Saturday, March 28, 2009

When it rains, it pours...

I mean this both literally and metaphorically. The weather today sucks! The temps have dropped continuously throughout the day, it has rained steadily most of the day, and in fact has poured heavily at times. We have had lightening and thunder so loud that the walls and windows have shaken with the repercussions of it! As the evening wears on the rain is supposed to turn to snow, with snow a given after midnight. There is a prediction that St. Louis will see anywhere from 3-8" of snow, and we are up for ???? (I have heard anything from a dusting to 6 inches). It won't last long. The weather pundits say that the temps will be back in the 60's on Monday and everything will melt. It's just getting through the next 36-48 hours.

We are also having vehicle issues and have laid down the law that neither the van nor the crx are leaving the property until repaired. It took borrowing tools from the auto repair shop we use to get the lug nuts loosened enough to remove the flat tire, and once the spare was on, we discovered the front passenger tire was starting to split. Not safe to drive on, especially in this weather! The auto repair shop is getting 4 tires for us to replace the ones on it, and should have them in Monday. I have to work from 10 - 2 on Sunday so I am glad that Eric will be home from work and sleeping so I can take the Pilot back and forth. Unfortunately that means no church though. I had asked to work afternoons on Saturdays and Sundays, but I will take what I am given for the moment, just to have some hours. I also work 10 - 2 on Tuesday and 8:30 - 12:30 on Wednesday. We will need to juggle some things to figure out how we are going to get Brianne back and forth to work for 6 am at least on Monday when Eric doesn't generally get home from work until 7 a.m., provided she is even on the schedule. In calling in sick last week with her UTI she got taken off the schedule for the remainder of the week! I am not sure I understand that, but that's what they did.

I was a bit discouraged to find out how much it is going to cost to put in the paverstone patio in the front of the house (which will probably be double that when we get to the back yard...). I hadn't taken into account the cost of some of the prep materials we will need, and when I got prices on all of it, it basically doubled my estimate and added on a bit. We don't want to cut corners as we want it to look nice, and to last, but wow. I didn't realize we would need to lay down as deep a base as we will (they say 4-6 inches of crushed stone, topped by an inch of sand, then lay the pavers). When Jim and I did it back in Minneapolis, we just cleared the area, spread a sand base, and laid down the stone. It has held up for the better part of 15-20 years without issue, although some of the stones are now starting to crumble a bit due to weather and aging, but still. We aren't giving up on doing it, but it will probably be a bit longer before we can start than I had hoped it would be. On the plus side, he really liked the same paver I did, and we also agreed on a layout that would flatter it. We also got a magazine (free) put out by the paver manufactorer that had worksheets for how much of each needs to be bought (paverstones, sand, crushed rock), and clear instructions as to how to DIY. I would say we could do it in a long weekend once we are prepared. We just need to be prepared to do it!

It's really quiet around here today. Rei is at a friend's from the bowling alley til tomorrow afternoon, Brianne went out with friends last night and isn't sure when she'll be home (no vehicle available to go pick her up); Cliff has gone to work, Patrick is getting ready to go to a birthday party, and Aurora is cuddled in her quilt reading a book. Gonna be just her and I home tonight when all is said and done as Cliff works til close I believe, Patrick will be home around 11:30, and who know's what Brie's plans are. It's a good day for coccooning in! I may play some Everquest tonight, or I may just watch tv and stitch. Not sure which sounds the most appealing right now. Unfortunately I had NOT slept well last night, was up early this morning, and laid down and napped with Eric for a couple of hours this afternoon when he got home from school. (I hadn't planned necessarily to sleep, but I guess I needed it). He is now off to work, and NOT looking forward to patrolling in the rain, sleet, and snow tonight. Yuck!

I wanted to say a quick thanks to my friend Erika. She arranged for Tony and Andrea to have a nice night away at the casino in Prior Lake, and even upgraded the room to their best suite in the hotel! The room they stayed in is housing Jay Leno tonight! They had a fantastic time and it was so nice for them to have a night away from being parents and enjoying each other. It made me happy to know they had fun.

I am torn at the moment between making a margarita or making a big cup of herb tea, and just cuddling in myself for the remainder of this dreary day! Maybe I will start with tea, then have a cocktail later on (lol). It's just that kind of night!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bits and bobs of things, without rhyme nor reason.

I have a headache today, maybe sinus, maybe migraine. Blech. I took something about 20 mins ago and am hoping it helps soon. We are under a change in weather with the risk of storms off and on today so it could be either, or both.

The van has a flat tire on it. Yesterday it was really low and I put air in it, and was able to drive on it, but it went totally flat in the night. I am not sure how Eric is gonna change it as it was put on using an air socket wrench at the station, and the last time this tire went flat was on the freeway in IA between here and MN. The van is driving really crappy right now. Has a terrible vibration in the front end, and gets worse the higher the speeds are. In talking to my favorite mechanic people the consensus is that the front end probably "hit" something, a curb maybe, and that the tire, tie rod, or axle may be bent. That is what it feels like to me, but I will be honest, I have been scared the front tires were gonna fall off going 65-70 (even though I have been assured that that probably won't happen) and I have taken to driving the back roads (max speed 55) when I can just because it feels more managable. Regardless, we need to get that looked at. So with the van only going where it is absolutely necessary to go to and the CRX not being driven until the brakes get dealt with, that leaves the Pilot for doing misc. running in. Sooooooo tired of broken vehicles!

Eric has survived part one of his hell week; by bedtime last night he was running on 40+ hours without sleep, but he was functioning. He slept like the dead last night and seems to be in good shape today! He has Saturday yet to do in a similar manner: work til 6 am, go to school from 9 til noon, and then come home and sleep so he can work Saturday night and Sunday night. But then he has his lighter week to deal with next week. Not sure what we have on the agenda for today, but I am thinking I would like to go browsing at Lowe's...

