Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hello dear neglected blog. I'm sorry. I have lots of excuses! :)

This morning I had three extra kids, and wanting to have something for them to do, I sent Jim to the store last night to purchase ingredients to make cinnamon Christmas tree ornaments.

Here's the recipe:

4 cups cinnamon (get the dollar store version, MUCH cheaper!)
2 big spoonfuls of cloves (or not, whatever)
3 cups applesauce
1/2 cup glue (more or less)

Mix the ingredients together. I was sneezing like a crazy lady as the cinnamon wafted up my nose. :)

Mix and mash and knead the dough. Roll it out in small batches and use cookie cutters to make shapes.

Put the ornaments on a cookie sheet, poke holes in them and let them dry. The recipe I found says to bake them at 200 for 6 hours or let them dry on the counter for four days! **Note, I did this this morning and it didn't take NEARLY 6 hours. Mine were dry in 1-2 depending on the thickness of the ornament. Check on them after about an hour, if they still have a little give when you squeeze them let them dry longer. If they're all dry, they're all dry.

We plan to leave some plain, paint some with craft paints and use some glitter on others.

If I ever had two batteries full of juice at the same time or the ability to load pictures on this borrowed bare bones computer I'd include pictures!

A word of warning, your house will smell REALLY strongly for hours after.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ten Questions answer one, question two

Yesterday I posed the following question, "What's the one thing you would have done differently as a mom?"

My mom's response and one I hope to emulate was, "Spent more time making memories with my children and less time cleaning."

Today's question is, "Why did you choose to be with my father?"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ten Questions, Part One

Last night I was reading an article in an old Real Simple. Since the magazine was from May the article was fit for Mother's Day and gave ten questions to ask your mother. I'm planning on asking my mom all ten questions, perhaps sharing an answer or two here.

I'm also challenging you to ask your mother these questions if you can.

The first one is, "What's the one thing you would have done differently as a mom?"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mystery Gift

Last Saturday I took the three littles to Home Depot for their kids' workshop event. While Aidan, Toby and Avery were all making a trivet (yes, they all did 90+% of the work themselves, even Avery!) Evan was home alone. He's nine and we let him stay home alone once in a while; usually for no more than an hour or two.

When I got back he asked me if I'd ordered some flowers. "No, not that I know of, why?" "Some flower shop called and asked when they could deliver. I told them you'd call them back, the number is by the computer." I was shocked and proud of him for not accepting a delivery when I wasn't home (and that he had no knowledge of!)

So I asked Jim if he'd sent the flowers. He denied it (no surprise there!) Toby piped up from the table and told me that he'd ordered them! "Really?" "Yup, it was me." And he said it with this cute little face which was a cross between so serious because he was trying to convince me and a spark of mischief because he was trying to convince me! He kept up his story, elaborating as the day went on. When asked how he paid for the flowers he replied, "when I didn't have enough money they gave them to me for free!" And he decided that "Evan helped me make the phone call because I didn't know the number." (That morning Evan had a lesson in using the phone book to call a business.)

When the flowers finally arrived I was of course eager to read the card! It turns out that the lovely bouquet was an early birthday gift from my parents and brother. As I was pouring over how lovely they were Toby confessed, "I'm sorry I tried to trick you about buying the flowers." I hugged him and reassured him that it was okay and that I knew if he could he would have done it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

PSA time!

PSA for Moms or anyone who's purchased Baby Einstein DVDs in the last 5 years. Baby Einstein is issuing a refund or exchange for their DVDs. The FTC has issued a complaint because of the movie's "educational" claims. Children under the age of 2 (the intended audience) are recommended to have zero screen time.

Print out the following form *at this link*, send in your movies and receive a B.E. book, CD or refund!

Unfortunately we have all VHS Baby Einsteins and can't take advantage of this. But we'd be willing to accept any donations from your refunds! :)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

An old story revisited

This morning our pastor spoke on a select few chapters of the book of Joshua. He briefly touched on the story of Jericho, but those brief moments were enough to bring back an unforgettable story from Evan's early pre-school years.

One spring our church offered a parenting class. Jim and I signed up, partly to try to gain new insights, but partly because they also offered free child care for the all day seminar! Evan and his friends had an entire unit that day on Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. They had the Bible story, they sang songs, they watched the Veggie Tale version of the story, they built a wall of cardboard and made horns to knock it down, the whole nine yards. By the end of the day the boys were thoroughly immersed in the tale of Joshua!

A few weeks later I was watching two boys about Evan's age who had also been in that class. With three boys in the three to four-year-old bracket eventually the noise and squirrliness level got to the point where I sent them outside. I gave them the following instructions, "go outside and march around the garage seven times shouting the entire time and see what happens!"

A little while later one of the boys came back in the house and told me that the garage window was broken! It turns out that God did not move the garage in the same way He moved the wall of Jericho so the boys took matters into their own hands. They found some plastic toy golf clubs and started trying to break down the "wall"!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Works for me Wednesday!

Hello all! I'm back. Well, we'll see about that. I'm doing some part time day care here in the house of Kluth so I've been a little busy to blog. At any rate, this morning as I was working on getting Aidan's uniform together I thought, "this would make a good Works for me Wednesday" but it didn't dawn on me that it was actually Wednesday and that I could write it!

