Zane had a field trip to Camp Roger today. It was a sunny, warm day, perfect for being outside all day long. Zane loved it, of course - being able to run around outside all day? What's not to love? He says that his favorite part was building the shelters, where they got to find the biggest sticks they could and try to build a shelter they could stay in if they were ever lost in the woods. His other favorite part, though - the part that he's been talking about ever since last year's field trip to Camp Roger - was the "camouflage" game, where the leader yells, "Camouflage!" and everyone has to hide somewhere where he can't see them without moving his feet. Zane prides himself on being able to hide SO WELL.
It was a good day, even with the most difficult kid in the class being in my group. (MAN, that kid drives me crazy! And this is the second field trip i've had him in my group for!) The sun shone the whole time, even though rain was predicted, and it was a nice change to spend time with the class outside having fun. Mostly i see them when i'm covering their lunchtime, and then my job is to keep them in their seats.
And then we came home and i became the meanest person in the world. Zane has a biography report due on Wednesday. He chose to do Eisenhower, because he wanted to do "somebody really, really awesome from the army." I asked my brother Rick who he'd recommend, and he immediately pointed us to Eisenhower as being completely awesome. We researched him and both decided that YES. He was amazing. We finished the research and the written portion pretty painlessly, but today we were working on the poster and it VERY NEARLY KILLED ME.
We sorted out what we were going to put on the poster (the research was already finished!), printed up a picture of Eisenhower to put on it, used some of the old letter stickers from my parents to write "Dwight D. Eisenhower," and were trucking along beautifully until i asked him to color first the 5 stars of the 5-star general symbol AND THEN the presidential seal. Zane was all, "This is the worst day of my LIFE!" And THEN i forced him to start writing some of the facts on the poster, and he was all, "I wish i didn't LIVE!" (I only made him get through one before i gave into his pleas of "Can i stop now and just finish it tomorrow?????" I mean, SERIOUSLY. He's like...20-30 minutes from being finished. It's killing me to have to go through all of this again tomorrow. KIDS!
+ 0 - 0 | § ¶Things we've done the past 3-4 weeks, not counting Spring Break because that deserves its own post.
The beginning of March was still cold and snowy enough that we could go sledding much later in the year than we usually can. Every single person i know is completely and utterly sick of this entire winter. It's been referred to by many, many people as the never-ending winter. It was just constantly freezing cold and constantly snowy. The snow never melted once for at least 3 months, it was the second snowiest winter on record, and it snowed every single day for at least a month straight. Everyone is extremely ready for spring.
After a rocky start to the year, Houston decided that he DOES really like band after all. He had his band concert - finally! - after being snowed out twice. He told me all about the songs ahead of time, and warned me that we were NOT supposed to clap in-between movements, so i didn't. I followed his instructions. Except then everyone else clapped, so he was all disappointed when we he looked over and we weren't clapping during those parts. My parents and Beth came, and we all clapped at the places we were supposed to clap, so he was still pretty thrilled with the whole thing.
The kids had Spirit Week at school, which meant that every day they had to dress up as something. Monday was "Favorite book character" day. Tuesday was comfy day. Wednesday was "wacky day." Thursday was "Decades day." And Friday was homeroom wars, except that both Katrina and Houston both had field trips that day, so they didn't dress up anyhow. I think everyone's favorite day was Monday. Katrina dressed up as Hermione, Houston as Percy Jackson, and Zane as Jack from the Magic Tree House books. Honestly, i think that by Friday, most of the moms couldn't really be bothered with costumes anymore, because that's a lot of costume-ing.
Katrina got to go to Lansing for the everyone in Michigan in 4th grade field trip, but i didn't get to go with her. She had a great time, but also lost her backpack (which had old gym shoes, a little pillow-thing, and a card game in it - nothing of value), and so after the trip, all she could think about was getting it back.
Juanito found a crayfish randomly walking around the grass at work, so he brought him home, gave me doe-eyes to convince me to keep him (we have NOWHERE TO KEEP HIM!), accidentally let him wander around the house one night, and then brought him to work, where he is now living in a tank where learning disabled kids can gawk at him all day.
