Saturday, December 24, 2011

Corey Empties the Dishwasher

Rotary Lights and Headphones

Yay, Kyle and Connor got to shovel. Snow. Actual snow. How exciting.

The Rotary Lights in La Crosse should be an annual tradition. The boys had never seen them and now they are hooked. It was warm enough that we walked through with stops at the igloo to warm our toes. Very festive and heartwarming.

 After viewing the lights, we needed to make a stop at Best Buy. The boys had to test out all the expensive headphones. Who knew testing $200 headphones could be so much fun?!

A Most Weak Moment

In an extremely rare, desperate moment, I took the boys to McDonald's Playland. Yeah, I know. I have maybe once, taken a child, on purpose, to McDonald's Playland. Clearly, I was desperate. We spent two hours, yes, TWO, playing at McDonalds and eating bad for you food. It was a blast. I sat distracted by my phone and they got some exercise. I might do it again. Shh, don't tell anyone. I don't want to tarnish my reputation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 73ish

Last day of school before Christmas break.

Day 73 Life Lesson: In today's lesson, we learn that just because you open a giant chocolate Santa that you got from school, doesn't mean you need to eat the whole thing nor SHOULD you eat the whole thing, mainly because it freaks out the digestive system.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lunar Weekend Part Two

Corey put a new countertop in the bathroom. We had promised to do it when we put our house up for sale so we needed to make good on that promise. Good work, honey.

Cooper got out his "Tasty Science" book he got for Christmas last year from Salesa and Jason. The first experiment led to a whole day of baking experiments. In the 10 years we have lived in this house the oven has never been on for that length of time nor has that much baking been done. Ever. It was fun to watch him experiment and the little brothers enjoyed being taste testers. 6 hours of baking meant 6 hours worth of mess that the mom got to clean up. If the size of the mess is proportionate to the talent of the cook then we have the next Iron Chef living in our house.

Lunar Weekend Part One

Cooper: (whispering excitedly and tapping my shoulder) Mom, Mr. Paulsen says the lunar eclipse starts at 5:30.

Me: (sleepily) No Coop, I googled it before I went to bed and it starts at 5:30 Pacific time which means 6:30 Central time. You can go back to bed for an hour.

Cooper: (wide awake) I'll just watch out the window to make sure.

Me: Okay


Cooper: Mom, I can't see the moon any more the houses are in the way.

Me: Sorry Coop.

Cooper: Mom, let's go. It's probably starting and we are going to miss it.

Me: (frustrated) It's 4 degrees out and we are going to drive around and it will be below the bluff and we won't be able to see anything.

Cooper: (PERSISTENTLY) Mr. Paulsen says we WILL be able to see it.

Me: (under my breath) Then maybe you should call Mr. Paulsen to take you.

Cooper: What?

Me: FINE, let's go.


And go we did. Off to McDonalds for a mocha and a hot chocolate and 2 breakfast sandwiches. Then up the hill to the flat land. We drove back and forth and talked about lunar eclipses and solar eclipses and other important things in life. Oh, how I hated getting up so early and going out in the freeeeeeezing cold. But, oh, how I love that my son made me go. It was a morning I will always remember.

Later Saturday morning we had special visitors. 2 month old Brydon and his mom came to visit with grandma Joyce and grandpa Don. Brydon was having a really good hair day. In the afternoon, we went to the annual Christmas party at the legion where Gramsie was leading one of the craft tables. Only at the legion can you find kids visiting with Santa while the adult helpers sip on their beers and mixed drinks. It takes me back to my childhood days when I hung out at Shortys after my dad's softball games. Some things never change.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 65

Christmas caroling at Jefferson school meant Coop got to hang with his STEM 4 buds. It was a fun hour of singing led by Amanda Hardy and her sister. Afterwards, the boys had ice cream sundaes.

Day 65 Life Lesson: Ice cream is a treat even when it's below zero outside.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 64

One of my favorite events of the Christmas season is the Cotter Choir Concert. I love watching my dear friend, Cathy, direct the young voices. It will be the last time senior JB will sing in the chapel. Boo hoo. It was definitely a Kodak moment when big sis Fallon stood by her little brother for the finale. So cute!

