Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve

We were up bright and early for our annual trip to Pokagon State Park for some tobogganing.  This year only Cam and Meg wanted to make the trip, but we all still had fun.  It was quite cold, but they were able to get in four trips before we called it a day.  I got some great pictures as they came down the run.  I have only gone once or twice.  It is a little rough on my back, so I have been designated driver the last few years.  I drop them off at the top of the run and drive down to the bottom to wait.  It saves Doug from having to carry the toboggan all the way back up the hill.  Today they also were able to warm up on the drive.

Doug and I went to lunch once we got back.  Then he and Brett went to see the movie "Grudge Match."  I had just enough time to run Cal to Meghan's and then to the grocery before they got back.  They really liked the movie - kind of an old man's Rocky.  We had meatballs, chili con queso, cocktail wieners and guacamole for dinner.  Cal was in early by 9 p.m. or so.  We asked him not to stay out late because of the snow and drivers on the road.  The four of us played Qwirkle and then watched more of the Scy Fy channel's marathon of Twilight Zone episodes until the ball dropped at midnight.

Meg and Cameron spent the night at Grandma's.  The confetti came flying at 12 a.m. sharp.  They have a lot of fun with that activity.  I sure would hate to clean it up!!

Monday, December 30, 2013


Brett, Meg and I spent the day shopping in South Bend.  Our first stop was to Pier One in search of throw pillows for the living room.  We found some great pillows, although a little smaller than I was thinking.  In the process I believe that we traumatized Brett.  Pier One is not Brett's kind of store, but he survived.  We agreed to let him sit in the van for the next stop, Petco.  

After that we all went to the University Park Mall.  Brett picked the lunch stop - Chik Fil A.  Meg had money to spend at Hollister thanks to Godmother Jeannette.  She found a really cute pair of jeans and shirt.  We stopped at Barnes and Noble, Yankee Candle, JC Penney, the Disney Store and Go Calendars.  Brett did a lot of window shopping, but decided to hold onto his money until our next trip. 

Even without buying anything Brett said that he had a great time.  We listened to music, talked about movies and just enjoyed spending time together.  We stopped at Grandma's on the way home to pick up Cal and Cameron.  Cam does not like shopping and Cal had practice today.  Meg showed off her new green Nike basketball shoes.  Brett and Grandpa made plans for lunch tomorrow.  A quiet evening at home topped off a wonderful day.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Today Doug, Cam, Cal and I went with Cal's girlfriends family to a Notre Dame basketball game.  Didn't know what to expect as Notre Dame lost their best player over Christmas break due to academic issues.  It turned out to be a lot of fun.  We first stopped at the Notre Dame bookstore.  There were a lot of great items to pick from and I love what Cameron found.  The first was a Notre Dame hat to add to his "hat collection."  The second made the outfit perfect - a hairy green wig to wear under the hat.

We headed to the game with our new Notre Dame "muppet" in tow.  We had excellent seats and were there in plenty of time to watch them warm up.  We thought the game would be a blowout as they were playing Canisius State.  Instead it turned out to be extremely exciting.  The opposing team had two really good players, and it was close until the very last second as Notre Dame pulled out a one basket victory.

Cameron said on the way home that he enjoyed the game a lot more than he thought he would.  I believe that is how everyone else felt as well.  We stopped for dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings and listened to the story of how Cal and Meghan started dating.  They seem to really enjoy doing things together.

Brett and Meg had a great day as well.  They went to see Frozen with Grandpa Cutes.  Brett said that it was even better the second time.  Only one more week of break and it is going by way too fast.  Glad that all of the Heinisch children are enjoying it to the fullest.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Game Night

Brett worked BINGO for the Knight's this evening and Cal decided to go to Meghan's to watch movies.  Thus, the four of us were left at home.  We had already spent the day putting away the Christmas and picking up the house.  No one was interested in cleaning anymore.  We went shopping and to dinner on Thursday night, so that was out.  Therefore, we decided to have a family, fun game night and invite my parents to join in the festivities.

Uno was the first game chosen.  Grandma and Meg were the big winners in that game.  We then introduced Grandma and Grandpa to Five Second Rule.  Grandpa was sure that we were going to throw food on the floor and give him five seconds to eat it.  That was a good idea, but we actually played the board game and enjoyed listening to everyone try to beat the clock with fun categories like "Name 3 Hair Bands of the 1980s" in five seconds.  This lead to discussion on one of the games Meg received several years ago called "Don't Say It."  We split in to teams of boys vs. girls.  One person tried to get the rest of the team to guess the word on the card without saying the four forbidden cards.  It was a lot of fun with the games ending in a tie.