I actually got this idea from a more seasoned mom of many. Aidan and Toby are in nearly the same size pants. Evan and Aidan are both in unform and some of their shirts are really close to the same length. It's hard to tell from looking at them whos are whos and since sizes aren't universal that doesn't help either (I once put Aidan in an 8 and Evan in a 6 and the shirts fit both boys perfectly!)

So, the simple solution would be to label the boys' clothes, but how to do it so the clothes can be easily handed down to the next one without scribbling out the previous boy's name? Here's my solution: I put one dot on Evan's clothing tags, two on Aidan's and three in Toby's. Then as I pass Evan's down to Aidan or Aidan's down to Toby I just add a dot and the label is current! Makes quick work of sorting the laundry and getting it to the correct closet.

Hope this idea helps with hand me downs! Head over to *We Are That Family* for more ideas that may work for you!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pray for Bethany

Without lengthy introductions, I'm asking you to pray for a little baby girl named Bethany. You can read her story *here*. I can't say much else but to ask you to pray and pass her information along. Because of my own loss of twins at just 13 weeks gestation this family is particularly close to my own heart.

If anyone knows how to format code for a blog button for my sidebar let me know and we can talk about it!


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

An Avery Story

In my life as a stay at home Mommy I have had many stories that I tell laughing hysterically only to a girlfriend, my mom or my husband. There are some that just should not be blogged about to protect the innocent even though the tale is JUST that funny!

If I knew how to categorize my posts into a nifty system on the side I would categorize this under "Things I'm not sure I should have blogged about".

One morning I was on the phone with Mel. Avery found a small square piece of cotton batting from a jewelery box. She lifted up her dress, pulled down her unders, placed the cotton in her unders and pulled them back up again, reminding me that perhaps it is time to insist on my own privacy in the bathroom not only with the boys! This few sentences long description does not do justice to the hilarity that it struck in my heart!

Monkey see, monkey do is an understatement!

Friday, September 04, 2009

September bullets

* Aidan started kindergarten.
* Evan started 4th grade.
* Jim started year 15 of teaching.
* Avery's staying dry more than getting wet and had two poops in the potty today.
* I'm starting day care for 3-5 extra kids for the next six weeks.
* Toby LOVES doing his homeschool preschool.
* We got a hamster which takes our "no pets" household up to two cats (got rid of all the kittens) two fish and a hamster.
* Oh, and I've also really riled up a bunch of my facebook friends talking about health care reform!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

August Update

Here is a conversation Toby and I had tonight.

Me: Toby, what should I blog about tonight?
Toby: Blog about pickles.
Me: What about pickles?
Toby: Oh, you know, how weird they are, how weird pickle people are.

(Me typing furiously to capture all that!)

Aidan's idea was much easier:

"You should blog about how great your children are."

I've had a few facebook/comments asking about how Avery's potty training is going. I'd say we're about halfway there. Occasionally she initiates, she stayed dry at Sunday School this morning (her first time in a real class and not just nursery!) but still doen'st get it all the time. It's been about six days, so we're well on our way!

My goal is to have her basically done by September 9 when I start a temporary day care center at our house! I have two friends who need temporary part time care for their toddler and preschool aged children for the months of September and October. One family has a kindergartener who goes to school Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She also has a four-year-old and an eighteen month old. The other family has one school aged child (so I won't have her at all) as well as a four-year-old and eighteen month old. I'll have Aidan in the afternoons as well as Toby and Avery full time. So, if I can have one less in diapers I'm all for it!

School starts for Jim on Tuesday and the rest next week Wednesday.


Monday, August 17, 2009


Outrageous supply of unders? Check.

M&Ms? Check.

Dirty duds bucket? Check.

Fingernail polish? Check.

Sticker chart with stickers? Check.

Singing potty with fresh batteries? Check.

Let the Potty Training (Bare) Boot(y) Camp begin!

Oh, and caramel macchiato ice cream and moral support from a girlfriend? Check!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Your Laugh For The Day

I saw the following sign outside the entry to the fairgrounds today:

No bicycle riding
on fairgrounds.

Of course. We wouldn't want the less talented dogs there to feel inferior!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hey, I can blog this!

The well has sort of run dry for possible blog topics lately. Sure, the kids are saying and doing really cute things, I'm reading books and seeing movies I could blog about, but my motivation is at a lull right now.

Until the following email came. I have a friend with five kids five and under. The newest ones are 4 month old twin girls. Knowing my history, you can guess that these little beauties have a special place in my heart. Ironically, the heart is the problem. Not mine, but one of the girls. Bethany and Grace are the baby twins, Faith, Noah and Asher are big sibs, Kady and Karl are Mom and Dad to the bunch.

Please lift this family up in your prayers. You've never seen such strength and hope in the Lord as you will with this Momma!

