Saturday, August 30, 2008


Every year Perry gets a whole new wardrobe. Each coach typically orders new shirts for that season and Perry gets one for each sport. He has quite the collection of black/gold team wear. This year the football coach ordered some youth sizes and sent one home for Carson. Carson was so excited to have a Hawks shirt like dad.

Yes, the team mascot is a Hawk, but coaches being the breed they are have renamed the mascot Thunderchicken. Apparently the bird-like head in the thunder bolt more represents a chicken. Sigh...give a bunch of coaches too much time and this is the result.

On the bright side, the Hawks!...won their first football game of the season! Now if Illinois could just pull it together and beat the whoopsies out of Mizzou, all would be well in the world.

Friday, August 29, 2008


...we survived our first full week of school for everyone! Here are a few highlights:

  • Carson has become a serious student. ... Now, pick yourself up off the floor, I'm serious! We've seen a HUGE change in his behavior. Helpful, nice to be around, cooperative. Seriously, it's a huge change! Last year was a rough year for him and I've heard other parents say that about the 3rd grade. It seems like something has clicked and he's accepted that school is here to stay so he might as well take it seriously. It's a very nice change!

  • Elise just adores her new teacher and her teacher really seems to have connected with her. Elise's 3 year re-eval is coming up on her IEP and in a meeting this week her teacher mentioned how well she's doing socially and how comfortable she already seems in the classroom. That was so reassuring since it seemed to take until February last year for her to feel comfortable in kindergarten.

  • We already hate Perry's schedule. The first football game is tomorrow and I'm already sick of it. (Shhhh....don't tell his team!) How many days until summer break?!?

  • I'm teaching a class again this semester. It's an intro to university life class for new freshman and it's a good way to really get to know 20 new students. There are always great kids, but some classes are more memorable than others. I think think this group is going to be a memorable one. They are fun and engaged and full of energy.

  • We're back into the swing of working and going to school. The kids have really adjusted well and..right now...I seem to be able to keep all the balls in the air! :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just because

I can't get enough of this face! I love all our nieces and nephews dearly. They are all unique. Three head back to college this week (is that even possible?!?) while we are expecting another nephew in November. This little guy is the littlest of the crew (for at least 2 more months) and is at that adorable toddler stage. His mom and dad force him to live in the Chicago area so we don't see them as much as I would like (hence, my frequent trips up yonder...most any excuse will do!)

I just adore these goofy toddler expression!

(Do you think his parents are already trying to influence his college choice...I'm not sure he has enough fingers and toes to count his relatives who have attended Wheaton.)

Weekend pictures

Elise helped me bake today. We made 2 batches of Snickerdoodles, congo squares, chocolate chip/m&m cookies, a chicken pot pie, 2 quiches and the components for tomorrow's dinner. Much of that is going into the freezer lest my family goes into a feeding frenzy this week. It was the first time I've REALLY baked with our new stove. Our old one put off so much heat that it was miserable to cook in the summer. This one was on practically all day and you would never know (well, except for the messy kitchen and mounds of dishes!)

Elise "helped" Dad mow. He lets her steer to her heart's content.

Trixie loves being outside with us but was a bit unsure about the crazy driver!

This is her "game face" and she's telling me she aimed right at me so I'd better move!

Now if we could just get our kids to actually USE the mower rather than play with it, think of how nice our lawn would look! (Seriously, they won't be using it with the blade engaged for a while...a little too scary for me.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Carson's Career Choices

Here's a recent conversation:
Carson: Have you ever taken a career test, Mom?

Me: Sure, back in college.

Carson: Do you think I could take one?

Me: Hmmm...not sure they make one for 4th graders.

Carson: 'Cuz I think it'd be really interesting and let me know what I'll be in the future.

Me: The tests don't tell you what you'll be, just make career suggestions based on your answers. What jobs do you think you might like to do?

Carson: There are 3 - Vet, Military, and photographer.

Me: Photographer, that's a new one. How come?

Carson: 'Cuz you can make like a million dollars on one picture.

Me: True, but the field is very competitive.

