Mar 25, 2015

Bushwack

3/25/2015 — cori

This is the view from back back door.  I'd like to introduce you to Bushwack, our 7 foot snowman.   If we're going to have snow in March, we are going to make the most of it.  


It took all hands on deck to build such a massive creation.  We all grunted, rolled and heaved.  We all found clean snow to pack on him because he looked more like a grass/leaf man than a snowman. You can still see remnants of leaves poking out behind the 'clean' snow.  We purposely didn't take a picture of his back....it's not pretty.  It's rather a little scary seeing such a 'hairy' snowman.


Chuck gets all the credit for the idea and the name.  I take credit for the location, the scarf and the carrot nose.  This was much more fun than hauling kids off to nightly practice of every variety.


Ninja had fun too.  She ran around like a crazy maniac.  The snow invigorates her.  We would throw snowballs at her and she would catch them in her mouth and eat them.  Although she didn't get her picture taken with Bushwack, she had just as much fun as we did, if not more.

Mar 23, 2015

Let the Renovation Begin

3/23/2015 — cori
Thus begins the big "Renovation Project of 2015"!    We have lived with an ugly bathroom for 4 long years.  No more.  We decided to just do it.  We started hacking apart our bathroom this weekend.  No reason other than a knee jerk reaction.  We had been purchasing pieces for our bathroom for a while now.  We had already accumulated the decorative accent tile, the vanity and sink, the floor and wall tile and an accessory piece as well as the all important toothbrush holder and soap pump.  We had it all - it was time to start.


Strong and safe 'Head of Renovation Project Leader'.  Notice that even though his lungs are safe, his feet are not.  He felt no need to protect his feet from fiberglass, hammers, falling nails or anything else for that matter.  And the sunglasses are supposedly for eye safety, but they sure make him look intimidating.

 

'Taper Extraordinaire'.  We thought it would be cute to match our shirts on this fine day - we're both wearing 'Camping is in Tents' shirts.  That's how we roll.  My head was safe from all falling debris with that awesome 1998 ball cap and I too was not going to inhale any dust....mostly because I spent the majority of my time outside of the tiny bathroom taping plastic to my walls.  This shot gives one the vantage point from the other side of the door.  Those plastic bags aren't going anywhere.


True to form, this is a family affair.  We like to try to fit as many bodies as possible into a tiny space that has no window and is burning up (even though it's snowing outside).  But don't worry, we all eventually left the Project Leader to work all by himself (cuz it got too hard).

Even though we felt we 'had it all', we didn't really plan it out too well.  Actually, I take that back. Chuck planned it out great.  We even have an Order of Operations sheet (which he is following to a tee by the way).  Very helpful.  But what we didn't plan for was all the dust and the massive amounts of plastic we would need to keep it all in the bathroom only.

We also didn't plan on job responsibilities.  We just assumed we'd be working together.  Apparently, I don't know how to rip a fiberglass shower unit out of the wall very well.  Nor am I very strong, evidently.  But what I am good at is taping!  And I am good at cleaning.  Put the two together and voila - Taper Extarordinaire becomes my job title.


This is what happened the first time I put hammer to tile - I made a hole in the drywall....looks like we're replacing all the drywall now.


Here is Chuck in his special remodeling outfit (on Day Two), pajama pants and sunglasses for eye protection.  He opted for socks today, you know, to help catch all that dust - not to be mistaken as foot protection.  This was like the 5th time he hit his fingers with the hammer.



I protected the tub with my master taping skills twice in two days.  That sucker was staying clean if it was the last thing I did!

However, I had a bit of a hic-cup on Day One with taping the door.  We only had two drop cloths, one to cover our bed and the other to cover the tub.  What about the door leading to our bedroom - uh oh!?  Well....not to worry, I have watched enough MacGyver in my life, I'm sure I could be resourceful and find something to use.  Ah-hah!  Trashbags.  I had plenty of those and a whole new role of blue tape.  I was on a mission now!  No dust will be able to penetrate my air-tight barrier. Blue tape just makes everything look 'official', doesn't it?!


Sadly, if it was up to me to make an air-tight room so no disease (like ebola) would spread - we would probably all be dead.  I had so much dust in my room.  This first attempt was a fail.  Granted, it was an ingenious fail, but not quite what Quality Control was looking for.  But just for the record, that was 6 trash bags all taped together - HARD TO DO!  I'm just sayin'.   


