Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Un-birthday, Grandpa!

Grandpa's birthday is on Tuesday. Since it is a school day, we'll all be running in 7 different directions that day, so we opted to have a small celebration today. We met for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel and then went bowling. The kids haven't been bowling in about a year. The bowling alley here is huge, and very loud. About halfway through our game, Megan was beginning to fall apart. I think the bright, loud, stuffy environment just wasn't her cup of tea.
Daniel loved bowling. I think he more enjoyed his victory dances and not the actual bowling itself.
Daddy was a champ. We took turns helping the littler kids bowl.

Once Joshua had been given a little bit of direction, he did a great job.
Early on in the game, Megan was quite enthusiastic.
The anticipation of waiting for the ball to be returned was torturing all of the kids.
When Megan didn't have an adult helping her bowl, the ball traveled at a snail's pace down the alley. It took us nearly 90 minutes to bowl just one game.
Thank goodness for the bumpers.
After bowling, everyone went back to our house to hang out for a bit. Then we took a ride up to Taco Bell for some lunch. I thought I would include a picture for our friends back in Kodiak. It was big news there a few weeks ago when a Taco Bell finally opened on the island.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Building Blocks

Our church is in the process of raising funds for a large expansion project. The project is called Building Boldly for Jesus. Each of the children were given a building block to decorate. The kids are also supposed to collect money in their blocks to bring back to the church. Keith and I are both in the habit of leaving change all over the house, so when the kids find it, they put it in their block. When I find money in the dryer, I give it to Joshua to put in a block. In two weeks, the kids will bring their blocks in and stack them in the church to build a wall. The theory behind this is that the kids are seeing how the little bit of money will add up to the new building. Our kids are loving this idea. Today I was changing clothes and I heard Megan ask if she can get a fork out. I gave her permission to get a fork from the silverware drawer, unsure of what she was going to be doing with it. When I went to check her, she was prying money out of her Little Mermaid piggy bank to put in her Building Boldly for Jesus block. I thought it was so cute, I had to sneak up and take a picture.
The church provided some stickers to decorate the box. We also used some stamper-type markers that Daniel loves to work with. He made his box all dotted on one side, and helped me make a caterpillar on the other side.
His prcecision and skill were sweet to watch. He was just working his little heart out to make his box nice.
Megan made some flowers on one side of her box and some children on the other side of her box.
Joshua used some paper to plan out how he wanted to decorate his box.
The kids did a great job. They had a lot of fun and worked really hard.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Winding down after a busy week

It was a busy week, but also a week filled with old faces. Earlier in the week, Keith, Daniel and I went for a walk on the running trail near our house. We ran into a very old friend of ours, Alan. Keith used to work in his hobby shop nearly 15 years or so ago. Alan was thrilled to find out that Keith and I were married. He was very excited to meet Daniel and then even more excited to find out we have two other children. Alan's store has been closed for many years now, but never fear, he is quite the resourceful fellow and is now helping his brother run some laundromats.

Tuesday night I attended a parent-teacher type meeting for Megan's classroom. The purpose of the meeting was to set the tone for the rest of the school year as far as how helpful the parents could be for potential field trips and upcoming class parties. Megan's class has some pretty fun things coming up. While there, I ran into a friend of mine that I went to college with back in the mid-90's. It was so fun to chit-chat catching up on what happened to different people after college. I get to go to the same type of meeting next week for Joshua's class.

On Fridays, the kids get out of school at 12:30pm. After I dropped them off at school (no school buses!), I was home by 8:30am. Daniel and I were out the door by 9am to go for a walk. Instead of walking on the trail, I decided we would walk around the neighborhood. Somehow I got back wards and couldn't remember where the street was that would lead me back to our house. Fortunately I had my cell phone to call Keith and get directions back to the house. I felt like such a goofball, who gets lost two streets away from their house?

After our walk and a quick shower, Daniel and I were at the mall by 10:30am. Megan is getting so tall that all of her t-shirts seem short on her (I don't like when her belly shows when she raises her arms). Even though she wears uniforms to school, she still needs weekend clothes. A friend suggested Gymboree, so I went to check it out. We scored big at a sale they were having and I was very impressed with the things we got. Daniel picked out a new pair of swimtrunks for $6. We then walked over to The Children's Place and picked up just a couple of things. Daniel did great. Since he was in his stroller for the morning walk, I let him just walk around the mall holding my hand. By the time we finished in those two stores, it was time to go pick the kids up at school.