Here's Kady's email:

Hi Friends, I'm sorry that I haven't updated many of you on what's happened with Bethany. She has a very rare condition in infants called Mitral Arcade (or Congenital Mitral Regurgitation). She'll need Open Heart Surgery or possibly a transplant in months / years to come. Her condition is evidently "severe" or serious.. but the doctor feels good about her chances because of how hard she's fought thus far. We don't know how quickly she's been deteriorating so now we have a starting point to compare to. She is on 3 different medications at this point and seems to be tolerating them pretty well. We'll be seeing alot of the pediatric cardiology dept at Mayo and are thankful for their expertise and care. I'm planning on setting up a caring bridge site in the next week (hopefully).. in all of my spare time ;). Karl and I are confident that God's already got all of this figured out and His purposes are so much greater than anything we can imagine. Our prayer requests are for #1 a miracle if that's God's will, #2 her heart to grow stronger and last until she's a little older for surgery.. her chances are far better the older that she is. #3 that she won't have pain from all that her body is having to go through #4 for strength for our family and finally #5 for God to use her for His glory! Please feel free to share this with anyone.... the more prayer warriors the better :) In His Arms, Kady

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Boys and Books

This is a self-imposed backwards edition of WFMW. To find other ideas please head to "We Are That Family" today!

I do believe I've mentioned that Jim, Evan and I have been reading through the Harry Potter series. Evan and I are finished and Jim just hit a MAJOR point near the end of book six. That's all I'm going to say about that.

My rant here is about the quality of good books for kids Evan's age (he's heading into fourth grade). I haven't done the actual math, but I'm guessing that ninety percent of the books I pick up in the library are geared towards girls. They have a female main character dealing with female issues (hair, make-up, periods, babysitting and the cheerleading team). Or the female lead is off doing heroic things like slaying the dragon (which in my opinion should be a male lead, but that's another topic believe it or not).

So, that leaves ten percent of "literature" with a male protagonist. But how many of that ten percent leave us with a positive male role model taking his leadership position seriously? Evan wanted to read the "Diary Of A Whimpy Kid" series next so I checked them out of the library. In one afternoon he polished off a book and a half. I got through about thirty pages and declared them unfit for, well, anyone. Agreeing with me, Jim will be returning them to the library today. The main character, though a boy, is a middle school boy. These books are written at a second grade level at best. Children who are in middle school *should* be well beyond the level of these books (but again, that's a post for another time!). The main character also showcases blatant disrespect for his own father, his mom, his friend's father and all other adult/authority figures in his life. And that is just in the first thirty pages!

Here's my plea for help. I have a voracious reader with a heart bent towards Christian worldview. What books do you recommend for him? We'd also like the books to encourage boys and men in their God given leadership roles. We'd like him to have some positive reading for the rest of the summer.

So, what would you recommend? Oh, and no pressure here, but library day is Thursday at our house, so if you've got a suggestion please leave it!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to M, the winner of my "Green Bag Lady" green bag giveaway! I contacted her to let her know she won and to get her address. I knew she lived here in the great state of Minnesota and learned that she is actually from the same town I am! So thanks, M, you saved me some postage!

If you'd still like your very own "Green Bag Lady" green bag I'm more than happy to mail you one. All I ask is $2 to cover shipping. Email me your info and we'll work on getting your bag to you ASAP!

Thanks to all for entering!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Works for me Wednesday complete with a *GIVEAWAY!*

I found a fun blog by a lady who calls herself the "Green Bag Lady". She makes fabric shopping bags, has given away over five thousand of them and even posts the pattern for free so you can make your own.

And I've made bags! And more bags! In fact, my handmade bag count for yesterday reached about a dozen. I made bags like there's no tomorrow. I have hoards of fabric lying around, so I just started sewing them up into bags. And you know what? I'm going to give one away. Just leave a comment promising that you'll use whatever style and pattern I made and I'll send you one free of charge! :)

Free stuff. Works for me! Go to We Are That Family for more things that could work for you!

**Edited to note that I'll pick a winner on Saturday to give more people a chance to win!

**Edited a second time to add a link to the Green Bag Lady's blog. Sorry, I guess I'm out of practice in blogging! Here she is:

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Experiment

This summer Jim and I decided to conduct a little experiment. We, along with Evan, are reading through the Harry Potter series. School let out on May 20. Evan would be done except that we placed a rule on him that he could not be more than one book ahead of us.

We know the controversy about the books in the Christian circles where we run. I myself had an editorial published in a parenting magazine spouting off about the dangers of witches and wizards becoming commonplace and filling young minds with the idea that magic can solve your problems. And yet I myself wanted to read the books! So, we decided to read them together as a family. And we're discussing what we find and comparing it to Scripture. (And it's also a good lesson in self-control because we're learning things about the characters that we cannot share with others who aren't as far along as we are!)

So here we sit on July second. Jim is somewhere back in book five (something about not being able to sit around and read all day because he's working, excuses, excuses). Evan and I are each a couple hundred pages from finished with seven. And I still don't really know what to think. The books aren't as much about witchcraft (which I hereby acknowledge is a real thing very much alive in the world today) as they are about friendship and fighting for the greater good. It does seem that to get to the greater good requires much rule bending and breaking and sneaking around. The setting seems to be just that, the setting for a good story.