Work smarter - not harder, right?!  Well that's exactly what I did after Day 1's taping fiasco.  We broke down and bought 3 more plastic drop cloths so I didn't have to tape a puzzle together with trash bags.  I mean, I think I deserve some points for ingenuity on that first go around.  


Here is my apprectice helping me with my super important job.  We had to find a way to move the plastic out of the way that we just so expertly finished taping so that the boys could move the vanity and sink out of the bathroom.  We are nothing if not flexible.

So I would say, so far so good.  Even though we have an Order of Operations, we do not have a time frame for this project to be finished.  Chuck is hoping by the summer.  I feel more like it might turn into October.  It will be fun to see who's right.

Stay tuned...you never know what to to expect next with us.

Mar 20, 2015

College Roommates

3/20/2015 — cori

Chuck and I were regaling Gavin with stories of our old college roommates today.  This picture pretty much sums up our experiences.

For some reason we used to give Chuck's roommates nick-names.  One was called 'Stinky' - for obvious reasons.  Another was called 'Get Up And Go' because he would literally get out of bed, already dressed and walk out the door and go to class.   And then there was 'Stuart'.  His name was said as a cuss word.  He was so weird.  He blew his nose, very loudly and disgustingly, into the sink at all hours of the day and night.  Lastly, his favorite roommate was whipped by his girl friend at the time who was a 'work-out nazi'.  She pouted, cajoled, and manipulated him to get him to go workout with her all the time.  When all he wanted to do was play NHL Hockey, EA Sports and Mario Cart on the Nintendo with Chuck.  

My very first roommate was a Bohemian who never washed her hair (and I'm not sure if she even showered), had it in dread-locks, wore clothes from the 70's - mostly tie-dye and was an art major. I'm sure you can visualize her side of the room.  My side consisted of Precious Moments posters, a pristine white and pink Laura Ashley bed-spread with rose-buds and my prize possession, a cross-stitch of bears and bunnies that I framed and set next to my boom-box.  I don't know who was weirder - her or me.  I had just escaped from my little bubble and had yet to learn of the 'real world' outside of our cult church.

Another roommate only ate boiled chicken.  And yet another one told me she was reading up on becoming a Wiccan.  I found this interesting since I had met her parents and they were Christian missionaries.  She showered up to three times a day or more.  She liked to be really clean.

Good times

Mar 19, 2015

What Love Looks Like

3/19/2015 — cori

Before Chloe was even born Bennett couldn't wait for her to get here.  He would lift up my shirt and talk into my belly button to his sister saying, "Come to me Zozie" (he called her Zozie cuz he couldn't pronounce Chloe).  Ever since, he has treated her like a queen.  He is her champion, her best friend and her playmate.  I came across these pictures today and couldn't help but take a little walk down memory lane.  Even though they are 13 and (almost) 11, they still love to play together. Yes, they get on each other's nerves and yes, they argue, but they are always there for each other.

Adoration.
Batman had to take a break from saving the world to kiss his little Tigger.


Beaming with pride.


Friend and teacher - bonus!  Placemats are wonderful teaching tools.


Superheroes ready to save the world!


Showing off his newly acquired bike riding skills (and his muscles).  
Who better than a sister to impress.

Strolling hand in hand - Protector.


Sports encourager.


Best friend.


Togetherness.

Playmate.

 
Crazy Cowboys.


Carrier of sister.


Snow Buddy.


Traveling Buddy.

The One Who Makes You Laugh.


Mar 18, 2015

The Case of the Disappearing Frying Pan

3/18/2015 — cori
I am a person of ritual.  Every single morning I make myself eggs.  First I put on the tea kettle to boil, then I place the frying pan on the other burner - in that order.  You can imagine my surprise when I open up the cupboard to grab the pan and lo-and-behold, it is not there.  This pan never goes in the dishwasher.   So if it's not in the cupboard, it's usually on the side of the sink drying or in the sink still dirty.  I was flummoxed.  How am I supposed to continue my morning routine without my pan?  I had to break down and use a different pan just this once in order to eat my eggs on time.  I was just going to have to accept this mystery.  It would hound me the rest of the day.

I looked in every conceivable spot for the elusive pan.  The only place I didn't check was the trash can.  Chuck just took the trash out to the dumpster this morning and I wasn't really excited about digging through the dumpster in the cold.  I'd save that as a fun family activity this evening if the pan was still AWOL.

