Monday, September 1, 2014

Matt Turns Ten!

I'm a little late in getting this post written, but better late than never, right?  Matt turned ten this summer and we celebrated in ten-year-old style.  I was gone at a convention over his actual birthday, so I told him he could turn ten a week early, not just celebrate early.  He was pretty excited about that because he has a friend with the same birthday so he could rub it in a little about being older. 

We took Matt to the Lego store where he bought a couple of Lego movie sets with all of his money.  Yup, he's at the age now where he just wants money.  Makes gift-giving a whole lot easier!

We wandered over to the Build a Bear factory just to check it out and he decided with the rest of his money that he would make a Super Puppy. 
If you can't have a real dog, make one!  We always let the birthday child pick a place to eat out and he chose P.F. Chang's.  They have a great gluten free menu and Matt loves fried rice.  We actually fed the entire family there for only $20!  I'm sure that will never happen again.
Afterwards we went home so he could spend the rest of his day building his Lego sets.  We also had a yummy dessert of chocolate cake with cool whip topping.

Matt is such a fun guy to have around.  I'm so glad we didn't sell him when he was an over-active toddler!

(That's a joke, folks.  I would never sell my kids.  *wink*)



Sunday, August 3, 2014

Becoming a Sports Family

We have dabbled in sports off and on since Matt was in kindergarten soccer (aka butterfly watching) but this year we dove in head first.  And I'm so glad we did!  While our schedule is crazier, it's been fun to watch the children interact with new friends while learning something new.  And it takes care of physical education.

Matt enjoyed archery in March and April.  I was really impressed with the instructor and the class itself.  Matt excelled in the program and is looking forward to taking more classes in January.


Ben and Anna enjoyed playing spring soccer.  Ben played one year in kindergarten, but didn't really "get" it.  He tried again this spring and loves it.  He'll be playing in a more advanced league this fall.  Miss Anna proved to be quite the little soccer pro and may have found her sport.  And she looks rather adorable in her pink and red soccer gear :)


Ben and Anna also played baseball this summer.  Originally, Ben was supposed to be in a tball league, but it was cancelled due to a lack of players.  He played pee wee ball instead and he's is quite the natural!  We're already looking forward to next summer when he moves up to the minor league.  Anna took a baseball class called Little Sluggers (she's in the middle of the group pictured above--the one with pigtail braids).  It took her a bit longer to grasp the sport, but by the end she had the mechanics figured out.  She will be playing tball next summer.

Poor Matt--he has spent a good part of the summer at ball diamonds and soccer fields, but he always manages to find someone to play with or something to do.  Or bugs me to play Angry Birds :)  Next summer he will be taking a tennis class.  We missed the sign up for this year's class by a week.

And while we enjoy watching the kids in sports, we're looking forward to mid-October when we can take a 2 1/2 month break before archery starts!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March Birthday Celebrations

We celebrated two birthdays this month and decided to keep it low key.  We're not really party animals around here anyway :)  Ben celebrated his 8th birthday by playing with a bunch of Legos, going out to eat at Perkins, eating brownies, and having a movie night.  We had planned a trip to Illinois, but the winter-that-will-not-end put a stop to it.

Anna's sixth birthday was yesterday and she is rolling in the dolls!  Her favorite movie is Frozen, especially since the princess is Anna, and she received several different types of dolls throughout the day.  We took her to the Disney store (where she bought more dolls) and then to Red Robin, where the wait staff bought her.....another doll!  We couldn't believe their generosity!  She enjoyed the yummy cake pictured above for a treat and we watched Frozen in the evening.  She was happily surrounded by all of her dolly friends, new and old.  And today she's very tired :)


Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Trip to Legoland

*Note--I haven't been updating much at all for various health-related reasons, but I plan to do more updates this year*

A few weeks ago, Legoland Discovery Center in Schamburg had a give-away on their Facebook page.  Four free tickets if you merely commented on what you planned to do with Legos over Christmas break.  I never enter their drawings, but decided on a whim to enter.  Lo and behold, they decided to give four free tickets to EVERYONE who entered!!  Since Rob had a long break from work, we opted to go asap.

