Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Signs of Spring

Spring has returned! This morning we took a walk at Wildwood park and zoo. With temperature expected in the 70s, we had to get outside. A few nonresident ducks have returned to the pond, but the highlight this morning was seeing a Mink along the shore and the calling frogs.

video

I took this video of a Wood Frog calling using our camera, a neat feature when a still photograph just won't do it. In the background you hear more of them as well as a few Spring Peepers. As I type this blog, I am listening to Western (Striped) Chorus Frogs singing outside our window!

Migrant birds are already showing up as well , with the first warbler and kinglets being reported in southern Wisconsin!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dried Beef on Toast

Tonight the girls experienced a first. Christine cooked Dried Beef on Toast, a basic cream sauce with dried beef.

Normally Danielle will eat everything, but tonight she clearly spit out the meal on three occasions. Christine warmed up some left-over spaghetti that Danielle finally decided to eat that with a bit of my help. Both girls are feeling better, but have lingering coughs and stuffy noses.

Normally Michaela will avoid anything new, but tonight she was either confused or living on the wild side. She immediately told us she did not like the dried beef pieces on her plate. We told her the white sauce was like cheese, so she did try the toast with sauce. I asked and gave her a piece of toast with a chunk of beef on it next, and to our surprise she ate and liked it. Almost two pieces of toast later, Michaela is a fan of dried beef on toast. The only problem we encountered is that Michaela did not want to call it dried beef on toast, it was still mac-n-cheese.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shutters

This past weekend I put white shutters to the front of the house for Christine. We also started to fix the downstairs bathroom tub and started to think more about remodeling that bathroom. I think we have decided it is time for an all out update; sink, toilet, flooring, repaint the walls, as well as lighting and ceiling.


The picture doesn't look like much. Believe me though, when the fat guy is on the top rung of a folding step ladder any work is noteworthy!
We are on our way back to central MN for a long weekend starting tomorrow. On the way we plan on stopping at Como Zoo and Dave & Liza's place before reaching central MN tomorrow night. A swecker gathering Thursday at my parents (Co & Lee are home), at least one visit to Elizabeth's house (sorry John & Lisa), and some R&R all sound great. Unfortunately I still have to get caught up on grading, hmm we'll see how well that goes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thanks!

After a particularly hard day I realize that more than likely I am my own worse enemy. Too often I focus on the large picture, without first understanding and mastering the smaller issues. When I do this I self implode and feel overburdened, overwhelmed, and worthless. I am thankful for the girls (all 3) for reminding me of the small things.

As such, for friends that are strong enough to accept my problematic nature and family that have put up with it....thank you!

The weather forecast is for rain and snow flurries this weekend, which is too bad considering Spring Break is this coming weekend. Hopefully I get caught up on grading at least.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's lost is found

This past weekend we enjoyed the gorgeous weather in central Wisconsin, and the temperatures have been just as nice this past week. We did a bit of spring cleaning, and who would have guessed it...we found Christine's missing cellphone!! We don't even know how long it had been missing, maybe a month or more.

Christine got her birthday present (yes from November) this past weekend as well. With spring right around the corner the shepherds hooks have returned to the stores, and we picked one up for the back yard. Now we just have to wait for more birds to return.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Long over due

It's been nearly six weeks since we last posted anything, so a word of forewarning...this is a long post. For a lack of better organization style, news and updates is listed by individual.

Michaela
Michaela started "school" shortly after her third birthday. She is in the early childhood program and the program choices were either a weekly meeting at our house or 3 hours of school four days a week at the elementary school. We chose the later. I am able to drop her off on my way to campus each morning, so we borrowed my mom's car seat to leave in the Jeep full-time. We now have three car seats in two cars regularly, and will from time to time move one from the car to the Jeep to take that as a family instead of the car.

It was fun and scary watching Michaela react to school and the routine. She loved the first week, drug her feet on going to school the second week, cried leaving home and when I left her at school the third and start of fourth, and now at the end of her fifth week looks forward to going to school. Receiving a piece of candy during in the Jeep on the way to school during the fourth week stopped the crying, a bit of bribery was all it took. Even the teachers noticed her different disposition immediately. I am slowly meeting a few parents and her fellow students, whom she now considers her 'friends'.

The school change is a nice break for Christine at home, time with Danielle only, time for me with Michaela, and of course difference experiences for Michaela. Michaela this last week started to help read her bedtime stories. Considering how far behind we are in teaching her how to write the alphabet and numbers, I was amazed that she was able to follow my finger and get a large number of words correct. To qualify this I must admit the story was "Are you my Mother?" in which the pictures do help quite a bit.

Danielle
With Michaela starting school at 7:45am we needed to change our sleep schedule. No longer do the girls stay up until 8 at night and sleep in until 8:30 or 9 in the morning. The week before school started we began shifting the night schedule earlier and earlier. Christine now gives the girls a bath starting around 6:50, and more than one occasion they have both been asleep by 7:15. Occasionally we struggle getting them to sleep, but now that late night that occurs about once every three weeks is at 8 rather than 9:30.

Danielle has always been the early riser, and by going to sleep earlier she is often up between 6 and the 6:55 alarm. Christine and I struggle to convince her to get more sleep, as Danielle definitely has an opinion to what should be done when she is awake. She is saying more and more, but still heavily relies on nonverbal communication to get what she wants.

A head cold has been going around town and we've all had in the house as well. Danielle seems to have been affected the most, as it disrupted her sleep pattern greatly. For the last couple of weeks she has been waking up earlier and earlier in the night, and she has even woke up by 10pm the last couple of nights. The lack of sleep catches up with her, and this morning she was cranky even before getting out of 'our' bed.

Christine

Christine took a three-week cake decorating class offered by the local hardware store. The cakes looked awesome and I'm very glad she decided to take these. She made everyone on campus very happy by sending in the large cakes with me to campus three weeks in a row, first carrot (the one in the photo), then apple nut spice , and finally lemon chiffon cakes. Not exactly the way I envisioned job security, but it is easy to meet everyone and get on campus's good graces when your wife is the one sending in food.

Christine has been to the Twin Cities with the girls a couple of times in the past month. Christine took the girls over to see Grandma Cindy, Aunt Aubrey, and Abi when the Saks visited. After a short period with my family, Christine and the girls met Dan and Linda to go to the zoo. The girls, especially Michaela, enjoy animals. Shortly thereafter my mom took the girls for a long weekend, giving Christine and I some time alone at a retreat. I wish that I did not have to work so much during the break from the girls, but at least Christine was able to get some relaxation and time to read.
Malcolm

The first five weeks of this semester I was teaching an accelerated hybrid class, where we would meet for 3 hours once a week and conduct the rest of the class activities online. Not only was this the first time I taught this style of class, it was also the first time teaching this course...a double whammy. I am now two weeks removed from this class, in which there were many long hours, weekends working, frustration experience by me as well as the students, and a great learning experience which will hopefully help next year when I teach two classes of this style. I took the girls out to the Wildwood Zoo in Marshfield the day after I entered grades for that class. The lynx thought Michaela was especially interesting.

I am slowly getting caught up on the other classes and progressing with research projects since then. Of course spring also brings the return of birds, which is definitely the new winter itch for me. No longer am I waiting to get out fishing or golfing, but rather birding. The Horned Larks (pictured above) returned to Wisconsin last week, but already more regular spring migrants are returning.

In our communication void that was February, I hope everyone else is well.