I sent an email to Rei's science teacher about the grades on his two projects (the ones we were pinning our hopes on to bring his grade up to passing); he got a ZERO posted on his one project where he had to draw out an invention using 5 simple machines, and there was extra credit if it was built. She did apologize to me for the zero and said she "meant to give him 40 point", the max plus extra credit. She was very defensive in tone in the email though, and it sounded like on the other project/assignment, which I thought he had done well on (but only got 70% on, which is a D), was because he hadn't handed in project components on it previously (and had already gotten zeros on those). I feel, quite honestly, like he was double jeapardized on them, and am eagerly awaiting review of the "evaluation" of his project to see exactly where he lost points. I know he hadn't handed in the components as he went along, because he didn't understand how to do them, so didn't, and asked for help as he came to the final project because he wanted to do it right. The thing that REALLY angers me also though is that the teacher YELLED at him, in class, for my having emailed her... But if I hadn't would she have corrected her error in his grade? And I want her to know that I am keeping up on his grades and his homework issues. Rei was really frustrated when he got home yesterday, because he sat with me when I wrote the email and he knew exactly what I had said to her. I am thinking I need to follow up with the special ed teacher for more info, even though I really detest triangulating. Bottom line is I am clueless as to whether Rei will pass most of his classes this term, and I am suspecting he won't, although he is doing quite well in a few.

Patrick we are also concerned about. School really hasn't seemed to be a priority for him either, despite our trying to stay on top of him too. We have really tried especially hard to help him find a balance between freedom and school stuff, and so far we have not acheived it. We had another long conversation with him last night, but we aren't sure if this term has again been a bust. He started out rocky, we thought he pulled some of it together, but we are not sure... He understands that at 17 we are giving some of the responsibility back to him, but that we support him and are concerned. Parenting is so hard sometimes!

Brie and Cliff continue to hold us hostage on a roller-coaster of emotions and attitudes. It is becoming harder and harder to remain supportive and neutral in this situation, because the pendulum swings to each side, without landing on middle ground. Both are being unreasonable on one level or another, and neither is giving an inch (for kids who are supposedly almost full adults they are remarkably concrete operational in their thinking!).

Aurora is doing fine, grade-wise and otherwise. She has a track meet tonight at 4 that Eric is planning to be at, and because the Tuesday one was cancelled due to torrential rains, tonight's might be a fairly big meet. She seems to be enjoying running, and loves her new running shoes. It has been so fun to see her hanging out with one of her girlfriends lately (having her come over) and she spends some "girl-time" with Kimmie too (Rei's girlfriend). Aurora seems happier and more outgoing/settled than she was when I first moved down here and it makes me/us very happy to see.

I have to go to a party tonight at work for the wrap-up on the store setup. It opens tomorrow. I need to double check the schedule because I had initially been told I wasn't working, but we'll see. I need next week's schedule too. Yesterday I spent time draping fabrics, which I loved, and colorizing one of the quilting walls with solid quilter's cottons. I had been trained the previous evening on the features of the sewing machines we carry and will be selling (Singer brand) and I am sorta interested in some of the features of the "top of the line" one we carry--it's a $900 machine, and we don't get a discount on it, but it *may* in some regards be an upgrade to my 10 year old machine (although in other ways it's really not). I would love to try it out to put it through it's paces; I hope we will set up a demo table where we can try it/show it to customers. I know for me, if I am paying big money for a machine, I want to see it in action before I lay out my hard earned dollars. Still, I feel fairly confident I understand the pros and cons of the various models we carry and can discuss them intelligently with the "guests". I am so very excited for the store's opening: there are things they carry that I will use for sure that I haven't seen other places!

On the Minneapolis front, the "babies" (although in reality Miss Alexis is a toddler and Justin is a preschooler) are still talking about their time in Mascoutah, and Andrea called me to today to ask me why we "taught" Alexis to say "No" to everything, heeheehee. I said that it sounds like normal almost 2 to me, and she laughed too--said Alexis is saying NO to things, then looking for your response to it, and it's adorable. Probably not for long though! Liisa is applying for an assistant general manager position at a Marriott in her chain; she got the blessing of her current GM, who said she would be fantastic in the position, and the GM at the hotel she'e be going to is the one who told her about the opening and encouraged her to apply. She is very excited, and I hope she gets it!

Eric wants me online in our Everquest world for some quality playing time, so I guess I will wrap this up here. We are doing fine, and eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I feel like I am living in a wind tunnel!

Today is a cloudy and overcast day, and since yesterday, has been one of the windiest I have ever experienced! As I sit here on the bed, with the window open about 10" all I hear is it howling as it races past, and the tumble of things like plastic bottles bumping the curb as the wind kicks it down the street... I's amazing to me how forceful it sounds, and yesterday afternoon I had the catalogue ripped right out of my hands as it blew past me! There was no way I was going to try stitching when it took all my concentration to just keep the pages in place in the magazine I was paging through! In some regards it makes me smile though. In MN it would howl like this sometimes at night as it raced up and down the river valley just a couple of blocks away. Sounds familiar, even if it is far stronger than I have previously experienced.

I went onto Liisa's facebook page and "stole" a few pictures from her that I could put on my blog. Jesse had taken her, fresh out of bed, outside to the beach to watch the sunrise. She got some amazing pictures of the beach at dawn, with the seagulls flying, so I wanted to include at least one of those shots; that's Liisa walking along the beach with the sunrise and seagulls behind her.
I love the way everything is reflected! Then there is the shot of her ring, and look how she glows! I am so thrilled!

Lastly, I wanted to include a picture of the travellers who showed up for beds and breakfast at my house on Sunday morning: Liisa rode in the middle of the front bench seat between the two guys, and said it was a loooooooonnnnngggg ride back! They took about 12 hours to get back to Minnesota from here because they made a few stops along the way, just to get out and stretch, and they also got pulled over in Iowa City for going 5 mph over the speed limit, as well as having too dark a tint on the windows. The officer just gave them a warning rather than a ticket, but Liisa had to be a brat and call me and ask if I could "come bail them out of jail"! Eric was of the opinion the officer was just curious about the hearse. That made sense to me. Jesse is holding his certificate in the photo that went along with his prize money for making the trip.

It was nice that Jesse was here when he was. He checked out the CRX for us and verified that there are indeed issues with the brakes on it, and that it needs to be repaired yet again. We are not happy about this state of affairs, because it really means juggling of vehicles for us between everyone's work schedule and Eric's classes. I have to go in to work for an hour or so tonight to complete yet another training I hadn't gotten, so I will need to drive the kids to bowling (Brie and Cliff), and pick them up on my way home. Then I work tomorrow from 8-12 and Eric works overnight again tonight, and has class tomorrow morning after work (he is in class as I type this too, after working all last night, so he has not been home yet!). Brianne has to work tomorrow too, so my guess is Cliff will need to drive her to work, so I can have the van for my shift. then I will hang out at the mall or something, so I can bring Brie home after she gets off at 2. All this logistical planning makes my head hurt!

