Sunday, April 5, 2015

A New Addition to the Family!

 Meet Rudy.

Rudy is a dog. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to be precise.

We said we'd never get a dog. We said it repeatedly. And adamantly. A lot.

And now we have a dog.

He is a super sweet and good tempered dog. Really. Like one of the nicest dogs I've ever met. 

But, still. He's a dog. And we said we were never going to get a dog. Todd is allergic. I have enough other things to do!

And yet, we have him. And we adore him.

Caleb is like a dog whisperer. Better, probably. I've never watched that show of the same title, but he and dogs have a thing. (This is as of about 3 years ago when he finally got bigger than most dogs. Until then, he was a little shy around bigger dogs. My parents got two dogs and Caleb did everything with those cuties the whole time we would visit my parents.

Then a few months ago he asked if he could start walking dogs since we couldn't have one. He decided he could be happy just helping to take care of other people's dogs on a regular basis. This seemed like a win win for everyone. Caleb earns money and gets to hang out with dogs, and I didn't have to get one.

But he LOVES dogs, and all of a sudden on our neighborhood fb group up popped a picture of this sweet dog who needed to find a new home due to some circumstances having nothing to do with him. And even though it was crazy, I asked for more information. And called Todd. And emailed back and forth with the owner and researched the breed. And talked to Todd. And then we met the dog.

Then Rudy came over for a play date. Then we went to California. And the day after we came home, Rudy came to live with us.

All the kids are happy, but Caleb is HAPPY. Like he glows a little bit every time this sweet dog so much as looks at him.

So, even though it means I have another kid in the house, essentially, and much more vacuuming to do, and we have to do all manner of crazy things to make sure Todd's allergies stay in check, just watching a boy and his dog is maybe one of the sweetest things I've ever seen.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring in CA!


I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that our summer plans got turned on their ear when the timing didn't work out to visit my niece and nephew in Spain while we were going to be in Europe. Happily,  we discovered that they were coming to visit their mother and Grandparents in CA, so we crashed that party!

Todd flew out a few days early with Caleb and Lilyanna since that was significantly cheaper than waiting the couple of extra days that I had to with the older boys due to their concerts, rehearsals, and tests at school. On a Thursday night immediately after Nathaniel's band concert was over, we went to the Dayton airport where we hung out for 5 or 6 hours waiting for our 5:30 am flight. Incidentally, if you have to be in an airport all night before you go through security, Dayton is an excellent choice. Lovely lounge areas for sleeping!

 Or not sleeping. ;) 

We are so tired.

A view from the San Mateo Bridge. I swear fog like that only happens in the Bay Area. I love it there.

 When we arrived, I was told there were going to be some family pictures. Surprise! So, Grandma took the boys shopping for adequate clothing to wear and I went to sleep. I think I'd been awake for something like 36 hours at that point. There's something to be said for having extended family nearby. I went to sleep and the village took care of my children. It was a lovely thing.
 Nathaniel hates pictures. But the weather was so fantastic, even he couldn't master too much grouchiness about the day.
Lilyanna is ready to move to CA. She was VERY happy to wear her warm weather dresses and sandals again!

 My nephew's English is very good, and my niece's is getting better all the time, but when that fails, the universal language of gaming and technology takes over nicely. ;) 

 Do you see this grass, people?? Caleb kept taking off his shoes just to feel it in between his toes. We'd forgotten about grass here in Ohio. It's been so long.

Oh, yes, and here is Lilyanna with the orange tree in my in-laws backyard. When my father in law is feeling particularly feisty, he texts me pictures of it heavy laden with oranges. He sends it to me in February. I usually send a note back that is impolite at best.

This was taken right after my 12 year old niece tied with my 15 year old cross-country running son. We teased him about that for the rest of the trip.

Seriously. Caleb and Lilyanna are ready to pack up and move.

Sunshine! Grass! Blue skies!!

 There was a shopping day for the girls. They picked these shirts out separately and were excited to model them later. Lilyanna thinks Maite is the best!

 The best part was watching these cousins play together. They only get to see one another every few years, so it makes me happy that when they do, they are able to jump back in to friendship with one another.

Speaking of being silly together, we stayed up late one night to do this to Grandma's kitchen. ;)

Some pranks transcend language barriers nicely.

