Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some alone time with Jimmer

Every morning this week, the three older kids are at an art camp. So, I've been enjoying some one-on-one time with Jimmer. It really has been a treat! So, while the other kids have been playing with acrylic paints, mod podge, making collages, smearing paint everywhere, and spraying paints out of squirt bottles, Jimmer has been philosophizing with me...and enjoying some extra attention (as well as getting a few treats for himself!).

I love listening to him philosophize in his 5-year-old way. He's not a quiet thinker like a couple of our kids. He verbalizes most of his thoughts--especially if he has your full attention. It's fascinating to listen to and imagine where all his thoughts come from and how little children make sense of everything around them. They'll talk about something deeply meaningful, then they flit off onto something else in a split second. This morning on our way back from dropping off the kids, Jimmer started talking about what his future might look like.

Jimmer: Well, when I’m older I might have my own family, and I might not live with you and Daddy anymore. (pause) Maybe I’ll live in Hahn’s (a neighbor) house since it’s for sale now. So, I’ll still be close to you and Daddy.

Then he went on to ask…

Jimmer: Mom, how do people just make a baby when they decide they’d like to have one?

Me: Uh, well…when a couple loves each other and is married, God can help them start having babies.

Jimmer: Oh. I guess I’ll be at work every day so we’ll have a place to live, but then I won’t be at home to help if we have a bunch of kids.

Mom: You will be able to figure all that out when you get closer to getting married, I guess.

Jimmer: What if we have a baby that’s deaf?

Me: Well, I guess you and the child would learn sign language so you can talk with each other.

Jimmer: Yeah, I’ll teach him that if he wiggles his fingers under his chin, it means he’s dirty. (pause) Maybe Coco (the gorilla) can teach him sign language. Coco is good at sign language, and he loves babies. He’d probably like to play with him a lot. (A eureka moment…) Oh, if I had a baby that was deaf, he could get one of those things that sticks to his head and helps him hear!

Me: A cochlear implant?

Jimmer: Yep, then he could hear and talk to me better. (slight pause) Maybe you and Daddy will live in a two-story house, and I’ll live in a one-story house. Do you think the other kids will live by us too?

Me: Maybe we should ask them.

This conversation went on for about 10 minutes longer, until we got home, and involved all sorts of important philosophy from his perspective. I wish I had a video camera in the van mounted and fixed on him just for these moments. Needless to say, we BOTH have enjoyed our fun time together this week.

I’ve also been able to practice a little violin with him this week.

Part of the kids' violin training is to learn and practice their songs in various ways: listening to the song many times, singing with their Solfege (do-re-mi) map, singing the words to the melody, and then playing it on the violin--still cello style since we didn't advance to using the bow before our teacher had to go teach elsewhere for a few weeks. Using all these methods is supposed to help the kids' ear training and eventually to develop comfort in playing songs in different keys. So, here's Jimmer practicing his Solfege Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Jimmer and I will have to plan a special morning tomorrow before we attend the other kids' art show at noon when they're all done with camp.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Synchronized splashing

On Sundays in summer, we oftentimes go to a later church service than usual so the kids can go to the pool first thing in the morning before the sun gets too intense.

Today, they were synchronized.
Synchronized flips.
Synchronized free for all.
Can opener jumps (a la Mr. Dupler, who taught the kids this one off our boat last week...when we lost our anchor).
Pencil jumps.
Breaking for breakfast!
Mary Kate won the most distorted face and neck contest in our "Calvin" shot!They were all pretty mellow at church today!

The Saint Song

Aunt Connie sent us this song, and the kids just love it. We love our saints!

Happy Sunday!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bring on the rain!

We haven't had rain in...months. We almost forgot what it even sounds like! In fact, when it started to rain yesterday morning, Mikey looked outside and loudly announced, "It's raining everybody!" then he also mentioned, "I thought it was an airplane coming, but I looked outside and it was the rain!"

Everyone, drop your books, stop studying, stop EVERYTHING. Let's go outside and catch rain!
Thanks, Hurricane Dolly! (Don't tell some of those cotton farmers near the coast I said that.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

We lost our anchor but reconnected with a friend!

Joe took the kids out to the boat again on Tuesday evening. Since the lake we have our boat on doesn't have many beaches, we just anchor out in the middle of one of the many coves. This time, though, the anchor decided to stay on the bottom of the lake. It wouldn't come up, and after 45 minutes of trying Joe just untied it and told the kids that maybe he and a friend will get their SCUBA gear and go down to get it out later. The kids were very excited to tell me all about it when they got home and that they were going to watch Daddy SCUBA dive to retrieve the anchor and rope.

