Friday, December 7, 2007

Practicing Gratitude; or, It could always be worse

Last Monday I became very angry with my two sons over their ungrateful attitudes. I googled "teaching gratitude" and got some good ideas about how to help them realize their many blessings. One included starting a gratitude journal. In this you have to list a few things each day that you are thankful for. I thought I would join them in this exercise. "Do as I do" sort of thing. Well, last night was a real challenge for me.

As I stepped in the door from yoga, Rachel was anxious to show me something in her mouth. She had fallen into the treadmill and let her mouth break her fall, resulting in top two permanent teeth snapping off. Roots were still firmly attached and stubs remained. Four calls to the dentist's emergency pager at Monarch Dental went unanswered. I do have a call currently in to the office manager asking for an explanation.

I tried to hop online and get advice about the dental emergency and noticed our entire network was down. This sort of thing gets extremely frustrating for my IT husband to deal with. He's about to turn 40 tomorrow and was already dealing with his youngest daughters dental issue, I thought this might set him over the top.

Little did I know it wasn't the end our troubles. I had been a quite chilly all day. Having very little willpower, I knew if I walked over to the thermostat I would jack it up, so I chalked it up to my low blood pressure and poor circulation. If I'd checked earlier, I would have realized that the furnace was malfunctioning. It was down to 61 degrees at 9 p.m., the time my dear husband investigated the matter. At this moment, I am eagerly awaiting the Mitchell's Heating and Cooling serviceman to arrive for his noon-2p.m. appointment.

Corrie Ten Boom in her book, The Hiding Place, writes about how after reading 1 Thessalonians, her sister gave thanks for the fleas that infested their dwelling because it kept the guards away. I am in no way insinuating my circumstances are anywhere near as bad as what they had to endure, I am only following their example.

I am thankful that:

1. we are lucky enough to have a dental plan to cover most of the cost of her two caps. Only $120 out of pocket.
2. there was enough tooth left that they could be capped
3. today is payday
4. I had someone to cuddle with to get through the cold night
5. the furnace issue came up before the weekend
6. today is payday
7. my thoughtful neighbor who has not secured his wireless network, allowing me to post this
8. last and certainly not least, my wonderful, gainfully employed, sexy, hard-working, ever patient, calm, thoughtful, generous, handsome, healthy, athletic, intelligent, optimistic, uncomplaining husband

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Monkey go "Arf, Arf"

Today on the way home from church 21 month old George was practicing his vocabulary. He was rambling through all the words he knew. I recognized a lot, then he said "Mon." A second later he said "MonKEY!" Then he said it again and went "Arf, Arf." The rest of the kids cracked up! The rest of the ride home they made LOUD monkey noises to set their baby brother straight.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Date With 12 Angry Men

Victoria and I were fortunate enough last night to be given tickets to the play Twelve Angry Men at the Palace Theater.

On our way we got a quick dinner at Quizno's. Our tickets included a parking pass so we were able to park in the theater garage and take the enclosed walkway to the theater.

The Palace Theater is very nice, and our seats were in the loge section, the 2nd row of the balcony. The view was great and the play was excellent.

For a play with no action, the dialogue was very fast-paced and kept you on the edge of your seat for the entire 90 minute show. (There was no intermission). I highly recommend this play.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Aunt Gene

Remarks – Aunt Gene – 11/20/2007

Aunt Gene never married or had children of her own, but she certainly had a large family. She loved her siblings and her nieces and nephews, staying involved with us and bragging on us every chance she got.

A lot of what I know about Aunt Gene’s earlier life, I heard from stories. And she was a great storyteller. She had an amazing memory well into her 90’s. She was able to remember details of events that happened decades earlier. She memorized the birthdays of all of her family, as well as what seemed like almost everyone else she knew.

A few years ago, the night after my dad passed away, I visited Aunt Gene for a few hours, and she shared several stories about her earlier years, growing up with my grandparents, my dad, Uncle Howard and Aunt Margie. Sadly, numerous stories died with her.

The next day I told her I was working on a eulogy for my dad and that I wanted to add a few laughs to honor dad’s sense of humor. She told me that she didn’t think a eulogy was supposed to be funny, so I’ll try to keep this one on a more serious tone.

Being younger, my first memories of Aunt Gene are of her living in New London and caring for her mother. Visiting Grandma and Aunt Gene on Sundays after church was a very common activity for us. I remember Aunt Gene giving pennies or nickels to Chris and I almost every time we saw her.

Later on, her generosity changed flavors. My kids remember her passing out Nestle chocolate bars whenever we visited.

Aunt Gene had a distinguished professional career. I learned from her how she would take the train from New London to Cleveland on Monday mornings. She worked at Sherwin-Williams, spending her nights with some of her cousins. Then she would take the train back home on Fridays to spend the weekend at home.

Most of her career was spent in Elyria, working as an executive secretary to the Vice President of Bendix. She made many friends at Bendix, as well as anywhere else she went.

