Monday, November 15, 2010

Anti-Bullying Program


 


 

To Whom It May Concern:


 

    I am writing you today regarding implementing an anti-bullying program in all of the Michigan City Area Schools. Bullying is an epidemic in this nation and it needs to stop. Every day children are bullied. Every day children don't want to go to school because they don't want to be picked on. Every day some child wonders if they can take anymore. Children shouldn't have to feel the only way out is suicide. We need to be pro-active about this in our community to ensure that children enjoy coming to school, that school is a fun place of learning without fear of censure. According to the National Education Association, an estimate of 160,000 children misses school every day due to fear of intimidation by other students.

    The schools need to take a stance of no tolerance for bullying. A friend of mine is a teacher in Michigan and her school has adopted the Behavior Rubric attached. She has said that her school requires all the teachers and students to follow the Rubric, and that it is sent home with parents and talked about at the Open Houses. It has made a dramatic improvement in her school. Adopting a similar Rubric costs the school absolutely no money and the benefits are immense.

I want to point out a couple of items on the Behavior Rubric that may need some further explanation. The "Time to Think Form" is a form that must be filled out by the student who has broken one of the Rubric Rules. The student should be sent to another area outside of the classroom and they are not allowed to come back until they have filled it out. The "Time to Think" form should have questions as to why they did what they did, what they could do better next time. This form should be sent to the parents that night for their signature in addition to the phone call directly from the student. This makes the student personally responsible for inappropriate actions or words. There should also be separate forms for the different grade classes. An elementary student shouldn't be given the same form as a high school student. There is an example of the "Time to Think" form also attached with this letter.

The other two terms I feel need clarification is ISS and OSS, which stand for In School Suspension and Out of School Suspension. It may seem strict to suspend a student due to bullying, but I firmly believe that fights are usually caused by some kind of bullying. Once it gets to a fight, it is punished by the school, but we should be taken care of it before it gets to that point.

I am also including some Core Components of a School-Based Aggression Prevention Program. This is an easy to read guide of how to come to a general consensus of what is bullying, where the "line in the sand" is, doing an anonymous survey with the students to get their perspective and developing the plan on an Area school basis. A copy of a survey regarding bullying is also enclosed.

It is important that teachers teach children what the difference is between ratting and reporting. I am attaching a worksheet that discusses how to talk to students about it as well as a Student Report Form. This year at an after school program, my five year old son was being choked by another five year old. My oldest daughter (8) saw this and attempted to get up to tell someone, but was told promptly not to get up from her seat. When I found out about this, I went directly to the after school program and talked with them about it. They told my daughter that no matter what she needs to get up next time, but I understand my daughter's fear that she's going to get in trouble by trying to get up because she at that point is supposed to "sit down." This can happen as easily in an after school program as it can during school hours.

I am also including handouts of "Reasons Adults Don't Intervene More," "What do Targets Need?" and "What do Bullies Need?" I think these are very informative for a teacher or staff at the school as to what to look for, why an adult should intervene as well as the support both the "Target" and the "Bully" need. There are many web resources regarding anti-bullying and suicide prevention. A couple of my favorites are: http://kidshealth.org and http://www.thetrevorproject.org. Web resources, hotlines, pamphlets and books regarding bullying should be able to be accessed through the school.

It is important for the schools to teach empathy vs. intolerance and compassion. Many times I have talked to my daughter about asking questions in school. Currently, I am enrolled at Purdue North Central and I ask any question I need to, because I know how important education is. However, as a young child it is different. There is a tremendous fear of censure or "looking stupid" when they raise their hand. If they get an answer wrong, or ask what someone else in the class thinks is "dumb" children can be made fun of. My daughter told me of an instance just like this two weeks ago in her class. She told me she raised her hand and answered a question, but her answer was wrong. The result: a few of the students in her class laughed at her. Next time it will be that much harder for her to raise her hand and take that chance. The form "Teaching and Modeling Empathy and Compassion At School" furnishes strong ideas on how to teach this in the classroom.

The final attachment is a Teaching Script of a couple of games that teaches children about Bullying. I feel these are applicable for students from pre-school through elementary school. I feel it is important we start early in teaching our children what is right and wrong, and what is acceptable behavior.

After the recent deaths of so many teenagers it has inspired me to become actively involved in Anti-Bullying. Children are killing themselves. This can and should be stopped. Let's not wait until this happens in Michigan City. I hope that you will take the time to review this information and contact me. I would like to be as involved as possible with initiating an Anti-Bullying Program in the Michigan City Area Schools. We should go from being a reactive society to become a preemptive society. I hope you take this situation as seriously as I do.


 

Sincerely,


 


 


 

Cari Adams

    Email: cariannadams@gmail.com

    Phone: 219-898-5412

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Diet Day 5 and 6

Diet Day 5

Morning: Coffee

Water Count: 5

Breakfast: 2 pieces of French toast

2 pieces of bacon

Lunch:

Salad w/ranch

After Lunch:

100 cal Cheez It/Pretzel pack

Dinner:

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast w/light BBQ sauce

Mushrooms & Onions

Cherry Tomatoes

2 Green Shoots of Green Onion

4 Asparagus

After dinner:

Yoplait 100 calorie Lemon Meringue… ok when I ate it, but after had a weird aftertaste

Indulgent Bad/Bad/Bad:

Miniature 3 Musketeers

Sunday

Diet Day #6:

1 cup of Coffee

Water Count: 6

Breakfast: Everything Bagel with Tbsp of Butter (approx)

Lunch: Chicken Fajitas with Mushrooms, Onions and Green Pepper with Salsa and a teaspoon of Salsa

Lunch (Dessert): Strawberry Rhubarb Pudding (literally my favorite freakin' dessert and my mom made it and I could not resist!)

Dinner: A cup of pulled pork, 2 shoots of green onion, a bunch of red cherry tomatoes cut up, a cup of green beans, one cornbread muffin and 3 slices of fried (in olive oil) green tomato


 

I'm really nervous about weighing in, especially because of my couple slip ups with the rhubarb pudding and the pumpkin pie… oh and the miniature 3 musketeers. I think that I've done a really good job and am hoping that tomorrow I will see some sort of weight loss on the scale! I am planning on working out Mon, Tues, Wed and Fri and I will continue to try and keep in good portion control and my water intake up!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Diet Day 4 and 5

Diet Day 4

Water Count: 4 - 5

Morning:

2 Eggs Fried (w/Spray)

1 ½ Pieces of Toast

Mid-morning:

Banana

Lunch:

Large Salad

After Lunch Snack:

100 cal brownie bites (YUM)

Dinner:

Salmon

Cherry Tomatoes

Sugar snap peas

2 shoots of Green Onion

Mushrooms, Onions and Red papers (cooked with olive oil spray)


 

Diet Day 5:

Water Count: 5 – 6

Breakfast:

Bowl of fruit loops w/1% milk

Mid-morning snack:

Apple slices w/cheese and low fat caramel dip

Later on morning snack:

100 calorie Cheese Crackers/pretzels snack

Lunch:

Ham sandwich w/mustard

Salad w/lots of veggies and ranch

Dinner: (at a Banquet)

Thin slice of Prime Rib (no fat eaten – ew)

Asparagus

Tiny bit of potatoes

Maybe a cup of shrimp w/pasta

Pumpkin Pie (this is a vegetable right?)

    Forgot to do Diet Day 4 summary so just moving on! Yesterday (Friday) went working out with Maggie in the morning, did cardio and weights and then a cool down. Had a banquet to go to last night with Debbie…. Knew I was going for a dessert, but I feel ok with that decision! Now that I'm working out in the morning every morning I start waking up at 6:30…. Today is Saturday (Day 6) and I woke up at 6:30 but laid in bed til 7 because it seems wrong to get up so early when I'm not working out. I am going to try and bike a bit later on, but first Must Clean House!


 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Diet Day #3


 

Water Count: 4?

Morning: Coffee 1 cup

Bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats

Mid Morning: Banana

Closer to Lunch: 100 Cal Snack Pack of Cheddar, Pretzel etc.

Missed Lunch/Starving: Apple

Lunch at 2 pm: Salad with lots of veggies a bit of Ranch, Half Ham Sandwich w/Mustard

Dinner: Lean Steak, Asparagus, Mushrooms, Onions, Red Peppers, 1 Half of a small potato, 2 shoots of green onion, 1 slice of crunchy bread

After Dinner Snack: 100 calorie Hostess Cupcakes (YUM!)

Day #3

    Woke up and pretty sure thought my legs were going to fall off. Sore all over. But I was up! I was going to work out! Picked up Maggie (after cleaning out my front passenger seat overflowing with water bottles and former pop bottles) and headed to the gym. Cardio!! We decided to do 30 minutes of cardio to switch on and off with weights. Maggie had the great idea of the Spinning Bike (remind self to send her a thank you card). 20 minutes of Spinning was horrifying! The video instructor I feel was totally mocking me and everytime he smiled his stupid little chipper smile my anger grew at him! However, burned a lot of calories and we are going to continue this torture every Wednesday, slowly moving our time up. The next 10 minutes were spent on the treadmill. Was sore for the rest of the day!     Took snacks to work with me, felt starving by 1 pm. Suddenly remembered the kids' Awards Ceremony at school at 1:30. Crap! Starving!! Had a delicious apple and some water that totally hit the spot! When I got home I was careful in what I ate for lunch and didn't overeat, I thank the apple.

    Dinner was scrumptious! I picked up a couple of little lean steaks and cooked in a light spray of olive oil, I cooked my mushrooms, onions and peppers also in a light spray of olive oil and some seasoning. Asparagus was delicious as well. Oh I forgot I had also cut up a few cherry tomatoes and had those with my steak. It was a truly delightful dinner. My temptation was the bread. Oh how I love big crunchy bread loaves from Meijer. I don't think I could give it up, I don't think I'd want to. I could sit and munch on bread and be happy. But, I had some self-control, limiting, myself to one thin slice, then the crust piece of the 2nd little piece on my plate that David put there. I gave the rest to the dogs, because I knew I had to.