Once we were all back home, the kids played while I did a gazillion loads of laundry. Then I walked past our entry way and just couldn't handle looking at the mess anymore. We've been on the go non-stop this week and the front door has become a dumping ground for everything.

We are still used to the Kodiak way of life - no shoes on in the house!

There is a large closet directly across from our front door. We are using it as storage, since we don't have a real garage. Today we cleaned out half of the closet and organized the shoes/backpacks/umbrellas/etc all in an area that can be concealed behind closed doors. Ta-da! We are back to having a real entryway, again! It's so nice to open the front door and not be greeted by a mess. Or at least not immediately!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A day at the doctor's office

This morning, Keith had his procedure with Dr. H, the G.I. doctor. He was definately grumpy because he couldn't eat dinner last night or breakfast this morning. I really liked the nursing staff at this office, they were very informative with their patient teaching. The nurse even allowed Me and Daniel to go back to the prep area while Keith got his IV put in. Then we parted ways - Keith off to the procedure room and Daniel and I to the waiting room. I let the receptionist know that Daniel and I would be out back of the clinic. There was a nice view and a cool breeze, it was a great place to wait.
Daniel colored in his new hotwheels coloring book. I finished reading a book. When Daniel saw that I had put my book down, he asked for it so that he could make a house for his dinosaur. He's such an imaginative little guy. He made the house and put the dinosaur in there.
After the procedure, we pulled into the nearest place to eat. Daniel loves to indulge in a Frosty.

We did manage to get some questions answered today after the colonoscopy. Keith is back on antibiotics for the next 10 days. They sent off a biopsy today and we'll get those results back next week sometime.


The real reason why the house isn't 100% unpacked just yet is because I can't stop playing with the kids! Daniel is really fun to play with one-on-one. He's a whole different character when the "big" kids are at school. Monday we made dinosaur camps and had a roaring contest to see which dinosaur had the best roar. And yes, those are big boy underpants he's wearing!
These week we've also been on a board game kick. We've recently introduced Joshua to Monopoly. We have had the Star Wars Monopoly Edition for years and Joshua has been wanting to play with the figures. We told him if he wanted to mess around with it, he needed to play the actual game. Not only did he play the game, but he managed to win!
Earlier this week we were out shopping and came across the Disney/Pixar Monopoly Edition for dirt cheap. We scooped it up and tried it out. The board is so cute. Megan and Daddy teamed up together as Boo and Sully. Daniel and I were Lightening McQueen and Joshua was Buzz Lightyear. Daddy and Megan started out strong, but in the end, Joshua won the game again. I will clarify that we do give him some coaching about property management and purchasing houses and hotels (which are ships of some sort for the Star Wars edition and traffic cones and Al's Toy Barns for the Disney/Pixar edition).
I find the board games to be more fun than the Wii games. But the kids like the Wii and so I try to get into playing the games. I think they like playing Wii with me because I'm not nearly as good as they are at it. (Pay no attention to those no-yet-unpacked boxes beside the couch in the family room.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A "Florida Boston Town"

Just a little piece of Altamonte Springs history. Not only is our family blog adorable, but we're educational, too!

Cranes Roost Park Flooding

Daniel and I decided to go check out Cranes Roost Park to see if the flooding had receded at all. Sometimes after we drop the big kids off at school we go to the park to feed the ducks. Unfortunately, right now the park is still very flooded.
This picture is from November of 2006. Notice that there is space between the boardwalk and the water.
The amphitheater area is still half under water.
All that is visible from the trail is the railing. That railing is supposed to help keep the kids from jumping into the water.
Underneath this canopy is a resting area with benches. It is a midway point on one of the boardwalks of the walking trail. Right now it just looks like a tent in the middle of the water.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Batman uses the potty

Like most kids their age, our kids love to dress up. Usually no elaborate costumes are even needed. Megan (and sometimes Daniel, but don't tell Daddy) will often go into my closet and grab my shoes to wear around my room when I am getting dressed. Daniel really loves Megan's dress up stuff. I had previously attempted beginning to potty train Daniel with the thought that we would do the sticker chart and he would earn a new toy. But Daniel is an instant gratification kindof guy. While picking out some new t-shirts for big brother, we came to the Underoo's section. Remembering how much I loved to run around the house in my Wonder Woman Underoos (hey, it was the late 70's early 80's!), I offered to buy Daniel two sets of Underoos, but he has to keep them clean and dry. He chose Batman and Optimus Prime. I am happy to report that Batman has been doing a fantastic job of using the potty. I love him in these little boxer briefs, they are so easy to pull up/pull down for independently using the potty.
I haven't been brave enough to go diaperless overnight just yet. Our mornings are busy enough as it it without adding sheet changing to our morning routine. After 6 years of changing diapers, I'm thrilled to see that the end is near.

