Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ice Skating

Last summer Emily, Bradley, and Sarah participated in the library's summer reading program. My husband took them last July to redeem their hours of reading for prizes. They liberally handed out free children's passes to the children's museum and the ice skating rink. I say liberally because they gave us seven free passes for each attraction even though not all of our children read.

The passes expire June 1, 2011, so we procrastinated the past ten months in redeeming them. We finally redeemed our children's museum passes on May 3rd and that was fun. We've been promising our kids that we would take them ice skating for the longest time, but things kept getting in the way. So tonight we went and we weren't going to let anything stop us because time was running out.

I picked David up from work because it was on the way to the rink and we didn't want to hit traffic. So since we didn't eat dinner at home, we ate at Wendy's. Have I ever told you how much I LOVE Wendy's? But please don't think I named my daughter after the restaurant. I just happen to like the name Wendy. Did you know Dave Thomas named the restaurant after his daughter, Wendy, and her real name was actually Melinda? Pretty cool.

Anyway, I had a delicious #1 combo. Square hamburgers just taste so much better than circles. I think the hamburger buns at Wendy's are always so fresh too. I'm salivating writing about it.

Ok seriously, anyway, enough about food. I'm making myself hungry again at 10:30 PM. So we went to the ice skating rink at 6 PM and skated for two hours. I didn't skate. I was the designated photographer and Rachel /George babysitter. I really didn't want to get hurt either because we don't have health insurance until June 1. I told the rest of them that they skated at their own risk. If they got injured, they would have to wait a week to go to the doctor. Thankfully nobody got hurt. Several falls, but no bleeding, sprains, or broken bones.

The pictures will tell the rest:




Skating with Daddy.

Since Rachel didn't get any skate rentals, she got an M&M's consolation prize. She was totally cool with it.

George thinking, "Hey, I didn't get any skate rentals either."

Rachel being so kind to share her consolation prize.

Notice his handsome haircut? I also have to confess that I Photoshopped (actually Picasa Retouched) a booger out of George's nose and a scab on his forehead. I couldn't let this picture go wasted. (I have a secret. George is my favorite. But, shhhh....don't tell my other kids.).....Just kidding, Emily.

The other day I was holding and playing with George, and I told him he was my favorite. Emily heard me and said, "Only because he's the most recent, right?" She wanted to be sure my favoritism is justified. It's fair. At some point all of my children have earned the "favorite" spot. Eventually George won't be my favorite anymore.

Jason's Hat Head
Sometimes Jason is my favorite too. Right now I'm savoring his little kid voice because it oozes cuteness. I'm going to miss it when he goes through puberty.

This is how Bradley spent much of the evening.

The Spectators. 
My hair looks really gross in this picture. I should've put on my hood.

So the evening was a success. It's funny how on a night we planned to redeem some free passes we ended up spending $50 on dinner and skate rentals (only the admission fees were free, and only for the kids.) It ends up that reading is an expensive sport and I'm not sure if I'm going to encourage it this summer. (Totally kidding. Kind of.) But, the skating was very fun and the kids had a great time!

Tomorrow we are redeeming two free hotel rooms that expire May 31. We are just staying about 12 miles away. It will be a little staycation and it will be fun to swim in a pool void of a swim team and eat popcorn while watching TV in a clean room. (The hotel rooms were not earned from the kids' summer reading. I earned them from my Priority Club membership on our trip across the country last September. Hopefully it will actually be totally free, although I might have to order some pizza for dinner. I want to get to the hotel as early as possible to take advantage of the outdoor pool and I'm not organized enough to plan and pack a meal.)

No word on my swim team pool news. I called the property management company today and they will probably get back to me tomorrow. The woman I talked to was very nice and wrote down everything I told her. She agreed it sounded weird, but she was new and didn't know much about the pool schedule.

Swim Team

So I'm a little peeved today. I don't like to complain because nobody wants to listen to a complainer all the time and I feel kind of complainy lately, but I have to just release my frustration. This would be a day that I would've normally called my mom and bounce my frustration off of her, but I can't so you are my sounding board today. Thanks :)

So I have this deal with my kids that if they get their school work done and have a clean bedroom that we will go to the pool in the afternoon. Today they accomplished the bribe and we went and arrived at the pool at about 4:30. I sent my husband an email at work to let him know, so he could meet us there at about 5:15.