    Pretty happy with how things are going so far this week. I'm avoiding weighing myself until Monday, I am hopeful that I will not be disappointed then!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Diet Day #2

Water Count: 5 (16 oz bottles)

Breakfast:

1 ½ cup of Coffee

Banana

Bite of Bagel w/cream cheese

Breakfast: Bowl of Special K fruit and yogurt w/ 1% milk

Lunch:

Big Salad w/Catalina

Container of Mandarin Oranges

Snack:

True Delights 110 cal. Dark chocolate w/hazelnut square

Dinner:

Chicken Stirfry

Evening Snack:

Cottage Cheese w/Pineappple

Today got up at 6:24 to get around for Maggie to pick me up for a work-out. We figure it'll keep us in line when we have one of us picking up the other… kind of like a check system J. Work out was what I expected, sucky! It was really nice to work-out with Maggie but I was a sweaty mess before I was off the elliptical. I felt really good after it. Very awake but around mid-morning/early-afternoon I was really hoping for a nap. Unfortunately I was at school, so it wasn't going to happen. I was really tempted by the smell of the pizza in the PNC cafeteria. It was like torture! But I convinced myself that a large salad w/mandarin oranges on the side was better. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home and was absolutely starving by the time I checked out. I quickly ripped open the True Delights listed above and then realized that it was dark chocolate and I can't stand dark chocolate. Still it satisfied my hunger and was only 110 cal. Tonight at dinner the chicken stir-fry (only using olive oil spray) was really good, other than I added soy sauce… Probably not the smartest thing based on sodium but I'm okay with that. Tomorrow morning up at 6:30 to pick up Maggie for just cardio tomorrow morning for about half hour. Then again on Friday! Hoping for an early bedtime tonight, but am really looking forward to watching The Biggest Loser!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Diet Day #1

Well I feel very proud of my first day diet. I'm not following a diet persay, just trying to be recognizant of portion control and eating healthier. I worked out on the bike for 25 minutes while watching Say Yes to the Dress (talk about inspiration to lose weight!). I also went to the gym and signed up under David's membership and am going at the vicious hour of 6:45 to the gym in the morning with Maggie. I feel I did my friend duty by telling her I'm going to look like shit tomorrow (and she pointed out even worse after we are done). I've never gotten up early before to work out so this should be interesting! I really do hope this is a new lifestyle for me and that I can maintain a good and healthy weight with healthy eating and exercising. I know 2 days during this Unofficial Biggest Loser Competition where I'm going to eat what I want and those are Thanksgiving and the Holiday Food Fest I'm having her at home. I am sure there will be slip ups, but I'll just dust myself off and get back on the proverbial exercise horse J.

Food Journal – Diet Day #1

Water: 2 - 3

Morning: Bowl of Special K with 1% milk (trying to step down from 2%)

Banana

Mid-morning Snack: Apple

Lunch: Ham, Roast Beef and Turkey sandwich w/mustard; Salad w/catalina dressing and lots of veggies!

Snack: Handful of pecans

Dinner: One Filet of Tilapia (baked in extra light virgin olive oil and Nature's Seasons), ¼ cup Brown Rice, ½ Cup Green Beans (approx.), Tablespoon-ish diced tomatoes and green chiles!

After class snack: (1) 100 calorie pack of hostess cupcakes (Delicious!!)

August 9 thru August 31

August 9

This'll probably be a quickie note, mainly because I'm rushing to leave the office to go get some stuff done (ie: mail you a ton of pictures, go to the bank, pick up Blythe, go get Kaylee (Mandy's daughter) who's staying for a few days). I've checked off quite a lot on my list today but still have lots more to do and my back is seriously killing me. I pinched a nerve in my back last week when I carried a too heavy cooler when I took the kids to the waterpark on Monday. I went to chiropractor on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday before I went to Iowa and then again today but I've had little relief. I've been icing it down a lot and taking ibuprofen like they are candy! Ah well, it will get better!

I have more pictures to print out and send you, or order and send you but I didn't take that many when I was in Iowa since my back had me mostly on the couch. We had fun though and the kids had a great time playing with their cousins. Uncle Tony and Aunt Wendy have a nice in-ground pool which the kids loved spending time in. I went in a few times myself but just floated around. We were there from Wednesday to Sunday morning. Sunday David had the physical test to be a fireman and he passed with a time of 8 minutes 34 seconds. Super proud of him. The next step will be the interview process then hopefully a job offer. I worry, of course, about him being a firefighter and putting his life on the line to save others, but it's a dream of his and I support him in that.

So there wasn't a ton of activity within the last week, other than the waterpark we went to on Monday before we left, that was fun but of course now I'm paying the price with a freakin super sore back. Darn it! My back isn't really hurting, it's my leg. The nerve pinched in my back sends waves of pain down my leg with movement. Talk about fun! Once my back is better I'm going to start using an exercise bike to get back in shape. I'm sick of being not as thin as I once was, so I bought a bike on Walmart.com and it is at the store, I just have to go get it and make David put it together (he's so lucky! J)

I don't think I told you in my last letter but David, Blythe and I went to the Elkhart County Fair the last week of July and saw Huey Lewis and the News in concert. It was a lot of fun and I loved singing along with the songs and forcing Blythe to dance along with me J. Oh also I had emailed my professor for my Final Grade in Algebra and I got a 95% on the Final Exam and I already had an A in the class but I was soooo excited to hear about the final as it was seriously Intense!!!

David is taking John to the Wisconsin Dells tomorrow to a waterpark hotel til Friday. He's doing that because I'm taking the girls to the Justin Bieber concert on Thursday in Indianapolis with Mandy and Kaylee. They don't know yet and I'm going to tell them when we get down to Indy. They are going to freak out!!! J

Okay well I just looked at the clock and saw the time and I really got to get running but I'll write more next week!

August 31

I'm super irritable right now too. I'm on break between classes and half-assedly eating some yummy strawberry shortcake and just got done re-reading and tweaking my Sociology paper due this Friday. I started school on August 23, I have 4 classes this semester: Spanish 2, Sociology, Intro to Great Issues (Philosophy) and Algebra/Trigonometry. I'll tell you about each one. Spanish 2 is great, 5 of my friends who took Spanish 1 with me also signed up for Spanish 2 with me, so we have a row of our regulars! However, one of the girls just dropped Spanish 2 because she felt she wasn't going to do good at it. Our Spanish professor is from Colombia and she just learned English 10 years ago! She seems really nice though and is not rushing us through stuff so that's good. However, she hasn't issued any homework yet and the only way I learn is from repetition and doing homework, so I asked about that today and this one loud mouth girl that I already can't stand gave me shit about it and I was super irritated by it. Still am. People are stupid. You go to college to learn! Anyway I had a similar experience in math class last night, which I'll tell you about in a minute. Right now in Spanish we are currently learning about food and saying that we like something. So I've been practicing saying stuff in Spanish with the kids which is fun. Like: pido unos huevos, which is I would like some eggs. Or pido una torta de chocolate. I would like a chocolate cake, or torte. If you say I like Spanish it's: me gusta espanol. Or if you don't like Spanish you say: no me gusta espanol.

    My sociology class is all online, which I was at first worried about, but now I think I'm getting into the groove of it. Each week we have a 2 page single spaced paper due as a reflection of what we read in that week's chapter. We are currently on Chapter 2. We also have to watch a video or read an article and then answer a couple of questions in the format of a discussion thread. Then you have to respond to your peers' response as well. The professor expects at least 3 interactions per week, and I'm very driven to get an A so I do at least that. I was really worried about my Chapter 1 paper, but I got 2 out of 2 points and when she made an announcement of how she graded the papers, she said to look at mine or one other students' as to what a 2 point paper is like, which is awesome! It made me feel so relieved! I've already wrote the Chapter 2 reflection and I have sent it off to a couple people to review for grammatical issues before I post it. I'll send them to you as well.

    The Intro to Great Issues (Philosophy) class should be quite interesting. Each day a summary of one article listed for the semester by day is due. The summary has to be less than a page and contain no opinion in it. So we basically read a small article or like today, we are to turn in a summary of Books 1 and 2 of Genesis. I wondered why we would have to write with no opinion considering it's a Philosophy class but the entire class time is discussion of our opinions. We write what the author states to show we can clearly see what the message was. I'll be interested to see how the class discussion goes today because sometimes religion is a volatile subject. I think everyone should respect each other's opinion, even if it differs from their own, but a lot of people don't do that.

    My Algebra/Trigonometry class is my last math class (thank heavens!). I took it with the same professor I had in 064 (my first math class). He's a good guy but this class is way more intense and so I may have to go see the math tutors here at PNC or study extra on this subject! I have this class on Monday and Wednesdays from 7 – 8:15 pm. It's my only night class, the other 2 I come to PNC for are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. OH yeah I was going to tell you about the girl in my math class that pissed me off yesterday! What is it with people! Well our professor was going to show us how to do something using our very complicated scientific calculators but he had forgot it, so he told us he was going to show us yesterday. While class was winding up about 15 minutes early and the guy I took 064 with asked the Prof if he was going to go over that… well this one girl across the room got really shitty, like OMG, why would you say that, she says. Totally irritated me, so I spouted off back to her, "That I'd rather know how to do it for the tests, then not know how to do it." And the guy I took the math class with before, said "It's 10 minutes, geesh." Anyway, so people are pushing my buttons this week!

    The weekend before school started we had a yard sale and made some money which was good! We also sold the washer/dryer set that was in the house when we moved in (we had our own). The kids started school on August 25. Blythe is in 3rd grade and her teacher's name is Mrs. Carlson. She likes her. The twins are in preschool with Mrs. Kelly. Her name is actually Kelli Kelly, isn't that funny? I had called the school because the pre-school is in the same school and they are teaching the twins stuff they already know. In Indiana you have to be 5 by August to go to kindergarten or they can test in, so I called the secretary last week to talk about it and she said the counselor would test them to see if they can be moved up to kindergarten. I don't know how long that will take, I just called the school and asked about it. She said hope to hear something by the end of the week. They are currently teaching the twins how to count to 10 and John can count to over 100 while Grace can count up to 30 at least. So we'll see how that goes. Thursday there is an Open House at the school so I'm looking forward to that.

    Next weekend David, the kids and I are going to get family pictures done at the beach. I'm really excited though I would prefer to lose like 15 pounds before them! I got an exercise bike and I worked out on it 4 times last week but took a break over the weekend. I biked today when I got home from class. It's now 8:24 pm and I'm in bed printing off photos to send you along with the other photos I had ordered from walmart.com a couple weeks ago. I plan on going to the post office after I take the twins to school to mail you all the pictures and this letter. Back to the pictures, I'm super excited about getting pictures done at the beach, plus David and I need a photographer for our wedding so hopefully this works out.

    I got all the wall decals put up within the last couple weeks. They look great, I'm sending you pictures of some. I had ordered 2nd sets for the cherry blossom in our bedroom and for the living room, which we put on our big, long wall by the entryway and put up pictures around them (David's idea and it turned out awesome!). I love the way the house looks, though there is always more to do and always cleaning to do to keep it looking good! This weekend David and I have decided to work on the garage (putting stuff up from garage sale etc.) and also the basement. I had the basement almost all finished with boxing stuff up in storage bins and something fell on the storage bins and they toppled all over so now it's a total mess down there! Ergh! Ah well, hopefully it'll be all put together at the end of this weekend!

    Well mid-printing the ink in my printer started going out so I will try and print some pictures at the office tomorrow and now have to add yet another thing to do to my list tomorrow, buy more ink! I already have so much to do tomorrow, I may have to move some stuff around! Aspen is currently sniffing the pictures I printed out so if they smell like dog that's why J.

    I think I printed off some pictures of the Justin Bieber concert I took the girls to thru Walmart, but I can't remember and they are out in the car so if not I'll order some and send them to you next time. I take so many pictures and then I order the prints thru Walmart as they are much cheaper that way! The girls had an amazing time at the Bieber concert. It was so much fun! We told them in the parking garage when we got to our hotel in Indy because there were a ton of cars with Justin Bieber written on them and we saw people in the hotel area with Justin Bieber shirts on. They all screamed! Blythe said this was the best thing ever, Kaylee cried and Grace asked Mandy to be her bridesmaid. I think I've told you before Grace believes Justin Bieber is her boyfriend J. Our seats were up super high which was a bummer but there were a couple big screens and they loved it. There was Sean Kingston, the guy who sings "Replay" and Drake there as well as a couple no-name opening acts. We went to dinner at the Hard Rock CafĂ© afterwards and then went back to the hotel and passed out! When we got back I uploaded pictures to Walmart.com and ordered 2 memory books for each of the girls. I just got them last weekend, I think. They loved them!

