Friday, August 29, 2008

hope. change. yes, we can!

George and I have been watching the Democratic National Convention all week, and couldn't wait to hear Obama speak last night. George went to a "viewing party" with a friend, but I stayed home with the kids and watched from here. I had recorded all of last night's coverage, and as soon as George got home, we were both excited to hear Gore and Obama speak all over again, so we stayed up till 2 am, rewatching those speeches. I woke up this morning with "Yes, We Can!" ringing in my ears....

I have never been so excited or so inspired by a politician in my life. I truly believe that Barack Obama can bring about the changes our country so desperately needs, the changes we need to make for our own sakes, for our children, and for future generations. I am hoping with all my heart that he will be elected President of the United States in November....

Here are some of my favorite lines from the speeches of the past week:

"John McCain calls himself a maverick, but he votes with George Bush over 90% of the time. That's not a maverick... that's a sidekick!

And now [the Republicans] are asking for 4 more years. How about 4 more months?" -Senator Bob Casey, Jr.

"No way, no how, no McCain!" - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

"[The Republicans] actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more. Now, let's send them a message that will echo from the Rockies all across America, a simple message: Thanks, but no thanks. In this case, the third time is not the charm." - Former President Bill Clinton

"Eight years ago, some said there was not much difference between the nominees of the two major parties and it didn't really matter who became president. Our nation was enjoying peace and prosperity, and some assumed we would continue both, no matter the outcome. But here we all are in 2008, and I doubt anyone would argue now that election didn't matter....

"John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them, the same policies all over again. Hey, I believe in recycling, but that's ridiculous." - Former Vice President Al Gore

"Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

"...It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it....

"...Well it's time for [the Republicans] to own their failure. It's time for us to change America....

"...You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time. America, this is one of those moments." -Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama

If you're not registered to vote yet, go register! (You only have until October 7th.) And, on election day, whoever your candidate is, please get out there and vote. If you can't decide who to vote for... choose Obama! ;)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

school daze

Well, it's finally here... the first day of school! All 3 kids were up bright and early (Ben heard Em and Nick talking at breakfast, or he might have slept a lot longer). Even though he wouldn't admit it, I think Nick must've been a little excited to go back to class ~ I've never seen him get ready so quickly in the morning before, LOL. And, as expected, Em was excited and very nervous.

Our new morning schedule is a little strange for all of us because, for the last three years, Emmalie has been out the door and heading to her bus stop before the rest of us were even awake, and now she will be the last to leave the house. (Middle school starts an hour later than her old school did, and half an hour later than Nick's school.)

Since it's the first day, Ben and I walked Nick to school. (I had to get those traditional pictures in front of the school sign!) Here is our new 4th grader:

When we got back home, it was time for Em to head to the bus stop, and Ben and I went with her. Here is our new 7th grader. She is required to wear her ID at all times when she's at school:

We waited at the bus stop... and waited... and waited... and waited. The bus was supposed to come around 8:35. We know from experience that it's usually running a bit late on the first day of school, but by 8:50, it still hadn't come and George was driving past us on his way to work. We stopped him, and he agreed to drop Em off so she wouldn't have to be late on her first day of middle school. She was already nervous enough about not having enough time to get to her locker and then to her first class!

So, now they are gone and it's just me and Ben here at home. He was not very happy to hear that his big brother and sister (his best buddies!) would be gone all day long.... I'm enjoying the quiet for now... but am also anxious for them to get back home so I can hear all about their first day!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

back in time

I don't know if this happens to all parents or not, but every time my kids go back to school, I am flooded with memories from when I was the same age, entering those same grades. This year, it has affected me even more than it has in the past... I think because Emmalie will be starting middle school, and I can remember my time in jr. high like it was yesterday!

I've been as nervous about the first day of school as Em has been! It's not even that I'm nervous for her, really, it's just that my memories of starting 7th grade are so strong that I keep having flashbacks of all my own pre-teen nervousness.... I remember worrying about making it to all of my classes in time and working the lock on my locker (with only 3 minutes between classes), having to get used to all my teachers and all the kids I didn't know yet, wondering how hard the work would be, and more. I know that Em is nervous about all those same things right now!

