Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


There is some serious weirdness that happens around here all day long, but sometimes it's the worst at bedtime.  These two are usually the biggest culprits:
Their weirdness knows no bounds.
They read together in Grace's room every night.  I think Joey started doing that a couple years ago to help Grace feel comfortable.  She gets scared at night and doesn't like to be all by herself.  Since she shares a room with Matthew, she isn't alone, but Joey is the one that makes her feel safe.  He is her protector.  He screams at her if he thinks she's doing something dangerous, but only because he loves her.  They are best pals, and I love it.
Matthew, whenever I am gone, refuses to go to bed.  He will try to wait up for me on the couch -- we snuggle every night before bed, so when I'm at rehearsal or out with Ben, he just waits for me.  And he falls asleep every time.  And every time, Ben has to carry him to bed (while muttering "he's getting too big for this").  But I love to come home and see him passed out on the couch, waiting for mommy.  Someday he won't do it anymore, so I want to remember him this way:

And for a bonus picture of weirdness, here is Matt with his shirt on his legs and his pants around his head.  I really don't know why he thought of this, but who needs a reason to be weird?

April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day is one of our favorite days around here.  Usually, we plan for weeks.  The children scheme and plot, trying to find ways to get me.  But I always win.
This year, I bought a bag of balloons and spent all afternoon blowing them up.  I hid them until the kids went to bed, then went downstairs, gift wrapped the 2 bedroom doors downstairs, and put most of the balloons in between the door and the wrapping paper.  When the kids opened their doors in the morning, they were met with an avalanche of balloons.  I considered using popcorn, but decided it would be too hard to clean up afterwards.
With the leftover balloons, I filled the upstairs bathroom floor so the little ones would have to wade through a sea of them to get to the toilet.
And then I pulled off my classic pranks: drawing mustaches and eyebrows on each of the kids' faces, and painting all the fingernails and toes I could manage to reach.  They are always so happy when they look in the mirror April 1st.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Band and Basketball

Andrew was in 6th grade in these pictures.  He's been taking drum lessons for a couple of years, and -- being the charming stink that he is -- talked his band teacher (who loves him and thinks he's just about the greatest kid to ever walk the earth) into letting him bring his own drum set to the Gala Concert.  He made up a part to play, since there is no drum set music in 6th grade band music.  It went really well, and he did great.  However, bringing your own instrument to a concert is usually pretty easy.  You just put it in its case and go, right?  Not with a drum set.  We didn't really think that through when he got it.  But now we know.  We each grabbed part of the set, hiked up the stairs, packed it into the SUV, drove to the concert, piece by piece walked it into the gym, and put it all back together.  And guess what?  We did it all again when it was over.  We are Andrew's roadies.  We even joked about making t-shirts.
Here is Grandpa conspiring with Andrew (Has promising him money if he did something - I can't remember what)

I'm really not sure who that scary girl guy(?) next to Andrew is, but during the concert, Andrew kept getting a little bit farther and farther away from her him(?).
One of Andrew's many talents is sports.  It doesn't really matter which one it is.  He is a beast on the wrestling mat (one of his opponents actually ran away from him while in the middle of a match), and on the football field -- he's been co-captain for 4 years in a row now -- and works just as hard to be awesome at basketball.  We really enjoyed watching him play this year.  He's really starting to become an awesome athlete! (He's #8 in this shot -- and that ball did go in -- by the end of the season he was making about half the points each game.)

Joey's Birthday

Our kids all know that they are allowed birthdays only on certain years.  With 5 kids, jobs, sports, music, school...... we just can't get it together to do everybody's birthday party every year.  They always have family over for cake and ice cream and presents, but they only get a "friend" birthday party when they turn 5, 8, 12, and 16 (and by the time they're 16, they just want to be dropped off at the mall or the movie theater with their crew, anyway).
Joey finally got to have his 8th birthday party -- when he turned 9!  Yes, we were so busy selling our house and buying a new one that we didn't have time to pull it together enough to give him his birthday party.  Boo, bad parents.  Or that's what I thought.  Until I realized that doing it after he had moved to a new school was better anyway.  He invited all his new friends, and we rented out an indoor football field.  There were over 20 kids there.  We filled them with pizza, cake, and ice cream; gave them a football, and turned them loose.  It was the greatest, easiest party we've ever done!  And they had a blast.

