The Lake

Our neighbors have been forever inviting us up to their cabin in Wisconsin.  We were finally able to get there over the weekend.

We dropped Maria in Madison to hang with her best friend, drove up to boy scout camp and grabbed Jack, then headed even further north.

For three days, we swam, boated and fished.  And ate s’mores.

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I Want to Ride My Bicycle!

Look what we got!

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Birthday Wishes

Sorry, Maddog.  I had to do it:

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We just finished up with the back-to-back birthdays.

Sam turned 8 this year.  We’re hoping the year will go in with MAD and out with GLAD. Or something.  That temper he gets from his dad is still getting the best of him.  Thankfully, though, he’s quick to recover!

Hard to believe this guy would ever get angry!



He was pretty happy for most of his birthday.

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He has been the hit of the neighborhood with his new robot…

And his new zip line!

Maria had a nice birthday, as well.  He dad woke her early and took her out for a nice breakfast.  Then, after shrimp scampi for dinner, she opened her gifts.

She is my fashionista!

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We finished the night with a horse cake.  The horse was made to look like Tinsel, her favorite companion during this year’s horse camp (Thanks, Gran!).



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Little Talks

On the way home from horse camp, after dropping some friends off, Maria and I had a nice quiet talk. Girls and horses. Sigh. She loves them, but… I know how expensive the hobby is. Horses were my life until a few years after my first two were born.

At 16, through the incredible generosity of my parents, I had my very own horse. And when I was 29, I finally lived the dream of having that horse on my own property. But, then came kids and job changes and the impossible moves. We just couldn’t keep a horse anymore.

I suggested to Maria that maybe we should move back to Dinksville, where we could have horses again, a fishing pond and lots of land to run around on.

As I said this, I was pulling up to our house, where Luke and Andrew were outside playing. Andrew, as usual, had no shoes on and no shirt. “Look at that little hoosier boy,” I said to Maria.

“Yeah,” she said. “Maybe we should move to Indiana!”


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Summer Math

Day 5 of summer vacation! I haven’t yet put the countdown timer on my phone for the first day of school, but it is coming!

Mostly this week we have been practicing our math skills. (And negotiating skills.)

To keep the kids from turning into zombies, I am limiting screen time. Here’s the deal:

One minute of exercise = one minute of screen time
One minute of cleaning (a common part of the house) = one minute of screen time
One minute of reading = thirty seconds of screen time

We keep time tallies on the fridge. And it’s a use it or lose it deal. No carrying over to the next day.

It’s working pretty well, although no one is fighting over cleaning minutes. Dammit.

I love it when the end of the day comes and they’ve accumulated a bunch of screen time, but then didn’t use it!

Sam and Andrew are taking swim lessons. The first session is over and the next starts on Monday. Sam complained about them over the last two weeks, but came to me yesterday and asked when the next session would start. I told him and he asked what would be after that. Will he get to take more lessons? ‘Cause he wants to take them all summer long!!!

I was reveling over this – excited about Sam’s desire to become a great swimmer – when he finished with: ‘Cause then I’ll get lots of screen time!

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The “D” Word

Remember this?  I do, as it’s ingrained on my memory FOREVER.  I swear, when I’m 84 with dementia, I’ll still remember it.  My worst hell would be to wake up in a Groundhog Day-like situation, reliving over and over the day we had our Church Directory Pictures taken.

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Well, my second-worst hell is on the horizon.  I just received a recorded phone call from our pastor informing us that it’s been five years since this parish has made a photo directory.  Lots of people, apparently, have been advocating for a new one.  Damn them.  (Actually, the old photo directory was VERY helpful to us when we first moved here and kept meeting people but couldn’t remember people’s names or their family members.  We’ve used it so much it’s falling apart.)

STILL.  The thought of reliving that horror is going to make for a lot of sleepless nights.  The pastor says it’ll be SO EASY.  Sign up soon – via three different ways! – he says.  Does he not see us in the third pew every Sunday squirming and scowling and threatening?  Does he not see the sweat dripping from my brow when I shake his hand after mass?  What makes him think that it’s going to be EASY to get a picture of this family?!?

