Monday, March 31, 2008

Resolution update

Weight Watchers works magic. I've now lost those 10 pounds I gained over Christmas/birthdays. It only took 6 weeks, and all of my clothes fit comfortably again. Yea!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Easter celebration continues!

In the church season, Easter continues for the next 6 Sundays. What better way to celebrate than with another peeps creation?

Jeff Wedge gave Alexander and I this great Peeps cookbook/craftbook. Since Chris is gone for the evening (and doesn't care for chocolate), I decided to make molten chocolate peeps cake.

It didn't turn out quite like the picture - Benjamin thought it looked like an egg yolk - but it was delicious. That's because it uses bittersweet chocolate, my favorite. Benjamin, wet uncombed hair and all, enjoyed it so much that he finished the rest of Alexander's. Alexander claimed it was too dark. Sorry, but in my opinion, chocolate can never be too dark.

We still have two boxes of Peeps left, so maybe next weekend we'll try another creation. And maybe I'll visit Target to see if they have any at 75% off!!!!!

The Misforutune at Sweetwater's Graveyard

Here is the first chapter of Benjamin's story. This is the one he submitted to the Young Author's contest at school. I'm publishing it as a "serial" novel because of its length. Enjoy.


It was a very stormy night in the graveyard. Lightning flashed across the cloudy sky, revealing a small white church. On top of a tall steeple there stood a wooden cross. Suddenly, the moon shone, beaming from behind a cloud. On the ground there was a tall brown gravestone. On it were the words “If thou put a pumpkin at my feet, a painful death is what thou shall meet…”

Chapter 1
Meet Your Doom

10:10 AM
It was a crisp autumn morning. Kellie and Ben walked down Spring St. in good spirits. They had succeeded in growing the biggest pumpkin in Sweetwater. They were chatting animatedly until they passed the graveyard. Ben shuddered. Kellie giggled. “I wonder how many mummies are in there.” she muttered. “Shut up!” Ben told her. “There‘s something creepy about that place.” “Let’s go in” Kellie said. “My aunt is buried there.” The pair stepped cautiously through the gate.

The graveyard was right next to a small white church. There were only about 5 graves. Kellie stepped lightly up to her aunt’s gravestone. It had a large cross on it. When Kellie got up, Ben looked enthralled by one of the graves. Kellie walked up beside him. She moved to put the prize pumpkin on the ground near the grave. “Wait.” Ben warned. But with a thud the big pumpkin hit the dirt. “What?” asked Kellie? Ben just pointed to the words in the gravestone which read, "If thou place a pumpkin at my feet a painful death is what thou shall meet.” “Oh no.” Kellie stuttered, looking down at the pumpkin. Just then the words glowed bright red. The pumpkin started vibrating. As the two friends watched in horror, the pumpkin exploded into red, white and green dust.

The two friends stared at the spot where the pumpkin had disappeared. Finally Ben broke the silence. “That was weird” he stated. “No” said Kellie, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Then Kellie heard soft thuds behind her. She swiveled around to see Ben running down the street. “I guess I’ll follow him” Kellie thought. And she too sprinted down the street.

Copyright 2008 by Benjamin Weinrich

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The look-alikes

The other night, we were sitting at dinner, and I looked across at Alexander and couldn't believe my eyes. There, across from me, sat my brother Dave at age 8. Their resemblance is uncanny. I've noticed it ever since Alexander has let his hair grow, but on this night it was especially true. I then paged through some of my old photo albums and found these pictures as my proof. Isn't it amazing how much Alexander looks like his Uncle Dave? I wonder if he'll have long hair and a beard when he gets older. Oh, and that shirt Dave is wearing?? That's the one Jonathan loves to wear. It's now missing two buttons, but he wears it anyway. I guess it's an oldie but goodie.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Benjamin, the writer

Benjamin has always wanted a webkinz. For those of you without school age children, a webkins is a stuffed animal that comes with its very own computer code to access online games. The kids play the games, earn money, then buy things for their animal's room. I've never allowed him to have one, not because I think the web site is bad, but in general I am opposed to giving the kids screen time. I'm concerned that he will spend time on the computer instead of playing outside, reading, fighting with his brothers, etc.