What do you think? Have you read the series? Would you let your children read them? Why or why not? (Have full license to discuss in the comments, but please let's play nicely and understand that different people may make different choices.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Driving lessons

This week is Vacation Bible School week at our church. We have had a fantastic time and I think the kids like it, too! :)

Our neighbors around the corner have been bringing their two boys, D and N to VBS with us. Last night due to circumstances beyond their control they needed me to transport their kids. In trade, they kept Avery for me (and also because I didn't have enough seats for my three boys, two neighbor boys and an Avery). Their boys are sweet and very cooperative. And they also give driving lessons.

Part of the fun of VBS is the music (and overloading on sweets just an hour or two before bedtime, but I digress). Each child takes home a CD of the music to listen to all week. I keep mine in the car and we get to listen to it to and from church. As my kids jam out they assign each other different instruments they hear and "be" those instruments. A common phrase you might hear is, "I'm the guitar, you be the piano".

Last night they were jamming out in our usual manner when I told them that they needed an audience and that I'd be the audience. They told me that I should clap and cheer once the songs were over. So I did. And a very nervous little voice came from behind me, "maybe you should just cheer and not clap while you're driving".

Do you know how hard it is to laugh your head off without letting a little guy know you're laughing???

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Update List

So summer has started, well, summer started two weeks ago so I guess I'm a little behind. I have so many things I'd love to write a complete post about, but am lacking in time to do so, so here's my Cliff's Notes version. Enjoy.

Jim finished up his fourteenth year of teaching. We sound old, don't we?

The boys have befriended some little boys across the street. D is finishing up first grade and N is entering kindergarten next year. They're really sweet little boys and I'm looking forward to a summer of sharing our yard with them! And as a bonus, our street is pretty much local traffic only I'm able to let the older boys travel back and forth pretty much by themselves.

The boys also got to go to the dentist yesterday. Good reports all around. The only concern is that Aidan and Toby need to stop the finger/thumb sucking to avoid orthodontia in the future. Yup, made a sticker chart for that. Toby's totally on board because the reward is a donut! :)

Avery's doing well in her big girl bed. In fact, I made black out shades out of a navy blue twin flat sheet. Say it with me now, "red neck curtain". I think she's too scared of the dark to venture out of bed because in the morning and after nap she cries out, "I want my mamma" instead of getting out of bed. A little trauma never hurt when trying to train a kid to stay in bed, right?

I'm swimming along here. I'm mostly trying to implement this year's chore chart system and schedule. As usual, I'm my own worst enemy! As I type Aidan is making his own breakfast and offered to make me some. Avery cleared her own place at the table this morning without prompting and even put her spoon in the dishwasher. Evan is plowing through books at breakneck speed. Toby is, well, Toby. He cracks us up. We're starting to work on letter and number recognition with him.

Enough bragging on my family? We're overall doing well!

Please remember my friend's eight-year-old son in your prayers. He's hospitalized right now and that's about as far as I'd like to go on that without his Mom's permission.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes!

This morning Toby learned that we were going to run errands and thus he needed to go get dressed. In typical Toby fashion he asked, "where in the world are we going this morning?" as he danced and pranced around the living room in his birthday suit. I informed him that we had to go to Target because we need to buy gifts for open house season. Dead stop. Tone as serious as Toby can get it. "You mean we're selling our house again???"

Do I have to explain or do you get it?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Nice People Send Me Stuff

In the past few months I've been on the receiving end of some pretty fantastic emails. Did you know I have connections to Nigerian royalty or that my name has been randomly drawn from the European lottery system? With a few simple clicks of the mouse I have had millions of euros deposited in my American bank account.

Sound too good to be true? Well, then, it probably is. But, what isn't too good to be true is the handful of REAL lotteries I've won! I've entered my name in several bloggy giveaways in the past month. I've won a "Myself Belt" which Avery will grow into hopefully next fall. I've won a "Hip Hop Baby" CD/DVD gift collection. While hip hop isn't my favorite the kids have been enjoying it! And my latest treasure arrived in the mail just today. Sophie who has spent countless hours coordinating the "Praise Baby" blog sent me a nice little thank you gift of a Casting Crowns CD and another CD by Krystal Meyers. All that just for writing a simple little post!

I'm looking forward to some new tunes!

And a special thank you to all the blogs who host fantastic giveaways! It's been fun!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pieceless Puzzle

Are you looking for a unique gift that is sure to elicit “Wows!” from everyone who sees it? Our parent company, Ceaco, is introducing the Pieceless Puzzle - a revolutionary new puzzle unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. “What exactly is a Pieceless Puzzle?”

Watch this video to find out more…

You can be the first on your block to own a Pieceless Puzzle. All you have to do is help us spread the word about it through blogs, online forums, and your email network.

Simply forward a link to your post or send a copy of your email, along with your name and complete mailing address (no P.O. boxes) to

Please allow 4 weeks for delivery

Too funny to pass up

I'll give credit to my brother in law, Jordan for this one.

It was once said that a black man would be president when pigs flew. Well behold 100 days into his presidency...... SWINE FLU!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A New Stage

Last week we finally accomplished a goal I'd had since we moved back to town: buying the kids real beds. As we were setting up the bunk beds in Aidan and Toby's room Avery was banished to sitting on Toby's toddler bed to keep her from getting mashed under the gargantuan bunks (we bought them on Craig's list, they were homemade and are heavy enough to last until our children have grandchildren). Throughout the setting up process Avery kept saying, "I seep here, I seep here" which any mother of young children would be able to translate as "I want to sleep on a big girl bed, enough of the crib thankyouverymuch".