And today is Easter! Since my parents are currently in Hawaii, we were kind of on our own this year. Happily, my sister Jill invited us to her house, so we got to spend time with family and the kids got to play with their cousins. Plus, this weekend has been gorgeous outside (FINALLY!) so we got to spend a lot of time in the sun. Lovely.
I was just played two games of Skip-bo with Houston and Katrina and won both times. The conversation that followed was thus:
Houston: "That's so not fair!"
Me: "I'm just skilled!"
Houston: "It's not skill! It's just LUCK! It's all luck!!!"
Me: "It's at least partly skill. How else do you explain the fact that i win so often?"
Houston: "Witchcraft! It's witchcraft!"
So there ya go. The reason i'm so good at games? Witchcraft.
In other news, Houston got a pogo stick from Juanito's mom for his birthday. The snow finally melted enough for him to take it out this week. I went out with him for his first try, and videoed the attempt. He got on it, jumped once, lost his balance, and jumped right back off. On his second try, he jumped on and jumped and jumped and jumped. Mastered it the second try. Speaking of witchcraft....
I just fought with my blender, ruined my best spatula, and completely failed at making a smoothie. Juanito took over did it in 2 seconds. Fine. I get it. I don't get to make smoothies.
Sitting in our front room, we just heard an enormous BOOM! that shook the house. After running all over the house and searching every room, we can find nothing amiss. If our house explodes overnight, please pass on this information to the investigators.
I'm quitting reading a book because it is SO BORING, but every other person on Goodreads has given it 5 stars. I'm apparently very shallow.
My kids outside are wearing snowpants, coat, mittens, hat, scarf, boots. Neighbor girl is wearing a coat, unzipped. Different parents, obviously.
Zane ate breakfast and five minutes later came down to ask for a snack. He never stops eating, this boy!
Katrina was student of the month. Yay, Katrina!
School was not technically closed early, but we were "strongly encouraged" to pick up our kids as soon as possible to avoid the coming storm. Thus began the most insanely ridiculous pick-up ever.
Someone just called me, cheerfully said, "This is Karleen!" and then hung up. Fun game!
Houston: "We need milk and new snow pants for me."
Houston has a cold and is losing his voice and is convinced that if he calls from school enough times, i'll come get him. It's a COLD. Deal.
Y'know what's really cute? Sleeping guinea pigs. Y'know who will never, ever see this cuteness? My kids.
Guinea pig i was holding just yawned. THE CUTENESS!
Houston tells me that i have the best singing voice ever. I am not correcting him.
I just told my kids, "You should go outside and play, because it's not that cold outside right now - it's 12 degrees!" The rest of the family was all, "OOOooooooo TWELVE degrees! Practically balmy!"
While watching the opening ceremony, every single time that i thought a country's costumes were ugly, Zane would pipe up with, "I really like that!" The ones i liked, he thought were boring. So apparently the gaudy, ugly ones were designed by 7-year-olds?
Me: "Spring is the best season, and anyone who disagrees is wrong." Katrina: "That's a false generalization." Yes. But i'm still right.
Announcers THINK they're making sense, but when they say, "He squashed that bug coming in," i don't know what they're talking about.
Another reason why Juanito would never be an Olympian: "If i were these skiers, i'd totally make faces as i was going down the hill so the replay would be awesome."
There are a million little girls here. They WERE completely insane, but i've tamed them with paint. For now.
Eleven 10-year-old girls singing "karaoke" is AWESOME.
Kids are watching a movie. I had HOPED that some of them might start looking tired while watching, but....seems that i'm overly optimistic.
It's going to keep snowing forever and ever. There will never not be snow.
Zane just told me, "Women are like snowflakes. They can't drive." So thanks for THAT, Juanito.
Katrina and Zane are outside playing in the blizzard. I, on the other hand, am curled up inside, glaring at the snow through the window.
It's a snow day and almost 30 degrees, so i sent my kids outside to play. They all want to come in because they're "too hot."
Y'know what, Redneck Neighbor? I realize that it's not sub-zero temperatures anymore, but it's not really warm enough for a tank top either.
It's 41 degrees and sunny out! IT'S 41 DEGREES AND SUNNY OUT!!! Who wants to go for a walk?