Well, my plans were foiled. Last month their school had an author night, where a local children's author came in the evening and gave a presentation about writing. Any children who attended could submit a piece of writing and she would pick the best story in each grade level. The winners receive, you guessed it, a webkinz. Benjamin put off writing his story for awhile, and then the night before wrote a story about Goldenthorn the dragon. As soon as I read it, I knew he would win.

On Friday, he came home walking about 5 feet off the ground. Sure enough, Benjamin won the fourth grade contest. He is now the proud owner of Plumpster the Hippo. He and Alexander have been tasked with coming up with rules for the computer subject to our approval. He earned it, and to be honest, he appreciates it much more than if I had bought one for him. Congratulations, Benjamin! Read below for his story:

There was a problem in Southeastern Brambleberry. A major problem. Especially for the king and queen, King Phoncible and Queen Barb. The great golden dragon, Goldenthorn, was attacking. They were supposed to deal with it! Every day servants and messengers rushed up to the rulers bringing news of the latest death, attack, or crusade on Goldenthorn and all the while they had to do the usual kingly stuff. Finally, during a meeting with the king of Scotland the Brambleberry king fell asleep.

As terror began to devour the land the queen began to search for a knight, one strong and brave enough to confront Goldenthorn. She held numerous contests to scour the kingdom for the perfect knight. At the 55th fair she was able to find a contestant suitable. His name was Saint Chris.

The rulers decided to hold a meeting with Saint Chris. When the day of the meeting arrived, the saint came to the castle. The king sent a messenger to tell Saint Chris to proceed immediately to the Throne Room so the Saint did just that. When he arrived the royal couple was waiting so they proceeded with the meeting. They decided that the saint was, indeed, going to go on the legendary quest.

On the day of the quest, St. Chris saddles his horse. He took his sword from one of his servants and put it in his belt around his waist. He saluted to the king and queen and was off. The Saint rode day and night. He encountered many obstacles including blistering tundra, burning deserts, shadowy forests and even a few mountain lions. When his horse finally ran out of energy, he found some shelter under a towering cactus. He found a couple fruit hanging from the cactus’ branches. He took one, and gave the rest to his horse. Instantly after he ate, he fell asleep.

Finally, when he woke up, he found that his horse was not yet awake. He noticed a few more cacti. Upon them he saw that there were some fruit. To get his horse awake he took the fruit and waved it under his snout. The horse was jolted out of his dreams. He checked the straps of his saddle and his sword, and a few minutes later he was riding again. He encountered a lot of the same obstacles as before; yet, he made it through. For the second time on his quest, he and his horse fell to sleep.

When he woke up he found that he was not yet hungry. Finding that he still had more of his energy, he took off on his horse. He lasted only a few hours before falling asleep. Finally, he reached Goldenthorn’s cave. It was a monstrous cavern and was dimly lit. His horse squealed with fright at the smell of smoke. St. Chris patted his horse and nudged him into the cave.

His horse kept whinnying, but always kept walking. Saint Chris shivered with cold. Then he noticed that he had not ventured far into the cave even though he had been in there at least a half hour. The Saint was mystified, yet never gave up hope. Finally, it seemed he was making progress, as agonizing as it was. Then he noticed that there were small torches lighting his way. “Aha,” he thought, “Now we’re getting closer.”

Saint Chris could feel his horse preparing to bolt. He quickly reacted and jumped off, slamming his head against the cave wall. When he woke up, his head felt hot. He reached up and felt dried blood. Jolting into consciousness, he jumped up. He heard the receding hoof steps of his horse. He thought, “Now I’m all alone.”

The Saint walked on. Suddenly, the passageway began to curve and grow wider. He gasped, “This must be the cave.” Sure enough, small wisps of smoke floated around him. He crept around the corner, searching for any signs of life. “Nothing except the wind,” he thought as he sighed with relief. As he inched along, he saw two glimmering dots in the distance. He squinted at them. “What is that?” he thought. All of the sudden the passageway blazed with light. A huge yellow figure wrapped around him. He studied it and saw that it was a long tail. As he followed it, he saw not only the tail, but the body, head, and appendages of Goldenthorn.