Doug's favorite card game of all time is Hearts and my Dad is always willing to play that.  Thus, Cam, Grandpa, Doug and I started a game. Cameron needed to take a break for awhile so Grandma stepped in just in time for Doug to run it on the last hand and beat us all.  All of the games were a lot of fun, but the last game was probably the best of the evening.  Most families call this particular card game "Pass the Ace", but our family has always called it "Up Your Yinnie."  Not sure what a Yinnie is, but it is a lot of fun.  For this game we pulled out the big bucks and Meg was top winner with $4.25 and Cameron second with $1.50.

Glad that we decided to stay in tonight.  Everyone had a great time.  Nothing is more fun than ganging up on my dad or Doug in a friendly game of cards or flipping over a King and saying, "Up Your Yinnie."

Friday, December 27, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

Meg, Brett and I decided to try the movie "Saving Mr. Banks" this afternoon, and we all walked out in awe of the story.  Having loved Mary Poppins and a fan of Walt Disney, I am not surprised that we all felt this way.  We just couldn't stop talking about what a great story the movie told.

Not to be a spoiler, I will only give out the premise as is told in the trailer.  The movie retells Walt's twenty year struggle to buy the rights to Mary Poppins, and the difficulties the Disney creators had in working with author P.L. Traverse while writing the screenplay.  There is a backstory that tells of Mrs. Traverse's sad childhood that brought a tear to both Meg and I, but made the story of Mary Poppins even more magical.  Tom Hanks is a great Walt Disney and Emma Thompson portrays the uppity author of the beloved book perfectly.  Even the small roles in this movie, (the limo driver and the songwriters) become memorable characters for all of those watching.  Kudos to Walt for the fortitude to bringing this story to life and a big thank you to Helen Goff for sharing the Banks family with the rest of the world.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's OK, we're Heinisch's

We arrived at church fifteen minutes early on Christmas Eve to ensure that we had a seat for the children's mass.  Brett decided to use the restroom before the service began, so he quietly tried to slip out of the pew.  Somehow his feet got caught up and the next thing we knew he landed in the middle of the aisle face first with a big thud.  I looked down at Cal and he just shrugged his shoulders.  Brett let us know that he was alright and headed on out.  Meg whispered to me, "I think everyone is looking at us, but don't worry, it's OK, we're Heinisch's."  

I had to laugh at that. It is not the first time one of my children have said those words to me.  In fact Brett was the first.  That is the way it works in our family.  The Heinisch's are for the most part a confident bunch, loud everywhere we go, trying to get all we can out of life, and at times creating a scene.  That is just who this family is and that is what makes it so fun.  

I know some people do not understand this, and think that we are obnoxious or snobs.  I don't believe that is true of us at all. There are those, though, that seem to share in our enthusiasm for life.  This was definitely the case with the security guard at the Pacer's game Sunday night.  As we started to walk through the metal detector, the first guard said, "Empty your pockets."  The rest of us understood that he meant to hold out our phones, cameras, etc.  Cameron, however, pulled out of his pockets every kleenex he had used that day  along with a dozen or so Hershey Kisses wrappers, all while wearing his springy Santa hat.  Of course the metal in the hat set off the alarm, so they sent him to the second security guard, the official one with the wand.  The guy must have been a Heinisch at heart.  He looked right at Cameron, laughed, and said, "You're good!"  

So, if you get stuck behind us in line at a Pacer's game or in the pew in front of us at church, know that we can be a lot of fun.  If you are the type, though, who would rather move to the back for a more peaceful, quiet spot, we understand.  You won't be the first.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

For the first time in 18 Christmas' in the Heinisch home we actually slept until 8 a.m. on Christmas morning. Cameron's siblings told him that they were not getting up until 8:30, so there was no reason to rise early.  As is the tradition on Christmas morning, the stockings filled with candy and iTunes gift cards were opened first.  They each used to have a CD in their stockings, but the invention of iPods changed that several years ago.

Once the stockings were emptied, Santa gifts were opened next.  Three for each child to match the number of gifts given to baby Jesus many years ago. The Heinisch children then had a gift to open from each of their siblings and parents.  This year's highlights were the book The Great Deformation for Brett, an Oladipo jersey for Cal, Just Dance 2014 for Meg and a bouncy chair for Cameron.  I was thrilled with my multitude of purple and yellow kitchenware, and Doug scored big time with a new wine refrigerator.  Morning clean up started around 10 a.m., Grandparents were called to wish a Merry Christmas to, and several rounds of Just Dance were played before 1 p.m. rolled around.