Carson: Yeah, but you could take a picture of someone and sell it for tons of money.

Me: Explain.

Carson: Well, if you see Hannah Montana, you take a picture of her and sell it.

Me: Yeah, but who wants to buy a picture of Hannah Montana, aren't there tons of her pictures around?

Carson: Yes, but I'll go to Canada to sell the pictures.

Me: Who will you sell the pictures to in Canada?

Carson: Mexicans.

Me: Mexicans in Canada? Do you mean Canadians?

Carson: Oh right!

Me: Do they know who Hannah Montana is in Canada? Is she really that big in Cananda.

Carson: Hmmm...good point.

The thought process of this kid scares me! Let's focus on getting through 4th grade before you worry about career choices. I almost drove off the road laughing at the Mexican comment. :)
I can always tell when he has "borrowed" a camera as I end up with odd pictures like these when I empty the memory stick.

Hmm...maybe the kid has some talent. I personally like the picture of Molly's rear end. Just imagine Hannah Montana and I think we've found a way to fund his college! :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Digital Scrapbook?

Anyone do this? If so, could you suggest a starting point? I've been using this blog as my scrapbooking outlet but would like to see what "digital scrapbooking" is about. I'm overwhelmed with the google results (or maybe just too tired to make heads or tails of them right now.)


A few random thoughts:
  • Why is the start of the school year so exhausting? It's 7:00 and I'm ready for bed!

  • The 2nd morning went better than the 1st. I made lists and lists last night because I got sick of telling the kids the same thing over and over. Now, the items they need to do are written down so they can't claim they (1) didn't hear me or (2) forgot. Sadly, I had to include "pee and flush" on my son's list. That must be a boy thing.

  • Carson was a bit down when I picked him up because (according to him) no one would sit with him on the bus or play with him at the after school program. As soon as we got home, our neighbor showed up and they've been thick as thieves for the past 2 hours. Don't know where the "no one likes me" came from today. Must keep an eye on that.

  • Elise fell on the playground right before I picked her up from school. She managed to limp out to the car, couldn't set the table because her legs hurt too bad but was strong enough to LEAP off the back of the sofa once Dad walked in the house. The amazing power of Daddy!

  • Carson found TWO more dogs tonight and wanted to bring them home. I swear that boy is an animal magnet! Fortunately the dogs wondered off (hopefully home) as we're not taking in any more dogs!

  • Elise is so excited to have homework! (I know, she's odd, but we love her.)

  • The next few days are CRAZY busy for me at work getting ready for the start of the university semester. It means that the final gear will fall into place and we can officially consider the school year off and running. :) (Shhh...don't tell anyone, but I love this crazy busy time of year when the students come back.)

  • Here's how I found Carson just our neighbor's horse pasture stretched out over the pond trying to catch fish. I'm praying they don't fall in...he's fallen in enough lakes, ponds and streams for his lifetime and I'm too tired to wash wet pond clothes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day of School

Thought I'd let my kids sum up the day in their own words:

Carson's report:

"We had a really long assembly today. We have a new mascot. Still a bobcat but now someone dresses up in a costume. I think math will be the hardest thing this year. I'm in the orchestra. That will be the only time I'll see my best friend, Trevor. What am I looking forward to the most? When the school day ends."

Mom's report - where did this long lean kid come from?!? One minute the absolute best kid to be around, the next minute...well...not always the nicest kid to be around (I thought only girls did that!). My baby is turning into quite the young man and as his mom, I find myself frequently challenged by his attempts to push every limit possible.

Elise's report:

"My day was kind of short (I had a half day) and I like my teacher. Her name is Mrs. Jones and her daughter's name is Maddie. Maddie is in kindergarten at my school. I went to latchkey with Maddie. I think reading and homework will be the hardest thing this year. There is another girl in my class who is Chinese, but half-Chinese, and she lives down the road."

Mom's report - my baby girl HATES change and today was no different. She loves her teacher, has a few good friends already in the class, but it was a rough day emotionally for her. She kept telling me her stomach hurt. As her mom, I'm challenged to make sure her needs aren't overshadowed by her brother's more "in-your-face" behavior and her own quiet, pleasing demeanor.

