Thursday, September 30, 2004

Grant's football team. He is #29, in the back row, 2nd one over from the coaches. Posted by Hello

Jacob's Football Team Jacob is #64, center back row. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Cade is quite the interesting child, Jay and I both think he has to be one of the funniest kids we have ever met and he thinks so far outside the box that it is hard to believe he is only 4 years old.

Today, for example, we were sitting in the family room and he kept asking about alligators and sharks and then he starts talking about how they have both alligators and sharks at the Newport Aquarium but they only have alligators at the zoo because they don't have enough water tanks. Then he starts talking about how alligators like warm water but that seals like cold water. Next thing I know he is talking about how killer whales help each other eat seals by knocking over the ice floes that the seals sit on, then he says that a whale shark is biggest shark.....the convesation went in a complete circle...dotted with him asking me questions he already knew the answers to and seeing if I would answer them correctly.

When he was done with his litany of facts, he wandered to the bookshelf and brought me back 3 books to read him, one on alligators, one on seals and one on sharks. He is completely amazing, absorbing just about everything you tell him and always wanting to know more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

First Girl Scout Meeting......

The girl scout year is officially underway and we had our first meeting today. Although a few girls were missing, we managed to finalize the rest of our year by adding a second ornament making day (where we plan to make ornaments to decorate a senior citizen home), a tour of Dairy Queen, a "Birthday" Celebration, and a visit to the Haas Family Farm. I am sure we will end up adding more things, we always do, but this is certainly a great start!

Well, I finally managed to get the whole crew together and go and have a family portrait made. We only had to reschedule 4 times because of bruised up faces or scheduling conflicts. The woman who did the pictures did an excellent job and managed to snap a decent photo on the very first try. 10 people in a picture is a major undertaking, requiring a lot of positioning and contouring!

The boys were in their usual playful mood. She asked Brett his name and he said "Heathcliff" so Grant followed suit and told her his name was "Tobin", you should have seen the look on her face, like what kind of mother would give her boys such odd names, then Jake chimed in with his name being "Bob" wasn't until Cade told her his name was "Bob Jr." that she finally figured out something fishy was going on!

I can't wait to get the pictures back....I plan to use the wallets in Christmas cards and the larger ones as gifts for Jay's mom and my parents.
Three months old.....

Where has the time gone? It is hard to believe that 3 months ago today, at this very moment you entered our lives and what a scare you gave us all! Limp and lifeless, your first seconds in this world, I was so afraid we would loss you before we got to know you. Your daddy told me you looked like your big brother Brett and I knew that meant you would be a fighter, but I never realized what a fighter you would have to be to make it through the next week. The first time I saw you, you were hooked up to a machine to help you breath and an IV to feed you, you reacted so horribly to my touch it made me cry. My baby boy, laying there, so fragile and I couldn't even touch you. I longed for the day that I could just hold you, nurse you, cuddle you! What a fighter you were, getting off of CPAP and starting to breath room air, learning to nurse and overcoming jaundice, such hard work for such a little baby.

It seems like an enternity ago, yet it was just 3 short months, a mere 92 days, since you entered this world. So much has changed in such a short time. You have turned into a nursing champ, far from that baby who could only manage to take in 6cc in 20 minutes. You smile this bright wide smile that is infectious. You have started rolling, although you seem to have no idea "how" it happens and get really mad because you end up stuck on your back! You love hanging out in your baby bjorn, probably because you know it means you can hear my heartbeat.

I love watching your brothers and sisters with you, watching them welcome you into the family. As you grow, it is funny to see them try to include you. How many babies have played ping-pong, basketball, football or baseball in the backyard before they were 3 months old? How many babies have slid down the slide or rocked in the pirate ship? How many babies have been "center stage" in their sisters "dances"? How many babies have books read to them every day? Their love for you is incredible and uncessing.

Occasionally I wonder if it is possible for us to give you all you need, after all 8 children is a handful for anyone. But I focus on the things that I have given you, a family full of love and seven wonderful siblings, and know in my heart that they far outweigh the things I can't give you. They will always be there for you, they will be your anchor when you need steadying or the wind in your sails.

I love you little man! Happy 3 month birthday!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Girl Scouts.....

Girlscouting is a huge part of our lives and just so this is posted in a safe place, I decided to put it here. I couldn't ask for a nicer group of girls for my daughters to socialize with and I feel blest to be the troop leader!

Below is an email I sent to the group regarding our upcoming year.....

Here is a very tentative schedule for this year in girlscouts. Since Jay has moved his office home, it will be impossible for us to meet at my home this year, so I have been looking at opportunities for meetings outside my home.