    The kids' birthday is coming up… Well Blythe's is on September 30 and the twins' is on October 17. Blythe and Grace want American Girl dolls (insanely expensive dolls that you buy in Chicago) so I told them that I would buy them that for their only present. John wants a guitar so I'm in search for that now.

    Okay I need to read an article for my Philosophy class so I'll write more soon!


 

Disney Report thru July 29

June 3

    Moving on, vacation was lovely and incredibly stressful! Friday, May 21, David took the dogs to the kennel and we headed on our way at 8 am our time. We live on central standard time which is an hour behind most of Michigan and Indiana as well as the east coast. We traveled to Charleston, WV, and had a hotel room in the Marriott Hotel which is right downtown Charleston. We went to dinner with David's Mom and step-dad, Mike, and then we took the kids swimming, which they absolutely Love! Saturday, we went and visited with David's Grandma, Tootie, went and got us girls nails and toes painted for the wedding and John got a Mohawk which I think is super cute. It was David's cousin, Shanna, wedding. It was really nice, the ceremony was quick, we blew bubbles at the bride and groom and then had a nice time at the reception before we went back to the hotel to pack up for the next day and took the kids swimming again. The pool in the hotel was like bathwater. And the hot tub was scalding!

Sunday, May 23, we left to Savannah, Georgia. I've always wanted to see Savannah, it's one of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Cities in America. It is pretty. The Spanish moss trees are amazing (I'm sending you pictures) and there are a lot of pretty old homes and this gorgeous fountain in the middle of this park (pictures being sent). We got there late afternoon, unloaded everything and then rushed out of the hotel to go to Tybee Island which is where the ocean is. It's about 15 to 20 miutes away from Savannah. It was nice, the kids really enjoyed the ocean, mostly picking up seashells which we have a bag full of. David and Blythe went in further and jumped in the waves while I stayed on the beach with the twins. Afterward we went on the recommendation of the hotel lady to Bubba's restaurant on our way back into Savannah. Bubba is the brother of Paula Deen, who is a famous southern cook. The food was just okay and then it started storming pretty bad so we headed straight back to the hotel. Monday (your birthday), we left early on and went around town looking for the fountain that I'd seen in so many pictures when I googled Savannah.

Savannah is only 4 ½ hours away from Disney and the kids still didn't know where we were going. They didn't even believe when I told them we were going to Florida. They did really well on the trip, though there were very frustrating times as well! About ½ hour away from Disney, I broke the news to them and they screamed and carried on for a few minutes and then it was back to normal. I totally expected more giddiness from them, but hey you take what you can get! We got to our resort around 2 and unloaded everything and headed over to Hollywood Studios, which used to be called MGM Studios. It was pretty cool, the kids had such a blast. We saw an Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular Show (I'm sending you a picture), played in the Honey I Shrunk The Kids Playset, danced with some characters at Playhouse Disney, rode a Star Wars ride and a Toy Story ride. I'm trying to think of what else we did, but I'm blanking out right now. Oh, it started raining for a little bit when we first got there, which is typical for Florida weather, like every day there would be a rain shower for 20 minutes then it would go back to heat! We got to the park a little bit later on but there were special open hours just for Disney resort guests from 7 pm – 10 pm. We were all exhausted as we headed back to the room for the night and exhaustion is the key word for the rest of the trip.

The next day we went to Magic Kingdom which was just awesome. Seeing the Castle you see in the opening of all the Disney movies is really cool. We rushed off to ride a railroad ride that usually books up really fast and you have to get Fast passes to ride it later on without a horrific wait (Fastpasses are you use your resort card or Disney pass and you get a ticket to come back at a certain time later in the day, like 2 hours later, and when you come back you get to skip ahead, fast passes go real quick!). The girls were totally freaked out by the ride and John and David and I loved it, but only John and David rode it again. We hurried over to Splash Mountain which is a ton of fun. It's a log ride with a 50 foot drop where you get wet and along the way you see a story of the Brer Rabbit and the wolf that's after him. It's really cute and we all rode it 2 times. On our way to those rides we saw Frontier Donald Duck and John is the only one who would go up to him (as the characters are in full body suits so it freaked the girls out). We went over to Fantasy Land and rode It's a Small World (super annoying songs), which is a boat ride through all of the different countries and it has all these dolls from different countries singing and dancing. Then we got a fastpass for Peter Pan's Flight as the wait was pretty long. Everyone really enjoyed that ride too, once we rode it. It takes you through the movie on a mini ship. The girls wanted to ride it again but we had so much to see! We went in and saw the PhilarMagic show which is hilarious and really good. It's a 3D show, similar to Fantasia, but this time Donald Duck takes over the orchestra and it goes a bit haywire. What's great about it is that in a spot where Donald gets wet the theater actually sprays water at you. And when it's windy the theater fills with wind. It was one of my favorite things to do.

Afterward we went to Cinderella's Golden Carousel and there was Mary Poppins, Bert and a Penguin, so we stood in line, got the kids' autograph books signed and took pictures and then rode the Carousel. Dumbo was right next to it, so we went there next and it started pouring rain. They kept the ride going (unless it starts lightning they'll keep them going) and they asked if anyone wanted to ride in the rain. The kids and I raised our hands so we stood in the pouring rain and waited for our turn. Like the previous day it was done by the time we got to ride and we were all soaking wet but dried quickly because of the Florida heat. We stood in line next for the Winnie the Pooh ride, which the girls really enjoyed and then headed over to Tomorrowland to eat and then ride the Buzz Lightyear ride. In the line we saw Buzz Lightyear but he left soon after and there was still quite a line to see them. The characters only stay in one spot for 20 – 25 minutes before they are moved or given a break. Most of the characters (other than the Princesses and Mary Poppins) are in full body suits, I can't imagine how hot that must be for the person inside. After than we went to Toontown and the kids got their face painted, John was a hero, Grace a princess and Blythe a swan. They are amazingly talented with that face painting, they do it so quick too! Afterward we walked back and rode Splash Mountain for the 2nd time and then went to Adventureland and met Pirate Goofy, just timed it right as soon as he came out we were right there. We then rode the Aladdin magic carpet ride and then took the bus back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

    Dinner was an absolute blast! We had dinner at the Grand Floridian Resort, a restaurant called 1900 Park Fare. We were going to take a bus back to Magic Kingdom, then ride the Monorail to the Resort (like a subway above ground) and then ride the Monorail back to Magic Kingdom, but we swam and then was running late so we took the car. The dinner was a buffet but included the characters of Cinderella , Prince Charming, the two stepsisters (Druella and Anastasia) and the evil stepmother (Lady Tremaine). They all were Fantastic! All of them came to the table and spoke to all of the kids and then we had pictures taken with them. The Prince asked John if he was a Prince or a pirate which John said he was a pirate and then switched later on to being a prince. Grace told Cinderella she loved her and thought her dress was pretty. Blythe loved it too. It was soo much fun. Cinderella and the Prince danced a Royal Waltz and Cinderella tried hugging the stepmother and the stepmother was like, get off of me! It was really funny. One of the stepsisters would scream a time or two. It was one of the best times and the kids loved it. Since we drove, we didn't stop back at Magic Kingdom as the traffic is horrific I've been told after the fireworks, but we could see some of the fireworks in the car on our way back to the hotel.

The next day, Wednesday, we went to Animal Kingdom. We got up early again and headed over to Animal Kingdom and rushed to get a fastpass for the safari ride and then the Kali River Rapids ride which is like a white water rafting ride. We saw a show called Flights of Wonder that had real birds from around the world, there was a woman with an owl announcing the show outside of the seating area, and it convinced me to go in as it reminded me of Grandma Jo. The show was fantastic and all of us really enjoyed it. We then rushed off to watch Finding Nemo the musical and got another Fastpass for a ride in Dinoland called Dinosaur which we were told should not be missed. Finding Nemo the Musical was very cool. Follows the movie and is puppets and people, singing and dancing. I'm glad we saw it. We then went back to the hotel and relaxed by the pool before we headed back to Animal Kingdom where we had a late lunch at the Tusker House which is right in Animal Kingdom. It was also a buffet and was David's favorite. Mine was 1900 Park Fare (above). There were no characters, but I had the kids give David his ring (I'll explain this later) and then when we left, the parade was going on and the kids and all of us were fascinated! Afterward we went on the safari, which we did twice. It is so cool, they have created a reserve right there in Disney and African animals roam free, we saw giraffes, elephants, wart hogs, rhino's, longhorn bulls, hippos and crocodiles (totally freaked me out, the crocodiles, seeing one in person is just freaky!) Afterward we rode Kali River Rapids and I got completely DRENCHED! It was a ton of fun and we ended up riding it again after we did another safari, I was still wet from the first time and got wet some more but David got the drenching the 2nd time. All of us were wet, but it's really refreshing when it happens! We went over to Dinoland and rode the Triceratop Spin ride (kinda boring) and then we went and used our Fastpass for Dinosaur. Now I have to tell you, I screamed and had my eyes shut for most of this ride and Grace was almost frozen petrified with her eyes opened, when I would open my eyes to check on her and Blythe's eyes were also closed. It was completely freaky!!! You basically are in a car and it's being sent back to the time when the meteor hits earth and kills the dinosaurs and all these dinosaurs come popping out at you in the dark. I was almost traumatized from this ride and David and John Loved it! John actually got a ginormous Dinosaur in the gift shop. Us girls were absolutely horrified!

Well we left Animal Kingdom after that and headed back to the hotel, we decided to go to Downtown Disney as there was a store called LegoLand down there as well as other places to check out so we drove down there and within 5 minutes I lost my little camera bag which held my driver's license, all of our hotel keys, all of our Disney passes and my credit card. Well needless to say I was a wreck and I left David, Blythe and John at LegoLand, took Grace and combed back our steps to the car, searched the car and then went crying to the hotel registration desk. As I had no identification other than a parking pass they had someone meet me at the room to let me in and I tore it apart looking for it. I couldn't find it and I was just sick so I went back to Downtown Disney to get David and the other kids and then we all headed to Disney's Lost and Found. He called TRex (the restaurant we had walked by on our way to Legoland) as they have a separate Lost and Found and they had my stuff. I was sooo thankful, and my credit card and everything was still there! Whew! We went and eat after and then to the Disney store where the girls got necklaces and John and David got lightsabers.

