July 2, 2005
The Finster clan gathered once again to celebrate the 4th of July at the River. John couldn't join us, but hopefully he'll feel like he was there after seeing all of the wonderful pictures. There was swimming off the dock, scalloping, hot tubbing, and our very own backyard fireworks! The kids ended up creating a new game with the innertube (which is designed to be pulled behind the boat). Two people (usually including KC, thank God) would hold the tube up while the kids would run as hard as they could into it. Sometimes the two holding the tube would hold it tight, and other times they'd pull it out of the way at the last minute. The kids loved it! Later, they used the rope for the tube to play tug-of-war. I love children's imaginations (old and young)!
July 3, 2005
We had another day of fun in the sun and water. The city put on its big fireworks display tonight, so we went out in the boat to watch the spectacular show.
July 4, 2005
We headed back home from the River this morning. About two miles from our house, Alex announced, rather urgently, that he had to go to the bathroom. He was wiggling and squirming and we were all trying to encourage him to hang in there. Patrick stuck his finger in Alex's ear and declared, "He really does have to go. I could feel it in his ear!"
We went to a neighbor's cul-de-sac for a barbecue and yet another fireworks display, then we all crawled back home and slept like babies.
July 5, 2005
We had a nice relaxing evening out front tossing the football and skateboarding. Patrick learned how to jump off and back on his skateboard.
July 7, 2005
We finally hit one of the spots on our summer fun list. Anthony's mom, Carrie, and I took our boys to Wonder Works to explore and discover, and we stayed for the magic show dinner. It was a blast!
July 8, 2005
Patch read some of his book to Daddy tonight.
July 11, 2005
It just so happened that Anthony and Justin's parents both needed kid help on the same day, so we decided to turn it into a slumber party! I took all four boys to Chuck E. Cheese's and met Becca and her four kids there. It was like we had our own summer camp! We were so busy keeping track of kids that we didn't snap too many pictures. My four spent all of their tokens at a game that had a good chance of getting lots of tickets, which paid off. Between the four of them, they won over 1,300 tickets, which was enough to trade for a small disco ball they've had their eyes on. Of course, for what I spent on tokens, we could have bought at least four of those balls, but they were happy and nobody was fighting, so I was happy. It took some doing, but as of 11:00 tonight, all four boys are finally asleep. Just a half a day tomorrow with the extra two kids, then I'm sticking my kids in front of the xBox and I'm hiding in my room with a book!
July 13, 2005
I cashed in some of the favors I've earned lately and sent the kids off to friends' houses today so I could pack up the hall bathroom before it's demolished. It was strangely nostalgic, I suppose because it was similar to packing to move, complete with the forelorn echo once the room was all emptied out. I gave it a good cleaning (I know, I know - what's the point, but I'd hate for the workers to think we actually live with that dirt!) and was reassured to see that the counters and tub still won't come clean. It's going to be so nice when it's all fresh and new!
July 15, 2005
Our bathroom is gone! I can't believe it only took one guy half a day to reduce a fully-functioning bathroom to bare walls and cement floor. Our little two-year-old neighbor, Sarah, came over to play while the room was in the middle of demolition. She walked up to the door of the bathroom, pointed and simply said, "mess." No kidding!
Anthony's dog, Sparky, came to stay with us while they go on vacation next week. Grendel and Sparky are right at the same level of energy and playfulness, and have played non-stop since he got here. Grendel isn't used to having an energy-equal around and sometimes it frustrates her. Sparky absolutely will not let go of a toy during a tug-of-war, and sometimes we'll hear a muffled "mphh" as Grendel tries to bark in frustration while pulling on a toy in her mouth. It's hilarious!
One more story: I had told Patrick this afternoon that he had to pick up all of the Bionicle pieces from his floor before bedtime. When I went to tuck him in, I chastised him because it was still a mess. He said, "But you never reminded me to do it." I replied, "So, it's my fault, is it?" He thought for a minute, smiled and said, "No, it's Dad's!"
July 16, 2005
We were sitting on the couch when we realized we were being watched - by all three snakes!
July 18, 2005
We've taken out the garden window in the bathroom and are replacing it with a smaller window for more privacy. Today the mason came and blocked in the hole. It's looking stranger and stranger in there!
July 19, 2005
Construction update - we now have a window in our hole in the wall. And not a moment too soon. The guy came to install it at 6:30 this morning (if you know me at all, you know I was NOT happy!), but now I'm glad he did because it rained cats and dogs all day.
We had a small bit of excitement this evening. I was on the phone with Mark (he's on a business trip) when I glanced out the front window and saw Boudreaux and Sparky out front - and Sparky was trotting away down the street. Poor Mark - I just said, "I gotta go, I'll call you back" and hung up on him and he had no idea why. The boys and I ran out the front door. Alex hollered that he'd stay with Boudreaux, who was obediently hanging out in the front yard. Patrick and I took off after Sparky, who was already rounding the corner at the end of our street. (His owners had warned us that he'd bolt if given the opportunity.) We followed him into the subdivision for about a half a mile (thank God he didn't turn the other way towards the main road!) when he stopped to play with a dog who was being walked and I finally pounced on him. Poor Patch was complaining that his side hurt, but I was breathing too hard to give him much support. When we finally got back to the house, Alex was trying to get Boo towards where we went because he didn't know what to think, and Mark had been calling to see what was up, and even called the neighbor to come check on us. Turns out the bug guy hadn't latched the gate.
The boys got their hair cut today, and Patrick just could not sit still for his life. Whenever she told him to be still, he'd make the funniest faces, like it was torture. Somehow the picture just doesn't do it justice.