And just like that, she did. I moved the toddler bed into her room, got her blanket and pillow out of her crib, cuddled her into her new bed and bid her good night. The first night she got out of bed once to load the bed down with toys, but was quickly reminded to stay in her bed.

And so another Mothering Milestone quietly slips by. I no longer have any babes in cribs.

This summer we'll sell the crib and changing table set and let another new mother nestle her little bitty into a crib and mark a new milestone for her.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Contest!

The following is my entry in a writing contest held at Scribbit.

A Gentle Reminder

Every spring I remember a bit of advice passed on from a wiser older woman to my mother. I remember this bit of advice every time my little boys bring me dandelion bouquets with grubby little hands. Little eyes light up when I express my gratitude over a simple love offering. I have a steady stream of yellow flowers in my house all during the spring. Enjoy this story, written by my mother and passed on as great advice to me and all mothers of small children.

The Days of Dandelion Bouquets
(originally submitted by Sheila Simmons, Tara's mom)

When I was a young mother I took my little girl to a yard sale. The possessions of a very elderly lady were spread out on tables to be sold. My little girl picked up a tiny glass vase and said, "Mama, this is for you. I can pick dandelions for you to put in it."

I turned to look, and as I did a frail voice caught my attention. An elderly woman said to me, "Treasure that little vase and the little girl who wants it. The days of dandelion bouquets will pass by and be gone before you know it."

And she was right. My oldest son is just eight years old, but his days of dandelion bouquets are already gone. My five-year-old son is likely in his last season. I have just a few more springs of yellow flowers in my windowsill and then we'll be on to another season. Not better, not worse, just different. I think I'll miss dandelions when that season comes. But I'll remember.

Spring Break 2009

Quite a while ago (it seems anyway) I blogged asking for advice about packing a family of 6 for a spring break trip. Well, the trip has come and the trip has gone and all that is left of the trip is some crumbs in the mini van, pictures and memories.

We left Saturday morning for the Chicago area. Despite having to buy a new tire and a power outage due to a spring blizzard, we had a great time! :)

Giving up on ideas of doing touristy things in Chicago due to the aforementioned blizzard, we headed out to Kentucky a little early of our original plan. Jim, Everett and I packed up our Fantastic Four and drove from Chicago to Georgetown, KY Sunday after church.

Arriving around 11 pm local time, we headed to bed pretty quickly.

Rather than bore you with the details, here's a quick run down of the highlights of the trip:

Kentucky Horse Park, Plum Tree restaurant, Creation museum (FANTASTIC!!), Cracker Barrel, wonderful hosts, lunch with old friends, replacing blinds broken by Avery, tuba lessons for Evan and Aidan, Toby starts a shell collection, introduction to Steak N' Shake, great finds at Goodwill, touching prayer meeting, learning that our kids really are as flexible and fantastic as I think!

There. Any questions???

(Oh, and my packing plan? Worked great. Driving across the country with the Fantastic Four without DVD/VCR/MP3/I-pod/video games? Not only possible, but a simply fabulous experience! You should try unplugging your kids next time you have a family vacation. I highly recommend it!)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Packing Plan

A few weeks ago we decided to start looking into traveling with the Fantastic Four over Jim and Evan's Spring Break. We eventually settled on traveling to the Chicago area, picking up Jim's friend Everett and continuing on to Kentucky to meet/visit Everett's family. Did I mention that we'd be traveling with four kids??? As the Mommy, it falls to me to plan the logistics of getting everything that everyone could possibly need from point A to point B and then on to point C and back again. I have spent no small amount of time in considering all of this! And to make things more interesting? We're doing the road trip the old fashioned way. No TV/VCR/DVD/MP3 players/I-pods or video games. How much Benedryl does it take to put kids to sleep but not kill them???

I think I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve that I'd like to run past other seasoned traveling families.

First off, as I find good trip snacks and little toys I'm putting them in a bag on top of the fridge. I'm planning on packing one small gift bag per child of things to do in the car. These bags include stickers, books, small cars, and other non-noisy toys! I'll also keep a few things in a separate bag to pull out fresh for the long trip home. When we were in Sioux Falls last weekend the Aunties hit the goodie bag section of Wal-Mart's party supply aisle and loaded the kids up. I confiscated those toys pretty quickly and they're in the bag on top of the fridge! Shhhh, they don't need to know they're getting the same gift twice!

The second thing I'm hoping is a stroke of genius and not a bout of stupidity involves clothes for all four. My intention is to lay out clothes for everyone and pack them all together by days in one separate plastic bag per day. So, the kids will all share one suitcase which will contain seven different Wal-Mart type bags. All of the clothes for Monday will be in one bag, Tuesday in another etc. Then when it comes time to dress the kids we pull out that day's bag and everything we'll need for that day will be right there handy. There will also be one extra bag which will have a complete outfit per child in it.

So there you have it. Our traveling plans. Seasoned road trippers, what do you think???

