Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bathing Beauty

Well, since all of the relatives have left, and the house is down to just the five of us again, I decided to pamper myself with a bubble bath. Such a girly thing in this house of boys. I spent the day either arguing referee calls (which were some really lousy calls, by the way), cheering for the team, yelling directions at Josh to be more aggressive, or hanging at a restaurant with a bunch of smelly, tired pre-teens. It was time to do something for me.

I gathered my supplies: my robe, a wash cloth and towel, bubble bath, baby oil, iPod and speakers, razor, etc. I was leaning into tub, checking the water temperature when the other girl in the house decided she needed some pampering, too. Yep...Gracie came in and jumped into my bubble bath! (For those who are not that familiar with the family, Gracie is member number 5- a 70 pound husky/lab mix who thinks she is a lap dog) I managed to catch her before all four feet went in and shooed her away. Before I climbed in my relaxing bath....I did remember to shut the door--this tub is only big enough for one!

Basketball Tournament

Josh's basketball team is in a tournament in a town about an hour away. Update 1:

Tigers WIN!!!!

Afterwards, Jake and I headed home in the pouring rain (yes...rain in the end of December...hmmmm...) Josh stayed with the team to ride the bus home. I was almost home when I get a call from a certain basketball player stating that the team was going to Buffalo Wild Wings and that I should meet them there. The boys had a nice time unwinding over wings after a great win, and I had yet another chance to visit with some of the parents and the coach and his girlfriend. Which was another opportunity to see exactly why I really, really like this young man (he's 24) who is leading my son's first experience in school-based sports. Coach is an incredible young man, with a bright future (especially considering the beautiful young lady he has at his side...who is an equally amazing human being).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Pictures

The family...after Christmas Eve services

Uncle Brad's joke funny as last year's socks!

Awwwwwww.....Thanks Grandma and Grandpa! (videos to come?)

Jake's Christmas surprise....

Yes, we got Jake a phone. The interference on the video is from my phone dialing his phone. For those of you who are not familiar with Weird Al Yankovich, the ringtone I downloaded was his song "White and Nerdy". Fitting, don't you think?

Jake kept his phone with him all day long, and occasionally would call one of us, just for the heck of it. This is the kind of happiness that Momma's live for :)

Merry Christmas to all

Just a lil clip of Jake bringing us some holiday cheer on Christmas.... the beginning and end are a little rough, but he is coming along :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A close game

to say the least. But, in the end, the Tigers WON!!!!!

Josh was in the starting line-up for the first time. As the team ran out of the locker room, I watched Josh run through the warm-ups. I was pretty sure his face would crack, he was smiling so big! (So was his proud momma!) While it wasn't Josh's best game, the Tigers fought hard and came out with the win in this close game.

My favorite part, of course, was the introductions.....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Play it again, Jake

Last year, when Jake expressed interest in beginning band, I was thrilled. I wasn't crazy about his choice of instrument...the trombone, but, finally, there was an activity that I could relate to. I had such fond memories of my time in band, and wanted to give Jake the opportunity to experience them too.
This fall, when school started, Jake was able to be talked into playing trumpet instead of the trombone. He has enjoyed the twice-weekly lessons at school. I am hoping this may be a long term activity for him.
Tonight was Jake's first band concert. Here are a few pics of the proud musician....

And for the starting line-up for the Tigers....

Yep, you guessed it, Josh is starting for Tuesday's game :)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

An explanation of National Boards....

I am often asked about my school work. I will frequently refer to it as a thesis, since that is something more people can relate to. This last year of my Master's program is not a thesis, however. At the university I attend, graduate level special education majors have two choices for their capstone, or culmination, year. They can chose to either write a research-based thesis, or complete and submit a portfolio for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. I chose the later option for a number of reasons:
  • both options require a huge amount of effort and work,
  • if I submit a passing portfolio, my certification will change to a Specialist in Special Education,
  • the state of Illinois has passed an unfunded mandate that will pay Nationally Board certified teachers a $3000/year stipend (meaning, teachers get the money if it is available),
  • the portfolio required directly relates to the work I am doing in the classroom and will directly benefit my students, which is the reason I went back to school in the first place,
  • if I successfully certify, I will be able to "mentor" teachers going through the process and receive payment for that work through the state, meaning more money to be made in the future.

So, there are a number of reasons that I chose this option. It has been a difficult process, as writing for the National Board portfolio is much, much different than writing research papers. The process began this summer with learning to write in that style. I am led through this process by an incredible woman and supported by my classmates. We met this summer to begin learning the process and writing our first entry. This fall, two more entries must be completed. Then, in the spring, the last entry will be done, and we will submit our portfolios by the deadline on March 31st. Following that submission, we will study for the assessment center exercises, which I will most likely complete at the end of May. Then the waiting game begins....scores are not announced until November or December. So, I will know if my hard work paid off in about a year.

In the mean time, I will graduate with a Master's in Special Education in May. We are required to submit a viable portfolio, but graduation is not contingent on receiving a certifying score on the portfolio or the assessment center exercises. In addition to the time and effort involved, there is a substantial financial investment in the process. In addition to the tuition I have to pay, there is a $2565 application fee that had to be paid just to submit a portfolio. The state of Illinois, in an effort to encourage teachers to go for the certification, provided subsidies of $2000 to help with the application cost.

