Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas

The Earl's had a very happy Christmas. Chris' mom Rosemary and her friend Ken joined us for the weekend. We had a great Christmas dinner and went to Christmas eve services. Sam and Kate made quite a haul, complete with an air hockey table, the Star Wars force trainer and a guitar and microphone.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's not a camera - it's a NIKON!!

In case you didn't read the previous the post - Kate dropped my camera on ceramic tile at great grandma's 91st birthday party - which resulted in the camera digital screen not functioning - to say Kate broke it would be inaccurate - thus the explanation of the floor actually "breaking the camera." Kate didn't "break it," she just dropped it. The hunt was on for a new digital camera as while the old one would still take photos - you couldn't SEE what you were taking a photo of - my children need their noses, ears and heads - it's hard enough to take pictures on a regular basis without wondering what you are taking photos of - enough justification for the guilt of my expenditure! My new little digital NIKON arrived in the mail today - a rare find and deal at $85 including postage, mom, from ebay - thankfully it does work too - always hesitant to buy electronics from ebay. So while I'm excited about MY new camera, which no one else will use - the children are not being cooperative in letting me take photos - but tomorrow is picture day at school, alas I will have my handy dandy NIKON ready and raring to take photos of them in their finery. It arrived just in time.

School photos - with the realization of my new 10.1 NIKON - I hesitate to spend much money on school photos - my preference is to embellish, enhance and blow up the one I take which should be much easier now too, right - so if I only order the basic package - I will have saved another $30 which would downgrade the NIKON purchase to $55 - justified! Notice I didn't say the word "camera" once.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday night activities at church

I thought it would be a great idea to volunteer as a Wednesday night teacher at church in the four year old classroom. After one night - given my current challenges, with Kate, I wondered why in the world I would volunteer to be in a room of 18 four years olds, 16 of which are girls, for two hours each week. Is it even possible to "teach" that many at one time? The funnest activities of the evening were not the craft or the snack or listening to the story, complete with puppets, it seemed to be sneaking over to turn off all three sets of lights to put everyone else in the dark and throwing the building blocks AND climbing up on top of the heat registers to jump down.

Actually the most fun was probably walking down to the gym to see a presentation by a magician, a 13 year old boy who had an impressive array of tricks and illusions!

I digress though - after hearing Kate scream in our home, you can just imagine what it sounds like to be in a room full of 16 girls and two boys. Wow. The other teacher Tom is a saint!

Literally, I took four girls and two boys down to the bathroom - remember they are four! Not all four year olds wipe themselves. I saw the youth coordinator in the hallway and said, "She wants me to go in and wipe her." The response, "It's okay, you are an adult, line them up." Okay!

Okay - that's all of the bad stuff - I found myself seriously wondering what in the world I had signed up for, I grabbed Kate's hand and hightailed it out of there faster than you could have imagined.

After thinking about it overnight, I decided God does work in mysterious ways, I have a new appreciation for my four year old daughter - in just one night, I developed an even deeper respect and appreciation for teachers, especially those who wiped Sam and Kate's bottoms while I wasn't there! I started to think about the good things that did happen - I was capable of playing a game with six four year olds at one time. I remembered how Erika said, you spell your name funny. I remembered how three of the girls fought over who could hold my hand. I remembered the pleases and thank yous I heard. I remembered the little things in the big picture. I remembered it was the first night and maybe they were a little scared and nervous too. After a bit of remembering, I started to think and plan for next week and how I would be a bit more prepared and I found myself looking forward to it. Ah, next week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Great Grandma's 91st Birthday!

Saturday, the Earl's traveled to Macon, Missouri for a surprise birthday party for Chris' grandma.

As it is the "steal of a decade," I must post Chris rented a car again, from Enterprise, for $14 per day - so we traveled in the luxury of a navy blue Ford Focus with Sirius satellite radio - we argued back and forth between eight football games, Radio Disney and CNN. Too many options I guess. Chris is very proud he secured this car and rate last weekend when he and Sam went to the Notre Dame game, this weekend for the Macon visit, next weekend to visit the Creek and another weekend for a trip to St. Louis. In my mind, this is saving us six months of car payments :)

Back to the visit - we had a pretty uneventful ride down - one stop light between here and there - but we did do a stop off at the Coralville mall to run into Gymboree, Build a Bear and Game Stop! I snuck a peek in Ann Taylor and grabbed a Starbucks Pumpkin latte and cinnamon scone. Yummy!