Aunt Gene was proud of her work and of the connections she made, in work and throughout life. She loved telling everyone that her neighbor was related to Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Cliff Stoudt, and that her nephew Tim played piano onstage with award winning actress Cloris Leachman. And in her final years at the Carriage House in Norwalk, she enjoyed making friends and was proud to introduce her family to the judge down the hall.

Not that she revered people just because they were famous. Aunt Gene used her sharp mind to keep herself informed in the areas of current events and politics. President George W Bush doesn’t know it, but he just lost one of his biggest critics!

Once Aunt Gene told me that she never paid for anything “on time” in her life. This confused me at first, but then I figured out what she meant. She never paid for anything “over time” or had to pay interest. Even the new house she had built, she paid cash.

This isn’t to say she was tight with her money. She loved to share it with her family. She gave gifts unsparingly at birthdays and Christmas. And her graduation gifts were so generous, it became known among our family as the “Aunt Gene Scholarship.”

Aunt Gene was also generous with her time. She served in the YWCA and also volunteered at the Elyria Methodist Home for many years. And of course she spent many years of her life living with and caring for her mother, my grandmother.

In Exodus 20:12, God gave Moses the 5th commandment: “"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Many of us have heard, this is the only commandment with a promise. Aunt Gene’s time spent caring for Grandma is an example to us all of honoring our parents, and God certainly fulfilled his promise with a long life of 95 years

Aunt Gene loved to spend time with her family. I remember picnics in the back yard of her then new home in Elyria. And there was Aunt Gene’s ever-present camera, to snap a picture whenever anyone visited.

Aunt Gene also had a movie camera. Some may remember the blinding lights. After watching the home movies, Aunt Gene would then run them backwards for laughs. Does anyone else remember watching Abbot & Costello ice skate backwards? Or seeing the fence they knocked down flying back into place?

Several times we nieces and nephews got to spend the night with Aunt Gene. Once she took me grocery shopping, and this led to some confusion. I stopped in the aisle and started laughing “Ho ho! Ho ho!” It took a while for her to realize I wasn’t laughing, but was asking for my favorite chocolate snack cakes, the Ho ho’s.

Sharon also remembers spending the night. They went shopping at Higbee’s and Aunt Gene ordered Sharon a Shirley Temple, a pretty exotic drink for a country girl!

Another thing Aunt Gene enjoyed was attending band concerts, school plays, graduations, and other activities that we nieces and nephews were involved in.

In her later years, when she could not get out of her house much, Aunt Gene occupied herself by reading. She would read the start of the book, and then read ahead to see what happened. Later she would come back and read the sections she skipped. She once told me that by the time she put the book down she figured she had read every page at least 2-3 times.

She had a scrabble board that she would play by herself. Right hand against left hand was the way she described it. That’s called a no lose situation!

On my train ride home from work on Friday, after hearing of Aunt Gene’s passing, I read the following verse that made me think of Aunt Gene: Hebrews 12:14 “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

Aunt Gene demonstrated her ability to live in peace and was a great example to us all, and after a long and prosperous life, she finally is seeing the Lord.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ask Any Girl

Stepdaughter Emma was involved in her high school drama club this fall, working on the set production for Ask Any Girl, based on the 1959 movie (I think). Victoria attended on Thursday & Friday and the whole family was planning to attend on Saturday.

Unfortunately, Saturday's performance was canceled. The school was hosting an ROTC event in the afternoon and several people collapsed. This led to a fear of carbon monoxide or some other dangerous gas leak. So the school was shut down.

We'll find out later today if Saturday's performance will be rescheduled.

I did get to see several of the drama team when they had a post-play party at my pizzeria on Friday night.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Halloween for us started on Saturday when Brooke, Rachel and I went to the trick-or-treat party at the local community college. Basically we waited in line for about 45 minutes before parading through several campus buildings where students passed out candy in the halls. At the end the girls colored pictures for a coloring contest, then Brooke got in line for a balloon animal while Rachel showed off her pirate costume on stage for the costume contest.

Later on Saturday we carved pumpkins. We take our pumpkin carving seriously at the "family of 9", using patterns and special pumpkin cutting tools. Below are this year's results:

Victoria did an awesome job on this skeleton fish!

Nathan carved a pirate face.

Brooke made a wise owl.

Jacob made his pumpkin into a lizard.

And Rachel, with her dad's help, made a scary wolf.

Luke didn't carve a pumpkin this year since he spent most of Saturday at a friend's birthday party.

On to Wednesday. Dad rearranged his parenting time schedule so that he could pick up the girls and bring them trick-or-treating. Luke stayed and went to church with his mom, and Nathan was ill with asthma. Jacob went with his cousins D & D.

Rachel again wore her pirate outfit, while Brooke was a dead princess and little George dressed in a warm Tigger suit. Even Dad got dressed up, walking along with the kids in his Anderson Varejao wig.

