Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Great Pumpkins

I've never really been into comics, or even cartoons, but there is one that I've been thiking about a lot lately. It's Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin. I don't even remember the story line, but I do remember the Great Pumpkin. I think the pumpkins in our garden are even bigger than the Great Pumpkin.

I'm not a gardener, but the boys insisted on planting pumpkins this year. We actually have a garden spot, courtesy of the people who lived in our house before us. So, Brad tilled it up, threw a few pumpkin seeds in the ground, and we all forgot about our "garden". There's a sprinkler head in the garden, so every morning over the summer, when the automatic sprinklers came on to water the grass, the pumpkins got a drink too. They apparently got just the right amount of water, sunshine and dare I say, TLC? Our pumpkins are out of control! The vines were growing everywhere, up the slide, over the neighbor's fence, and into the other neighbor's yard! Our pumpkins were the joke of the neighborhood for much of the summer. No one is laughing now. Now, they're all being nice to us, hoping we'll share the fruits of our labor.

I've never seen such big pumpkins, and so many pumpkins! They are huge.. I don't think these pictures do them justice. Someone suggested hollowing one out and putting Lizzy inside it, just to show how big it is. I think I'll do that... but not yet. I don't want to harvest the pumpkins yet. I want them to grow for just a few more weeks. We are after the greatest pumpkin of all time! But first, I need to google Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin, so I can tell the kids the story!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

For the Dogs

Lizzy has always loved woof-woofs. Really. I think her first words were "woof-woof". It doesn't matter who the dog is, or if she even knows the puppy. She gets excited when she sees a dog, then wants to grab his face and give him kisses and hugs. Those kisses are on the lips kisses, by the way. At the street fair last weekend, she could have cared less about the music and the food. But when a dog walked by, she nearly jumped out of my arms.

Obviously she's grown up with dogs, so she doesn't know to be scared. Bob and Windsor are about the most harmless dogs in the world, and Madonna's dog Charley wouldn't hurt a flea either. So she's been able to do whatever she wants, becuase those dogs will all put up with her. She often uses Bob as a pillow or a horse and Charley seems to be just as excited to see her and she is to see him.

But this love for the woof-woofs has gotten a little out of control. I don't think she's eating anymore! Because, how can she eat when there's a hungry woof-woof giving her puppy dog eyes through the sliding door? I busted her feeding Windsor her lunch the other day. There's a small tear in our screen door, so she was slipping her summer sausage through that hole in the door to him. The small tear is now huge, because Windsor eventually stuck his whole nose through the door to get the food a little faster. And, if the door isn't locked, she will open it and let both Bob and Windsor in to eat the food directly from the table.

It's no wonder the dogs put up with so much from her. She's making sure they're well fed! It's ok though, because she also has learned to sneak out the sliding door. At least three times on Sunday, she sneaked out of the kitchen and I found her in the backyard, with the dogs right by her side. I suppose they figured they better keep an eye on her... because you never know, she might have had a treat in her hand!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Learning the Game

Lexi had her first basketball game today. She's number one on the gray team. I think I was more excited than she was! They've only had two practices, and there are only seven girls on the team: five from her school and two from another. Lexi is by far the tallest, followed closely by her best friend Tess. The twin towers literally towered over the other team and Lexi told me later no one from the pink team wanted to guard her! I don't blame them..she blocked two or three shots during today's game!

I'd forgotten how much nine year olds don't know about the game of basketball! I love the way the refs and the coaches make sure each girl knows who she's guarding by lining them up at half court at the beginning of each quarter. I love the way they sometimes forget to dribble, and just run with the ball. And I love they're excitement over every basket they score.

Lexi's team, the gray team (they call themselves the "M&M's") won easily today. Still, the coolest part about fourth grade basketball isn't winning. It is that for the last quarter of the game, they zero the scoreboard and don't keep score. That way everyone ends the game feeling good about themselves. What a great idea!

I'm looking forward to many more Saturday mornings in the bleachers, watching Lexi and her friends learn the game that I love so much. Hopefully, I'll be able to watch these girls play ball together all through elementary school, middle school and even high school. Imagine how much they'll learn about the game by the time they're in high school! But there are more imporant things they will learn on the court. Things like teamwork, hard work, and getting along with others. I've always thought sports teach important lessons and I am convinced my years of basketball prepared me to be a successful adult.

