers that where placed in the cement.

We even had an area of mud slides!!

They are going to need another sump pump and taller waders!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Playing a Little Ball...

Yesterday was a great day for a little football!

In the first series, Jack got the ball and took off!

He ran and ran all the way for a touchdown!
He was so excited that he came over to me on the sidelines and gave me a high five!

Glad to see Jack isn't the only one that plays with is mouth piece!

Playing a little QB!

He threw it...

And, unfortunately, watched the other boy miss it. Oh well.

Jack getting a play from the coach.

A running play for Jack.

Almost got an interception!

Don't even think about it...
After each game, one player gets an award. 
Today, Jack got the medal for longest touchdown run!
Way to go , Jack!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Here We Go Again!

A few questions...

Why did I have these three pose for me by the house?
Why is there a snow fence in the background?

Why is this enormous digger coming down our lane?

Well...It has STARTED!!!
We have officially begun phase two of our home improvement...the addition!
We are so super excited!

This ginormous digger came down the lane..which wasn't easy...nothing is ever "easy" for our family!

The digger has metal tires, so in order not to gouge the lane, the workers had to leapfrog sheets of plywood. That means laying plywood down in front of the back hoe, the back hoe drives on it. The workers then pick up the plywood and put it back down in front of the back hoe. Amazingly it really didn't take that long!

Last summer we had the large hickory tree taken down knowing that we were playing with the idea of the addition. Today they took out the stump.  It was HUGE!!  The driver had to actually rock the digger back and forth to finally get it loosened and pulled out.

Then the digging began! 
A shot from the window!

We had to take out loads and loads of dump trucks full of dirt!

A HUGE hole after a good days work!

Can you see the steps that the back hoe created for the workers to get in and out of the hole..and maybe two little boys that are dieing to get in there and check it out!

Oh. They left a little dirt behind for us to back fill some areas.

Such an exciting time, but also a bummer that my nap time will be cut into...but, it will be worth the lack of sleep!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sam!

Today is a sad day.
It's the birthday that Sam officially runs out of fingers to show how old he is.
On the the other hand (haha) it's a good day!
Sam turns 11 years old today!
Happy Birthday, Sammy!

(Sam at three)

Everyone says that times does fly.
I completely agree.
Now I am going to go take a valium to calm myself.