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March, 2005
(Hold your mouse over a picture for its caption.)

March 3, 2005

Mark and I have been tossing around remodeling ideas for the house for a few months now.  We've finally worked out what we want, and met with the contractor this morning and handed over the first check to get the ball rolling.  There's no turning back now!!!!  We're having the porch and bathrooms redone, and are replacing all the windows on the house.  I understand the actual remodeling is going to be a nightmare, but the result is going to be wonderful!  I'll be sure to post pictures as things happen - it should be interesting.

My Aunt Jin is visiting from Michigan, and she and my parents came over for dinner tonight.  The boys and I gave her a mini piano recital, and we had a terrific visit.  Mom stayed at the house with the kids while Jin and I went to see a play called Menopause.  There was a scheduling snafu, however, and it wasn't showing when we got there.  We had one of our awesome long talks on the drive, though, and went back to the house and visited some more with Mom and the kids.  It's been so nice to see her!

Patch helped me cut up strawberries for dessert Like father, like son - look at Patrick and Mark getting into the xBox game!

The kids brought home more school pictures - I don't know why we got two this year.  Alex looks like he was goosed, and Patch is the spittin' image of his Daddy!

duck . . . . .  duck . . . . . GOOSE! Mark's mini-me

March 4, 2005

The boys were building their muscles!

Patch flailing about lifting weights in the rocking chair

He man My string bean

March 5, 2005

The boys' friend invited them to a karate seminar where each child earned their white belt, received a uniform and broke a real board.  Patrick's been talking about taking karate for some time, and they were both thrilled.  Alex broke the board on his third try, but Patrick had quite a bit of trouble.  Finally, the head coach came over and held the board, and Patrick broke it on the first kick.  Football started this morning, so their plates are full right now, but karate might be somewhere in their future.

Trying to look cool after the board did NOT break All it took was some tongue-action to break that board!

Patrick winding up

March 6, 2005

The boys had their spring piano recital at a local nursing home.  This recital was a little different.  Each performer played their own composition as well as a traditional piece.  Grandma came to watch, and the boys played beautifully, of course!

Alex named his song "Chaz" Patrick called his song "The Poof Song" because the notes at the end sounded poofy

March 7, 2005

Boudreaux had his staples removed on Saturday and now just has to regain the strength in his leg.  We started his "physical therapy" this morning with a walk to the bus stop.  He did really well, and continued to get around fine all day, although he gimped pretty badly this evening.  All in good time, big guy!

I don't expect all of you to appreciate these pictures, but you have to admit it was kind of sweet!

nose-to-nose piggy back

March 10, 2005

Boudreaux is doing amazingly well after his surgery.  He's walking, with a big limp of course, but I really think he's limping because of weakness and not from pain - at least not as much as he had before the surgery.  We have a new post-op problem, though.  He appears to have a sunburn on his back where his fur was shaved!  He loves to sit in the back yard and soak up the rays, so now we have to put sunscreen on him.  LOL

He loves my microbead pillow.
The boy knows how to get comfy

March 12, 2005

We're spending the weekend at the River with Mark's parents.  Mark's family has had a little blue boat, dubbed "The Little Blue Boat," since the boys (Mark's generation) were children.  Eight years old is the magical age when a Finster child can take the Little Blue Boat out alone.  Captain Alex took his maiden solo voyage today.  He took Mark and Patch out for a ride, then dropped off his passengers and he was on his own!  There were a couple of minor white-knuckle moments, but by the end of the day he was an old pro.  He couldn't keep the grin off his face for the rest of the day!

Learning the ropes Patch at the helm

On his own!

I took advantage of a peaceful moment on the water Mark raising a water boy

Grendel thinks she's a dachshund on the back of the sofa

March 13, 2005

Alex is enjoying his newfound status as boat captain.  This afternoon, he suddenly got up and announced, "I think I'll go for a boat ride," and headed out to the blue boat, as if it was the most natural thing!

Nana sent the boys to the compost heap to collect worms so they could feed the fish - oops, I mean go fishing!

