Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is it Child Abuse…

when the person inflicting the abuse is only 1 year old? I may have mentioned before that it has taken Caleb a long time to warm up to his baby sister, Baylee. And really, in some ways I cannot blame him. She is a very sweet little girl, however, she did come along when he was only 10 months old and stole his "baby of the family" thunder. Because of this, he enjoys to try & play "try to smash the baby" quite often. He is very determines when playing this game.

It doesn’t matter to him if she is in her swing...

Or in her chair...

Or just minding her own business on the floor...

Side Note Here: Please do not be worried, we did take him off of soon as we found the camera & got a couple of pictures.

In fact, as far as he is concerned, the only thing she is good for is to steal her bottle.

Small Towns

We’ve lived here for about 7 ½ years. It is the smallest town I’ve ever lived in (Our population is just over 2500). And while we don’t have a WalMart in town or pizza delivery, we do have a lot of other things that make it totally worth it!

We have a great theatre – admission is $3 for adults & $2 for kids. I took Tyler, Cameron & Amata to see "Horton Hears A Who" last weekend and for the 4 of us I spent a total of $21.00. We all had our own popcorn, pop & candy plus the cost of admission. Try finding that anywhere in a bigger City!
We have an outdoor pool where you can buy a family season pass for $85.00 (and when you are a family of 7 that is a great deal!)
We have a pretty decent grocery store. They may not have the selection that Cub or WalMart have, but it’s great for picking up a few missing items for dinner.
We also have a Dollar General store for misc items;
A fabulous hardware store that seriously has just about everything! Need paint, they’ve got it, a bicycle, yep, or maybe a water fountain or coffeepot, they’ve got that too!
And not to worry, we also have a Casey’s gas station for Pizza, plus a full Dairy Queen and 2 other restaurants in town, plus a bakery.

But I think what I like the most is just the overall atmosphere in a small town.
Every day after school my oldest, Tyler, goes to his friends house with all of their buddies to play ball. Last night I ran to the grocery store and noticed a caravan of bicycles a couple blocks away. There were 8 or 10 boys riding around, my son among them. And it just made me smile thinking how nice it is to not be worried at all about them biking around town. Our town is probably 2-3 miles in diameter, and in all honesty, there is not one part of town that I would worry about them riding around in. I literally know all of the boys’ friends’ parents.
At school they have an actual Christmas party every year, complete with a gift exchange.
For summer baseball, which is a traveling league, if the parents can't make it on time, the kids just show up at the field & someone is always there that can give them a ride.
I know that some of these things do exist in larger cities, but it's not always as obvious.

And there is also this…(again, shamelessly plagiarized from an email I received.)
Those who grew up in small towns will laugh when they read this.
Those who didn't will be in disbelief and won't understand how true it is.
1) You can name everyone you graduated with. (Cameron’s class is the largest right now with 66 students!)
2) You know what 4-H means. (Okay, I’m a City girl, so I can’t say I know what they mean, but I’m willing to bet the boys do)
3) You went to parties at a pasture, barn, gravel pit, or in the middle of a dirt road. On Monday you could always tell who was at the party because of the scratches on their legs from running through the woods when the party was busted. (See #6.)
4) You used to 'drag' Main
5) Most people went by a nickname.
6) You scheduled parties around the schedules of different police officers, because you knew which ones would bust you and which ones wouldn't. (This one is definitely true!)
7) You could never buy cigarettes because all the store clerks knew how old you were (and if you were old enough, they'd tell your parents anyhow.) Besides, where would you get the money?
8) When you did find somebody old enough and brave enough to buy cigarettes, you still had to go out into the country and drive on back roads to smoke them.
9) You knew which section of the ditch you would find the beer your buyer dropped off.
10) It was cool to date somebody from the neighboring town.
11) The whole school went to the same party after graduation.
12) You didn't give directions by street names but rather by references. Turn by Nelson's house, go 2 blocks to Anderson's, and it's four houses left of the track field.
13) The golf course had only 9 holes. (I think I forgot to mention that we do have a Golf Course & it does have 9 holes.)
14) You couldn't help but date a friend's ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.
15) Your car stayed filthy because of the dirt roads, and you will never own a dark vehicle for this reason.
16) The town next to you was considered 'trashy' or 'snooty,' but was actually just like your town.
17) You referred to anyone with a house newer then 1950 as the 'rich' people.
18) The people in the 'big city' dressed funny, and then you picked up the trend 2 years later.
19) Anyone you wanted could be found at the local gas station or the dairybar.
20) You saw at least one friend a week driving a tractor through town or one of your friends driving a grain truck to school occasionally. (Seriously, on the last day of school the seniors who live on a farm all drive their tractors to school)
21) The gym teacher suggested you haul hay for the summer to get stronger.
22) Directions were given using THE stop light as a reference. (Actually, we don’t have a stoplight, but we do have A 4-way stop sign.)
23) When you decided to walk somewhere for exercise, 5 people would pull over and ask if you wanted a ride.
24) Your teachers called you by your older siblings' names.
25) Your teachers remembered when they taught your parents.
26) You could charge at any local store or write checks without any ID.
27) There was no McDonalds.
28) The closest mall was over an hour away. (It’s only a half hour away here)
29) It was normal to see an old man riding through town on a riding lawn mower.
30) You've pee'd in a cornfield.
I would not want to raise my kids any other way!!!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