My kids had fun romping around in the pool, but then 5:00 rolled around and dozens of kids on swim team began to arrive. No big deal, I thought. In years past they rope off a good size portion of the pool (the portion without the lap lines) for those not participating in swim team. Well, apparently not this year. Some lady coach told everyone in the roped off section that we either had to get out or go by the steps, which is about a 125 square foot area adjacent to this coach lady's self-proclaimed swim instruction area. I did not enforce the rule on my children and let them continue swimming where I thought it was fair territory for them to swim. I thought if they were bothering the coach and her seven young swimmers, then she could tell my kids to move, which she did several times. (My kids weren't the only ones crossing the invisible line that we were supposed to stay behind.)

Anyway, the rest of the non-swimteamers (about 20 of us) seemed kind of peeved and confused at the situation. We all stood in our allotted cramped six square feet of personal swim space, equipped with large floats and small children cannon-balling into the small section of the pool, as we watched the children, tweens, and teens swim their noisy awkward laps. There was one older couple who caught my eye and expressed through facial expressions that they felt the situation seemed ridiculous. However, they were grandparents watching their grandchildren, who lived in the neighborhood, so they were not likely to put forth extra effort to make their opinion heard because this would not be a long term problem for them. A few other young mothers with their small children looked a little bothered too, but too nice to say anything because their small children seemed content playing on the stairs.

At the close of the swim team practice another woman came over and told everyone in the steps section that from now on the pool would be closed to anyone not on swim team from 5-6 PM Monday through Thursday. I said, "The whole summer?" and she very unapologetically nodded her head. Then I said, "That is not okay. This is the time we come to the pool as a family, and we would like to be able to swim here."

I could tell she did not want to continue the conversation with me and referred me to the "Swim Team Mom" who would be there tomorrow. Then, the coach lady came back over again and tried to convince us that we couldn't swim in the pool while the swim team practiced because it was for our "safety." She said, "When these kids get stronger with their strokes, they might whack your kids and we wouldn't want them to get hurt." It was a lame excuse and I could see she was just trying to get us out of her way in the name of "safety." Mind you, these kids she was referring to were between the ages of about four and six.  Unless they are injecting these kids with steroids, I doubt they would whack hard enough to cause any lasting damage. I have learned that kids have a natural way of staying out of each other's way in a pool.

Apparently my husband was thinking my same thoughts and spoke up and said, "Well, then let them get whacked. Our kids are tough and they'll learn to stay out of the way."

Not knowing how to respond to his comment, she proceeded to say, "Well, the reason these kids are here is to learn how to swim and be safe. We just want to be sure your kids are safe too."

I didn't quite get her comment because in order to be on the swim team you have to already know how to swim, but I told her that we've never been kicked out of the pool because of swim team practice for the six summers we've lived here. She didn't seem to believe me, but I assured her it was true.

Ugg, so I was bothered. I checked my neighborhood Covenants and Restrictions when I got home and it states that residents have the right to enjoy the amenities which I think is why it bothers me so much. I feel like my rights and liberties as a resident in my neighborhood are being infringed upon. I pay $700 a year for the neighborhood amenities. It's not a trivial amount. My husband works typical dad hours from 9-5. I believe a father should be able to swim with his children when he gets home from work and not just on weekends or when the sun goes down.

It also states that notwithstanding the right to use the ammenities, residents who pay a recreation fee for exclusive use of an amenity have the right to use it exclusively. So if the fees these families pay to have their children to be on swim team actually go to our Homeowners Association to have exclusive use of the pool during these hours, then I guess they have every right to say we can't swim there. That is the question I need to find the answer to tomorrow by calling the Property Management Company. It just seems to me that if they have exclusive use of the pool during these hours that the neighborhood residents should be informed about it through an HOA newsletter or signs at the pool. I've never read anything stating such.

