Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Tales of John

John's kindergarten teacher works on a stop light system for behavior.  Every child starts on green and gets one verbal warning a day before moving to yellow.  Once a child has had his verbal warning and still proceeds with the violating offense , he is moved to yellow.  If the behavior still continues, the child is moved to red.  For both yellow and red the child looses free time for the day and for red the child also gets a trip to the principals office.  John has a take-home folder that contains a baggie in which a colored piece of paper resides.  I check the folder everyday after he gets off of the bus to make sure the paper is green.  One day last week the paper was yellow and on it was written "John was talking LOUDLY while the teacher was trying to teach."  I took one look at the paper and told John that this wasn't good.  The poor kid burst into tears.  He went on and on about how he hated the color yellow now and that he felt so bad for talking.  He also tried the old "it wasn't my fault" excuse.  An excuse that did not get him anywhere.  We talked about how he didn't need to talk all the time and how he should get better about that.  He was still feeling pretty bad about the whole situation so I suggested he apologize to his teacher the next morning.  John decided to take it a step further and write his teacher a note.  He wanted to do it all by himself.

His teacher was kind enough to write back. She also informed us in an email later that John is a sweet boy who makes lots of friends.  In fact, a few of his friends wanted to give him their green ticket and take his yellow one because they felt so bad for him.  Sweet, sweet kids.

I found out through all of this that John had been getting verbal warnings almost everyday for talking.  I told him I was proud that he was able to control himself and stop after the warning...but that he shouldn't be getting daily warnings for talking.  Since the yellow card incident he has come home everyday excited that he didn't get a warning.  He was even 'Race Car Winner' of the week for staying quiet and raising his hand to talk.  I don't think I've seen the last of the yellow card, but it should be a long while before it makes its way to our house again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Great Grandma and Grandpa Ruppert

One of the last days we were in New York I decided to try to take a picture of the boys with my grandparents.  Usually someone ends up crying.  Not this time...I think it actually went pretty well.

The boys love their great grandparents.  I'm so happy they have been able to spend some quality time with them.  I may be a bit biased, but I think my grandparents are the greatest.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Adventures of August

Well, it is that time again.  Potty training time.  I'm tired of changing two kids' diapers everyday and, while I didn't want to push Gus, I felt he was ready when he could successfully make it through the day when he was wearing his bathing suit.  Why not try with underwear?  So, I bought my last box of diapers and, as I opened the box, I told Gus that when these diapers were gone they were gone, and he needed to be a big boy.  He was reminded everyday so I feel as though he had ample notice. There was just a little bit of resistance on his part in the beginning but things seem to be going well now.

I am absolutely horrible about reminding him to go.  This whole training thing for him is also a training thing for me.  Usually when I remember to tell him to go it has been a few hours and I'm rushing him to get on the potty.  Gus does not like to be rushed.  Gus will resist any rushing attempts.  The other day I totally forgot about the potty training for several hours and I was just remembering when I heard, "Mom! Mom!" coming from John downstairs. I went downstairs expecting an accident and I found Gus hitting John and yelling, "NO!!  I'M NOT POOPY!"  To which John says, "Okay, but you sure look like you are and you sure smell like you are."  This made Gus hit and scream again.  Needless to say one of them was right and one of them was wrong.  I kind of wish John had been wrong.  Gus is still adamant that he was right...this is a great teaching opportunity about looking at the facts in front of you.

While I don't want to rush Gus, I also don't want him to have an accident.  He really hasn't had that many but a couple of times he's cut it really close.  Yesterday I knew he hadn't been in a long while and I was urging him to go.  Gus goes when he feels like it and not a minute sooner.  He's a stubborn little two year old.  After resisting my suggestion that he go (he does a lot of resisting), he runs into the bathroom and barely, and I mean barely, makes it on time.  After he is done, he comes out of the bathroom and says, "See I told you I not pee in my underwear!"  He was right.  And, while this was a little too close for comfort for me, I'll let him potty train the way he wants.  As long as I'm not picking up multiple accidents I shouldn't care about how long he goes between potty breaks. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Birthday Party and an Open House

What does a person do when they have a kid turning 5 and a newly painted/decorated house?  Throw a party, of course.  I figured the guest list would be the same for both parties, so rather than do the work twice, I decided to have it all together.  This also gave me a deadline for painting.  I'm still not completely done, but I had a few big rooms that still weren't done at the time the party was planned.  So I went to work painting, cleaning, planning and unpacking.  I got it done the night before.  I was tired, stressed and, to top it off, I had a horrible kink in my neck...but I did it.