I need to call and get an appointment set up for Brianne at the clinic in a bit. She may have a UTI. She called in to work today, and is sleeping at the moment, but is showing classic symptoms. She was up most of the night. She is curled up in Aurora's bed at the moment, and Cliff is on the futon in the loft! I know he was in my room at 5 am getting the green machine, so I am not sure what got soiled in his room... Patrick and Rei continue to push limits a bit on homework and grades; the term ends Friday and I am getting nervous as to whether or not they are going to pass. I was disappointed to see Rei's science report only got 71 out of 100 on it; I thought he did a nice job on it, and I know the report itself looked good, because I typed if up for him while he sat beside me and we talked it through. He had all the components in it it was supposed to have, because we followed the outline on it completely (I typed it, but did NOT write it for him--he just gets really frustrated typing, and I don't mind doing it for any of the kids!). Still have not seen his grade for the "invention" he and Tony designed and made. I had really been pinning my hopes on those two items helping to significantly boost his grade. I know they need to fight their own battles, and that the grades are a reflection of them, and not us as parents, but still, it is so very frustrating, because they are both such bright young men! Aurora is doing fine scholastically, and she is enjoying track this year as well. She has a meet tonight and Thursday night after school, and she hopes Eric can at least make the Thursday one.

I am sending out prayers and big hugs to Vera (Eric's sister-in-law), because she is having surgery tommorow to repair her rotator cup. If you could also send out good thoughts, it would be appreciated! I think that is all I have had on my mind today! Have a good Tuesday!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Exciting news!

I will probably post more later on, but for the moment I would like to say it has been an exciting 24 hours! Liisa called and woke me up at 7:15 yesterday morning to say that her and Jesse are engaged--he proposed at 6:15 a.m. CST, on the beach in Myrtle Beach, at sunrise, near intercoastal waters, and she said yes! Then they went to the car show, where he won $500 for travelling the furthest distance to enter, and this morning showed up at my front door (around 5:45 a.m.) to "say hi" and crash for a few hours before continuing on to Minneapolis! It was like "wow! Where do we put them?" because Aurora had 2 girlfriends here sleeping on the futon in the loft (after an evening at the library watching "Twilight" at the release party held there), and Cliff brought 2 friends over after work, who were crashed in the living room! Then we remembered the boy's room was open, because Patrick was at a friend's overnight, and Reimond was at a different friend's house overnight as well! So we found extra blankets and pillows for the three of them--Liisa, Jesse, and Jesse's good buddy Jeremiah, and they bunked down in there. Guess we won't be headed to church this morning! Eric and Patrick (who came home for 8 thinking we were going) headed to go pick up Rei, and get a few groceries, while I am finishing a second cup of coffee and headed to pick up the kitchen so we can make a mega-breakfast for 14 (??!!??!).

And I wonder what my neighbors are thinking about the hearse parked out front with the vanity plates that read "6ftUNDR"????

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy First Day of Spring!

I was told last night I don't need to work on Saturday, so I now have the full weekend off. Eric is at work today so we won't be focusing on the yard, but I know I have things still to do around the house, and I have books to return to the library. Patrick is home today too. He has a miserable cold that he came down with earlier in the week. He came home from school yesterday and went straight to bed, where he has basically stayed since then. I double checked that he didn't have homework or tests due today, and since he didn't, figured it won't hurt him to rest today to feel better. It sucks to be sick, especially when it is so nice out!

Brianne also has the weekend off (today through Sunday) and I sure hope she gets cracking on her room. Once again it is uninhabitable, and she has been sleeping everywhere BUT her own bed. This is a picture Aurora took of her tossing a green ball in her partially painted green room, wearing her "St. Patrick's Day" tee-shirt... As you can see, it's going to be quite green. It's a cross between an apple green and a grass green, with a hint of lime thrown in... Kiwi green is the closest I can come to describe it. It's bright and cheerful though and she loves it. Now if she would just finish it up! I am just happy seeing color on the walls. Aurora is eager to do hers now, as she has helped Brie to paint in that room, and the boys too would like something other than stark white. Eric has said yes, yes, and yes, but... one room at a time.

Other than that things are pretty status quo for us at the moment, and for that I give thanks. It's nice to have a routine and stick to it!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blue skies and sunshine!

It's a beautiful day again today, albeit a little chiller than the past few days, only around 51 degrees. I was out running around with no coat and wearing capris. I have to admit, I like the weather down here! I am hoping to get back outside for a bit after I finish up some things inside.

I love the base pharmacy, and I hate it too. I love that it's free, and that it's nearby. I hate the wait. Rei's med needed refilling and it became (once again) an all day process. Because it's a controlled substance, they make me pick up the rx at the clinic, where I have to show my ID and sign for it. Just for a paper prescription! That's a 20-30 minute drive each way. Then I head to the satellite pharmacy on base to get it filled. You take a number and wait. Then you turn in the rx and you wait. Today they at least told me it would be about 45 mins or more to fill it, so I ran over to the BX and wandered around/window-shopped (saw some adorable sandals, but they were $25, and of course drooled over the coach purses--my oldest brat now has 2 of them to my 1 designer fake...). Got back to the pharmacy and again waited in line just to pick it up. Started my trip at 10:45 and got home at 2:30. Wow!

I looked at patio paver stones at the BX while I was there (no sales taxes if purchased on post) and discovered that the ones I like are 16" square versus the 12" Eric and I had been thinking they would be, so I will refigure what it might run (ballpark figure) to do the "front porch" area first; the plain pavers which we would use for lining the driveway are significantly cheaper, so I am not as concerned about those. They also had some lovely rosebushes on sale this week, and while I didn't get any today, I filed it away for talking to Eric about. The other goal for this spring is to get at least one tree for the back yard, and a lilac bush. When we used my gift card from the youth bowling league for lunch on Tuesday we spent some time doing a rough sketch of where we might put them and I am so looking forward to having shade eventually in the back yard!