However, I still don't think it is right to block off four weekday evenings from the hours of 5-6 PM for exclusive use by the swim team. It seems a bit excessive. I'll agree to Wednesday evenings when the pool is totally unavailable because they host swim meets from 5:45 PM to who knows when. I've heard swim meets lasting (I can hear the whistles and screaming from my house) until 10 PM in summers past. Insane. Also the swim team uses the pool from 8:30 - 9:30 in the morning M, T, F. So there are six hours a week blocked off for these kids to practice, plus four hours on Wednesday. Did I say insane? It's a stinkin' neighborhood swim team!

Sometimes I think America in general is a little obsessed with team sports, and not in tune enough with spending time as families. Why must families who seek to have a little weeknight quality time together in their neighborhood pool be kicked out in the name of sports practice?

The coach lady tried to tell me, "It's only one hour a day." I wasn't buying it. The pool is open 13 hours each day, Since my husband works normal business hours, the only other hours of the day we can go as a family on a weekday is from 6-9PM, since the swim team monopolizes the pool from 5-6. After 6 it gets a little chilly with the sun going down and late for the younger ones. Why can't they practice from 6-7 or 8-9 and let families with small children swim during the 5 o'clock hour? Or how about since they have over 100 kids on swim team, they break up the practices into two different time slots so that residents can have use of the pool at all times as well? What about teaching the principle of sharing?

I don't know. Maybe I'm getting worked up over nothing. I don't get strongly irritated about a lot, but this one was a kicker for me (no pun intended.) It just seems crazy to me. I'll let you know what I find out tomorrow.

To end the day on a cute note:

Ok, so it's not that cute, but it gives you an idea of what the pool looks like. Does a swim team really need more than 5 lanes to practice? By the way, the section that Emily and George are in is the section that we are not allowed to swim in during swim team practice that they use for seven 4-6 year olds.

I just read on the swim team website that they added an extra age bracket this year. So I am assuming each age bracket probably has it's own lane which might explain why the younger swim team members are encroaching upon our swim space.

Here's a some cuter pictures from the other day:

We went the park the other day and they have a fun fountain there. Have you ever tried to get seven squirmy kids to all look at the camera at the same time? I'm pretty sure it's impossible.

George loved the fountain. I should've put a bathing suit on him. I didn't think he would crawl right into it.

Poor Bradley got a splinter. Thank goodness I had a safety pin in my diaper bag. That thing was wedged in his foot pretty good.

Thanks for letting me release my frustration. You're such good listeners :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Random Randomness

I do not want to go to bed tonight without blogging. So here is some randomness:

Broccoli from our garden. Last year we were in NY for my mom's funeral and totally missed out on our broccoli harvest. The broccoli was all flowered by the time we got home. It was very sad. Thank goodness nobody died this May. We enjoyed the little trees dipped in dressing this year.

A pretty lily in my yard.

A pretty Zinnia in my yard.

Ugly Japanese beetles eating my Zinnia leaves.

An infant Zinnia. I think Zinnia are one of the most amazing creations. 

My new shoes I got for $1 at Walmart. Whenever I get a deal like this I feel sorry for the suckers who paid the full price of $10 for these shoes. I can't pass up a deal like that, except I bought another pair in brown, a pair of sneakers for Bradley and a pair of shoes for George, and a pair of knit boots for Sarah or Wendy. So I ended up spending $5 on shoes I didn't really need, but they were only $1, and it's nice to have a little variety to our footwear, and George really does need some shoes. He's almost 14 months and has never worn a pair of shoes.

Walmart's Parent's Choice now packages their baby wipes 7 per box. There's totally room for an eighth, but I guess they are trying to get away with charging the same price for 7? I thought that was interesting, but it made me very uncomfortable to see a box with an odd number of packages. I like symmetry.

So there is my randomness. I feel so boring lately! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Talent Show and Random Photos

Tonight Emily performed on the piano at her Achievement Days Talent Show. Achievement Days is when girls ages 8-11 meet at our church every other Wednesday and work on something enriching. The have a program called Faith in God in which each girl works on activities for four years (ages 8-11) to help her progress in her faith, talents, and service in preparation to become a Young Woman beginning when she is 12 years old. Tonight the girls shared their talents with each other and their parents.

Emily played Little Purple Pansies from the Children's Songbook. It's too bad her dress didn't have purple flowers on it. That would've been pretty cool.

