Jan 12, 2018

First Birthday Alone

1/12/2018 — cori

My sweet-all-grown-up boy is marking another of life's milestone's this week. He'll be celebrating his 19th birthday alone.  All of his firsts are also all of my firsts. 

This will be the first year we haven't gotten up early and sleepy-eyed to wake him up singing "Happy Birthday" to him in bed and giving him his wake-up gift before doing anything else in our day. 

This will be the first year I haven't made him his favorite meal for his birthday dinner.

This will be the first year I haven't made him a special cake. 

This will be the first birthday we're not in the same state. 

This will be the first year we're not all at the dinner table sharing with the birthday boy what we love most about him. On every family member's birthday we always give them lots of verbal affirmation gifts. We want them to know exactly what we appreciate, admire, and love most in and about them. I'd say it's worked out pretty well for us over the years as the kids are now the first to initiate such kind words.

This will be the first birthday he has no presents to open. We gave him a birthday gift before he left back to school this past weekend. He was thrilled with it. But then I had two extra small things that I wrapped and wanted him to take back with him in his duffel bag so he could open something on his actual birthday. He said no. Two reasons: 1) no room in the bag, and 2) apparently its too awkward to open birthday gifts in front of your roommate.

I know this will be the first of many more to come. I'll be better with those, I imagine. But firsts are usually harder than the rest - you've never travelled down this road before, you don't know what to expect yet. I find that I'm simultaneously thrilled and sad that he's already left the nest. I'm thrilled with excitement about his future, how he feels a sense of fulfillment and inclusion in his college experience, and the thoughtful, kind, mature, intelligent, reserved young man he's grown up to be. I'm sad because that's what I had hoped for him all these years yet never knew they would actually ever come. You get so busy living your daily mundane life, you forget time is passing. It's a good sad though - with it comes immense gratitude, humility, and lots of precious memories. 

Jan 3, 2018

The Soundtrack Of My Childhood

1/03/2018 — cori
We just got an Alexa for Christmas. This has added a whole new dimension to our family time as we vie for her attention. We seem to all yell commands at her at the same time. such as: "ALEXA, PLAY ED SHEERAN, GOO DOLLS, LECRAE, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH" only to hear her to say: "Sorry, I don't know that one."(Welcome to my world Alexa - my people have been talking at me all at the same time their whole lives, they know no different.) Of course it goes without saying that we have to speak in all CAPS when we talk to her. We also have some mumblers in our group. Alexa really doesn't like mumbling. The joys of technology.

It's not like I didn't grow up without technology. We always had the latest greatest. My Bapchie was on the cutting edge of technology. She even owned a purple mustang that had an 8-track cassette player in the car. I LOVED it! Especially when I got to ride in the front seat and pick out any 8 track that I wanted. My choices varied between Conway Twitty and Polish Polkas. I still love Polka music to this day.

Needless to say, my parents came of age in the 60s and would have none of the classy polkas of their parent's generation. My Dad was super into his reel-to-reel player. I still have no clue how one works or what you do to it. We were never allowed to touch it. But we did get to listen to his favorite music that he so delicately placed upon the player and turned on for us to enjoy.

My Dad loves ohms and volts and amps and math and stuff like that. So this little device was right up his alley. All I cared about was singing along to my favorite songs. At the time they were the ones that our parents listened to such as:

"We Don't Need No Education" the 1979 classic by Pink Floyd. I personally loved it because of all the children singing in the background. I had no clue what it meant. I honestly just today looked up the story behind the song. Then there was the Eagles classic, "Hotel California" that was another one of the soundtracks of my childhood. My Dad was (and still is) all about Classic Rock. 

My Mom was in love with Neil Diamond. So I was too. His songs are so classic that even my kids now think they're cool. Alexa is very familiar with the phrase, "ALEXA, PLAY SWEET CAROLINE". I feel like a kid again when I hear this nostalgic music filling the air. 

Then there came a time in our lives when we were no longer allowed to listen to all this "secular music". We became "religious".  My parents boxed up their precious albums and reel-to-reel player and set them in the attic for years. Not knowing any different, I took up the "Christian Music Only" baton and would belt out tunes with Psalty the Singing Songbook on my brown Fisher Price tape recorder. As you can see, I'm still very technologically advanced.  