One of the houses we stopped along the way was local radio personality Bob Frantz, who moved into our neighborhood about a year ago.

We had a talk before we started and the kids followed my rules:
  1. Stay on the sidewalks, don't walk on people's grass.
  2. Say "Thank you" when someone gives you a treat.
  3. Say "Trick Or Treat", don't just hold out your bucket.
It took us the full hour and a half to walk our neighborhood, including both sets of clusters off our main road. The weather was nice and everyone was friendly. By the end, the kids baskets were overflowing into the little green wagon that George rode in part of the way.

George's basket was so heavy he could hardly hold it, but he wasn't about to let go of it!

As you can see from the final picture, the kids made out pretty good.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Sticks And Stones ... And Car Trunk Lids?

Last weekend started off with a bang! While I was at my fantasy football draft, Emma broke her hand. She had went to a high school football game with her cousin. Apparently she bent over to pick up something, putting her hand on the edge of the open trunk for balance. Meanwhile someone slammed the trunk shut. Ouch!

Victoria took her to get an X-Ray and they didn't get home until almost 3 AM.

Saturday morning we (all 9 of us) were up at 7 AM and soon on our way to the Firelands 5K. Brooke ran the 1 mile fun run, while Luke and I (and several other uncles and cousins) ran the 5K. Following that, we went out to my mom's for lunch.

Next it was back in to town to watch the parade. Emma stayed at Chris's to rest. The rest of the kids picked up more candy than they could eat in a month! Victoria begged, pleaded, and cajoled, to get as many boxes of Dots as she could.

After the parade we went to the festival. For only $5, you get in to the festival and can ride all the rides. This is a great bargain! The kids rode a few rides, we played a few games of Bingo at the Ruritan pavilion (where my dad always used to work when I was younger), and the kids each got $5. Most of them used it to play a dart game and win a blow-up toy.

George used his to play the duck game. He didn't really care about the prizes, but he loved watching those ducks go around in a circle and sticking his arms in the water!

Saturday night was a feast at Chris & Todd's, featuring hot dogs, brats, pizza bites, and best of all, dirt dessert. Then we spent the night back at Mom's (less 2 kids that stayed at Chris & Todd's).

Sunday morning we got up and headed to the cottage to visit Victoria's parents and celebrate her sister Dawn's birthday. After the Pizza Hut fiasco, we got lunch at McDonald's. We spent the afternoon fishing and swimming in Lake Erie, before having dinner and cake and then driving back for another night at Mom's.

Monday, Labor Day, we got ready and went to yet another picnic, this one at Dick & Debbi's. I grilled the hot dogs, reminiscent of my days working for my sister Sharon at the Flower Hospital company picnic. Lunch was followed by a few games of cornhole.

Finally, we dropped my kids off at their mom's and made it back home, just in time for me to make it to my pizza delivery job.

It's a good thing we didn't have soccer this weekend!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hello Again

Well I have been neglecting this blog on purpose. We were back in court over the custody issue and I didn't want to post anything here that might be somehow used against me. For more details, see my other blog.

Meanwhile, we had a busy weekend last weekend, the final one before school starts. Friday night was uniform night at the soccer fields, so Victoria was on duty to distribute uniforms to new players. Meanwhile, Kevin drove to LaGrange to pick up the new "alternate jerseys" for when we play other blue teams.

While in LaGrange, Kevin noticed that the overly-worn tire on the Taurus had finally gone flat, so he quickly put on the spare. George helped. Or at least, he waited patiently.

Saturday morning we had 2+ soccer games. Luke, Brooke and Nathan played in their co-ed game and lost 9-3. Immediately after, Brooke played (mostly goalkeeper) in her girls game and lost 5-1.  Luke and Nathan then substituted on a U13 team that is shorthanded and they won 8-2! Jacob skipped his 1PM game so that we could leave for "the cottage."

"The Cottage" is at Catawba Island where Nanny & Poppy now stay during the summer, when they come up from Florida. Victoria likes to meet some friends from college there for a weekend each summer, and this was the weekend.

We spent Saturday afternoon at the beach, then had a cookout, visited, and played games. Victoria learned (again) to play euchre. The kids watched the Cat in the Hat.

Sunday morning we went to the beach again, before having lunch, and then leaving just in time to get back for Luke and Nathan's 3rd soccer game of the weekend, this one a thrilling 5-4 loss.

Next weekend looks to be almost as busy, even without soccer!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Big Weed

For the past few weeks I have slowly watched our distraught lawn turn a deadly shade of dark yellow. In the midst of the crunchy yellow grass is one "pricker bush" that is an inviting shade of dark green. Pulling in the driveway today, I finally decided it had to go.

I asked Nathan to go over and yank it out for me. The other 5 piled out of the van and ran after him. They surrounded the weed. What is it about kids that whine, complain and stomp about at only being asked to make their bed, that they all begged to deal with this task.