A few weeks ago I was at Wal-Mart all by myself! So I thought I’d take my time and went through the clearance isles. They had a Leap Frog Reading & Writing toy that I was thinking about picking up for Amata & eventually Caleb. But then I walked through the toy section and they had a toddler size Little Tike’s basketball hoop. Caleb LOVES balls, and it reminded me how Caleb had been trying to throw a ball into the big basketball hoop in the driveway, he must have thrown that ball up 10 times! There was a lot of stuff on my list, and so I really wasn’t planning to spend much on toys and such. So I decided I would only get one of them, the Leap Pad or the Basketball hoop. It was a tough decision, but I decided the basketball hoop would get used more at this point, so that’s what I bought.
I was kind of second guessing myself that maybe I should have purchased the educational toy, but the next day Caleb put my fears to rest. He obviously doesn’t need the leap pad since he is already enjoying romance novels!
See, he'd only been reading the book for a couple of minutes and he's almost done with it already! (Notice he even has it right side up!

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Sad Day

My supervisor announced that she has taken another job and her last day will be in 2 weeks. I'm very nervous about this change, because I have it pretty good here, and you just never know what the next person they hire will do. I cannot blame her a bit, the job of a City Administrator is not fun, the council makes the decisions and she takes all the grief from the residents. I think what bothers me the most is that for a town our size, most City Administrators will just use this job as a stepping stone to larger cities which may create kind of a revolving door. We were lucky to have someone who already lived in the community with her wealth of knowledge who truly cared about what was in the best interest of the City. She probably would have stayed until she retired if she had been treated better & supported a little more. I really don't know what I want to do now, if anything. The prospect of having a new supervisor every few years does not sound very fun to me! I know it will probably all work out in the end, but that won't stop me from worrying some until the position is filled.

PS Not ever in a million years would I ever even apply for her position, even if I did have the background for it.

Kind of brings a tear to the eye doesn't it?

Warning - the following has been shamelessly copied from an email I received a while back.

When I was a baby, someone had given me a little 'tea set' as a gift and it was one of my favorite toys. Daddy was in the living room engrossed in the evening news when I brought Daddy a little cup of 'tea,' which was just water. After several cups of tea and lots of praise for such yummy tea, my Mom came home. My Dad made her wait in the living room to watch his little princess bring him a cup of tea, because it was, 'just the cutest thing!' My Mom waited, and sure enough, here I come down the hall with a cup of tea for Daddy and she watches him drink it up, then says, 'Did it ever occur to you that the only place that baby can reach to get water is the toilet???'

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pet Peave

It really bothers me when people are wearing clothes that do not go together at all! This is why, when I do the laundry for the youngest 3, I ALWAYS make sure to put away their clothes in pairs, even if it is blue jeans & a tee-shirt. That way, they just need to grab the top 2 items to get dressed & I know they will match. For some reason, however, Amata cannot seem to grasp that concept, and so my daughter (who picks out her own clothes at least twice a day) usually ends up wearing an outfit that CLEARLY does not match. You do not wear a flower shirt with striped pants! They don’t even have many of the same colors!
Plus, notice the tie & buttons on the back of this shirt? They should be on the front. I am happy to see that at least her shorts are on right.

This does not bother my husband near as much as it bothers me, therefore, she is often dressed like this. Would it look bad to make her wear a sign that says "I dressed myself, my mom would never dress me like this"?

This is a picture of her behind because Amata asked to see a picture of her butt - how do you say "no" to a request like that? (Please ignore the chairs & toys all over the floor! I'd love to say it was just a bad day, but unfortunately, that's what it usually looks like.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Toys…

We decided that since we do have 3 children under the age of 3 plus a daycare, that we should probably invest a little in our outside play area. The old wooden play set we had was looking pretty sad, it is probably about as old as the house and needed to be replaced.

We have a trampoline, but last year it blew into our neighbors yard and the poles that hold the net were bent. So we replaced the trampoline net and bought a new wooden tower/swing set. And Chris spent the next week putting it together. I also thought we should get a smaller Little Tikes climber/slide for Caleb since the wooden tower is pretty big.
Apparently, the Little Tikes climber was a waste of money, I think he’s been on the Little Tikes slide twice, but he LOVES the big one! That's Caleb peeking out of the mini tower on the left.
He doesn't actually climb up these steps...yet, so far he's been using the ladder on the front. But he loves playing in that tunnel.
Right after I took this picture he plopped down on his belly and went down the slide. He was too fast for the camera, though, so I didn't get a picture of it.
Baylee also got a new toy that she really likes …
Caleb likes to play in it, too…

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

He's a big kid...