Then came my favorite time of day...the kids coming home from school.  We talked about our days, had a snack and they went off to do homework.  Then it dawned on me...one of my favorite people was probably the culprit.  One of them had to know where my missing pan was.  So I stood in the kitchen and yelled to all the 'innocent until proven guilty' parties, "Who knows where my frying pan went?"  I knew that would be the fastest way to draw out the guilty party.

Bennett comes slinking out of his room with a huge grin on his face.  "What in the world is there to smile about, Mister?  I am missing my favorite frying pan and here you are smiling.  Do you realize I had to use a different pan to cook my egg on this morning? What did you do with it?"  His smile just got wider and wider as I bulleted him with questions.

"Well... I kinda forgot where it went so I just put it here...."


...and he leads me to our utensil drawer!  "Since I couldn't remember where the pans went, I thought this would be a fun place to put it."

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you the Frying Pan Stealer.  Don't trust him with your pans people.

Cuddling

3/18/2015 — cori

Since the kids have been very young, they've always done the after dinner chores.  One of them sweeps, one does the dishes and the other clears the table and dries dishes all while babbling incessantly or listening to loud music or making weird, loud noises.  It's how they roll.  During this nightly ritual, Chuck and I wander off to our bedroom or the study or the family room and have some much needed time together catching up on our days.  Often times the kids find us cuddling.  I guess we talk better when we cuddle.

So the other day, we're in position on the floor talking when Bennett comes wandering downstairs smiling at us.  You always have to wonder what Bennett is up to when he's smiling at you.  He comes, stands over us and says, "You guys are going to make a cute old couple."

No explanation, no expounding on his thinking process, no nothing.  We're left wondering if he thinks we're old now.  Or maybe he saw us 30 years down the road lying on the floor because we both fell and couldn't get up.  Why doesn't he think we're a cute young couple?  Does cuddling make us cute or is lying on the floor cute?  Unfortunately, we'll never know.

But cuddling is definitely a huge part of our love language around here.  Bennett still cuddles me whenever he gets the chance.  Chloe loves to snuggle up close all the time.  And Chuck, well, he's a world class cuddler.  I'm glad Bennett thinks laying on the floor cuddling the one you love is normal (at any age)...because it sure is around here.

Mar 15, 2015

Growth

3/15/2015 — cori



Spring blooms just make me happy.  And it's those very blooms that I want to talk about.

As I was outside in this gorgeous Spring weather (6 days before Spring is officially here) working in the yard, I had another epiphany.  It seems to be a 'thing' with me.  I often 'epiph' when I do manual labor. Anyways, we thought it would be smart to dig up a lot of our weeds before everything got green and buggy in just a few weeks, making our job much, much harder. It was such a huge success. We cleared a bunch of dead growth, over-grown weeds and brush. 

As I was weeding the garden today, I had to pull all the old, dry, dead weeds up by the roots.  Many of those roots were covered with leaves.  When I moved the leaves away to see if I was getting at the root, I noticed new growth already starting at the very bottom of each weed.  Hmmm, I thought to myself, that's odd. The weed is already growing but I can't see any result of it above the leaves, its only down here in the dirt and on the inside.

This is where my epiphany starts to get good:  Hmmm....I wonder if that's like us.  We think we see new growth when we see the 'fruit' show up in our lives, but maybe the growth is happening on the inside and deep underneath the soil where no one can see.  The fruit is the result of growth happening, not the growth itself.

Pretty deep, huh?!  We praise others when we see beautiful fruit in their lives.  But the fruit or flowers only come after what appears to be a dormant season.  Growth has to happen first.  During the dormant season when things don't feel so good and/or things look rather bleak, that's when the real growth is occurring.  Growth doesn't always look pretty, but the fruit or bloom does.  We reap the benefit of those inward struggles at the end of all that mental/spiritual wrestling when we finally see the 'fruit' in due season.

Mar 3, 2015

Mom Update 3.4

3/03/2015 — cori

You know how after a few months your smartphone needs new software updates?  Or often times your apps need updating once a week.  Well, come to find out, I need updating as well.  Turns out I'm not as 'hip' as I once thought.  I know, I know...big shocker.  But it's true.  I don't know teenage speak.  This is a huge downfall of mine.  Maybe if I worked in that sector, I would better understand this class of humans.  But I don't.  And I don't understand much of what is said or grunted; thereby causing me to seek my own update.

I asked Gavin the other day,  "Hey Bud, can you tell me all the things I don't know?"

And he's like, "Mom, I don't know what you don't know."