The next day, Thursday, our last day at Disney, we had breakfast at 10:40 in Norway at Epcot so we packed up the car and had our Disney resort hold our luggage and headed on the bus to Epcot for breakfast. This was our other character meal with another Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Belle and Sleeping Beauty (Aurora). The buffet had cold items on it and the weirdest things like smoked herring and salmon (blech for breakfast but that's what other countries eat in the morning, ew!), but also lots of fresh fruit and then the waitress brought us eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and sausage. The hashbrowns were the best. They were made with some kind of cream or something, delicious! After the breakfast, the kids ran around in this area at Epcot where water comes out of like potholes. These pictures that I'm sending you are my favorite from the trip. I love their faces as they run through the water! It gets so hot in Florida and it's great to be able to cool off with any kind of water! We went and stood in line at the Epcot Character Spot (inside wait, most of the stuff is like that which is pretty cool). The kids got autographs and pictures with Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Pluto and Goofy. They loved it! Then when we walked out Chip n Dale were next to it, so we stood in line and the kids really enjoyed them, they were funny, and all of the characters complimented Johnny on his way cool Mohawk. We went and rode the Finding Nemo ride and sat in a show called Turtle Talk with Crush (the sea turtle from Finding Nemo) and then we had ice cream and left Epcot to go back to the hotel to swim for a little bit before we headed out to St. Augustine, FL.

St. Augustine was only 2 hours away from Disney and we got there when it was getting dark, so we had a terrible dinner at the Mexican restaurant right across the street and then played in the pool and hot tub for a little bit before going back to our room for some Phineas and Ferb cartoon watching. I love Phineas and Ferb. I don't know what kind of tv programming you all get in there, but I'm telling you, if you get the Disney channel at all you should check out the show. It's really funny and David and I watch it sometimes without the kids being around! The next morning we got up at the ungodly hour of 6 to go collect seashells at the ocean (about 10 minute away from our hotel). We headed back, had breakfast and then packed up the car for the long haul to Nashville, TN.

I don't know if you watch the news or if you'd heard of the flooding Nashville went through in April, but when we were there the only thing that was still shut down was Opryland and the mall right next to it. The hotel guy said that Opryland was like ground zero for the flooding. I don't tend to watc the news, I find it way too depressing, so I only know a tiny bit about the flooding and have only seen a couple of pictures. I liked Nashville but it's not somewhere I'd be rushing to get back to. David and I don't drink and downtown consists of bar after bar. There are musicians on the streets and the city is amazingly clean, which was even more surprising after the flooding just a short time ago. We walked downtown and took some pictures, ate at a BBQ joint called Jack's BBQ that was really good and headed back to our hotel for some more swimming! I was honestly swum out, but I did get in the pool for a little bit and David, Blythe and John took turns trying to jump the farthest in the pool. All the kids wear lifevests, I wouldn't have it any other way. John would barely get in the water when we first started our trip and by the time we left Nashville he was jumping in. It was nice to see. David is awesome with the kids, you can tell he loves them and they love him too! We stayed in Nashville 2 nights, mainly because it took us Forever from St. Augustine, FL to Nashville, TN as it was a Friday on a holiday weekend (Memorial Day weekend) and in parts the traffic was horrific, like Atlanta.

Sunday morning we packed up everything and made the 7 hour drive to home. It was sooooo nice to get home and see or baby girl puppy, Aspen, our big boy, Jet, and all of our cats (now 5, I know crazy!!) Most of all it was soooo nice to sleep in our king size bed again! We are used to sleeping that way now and every hotel room except for 1 had double beds, which felt like I was falling off one side! So we get home and David starts a load of laundry and our washing machine is broke! Grrr!!!! So I call this repair place and they come out, the guy asks me about 6 times about our dogs, which were outside, (he then tells me he's been bit 3 times by dogs), then he tells me that the repair was $300!!! Well David said let's just buy a new one, plus he said the guy was so full of shit! He unplugged our timer then said it was that and David took me downstairs after he left and showed that the timer works fine, its when it's supposed to be spinning, only the center thing spins and not the bucket. So we went to BestBuy the next day and ordered a front loading washing machine that was on super sale and we go to set up delivery (being told that it would only be a week) and it can't be delivered until June 24! Shoot me!!! Well not really, but seriously 5 people generate a ton of laundry and so today David and I are running to the ghetto Laundromat close to our home to get everything clean in one haul and then we'll probably have to go one more time before our washer gets delivered. Our dryer is still working and I'm hopeful it stays that way!

So today is Friday now, and I plan on printing this and getting it into the mail to you today (June 4). I have to pick up the pictures from Walmart which I will do sometime this weekend and I'll take them to the post office on Monday and pay for them to come to you, so expect those in a couple days after you receive this long ass letter! Please be sure to let me know if you get the postcards I sent you! Did I tell you that I start my math class for summer session on Monday (June 7). I'm going to take pictures of campus to send to you in the next letter. I have been in David's office this morning and just ran out with Debbie (his mom) to get the pictures and then also to pick up a calculator for my class. I have to have a certain one and they start at $130!!! Eek! Of course I have no clue how to use it lol, but I'm sure I'll figure it out by the end of this class. I have 3 more math classes to take for my degree and the calculator will be useful in each one. And then I'll sell it! I have the pictures and separate envelopes for pictures to send to you. A few of the pictures came out grainy which is a bit irritating but most of them are really good. I hope you enjoy going thru them!

Mom emailed me today about the guy hitting you from behind. That had to be so scary. I've been emotional about it all day, just thinking about you. Mom told me you also told her that you are seeing people and talking to people aren't there. I know you wrote that to me in your letter and I'm glad that you are getting help for it in the place you are in now. We've been through a trauma with Dad dying so suddenly and we each will be grieving over it for a long time. I get anxious when I am getting ready to go to sleep and also check on my kids all the time. I have horrific dreams sometimes too. I appreciate that you talked to me about it and know that I do understand and I don't think you are crazy, or one of my favorite lines, cookoo like cocoa puffs! I think you are grieving and having a hard time being alone in your grief. Anytime you need to talk to me or put words down on paper, know that it'll stay with me and I will understand and always love you. Just know that you are almost out of there and I've been thinking that if you have to live in Michigan when you get out that you move to New Buffalo, Michigan, which is literally 10 minutes away from me. Here in Michigan City we are right on the border of Michigan and Indiana and I would love to have you that close. If you can transfer to Indiana, then I think you should move to Michigan City. It's lovely here, and it's wonderful to be right here on Lake Michigan. I would even want you to move in with me if you needed to at first, though hopefully you'll have money left to be able to walk out buy a car, rent a house while you look for work. Just something to think about.

I will pass along the info that you are in Muskegon to Russ. I'll try to make it up there to see you too. I asked David if he would come and he said yes, so how do I get that paperwork? I have to fill out for myself and have David do his. They only let me in when Dad died because of the circumstances. Let me know next time you write or talk to Mom about how we can get the paperwork.

I'm not sure if I sent you a picture of a ring, I'm trying to think if I did. I don't show I wrote you after David and I got engaged, but here let me give you the story. David and I know we will be together until one of us dies. We get into fights, sometimes not talking for a couple of days. Our fights are always over some kind of miscommunication. Never anything big, sometimes I just don't want to talk to him until my temper has settled down. Then I can speak calmly. And it's over really stupid things, like I can't remember our last fight and usually by the time my temper has settled down I can't really remember why we've fought in the first place. Neither of us in the beginning wanted to get married again and I am still okay with being together in a committed relationship, but there are benefits of being married and I love David and I want to be with him for the rest of my life and marriage has been creeping in our minds for awhile. Well David said that he would buy me a ring after I bought him a ring. We've spent a lot of time looking at rings and finally David found one he liked so I went in a couple days later and bought it. And then hid it in my file cabinet. I was planning on giving it to him at Disney and I showed Blythe and kept it a secret until we got into a disagreement and I told him when I was angry about it. Well fast forward to Tuesday before we leave for vacation and we were talking about our communication and what we needed to do to make it better and just a really good talk. I was doing something, I don't remember what, but he was in the kitchen eating cereal and he told me to grab the kittens (I sent you pictures before, both are girls we found out so now they are named: Esme and Candace (from Phineas and Ferb, Blythe named her) from the bed and so I did and I was like ok, Let's go watch Biggest Loser (do you watch that show? Such an inspiring show!) and he laughed and told me I was blind and I turned around and saw the jewelry box. I was shaking and I opened the box and totally freaked out as it was the ring that we both loved! Well I ended up having the kids give the ring to David at the restaurant in Animal Kingdom (Tusker House). Blythe handed it to them and Grace asked if David would be their step-dad. It was really cute and now we both have our rings!

Well David and I set a wedding date of 6/2/2012 actually on 6/2/2010. I woke up that morning and thought of 6 * 2 = 12 (month, date = year) and we have 12 in our family including all of our animals. So we are going for it. I want to get married at the gazebo here in Michigan City right near the beach and then there is a Senior Center that can be rented that's right on the beach here at Lake Michigan. I've always wanted a beach wedding and I'm bound to have it. I stopped yesterday about reserving it, but I can't reserve it until January 2011 for 2012, so I have it written down to do that. Next time I go to the beach I'll take a picture of the gazebo and the Senior Center. David and I also already talked and we are going to video tape the wedding so you can watch it if you want to when you are out and also we are going to renew our vows in a ceremony when you get out, so you can be there for that.

June 13

Well it's Sunday and I'm lying on the couch watching Tropic Thunder. Have you ever seen it? It's funny. Robert Downey Jr. plays a black guy and he's really funny in it. You should watch it if you get the chance.

    Well I sold Dad's car yesterday. It was sad for me. I know it's just a car, but Dad used to call it his Cadillac. Of course it wasn't a Cadillac, but he said it was the closest he would get to one! I'm going to buy a Nissan Pathfinder once the estate is disbursed. It's a 7 passenger 4 wheel drive SUV. I get totally scared driving in the snow and so the 4 wheel drive should be great in alleviating my fears of snow! I've been looking online for months at the Pathfinder's and I'm excited to be able to get one soon hopefully. I'll send you pictures of what I get when I do. Maybe by the end of June. That'd be great.

    I started my Algebra class on Monday. We meet 3 times a week; Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 2:50 pm. The professor is a younger guy, I think its first year teaching. You can tell he is nervous and his teaching style is different than my first math professor last semester. We are recapping on what I've already taken in the 064 class last semester so I'm feeling fine with it so far but we are going over 9 chapters in 6 weeks or so. June 7 I started and July 29th is our last class.

    I had to return my camera as it totally messed up but I got another one and I'm going to take pictures of campus tomorrow.

    I took a couple pictures when we are at the beach this weekend. I haven't printed them out to see if they turned out but I will. I love living close to the beach here by Lake Michigan. I took the kids on Friday to the beach for a couple of hours and then Saturday we went again but the wind was coming off the lake and the lake is still really freaking cold and it was freezing even on the beach!! We only stayed about 20 minutes! BRRRR! Oh I'll try taking pictures of the gazebo I'm going to reserve for David and I to get married at next time I go to the beach.

    Today we took the kids to see Marmaduke at the theater. Really cute. Very kid friendly and the kids loved it. Blythe said when we were leaving she wanted it when it came out on DVD. Oh I just looked up above my head and the two kittens are lying on the pillow on top of the couch. Super adorable!

    June 15, 2010

    Hey bud! Well I didn't print this out yet so now I'm going to finish it up (Tuesday night). Right now Blythe, David and I are lying on the couch with the animals watching Two and a Half Men. Totally hilarious show, have you seen it? I highly recommend it!

    Tomorrow I have my first exam in Algebra. I feel pretty confident because in Spring semester we just went over from Chapter 1 to Chapter 5 and so I've just done this. So I'm hoping that I do well on this first exam. I have the exam tomorrow and should have my grade on Thursday so I'll let you know!