Goldenthorn’s eyes burned with hatred as he reared up. Steely talons flashed as he dove at St. Chris. St. Chris reacted ripping his sword from its sheath. Metal met scales as the sword slashed through the air. Goldenthorn screamed with pain, rearing up again. As he plunged down toward St. Chris, St. Chris ran out of the way. Goldenthorn smashed to the ground. The whole cave shuddered. St. Chris came out of where he was hiding. Goldenthorn’s sharp eyes saw him quickly. Goldenthorn raced toward St. Chris. As he jumped up toward him, St. Chris ran at a pile of gold that was sitting in the corner. He plunged in. Goldenthorn scattered the gold and jewels everywhere, searching for the lost Saint. Meanwhile, the Saint grabbed on to Goldenthorn’s tail. With his scales being so thick, Goldenthorn did not feel a thing. He continued to search. He must have decided that the Saint was outside, because he took the passageway that led toward the end of the cave.

When they got outside, Goldenthorn’s eyes searched the horizon. Coming up with a plan, St. Chris launched himself off Goldenthorn’s tail. Goldenthorn’s claw rushed to meet him. It smashed against his armor. His armor was crushed, and he could barely breathe. He knew he would have to get it off soon, or stop fighting. Goldenthorn’s head lashed toward him, preparing to swallow St. Chris whole. With his last minute plan in his head, St. Chris slashed toward Goldenthorn’s mouth. His sword connected with the roof of Goldenthorn’s mouth. Goldenthorn’s head thrashed wildly as he tried to stop the pain. St. Chris withdrew his sword and jumped out of the mouth. He lashed out at Goldenthorn’s neck. Goldenthorn spotted the sword, but it was too late to stop it. It imbedded itself in his neck. Goldenthorn’s mouth tried to form the words, “You killed me,” but his mouth already had too much damage. Goldenthorn’s last breath was used to try to crush St. Chris’ head. St. Chris nimbly dodged Goldenthorn’s claw and pulled off his ruined armor. He climbed onto his horse, who had been watching everything. Not reluctantly, the horse zoomed off towards the castle. All the way home, St. Chris thought, “I’m a hero.”

Copyright 2008 by Benjamin Weinrich

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter morning.

Here we are on Easter Morning 2008. The boys (even Jonathan, who didn't want his picture taken) are wearing matching outfits courtesy of Grandma. I'm wearing a new dress she helped me pick out on our Friday shopping spree. (We found incredible deals at Sears, Penneys, and Macy's.) Chris is still sporting his goatee.

This morning the boys slept in until 6:15, not bad for Easter morning. We tried something new this year. Each of the boys hunted for eggs. Inside the eggs were clues for their presents, which then then had to find. Jonathan got a two wheeled scooter to replace his "baby" three wheeled scooter. Alexander got a new remote control car to replace the one he received at Christmas time which now doesn't work. Both were thrilled with their gifts.

All Benjamin wanted was a flash drive for school. They are making powerpoint presentations, and he needs a way to transport it back and forth, so we got him one. Hopefully he will be responsible enough not to lose it. He helped Chris pick it out, so he knows it's value!

Chris and I had a few goodies in our baskets, too. I got the new Duran Duran CD. He bought two CD's of bands I don't know, and we (surprise, surprise) got a new board game. We haven't opened it yet, but spring break is just around the corner and I'm sure we'll find some time to learn it.

Easter fun with friends

This afternoon, we gathered at Mom and Dad Weinrich's for our annual peep festival. We were greeted by this sign on their garage! Our friends the Larsons, Wedges, Schmidts, and Marz were there. We enjoyed a delicious grilled meal of brats, hamburgers, and hot dogs.