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Quick Check In

I have a minute or two to spare and thought I'd jot down a quick note for the two of you who have mocked me for not blogging. I loaded up the four young'uns last Thursday and drove them over two hundred miles to my sister's house in South Dakota. They were thrilled. And they were fantastic! We saw the Butterfly House, we played arcade games at a pizza joint, we hit the junk shops and we spent time with the relatives. Believe it or not, it was a fabulous time! I have traveled alone with the kids (does that even make sense?) several times and I always come away with a new appreciation for single parents. So if you're reading this and you're a single parent you get a big ol' round of applause from me. Good Job!!! Stay at home mom is a tough gig, but single parenting is an even tougher one.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday!

Hello everyone! I just found the ultimate in cute just this morning, and since it's now Works For Me Wednesday I can share it!

WFMW has now moved to *We Are That Family*. Part of the reason I haven't posted WFMW lately is because I'm hesitant with the change. So, today I found the new site and found that besides directing you to *We Are That Family* nothing else has changed! :)

Okay, back to the kitchen cute. My pastor's wife's sister *Rebecca* actually posted about this at *her blog* today, so please go to her blog and read the entire post. Thank you.

The long and short of it is that she wanted some new kitchen towels to hang on her oven door. I can relate. I like them there, too! She searched high and low for some new ones and couldn't find them. I suggested to her that the tie on kitchen towels go to garage sales and thrift stores to die. She came up with something MUCH cuter. She found matching pot holder and kitchen towel pairs. She got out her good ol' sewing machine and stitched center of the towel down the center of the pot holder, sewed a button on and voila! New tie on kitchen towels. Really, *go to her blog*. You'll see a great picture of a clean stove and the cutest tie on kitchen towels in the world. :)

Finding a cute, cheap, creative idea REALLY works for me!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Two milestones

Just a quick couple of pictures for you. First off, Avery turned two on the 23rd of February. We had some cupcakes for her birthday instead of making a big real cake.
And another milestone happened just this morning. Aidan loves making frozen waffles for breakfast for himself and the younger sibs. He asked me this morning if I'd purchased any during grocery day yesterday. I told him that I hadn't, but that I would next time I was at the store if he'd write it on the list. "But Mom, I can't spell waffle." I told him to draw a picture instead. He got all excited about drawing all the little squares and came up with this:"WOFL". Waffle. :) We have phonetic awareness! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run to the store. We're out of wofls.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Aidan Aiming High

Tonight I had the honor of Aidan's company as I went to run an errand. Avery had mangled my reading glasses something awful and I was headed to the optician to get them straightened out. Again. On our travels I asked Aidan where he wanted to work when he grew up. "Oh, I don't want to work anywhere. I want to just walk along the streets and have holes in my jeans." I explained to him that being homeless didn't pay very well. He went on to explain that when he got done with college he'd have a job, so when he was grown up he wouldn't need one. Oh, that's much clearer, thank you, Aidan!

In continuing with our conversation I learned that he wanted to be a chef. At McDonald's, Burger King or Taco Bell. "Because once they see my cooking skills they'll really want to hire me." Yes, those establishments care if you can cook. Currently his repertoire consists of scrambled eggs, toast and frozen waffles.

And then he continued on with his long term goals. "No, I mean I want to be a clown." No comment.

Finally he settled on his ultimate career goal. "I think I just want to work in the circus. I want to be the guy who puts the bar on you at the Ferris wheel. You know, so you don't fall out of the seat."

So, my five year old wants to be a homeless bum, a chef, a clown and a carnie.

**Official disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with any of those jobs. If you are glorifying God in your chosen vocation, that's what is ultimately important!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just hanging out

So today was a big day for my kitchen. I finally got around to hanging "curtains" in the window above my sink!

Here is the window above the sink. Yes, those are vintage half aprons hanging by clothespins! I saw the idea originally somewhere online (if it is on your site, please let me know so I can give you the credit you deserve!)

And here is the view at my kitchen window.

I got the idea to "plant" pictures of the kidlets from Tiffany. She also has four kiddos, but she had all of hers in under three years!

Here is the completed look. And now my house tour is complete! Well, at least until we do something with the master bedroom....

Monday, February 16, 2009

First Ladies

I read *this post* by one of my favorite bloggers, Antique Mommy, this morning.

I have always felt a little sorry for the First Ladies. As Antique Mommy noted they are thrust in to the limelight. How many little girls dream of being the First Lady as they are growing up? And last night as Jim and I watched President Obama and his wife leave their Valentine's Day date I noted that they weren't walking side by side (and I wondered who had the girls!) :) I get a little panicky when Jim starts talking about running for local office because I know that would change my cushy job as teacher's wife dramatically!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Guest Posting!

A while back I was invited to be on a blogging panel for the Praise Baby. They are similar to the Baby Einstein series of videos but they use Christian praise music instead of classical selections. Today my post is up! You can go *here* to read what I had to say!

Well? What did you think???

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Soup Update

Several of you asked about the soup. All is well. I had put the soup in a small section of the deep freeze. It all fit in there so nicely! And then the bags all froze. And it turns out that things expand when they freeze. Who knew that??? :) So, we thawed them out a little, defrosted the entire monster and got everything cleaned up.

Thank you for your concern! We are blessed to have been able to salvage the nine meals and are looking forward to the freezer meal swap on Tuesday!

