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

August 1, 2004

We did some last-minute school shopping and tried our best to keep the jitters down.  The boys are very excited about school tomorrow - as is Mommy!

August 2, 2004

The day finally arrived - my baby started kindergarten today.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to cry or jump for joy - so I did a little of both.  (Get ready for a novel, by the way.)  The kids had a rough time getting out of bed, but were too excited to fight about it.  Patch was cute - after he finished his breakfast, he said, "I'm not sure if I had too much to eat, or not enough."  Classic case of butterflies!  Since he's gone to the bus stop with Alex for two years, that was no big deal, but he hesitated a little bit when the bus arrived.  Justin (their best buddy) did the sweetest thing - as they were boarding the bus, he turned to Patch and said, "Don't worry about a thing, Patch.  Just stick with me."  (That's when Mommy started crying!)

The school has "Boo Hoo and Bagels" for the kindergarten parents on the first day of school.  Also, the kindergarteners all meet in the cafeteria in the mornings to gather with their classes before heading to their rooms.  As I did with Alex, I rushed over to the school the minute the bus left, so I could see Patrick with his class and send him off (again).  Well, his bus was the last to unload, and the classes went to their rooms while the students from his bus were walked directly to their classrooms.  I missed him completely!  (And the tears start again.)

After Boo Hoo and Bagels, I went to the art class to help her prepare (I know, I'm a glutton).  She told me she had walked Patch from the bus to his class, and that he had perked up when he recognized her, and remembered his room.  Whew!  (See, all that volunteering is paying off!)  I went back again this afternoon to help her with kindergarten, and Patch happened to have art today, so I got to surprise him.  The poor guy looked completely tuckered, and asked me twice if this was the last thing today.  Almost, buddy.

Meanwhile, Mom and I went out for a relaxing lunch at a non-kiddie restaurant downtown.  A little slice of the life ahead of me with two kids in school, perhaps?  LOL

I had noticed since this morning that Patrick's eye was swollen and red, so off we went to the pediatrician right after school (great end to the first day of school), and he has pink eye - of course.  The drive gave us some time alone to go over his day, and he was a chatterbox and apparently despite his exhaustion, had a wonderful day!  Tonight at dinner, Mark asked him about school.  Patrick sighed, slumped in his chair (dramatically), and said, "I can't remember a thing!"  ROFL!

I hate to slight Alex on his first day of school.  He also had a terrific day, and loves his class and teacher.  There just isn't that much more to add about his day.  I never did ask who came closest to the number of kisses in that jar!

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? Finally a STUDENT at the bus stop, instead of the LITTLE brother!

Hammin' it up Justin (red shirt/blue back pack) watching out for Patch

Using scissors, v-e-r-y carefully, in art class Telling Grandma on the phone all about his day

August 3, 2004

And so it begins.  Ya know, Alex and I were marveling recently that none of us had been sick at all this summer - nuthin.  And here we are, on the second day of school, and I've made my second trip to the pediatrician in two days, and Alex is home sick from school.  He woke me up at the crack of dawn, saying his throat hurt and he couldn't swallow.  Within an hour he was coughing and sniffling.  So off we went for the strep culture (last year it came back positive more times than not), which fortunately was negative.  I cried on the doctor's shoulder that it's only been a day and how could this happen.  She said they see this all the time - he probably caught it at the open house on Friday.  Lovely.  The upside is that he and I got some nice quiet time, just the two of us, which I don't think we had all summer.  But, still - SHOOT ME NOW!

August 4, 2004

Ahhhhhhhhhh.  Both children went to school today - and stayed at school today.  The "stayed" part is important, because when they got on the bus this morning, neither one of them was looking too good.  I was especially nervous because it's the first time I've sent Patrick to "big" school with asthma symptoms.  But they did fine, and I enjoyed every minute of it!

Patrick's teacher called me this afternoon (returning my call). The first thing she said was, "I learned today that Patrick is going to challenge me this year."  My first reaction was, "Oh no!  What did he do?!"  Turns out she meant to challenge in a good way.  They were doing some activity today and I can't remember exactly how he said it, but basically he said he was glad they were doing this because up until now he's been pretty bored.  She also marveled that he was reading things around the room to her, and that his vocabulary is as big as it is.  Dat's my boy!

Cuddle time

August 5, 2004

We had Curriculum Night tonight, which is when the parents go to the classrooms and find out what to expect for the year.  I'm so excited about their classes.  Both teachers have behavior charts that stress choices and rewards, the classes are small (16 and 17 kids), and the teachers adore the children.  And somehow this evening, my volunteer calendar has filled up!  Imagine that!