Eric is working an overtime shift tomorrow, then will have the weekend off. He returns to overnights on Monday (boooo!) so we will be readjusting our sleep schedules yet again. I really like the early to bed-early to rise gig. Makes it seem like I have so much more time to get things done! Ultimately I will take it as it comes though. I may have my hours cut on Saturday due to them having pretty much used up the store setup budget up, and am clueless as to what I might work next week. They are having a "customer walk-through" tomorrow with one of the company VPs and other staff to review all that has been done, and last night I went to a training for using things at/around the cutting table. Most of it was review for me, but meh, I got paid for being there. If all goes according to plan we will be having a "soft opening" beginning March 27th, with the grand opening later in April. I have to admit, it's kind of exciting to be on the ground floor of a new store opening. Seeing all the products come in, everything all bright and fresh and new... I do like that alot!

Tony says his kids are missing us down here. Alexis keeps telling everyone "Pekeiko is upstairs" (Aurora's cat), and telling Max (Liisa's dog) to "back up!" Justin told me on the phone he needs me to come to his house now, or he can come back to mine. As much as I loved having them here though, it's nice to have things a little quieter now. Speaking of quiet, the kids are all getting home from school, so I guess it's time for me to start running again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What a beautiful day! Oh, and Happy St Patrick's Day!

I couldn't tell you exactly what the temp is outside, but I got home from work all sore and worn out, made a sandwich, grabbed a beer (medicinal purposes--heehee), and sat outside on my swing in the sunshine. Eric got home from class, did the same, and joined me. We have decided we are going to use paver stones in the front of the house to extend the porch area where the swing sits, as well as to line either side of the driveway and the walking path from the driveway to the sidewalk near the house. Then we will put in gardens and so forth. We took measurements today though so we can price out the paver stones, and figure out how many we need. I am very excited about this! We are considering putting a "rail" of some sort around the extended porch area to add to the feel of it being an enclosed space, but we won't do it all at once. A little at a time as we can swing it! It's really nice to dream!

Eric has bowling tonight, as does Cliff and Brie. I would like to go to the alley too, but think I will stay home--chores to catch up on. Seems like it never ends! I have to admit, it has been nice to have Tony and Liisa come visit; they have actually helped with chores down here (unlike the olden days in my old house, heehee). I got a cute text message from Andrea that said "Justin misses you!". I miss them too. Today would have been perfect for going to the park, or just playing outside in the sunshine. Or, as I told Eric, going for a ride on his motorcycle. We need to contact Hawaii about the title and registration so we can get it licensed here.

So far the kids are staying on top of assignments for school; we have our fingers crossed that the grades will be passing! Things feel peaceful on the teen drama fronts for the moment, but like being in the hurricanes eye, that can change with the wind. I am not sure what I will have for hours next week: apparently we have very few hours left available for store setup, and I have worked only minimally these last two weeks, but when I have been there I have worked my butt off! I hefted so many bolts of fabric today my fingers, hands, arms, and legs just ache! I am NOT used to this typed of physical labor, and while I know it is good for me to be active, I have used muscles that forgot they had muscles recently! I don't bounce back the way I used to at all!

Aurora just got home from tack practice, I guess Kimmie is coming over, and Patrick is doing homework. Eric just reminded everyone that they need to help me out with chores as they do live here too, so I guess I need to go and set the example for them all... Can't I just sit on the swing and drink another beer?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's a quiet, run of the mill Sunday.

I am feeling kinda crummy. Not soooo sick I need to stay totally in bed, but not so well that I feel like doing much of anything. I have had the chills and body aches for a couple of days now, and my nose is congested and my throat feels raw. I worked my shift yesterday (4 hours) and got through it, but it wiped me out for the rest of the night. It's probably a good thing Tony left when he did, although given Justin was sick when he got here, and Rei was getting over being sick, I was probably due. Didn't go to church today or anything. I just rested. But I am tired of laying in bed, and while both reading and cross stitching sound attractive in theory, I just don't have the energy for either.

Tony and the kids got home safely, although Justin was still trying to convince his dad about an hour before they reached Mpls that "they were reeeeeeellly lost and needed to turn around and go back to Gram's house...." Liisa, Jesse, and company also have safely landed in Myrtle Beach after a 2 day drive, for the classic car show Jesse has entered the hearse in. They have rented a beach house right on the ocean (and even got the same one they had a couple of years ago!), so Liisa was bragging to me about listening to the sounds of the ocean waves crashing from their porch. I am so jealous! I have never stayed in a beach house before (other than onces near lakes in Northern MN) and I think it would be heaven on earth to do so!

The rest of the kids here are doing ok. The teenage drama and angst, while not over, has settled to a simmer for the moment, and our focus right now is on grades and end of the term assignments to bring (male) grades up to passing. Both Rei and Patrick have not been doing so hot with keeping up on things, despite vigilance to the best of our ability, and they are "on probation" to get things to where they need to be. It's frustrating because they both could/should be doing better than they are.

Eric's classes also started this week, although he was only able to attend one of the three due to them being morning classes and him being on day shifts for this and next week. He returns to mids (overnights) on the 23rd, and then he will be able to make his all morning classes. The trade-off for that is that he will be running at times on a severe sleep deficit. His plan is to maybe crash for a few hours before (and maybe even after)class when he can at the one hospital closest to his school site. It is gonna be a hell term for him, but he sees it as do-able, and I will try to be as supportive as I can be.

The weather continues to be odd here, almost summer-like for a few days, then back to late-fall/early spring like temps... I have been scouting the garden sections at both Lowe's and Home Depot for ideas of things I want to do with the yard and garden, and I am hoping we will be able to get going on making some of those things a reality this year. I still haven't found my camera yet (the previous pictures were courtesy of Aurora's new camera), but as we accomplish things, I will try to post pictures, including one of Brie's green room!

I think I need to find some juice or tea and lie down again! Starting to feel a bit light headed and chilly. Man I hate being sick!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pictures from Tony's trip to Mascoutah:

Tony and the kids got into Mascoutah around 9:30 p.m. Sunday night, after a horrific drive through southeastern Minnesota and northeastern IA. He called me many times telling me of the cars he watched go off the road into ditches (one landing on it's roof, another slid into the bucket of the snowplow), and that the road conditions were absolutely terrible! They went through blowing snow, freezing rain, sleet, and then finally, clear dry roads as they headed south to me! I was so grateful they got here in one piece! I fed them all, and we got the babies eventually settled to bed around 11 p.m., after a quick run to Walmart for some baby ibuprofen for Justin's hurting ear (he had had a viral infection earlier the previous week and still had a cough etc).

