Thursday, July 31, 2008

What the....?

What is up with the Internet today?? I want my email!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Garden...

She is late and slow, but coming along.

Notice next to the tomato plants what is left of my carrots. Also note the random clumps of lettuce blown about the garden. In the bottom right corner you can see part of Kennedy's cabbage she brought home from school in a little cup. We have an orange tomato and a fat cucumber. Hopefully someday I'll have a picture of some produce.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kissy boy...

Jesse loves to dole out kisses these days. Watch closely in the video for his tongue wagging in anticipation.

Happy Third, Renie!

That's right, my little Meemster is 3. In keeping with her age, she is fiercely independent, head-strong, prone to screaming and tantrums, but hilariously funny and cute when the stars are properly aligned. You know the poem, when she's good she's very very good but when she's bad she's terrible. (Is that how it goes?)
Yesterday she got birthday cards in the mail. She received one from Aunt Chrissy and one from Grandma and Grandpa. Each card had $3 in it, you know, because she's three. So she now has $6. She was so excited about having money. I asked her what she wanted to get with it and she said, "Money!" Her siblings are full of suggestions for her- her money is burning a hole in THEIR pockets- how does that work?
Irene Isabella (how many of you remembered her middle name?) is definitely a unique personality. She is full of attitude and without fear. Tonight we celebrated the big day with her chosen meal-pizza and Sprite- and cake and ice cream. Here are a few pictures of the celebration.

All she asked for was a toy bunny.

She likes Dora and needed some new, non-moldy bath toys.

Kennedy made her a birthday card.

Jesse very much enjoyed the chocolate overload.

In fact, they ALL did.

Homemade cheese pizza. Mom and Dad had pepperoni, black olives, and peppers- from our own garden!-on ours.

A crown cake for our little princess.

Devon assisted with the candle blowing which was good because Renie's huffs and puffs were failing and she kept getting closer and closer- I thought she was going to burn her lips.

How's that for a plate full of sugar?

Everyone is all stuffed and ready to move on to presents. (I was too lazy to put these in the right order- pathetic I know.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Place in My Heart...

Each year Kennedy has gone to school she has asked me this question, "Who was your best friend in kindergarten/first grade/second grade/third grade?" Each time I haven't had to think about it. I haven't had to think about which teacher I had or who was in my class or what age I was at the time. I'm sure every member of my family who reads this post answered the question in their head as soon as they heard it. Each year the answer has been the same- Jaime Bellinger.

Each week during Family Council when it was my turn to bring up a question or concern I would always ask if Jaime could come over to spend the night. It was so predictable, in fact, that my family mocked me mercilessly. Or maybe it was just Derek. Jaime and I grew up together. We both lived out in the country, in the same general area. We rode the bus together for many years, until we were riding to school with friends who had cars of their own. In second grade, Jaime's boyfriend was a THIRD grader who rode our bus. So we planned a bus wedding for them. The bus would pass my house on the way out to pick up kids and then the route doubled back and went by my house again on the way back to school. I would get on the bus when it came back by, unless I really wanted to be on early for some reason, you know, like a wedding. I got on the bus early and we decorated and had a ceremony and ate goodies. (I was related to the bus driver and Jaime and I were his favorites so we got to do that sort of thing.) Over the years we talked about boys and New Kids on the Block. We told each other everything and knew how to make each other laugh. We played in band together (she played trumpet, I played trombone), played sports together, and, of course, went to class together.

With our sixth grade teachers:

I especially remember French class. Jaime and Monsieur Dalbec were not the best of friends. (Actually, I think he secretly liked her, but they gave each other a tough time.) He told her one day that she couldn't chew gum and do something (speak french? walk?) at the same time. Jaime was offended, rightly so, so she emphatically and defiantly, spit her gum out on the table, looking Mr Dalbec in the eye the whole time. It was very funny, and incredibly risky considering his hot temper. (Remember, I went to school in a time when teachers still flipped kids out of their desks and pegged them with chalk and erasers.)