Yes, I would love it if my daughter became a basketball star. But, even more, I hope basketball teaches her lessons that will help her off the court.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Raise the Roof

I'm always amazed at how many friends Brad has, and at how talented they all are. This weekend, his friends spent the weekend building a garage in our backyard. Really..they built it in a weekend. The pictures show how quickly it turned from a slab of concrete into a garage. The first picture was taken at about 10:00 Saturday morning, the second at about 4:00 and the third on Sunday afternoon. Brad was like a kid on Christmas morning on Saturday morning. I laughed, because the man who has a tough time getting out of bed in the morning, was in the backyard getting things ready before 7:00 that morning! Paul and Curt were the first to arrive, but people kept showing up. When I ordered pizza for lunch, I think there were six guys working. The coolest part is, they all knew what to do, and Paul is an expert, so he took charge and there wasn't a lot of time wasted while they tried to figure out what to do next.

I teased Brad that he must have worked everyone too hard on Saturday, because Sunday no one came back! I felt bad for him, and since the kids were still at the farm, I ended up being the help! I'm happy to say Brad and I wrapped the garage and installed a window together and we are still married! I figure construction is a good test of a marriage! Gene Rivinius and Paul came over later and since I refuse to go on a roof, I got the grunt job of pounding nails all around the garage to hold the wrap and hauling shingles. My body is still recovering from the shingle lifting!

There's still about half of one side of the roof that needs to be shingled. Brad plans to do that tomorrow morning before he heads out of town for a wedding. In about a month, the siding will go up, the garage door will be installed..and work will begin on the inside, and on the yard that got so damaged during this whole process. We currently have two pallets of patio blocks sitting in the front driveway that need to be moved and arranged in the backyard.

To the outsider, it may look like the project is far from over, but those of us who live here and have watched the project progress from start to this point, know how far we've come, and know that the end is in sight. Brad is anxious to have a place to make jerky this hunting season, and we are both dying to park in the attached garage again (Brad's side has been full of "stuff" since we moved in, and my side has been taken over by construction supplies). Most of all, I am looking forward to grilling, hanging out by the firepit, and relaxing on the new patio! At least until my husband dreams up another project!
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Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy in the High Chair

Lizzy is, for the most part, a happy kid. She loves to play with the dogs, pick on her big brother, cuddle her big sister, and play outside. But, she is quite possibly, the happiest..when she's eating!

And the messier the food, the happier she is. As I look at the thousands of pictures I have taken of her over the past 16 months, the funniest ones are of her in her high chair. These pictures are just from the past four days!

In the first, she was enjoying a piece of corn on the cob. She couldn't quite figure out how best to eat it, so she just smiled her big cheeseball grin.

The middle picture is, obviously, chocolate pudding. She took that out of the fridge all by herself, got a spoon, and climbed up on a chair to eat. She did even manage to eat a little of the pudding..but most of it ended up on her face and clothes!

And the third picture is ravioli. She apparently didn't eat the whole time she was at Grandma's house this weekend, because she was STARVING when she got home! She ate a whole can of ravioli, a piece of pizza, some lettuce and a brownie!

I suppose child obesity experts would say that she's on her way to being an overweight kid, that good eating habits start as toddlers, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. She's one. She's not obese, and she will not become obese. Because I do not let my child sit in the high chair and eat all day long. She eats, then runs, and runs, and runs. There's no way she doesn't burn off everything she eats, and then some. Have you seen this kid? There's a reason we call her "Busy Lizzy". And, there is also a reason I just can't resist taking pictures of her when she's smiling so pretty in her high chair!

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Friday, September 5, 2008


Yea for Fridays! It's been a long week, and all five of us are looking forward to the weekend. Jake has big plans to stay up until midnight, because he says he's tired of going to bed at 8:30 every night. I predict he'll last until about 9:00, then fall alseep on the couch, just like his dad!

We are all fighting colds, but I seem to be the hardest hit. My head has been throbbing most of the week and I started coughing last night. Such fun. Better me than the kids though I figure.

Brad is getting anxious to build his garage. He and Paul spent much of last night getting stuff ready. They plan to start building tomorrow morning. Pray for good weather. There is a chance of rain the forecast, but I plan to have a chat with the weatherman this afternoon to get that chance removed!