Another OSC visit

Friday morning, Keith had an appointment for a CT scan of his abdomen. School was cancelled in our county because some of us were still without power and many of the roads still had some flooding. After Keith's CT scan, he called and suggested we drive to the Orlando Science Center since they have power and a covered parking garage. The roads weren't too bad, so off we went. All of the kids are really enjoying the Norman Rockwell exhibit. This is a traveling exhibit, so it will soon be replaced by something else. In the meantime, it's fun to watch the kids play with the props.

All of the engineers worked together so nicely at the train table. Joshua is wearing a shirt that he tie-dyed at GOAL camp this summer.
I'm not sure what Grandpa and Daniel are studying here, but they sure are cute together. Daniel is really funny lately. He's such a different little person when Megan and Joshua are at school.

After playing in the museum for a couple of hours, we met Grandma for lunch. Then we went back to the museum to watch a movie about the Mars Rovers in the Cinedome. I don't think Joshua blinked the entire time we were in there, he is really into space right now.

The storm that never ends

I'm not even sure if it was catagorized as a tropic storm, tropical depression or a hurricane. But I do know that the tricky storm did not stay on it's path. We thought we were in the clear when Fay moved across Florida, but then she turned around and came right back. The entire sequence of events was pretty funny. The kids had no school on the days the storm was supposed to hit us, but those days ended up being nice days to play outside. Then the day the kids went back to school we had sideways blowing rain and wind knocking trees down. This was Thursday of last week. At around 4pm the wind and rain wasn't too terrible, so I went to pick up Keith's prescription from the doctor's appointment he had earlier that day. When I walked back into the house already feeling on edge from driving through flooded streets surrounding our neighborhood, Keith tells me to go look out back. I went out back to see the second tree in less than 3 weeks attempting to ruin our swimming pool. Fortunately this tree wasn't very big. When I walked back into the house I realized we had no electricity. We stayed without power from Thursday afternoon until Friday evening. Here is part of the tree taking a swim in the pool. The previous owners left us the fire pit that some of the tree is resting against. Notice our pool is about 1/2 inch from overflowing.
Fortunately, our house has plenty of windows. Friday morning it didn't even seem like the power was out. The kids were happy to play on the floor in front of the windows.
Here is a better shot of the tree. This one is after Keith had been hacking away at the tree.
This is our back door. It leads into what should be the garage, but is actually the family room, since the previous owners converted the garage into a family room. At one point, the water pooled at the door up to the top of that bottom brass hinge. I'm so glad the kids didn't try to open the door!

We live in an interesting area. Just a few streets over from our house is flooding so deep that it is halfway up most mailbox posts. Our house is mostly dry now. Infact, we have pretty much cleaned up everything from the storm.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rain, rain, go away...

I suppose I should update for our friends and family out of state that are worried about us and the storm. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Fay seems to have missed us completely. The county to the southeast of us had many tornado warnings announced on the radio, but we stayed out of harms' way. For now it looks like we have tropical depression type weather ahead of us for the next few days. For us, it's just like being in Kodiak, only warmer. The winds are howling around the house and the rain is really coming down.

Keith will be home with us for the next few days. Unfortunately it's to go to more doctor appointments. I'm looking forward to the time when all of this is behind us. I'm sure Keith is, too.

More school physicals

Megan and Daniel had their school physicals earlier this week. Their primary care physician is the same doctor that Joshua saw last week. I can't say that I'm impressed with this doctor, but he'll have to suffice until I start work full-time and switch us all to private (non-military) insurance and shop around for a pediatrician that more fits our family.

