Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Please Donate to my March of Dimes Walk!

Have you noticed my new cute little widget on my blog? Most of you probably haven't, using Readers or reading this on Facebook. The widget is also on my facebook page. Go take a look!

I am walking for the March of Dimes on May 1st and need everyone to sponsor me to reach my fundraising goal. If all my Facebook friends donated even just $1, I would very quickly reach my goal. Just click on the widget and donate any amount at all. (or follow this link directly to my page)

Please help me out! :)

My sister pointed out that my post about my cute babies would have been a perfect place to advertise for my walk, but I didn't want to detract from my purpose of the post by including a plug for money, so I didn't. ;) But now I am! hahaha.

If you are curious at all about what the March of Dimes funds, or where your money goes, or any further information, go here to our Team Bambini blog . Thanks in advance!!

(My sister works for the March of Dimes and is in charge of organizing this walk, so by contributing, you not only help me out in this endeavor, and help support research for healthy happy babies, but you also help her be successful in her job. Do it for all of us!!) :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Abigail Ballerina gets her first Pointe Shoes

Well today was the big day. Abigail and her ballet teacher and the 3 other girls getting pointe shoes met at the dance store with their parents for their pointe shoe fittings. So exciting!

Thanks to an amazing miracle in the form of an unexpected source of some extra money, we were able to get her these shoes and I have been overwhelmed with gratitude. It has just been amazing.

Aren't they beautiful?! :)

And do you think she's happy about this or what?! hahaha.

Afterwards, she and I went and had lunch for a little mommy-daughter date at an artisan bakery cafe, which was delicious. We had such a fun day together.
Also on this note, since I mentioned our tight budget issues regarding her ballet classes, I wanted to give a little update of where things stand now. After discussing our concerns with the owner of the studio, we were able to work out an arrangement where Abigail and I will clean the studio once a week in exchange for a discount on her tuition. She is excited to have a "job" and I think it will be good for her to have to work a little for it and to be able to have some ownership in the process. Abigail will also be assisting a younger class (3-4 yr olds) on stage for the spring recital (so they have an example to follow) - and for doing that, our recital fee was waived! Yahoo!!
We are still unsure how long even these accommodations will allow her to continue. But it is helping tremendously right now and for that we are soo thankful. I feel so blessed in so many ways. It is truly amazing. It's been a happy day. :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

the season of Birth Days

I know I've said this before, but springtime around here means birthdays. All 4 kids were born in the Spring. One in March, 2 in April, and one in May. I think spring is a good time to be having babies, actually, even though we did not necessarily plan for them all to be born at that time of year. Giving birth in the spring means that you don't have to be big and bloated and overheated all summer long, and the highest risk time for sicknesses like RSV has passed. It is kind of nice to know that as the winter passes and the weather warms, you are just getting that much closer to the end of pregnancy.

Spring is a good time to start new things. The earth is getting ready for a new beginning. Baby animals are being born. The flowers are beginning to bud and blossom and everything is bursting with new life. I guess it seems somewhat appropriate to be expecting new life of my own during this time of renewal and revival.

(me, the day before Abigail was born, 11 yrs ago. Yes, I was huge.)

And so every spring I get a sense of this anticipation and eagerness. Remembering the anxious waiting, the wondering how the beginning will begin, the excitement of meeting this new little human being. And then also the nervousness of the great responsibility of becoming a mother. A mother for the first time. And again and again, becoming a mother to this particular child. Every time it is new. Every time it is different. And it sinks deeply into my heart every time.

So spring time is not just the time I celebrate the births of my children. It is also the time I celebrate my own birth as a mom. I am different than I ever thought I would be. Every spring I am reminded of how my children have changed me. How much I want for them. How much better I want to be.

(top, L to R - Abigail, Isaac
bottom, L to R - Samuel, Elisabeth)

Every spring, I look forward to our season of birth days. This season of change, of newness, and of growth.

"I'll walk in the rain by your side,
I'll cling to the warmth of your tiny hand.
I'll do anything to help you understand,
I'll love you more than anybody can"
- Peter, Paul and Mary
Happy Birth Days

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Samuel lost a front tooth

Finally wiggled that tooth out on Tues and yesterday I almost managed to get him to stand still for long enough to get a picture of it. As you can see, it was a bit of a challenge.
Silly boy. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

black and white photos from a walk I took today

(this last one is for my sister Melissa, who has a thing for stairs) :)


One of most interesting things about rereading my old journals that I've found is that I often wrote just as much about my nighttime dreams as I did about things that actually happened. This makes for some fascinating and sometimes confusing reading, as I would sometimes be reading about an incident thinking, did this really happen? I swear I don't remember this happening. . . only to discover later in the entry that it was just a dream I had.