The next day, Monday, Tony and I spent the morning waiting on faxes from Andrea as Justin continued to complain about his hurting ear, and we eventually were able to get him seen at a "minute clinic" in Walgreens, over in Fairview Heights, where they diagnosed a bad ear infection--both the inner and outer ear was infected, and he got antibiotics and drops for it. We also went to the mall, where the kids rode on a mini train (Justin was disappointed it wasn't "real big like my mall o' america!") and we literally wasted time waiting for the fax to get sent with all the medical insurance info for him. We got home a little after one, made lunch, and did naps!

Then we went outside! We found a ball, and had the swing, so we made do 'til the kids got home from school.

Then we went to the park, and what fun we had there! The park is huge, with lots to climb on, lots to run around, and lots to keep busy with! The kids loved it!

This has got to be one of my favorite pictures. I just wish I could turn it around correctly on here--it's correct in my "album" but won't upload correctly to my blog! Tony was sitting on top of this climbing wall, which is about six and a half feet off the ground, and he started yelling "help me, help me, I'm scared to get down!" and Justin ran over and said "I rescue you daddy! I catch you!" I couldn't stop laughing!

Justin got onto this bouncy rider and Aurora joined him, then daddy, then Unk Rei... He giggled uproariously as they bounced!
Justin was enamoured by all the climbing things at this park, and how high the slides were. We were blessed to have Aurora, Rei, Brie, and Cliff all there to help chase the kids (or have one at the top, one at the bottom) because things were so high up/spread out. It's a great park for kids though!
Little Miss loved the slides, and she loved romping through the tunnels. She also likes to climb, just like her dad, brother, and uncle!
Justin hopped from step to step, as Aurora and Rei chased Alexis under the bridges (she was just the right height to fit!). Boy did everyone sleep well Monday night! We stayed at the park until the rain started, then raced home to make dinner, have baths, and get ready for bed.
Tuesday was low-key for me and the kids; Tony took a road trip to Arkansas to see his "brother in arms", one of his buddy's from basic, who had been with him his entire tour--Germany, Iraq, and El Paso. He lives about 4 hours from us, and since it was "so close," Tony left at 4 am, getting up with Eric, and drove down. He got back to our house around 9:30 pm, and had had a fantastic time! They hadn't seen each other in over a year, and it was good they could reconnect with each other! In the meantime, the babies and I loaded car seats into the van and went to Target to get a few things we didn't have but needed: bubble bath and baby shampoo, a few more board books, and some toddler-sized silverware! Justin pointed out to me that I didn't have any silverware here that was small enough for him and his sister to use effectively, like I had had back in Minneapolis, so we needed to remedy that! Then we took a ride to some friend's of ours' house and borrowed some riding toys for the yard so the kids would have something to do outside.

Wednesday, Tony was excited to discover Eric had a Harley Davidson motorcycle in the garage that hadn't been ridden in years. He and Cliff took Wednesday to fix it and get it running again. Man does it sound good! Tony took Brie on her first motorcycle ride around the addition, and I cannot wait to try it out.
It's something I have really missed doing these last few years! I don't drive one myself, but I love being a passenger.
The kids loved me having a swing in the yard (thanks Auntie Jilly!), and we spent a number of hours in the yard swinging, blowing bubbles, and riding on the riding toys (as well as some in-depth conversations about airplanes, birds, dogs, and other things--as only 1.5 and 3.5 year olds can discuss....)
Wednesday also found Tony helping Reimond with his homework: he had to draw out an invention using simple mechanics to operate, and there was extra credit available if it got built! Tony and Rei went right to work and created a "machine" that will crack an egg and allow it to "drain" into a frying pan. It was very cool, and it worked! They had a ball! Then we got babies bathed and put to bed, and Tony and I met up with Eric at the bowling alley for a beer. We meandered over to a bar just outside of post and had a few more, shot some pool, and just had some fun being "adults" together. Tony was loving all the built in babysitter....
Bath time in Granpa Eric's bathroom was a big hit (and took about 30+ minutes to accomplish). We found kitchen items to make up for not having real tub toys, and they "made soup" and played 'til we were all soaked!

A cheap bottle of bubble soap made for many happy minutes of outdoor pleasure, and Justin became quite adept at blowing them! Alexis had to be watched pretty carefully as she tried to suck on the wand, and it didn't taste too good...

Our good friend "Miss Jennifer" loaned us the use of some riding toys her kids have outgrown and those added to the fun. The first few days they were here it was in the upper 70's and low 80's, although it then dropped to the upper thirties for these past couple of days. Today was mid 40's and warm in the sun, so we went out to play.

Alexis would get into one of the cars and start waving "by bye" and telling me ""Love you, later, soon!" as she pushed off with her feet. And Justin kept going "grocery shopping" for ice cream. They have such vivid imaginations, and I love listening to them play!
Justin helped me to make cookies one afternoon while Alexis napped, and he cracked me up: after licking the spoons, and having 2 (or was it 3) warm cookies, he meandered up to the island as I stood talking to Eric, hooked his fingers over the edge of it, looked right, then left, then snagged a cookie off the cooling rack and beat feet back into the living room with his prize! It was the funniest thing I have seen in a long time!

Justin found some legos in the boy's room and he made numerous "setups" for the hot wheels cars on the living room floor. He played for hours with those things! Takes after his daddy and his uncle in his love of building and constructing. He and Alexis also really enjoyed coloring, and watching cartoons, and being entertained by the big kids.