I did a whole lot of planning for this trip:  maps to each location, plans for a mall visit so Anna could see the Disney store, reservations at PF Changs (gluten-free friendly restaurant), etc, etc.  The kids had Christmas money to spend as well.  Most of my planning went well.  I also asked for some advice from a friend who had been there in the past year.  We were set!

We took off after breakfast on Monday morning following our Google Maps directions, which had never failed me yet.  We had two minor problems with the directions, as they missed putting two turns on it.  Thankfully we have brains and knew to continue following the same highways but it was irritating not to be warned that turns were coming.  We opted for the "Bob's Road" route (see the movie Twister for the reference) so we could avoid tolls, hence our lengthy and confusing directions.  We made it in good time and found Woodfield Mall.

Anna was so cute when we entered the Disney Store!  She bounced all over the place and found all of her favorite princesses.  It was very difficult for her to narrow down the list, but she settled on two princes, Kristoff from the Frozen movie, and a drinking cup with straw.  She has almost all of the princesses and they needed princes!!

Rob took the boys down to the Lego store.  We had been told that Legoland's store wasn't as well-stocked at the mall store and Matt had a particular set he wanted.  The boys (all three of them) had fun selecting various Lego items and it was so cute to watch them walk out, each holding a Lego bag.

We got to PF Changs right at our reservation time and the kids loved the food!  Their children's plates are only $3 and there was plenty for our big eaters.  Rob and I enjoyed our food as well.

And then we had to find Legoland.  It's right across the street from the mall, yet somehow Google Maps managed to get us lost.  And I don't handle getting lost very well!!  We finally found it after turning around three times and my three darlings got very quiet in the back:  all three of them praying we'd find Legoland and that Mommy would calm down.   Aren't they awesome??

Rob dropped us off at the door so we wouldn't have a long, cold walk w/o coats.  Good thing we ditched them in the van b/c it was PACKED and HOT inside!!  There were two lengthy lines and the nice people in front of us informed us which was which.  Because I had purchased one advance ticket and had four free ones waiting, we got to enter earlier than the poor people in the walk-up line that wasn't moving at all.  Legoland was at capacity so those people had to wait until others left.  It's $5 cheaper to order your tickets ahead of time--so glad I planned ahead!! 

The first three rooms were models of the city of Chicago, jungle animals, and Star Wars.  The city was pretty cool and some parts of it were moving.  The jungle animals were equally as nifty, our faves being the baby tigers.  The Star Wars models weren't as impressive to our family, as we're not huge Star Wars fans, but we did like the stands at the pod race.  They were filled with more mini figures than we've ever seen in one location!

We rode a rather (boring to adults) ride and shot rocks out of bad guys hands with lasers.  I told Rob afterwards, "Wow!  That was about as exciting at the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland!" which he knew instantly meant "I was bored to tears!"  But the boys loved it and that's all that matters, right?  Upstairs we found a 4-D movie (tons of fun), a little "tour" of how Legos are actually made (fun and informative), and then the nutsiest room in the whole place.  There was a large play area, multiple building areas, and another ride.  All of them filled with children!  ACK!  Our kids played in the playground for a bit then got on the ride.  By this point we had been there for 2 1/2 hours and had seen/done nearly everything.  The kids were happy to troop back downstairs for a visit to the Lego store.

I'm glad we took the advice of others and did not depend on the Lego store for what Matt wanted.  They did have some older sets which led us to believe it's more like an outlet-style store.  The kids all found things they wanted (as did I) and we headed out the door and across the lane to Jamba Juice for a treat.  After that it was back home following the wretched Google map directions which were missing three turns this time.  Somehow we missed one highway in Wisconsin and ended up in Fort Atkinson instead of Watertown, but as I know how to navigate from Fort to home it was no problem.  The kids actually felt relived b/c they KNEW Mom could now get them home!!

