Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Our Neighborhood

After living in the middle of nowhere for 3 years, it's been SO much fun living in a real neighborhood! There are actually sidewalks!!! Not to mention parks all over the place, and gazebos and fountains too! The kids are loving riding their bicycles with an actual destination in mind not just in circles on the driveway. The best thing is that the kids have new friends from school that live nearby! There are 2 little girls who live right across the street, Nora's BFF from her class is just a few doors down, and Jack's best pal from his class lives a couple streets over but rides his bike over (usually as we are sitting down for dinner) and stays to play some video games.

The new job is wonderful, I am really enjoying my time with the special ed children, they are very sweet! My one-on-one child is a handful, but I have seen enough glimpses of the happy little boy he is behind his diagnosis that I am eager to work with him and try to help in any way that I can. The days go by fast, and I feel I am learning as much as the children are most days. As much as I have tried to fight it, the educator blood runs through my veins, I guess!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Nora's Golden Birthday

My Nora turned 10 years old today - on the 10th, which makes this her golden birthday. Why golden? No idea. Did she get any gold? No way! But she did have a fun day...even though we got off to a rocky start.

Well let me backtrack...last night, I baked a cake for Nora to bring to school for her birthday treats. She helped me make it, but had to go to bed before it got frosted. It was one of those cakes with the colorful things inside it...and the only can of frosting I had was chocolate, and I didn't think it went quite right. So I said - don't worry Nora, I'll make some HOMEMADE frosting (how hard could it be?) And she agreed it was a good idea, and gave me her blessing to do it after she went to bed. Bet she won't make THAT mistake again! I love cream cheese icing, so I softened up a block of that, and threw it in the mixer...but then I couldn't find any powdered sugar, I am SURE that I had a whole bag of it in Ohio, but it must not have made the move. I checked every cupboard, and eventually found one of my Flour/Sugar Shakers that was less than half filled with powdered sugar, so threw that in, and mixed it all up with some milk. It wasn't sweet enough, tasted like the fruit dip I have been overdosing on the past week or so, and it was too thick... and then when I went to get the cake out of the bundt pan - a huge chunk came off the top (I let Nora butter the pan, honest!) So anyway, I tried my best, but looking at the cake, I couldn't possibly let Nora take it to school. So I told her in the morning we would have to get ready early and just go pick up some cupcakes from the grocery store for her to take to school. But we didn't get ready quickly enough. As it was, we had to take some bagel & cream cheese sandwiches wrapped in paper towels and eat them on the way to school for breakfast! Not sure if we didn't wake up early enough, or if maybe we just didn't move fast enough. Will try again tomorrow and see if we do any better. I won't have the first-day jitters, and it won't be a birthday. Oh, and to make up for the cake fiasco, we stopped at Costco tonight and picked up a cake there for her to take to school...and it looks MUCH better than the one I made! :) Mine tasted OK, just wasn't quite on the top-10 (or 100) list of cakes that I have ever made!

But after school things got better in a hurry. We survived my first day, I ran into Nora at lunchtime and recess. Didn't see Gina until the end of the day, even though her classroom is right next to mine. Got a little worried about Jack and Carmie who couldn't remember which door to wait outside for me, but we eventually found each other and made a better plan for tomorrow. When we got home, we did homework and then the kids went to the park for a while. We called Grandma to see about meeting us for a birthday dinner...and headed to Red Robin (YUMMM!) Nora got to open all her presents after we ordered and were waiting for our food...she got spoiled rotten by Grandma, of course, and loved the gifts that Jack, Carmie, and Gina had picked out for her. Dinner was yummy and then they brought out the old ice cream sundae (which Nora shared so nicely with her sisters) and sang the birthday song. She was in a hurry to get home at that point, so she could play with all her loot, so we headed back home, after a quick stop at the Costco for the cake I mentioned before!

OK so anyway, it was a good day, all in all. Nora got lots of things she had wanted on her wishlist for a long time. She is still looking forward to more stuff...Russ emailed her a gift certificate to use at Build-a-Bear, and I am letting her pick out some Stampin' Up stuff from the catalog, too. Not too shabby for a golden birthday if you ask me! I'm just glad I got to see all my babies smiling.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

You'll never guess what happened...