Rachel finally cut it off at the base and threw the rest over the hill. I didn't want to mention that by not pulling it, it would only grow back even bigger.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Baby Trend stroller review 10 years later

When I was pregnant with my third child I needed to purchase a double stroller. Mind you, I had already been through about 4 other strollers in the 5 years since my first child was born(Graco, Fisher Price, Kolcraft). So I read a lot of reviews and opinions on the web and decided on a Baby Trend double stroller. It was very highly recommended and very lightweight. It was a major investment for me at the time, I think around $185.

Well, I'm here to tell you, 10 years later, this stroller is still going strong. The fabric of the seat and the canopies is totally removable and machine washable. It's very easy to push, even on the soccer fields. Both seats recline. It's incredibly light, weighing less than my 13 month old son. I've relocated to Texas and back with it. It has been handled by countless baggage handlers in airports all over the country. One of the rear wheels had a problem back in 2000 but the company hooked me up with a brand new set for around $16. The storage baskets underneath are long gone. Some of the straps are starting to show the very first signs of dry rot and the navy fabric is faded somewhat but I'm not ready to part with it.

If you are in the market for a stroller, Family of Nine very strongly recommends you take a serious look at Baby Trend.

Bonus Food

There is a McDonalds in the downtown area of our city. Often after church on Wednesday night we drive by for a quick bite. Last night we went for the second time in April. They have a slam dunk meal for $5.99. You get 20 nuggets and two large fries. This is a nice snack for us to share. Last night for the second time this month they gave us extra food. The girl in the drive through handed me the bag, commenting that it was very full. I pulled away not thinking too much. Then realized there were 4 boxes of 10 nuggets each in the bag. 4x10=40, not 20. I hope this girl was just being careless and that it's not a reflection on the math they are teaching her in our city schools.
On our other visit in April, I ordered a fish sandwich, sandwich only no fries. We also had an order for an extra value meal and a happy meal. Well, we got up to the drive through and were told to pull ahead because the fries weren't done. The happy meal was handed to us because there were enough fries for that one. We pulled ahead and when the fries came out, there were 2 big and one small. We were only owed one big.
Bonus food is always appreciated.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

George's First Easter Egg Hunt

We went to an Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday put on by our parks department. It was in the skating rink. There is no ice at this time so there was a carpet down. They spread straw over a large area and then scattered the eggs on and under the straw.

Kids went by age to find the plastic eggs. Most eggs had candy inside, Tootsie Rolls, Hershey Kisses, and Nestle eggs, and other small candies. A few eggs had papers inside that could be turned in for a "prize."

Luke has won numerous prizes in his egg-hunting career but this hunt was for 3rd grade and younger so Luke and Nathan had to watch and cheer for their siblings.

George was in the first group, ages 2 and under. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do, but neither were most of the other kids his age, so there was no real disadvantage. George got a dozen or so eggs and put them in his pretty yellow basket.

The next group was preschoolers. Amazingly we have no children at this age!

After that came the kindergarteners and first graders. Rachel was ready, hoping to fill her pillowcase with plastic eggs. She gathered as fast as she could, and when they were all popped open, she had found 2 "medium basket" certificates!

Brooke and Jacob teamed together in the final group, 2nd and 3rd graders. The plan was for Jacob to hold the pillowcase open and Brooke to grab the eggs, but neither let go of the pillowcase and they quickly resembled an entrant in a 3-legged race. Nonetheless, they got a good quantity of eggs and found 2 "jelly bean tube" certificates.

As is customary at local park events, we saw Brad from the Tuesday night running group, who was there with his girls, Jamie and Brooke, as well as his wife, sister, and several other family members.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Busy Friday

Dad had a holiday from his day job but it was still a very busy Friday for the Family Of 9. The main task of the day was a bedroom swap. Emma moved downstairs into the extra bedroom. Meanwhile Brook & Rachel moved out of the extra bedroom and into the room Emma left. (This room had been Rachel's, then Emma's, and now is shared by Brooke & Rachel.)

This was a difficult job as we moved stuff out of both rooms, and cleaned them well, before moving anything back in so we had 2 bedrooms worth of stuff piled in the living room and family room for most of the day. Emma plans to paint her room in a few weeks so much of her stuff is still in the living room.

Meanwhile, Mom had a doctor appointment and needed to do some shopping, so Dad fixed lunch for the kids, while supervising the moves and carrying most of the bigger stuff. We had Ramen noodles, chicken nuggets, curly fries, jello beans, with a few leftovers mixed in.

Then around 5 Dad went to his pizza delivery job and Emma went with her father to the Detroit Cobras concert. Shortly, the rest of the family followed Dad to his pizzeria for dinner but Dad was so busy making deliveries that he didn't even get to stop to see them.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Science Center Visit

Our family took a visit to the Great Lakes Science Center on Saturday. We had a annual pass that we had gotten last spring in time to see the Grossology exhibit, and it was expiring on Saturday, the last day of March.

