Sunday, September 30, 2012 enjoy my flowers

...from my sweeties

Audrey picked me these at the mines yesterday....

And Mark sent me these....

Both my favorite color...purple.

Both made my day. find some diamonds! the Herkimer Diamond Mine

Amy and I have been planning this trip to the diamond mines all summer.  For various reasons we had to keep postponing our trip; and for good proved to be the perfect day, weather-wise, to do such an activity.

It is hard work swinging a sledge hammer and there is no shelter in the rock quarry from any of Mother Nature's elements (sun, wind, or rain).  We were quite comfortable in our jeans and sweatshirts... whistling while we worked.


The rock quarry

Working hard

Or playing

What a great family activity diamond mining turned out to be!  

The scenery was lovely...

And the kids found enough small treasures at often enough intervals their interest was kept.  They wanted to keep digging, pounding, and sifting.

I love this picture of Will and Katie.  It is a perfect example of how serious the kids were in their quest for gems.  

These kids worked hard and were dirty!

Their reviews:
"It was so much fun!" #2
"I just wish it were closer."  #1
"Can we go back again tomorrow?" #3
"Can you buy me a hammer?" #4
"I wish Fort Drum would make a diamond mine."  Adoptee for the day.
"Oh, my gosh it was so great!" LaGrange #1
"Good" LaGrange #3
"It was awesome!" LaGrange #2 
There we have it.  Straight from the mouthes of babes.  The mines were a hit!

Friday, September 28, 2012 try out my new

...YMCA membership.

I have been exercising pretty regularly for as long as I can remember.  In my much younger days I did Jazzercise (remember that??), swam, walked, lifted weights, did yoga and of course ran.  Over the years, running has been the quickest, most effective way for me to get in a workout.  And certainly, six just after William was born, my most convenient.

And while I do enjoy running on my treadmill, lately I have been considering joining the YMCA just to change up my routine a bit.

As convenient as having my treadmill has been, I still am always exercising in my closet.  Me, my closet, and Little House on the Prairie (until recently...every now and then I'll read a magazine or book on my iPad).

Mark actually was the one who suggested we should go take a look at the YMCA facilities just last week to see what they have to offer.

We found, there are three local YMCA gyms.   They all have (with variable hours) free, child-watch programs.  And although the child watch programs are limited they are sufficient AND all of my children are eligible to attend.  This is a huge benefit!

In order for me to work out on post, I have two options:

Go to one of the neighborhood community centers and have my children play on the play structure while I use the exercise equipment (there is a large picture window to supervise the little ones through).  This worked well approximately one time.  Inevitably one of my children would have to go potty, two would start arguing, one would get hurt, the treadmill was broken, the weight set was get the picture.

The other option is for me to drop the little girls off at daycare (where I may or may NOT be able to get them a reservation) and pay four dollars per hour per child.  Not to mention the inconvenient distance the two buildings are from one another.  Then I have to pawn my big kids off on a few playmates in order to go to the gym in peace for a short while.  I have never used this option.  It is simply too complicated.

This inconvenience is why I resort to running in my closet.

But lately I have been ready for a little bit more.  I have been thinking about beginning to lift weights again, maybe jumping in the pool for some laps, and possibly taking a class or two.  I have been ready to commit a little bit more to my own health and sanity.

Then, ironically my treadmill broke on the very same day I had planned to join the YMCA.

I'll take that as a sign it was most definitely time.

So today was the first day of a new routine...

Take kids to school then go to the gym.

Audrey was a little less sure of this new plan of mine.  I am not gonna lie, there were lots of tears at drop-off.  But when I came back to get her she was all smiles!

Her teacher said, "Well, it took her a few minutes to settle down and warm up to us.  But when she finally started talking that child never did stop till you just got here."

I think this lady's ears were ready for a break when I finally arrived.  I can sympathize.

To reward Audrey for going all by herself and being so well-bahaved I treated her to one of her favorite  treat spots!

She wanted to be sure to share some of her donut with me...

Wasn't that sweet of her?

At least I didn't negate the calories I burned on my first day back at the gym with empty calories.

I like to think that is what Audrey was thinking too.