It was a lovely trip. And we are even more resolved that we need to go visit them in Spain in a few years before everyone is entirely grown up and it gets too tricky to do so!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Seven Things Sunday

1. This is what the first week of March seems to look like in central Ohio. *sigh* We are all so ready for spring and no more snow and ice. BUT, at least the sun is beginning to emerge and the cement gray skies will go away until next late fall finally. Oh happy day!

2.  And this is what a math test looks like at our house lately. A few months ago we switched over to an online math curriculum called ALEKS. It has made math time during the day a much happier experience. When I read the reviews about the program and it talked about how motivated kids were by a pie chart, I confess I did not believe it. But it's totally true! Caleb checks his pie chart all the time to see what he needs to work on to make pieces bigger. It's bizarre to me, but I'm really glad it's working for him!

3. I made my last payment at the hippie-commie preschool this week. Sad to be done being there daily, but Lilyanna is so excited to go to Kindergarten in the fall, that it feels right.

4. On Friday, we had the wonderful pleasure of meeting up with some friends that we were young marrieds with back in our pre-kid days in the Perth Amboy Branch. Serving together in that branch forged a friendship probably stronger than it would have been otherwise (seriously, refiner's fire, people!!), but we sure are glad that we get to touch base with them every few years! Our kids are such compatible ages, that it makes visiting with them fun for the whole family! Here are the kids (except Benjabooboo who had a choir competition and couldn't make it, and Warren who has his own life.).

5. Oh, and then there was this:
 My BABY turned 15 years old! I sure do like this kid and I'm glad he's mine.

6. I'm just going to leave this picture here and say that there is more to come regarding it.

7. I can't believe how quickly spring break is coming. We have just a few short weeks before our big hike!! Appalachian Trail, here we come!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Seven Things Sunday

1. This week Caleb received his Arrow of Light award from Cub Scouts. His birthday isn't for several more weeks, so he technically has a little time left in Cub Scouts, but we're nearly to the end of our time in Cubs with our own kids. Check out his uniform. As only Caleb can wear it, a shirt from an old pack (so with the wrong numbers on it), shirt untucked, no shirt, kerchief, belt, or even shoes. It reminded me of many moons ago when I went to pick up popcorn from the then Pack Leader. She saw 3 year old Caleb in the van and said, "Oh! I don't think I've ever seen him with clothes on. He's usually just in a diaper." She wasn't exaggerating.

 2. My kids are goofy. This isn't exactly news, but I have photographic evidence of it tonight. Yes, that's Benjamin underneath everyone.

3. Our middle school did a fundraiser at Chipotle this week. It worked out best for me to phone in an order and have Todd pick it up on his way home from work, but when I called they were so swamped, they asked me to do the order online. This I then did. Unfortunately when Todd picked up the food, he was told that because I'd paid online they couldn't credit the fundraiser. I was irked since, we don't eat out hardly ever as a family and certainly wouldn't have that night except for the fundraiser. I sent an email to the corporate offices that night, and by the next morning had both and email and a personal phone call apologizing, and letting me know that they'd credited our school with our bill as well and telling me how much our school had raised. I once heard someone say that you can tell how good a company is by how easy it is to contact them. I'm not sure that's the best measure, but in this case it made me love Chipotle even more than I already did.

4. I cleaned my closet yesterday. I have no before and after pictures, but trust me when I tell you that it was terrifying and now it is not. Now to tackle my nightstand!

5. I've mentioned before that our family quotes Mr. and Mrs, Bunny Extraordinaire. A LOT. After another particularly gut busting evening of laughter of quoting (while reading scriptures, no less. We're bad.), I decided to email the author. I was still high from Chipotle responding to me. Anyway, this was the email I sent:

"Ms. Horvath,
Each year our family sets off across the USA on long road trips. One of our favorite things to do is listen to recorded books. Your books have proved to be some of our favorite. Everyone from the 5 year old to the adults love them. But I have to tell you how much my 15 year old son loves to quote the foxes from Mr. and Mrs. Bunny. He's forever interjecting the word, "Hooman!" into sentences, in just such a way that we all dissolve into laughter.  As communication between a 15 year old boy and his family isn't always an easy thing, I just wanted to thank you for your stories and the laughter that we've all shared and continue to share as a family when we think of some of your characters and their lines.