I GOT THE JOB! I applied for a teacher's assistant position at the school where my kids are going, and I will be starting tomorrow as a one-on-one special education teacher's assistant. My classroom just happens to be right next door to Gina's class (not sure yet if that's good or bad!) Fridays are casual day, so my wardrobe of 3 pairs of slacks and a half dozen blue jeans will be OK until I get paid and can buy myself some new clothes. Wahoo!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Moved, settled, now life can resume

We're unpacked, some pictures are hung, I would like to buy a bookcase for the living room to hold all the scrapbooks...other than that...we're pretty settled in the new house. Kids are loving their new school and making friends, getting involved. I'm going to be working at their school as a teacher's aide. God has really had His hand in my life, and I am reassured constantly that I am making good decisions and on the right path. I haven't taken any pictures at all, but my little mini-me's Nora & Carmella have, so the pictures in this post are all thanks to them!

We were invited to my friend Karen's church, the Evangelical Free Church of Naperville, and so far, it's been fun. The church is huge, the sanctuary is like a giant theater seating (comfy seats) and even a balcony with more seating. On stage when you enter, it's almost like you're at a rock concert - full band up on stage, drum set, several guitars, keyboards, percussionists, not to mention a very handsome lead singer with several back-up singers. There's not one, but TWO giant screens on either side of the stage with the lyrics to all the songs and an occasional video or church announcements. The music is so fun, and loud so I can sing along and not worry about hurting anyone's ears nearby. Last week there was a grand piano up on the stage, too! The week before there was a bed. A bed, you ask? Yes, it was part of a little drama skit they did to introduce this series of sermons, "How to Raise Wise Kids in a Foolish World" - couldn't get more timely for me! And I am enjoying it and have decided we will keep visiting here for at least these 4 weeks so I can hear the rest of it. The children love it. As soon as they heard that they have an Awana program, they were sold, but it's so much more than that, too. When we get to church I have to sign them in, and the bigger kids all go to their respective grades. They do a craft, sing songs, and have their own little worship service in the church's OLD sanctuary where they hear a Bible story. The last 2 weeks Gina had to go down to the nursery (which was not a baby nursery, but a class of all 6-year-olds where they played games and did crafts, too), because they hadn't "graduated" the kindergarteners up to 1st grade yet...but next Sunday, she will be up there with the big kids, too. And after the service this Sunday, they have invited me to a monthly luncheon they have for guests. I'm hoping to find out more about the women's ministries (I know they are planning a retreat for October) and see if they have any small groups or a Bible study group that I can join. I do still want to visit the Baptist church that's near our house, but they don't have a Wednesday evening service so I will wait until the parenting sermons are done at the EFCN. I am thrilled to say that the kids have been great about going, haven't had to drag anyone out of bed or anything!

Karen (used to be Kohl, that's what I'll always think of...I'm sure I'm still a Gogliotti to her, too!) has been so wonderful. It's amazing to me sometimes, how a good friendship can last through the years. We have not kept in the best touch, just those Christmas cards or an occasional letter (or birth announcement!) But even still, coming "home" to the area, has been like coming home to our friendship from high school like we haven't been apart for the last 15 years! She has 3 wonderful kids, all younger than mine, but they all seem to get along so well. Cassidy, who is 3, has really taken a liking to my Nora. And Declan, who is 1, just adores Carmella! Liam is a year younger than Gina, but gives Jack a run for his money! When they are together it is really sweet. It's sad in a way, that we have missed out on so much, but so nice to be able to reconnect like this. I have been blessed with such wonderful friends.