Day one of the new routine down for both Audrey and I.....just how many times does it take to make a new habit?

Thursday, September 27, 2012 say a tearful goodbye my 'ole trusty treadmill.

I had a love/hate relationship with that thing.

I hated that I had to get on it each time.

I loved that I could burn a whole bunch of calories, shower and dress before I had to get ready for work.

I hated that it would taunt me remind me by its mere presence if I left it unused for several days at a time.

I loved that it offered me the flexibility to work out when the girls were napping or before the children were awake in the mornings.

I bought my treadmill right after Will was born and have since walked many hours with him and the girls in my slings or in the Baby Bjorns to put them to sleep.

This treadmill offered me many minutes of sanity on the coldest of days during Mark's last deployment (although not always uninterrupted).

And now...the day before Mark leaves again, it tries to catch fire on me....mid-run.

Yes...Picture me:  Blazing Running Plodding along and then umph BAM I practically went over the handles when the belt halted mid-stride.

Not to be dissauded too easily, I checked the power cord, realized the the circuit had popped, reset it and then began to run again.  Snap.  umph BAM.  Power out again.

For me...three times are a charm.  Three times before I learn my lesson.

Then, I started to smell something burning.

And I knew that moment, the news was bad.


My treadmill is dead.

I am sad.

Very sad.

And now tomorrow, because it is dead,

...tomorrow I get to sleep in!

Maybe I am not so sad any longer?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 look forward to tomorrow

...when I can put our house second floor back in order.

I wish I could say that we had a water main leak or that the ceiling fell in or....well any number of excuses other than the days have gotten away from me and so has the children's floor.

The upstairs of our home looks as if choas struck.

It probably did.

That is if: IT = #3 + #4

The upstairs is referred to as the children's floor because our master bedroom is downstairs far away from said chaos.  Really this is a blessing.  For all of us.

Mark and I can tolerate the disaster zone for several days since we don't live in it.

This allows our family to live in peace and muster through my work days; the days we are merely in survival mode.

Tomorrow I plan on giving myself thirty uninterrupted minutes up; I will be able to have it cleaned it up.

I'll put the six loads of laundry in their drawers.

Put the tops back on all of the markers.

Take the stickers off of the doors.

Dress all of the poor naked baby dolls.

And oh yes...

Wipe the spit toothpaste out of the sink, off of the mirror, off of the floor and off of the toilet seat.

(Yup.  I could write a whole essay on toothpaste vs. my children.  Unsightly.  Gross.  Disgusting.).


I solemnly promise to any future guests staying with us at our home:
I will not make you share a tube of toothpaste with my children.

Monday, September 24, 2012 go to the park

...and enjoy a full day of family time!

Mark's unit was lucky enough to be granted a DONSA.  For those unfamiliar with the term, it means Day Of No Scheduled Activities.  For us family members it means a free day of time with Daddy.

Mark and I decided to keep the children home from school for this one given that he is getting ready to leave again in the next few days.

Needless to say our kiddos were delighted!

We went to our favorite, Panera, for breakfast and soon after we got home Mark and I decided to head to the park with our offspring.

You would not be able to imagine the moans and groans from the peanut gallery!
  • It's too cold!
  • I don't want to!
  • I'm not going!

I didn't say we were headed home to wash windows or clean out the toy room!

I said....we were going to the park.  A new park.  One they hadn't been to before.  One with a skate ramp and a dirt bike path!

I actually had to threaten our firstborn that she was going to be taken to school unless she changed her tune!

We wanted a joyful attitude!

No pouting on this outing!
I think this is going to be my new mantra when we are out-and-about.

I am quite certain I can't figure out where that child learned how to pout!

I think she got over it....

Abbey had no fear!

Audrey was even on wheels for a while!



And dirt biking!

Audrey preferred running on the 'mountains'.

And climbing on the playground

What a fun day of family time we had on what turned out to be a lovely, albeit brisk, fall day.

Even Isabella admits it was perfectly full of fun.

Saturday, September 22, 2012 host a birthday party the roller skating rink!

William will be turning eight in two weeks.  And I didn't want Mark to miss out on the joy of celebrating with all of Will's friends.  Thus, we celebrated a bit early this year.