At this time Grandma Jane and Grandpa Cutes arrived with a van full of presents and several food dishes to enjoy with our Christmas dinner.  The Heinisch children thoroughly enjoyed their IU gifts - an IU blanket for Brett, an IU basketball encyclopedia for Cal, candy striped pants for Meg and IUopoly for Cameron.  Doug now has an electric griddle of his own, and I loved my frame preschool picture of Zip the monkey and I from years ago.  Doug made a wonderful ham with his famous jalapeno corn dish.  Mom supplied the relishes and desserts.  Games of pool, Just Dance, Jenga and IUopoly were enjoyed before the evening came to an end.
As we watched Despicable Me 2 late into the evening, Meg said, "This has been the best Christmas ever."  I couldn't agree more. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Traditions

I love the Christmas Eve traditions that we have established with the Heinisch children.  The morning is filled with baking Christmas cookies with Doug.  Candy cane cookies are a family favorite much as when I was a child.  Our afternoon is taken up with last minute shopping in town for any gifts or food needed for the big day.  Meg and I fulfilled this roll today.  It was nice having her along.  Of course that meant the guinea pigs now have Santa beards to wear for tomorrow, but we couldn't resist.  Cal and Cam took care of the last minute wrapping that needed down.  This is the first year that Cal has wrapped his gifts for everyone.  He was impressed with his wrapping skills.

At 4:30 p.m. we all gather for a picture by the Christmas tree.  I love looking back at all of these pictures to see how much the children have changed over the years.  Meg can no longer stand in front of Brett as she has gotten quite a bit taller this year.  We all then head to children's mass at 5 p.m.  For several years Meg carried the baby Jesus to the manger at the altar in the processional.  Now we just admire the little girl in that role.  During the homily Father calls up the children of the church to discuss the birth of the Christ child.  This is the first year that none of the Heinisch children made the trip up.  We all enjoyed the homily just the same.

After mass we drive around the lake to look at Christmas lights and decorations.  The past few years there have been less and less, but one neighborhood nears us still delivers and we save the best for last.  Once we return home, Godparent gifts are opened and more pictures are taken.  Doug then gets out the salami and cheese for a light dinner.  We pick a Christmas movie to watch.  In years past it has been A Christmas Story, but this year, we changed it up and chose It's a Wonderful Life.  Cookies, milk and carrots are left out for Santa and his reindeer.  The baby Jesus on our handmade Advent calendar is placed carefully in his pocket and the Heinisch family is off to bed.  This year I feel blessed that they all chose to spend Christmas Eve in our traditional manner.  I do not know how many more years this will occur, but for now I feel blessed to be part of this wonderful family.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Heinisch Christmas Gathering

We officially kicked off the Christmas season today with Carl and Jeanette.  They were able to make the trip out and this afternoon we enjoyed a lovely dinner featuring steak, southwest chicken, and pork kabobs from Inboden's plus Doug's famous macaroni and cheese and Grandma Jane's desserts.  What a great way to start the holidays.

After dinner gifts were disbursed and the Heinisch children started unwrapping.  Each was blessed with a handmade treasure box from Grandpa Heinisch and a hand carved Santa from Grandma Heinisch both of which they will cherish for years to come.  They each had a $2 bill and $25 to spend plus new pajamas for Brett and Meg, an NIU shirt for Cal and a Jimmy Butler Bulls shirt for Cameron.  Brett surprised his grandparents by picking out a gift for them from IU - 100 best grilling recipes - which they really appreciated.  Cameron, Meg and Cal had purchased the new John Grisham novel for their Grandma.  With all of these wonderful gifts, however, I think Grandpa Heinisch's from the trio may have gotten the most discussion - a fighting Illini temperature garden gnome and rain gage.  Just what every University of Illinois graduate needs!!

So glad that the Heinisch family was able to celebrate together this Christmas season.  Lots of great food, conversation and pictures were shared today.  Bellies are full and hearts are happy tonight just as it should be this time of year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

First NBA Game

The first weekend of Christmas break can definitely be called a success!  To start our vacation Meg went to her friends' for a sleepover, Brett completed all his requirements for semester one, Cal and some of the basketball boys went to IPFW to watch a game and back to our house for a competitive round of Scrabble with Cam, Doug and I went to dinner, and Grandma and Grandpa came over for game night.  With all of those great things going on, I have to say the best part, however, has been our trip to Indy.  All six of us together eating at Hard Rock Cafe and then enjoying the Pacers vs Celtics game has been priceless.  Well worth the overpriced popcorn, nosebleed seats and three hour drive just to listen to the Heinisch children conversations.  Cam, Meg and Brett can also now make the claim that they have been to an NBA game!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Life of a Mom with a Teenage Boy

I am happy to announce that after three years, I am now fluent in two languages.  Obviously, the first one is English.  My second language may not be as beneficial to those who know Spanish, French or German, but to a mother of a teenage boy it is a must.  Today I realized that I am officially fluent in the language of "mumble."