Our first stop was the Baseball As America exhibit. This is a traveling exhibit on loan from Cooperstown. It has alot of old relics and memorabilia. Some of the Indians items were caps worn by Len Barker and Dennis Eckersly for their perfect game and no hitter (respectively), shoes worn by Kenny Lofton in the 1995 World Series, Sandy Alomar's bat from the All-Star game a few years ago when he homered and was the MVP, several Bob Feller items, and more.

This exhibit didn't really have much to do with science but there was a cool hands on exhibit that showed how various pitches are gripped. (pictured right with Phil Neikro)

There was also a speed-pitch area and a baseball video game on Xbox 360 that the boys tried.

And there was a computer that you could look up info and see video and photos of Hall Of Famers. The kids had fun looking up our distant cousin, a famous baseball executive.

After that we toured the rest of the Science Center. George, Brooke, and Jacob spent most of their time at the Polymer Fun House which has a fun ball pit where you can use various means to lift the balls to a holding area above and then push a lever to dump them all down again.

Victoria, Nathan and Luke watched the Omnimax movie on Hurricane Katrina.

Rachel enjoyed the hang-gliding simulation. And we did various other favorites including the swinging pendulum / spiro-graph, the reflex test, the skateboard balance test, the Great Lakes puzzle map, and the build-it-yourself foam arch. Everybody also enjoyed an electrical device that made their hair stand up!

The Science Center pass was a great value for our family even though we had a busy year and did not use it as much as we could have.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Extra Bedroom

We live in a 4 bedroom house. When we first got married, the bedrooms seemed about right. Emma, 4 1/2 years older than the nearest girl, got her own room (the smallest). Brooke and Rachel, just 2 1/2 years apart, share a room. And the 3 boys, 1 1/2 years from oldest to youngest, share the largest bedroom. A "bonus" room above the garage, it is plenty big enough for 3.

Then along came George.

As an infant, we kept his bassinet in the master bedroom. But after several months he was ready to move out.

We had a spare room downstairs off the kitchen. The floor plan called for it to be a dining room but we never planned to use it as such. It was carpeted and didn't have a hanging light like you would expect to find in a dining room.

We decided to move the 2 girls down there. Partly because they spend part of their week with their mother, partly because they generally keep their room pretty tidy. They like being downstairs during the day, closer to play in their room, but at night they felt lonely, far from the rest of the family. Like any new room, it took a few days for them to get used to it.

Victoria did a great job setting it up. She blocked the wide entrance (to the front living room) with bookcases on the living room side and a beautiful quilt made by the girls' grandmother on the new bedroom side. The doorway to the kitchen was temporarily closed off with a curtain.

Well after several trial months we decided we would go ahead and put a real door in the doorway. I went to Lowe's and got a pre-hung door. The doorway was wider than the door and frame so I needed to narrow down the opening by about 2 1/2 inches.

My good friend Randy volunteered to help out. He has a garage full of power tools, and is much more skilled and experienced in home projects than I am. Randy and I got together on Friday and ripped some boards to the right size to use as spacers to narrow the opening. We added some shims and leveled the door on all sides. Randy used his power-nail-gun to secure the spacers and the door frame. Thanks Randy!

One funny thing, when Randy left about all that was left was to attach the doorknob. I put the spindle in and wanted to see if it was set correctly. Rachel and I went in the room and pushed the door shut. Oops!

The spindle fit just right and latched the door shut. But I had neglected to attach the knob, and now the knob was on the other side of the door than us. Rachel and I were trapped inside! Brooke came to our rescue but couldn't get the door knob apart. She eventually brought Victoria and Rachel and I were set free!

We still need to put up trim to finish the doorway but this room is now more of a room. My sister Chris was here a few weeks ago for George's birthday, and mentioned something about the kids playing in the "extra bedroom." In a family of 9, I'm not sure there is such thing as an extra bedroom, and we had a good laugh about this.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Scott tissue Cloggiest Moment Contest

Well, Scott Tissue announced the winner of their Cloggiest Moment contest. It wasn't us, but I think our entry is just as funny.

A Very Impractical Joke: the adventure of the toilet squirter

With 6 children in the house, we have a LOT of cloggy moments. One Christmas, our son got a practical joke kit. Along with the fake gum, spoon with a fly on it, and bar of soap with a hidden spider, came the now infamous toilet squirter. A toilet squirter is a little rubber ball you fill with water and set between the seat and the bowl. A clear pipe extends from it and when you sit down, it squirts your bottom.
He tried to play the toilet squirter joke on his 13-year-old sister. The prank failed miserably when the squirter was jarred loose, she didn’t see it, and it got flushed. The squirter and some toilet paper remained jammed in the toilet for days. We drained and removed the toilet. My husband tried everything he could think of to knock it loose, all with no luck. Finally, our friend lent us his plumbing snake and that did the trick.
Much to the dismay of our children, Santa never again left anything quite so cool as a toilet squirter.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Pizza Review - Pizza Hut

Tonight we got pizza from Pizza Hut. We got a CheezyBites with half bacon and half cheese only, and a medium thin crust pizza with half pepperoni and half bacon.