My mom came in town a few days before to take John to A Day Out With Thomas and to help me with odds and ends.  My mother and father in-law drove in the night before to have a nice dinner with us.  Oh yeah, it was also our anniversary.  So, Hans and I spent our anniversary riding Thomas and having dinner with my mother, mother and father in-law, our kids and our nieces.  Other than the horrible kink in my neck I had a good time.  It is always nice when we can all get together.

On to the party.  The morning started off nice and sunny and quickly became gloomy and then it rained.  Not a light drizzle, but buckets and buckets of water.  My plan for the guys taking the kids to McDonalds while the girls finished getting the house ready were foiled but Hans and his dad still braved the treacherous weather to drive to McDonalds to get food.  Because you can't tell kids they are getting McDonalds and then not deliver McDonalds...that is just cruel.  In the end it all worked out just fine.  The kids got McDonalds, the house was clean, food was ready, and guests arrived.  I'm pretty sure I sent my nieces back home tired and  hyped up on chocolate milk, junk food and auntly duties were fulfilled.

Before the party started, John and Solveig brought gifts for all of the kids.  Machara got a camera and she loved it.  She wanted a picture taken with Anders and she wanted it taken with her camera but she wasn't ready to hand it over.  She settled for this...but then we couldn't get these two to smile at the same time
(of course) 

 Our house was filled with family and friends.  It was a wonderful way to spend the day.  John had a blast.

 I don't think I ever posted a picture of sweet Adeline.  We stayed with Addie and her parents when we first moved here.  Addie was a good sport about all the noise in her house.  I think she had fun.  Here, Addie is meeting her new friend Nathaniel for the first time.  I think he is only a month or two old.  Isn't he precious?  I love how he is looking at her.

 Gifts were given.  John enjoyed it all.

 Trying to keep John still long enough to read cards was a task.  Grandma Fiene did her best.  He truly loved all of his presents and we sat down and read all of the cards again after everyone left.

 Then it was cake time.  Gus got to the cake before a picture was taken and I'm just thankful he only managed to disturb John's name and not the cake itself.

 Singing Happy Birthday.

 I think the kids liked the birthday cake.  Machara is sitting behind John and actually smiling for this picture.

When I went to get a shot with Machara, she didn't feel like smiling anymore but she did pose for me.

 John's actual birthday fell on a Monday this year.  He requested that we save some presents for his actual birthday.  He was ready to open the presents right after we woke up.

 Anders discovered the singing cards.

 After we all got dressed, my mom and I took John to get his first library card.  John has enjoyed having a library card. 

After the library we had to say goodbye to Grandma Huebel.  Hey!  Everyone is looking at the camera!

It was a fun-filled weekend.  John had a great party and birthday.  Thank you to everyone for coming and making his day special.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Momma Said There'd Be Days Like This"

I thought I would share a funny story about me for a change.  I am actually having a hard time calling it funny because it just happened and I'm not ready to laugh about it yet.  I still haven't gotten my breath back.

Every day John comes home on the bus.  Normally the bus driver stops outside of each Kindergartner's house and an adult must be present before the kid is let off of the bus.  Today the school had an early dismissal, so all of the kids from our neighborhood grades K-4 were on the bus as well.  We received a couple of reminders this week that this would be the case and also to remind us that the bus would stop at the regular bus stops and not at each Kindergartner's house.  I didn't forsee this being a problem because the bus stop is the driveway next door and John uses said bus stop to get on the bus every morning.  Oh- AND the neighbors who live in the 'bus stop' house have two kids who were on the bus, one of whom is in John's class.  So you can see why I wasn't really worried about this small change.  I told John that he would be coming home with the same kids he rides to school with in the morning and that he would be a little later than normal.  I neglected to tell him that he should get out when he saw our house.

Since this wasn't a normal day, and I wasn't sure when the bus would be arriving, I had the front windows open so I could hear the bus when it stopped right next door.  I'm not sure I can stress enough just how close this bus stopped to our house. I was just getting Anders up from his nap when I heard the big diesel engine and the squeaky breaks.  I quickly walked down the stairs and opened the front door so I could motion John inside for lunch.  I saw a handful of kids getting off of the bus, including our neighbors and then turned my head for a split second to remind Gus for the umpteenth time not to empty his frog potty into the big potty because the contents of the potty ends up on the floor.  Which is gross.  Which is also one of the reasons why our house smells like a boys locker room.