We had a great time overall and I'm so glad four of our tickets were free.  Rob and I agreed it was not worth the $15 admission price per person for what they offer.  The kids, on the other hand, said it was worth every penny!  Go figure :)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Anna's Broken Arm 2.0

*Sigh*  Where to even begin with this post.  So many "coulda shoulda wouldas" are running through my head right now, but they don't change one single fact.  Anna broke her arm.....again.  It was on a Thursday in August....again.  It was right after a weekend with G & V.....again.  And two days after the first arm breakage Rob fell down the stairs.  He's not allowed off the couch tomorrow.

Anyway, the kids and I decided to head to the park yesterday instead of the pool as usual.  Riverfest (a local carnival thingy) is going on this weekend, making it near-impossible to find parking near the pool.  So I thought the park would make a much better outing for us.  We picked up some gfree cookies at the gfree store and headed over.  They ate some snack, drank some water, and headed to the playground.  I watched them for a bit, them remembered I had a magazine with me.  Three page flips in I heard a horrifying scream--several in fact--and looked up to see Anna flat on her back.  She had been sitting on one of the raised stepping stones and was scooting over a bit for Ben when she fell.  I raced over to her and she just would not stop screaming.  That was my first clue that something was seriously wrong.  My second clue was her elbow itself.  It looked completely wrong with part of the bone pushing in the wrong direction.  I tried having her sit on the bench for a bit, but she was inconsolable.  She kept crying that she wanted to leave.  We headed home so I could clean off the dirt and look at her elbow a little better.  She just wouldn't stop crying and her elbow looked so odd that I knew we needed to head to the ER.

My poor baby didn't want to walk into the hospital, but she had too and we got her to a couch (still screaming and crying) while I waited for the receptionist to be free.  I explained what happened....and she sent us over to Urgent Care.  Yes, because I want to walk my screaming, pain-filled child to a different building.  In protest, I left my van in the ER parking spot :)  We walked over to where Urgent Care HAD been when Rob hurt his back only to find that it was now a private doctor's office.  We had overshot.  When we finally made it in the correct place, Anna was terribly distraught.  The nurse took one look at her and got us right back into a room.  They gave us a man's shoe splint thing for Anna's arm (which instantly became her security blanket) and let us check in from our room.  God bless that wonderful nurse!  Anna got settled onto the table and the doctor came to check her arm.  We were sent to xray, another fun and wonderful adventure where Anna found new heights in her voice and decibels I didn't know existed.  The boys had to wait outside of the room and Matt told me later than Ben said "If I hear her scream one more time, I'm going in there!!"  It's nice to know her brothers have her back :)  Anna was just in so much pain that it was a challenge to get the exact angles necessary for the proper xrays.  Eventually another technician was called in to hold her on his lap and raise up her lower body while I held her arm in position.  Those lab techs had the patience of Job!!  Then the male tech took us back to Urgent Care and I thanked him profusely. 

We had a bit of a wait while the orthopedic surgeon studied her xrays.  Poor Anna was overheated and thirsty by this time, so I sent Ben out to see if there was a water cooler in the lobby.  (The boys knew the lobby pretty well by now with their numerous visits to the bathroom).  The nurse caught him in the hallway and came in to tell us that Anna could not have anything to drink because she was probably going into surgery.  Surgery?  Yep, she broke her humerus bone, right above her elbow, and needed to have it set and pins put in to help it heal properly.  The doc scooted in quickly to confirm.  Anna was again crying piteously over this news.  They tried having her suck on a washrag, but it didn't do much good.

Before too long, we were taken into ER (finally!) and she got one of the snazzy prep rooms.  The boys got to see the garage where the ambulances pull in and we even saw one arrive (to pick up a transfer patient, so nothing too exciting or gory).  The ortho and the ER doc met us and got her story (it matched, imagine that!) then gave us the run down on what was going to happen.  Everyone was so mice and friendly and we felt well-informed on every step.