Then it was time for the peeps - Our favorite part of an Easter meal. We use the grill and make S'mores out of them. This year I bought both Hershey's Milk Chocolate and Hershey's DARK chocolate. The dark chocolate makes delicious smores.

Jana helped the boys grill. You can see that they enjoyed their treats. I personally am stuffed - two s'mores plus a few more bites of chocolate will do that.

There were other dessert options for those who found us, well, gross. Mom made lemon bars, and Jeff Wedge made this great peep house. He made the whole thing from scratch!! Very impresive, I must say. We were full, however, and will tackle that house tomorrow night when we go back to their house for a dinner of leftovers. Yum, yum!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why Barack Obama should be our next president

What an incredible speech. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Daytona Lagoon

Yesterday we used our Christmas presents from Gram and Pop-Pop for the first time - we went to Daytona Lagoon! It opened on Friday, but unfortunately the temperature stayed in the low 60's all day. Poor Alexander was tearful when he got off the bus and I told him we were not going.
Saturday, however, began with blue skies and sun. The temperature was forecast to get in the mid-80's, so we drove over at 11AM when it opened. We turned in our vouchers, got our passes, and hit the park! These pictures were taken when we got there. You can see that it's almost deserted. People began to trickle in around noon, but it never really got crowded.
Daytona Lagoon is a nice little water park. There's a wave pool, which Jonathan loved. He stood inside an innertube and let himself be pushed around by the waves for almost an hour. Chris stayed with him, since the water was freezing. Those with no body fat can't take 70 degree water at this time of year.
I, however, with just a bit of extra body fat, went on all the rides with Benjamin and Alexander. I got water up my nose on the slides - what fun - and got bumped around on the tube ride. Our favorite is the big blue one. Up to 4 people sit in an inflatable boat and go down it in the dark. They told us to lean back to make it go faster - it works! I floated in the lazy river for awhile. Luckily, the park is small enough and the boys are old enough that we can let them go out on their own for awhile.
We left by 2:00, exhausted. We thought about going today, but it was only 78 and windy enough that we would freeze. Spring break is coming up, so we'll be there most days that week. We're really going to get good use out of the passes. I may have to buy stock in sunscreen - we'll be using it like crazy this spring!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sick as a Dog

Ever since last Monday, I have felt terrible. I suffered through four days of fever, plus upper respitory infection, and now coughing. The last time I felt this sick was 10 years ago when I had mono. It's horrible. I just can't seem to snap out of it. I couldn't write for a week (hence no pay) and even now it's hard for me to concentrate. I often feel light-headed and I'm very, very tired. Yesterday I took not one, but two naps. Two naps!!! And I was still able to fall asleep that night and woke up tired this morning. I can't run, and can barely walk for exercise. This really sucks. I'm on my second type of antibiotics (the first one made me sick to my stomach) and I feel some improvement, but not much. I know I'm whining, but this has got to end soon or I'm going to be insane!!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Alphabet of Nations

We love They Might Be Giants for adults, but we love their stuff for kids even more. Check out this video, from their ABC album.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Long day at home

Today both Jonathan and I were home sick. When I took his temperature this morning, it was exactly the same as mine - 100.5. He was up last night coughing a very croupy cough, so I took him to the pediatrician this morning, who prescribed steroids. Yes, they give children steroids for croup. He only has to take it for three days, and I doubt it will bulk him up like Barry Bonds.
The other picture shows our newly replaced shelving. Last night Chris and Benjamin worked for about an hour to replace the shelves Benjamin pulled down last weekend. We can walk in our garage again and all the games are up high. The scary thing is that this is just about half of the games we own. The other ones, more kid friendly, are in the closet in the playroom. You can never have enough games!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Resolution Update

Yahoo! I'm pleased to report that Weight Watchers is working. I have officially lost 7 pounds. I'm halfway there. This past week I lost 4 pounds, which is a little much, but it probably has something to do with three members of our family having the stomach virus. I didn't get it (yet), but have felt nautious the whole week. Chris was sick all yesterday, so the kids and I hung out at the park for over three hours. He's staying home today to recover and make up for lost sleep.