Since it's been on my mind so much lately, I thought I'd get out some old pictures and reminisce here on my blog a bit. Nick will be starting 4th grade tomorrow, so here is my 4th grade picture:
I attended Crawford Elementary in Ames, IA... half a block from my house... and my teacher was Mrs. Callison. It was a small school, just one class per grade, so I knew all the kids in my class really well, and got along with them all for the most part, too. My best friends in 4th grade were Heidi, Lisa, and Inger. (Both Lisa and Inger were new to our class that year... Lisa's family moved in next-door to my family, so I saw her ALL the time!) I had a big crush on Greg, a boy in my class.

As a 4th grader, my favorite activities were reading, arts and crafts, riding my banana seat bike, swimming, and climbing the maple tree in our backyard! I also loved watching cartoons, Batman, Gilligan's Island, and Little House on the Prairie.

At that time, my sister Christine was only 4, and in preschool. Mom stayed at home with us while Dad taught at ISU, and I had 3 gold fish named Donald Duck, SuzyQ, and Comet.

And here I am in 7th grade, wearing the ever-fashionable velour cowl-neck shirt, LOL!: I went to Welch Jr. High (Go, Welch Wildcats!), which was about a mile from my house. It was a big change to go from a class of 25 to a class of 200! I liked all of my teachers, but my favorite was Ms. Wilson, who taught English.

My best friends in 7th grade were Tara, Inger, Lisa, and Abby. Lisa, Abby, and I would either walk to school (taking a short cut through the ISU arboretum) or ride bikes there together. Either way, we often stopped at the campustown QuikTrip for a slurpee or candy bar on our way. I had 2 boyfriends that year... first I "went" with Dave (also a 7th grader) for about 2 months. He liked me because I would blush whenever he said hi to me, LOL! I was SO shy around him... I don't know if we ever had a conversation that lasted more than a minute! Later in the year, Andrew asked me to go with him. He was the big brother (a 9th grader!) of my friend Abby, and we were boyfriend and girlfriend for over a year. He would walk me to and from school, and would sometimes take me to Boyd's for an ice cream cone. :)

I was a member of the 7th grade chorus, and also was a Dogpatch citizen in the school musical, Li'l Abner. I still loved art, reading, and climbing trees ~ I often sat in the tree in our backyard to do my homework! My favorite shows at that time were Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Facts of Life, and Three's Company.

By then, Christine was a 2nd grader. Dad still taught at ISU (as he continues to today!) and Mom was a realtor. In September of 1980, the most wonderful kitty in the world, Hobbit, was born! As soon as he was old enough to leave his mother, he became a very special part of our family. :)

(Wow, I can't believe that was almost 30 years ago now. It truly does seem like only yesterday to me! Guess I should get back to the present for a bit, and go check on my own 7th grader, 4th grader, and almost-3-year-old....)

last week of summer vacation

Emmalie and Nick will head back to school tomorrow! Here are a few of the things we've seen and done on their last week of "freedom"....

Aug. 19th, our little aster plant with a single bloom on it has grown into this!:

Aug. 20th, Em and Nick pose with all their new school supplies:
Aug. 21st, Open House Night at the middle school. Em was able to put things in her locker and figure out where all of her classes will be: Aug. 22nd, a few of our tomatoes FINALLY got ripe enough to pick! Yum!:
Aug. 23rd, we got to go back to Six Flags! It was a work outing through George's employer, and we were given vouchers for parking, admission, and lunch, plus $10 in Bugs Bunny Money to use in the park ~ we didn't spend a dime of our own money all day! :) We were a bit worried because they were predicting thunderstorms all day long, but that ended up being a good thing because a) it kept the crowds away and b) the weather guys were wrong! It was overcast in the morning, and did rain for about 5 minutes after lunch, but we were already getting wet at Hurricane Harbor, and barely noticed. And then the sun came out for the rest of the day!! We were able to go on many more rides this time around because the lines were so much shorter than usual.