August 6, 2004

Shoot me, shoot me, shoot me!  Alex woke me up before dawn saying he thought he was going to throw up.  (No words will get a parent out of bed faster!)  So he laid on the couch with a bowl nibbling crackers while Patch got ready for school.  At bus time, Alex still looked green (but was doing fine with the crackers).  By 10:00 he was hungry and was playing on his own, looking fine.  By 12:00 Mark, Alex and I had a nice lunch and Alex was cracking jokes.  He happily let me take him to school, and he's been fine ever since.  Goodness, I don't know what to make of that kid!

August 7, 2004

So much for resting up over the weekend!  Jacob had a pool party at his house for his birthday, and the kids swam almost non-stop for four hours!  After that party, I went across the street for a baby shower for an old neighbor.  It started pouring during the shower, and when I opened their door to head home, there were my three boys, splashing like lunatics in the rain!

Wet pants are hard to keep up!  LOL Get Daddy!

August 8, 2004

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Mom and Dad came over this evening to celebrate Mom's birthday and we had a wonderful visit.  Alex played a song on the guitar for them, and Patch played Happy Birthday on the piano while we sang to Mom.  What a nice way to end the weekend!

When she's awake, she's hyper, but when she sleeps, she knows how to do it! Alex frosting the cake

Patch teaching Dad about Yu-Gi-Oh cards Mini-recital

H a P p Y      B i R t H d A y     T o    Y-O-U!!!! Note that he frosted the ENTIRE plate!

Patch read a story to Grandma

August 9, 2004

Patch played his guitar for show-and-tell in his classroom today!

Playing Yankee Doodle

August 10, 2004

We had a glimpse of a breeze this evening, so we went outside to do homework and practice guitar.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Alex had to make a family tree for his homework tonight.

August 11, 2004

Alex's class had a parent writing activity this morning.  It's so nice to spend time in the classroom and also to meet the other parents.

My goofball

August 12, 2004

I've been gone most of the day doing closings, oblivious to the outside world as I listened to my book-on-tape.  When I got home this evening, I learned that Hurricane Charley is heading our way!  Yikes!  Mike, KC and their families are evacuating since the Tampa/St. Pete area is right where Charley is expected to make landfall, and Mark's parents might be coming to stay with us if the River is evacuated.  My aunt is on her way to stay with my parents.  Schools are closed tomorrow as well.  Ack!  It's been such a busy couple of weeks since school started that the house and yard are in shambles.  Not only are we not ready for visitors, but we also need to prepare the yard for high winds.  Guess I'll be busy tomorrow!

August 13, 2004

morning:  I did a closing about two hours away this morning, and decided to stop at Wal-Mart on the way home.  While I was shopping, Mark called and said his parents are coming over.  Then Mom called on my cell phone and asked if I was safe because feeder bands from the hurricane are starting to hit.  Just as we were talking, the metal roof of the store erupted with the sounds of torrential rains beating down on it.  I had been taking my time, enjoying having the time to do some leisurely shopping.  It seems that everyone in the store picked up the pace and the atmosphere became anxious, and the reality started to set in:  Charley is on his way.

afternoon:  The kids are loving having a hurricane on the way.  They get the day off from school and Nana and Papa are coming to visit!  Mark's parents got here as I was getting home from the store.  Thank God for Mark's mom - she channeled my tension into productivity and we got things ready for whatever might come.  Then we settled in front of the television and watched the weather reports.

evening:  Charley made a course change and made landfall south of Tampa, so fortunately Mike's and KC's homes appear to be safe.  But it looks like we are directly in it's path.  When it hit land, it was a category 4 storm.  Gulp.  We've done everything we can to get ready, and it's hard to just sit around waiting for the storm to hit.  Dave and Sonja came over with Sara for awhile, feeling the same way.  Tick, tock, tick, tock.

night:  Wow!  Charley came through at about 8:00 - what a spectacular storm!  Mark and I kept peeking out the back door as trees bent, power lines flashed and the fence came down section by section.  The boys' club house flattened early on - no surprise there.  At times the glass doors seemed to bow a bit, and branches and heaven knows what else kept flying against the front windows.  We discovered those windows need some caulk when water started seeping in under them, as well as the front door.  We lost power at about 9:00 so we hung out by candlelight in the living room.  Having Mark's parents here made things more like a family adventure. Patch seemed fine with the storm and even played some guitar for us.  Alex was pretty nervous and was attached to either Mark or me at all times.  Once the storm passed, we went outside to check things out.  There are branches everywhere, but it's hard to see anything else.  I can't wait until morning to see what's happened!