My Baby Boy is growing up.

Caleb has officially decided (without my permission I might add) that he has outgrown his high chair and now demands to sit at the table with his own plate & silverware.

He usually makes sure he is at the table at least 5 minutes before dinner is even ready!

Happy Birthday, Cameron

Last week Cameron turned 10, which means that it has now been over 10 years since I have been pregnant. You’d think I would have lost some of that "baby weight" by now!?

Initially, Cameron had decided he wanted to go to Happy Joe’s in Mankato for his birthday, but the freezing rain that we had that day, we had to postpone that trip until the weekend. Instead we had pizza from Casey’s & a cake from the DQ.

The one thing that Cameron has been wanting for literally months is the game "Rock Band". However, this game costs around $160.00, which is more than I am willing to spend on a video game! So instead, I sent out the idea of gift cards to people so that he could buy it himself. He wanted this game so badly that he even still had a gift card from Christmas that he was saving! Luckily, he did end up having enough to buy the game and he LOVES it.

I have to admit it is kind of cool. It comes with a guitar, drums & microphone. All of the kids have tried it out. Amata loves to have the microphone, but unfortunately, when she is singing, they usually lose & get kicked off the "stage", apparently she doesn’t get enough of the words right!

We went to Happy Joe’s on Sunday, then. The kids had fun, and Cameron enjoyed his birthday sundae.

It’s kind of a very scaled down version of Chuck E Cheese, but without the mouse. Caleb loved looking at the games and taking the balls from Skee Ball & Basketball games, but he didn’t actually play most of the games.

Cameron & Amata were all about the tickets...

Cameron finally wrapped up his marathon birthday celebration with a slumber party at our house. He wanted to invite 10 boys, but we whittled it down to 7. Is it wrong that I was secretly happy that only 3 actually stayed overnight? They did have fun, though. The Rock Band game was a hit!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Paddle Dance Winner

Last Friday, the 3rd & 4th Graders had a Country-Dance Party at school to show off what they learned in the dance unit in Gym class. They do this every year and have the kids invite their parents and grandparents and anybody else they want to. A couple of years of years ago when Tyler was in 4th Grade I was able to watch the last half of it, which was kind of fun, even though Tyler is SO not into dancing.

Cameron, however, really loosens up when he dances and he actually won the "Paddle Dance" this year. I would love to post some pictures so you could see how into it he gets; he even wore a straw hat, cowboy boots & a bandana. However, Cameron has a very long-standing rule – under NO circumstance are his father and I to enter the school during the school day. Therefore he UN-invited us to the dance party. He gets panicked when we even jokingly say that we’re going to go to the school.

The only time we can go to school during the school day is to pick him up early. I am allowed to take him to school every morning, but I drop him off at the curb. I suppose it is possible that the reason for this is that we might occasionally embarrass him, however, I prefer to think it stems from when he was younger and had some big time separation issues. When he was younger, if we came into the school he would actually start to tear up because he "was going to miss us". At that time, he wouldn’t even go to a friend’s house to play. He has gotten over that, but I think that he is still afraid he might tear up at school if we go in. At least that’s the story I’m sticking to.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Nerve...

I know this is very unprofessional, but I just have to share. A customer came in today and brought a bag of mini candy bars to say thank you for something that we had all helped him with. (It took several tries to finally get it resolved between the post office & the State of MN). He initially threw the bag at one of my coworkers who was working with another customer. But as I was finishing up his transaction, he said, "Now you make sure she shares those with all of you." I just smiled & said thanks. When I looked at the counter, they were gone.

When that coworker went to lunch, I looked on the floor by where she keeps her purse and the bag of candy was sitting there. Is it just me, or does that take a heck of a lot of nerve?? He clearly intended that bag for all of us and she is taking them home with her. And THEN, she offered to another employee as if SHE had bought it!

Now don’t get me wrong, I have looked in the mirror recently, and I certainly do not need the candy at all, but that’s not the point. To me, the most appropriate thing to do with it is put it in a basket to share with everybody.

The Slow Road to Adoption...

As of today, both Caleb & Baylee are still technically our foster children. I actually even filed the petition at the courthouse for Caleb's adoption in January. After we file the adoption petition, there is one last form that has to go to the state for final permission before we can get a court date. Around this same time, our social worker began the paperwork for Baylee's adoption. This confused the State.

