Friday, July 30, 2010

Zoe's First Attempt At Soccer

OK, so this was so funny. The kids actually did a lot better than what I thought they would do for a 4-year-old soccer clinic. This city parks and rec department has it figured out. This was a very non-competitive, low threat way to introduce the kids to soccer while giving the parents some pretty solid entertainment as well. Enjoy the pics of Zoe and friends as well as some of the quotes overheard at 4-year-old soccer clinic (some may have come from me, but I would never admit to it...) :)

Check out the little one on the coach's lap--looks like she is LOVING having her picture taken!

Overheard: "Honey, PLEASE put your shirt down."

"Please stop crying and play soccer!"

"No, no, no, go the other way, the other way!"

"___, You need to get off your mom's lap and out onto the field please."

"_______, no more cartwheels, OK. We're going to play soccer now."

"There is no tackling in soccer!"

"Just because you want to hold onto the ball doesn't mean you can. We don't use our hands in soccer." (this said to one little guy who would nose dive onto the ball every time he was near the ball to "save" it. It was kind of cute actually).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My rant about the pediatric dentist's office

Let me preface this by saying I have nothing against the pediatric dentist himself. He's just fine. Whatever. This whole shenanigan started about 6 months ago when the office would call me every couple of days and say "we've had a cancellation, would you like to schedule your children for a visit?" and I would politely decline because, you know, if I wanted to schedule a visit, I would, you know, call them myself. Whoever heard of a dentist's office calling you to schedule your appointment. So I figure they are trying to drum up business, which actually really irritates me. Because here's the deal.

We don't have dental insurance. By choice. And that's right there, plain and simple for them to read in our file.

So every year when I haul all three kids in for their annual cleanings (which by the way for a child is a hygienist with a me, it's nothing fancy!), we pay for that baby out of pocket. Which is almost $400. Now, when I do my best to take good care of my kids' teeth, teach them good oral hygiene, and not a one of them has even ever had a hint of a cavity, why in the world would I want to take them in more than once a year?

My first little rant is about dental insurance. My husband and I have crunched the numbers. Several times. He works for a small company that doesn't offer a group plan. I am, well. Retired, you know. :) Currently unemployed, shall we say. So we have to purchase our own health, dental, vision, life, you name And dental was one that just did not add up. When you add up the cost of monthly premiums to the cost of co-pays for visits plus the cost of any procedures that might need to be done, you are out MORE money than if you just pay for annual visits out of pocket, even if it is $400. Seriously. That's crazy, isn't it? So it isn't that we can't afford it, it is that we choose not to spend our money this way. And that is what I felt like saying to the nasty lovely receptionist when I called to make the kids' annual appointment last week.

Phone conversation with meany super-nice receptionist:

Me: Hi, I'm calling to make an apppointment for my 3 kids. Yes, we've been there before.

Her: Last name?

Me: Olsen. O-L-S-E-N (I just spell it automatically. It's like my last name is OlsenO-L-S-E-N).

Her: E-N?

Me: Yep, E-N.

Her: Hmmmm. I'm not finding any Olsen with an E-N. Are you sure you've been here before?

Me: Yes, we were there last year. (Oh, and somewhere in here I am pretty sure she asked me if I was sure my last name was spelled with an E-N. Seriously???!!!)

Her: Oh (surprised!) It's been over a year?

Me: Well, probably right about a year. I think it was last July.

Her: (Big sigh). Well. If it's been over a year, your account is inactivated. We try to see our patients twice a year.

Me: (Blood rising to my face) Well, because we have to pay out of pocket, we choose to only come once a year. Is that a problem?

Her: Well, no, but I have to re-activate your account now. After a certain number of calls are made, we inactivate the account, like I said.

Me: If it's too much trouble...

Her: No, no, no, it's OK.
Etc, etc., etc.

Now, if you were me, what would you have done? I always leave those situations thinking I should have done something differently and am not thinking clearly at the time enough to do it! And as a health care provider myself, trust me, these people should be glad they are getting people in the door for preventative exams, not berating them for their lack of frequency. To me this conversation is yet another example of the barriers that people face every day in gaining access to healthcare or dental care or whatever. If someone is given this much grief just over the phone for crying out loud, how willing am I going to be to call back and make another appointment? I like this dentist, and am willing to give this office the benefit of the doubt--for this one appointment, mind you--but trust me, they better be on their good behavior! :) I shall keep you posted about our upcoming appointments on Thursday. Max has been brushing like a crazy man, for some reason he is terrified of a cavity. Fear can work wonders on oral hygiene! Enough of my rant...thanks for "listening" and happy Wednesday...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Max and The Playhouse

