Thursday, May 29, 2008

Butterflies, soap boats, volcanoes, and spinning paint

These are a few of my favorite things. Well, actually these are some of Cam's fun summer projects from week one of school vacation.

We watched caterpillars turn into butterflies and then set them free.

We made a volcano that was supposed to erupt but it only leaked red goo out of the bottom. It was still fun though.

Cam made a soap boat out of a bar of soap a nail and a leaf. Why I don't know but he really wanted to and it looked pretty good. He is a creative kid.

Taking the soap boat for a spin.

Spinning paint machine. Cam made lots of art work with this.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I almost got squished

Whats left of the branch

Yesterday I got up early to bring in my doctor release to work. It had stormed the night before so everything was still a bit wet out side but it didn't look too bad. I pulled back into the driveway and was about to get out of the car but I hesitated for a few seconds because I was listening to something being discussed on the radio. Then I heard this big CRACK and another branch from the oak tree fell on the car. The whole car shook. If I had gotten out a few seconds earlier I would have been hit by the branch and flying glass.

The branch actually fell on both cars. The Avalon (that I was in) was scratched up but really looked surprisingly unharmed. The Suzuki got hit with the heaviest part of the branch. The back window was turned to a million tiny shards of flying glass and the trunk has a big dent in the top of it now.

I called Jeff and he came out to drag the branch off and assess the damage. Our neighbors across the street came out because they heard the impact from inside their house. The glass is covering the driveway in both directions and went into the yard as well. Thank goodness I hadn't put the kids in the car because the backseat and car seats were covered in glass.

Back seat covered in glass

We took the car over to Mom's garage because it was raining. Now it is over at Binswanger Glass getting a window replacement. I hope they can get all the glass shards out of the seat. It will cost around 300 bucks. We will just live with the dent.

Broken window dented trunk

I had to rush back home to take Cam to his 6 year check up. He is doing great. 75th % for height and 50th % for weight, he is 46 inches tall and 46 pounds. What are the chances of that? This is just another little example of Cam magic.

Later that day we got our economic stimulus check. It looks like it will go to disaster repair (new tire, window, and termite treatment). I really hope we are finished with accidents and odd infestations for a while. We did go buy some food though. Eating is good.

On Sunday I used one of the carpet cleaning machines from Jeff's work to clean all the carpets in the house. He gets free rentals on the machine. The carpets look so nice, for the moment. Cam already spilled paint in the kitchen again but that is life around here.

On Monday we had a Memorial Day BBQ. It was fun having everyone over. Some of Jeff's co- workers even stopped by.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Some exciting Emmy news

No I wasn't nominated but my friend Rachel was.

The Daytime Emmy Award Nominations
Outstanding Performer In A Children's Series:






How cool is that!? We knew Rachel should have an Emmy all along. Nice to see Signing Time finally get recognised. Maybe she can sit next to Elmo at the awards.

The Daytime Emmy Awards will be telecast June 20, 2008 on ABC at 8:00 p.m. (ET), Live from Hollywood’s’ Kodak Theatre. I just know she will win.

While we are on the subject of the amazing Rachel Coleman let me tell you about GoodSearch. Think about how many times you do a Google search to look for info on the internet. Wouldn't it be great to help a deserving charity just by using a search engine. Log onto GoodSearch and you can do just that. It is so easy all you do is visit the site and fill in the charity you want to help then add the toolbar to your computer. When you use the search engine the site donates 2 cents to the charity you designate. 2 cents adds up fast and it takes no work. You are already using search engines so put your searching to good use.

I desegnated the signing time foundation but you can also desegnate your kids school if they are members. If they aren't members tell them to sign up. It is an easy way to generate school funds.

So tell everyone you know to hop on over to and help make a difference for some deserving charities.

Rachel just returned from a second trip to Africa where she and the Signing Time Foundation are making a difference in the lives of Deaf students.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Injury update

I went to the doctor on the 23rd and he released me to return to work on June 2nd.

I have 3 more PT sessions then I see the doctor again in 3 weeks then we should be done. I have to go back though if I feel more pain when I return to work.

Mom had an MRI done because her sciatica has been really bad lately. They told her today that she has 2 bulging disks and 2 of her vertebra in her lower back are narrowing. She has to go see a surgeon for a consultation and possibly have back surgery. It is pretty scary but she is one tough lady so I am sure she can beat this.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Birthdays and end of school.