Sara was coaching Nana on how to play Uno Hurricane entertainment

Hail, hail, the gang's all here!

August 14, 2004

Since the power was out, we slept with the windows open, and I woke up this morning to Patch coughing up a lung with an asthma attack.  This is normally no big deal, but with no power we can't run the nebulizer.  Fortunately, his back-up inhaler worked just fine, although that's the first time we've used it for that kind of attack.  Whew.  First hurdle jumped.  We went outside and met the neighbors checking things out.  The yards are littered with shingles and branches, and we could see a few trees down, but the immediate neighbors are safe and sound.  It seemed odd to see the morning newspaper faithfully in our driveway, almost as if nothing had happened.  The kids couldn't wait to see their friends and soon the house was full of children sharing their storm stories.

The next hurdle was breakfast.  Fortunately, we're seasoned campers.  ;-)  Mark had water boiling on the grill for coffee first thing, and Mark's mom and I made French toast on the grill.  It was the best breakfast ever!  Ironically, Mark's parents' house was completely untouched, so they headed back home.  Mark went out and worked with the neighbors starting to clean up while I had kid duty and indoor clean-up.

The neighborhood had quite a bit of damage, and we're feeling very lucky.  We only had a small amount of roof damage, which we can fix ourselves.  Most homes are missing a lot of shingles and there are several trees down.  I haven't seen any trees on houses yet, but I'm sure we will.  Fences are down and pool screen enclosures are crumpled like paper balls.  And of course, nobody has power or phones, and cell phone service is sporadic at best.

The kids obviously went to bed very late last night, and Patch has had a pretty rough day.  He knocked heads with another kid while at a neighbor's house and got a pretty bad fat upper lip.  He's been on the verge of losing his first tooth for a week or so, and it's been bothering the heck out of him, but of course, it didn't come out when he hit his mouth.  This afternoon they were playing frisbee and he got hit in the bottom lip on the opposite side of his mouth, and got another fat lip - yet the tooth held on.  The poor kid looks like Sylvester Stalone in Rocky.  His entire mouth was bothering the heck out of him, so Mark took him out on the back porch with my sewing kit and tied some thread to the loose tooth, and after a few tries, they managed to pull the darned thing out!  He was so thrilled he forgot about his fat lips.

We heard from my parents and they are well, although they are without power and water.  Ugh.  My aunt is very concerned about her house, which is on an island right where the hurricane made landfall.

With everybody's food without refrigeration, we had a big cookout in the front yards and grilled up a feast for dinner.  Alex wanted to know if we were going to shoot off fireworks, since it was just like the Fourth of July celebrations.  I just love that our neighborhood can turn a natural disaster into a party!

Our friend, Tony, with his downed tree A bare roof

Those checkerboard roofs are all missing shingles Grendel loves all of the open doors and keeps escaping!

Master chef The next Rocky Balboa, showing off his missing bottom tooth, which you can't see because of the fat bottom lip!

Boudreaux really wanted to join in the feast My crazy boys

A downed palm tree is a natural playground! Mark is just one of the kids, riding on the cart down the driveway

August 15, 2004

We woke up again without power.  And it's not fun anymore.  Mark spent the day again helping neighbors put tarps on roofs and cut up downed trees.  We've gotten most of our yard cleaned up, and the inside of the house is starting to get pretty gross!  What I'd give for a vacuum and a washer/dryer!  I cleaned out both refrigerators and threw out two huge trash bags of food.  :-(  Becca and John were angels of mercy and appeared on our doorstep with supplies - lanterns, fresh water, a cooler full of ice (almost impossible to find right now), and a portable television.  I almost cried!  They invited us over for some A/C and hot showers.  Our cell phones started working this afternoon and I had 13 messages!  After touching base with everybody, the kids and I headed over to Becca's with laundry in tow.  Mark wanted to stay at the house in case the power came back on.  We meandered a little on the way to her house and checked out the damage in the area.  It's quite impressive, and again I feel so very fortunate.  Trees are down everywhere, signs are twisted, roads impassable.  I automatically looked up at an intersection to see if the light was green.  My first reaction was, duh, there's no power, but then I realized the light wasn't just out, it was gone completely.  Most gas stations don't have power to run the pumps, and most others don't have any gas because the trucks can't get there to deliver the gas.  The few that do have gas have long lines and police officers directing the traffic in and out.