Lattice math seems like the craziest, most complicated way to multiply EVER. Katrina loves it, though.
The kids are listening to "What does the fox say" on repeat. For the past half hour.
Pet peeve: When children ask a question and then run away before i've finished answering.
Zane: "Touch my tongue." Me: "Ew. No." Z: "If you don't like tongues, why do you have one?" Me: "B/c it's useful." Z: "To tongue kiss?"
Four kids in family room playing Truth or Dare. Me: "Where's Zane?" From upstairs Zane calls, "I'm up here. Feeling lonely." So...come down?
5 kids: LOUD LOUD LOUD LOUD "Can we go play outside?" Juanito and me: "YES! Of course!!!"
I'm a sucker for praise, even the pathetic "Wow. You scan and bag your groceries really fast" variety.
It has come to this: I walked outside today in negative temperatures and thought, "Meh. It's not too bad. I don't need to zip up my coat." It's time for spring.
I hate it when my kids have the "bring some of your favorite pictures of yourself to school because you're the star this week" assignments. It's the downside of taking lots of pictures - i have way too many favorites, and it takes us forever to choose some and we choose too many.
Katrina: "I keep leaving things places on the coffee table, and then they disappear!" Me: "So...do you think you should stop leaving them?" Her: Blank stare.
I keep telling Houston that it's so exciting that he's turning eleven this year. Because if he's twelve, then that means that he's only one year away from being a teenager, and HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?
Houston is such a great kid. In so many ways, he's still exactly the same kid he's always been: silly and loud and energetic some of the time. He loves hugs and snuggling and insists that he will never, ever be too old to sit on the couch and cuddle with me. He's incredibly kind in some of the most unexpected times and ways.
He's still totally rough and tumble, especially with Zane. (The two of them would wrestle constantly if we let them.)
He reads constantly, in lots of different genres, though he seems to mostly be drawn to Harry Potter/Percy Jackson type books. He hates movies and books wherein people are getting totally injured or killed. If it's a good enough book he can overlook it, but he won't watch any movies with blood in them.
He draws the same hilarious-type pictures he's always drawn. He makes the same hilarious faces. His sense of humor runs toward randomness and absurdity, same as always. He sometimes has a problem conforming to social norms (he'll talk in a high pitched, somewhat babyish voice sometimes, which makes me crazy). Left unchecked, he will occasionally burst into complete wildness.
But also? When i think back about what Houston was like four or five or even two years ago, i'm kind of amazed at how much he's matured. For years we struggled with his complete inability to use self-control, especially during school. For the past year or so, he's been awesome. (At least in school. And most of the time at home. Except for the times when we want to bop him on the head for being so completely out of control. But mostly awesome.)
He's branched into interests that don't involve bouncing off the walls and floors. He's taken up writing, and has written a couple of long stories, which he's put hours and hours into, first writing, then typing, then editing. The stories are really imaginative and great. First was "Dangerous TV," and now he's writing "The Evil Melon Overlord."
A couple of months ago, Houston started his first job - working for Juanito, checking people in at Zumba. He's really good at it - friendly and organized, and he takes it really seriously. Plus, he loves having the extra money he's earning.
To sum up: Houston is amazing. I adore this kid. He makes me happy. The end.
I probably should have written separate posts about things, but we just kept being busy and tired, and so now they're all lumped together. So be it. Things that have been happening:
1. Katrina's birthday party. Katrina started thinking about her 10th birthday part approximately one day after her 9th birthday was over, and she went through many, many ideas. A roller skating party was a strong contender. She wished it would be warmer so she could have a party outside. Eventually, about a month or two ago, she settled on having a sleepover. In a fit of insanity, i told her that she could invite 10 friends (to go along with her 10 years). She fretted about who to invite and made lists and agonized over each person that needed to be cut from the final list and finally presented me with a list of 9 girls and 1 boy. I okayed all of the girls, but nixed the boy on grounds that...he's a boy. And it's a sleepover. But he's one of her best friends and she was almost willing to make it NOT a sleepover so that he could come, and so i said that okay, he could come for PART of the party, but he'd have to go home before bedtime. She countered with a request that she then be allowed to invite another girl so that there would still be 10 kids sleeping over. FINE.