Here is a link to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards website, if my rambling on was not enough to put you to sleep....


I thought I was dreaming. A little voice calling "Mama!" I look at the clock....4:45 a.m. This is supposed to be the one morning I can sleep in, but here I am, awake. What kind of dream was that?

"MAMA!" Oh no, it's not a dream! I stumble over Gracie as I grope my way toward the door. DH is up too, and we meet at the door and head to Jake's room, where the calls are coming from. Jake is leaning over the garbage can, retching. Poor baby has the flu :(

He is old enough that he has managed to get all the mess in the garbage can. I get him a fresh can, and a wash cloth. He rinses his mouth and settles back into bed.

I climb back between my flannel sheets and sigh....before, I had always brought the boys to bed with me when they were sick. But now, they are too old for that. When I commented on this to DH, he pointed out...."But, you did notice who he called for....mama." Content that my boy still needs me, I drifted back to sleep.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Game 1

Josh's first game was a loss to Bloomington. While disappointing, it was definately exciting for all of us. When I asked DH if he was ready (to leave for the game), he said, "I have been ready for this day for YEARS!" LOL!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dressing for the game

Now that Josh is a member of the basketball team, there are certain rules he must follow. He has to keep his grades up so that he will continue to be eligible to play. He cannot have any behavior referrals. Anyone who knows Josh even just a little, knows that these are the kinds of things that come naturally to Josh. Never once have we worried that he would have academic or behavior issues that would interfere with sports eligibility.

Clothing is another matter. Josh's daily uniform consists of athletic swishy pants, a tshirt, and a hoodie. Now that he is on the basketball team, he must dress up for games, especially for games out of town. Dressing up means....slacks, buttons down shirts and NO tennis shoes! Sooooo, this meant a shopping trip was in order, since he didn't own anything that would meet the requirements. We headed out on Saturday afternoon to accomplish the goal of purchasing at least 2 outfits that he could wear.

Four hours later, we returned home with 2 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, a belt and shoes. We learned a few things along the way....
  • they stop making slim pants at size 12 (Josh needs at least a 14 for length, but regular pants are entirely too big around the waist);
  • men's dress shoes are a lot more expensive that kids' shoes (Josh is wearing a size 7 1/2 mens shoe now); and
  • Josh looks terrific all dressed up!

I'll try to post a picture sometime when he is forced into actually wearing the dress clothes. Until then, he has hidden them in the back of the closet. Apparently he thinks that if he can't see them, they will not come out and haunt him!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Three days....

of basketball tryouts....



Tuesday, September 02, 2008

He's 10....where has the time gone??

Jake turned 10 on Labor Day.....
I cannot believe he is that old....
I remember....
  • how he didn't sleep the first year

  • how he could climb the changing table before he could crawl

  • how much he was talking before he turned one

  • how his favorite thing on tv was Blue's Clues

  • how much he wanted to be a big boy

and now......

Mustafar scene from Star Wars


Back to school! Josh starts middle school, while Jake is top dog at Wiley in 5th grade

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Oh no...

Seems like just yesterday, he was dragging his blankie around the house and sucking his thumb. Entertainment consisted of Blue's Clues, the Dallas tv show theme, and McDonald's commercials.

Now, he has a cell phone.....

God help us!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grades are posted.....

two more
(back to regularly scheduled programming)

Monday, August 11, 2008


Recently, I heard about a new Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg. Since the boys are getting older, I figured the last opportunity to get some of these kinds of activities in, before they think they are too cool for it. So, since they were up at Grandma's, and I had to go pick them up anyway, I bought tickets to check the place out. (Not to mention, it was a great excuse to go to Woodfield and IKEA, heehee.)

We had a great day, enjoyed the miniature Chicago Skyline, the Hall of Fame, and the Dragon Ride. I let the boys shop in the bulk lego area, to pick up blocks they needed. I ended the day with a fun trip to IKEA (yeah, ok, fun is all relative)


A few pics....Chicago in miniature

Jake and his twin style

No, Einstein is not trying to lick me, lol!

2 more days...

Till grades for the summer are posted.......

Sunday, August 10, 2008

White and Nerdy

Oh yeah....this momma rocks! I followed through on my promise to take the boys to see Weird Al Yankovic on Saturday night at the State Fair. Corwin, Josh, Jake and I made our way over, where we were met by Beth and Jack. The boys bought tshirts ( I am sure I know what they are wearing the first day of school ). While I was quite cynical as to whether or not I would make it through the evening, thanks to a good sense of humor, and, more importantly, great company, I laughed till I cried. The boys really enjoyed the show, and it was fun to be able to wrap up the summer with a fun, exciting (for them, anyway) experience (and I got to work on perfecting my air accordian!) The weather was as close to perfect as you can get for August in Illinois, and the ride on the ski lift back to the gate was a sweet way to wind up the night (even if the height was almost too much for me to handle)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wisconsin Dells, day one

We arrived in the Dells just before noon. After a walk down the main street and meeting up with our vacation companions, we lunched at Pizza Villa. Following lunch, we headed to Wizard Quest. Our team, named the "Requestors", freed all four wizards within the time limit. After conquering Wizard Quest, we checked into our condo. We were very impressed! Here are a few pics of the bedrooms...(We got the king size master suite :) ) More pics to come on this... We wrapped up the day's adventures with an Army Ducks Ride. While we waited, we had a little fun with the old army equipment...