200 miles later - we were there for the surprise party - 30 people, at least were present to celebrate great grandma's 91st birthday. Sam and Kate were on their best behavior - bribery works wonders. The cake was scrumptious and we had a nice visit with grandma and were able to visit with Uncle Rich and our cousin Kelsey. The upper photo is of all of us with grandma. The lower photo is of Great grandma and Kate. Great grandma is always quick to point out Kate is the first girl in the family since aunt Roz was born 53 years ago. Chris has three boy cousins, then Sam, then Kate - hopefully the Buse Oberto clan will add a few more girls to the mix.

The trip back was less than pleasant - our kids don't like to ride in the car for extended periods of time too much anymore. I didn't pack the DVD player, gameboy or books as I normally do - dumb mom. Chris actually pulled over on the side of the road, made them get out of the car and stand on the side of the road while he gave them "a talking to." I just innocently watched, of course. Despite the long drive back - a great trip and more great memories.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kate's first day of school

Kate's first day of school at Pierce. It feels a bit like sending her off to kindergarten as this is where she'll go next year also. I think the transition from going to preschool every day for four hours will be much easier for her to graduate to kindergarten. After weeks, I mean, months of talking about it, she was all set to get out and follow her brother into the building. No hesitation or tears in sight. She's grown up so much over the past three months. I still see her as a baby even though she's going on five!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Things to remember

Katie on counting to eleven, "I'll have to use my nose."

On our bike ride, Sam lost a pedal and we had to walk home about two miles.

The grill is up and operational after about 1.5 years of disuse and two moves. It only took two SOS pads and about ten minutes to clean the grate.

The Kernels are a feeder team to the LA Angels and the coach/manager was ejected from the game for arguing with the ref.

If you play with water balloons - odds are you will end up wet.

Sam lost his 7th tooth.

We met our new neighbors that live behind us. Erisa, should be easy to remember :) They have two children, Sammy, age 4, and Emir, age 1. Debating the fun of having a third child...again. At some point, my age will prevent this debate.

Sam and Kate love to play with the magnext and they are a source of endless entertainment.

Our garage will be clean and organized by the end of the day!

Huge storms. Knocked over the basketball pole.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sam's Birthday Party - Sam is turning 7 Here is the proof.

A Met's fan through and through....Happy Birthday Sam.

Group photo of the party at Guthridge Park.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A visit from three skis & Summer baseball

Tracy, Riley and Jack

Riley, Jack and Kate

This weekend we had a visit from my friend Tracy and her two children, Jack and Riley. Tracy and I went to UW together and have been friends since we were 18. That's 17 years of friendship and my the things we've seen and done together! Heart break, heart ache, turning 21, drinking, partying, studying, carousing, getting in trouble, staying up late, crying, living together, being neighbors, standing up in weddings, serving as godparents, drinking wine, going out to dinner/lunch, laughing, watching movies, eating ice cream, working, cleaning, walking, playing tennis, talking on the phone, visiting each other, sending email, turning 30, finding out about babies, you name it, we've done it all and probably seen it all :)

This was our first time together overnight those with all four of our chidren together. What a special time and a new course of memories to make. We don't see each other often, but we keep in touch often and we'll be friends until we are old and gray.

Riley and Kate played together fabulously. They really were self entertained, which is good, as having a one year old baby in a house that is not child proof, requires the attention of at least one adult :)

Here's some photos:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Erica's RA Update

Just returned from quarterly rheumatology appointment. First I want to commend Dr. Bagheri and Physician's Clinic of Iowa for always being on time for my appointments. The last four visits, I've had Kate and/or Sam with me, and the doctor is always on time, very much appreciated!

The good news is Dr. Bagheri may take me off the methotrexate at my next appointment, to see if I'm in a remission, or at least begin the tapering process. I've been on the methotrexate for two years this fall, since my horrible hospitalization and diagnosis time. I've always tested seronegative or negative for the RA factor. He explained, with his seronegative patients, he likes to try reducing and removing the medicine to see if the body is able to forget the illness, ie the medicine has suppressed the immune systems for this time period and it's likely to forget the RA. Pretty cool huh?

It's worth a try, definitely! I've only had one mild flare and some swelling in my wrist over the past year, but nothing since March, so at my October 21 appointment, he will assess and determine the next course. I'm pretty excited!!

The doc also reconfirmed the 12 pounds I've lost over the past four months. Whoohoo!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sam riding his bike part 2

That's my boy - riding his bike for the first time

One of Sam's goal's for this summer is learning to ride his bike. On Sunday, I decided it was time to take the training wheels off for good! They didn't work too well to begin with so off they went! We went up and down the cul de sac, with me holding the seat and running behind him, trying to get him to find his balance. Chris ran a few times too, but he's taller so it wasn't even more difficult for him. I was determined to go back and forth 100 times, I think we made it to 20 runs. Needless to say it was about 100 degrees, running it felt about 120!