So, continuing the grand tradition of recording dreams that won't make a bit of sense to anyone else, or even myself in a few years, I bring to you some interesting tidbits from my dreams last night:

1. I dreamt that I won a gift basket of Easter decorations from a blog giveaway. Pretty pastel easter decorations. Yep.

2. I was walking the kids to school and explaining to someone about how I made Abigail walk to school through the snow in a skirt with thin tights.

3. I dreamt that I was in middle school, but not really, and I decided to run home. Literally. And I (literally) ran into an old friend who was also a high school cross country star (Anne S.) and she asked me where I was going and why I was running. And I tried to explain that I didn't feel well and needed to go home but I also wanted to get some exercise on the way. Um, yeah. It didn't make any sense to her either.

4. Dreamt that I saw a different old friend in person that I haven't seen for a very long time and there was some weird significance to holding up our hands palm to palm.

5. And I was talking to friend who is moving (in real life) and trying to fit in a time when I could babysit her kids for her but it was the day of Zac's big race plus some other big scheduled things including a job interview for me (?).

6. And finally, I dreamt about food. Leftover breakfast or something. That part's a little vague in my recollection.

There. Was that fun?

Who wants to offer dream interpretations for me? hehehe.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Love Lemons

Did you know I love lemons?? Lemon flavored anything is pretty much guaranteed to be my favorite. And I love the way they look, too - so cute and yellow and lemony. And so, a post entirely of pics of lemons?! Love it. :)
Just had to share.
(photo from the lemon post, if you hadn't already guessed)


This morning it was snowing just a little. Now these gloomy clouds look like they are making their retreat for today and I am glad.

I decided to make pumpkin bread to soothe my soul. I am feeling a little, hmmm, out of sorts. A little rough around the edges. Unsettled. Unsure. Unsatisfied.
It's causing my heart to ache a little and for some reason the can of pumpkin puree in my pantry called my name and offered it's comforts to me. I accepted.

And then I went outside to take pictures of my lovely daffodils.

And that has been my tuesday.
How are you?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Samuel is Six!!

Samuel's sixth birthday was last week and on Saturday he got to have his first 'friend' party! He was very excited and waited anxiously all morning for them to come.

To go along with the bug party theme, we decorated the cupcakes with these super cool bug gummy candies (yay for Oriental Trading Co.!).

I think it turned out pretty cool looking, if I do say so myself.

The kids put together a bug and flower sticker scene.

We played "stick the sticker on the bug's head."

We also played freeze dance to "Flight of the Bumblebee" (and Samuel's choice of "rock and roll songs" - which was a Kidz Bop CD we got from McDonalds long ago). He told us that bugs and rock and roll made a perfect party. Who am I to argue? Of course I was pleased with myself for getting the bumblebee song, even if no one else truly appreciated it - hahaha.
We did a bug hunt out in the front yard (with the plastic bugs and critters borrowed from my neighbor - thanks!) and played a nameless team game that goes something like "let's pretend these fuzzies are bugs and throw them on the other side of the line and see which team ends up with the least." The games didn't always go over so well. His friends were much more interested in playing with Samuel's toys in his room. And, well, a party with 5 little kids with special needs throws a bit of a twist on the whole party thing. It was interesting. But I tried not to stress too much over who was participating or not, and just make sure Samuel was having fun. That was the goal, after all. I do think they all had fun, whether or not they played all the games, though. They were such a cute group of kids. :)

And then of course we had cake, and opened presents. It was so much fun, Samuel ended up on the table. He was really thrilled with his gifts and spent the rest of the day happily playing with them. Yay!

So that was Samuel's party!! As I said before, when his friends were leaving Samuel declared that the party had been "superfun!" so I count that as a success.
And after everyone left, I took a 2 hr nap and then went for a walk to try to decompress from a stressful couple days of party preparation. Whew!
(and here is Zac being very serious about the bug he stayed up until 1 in the morning drawing and cutting. What a good daddy.) :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

song of the day

"So what do you think about me?
I couldn't live without me,
but everything about me
is driving me mad . . . "
- The Sundays
That about sums up my feelings today.
And why am I bothering to tell you this?
I really have no idea.
You just go on up ahead and I'll catch up to you later . . .
see ya

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Elisabeth's Heart Update

For those that may not remember, Elisabeth was born with a heart defect called Pulmonary Valve Stenosis, which means her valve was too thick. After a series of very stressful tests to determine the cause of her "non-functional heart murmur" when she was 2 wks old, we had follow-up visits at 2 mos, 6 mos, and 1 yr to make sure the stenosis wasn't getting worse, which could be very serious. It hadn't changed. So we came back at 2 yrs. And it hadn't changed. So they said we could come back at 4 yrs old.