From here I still stayed with the christian music genre only. But I did upgrade my technology a bit. I was given this sweet boombox for my 16th or 17th birthday. Dual cassette player!! Twice all that 80s synthesizer, echoey music! That means I could slice my own cassettes and create unique tapes with multiple (christian) artists all on one tape - the genius of it (nowadays we call this a playlist). I even made my future husband a tape that I was very proud of.  I gave it to him as a gift when he moved to Ohio in 11th grade. 
I can't remember all the groups I included on the tape. But I do remember one group quite well. Its because they were THE COOLEST christian group a teen could listen to in the late 80s/early 90s. They were incognito christians. You couldn't tell from the name of their album, but once you listened to their lyrics, you knew you were getting preached to. I personally thought DC TALK was as cool as you could get. Our parents could be assured that there was no back-masking going on here.

Well that's all I've got on my little journey down my musical memory lane. I did take my uber sweet boombox off to college with me. Along with all my Precious Moments figurines. I wasn't popular in college. I grew up. I learned that pop music doesn't send you to hell. I eventually upgraded to a cd player, an mp3 player, itunes on an ipod and then an iphone. I never saw Alexa coming. But she's pretty cool to have around - if I can get a word in edgewise, that is. 

Dec 21, 2017

Bad Dad

12/21/2017 — cori

This guy and his shenanigans has Chloe up in arms. First of all, it's hard being a 13 year old girl and having a dad who is goofy. She is constantly exasperated or embarrassed by something he says or does. You know, the perils of being a teenage girl. However, her silly father has totally outdone himself now. First, he had the audacity to get a speeding ticket and get his picture taken while doing so (like this picture is going to somehow show up at Chloe's school and she'll never be able to live it down). As if that wasn't bad enough. Now Chuck is up to more shenanigans that has Chloe fearing that her father might get arrested.

And it has everything to do with the new house we are building. Unlike any house we've ever built, this particular builder doesn't want you on (your own) property without a representative from their company with you. Or your realtor. Well.....that's not always convenient. And they're not always around when we go check out the progress on the house. Chuck has zero problem breaking that "law" (let's call it what it is: a preference). 

So the other day we take yet another trip out to the house and not a soul is in sight. Chuck starts walking into the house. Chloe and I (the true, blue rule followers) hesitantly get out of the car and look around to make sure there will be no witnesses to incriminate us. Dad might be fine having his picture taken as he cohorts with danger, but not us. Chloe and I quickly run in, grab a peak and run back out to the safety of the car. Chuck and the boys take their jolly ol' time examining every last detail.

By time they get back to the car, Chloe is beside herself, "DAD!!!! WHY ARE YOU SO BAD WITH THE LAW?!" Hilarity and laughter ensue. Chloe is mortified. Chuck now wears that phrase as a badge of honor. It explains alot about him. Whenever he's about to go through a yellow light or jaywalk or do a u-turn in an unauthorized location, he says it's because he's "bad with the law." 

Dec 19, 2017

The Sway

12/19/2017 — cori

Last week Chloe had a choir performance. I was the only one who could attend, so I videoed much of the performance to show the fam. After watching Chloe's performance, I realized we failed her in one key area. See if you can spot Chloe:

Did you spot her? Yup. She was the one, unbeknownst to her, swaying the OPPOSITE direction of the ENTIRE choir. Every single time I watch it I giggle. It is just so cute! And the funniest part is, she did the EXACT same thing on the second go around.

Obviously, she was mortified after I showed her the video. There was a lot of denial. We had a nice long talk about being able to laugh at yourself. This was a very humbling experience for her, but she had to admit it was hilarious! She then showed the clips to her choir friends. One of them laughed so hard she cried. Another friend said her dog could sway better. Apparently I have overlooked teaching my daughter the fine art of swaying to music. The whole thing is my fault. At least that's the story Chloe is going with. #swayfail

Dec 8, 2017

First Timers

12/08/2017 — cori
This is the first year, believe it or not, that we've ever done gingerbread houses during the holiday season. We just never thought about it. But then Chloe came upon this little kit where all we had to do was assemble and decorate our own tiny house. I could get behind that.