Since I took this video with my purse camera, I also found some other random photos on the memory card that I thought I'd share:

 Jason playing with his food on Taco Tuesday. (April 17)

Playing in the water at the Children's Museum. (May 3) George could barely reach, but he was super happy to slap his hand on that water over and over and over. Bradley's absolute favorite part of the museum is the room that has the water. He loves the lock demo that they have. He said when he grows up he wants a job that has to do with playing with water. I can't wait to find out his occupation. Plumber? Lifeguard? Dam builder? Sailor? Pool guy? 

Pirate Emily at the Children's museum. She actually makes being a pirate look stylish. 

Pirate Bradley. Not so much. He just makes it look gooberish.

George on the swings. (May 12)

Stopped for salad and pizza on the way home from the park. (May 12) I wasn't exactly expecting to spend $25 on lunch this day. This was when I brought my van to the shop on the way home from the park to get the Check Engine light diagnosed. So, the kids and I walked over to the pizza shop while we waited the 2.5 hours for it to get fixed. It was a much better lunch than my planned ham sandwiches at home and I enjoyed every bite of it, and also my Barq's Rootbeer. I'm in love with root beer. It ended up that they couldn't even finish fixing the van that day, so one of the mechanics rode home with me and then he took my van back to the shop. 

Aren't you proud of me for blogging two times this week?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Funkiness and Princess Campouts

I just wanted to let ya'll know that I'm still here. I'm just in a major funk. I don't exactly know what kind of funk, but here are some things that have happened in the past couple weeks that have made me feel a little overwhelmed with life in general. It's nothing major, but all the little things can add up and cause me to just want to sit and watch TV and be very unproductive.

Everything I touch seems to break. My AC broke a couple of weeks ago. It's fixed, but still needs to be replaced because it has a leak. I've come to terms with it.

Our downstairs toilet had a leak. I couldn't actually see water leaking, but the wood around the toilet was slowly turning darker and darker. I called a plumber and $100 later we have a new wax ring under the toilet. The old one was completely smashed and the seal broken from all the plunging that has been done on it the past 7 years.

My telephone landline has a whole bunch of static on it and sometimes it completely goes out when it rains. According to the tests I did, it seems to be a problem with the wiring in our home which isn't covered by a free phone company repair. I can call them to check to see if it's on their end or ours, but if it ends up being our problem, then they charge me $85 to tell me that. So in the meantime, if you want to call me, check the weather before you call, because if it's raining you might not be able to get a hold of me until the weather dries up.

My van's check engine light came on Thursday. My van didn't have any "symptoms" but I thought it was a good idea to have it checked because I never want to be stranded on the side of the road in 90 degree weather with seven kids all by myself while we wait for help to arrive because there is also a good chance that I will forget my phone or that it will be dead. So I took the van to the shop before it could break down, and $535 later it's "fixed". I have no idea if I'm getting ripped off or not. Everything that my trustworthy mechanic tells me sounds right, but I just don't have the expertise to know for sure. It supposedly needed a new Mass Air Flow Sensor, which is not something you want to completely fail because it can cause stalling and stuff like that, which would be bad. I surely would've returned my iTouch if I knew I was going to have that hefty auto repair bill. Oh well. Too late! :)

I have siding and trim on my house that is rotting. Not a huge deal, but enough to to be a nuisance and make it frustrating to find someone to come out and repair it.

Then, the other night when I went to blog, Blogger was BROKEN. What is up with that?

Last weekend the entire family had a stomach bug. I think Bradley picked it up at the children's museum. We went there last Tuesday (May 3) and he got sick on Wednesday night. I was hoping it might have just been something he ate that didn't agree with him, but then Jason, Wendy, Rachel, and George all got sick on Friday night and Sarah on Saturday. I have to say that has got to be the biggest drawback of having a large family - the simultaneous puking children. The bug seemed to last about 24 hours, but I was the lucky one to have it on Mother's Day. Yay! David had it Monday. Emily never threw up, but she said she felt nauseous all day on Saturday. Something really cool though was that for the past two months George has had this gross goopey eye. Every morning he would wake up with his eyes gooped shut and his eyes would ooze all day long. I was getting a little annoyed with it and thought it must be blocked tear ducts because Bradley had that until he was 18 months. But when George woke up the morning after he puked, his eyes were completely clear and beautiful and have been every morning since. Also, I had a nasty sinus infection several days leading up to Mother's Day. I had a lot of unwelcome mucus that I was tired of dealing with, and it just wouldn't go away. But when I was through with my stomach bug, my sinus infection had cleared up, I could breath, and my mucus was no longer green. It was like the stomach bug kicked our immune systems into high gear and cleansed our bodies of all illness. It was pretty awesome.