Alexis had her baby doll here, along with a small easter bunny and chick I had bought for the kids at Target; she nicked a shoebox for her baby's bed, and here she is trying to cover the baby with tissues... I did give her a dish towel for that purpose, which she really enjoyed. She found Eric's stuffed pig from Christmas, and kept calling it a cow and making it mooo, and she called Aurora "Dora" most of the time (she LOVES Dora the Explorer). Justin called Aurora "Rora". It took a little bit for Alexis to warm up to Eric as he was in and out so much, but she loved the big kids, and her and Justin were quite happy with being entertained and spoiled.
The dogs did ok with the kids; Alexis came up to the tip of Po's nose, but she stood up to him and pointed her finger in his face and said "Back up dog!" when he was in her way (she copied us telling the dogs to back away from the door when we come in the house). Midnight she was afraid of, and he growled at her a number of times, but the other two generally did fine. My cats are used to the kids and tolerated the "loving" quite well, but Pekeiko was another story (she peed in the kids duffle bag, twice! during their stay). It was fun hearing Alexis say her name tho'. She says Pekeiko clearly, but Batman is "Mattman".
Tony left today, a day and a half earlier than I had planned on; some things came up at home and he felt he needed to head back. It was really hard to see him leave, and Justin didn't want to go. (He is "my" boy and would stay with me anywhere, anytime). He told his dad he was "staying here with Gram, unk Rei and the others," and when Tony said "so your sister and I should go home to see mommy and leave you here?" he replied, "No, Lexis can stay too." He was NOT happy to leave here. I cried when they left. I have really enjoyed their being here! It was noisy, chaotic, and crazy at times; the dogs did some marking that ticked me off (not sure if it was because of the added stress or new smells, or what...), but in general it was so much fun to have them here. Tony rested and napped a bit, he did a fantastic job of cleaning up my kitchen and living room for me last night. He was a huge help to me and I loved having him here. I cannot wait until he comes back again!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Why does it always happen that....

anytime I have company expected from MN we get severe weather? I just looked at the weather report and we are under a tornado watch right now, with severe weather/thunderstorms behind it. Eric and the other kids went to church (he's reading, the kids are serving, and there is a pot luck today), and I am home with a sick Reirei who overdid things this weekend... I just talked to Tony and he is not on the road as yet, but hopes to be shortly, and I have my fingers crossed that driving isn't horrible for him. I know he's a good driver but bad weather is bad weather.

I am also ready to kill Midnight--he just went into the boy's room, lifted his leg, and peed on the dresser and newly cleaned carpet! I got out the green machine and cleaned it up already but man that ticks me off! We (Eric) worked so hard to get ahead of the mess and that is just plain infuriating! Especially since he just had been outside! I swear, sometimes I just hate animals!

I have a big agenda for myself today, so I need to get going on it pretty quickly: the kid's bathroom needs to be scrubbed down and sanitized (what a shock, no one has done it despite repeated requests!), the laundry needs to be finished, groceries need to be purchased, and the floors need to be revaccuumed and things put away. Beds then need to be made up, and a dinner of some sort started... Oh, and Rei has homework that has to be dealt with and finished up for school tomorrow. Yeah, lots to be done.

Wish us luck! Posting will probably be sporadic next week as I enjoy the company, but I will try to post pics of everything (if I can borrow a camera--mine is still missing).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another 75 degree day...

and as busy as they come. Eric took the kids to bowling this morning, and Reimond and Aurora have both apparently qualified for the next round of a scholarship tournament. They need to bowl either tomorrow at 2 pm or in 2 weeks at 2 p.m. to continue with the qualification process. While Eric was with the kids at the bowling alley, I spent the morning doing laundry and tidying things up around here, then I had to get ready for work. I cracked the whip on Reimond doing homework today, and he has more to do tonight and tomorrow. The virus he has is now moving into his sinuses and chest, with sneezing and a runny nose. Yuck! I think he has been too active too, and should have rested more, but keeping him down unless he's dying is impossible.

Work was better today in many ways than earlier in the week. I spent the afternoon putting away small pieces of jewelry making supplies and beads. Tedious work, but it gave me time to think and ponder some things rolling around in my heart. I needed that. My back and my legs are tired though from all the up and down and bending. Time to unwind for a little bit!

Brianne had drill all weekend, but she started painting her room last night, and in true Tom Saywer fashion, has Aurora (and to a lesser degree Rei and Kimmie) all helping to paint. It's a grass green, very bright. Not sure where Patrick is at the moment, or Cliff--may need to go exploring. Patrick's bike is out front so my guess is he's around here somewhere. I have talked to Tony and while he isn't on the road yet, the plan is to head this way tomorrow. I cannot wait to see him and the babies. I'm sorry Andrea has to work and can't come with, but I need time with my boy too and the babies are a bonus--I have missed them dreadfully! Erika is still planning to fly in on Monday, so I will take a train ride to go get her, maybe with the babies in tow (and Tony!). Eric is at the singles and doubles part of his tournament from last week. I haven't heard how he's doing at that, but my guess is he'll be home around 7-7:30. It looks like he made a start on putting the living room back together, but there is more to put away. I will go look into that in a bit, after I have relaxed for just a little longer.

It's so nice to have the windows open again today. I know the cool air and rain is coming, you can smell it in the air, but I have enjoyed these last few days. It'll be decent when everyone is here, and who knows, maybe it'll get above 40-50; even if it doesn't it's still warmer than MN is right now!

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's 11:30 pm and the floors are finally done!

Eric finally petered out around 9:30 p.m. so I took over and finished the last room and a half. Now we just need to let the carpets finish drying, then we can give them another vaccuuming (to get up the carpet lint raised by the steam cleaner), and put the living room furniture back. Joy of joys, the weather is forecasting rain for the weekend... Three dogs, plus rain... I hope my carpets survive! We are just going to have to be vigilant about wiping their feet or kenneling them to dry off before letting them loose.

I am so happy to have the carpets done. We had a high of 83 today, so we had windows open in every room of the house. It smells so good in here! Eric is taking the kids to bowling in the morning while I get beds made and the laundry finished, and then I need to work. Eric and I decided that whether the CRX is ready or not, we are going to pick it up and if need be, will ask Tony to throw a switch in to turn the wiperblades on and off. It won't necessarily be pretty, but it will work.

Eric is raiding on Everquest, and I am getting sleepy, so I think I am gonna read to unwind for a bit, and call it a night. Thanks for bearing with me these past few days as I have stressed over the family and stuff... I do appreciate it!

If I haven't mentioned it recently, I have a wonderful husband

who is right this moment steam-cleaning the carpets on the main floor, and who plans to continue on to the upstairs as well. I am so grateful to him, not only for the physical labor he is engaging in on his day off on my behalf, but also for putting up with my moodiness and vents of the last few days/week. He truly is a wonderful man and I am so grateful I have him. He is my sounding board, my comforter, my strength, and my best friend.