Becca's house was an oasis, and after throwing in a load of laundry, we went out for dinner, and then back to her house to watch the Olympics (we've been missing it!) and let the kids be wild together.  When I put the second load of laundry in, Mark called and said WE HAVE POWER!!!!!!!  I hope Becca wasn't offended at how quickly we loaded up the car and headed for home!

Grendel can take a perfectly made bed and still manage to end up on the sheets! The first pile of trash after the storm

August 16, 2004

I never thought I'd be so happy to clean my house!  My poor parents are still without power, although at least they now have water.  My aunt got word that her house is still standing and apparently in good shape, so that's a huge relief.  Mom and Dad came over this afternoon for a respite from the heat and a hot shower.  All schools in the area are closed for today and tomorrow while they assess the damage.  Our next problem seems to be garbage.  We don't know when pick-ups will resume, and we're getting buried in smelly trash!

August 17, 2004

We've had a house full of people all day.  The silver lining of the storm is all of the visiting that has resulted.  The boys' friend, Anthony, and his mom came over for the afternoon, since they still don't have power.  I started a jigsaw puzzle and Mom and my aunt came over and we all worked on the puzzle, watched the Olympics and enjoyed the A/C.  We heard the blessed sound of the garbage truck, which took a load off our minds.  Nyuk, nyuk.  We got news that the schools are closed for the rest of the week, which started a buzz from all of the parents about what to do with their kids while they work.  Since I'll be home, all of the kids will come here.  I feel like we were spared from the storm damage, and I'm so glad to be able to help out people who have more to deal with than I do.

August 18, 2004

Well, I ain't as young as I used to be!  I've had six kids at my house all day, and I'm exhausted!  Fortunately, the kids are all wonderful children, and we got through the day without any burnt bridges or trips to the ER.  When I was feeding the mice, I realized that we currently have a litter of six, and I had six children here, so I gave each kid a baby mouse to play with.  You would have thought I'd given them gold!  The boys went into Patrick's room and put the mice on the Hot Wheels race track to see if they'd race.  LOL - they can't even walk or see yet!  As everyone was picking up their kids this afternoon, we all agreed that if the schools are closed again on Monday, we're dropping our kids off anyway!  ;-)

My cousins drove down from Michigan and picked up my aunt and went on to her house to pick up the pieces.  They left a generator with my parents so they had some precious power.  And wouldn't you know, their power came back on a few hours later.  Woohoo!  We're getting there!

Trying to get the baby mice to race.

August 19, 2004

The crowd of children was down to five today, but I can't say that it was any easier to manage.  LOL  There's nothing like a bunch of 7-year-olds who all think he or she should be the boss!  Calgon, take me away!

Alex helping Daddy with a puzzle.  (hmmm - did I get that right?)

August 20, 2004

A couple of years ago I put Patrick in what was supposed to be a gymnastics class.  They really didn't do anything more than he was doing around the house, and he didn't get much out of it.  I've discovered a gym close by that teaches the real deal, and Patch had his first class today.  The timing has worked out perfectly with the Olympics right now.  When I first mentioned gymnastics to him a couple of weeks ago, he wasn't interested and thought it was boring.  After watching it on television, he's been excited.  I was very relieved when he got to do almost all of the equipment he's been seeing on the Olympics, and he was THRILLED!

The first thing they did was run around as part of their warm up.  I wanted to crawl in a hole when I saw Patch running around smacking all of the other children on the back.  After a few minutes, though, it became apparent that they were playing freeze tag, and Patch was "it."  LOL  I managed to get a couple of pictures that weren't blurs!

Going over the vault Learning proper form on the rings

August 23-29, 2004

The kids have been back in school this week (yea!), and the hectic schedule has resumed as well.  This week I've spent my normal two days helping at the school, carted kids to and from music and sports, painted my living room (just thought I'd throw that in the mix, since I wasn't doing anything else), attended a school meeting one evening and did two closings, all while fighting a cold, and with Mark out of town for a few days.  I am woman - hear me roar!

The boys' friend, Justin, takes piano from the same teacher, so they were playing duets! Justin and Patch

For bedtime stories these days, Alex reads his chapter books while Patch reads to ME! Mark and our neighbor have been rebuilding the fence in our back yard

The boys are rebuilding all of their Bionicles, and trashing the playroom in the process!

I've been carrying my camera in the car and took some pictures of the hurricane damage in our area.

About 5 miles from our house This is at the entrance to our subdivision

This is an old house that was crushed by a tree - just 3 miles away! These roofs are a tangled mess - again just 3 miles away