    Tonight we had karate and we broke cement with our heels! Well they had 2 spaced pieces of cement that a few of us girls tried and could not do and then they put one piece of cement down and I broke it! It was way cool! I'm going to send you a picture of the cement, I wrote my name on it, date and heel so I can remember my first cement break! David broke the 2 spaced pieces of cement. He is so good at karate!

    It's supposed to be nice for the rest of the week, it's been kind of rainy for the past few days. I'm looking forward to taking Blythe to the beach. Saturday Mandi is having a luncheon at her house in Jackson. She and her husband Jordan and Michael just moved there from Illinois. Grandma and Grandpa Siewert will be there as well as Uncle Rick, Mom, Dad, Jason and all of us. Well David may have to work. I'll make sure to send you pictures next week J.

June 22

Well it's Tuesday afternoon and I'm forcing the kids to have quiet time while I get some stuff done! This morning I cleaned a little bit and then Scott's wife, Jessica, came over with Savannah and we all went to the beach and then to the splash park by the beach, kind of like huge sprinklers on cement. It was a lot of fun! I'm including pictures, of course! My favorite line of the day was from Gracie who said, "Mom I don't need sunscreen, I'm skinny." Haha, of course what she meant was that she's tan and she never burns. She and Blythe are both like that. It still was funny and I made her wear sunscreen anyway because it was supposed to be 90 degrees out. It was high 80s for sure but it was definitely hotter on Friday than today.

Well last week I think I mailed you the letter right before my Algebra exam, the first one of the semester. I got 100% which is awesome! Just need to keep that up J. The test was only 16 questions and we had worked on a Review Test the day before and it kind of mimicked that.

Last Friday, Blythe and I went to the beach with a friend of mine that just moved 15 minutes away, which was fun but I got burned! I think it was defective sunscreen because David used it Sunday and also got burned! Well after we got home it started to storm really badly and we lost power and then the tornado sirens started going off so Blythe and I went into the basement and I went up twice to get the dogs in the basement with us. We were down there when David got home. He totally makes fun of my petrified fear of storms but I can't help it. They are scary! We all went to karate still, and I was wound up from the storm and more were supposed to be coming! Power was out for the night so we packed up the dogs and headed to Debbie's house which is across town and still had power. We slept in her very uncomfortable double bed and got up early to come home so I could get ready to go to Mandi's house for lunch.

Mandi's house is nice and big. They live in Jackson, MI right now though they may be moving yet again as Jordan (Mandi's husband) is still working 12 hour shifts 6 days a week and never sees Mandi or Michael. I took lots of pictures and I'll send them along. GG & Pops (Grandma and Grandpa Siewert) were there as well as Rick, Jason, Mom and Dad. David had to work and Blythe ended up going with Mom and Dad so I came home and David and I hung out for the evening. We went to the gazebo we are going to get married at and watched the sunset on Lake Michigan.

Sunday was Father's Day and a bunch of people were posting this on Facebook. I did too. I thought it was appropriate. "Yellow roses grow in heaven, Lord pick a bunch for me, place them in my daddy's arms and tell him they're from me. Tell him that I love and miss him, and when he turns to smile place a kiss upon his cheek and hold him for awhile. Because remembering him is easy, I do it every day. There's an ache in my heart that will never go away."

We got up at 5 am to drive to Terre Haute which is about 3 hours away so David could buy a motorcycle. He's wanted one for quite some time and I'm not a huge fan of motorcycles but he found a really good deal and he's thoroughly enjoying it! I don't like riding on bikes but I went around the neighborhood with him on Sunday when we got home and hopefully I can get used to it enough to ride around town with him without totally freaking out. It's basically a street legal dirt bike and that's exactly what he was looking for. He's driving it to work for the past 2 days as well and took the kids on it around the block this morning. The kids were still in pajamas and all of them really enjoyed it! John was pretty PO'd when I made him get off the bike.

Sunday David and I also went and saw A Team in the theatre which was sooo good! I wasn't sure how it would be and I was very pleasantly surprised. If you get a chance to see it, watch it. I'm going to buy it when it comes out on DVD. We also went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant I heard was really good and I was not impressed. Neither was David, which was a bummer but oh well, now we know!

So David and I have been looking for houses and we made another offer on a house this weekend. It's right down the road from us, well around the corner and right down the road from us and has 3 bedrooms, an almost completely finished basement, a detached garage and a parking spot up front too, everything is really nice. The guy that owns it is going into the ministry and is moving about 20 minutes away. He's been really helpful and just wanted to wait until the house had been on the market for 10 days before he accepts our offer. We are meeting his wife tomorrow and then on Friday if no one else has made an offer then he will sign the offer and we'll be moving in July! So cross your fingers for us… Only 2 more days!

This coming up weekend we are going to Bad Axe to visit GG and Pops. I'm so looking forward to going to Lake Huron and getting some doughballs!! YUMMMMMMM! J

Tomorrow I am taking John to get his Mohawk recut as his hair is growing in pretty quick and let Grace get blue in her hair. Blythe got purple last week but you can barely see it. David took her, I wish I would've went because they didn't do it right. Frustrating! Also, we are taking the kids to see Toy Story 3 in 3D and if there's time going to get a child's motorcycle helmet for the kids to use and a helmet for me, if I can get comfortable riding around town with David.

Okay that's it for now. David and I need to make dinner for the troops as Blythe has karate in an hour and then it's our turn for some "hot" karate!


July 11

It's Sunday morning and John and I are the only ones up in the house (except for the animals). John is watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Today is our packing day and picking out paint day so it'll be a busy one once everyone else is up. I've already packed up a lot, but there's more to do! We are officially moving next Saturday, July 17. We've rented a U-haul and Debbie is having the guy that mows her lawn help and then Scott, Jessica and their friend, Rob, is going to help too. I'm so excited!

    Well I know I didn't write you last week and so I'll get you caught up. We made that offer on the house on Greenwood Ave and the seller's did accept it. We are closing tomorrow. The house is 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, nice fenced in yard, detached garage and additional parking in the back. It also has most of the basement finished so we are putting my desk and David's weights and maybe a futon with a tv down there. The bedrooms are all on the one side of the house, David and my room is the front one, then John's and then the girls.

    The girls want their room pink with purple stripes (this was after they bickered for quite some time on a pink or purple room and I suggested the stripes), John's room will be blue and then our room is going to be in the lavender family. Once I pick it out today I'll scan what colors we picked out so you can visualize it. Tuesday I'll take pictures before and then I'll send you pictures of after we've painted. The house really needs no work, but I want to paint so they are "our" colors. The living room I've really been struggling with what to paint it but I think it'll be in the blue/green family. I found these awesome lamps that Blythe says looks like a peacock feather at an Estate sale that are now my inspiration for the room! The living room opens into the kitchen/eat in dining area so it needs to be complementing colors. We want to paint the kitchen yellow and then put up a chair railing (basically a trim piece mid-wall to separate). David suggested the yellow and I think yellow for a kitchen is very cheery! All of our appliances are white and cupboards so I think it'll look really sharp. The bathroom is the only thing we aren't painting, it's like a deep red and really pretty! Plus it has a one-person Jacuzzi tub in it! Omg can't wait!! J

    I also ordered some wall decals and bought some for the kids at Menards when they were on sale. Wall decals are like wall stickers, they've become pretty popular. They don't damage the walls and they have a wide array of quotes, custom order, pictures and different things. John wanted Diego (cartoon explorer, cousin to Dora) so I got those for him and then ordered a world map decal from Ebay. John is always asking questions as to where we are, how close it is to China etc. So he'll love the world map and it'll go really well with the Diego decals and blue walls. The girls couldn't just choose one of course, so they chose their own. Grace got Hannah Montana and Blythe picked out horses. Blythe LOVES horses. Their room will be pink and purple and we'll have to figure out a way to get the horses and Hannah to go together. I think I'll put the Hannah's in one central location and then spread the horses like running around the room. Then I also got butterfly decals for them to have them flitting around the room with the horses. The room will have a lot going on, but it's what they want!

    For the rest of the house I ordered a quote for the living room that says "Together we make a family" and then I custom ordered one for David and my bedroom that says "I mean it" which is our thing. When I say I love you and he says I love you, too, I then say "I mean it" and he says well I mean it too. LOL. Sounds silly but we both do it to each other so I thought it would be cute above our bed as a decoration. And the last thing I ordered was 2 blossom trees that are wall decals, one pear blossom (it has white flowers and branches) and one cherry blossom (branches and then pink type flowers). I can't wait to get them up on the walls, but I just ordered them so they won't be here for a couple weeks. They are pretty cheap on Ebay and I ordered multiple from one place so that I only get charged shipping once.

    It's been a bit overwhelming, packing, getting ready for a move, school, work and cleaning. I started working at Debbie's office a few part time days a week, and I also clean her office, her home and then I started cleaning a condo on Friday. I'm also meeting with a guy on Tuesday to clean his house once a week. This math class I'm in is getting harder and we are done as of July 29, I just need to sit down with it and go over it over and over it until I get it. I have a test coming up on Wednesday, so except for painting I'm going to be studying!

    So the last weekend in June we went to GG and Pops (Grandma and Grandpa Siewert's) for the weekend. It was a lot of fun, the kids really enjoyed the visit and so did GG and Pops. I'm sending you pictures (got a call from Walmart saying my pictures are ready to be picked up). They loved all of the animal decorations they had around the yard and spent a ton of time playing hide n seek out in the yard. Saturday we took them to Lake Huron, but I thought it was going to be cooler than it was so I didn't bring their swimsuits, which was a bummer because it was way hotter there. We played around and there was a rib fest going on so we ate at that and then played on the playground before going back to GG's and Pops.

    We went and saw Toy Story 3 and during the movie they stopped it and made us all go into the bathroom as there was a Tornado warning and they were saying there was rotation spotted like 3 miles away. I freakin HATE storms and was totally wigged out, but all was fine and we got to go in and finish the movie, which was cute. David, Debbie and I went and saw Eclipse when it came out and was super disappointed. I don't know if you know about the Twilight madness, Edward, Jacob and Bella. I am a fanatic about the books, they are brilliant and I've read them thru 2 full times and then read parts a 3rd time, but the movies all blow. The second one, New Moon, was the best so far but they've all generally been disappointing. I'd rather take the time to read the books than watch the movies, hands down. The 4th book, Breaking Dawn, which is by far the best, they are making into 2 movies so hopefully they will be good. Holding out hope they get that one right!

    Over July 4th we didn't have any of the kids, so we didn't do much. We watched Knight and Day at the theatres, the one with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, which was cute. We went and saw fireworks at Long Beach which is here in Michigan City. I took pictures and am sending to you. Tonight it is the Michigan City fireworks, which I just remembered, so we'll be sure to take the kids to that. J Going to be a busy day!

    Okay well I'm going to get some coffee and get started, otherwise I'll sit here all day and get nothing done. Well that's not true, but if I get a late start and have so much to do I'll start feeling overwhelmed!