Nonetheless, I turned my head back in just enough time to see the doors close and the bus pull away.  I looked in the neighbors' driveway expecting to see John, but he was not there.  I looked at the bus again and saw John sitting in the window seat of the first row.  He even smiled at me.  The neighbor kids started yelling at the bus driver to stop.  She didn't hear them.  Not knowing what else to do I put Anders down, shut the door and started running after the bus, praying I would catch it and that, in the meantime, my other two kids wouldn't get into something dangerous or destructive.

Now, as if this wasn't ridiculous enough, I must describe what I was wearing.  During Anders nap I had taken a shower and started to get ready for work.  I've gradually been losing weight, so I decided to try on a pair of jeans I haven't been able to wear in a long while.  When they fit I was so pleased I decided to put on my cute, HEELED brown boots and a cute shirt that I also hadn't been able to wear for a while.  I had been doing my makeup when Anders awoke so I only had half my face done and my hair was still wet from the shower.  And yet, I still decided to run after the bus.  My motherly instinct kicked in and I was going to run after my baby.  Nevermind that the bus driver would have noticed that one kid remained on the bus after all of the stops had been made, or that this system was new to all Kindergartners, so she probably would have asked him where he lived.  And, since John knows his address, he would have proudly told her where we lived.  No, those thoughts escaped my brain and I was just running.  Knowing I couldn't catch the bus by running behind, it I ran across the street and through some backyards to cut the bus off at the next street's stop.  I was very thankful we live in a community that is open and very few people have fences.  But I was not thankful at that moment for living in a community that has walkout basements, meaning I had to run down and then back up a steep hill on grass and in heels to get to the next street.  I reached the sidewalk just as the bus zoomed by.  Seriously!?!

I had no other choice.  I had to catch the bus.  So I started to run after it again, positive that it would stop soon.  It did stop, but either those buses drive fast or I am a very slow runner, or maybe it was a combination of the two.  The bus stopped, it let out a number of kids, I kept running and doing my best to shout to the kids coming off of the bus to tell the driver to stop.  The kids just looked at me.  They were probably wondering what this deranged lady was doing.  The bus took off again and I started running faster. My saving grace came when a boy who lives only two doors down from me had gotten off of the bus on that very street.  I don't know why he chose to get off of the bus farther from his house and I don't care.  I was glad to see him.  I asked him why John didn't get off of the bus and he said he didn't know but that he would get him.  Off he went, a fourth grade speed racer.

So John got off of the bus and walked down the block to me.  I didn't move after the neighbor boy went running.  I was trying not to throw up and cursing myself for letting my body get so out of shape.  I asked John why he didn't get off of the bus.  With my forced breathing I must have sounded mad because had a tear in his eye and said he couldn't get out of his seat in time so he was just going to wait.  He apologized the whole way home.  I felt bad and told him I wasn't mad.  I think he was feeling sorry for me because I was breathing heavy and limping.  Once we got back on our street, I could hear the other two boys screaming from a few houses down.  That is not always a good sign.  I walked into the house and found Gus upstairs screaming out of the open window for someone to save him and Anders had made it halfway up the stairs and was dangerously close to falling.  I scooped up Anders and noticed that he was all wet so now I was all wet.  A quick sniff and spying of a puddle on the floor told me that, for some reason, my dog had peed on the floor and Anders had been playing in it.  Gross, gross and more gross. What a day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Weekend in Indiana

 My mother in-law was kind enough to send me some pictures of our weekend with them.  It was such a short trip packed with lots of excitement that I forgot to take pictures.  When I got home I realized that the only picture I had was the grandparents with the 5 grandkids (posted here) and yet that is not even close to the amount of activity we packed into two days.  We played, we talked, we laughed, we ate, we drank and somewhere in there we slept.  We also saw a horrible movie called Smurfs, maybe you've heard of it?  I would say it was a waste of money, except for the fact that grandparents and aunts got to spend time with their grandchildren, nieces and nephews...and the kids had fun.  We also got to go to church at Advent.  It is always good to see familiar, smiling faces.

Anders was still in his I'm a pill and I'm teething mood.  However, right after this picture, Aunt Andrina gave him an ice cream sandwich.  She knows how to win her way into this little man's heart.  As I remember all of this I'm thinking 'Seriously, Katie.  Where was your camera?'

 Eva was very sweet to Gus.  She was his little mother during the pictures and was trying her best to get him to sit still, look at the camera and smile.  If Eva had accomplished this, I would say she has super powers.