Day 63

It's really not a most wonderful time of the year without helping Gramsie make cookies. The boys delight in not only creating their masterpieces but eating them, as well. There are many jobs but the most favorite is taste tester. We only had one casualty. Cooper grabbed a hot pan. Ouch! It left a pretty nice imprint but he'll be okay.

Day 63 Life Lesson: Too many cooks make the cookies really yummy.

Day 62

Memories. You stumble onto a lot of them when you are packing up your house. Some of the yucky memories of twenty years ago came back to me in the form of photos. In particular, big hair and big glasses. So very painful.

I am a recovering thrower. I am really good at throwing things away. Sometimes too good. So I have transformed myself into a donater because believe it or not people do have a need for other people's crap. It's tough to be a throwing addict when a dumpster has been in your driveway for 3 weeks. I mean that thing has been enabling me in a major way. I get an immense rush from throwing things in it.

Day 62 Life Lesson: Just throw it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 61

Wow, day 61. SIXTY ONE! It's December. DECEMBER!

December 21st is a big day if you struggle with the lack of light during the day which is just about everyone in the Midwest, right? The winter solstice. Woohoo. The light at the end of the tunnel or at least it feels like it. By this time of the winter I normally have a deep groove embedded in the couch. I can be found with my nose smashed against my light box. I can be found on my knees, begging God to fix my brain. Not this year or at least not today. And I will take all the good days I can and thank God for them.

"A Silent Night for Peef" was the first book on the pile of Christmas books this year. It is an annual favorite written and illustrated by Minnesotans. Before I can start the boys run and get their Peefs and then listen intently while "peefing" annoyingly through the whole story. This autographed copy was a gift from the Devine Ones. We are so grateful for this special gift that we get to enjoy every year. Thanks, friends.

Get well soon, E.G.. Ky misses your mommy.

Day 61 Life Lesson: "It's knowing who you are, and being where you ought to be, and doing what you ought to do... and you gave that to me."

Day 60

I had a super fun time celebrating Kyle's birthday with him at school. Gramsie read Rumble in the Jungle to his class to start off the fun. And to all of the parents who think they have to celebrate with sugar and processed crap, I am here to report first-hand that kids do not need junk food when celebrating a birthday. My mom and I brought bananas, pretzels, cheese and apples and the kids ate like they lived in a third world country.

Kyle was the official page turner during story listening time. It's a very important job. When you hear the chime, turn the page. Yikes, that's a lot of pressure. My heart was pounding in anticipation hoping he wouldn't blow it. Okay, not really.

Kyle has the most welcoming teacher I have ever met. Mrs. G. is great at letting parents come in to the classroom to observe, help, cut, play football or just sit and drink coffee. This kind of freedom is ideal for a stalker parent like myself. I can walk into their space and not feel like I am intruding.

Admittedly, Kyle gets the short end of the stick when it comes to birthdays. I didn't even put a birthday sign on the wall. Oops. For this reason, I tend to go a little overboard with his gift. And when I say "I", I mean "me" not "we" as in me and Corey. Corey has no clue what to get our three sons, where to get it, when it needs to be ready, etc... you get the idea. As long as I don't involve him he is happy. So, Cooper got a much desired three ring binder for his birthday. I actually think he got teary-eyed. Kyle got a Razor Powerwing Scooter. I got stampeded at midnight on black friday and knocked in the head with a Barbie Ride-On Four Wheeler for that baby. 3 dollar gift... 49 dollar gift. Hmmm... I wonder how long I can get away with that?

Day 60 Life Lesson: No present is worth getting stampeded for, even if it's a three ring binder.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 60 coming to your computer soon

Technology. Blissful when it works, painful when it doesn't. Our wireless Internet is on the fritz. Hopefully, we can get back online on Monday. Until then...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 59

Tryptophan coma. I'm just coming out of it. For all my friends who have trouble sleeping: Eat turkey before you go to bed. It's a tasty sedative.

I told Corey that we would have the tree put up before he returned on Thursday night. I don't put the tree up. Ever. I leave the house and when I get back it's all done. Every year. That's how it happens and I love that. Not this year. This year I wanted to do it. So do it I shall, with the trusty help of son #3.