Cal wasn't always a mumbler.  In fact he used to talk all of the time.  Some time during 8th grade I noticed that his answers to my questions had become shorter.  His voice had also started to change around this time, so I thought that maybe that was the reason I could no longer understand his response.  It dawned on me after a couple of months of asking him to repeat himself, he was really telling me to stop asking him so many questions.  So, I did.

There were many mornings I drove him to the middle school (a six minute drive) with neither of us speaking until I said, "Have a great day!" as he exited the vehicle.  He always mumbled something in return, but I wasn't quite sure what it was.  That is the way our life continued for several years.  I limited the amount of questions I asked him, making sure they were ones that I really needed answers to - "What time do you need picked up?"  "How did you do on your test?"  "Do you need money?"  "Will their parents be there?"  I didn't need to know who was dating whom or what offense they were practicing in basketball, so I didn't bother him with those.  Long gone were the days when I knew what he ate at lunch, who he sat with and which team won the football game at recess.  We did find common ground on several topics - especially IU basketball, golf and the NBA.  

Today I am proud to say that Cal does talk in our house again and even lets us know where he is going and when he will be returning.  First thing this morning he asked if he could go with Alex to the high school swim meet, then to IPFW for a basketball and out for dinner.  I knew I pushed the envelope when I asked, "Who else is going?"  This time, however, when he mumbled two names that would have been inaudible to most humans, I knew exactly who they were!!  

After three years of trying to track his code, I finally did it.   After he left,  I looked on Google translate to see if "Mumble" was an official langue yet.  It wasn't, but if they ever add it, I will be the first to apply for the job.  Of course, the only words that I am extremely confident in are "OK", "Fine", "Not much" and "Jayce".  I do know, however, if I keep trying I will probably have a vocab of at least 50 words by the time he graduates.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Break

WooHoo!  Today is the official start of Christmas break!  It began with a bang as we had a two hour delay because of fog!  The beginning of school rushed by with a staff breakfast and Cam and Meg handing out gifts.  My 7th and 8th grade classes went by relatively easily as we decorated Christmas cakes and watched The Grinch with Jim Carey.  Sixth and fifth grade was a blur.  It was pancake day and I should have postponed it until after break as we only had thirty minute classes.  We tried it and in the end did pretty well.  Four fifth graders didn't get pancakes, but will on the day after break along with a Warrior award for being patient!

I stuck around for the rest of the afternoon to clean my room and help one of my students finish a gift for his Grandma.  The middle school was really rocking by 2:30 as there was a convocation to announce the extreme Christmas winners and the annual mad dash for cash involving the top sellers of this year's fundraiser.  By the time I met Cam and we headed home, I was ready for bed!

I did take Meg to Brooklyn and Avery's to spend the night, made it to dinner with Brett, Cam and Doug, and even made it up to greet Cal after the basketball game.  A crazy start to our holiday vacation.  Looking forward to rest, relaxation and a lot of family time!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Semester One is in the Bag

Brett called several times yesterday to tell us 1) that he only got three hours of sleep the night before as he was writing a paper and 2) he was more than ready to come home.  His first two finals were challenging.  I don't remember ever walking out of a final and thinking that it was a breeze, so I think his assessment is probably correct.  He has two papers due Friday night at 9 p.m. that he can submit online.  He finished one at 4 a.m. yesterday morning.  That left him time to pack, study for his Thursday final and write one more paper, before Grandma and Grandpa picked him up this afternoon.

I am proud of how hard he has worked this semester and impressed with how well he has adjusted to being on his own.  This week he met several of his friends for dinner and survived selling back his books in the long lines of the IU bookstore.  All new adventures that he didn't ask advice on, just attempted himself.  I wasn't sure how it would be for him this year, but so far so good.  Can't wait to spend three weeks with him before he starts semester two.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hump Day

At the beginning of the year all of the students would yell, "What day is it?" down the hall every Wednesday.  Inevitably someone would reply "Hump Day!!" mimicking their favorite new commercial.  The thrill of hump day has worn off by now and Wednesdays have once again returned to the least favorite day of the week.

For teachers it is the day that we have an hour long meeting.  I struggle with any type of meeting, so it is hard for me to sit through them.  It also shortens the school day just enough to make the classes shorter.  In FACS we only have 40 minutes to accomplish what we need to for the day.  The 8th grade was able to make their Christmas cakes, however, in the allotted time.  Although I had to take them out of the oven for them, I was glad that they were able to accomplish the given task.  In my class the students are the makers with me there to provide a couple of suggestions.  For the most part by now they can take over and conquer the kitchen.  I love watching them put their learned skills to task.  Can't wait to see how the cakes taste.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Program #3

It was a busy day for the Heinisch family.  Cameron was a lot better, but still not quite ready for a full day.  He stayed at Mom's once again and came in around lunch time.  Cal had a makeup basketball game at Whitko.  He is still on the injured list, but spent the evening helping the stats guys and supporting the team.