 Sweet Uncle Christian.  

The kids were all taking a break from running and playing outside to watch some 'toons.  I know there was a bit of discussion about what they were going to watch.  Boys vs. girls.  I think the girls they should.

We had almost the whole family in town for this fun weekend.  Hopefully we can get all of Hans' siblings together and take a family picture soon.  I smile at the thought of that task...9 adults and 5 kids.  Sounds fun.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Blaschke Visit

The Blaschkes are our friends from Texas.  They are also Anders' godparents.  Back when we lived in Denver, Kathy asked if we would like to use their playset for the boys.  This isn't something you want to move around so we were waiting to find a house to buy...and then we moved to Illinois.  While Hans was concerned with other aspects of a house, I always made sure to look at the yard to see if would accommodate a nice sized set.  We settled into our new house, took a vacation and then the Blaschke family came for a visit.  I was very excited to see them and even more excited that we lived in place big enough that we could accommodate all of them.  I should have taken a picture of the set when it was still in pieces on the trailer.  There wasn't room for one more thing.  We found a semi-level space in our yard and went to work.  I actually didn't do any work, but I did feed everyone.  That counts, right?

Just the beginning.  The boys were getting excited.

While they waited Kathy put the slide on the hill and added some water.  This occupied them for quite some time.

John got a little restless and wanted this project finished pronto.  He decided to help dig for the sand box.

Kathy carted dirt around to various low parts of our yard.  -Notice Hans is absent...

Hans' absence in the previous picture was due to the fact that he was taking a break and playing a Wii game with Matthew.  Even though this picture is a bit blurry, I love it for several reasons:
1.  Hans is trying really, really hard to win.
2.  Matthew is laughing at Hans' insane determination
3.  Hannah is trying to figure out what Hans is doing
4.  Gus knows what his dad is doing and is saying to himself, "Oh, Dad.  Give it up."

 John couldn't wait any longer to try it out.

 He loves being in the 'treehouse' part.

Gus would get up to the highest part and then get too scared to come down.  That lasted a couple of days before he figured out that he needed to get down himself because his mom was not going to climb up there every five minutes.  I'm so mean.

Just precious.

 Gus discovered that he liked swinging high and fast in the baby swing.

 I think Mark did this several times.

Gus had so much fun he fell asleep.

Speaking of sleep...
It was a long day of work.

Even Fritz was pooped.  Fritz and Hannah hung out most of the weekend.  I think Fritz still misses Hannah.  She took such good care of him.

Needless to say, all the neighborhood kids end up in our yard now.

Thank you, thank you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vacation Highlights

I think our two weeks of vacation produced way over two weeks worth of posts.  Those were some fun-filled two weeks.  Aside from all of the karaoke, ice cream, putt-putt, swimming and boating, we just relaxed and enjoyed our schedule free days.

John drew Gus.  The last time he drew Gus, he drew him with a poopy diaper...this is an improvement.

 Anders enjoyed time with Great Grandpa.

He also enjoyed tormenting Gus by taking all of his favorite toys.

 Lots of laughing.

We had so much fun John nearly fell asleep sitting up.

 My grandma made alphabet cookies so the boys could spell their names.

The boys had a good time eating the cookies.  Anders couldn't say it yet, but he will someday taunt his brothers that has a longer name...comes in handy sometimes.

Fritz loved all of his freedom.  He spend most of his time under the deck because it was nice and cool.

Then that cute little dog walked right between my grandpa's legs and made him fall.  Does it just look horrible?  After all the damage that little pup caused, my grandparents still love that dog.  That says a lot about a person.  They were way more forgiving than I was and it wasn't even my stuff or my face!

 We read,

and read,

 and read some more.

 We enjoyed hanging out with family.  Hans' cousin Andrew and his wife Leah came to see us.

Anders liked meeting his 2nd cousin, Jacob.  Jacob is only one day younger than Anders.

 Anders decided to get some teeth and was grumpy 50% of the time.  Most of that 50% took place between the hours of 11pm and 6am.

The other 50% of the time he was like this.  Much better.

 Fritz discovered the water.  He wasn't as excited about it as I thought he would be.  Maybe next year.

We spent quality time with my cousins, Jimmy and Ericka.

And, we can't forget to mention the worms.  Oh, the worms.  They were dirty, slimy and just plain disgusting.  But they provided hours of enjoyment for the boys.

It was a wonderful two weeks filled with family and good memories.