Sept 28: First meeting. We will kick off our year with by meeting at Julifs Park in Anderson. 11:30 AM until 12:30 PM, have your daughter pack a picnic lunch (families are welcome to stay and play on the playground during the meeting). Please remember to bring $10 for your yearly registration fee.

Oct 12: 10:30 AM to noon: Tour of Mio's Pizzeria in Milford. We will be making our own pizzas, touring the restaraunt and learing about the operation of a pizzeria. Cost is $3 per girl for supplies

TENTATIVE: Oct 19: 10 AM to noon: Archiver's Scrapbook Store in Mason. I think that teaching our daughters how to create scrapbooks is a skill that will serve them well as homeschoolers. It is the perfect way for them to answer the question "so what do you do all day?". The women at Archiver's have agreed to teach the girls (and any moms) how to create a scrapbook page. The cost for the supplies is $5 and they have cool, funky albums available for $10 for those who wish to purchase them (so if you want an album the cost is $15). Have your daughter bring a recent picture of herself that she really likes with her to use in creating an "all about me" page and we will also be creating a page with the pictures from Mio's Pizzeria. Moms, if you want to join us, bring 6-8 photos related to one theme (birthday, holiday, vacation). Archiver's is located on Mason-Montgomery Rd next to Borders.

Oct 26: Halloween (possibly a visit to Eastgate Retirement Village??) / Collect baby items for Juliette Gordon Lowes Birthday to take to hospital

Nov 9:

Nov 23: Meet at Target Milford for Christmas Service Project shopping

Dec 14: Christmas Crafts (at Hobby Lobby Eastgate) 10 AM to noon

Jan 11: Skiing at Perfect North (weather permitting): $15 (ages 7-12 years old), $20 (ages $13 and up). Includes 4 hours of skiing, lift tickets, ski rental and a group lesson. More details to follow

Jan 25:

Feb 8: Valentine's Party (at the Ridiman's??)

Feb 22: Chinese New Year Celebration...this will be similar to our Cinco de Mayo celebration last year...a craft and then lunch...we will hand out info to enhance the "learning" opportunties of this outing at the Feb 8 meeting.

Mar 8:

Mar 22: Easter Party (at Eastgate Retirement Village??)

Apr 12: Scrapbooking day....we will use this meeting to scrap pictures from all of our outing up to this point. Any families with pictures from our outings, please send them in this day for the girls to use!

Apr 26:

May 10:

May 24: Girl Scout ceremony/badge presentation/bridging

May 31: End of Year Celebration at Beach Waterpark ??

We would also like to have a couple of overnights. One at the Ridiman's and one out at the Yurts (we had such a ball last year). I am wondering what day of the week is best for most families, Saturday to Sunday or Sunday to Monday for the Yurts. Also do we want the yurts to be a "fall" overnight or a "spring" overnight?

I am trying to set something up with Home Depot (tour of the store and craft) and should have more details soon.

While the older kids were at Monday School, I decided to take the younger 6 hiking at the Cincinnati Nature Center. When we got there, there were quite a few cars in the parking lot so I figured we would encounter a lot of people on the trail. We didn't see a soul. We trekked down to the creek and everyone climbed in, trying desperately to find crawdads or fish. Stupid mom that I am, I only brought one bucket with me and there was constant bickering over whose turn it was. After we has spend some time at the first creek access, we went back up onto the path and headed towards the second creek access. Sophie started crying because she was tired. I forgot what it was like to hike with a toddler and baby without the help of two able bodied young teens who could help carry things. By the time we made it to the second creek access her crying had become a full curdle scream. The other kids insisted they wanted to go in the creek, so I sat on the bench and listened to her scream. I wondered if the reason we didn't see another soul was because they figured someone was being killed by the creek and didn't want to be an potential victim. Finally the kids were ready to head back to the van. Unfortunately it meant assending rock stairs and a winding trail. Emily tried to help out by carrying Sophie half way up on her back, but she finally had to put her down. We slowly made our way back to the van. Amazing, even with her crying and the LOUD walking of the rest of the crew we were able to spot 2 deer, 3 chipmunks and numerous squirrels and birds during our outing.

It will definately be a while before I hike without the older two again....unless I can find someplace that doesn't require over a half mile walk just to reach the creek!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Our growing zoo....

This morning I went over to a homeschooling friend's house to pick up two ornate box turtles. They are as cute as can be and the kids are absolutely thrilled. We can't wait to build them a suitable habitat, but for now they are settling in nicely in the large arquarium they came with.