Pizza Hut has a deal where you can get a medium pizza for $7 with the purchase of a large so our total price was around $20.

The CheesyBites don't taste much different than a normal Stuffed Crust pizza but it is kind of neat to have them in bite-size pieces.

Rachel said "It was good and I liked it. I liked the CheesyBites the best."

Luke said "It was pretty good. The pizza was a little greasier than I like."

Victoria said "It looks like a big flower. Unique and delicious."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Online Dating Carnival

Check out the Online Dating Carnival. They have a cool story about how Victoria and I met!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pizza Blog Hosts Contest

My other blog, Pizza Delivery Stories, is hosting a free basketball contest for the ESPN Tournament Challenge. Check it out!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Life's Greatest Question

What is the meaning of life? Man has been searching for the answer to this question for centuries. Up until recently, typing it in to Google was not among the top methods used to try to find the answer.

In church this morning, Pastor Jim interviewed John Beckett, Chairman of RW Beckett Corporation and author of the book Loving Monday. They showed that if someone does a Google search for "the meaning of life" (as well as several other key terms), they are shown a sponsored link to the site, Life's Greatest Question.

This is a site Mr. Beckett created to give his personal testimony "using non-religious words" as he said. The site is currently getting about 35000 visitors per month, and of those, about 1 in 8 is making a decision for Christ through the website!

Powerful stuff!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

'Til The One Day When This Lady Met This Fellow

(Pink comments added by Victoria.  I love this story of how we met and I'm so thankful to Kevin for taking the time to type it up.)

I thought I would write about the beginning of our family of nine, or how Victoria and I met. I was a divorced dad and had been living on my own with the kids (half time) since the summer of 2001.
I had tried online dating, mostly Yahoo! Personals, but also and eHarmony. I really thought this was a good idea for me, for several reasons:
  • I was older and didn't have many friends or peers that were single.
  • I had the kids quite a bit and didn't have alot of time or money for conventional dating.
  • I was comfortable with computer technology and able to go online often
So I had personal ads online at several sites. It seemed to me that there were many more guys online than girls so the numbers were not in my favor, but I still tried. I replied to some ads and had numerous online chats. Some of these led to phone conversations and a few of these led to dates.

I did have one date, a trip to Cedar Point, with a girl that I had never even spoken to before our first date, every communication we had up to that point had been online. That was our only date so maybe it wasn't such a good plan.

So anyways, at the time I was also spending lots of time in an online Euchre league, and at the same time chatting online with Yahoo! messenger, where I was known as kev_cleve.

Well one Saturday night in May as I was playing cards, I got a little heart message in my system tray, which meant I had a Yahoo! Personals reply. I was quite surprised since I had only had I think 2 girls contact me first in about a year of having my ad online. (His picture was kind of scary and he had 3 kids under age 6.)

Now I had had several replies from girls that I had contacted, but almost never did someone contact me first.
Anyways, in the reply Victoria introduced herself and mentioned the Alive festival. I replied back to her right away and mentioned that we were having Vacation Bible School the week of Alive. (Alive Festival rocks!)

A few minutes later the little red heart showed me that she had replied back again. This time mentioning that her church had VBS that week also and asking what church I attended.

When she got my reply, Victoria realized that she and I already attended the same (small) church!

"This is SO WEIRD!!!!" she said twice in her response back. (see extended footnote below.)  As I said, it was a Saturday night and after 3 short messages each way, we realized we were destined to meet the next morning in our church service.

So that is the story of how we met. More courtship tales to come when I get the chance to type them.

**Kevin couldn't know HOW weird.  When I prayed about dating again, I had only asked the Lord that He not lead me to anyone from our church.  I didn't want to risk any awkwardness if a relationship didn't work out.  And here I was reaching out online among THOUSANDS and who do I hit on first??  Some random guy who actually already attends my (teeny tiny storefront) church.   Boy did I feel admonished!  Not that that was the first, or the last (unfortunately) time HE had to remind me exactly who was in charge.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Friday Pizza Review - Marco's

The past few weeks we have been ordering pizza from a different pizza shop every Friday night. Usually wherever we have a coupon for or some other good deal.

Tonight we ordered from Marco's. With the coupon, we were able to get 2 large 1-topping pizzas, an order of CheezyBread, and a 2-liter of Coke for $19.99.

Nathan ate the bacon pizza and said, "Good, very good. It actually tasted like double-bacon. Excellent."

Luke had a slice of bacon and a slice of pepperoni pizza. "It was good but the crust was a little salty" he said after he got home from indoor soccer practice.

Brooke said, "I didn't have much, but CheezyBread was good!"

Rachel said, "I ate some CheezyBread and it was good."

George had no comment but you can tell by looking at his face that he liked it!

Emma was absent.