Meg had her second music program and the third Heinisch one overall.  This one combined with the high school and middle school bands and the orchestras.  There main song was the Ukranian Bell Carol.  It sounded great.  Doug was able to make this one and Meg said that she had a lot of fun hanging out with her friends.  She wished Brett could be there to hear her, but finals got in the way.

Doug and I went to dinner after the program and before Cal got home.  It was a day that started early and ended late, but a fun day for the Heinisch children. It left us all anxious for Christmas break to begin.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snow Delay

Last night we were blessed with the knowledge that we would be having a snow delay today.  It didn't surprise us as the roads were terrible driving to Ligonier last night and the wind was still howling late into the evening.  It was our first delay of the year, so the Heinisch family was excited.

Cameron, unfortunately, did not get to share in the excitement.  He started running a fever yesterday afternoon and was out for the count early in the evening.  Mom and Dad kept him so he didn't have to get up to take Cal to school.  Even with the delay, Cameron still wouldn't have been ready as he slept until 10:10 a.m.  He thought about coming to school for the afternoon as he loves swimming, but getting dressed was about all he could do.  Hopefully, we will have another delay tomorrow, so he can enjoy it as well.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

7th Grade AAU

Today was the final weekend of Meg's AAU girls basketball season.  They have played every Sunday since the beginning of November.  Meg has been on the fence as to whether she likes it or not.  She is also playing with the high school girls soccer team in an indoor league on Sundays as well, so there are some weekends that she is exhausted by Sunday night.

Last Sunday was my coaching debut as the 7th grade girls coach.  When I offered to coach at Milford this year, I didn't realize that it would also include this league.  Since I had to be there anyway and had helped at a practice and in a couple of games, I didn't mind.  After last week's games, however, it took all I had to go back this week.  Our first game was against a very talented, well practiced Warsaw team.  We were completely overmatched and the score stated that.  I wasn't discouraged.  This team had beaten everyone else by wide margins except for the first place team.  From powers beyond my control we had not had a practice since late October and the girls had not played in two weeks.

After that first game we talked about what we needed to work on before we met our next opponent - help defense, communicate better, etc.  As they headed off to get a snack I was completely taken aback by several of the parents.  One was screaming at her daughter for not rebounding, and another let her daughter know that they were not running the offense and that cost us the game.  While several of the girls were hanging out with me, one of the Dad's even took the other six girls into a side gym to teach them a new offense.  By the time I caught wind of it and headed in to see what he was going on, it was almost time for our second game.

At first I was embarrassed and then I was frustrated.  Both my Dad and Doug had said several times that there was nothing that we could have done to change the outcome of the game.  We played a more equal opponent in our second game and won by two.  Still didn't run our offense, but we did help on defense, press and communicate better.

It really did take all I had to go back today.  I was very anxious, but I tried to remember that no matter how much I didn't like what that Dad did, his daughter was the one who had to really hate it.  Thus, we met as a team and talked about the offense before the game, and more importantly started off with a positive attitude.  It was a win or go home tourney, and I am proud to say that the girls listened, worked on what we needed to, played aggressively and we won our first two games.  One of the refs even told me that he thought I did a great job with the girls.  We did eventually lose in the semi-finals by three, but when we were down, we never gave up and almost pulled out the win.

I realize that it is never about winning or losing at this age.  It is about gaining experience.  On my team all ten girls played equally, all felt that they were an important part of the team and eventually just ignored the jerk sitting in the front row screaming at them throughout the game.  Life is a learning experience and I hope that they learned this season that it isn't always about winning or losing.  Sometimes improvement and being a team player is the goal.  I do wish, however, that I could follow that Dad around at his work tomorrow and scream at him every time I think he screws up or doesn't make the right decision.  Maybe then he could understand how his daughter or her teammates felt.  Proud of the girls for playing hard and getting a couple of wins under their belt, and even more proud of myself for keeping my mouth shut and doing what is best for the girls no matter the criticism.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Snowstorms and Boys

Last night Jayce, Alex and Sam all spent the night at our home.  The boys had a lot of fun playing pool, eating monster cookies and just hanging out.  Doug and I are alway impressed with how well that group includes Cameron.  He flows in and out of whatever they are doing with ease.  They even started calling him Cam Daddy.