 

July 14


 

Hey bud, well I hadn't printed this out yet so I'm adding to it even though I should be studying for my Algebra exam which is in 3 hours! I'm at the office with Blythe and just cleaned other than vacuuming the rugs and cleaning the conference table, but there is a meeting in there right now so I have to wait til that's done.

Well Monday we signed the paperwork and my new address is 217 Greenwood Ave, Michigan City, IN 46360. David, the kids and I picked out paint color for the house on Sunday and I love the colors! I'm taking before and after pics so you can see what we are doing. The girls chose pink, with purple stripes, John chose a very bright blue, David and I have a color that's in the purple family, our living room is like a sea green/blue and the kitchen will be yellow. Blythe and I started painting her room Monday and then yesterday (Tuesday) Mom came over and we finished the girls' room (other than purple stripes), painted John's room and my room as well. They look great and I'm thrilled! David and I started in the living room last night and painted almost all the walls, just need to touch up today and then paint one little section. The living room is huge and we need to move the drop cloth over there before we paint to protect the floor. I have my Algebra exam today and after class I'm going to finish painting the living room, do a 2nd coat on the hallway which is just a cream color and then start in on the kitchen. David is going to tape the stripes and then Blythe and possibly her friend, Angel, will be painting the stripes while David and I work on the kitchen. I wish I would've painted the kitchen first because it's going to be a bitch to paint around the cabinets and counter top!

My body is killing me today. I'm so achy from painting and moving stuff. Every time we go over we load the Pilot with stuff from the house and then we've been taking it to the basement in the new house. I still need to pack the kids' room somewhat at our old house and make sure everything else is packed so hopefully we'll be done with painting today or tomorrow mid afternoon and then tomorrow evening and Friday I can focus on getting everything packed and ready to roll in anticipation of the Uhaul move on Saturday.

I'm really looking forward to decorating the new house! Monday we are having a family meeting and creating a chore list for everyone. J Okay well I'm going to force myself to study for Algebra exam, I'm nervous about it but not really. I'm sure I'll be super nervous later on!

Oh yeah, I am going to Walmart either today or tomorrow to pick up the pictures. I'll mail them separately!


 

July 29


 

Okay, where to begin… Well we moved. July 17. It was so freakin' hot that day too. This summer has been full of them. Of course I'd rather have it be hot than cold, so I'll stop complaining about that! J Anyway, that week was pretty stressful, just trying to pack everything up. You don't realize how much stuff you've accumulated until you have to box it all up! I'm planning on having a garage sale sometime in August to try and sell off stuff that we don't need or use. Of course depending on everything, it may be next year, but I'm shooting for August! J We rented a U-haul and Scott, Jessica, Jess' brother and one of their friends, along with David and I moved our house and then I started organizing stuff in the house while David helped Scott and Jessica move from LaPorte to our old house on the same day. Poor David! He had it rough! After that, he had to drive back to LaPorte and show some houses. I had organized a ton of stuff and Debbie had a guy who mows her lawn come over and start putting stuff together for us, which was nice. He put up blinds, put up our bed frame and bed, put together our dining room table and helped set up our above ground pool. He's a nice kid.

    Oh, but before we moved…. We painted the entire first floor of the house, besides the bathroom. The bathroom is a really pretty shade of red, so we left that but painted the entire house. I've ordered pictures but I did Home Delivery option which means they won't be here for another week or so. It was like $10 more for the one hour photo so I decided to just wait and send them to you once I get them thru the home delivery. But I'll tell you now what we did. The girls' wanted pink and purple and both were pretty insistent so we did pink and purple stripes. We painted the entire room pink first and then did the purple stripes last after every room in the house was done. Blythe helped out too, and she was a great help! We started painting on Monday evening, and Mom came over on Tuesday and helped finish painting the girls' room, John's room and our bedroom! She was a huge help!

    John picked out a bright blue for his room, which I thought was really loud, but it turned out awesome. It's really pretty, I can't wait for you to see it! Our room is a deep lavender. It's very calming and beautiful. David picked it out, which surprises everyone since it's in the purple family. I'm in my room right now and I love looking at our walls! The living room is hard to explain. A couple people have called it aqua, and it was in the green palettes of color but it looks blue. It's called Ol' Swimming Hole and I'm not sure what color I'd actually classify it as but it's my favorite color in the house. I think. J

    The kitchen is a light lemony yellow, which is really pretty. I dreaded painting the kitchen so I saved it until last. It ended up being the easiest room to paint. We had two of my friends from PNC over, Heather and Maggie and they helped paint the living room, the 2nd coat in the hallway (oh I forgot to tell you that's a pretty cream color) and then Maggie had to leave at the beginning of the kitchen but I was thankful for their help. Our cupboards and cabinets are white in the kitchen so the yellow looks really good against them.

    I took pictures of the progression of painting so once I get those I will send them on to you right away! I think they should be here by next Friday. I know I told you in the previous letter about the wall decals and I have the kids' up but not anywhere else in the house. The girls' room looks great with the horses, butterflies and Hannah Montana. I stuck the butterflies so they look like they are flying up to the ceiling and then on the ceiling to the closet. I love it! We had to have a contractor that Debbie knows (and Anthony's (our helper) brother), Jimmy, over as when we put the bunk beds up in the girls' room the ceiling fan in that room was right in line with the top bunk and I don't want to take the chance of hurting one of the kids. We got a new light fixture for them and he came over and put it up and then moved the ceiling fan to our room, which is awesome because we didn't have a light fixture, only a lamp and a light switch that controlled the switch that had our lamp and our tv plugged into it. Jimmy has been also a huge help in that John's window broke (really old windows) and he came over on a weekend and put a new one in because I was afraid that it could shatter on him or one of the kids if they knocked into it. The windows were on such a good sale that I bought more and he's put those in as well.

    So we are loving living here. I think every day how much I love this house and I'm so glad we moved! There is still sooo much to do. We had Anthony pull out a dreadful hedge and some bushes up front and last weekend we got some plants and planted them up front. That was much longer than we expected as there was a layer of mulch that had to be removed, then a layer of gravel and then a layer of stones! But the new plants look great, which you will soon see (pictures). This weekend we are not really planning anything other than on Sunday we are putting together the wood playset I had ordered thru Walmart. It was $30 more than one of those metal weak looking things so I'm super excited to get that up. I want the kids to be able to play in the back yard (it's fenced in). They absolutely love the pool (though there was a snafu with the saltwater system that generates chlorine so you don't have to put shocker stuff in it, it didn't get here until yesterday so they haven't been able to swim for a few days since the water has started to get cloudy). Debbie just found a patio set that we are picking up on Saturday for free! And it's super nice! Rectangle table, 4 chairs, one lounger! Woohoo! J

    We are pretty good at being organized on the 1st floor, other than in our room and then I have this hutch thing in our kitchen (I got it at a garage sale for $25) that I've just been throwing shit on, but the basement definitely needs some organizing. We have the garage too that we are going to put some storage stuff in from the basement, once I organize more. The basement has finished walls and I picked up a carpet remnant at Lowe's for dirt cheap for a play area/eventually a lounge area down there and then my desk will be down there as well. It's down there now, just not set up. We have a separate laundry area which is nice though I need to mop down there since I used the utility sink to clean all our paintbrushes etc and there is some dried tinted water on the floor. With the fact we've only been here 2 weeks, the basement looks awesome, but it needs to get done, preferably before I start school for fall (August 23) so that's a goal. A dreaded goal but a goal still the same. I'll take a picture of the basement as is and then send you progress reports on a weekly basis til it's done!

    Today was my Algebra final which was no fun! Every test I've received either 100% or over 100% due to the Bonus Question our prof would put on our tests and I was over 100% in homework as well but this Final was Rough! When I did the Practice Final there were 8 questions I just flat out didn't know how to do! Because the class was only 6 weeks they jam too much material in it and the students pay the price! 8 chapters in 6 weeks! Eek! We learned the stuff for Chapter 10 the day before the final. Our professor gave us hints on the blackboard which seriously saved my ass on 2 questions. Overall I think I did okay, but I will know for sure on Monday. The last couple weeks class has been intense because we've been rushing through the material so I'm so glad to put that behind me and will be careful what I take in the summer from now on!

    Oh, my birthday was of course 9 days ago (when writing this letter). We were going to go to the Deep River Waterpark that's only about ½ hour away but the forecast called for thunderstorms all day so we postponed that and went to Chicago on the train instead. The kids had never rode the train to Chicago and it's cheaper to ride the train then drive there and pay for parking. We left at 8:30 and took the train to the Shedd Aquarium which is really cool. The kids really enjoyed it (I took pictures, also will send those to, next week). After that, we went to the Disney Store where the kids all got a Perry the Platypus stuffed animal. I'm not sure you have access to the Disney Channel but I'm telling you Phineas and Ferb is one of the best shows to watch. Even when David and I don't have the kids we'll find ourselves watching Phineas and Ferb! J After that we went to The Cheesecake Factory which was scrumptious and then we headed back on the train to home. Unfortunately the train we got on only went as far as Gary, Indiana so David's mom had to come pick us up as the next train wouldn't have been there for another hour and a half! The kids were being terribly bad behaved and I was at my wit's end. Once we got to our car Grace got a very well deserved spanking and then I made all the kids go to their room and I was crying and all upset. I want to have a good birthday and have them be good on my day and I was super upset that they couldn't do that for me. It was irrational, but it was what it was. I forgot to tell you what I got for my birthday. David got me a very pretty ruby and diamond heart necklace and Debbie, his mom, got me some ruby earrings. Also, Mom gave me this beautiful bowl that has the color of my living room in it. It's on the bottom shelf of my tv stand in my living room right now. I love it. Blythe took one look at it and said "That's going to get broken." LOL. Well I hope not! J

    I've been working at Debbie's and David's office 3 half days a week. It's nice because I get done what needs to be done and then I study or do homework or play on the internet and answer phone calls as they come in. I'm going to become a realtor but the classes are only in the evenings and I have an evening class this fall so I'll wait until the Spring semester and do it then. David and I are going to team up! We want to use his last name, since that'll eventually be my last name, in some advertising. His last name is Angus (not sure you know that), like the beef or like Angus Young (AC/DC guitarist). So I'm trying to brainstorm some creative marketing for when that happens. David thinks I'll be a good real estate agent since I'm sales oriented and talk a lot. J

    Next week on Wednesday I'm taking the kids thru Sunday to Aunt Wendy and Uncle Tony's house in Iowa. It's only 3 hours away so not bad at all! I think I'm taking Aspen with us as well and David is going to stay home to work and Sunday he has his physical exam to be a fireman. He had taken the civil service exam earlier this year and now has this physical exam and then an interview. I'm very confident he will do what it takes to do this as it's a dream of his and I though I worry about him being a fireman and rushing in while others are rushing out, I support him and his dream. I'm looking forward to going to Wendy and Tony's. I went there last year over Halloween which was a great time. They have an in ground pool that I'm sure the kids will just adore and never want to get out of. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures!

    Tomorrow I'm going to buy my books for the Fall Semester so I avoid the rush. The week before classes the lines are insane to buy books! I had to wait last semester but this time I'm going to get them early. I told Blythe she could sleep in (she loves to sleep in) and then after that we have to run to the bank and to PNC to buy books. Then hopefully the pool will be back to clear and maybe I'll finally get in the pool! It's warm but I hadn't gotten in it yet!