So it was a total bummer to be sick on Mother's day, however, the good news is that I got an iPod Touch for Mother's Day. My husband totally randomly and impulsively picked it out on his trip to Walmart Saturday night. It's a good thing I was sick, because if I had been well, I surely would've had my head on straight and thought David spent too much money on my gift and probably returned it on Monday. But I was feeling miserable and just couldn't resist opening it and playing with my new toy while I recovered. It also helped me get over the fact that I couldn't eat the cheesecake my family bought for me.

I threw up about 5 minutes after taking this picture (I think I'm good at faking smiles.) I also got a 2.5 gallon lemonade dispenser (the big clear thing next to me.) David wrapped the iTouch and put it in the lemonade dispenser. He totally tricked me because I thought the iTouch was a box of lemonade mix or something like that. So as I opened it I was thinking, "Hmm...I wonder if it's pink or yellow or raspberry or cherry....." But I was totally wrong. It was Apple. 

So pretty much this whole post is about my vicious cycle of not blogging. I was in a funk, so I didn't blog, and when I don't blog regularly, it  discourages me from blogging even more because I feel like I am so far behind. Ug, did that make sense? Anyway, I'm ready for the school year to be done, get the house repairs finished, and move on to our summer schedule and regular blogging.

This weekend my husband took Bradley and Jason on a father/son campout. The girls, George, and I stayed home and had our own campout with tents in the family room, a princess tea party, and roasting marshmallows over candles. The girls all said it was the "best night ever!" I love that my girls are best friends and can have their own slumber parties. Sometimes I want to be one of my kids. Here are some pictures:

 The tea party portion of the campout.

Testing the tea with her fingers. I wonder what the Queen would think of this etiquette.

Wendy roasting marshmallows. She ate A LOT of them.

Sarah roasting a marshmallow.

Emily eating a smore.

The campground. 
We watched Phineas and Ferb and Funniest Home Videos until 1 AM while the boys slept in a tent during a thunderstorm in the forest. We were all tired the next day.

Ok, I think my blogging momentum is back. Blogging can be therapeutic.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Happy First Birthday, George!

The Birthday Boy. 
This kid was so mellow today. He roamed the house, played, found and ate Honey Nut Spins off the kitchen floor, and didn't take a nap. My husband was a little late in coming home today from work, and George fell asleep on the floor in the family room on his throne of pillows. We woke him up so we could head off to Taco Bell for dinner before Emily and Bradley had to go to church. George graduated to his Big Boy car seat, but he was still so tired he wasn't able to appreciate the new view because he fell back asleep in the car.

My dad and sister sent George a new toy. He loved it.  He played with that toy for at least 30 minutes. He has a good attention span, motor skills, and forgiveness to his parents for not getting him a birthday gift. What more can a kid want than a:

The Half Birthday Boy.
Bradley lit his own candles. Three times. Every time he blew the match out, he blew the candles out with it. It brought him to tears by the third time, but he finally figured out to turn his head away from the cake to blow out the match on the fourth try.

There wasn't much traditional novelty to George's first birthday cake. He's been eating cake since about six months old, so he has practiced eating cake for five birthdays before this (Bradley, Rachel, Sarah, Daddy, and Emily). I couldn't even get a picture of him with his cake because he wiggled so much trying to dig his hands into it. His taste buds function well.

For three years I've been baking round birthday cakes. But tonight George got his very own piece which left one person without a piece of cake, because a round cake is easily sliced into 8 or 16 pieces. That one person was me. (A very sad me.) I will now bake square or rectangle cakes so we can slice them into 9 or 18 pieces. Problem solved. My birthday is next.....