My 16th birthday:

Despite her desire to appear tough and sarcastic, Jaime always had the biggest heart in the world. She was always there for a friend with a hug and a one-liner that would bring a smile. She was trusting, making her gullible, which our friend Julie and I exploited, somewhat, and also making her prey to guys who were less than honorable. I hated seeing her hurt so many times by so many guys who would take advantage of her big heart. As we went into our high school years we drifted apart. We were always friends, just not as close, not best friends anymore.


Senior trip:

We graduated high school and haven't done well keeping in touch.

She did come to my wedding and I was so glad she did. I had never been able to imagine getting married without her there. She is part of who I am and has always held a big place in my heart. Regardless of how far apart we drift as we age, there is a part of my life that she knows better than anyone else because she lived it with me. She knows the child Molly intimately and she always will. I wish that everyone had a Jaime Bellinger in their life because it is a precious thing, indeed.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Random Act of Kindness...

Kennedy decided last week that she wanted to do some sort of service for someone. She then spent the next several days asking me if she could bake sugar cookies. I put her off repeatedly because I knew that it would fall to me to complete the job when she got bored. Plus, sugar cookies require all that rolling and cutting and frosting. It just isn't something to decide to do on the spur of the moment. Yesterday afternoon when she asked me I finally thought, "Why not? We're here for the rest of the day (Devon was recuperating) and I have nothing that has to get done." Aside from making supper. So I told her that she and her friend, our little neighbor who was in Julia's class last year, could go ahead and make the much anticipated cookies. I was in the kitchen making dinner so I could oversee the process, but they did it pretty much on their own. I put them in and out of the oven and made the frosting and frosted them, (a delicate touch was required or they would crumble), but they did everything else. After they were done they took some to two neighbors. One neighbor asked them how much they cost and was confused when they told him they were free, made special for them. (They are Indian, I think, and perhaps this sort of thing isn't common in their culture, though they seem very Americanized.) Anyway, I thought it was sweet of them and that they did a great job. Here they are before the delivery.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bumpless Boy...

Today was The Day. You know, Devon's surgery to remove the dermoid cyst in his eyebrow. Simple outpatient procedure. Requiring sedation. I get very nervous about the whole putting 'em under thing. But I'm jumping ahead. Last night our friend Devan came to assist Lincoln in giving Devon a Priesthood blessing. It brought me comfort to hear them invoke the Lord's blessings for my son. So that, in addition to the prayers without ceasing that were racing through my mind for the last couple days, helped me feel more peaceful as I watched him go under. Only one of us could go back to the OR with him as he slipped into the unfeeling slumber of sedation. He chose me to go and it felt good to feel like I could do something for him, even if all I did was sit by his bed for a minute as he went to sleep.

Of all that happened, he was most displeased with the hat. Can you blame him?

But I'm jumping ahead again. I should start by saying we got up at 4:45 this morning and left the house by 5 to be sure we were there by 6:30.

Pre-op, bed-head

Big BIG BIG thanks to my friend Becci who came to our house at 5am so we wouldn't have to wake all the kids that early and drag them out of the house. In fact, she still has all three girls at 3:15 so that Devon and I can have some quiet this afternoon. My friend Lori helped out with the kids today as well. It's so great to have wonderful friends to call upon at these times. Especially considering we live so far from any family.
Devon was in good spirits and cooperated well. He was so cute walking around with his little bum hanging out of his hospital gown. He got to choose a stuffed animal from a big crate of great options. He went with the finger puppet snake.

He went in and out of sedation with no problems whatsoever and we were on the road by 10:30. We took him to target to pick out the requisite post-op toy. He picked a pirate dress-up set. We also got a Thomas DVD so he would have something new to watch today while he's supposed to be quiet and still. When I told him that he said, "I don't know how to sit still." Yeah, tell me about it. Then we let him pick where to go for lunch. He had to go in fasting this morning, of course, so he was pretty hungry. You'll all be shocked to hear he picked McDonalds. After picking up his antibiotic ointment we got him settled in at home and Lincoln went to work. He's doing great. The anaesthesia has worn off without any problems and I'm having trouble keeping him interested in sitting on the couch. Forget about the 20 minutes on 20 minutes off we're supposed to be doing with the ice pack. He has a check up tomorrow, in one week, and in six weeks. His stitches will just dissolve and hopefully it won't be long til we're in the clear.