 Apparently, every male has an ingrained need to check the oil. Even if it's not a vehicle you are checking. Cam made it clear that he was definitely checking the oil. Who am I to argue?

We had a slight light debacle that started with 6 strings of lights in a Target bag. They weren't new. They were from last year's hanging. After 6 hours of untangling we ended up with 3 working strings of lights. Okay, but it FELT like 6 hours. Thanks for interrupting the madness, Snaps. It was great to see you. (Little i, big O, little s, 5) You can do it!

My mom had blankets that she asked the boys to drop off at the bank for their annual blanket and bear drive. The boys wanted to wear their festive hats about town so they looked pretty spiffy for this photo op. The bank lady even took a picture of them. Corey and I try to openly and purposefully give so the boys can see that modeled. My mom is a wonderful example for them, as well.

Cam finally wrapped up Tap & Jazz class tonight. It was hilarious. He had not one iota of concentration and focus in him. I think the young lady instructing actually gently grabbed his head at one point to turn his eyes toward her.

So, as you can see, we are definitely getting in the Christmas spirit. This is the last blog entry I will compose with a 6 year old in the house (well, until next year.) Wow!

Day 59 Life Lesson: Time flies... except when you are untangling Christmas lights.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 56

Woohoo! Another reason to be thankful!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 54

Kyle attended his last swimming lesson for this session. He passed and is moving on to Level 3. Woohoo! Way to go, Ky! He is turning into quite a fish.

The For Sale sign got plopped into the ground this morning. So weird. Cameron is wondering why our pictures aren't on the sign instead of our realtor's picture. Let's look at the realtor Magic 8 ball, shall we? What is the worst possible time to put your house on the market? Yeah, it's today. Hey, you can't win the lottery if you don't play, right?

Day 54 Life Lesson: A sign is just a sign until it's in your yard.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 52

There IS a sound more irritating than my three sons playing in the house. It is the incessant pounding on our roof created by hammering workers removing shingles and laying new ones.

Day 52 Life Lesson: sigh...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 50

Act like you know what you're talking about and people will listen.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 45

Phew. Busy week. Trying to get a house ready to put on the market is a daunting task when your house is old and in need of constant TLC. We will press on in this adventure and try to stay energized.

In the meantime life goes on after the big birthday weekend. Cooper is studying "matter" at school and created a rap with some of his spelling words for the week.

Day 45 Life Lesson: Matter matters and so do you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Birthday Extravaganza Weekend

Lots of fun, sugar, games and family time this weekend. My brother, Tim, celebrated his birthday on Saturday, Coop turned (gulp) 10 on Sunday and Cam turned 5 today. We, of course, celebrated with my sister-in-law on Friday. So, it is a big birthday week for us. Sometimes it goes super well and other times it's a little much. By this afternoon the boys were getting a little crazy but for the most part we had a really great weekend. Cooper's favorite gift was the wad of cash he got from my parents and the 3- ring binder we gave him. Yes, I said, "3-ring binder."  Cameron was thrilled to get Monopoly Crazy Cash and a Cars 2 track. We played games all day on Sunday including Battleship which I haven't played since I was a kid. It was refreshing to see that we have (so far) raised three sons who don't need toys with batteries to have a good time.

We had a preschool party with Cam at his school today. The brothers didn't have school so they joined us for games, arts and crafts, music and pancakes. Yes, pancakes. My parent's came to make chocolate chip silver dollar pancakes for the class. It was the second annual event and the pancakes did not disappoint. They made about 75 pancakes. Yum-O!

We are painting Cooper's room so he bunked with his brothers in their room all weekend. It made for some late nights but it was fun to hear the giggling brother bonding time. Maybe he should just stay there permanently. On second thought, no.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 42

We had the absolute pleasure of spending the day with our new family member, Brydon, and his mom. It is my sister-in-law's birthday today. 2 weeks ago she had her first child, a beautiful son. It was an honor to spend the day with her and Brydon. We trekked off to Janesville, MN, early this morning. Cam loved having me and everyone else all to himself. We had a fun lunch with grandma and grandpa and Auntie Karen at Applebees in Mankato. Cam took good care of Brydon all day. I hope we can do it again.