The day was a bit rough with emotions. Carson was his typical pre-teen self, made worse when he decided to use snottiness to cope with his anxiety. Elise ended up sobbing at school. I had no luck in getting a picture of my two kids together, so we'll settle for the next best thing...Carson with our neighbor (i.e., my 2nd son).

While these 2 kiddos look like normal 4th graders, they are the tallest in the grade. We grow 'em tall on our driveway (Carson broke the 5' mark this summer). You'll notice Tate dressed up pretty spiffy while Carson is wearing old sneakers and t-shirt from our vacation last summer. Tried to get him to wear a nicer shirt but he informed me (in no uncertain terms) he wasn't wearing a GEEK shirt. Decided it just wasn't worth the battle...honestly, at that point in the morning, he could have worn a shirt 2 sizes too small and I would have let it was a rough morning!

This was the last I saw of my son this morning. He refused to wave. Tate made up for it by waving to me (thanks Tate!).

And here is Elise with her teacher. She was a long term sub for Carson in kindergarten so we know her well and are THRILLED Elise is in her class this year.

Let's just hope tomorrow morning goes a bit more smoothly than this morning. :) Otherwise, it's looking like it'll be a loooonnnggg year!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Last day of summer vacation

Is it my imagination, or do summers go by more quickly these days?!? It's hard to believe this is the very last day of summer vacation. Seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the kids finishing up Kindergarten and 3rd grade. I truly hope my kids have strong memories of their carefree summer. That's one HUGE perk of being married to a teacher...he is off with the kids all summer.

We're all ready for the start of a new school year tomorrow. I feel like the gears are slowing falling into place and we'll soon be back to our normal school year routines.

Elise, not surprisingly, picked out a new dress. She's been wanting to wear it every day since we bought it, but it's been off limits. She can't wait to finally wear it tomorrow.

The backpacks are packed and sitting, ready to go, by the door.

Carson's school used SchoolKidz again this year. If your PTA's ever mention it, JUMP ON BOARD! You pay a fee (not unreasonable) and you get this box full of the items for your child's school/grade, along with customized labels to label everything. Saves tons of time.

Elise's school didn't do the kits this year so we had to assemble all the school supplies. Hopefully we didn't forget something from the list.

And the school lunch menu is posted on the fridge. My kids decide at the beginning of each month what days they want to buy and what days they want to bring. Elise is my super helper and reminds me each night of the lunch(es) I have to make the following day.

So how did we spend the last day of summer?

Carson was invited the "Bing Field" with some neighborhood kids. The "Bing Field" is a paintball/airsoft field and our neighbor had rented it out for the day. The kids usually all play in the woods behind our house, but they had a BLAST on a more formal course, even though they also had a referree (something they don't have when they play in the woods!). Carson drained his allowance fund to do this and HAD A BLAST!

Getting ready, putting Uncle Shawn's military gear to good use!

He must of played HARD 'cuz he's been eating NONSTOP since he's been home.

Elise had her nails done. It was someone different this time and Elise didn't like the flowers they painted on, so she's already started picking it off....sigh.....

Elise has been playing with Legos nonstop lately. She's been building (and re-building and re-building) this house for her little kitties today.

The kids decided they wanted ribs for the "last night of dinner" meal. Perry, you'd better get home quickly so the kids don't devour them before you arrive!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lessons learned in Chicago

Some random thoughts:
  • I miss my kids when I'm away. Two days is about my max. I really missed them.

  • My nephew (above) has beautiful eyes and an awesome smile (while I missed my kids, it was so fun seeing him).

  • Even though our birth certificates say we are now 40, none of us FELT 40 (or even 30 for that matter!).

  • The best of friends are the ones you can pick up with like it was yesterday, not years, since last being together.

  • Don't ever give up on hearing from someone from your past. On Friday, we all talked about another good friend with whom we'd all lost contact. None of us had heard from her in 16 years. That night, she gets in touch with me via facebook. Freaky timing, but wonderful to hear from her (she always had a flair for the dramatic!)