A Couple Projects...

Those of you who know me well know that I love to always have a project to be working on. Some sort of thing that beautifies or improves my home in some way. It's an addiction, really. I love to be painting, moving furniture, decorating, creating. So here are photos from a couple of recent projects.

Before and after in my laundry room. Those who know me well also know I can't stand to leave a wall in my house white. I crave color. I have further plans for this room- we'll see if I get to them!

I made a cushion for the bench in our mudroom. I've really been loving the combination of black and off-white with red as well as toile with gingham. So I put it all together in this little cushion.

Check back to see a couple more projects I've got in the works.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Beginning of Kennedy's Gymnastics Career...

Kennedy went to a gymnastics camp this past week. She LOVED it. I didn't want to distract with my flash going off so I took a couple videos instead of pictures.


So my leaf lettuce is coming fast now. We ate the first of it and probably should have started picking sooner. It's just leaf lettuce but it's nice to be eating something from the garden. You just can't beat going out to the back yard and harvesting something you've grown yourself and then eating it. Heavenly.

First Date...

For some time now, Lincoln and I have been trading off taking the two big girls out on dates. We feel like it is important for the kids to get one on one time with each of their parents from time to time. This can make for a busy schedule, what with church callings, Mommy and Daddy dates, family nights out and all the other chaos that goes along with a family of seven. So up until now, it's just been Kennedy and Julia. We've had enough Family Councils now with Julia and Kennedy asking for date nights that Devon finally caught on to the fact that maybe he's missing out. So last Sunday when it was his turn for Bring-Ups, he asked to go on a date with me. I was, of course, honored to be asked and excited to try to make his first date a good one. When I asked him what he wanted to do on this date he rattled off a very lengthy list of events including dinner at Old MacDonald's, fishing, and a trip to Las Vegas. It became apparent that he would be happy to do just about anything as long as we called it a date. So yesterday was the big day. We started things off with lunch at Old MacDonald's. Devon likes to eat at the MacDonald's here in Dodgeville, so despite the fact that it was only 11 am and we would be near a Mickey Ds in Platteville at 11:45, we went ahead and ate here in town. Devon had his usual- 6 piece chicken nugget Big Kids meal with fries and chocolate milk, and I had the ever delicious Chipotle BBQ snack wrap with grilled chicken and a bottled water.

After we ate we played on the play space for a while, driving the jet, playing hide and seek and sliding down the tube slide.

We then packed up and headed toward Platteville, making a quick stop at a cute little toy shop in Mineral Point to purchase two little pirate figures Devon has been wanting.

We walked hand in hand back to the car and made our way down to Platteville to see WALL-E. We got popcorn and Sprite and kicked back to enjoy the flick.

When there was about 5 or 10 minutes left Devon asked me when it would be over. I asked him if he liked the movie and he said yes, but I think he was getting sick of sitting there. A couple times during the movie he whispered to me, "Am I still on my date?" I told him he was still on the date until we got home. Well that came back to bite me in the rear because after the movie I wanted to run into Aldi for a minute since were all the way down in Platteville and he wasn't too happy about that. I tried to convince him it was a fun part of the date but I don't think he was buying it. He did come and cooperate but he didn't like that it was not on his list of fun things to do on a date and yet here we were.
I really enjoyed spending the better part of the day just with him. He's getting to be such a big boy nowadays and he's so much fun to be with. He has his moments, like any four year old, where he gets angry or sad, but for the most part he is a very happy and enthusiastic kid. He loves to sing- especially pirate songs- and I often hear him singing as he plays. His eyes light up when he's excited about something and he's quick to smile. He's also very loud when he's excited, which can get to be a bit much, but I remind myself it's an expression of his enthusiasm and happiness, so it's a good thing. I think it's because of his exuberance when he's happy that I become such putty in his hands when he's sad. It is heartbreaking for me to see him hurt- physically or emotionally- and not see that light in his eyes.
So we had a fun time and now we need to put Devon in the rotation. I'm not sure how long we can hold off Renie, though once Devon starts 4 year old Kindergarten she'll be getting more one on one time automatically-assuming Jesse doesn't try to give up his nap.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dang Angela and Her Ashes...