I had been texting family and friends with the news and one friend offered to come take the boys and feed them supper.  That was a HUGE blessing!  They were being good, but it was hard to focus on Anna and keep the boys entertained at the same time.  (We did have a rousing game of I Spy going on in Urgent Care).  My friend also called our pastor, who came and visited with us for a bit.  I wasn't able to get ahold of Rob until five, but I left a text on his phone that read, "Anna broke her arm.  Totally not kidding."  He called to get an update at 5pm and said he would be right there.  He made it to the ER before she was taken up to the pediatric ward.

I am so thankful that they moved us up to pediatric!  She was the only child on the entire floor and got such wonderful care and attention and had a new teddy bear waiting for her.  By this time she already had her IV line in (and she was pretty brave for that one!)  and we just had a waiting game.  Because she had a snack at 2, they couldn't do the surgery until around 8pm.  Rob decided around 7pm to go pick up the boys, take a shower, and grab us some dinner.  (The cafeteria was closed for construction.)  They packed an overnight bag for Anna as well. 

The surgical team came in just before 8pm and talked to me (she had an AWESOME anethesiologist who was so gentle with her) then they gave her the sleepy meds and took her off.  I could have gone with her down to the room, but the nurses said it is usually better to separate in the room.  That was a hard one, but one of the nurses stayed and talked to me for a bit. 

Before Anna left for surgery, she was very scared.  I tried to distract her and find TV shows, but she was just nervous.  So I asked her who would be with her during the entire surgery.  She answered, "Jesus?"  I said yes and that he would be holding her hand the entire time.  I asked her which hand He should hold and she held up the one that wasn't broken.  It was so hard to send my baby girl into surgery, but I knew that Jesus would be right by her side the entire time and it was all in His hands.

Okay, grab a tissue and keep reading.  Rob and the boys arrived about 10 minutes after Anna went down and we showed them the toy room, books, games, and Legos.  They decided to build some Lego decorations for Anna's room and watch some Shark Week.  The nurse popped in to tell us Anna was in recovery, then the surgeon came up to say that her arm went back into place easily!  Praise the Lord!

When she arrived, she was very groggy and barely registered that we were there but super happy that she got some apple juice.  The boys and I kissed her and said our good-byes.  Rob spent the night because there was no way I could have slept in the recliners in her room.  He was up with her off and on, but they both did sleep for several hours.

The boys and I headed back to the hospital after breakfast to find her up and in the toy room.  She had masterfully eaten breakfast left-handed and wanted to play.  We spent the next couple of hours bouncing from one activity to the next and the surgeon arrived around 10am to tell us that Anna could go home!  Hooray!  She tried to get off the bed right away to leave, but we told her it wasn't that simple :)  We dressed her and packed up her stuff, then waited for our discharge papers.  She got to ride out to the van in a wagon and I took her on home.  Ben and I did our best to get her comfortable.  She's had a pretty miserable day at home.  The surgeon told us she would be in more pain than last year's break.  She's on some prescription pain meds which do take off the edge and she has to keep her arm iced and elevated.  We go in on Thursday to see if the swelling has gone down enough to put on a cast. 

And next August, she goes in bubble wrap.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fourth of July weekend, Part 2: Mt. Olympus

 Every summer, Rob's work pays for a family day.  Our first summer with them it was a catered dinner at an outdoor movie theatre, then the movie (which we did not stay for since we couldn't preview it for the kids).  Last summer it was the Milwaukee Zoo.  THIS summer:  Mt. Olympus in Wisconsin Dells!  For those not familiar with Mt. Olympus, it is an amusement park and a water park, all rolled into one. 

We took off just after 8am, since the park opened at 10am and it would take us 1 1/2 hrs. to get there.  It was a fairly easy drive to Madison on I-94 then up to the Dells on I-90.  We found it with no trouble at all and since the park is on the opposite end of the Dells, the kids got to see all of the attractions in between.  I think we'll have to plan a week-long family trip there in the future.