  • For being in college, we were pretty stupid at times!

  • We sat around for a few hours at our friend's grave telling stories of our college years and laughing with his parents. It was a surprisingly good time. That's what I hope folks do when I'm gone.

  • I was really fortunate to have the college experience I did...and I never really appreciated it at the time. So, THANKS, mom and dad, for making it happen.

  • Thank God the big hair days are long gone.

  • I really should have colored my roots before taking these pictures (and boy, do I need to lose those extra 15 pounds!)!
Graduation day (Lorrie, Anita, me)

Today (me, Lorrie, Anita, Layne)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Teachers and running away!


We finally got our teacher letters! For 1st grade, Elise has a teacher that Carson had as a long term maternity sub and we just loved her. She was my top choice for a teacher for Elise, plus her name is REALLY easy to say...a big plus for Elise.

Carson has another male teacher for 4th. He had one in 1st grade and it made a huge difference. There aren't many male elementary teachers. His teacher is new to the district so we don't know much about him.

So, anxiety over teachers is lessened. Now, the kids are just wondering who else they'll know in their classes.

Running away!

No, not the kids, but me! I'm heading up for another quick trip to Chicago to visit with some college roommates. One of whom I haven't seen in 16 years! It'll be bittersweet, another good friend passed away last year and I'm sure we'll spend a lot of time remembering stories about the whole gang.

I don't know why I thought this would be a good weekend to get away, it's so crazy around here (both at home and work). But, I get to see some good friends, cuddle with my baby nephew again, and maybe...just maybe...visit IKEA on the way home!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Conversations with Elise

Elise and I ran a few errands together this weekend. At one store, the salesclerk commented to me that Elise was pretty cute.

Elise's response: "Yes, I know that. People tell me that all the time." (eye roll and hip swing from the Princess herself)

I was mortified!!! Clearly we need to work on humility and graciously accepting compliments a bit more.

On a totally unrelated note: School starts a week from today (small woo-hoo from mom!). Still don't know who the teachers will be for next year. Rumor has it the district mailed the teacher letters today. It really isn't THAT big a deal, exept that Elise HATES change. If we knew her teacher and a friend or two who will be in her class, it might ease her anxiety a bit.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Last week of summer vacation

Summer has just flown by this year. It seems to go quicker each year. Perry is back at school and we are doing our annual August child care juggle. The kids hate going to the Y day camp. They were lucky enough to have my parents come over last week. This week, my nephew Cliff is watching them again. They just love having Cliff over and he does a FANTASTIC job of watching them.

He can keep Carson in line and isn't afraid to show his authority.

And Elise has him wrapped around her little finger. (If you know anyone at his high school, don't spread this around, but...he even lets Elise do makeovers on him...but quickly washes it off!) He's part-fish like Elise so I suspect they'll spend much of their time in the pool.

We were going to have another nephew, Tyler, over as well. But...after he jumped into the pool, he started having an intense ear pain (this from the kid who has a sky high pain tolerance.) He assured me the ice cream cone would really help his ear on the ride back to his mom! :) Hope you are feeling better, buddy!

While we are only 9 days away from school, we STILL don't know who the kids' teachers are for the coming year. That is my only frustration with our school district. They literally wait until the last minute to announce teachers. They kids are so anxious to learn who their teacher will be and which friends will be in the same class. My hope is the letters will arrive tomorrow (Monday).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Random weekend pictures

Carson spent much of the day helping Perry pick up the mess in our yard (as a result of the tree that mysteriously fell and no one noticed). We've been letting him drive the mower/tractor to help with some yardwork. He loves it and it helps Perry out.
Don't worry, Dad, I'll make sure the tractor doesn't move while you unload it.

Yeah, I can be a sweet kid...especially when I get to drive the tractor all around the yard.

Off with another load (this is the point where Mom got bored and headed back inside!)

Elise wanted to go swimming tonight (as usual) and came out with this lovely ensemble. If you look carefully, she actually has on a once piece swimsuit with the bottoms from a 2-piece suit on as well.