I don't read much these days. I think the last time I was reading-for pleasure-on a regular basis was when Kennedy and Julia were the only little Tatro children. I would read because I had always been a reader and got great pleasure from it. I would sit and devour a book, unable to put it down. Then at the end of the day I would look around me and my house would be a mess and my children would have been neglected all day, sent off to entertain themselves while I read my book. I would feel bad and tell myself that the next time I would just read a chapter at a time. I would just read when the baby was down for a nap, for just 1/2 an hour. Or maybe just when the kids were in bed. Turns out i didn't have the self-control for that. But I've been missing it terribly. I read a book back in May when I went to the beach and it felt so good to be between the covers again! So I've been thinking about giving myself another try. It's hard to get to the library, though. I mean, especially the adult section. Picture books, sure, but grown-up books? Historical fiction? (My fave genre). Not a chance. Well then a couple days ago Lincoln comes home from work with a stack of books his boss loaned him. In the pile was Angela's Ashes. Hey! I said. I should totally read this! Everyone else on the planet has. It's a sign. So I began. I've done pretty well so far with the whole not neglecting my kids thing. But I've been up late. Bawling my eyes out. Let me just say here that I rarely, if ever, cry when I'm watching a movie. But books. Books are another story altogether. I cry like a baby. I'm about half way through the book-No spoilers in the comments section please!!!-and I just want to finish it to end the pain. So if anyone has a good light read they'd like to recommend for when I'm done with this heart-wrencher, please let me know!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Thunder Rolled...

I was trying to capture the fantastic storm clouds that rolled in one evening. These don't really do it justice, but you get the idea.

Jesse was feeling very cooperative one evening for a photo shoot. He kept saying, "Cheese!"

Following are more Wisconsin countryside photos. When Lincoln came home and saw the pictures I had taken it made him want to go out for a drive. So we loaded up the kids, bought thm Happy Meals and us some subs, and hit the road looking for great shots.

I love the Wisconsin River. It is deep, swift, and beautiful. We found this area with a great pull-off and boat launch. Lincoln intends to return here to fish on Saturday morning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another New Header Picture...

That's right. I loved the last picture but my husband pointed out that it didn't really match with my blog description. I knew that, but I really liked the picture from vacation. So I put it there for a while. I went out this afternoon for a drive with the kids, looking for the perfect shot to put up for my header. I wanted something that would really capture where we live. I'm not sure if this picture is perfect, but it's pretty good. Here are some more shots I took on my quest. A couple are blurry, but would have been great.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Green Thumb...

I can grow weeds like nobody's business. Remember my grand plans for my garden this year? Remember how I wanted to do some canning and pickling? Well, I've adjusted my hopes and dreams. Now I'm just looking to harvest something- ANYTHING. Actually, my leaf lettuce is fantastic. In fact, as I was planting it, the wind blew seeds all over my garden so there are tufts of leaf lettuce all over the place. My tomato plants are coming along, though I ended up planting half as many as I had planned. See, I had started tomato plants myself, from wee little seeds. The last time I did this I had such a fantastic crop I had more than I knew what to do with. This time? Not a single one survived. So I had to go buy plants. They are fairly expensive. I did not like it. So, fewer plants. I planted 5 hills of cucumbers, hoping to get at least enough to try one batch of pickles. Three hills came up. The plants are still pretty small, though they are beginning to flower. I planted 3 pepper plants. I have one golfball size pepper so far. My onions are slowly coming. They are maybe 6 inches high and as thick as thick spaghetti. I planted one row of carrots for fun, for the kids. Kennedy, bless her heart, decided to help me out by weeding for me. She pulled up half the row of carrots, thinking they were weeds. Kennedy's cabbage she started at school seems to be doing pretty well. It has lots of big leaves, anyway. And then my beans. I really wanted beans. I wanted to can beans. I planted three poles of beans. Probably not enough to can, but whatever. They started to come up, one or two of them, and then died. Nothing else came up. So in a last ditch effort, I replanted beans just before we left on vacation. I sprayed for bugs first, ( I think it was cutworms that got 'em), and replanted 4 or 5 seeds at each pole, and several rows of bush beans where I had extra room, you know, where my tomatoes didn't get planted and my cucumbers didn't come up. I still have hope for the beans. They are coming on pretty well now. Maybe I can do one canner full?