We try in the summer to take advantage of some of the fun stuff that is available to kids here, while balancing just being home. I want to do things for the kids that they truly want to do, not just run around, staying busy just for the sake of being busy. I hate that. But one of the top thing on our list during the summer is a Playhouse Day Camp. Max and Charlie have both gone for a couple of years now, and as the kids get older, they have more choices about what kind of camp they get to do at the Playhouse. The Playhouse is a local theater that has so much to offer--really well-done plays and musicals, along with the classes for adults and kids that aren't too over-the-top. This year Max chose to to "My First Commercial". The kids got to learn about different types of commercials: endorsements, product commercials, movie trailers, and demonstration commercials, and then they got to act them all out, even taping them to show us on the last day. It was so cool!!

They acted out the demonstration commercial live for us but we got to see the final, edited, perfected version of their endorsement/product commercial at their "show". Max was pretty pumped because he was the "endorser", getting to play Twins baseball player Joe Mauer, endorsing a stuffed dog. :) Too fun. I love stuff that is educational, takes the kids out of their comfort zone a little bit but isn't competitive or scary. The Playhouse fits that bill to a T. Charlie is doing the "Popcorn Players" half-day camp in August and is super excited about it. Here are just a few more pictures. Enjoy!

Max with his teacher, Miss Chelsea, one of the Playhouse's college interns.

Max getting ready to go onstage for the movie trailer commercial. He is "holding" the little guy in green who is playing a bean, as in "Jack and the Beanstalk." Maybe you had to be there. :)

Product demonstration commercial. They made up their product and I still don't know exactly what it was but I was super proud of him because he was super proud of it. :) Love that kid!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Much of my life is spent doing this...

This is a picture of our family's approximately 3 days' worth of laundry. Yes, folks, 3 days. And this is a "clean" pile. As of right now, we have an entire bedroom dedicated to the sorting and folding of laundry but that won't last long since we are in the process of redecorating and moving children around. It is pretty pathetic that we actually need a whole bedroom dedicated to laundry. Eventually, the laundry starts looking like this:

And that is a good day! Buck said I needed to post this as a deterrent for other people who have ever considered having more children. This is what a family of 6's laundry looks like. It is ridiculous. When Tate was born, the laundry multiplied exponentially; it seriously didn't matter that he had teeny tiny little clothes. Just so you know. And have now seen physical proof of the insane amount of laundry that a large family has--you cannot say you weren't warned. I can't believe I'm posting this for other people to see. At least you know I have nothing to hide. :) And maybe this makes you feel better about your own laundry.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

From the mouth of Charlie

So I asked Charlie if he wanted to do something for me today and he gave me this little guilty look: you know what it looks like, chin down, eyes up. And he shook his head. It wasn't something he had to do, I just asked him if he wanted to and it would have been nice if he would have said yes. But he didn't. And then he said "Mom, I wish God controlled me and then I would be able to say yes." What an amazing thought to come out of a 6-year-old mind and heart. Not that God controls us in any way, but for Charlie to have the desire to do what God wants is a step in the right direction!

Also, I want to make sure you all check out this blog. My sister passed it on to me, and I HAD to pass it on to you. Please consider making a donation, and getting a chance at winning that amazing handmade quilt. Check it:

We are enjoying a steamy, steamy typical Midwest summer day and Tate refuses to come inside to the air conditioning. Love that. He is an outside boy for sure. Hope you are all having a great week!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Today I'm praying for...

Instead of feeling sorry for myself that I am back to reality after a wonderful sun-filled week of relaxation at the Lake (and it's raining here, no less...not that I'm complaining, like I said...), I decided I was going to commit to praying faithfully for these friends today. Join me if you want. I know they would appreciate it.

*Zac and Stacie: Stacie is the sweetest thing. She is one year post-radiation treatment for an incurable brain tumor. She has her 1-year follow-up in Iowa City TODAY, with an MRI to see if the tumor has shrunk at all. My prayer is that it has. Please pray with me that the tumor is noticeably smaller. Visit their blog to find more specific prayer requests as well:

*I finally got to meet my blog friend/fellow ET adoptive mom Tressa and two of her delightful children this weekend. They were in town for a doctor's appointment as well, and prayers were being lifted for them, that hope would be planted and a plan would take shape! What a blessing to cross paths with this great family.