This morning the boys were scheduled to go to a basketball breakfast at Sam's, but the weather put a wrench into their plans.  We didn't mind, however, as they spent all morning and most of the afternoon here.  They played chess, checkers and ping pong.  I loved listening to their conversations - it all revolves around sports and trash talking one another.  Jayce filled us in on the details of his accident and Sam tried to prove he could compete in Meg's upcoming spelling bee.

My favorite part of the day, however, occurred before lunch.  I realized that they were all at the window looking at our driveway.  The first part I caught was Cal saying, "Wow, Alex it must have been really windy last night," and Jayce chiming in with "Or the snowplow came through."  Eventually noticing that Brett's truck did not look like an igloo, Alex's response was, "Alright, you two are helping me clean that off."  To which Cal replied, "No way, it's not my car."  They all headed back down to the basement laughing, so I took a peak out the window myself.  There was Alex's car completely covered in snow with only the side mirrors sticking out.  At first I thought that maybe it was really windy or the snowplow did create the mess.  Then I realized that it must have been Cal and Jayce.  Doug confirmed my suspicions as he saw them heading out when he came in.

We laughed all day about the car and after lunch the boys did go "help" Alex dig out.  I think that turned into a huge snow fight, where even Cameron was covered.  Doug did finally get involved and by three all of the boys were on their way home (or to the doctor to have their stitches removed.)  What a great day for all of them.  I am sure that they will talk about their antics all week.  They didn't even seem to mind that their game was postponed until Tuesday.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Finished - Finally

I was a little stressed out when I left school today at 12:45.  I have been staying late helping students finish their projects and providing a place for Meg and her friends to hang out during the cold days of recess.  Because my afternoons have been booked and our nights have been busy with Heinisch children activities, I haven't had time to finish my Christmas shopping or wrap gifts.  Normally, I am done by now, but with Thanksgiving being late I lost a week.

I hurried home from school today and spent the next two hours picking up the house and cleaning.  Cal had invited several of his friends to spend the night and I wanted to make sure we were ready for the visit.  Meg and Cam had piano after school, and I really wanted to go shopping with Doug tonight, so I rushed around like a mad woman.  My Mom had stopped by this morning and made the Heinisch children's beds and picked up their rooms.  That was a pleasant surprise and a big help.  It also saved me at least an hour, so I was able to fly through the rest.

I dashed out at 2:50 to pick up Meg and Cam with only the floor left to sweep.  While they played the piano, I ran to Kroger for groceries.  By the time I got home, Doug was there sweeping for me.  Cam and Meg decided to grab pizza and hang out at Grandma's, so Doug and I headed out to finish up our shopping.  The snow held off and we were able to come up with some great gifts.  We even had time to stop for dinner at Hacienda.  Thus, I can feel a little more relaxed, at least about the shopping part.  Now all we have to do is get busy wrapping!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Program #2

Tonight it was Meg's turn to have a Christmas program.  The weather was cold, but the band was not.  Meg is the only clarinet in the 7th and 8th grade, so she has to work harder to be heard.  She did a fantastic job, however, and I enjoyed listening to her preform.  Choir, guitars and other various musical groups also played this evening, but Meg's band closed out the show with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."  What a great way to end a holiday show, and I hope that everyone has a merry little Christmas.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Family Christmas Shopping

As soon as Doug got home from work the five of us loaded up the van and headed to South Bend.  It had snowed today and we weren't sure if the weather would hold out, but overall it was not too bad.  Our first stop was the mall and we had a lot of luck at Barnes and Noble.  After that we headed to Target.  Doug worked with Cal on his gift buying spree, and I took the younger two.  It took some time and crafty ways to hide gifts from each other, but we managed pretty well.  Brett bought his gifts for everyone in Bloomington, so as of right now all of the Heinisch children have finished their Christmas shopping.

On the way home we stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner.  It was late and Wednesday night, but we figured there might still be a line when we got there.  Fortunately, we had the place to ourselves.  I really enjoyed dinner tonight.  It is rare that Cal is with us, so it made it a lot more fun. I appreciate the time we get with him now as all to soon he will be off to college as well.  The only dark spot of the evening was when the three of them decided that Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" rap song was better than any other song of the 80s or 90s that Doug and I played.  We listened to them sing off key right along with Biz most of the way home -   really missing the one Heinisch who seems to have any sense among the four.  At least Brett would admit that "Just a Friend" was the garbage song of the 90s.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dad's Night

Tonight was Dad's night at the basketball game.  This is a new Wawasee tradition for the boys.  During the game the Dads were invited to sit behind the bench to show support for their sons.  Originally, the Dads were supposed to wear the boys' warm up jackets.  I think that tradition was pushed aside when everyone realized that Doug was one of the few that could fit into his son's clothes.