Jake was chosen as the co-pilot. His responsibilities involved sitting with the driver and squirting the other Ducks with a water gun. They couldn't have found a more capable co-pilot...

We wrapped up the day with dinner at the condo (the adults enjoyed eating on our LARGE private balcony) and a little Wii time before collapsing into bed.


Josh had his first paintball experience, courtesy of Alan, of course. Alan and two of the soccer dads took the boys out to sweat it out on an extremely hot day to learn the basics. I was not able to join them, as Jake is too young, and DH was working. The only picture I have to share is the big bruise on his of several.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Yes, it has been an entire semester since I last wrote. The whole thought that this past semester would be a breeze with only one class....yeah, what a joke!!! I have figured out that procratination is not my style, and I do NOT like cramming everything in at the deadline. I managed to eek out another A, so 30 hours into it, I still have my 4.0!

I have started the intersession, which will last 6 weeks. That is followed (well, actually it overlaps by 2 weeks) the regular summer session. I am one year from graduation, and beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I may have to rename the blog for another children's book....The Little Engine That Could.....I think I can, I think I can!

Summer will be full again this year, though the boys are not playing baseball this year. They will
be attending a basketball camp in Champaign, the British Soccer Camp, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camp, where Jake wants to do wrestling and Josh wants, of course, basketball. Ken will continue to work, where they are in the middle of a remodel. I will be attending classes and teaching as part of a job share for Extended School Year. This is not something I really wanted to do, but decided to take one for the team.

Josh hit a big milestone....finishing elementary school! Below are a few pictures taken at the recognition ceremony. He and a friend had to deliver the closing comments. He was so at ease at the microphone...if he was nervous, you couldn't tell!

Working backwards.... Josh had minor surgery in April to remove a cyst on his face. While the procedure was minor, the stress for mama was major! The part that made me the most nervous was the anethesia, since this is the first time either of the boys had to be put under. Both patient and his mama came through with flying colors. In fact, Josh was home about an hour, which was about two and a half hours after coming out of the anethasia, before he asked to go over to his school and get his homework, because he was bored!

In late February, I attended the ITHI (Illinois Teachers for Deaf/Hard Of Hearing Inidividuals) Conference in Springfield. As always, such gatherings are a reunion of past mentors, college classmates and former collegues. Somehow, I managed to get myself voted onto the board as an area representative (co-representative for Area 12). Like I needed one more obligation!

Jake played up in soccer this year, joining the 5th and 6th grade team, though he is only in fourth grade (though, now technically a 5th grader at the time this post goes to press). He did a wonderful job of "running with the big dogs", but he did have a lot of practice last season when he filled vacancies on the roster.Though so many details have been left out (like Ken turning 41!!), I will end this little update. I will not promise to keep up, because that would just set me up for failure. I will, however, promise to have a life, and if there time to tell you about it, I will!

Monday, January 07, 2008

It's been so long.....

I can't believe that I have not posted since much has happened in the last few months. My grad classes kind of got away from me, completely taking over my life from the end of October until the end of the semester. I did manage to survive the semester without maiming anyone, which is a near miracle. Not only did I survive, I got A's in both classes, which means I still have a 4.0 average. I am so proud (oh my....yes I am a nerd)
The boys are doing very well....managing to balance school and basketball well. The amount of homework has increased our nights at home are a little busier. But, it is good practice for middle school, so I am all for it.

We spent Thanksgiving with my parents. As always, Mom's dinner was beyond delicious!
Christmas was a blur.... first the Candlestick Lane Open House, then shopping and wrapping and preparing for the big day. This year, with classes being so hectic, I got a very late start on things. Thank goodness DH did a good chunk of the shopping....or else it would not ever have gotten done. Christmas was bittersweet this year....December 25th would have been Grandpa's birthday. He was missed, but we still had his birthday cake (which also said happy birthday to baby Jesus). One surprise of Christmas Day was having Uncle Brad join us...we were not expecting him to be able to come. He gave the boys new socks.....complete with money inside! Very clever.....

Josh had a little side trip to Chicago with Corwin's family at the end of December. Just check out their blog for a report.... (see links-Carroll Family Blog)

Now that January is upon us, it is time to head back to work, school, and grad classes. Dad had surgery last week, and seems to be recovering well. The boys and I visited to entertain as well as to celebrate Mom's birthday. In another week, DH and the boys are going to visit his mom's for her birthday and a long weekend. Church obligations and grad classes are preventing me from joining them, but, sometimes, a weekend home alone is exactly what a momma needs. I will try to be more diligent in keeping up this semester...only one class will seem like a vacation!

Happy New Year!