Dad thought the pizza was tasty. It's more of a hand-tossed crust and the sauce is kind of sweet. The parmesan cheese sprinkled on the CheezyBread makes it extra-delicious.

Vote For Me!

Local Girl at An Island Life is having a photo contest. Please check it out and vote for me, WeekendsWithDad, if you are so inclined.


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

My husband the genius, OR How to get control of your kids' gaming.

One of my goals for 2007 was to get some sort of control over exactly how much time our brood sits in front of electronic screens. I suggested to Kevin that I'd like some help on this. He didn't get back to me for a while, but when he did, I was very impressed with what he came up with. It is now posted on our refrigerator.

Last night at my monthly card club meeting, the early childhood psychologist in our group suggested I post it on the web for the enlightenment of others. Here it is.

Family of 9 "Screen Time" Policy

[Screen time includes: Video Games on TV (Xbox, Playstation, Sega, Nintendo, ...) TV Shows, Computer Games, Internet, and Handheld Games (Nintendo DS, Gameboy)]

1. School work done on the computer
2. Movies watched as a family (4 or more people)
3. Sporting events
4. Reality TV, Award Shows, and similar events may or may not count (PARENTS DECIDE)
5. Video games as physical activity (i.e. DDR)

School Night Limits (Monday - Thursday)
1. 2 hours(elementary students) or 3 hours(7th-12th grade) per person
2. Maximum of one and a half hours at the same activity
3. Homework must be done first
4. Bed must be made and room must be neat
5. If you play without doing #3 or #4 you may receive a 2-3 school night suspension

(This will apply to interim reports and quarterly grades, and will last until the next grading period. 7th grade and above will have penalties doubled.)

1. If you have all A's and B's you will get 2 hours.
2. If you have any C's you will lose 1/2 hour.
3. If you have any D's you will lose 1 hour total (you will get 1 hour).

Weekend Limits (Saturday & Sunday)
1. Four hours per person of screen time
2. Maximum 2 consecutive hours, then you must do another (non-video) activity for at least 1 hour

Friday Nights: No limits.

School Holidays / Snow Days, etc Same as weekend limits

Reserving the TV:
1. If you have a show you want to watch, you may reserve the main tv for 1 hour per day at a specific time. We will have a reservations sheet and reservations must be made at least the day before.
2. If you have a weekly show, you can have a standing reservation (example, every Thursday night).
3. If more than one people want to reserve the same time slot, a parent will decide (by taking turns, etc)

Sharing Game Time:
1. If you are taking turns or playing a multi-player game, that counts as your time.
2. If you are watching someone else play while waiting your turn, that counts as your time.
3. If someone is waiting to play, there is a 1/2 hour limit.
4. If 2 or more people are waiting to play, they both must be given a choice to play (as partners / opponents). If they do not want to play together, one may choose to wait again for the next open turn.

Summer Limits:
1. Same as weekend limits
2. Must do 1/2 hour physical activity before each 2-hour block of screen time.

Monday, March 5, 2007

George's Birthday Quiz

George’s 1st Birthday Quiz
1. George _______________ - heavyweight boxer and grill spokesman
2. George _______________ - father of our country
3. _______________ George – 1995 Heisman trophy winner from OSU
4. George _______________ - actor, starred in TV’s ER
5. George _______________ - current Senator from Ohio
6. George _______________ - botanist, invented over 300 uses for peanuts
7. George _______________ - wrote Animal Farm & 1984
8. George _______________ - one of the Beatles
9. _______________ George – monkey, friend of the man with the yellow hat
10. George _______________ - 43rd President of the USA
11. George _______________ - owns the New York Yankees
12. George _______________ - political analyst & former Clinton staffer
13.George _______________ - TV dry cleaning owner, married to Louise
14. George _______________ - played God, lived to be 100
15. George _______________- Iceman, one of NBA’s 50 greatest players
16. George _______________ - created and directed Star Wars
17. George _______________ - former plant collector, namesake of “George ****** Arboretum” in New York
18. George _______________ - lived in outer space, married to Jane
19. George _______________ - composer, wrote Rhapsody In Blue
20. George _______________ - country singer, sang “All My Ex’s Live In Texas” and “I Hate Everything”

Sunday, March 4, 2007

George Turns One!

We celebrated George's birthday Saturday with cake and ice cream for family and friends. Besides the 9 people who live here, we had 15 guests (7 adults and 8 kids) for a total of 24. (Actually there were only 23 as big brother Nathan was invited to a birthday party of a classmate at the same time).

Thanks to everyone for coming and for bringing gifts.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fire On The Train!

Well, not my train. It must have been 1 or 2 trains ahead of mine.

When I got to the RTA station this morning, there were 3 ladder trucks, a rescue truck, and several other emergency vehicles. Apparently one of the previous trains had caught fire!

I didn't wait long at all for a train but it was running eastbound on the westbound track. The ride was slow and choppy as every few minutes we had to either switch tracks or wait while an oncoming (westbound) train switched tracks.