July 21, 2005
Sparky did it again - I had the garage door open for about a minute and off he went, this time towards the pond. I started after him, but having learned from our last experience, I ran in the house and got Grendel and an extra leash. We walked to the end of the street and didn't see him so we turned back. On the way back, I heard a commotion behind me and turned around just in time to see him coming out of a neighbor's swimming pool! Their screen enclosure is still gone from the hurricanes and the pool is surrounded by an orange construction fence that he must have gone under. Fortunately, he did indeed come running up to see Grendel and I nabbed him again. As cute and sweet as he is, only three more days until he's safely back at his own house!
About a week ago, Mark bought a very nice bike on eBay that he's been very excited about. It finally came today and he was like a child on Christmas morning! The bike was packed with bubble wrap, which of course the kids love. Patch was showing me how he could pop it while doing a cartwheel. I was blown away when he did a one-handed cartwheel!
July 22, 2005
The gym where Patrick used to take gymnastics has Open Gym every Friday night that is open to the public, so the boys went tonight. Patrick had a field day using all of the equipment. Justin came with us, and he and Alex were racing across the tumbling floor until the coaches told them to stop. Alex was quite put out by the whole thing, declaring (only to me, thank God!) that he isn't a gymnast, he plays football. So Mark took him home while Patrick stayed and tried desperately to nail a cartwheel on the balance beam!
July 24, 2005
One of the benefits of construction: big huge boxes to play in! One of the hazards: that box held a fiberglass bathtub. The boys had a BLAST playing in the box while Mark jiggled and rolled it with them inside. It's been a while since I've heard such belly laughs! But when they got out, they were both itching like crazy, and we realized it was fiberglass. We sent them back to the shower, but they still were going mad when they went to bed. :-( Fortunately, they both said the fun was worth the misery. :-)
July 25, 2005
The boys and I spent the day today with Carrie and Anthony at the Florida Aquarium. We took a boat tour of the bay in search of dolphin, and we weren't disappointed! We saw several brief fins here and there, but the high point was when a freighter was coming into the bay and a group of dolphin were "bow riding" ahead of it - swimming along in front of the ship playing in the rush of water. Our captain turned us around and we road parallel to the ship for 10 or 15 minutes just watching the dolphins play. It was awesome!
July 26, 2005
We watched a picture-perfect shuttle launch this morning! Woohoo! What a thrilling sight!
The Learning to Read by Topic book on Chess is written by a local author who goes to schools and bookstores to meet with children, teach them to play chess, and pair them up to play chess for a couple of hours. We went to see her this afternoon and the boys had a great time playing against new partners. She encourages sportsmanship (you have to shake hands and say "good game" at the end of each game) and modesty (no bragging), which we certainly need to nurture in our house!
July 27, 2005
A group of neighbors headed out to Rock Spring for fun in the sun and in the water. The spring creates a small, lazy river (okay, more like a creek) so we rented inner tubes and floated down the river over and over. The kids caught tons of minnows and even some small river shrimp (we're assuming). It was a great way to beat the heat.
When we got home, we headed to the gym for Patrick to try another gymnastics class. I called last week to discuss his situation - he didn't like the classes last time because he was bored, but he still shows incredible potential - and they suggested a different coach and offered us a trial class. He loved it! He was one of only two students today, which was perfect because she was able to really assess his skills. She suggested he move up a level, which is just what he wanted to hear. He starts next week!
July 28, 2005
I had a houseful today! Anthony and Justin were over bright and early while their parents worked. I tried desperately to go back to bed since I'd had a rough night, and no sooner had I started to dose off did the doorbell ring with the drywall guys for the bathroom. We have a problem with one of the new windows, and this morning the rep from the manufacturer called and said he'd be over this morning to look at it, and then the contractor dropped by. Progress is good . . . right? Poor Boudreaux has been beside himself all day, with the guys banging on the wall in the bathroom and strange men coming and going. At one point, he climbed under the computer table in the playroom (child-sized), which was no small feat!
When I got out of bed the second time, I found all four boys lined up on the couch playing their Gameboys. It looked like a Gameboy advertisement!
July 29, 2005
The boys met their teachers at open house this morning, and they're both thrilled. Alex's teacher moved up from 2nd to 3rd grade this year, so some of his friends have already had her and loved her. Also, our neighbor next door, Kori, sits in the desk next to him! Patrick's teacher is very sweet and he is very much the experienced student now - no butterflies for him. When we were leaving the school, he said, "I can't wait until Monday - she's nice!"
After the open house, the we all gathered at a neighbor's pool for swimming and pizza to send off the summer in style.
July 30, 2005
One of the workers came bright and early this morning (It's a Saturday, for goodness sake!) and installed the cabinets in the bathroom. The tile guy is coming Monday, so we have between now and then to paint the walls and ceiling. I really wanted to paint before the cabinets went in, but they just finished the drywall yesterday and the texture wasn't dry yet last night. Ah well. It's starting to look a bit more like a bathroom rather than a prison cell. Yippee!
Mom came over and spent the evening with the kids while Mark and I went to a neighbor's surprise birthday party. There were over 40 people there, many of whom are parents of their children's friends (who can't really keep a secret), yet somehow, his wife managed to keep him completely in the dark. It was really neat.
July 31, 2005
It was home improvement day at our house. I painted until my arm nearly fell off, but the bathroom is painted and ready for the tile. Meanwhile, Mark was playing with his saws making new window sills, since the old ones no longer fit with our new windows. He was in heaven breathing saw dust.
The poor boys were bored and neglected when Alex had a brainstorm. He was thirsty, so he made himself a "suicide" out of all of the soda in the kitchen - where you mix all of the sodas together into one glass. It actually turned out really good, so he and Patch set up an "Ultra Suicide" stand out front and sold drinks for a quarter. Most of the neighbors overpaid out of generosity, and they ended up making four dollars. It was too cute!