Day 42 Life Lesson: Babies make you smile...  unless you are the one up with them all night.

Day 41

Thursday. We made it over the hump. Phew...

Kyle's conference day. Eeks. To my surprise, he is doing quite well, both academically and behaviorally. Wow, good for him. I must admit I asked Mrs. G. if he might be cheating. Not so. Apparently, he is both smart and well-behaved. I think his teacher might have a lot to do with his success. They make a good team.

We flew from Goodview to Jefferson for pizza and a fun night of sorts. There were math and language arts activities shared by PIP students from WSU. PIP stands for Progress in something or something in Progress. It was actually really fun. I enjoy conversing with teachers-to-be from my alma mater.

Cam and I got a haircut today. It was an interesting little adventure.

I got some extra sunshine in my day. A mid-afternoon walk around the lake with Snaps. The fresh air and conversation were good for my spirit. Thanks Snaps! I appreciate you.

Day 41 Life Lesson: See the best... in all three sons.

Day 40

Wednesday. Hump Day. Can we get over the hump? I think so. Kyle and I have some clashes in the early morning hours before we go to the bus stop. Not every day but some days. Today he shut his alarm off and fell back to sleep. Oops. I didn't wake him up. Cooper was concerned about his brother getting to school so I told him to go wake him up but charge him a dollar. Cooper smiled. I think he liked that idea. Kyle and his weary self came into the kitchen to check the time. 15 minutes behind schedule. Yikes. I believe it's good to learn these lessons now when they don't really matter. I didn't even yell.

Okay, I did yell later about a missing coat. I knew where it was but Kyle didn't. This is a mom thing, right? I told him where it was but he insisted it wasn't there so I yelled really loud and made a mean face. It's not really a nice way to start the day - for anyone. On the way to the bus stop we didn't talk about it but I gave him a big side squeeze and told him I loved him. I'll try not to yell tomorrow.

Day 40 Life Lesson: Yelling hurts the ears and the heart.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 39

Cameron has a new friend. I was cleaning the basement over the weekend and the boys showed up and started rummaging. Cam found a bag of stuffed animals. He has named his newly discovered friend, "Boo Boo." Cam takes him everywhere. Yes, Boo Boo is buckled up for safety. 

The boys had some cash to spend so off we went to Target. In this picture they are deciding which roll of tape they want to buy. Yeah, that's right, TAPE. It's their favorite toy. Cam is carrying his favorite "murse", his man purse.

Day 39 Life Lesson: You can't pretend the day away.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 37

Cards Win! World Series Champs!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 36

21 pens/pencils and one chapstick. This is what I found downstairs. My three sons are constantly on me to borrow my pens. Why, you ask? Because they can't find their pens. The writing utensils go to office supply purgatory, I guess. Actually, the pens just walk away. Yeah, that's it. They walk away.

Corey picked up Cooper from his piano lesson. Sort of. Corey rode his bike so they walked themselves and the bike home. Bonding time with dad is good for the boys. Sort of. Sometimes after bonding time they want to build race cars or hammer stuff or go shoot cans or enter a spitting contest. I guess I would be worried if they were girls but since they are boys...

Day 36 Life Lesson: Some day you'll have lots of pens but they won't be nearly as much fun to snuggle with and hug.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 35

Tried fishing again for an hour this morning with my dad. Skunked again (my dad got two little bass). It was still refreshing to be out on the water in the cool air.

Cam and I went to a parent ed. class at the Y today. It is so great to have the anti-separator son be over that issue. He went into a room with a mom and child he didn't know and didn't bat an eye when I left. It really feels like a super duper huge accomplishment for him. Way to go, Cam!

Tomorrow Cam gets his speech evaluated - again. We'll see if he qualifies for some services this time.

I am being anti-Halloween. I think I am in denial over the whole day. Or should I say whole weeks. It's really ridiculous. I have to sneak ads into the garbage so the boys won't see all the activities that are going on. I wish we could just skip it. They might not notice. Yeah, they would notice. Anyway, I am not spending any money on candy or outfits so I hope they can figure out a costume by looking in their closet. They'll get over it. Eventually.

