October 12, 2009

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

- Author unknown

October 4, 2009

Welcome to the World

Welcome to the world Tristan!

Academy, home, dinner with my in-laws and Justin, bed. Nothing really out of the ordinary for a Friday except the occasional belly twinge in the evening, but even that wasn't suspect. Went to bed and woke up at 1. Contraction or movement? Either way it went away quickly and I went back to sleep.

Woke up at 2:30...now this was something. But it was later than anything had ever started so I thought it might not be anything real, just a warm up. It was enough though that I had woken up enough that I wasn't falling back asleep. And it wasn't an isolated incident. At 3 I took a shower and things went from not very close to seemingly close but I wasn't timing and had no idea how long I had been in the shower so I didn't really have an idea where things might be at. Got dressed and decided that I would feel better if Justin's mother, who was going to come watch the kids, came over so when it was time to leave we didn't need to wait. She called on her way over to see how things were going and if we were going to rush out as soon as she go there, I told her I didn't think so. I realized I hadn't called the midwife yet so I put in a call to her and waited her return call. My MIL arrives, waiting for the call back but now I've decided we need to leave as soon as I talk to her, or maybe before and I'd talk to her on the way in. Call comes in, we head out.

As I'm walking to the car I get a contraction that stops me in my tracks. Bending over and looking down at the grass I am seriously thinking that we may not make it to the hospital. The more I thought about it I didn't know if I would make it back in the house. Looking at the grass I thought that I might deliver right there. But I didn't so the story continues.

We get into Grandma Tallo's car (so now added pressure to be able to make it to the hospital!) and off flies Justin. Definitely broke speed laws and ran lights. Not thinking about the difference between my van and this car, I urge him not to slow down over the railroad tracks - biggest mistake of the night! Needless to say I was much more patient crossing the second set of tracks.

A little relief sets in as we pull up to the entrance, Justin drops me off and I waddle in. The receptionist looks at me and has a really nice security guard wheel me up to labor floor. I get to triage and get the impression that she doesn't realize I am as far as I think I am...and I'm sure hoping I am as far as I think I am so I don't feel foolish!

"How far apart are the contractions?"
Not ever really have timed them, just knowing there were a lot going down Morgan Rd, I give her the "correct" answer of 1-4 min.
"For how long?"
Again, no clue. "30 min to an hour"
So this is when her skepticism kicks in. Usually that spacing has to keep up for awhile before anything is really getting there so I couldn't blame her but I knew I wasn't at the beginning of labor.
"And what where they before that?"
Again, feeding the "correct" answer..."5 min"
That seemed to settle her so she went on to get the monitor ready. Believing I didn't have time to get the time they wanted on the monitor before this baby came I asked to be checked first.
"Oh...9 and a half...let's get you going here!"
So me and the bed take a short roll down the hall to the next room and less than 10 min after arriving at the hospital Tristan Robert arrived at 5:27 am.

September 23, 2009

The Waiting Game

The due date approaches. I don't know why I'm really even entertaining the idea of going early/on time since it hasn't happened yet but there is just something about that date they give you, even when I don't really believe it (I think it should be the Oct 4 not Sept 27).

With any strange shift of the baby, I find myself analyzing if this would be a good time or not to go into labor...

no, not right now, I want/need to do XYZ
now wouldn't be bad, I slept really well last night
no, just too tired right now
no, I'd really like to go grape picking on Wednesday
no, I'm just not ready yet

I think I have more no moments than yes moments so it is a good thing nothing is really happening!

September 11, 2009

First Day of Academy

Today was the first day of Academy and all in all it went pretty smoothly. Katrina and Alex are in the same preschool class - which seems very strange to me. After a brief stop in Papa's office, Katrina told him that she had to go to class and happily went down to her room - such a change from last year when she would only go down when her favorite teacher would come to get her.

Their day consists of a music class, then a class that is based upon a letter a week with stories, activities, crafts, games, etc, and then a class that I really don't know much about yet. When I saw them at lunch they were both very excited about their morning...ate "ants on a log", played on the playground, sang songs, made pictures and glued things (no idea what they were gluing as it didn't come home this week).

I am teaching 7/8 general science again this year. Looks like a pretty fun group of kids so that should make for a fun year.

September 5, 2009

Rental Blog

Our lakehouse rental has a home online!


August 28, 2009

Our Preschool Routine

So it seems like we are establishing a routine for our days. I'll be interested to look back in the spring to see how much has changed.

I am doing preschool at home with Katrina and Alex and then they will be going to the Academy preschool class on Fridays.

We are using a mixture of things: most of the books are from Sonlight P4/5 with the addition of some 5IAR/classics and some suggestions from "Janet's Preschool Schedule" off the yahoo Sonlight preschool group. I greatly modified her schedule to fit in our needs and wants but it was nice to have a framework. Alex is using A Beka Numbers and Skills and Letters and Sounds. Katrina is using A Beka ABC-123 and Get Ready, Get Set, Go for the Code. Recently a friend gave us the kindergarten level of Math-U-See. I tried it out to see if she likes it (it presents the concept on a video and then there are workbook pages for the week, she LOVES videos so I thought it may be a hit) and since she did two weeks worth in the first sitting I decided to keep going with it.