So. There were 11 kids for the party, plus our 3, bringing the total to 14. Fourteen kids is a lot of kids to have in one not-huge house. The kids were invited to come after school, and as they arrived, they kind of joined in the fray. For the first hour, our house was complete bedlam, and i was seriously questioning my sanity. They ran upstairs and downstairs and back upstairs and back downstairs and screamed and pretended Houston and Zane were going to get them and ran and ran and screamed and screamed. Juanito put on noise-blocking headphones and didn't take them off until he went to bed. Once most of the kids were here, i herded them all to the table to paint a picture, and then kind of kept them moving from one activity to the next, and honestly, it was totally not horrible. Loud! Heavens, yes. But not horrible.
We did karaoke (which was a HUGE hit) and played pass-the-parcel-truth-or-dare and a game where they had to guess who was hiding in which sleeping bags. There was pizza and cake (You guys! The cake! It was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, edged with Kit Kats held together with ribbon, and covered with M&Ms. It was super-easy to make, looked gorgeous, and was delicious.) and presents. And a candy hunt in the dark with flashlights. (I sent all the kids to brush their teeth before bedtime, but then in the morning, everyone's bag of candy was empty, so i'm pretty sure i sent everyone home with cavities. And diabetes.) At 10:00, we ordered them into sleeping bags and put on a movie. At 11:30, when the movie ended, half of the kids were still awake, so i threw on Anne of Green Gables (interesting movie + slow moving = great to put kids to sleep), and by midnight only one girl was still awake. Success!
Saturday morning everyone kind of split into smaller, calmer groups. Some played Minecraft with the boys, some played Truth or Dare, some did Mad Libs, some played a version of Blindman's Bluff. There were pancakes and waffles (thank you, Juanito!), and most everyone was gone by 11:00. By 2:00, Houston curled up in a chair and fell asleep for an hour or so. I could have easily joined him.
2. Visiting Lake Michigan: For weeks and weeks, I've been wanting to go visit my Grandpa, both to see him and to see the lake all covered in ice. Every weekend that rolls around, however, we've either had someone sick, a blizzard, or another engagement. This week, we had the perfect trifecta - everyone was healthy, it was sunny and clear, and we had no other plans - and so we headed to my grandpa's straight after church. Here in Grand Rapids, we've gotten 101 inches of snow so far this year. Where my grandpa lives, they've gotten 135 inches. Grandpa was pretty skeptical about our being able to climb down to the beach, telling us stories about how he'd gotten stuck up to his waist before and thought he was going to die out there. We decided to at least try, though, and so off we went. It wasn't impossible. A little bit crazy, but definitely possible.
This was the first time i've seen the lake really covered in ice - and this year, it's 87% covered, according to my grandpa - and it was AMAZING. We got down to the beach, walked to the water's edge, and Zane stopped and initially refused to take one step onto the ice. "But...what if we fall through!!!" Our little risk-averse boy. (Here's hoping that risk-aversion sticks with him through his teenaged years!) We eventually convinced him it was safe and all walked out onto the lake, exclaiming, "This is where we SWIM in the summer! It's probably over your heads here!"
The lake had zones as you walked out. The first zone was just kind of flat, with deepish snow. Boring. The second zone had medium-sized hills. (We were all very impressed with these hills initially.) After the hills, there was another mostly flat zone, though this one was more uneven and unpredictable. One step is normal, the next is knee-deep snow, the next is slippery ice, etc. There was a lot of slipping and falling going on. Zone 4 was the giant, crazy iceberg-y things that looked like huge backwards waves made up of dozens of layers of ice. Very impressive. We spent a lot of time in this zone, with the kids climbing and sliding on them all. In fact, i was PLANNING to stop at this point and just look out and be all, "Oh, yes. It goes on and on, doesn't it? Very nice." But then Juanito headed off by himself toward nothingness and everyone else decided to go back in, and so i headed out to join Juanito. Houston joined us from the great nothingness the other direction, and we all forged on together.