Our zoo now includes (in addition to 8 children) 2 indoor cats, 1 outdoor cat, 3 red-eyed sliders, 2 gerbils, assorted fish and our new additions....2 ornate box turtles.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A visit to the apple farm....

I didn't realize until a friend emailed me asking us to join her on an outing to a local apple farm that I had never taken the younger kids apple picking. Ironically, the last time I was at the apple farm, Emily was a tiny baby, close to Will's age, and on this trip she would be the "oldest" since Brett and Hannah were at Monday School.

I called the farm for directions and the woman told me it would take about 25 minutes from Milford, so I allowed myself 40 minutes to get there, thinking I would have time to nurse Will before the tour started. Boy was I (or should I say the woman at the farm) wrong. It took over 45 minutes to get there, thanks in part to a slow moving vintage truck and a combine. Life in the country certainly runs at a slower pace.

The kids were really excited once we got to the farm. They loved the hayride, where shocked at how COLD the cooler was (a nippy 36 degrees), were amazed at how apples were sorted and liked learning how cider was made and loved tasting it.

After the tour we ate a quick lunch and then headed out to pick apples. Grant stopped at the first tree we walked by because we had learned on the tour that it was the oldest tree in the orchard and he wanted an apple from the oldest tree. We ended up picking about 20 lbs of apples, no idea what we will do with them, but it was fun, watching the kids run up and survey a tree and pick the "best" apple from it.

Sophie provided comic relief as she stripped naked in the orchard and wandered about, she said she was "too hot".

Friday, September 17, 2004

Fiddler ...I mean, children, on the roof

Friday the remanents of Ivan blew into Ohio. Early morning we had hard pouring rain that turned into a constant soft rain by mid morning. As I lay in bed, I could hear the rain rolling out of the gutters, and knew they were clogged with leaves for our early shedding tulip tree.

The morning progressed as normal, children milling about, breakfast being made, laundry being started. After tossing a load of laundry in the dryer, I went upstairs to shower and was surprised to find my bedroom door locked. The quickly unlocked it (cheap old doornob) and was surprised to see my bedroom window hanging open with no screen in it. I walked over to the window, assuming one of the cats had knocked the screen loose, to be greeted by the sight of Emily and Grant playing on the roof, pulling leaves from the gutter and tossing them to the ground. I asked who told them to go on the roof and they said "Dad said the gutters were clogged, so we decided to clean them". I couldn't decide if I should applaud their eagerness to help or yell at them for being on the roof. I opted to tell them to "be careful" and to finish up and climb back in the house. Wonder what children's services would think of a 10 year old and 8 year old "playing" on the roof?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Brett in the creek Posted by Hello

Mom and Will hanging out by the creek Posted by Hello
Creek Critters....

Thursday, September 16 11am
Park Program: Creek Critters
Sycamore Park in Batavia
Organizer: Laura Riesenberg
Get your feet wet as we explore the waters of the East Fork of the Little Miami River. Using a seine net, you'll discover the many macroinvertebrates making their home in the water. We'll collect samples and identify them as we learn what they tell us about out water quality. We will be getting into the river and the small creek so wear boots or water shoes. The program material is geared for those 3rd grade and up, but younger siblings are welcome. We plan to picnic and play following the hike.

What an absolutely WONDERFUL program. Keith, the naturalist at the Clermont County Park District, along with 2 volunteers led our group in probably the best park program I have every attended. He started out by explaining to the kids how we would be doing a water study and how studying the macroinvertibrates in the water tells you about the quality of the water. He divided the kids into 3 groups and each group work a different area of the river for about 20 minutes and then moved onto another area. I was amazed that we found so many macroinvertibrates that you only find in areas with excellent water quality. The kids had a ball and when we got back to the picnic shelter they all compared what they had in their collection buckets. The icing on the cake...perfect weather! My kids are really eager to head back!

One of the neatest things today happened quite by accident. Will, in the way that all 2 months olds can, filled his diaper quite violently when we were down by the river. It was one of those things that had to be taken care of immediately. Brett was too far up river to hear me, so I looked at Grant and told him that he needed to watch Sophie, that he was responsible for her. Now mind you, plenty of adults were around and I told a few I was heading to the van to change Will. As I was heading back to the river to meet everyone, they were heading back to the shelter and low and behold, there at the end of the line was Grant holding Sophie's hand. I was so proud of him. He handled the responsibility of watching his little sister far better than I expected!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Today is the kick off of Monday School, the gathering of homeschool junior high and high school students to pursue learning as a group. This year, Brett is taking Algebra, Biology, World Georgraphy, and Spanish. Hannah is taking U.S. History, Literature and Writing, Spelling and Vocabulary and Spanish. The kids love going each week and hanging out with some fellow homeschoolers and learning something new.