*The founder of the company Buck works for, who is also a mentor and treasured friend of Buck's, was diagnosed with ocular melanoma last week. He is now in a waiting game, while a "plate" is being made to fit his eye for the treatment that will follow his surgery. This man is a planner, a do-er, and I have no doubt that this "waiting" without being able to do anything about his cancer is probably very very difficult. Please pray for him, his amazing wife, and the whole company as this has shaken them. It doesn't appear that the cancer has spread at this point, but it is not fully known either...please pray that the cancer is contained to the eye and that the treatment will be the cure.

*Finally, it was doctor's appointment central around here, with both Tate and Zoe being declared healthy (although not too terribly happy after both got a shot apiece). In case anyone is wondering or cares, Mr. Tate is the smallest of our 3 boys at this age, coming in at the 50th percentile for weight and the 60th for height. While that's called average in some places, that's "runt" territory in our house! :) He's absolutely perfect in this Mama's eyes. And little Miss Z was a 42 pounds and 44 inches tall, she is in the 75th percentile for both height and weight. Every year that passes, I am in awe and thanksgiving of how far she's come. I will say it again...thank you, Lord! This little peanut did not even make it on the American growth chart at 1 year of age! And now she is above average! On the way home, she said "Mama, are you proud of me?" I think she wanted to hear it again, because I only said it 50 times between the doctor's office and the car. :) Yes, so so proud.

And that's it from here. Ever feel a little sorry for yourself? Yeah, it happens to all of us once in awhile. But that's the best time to hit your knees and lift up somebody else. Happy praying!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This and that...

Yet another beautiful week at the Lake...right now I should be sleeping but there is a "House" marathon on Bravo that I just can't tear myself away from. Seriously if you are not watching this show, you are missing out! But anyway, a couple of things I realized on our amazingly fast trip home.

1. The vast majority of the time, the baby gets what the baby wants just because he is the baby. Quite a loud squawk out of Tate got him just about anything he wanted from anyone just to make the squawking stop. Smart kid.

2. There is a stretch of interstate that the Minnesota Atheists have adopted that needs some attention.

3. There is a gas station right before you get to Huxley, Iowa where the women's restroom smells exactly like a Strawberry Shortcake doll. I walked in, got one whiff, and a Strawberry Shortcake doll popped into my head. The nose is seriously amazing.

4. I watched a grand total of 2 hours of TV this entire week. I watched an Oprah rerun on Wednesday afternoon, and watched a cool new medical drama "Boston Med" with my even cooler grandparents. That was more than enough of the tube for me...if I could keep getting my "House" dowloads on my iPad, I would be a happy camper without a TV.

5. I have some changes I want to make with our family, our family's schedule and lifestyle that I want to get going on before school starts...but it is rapidly approaching and I get a lump in my throat when I think about the big boys heading off to school again. What to do...

6. Living in the moment, enjoying my most favorite people, and making memories is the BEST way to spend my time right now. Lovin it!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Our 4th of July!

As usual, I am a day late and a dollar short on getting pictures up...but here they are!! We had a super fun 4th of July complete with candy galore from the parade, and an afternoon of fun at the pool! Here are a few fun shots from our 5 little our nephew/cousin/BFF WILL!


There was a lot of cousin/buddy time. They both LOVED the pool's basketball hoop--swimming while playing basketball, I just don't think life gets much better than that for 2 almost 8-year-olds.


Our little Ethiopian fish--even with our SPF 50, she still gets dark, dark, dark in the summer. That gorgeous cocoa skin!!


YES, I am that mom that makes my baby wear sunscreen, a swim shirt, plus a hat. As long as he will keep it on. Which isn't very long. :)


Chars has some very fancy moves off the diving board. He is getting awfully brave for this mommy's taste!


And the water slide is super fun too!


Will is showing off for the camera! "No, Aunt Laura, it didn't hurt when I landed flat on my back!" :)


Tate finally got warmed up and got in the pool with Daddy...even jumped off the side into Daddy's arms! Brave boy!


Then we had a hard time getting him to leave!
What a fun day, spent relaxing with our family. We are so grateful for the freedoms we enjoy thanks to the people who sacrificed for all of us. We are humbled and thankful. We are loving summer, and feel like it is going WAAAAAY too fast. But enjoying every minute of it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Look what we got!

Apparently the piano is a new climbing toy for Tate! Yikes, that boy is everywhere. NO worries, friends, Max was supervising the photo shoot here so he was not in any danger, but YES, he got up there all by himself. We are looking forward to starting piano lessons with the Bigs this fall. Thanks, Nana, for the hand-me-down--the best kind of "stuff" to get! As if we needed any more noise around here. :) Have a happy Wednesday~

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Longville Turtle times!