Unfortunately, each house came all stuck together. Chuck had to 'unstuck' them by cutting on the scored lines. You can imagine how well that turned out. One of us had a cow (Chloe) because our pieces weren't perfect. Others of us used lots of icing to hide said imperfections. 

The formation of the house is the actual hardest part. You need 3 hands at least to hold everything together. This was not Chloe's happiest moment. All the lines and pieces were not matching up exactly. We may have even had a little panicking go on. 

Bennett used creative architecture techniques, but hey, it's standing - that's really all that matters. The pathetic amount of frosting the kit offered was nowhere near enough. I had to go make some more frosting - thus the beautiful ziplock baggie that Bennett is so delicately applying his frosting with. 

These are the finished products. I'm embarrassed to admit that this was mine. I was the first one finished though. I didn't even win a prize. And I made the biggest mess. Tweezers would have been nice. I feel that this would fit in nicely with a display of houses decorated by 1st graders.

Chuck's looks exactly like the picture on the box. Yay for him. His little designer self put the rest of us to shame. The entire time he was decorating his chalet, he kept complaining about the hole size of the frosting tube. He would have preferred multiple frosting bags with varying degrees of hole sizes for all his highly detailed work. 

And here's the all important bank that is a must have in every Christmas village. I was actually surprised by the 'less is more' look to Bennett's design. I am also amazed how he got his snow to fall on his roof in the shape of an /s/. 

Chloe, on the other hand, subscribes to the 'more is more' mentality. Her entire roof was caked in frosting. She even used a knife to help spread all the 'snow'. But her decorations were very precise and color coordinated. Apparently the bakery got hit by a blizzard.

Overall, it was an ok experience. I can't say I would like to incorporate it as a tradition or anything. However, we may do it again when Gavin gets home so we can watch him go all Donald Duck with the whole experience. I would do it all over again for the laughter and general hilarity that would ensue. 

Nov 28, 2017

Person of Interest

11/28/2017 — cori

I never really ever gave much thought to this sign before. Aren't we always being watched by 'Big Brother'? I just figured the city was gathering data on how many people actually disregard red lights. But now we have a greater appreciation for this seemingly benign sign. Turns out Chuck's a wanted man. These creepy red light photo cameras prove it.

What I love most about the photo is how nonchalant Chuck is about the whole thing. He even dares to smile in the face of danger. He's all like, "La-di-da, I'm just enjoying taking a little drive" while unbeknownst to him, his mug shot is being taken as he maliciously drives 12 miles an hour over the posted speed limit. And the city will have none of that. They will catch him in the act and dare him to prove them wrong.

We only know this because he received a citation in the mail the other day with these pictures in it proving his violation. They are asking him to either pay up or appear in court. He has now become a Person of Interest to the city. We only thought it was a tv show. Seeing yourself in a picture you never knew existed is eerily similar to the show's opening monologue: "You are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror but it sees everything."  

The funny thing is that Chuck is the one who got the ticket. I'm the more competitive driver of the two of us. I challenge the speed limits all the time. Granted, I know my limits and I rarely go 10 mph over. I also am very observant and read road signs (one key difference between the two of us and our driving styles). 

Ever since we moved here, I've been in a huff about the horrible, overly-cautious drivers here. They go exactly the speed limit and it drives me absolutely bonkers!!! No one wants to be caught going even 1 mile over the limit. Now we know why. 

We were foolishly living in ignorant bliss. We had no idea we were being watched. No longer. We will now join the rank and file of obedient drivers dutifully going exactly the speed limit everywhere we go. How boring.

Nov 21, 2017

On Being Short

11/21/2017 — cori

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, I used to be taller than my kids. I looked like a bonafide big person. Now I just look short.

Now and Then

I kinda knew the boys would out pace me in the height department sooner than later. But I knew I'd always have Chloe, my little girl.

And then she decided to grow. In this picture, I had to stand on my tippy-toes so as appear taller in stature than I am. 