Now you might ask "how is this different from school?". The differences are immense. My children are in the home of a friend, not a classroom, being taught by strangers. My children are free to participate as fully as they wish and need not worry about what "grade" they will get, so therefore, the learning they do is in pursuit of knowledge not out of fear of "failing" or not getting "good grade". They go by choice, not because they "have to go".

I couldn't ask for a nicer group of kids for them to spend their Mondays with or a nicer group of moms to help present the numerous learning opportunities.

I do miss them when they aren't here, the flow of the day is so different without them. Part of it is probably out of selfishness, I don't have anyone else to ask to make the little ones lunch or have an extra set of hands to pass Will into when I need a break. I can't have "adult" conversation with the younger ones, no one seems to appreciate my cooments on current events as we watch the news or court tv.

I can't wait to pick them up and hear about their day!
Out of the mouths of babes...

One day last week, I took Sophie out to run errands with me. She was unusually difficult, which is saying a lot for my very difficult, high needs daughter. I swear the child has permanent PMS. Upon returning from my errands, Jay looked at me and asked how she had been. Sophie was standing in front of the fridge, putting food away, seemingly oblivious to the adult conversation going on around her.

Jay: "So how was she?"
Me: "She was really bitchy at the store."
Sophie: "I not bitch, I SOPHIA".

Jay and I burst out laughing. Out of the mouths of babes!

Saturday, September 11, 2004


As we drove out to the football field today, we were listening to talk radio. The anniversary of the terrorist attacks on American soil were the only topic of conversation. As the time drew near, marking the moment of the first attack, there was a moment of silence, followed by our national anthem, and then the reading of the names of those lost that day. Tears rolled down both mine and Jay's cheeks, silent tears, not the sobbing of three years ago, but salty tears of rememberance. As I glanced at Will, sleeping in his carseat, I couldn't help but feel I had so much to tell him about the significance of this date, so I decided to write him this letter.....

Dear Will,

3 years ago today America was attacked on her own soil. I will never forget the phone ringing and Michelle telling me that I needed to go and turn on the television, our first glimpse of what I thought at the time was just an horrific accident, but just minutes later realized must be an attack as we watched a second plane fly into the second tower. We watched for a while longer and then the older kids wandered back downstairs, were they worked on worksheets and watched the small tv that sat on the basement shelf. I sat on the phone, first with your dad and then with your grandfather, trying to absorb the magnitude of what has happened. I will never forget Brett walking up the basement steps, calling out to me.

"Mom, is the penta building important?"
"Penta, Brett" I replied as I tried to process what he was saying
"Yeah, mom, some penta building. P-E-N-T-A..."
"The pentagon?"
"Yeah, mom"
"Why do you ask Brett?"Figuring maybe that they were giving a speech for the symbol of our nation's defense.
"A plane just hit it."

The rest of the day is really a blur. The tv was on nonstop, we managed to pray the rosary at lunchtime. Not much else was accomplished that day. Lots of tears were shed. I was just so greatful that everyone was home with me, that I didn't have to worry about anyone being "locked in" to their schools like so many of my friends' children were. I didn't have to worry about someone else telling them the news, because they were there with me, watching it unfold.

Today, the headline of the paper asked, "How have things changed since 9-11?" and another headline asked "How did 9-11 affect you?". Ironically, I knew the answer without even putting any thought into my response. In the hours after those towers fell, the pentagon burned and the plane crashed in that field in Pennsylvania, I felt an overwhelming need, an almost primal desire, to do something. All around me, people started doing things to show they believed things would get better. Your grandmother planted flower bulbs, a friend of mine started composting and I made a decision that we would grow our family once again. The legacy I could leave to my family from this tragedy, was my belief that life was worth living, that things would be OK and that I had faith in the future would be another child. 9 months and 9 days after those towers fell, we welcomed Sophia Zevin into our family!

As I look at you today, I was overwhelmed with thoughts of all the changes in my life in just 3 short years and almost can not comprehend that but for that horrific day, you and your sister might not be here. Just weeks before 9-11-2001, I was almost certain our family was complete and was contemplating moving out of the baby phase of my life. How ironic that I have our nation's tragedy to that for two of my greatest blessings, you, my dear William and your sister Sophia. Add to tragedy my odd belief that even numbers work better for family dynamics and you have the recipe for your existance!