We took yesterday off and tonight when I came home from work, I put the tennis shoes on. Sam put his knee pads and helmet on (always wear a helmet) and away we went. I didn't even barely hold onto him the first time, and he was pedaling and biking on his own. After five times, back and forth, he went to find Dad to show off his newest skill! Check out the video and you'll see...Today's the day! You can see a nice view of our cul de sac too! Hooray for Sam!

Michael Jackson

Okay, it's the end of an era, or the resurgence of the past, the passing of one of the world's most well known people. Whether a musical genius or a reclusive freak, the story intrigues and I follow the news quite closely and want to watch every minute of coverage. I had the leather purse with Thriller's MJ emblem on the side, I played four square with my friends in middle school and sang Beat it. Moving on through high school, I can remember driving the streets of New London in the back of a tricked out Jeep Wrangler listening to Black and White.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Crazy, Busy Weekend

The Earl family went on the road with the KCRG RV to visit some of Iowa's family friendly destinations. We traveled in the luxury of a 32 foot RV. One of our favorite visits was to Grinnell, a picture perfect little town with several shops, restaurants and a town square. Sam and Kate were greeted by several of the shopkeepers and owners with special treats and prizes and decorated a huge cupcake at Yumi's where we stopped for lunch. This is definitely a city we will return to spend some more time in. Other stops included Maytag Cheese Farm, Prairie Meadows race track, Tanger outlet malls and the Amana Chocolate Haus. Chocolate - yummy. We dipped marshmallows into chocolate and enjoyed an iced hot chocolate. The kids thought the chocolate gummy bears were delicious too.

Friday night we stayed at the Adventureland Inn and swam for hours in the pool which featured two six foot slides. Kate surprised us by jumping into the water fearlessly and resurfacing with a huge smile on her face. Sam braved the water slides after coaxing and bribery from mom and mastered the back float. Saturday morning we headed over to Adventureland Park, and enjoyed many of the rides and attractions. A family run business, in it's 35th year, this is definitely a must stop and visit for all Iowa families. Very beautiful and fun with something for all ages! The kids weren't up for the roller coasters, but we did enjoy a ride in the Ferris Wheel! A very productive weekend amidst the heat and sun, only I ended up with a slight sunburn on my shoulders. Lots, lots of fun on a busy weekend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Football coach killed

Football coach killed, suspect in custody.
Over the past five hours, since Chris notified me of the death of AP head football coach Ed Thomas via email, I've watched the Channel 9 coverage, the press conference, the reports from Chris and Ashley, read tweets, followed facebook. I'm amazed at the online coverage available, it's being reported on Web sites across the country, from Cedar Rapids, to Des Moines, to Chicago. As the wife of a news anchor, I always check out the competition, as well. There's a scrolling headline on their site, but no mention of a story much less a link, which is a good, I guess...Just now, five hours later, do I see the word...Murder. Yet that is what happened. A guy took a gun a killed the coach at point blank range. The media has been reporting on it all morning. I am moderately intelligent, yet, somewhat naive, as I am only now associating murder with what happened, and that's after I saw the word in a news story. I find some solace in my intelligent, yet naive mind and wish it for my children as well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A day of firsts

Kate's first day of tball practice.
She listened really well. Surprisingly, there were more girls than boys. It's cute the way the coaches paired them off to play catch. The girls each held hands with their partner and the boys just walked off together. Sam started playing tball at 4 also and three years later, he is a power slugger.

My first day turning on the oven
I'm almost ashamed to admit, we have lived in this house for almost five weeks, and today is the first day I learned how to turn on our new oven :) Needless to say, it's the hotest day too and I turned in on twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. Now that I know how to use it, I'll cook much more...

Our first pool day at Noelridge Pool
The perfect weather for a dip in the pool. Normally I'm not to excited to go to the pool, but we all were excited about going to the pool all morning. It was packed, of course, but it was so refreshing to stand in the water, play with Kate and watch her and Sam run around. Looking forward to many more days there in the next two months. It's amazing how much easier it is to go swimming as the kids become older. Kate is still a good four inches too short for the big slides, so that'll have to wait until next year. We saw many friends there. "Hey Mrs. Earl, where is Sam?" So much for incognito.