April 26 thru May 17, 2010

A more detailed recap (using excerpts from Letters to Charlie):

April 26

This week is my last week of classes which is amazing to me. Well my last week of classes of my very first semester! I'm taking the next math class this summer, it meets 3 times a week and it's very intense as summer classes are done in half the time as Fall and Spring ones. I want to take this class this summer so I can take the following Math class in the Fall with the professor I have now. He's a part time lecturer and knows he's going to be teaching that class so I've set it up to do this next one in the summer and then the next one in Fall. Then I'll be done with Math other than a statistics class I'll have to take. I'll be so glad to get done with Math, it's not my strongest subject but I know a lot of people are in the same boat as I and I work very hard at it, studying a lot, asking as many questions as possible and so I've done really well in this math class! I'm really nervous about the final. This class is a pass/fail class, so you don't get a grade and there are 5 exams and you have to pass them all. In the regular exams you have to pass 3 out of 4 in each section and usually there are 3 or 4 sections. In the final it's 30 questions and you have to answer 21! I've always passed all the exams with flying colors, but that makes me so nervous and I get so anxious before tests anyway. I study a lot but I worry I'm going to blank out as I stare at the test. Luckily it hasn't happened yet but I still have that fear. Hopefully that'll get better as I continue furthering my education.

We just had a Spanish exam last Tuesday I think it was, and I was sooo nervous about that. I thought we would have our scores by that Thursday but he didn't have them ready so I asked our professor to email them as well as our Grade in Progress. I was scared to get the news, though I thought I did ok and he emailed me later that day on Thursday and told me I got a 95 on the exam! I was soooo excited! Then he said my grade in progress was 413/450 which equals out to be a 92% but then he emailed me again and said I had 37 bonus points which means I have 450/450 or 100% in the class! Man, that feels amazing! Spanish is my main area of study so I really want to excel in it.

Last week boy was I mad when I realized that my stupid English professor is requiring us to not do only 3rd drafts of every single paper we've written but also 4th drafts to 3 of them! I am like how do you know when you are done with a 3rd and move on to a 4th?! Well anyway I've been working on revising them more and my Comp Lit Prof who is also an English Prof is helping me. Tomorrow and Wednesday I have to get them done as my Final Portfolio is due on Thursday the 28th of this week. I'll mail you my finished and finest 4th draft papers next week.

Well kids are in bed and I'm laying on a heating pad. My low back has been pinched for a few days and in the evening after a whole day out and about it starts hurting. The heating pad helps a lot. I think it's from the shoes I wear which are flats that have absolutely no support in them. Of course I used to be able to wear that stuff with no problem but aging is a bitch lol.

So I'm excited to tell you that I'm keeping a secret from my children. And David. And my girls specifically. Haha! Okay I'll tell you, but you have to promise to keep it secret! I'll list them in order J. Secret #1: (From my girls specifically) Do you know who Justin Bieber is? He's like 12… well actually he is 16 but he looks like he is 12. He's a new boy singer, similar to perhaps Justin Timberlake when he was younger. He has this one famous song called Baby, Baby, Baby. Maybe that's not the title but that's the chorus and then they go like oooohh! Well anyway the girls are obsessed with him. They have a poster, pins, his cd and stickers. Grace will matter-of-factly state that he's her boyfriend, so cute! Anyway he's in concert in Indy in August and I bought tickets! Mandy (Neal) Barker is going with as well with her daughter, Kaylee. The girls have no clue and so they are going to Freak out when they find out! I don't want to tell them until we are on our way and I know they will be soooo excited!

Okay second secret involving David. David is my partner for life. We will not get married until I'm out of college, which will be around 5 years. I would also like you to be there so if it's 6 years it'll be 6 years. I think you are half way out! (think of it that way!) Anyway, just because we won't get married until I'm out of college doesn't mean I don't want a diamond before that, haha! We have talked about it and he has said that if I got him a ring he would get me one. So we've been looking quite a lot. We've found a couple rings that I really liked, the two that I've like curved upward and have one bigger center stone and two smaller ones. They are so brilliant it's almost blinding. David wanted a ring with diamond in it as well and we found this one ring that he really liked that was 70% off. It's an awesome ring. Well I went back after a couple days and purchased it and got it sized! I have it in my filing cabinet as I'm trying to think of a way to give it to him. I want the kids to be involved and maybe ultimately have the kids give him the ring. I'm so excited! Let me know if you have any ideas!

Okay third secret and by far the biggest (from all the kids)….. Ready? Of course you are! We are going to Disney World!!!!!!!!!! I'm so giddy I'm beside myself and I only allow myself to be giddy when I'm not around the kids, because of course I don't want them to know! Okay so let's rewind a bit. Disney is a big decision right, it's super far away and can be very expensive! David's cousin is getting married in West Virginia on May 22. So we are going to that and taking the kids and we were looking at where we could take them on vacation that was near WV. I really wanted to go to Washington D.C. but the more David and I talked about it the kids are just too young to appreciate it. I absolutely want to get to D.C.within the next year but that'll probably be a David and I trip until the kids are older. I've never been to D.C. and I really would love to see it, the history of it and all the monuments I would just love to see in person. So anyway after we decided to not go to D.C. I was kind of at a loss. So I started looking on the ocean but David said where I was looking it would be too cool in May. So then I said well what about Disney? I had priced Disney before and it was ridiculously expensive and so I said we would only go one time when the kids were older. When I mean ridiculous I mean like $2500 no shit. So I just started looking at Disney and went to Vacation packages and got an amazing deal on a hotel right on resort with tickets to the price and a dining plan. It is significantly cheaper. So David and I decided to go for it! We are going to get there on May 24 J and we'll be leaving on that Thursday evening or possibly Friday morning. I may add a night to the hotel as we are set to leave Thursday but I'm not sure how far out we'll want to go as we plan on going to Epcot that day. Today I made reservations for dinners there, thru the dining plan you get the opportunity to have character meals, which I know the kids would just flip over! So here's the plan: Sunday we are driving from Charleston WV to stay in Savannah Georgia, one of the Top 10 most beautiful places in the United States. It's right close to the ocean so the kids are going to see it for the very first time. Monday morning we are going to get up and on the road early in the am and head to Orlando to our resort on Disney, which is called the Port Orleans Resort. It mimics the Louisiana/New Orleans feel. It's really pretty from the pictures I've seen online (I'll take lots and lots of pictures). Monday we are going to go to Hollywood Studios, then Tuesday we are going to go to Magic Kingdom (where Cinderella Castle is and all that) and ride rides, go to shows and also on Tuesday we are having dinner at the Grand Floridian Resort (included in our dining plan) and we will be dining with Cinderella, Prince Charming, The Wicked Stepmother and the Stepsisters J. We won't actually be dining with them of course but they will come and visit the table and we'll get pictures etc. Then we'll go back to Magic Kingdom and watch the Spectra-Magic Parade (parade at night all lighted up, the floats etc.) and then watch Fireworks then back to our room. Wednesday we are going to Animal Kingdom and we are having dinner at Saasi I think it's called (I have it written down in my calendar) and it's right on the serengetti so there may be giraffes and zebras right outside while we are eating our dinner! Then on Thursday morning we are going to Epcot and we have a breakfast scheduled in the Norwegian Hall with all (or most of) the Disney Princesses: Mulan, Ariel, Belle, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Cinderella and Jasmine. Plus there are other times we'll be able to meet the Princesses and Mickey etc. I have the days I'm going to each one and now I have to write down a check list of stuff to pack and take with us and then also plan on what we absolutely want to do while we are at Disney. It's very overwhelming!

On the way home we plan on staying in Nashville, TN, which is about halfway and I've never been to Nashville and so it sounded like a good plan! I'm sure by the time we are on our way home we will definitely be ready to be home! Plus we'll miss our babies we left here (aka Jet, Aspen and our cats).

Okay well I think that's it for now! I'm tired, it's only 9 pm but I'm ready for bed!

May 3

Well it's Finals week! Eek! Actually I haven't been stressed at all about it, which is surprising as I get test anxiety. I'm sure it'll start kicking in. I have a Spanish final tomorrow at 8 and then my Computer Literacy Final at 10:15. Then I have my Algebra final at 3:15 on Wednesday. After that I'm done until June 7th when I'm taking one summer course, the next step up from the math course I'm in. I am doing that so I can take the one even further up with the professor I have now in the fall. In the fall I'm registered for 5 courses, 1.5 which are online.

This weekend was very busy. Friday we had karate and Saturday was Dad's birthday. David, the kids and I headed over there for a yummy lunch with Mom, Dad, Grandma, Mandi and her son, Michael. After lunch the girls and I went over to our friend Sarah's house as she just had a baby. Mom and Grandma drove separate. Sarah is Mom's best friend from high school, Tina's, daughter. The girls Loved the baby and I got some really cute pictures that I'll send along.

Yesterday (Sunday) we went to my Computer Literacy professor's, Roger, house for a cook out. We all had a good time. Roger is a really good guy, he's a priest with the Anglican church as well as a Professor and he was a Prison Guard at the State prison here in Michigan City for 25 years. He has a good sense of humor and has helped me tremendously with my writing for English 101. I'm planning on taking English 102 with him in the Fall as a Hybrid, which means we meet one day a week and do a lot of work online as well.

David and I decided to have a yard sale the weekend before we leave for Disney so this week and weekend we are going to organize for that. I love having yard sales, Blythe likes to do a lemonade stand which holds her interest for about an hour and then she's done with it J.

Tomorrow Blythe is in a concert at the school. It's called an All Star Musical but I'm pretty sure it's a concert. She has a solo, which is so exciting! She does really well at school, though she struggles with math and excels in reading which is like I was.

Oh yeah, yesterday we also got the kids and David's haircut and the girls got colored streaks in their hair. Grace got purple streaks that showed up really brilliant in her hair and Blythe got pink which did not show up like the purple so tonight while I'm studying David is going to take Blythe to get a couple of purple streaks in her hair. It looks cute.

I'll be getting my grades a week from today which is exciting but also nerve-wracking!

Saturday night David and I watched IronMan. Have you seen it? I had never seen it though I love like the Spiderman's and Batman's etc. I don't know why I had never seen it, but the 2nd one is coming out this weekend and David really wants to go to that but I told him I had to see the 1st one 1st. I really liked the movie, it was rather gross in a couple of spots but overall I really liked it and would highly recommend it to you if you have not seen it! Also watch UP if you have the chance. I know it's a Disney/Pixar movie but it's awesome!

Okay well I have to study for Spanish! I'll be sure to print off those papers and pictures and send them along with this letter!

May 6

    Regarding the house, I love this house. I guess I didn't realize I came across like I didn't. I really do, I love the school district and I'll be sad to leave this house. I wanted to buy the house on Land Contract and then remodel it to a 3 bedroom house. We could get it at a steal and putting equity in it we could really make some good money on it when we do finally want to sell it. But unfortunately that is not going to happen with this house. Because I don't work and David pays child support and we both don't have the most stellar credit, buying a house is just not in the game plan right now. So we are stuck with what we have but it's not bad. I just wish we would've been able to remodel and have the perfect home for us. It needs work but we were definitely willing to put that work into it.