Doug said that he enjoyed sitting there.  It was good for him to hear what the coaches had to say and what their expectations are.  Cal, of course, had to sit out.  We didn't realize until game time that Jayce also would miss tonight's action.  During strength training a couple of the boys were goofing around and a bar hit Jayce in the head.  He ended up with eight stitches and a possible concussion.  He wasn't allowed to come to the game, so Cal was all alone at the end of the bench tonight.

Basketball season hasn't quite been what the boys thought it would be this summer.  I am proud of how hard Cal has worked to stay a part of the team.  He is the JV captain, and although I know he would rather be playing, he hasn't mentioned giving up.  Life lessons are hard, but I guess that is what this is turning out to be.  Patience will be a virtue that he will have mastered by the end of the season.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ankle Injury #2

Doug called on his way home from work to let me know that the trainer from the high school had contacted him.  Cal injured his ankle once again, this time while going up for a shot during a drill.  Unfortunately, it will knock him out of tomorrow's lineup, and he will be heading in for physical therapy right after school again.

I asked Doug if his heart sank when he saw Nick's number show up on his phone.  He said that it didn't.  Doug was a little anxious before he called me.  He realized that I would probably be upset.  However, after watching Cal play on Saturday night, I realized that the ankle was not fully recovered.  The injury also isn't as severe, so the time Cal has to sit out should be less.  The goal now is to make sure he is 100% by golf season.

The phone call reminded Doug of the time many years ago when my Dad lost Cal at Blizzard Beach.  Cal was only seven and they were on the lazy river.  Once Cal got ahead of my Dad, he stopped and got out to go looking for him.  My Dad thought Cal was ahead of him, so he kept on floating down the river.  The rest of us were unaware that he was missing.  When we reached my Dad, he said, "Now don't panic, but I've lost Cal."  Those words seem funny now, but at the time I was extremely panicked.  Luckily, Cal could figure out where we had put our towels and made it back to me, but not without being lost for forty-five minutes.

So all in all, this ankle injury has not been fun, but Cal is handling it very well.  I hate watching him sit out from playing a sport that he loves.  Overall, I would much rather get the message that his ankle is hurt again, than he is missing.  My favorite quote of the night actually came from Cal this time.  When he limped in the back door, he said, "Mom, I injured my ankle again.  Now you can't be mad at me about my precalculus grade!!"  Love the humor of a fifteen year old boy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Movies

Doug has stated that he is already tired of Christmas music, thankfully the same does not apply to Christmas movies.  We have a list lined up of ones to get through this holiday season.  Most we have seen many times before, but have never grown tired of.  Christmas in Connecticut is playing right now, and we have Scrooge next up in our queue.  

White Christmas by far is my favorite.  I could listen to Bing Crosby sing Christmas music all day long, and Danny Kaye plays the part of a goofball so well in the movie.  As always I am partial to happy endings and what could be better than two couples singing White Christmas as the movie ends, professing their love to one another.  

Early in the week we even rented the best of Bing Crosby's Christmas specials.  What a fun way to start the holiday season.  By the end of December I will probably wear Doug out of Christmas movies as I did with the music of the season.  For now I will enjoy our time together and the joys of the season.   

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott

Meg finished These Happy golden years written by Laura Ingalls Wilder last week and is now reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.  These are two of my favorite books, written by two of my favorite childhood authors.  I am so glad that Meg has been enjoying these stories as much as I did.  I love talking about the characters with her.

Much as I did Meg identifies with Jo, the main character of Little Women - a headstrong tomboy who is also very creative and a wonderful story teller.  (She does not know that we strongly considered naming her Josephine before deciding on Margaret.)  Meg also really enjoys reading about Laura's love interest and eventual husband, Almonzo.  It was also my favorite part of the series.

I hope that one day Meg also shares my love of Jane Austen as well.  My assumption is that she will.  Austen's stories have many dynamic characters and I have to believe Meg will be just as intrigued with Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship as I was.  No matter where her love of reading takes her next, I am just so happy that all of her hard work with the eye exercises have paid off.  She can now read an unlimited time headache free.  It was music to my ears when she said, "Mom, I hate finishing a series.  I just never want it to end."

Friday, December 6, 2013

Early Night

I was always a night owl growing up.  I loved to stay up late reading.  I would sneak a flashlight to bed and hide under the covers until all hours of the night.  Of course that meant that it was very hard to wake me up in the morning, but the pattern continued for many years.

I can say, however, this past year has finally broken me of the longtime habit.  Part time teaching and being a full time mother have physically gotten the better of me.  By Friday night I am more than ready for an early bedtime.  This week was even more exhausting than most with three of my classes working on their sewing projects and the fourth publishing fantasy stories.