A few things I've discovered that happens upon your children outgrowing you:

1. They think they suddenly become smarter and you suddenly become not as smart. The reality is somewhere in between. They are certainly growing intellectually by leaps and bounds. But they are also seeing you as human. You're no longer on a pedestal. You don't hold all the information and knowledge anymore....say like in Algebra 2 homework for example. You start answering with a lot more "I don't knows" to their questions. They may even have outpaced you in a particular area of interest and actually know more than you. This gives them the confidence they need to step into that vast, scary world and make a go of it all on their own.

2.  Your flaws and idiosyncrasies become much more noticeable to them. Their growing maturing helps them see you as not always mature. At least I'm not. Sometimes I get tired of being the 'mature one' and just want to goof off like a kid. Those moments are glaringly obvious to them now. They actually like it. I think it makes you more relatable and not like this person that always has things altogether.

3. They love flaunting their new found height over you. They love looking down on you, physically -not in a negative sense. If this growing one happens to be a girl, she will LOVE wearing all your clothes, shoes and jewelry. She will also look half your size since her metabolism still works in spades and yours has started taking on a slower pace. 

4. They will start putting their arms around you in a protective gesture of love. At least my people do. They all come up to me a random times of the day and stand there with their arm around me looking down on me. I love it. I soak it up. What they say with their actions is more than words could ever say. 

Nov 10, 2017

Happy Girl

11/10/2017 — cori

This is genuine happiness! Chloe could live on this farm. It's so amazing watching her with these huge beasts. She's not the least bit intimidated by them. You can tell she's in her sweet spot when she's out in the corral with the horses, tacking them up, and especially while riding. She's got a great sense of the horses and what they need or want or when they're in a bad or ornery mood. I love that Chloe has found her passion. Aunt Lou would be proud! And I especially love that the stables are so close to our house. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if she ended up working here a few years from now. This is definitely Chloe's sweet spot.

Nov 9, 2017

Learning New Things About Your Kids

11/09/2017 — cori
Recently we were talking about how sometimes we continue to say certain words wrong for years because that is the way we hear them. For instance...I said "bollyball" for volleyball until I was in COLLEGE!! Ridiculous, I know, but I must embrace it because it's who I am. (And to think I now teach others how to speak English - kind of ironic.)

I recently found out who got the "wrong sounding word" gene - Bennett. See that nice little blue shirt he's wearing in the picture below? I just found out that he has been calling that a "tink top" until just last year. I could not control my laughter. I had the giggles for hours afterwards each time I said that word. 

Then I learn something new about Gavin. Just this summer he told us that he missed the "Pope mobile". We were like, WHA?! (He gave it away before we moved since it would have died en route to CO.) He was like, "Ya, my friends named my car the Pope mobile ever since I starting driving it." We were like, "WHY?" And he was like, "Cuz it was white and I was driving it." I guess it was a compliment for Gavin. (Minnesotan's are very Catholic and Lutheran and place high regards on the Pope.) But why are we just now learning of this hilarious name 2 years late? I totally could have run with that this whole time had I known about it. I hope he gets another white car in the future.

Oct 26, 2017

I Need To Take My Pants Off

10/26/2017 — cori

As a family we have watched this movie (The Lego Movie) at least 5 times. It is chalk-full of so many great one-liners! Both Chuck and Bennett have used Batman's infamous line more times than I can count, "I only work in black, or really, really, dark grey."  as well as, "If this relationship is gonna work out between us, I need to feel free to party with a bunch of strangers whenever I feel like it." But what I didn't expect was our own version of the "Honey, where are my pants?" line.

Over the past year, it seems that whenever Chuck gets home from work (or anywhere for that matter) the first thing he says as he walks in the door is, "I need to take my pants off." It's become our family's code for: I need to get comfortable and I need to do it now. It usually involves changing into basketball shorts (for the boys) or comfy pajama pants (for the girls). We just like to chillax.

It's not like we walk into the house and immediately step out of our clothing. I mean, not now-a-days at least. The kids used to do that 10 years or so ago. Their outfit of preference was plain old underwear (forwards, backwards, inside out, on your head...whatever...anything goes). We've raised the bar a bit since then. Underwear are optional; pants aren't.

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