Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The One Where Everybody Died

Last week was rough.

On Saturday, a relative of SOB's died from complications of a brain aneurysm. He was young, and it was sudden. Sam had just golfed in his first family golf tournament, and we were out celebrating with all of the men in my family when I got the call from SOB's sister. We quickly head home, but decided to wait and tell the kids later, since we had my big family reunion the next day and didn't want to dampen their moods.

The next afternoon we headed to the picnic, and when we got home we explained to the older kids what had happened. They were upset, but since they didn't know the deceased too well (he lived on the west coast, so we only saw him once or twice a year) they didn't take it too badly.

Around 9pm that night, the phone rang.

My grandfather, who has been on hospice care since my grandmother passed away in September of 2012, died during the evening. He had been doing pretty well for a while, but took a turn for the worse early last week. All of his sons were in town for the family reunion, so he got a chance to see them all, and he even managed to hang on until after the family picnic was over. We were all impressed.

When the kids woke up on Monday and I had to tell them that Grandpap D. died, only 12 hours after telling them about SOB's relative, it didn't go over so well. Sam was particularly upset, and Maggie just kept asking who was going to die next. We took the kids to the funeral home for the viewing on Tuesday, and they got to say their goodbyes. For the past 20 years he's been nearly deaf, so the kids always shouted when they spoke to him. It took a lot of reminders for them to keep from shouting at his body in the casket. Lucy, of course, had to touch him and tell everyone how cold he was. Sam cried a lot.


His history has some dark spots, as most do, but he was still my grandfather, my childrens' great-grandfather. It seemed that his kindness increased with each new generation of children. 

On my last birthday, he gave me a card and he drew a picture of himself on the front. When I was little he used to take out his partial dentures out to entertain me, and he drew his smile with missing teeth. I put it with the last card I got from my grandma. 


So far, this week has been better. Nobody has died. Let's hope it stays that way. 

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Beanie Boo Infestation

Have you ever heard of a beanie boo? If not, read no further, and run for the hills. I don't want to be responsible for spreading this madness. 

On Fred's last birthday, his godparents got him a little stuffed tiger with big, shiny green eyes. Fred was (and is) deeply invested in the PBS program Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and they thought he would like it. However, since it wasn't Daniel himself, it was cast into the toy box without a second thought.

Fast forward a few months, and Lucy was invited to a birthday party. At the end of the soiree, all of the children were given a small plush toy with big, sparkly eyes as a party favor. Lucy's was a little giraffe, light pink with darker pink spots and purple hooves. This teeny toy came with a tag identifying it as a baby giraffe named Twigs. 

As soon as she got home and showed Maggie, a light bulb went off over Magoo's head and she dug around in various toy boxes until she found Fred's discarded tiger. His tag had long since been removed, so she named him Tigey. Soon enough, Twigs and Tigey were inseparable. The girls set up a small ikea tent in their room which became their home. They got married. They ate meals with us. They took baths (because they got covered in syrup at mealtime) and Maggie even attempted to give Tigey a haircut, which resulted in me having to perform heart surgery on the tiny tiger.

Naturally, the boys got jealous and began demanding beanie boos of their own. So off to amazon I headed, where I purchased Fred a multicolored unicorn named Wishful and Sam a blue cheetah named Leona. We didn't even have them for 24 hours before Wishful became hopelessly lost. In a strange fit of maternal insanity, I went back to amazon and ordered Fred a replacement Wishful, along with a raccoon named Rocky, an elephant named Ellie, a zebra named Zig Zag and a chihuahua named Cancun, which was re-named Canon Ball by Maggie. Then, on a random trip to Michael's craft store, I saw a bin of turtles named Zippy on sale, and  grabbed one in a total impulse buy move. 


Leona, Tigey, Rocky, Ellie, Twigs, Wishful, Canon Ball, Zippy and Zig Zag

This whole situation is, true facts, my own fault. I should have stopped after one per child, but I didn't, and now my life is consumed with beanie boo madness. Maggie NEVER puts her down. Even when she is using the toilet. Fred continues to lose his, and then throws hysterical fits until they are found. Sam just hoards his in his bedroom, which is infuriating to his sisters, because they think all of the beanie boos want to play together. And Lucy continues to try and give Twigs and Ellie baths and haircuts. All of our scissors are on lock down. Yesterday I had to confiscate all of them for a little decontamination from the steam cycle on our dryer. Luckily, everyone came out looking normal, and smelling much better.

Next week we will be living with relatives, and all of the kids are younger than Fred. If all NINE beanie boos make the trip with us, I'm predicting at least three won't make it home.

I can already hear the screaming.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summertime Insanity

So, yeah. I have/had this blog thing, but updating it has gotten a little, well, difficult. Summer should be for relaxing, but most years it seems even more hectic than the school year. Mostly because the schedule is so much more inconsistent. So far this year, we've had 1 week of art camp for 3 kids, 1 week of hockey camp for 1 kid, and 1 week of golf camp for 2 kids. We have another week of hockey camp coming up, a week of vacation, a week of gymnastics camp for the girls, and a week of lego camp for Sam. Plus I have 9 chickens to tend to and a garden full of tomato fungus, cabbage worms and japanese beetles.