Our first day with no wallpaper border in our bedroom
It looks awesome. I painstakingly peeled wall paper all day yesterday. This morning I went online to read about how I should easily remove wallpaper. A spray bottle of water later, and the pieces were dropping to the ground. In a pinch, I used our St. Luke's snow scrapper as the wallpaper removing utensil. Worked great, a gift that can give all year long! The kids were awesome at picking up all the pieces, even the tiniest one. I gave them each a bag and told them whoever collected the most would receive a dollar, I also said whoever collected the least received a dollar. This did motivate them....surprisingly.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Girls separated from the Boys

Sam and friend from Roosevelt Elementary in Eau Claire, Ben Madison, spent an afternoon playing during Chris' book signing. To the right Chris is set up for a book signing....

Sam outside the Bradley Center and at the infamous Miller Park after running the bases. He and Chris attended the game with friends

This past weekend, Chris and Sam headed off on the book tour, for "The Last Out." Chris hosted signings in Eau Claire. Sam and Chris also caught up with many old good friends and then headed down to Milwaukee to attend the wedding of a long time friends and a Brewer game. This was Sam's first MLB game. In addition, after the game, Sam ran the bases! In addition, to seeing the sights, I'm told they had a great time playing catch along the beach on Lake Michigan.

Back in Cedar Rapids, Kate and I caught up with friends, watched movies, including Black Beauty, and shopped, We went to K-mart, Kohl's, Walmart, Target, JC Penney, Younkers twice, the Mall, etc. We managed not to spend very much money :) But we did eat out, alot, Olive Garden, Culvers, Pizza Hut and Pancheros - all very kid friendly and yummy. I didn't cook until Sunday night! A great weekend.

Monday morning brought about home project #1, at least inside, as I'm peeling the wall paper border, hideous, floral pattern, off of the master bedroom, thinking a chocolate/turquoise, cream motif is going to work, but we'll see what we find....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Promoted to second grade

Sam's last day at Pierce Elementary as a first grader. Promoted to second grader. How does the time fly by so fast? Kate will join Sam at Pierce next year as a preschooler. She'll go to school Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.. This simplifies our life tremendously by only have one drop off and two pickups at the Sam location. Hopefully the transition into Kindergarten will be seamless in the future for her.

Our summer plans are filled with some weekend trips in Iowa and Wisconsin. We want to visit the Iowa State Capitol and will take an trip to Adventureland in the KCRG RV, while Chris covers some local Iowa towns and venues. Sam will play basketball, baseball and swim. A couple of art classes are thrown in to the mix as well. Kate will begin her first t-ball experience. Do you know how hard it is to find a tball pink left hand throw glove? I found it and it even lights up and flashes when you catch the ball! She'll continue with gymnastics, have eight weeks of swim lessons and hopefully get some ballet classes in to the schedule as well.

We have a wonderful sitter to watch the kids over the summer and it will be pain free knowing they are in such capable and caring hands. Throw in having friends over and it 'll keep us hopping, but the experiences are so worth the chauffeuring.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thick in the season of Iowa baseball

Sam's baseball team has played for the past six weeks and goes until July! The Hiawatha Kids League is a class act and Chris is coaching his first year!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Magical May Moving & Money

We started off the month of May with a new house. At the left, you can see our garage is empty enough to fit one car in AND there are very few boxes left.

Below is our family room...complete with Katie playing with her toys.

Kitchen and dining room and over there is our living room - Hooray!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sam and Basketball

We have a future basketball star on our hands. Sam has developed a love for dribbling, shooting and playing ball since he participated in the 1st grade Y winter basketball league. It's amazing to watch how his skills have developed over the past three weeks. He'll spend time out shooting and dribbling every day for almost an hour, at least. He's almost better than mom, and definitely better than dad! We'll be looking into a portable hoop for him as opposed to the one attached to our garage.

35th Anniversary

Today we are traveling to Farm Country to celebrate my parents 35th Anniversary. What an accomplishment! Of course, we were supposed to travel tomorrow, but the onset of a winter storm forecasting six inches of snow and ice made us quickly reassess our plans. My parents don't travel much, they have a hobby farm, which keeps them close to home. The kids are always excited when we announce a trip to Farm Country...the trips are always pretty quick, with just one overnight, but it's always so awesome to spend time with my family.

Divorce is so prominent in America today. I am not even sure what the statistics are anymore, but I've seen and heard from many close to me the devastation and havoc experienced by having to go through this experience. I'm so proud of my parents and happy as they celebrate this monumental event. Happy 35th Anniversary Mom and Dad!