Friday, February 06, 2009

If it's not one thing...

Woke up this morning with grand aspirations. I was going to tidy up the mess that "good enough" housekeeping for the last two weeks or more has left. And I succeeded. And then the boys woke Avery up about two hours before her nap was supposed to end. And that's when the stuff started hitting the fan.

I'm part of a freezer meal swap. A bunch (nine this month) of us make a bunch of batches of the same recipe and then we swap so everyone ends up with a variety of meals stocked in their freezer. It works great and my (most of) family (usually) enjoys the tasty treats. So, this month I made ten batches of taco soup and stacked them in the freezer where they, well, froze. Together. In a solid hunk of beans and meat and yum. Not only did they freeze together, they froze to the walls of the freezer (I have an antique deep freeze, remember?) So, I proceeded to empty the other sections of the freezer in an attempt to defrost this monstrosity of a beast and rescue my meals. After working on it for almost three hours now I'm no better off than I was when I started. In fact, I'm a lot worse for the wear. I won't go into the gory details here, but let's just say that my basement has seen better days!

Oh, and did I mention that Evan brought home a little (girl) friend from school today? Yup. So, they traipse in, we find a place for another set of winter gear, and Avery takes advantage of the situation by grabbing the cup of hot cocoa off the table and spilling it on the stairs. :) Yup. If it's not one thing it's her brother!

Tune in next time for another installment of, this life is crazy!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

WFMW: Staying power

And here is a Works For Me Wednesday that 9 years ago I was certain would never come! I have figured out a really easy way to get those cute plastic clippy barrettes to stay in Avery's baby fine fly away hair! Someone told me to wrap the back piece with thread and that would make it non-slip. Great, but then I would have to go to the basement, put away the toys from in front of my craft cupboard and dig through it to find the thread. Instead, I did this:

I took one of the tiny little ponytail holders and wrapped it around the back of the barrette! Works like a charm! The pony holder grips the hair so the weight of the barrette doesn't pull it out and also creates just enough resistance that Avery's attempts at pulling it out are thwarted (unless she gets really determined which she usually doesn't).

See, works great! :) Isn't she cute???

Friday, January 30, 2009

More Recipes!

I am a member of another blog (which I should link to on the sidebar, maybe someday!). Anyway, it is a recipe blog and I've posted there today! **Edited to note, click on the previous sentence. You'll get to the recipe blog!**

And if you are of the praying sort please add the J family to your prayer list. Their little 2 year old L has been having unexplained seizures lately. They're in the long process of trying to figure out what's causing them.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WFMW: Time to clean!

I was feeling pretty creatively dry this morning when my irl (that's in real life) friend, Leah, asked me what my WFMW post was going to be about. I told her I had no idea and that she should tell me what to write about! So thanks, Leah! This ones for you! :)

There are certain times I feel overwhelmed with housework (yes, hard to believe, I know). My sister and I sometimes refer to the work we do on those days as housekeeping "give a mouse a cookie" style. You know what I mean. I have to unload the dishwasher so I can clean off the counter. I clean off the counter and realize that I have to throw a bunch of wrappers away. Throwing the wrappers away will remind me to take out the trash. While taking out the trash I will trip over the shoes that need to be put away. Putting away the shoes will prompt me to tidy up the kids' rooms. Then laundry, then tidying up the playroom, then rotating laundry, then organizing the spice rack...they all snowball and you only started out by unloading the dishwasher! Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about here! Before you know it you've been working your tail off and have no idea what you've accomplished, but you're sure it was something!

Some days I do housework like that. Other days I try to be a little more intentional about finishing a room (easier in my smaller house). This is my more calm way of doing housework. I set a timer for 5, 10 or 15 minutes depending on how motivated I am. (Yes, for you flybabies, this idea is originally from FlyLady, just to give credit where credit is due!) I stay in one room and crank out as much work as I can do in the alloted time. When the timer goes off I move to another room with my timer clipped on my jean's pocket and start there. After just that little bit of concentrated time on one room you can stand back and be amazed at what you've accomplished!

At this point over 100 other bloggers are sharing what works for them. If my idea doesn't work for you, go over here and see if there is something else that will!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Avery's Closet

The closet in the room we chose to be Avery's had four garments hanging in it when we first looked at the house. There were two little baby sweaters, obviously from an era gone, but not too far gone. Next to them hung two long satin formals. I choked back emotions as I realized that the baby girl I was planning on putting into this very bedroom would all to soon be picking out a formal for the prom.

And so, while her brothers are outside playing in the snow I'm going to go have a tea party with my baby girl, while she's still little enough to have tea parties.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

WFMW: Cake in 5 minutes or less

Ladies, I'm giving you fair warning. What I'm about to share with you WILL change your life. Maybe for the better, maybe not. Did you know that you may possibly be less than five minutes away from chocolate cake at any given moment??? It's true.