Zone 5 was kind of like zone 3, except more treacherous. There were crazy balls of ice randomly spread around, small enough to be covered by the snow so that you'd take a step and be surprised when you stepped on it. There were slabs of ice sticking up at odd angles, similarly covered by the snow. There were pockets of snow that, when you stepped into them, you sunk in nearly to your waist. It was at this point that i concentrated very, very hard on NOT breaking my ankle. But then zone 6 was insane. Giant balls of snow. Giant slabs of ice poking up in all directions, some reflecting the sunlight into perfect prisms. Every direction was stunning. It was totally worth making the long trek to see.
And then we decided to go back, and i realized exactly how far out we were and what a giant mistake i had made. We were maybe half a mile out onto the lake, which is not far if you're walking down a road, but this is a half mile of deep, deep snow, underneath which lay all kinds of crazy ice-stuffs that wanted to break ankles and make you die, two zones of huge icy hills to climb over, and a giant hill to climb up to get back up to the house. So. Off we went. We tripped and stumbled and fell and climbed and slid and plodded and finally made it back, completely exhausted. (I am not one of those ladies who works out and looks all glistening and lovely. I end up looking like a tomato. Also, my grandpa's house is approximately 90 degrees inside. Everyone was convinced i was horribly sunburned. I was not. Sigh.)
3. Snow day. Today. Again. It's never, ever going to stop snowing.
Today we were talking about Katrina and i mentioned that she's so very consistent - the way she is now is pretty much the way she was last year, and the year before that. I mean, she's gotten older and smarter and better at some things, but her basic personality and likes and dislikes? They're all the same. Just now i looked back at last year's post about Katrina on her birthday, and one of the first things i said was, "She's so consistent!"
Her personality is so very awesome that her consistency is a great thing. Katrina is such a kind little girl. She likes almost everyone in her class. She intentionally befriends the unpopular kids in her class, not because she feels sorry for them but because she sees the good in those kids and she thinks it's mean when people pick on them. I very rarely hear Katrina say anything negative about anyone, and when i DO, she's usually just matter-of-factly telling me a story about someone who got into trouble in class because of some kind of rule-breaking. (She's a rule-follower like me. Rules are there for a reason, people!)
We were talking about our favorite things about Katrina during dinner (we do that on birthdays), and the first several things that everyone said had to do with her kindness, her generosity, her friendliness to everyone. She's just such a sweetie. I love her to bits.
Katrina is becoming a reader more and more. She discovered Percy Jackson recently and has been devouring that series. She loves Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, and i'm looking forward to introducing her to more of the books i loved as a kid. She still loves her dolls, though these days she's all about her American Girl dolls (she's had Molly and just got Josephina) and less about baby dolls. She's not quite ready to put away the baby dolls, though, so they sit in her closet mostly unused. She draws all the time. She makes little books - stories with illustrations. I find them all the time, usually half-finished little stories that she's lost interest in because she started a new story.
She, weirdly, loves math. She struggles with math sometimes, and it occasionally brings her to tears, but she still counts it as one of her favorite subjects.
She has no interest in cleaning her room. It is her greatest downfall. (As far as downfalls go, i guess it's one i can live with.)
And now she goes forth into her eleventh year. Double digits. She's getting so big, you guys. I can hardly believe that this gorgeous, wonderful TEN-YEAR-OLD girl is the beautiful little baby that i brought home just a couple of years ago. I kind of need time to stop moving quite this fast.
While watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics tonight, they showed one of the athletes, and Juanito commented, "She's pretty." Houston immediately said, "Not as pretty as Mommy."
And that's why he's my favorite.
Meanwhile, Zane fell asleep on me during the Opening Ceremonies, and every time something like that happens now, i'm thinking, "I wonder if this will be the last time one of my kids ever ______." I sometimes really miss having my little kids, and it was sweet to have a small sleeping child curled up on my lap again. (And that's why he's also my favorite.)
Poor Katrina missed out on watching with us this year, because she's at a sleepover for her friend's birthday. Tomorrow she has another birthday party to go to, and then next weekend is her own birthday sleepover party. I can't even imagine how tired she's going to be by next week Saturday. (She's not here to claim it today, but she's my favorite too.)