Lexi had her first basketball practice last night. They were scrimmaging when I got there. It was so fun to watch! They definitely need to work on their ball handling and shooting skills, but for fourth graders, I thought they did pretty awesome. I've started calling Lexi and Tess the "Twin Towers". They don't really get it, but I said in time they will understand why teams are scared of the tall girls. They will practice every Thursday for an hour and play games every Saturday, starting next week.

The kids are going to my parents' farm tomorrow. I have an Uppercase Living event, and Brad will be busy building. I'm hoping Lizzy behaves for Grandma and Grandpa! No doubt they'll be tired by the time she leaves. The kid never stops moving! Reminds me a lot of Jake...

Have a wonderful weekend!
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lizzy's Loveys

For the past several weeks, we have not left home without Lizzy's "loveys". She packs her "loveys" in a bag.. either a canvas shopping bag or a much too small bag from Build a Bear Workshop. Then she slings her bag over her shoulder, and walks to the van. Really.. where did my baby go?

You're probably wondering what a "lovey" is. A "lovey" is a small stuffed animal.. one that Lizzy can easily hold (as opposed to her gigantic woof-woof that she can't sleep without) and that fits in her bag of choice. The usual suspects include Pablo, Woof Woof (even though he's a bit too big for the bag), Bob, a big-eyed monkey, and whatever other Webkins she can steal from her sister.

Yes, they are just stuffed animals, but "loveys" often get thirsty. So a cup of milk always goes in the bag too, just in case the "loveys" need a drink. It's pretty nasty if I forget the "loveys" in the van overnight.. not much smells worse than a sippy cup full of curdled milk.

The "loveys" go to daycare each day. Because, you see, Madonna doesn't have ANY toys. Charley would love to eat the "loveys", but Lizzy usually catches him and screams at him until he drops them. The "loveys: also go to church, and to school events. When she has an audience, Lizzy takes each "lovey" out of the bag with excitement, it's as if she's never seen them before. Then her "audience" gets to hold them all for her. Such a fun game!

I have no idea why she loves these stuffed animals we call "loveys" so much. I also have no idea why we call them "loveys". But, I do know that they make Lizzy happy. And that makes the rest of us happy too.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Goodbye Summer.. Hello Fall!

I know the calendar says it's still summer, but if you ask me, summer is over. The kids are back in school, the weather is a little cooler, and we took our last camping trip of the summer. Yes, construction season continues and the kids may still be able to wear shorts a few more days, but the lazy, carefree days of summertime are gone. The kids now have to go to bed at a reasonable hour.. no more playing outside until 10:30 at night. I'll now be making late night shopping trips to Wal-Mart all by myself, because the kids really should be sleeping.

We said goodbye to summer in grand fashion over the weekend. We took our annual Kerzman-McCloud camping trip to New John's Lake on Friday. The Vanderlindens tagged along too, and are now a part of the tradition. We had planned to camp for two nights, but a burn ban, insanely strong winds and crabby kids made us rethink our plan, and we packed up camp on Saturday afternoon. Not until Jake had caught a fish though.

All summer, Jake has been trying to catch a fish. He had not had any success, until Saturday afternoon. He left his fishing rods (one fancy one, one cheesy Spiderman one) propped on a chair on the lake's edge while he came to the campsite for a hotdog. That's when Brad noticed something... he had a bite! Jake rushed to the water, and reeled in his Spiderman rod... with a fish! You can see by the picture, it was a whopper! It didn't matter to Jake.. he was so excited to have finally caught something! He wanted to cook it for lunch. When we convinced him that wasn't a good idea, he asked if he could grill it for a few seconds, then take it home for a knick knack. Again, not a good idea. He let John (that's the fish's name.. because he caught him in New John's Lake) swim around in the dog's water dish for awhile. He had a hard time putting him back in the lake. He kissed him, coaxed him to swim away, then came back to the campsite in tears. We knew then it was time to go home.

Sunday was another hot and windy day, so we used up the last of our Raging Rivers tickets. Jake and Lexi are daredevils on the slides. We coudn't keep up! Lexi's friend Tess (who we joke is our adopted daughter) came too, as well as Kayla, Aubrey and the Vanderlindens. Lizzy had a great time on the kid's slide.. she has no fear of water, heights, or anything. It was so fun.. and a little exhausting.. to watch her play so hard! But what a great way to say goodbye to summer!

Monday was a rainy day, and the perfect transition to fall. As sad as I am to see summer end, I am also anxious for fall and cooler temperatures, and to have a routine once again.