For my birthday Danielle and Russ gave us the VIP treatment. We got to go see Indiana Jones on opening night. It was sold out but they held a couple of spots for us in the balcony which are the best seats. A waiter served us dinner and drinks (I had 2 margaritas) while we watched. I really enjoyed the heated and cooled seats. My back felt much better after a few hours of heat and cold. The movie was pretty good and we enjoyed having a grown up night out. I can't remember the last time we went out without the kids.

So a big thanks to Grandma for childcare and baby sis for entertainment.

Cameron had his big 6th birthday and last day of kindergarten on the 23rd. He was born on the last day of school 2002 so it was funny that both events fell on the same day again. It was a big exciting and busy day. They had a pizza party for end of K and cupcakes for Cam's birthday.

Kay and I went and had lunch with Grandma at Boomerang. Then after school we went to visit Sarah and Courtney at their house. They had cupcakes for Cam and we stayed and had Sarah's yummy bean burgers. Friday is bean burger and organic fries night at Sarah's.

The central air conditioner is not working at our house and today was pretty hot. We have been fine with the windows open and the fans but that wasn't cutting it today. The AC is broken at Sarah's too and I think at Dan's as well. Mom just had hers replaced because it died. Pretty much anyplace I visit the AC is broken. I think It might be a curse. It is just miserable and only going to get worse. Oklahoma summers get into the triple digits pretty quick. So the best policy is to be other places as much as possible.

We came home around 7:00 and Cam got his gift. A collection of Skippy John Jones books. If you haven't read them you should and read them aloud. They are very funny and really give you a workout trying to say all the funny words and rhymes. He was very happy. Then Jeff got the AC to work again for the moment and that made everyone happy. It was a wonderful hectic happy day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What is the world coming to?

My friend Aly was mugged in a crowded grocery store parking lot in the middle of the day. She had 5 bucks in her purse and this woman hit her in the head with a metal pipe, twice. The police caught her and Aly will be OK. This is just so unbelievable that someone would be willing to injure an inocent person for 5 bucks.

Here is the news story:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Taylor Awards

Taylor had his school award ceremony tonight. He got his writing contest award certificate, a certificate of excellence for contributions in language arts, a certificate of outstanding academic performance for scoring in the top 5 % of all students in 8th grade on the ACT explore program in 4 core areas, and a medal for being on the honor roll all 3 years of middle school.

It was a really nice way to spend the evening with all of us together. We took him to his favorite resturant for dinner afterwards. I think he is a great kid. It is nice to see others agree with me.

Friday, May 16, 2008

How can I be so busy and not be getting anything done?

I have been spending a lot of time in PT and doctor visits so even though I am not currently working I am still too busy. I see the doctor once a week and the physical theripist three times a week. Plus I am supposed to do the exercises at home every day and sit with alternating heat and cold packs on my back. Did I mention the muscle relaxers they put me on relax me so well that when I take them I fall asleep for hours. No wonder I have no time.

We have a ton of projects going on but at the moment we are focusing on trying to clean out the garage so the termite barrier can be put in. We have been needing to do this since we moved in. The garage got a lot of stuff dumped in it and we still haven't unpacked those boxes. It seems to be a lot of toys and clothes and holiday decorations. Seriously, where do all these toys come from? They have been packed so long the kids forgot all about them so it's like Christmas around here. I have to wash all the toys then organize them into the proper bins. I just have to, its the OCD. The kids then go dump them all out and yell hey new toys. It looks like Toys R Us vomited in my house. The really scary part is I gave away a ton of stuff and it still looks like I haven't made any progress.

Of course there is the never ending battle with the typical house hold chores. I spend so much time on laundry and dishes. Taylor even washes all the clothes but just getting all the clean stuff put away is a challenge. It is the most unsatisfying type of work. You finish and it just needs done again the next day. I really wouldn't mind doing dishes and laundry if I only had to once a month.

I could not attend our little planned reunion in Utah the 16th-18th. I really wanted Mom and I to get to go this year. I need to re-pay a loan first though and Mom couldn't miss the time this close to the end of school. It sounds like all my wonderful friends had fun though. They sent us a cool shirt so we won't feel too left out of all the fun. We have got to make it to the next one.

Here are the camera pics from the last few weeks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Baby

I have a new nephew. Ethan William, son of my step brother, Eli and his wife Holly. He was born on May 13 at 10:42 PM in Seattle and weighed 8 lbs. 9 ozs. All are doing well and we are so excited. The best days are the days babies are born.