 

    You asked what I do all day long and basically it differs every day. I am the first one up 98% of the time. I get the kids up and ready for school, feed them breakfast and then David or I take them to school. When I was in college I would go straight to school on Tuesday and Thursdays as I had class at 9:30. Monday and Wednesday I only had one class from 4 – 6:15. Now I won't have class til June 7 thru July 30 and then Fall semester starts Aug 23 thru December. Some days I'll go into David's office and help answer phones or clean the office since Debbie (his mom and boss) pays for my cell phone. Some days I'll stay home and clean or think about cleaning, haha! Some days I study for school, or work on a paper. Go grocery shopping or just sit around and catch up on TV I've previously recorded with the DVR. So nothing exciting.


 

    That's a great memory about slug bug and doing all the games that we do. Blythe, David and I play the Animal game which is like ok, you name an animal that starts with an A, then I would, then Blythe and then David and then we would move onto B. It's a lot of fun. My kids tend to watch a movie on the portable dvd player or bicker and fight. It's lovely lol (laugh out loud, I'll use that a lot). Sometimes I wonder if we acted like that. I remember when we used to fight when we were in Caro, but that was when we were older, and of course that's totally natural for a brother and sister to do. Remember when Mom and Dad recorded us swearing haha. We always tried pinning it on the other. Figures they'd outsmart us. My kids are great and I love them, but they definitely can be challenging and there are some days where I'm just counting down til bedtime. I try not to spank the kids unless I've really just lost my temper (but I never hit to hurt) and I feel like I yell too much of the time. It seems that they don't listen until I'm yelling. I'll say the same thing over and over again and until I yell it doesn't get done. I'm dreading the drive to Florida, but we are stopping of course in Charleston for the wedding and then again in Savannah, GA. You can plan on receiving lots of pictures on our return!

    

I think our families will have family traditions once you are out and create a family of your own. Before you create your own family, we can have our own family traditions together. We do have some traditions but they do change as well. Like last Christmas was the first Christmas I didn't stay Christmas Eve night with Mom and Dad. They came over here and stayed at Debbie's condo since she was in Texas, with Grandma and we had Christmas morning here at the house. It was important to David and I to have our first Christmas at our home. So traditions change, but what stays the same is us being together. I feel so sad when I think of you missing out on celebrations and all the time that I could've written but didn't keep up on it like I do now. And even now I miss a week every now and then and I feel so guilty when I do. I definitely want to have a strong relationship with you like we did when we were younger. We always had each other's back. And just so you know I will always have your back. I love you!


 

    I do want to get a memorial tattoo for Dad and Grandpa. I was actually thinking of getting a wolf for Dad, but I am so chicken when it comes to tattoos. I mean I have 4, so I'm not that much of a chicken but I am so incredibly anxious and such a baby when I'm getting them, lol. I would be honored for you to draw a tattoo, but keep it on the small side. J Who all do you want their birthday? JJust let me know, give me a list so I can start making it out. I absolutely love the idea of your Family First tattoo. You are so brilliant when it comes to art. You need to follow that when you get out. You could be an artist or a tattoo artist or a graphic designer. You would be so good with it. My breath caught when I saw the Family First idea, it is so beautiful. You are so talented!


 

    Regarding PNC (Purdue North Central), I won't be back to campus until June 7 but I promise I will take pictures when I do return. In fact I just wrote it down in my daily planner, which is pretty much my bible of daily activities. It the entire week on 2 pages and I put what I need to do on it. So like on class days it'll say what classes I have and what else I need to do, like Spanish homework, dentist and doctor appointments, pay bills, call regarding one thing or another. So it really keeps me organized. I know you are really into basketball and unfortunately I know no basketball players or have even seen one on campus. PNC is not Purdue, Purdue. I mean it is, but it's a satellite campus. It's 3 buildings and then walkways between. It is a beautiful campus, but the Big 10 Purdue would be the campus in West Lafayette which is a few hours away. PNC does have basketball players, I'll check to see if I can find like a newsletter or something like that to send you when the fall semester starts again.

    

Yes we are all still doing karate, I stopped for a few weeks after my surgery but I came back a couple weeks ago. Man, I'm out of breath when we are done and all sweaty and stuff, but I'm hoping that I can get into some good shape! David and Blythe just found out they are going to be testing for their green belts when we get back from karate, I'm so excited for them! They've gone up from white to yellow to now being yellow with black stripe. So the week we get back they'll test for green belt!


 

May 11


 

Well it's Tuesday and I have absolutely no energy. It's kind of rainy drizzly outside and I think it's sapped my energy. Or it could be that I've been lying on the couch since I got up. I have things I could do; dishes, laundry, go upstairs to the toy room from hell and start organizing more toys for garage sale this weekend, but I keep finding excuses not to do any of those things.

    Okay, it's afternoon now and I have everything done on my list other than finishing writing you! I'm sitting back and enjoying catching up on the Ellen DeGeneres show. I didn't do much this morning but did go upstairs and got 2 more bins of toys to sell of the kids. Plus I have the clothes around for the garage sale and all the stuff bundled together in the garage of what I'm selling, so I'm in good shape for a Friday garage sale. Tonight and tomorrow David and I are going to move stuff into the garage and then Thursday I'm going to organize a bit before the garage sale starts. Hopefully we make some money which we will take with us on vacation! Only 10 more days until we start on our vacation! Don't worry, I'll take lots of pictures.

    Mom really loved the card, flowers and the unicorn for Mother's Day. I hadn't received them as I ordered from internet but should soon, I had just printed out a picture of both and put them in her card. She said she had talked to you and you told her I had better have done it! Geesh! J Sunday, David made me an omelette for breakfast and then Mom and Dad came over and we had a lunch of quesadillas and steak verde, which is steak with a green chili sauce and we eat it over rice. Very yummy! Then after Mom and Dad left, we went to Valparaiso, a town about 30 minutes and I did a couple returns, got Blythe a pair of shoes for the wedding we are going to in Charleston and then went to Best Buy where I bought ink for my printer.

    So I am not sure I've told you, but my girls are obsessed with Justin Bieber. Do you know who he is? He has a couple very popular song, one with Ludacris called Baby Baby. Anyway, all the kids sing and dance along to his cd and Grace calls him her boyfriend. She's really hilarious with the whole thing. Blythe likes him too, but Grace is quite convinced that she's her boyfriend. She tells everyone, totally straight faced. She has told me that she is going to change her name to Justin so that Justin Bieber knows her name. Blythe told her, "Justin Bieber is not really your boyfriend, he lives very far away in Hollywood, which is 10 hours away," Grace replied with, "I see him all the time at my Dad's house." Another instance was when she told John and I that she's going to walk to Hollywood and marry Justin Bieber, when she grows up of course. Haha. When they were at Jessica and Scott's, Jessica told me that John was saying to her that Justin Bieber is only her boyfriend because she likes him and Grace told him that No she doesn't like him, he's her boyfriend but that doesn't mean she has to like him! Haha! When they got home on Monday John kept saying that Justin Bieber had a girlfriend and it wasn't Grace and Grace was getting upset, and then I realized that John was talking about the video of Baby Baby where there's a girl in the video and so I told Grace that it was just an actress and not really Justin Bieber's girlfriend. It's quite funny and harmless, after all she is 4. I just think it's super cute! They will flip out when the girls find out I bought them tickets to see him in August! I am kind of worried John will be mad, because he sings along with Justin Bieber as well but David said he was going to take him camping that night so hopefully he won't be mad!

    David gave me a ring that was his mother's. Debbie (his mom) suggested he give it to me because it's rubies which are my birthstone. It's a pretty ring, it's gold which turns my hand black in the area of the ring sometimes due to the chemistry of my body. I took a picture of the ring and am sending along in this letter.

May 17

Friday, I had a dentist appointment to get my front 2 teeth fixed. I am getting porcelain crowns. The appointment was 2 ½ hours. They took 3 different impressions of my top teeth in different stages and currently I have temporary crowns in now. They are glued in, but not with the permanent glue they use when the permanent crowns come in. They are made in a lab and in about 2-3 weeks they'll be back. I'm a bit nervous the crowns I have in are going to fall out! They are glued, but I'm trying to be super careful. I'll send you a picture when I get them finished. It'll be nice not to have the crooked front teeth anymore. I've always been very self conscious about it.

    We had a yard sale this past weekend, Friday and Saturday. We made some money and we are going to use it on vacation, giving the kids their own money to buy souvenirs with. I'm very excited the vacation is almost here, but it's a bit overwhelming thinking of everything I need to do before I get there. Yesterday we ordered a roof top carrier for the top of the car to pack our clothes etc. The trunk is really big but once you add in a stroller and then a cooler, pop and water then there's not a ton of room and we'll be gone for 9 days! I didn't want to get a rack for the top of the car and was able to find a soft bag carrier that you use inside straps with and every review was really good, people exclaiming how wonderful it is, so it gets here on Wednesday and I'm planning on packing Wednesday and Thursday. Then Friday morning we are leaving around 7:45 for Charleston.

    So we took a couple stray kitties in. Different kitties than the ones I sent you pictures of. I am including pictures of the kitties with this letter. We haven't named them yet, they are too cute. We think Cullen is the Daddy of these too. He's the only orange tabby around. I am taking them to the vet on Thursday. Our other cats aren't thrilled with them so far, but they will get used to them. The dogs love them of course and Aspen frequently licks the calico one from head to toe

    Tomorrow morning I have to get up at 5:15 and leave by 5:45 to sit in what will probably be an incredibly boring seminar 3 hours away in Fishers, Indiana. It's to become licensed in the State of Indiana to be a closer. In Michigan we didn't have to be licensed to close real estate transactions but in Indiana you do.

    Today Blythe had a dentist appointment to get two silver crowns on her back molars. They are still baby teeth but they had cavities and they crowned them versus filled them as the cavity was big. She gets so anxious about doctor's or dentist's appointments. She did really good and the dentist is awesome. Right now I am watching Ellen and she is giving Aspen hugs. Aspen is such a good baby. Oh I just remembered some pictures I took of David and Lilly and then the dogs. I'll print those off and send along as well. I always say Lilly hates me as she glares at me all the time. She sleeps right on David's neck though for the last two days she hasn't because of the kittens. Cullen spits and hisses at his own children, we are now calling him a deadbeat dad. J

    Yesterday David, Blythe and I went over to Mom and Dad's for lunch. It was really good. I don't know if Mom told you that they had to put Tanner down on Saturday. He was just so old and in pain. It was really hard for Mom and Dad, and all of us, but we know it was the best thing for him. They buried him in the back yard and planted a tree. Lunch was really good, chicken, asparagus, beans and coleslaw and I'm glad we got to see them before we went on vacation.

    Thursday David and I went and saw IronMan 2. I'm not sure I told you I watched Iron Man 1 and the Incredible Hulk within the last few weeks. I don't know why I didn't see Iron Man 1, I really like Robert Downey Jr., but I've seen it twice…. I really liked it. If you haven't seen it I think you definitely should. The 2nd one is really good, especially for being a sequel. Plus they throw in hints to an upcoming Avengers movie, which will be amazing I'm sure.

    Okay, I'm going to start getting dinner ready and make some brownies for dessert.