The Plain Dealer has a short article on this up on their site.

This has nothing to do with raising 7 kids but I had to put it somewhere.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Busy Weekend

I just thought I would post our busy weekend schedule.

Friday night my 3 kids arrived at 6 PM. I was on my way home from my day job, picking up Jason for my every-other-week carpool to indoor soccer practice (6:30-7:30). After practice Luke and I picked up pizza to bring home for dinner.

Then we watched the first half of Nanny McPhee (from Blockbuster Total Access).

Saturday morning we split 4 ways. Mom and Jacob watched Luke & Nathan play in a Dodgeball tournament. Dad coached Brooke in her basketball game. Rachel and George were babysat by Auntie Dawn. And Emma went shopping with a friend.

In the afternoon the kids played outside and then we finished the movie from the night before. Then Dad took Luke to his indoor soccer game. He scored 2 goals but the team lost 6-3. Meanwhile Nathan's friend Cameron came for a sleepover.

Saturday night we stayed up late watching Gerald Green win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. My favorite dunk was the Dwight Howard dunk where he put a sticker high on the backboard with his left hand while dunking with his right. Wow!

Sunday morning we went to church and Sunday school. Mom volunteered in the Nursery. Cameron came along and went to Sunday School with Nathan & Luke. After we dropped Cameron off at home, we had lunch at Ponderosa on our way out to our niece Grace's 3rd birthday party. After that party Dad had to go deliver pizza while the rest of the family went to our niece Diana's 7th birthday party.

Monday we all went sledding in the morning. In the afternoon Victoria went shopping. In the evening Luke, Brooke, and Rachel went back to their mom's and Dad went to deliver pizza again.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Dilema - Treating All Kids Evenly

In a recent post to my Weekends With Dad blog, I describe how Luke and I won free Cavs tickets. This has created a minor dilemma in our household.

Victoria is concerned, and rightly so, that Nathan (who is Luke's age and plays on the same basketball team as Luke) will be jealous that I am taking Luke to the game and not Nathan. Nathan has a father but he is currently in Oregon. The speak about once a week on the phone. He recently sent Nathan and Jacob a Nintendo DS game. But he really is not involved in their lives in any significant way at this time.

Is me taking Luke to the game being unfair to Nathan? What is the right way to handle things like this? I'm not really sure.

I will post more later when I have (hopefully) gained more insight into this issue. I just wanted to get it down in writing for now.

Friday, February 2, 2007


Transportation is definitely an issue with a family this size. We have 2 adults and 7 kids, and the oldest just turned 14, so they all need rides everywhere.

But the issue I'm writing about today is what happens when we all go the same place together at the same time. Very few cars in this day and age are made to hold a large family. When we got married, we each had a car, and for the first year or so, whenver we all went the same place (church, family gatherings, etc), we had to split up and drive 2 cars.

Not only was this inefficient on gas, but it created more separation and less bonding between the 2 previously separate families.

Then a friend from church offerred to give us their old van. It is a 1987 GMC Vandura with over 170,000 miles. It gets about 14 miles per gallon. It has a 2nd row of captains chairs, a bench seat, and another fold-up bench-seat in the way-back, facing backwards. It could easily hold 10 adults. And the kids can fit 4 or even 5 in the benches so it is plenty big enough for us. Some of the kids have nicknamed it Brown Sugar, but it has also been referred to as the Mystery Machine, a reference to the van driven by Fred and the gang in the Scooby Doo cartoon.

It was a great vehicle for us. We didn't drive it as our everyday car, but we used it when we travelled as a group, mostly to church, soccer games, and family events. We did take a short vacation in it to Niagara Falls.

Recently (since the end of December), the van has been parked due to leaks in the brake and fuel lines. Hopefully we will be able to get this repaired soon, but other car issues have taken priority lately.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Birthday Dinners

One of the traditions we have in our family is that around their birthday, each child gets to choose a restaurant and we go out to eat as a family.

Now, our birthdays are kind of clumped together. We have 3 December birthdays and one at the beginning of January, followed by 2 in March, 1 in April, and 2 in May. This (and our busy schedules) causes some of the dinners to be slightly delayed.

We are currently working on the final December birthday. Jacob wants to go to the Golden Corral. We are just getting around to this because between holiday schedules and holiday spending, we just haven't had time or money up until now.

We were considering going this weekend on Saturday, after basketball and before indoor soccer but then Emma was away at the junior high wrestling meet. We couldn't go on Sunday because Luke, Brooke, & Rachel had gone back to their mom's by that time.

Hopefully we can get this scheduled this weekend, we have to get one more winter birthday completed before the spring birthdays start in March.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

First Post

Hello. This is the initial post in this blog describing our blended family of 9. Victoria and I each have 3 kids from our respective previous marriages, and we have added a baby together.

I'm not sure yet where this blog is headed, but follow along and you will find out along with me. It is sure to be an interesting ride.