My class workload coupled with basketball games and Christmas programs have left me dead on my feet.  All four of my children will be up well past me this evening and for the first time in a long time, so will Doug.  Hopefully, a full night's rest will start the weekend off right and help rejuvenate me for the week to come.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Program #1

Tonight was the first Heinisch Christmas program of the season and Cameron did not disappoint.   I had several teachers stop me after the matinee performance to let me know that we were in for a treat.  He had worked hard to learn the songs and dance moves and it showed.  I could see why he was nervous driving back to the school tonight.  This was serious business for a third grader.

It was hard to video tape, watch and chuckle a little without moving the video camera, but the images I was able to capture were priceless.  Cameron put every ounce of effort that he could into his dance moves.  I am sure that a lot of parents wondered if he was the son of a music teacher not a FACS teacher.

I realize that it wouldn't matter what I did for a living, Cameron is enthusiastic about everything he does.  I do not know if that is because he is the fourth child in an active family or it is just his personality.  No matter the reason it is a lot of fun going through life with him.  His excitement for whatever he is doing - chess, basketball, golf, math, music, etc. - is catchy.  I can't help but smile watching him.  I hope he never changes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

FACS injury

So far I have been fortunate not to have any serious accidents in my classroom.  I feel blessed as there are gas stoves, knives, small appliances and sewing machines abound.  Now that we are focused on students learning 21st century skills and working more independently, I am always watchful and careful when any of the aforementioned are used.  I did have one minor incident several weeks ago.  I was carefully putting away my brand new Ninja blender when the extremely sharp blade cut my finger.  My students felt bad at first when they saw the blood, but as I walked around with my bandaged finger above my head, their sympathy turned to laughter.

Thus, there was no way I was going to tell any of them about my second FACS injury.  Feeling elated about getting a great deal on fleece material and the fact that I wouldn't have to spend any of my own money on this trimester's projects, it didn't dawn on me how long it would take me to trim and cut it for all of their pillows.  Yesterday as I wrapped up my second straight hour of cutting with my new gadget (basically, a pizza cutter for material), I felt great that all students would now be able to start on their pillows.  About 7 p.m. last night, however, it dawned on me that I might have wanted to take a little break between cutting or leave some for today.  My thumb had cramped to an unusual state and a sharp pain was shooting from my wrist to my elbow.  Luckily, I had a wrist brace from when I had carpal tunnel syndrome many years ago.  That and Ibuprofen helped get me through the night.

Today as I helped a student trim his pillow to a more manageable size, he said, "Mrs. Heinisch, your cutter is not working as well today as it did yesterday."  He was correct, but I didn't tell him that it wasn't working as well, because I could barely grip the handle.  I made it through the day, however, with no one the wiser.  I did put my brace on as soon as I left the building.  Tomorrow there should be no cutting left to do, so I think I survived my first major FACS injury.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Shop til We Drop

Last night Cal threw me for a loop.  He asked me when I was going to take him Christmas shopping.  I am not sure when the last time I took him holiday shopping, but if memory serves me well there must have been some complaining during that adventure.  All I know is that I haven't even offered in quite some time.  

I am happy that he is interested in going, however.  I have done a pretty good job keeping up with Brett, Cam and Meg's lists, but since Cal hasn't given me one, I am starting to panic about ideas for him.  So maybe on our shopping excursion, he will inadvertently point out a few items that he is interested in as well.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Just Another Cyber Monday

Today is one of my favorite shopping days of the year - Cyber Monday.  I don't know who started the term or if there really are better deals on the Monday after Thanksgiving, but I thought I did pretty well.  I didn't get to log on until late Monday night, but the nice thing about online shopping is that it never closes and I can wear my pajamas as I browse the stores.  Now all I have to do is be nice to the UPS delivery person, or pretend I am not home and just pick up the packages off of the porch after he drives away.  I love holiday shopping!!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Back to IU

Doug and Brett were up early this morning to take him back to Bloomington.  I was glad that they were able to spend time together.  Brett talks to me a lot, but doesn't get as much time with his Dad.  They listened to each other's songs, talked about movies and politics and came up with a plan for Brett for finals week.  The weather in Southern Indiana was gorgeous today, which made the trip even better.  Brett called me at 1 p.m. to let me know that he was already in his room and unpacking.  

We all really enjoyed having Brett home for the week.  Time was spent playing games, watching movies, shopping, eating Thanksgiving dinner and just catching up.  Brett was nervous as he headed back today.  Finals and paper writing will take up a good portion of his time during the next three weeks.  I am confident that he will do well and in 18 short days, he will be back to join us for the Christmas holidays.  Can't wait!