And that brings us to today. And guess what?? It hasn't changed! Yay! At this point, they say that if it were going to get worse, it probably would have already in her first few years of life, so we probably have nothing to worry about, but they will keep checking it. This time in 4 more yrs, and then probably every 5 yrs after that.

So it appears that it isn't going away. But it isn't affecting her functioning at all and for that we are very grateful.

These appointments at the children's hospital are so stressful for me. Just pulling into the parking lot reminds of the very anxious visits we had when we knew she had a problem with her heart, but we weren't sure how serious it would be or what it would mean for her. And then Nathan had a bunch of testing done up there, too, when we were in the process of figuring things out with his ears and nose, so that always runs through my head. And we never know exactly what the appointment for Elisabeth will entail. They always do an EKG, but then if anything seems abnormal, then they could send you over for an echocardiogram or who knows what else. So it's always stressful. And then passing by all the other little kids and babies with problems so much more serious than ours always tugs at my heart. It's hard going up to the Children's Hospital for anything.

I just breathe a sigh of relief when I pull out of the parking lot and head home with no bad news and no unfortunate surprises. And I am so so grateful that we can drive away from the hospital knowing we won't have to worry about going back for a few more years!

And now I think I need a nap. These mornings with the pediatric cardiologist exhaust me. More later :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Roller-Skating is Fun, Part Two

(Caution: Kristen's Soapbox Ahead. Proceed At Your Own Risk)

Aw, yeah. We got to go to Samuel's school free skate night last night - so 2 nights of free roller skating in less than 2 weeks! hip hip hooray! This is more roller skating than we have ever done in all our 12 yrs of marriage, but now I am devising strategies to go more often. If only they had like a season pass for roller skating or a punch pass or something to make it more affordable to go often. That'd be awesome.

Don't ask me why I'm developing this sudden desire to go skating. I think it might be a combination of all of these opportunities simply appearing together, and reading The Happiness Project which has had me thinking about ways to incorporate more fun into my life. And by golly, I think skating is fun. And it's pretty good exercise (if you can actually goooo without crashing into young-uns) and it's kind of like dancing, which of course is always fun, . . . and the kids like it . . . and it makes me laugh by the silliness of enjoying it so much. And those are all good things.

Here are some of my other observations from this second night of skating:

1. I am getting much too old to play wipe-out. You know, it's that game where they stop the music and say wipe-out and everyone has to fall down?? I had Michaela by the hand out on the rink and she wanted to play. At first I thought I was doing ok. But by the end I was having a hard time getting back up after wiping out. And my knee was getting sore from falling down onto it every time. Dear oh dear.

and 2. well, I really just need to talk about the scooter issue. I thought it over and decided what the problem really is and why it was driving me crazy!! And it's not just that kids on scooters are reckless and go faster on the scooter than they ever would on skates (although I still think that's a problem). The real issue is RULES. The thing is, there are certain rules and roller rink conventions that everyone must follow in order to have fun.

#1 Everyone must go in the SAME DIRECTION -always always always
#2 You do not cut straight across the rink EVER
#3 If you need to exit the rink, you move over gradually (in accordance with rules #1 and 2)
#4 You do not stop, unless you have crashed

And what I noticed is that the kids on scooters are not following these rules. At all. The reason for this, I decided, is that when you teach a kid to skate, a parent takes them by the hand (out of necessity) and kind of teaches the rules as they teach how to skate. The kids on scooters don't need to be taught how and therefore are not being taught the rules. The parents bring the kids and off they go on their scooters leaving a path of chaos and destruction in their wake, while their parents sit on the sidelines. Now, I know this is a generalization and there are some parents who might attempt to explain the rules to the kids. But frankly, 3-4 yr olds (and 5-6 yr olds, and even older) are not the best at remembering and following rules. So, I have come to the conclusion that maybe they just shouldn't be out on the rink by themselves. hahaha. :)

And lest you think I am simply a rule-fanatic - let's all try to remember that these are just like driving rules, they keep everyone safe, they allow us to be able to anticipate others' actions and navigate accordingly, and they keep everybody happy. I can't even tell you how many times I narrowly avoided crashing because some kid came out of nowhere making a beeline straight across the rink and directly into my path.