Since they were so enthralled with SCUBA diving, I started talking with them about our SCUBA instructors, their many dangerous diving adventures and explorations, and that they discovered the deepest water-filled sink hole (with its own cave system) in the world, called Zacaton, located in Mexico. I had already told the kids that one of our SCUBA instructors, Ann Kristovich, once pulled out one of my teeth--true (she's also an oral surgeon!) and that our other instructor, Jim Bowden, looks like Santa Claus--also true. See for yourself!
I told the kids our instructors are no ordinary divers--they both hold world records for deep diving. Jim dove to 925 ft., and Ann went to 554 ft. Most recreational divers usually dive at around 30-60 feet, and anything much below 200 feet is considered very dangerous! Anyway, after reading most of the information on their website aloud to the kids yesterday, Jim Bowden and Ann Kristovich are now extremely famous people in our house...although Jim just claims to be a big frog in a small pond (not much world-wide exposure on cave divers!).

If I hadn't married Joe, he most likely would have been on this team of crazy cave divers exploring in Zacaton. Before we got married, Joe took numerous technical, safety diving courses with them as well as an intense cave diving course in Florida. He was also one of Jim and Ann's assistants in their classes. Joe knew that I worried about him cave diving, however, and since he's a sensible kind of guy, he said he wouldn't cave dive anymore--just for me. Phew! (You'd be scared too if your husband hung around somebody who's crazy enough to dive to 925 ft and swims through dams on a breath hold!)

Anyway, after I emailed Jim to let him know how much our kids loved learning all about his adventures, he sent a nice note back with a couple of pictures--the Santa Claus one posted above, and this one.At first we couldn't tell if it was Joe (on the right) or if it was Jim. We're now sure it has to be Jim...but in the same cave that Joe dove years ago. Oooooh, cave diving is scary stuff!

Now, after Joe gets all of his SCUBA gear ready, I have some homeschool science experiments--on light and pressure--he can do underwater for the kids! Joe would love to have a good excuse to get back in the water!

So even though we lost an anchor, it was good to catch up with an old friend! There's always a silver lining in everything, right?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chimpy has new luggage and gear

Kathleen has creatively accommodated Jimmer with his request for an old suitcase for Chimpy, his beloved stuffed chimpanzee. Not just ANY suitcase, but he asked her to make a suitcase that would have been Chimpy's great, great grandfather's, who was much larger than Chimpy.
In order to fashion the old suitcase, Kathleen got busy gluing and sewing pieces of an old red shirt to cover cardboard. Mary Kate and Jimmer were busy making all the gear to go inside.

What is all the gear?Chimpy has a dagger and sheath, a bullet bag, a wallet, and a green hat. (Not shown: cardboard rifle) Now Chimpy can sufficiently defend himself. Phew, I feel much better now, don't you?

Hmmm...maybe I should wait a little while to talk about what kind of "luggage" was used by folks who walked around with daggers, bullet bags, and guns. Probably not the rolling suitcase kind that Chimpy's great, great grandfather somehow acquired! He must've been ahead of his time!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Homebound Mass & Luncheon

Our kids enjoy visiting the elderly. We've gotten to know some of these new friends by bringing prayer services and communion to them through our church. Today, we brought them to our parish for a Mass and luncheon. They all looked at me like I was chopped liver, but boy, did they eat up the kids. Our kids freely give them all hugs, and I think this is just what was ordered for the lady Jimmer got to sit next to.She wasn't going to come today, but a friend talked her into it. Before she left, she told Jimmer that he made her whole week...and was making plans for him to come visit again. (Jimmer's the kind that can just suck you in and wrap you around his finger. Today was no exception.)
I took this picture as the lady was giving all of her candy to Jimmer. Would you just look at his face!
Oooh, that was good for another kiss and a hug!

Here's Mary Kate with some nice ladies.

Kathleen with a very sweet couple.
I guess I didn't end up with any pictures of Mike. He was probably too busy holding the doors and greeting everyone with a hug.
Fr. Brion and the girls with a kind gentleman who was bringing home a flower to his wife who couldn't be there with us.

The key to managing all of the kids in this situation: Spread them out and have them sit with different people--both at Mass and during the luncheon. I didn't hear a peep out of them the whole time!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tadpoles--Final Chapter: Releasing Bilbo

Some friends helped us (finally) release our beloved Bilbo the frog. Yes, this is the one I last posted here when he really became a frog...from the tadpoles we caught on April 22--Earth Day.
Isn't it nice to have friends with a creek in their back yard? We spotted a number of tadpoles, but I decided that once a year for this nature study is sufficient.
Not sure if you can really see him in the bug catcher Mary Kate is holding, but we found out that Bilbo has a flair for a bit of drama. He's on his back playing dead!

You can see him closer here.
He's always been a bit shy (hiding under plants and rocks in our tank), quite skittish, and not up for much adventure. Clearly hobbit-like as his name implies. So it was pretty humorous to watch this last bit of dramatic display!