Why?!? Because she really, really, really wanted to wear a skirt to go swimming. Don't ask me...I would have just worn the 2 piece suit, but this was her solution.

She did about 10 laps of the pool on her back like this.

My fashion forward, little mermaid!

Friday, August 8, 2008


I get lost looking into my kids' eyes. They are so unique. Tonight we had some fun with the camera.

Here are Carson's eyes. I love the color. The color is a mixture of Perry's and mine. After seeing this, Carson was a bit concerned about his unibrow and convinced his dad to shave it off.

And here are Elise's eyes. I love the color, the shape, they way they are so different from Carson's.
And just because her eye color looks practically black in the previous picture, here's another attempt at getting the true deep brown of her eyes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman interview

Most folks have heard the tragic news of the death of Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter. We've been big SCC fans for years. In fact, I just organized our CD's and was shocked by how many old SCC CD's we actually own. We were heartbroken by Maria's passing and have kept their family in our prayers. It's painful to see pictures of this little girl who looks so much like my little girl and know she's no longer here.

If you are interested, the family has been interviewed by People and Good Morning America. If you go to the SCC homepage (, there is a clip of the GMA interview (but have tissues handy). I believe the article in People will appear in next week's edition. They will also appear on Larry King Live.

I'm amazed by their strength and poise during such a difficult time. They are real people living their faith in extraordinary times.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Meltdowns was a day of unpredictable temper-tantrum meltdowns....alternating between my 2 kids.

Over silly things. Full flung meltdowns. Majors tears and top of the lungs screaming. It's been one of those days when you feel fully challenged as a parent.

Not sure what was going on with the kids. Not sure it if was the summer winding down (dad goes back to work on Monday), over-tired, over-heated, full moon?!? They just BOTH lost it at the drop of a hat today.

At one point, I insisted they each vacuum. Simply to separate them and drown out the whining. Surprisingly, this was about the only task they handled well today, although you can tell by the looks on their faces they weren't thrilled with the task.

We decided to divide and conquer tonight. Perry took Carson to a movie while Elise and I enjoyed some girls only time in the pool.

Here's hoping tomorrow is a more enjoyable day, for everyone.

Friday, August 1, 2008


My kids have had awesome teachers so far, especially Carson. One of his favorite teachers is Mrs. Weber, who taught his 2nd grade class. Unfortunately for Elise, Carson was in Mrs. Weber's last class as she retired. Elise would have LOVED Mrs. Weber as well. She is so creative and had the kids (even the boys) doing all kinds of neat craft projects to emphasize the curriculum. One of her creative strenghs is puppetry and she now teaches a graduate level class for teachers on puppetry in the classroom.

Lukily, that causes me to run into Mrs. Weber quite often in the summer as the class is usually right down the hall from my office. This year, she knew Carson was in a science camp on campus the same dates as her class. She encouraged me to bring the kids by on the morning of her last class to see the puppets made by the students (current teachers).

She also asked me if I'd bring the puppet that Carson had made in 2nd grade so she could show her students how she had incorporated it into a lesson...each 2nd grader picked a different animal and spent several weeks writing a detailed report and booklet, which culiminated in making a puppet of the animal they'd been studying...23 different animals. (Fortunately, I was able to locate it pretty easily...phew!)

Here are Carson & Elise with Mrs. Weber. Carson is holding the turtle puppet he made in her 2nd grade class. Elise is holding a Moose puppet that someone in the graduate class had made to go along with the book "If you give a moose a muffin." (She didn't want to let go!)

I had no idea what to expect, but these puppets were amazing. In many cases, they re-purposed stuffed animals. I love this idea!

Here is a re-purposed Clifford stuff animal, now serving as a puppet to accompany his many books!

Here is a stick puppet to go with another book.

I just love the idea of re-using stuffed animals in this fun way! What an awesome (and inexpensive) teacher's gift...a book along with a matching puppet!

(I took careful mental notes of how they did this and I'm going to give it a I know where to track down Mrs. Weber if I get stuck!)