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November, 2004
(Hold your mouse over a picture for its caption.)

November 2, 2004

Patch came home from school with straw glasses that he received from the Accelerated Reader program.

Watching his drink go around the glasses

November 3, 2004

We got quite a shock when the kids came off the bus this afternoon.  They had a letter saying that as of January 3, our bus service will be eliminated.  The main road outside our subdivision has been under construction for the past two years being widened from two lanes to seven.  The construction was completed a few weeks ago.  Apparently, since sidewalks were added to that main road, and we are within two miles of the school, our route is deemed safe for the children to walk to school.  Nevermind that seven lanes of traffic are whizzing by.  Judging by the phone calls I've gotten this afternoon, I don't think any of the parents are going to let this happen without a fight.  Cross your fingers for us.

November 5, 2004

The Finster Day Care Center is back open for business!  John and Becca have to go to Miami for the weekend to tend to some family business, so Carter, Nathan and Andrew are staying with us tonight and all day tomorrow.  We also watched Justin and Shane while their parents went out for the evening, so we had seven boys for dinner and bedtime.  I have to say, everything went very smoothly.  Not that I want to do this every day, mind you.  ;-)

Once we got our kids and Becca's kids in bed at our house, I took Justin and Shane to their house and put them to bed.  Shane, who's two and a half, was so cute.   He was exhausted, and while we were still at our house, he laid his head on my shoulder and said he wanted to "go home my bed."  Once I got him at his house and in his bed, he had trouble going to sleep.  I went in to check on him, and he said, "go back your house."  Little stinker!

Mark, Shane, Justin and Alex watching a movie Andrew was hanging out with the big boys in our room

Andrew and Shane looking at a book together.  Too cute! Carter, Andrew and Nathan passed out - with Andrew's cow

November 6, 2004

We made it through the night without anyone waking up crying for their mother.  Whew.  One of my wonderful neighbors offered to watch Patch and Becca's boys so Mark and I could both go to Alex's last game of the season.  He was at quarterback for much of the game and played like a pro.

After the game, Mark and Alex went to the end-of-season party while I went and rescued my neighbor from the other four boys.  The kids played hard outside with all of the other neighborhood kids the rest of the day.  Becca's kids aren't used to so much running around, and were zombies by the end of the day!  She and John came to pick them up at about 9:00 tonight, and they were on the verge of sleep as they went out the door.  So were Mark and me.  ;-)

Alex running with the ball Getting his flag pulled (being tackled in flag football)

A big, exhausting weekend

November 7, 2004

Me and my big mouth.  One of the mothers I've been talking with about the bus situation suggested last week that we get together this afternoon to compare notes.  This then turned into a "meeting" and word spread about it.  She called me yesterday and asked if I could come an hour early so we could get our thoughts in order before "we" conduct the meeting.  Up until that moment, I thought I was just another mom going to a meeting.  I didn't realize I was one of the "we" who were supposedly organizing things.  So I went and the four of us discussed our plans and went to the park where the parents were gathering.  There were over 50 people there!  AND THE MEDIA!  We passed out contact information for who to write and call, and organized a "drive-in" for Thursday.  Parents are planning to drive their kids to and from school on Thursday to show the impact of the traffic and extra cars in the pick-up line once the buses are canceled.  This should be dramatic since over 300 students are involved.  We also ended up in the newspaper and on the news on three television stations!  As exciting as it is, I just hope we get the attention of the people who really matter.

November 9, 2004

We got an exciting phone call today - Alex made the All Star football team in his league!  The big All Star game will be next Thursday night.  Wow!

Another parent on his team gave us this picture - what a great shot

November 10, 2004

What every parent dreams of - and Mark and I had nothing to do with this!