Day 35 Life Lesson: The worst day of fishing is still better than any day doing laundry (or anything else for that matter.)

Day 34

ECFE today and then lunch with Kyle. After lunch, Kyle came home for the day. He is having some tummy issues which can be really tough when you are in school. He tells me he has to raise his hand every second to go to the bathroom. Hopefully, he flushes the toilet at school.

Tuesday is one of our more relaxed afternoons. We only have one activity to get to and it's later so we can focus on homework and then have a little down time before we hit the road.

The Cotter Show Choir is doing its annual green collection fundraiser so we decided it was a good time to get rid of the ancient energy hog in our basement otherwise known as a freezer. It was quite a task getting it up the stairs. May not have had to be so difficult if my husband had engaged the use of a little used tool called a TAPE MEASURE! Why do guys do this? So after going up and down the stairs twice, damaging the walls and stair rail and enlisting the help of our very neighborly neighbor, it is finally at rest in the driveway. I will say once again, it did not need to be this difficult. That's all I am going to say about that. For now.

Day 34 Life Lesson: Measure twice, move once.

Day 33

Monday after a long weekend can be tough. The snooze button can be very tempting especially when you are 9 or 6. The walk to the bus stop is dark now. Flashlight dark. The passage of November 6th will help but for two more weeks we will watch our step in the morning. And maybe look for a flashlight.

This is the best time of year to catch BIG bass. My dad and I went out for an hour while Cam was at preschool (got skunked) and then Cam came out with us after school. We had a really fun time catching sunnies with ice fishing poles - just Cameron's "lide". The weather was gorgeous out at McNally's Landing. Lots and lots of sunshine.

Kyle started swimming lessons today. He wants to do the Tri Kids event in the summer so he is in training to learn the front crawl.

Day 33 Life Lesson: Take your kids fishing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MEA Weekend

Welcome to the family Brydon Jacob. We are looking forward to getting to know you. Go easy on your mom (for a while anyway:-)).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 32

It's Wednesday Friday or is it Friday Wednesday. No school Thursday and Friday so I call today (Wednesday) Friday. My mom has been cooking soup all week. I take her ingredients (some) and she whips up these amazing creations in a big pot. Cabbage roll soup, green pepper soup, chicken and wild rice soup, veggie soup, potato soup. So, so good during this cold and windy fall week.

Cardinals win Game 1 - Woohoo! We are rooting hard along with our St. Louis friends for our second favorite team. Go Cards!

Jodi sent an email at 11:30 tonight that she is on her way to the hospital. Double Woohoo!

Day 32 Life Lesson: Food CAN make you feel better.

Day 31

There is so much to think about. And so little time to think about it. And in the middle of all that thinking there is laundry to be done and windows to be cleaned and transporting of children and teeth to be brushed.

Day 31: "She was incredible with a feather duster" has never been seen on a tombstone.

Day 30

What's up with college students today? Do they really not know how to act appropriately and professionally? I want to start a consulting service that trains college students how to behave. Here are some things that would be taught:

Smile when a customer comes to your window.

Speak so you can be heard and understood.

Don't ever use the word "suck" with young children. Ever. Unless it's a class on straws or vacuum cleaners.

Learn that it's not about you. I know that's hard but it's true. Parents don't come to their child's football game to watch you kick and throw. Yeah, it's true.

I could go on and on but I just get more irritated.

Day 30 Life Lesson: Perception is everything.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 29

KGOY or something like that. It's kids getting older younger, KGOY. I worry about this with my three sons. I think kids are getting older much, much younger than when I was a kid. I don't think this is good for kids. I am feeling very frustrated with not having any control over this once I send my sons to school.

Cooper is in the GATE program. They are reading Three Cups of Tea. I signed off on this that I was okay with it. And then today I started looking at the book. The true story of a man's quest to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The book is about one man's encounter with the taliban, machine guns, hostages, hashish, etc., all while trying to build schools. That's just what I have seen thumbing through the pages. There is profanity in the book and murder and robbery. This is a true story. Don't get me wrong, it's an amazing story and I am anxious to read it. But it doesn't feel appropriate for 4th graders.