Hoping for dinner Nana was VERY brave and helped bait the hooks

March 14, 2005

We will soon be replacing the windows on our house.  I got the kids some window markers and told them to do whatever they wanted to the old windows.  Their sarcasm is showing!  Here are some things on our windows:

Happy junkyard!
So sorry
Bye, bye window
Wish you could stay
 Sorry, I'm out of here!
Don't take me.  I don't bite!

"Decorating" the play room windows

March 17, 2005

I guess Grendel's nose was cold!

No, it's not our bed.  She just lets us use it every night.

March 18, 2005

This afternoon was the official start of spring break.  The plan was to go camping this weekend with a group of families.  I was running around the house cleaning and packing, and ended up pulling my back.  :-(  I was still determined to get everything done, since the boys were very excited about camping with their friends, but Mark finally convinced me that I was insane to think I could sleep on the ground in my condition.  Fortunately, the kids were thrilled just to be out of school, and weren't too upset about a delay.  I've taken my happy pills (aka muscle relaxers) and hopefully will be better in the morning.

March 19, 2005

I woke up feeling a bit better this morning, so we packed up and headed to the campground.  We hooked up with the other families (6 families in all, with 12 kids ranging from 1-8 years old).  The boys immediately got on their bikes and disappeared with the other boys.  This afternoon we went to a nature preserve and saw a presentation about local wildlife, and we got to pet a bunch of local animals.  I was proud of Patch.  The first animal brought out was an albino red rat snake, which is exactly what our snake, Zeke, is.  Patrick declined to pet him.  When the lady said something about him being nervous, he said, "No, we've already got one, and I want other people to be able to pet this one."  We also petted an alligator, the cutest opossum you ever saw (I never thought they could be cute!) and a skunk (de-scented, thank you very much).  It was a very nice presentation, and very much in the "camping" spirit of our trip.  Mark and I decided to head home at the end of the day, partly because my back was screaming again, and partly because it's so much work to set up camp for just one night.  We stayed for a huge group dinner and s'mores, of course.  Justin (the boys' best friend) was hilarious.  He kept raiding the marshmallows.  After noticing he'd been at the fire roasting several times, his mom asked him how many he'd had.  Instead of stating a number, he hesitated and said, "This is the last one."  He's no dummy!

Patch kept a VERY close eye on this guy! This little guy was hangin' on for dear life!

March 20, 2005

Aunt Stacie sent the boys some Easter cookies to decorate.  Edible artwork is serious business!

Very happy boys!

March 21, 2005

Mark had business in Ft. Lauderdale this week, so we went with him and joined the masses at the beach for spring break!  Actually, we avoided the beach, but the boys had a great time swimming in the hotel pool.  We also got to see Daddy's office and meet more of his coworkers.  He's worked from the house for so long that it was really strange to see him in a real office.

March 22, 2005

The boys and I spent the morning at the Science and Discovery Center while Mark worked.  It was very similar to our local science center, and the boys spent a lot of time on the brain teasers. 

Patch snapped my picture

Alex was determined to figure this one out - and of course, he did Teamwork

The boys spent the entire afternoon in the pool.  Alex tried and tried, and finally made it across the pool (the short length) in one breath.  Patrick taught himself the back stroke and how to float on his back.  When I asked him to float for me to take a picture, he said, "You'll have to take it quick because they highered the water so I can't float as long."  I guess he was getting tired and thought they'd raised the water level!  Alex hooked up with some kids playing football in the pool, and Patrick made friends with two sisters about his age.  It was hysterical to see the older sister tell her father that the younger one "had a boyfriend!"  (You have to enlarge the pictures of him talking to the girls to see his expressions.)