Isn't he cute!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Tribute to Mom

June 2nd 1978 Kindergarten diploma Mom and Jen after graduation.

In honor of Mother's Day I thought I would share a few things about my wonderful Mom.

When I was a kid My Mom and Dad got divorced when I was pretty little. My Mom managed to take care of everything even though she was a single Mom. She got a job working for the telephone company and my Grandma helped out with watching me when Mom was at work.

A lot of times things were really hard for her but she always made sure I was taken care of. When I started school I really struggled. I didn't want Mom to leave me at Kindergarten. That first year was a bit chaotic because my teacher got sick and passed away from cancer. We had lots of substitutes so I think my problems kind of went under the radar. In first grade it became more apparent I was struggling. I could not read even simple words or identify many letters.

In 2nd grade I was tested and we found out that while my IQ was in the 125 range I had dyslexia. I started to get extra help in the special class for kids with learning disabilities. It wasn't much help and I still couldn't read very well at all. Mom worked with me at home and that did help. Having someone who was focused on me and who knew me so well made the difference and I started to make progress. I know it was not easy. We both felt very frustrated a lot of the time but Mom never gave up on me. And because I loved her and wanted to make her happy I didn't give up either.

I wonder how many hours we spent going over words and trying to decipher books. She would show me the word how and I would read who. I kept writing my J's backwards and mixing up b's and d's. I couldn't write an S to save my life. I could read the book Whose Mouse Are You because I had memorised it. But I still couldn't really read.

Then one day after so many hours of trying not to loose her patience I read a page from Dr. Seuss's ABC. You would have thought I had won the Nobel Peace Prize. She was so thrilled. I was so happy. She brought me to read to everyone we knew. It was quite the celebration and a turning point for me. Once that wall was broken down, once I figured out the trick nothing could stop me. I started to read everything. In the next few school years I caught up with my classmates then passed them. By the time I started 9th grade I was reading and writing on college level.

Mom taught me so much with her patience and endurance. Sometimes life is hard but you can't just give up. She learned something about herself too. She has a gift for helping kids. She returned to school and got her degree in Special Education. She has been teaching for 15 years now and her contribution to the lives of her students can not be measured.

Teaching Special Ed is not an easy job. Many people who go into the profession burn out after a few years of frustration, low pay and feeling under appreciated. Mom is still there helping kids. Sometimes she has to tell parents things they don't want to hear, sometimes she has to deal with very difficult parents, she is always buried in paperwork and many times trying to teach grumpy somewhat unpleasant children. She doesn't give up but I know she wonders if she really makes a difference.

I know for a fact that she does make a difference. Many of her students will never be able to tell her but her very first student can. Mom you perform acts of magic and wonderment every day. You make the world a little better place to be for kids who have learning differences and physical differences. The fact that I am able to write this story is proof.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Caution Under Construction

You may have noticed I have been a slacker lately and not posting any new blogs since the end of March. We have had much going on. I have been taking notes I just haven't had computer time. It was getting to the point of no return. I knew if I didn't get the posts at least organized and added I would never catch up. So I kicked Taylor off the computer today and had a marathon posting of outlines and pictures.

You have been warned. All posts from April 3rd through today were added all in one day from my notes. I backdated them to the date of my notes. They are not finished they are just outlines. I will work on getting them complete as quickly as I can.

Friday, May 9, 2008

two more weeks

I saw the Doctor today and he said I had to be out for two more weeks. I haven't told the girls at work yet. I really wish we could get some people hired so we would have staff to cover for injuries, illness, and emergencies.

I saw the PT yesterday and she was totally freaked out by me being able to turn my feet around backwards. She said I should not ever do that unless I am being paid to be in a freaky freak show.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Andy Alligators celebration

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We went to Andy Alligators because I had been wanting to take the kids to check it out since I heard about it opening. Celebrating Taylor's contest win seemed like a good reason.

They had a blast. It wasn't crowded and the staff were friendly. All of the machines worked and you don't need tokens. Everything runs with card readers. You load up a card with the amount you want your kid to have and they swipe it at each game or activity. Nice to not worry about keeping track of all those tokens.

Taylor had a blast and could do all of the activities on his own. Cameron could do most of the activities as a passenger with Taylor. He could even drive the bumper cars all on his own. Not much for Kay to ride because she is too short at the moment but she had fun bowling and playing a few games.