I sure hope the photographer has a HUGE memory card in the camera, as I know it is going to take a lot of tries before there is a printable picture of our family.  I can already imagine people flipping through the directory and saying, “Oh, yeah, we know THAT family.”

Hmmmm…. wonder if there is a bribe big enough to get through this?  Or maybe I should just think about medicating the kids.  Better yet, myself!

Let’s just hope it doesn’t all end the same way, with freaked out deacon’s wife and torn pictures.




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(Un)Lucky Charms

Yesterday afternoon, while Jack mowed the backyard, Andrew played in the sandbox, Maria worked on her homework and Luke ate snack after snack, I climbed a ladder and strung fishing line along the garage so our hops plant had someplace to go.  Not too long into my project, Sam stomped out onto the deck and yelled something unintelligible in my direction.  (He’s hard enough to understand on a regular basis, as he talks faster than the guy at the end of a drug commercial, but when he’s mad, FORGET IT.)

He tried again when Jack finished with the mower.  I still didn’t catch it all, but apparently he was STARVING, had attempted to get a snack and had made a huge mess.  I told him to clean it up.  “I CAN’T,” he screamed.  “IT’S EVERYWHERE!!!”

“Clean it up,” I repeated, and then went back to my task.

I finished up, walked in the back door, straight into the kitchen.  There I found Sam with the upright vacuum, Maria with the small vac and the neighbor girl with a broom and dust pan.  There was a lot of activity and noise, but still a gigantic mess.

There were Lucky Charms EVERYWHERE.  Sam claimed that he didn’t know the bag was open (even though he had eaten them for breakfast that morning) and had turned the bag upside down by accident.

I could understand, then, that the table might be covered with cereal, and that some might have fallen to the floor, but my kitchen looked like the General Mills factory after a broken cereal machine shot out a gallon of cereal before someone had noticed and turned off the machine.

It was in the dog’s bowl, down the basement steps, stuck to the bottom of a pair of shoes (not being worn by anyone), ground into the door mat, in the pantry and under the baker’s rack.  The only place it wasn’t was in a (human’s) bowl or on the table.

Extremely frustrated, I kicked everyone out of the kitchen.  Of course, they all ran out through the front of the house, where they tracked all the cereal that had stuck to the bottoms of their shoes.

When I took over cleaning I discovered that both vacuums needed new bags (which explained why they weren’t working very well) and the broom being used was sized for a midget.  I changed the vacuum bags, set those aside and went to work using an adult sized broom.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon, I continued to find stray Lucky Charms where ever I went.  I’m sure Cheerio found her share as well.

Later, (spurred on by the sudden rise in temperature around here) I moved onto my next project of switching out my winter and summer clothes.  I have a couple of large Space Bags, so as I pulled my winter stuff from the closet I filled the bags.  Once filled, I retrieved my little vac so I could suck the air out of the bags and get them stored.

After starting the vacuum, I heard some rattling in the hose, so I shook it a bit and guess what?  LUCKY CHARMS FLEW EVERYWHERE.

I dragged the hose outside to investigate the situation and found that the hose was CLOGGED with Lucky Charms.  I managed to find and break the clog and in doing so covered the entire deck with cereal.

I let the dog have at it and walked away.

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A Holy Day

So proud of my Sam for receiving his First Communion today.    Getting everyone ready this morning and avoiding blood shed on white before mass was a challenge, but the ceremony was lovely.



Maria sang from the podium.


And when it was all over, we got a few of those LOVELY family pictures we’re so good at posing for:

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Hoping this guy goes on to the priesthood in a few years.


Looking at the grin, though, I have my doubts.  I have assured him that if he does go on to the priesthood, people will be lined up for his masses, as he talks so darn fast.  Betcha he’d have his parishioners in and out in 25 minutes.

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Jack Attack

Twelve years ago, Jack turned us into parents.  I’m not sure who in their right mind would give ME a baby, but a couple of days later, we brought him home.

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The time has absolutely flown by.

Oh, and not to take away from Jack on his big day, but it is Easter and I do owe it to Kristina to add this little link.

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