Alex comfortable in the deep end Patch floating on his back

Mutt and Jeff

Explaining the meaning of life to the girls Engrossed in conversation

March 23, 2005

Mark had clients to see along the drive home, so I thought it might be fun for the boys and me to take the train home.  Well, let's just say the first ten minutes was fun.  It was scheduled to be a five hour trip.  We spent some time in the dining car, and played cards in the lounge car (which we somehow managed to have to ourselves), and the kids played a lot of Game Boy.  I finished my book twenty minutes into the trip, and when I searched for my Palm Pilot to play some games, I discovered I'd left it at the hotel.  Fortunately, I had plenty of time on the train to call the hotel and have it sent home.  We sat on the tracks in the middle of nowhere several times, and our five-hour trip ended up being almost seven hours.  Oh, and to top things off, both of the kids have come down with colds.  So much for our big train adventure!  Mom was an angel picking us up at the train station, and she stayed with the boys while I rushed off (quite late!) for a closing.

Playing Pac Man while we wait for our train

Patrick took the word "lounge" in the lounge car seriously The boy is all leg!

March 25, 2005

Anthony and his parents invited us to go to a spring training baseball game.  After the fiasco train trip, I thought this would be a good event to brighten up the kids' spring break.  Hmmmm - what was I thinking?  The minute I said we were going somewhere - anywhere - the kids started whining.  They were completely done with being in any kind of vehicle for any length of time (the game was about an hour away).  I told them to bring their Game Boys to play during the drive, and finally got them into the car.  Wouldn't you know, 20 minutes into the drive, Alex's battery died.  We got to the game and by the beginning of the 2nd inning, the kids were already asking to go home.  We made it into the 3rd before I finally agreed to leave.  We could see storm clouds brewing, which helped the decision.  It started to rain as we approached the car, and once we got in, we hung out while a hail storm went through!  The day wasn't a total waste - we got to see Sammy Sosa break a bat.

March 26, 2005

With the craziness of the week, the boys haven't had any time with Grandma, so we invited her over to play.  They've been so addicted to the x-Box that I felt compelled to remind them that it would be rude to invite Grandma over and then ignore her while they play it.  They seemed to solve the problem - they taught her how to play x-Box, too!

Bridging the generation gap

Easy does it! Inspecting his egg

A year or so ago, Mark discovered geocaching.  There is a geocaching website where people will post the GPS coordinates of a cache they have hidden.  In the cache may be a trinket, or something along a theme, or simply a sign-in sheet to show you've found the cache.  The idea is to bring a trinket of your own to trade for what you take, but the main goal is simply to find the cache.  This afternoon, Mark took the boys and Grendel geocaching.  They're learning as they go, and discovered it pays to check the difficulty level.  This particular cache was hidden at a park along a river, which had risen recently due to rain.  Mark had to carry both boys across a stream as deep as his thighs, and Alex ended up falling from the tree the cache was hidden in.  They all came back scraped, battered, soaked and absolutely filthy.  Mark said he was very proud of the boys.  Patrick stayed in the spirit of adventure and enjoyed himself.  Alex was miserable, since he had taken a bit of a beating.  Mark said that he never complained, but as they were bushwhacking along, he heard Alex say under his breath, "I can tell you one thing, I'll never do this again."

Happy hikers at the beginning of their quest

March 27, 2005

H A P P Y   E A S T E !

We had our annual Easter block party/picnic/water balloon fight.  The water balloon fight gets more sophisticated each year, yet it always ends up the same - a bunch of soaked lunatics with garden hoses spraying anyone in sight!

Alex on the left, Patch on the sidewalk, both in red shorts, on the offensive! The ultimate water balloon launcher!

Alex on the attack

March 29, 2005

We recently received notification that our busing is back on the chopping block.  This morning I attended the school safety council meeting to try once again to argue that the 8-lane, 50-mph state highway between us and the school isn't suitable for elementary school children to walk along.  It's such a no-brainer that it's absurd to even be discussing it.  At any rate, the council announced that it will further evaluate the situation and make a determination as to the safety of the route.  Here we go again.

I caught the boys cuddling while watching TV.  In case you can't tell, Alex is using Patrick's butt as a pillow.  They can tell me all day long how much they hate each other, but this tells the truth.