And I'm like, "You know what I mean!  C'mon, just tell me the things I don't know, like how y'all communicate with each other cuz it's apparent I don't know the lingo anymore."

After many condescending smiles, laughs, eye-rolls and huffy breaths he finally comes up with a few very important phrases/words that I should know.  I hope y'all have paper and pencil handy because I aim to educate everyone, not just myself.

1.  Calling hacks.  This is what you do when you accuse someone of cheating.  Here it is used in a sentence: "I call hacks on him."

2.  Sketchy.  This means shady or questionable.  Sentence:  "That bridge looks sketchy."

3.  Salty.  At first I thought he meant psalty - as in relation to a song.  But no, I was wrong.  It means annoyed, miffed, upset or embarrassed.   Example:  Suppose I just failed a raid in Clash of Clans, then someone might tell me, "Oh, you're salty now."

4.  Been roasted.  This happens when you are beaten in an argument (or anything) by another person.  Sorry, no example was given in my software update session.

5. MLG - Major League Gamer.  You tell someone that they are a MLG when you want to compliment them about doing good on something.  At least that's the way I understood it.

6. Gucci.  I don't know if this one is just Gavin or other's his age spout this word as frequently, but he sure does.  He says this in place of the word "good".

As you can see, verbiage has changed a bit over the years.  But now we're in the know.  We don't have to have those blank stares when humans of the adolescent genre speak with us older humans. Communication is of utmost importance between generations.

Once my software update was complete I said, "Great! Now I'll be able to talk like you and then other kids will think I'm cool.  Can I still say cool, is that a thing?  Does it still mean the same thing?"

This did not please him.  He shakes his head, looks and me with a huge smile and says, "Yes, cool still means cool.  You can know these things, but you are not allowed to speak of them - it would just seem weird for a person in a different generation to use it.  It would just be weird."

So in order to honor my son's MLG software update, I won't call hacks on him for teaching me and then telling me I can't tell anyone what I now know.  But I do think he's being a little sketchy about it. Come to think of if, I do feel a little salty towards him.  So that I don't get roasted by him, I'll just let it go and call it gucci.  I wouldn't want to be perceived as 'weird'.

Mar 2, 2015

Don't Hurry

3/02/2015 — cori

As I was admiring my beautiful flowers this morning, a wonderful epiphany was dropped into my brain.  It has been said that everything we need to know in life we can learn from nature.  So I started thinking, "What does nature show me in these flowers?"  The first thing that came to mind was that you cannot hurry a flower.  It blooms when the time is right.  I suppose I could peel apart the bud and try to hurry it along, but it wouldn't look right, it would hang all wrong, not the way it was designed to be. It would never achieve it's full life if I robbed it of each stage it needs to go through.  It's beauty would be wasted.   If you wait for the right time, you are rewarded with the most beautiful blossom.

The same holds true for our children.  We cannot hurry them from one developmental stage to the next.  If they don't read good at 7, it doesn't mean they are bad readers, it just means their brain isn't ready to bloom in this particular area yet.  If they aren't walking by 1, nothing is wrong with them, they aren't slow or behind...their body and brain are just not ready to put all those mental and physical sequences together.  When the time is right, your child blossoms.  Let them.  Don't hurry them. Enjoy each phase, stage, and thing they can do right at this moment.  That's when it's the most beautiful.

We appreciate the flower more when we've nurtured it and watched it grow from a tightly closed bud to a brilliant, open flower.  We keep it watered and in the sun.  It's actually love and care that encourages the blooming.  The beauty and design behind the whole process is awe inspiring and should never be forced, just enjoyed.

Feb 12, 2015

Project Based Learning

2/12/2015 — cori
Chloe's school is a new, charter school in our area that believes kids learn best in a project-based environment.  I agree that many children do learn best in this way but it's not for everyone.  You have to be a very self-motivated student with lots of self-discipline and most of all possess a strong sense of curiosity and desire to learn.

The students have done many projects already this year.  Currently, Chloe is working on making a brochure inviting people to come visit the Palace of Versailles.  She was recently interviewed by the local newspaper and explained her latest project, which at the time was the "Hero Project".  She chose a relatively unknown person in the Women's Suffrage Movement, Lydia Taft.

However, it was her first project, "Endangered Animals of Minnesota" that taught her the most as well as challenged her the most.  She learned a lot about how to research, make an bibliography, how not to plagiarize,  and how to make a website.  That last one was hard but worth it.