So, here is where I eat my shoe or foot or whatever. While I was typing this entry I did some research on this book because I just couldn't believe that the teacher would read this with the students. WELLLLLLLL, I remembered that Cooper said his cover looked different and in researching it I realized he was reading the young reader's edition. The YOUNG READER's edition. Ooops.

This is one of those times where my brain prevailed over my emotions. I was so ready to get on that teacher like pigs on mud. Phew...

Day 29 Life Lesson: Take a deep breath, do your homework, and then take another deep breath and then act.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 25 to Day 28

Flag football. First game for Kyle this week. How exciting. He worked hard, ran after the other players and ripped off flags. It was slow going but still fun to watch.

The afternoons are filled with activities. It seems we spend a lot of time in the van. It's not that fun. Maybe if we drove around in a motorhome or say, a porsche, that would be fun.

This week it was parent observation week at Valencia, the dance studio where Cam and Coop take a class. Coop is in Tap and Jazz 2. He is learning a lot and having a really good time. Cam is in Tap and Jazz for Kids. Corey took some hilarious video of Cam in class. He gets so excited he can't keep his feet still.

We visited with Cooper's teacher this evening at the annual parent/teacher conference. The STEM program has challenged Cooper and made him more responsible. Cooper has won over Mr. Paulsen in that way Cooper does with most adults. Hopefully, they will continue to have a positive relationship.

This week's Life Lesson: Practice makes permanent.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 24

Big tractor at the orchard.

Feeding the animals. Watch your fingers!

Hey, great looking apples. Shine 'em up.

Going on a Hawk Walk.

Day 24 Life Lesson: Go pick an apple.

Day 23

Flying kites with our friends on Thursday afternoon.

Doing one of my favorite things: Fishing with my dad.

Day 23 Life Lesson: Go fly a kite.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

iDay 22

Day 21

Sunshine. So good for the soul. Or at least it should be. The colors of fall mixed with sun seem like a cocktail for happiness. Not true for everyone. The impending winter can feel like a heavy weight coming down on us. We muddle through the peanut butter it feels like we are trudging through hoping for some lightness along the way...

ECFE. One of the lights along the way. Cam is enjoying his time at ECFE playing, learning, making new friends. I am enjoying my time in the presence of funny, smart, and real women.

Day 21 Life Lesson: Be yourself, no one else can.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 20

Mondays can be hard. Especially when you are 4. Cam can't wait until Friday to go to the apple orchard on the school bus. To wait 5 more days might just do us all in.

Mondays after school are busy. Flag Football, karate, piano lesson and once a month, a PTA meeting. Tonight's meeting was a dream come true - free meal for the family. And not just any meal, Rocco's Pizza. It was really yummy.
While Cooper was at his piano lesson, we played at the park down the street. 

There is always time at the end of the day for a story.
Cam seems to be a bit attached to his water bottle.

Day 20 Life Lesson: Make time for the important stuff.

Final Camping Weekend Part 2

When life gets tough, the tough sit down and eat some crackers.

Everything I know I learned while camping:

Laughter is really good medicine.
Life is way more fun outside.
Bugs can drive you crazy.
Food tastes better cooked over a campfire.
The grass isn't greener on the other side.
Rain can't keep the fun away.
It feels good to be together.

See you next year, Ethan...

Final Camping Weekend Part 1

Myre-Big Island, Albert Lea. Our final camping outing of the season. We joined lots of Corey's extended family for a really fun fall weekend. We started out the weekend with a big loss. Kyle was eating pizza and bit into a seed. He spit it out and realized it was his tooth, not a seed. To the boys' surprise the tooth fairy camps, too. How great for Kyle.

Cam took Chunk for a walk or was it Chunk taking Cam for a walk? 

The boys always find new and creative aways to use their toys. 

A cousin train.

We had a very shady campsite so it was refreshing to venture out into the sun and colorful trees. 

 I managed to find an opening in the trees to soak up some Vitamin D.