So, there's my soapbox of the day. Scooter-lovers, please don't attack me too harshly, if you please.
And for your information, Disco Night at Classic Skating from 9-midnight on Sat. - Ages 16 and Up ONLY!! Wohoo! Who wants to come?!? :)

(this pic is as we were waiting in line for the water fountain before leaving. The fog machine was on getting ready for "blackout" - yeah, I'm not too sure skating in the dark is the best idea, either. But we'll leave that for another discussion . . .) :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Disney On Ice

I mentioned on Facebook that my mom won 8 free tickets to Disney on Ice this weekend from her "favorite radio station." It was great that that made it possible for our entire family to go with her! And since neither my sister nor my niece were able to come, Abigail got to bring her friend along, too.

As you can tell from their expressions here, they enjoyed it quite a bit.

And you can imagine that if 2 (almost) 11 yr olds were into it this much, the younger kids were absolutely mesmorized (although Samuel was also somewhat overwhelmed by some of the loud sounds and covered his ears).

My apologies to Zac for including this shot of him with his eyes closed - but it was the only one with all of us in it (except for my mom who took the picture). He actually spent a portion of the show with his eyes closed anyhow - he was having a hard time staying awake. On the way home, we were talking about how much fun it was (or wasn't) and whether it would ever be worth it to pay for tickets. Zac wasn't too sure, until I reminded him that the point wasn't whether or not he was thrilled and having the time of his life, but whether the kids were. hahaha.
I thought it was a lot of fun, though. I like figure skating. And I thought it was interesting to think about what kind of path an ice skaters life takes to bring them to the point of doing icescapades or Disney on Ice. Are these the skaters that have already past their prime of competition and such? Or were they the ones that were never quite that good to begin with? Or are there some ice skaters who fulfill their lifelong dreams of skating in shows such as this? Where does Disney on Ice fit in the world of career choices for skaters? I guess I will never know.
Zac would like to point out (as he reads over my shoulder) that he doesn't even care. Phooey, is all I can say. :)

What good is a blog if I can't tell you all my random and totally insignificant thoughts, I ask you??
In conclusion, therefore, I must say that one of the highlights of the experience for me was when I noticed a props skater-person, dressed in all black, skate out with a prop to put in position, and then skate off the ice with an artistic little flair and twirl of his arm. It made me laugh that even though no one was really watching him (except for me?), he couldn't seem to resist adding a little creative artistry. Oh, performers. How they intrigue me. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

ready to burst

can you feel it?
spring is just right there, bubbling under the surface
I can't wait.

Abigail's Great Adventure

Last Friday, the kids were out of school and Abigail borrowed our camera and went over to her friend's house for an "adventure" along with one of their other friends. They had it all planned out. They even had a list and a schedule of everything they were going to do.

From what I understood, it involved watching a movie, packing a lunch, hiking the big hill behind their house (I'm not sure if it qualifies as a "mountain" exactly), making movies of each other, having a picnic in the snow, and maybe some other things, I'm not sure.

(the view of the neighborhood from the top)

(goofy girls posing with their picnic) :)

Anyway - she was very proud of the pictures she took - and all the video as well. I think they made up a whole movie script and acted it out and everything. She was very excited to show it to us. :)
And I'm sure she's just gearing up for her next big adventure. It made me just a little nervous when she told me about some other kids they ran into up on the hill who told them to stay away from their clubhouse - but I am learning that I need to let her grow up, and go out on her own (with friends) and explore and expand. It's scary to me to let her take these risks. Wow - but I know even scarier years lie ahead. We're just gearing up to let her go off on her own adventures. I'm just not sure if I'm ready for this . . .
I know, I know . . . ready or not, here it comes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Eight-Year-Olds Say the Darndest Things! - Rare Zac Post

Ok, so I just have to share a couple funny things my poor, innocent 8-year-old said today.

He's a very bright boy and he'll go on and on about history, science, books he's read, or the latest thing he's written or created. Sometimes I struggle to keep up because if you flinch in thought for half a second (e.g. I'm burning the soup!), you can miss a lot. I need to teach him about the importance to pause after sentences.

Anyway, today the topic was nitrogen and the gases that surround planets. He wanted to know more about nitrogen and what its good for, etc. Anyway, he started explaining the various gases that some of the planets have and then he caught me off guard by excitedly blurting out, "Did you know that uranus has all kinds of gases around it?" Anyway, that one made me chuckle for quite a while. I know...I know...dirty mind.

Well that's not all. Later he was playing with his brother and I don't know what led to this comment but he didn't quite get it right. He said, referring to Peter Pipers pickled peppers, "Enough with your pickled peckers!" Ok, yes...once again...I chuckled most whole heartedly.

The poor boy may never know why his father was struggling to maintain his composure today. One thing is for sure, kids say the darndest things.