Woo Hoo!
Dad's are so much fun!

Mark and I got to race...

I won.
(only because Mark fell when he was trying to show off.  He is going to have a sore be-hind tomorrow!).

The kids did the limbo...

We ate birthday brownies!

And enjoyed so many other fun moments:

Audrey didn't enjoy skating as much as she enjoyed being rolled around...

Best Buddies

Abbey & Luke
The gifts were an awesome bonus to a super fun afternoon...

Our evening was deliciously relaxing.  We had a nice dinner, watched several hours of football, and have enjoyed watching William enjoy his gifts.

It's a real good thing Amy and I have been doing our part for this activity.  Because we have saved up several corks, Will was able to enjoy some target practice with his new Nerf gun!

Putting together another of his gifts with his big sister...

What a day!

Happy early birthday little man!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 figure out

...what this plant/weed/shrub-like thing that I found is

I have been thinking about taking some home for several months now because I love its shape and its coloring.  Then, just yesterday I realized that these were turning this really lovely shade of deep purple.

It appears to 'act' somewhat like tumbleweed might (if I ever visited the southwest  to see for myself I could confirm this suspicion).

It is roundish, dryish, and I have found it on the trail I walk Timber in somewhat sandy-ish soil.  It is sparsely spread around the landscape and has shallow roots which is probably why they 'release' easily from the soil and then bounce along the ground in the wind like I imagine tumbleweed does.

I have googled several different adjective combinations and so far I haven't come up with its name.

For now these gems are going to part of my fall decor until they drop too many seeds, fall apart, or  I realize that one of us is allergic to it.

Any guesses?

Monday, September 17, 2012 have a peaceful evening at soccer

...but I didn't.

Let's just call a spade a space and shout out that Monday's are pretty stressful around here.

  • I work.
  • The kids have school.
  • The little girls don't nap.
  • We have soccer.  

I tried to improve the experience from last week by trying to be better prepared.

Which meant that last night I:

  • set out each child's soccer outfit
  • filled all of the water bottles
  • made dinner (as I write this in hindsight...perhaps I should have served beef?)
  • set aside snacks for the kids for our two-hour-soccer-shift
  • made sure our soccer bag was still stocked (blankets, tissues, hair ties, and sweatshirts)
The evening started off as a great night at soccer.  Abbey had her first game, kicked the ball several times on the field, and even ran toward the correct goal each time she had the ball!

Audrey played nicely with her friend Nina.

The big kids worked hard at their practices.

And the best part of all was that Mark was able to meet us at the fields to watch the kids play.

Because Mark was able to join us I was able to head home a bit early with the little girls to get their evening routine started...Herein lies the problem.

Oh. My.


Abbey wanted to stay.

She wanted to stay and play with her buddy Luke.  You know, the little guy she plays with for several hours most every day!

And she started screaming.  She screamed the entire walk to the car.

She collapsed in a heap to the ground at least six different times.

Of course there were people around.  

Lots of people around.

I felt like it took us twenty minutes to walk back to the van since she kept collapsing to the ground.  It probably didn't help that I spent most of our trek to the van trying to catch her antics on film.  

The problem was that each time she realized I was still taping her she would scream a little louder or collapse to the ground a little harder.

I probably should have picked her up and carried her to the van.

But I have to record this stuff.  This way, when they are teenagers and are embarrassed by my behavior around their friends, I can bust out these videos to show them they had it coming! 


I digress.

In this particular clip Abbey says she would like a snack.  As if proclaiming her hunger to all of the bystanders in a five-mile-radius warrants a cheese stick?

I found this particular clip fascinating mostly because of Audrey's response to Abbey's tantrum.  Audrey's response is nearly identical to Abbey's distraught last week.

A paid actress couldn't have performed this scene any better.

And for the record...I have never left, even one of my children, anywhere.

Sunday, September 16, 2012 go to the cider mill

...on yet another beautiful fall day.

Someone was super excited!

And someone else loved looking at the pumpkins!

Of course the donuts were amazing!

And the views were pretty sweet too.

I am looking forward to another trip in a few weeks!