So we start with breakfast, usually job time though sometimes this waits until our first break. Then we read some stories, take a break to play, stories, break to play, etc. Sometimes stories are long and play is short, sometimes we get in one short one before they are bouncing out the door to play outside. Lunch. Max goes down for a nap shortly after lunch then the big kids color (markers are the hot tool right now which is why we wait until Max is down, on crayon days Max gets to color too). Then Alex goes down and Katrina does her "reading" with me - we are up to two letter blends with the occasional three letter word. Then Katrina has her rest time. If she doesn't sleep she is up first and we do her math or coloring while I prep dinner. Then the boys get up, more stories and play depending on the day.

We definitely don't run on a schedule - we won't be doing the same thing at 10 AM every day - but the days have naturally flowed into this routine and it seems to keep everyone happy, and me feeling like I'm doing something with my days, so I'll stick with it as long as it works!

August 22, 2009

Summer Events

This year was the first year of summer at the lake house. We, along with my parents and Justin's parents, purchased a house on Cayuga Lake at the end of last summer. The winter was spent remodeling and now, though not finished, the house is ready to be enjoyed.

We had a gathering for Memorial Day/Katrina's 4th birthday which we found that the house and grounds can easily handle 60-some people. The week around July 4th Justin took off of work and our family spent the time together at the lake. Justin left and my family came in - my aunt, two cousins, three kids of my older cousin and her husband, as well as my mom. My aunt lives in Boston, older cousin in VA beach, younger cousin in NYC so it was fun getting everyone together for a little while.

After everyone left, it was just me and the kids. Up until this point there had always been someone at the house that I could leave Max with to take the big kids down to swimming lessons and crafts (the town runs free swimming lessons daily and crafts twice a week during the summer 2 miles from the house). The park has a nice playground as well as baseball and soccer fields - not bad for a tiny town! I was determined to keep going with the swimming lessons so off we went - a double stroller for the boys, lots of snacks, sand toys, towels, etc. Alex pretty much turned into swimming lesson drop out, opting to play on the playground and sand but since everyone was happy, that was fine. I never thought the lake house would give me the confidence (or make me gain the confidence) to venture out with all of them but I'm glad it did!

The end of July brought us home for a week so Katrina could do a gymnastics camp, 9-12 every day for a week. She had a blast! It was interesting having a couple hours a day with just the boys.

August brought a boys fishing weekend at the lake, which Justin decided Alex was old enough to tag along for. While he was gone, Katrina and Max went to Springdale Farm to celebrate the Davis twins 2nd birthday. The farm has animals to look at, a petting area, a playground and picnic area. Nice (free) place.

Then Alex and Katrina did an evening VBS at a little church about 5 min from the lake. While they were there Max and I explored the local library, cute and very small. I think our living room is about the size of the main room! We came back to Rochester for another VBS at a friends church and then it was off to family camp.

The way we do family camp is more of the Marriott of camping - no tents for us...we stay in a lodge that provides sheets and towels. The kids rode bikes, played games, Katrina did crafts, Justin played softball and ran a volleyball tournament - it was a great time. A major accomplishment that came out of it was Aunt Kelly getting Katrina to conquer her fear of the pool. Even with swimming lessons, Katrina was not ready to leave the side of the pool. Some how Kelly got her to start swimming all over the place, with the help of a blow-up tube! Now she is begging to go in Grandma's big pool every day!

August is winding down now and the start of Academy is looming ever closer. We'll be back down at the lake on and off as long as the weather holds I think. Looking back on the summer we did manage to pack quite a bit in!

June 30, 2009

Tired Feet

Yesterday was our year end picnic for dance. We had 82 people in the Tallo's backyard for an afternoon of swimming, jumping on the trampoline, swinging on the swingset, digging in the sandbox, eating a picnic dinner, and getting a little gooey with make-your-own sundaes. Feet are a bit tired today (must have done more walking than I thought I did) but the picnic was a success...no rain until the very end, plenty of laughs and even more food.

This year was a little different...this was not only our year end picnic but the last year end picnic the O'Keefe school will ever have as Kathleen will be closing the school in a few weeks.

I started dancing under Kathleen is middle school, around 1993 I believe. I moved to Rochester for college and during those years transitions from student to assistant and have been helping in the school ever since. 16 years (out of the 24 years I've been involved with Irish Dance) with the O'Keefe school. The thought that the school is closing hasn't really hit home yet. It still feels like the end of the year and we all will be returning together in the fall. Unfortuanately that is not the case.

Some kids have decided to be done with dance after this year, others will be joining the new school that is starting, others will be moving over to other Rochester schools. Our O'Keefe family will be spreading out over Rochester.

I will say the teachers getting Kathleen's students have big shoes to fill. Kathleen was a gifted teacher as well as dancer. Every student received her attention in class. She was not a teacher that only worked with the upper level dancers or only those who showed great promise. She watched and worked with every kid every week. She produced a great number of champions over the years, as well as a few teachers!

As for what will be happening with me and Irish dance next year...you will have to stay tuned...

January 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Max!