I have learned a thing or two for next year. 1. Amend the soil. Manure, baby, it does wonders. 2. Plant earlier. 3. Start only tomatoes in the starter box. Or at least things that germinate at the same speed. 4. Build a higher fence.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Destruction Continues...

OK, so Cheyenne (the dog) chewed the license plate off the front of Lincoln's car and she continues to gnaw her way out of her chain-link kennel. What in the name of all that is holy is her deal? Neglect? I know all you pet lovers out there are thinking it. But honestly, she has survived so long enduring neglect, why get all bent out of shape about it now? I think she's losing her marbles, personally. She's certainly helping me lose mine!

The Moments that Make It All Worth It...

A conversation last night with Devon. He was fresh from the bath and snuggled into clean jammies:
Me: How'd you get so cute? You're the cutest boy ever. You and Jesse.
Devon, looking disappointed: I want it to be just me.
Me: Well, you're the cutest Devon. You're my favorite Devon ever.
Devon, grinning: And you're my favorite Mommy ever!
Me, smothering him in hugs and kisses: Ohh! Thank you!
Devon: Isn't that the best?

Yup it is. It is absolutely fantastic to be someone's favorite, especially a Mommy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Crazy Lazy Days of Summer...

This morning was Kennedy's first day of basketball. At 9am. Let me just say here that I have been getting up at 9am since our return from Las Vegas. It takes time to adjust to the 2 hour time difference. Don't mock me. It does. It doesn't sound like a big difference, especially since we were only there a week, but it took its toll. We would stay up late partying the night away, or at least talking and drinking berry Fresca, and turn in at 12 or 1 in the morning. That translates to 2 or 3 in WI time. Then we'd sleep until 8 or 9 which would be 10 or 11. Are you following the math? Can I quit adding it up for you? Anyway, we managed to get out the door in time for Kennedy to get to practice by 9. Or maybe 5 after. Or so. But they hadn't started yet when we got there so regardless of the time she wasn't late. Right?
We also managed to fit in some pool time this afternoon. Irene has done great at the pool without a swim diaper. It's not a fun stage for me because I have to keep running her to the restroom. And is it just me or is everyone grossed out by pool restrooms? The floor is always wet- which obviously is from pool drips, but it still grosses me out. I have to tell myself the whole time I'm in there- "It's just pool water, it's just pool water." Then there are always clumps of soggy toilet paper on the floor because if it hits the floor and gets wet ain't nobody gonna touch it. And then there's the whole problem of wiping a wet bottom. How can I wipe her when she's so wet? The toilet paper sticks to her legs and tushy...AAck. So gross. And finally the colossal effort it takes to pull a wet swimsuit up her little body. I may run out tomorrow and buy a tankini for her to save the time and hassle. Seriously, it seems like by the time I get the whole process complete she's had time to work up some more pee and we start all over again. But YAY for her and no more diapers. In fact, now that she and Jesse aren't splitting a box of diapers anymore I was able to go back to size 3. Which means we not only save because there's only one bottom to diaper, we also get 10 more in the box for the SAME PRICE.
I ended my day with a trip to the grocery store and some Ben and Jerry's frozen yogurt. My work here is done. For today.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

To My Loyal, Supportive Readers...


One more to go.

The Vegas Leg...

Let's finish this story.

Tuesday was July 1st. We stayed at Jenn and Dawson's all day and enjoyed being able to just chill. The kids swam in the pool and Lincoln and Dawson went golfing in the afternoon. It was great to watch all the kids play happily together and enjoy one an other's company. That evening we cooked out and my cousin Jessica and her family came over to eat and swim with us. It was so fun to finally see her. Jess and I have always been close. We're the same age and incredibly cute- two peas in a pod!