What are turtle races you ask? What, you've never heard of a turtle race before? Where have you been? The turtle races in Longville, Minnesota are famous, people!! In fact, Longville is THE turtle racing capital of the WORLD. It says so on their button. I got to experience turtle races as a little kid (I think it had been 25 years since I'd actually gone to the races), and I knew the boys would have fun. So, Daddy put the 2 Littles down for naps, while the Bigs and I headed off to the Turtle Racing Capital of the World.

It is an awesome all-afternoon canival that they do every week. It involves face-painting (for FREE!), $1 gigantic sticks of cotton candy (see above) and overall friendliness everywhere you look. There are silly little carnival games that you can play for a quarter (yep, a quarter!) and kids get a prize every time they play.

Then it is time for the races. You can bring your own turtle if you want, but if you don't have one, the "turtle vendors" will supply you with one. You just go over to the giant water-filled buckets and pick out your turtle. Here's Max's little guy (that he named Buzz).

And Charlie's little guy (named Electra! ha!). Chars wasn't too sure about the whole thing, but watching big brother do it all with confidence made him a pro in no time. He can't wait to go back and do it again.

On your marks, get set, GO! The turtles walk from the inside of the circle to a bigger outer circle where all of us "fans" are cheering them on. Max's turtle got 2nd place in his "heat". Haha! There are so many racers there are about 30 heats (10 turtles per heat)...seriously!! Did you see the boys' numbers? We were numbers 225 and 226...we got there a little late, not realizing the huge popularity of the turtle races. A little different than 25 years ago! :) Also, just to turtles were harmed in the racing. It is all in fun, and the turtles are all released back to the Lake after the race. They are probably just a little perplexed as to why all these crazies are yelling and clapping for them. Fun, easy, small town, summertime fun. Enjoy!

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Review! x2!

So this book was read so quickly it didn't even make it to my "bookshelf" over to the left there. Buck read "Five Sacred Crossings" on our California trip, and he has wanted me to read it ever since. When my non-pleasure-reading-husband likes a book so much he recommends it to me, I know I need to listen! Keep in mind this book is a novel. Some might pick it up and at first glance think it may be some new-agey spirituality thing, but it's not. The core of the story is based around a Jesus-following college professor, who leads a class through a fictional ancient text called "Five Sacred Crossings." By weaving through the text in this secular institution, with students on all ends of the faith spectrum, the Truth and reality of Jesus and His free gift of salvation are made abundantly clear. The end of the book had me on the edge of my seat...literally! I was about 2 pages away from finishing this book late one night at the Lake, and wouldn't you know...Tate decided he wasn't a fan of the Pack-n-Play. He was up for about an hour, just to tease me, I think! I finally got to finish those last 2 pages, and it was worth every minute of staying up late! This book comes very, very highly recommended (from both me and Buck!). It's a quick, easy read too..please enjoy and pass it along.

I LOOOVE me some Jane Green. I was so excited when I saw that this book had just been released this summer, and I had my fancy new iPad toy that I could download this book to. Any other Jane Green fans out there? I think her style and content has completely changed over the past couple of years, but I'm not necessarily complaining. My first introduction to Jane Green was "Jemima J" (total fluff, fun, chick lit), and to read that book and "Promises to Keep", you would never know it was the same author. Again, that isn't all bad! This is a heartwarming and at the same time, heartbreaking story about a suburbanite mom (Callie) faced with a very tough situation (I don't want to give too much away!). While the "tough situation" is certainly a centerpiece of the story, almost equally as important is the outpouring of love and support that comes from her family and friends. I loved the side stories about Callie's divorced parents, her sister, and her best friend Lila. Green certainly has a gift for drawing the reader in--I love it when I am hooked after just a few pages. Small spoiler: It wasn't the perfect happy ending that I usually love in my Jane Green books, but it was very satisfying, and I thoroughly enjoyed this as my first book on my iPad. :)

So there you go! A couple of book reviews from my week at the Lake. I am this close to finishing "Complications" by Atul Gawande, and am loving it. I just checked out "Checklist Manifesto" by the same author from the library so I only have 3 weeks to get that baby read. I am still working on "Half the Sky" and "Committed"--my goals for the summer--finish those 2 books and kick them off my shelf! They are worth savoring, though. Happy reading to you~oh, and more pics of the little monkeys tomorrow~Much love,