Joey had been asking for a trumpet for his birthday.  After talking to a professor at the college, who I know from the Symphony, we set up lessons and got him his first trumpet.  His lessons are going amazingly well.  His teacher keeps looking at me with big eyes, shaking his head, saying, "Wow.  This kid is really going to be something!  We have something really special on our hands!"  Joey is a natural.  Even from the first lesson, it was pretty obvious.  He really enjoys his lessons, and his teacher does, too.  He frequently texts me, saying what a great kid Joey is.  And I love hearing him practicing!

The Fox

I'm not sure if I've posted these pictures before, but here they are anyway.
We have a big field in back of our house, separating the old neighborhood from the newer homes.  There is an old barn and boxcar back there.  We have discovered that 2 foxes also live there!  They are so beautiful and fun to watch.  They climb up to the top of the boxcar and scrounge around for bugs.  I like that they keep the field mice population down - I am always appreciative of less mice.


The Christmas Tree

OK, backing up just a bit.  I think somehow had these pictures out of order in my files.
Our annual trip to the forest to cut down our Charlie Brown tree was another success!  We finally found a tree that would pass our quality test after only 1 1/2 hours.  By then, of course, the kids refused to get out of the car (again), so Ben and I hiked up a small hill -- which isn't easy when the snow is up to your mid-thigh.  We successfully dragged back the winner.  And I thought it would be fun to slide down the hill back to the car, until I realized that I snagged my new (expensive) snow pants on a tree branch, and cut a huge hole in them.
We then ate at the pizza shop and headed home to decorate the tree.
And for some reason still unknown to me, Matthew insisted on me taking his picture in exactly this pose.  I call it "The Conqueror".

Christmas Vacation 2013

During our Christmas vacation, we were lucky to be able to drive just a few minutes to go visit Grandma Penny.  The indoor horse arena she was working at was amazing!  The kids were in love with all the horses, especially the babies.  They were able to ride in the arena and visit all the curious faces that popped over the stalls.  Matthew found a few other furry friends, Grace learned how to let a horse smell your hand before you pet him, and I learned to drug Andrew and Joey with Zyrtec before we go next time.  They were not excited about the massive amounts of hives they had to endure!

The kids also enjoyed the MSU basketball camp they always go to during the break.  This was Matthew's first time, and he did very well.  I only found him in tears once, because the ball hit him in the stomach.  Not bad!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Christmas 2013 and Other Random Things

Let's start with the other random things...
First, this is just cute:
Matthew is the best at leaving little "I Love You" notes for me.  They are usually filled with pictures of flowers, rainbows, and stick figures of Matt and I holding hands.  I love them.
I found this picture of Andrew at his very first 6th grade band concert:
He looks like a baby!!  I can't believe how much he has grown this past year, both physically and as a drummer.  He is now the head of the percussion section at his school.  He just had a concert, but we only took video, so here is a picture of him now.  He is bigger than me, and wears a size 11 1/2 shoe.  That's why he's a beast on the football field, consistently running 2 touchdowns a game! (That vein on his forehead is what I call his "mean streak" -- although he doesn't have a mean bone in his body.)
Now, let's get back to last Christmas.  I'm only almost a year behind.  I'll catch up.  I will.
Eric was visiting from back east, and we were so happy to see Grandma Penny.  We love it when she comes by.  In fact, I told Ben just the other day that I wished she's just move in with us.  Maybe someday!

On Christmas Eve day, Ben and the kids set out on their annual "shop for Mom and get breakfast" trip.  They ate at IHOP, then went shopping for my present.  This works wonders in getting them to bed on time Christmas Eve night!

We then went to Grandma and Grandpa's house to open a present and visit with the Kirschenmann grandparents.  We always watch for Santa to fly by, and that is our cue to go look at Christmas lights and find Santa's resting spot (it's over a few blocks from our church -- he stops there and hands out candy canes to the cars passing by).
The kids got a Go Pro camera from Uncle Eric this year.  We have made good use of it!

This year, with our newer bigger house, we were able to get some fun presents for the rec room.  The boys got a basketball game, and a ping pong table from the Manleys.

Christmas morning was it's usual mess of wrapping paper and toys.  It was exciting to have a real life stone fireplace to hang the stockings.  Later in the day, we had the whole family over for Christmas dinner.  It's nice to have it at our house - the kids can just settle in with their new load of toys and hang out with the family for the rest of the day!

Matthew and his kindergarten class made ginger bread houses.  So cute!  It was gone before we left - that kid has one serious sweet tooth!