RIP Big Boi and Andre 300. Roosters who crow gotta go

It doesn't sound like much, but them I'm working like crazy, and occasionally trying to use the damn pool in the backyard! 


Plus holidays...


And museum trips...


And legos, legos everywhere! 


It's been fun, but very, very busy. Luckily, next summer I'm carting the kids off to France, and we won't be able to afford to do anything but relax! 





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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What I Did On My Summer Vacation by Amy Jo

I know it seems silly to be recapping my summer vacation when the season only properly began a few days ago, but trust me we've already crammed an entire summer's worth of stuff in! At the time of my last posting, the big children were just wrapping up school. We got them home just in time to ditch the boys with their grandparents and whisk the girls away to Hilton Head for a few days. It was non-stop beach going, swimming, sandcastle building fun.



We got home early Tuesday afternoon, said hello to the boys, got cleaned up and headed out for a fun filled night at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, featuring Ben Folds. We were exhausted, but it was amazing!

We slept like a ton of bricks that night, got up Wednesday, and got straight to work. SOB was off the rest of the week, and we had many projects to tackle. We planted EIGHT MORE SHRUBS (we've been kind of on a shrub planting tear around here), we spread 8 yards of mulch inside the garden and around the new shrubs, we pulled up all of the carpeting in the basement and on the stairs leading there, then SOB fixed the sub floor down there in anticipation of our brand new carpet that was supposed to be installed yesterday but still isn't here, we bought new couches, we mowed and weed whacked many blades of grass, harvested many peas, cleaned out the entire garage, and SOB (with the help of my dad) built me an amazingly awesome new chicken coop out of reclaimed doors from this very house that we live in! 


The little chickens aren't so little anymore, and keeping them in the garage was keeping the garage very filthy. Now they can all live happily outside! 

(Related: do you know anyone who might want a few roosters?) 

Oh, and I also shot a wedding all day Saturday, with the help of my lovely and talented new assistant, my sister-in-law Tori!

Then first thing Monday morning, I dropped three kids off at camp and headed to court for the very first time in my life! It was nerve-wracking, even though I knew the outcome mattered nil. I just had to make an appearance so that one of many bureaucratic boxes could be checked off. 

Today Sam is off on an amazing adventure, and I'm all super mixed emotion-y about him growing up and having experience on his own, but that's another post for another day. I'm stuck here waiting (still) for the afore mentioned carpet to arrive and be installed for a little bit longer before camp pick up. If the sun stays out maybe we'll go swimming tonight. 

Summer, you're pretty bitchin' so far.

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Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Sound of Music


Today Sam and Lucy had their first ever piano recital. They began lessons in January, and they have an amazing teacher. She is fairly strict with them, but very kind and encouraging. She actually called Sam out at the end of the recital today because he kept insisting that he wasn't going to perform. Meanwhile, he knocked it out of the park. Lucy played her little heart out as well, and watching her watch the other students was enough to make me weepy. I'm so very proud of how hard they both worked to master their pieces, practicing several times a day for many, many weeks. Sam in particular was very nervous, and we had to bribe him with  a soda to get him in the car, but once we got there he relaxed a bit. Plus he was totally distracted by the cute little girl sitting next to him. (Not Lucy)

It makes me so happy that my children love having music in their lives. Sam just signed up to play cello next year, so he's going to be working on TWO instruments! And Lucy just may be a little virtuoso in the making. In the time she's been working on her two recital pieces, she basically taught herself the next two songs in her book. I have to ask her to stop playing sometimes! Do I sometimes have to remind them (more than twice) to practice? Yes. Are there times when they don't want to? Yes. But we've gotten over this big hump and I think it's going to be smooth sailing from here on out. And that is music to my ears.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hockey Tryouts 2.0

Remember last year when Sam had to tryout for hockey for the first time, and I was a mess, but ultimately he made a team and had a great season? Turns out, that crazy mother tryout anxiety doesn't go away just because you're pretty sure your kid is going to make the team. Sam had his tryouts for next season last Sunday. He will always be in the first session of tryouts because of our last name, and I saw more than one parent/child combo from later sessions there early to check out the drills, which is smart but annoying. We were both so much less nervous than last year, though, and I thought he had a pretty good showing at his session. There was a little too much talking on his part, I thought, but he performed the drills well and seemed to be paying attention most of the time. But the week between then and when we got his team placement email was excruciating.

Last year there were six teams, and they were ranked 1 though 6. Sam was on team 4 last year, and his big goal was to move up two spots, even though I bet he would have been happy with moving up one spot. Unfortunately, the organization decided to change things up this year and not tell us until after tryouts. This year they are having one elite team, and then the rest of the teams are sort of evened out, with a mixture of older and younger kids. All of the teams in our region are moving to this sort of system, and while I think it will be good for player development, it would have been nice to know this info ahead of time. The look on Sam's face when I tried to explain that he didn't really move up or down really bummed me out. Plus, he only has one friend from last year on his team, and I think he was really hoping that more of his old team mates would be on his new team. We had a really, really awesome group of kids and parents, and we all kind of wanted to stick together. But since they were all fairly skilled, they had to be split up to keep the teams evened out. BUT! We'll just have to bring that special awesomeness from our last team and spread it around to our new team.

No matter what, I think Sam's final season as a mite is going to be a great one!

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