I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of Joe taking him out of the tank. He had us worried for a moment when it appeared that rigor mortis had instantly set in--stretched out stiff-straight legs and on his back! When he was set into the bug catcher, however, he flipped back over into regular crouched frog position.

(Can you tell we got a little too much entertainment out of all this?!)
Bilbo in his new home...not far from where we caught him (the day we took the picture at the top of this blog). He looked happy...and relieved!

Goodbye, Bilbo! If you get hungry, we left some of your food around where we released you...because Mikey was concerned that you didn't have good hunting skills yet!

After playing (for hours) at the creek, all (9) kids came back up and climbed in this fantastic tree fort.A creek AND a tree fort! What more could a child want?

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Here's what the kids did with Dad this morning.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Our neighbor's NAH-na gives a lesson

We have great neighbors! There are a lot of children on our block (17--all 9 years old and younger). So, when someone's Nana, Papa, Grandma, Grandpa, Chief, Tootsie, Grammy, or Grampy comes...we ALL celebrate!

This week has been no exception. Our neighbor's NAH-na is here. I say NAH-na because that's the way everyone says it. She's from England, so that's the way we're supposed to say it!

Once again, we've been able to hear her signature phrases, "Good Mohhhhh-ning," and, "Would you like a Bah-NAHHH-na?"

Today, NAH-na had everyone over for a tea party and taught all the kids about the origins of having a tea. The kids ate and drank it up!

Here are the girls before they headed two doors down.
Most of the kids there.I guess the boys heard they were supposed to wear hats at a tea party, so check out those boy tea hats! They're sure to start some sort of trend (?)!

Oh Lord, they let Jimmer use their fine china. Maybe they forgot about his accident history.

Somewhere along the line, the girls were doing this.

While the boys were doing this.They must have gotten the memo that a tea party isn't a boy thing.

NAH-na with the children.
Thanks for tea...and cucumber sandwiches, shortbread, and pumpkin bread. It was splendid!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Watercolors, Pastels, and Markers...Oh, my!

While I've been doing a little school planning and creating this memorial blog in honor of my brother, Mike, the kids have been busy getting creative.

We're talking pastels, watercolors, markers, a white crayon (for resist), and hair spray. Yes, hairspray! (I use it to "set" the pastels and keep them from smudging.)

Here's what they have to show for the last couple of days.

Mikey's "Tree"

Kathleen's "Redcoat"

Mary Kate's "Mary & Jesus"

Jimmer's "Tree House"

Mary Kate threw in another one for kicks. Her "Vikings"

Here's what I have to show for the last couple of days.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In memory of my brother, Mike

May 3, 1965 - October 7, 1987

It's been over 20 years since my brother, Mike, died in a car accident. This year would have been his 25th high school reunion, so I thought it might be a good time to start a site in his memory so his family, friends, and classmates can add their stories and memories of Mike.

I just started the site today, so it is looking pretty skeletal right now. You can check it out HERE. I've also added a link to the site in the side bar.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Summer Morning

It's a bit relaxed around here lately. After a busy spring and beginning of summer, I've declared a full out NOTHING week...besides finishing up a bit of school...and finishing up planning for next year's school year (that we need to start next week!). Hmmm. Okay, so I've declared it a NOTHING day. No violin or piano lessons, no camps, no grocery shopping, not even any big cooking today (Joe will be gone for dinner). So, let me have my DAY...of nothingness!

Here's what our morning was like...
Mary Kate was at the dining room table writing a "get well" card for our neighbor's black lab, who just had surgery to remove a corn cob from her intestines.

I found Jimmer lying on the couch like this at 10am. Thinking he may not be feeling well, I asked if he was okay. He said, "I'm just looking for sparkles in my eyes."

Mikey was happily playing with his aircraft carrier and planes while he and the rest of the kids were listening to The Magician's Nephew on CD.

Kathleen then came to me and asked where the bones of the... Better yet, here's a trivia question. (My Bible trivia queen keeps me busy, and I had to look up the answer to her question on the Internet.) What Biblical bones are laid to rest here (in Germany)?
Kathleen promptly wrote down this word and memorized how to spell it. (She must be preparing herself for the Biblical version of the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" game.)

Okay, okay...I won't leave you hanging. Click here to find out.

So, now I'm off to enjoy the rest of my NOTHING...DAY! Next year, maybe I can have a whole nothing WEEK!

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July fun

The kids decorated their bikes for our neighborhood 4th of July parade and celebration.

Lining up for the parade.

Everyone in the parade followed the fire engine to the park.

Touring the fire truck.

Let's hope this is the last time our kids are in the back of a police car!

Tug of War (Kathleen is in the back)

Golf tournament...Kathleen putting.

The kids came home with their stomachs loaded with hot dogs, popcicles and lemonade, their faces filled with 4th of July tattoos, and bags filled with stickers and loot from the police...and plenty of sparklers and flags!

Time for a nap before dinner and fireworks. It'll be another late one tonight!