Taylor used his tickets to get Kay a light up butterfly wand. He is so sweet.

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By the waterfall.

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Is this a cigar store?

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The Doctor's buggy.

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Bumper boats.

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This is me and Kay spraying them with the water gun.

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This is fun!

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Cam driving his own bumper car.

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Taylor on the go cart. Cam coulden't go unless he road with a licenced driver. It's hard to tell because the picture is small here but he is signing I love you.

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Kay gives it a shot from her stroller.

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Taking a break.

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Kay tries some games.

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Turning in tickets at the self serve machine.

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Andy Alligators 040Kay's two is showing. She didn't want to stop for a picture she wanted to run. She has the wand Taylor got for her. Cam got a football.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Taylor the famous writer

Taylor entered a writing contest a while back. It was open to all of the middle school kids in Norman. His short story, The Fall of Democracy, won 3rd place! We are so proud of him for trying something new and happy that he was so successful in his attempt. Hopefully he will be encouraged to get out there more.

He will get a certificate, suitable for framing, and his story will be published in the school's anthology. Now he really is a fancy writer type person. Yeah Taylor!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Swing Set of your dreams

We decided to use part of our tax return to invest in a swing set. We had one at the old house and the kids loved it. It is really a necessity for Kay to practice her gross motor skills when we are at home. It will be so good for the kids to play together whenever they want without a trip to the park.

I did a lot of research this time. We decided to go with a kit we can customize to exactly what we want and build it ourselves. Rainbow and Cedar Works have amazing sets but they are way too expensive for our budget. To get a set close to what we wanted would have been upwards of 5,000. We wanted to spend less than 1,000 but get a good gualiy set we wouldn't have to replace evey few years. And we wanted it to have all the parts the kids wanted, no compromises.

We bought the kit with the plans and the hardware then you add the lumber and cut it yourself. Jeff is going to put it all together once it stops raining so the wood can dry out. It is going to look amazing. The kids are so excited just playing with the parts. They want to be Daddy's helpers.

The set will have swings including a sling swing, a disk swing, a 2 person glider and a tire swing. It also has a spot for us to put up our old "boat"swing for the little ones to use with the harness. It will have a slide, a ramp, an inclined ladder and a rock wall. A sand pit, telescope, steering wheel, and fort tower. It is a Consumers Digest Best Buy Award winner.

Now we just need some nice weather and some time. I think I am almost as excited as the kids. We got it from detailed play systems and had the lumber delivered from Lowes. Unfortunately Ace didn't have the lumber we needed.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Kay's funny temper

Kay is usually a very sweet and calm child but sometimes she has a funny reaction to something she just doesn't think is right. She can become quite furious.

A few days ago she got some magnets off of the fridge and wanted them to stick to the cabinets. They fell right off and she looked shocked at them. She wagged that little finger at them and said NO NO. She tried again and got the same result. She moved over to the wall, same thing. This made her quite upset so she fussed at the magnets for a few moments before giving up on them as a lost cause and going on to something else.

Today we were running some errands and Kay got thirsty. I told her we would go get a drink as soon as we paid and got back to the car. Then a lady came up behind us in line with a Sonic cup. Kay wanted a sip of that drink and she wanted it bad. At home we have no problem letting Kay share a sip if she wants. She just didn't understand why the same rules wouldn't apply with a total stranger. She cried and got so worked up her little face turned red. The poor lady felt terrible and kept saying I would give it to her if I hadn't been drinking it already. That is one of those lessons you don't think about teaching a little one. You can share Mommy's drink in a pinch but you can not bum a sip from a stranger.

It all worked out. We bought a bag of M&Ms and that wet her mouth enough for her to survive the long drive up the street for a drink of lemonaide.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Speed Humps

That's right I said speed humps. It's not a typo. We got speed humps installed in our neighborhood. I guess speed bumps just weren't jarring and damaging enough. You have to slow down to 15 or less or you will hit your head on the roof.

The neighborhood on the other side of the school got nice sidewalks put in. We get speed humps. I am all for safety and driving slow and careful near schools and family neighborhoods but I don't think we really had a speeding problem around here. I would rather have sidewalks too.

SO a speed hump is like a speed bump on steroids. Around 14 feet long and 4 inches high they reduce speed to less than 20 MPH to prevent jarring and damage. They cost at least 3,000 per to install.