The company paid for our parking, our wristbands to ride everything, and our lunch.  So thankful for how much they paid for!  We got out and sunscreened our faces, then hit the park just as they opened the gates.  Matt was tall enough to ride the big coasters, so he and I hit Zeus first thing.  He was rather terrified when he got off the ride and I, the roller coaster enthusiast of the family, was laughing maniacally the entire time!  We then found Pegasus, the roller coaster Anna was tall enough to ride.  The kids had been pumping each other up all week looking at the map we got with our wristbands and watching You Tube videos of the ride.  So Ben and Anna got on the roller coaster without a single qualm.  At the end, however, Anna said, "Thank goodness I was strapped in!' and wouldn't go on anything big for the rest of the day!  We had told them ahead of time that we wouldn't make them ride anything they didn't feel comfortable riding, but it was a little like leading lambs to the slaughter on that first coaster, lol!!  Matthew loved it but Ben wasn't too sure. 

Right across from it were three kiddie rides, so they went on those.  And then we tried to hit a go kart track as a family.  Matt was tall enough to ride on his own, but did not feel comfortable doing so.  Rob took each one individually around the track while I put the other two on more kiddie rides and bought a $3 bottle of gatorade.  (No carry ins so parks can charge an arm and a leg for hydration,  Sheesh.)  By the time all three had ridden the go karts, it was time for lunch.  G & V had reserved a special pavilion and we enjoyed burgers, hot dogs, cole slaw, chips, and veggies.  It was a HUGE lunch and almost carried us to supper! 

After eating, Rob took our valuables (camera, keys, etc) back to the van and got our swim gear while I took the kids to meander towards the water park.  We hit the kiddie roller coaster (still too fast for Anna) and an intermediate go kart track that I THOUGHT was the kiddie track.  The boys did just fine, but Anna got scared half-way through and an attendant had to bring her back, crying.  She was crying so hard that a park employee stopped to make sure she was okay and offered her an ice pack.  We explained that while she was tall enough for the ride, she was obviously not OLD enough.  And then I saw the kiddies carts.  Oh well.

We took off for Posiden's Rage, the big wave pool.  Rob found a spot for our stuff (and we lost Ben, then found him with a lifeguard.  Poor kid got mesmerized by the water and wandered that way) while I went to change.  Everyone else was already in their suits.  We greased everyone up and headed for the wave pool.  I had been warned it was powerful, but words really can't prepare you for the seven foot wall of water coming toward you at a powerful speed.  Crazy!  We did okay when the first wave hit because Rob and I were both holding Anna.  But only I had her on the second wave and I went back about five feet, Anna close to 15 feet!  Of course she was crying again, so I found a spot much further back for she and I to sit in.  We had a ball and before too long, she was standing and taking the waves like a pro.  Matt got pretty scraped up but still had a blast.

After awhile, we decided to explore some more.  We found a play area with smaller slides for the kids, so they had fun doing that while we sat on chairs to rest.  The lines for the big water slides were all over an hour long by that point, so we didn't worry about pushing for them.  We hit the indoor waterpark (another play area for Ben and Anna, waterslide for Rob and Matt) and then reapplied sunscreen and went to the "lazy" river, which was rather fast and not at all lazy, lol!!  That was a fun one for all of us and then we found ANOTHER wave pool, but much gentler than the first.  Anna went right up to the rope for that one and all three kids (five, really) had a grand time!

We hit the snack bar (paying $17 for two nachos and two slushies, yikes!) and then Rob and the boys decided to brave a long line for a slide while Anna and I went to another kiddie area.  There were smaller slides there and she had a blast!  The boys came down after the slide declaring it was NOT worth the hour they had waited.  It was almost five o'clock by this time, so we made our way back across the park to the van for supper.  We all changed clothes and walked up the steepest hill I have walked in ages to get back to the van.  I was exhausted by the time we arrived there to eat our supper.  Ugh!!  Why on earth would a park have a hill THAT steep???