My bookworms

November 11, 2004

The boys got to be "car riders" to and from school today while we participated in the "drive in" the parents have organized to demonstrate to the school the impact of the extra cars should we lose our bus service.  We've received notice that the original decision to eliminate our bus service has been suspended pending further evaluation, and a safety council meeting originally scheduled for two weeks from now has been moved up a week.  I guess we're getting someone's attention.  The drive-in went very smoothly and I think all of the extra cars made quite an impression.  The school was prepared and had volunteers from the PTA as well as Sheriff's deputies on hand to help make sure all of the kids ended up where they were supposed to be safely.  I'll admit I was a little rattled when I saw all of the kids waiting to be picked up and I couldn't find Patrick's face among them.  He was there - just hidden in the crowd.

That's a lotta cars!

November 12, 2004

Alex had a cold last week, and has had a nasty cough that won't seem to go away, although he swears up and down he feels fine.  I took him out of school early today to see the doctor.  He was annoyed that I pulled him out of school (!) and kept going on and on about how I'm taking a "perfectly healthy" child out of school for no reason.  Well, that perfectly healthy child is wheezing.  At least he had the grace to admit that he did, indeed, feel better after he used the inhaler.  Maybe Mom actually does know a little about her kids after all.  ;-)

Mark's been away on business so Sherry and her boys came over for dinner tonight, since her husband was working late.  The boys wanted to hold the snakes, and we had snake races up the back of the couch!

Justin, Shane and Alex with Cassey and Zeke

November 13, 2004

We were invited over to Jacob's neighborhood for their Fall Festival this evening.  Patch hurt his eye earlier so we didn't stay long, but he did take the time to climb on the playground, of course!

King of the mountain He just loves to be upside-down!

November 14, 2004

Our local philharmonic orchestra performed The Journey of Sir Douglas Fir this afternoon.  Before the show, they had "petting zoos" where children could play different instruments.  The kids tried out a violin, trombone and a french horn.  Patch looked like his face would explode when he tried to blow hard enough to make noise.  It was hilarious to watch him try to blow through the horn without smiling or laughing.

Trying out a small-sized violin Alex got a full-size one

Look at Patch in the corner taking notes Laughing and blowing - ROFL!

I think his eyes bugged out as much as his cheeks! Alex actually played the french horn pretty well

 November 15, 2004

It's a good thing I was volunteering in Alex's classroom this morning.  I had gotten my wires crossed and forgotten that he had a performance about veterans this morning.  Fortunately I was already there and he was none the wiser.  ;-)  They took turns telling a story about veterans, then sang "I'm Proud to be an American."  It was very sweet!  Unfortunately, since I wasn't planning on a performance, I didn't bring my camera.  :-(

Cute story:  As the other parents were coming into the room, all of the kids were at the front of the classroom sitting down.  Alex's hair was a mess, so I went over and fixed it a little.  He whispered to me later that if I ever did that again he'd bean me!

November 16, 2004

WE WON!!!  Today was the "big" Safety Advisory Council meeting regarding the busing issue.  I was one of the people who spoke to the council about the hazards of walking along the main road between us and the school.  At the end of the meeting, the Council voted to reverse their decision to cancel our busing.  Woohoo!

November 17, 2004

This is American Education Week, so the parents were invited into the classrooms during the week.  I got a rare glimpse into Alex's gifted class.  It sure is a different environment than his other classes!  There are only five students, so there isn't the "army" mentality of everyone needing to do the same thing, and the kids' personalities shined.

Alex being his goofy self

November 18, 2004

Alex had his big All Star football game tonight.  Mark's parents came over and spent the afternoon with us before the game.  On the way to the game, it came up that Grandma was going to be there.  When Alex realized that Nana, Papa and Grandma were all going to be watching, he said, "Wow.  There'll be a lot of people watching me."  I think he was feeling a little pressure!  One of the buildings at the field had the most wonderful story painted on it:

He stands at the plate with his heart pounding
fast; The bases are loaded; the die has been cast.  Mom and Dad can not
help him; he stands alone.  A hit at this moment would send the team
home.  The ball nears the plate; he swings and he misses.  There's a
groan from the crowd, with some boos and hisses.  A thoughtless voice
cries, "Strike out the bum!"  Tears fill his eyes; the game's no longer
fun.  Remember - he's just a little boy who stands all alone.  So open
your heart and give him a break.  For it's moments like this a man you
can make.  Keep this in mind when your hear someone forget He's just a
little boy, not a man yet.