I went to bed that night not really expecting to hear back from her, but glad that she'd have a nice email to read. I mean I assume that authors like to know that your family loves their characters. Anyway, I'd told her. We were all excited when the next morning this came through:

Dear Ms Smith
What a great letter to start my day.  Thank you for troubling to write it.  And might I say that your fifteen year old son has remarkably good taste.  I wish you and your family many more happy road trips in the years to come.
Polly Horvath

This week has been a great reminder that there are living, breathing people with feelings behind all the "institutions" we tend to think of as nameless and faceless. It has reminded me that before I go using social media to whine or complain, I should remember to try to just find a way to communicate with whomever I am having an issue. 

6. Speaking of social media, someone posted this on a friend's facebook page the other day and it was a balm to my weary soul. I have sung this one several times, but not for many years. I've listened to it several times just today and each time have been grateful for such simple, yet profound lyrics.  I'm so grateful for all those involved in music who share their many talents that we can all feel within us.

7. We had more snow last night into much of today. I was exceedingly grouchy that we still had church this morning. I really want a snow day. One honest to goodness, don't even think about going anywhere snow day.  We've had lots of snow, and lots of cold, but nothing that anyone else seemed to deem worthy of shutting everything down for. Anyway, as I took my little black storm cloud to church with me, I realized that I was probably about to have wonderfully spiritual  church meetings. It seems that when I am grouchiest about being at a church meeting, that is when the spirit is the most present and I therefore have a choice. I need to get over myself and bask in the opportunity to learn and grow, or I can be grouchy and miserable for hours on end. Sunday School today was fantastic. It was the first time in a long time where everything was really clicking. I felt like the entire class was learning and growing together with the help of the Spirit. I suppose in the grand scheme of things that is worth far more than a snow day.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Seven Things Sunday

Phew! This week has been exhausting. Here are 7 things we did this week:

1. Lilyanna went to her friend's birthday party. After 2 days of school being cancelled due to frigid temps, some playtime with friends on Saturday was a blessing. Getting her face painted like her beloved white tiger was a dream come true for her!

2. After 2 days of those aforementioned frigid temps we then got a large snow storm on  Saturday. The roads were awful Saturday morning, but alas, the school district's science day did not get cancelled. Nathaniel was not happy about having to slip and slide through the storm.

3. Friday night was the opening of  the high school's production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". Now the last time I saw this show was on Broadway, so I went in with very low expectations. I was pleasantly surprised, though, and enjoyed the show very much. Their Bud Frump was better than the Broadway version, IMO. Benjamin was one of the Junior Executives and in the chorus and had a great time dancing and singing his little heart out. And then Saturday's show was cancelled due to the snow. (NOT THE SCIENCE DAY, just the play. Grrrr.)

4. Earlier in the week, Nathaniel deigned to get his haircut before his audition for his school's production of "The Sound of Music". I took lots of pictures of the process and kept trying to convince him to stop at each phase, because he had kind of a cool emo thing going on. Alas, he didn't think it would be authentic to the period of the play.

5. Nathaniel was cast as one of the children in the Von Trapp family. I believe he was typecast, as Kurt is the incorrigible one after all! ;)

6. All of my careful trip planning for this summer fell apart this week. We were supposed to spend part of our trip this summer visiting our relatives in Spain, but they discovered this week that they have a conflict the only days that we can be there, so in a flurry of fb messages, phone calls, texts, and emails, we managed to purchase tickets for a few weeks from now so we can visit the Spanish relatives in the Western United States while they are visiting other relatives. We're really excited to see everyone, but figuring things out almost cured me of my omnipresent wanderlust for the week. (Almost. I was back at it today to try to figure out where to go for the days we would have been in Spain. I know. We should all have such "problems".)

7. Warren got not 1, but 2 jobs in the last couple of weeks! Fingers crossed and prayers said that all will go well for him.


8. I had my first mammogram yesterday. After the first couple of pictures, I wondered what all women were whining about. (Unless they are relatively flat chested women. That would be awful.) THEN they did the sideways pictures with the arm up and all manner of contortions and just OUCH!! The technician gave me chocolate afterwards, which did help assuage my shock at the whole thing. But still, I think at the very least a good dinner beforehand should have been warranted. Oy. This was also on the same morning of the icky, slippery roads. The upside of all of this was that everyone else had cancelled, so I was in and out of my appointment before my appointment was even supposed to begin. Silver linings, you know.