Luckily, she has a rock star web-designer Dad.  He was able to help teach her the basics about page layout, user friendly designs, fonts, colors and text.  It took many hours to make and many more hours to edit.  But even after all the tears and huffy breaths, she was super proud of what she turned out.  And so was I!

I'm so amazed what kids are able to do with technology these days.  In college I was still using poster board to make presentations.  The World Wide Web was just being introduced to us in 1995.  And here we are 20 years later and my daughter is creating her very own website thanks to Weebly.  What a positive use of technology.


National History Day

2/12/2015 — cori
Every year the 7th graders compete in a National History Day project.   The requirements are to think outside the box and present the information they learn through research in the form of a website, documentary or research paper.  This year's theme was Leadership and Legacy.

At first Bennett wanted to research Benjamin Franklin but his teacher nixed that idea saying he was too common, to think outside the box a little more.  Next he came up with MLK, Jr., but again, another prominent figure, worthy of studying, but too well known.  The idea was to learn about someone lesser known but that still made an historical impact.  Thinking along those lines, Bennett decided on Malcolm X. 

He created this website using Weebly.  I was super impressed!  So was his teacher.  He made a 97% on this project that he spent 2 months working on.  I learned a lot about Malcolm X that I never knew.  I'm glad he did this project.

The teacher picks out the top 15 projects in the school and those students go on to Regionals, then State, then Nationals in Washington D.C.  I look forward to seeing how far Bennett's hard work takes him.


The Banquet

2/12/2015 — cori

This High School sophomore has finally found his niche.  Not only do these kids think like him, have similar interests and enjoy learning, they also love to dress up as much as he does.  Mock Trial is the place to be - at least for Gavin.  He feels comfortable with these kids.  They enjoy the brain stimulation, the challenge and the verbal back and forth that comes with the territory.  You must love what you're doing if you write and memorize a 5 minute closing argument and pull it off like a real lawyer - all for fun.  They are all highly intellectual, articulate, conscientious students.

My "Mocklete" (a term his group coined and call themselves), I'm so proud of him.  During this time of adolescence your friends carry a high degree of importance in your life.  You are gaining more and more independence and finding out where you fit in this world (albeit the small world of high school).  I'm so happy for Gavin that he found these kids.  If you know Gavin, you know this is huge. He has always been a loyal, one-on-one friend.  He doesn't need a group of people around him to feel good about himself.  But he has just blossomed since joining this Mock Trial Club.  It certainly makes a difference when you find like-minded friends.  He was even nominated and voted for Junior Team Captain next year.   

But all that isn't the purpose of this story, that was just the background.  The purpose is the re-telling of the Mock Trial Banquet.  A couple of weeks ago Gavin came home and announced that there would be a banquet and I was to write it in my calendar.  But alas, it was not for families - just Mockletes.  And it wasn't going to be at the school, but at somebody's house.

So I said, "Oh.  So it's a party."

And he said, "No. It's a Banquet."

So I said, "Will there be food?"

And he said, "Yes."

So I said, "Then it's a party."

And he said, "No. It's a Banquet."

I'm going to cut our conversation short due to space and boredom, but it did go on for a while longer with just as much enthusiasm and short answers as above.  And since I was arguing with a Mocklete, he won.  My objections weren't strong enough.

So, he's invited to his first ever high school party at someone's house and he is calling it a banquet.  In my book - that's funny!  Then he realizes he's supposed to bring something to this banquet and he begins to panic.

"Mom, what should I bring to the banquet?"

"What do you know how to make?"

"Um.  Nothing."

"Ok then....how about some pop?" (Minnesotan for soda)

Unfortunately for him, the hostess of the banquet was providing the pop so he had to work extra hard to come up with a passable banquet food item he could make and bring.  We finally came up with homemade chocolate chip cookies.  You know, the kind from the back of the Nestle Toll House bag.  

He rocked the cookies.  Everyone at the banquet loved them.  The hostess even asked for the recipe. He asked me if he could bring her a mimeographed copy.  

I asked him what he did at the banquet.  Apparently they stood around and talked.  Then they played a Wii Dance Off game.  I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that!  Then they passed out homemade awards (and as in homemade I mean a piece of ripped construction paper with quickly written words scribbled across the page).  Gavin won the award for "Most Likely To Say I Love You Back".  It must hold some weight because he even taped it to his door when he got home.

I think next year I'm going to hold a banquet at my house for my birthday.  They sound so much more fun than regular old parties.