We floated down this "lazy river" twice ~ so fun, and relaxing, too! Ben rode with me the first time and then with George: Later, we all went on the carousel:

and then on this kiddie roller coaster (George and Nick are in the last car):
That's the one that Ben and I rode last time that he thought was a bit scary. He insisted on riding it again this time, and then found out that it was still "scary". (It is a VERY mild coaster.)

Ben wanted to go see Scooby Doo this time, though by the time we got up close, he'd changed his mind!: He did love riding in this boat, though: and also "driving" a big red car (I got in the car with him after taking this photo):
Ben's favorite ride of all was the train, which we rode the whole way around Six Flags:

We went on many other rides where I couldn't take pictures, of course. I went on my FAVORITE roller coaster, Superman, all by myself, and later took Em and Nick on the Batman coaster. The 3 of us also rode the Whizzer, which is pretty mild, but we went on at night, in the dark, so that made it more fun! And George took Em and Nick to ride the Demon. Em, Nick, and I rode some fun spinny rides, as well, and all of us except Em went on the log ride. (She claims she doesn't like getting her clothes wet, even when it's hot out.) It was Ben's first time, and he loved it until we got to the last (big!) hill. Hopefully we haven't scarred him for life by taking him on that! LOL (He thought it was fun getting all wet at the end, but was terrified by that hill!)

In the evening we used our Bunny Money to buy a yummy funnel cake sundae which the 5 of us quickly devoured!:
Aug. 24th, we invited our friends Carl, Karen, and Andrew over. The kids played in the pool for awhile, and then George grilled us all some supper:

Aug. 25th, a quiet day, and Ben was still sacked out at 9am! (He woke up when he heard me snap this photo, though.):
Aug. 26th, the kids take full advantage of their last lazy day of vacation... Nick, lying on the couch, reading Garfield comics:
Ben, lying on the other couch, watching Tom & Jerry:
Em, lying on her bed, reading and writing:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

winding down...

Yes, summer is winding down around here. It's hard to believe, but Em and Nick will start back to school a week from today. We're still trying to fit some fun things into these last few days, though.... Here are some pictures from the past week.

Aug. 13th, Ben discovered the pieces to this Lego train, and couldn't wait for George to put them all together. He's been playing with the train daily ever since! : Aug. 14th, middle school registration for Em: Aug. 15th, the fluffy fountain grass we planted last year: Aug. 16th, some "wild" alyssum. I didn't plant any this year (though have the last 2 summers), but this showed up in the crack between our driveway and our garage. It makes me wish I'd planted a bunch along our sidewalk again: Aug. 17th, I took the kiddos to Brookfield Zoo (George had to work). We had a great time! We loved seeing the snow leopards up close: and brushing the goats in the Children's Zoo:
Nick dressed up as a zookeeper in the Hamill Family Play Zoo:
My attempt to get a picture of all 3 kiddos looking at me and (sort of) smiling! (Em painted her face at the Play Zoo):One of our favorite moments was seeing the aardvarks. Normally they are asleep when we see them, but on Sunday they were awake, out in their play yard, and being quite silly! They were digging and playing chase with each other: Aug. 18th, our russian sage has really taken off this year, getting much bigger than it has in the past:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

touch-a-truck day

This is a special day in our house, like a national holiday, or something, LOL. It's been written on our calendar all year... August 12, Touch-a-Truck Day. Benjamin has been looking forward to it since August of LAST year, and FINALLY it's here!

Our park district puts on this event every summer ~ they gather all kinds of vehicles in one spot for kids to see up close, touch, and even climb inside.
This year, they had something really cool for us to see ~ a helicopter! For some reason, Ben wasn't nearly as excited about this as Em, Nick, and I were, and he refused to sit inside of it. (I think maybe he was afraid it would go up into the air!):
Em was willing, though: and so was Nick!: Luckily, Ben was happy to climb into the DARE truck:
and to try out the fire hose: Ben liked sitting in the park district bus: and the dump truck with big brother, too:
I got a chuckle out of this UPS truck: And Nick tried out this loader:
The kids also got to play in the moon jump before we headed back home:
Only 365 more days till the next Touch-a-Truck Day! :)