And a wonderful family, too! Things were a little hectic (that's an understatement) when we were packing up and moving, so I didn't get any pictures, but I had a TON of people come out to help us. First of all, the pastor from our church offered to help me pick up the rental truck. (There's a whole other blog entry in the story about how the U-Haul suddenly turned into a Penske truck the day before our move...but I'll save that for another day!) So thanks to Pastor Jeff, the truck was sitting in my driveway on Friday evening after we got home from Jack's play (another blog entry for another day!) So first thing Saturday morning, Bill & Pat show up and get the truck all backed up into the yard and start loading it up just the 2 of them! In an hour or so, my Uncle Frank and the boys pull up and it's an all out moving fest...things are flying out the door faster than I can say - "Hey wait, I need that toothbrush!" Or suitcase, whatever. I had a load of laundry still running...oops! We were getting down to just a few big things that had to fit in the truck, and I honestly didn't think it would all fit. My cousins had the kitchen door off its hinges, the refrigerator handles came off, the water line in the back. I really just tried to close my eyes through this whole process, but it was like a train wreck - just couldn't turn away. Nobody knows how the refrigerator got into the house 3 years ago...but it made it out! The truck was loaded up and they were ready to hit the road by about 11:30am...a mere 2 hours after arriving! Cousin Frank drew the short straw and had to drive in the truck with Uncle Frank, while Michael & Danny got to drive the SUV! Gail had sent some delicious banana bread and brownies with Frankie (we all enjoyed it!) All this time, and my dad still hadn't shown up! But those Gog boys didn't want to wait, they headed back to IL, but did meet up with Dad to have lunch about an hour from my house. He gave them the key and garage door opener and by the time he showed up at the house, we had found the kids bicycles that didn't make it on the truck, and loaded up the back of his Explorer with the bikes, vacuum cleaner, and cleaning supplies!

The kids were spending the day with Russ. So Dad & Anna went to check into their hotel and rest a little before Jack's play while I stayed and cleaned up some more in the house. I felt bad that Dad did so much driving and hardly got to see the kids, but he watched Jack's play (and loved it!) and then took me and Anna to dinner at Damon's. Afterwards, they needed to head back to get some sleep so they could leave first thing in the morning, as Uncle Frank said he wasn't unloading the truck until Dad got there (haha!) I went over to Angie's house to do some stamping. Then I headed back to the house for my last night sure was EMPTY! It rained and rained on Sunday, and Mom & Dad called and suggested that I stay one more night and not try to drive until Monday. That was great for Russ, he got an extra night with the kids in the hotel, and I stayed with Angie and got to do even more stamping. Sweet Weslea let me sleep in her bedroom, which was much more comfortable than a sleeping bag in an empty house! So we went to church Sunday, said a lot of good-byes and thank-yous...we sure are going to miss everyone. And because of all the rain, Jack's matinee on Sunday was moved to their rain location, which was a smallish indoor theater just off the square. Not as big a crowd, but another wonderful performance!

So Monday morning we took off. Russ brought the kids out to the house and I walked through one more time. He was supposedly going to be getting his stuff out of the basement and milking parlor later in the day before his flight out. Unfortunately, the landlord came by before he came back, and locked up the house. So all the stuff that he should have gotten out of the basement was now locked in there. He did take care of the milking parlor though, and loaded his truck with what he wanted to keep. The truck is parked at his friend's house, I guess, as far as I know, Russ still hasn't decided what he will do with it.

We got to Bolingbrook and had lunch with Mom & Dad (for just the first drop-by meal of many, haha!) Then headed on to Aurora to see how the guys had done unloading everything! It was wonderful! The furniture was where I asked them to put it, the boxes were all stacked up in the garage or in the appropriate room (if they had been labeled, of course!) And it was just wonderful. Aunt Mary & Aunt Diane were here, and Sean & Nick joined the Gog boys and from what I hear, they were a well-oiled machine getting things off the truck and into the house! I had a lot of work to do in front of me, but the heavy-lifting was done, and I am SOOO grateful! My not-to-scale sketch of the house ended up being a little off, so I did move my computer desk to a different location, and I had my friends Glenna & Karen come over the following Saturday and put their husbands to work re-arranging the refrigerators and taking the elliptical machine up to my bedroom! I only had to pay them with pizza for dinner - what a bargain! And I haven't had a chance to properly thank my cousins...but I'll think of something!

So anyway...I keep thinking I should take some pictures, but it's not quite ready yet! I need to hang more pictures (and I'm too short!) and I need that bookcase. But one of these days, I will happily post pictures of our new place. It's so nice, and it's so mine. I know I have no excuse to have not thought of all our other houses as my own, but somehow this is different. Everything is different, I guess. But different isn't always bad. And so far, things are really good.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Much better!!!

Your Stress Level is: 45%

You are somewhat prone to stress, especially when life gets hard.
When things are good, you resist stressing over little problems.
But when things are difficult, you tend to freak out and find it hard to calm down.