Today Max is one year old! Today I can officially say that I have three kids ages 3, 2, and 1. It sounds much crazier than it is. Thinking back to before I had kids, if someone told me they had three kids, ages 3, 2 and 1, I would have thought they were insane. But aside for the occasional pulling-out-your-hair moment (which I feel any parent has, no matter how many kids or what the ages), I pleased to announce that I don't feel life in general is about to put in the R-wing anytime soon. I hear people say, "I have 4 under 5" and I think...oooh, wow, that must be chaotic. It's strange how it can sound so nutty but when you are living it it is quite do-able.

At 1 year, Max is cruising furniture but hasn't ventured out for a step yet. He likes to eat pretty much anything given to him. He does the mamama and dadadada noises. He likes to "dance" in his highchair. I'd say his favorite game is clicking his tounge and is very happy when you will play along with him.

Happy Birthday Max!

January 21, 2009

Fun List

I took this off of another blog (thank you Carole) who got it from Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles.

Items in blue, I have done.

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (flute, bassoon)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (it was more of a rap but it was part of chorus so I'm going to count it)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (over my dead body)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (when you are little you are so easily pleased...)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (does Justin's count?)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (thank goodness for overdraft protection)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square (did we go there with volleyball?)
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (chipped it actually)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (not super speeding, just with the flow of traffic)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

January 11, 2009

The Trip

Our trip began on Jan 1 as we loaded our three kids and friends, Erik and Laura, into our van and headed south. Justin's uncle lives in Myrtle Beach and my uncle and grandmother live on Hilton Head Island so we decided it was time for a visit. What better way to start the new year and test out the new GPS!

Day 1 - We began the drive to Myrtle Beach a little after noon. Justin drove the first leg with co-pilot Erik, Laura and I stretched out in the middle row and the kids were wedged in the back. Three car seats across is a pretty snug fit! We rolled into MB around 2 am having stopped a few times along the way.

Day 2 - RELAXING DAY. We had nothing planned and did exactly that. Justin's uncle was arriving late this night so we had the place to ourselves. Everyone took naps and got into vacation mode. Laura and I went to the store to pick up food for the week and found that wine in SC is sold in the grocery stores...for really cheap.

Day 3 - We took a trip down to Broadway at the Beach. It is a area with restaurants and shops - fun to walk around in. We brought the kids down to Ripley's Aquarium (remember Ripley's Believe it Not...this is one of their MB attractions). Alex loved the fish.

Day 4 - Justin's uncle's gated community (fancy way of saying upscale development) has a community center building with a gym, two swimming pools, and a playground. It was a little cold for the pools so we spent some time at the playground. Justin's uncle kept the kid's during their afternoon naps and the four of us headed to Barefoot Landing, an area very similar to Broadway at the Beach. We did a little wine tasting and then stopped at a seafood buffet on the way home.

Day 5 - Justin's uncle took Justin and Erik golfing in the morning then we headed to the beach. Looking like obvious tourist, we tossed off our sandals and played in the sand and water. Ok, so it was mainly Katrina who went splashing in the water with Laura and I took pictures but all of the boys seemed to get into the sand...Erik, Justin and Alex dug and made sand castles while Max snacked on sand and shells.

Day 6 - I took the kids up to Wilmington, NC to visit Kathleen Hall (NY-er turned NC-ian) and her family. She toured us around Wilmington, took us to the beach, and managed to fracture her foot showing me her new dances in the driveway. Justin and his uncle spent the day on the golf course and Erik and Laura had an afternoon out in MB to themselves - probably well needed after 5 days with all of us!

Day 7 - We packed up the van again and headed down to Hilton Head Island, a 4 hour drive south of MB. After trying to unsuccessfully wave our way past the check point into my uncle's neighborhood (the car in front of us at the entrance booth smiled and waved their way through so we thought we could as well...little did we know they lived their and visitors had to be called in. My uncle had taken care of this for us but forgotten to tell us the procedures), we got our access pass and made our way to my uncle's place. Even though it was dusk when we arrived we walk down to the beach (about a 300 yd walk) to check it out.

Day 8 - My grandmother came over to see the kids and we went to the beach again while Justin and Erik played golf. The attraction of this course was the ocean view holes which I told were pretty cool. In the evening we packed up and headed back to MB for our final day in the sun.

Day 9 - The sunny skies tried to hide the fact that today was much cooler than the rest of the week had been (we had been mid 70's but now were 60-ish). Since this was our last day, it was filled with naps, a final tour of the beach area and one last playgound trip.

Day 10 - With snow in the forcast, we loaded the car in the morning and headed for home. Shortly after Richmond, VA we found rain. In PA this rain was turning into a really fun wintry mix - snow, sleet, freezing rain. Around 8 pm we decided to call it a night knowing we were heading into mountains which meant that the unplowed, icy roads were most likely going to get worse. Wanting to get home but wanting to stay alive, we found a hotel for the night.

Day 11 - We enjoyed a nice breakfast at the hotel and then piled into the car for our final 3 hours. One viewing of Little Mermaid and a few snacks later, we arrived back in snowy Rochester.

Overall, it was a relaxing, sunny, enjoyable family vacation!