The State Dept of Human Services contacted the social worker and asked what was going on. Why weren't they doing both adoptions together? The social worker explained that it was because they were born & placed at different times, over 10 months apart. The state, in all of it's wisdom, decided that Caleb & Baylee have to be adopted together as a sibling group, otherwise we need special permission to do the adoptions separately because the state would then view that as them not being placed with siblings?!

So, the state that currently has a huge budget shortfall would rather pay us a few more months to keep Caleb in foster care, and then pay us "monthly maintenance" for both Caleb & Baylee (because adopting a "sibling group" qualifies as a special need) than allow us to proceed with Caleb’s adoption as planned. I suppose technically we could tell them we don't want the money, but like I told the social worker, if they really want to give us this money, I would hate to hurt their feelings by not taking it. Plus, we have 5 kids; the extra money will probably come in handy. We're not talking about a huge amount each month, but I still think it is quite humorous.

We started the adoption process over about a month ago, so who knows, we just might have these two adopted by the end of this year, although I certainly won’t be holding my breath!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Do you know where your kids are?

Amata & Caleb both seem to have a little naughty streak in them, which includes the need to climb on or into anything they can, or to hide if they have something they shouldn't.

So if you are missing any of your children, and you've already looked in the washing machine & the cupboards, look in any boxes you have around ...

Or check under the baby's crib, especially if the baby is in the crib trying to take a nap at the time. (It is kind of hard to see her, but, yes, Amata is under there, too.)

You could try checking in the closet...

Or maybe IN the corner shelf that your husband was going to hang.

You can also check underneath the kitchen table, or in the corner between the door & the wall. For some reason I don't have photos of those, but they are a couple of favorites at our house!

One Expensive Date

About 6 months ago, we decided to start a date night with each of the older boys. With all of the babies, and foster children, we thought we needed to make sure they were getting some attention, too. Each month each of us will go out with Tyler or Cameron & they get to pick what they want to do and where they want to eat. When we started, we were also doing it with the older foster child we had.

Somehow, though, in this rotation, I think I got the short end of the stick. In the 8 times I've gone out with one of the boys, I've had Arby's 4 times, Taco Bell 2 times, Culver's and Subway. I was also the one who went with Tyler when he chose to see the movie "Meet the Spartans" - All I have to say about that movie is that it was an hour & twenty minutes of my life that I will NEVER get back! (However, Tyler did like it, and it was HIS night out). Chris on the other hand has had Green Mill, Chinese Buffet and I think even Old Country Buffet. I do enjoy this time with the boys, but I'm just saying...would it kill them to chose some nicer restaurants when I am with them?

Anyway, Tyler loves Taco Bell (although he said it wasn't his Favorite restaurant, but it was within the top 3) I don't mind Taco Bell, although I wouldn't call it my favorite. (I tend to lean towards Red Lobster, Chinese, and things along that route.) The problem is, Tyler is a wee bit on the picky side (and by a wee bit, I mean he is the pickiest eater I have ever seen...he will even only eat a certain brand of BBQ sauce!). So, when Tyler orders at Taco Bell, he orders everything ala carte. A cheese quesadilla with a side of sour cream, nachos & cheese, a caramel apple empanada, cinnamon twists and a small pop. Our total, for the 2 of us to eat at Taco Bell was over $13!

I just think that is a lot for a couple of tacos and some tortillas & cheese! Then we had some time before the movie started so we were wandering around the mall for a while and he informs me that he needs new tennis shoes for school. His current shoes apparently are torn on the side by the sole. I honestly don't know what that boy does to his shoes! One year I seriously ended up buying him 3 pairs of shoes! I always buy them a pair of name brand shoes at the beginning of the school year, but if they need more I usually just go to Payless & get them an inexpensive pair. So we went to Shopko and checked out Payless - the only pair he found there were over $30.00! So we looked in their other shoe section and found a pair of Nike's for $25.00. Which is a great price, I just wish they would last him longer! Seriously, I have no clue how he wears through his shoes so fast!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Washing Machine Warning

Just in case you have a front loading washing machine, I'd like to share this warning with you:

Make sure you check for kids before starting the washing machine.

For that matter, you should also check for children before putting away pots & pans.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

One Sleepy Girl!

Amata is almost 3, and she kind of tends to be a wee bit hyper-activite. (And by a wee bit I mean the girl is a spaz). She has always been a little hit & miss with her naps, although not for lack of trying on our part! But when her energy runs out, she will just crash, where every she is.

She falls asleep on her Daddy.

She falls asleep on "her Tyler"

She falls asleep in her chair.

She falls asleep in Baylee's Car.

She even falls asleep at the dinner table.

It's gotten to be kind of funny, you just never know where she'll fall asleep at next.

But then we started to wonder if that might be hereditary...

Baylee can also fall asleep anywhere, including Daddy's leg...

And backwards in her swing. (I know, that is probably why you are supposed to buckle them in).