Megan is 4 years 5 months old and weighs 35 pounds. She is 40 1/2 inches tall. She is up to date on her vaccines until next year, at that time she'll get her round of Kindergarten shots. However, this doctor's "nurse" (I'm not a fan of staff that wears nametags without job titles or career initials) transcribed Megan's Alaska shot record onto a blue Florida shot record and completely left half of the shots off the record. Apparently she wasn't too familiar with the combination vaccines. After 2 tries, Megan failed her eye exam with her left eye. I mentioned to her new doctor that she had been seeing a pediatric eye doctor every 6 months because of some difficulty with her left eye, and the new doctor said he wasn't too concerned. I mentioned her nose bleeds, again new doctor said he wasn't too concerned. I also mentioned the hairy nevus over her spine, and he didn't even look at it.
Daniel also got a school physical for starting daycare in a few months. He is now 2 years and 10 months old. He weighs in at 31 pounds and is 36 1/2 inches tall. I had no concerns about Daniel. Not that the doctor would have cared, anyway. I got the feeling he was rather put-out by the fact that I actually asked questions about my kids' health. But the mission was to have school physical papers completed and that was done, so I took my forms and prayed the whole way to the minivan that none of the kids get sick in the next few months until we have a new doctor.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The calm before the storm

There is a storm heading in our direction. (Is it too late to head back to Kodiak?) Since the kids are used to getting up at around 6:30am for school, they were up really early on Sunday morning. They were loaded in the minivan and at Publix for some last minute supplies by about 7:45am. We purchased our normal groceries and a few extra supplies (bottled water, batteries, and some non-perishible foods). At 9am we left the store and entered into an overflowing parkinglot. It seems like everyone is out preparing for the storm.

Keith will likely be over at the air station during the storm, but the kids and I are very prepared. Most likely we'll just have some Kodiak-style winds and collect a few inches of rain. I want to put Megan's rain gauge outside, but I'm afraid the wind will take it away. Just in case we loose power, we've got oil lamps and fun kid lights. I've even taken it upon myself to finish the last of the ice cream, you know, just in case the freezer isn't working - I'd hate to waste some fantastic mint chocolate chip.

After lunch, the kids and I walked down to the park. The temperature had climbed up into the 90's in the sun, but it was beautiful and breezy in the shade.
Daniel loves to collect acorns. We've agreed that he can put them in a cup, not in his pockets.
He took his acorns on a ride down the slide. Notice his mouth wide open, "weeee".
Megan was getting distressed when she noticed someone intruding on our personal belongings.
It was this little fella. He was going after the unattended trail mix. Apparently the selection of acorns had gotten a little boring. He made off with a cashew that had fallen off the bench.
Daniel being a scary dinosaur.

I have no pictures of Joshua because he saw a friend of his at the park, and I didn't want to embarass him by following him around like the paparazzi. I wasn't too crazy about this friend. Purely for the fact that he kept talking about shows from the Cartoon Network (something about a pancake superhero? anyone familiar with this?). We usually limit the influence of TV to PBS and very, very rarely Noggin. However, we've been letting the kids watch the Olympics (although I cringe at half the commercials that are on during the games for NBC's new line-up of lame primetime shows). Lucky for us, when people start talking about mainstream media things, we just shrug and blame it on, "oh, we've been in Alaska for the past 5 years" and then change the subject to igloos and polar bears. :) I'm sure sometime soon I'll have to come up with a way to nicely change the subject away from kids and TV without sounding like a snob. Any suggestions?

All the cool dragons eat it.

For fun, Keith purchased a dragon fruit during one of our grocery shopping trips. None of us had ever had a dragon fruit before. I asked the man stocking the produce area what the fruit would taste like and he said, "nothing, it really doesn't have much of a flavor". He was right. It had the texture of a kiwi only a little creamier. I probably should have taken a picture of it before we sliced into it, but I didn't think to run for the camera until Keith had already cut it up.

I'm not sure why it's called dragon fruit. Megan asked if it's because dragons eat it. After a little research, we learned that the real name of the fruit is pitaya. It is high in fiber, vitamin C and calcium.

Would we buy it again? Not as a snack, but maybe to blend into a fruit smoothie for a nutritional punch. I think it would be good with some frozen strawberries and orange juice. The kids all enjoyed their taste, but didn't ask for seconds!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hanging out by the pool

Today after school, Keith and the kids hung out by the pool while I warmed dinner. It was a beautiful day with highs in the 80's most of the day.
Daniel was a champ today. He went with Keith and I to the surgeon's office. We're pretty comfortable with the plan to proceed with surgery within the next month. Prior to surgery, Keith will have to meet with the GI doctor and have one other diagnostic procedure done in the next few weeks.
Joshua and Megan seem to be enjoying school. They are both eating all of their lunches (and leaving me the trash in their lunchbox, which I guess is a good thing so I'll know if they really are eating their lunch vs. throwing it in the garbage!). Joshua and Megan are both pretty excited in the mornings as we head into the school parking lot. Both of their teachers are very enthusiastic, and that has helped the transition tremendously.