We ate our supper and then headed back into the park to ride more rides.  I was really done by that point, so Rob rode the Cyclops coaster with Matt while I took Ben and Anna back to the kiddie rides.  Matt rode another coaster solo while we continued to rest up.  We meandered back to the kiddie go carts and Anna loved them!  The boys road the bumper boats, although they had a super long wait in line, so Anna and I went window shopping while we waited for them.  Then we explored the indoor theme park, which had tea cups (Anna's favorite--lost count on how many times she rode), bumper cars, two other rides, and a big roller coaster.  Matt and I rode the coaster and it was a super fun ride!!  After that we went back up the death walk to leave the park. close to 9pm.  I can't believe my kids lasted 11 hours at a theme park!!

Other than almost hitting a deer on the way home, our ride back was pretty smooth.  The kids got straight into their beds and went right to sleep.  What a great day!!  And I know you may be wondering about me and the fibro:  I prayed that I would only be normal sore, not fibro sore at the end and that I would have a normal day.  God answered my prayers!  I am sore and tired still, but it's not too bad.  Praise the Lord for his goodness, even in going to amusement parks! And none of us were badly burned!!  Double praise for that one!

Fourth of July Weekend, Part 1

Rob had a four day weekend for the 4th of July so we planned some family activities.  And we had an absolute ball!  Overall the kids were well-behaved and were their usual bundles of energy and excitement for each event.

On the 4th we planned to attend Watertown's parade and see the fireworks later.  What we didn't plan for is Anna to be so tired that morning!  She got up when her brothers did, went downstairs, and fell back asleep on the couch.  We managed to rouse her for breakfast, where she sat starting for a few minutes in between each bite of oatmeal with strawberries and blueberries.  Rob made her drink a very small cup of coffee to try to wake her up.  Didn't work--she went right back to the couch!  We tried to figure out alternate plans, which involved just the three guys going to the parade.  Eventually Anna's desire to see the parade won out and we all went.  Rob had not set out chairs the night before (Main St was already full when he got home from work) so we did our best to squeeze our family into the huge crowd.  We sat outside of a bank and the kids found some nice people who let them sit on the curb.  Not ideal because I like to enjoy the parade WITH my kids, but at least we found seats.  The bank gave out free popcorn and freeze pops, so the kids had snacks and drinks (thus thwarting Rob and I's evil plot to NOT bring food and drink thereby hoping to leave the parade early!)  The parade was wonderful, as usual, and we did have kids coming back to see us off and on so it was enjoyable.  But hot, so this fibro mama had to leave after an hour and a half.  We had seen about everything we wanted to see (including one of our babysitters who performed with the dance team) so the kids were not at all disappointed to leave early. 

We got home to our lunch already done (mac 'n cheese in the crockpot) and let the kids run around outside with waterguns.  Rob and I really did not want to hit the pool as it would be extremely busy, so waterguns were a close second :)  We all lazed around in the afternoon and took a brief shopping trip to buy a hat for Matthew.  And other things, because one simply does not go into Walmart without picking up at least 10 more items. 

Supper was biscuits and gravy with strawberry jello salad for dessert (the kind with pretzels, yum!) and then we went outside at dusk to catch fireflies.  Ben is our bravest bug collector, so he caught on real quick.  Matt was great at hunting....but didn't really like to touch them.  Anna would get close, touch it, squeal, and then bounce.  So thankful I got that on video!  We came back in for a snack, then went out to our front yard to enjoy the fireworks.  Two other neighboring towns had their displays slightly before ours and we could see both!  Then when Watertown's display started we moved to the pizza place next door to see better.  It was a pretty good spot, but I think we might do better next year to move down to a park right on the water.  It was Anna's very first fireworks display and she clapped after each one.  We just really enjoyed the togetherness of our little family.  The kids were asleep that night when their heads hit the pillow!

We kept Friday pretty low key since our big day was on Saturday.  The kids had a library party in the morning, so we dropped them off and went grocery shopping.  It's amazing how fast the shopping can get done without little people!  And the kids appreciated it because they HATE grocery shopping.  That evening we did hit the pool for an hour.  Fridays nights are the only time you can take floatation devices into our pool and Rob had never been to a family float night, so we HAD to go.  It was another super fun family time.  Then it was home and bed to prep for Mt. Olympus the next day.  I'll blog about that later after my hands have had a rest :)