Despite being sick, Reimond made an effort and finished cleaning up the boy's room today (DO NOT GO INTO THE CLOSET however--that is where the bins etc. got put of stuff that he didn't know what else to do with!) Bless his heart, he tried hard to be helpful and I appreciate it. I went over to the school this afternoon, got his homework from these past two days, and signed him and Aurora up for their respective summer school classes. I also ran to Kohls and got some new towels and full sized sheets for the futons (we have plenty of queen sized sheets, which apparently the kids also use on their twin sized beds--go figure!), as well as a few springy type accessories to decorate the front of the house with. Made me very happy. Things are starting to come together. I am still hormonal, but between the sunshine, the almost 80 degree temperature outside, and just being out on my own for a bit did wonders for my mood and attitude.

Gotta get back to the laundry and the vaccuuming, but just wanted to post publically that I have a wonderful husband and feel very blessed!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Update: supposed to be Friday March 6, 2009!

Reimond saw the PA and he does not have strep. Instead he has a nasty viral infection that is going around and starts out with fever, sore throat, and headache, then moves into the chest with a wicked cough. His quick strep was negative though and his lungs thus far were clear. We got a doctor's note excusing him from school through Monday, although they said if he feels up to it he can go, just load him up on cough/cold meds and/or ibuprofen. Great, lets infect the school too! Anyhow, we are going to take things on a day by day basis. He obviously is sick again today. We will decide on tomorrow, based on how he is feeling, about Saturday's detention. I have the note in my purse to support this, so what can they say, and I will pick up his homework today so he has the weekend to work on it.

I rewashed my sweater and it is now on a plastic hanger in the bathroom to dry and stretch out again, hopefully not too mis-shapened. I am frustrated that when I took the van to take Rei to the doctor's office the gas gauge on the van was riding on the edge of the red zone. I put $20 in gas in it, filling it to 5/8th of a tank on Tuesday night, and it's almost empty, but I have only driven it round trip to the base, to work, and now to the clinic. There is no way that took close to over a half tank of gas. I am also frustrated that the bedrooms I had asked that EVERYTHING be picked up off the floor of (mind you I started asking last weekend, AND I gave a deadline of needing it finished by last night at bedtime) still have not been done. I am so hurt and so saddened by the blatant disrespect to me and my wishes! Part of me wants to call everyone and say "sorry, but you can't come to visit, I have no place to put you to sleep," part of me wishes I had the money to just book two hotel rooms and say "F*%k it! I'll stay here with you!" and part of me wants to take everything left on the floor, box it up, along with all video systems, computer systems, books, and other distractions and say "Fine, you want me to do it for you? Now deal with it!" I am not generally a mean or vindictive person but I am tired of being ignored and my feelings disregarded. Either this house is now mine too and I am allowed to expect help and support, or it isn't, in which case, why should I do things for everyone else? It shouldn't have to be this hard! And I don't think what I am asking is unreasonable!

So here it is, Friday, and already at 7:30 a.m. my day is shot because things are not as they should be. I am NOT happy!

Two posts in one day!

I just needed to vent a minute or two about inconsideration. I just went in to tackle my laundry room, and found that my brand new, 100% cotton, lacy cardigan sweater was thrown in the dryer and shrunk on me. I realize I have to take some responsibility: I started the load with it in there (it's machine wash, cool water, line dry), and walked away to do other things while it ran. Unfortunately, it seems every single time I start MY (or mine and Eric's) laundry, it becomes a signal that "OOOOooooo I need to do laundry too" and my stuff gets "shifted" and stuffed into baskets, sometimes still damp, and "theirs" gets done and/or left in there. That is what happened in this case I am pretty sure. I started it, left it to run, and someone else got in there before I was finished. I should have kept a better eye on the washer/dryer, but sometimes I start a load before going to bed, fully intending to finish it in the morning and that mysterious "someone else" decides to do their laundry after me... Regardless, I think I paid $30 dollars for it, (it would have cost more for me to make than I paid for it), it was a lovely shade of pale yellow, it was "springy/Easter-ish, and it went so nicely with the things I bought to wear for work. I felt professional, put together, and happy wearing it. Now it could fit Aurora, maybe, if it were longer. I am so sad! My only thought is to try re-washing it and hanging it on a hanger to dry and see if that will help stretch it back out (I have no place to really try to block it).

Why can't people be considerate and ask before they take over something, especially if they see it's in use??? Today is really sucking so far!

I've gotten behind on my posting,

but I have had a lot going on, and not much time to myself to think. Monday there was no school (some obscure Illinois holiday that shuts down things like schools), and Eric was off, so we let Monday be a play day. Eric and I played Everquest together for much of the day and evening, and it was a lot of fun.

Tuesday I had to work and we got our first big semi in with merchandise. I spent the day in the "processing area" working to sort craft items into totes so they could be taken to the area they belong in and shelved. It was back-breaking work, and I definitely am not used to such hard-core physical labor. It was actually a 4 hour shift, for which I am totally grateful: I don't know that my body could have handled that kind of abuse and quickly bounced back had it been 8 hours...

When I got home I returned a call to the Assistant Principal (she had called me regarding my email). I was so angry when I got off the phone with her I was just shaking. She made polite, non-commital responses to my concerns, she told me that "because Reimond asks" to go to the ISS room when he feels he needs less distractions in his environment, that won't be allowed ("there must be an ulterior motive for him wanting to do his work where he can't be as distracted..."); I explained that last year there was a resource room he could use when he felt himself struggling, that he could request to go to to complete his assignments (and God bless Miss Deb, she was an angel, even if he was a trial to her at times!); they have NO SUCH option here, and his choices are to suck it up and deal, or get consequences. No middle ground. She basically told me that it didn't matter to her whether his behaviors were med related or not, his consequnces stands for Saturday detention (which I assumed it would). I am so frustrated I could spit! Eric could see how upset I was and he took me out for a 2 margarita lunch, which we both needed. We also went to see his lawyer to drop off the paperwork which he signed to avoid court for today (essentially his ex is entitled to up to 21 days each summer for visitation with the kids; she had 17days last summer, and was fighting for another week... To pacify her the kids agreed to go visit her for their full vacations over Easter and Memorial weekends. 10 days to make up 4... Unbelieveable! We also had to run to St. Louis so he could pick up his credentials and his weapon as he was scheduled to work at the "other hospital" for the nonce. So we ran around, vented to each other about various things, and essentially reconnected.