We've traveled across the country together a few times and lived together in Salt Lake for a while. The last 5 trips I've made across the nation have involved her in some way- either I've traveled with her '94 and '95, or to her '00, '02, '08. It's always fun when we get together.

Tuesday night Lincoln and Dawson went to a midnight movie. It's an enduring tradition of theirs. Meanwhile Jenn and I try to stay up late talking but our eyelids get heavy and we give up and go to bed right about the time the guys are probably picking their seats at the show. We all have our traditions...

Wednesday we kept pretty close to home again, though Jenn and I ventured out on a shopping trip. I needed a new dress for a night on the town we had planned for Wednesday night. In the process Jenn convinced me to buy a new bra that I love! No more droopy boobs for me! Seriously, I NEVER buy myself bras. I just take hand-me-downs. I don't have much up top so it never seemed worth the money. But boy do I love this bra. AND it only cost me $7.50 on sale! Well worth it. Did I mention I love it?

Wednesday night we left our kids with Dawson's parents and went to the Rio to catch a show. It was fun to be out- just the adults, Me, Lincoln, Jenn, Dawson, Jess, and Erik.

We went to Tony and Tina's Wedding. It's a fun audience participation show. Basically it's just like going to a spicy Italian wedding. You get dinner at the reception, there's some dancing, some drama, lots of laughs, and the actors are all over the place all the time just like actual wedding party members. Admittedly, and as you would expect, some of the humor was a bit on the crude side. It wouldn't have bothered me as much if our table mates hadn't brought their kids with them. ("Hey! I think I got that one!" Oh good. Glad you have been exposed to that information! They were probably 12 and 15.) Anyway, we had a good time. Jess caught the bouquet and Dawson got to be the cowboy during YMCA.

After the show we went to the Bellagio to see the fountains- my favorite thing to do in Vegas- and the flowers inside.

Aren't Lincoln and Erik cute in their matching outfits? They weren't as amused but they good-naturedly let me take a picture.

The hot chicas.

Thursday was our day to say good-bye to Jenn and Dawson and make the move over to Jess and Erik's house for the remainder of our stay. We met them not too far from Circus Circus and had lunch with them before going to the Adventuredome at Circus Circus. Adventuredome is an inside amusement park. We spent most of the day there running from ride to ride. The kids had a great time. It was the first time our big girls got to go on rides made for big kids. They loved it. Julia had no fear whatsoever. The only one Kennedy backed out on was The Inverter. Jess and I discovered we're getting old. That didn't stop us from riding everything, but it did leave us feeling lousy! Renie and Bridger and Devon really enjoyed the little kid rides. Most of them were pretty impressive for little tykes and they grinned and giggled through them all.

When we got back to Jess and Erik's everybody was pretty wiped out- bedtime is easy when they fall asleep instantly.

Friday was the Fourth of July. We took the kids to the rec center to swim for an hour or two. It was so hot we couldn't even walk across the light colored concrete surface without burning our feet. They have a huge kiddie splash pool there and 2 decent size water slides. The kids had fun cooling off for a while. After swimming Lincoln and Erik took the big kids shopping (our girls had money burning holes in their pockets) while Jess and I took the little ones home and started cooking. We had a yummy Fourth of July cookout and then took the kids to Sunset Station to see fireworks after dark.

When we came home the big kids played Wii until much too late and then we hit the hay.

Saturday morning was departure time. We loaded up and hit the road by about 8:30. We drove a couple hours before we had to stop for gas. We got out of the car and any thoughts that Jenn and Dawson and Jess and Erik had put in our heads about moving to Vegas instantly evaporated when we stepped out into the 20 degree cooler air with a nice breeze. Suddenly I could breathe again for the first time in days. So Las Vegas is fun to visit, but we'll never move there.

We ended up driving straight through on the way home- 27 hours. We decided we would like to move to Colorado, however, so maybe we;ll see you there!

So here's the recap-
Our kids are fantastic travelers.
Our friends and family are the best ever.
This country is absolutely beautiful. Traveling abroad sounds nice, but there's A LOT to see right here at home.
I love roadtrips.
Camping is the way to go.
Can't wait for next time.

Now- who's going to come visit us?!