Roller-Skating is Fun!

I love roller-skating rinks. I like the disco balls. I like the goofy music. I like getting a blister on my right foot instep from going round and round the same direction in skates that never quite fit right.

And I've decided I like roller skating even more than ice-skating or roller-blading. The problem with ice skating can be summed up in just a couple words: cold and ruts. Ruts in the ice are just problematic. And why skate in the cold when you can skate in a cozy warm rink with fancy lights?! Yes, exactly. And that's not even to mention all the fun games they do at the roller rinks - the hokey pokey, 4 corners, the limbo, trio skates, etc - can't beat that!

And roller-blading. Well, I am just way too familiar with the skate brake in the front. And roller-blading on the road just feels wrong to me. I miss the comfort of knowing I can run into edge of the rink, if necessary, to make myself stop. I just couldn't get used to it (yes, the 2 times I tried it). And roller-blading at the rink? Well, roller blades cost $3 to rent. Skates cost just $1. And I'm cheap and I like skates. So why mess with a good thing??

So - I convinced Abigail to go roller-skating for her 8th Birthday party (3 yrs ago) and when I saw that the kids' school was having a free skate night for families last week, of course we had to go!

The kids are also allowed to bring scooters and scoot around, which Samuel and Isaac really enjoyed. I tend to think that's cheating a little bit (and makes it kind of tough for the people actually skating - little kids on scooters are even more reckless than little kids on skates). We had them both give it a try with skates, as well, because how can you learn if you never try? But they had more fun on the scooters.

(Zac taking Elisabeth and Samuel)

(me with Elisabeth and some random girl with a pink shirt - look! I let Zac take my picture, and I didn't erase it, and I even posted it! yay.)

(Isaac in the green shirt zipping around on the scooter. He said he could do "tricks" - I have no idea what kind of tricks those were, but it made him happy)

(Abigail trying to get the hang of it with Zac - by the end she was going around by herself and doing pretty well!)

Even though my upper back and arms were terribly sore from dragging the kids and trying to keep them from falling down, it was still a lot of fun. Zac and I took turns going around by ourselves a couple times and I became convinced of 2 things:
1. We should really go together by ourselves sometime like on a college night or something when there aren't so many little kids. It would be fun.
2. And I just might want to try roller-blading again someday. We have some really good bike trails in our neighborhood - and it really might be fun to try to skate on them! And if I had my own roller-blades, then we could go to the rink and not have to rent them! So there. I never have really understood how roller-blading became "cool" in a way that roller-skating never was. But oh well. I'm trying to accept it.
And one (perhaps only) advantage of having kids in 2 different schools, the other school is having a free skate night coming up soon, too! So we get to go again!! Wohoo! :)
(P.S. Have I mentioned that my dad had trophies from roller-skating competitions when he was younger? Yep, it's in my blood. ) :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I've been reading poems by Mary Oliver and came across this one that I really liked:


To Begin With, The Sweet Grass, #4

Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
the dancer, the potter,
to make me a begging bowl
which I believe
my soul needs.

And if I come to you,
to the door of your comfortable house
with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,
will you put something in it?

I would like to take this chance.
I would like to give you this chance.

And is it funny that when I read that poem, the thing that came to my mind was my blog? I tried to think of why that is, and I realized that a lot of times people think that we blog, or write, or create art because we think we have something to share. For me, this is not true. I write not because I think I have something to give, but because I need to receive. My blog, poems, journals, whatever, are my begging bowl that I bring to your door, hoping to be given gifts of understanding, acceptance, compassion. I am needing to take this chance of opening up, and wanting to be seen. We all need to be given the chance to see each other. See, really see, and choose to love anyway.

Do you see?

(image from flickr)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

3rd Grade Class Play

Isaac's 3rd class put on a production of Charlotte's Web this year. The 2 classes each had their own cast and each cast included every student. It was sooo incredibly cute. I was impressed that the kids ALL had their parts memorized and only needed a little prompting maybe once or twice the entire play. They also sang songs!!

Isaac was one of the narrators. Even though he admitted to feeling "nervous and excited to do it" that morning, he did such a good job, if I do say so myself. :)

And this is just a taste of the overall cuteness of the play. Here are Charlotte and Wilbur:

Anyway, I mentioned on facebook how I had to sit and try to be patient as Elisabeth asked me non-stop questions the entire play ("mom, why does that pig have ears?" "why is he sitting over there?" "can I go get a drink?" "is it time for cookies?" "why are they doing that?" "why do I have to be quiet?" etc etc etc etc).
But other than that, it was great. :)
Congrats to Isaac on a super great job.
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