Wednesday I worked again for 4 hours, this time processing and putting away acrylic paints... What a PITA! We discovered halfway through our project that the shelves had been put in with the wrong spacing, so we had to take an extra 45 minutes to re-set-up the panels, moving approximately 30 shelves up a notch each... I got a lovely blood blister/bruise on my forearm from pinching it between two shelving units... The thing I found most irritating about it was just what the management team said at our team huddle earlier that morning: You find a problem with the set up, bring it to the attention of a manager and we'll fix it right away! Don't leave it til it's partially set up, then have someone else have to fix the problem. In this case, it was clear that there wasn't enough height for the bottom shelf of products, and they should have taken care of it yesterday when there was a minimum of product on the shelves... Instead, I caught it, so I had to fix it. I think that is my biggest complaint about some of the "younger workers" today: they just don't care about doing it right--do what you are told, as sketchily as possible, and ignore doing it right... On a positive note, I spoke with the woman who will be in charge of running the classes we will be offering at Joann's and told her I had been referred to her about possibly teaching if that was needed. I shared my interests and skill-base with her and said I could teach most intro classes, as well as a few advanced ones (dependent on the subject matter; they were talking about a class for designing prom dresses to make them your own from a basic pattern. I could do it, but IF I were doing it, would prefer to do it one on one rather than in a group setting). Anyhow, she seemed interested in me and said that if I were to teach, I would get my hourly salary for the classes, PLUS 40% of the enrollment fee of each student! That sounds wonderful!

Life here at home continues to be challenging. Cliff and Brie have the household all in an uproar with their mutual drama, moping around, and verbal battles. Neither has the patience to leave the other alone to heal/make decisions/grow, and each keeps poking at the other until the rest of us also want to scream! It's impossible to even take sides because both have valid points, but mediation is NOT possible right now--neither is in a space to handle it. We are still down one car because the part needed to fix the CRX's wiperblades is non-existant. Eric finally just asked if they could rig something to the wiper motor so that we have working blades for rain. They said they'd see what they can do with that. We need another vehicle here. Rei missed confirmation last night because Eric had to work (and put in overtime at that) and Brie took the van to Bowling (and I for whatever reason, spaced out that it was Wednesday). Tony and the babies are supposed to be coming down to stay with us for a week on Saturday, so I have become a drill sargent: already told the kids that I am NOT giving permission for anyone to go anywhere until the bedrooms are clean, everything is off the floors so I can shampoo them (from the dogs), and things are baby-proofed (meaning there is a minimum of dog hair on surfaces that the babies will be playing on). My friend Erika may or may not be coming down as well during this time, so I am trying to figure out sleeping arrangements. As of now I am planning to put an inflated full sized mattress on the floor in Patrick and Rei's room for Tony and Justin, and put Alexis in her portacrib in Aurora's room (Aurora is thrilled, the boy's not so much...) and I will put Erika in the loft on the futon there. Not much for privacy, but is a bed. If she doesn't come, then Tony can choose where he'd like to sleep. What it means though is that the boys HAVE to get everything off their floor and put away! I got a huge shipping box of dirty clothes dumped in the laundry room last night from them... GGRRRRRRR!

I have been nicer this morning than I planned to be: Cliff and Dathan are sleeping in Cliff's room and I am gonna start making noise and getting them moving shortly. The living room reflects Cliff and Brianne's hanging out there over the past week, and Cliff's friends spending the night. I am so tired of clutter! Rei is home from school today with a sore throat, fever, and glands the size of marbles lining his neck. I have an appointment at 3 for him to have a throat culture done (he used to get strep all the time and that is what it looks like to me right now). Naturally I called the school and they were skeptical. I will be sure to have a note for him for tomorrow, provided he can go. I don't have a vehicle to take him in with until after Brie gets home from work so I was fortunate to get a 3 p.m. appointment with the physician's assistant.

I apologize for sounding so irritated and hormonal today. It's because I am though, so at least I'm being honest. Probably good I will be putting this energy to good use cleaning and scrubbing! I work Saturday from 1-5, so I want to have things done by Friday night, and then I don't work again until NEXT Saturday, which works out well for my havinging company arrive for the week. I want to have everything relatively done so I can enjoy my guests and not worry about major housework.

A couple last tidbits, and then I will get going on my day. My ex got laid off from his factory job early February, and applied for unemployment. I got a child support check that is half of what I usually get weekly last week, but so far this week haven't seen anything at all. This really frustrates me because, if he is to be believed (and I sorta do believe it) he is working under the table for cash as a "handyman" for his girlfriend's employer, who owns a collection of group homes, he makes really good money (he claims $26/hour) and he's (supposedly) working full time. He bragged to me that he isn't hurting at all for money but he is sure hurting me. I use that money to pay for the cell phone plan, to pay off a loan from when I had the house (for the furnance), and to pay for things Rei needs, like clothing, books, etc. I'm not sure what I should do about this situation. It just makes me sad that he cares so little for his obligations, but then, why should I expect him to change? I am also frustrated because I have been really focusing on diet and exercise this past month. During it I have lost 4 lbs and gained back three... It is so discouraging because I am generally trying so hard to be healthy and active! Eric says not to lose heart, but right now I am feeling really sad.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Chaotic Sunday...

We didn't go to church this morning as Aurora got signed up for a bowling tournament that (I was told) we needed to have her there for at 9 a.m.. Rei and Kimmie decided to go along as well to cheer her on, so off we went to the air force base. We were way early for everything! When it came time for Aurora to check in it was discovered she didn't have her bowling membership card with, so we ended up making a round trip back home to find her wallet. Got her signed in just before the tournament was scheduled to start, then sat around and waited. I sat and visited with the wife of a member of Eric's bowling league (her daughter bowls with the kids), and another family joined us as well. Aurora did very well in the initial standings of 4 games, bowling 2 - 167s, a 217, and a 183; this put her into the next round, where she bowled a 160, and she was bummed it wouldn't be enough to move on. She was wrong, and was in second place with her total score (including handicap), so she bowled in the third round, scoring a 195, and beating her competition. This put her in the final round against someone she knows, and she bowled a 190, taking first place and earning a $200 scholarship award. She is very excited, and Eric is proud (and frustrated he wasn't there to see it). It was a lot of fun to watch, and exciting that she won!

Brianne got in from OK an hour after she was supposed to because she had a layover in TN and the runways were icy. She came home wired on energy drinks and lack of sleep. It has gotten really noisy around here between Reimond, Cliff, and Brie. We got home from the bowling alley a few minutes ago and Cliff has friends over, Kimmie is here, and things are loud and wild. Gotta go see if I can slow things down a bit.