Simply take 4 tablespoons each of flour and sugar. Stir in 3 tablespoons of cocoa (not hot cocoa mix, but cocoa powder). Add 3 tablespoons of milk, 3 tablespoons of oil and an egg. Stir that all together until it is well blended. Add a handful of chocolate (or whatever) chips and a splash of vanilla. Nuke for 3 minutes. They say to use a coffee mug, but everything I've seen says that it will overflow all over your microwave if you do that. I use my Pampered Chef 4 cup glass measuring cup and it works just fine. If you've got some leftover frosting or cool whip put that on top when it's done. Delicious!

Go check on Shannon today. See if she's got anything that will work for you!

Monday, January 12, 2009

An historical note

Perhaps you missed it. It was just half of a sentence in my house tour post. "The wooden rocking chair in the back right corner was my mom's great uncle's..." Well, I was mistaken and my family historian has made this additional note:

"I need to make note about 'The wooden rocking chair in the back right corner' of the living room. That rocker belonged to your Great Grandpa (Roy) Hatfield. I remember him sitting in it, watching the Friday Night Fights on tv with Dad in the big brick house in Braymer. Your Mom and I were supposed to be asleep in the next room in a double bed with a hand-made feather mattress that Grandma made. There were french doors with glass in them and I could see them sitting out there thru the glass.

The rocker is mission style furniture and, if I'm not mistaken, it is made of solid oak. Originally it had horsehair upholstery. Grandpa's nephew Raymond Hatfield recovered it for Grandma years after Grandpa died with whatever's on it now. If I find a picture of Grandma or Grandpa sitting in it, I'll send it to you - even better if one of them is rocking your Mom!"

So you have it. The rest of the story.

Edited to note: My mom's sister, my Aunt Teresa in Kansas sent me the above email about the chair. I had originally noted this, but blogger went crazy and lost it. Sorry!

Friday, January 09, 2009

House tour!

Well, the time has come! Here are some pictures of our new house. Here's the living room. Note the convenient location of the master bedroom right there behind the white door! Love it.

No, wait, wrong picture. This is a picture of an old Indian house from the government a billion years ago on the plains of Nebraska. Jim took a bunch of pictures of it and wants to build one. :)

Ah, yes. ..that's more like it! The view of the living room from the dining room. The edge of my built in desk is in the lower right hand corner. The wooden rocking chair in the back right corner was my mom's great uncle's and the little wooden chair in front of it belonged to my mom and her sisters when they were little. The striped chair is on it's way out, we just have to find it a new home. I love the colors, the big picture window and the great natural sunlight streaming in during the afternoons!

Here's the dining room shot from the living room. My favorite piece is the cabinet/shelf thinger in the back right corner. We got it for $10 from some friends who moved away. What would you call that thing???

Now to head upstairs. The staircase is to the the picture it is just behind the striped chair. Follow me...

Just at the top of the stairs and to the right is Evan's room. It's the smallest, but also has the most fun features. Somehow I ended up with a son interested in sports. We've done his room in "true penny" color which is basically orange. :)

We inherited the big cabinet on the right from the former owner of the house. It's monsterously huge and smells like the fancy candles she used to sell and store in it. And yes, he sleeps on a mattress on the floor. We're looking for great deals on a twin bed for his room. This is only temporary! His room is so tiny, but it's all his and he loves it!

Here's the hallway from Evan's room to the three littles' rooms. Avery's room is on the left of the built in bookshelf, Toby and Aidan share the room on the right of the shelf. And yes, the hallway is basically every bit as narrow as it seems in the picture. :)

My first attempt at decorating a little girl's room! We did a border with greens, yellows and of course purple in it. It also has little bugs and butterflies. Avery LOVES the "fu-fies".

What's a girl room without pink??? Jim found this pink somewhere. Since it's called "gracious rose" we figured it perfect to put in Avery Rose's bedroom!

Avery's dancing in her tutu by her closet door. Her idea. :)

Across the hall is Aidan and Toby's shared room. Toby wanted baseballs in his room.

Tater wanted camo. I think we reached a good compromise!

Former owner also had uppercase living sticker phrases all over the house. I rearranged some of the letters to form Tater and Toby's names on their door! I'd also like to focus your attention on the killer wallpaper border and fancy wallpaper faux stuff! Thank you. Thankyouverymuch!

And the final upstairs room (yes, you counted right, four rooms upstairs!!! Major selling point to Tara) is Jim's office. I only took a picture here to show you that Jim has a purple office. It's on the list of things to do...well, that and unpack it and organize it and clean it...

This house tour has dragged on long enough I think (or maybe it just seems like it since I've overloaded you on pictures). We'll take one more quick stop off in the basement but only because I have to show you something awesome!

First, the room. The living room is upstairs, so we just call this little nook the movie room. And you'll note the hams on the couch! I have no idea what that gray pillar thing on the left is either.

And now the moment you've all been waiting for...drumroll please!

Jim and I built that shelf with our own two hands and dang it, I'm proud of it! It makes me smile everytime I see it! The funny gray pillar thing is off screen to the right of the kitchen thinger. But look, toys, and they're organized and in labeled bins and everything!!!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my new house. I'd take a picture of the outside, but y'all it is really cold out there and I really don't want to freeze my fanny off. You'll see it in the spring. In the mean time, here's one quick shot of the outside to stave off your appetite for more of my house:

Yes. We brought the tractor with us. And yes, the whole expanse of what you see in the picture is ours. All the way back to the trees!