Alex is number 3 Patch getting a ride from Daddy in his chair

November 19, 2004

Patrick's class put on their Thanksgiving presentation for the parents this morning.  It was adorable!  The children were dressed up as pilgrims, Indians, corn and turkeys.  The teacher read the Thanksgiving story, and every time she said "pilgrim men" the three boy pilgrims (including Patch) said, "Land Ho!"  When she said "pilgrim women" the girl pilgrims said "Mercy me!"  "Indian men" produced "Strong and brave" out of the Indian boys.  The corn said "pop, pop, pop" and the turkeys said "gobble, gobble, gobble."  (You saw that one coming, didn't you.)  They sang songs for us, then we all shared corn bread and apple juice.  It was precious!

Patch practicing "Land Ho!" before they started Hanging out with his classmates in the tee pee

Doing a little dance!

November 20, 2004

Justin and his parents came over to watch the FSU/UF game tonight.  We had a very nice visit, despite the horrific outcome of the game.

Working a wood puzzle together

November 21, 2004

Alex got a tetherball for his birthday, and Mark set it up today.  The boys had a ball!  (nyuk, nyuk)

They finally have something they can hit as hard as they can without getting in trouble!

November 22, 2004

I have to brag on Patrick.  He's reading just about anything you put in front of him, and he and the school librarian have become best buddies.  Today he came home with a Sunsational award (an acknowledgement of some outstanding behavior) because he scored a 90% on an Accelerated Reader test on a third grade level book! 

Mark and the boys were making a robot out of boxes

November 23, 2004

No pictures today, but now it's Alex's turn for me to brag on him.  He came home from school today with a certificate saying he'd made the Honor Roll!  That's my boy!

November 24, 2004

I spent a crazy day getting the dogs to the kennel, the house in order, the camper ready and hooked up, and the bags packed to head to the River for Thanksgiving.  Of course, let's not forget fitting in time at the school to help out in the art class.  Although it's "Thanksgiving Eve," the drive wasn't too much longer than usual, and we're so happy to be visiting Mark's family.

Busy in art class

November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a wonderful day!  We have so much to be thankful for.  Of course, the top on my list is my children.  We are so blessed for our family and friends and wish we could have been with each and every one of you on this special day.

Jay and his friend, Stacy, and her three children, Cameron, Chase and Cate arrived this morning, as did K.C. and Stacy with Preston and Danielle.  The kids had a ball together, and Mary Ellen put together a fabulous feast!

My fish Patch found a quiet spot to read for a while

The kids loved the camper! Mark reading to Cate

November 26, 2004

Mike came up with the girls for the day.  Mary Beth's father is staying with them and he had a rough night last night, so she and Ryan stayed home with him.  Except for Ryan, we had all of the grandkids together - children, children everywhere!  The kayak and paddleboat were out nonstop, and Alex reveled in being the only kid allowed to go out in the paddleboat alone.  The hot tub got a workout, and the front yard was a constant sports arena.  After dinner the kids roasted marshmallows in the fireplace and made s'mores.  It was a beautiful day and we all collapsed into bed at the end.  All except Alex, that is.  He ended up with a stomach bug in the middle of the night.  Let's just say it's a good thing Nana and Papa have terrazzo floors. 

Julie and Danielle - too cute! Patrick, Alex, Cameron, Preston, Heather, Ashley, Danielle, Julia, Chase and Cate

Mark and Mike crossing paths This is a common phenomenon at the River

Alex and Heather with sparklers Patch showing off his sparkler

Alex taking his Mom out for a moonlight ride

November 27, 2004

We were sad to say our goodbyes and head home today, but it's nice to know it won't be long before we'll see everyone again for Christmas.  Alex spent the day on the couch and managed to get down two spoonfuls of Jello - but those two bites stayed where they belong.  Things are looking up.  LOL