Thursday, December 31, 2009

For Hannah: Justification 101 Class Is In Session

My dear friend Hannah is in Africa on a way-to-long-extended three month trip. I've know Hannah since she was born and, as one of her babysitters, had a front row seat watching her and her three crazy brothers grow up. And now she watches my kids for me.

Hannah isn't just my kids babysitter though. She has become one of my friends. And as someone 14 years her senior I have taken it upon myself to impart tidbits of wisdom into her life. (I know. I'm just all kinds of generous.) She has been a fine student. Always attentive and eager to learn.

The main topic I started teaching her this last summer is justifications. The good kind. To me. I'll give you an example.

I got up one morning and exercised before going to a chiropractor appointment where I had physical therapy and was forced instructed to do these awful butt-lift crunches. I was pretty proud of myself just for getting up and exercising and, of course, was planning to reward myself with some ice cream that evening (justification #1). But after those crunches from hell I was totally okay with having an extra scoop of ice cream (justification #2). Plus it was half the fat ice cream which made it totally okay to have a smidgen more (justification #3). Like Pooh's smidgen. Not Rabbits.

So, to sum up, three justifications in one story. Ice cream for exercising. Extra ice cream for the extra exercise and more extra ice cream for eating half the fat ice cream. You got it? Okay.

So, I went to buy some groceries for making my Christmas goodies and found the next justification lesson just waiting to be taught. Since Hannah is in Africa I figured I could write to her here and you all could eavesdrop on our conversation.

So, Hannah, we've made plans to make those Cappuccino cookies I told you about when you get home and I think you'll really like them. I like them but want to leave the cinnamon out this time. I really don't like cinnamon with chocolate. Anyways, when I bought the chocolate chip (Nestle of course) I was pleased with what I saw on the label. Let me show you.

Do you see it? Here's a close up.

That's right! ALL NATURAL! You know what that means? It means that it's totally okay to have another cookie or two when you use these chocolate chips because they are good for you! Genius, right? I know. So, now you just have to hurry up and come home so we can start the baking.

We miss you, girly, and know you are right where you are supposed to be. But we still want you to come home. And now I leave you with pictures of my adorable children to help entice you all the more.

(Abiah's "homeschooler" look. Oh, and notice the color of the walls? New paint!)

(Hazel. Yes. Those are her training pants outside her clothes. She got into the laundry. Clean laundry.)

(Amelia's favorite past time. Freaking mommy out. She thinks it's pretty funny. I think she's pretty cute.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Smack Down In Costco

Ok. It wasn't a smack down. Just an opportunity for one. That I passed up of course.

I'm not much of a shopper but I love shopping at Christmas time. I enjoy the hustle and bustle. The lights and decorations. The sounds and the smells. Before children I would enjoy browsing the stores with a latte in hand taking in all the people and the excitement of the season.

Since children have entered the picture I don't get that opportunity much at all. I just realized last week how much I miss it. Especially this time of year. My shopping trips now are a mixture of cruising the aisles, keeping our budget in mind and keeping three children happy and relatively quiet until we get to the car.

So last week (Yes, I went shopping last week. For presents. Can we say, "Behind schedule!") I planned a shopping trip. I ask one cousin to keep Abiah and Hazel and the other to come along with me and Amelia. I tried to make an organized plan for the day and felt like it would be a successful day. And it was in most ways. But in all other ways I felt scattered and lost.

I couldn't remember a single present idea that I had planned. I felt like I wandered around aimlessly. I enjoyed my cousin but the shopping was a disappointment. And then we went to Costco.

The scattered feeling was irritating me. Then I misunderstood something about pictures I was having printed. After standing in the line for 15 minutes and paying they told me I needed a release form from the photographers. It was my mistake but I was frustrated. More with myself than anything. But anyways. The point.

As I'm walking away from the photo counter line to stand in the check out line I hear a woman behind me say, "Look at all these damn people!" I admit, this made my blood pressure rise. I wanted to turn around and say, "Lady, you're one of 'em!"

Seriously, people! Everyone knows there are crowds during the holidays. Everyone! And if you don't want to deal with it stay home! And please, if you do go out acknowledge that fact that you are part of the insanity. In fact, embrace it. It is more fun that way.

I'm glad I didn't start a fight in Costco. But I did need to vent. And you seem like a good audience. I now I bow and curtsy. I'm done.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coincidence or Conspiracy

As I hold Amelia and try to calm her down and get her back to sleep (for the fourth time) my mind races back and forth between the thoughts that flood it:

Is she sick?

Is it her teeth?

Is she still adjusting to not having a binkie?

It's been two weeks now but she seems so mad at me...

Or, am I imagining it?

She's been pretty good. They both have.

Yes. They did see their cousin today and she had her binkie.

And, no, they didn't gang up on her, rip it from her mouth and then wrestle over who got first dibs.

But they both do seem a bit more emotional.

Every time I get Amelia to sleep Hazel starts crying and asking me to hold her.

Which of course wakes Amelia up.

And then I have to rock her back to sleep.

Wait. This...isn't on...purpose. Do you think? No. It can't be.

And then from behind me I hear Hazel say, "Pchu, pchu. Mommy....I thoot you."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thuth Free

As part of my Six Month Do Over I have decided to wean my girls from their binkies. Or as Hazel calls it, thuth (which means friend). I have been vacillating between feelings of dread and eagerness. Dreading the fight and yet eager to get it over with.

I know they can do it. Hazel is the hardest because she remembers. Millie is hard because she's still in that smooshy baby stage. But they are both doing a good job at being big girls.

Yesterday was day one. We had a small ceremony in the morning. The girls were each given their small pile of binkies and they took turns throwing them in the garbage. I kept some hidden away for keepsakes. They don't need to know that though. And neither does their daddy. Softy.

Pile 'o binkies

For old times sake

Hazel's turn

On second thought....

Amelia's turn

Binkie free!

Yesterday they napped well and went to bed just fine. They only woke up once during the night and then slept in until 9!

Today at nap they only slept for a half hour but they did fine the rest of the day. I am trying not to get my heart set on it being this easy everyday because I know it can change in a heart beat. But I am glad that we've taken that step and are sticking with it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Finally!!! Hunting Pictures

So I've promised some pictures and I thought it was about time that I made good on that promise. First, we will go back to September for pictures from our hunting trip.

Abiah in his hunting getup. He had about three layers of shirts on and every shirt was camo.

Abiah and his cousin. I can't tell if they are posing or hunting.

Abiah and his two cousins taking a rest from hunting.

Hazel and Amelia getting ready for bed.

Nathan with his elk. What an amazing hunting guy!

My FIL with his elk.

We had an great trip and you can read about the lessons I learned this year here. I'll be back with more pics from Hazel and Nathan's birthday parties. I promise it will be soon!

Fun Giveaways

I love blog stalking and today it's paid off! I found a couple of giveaways and want to share them with you. Not just because I get an extra entry for doing so, but also so you can join in on the fun. But maybe mostly cause of the extra entry. You can find them here:

Three to One

Fresh Oil Today

The Secret Life of An American Wife and Mom

The other perk about blog stalking is finding more encouraging and fun blogs to follow. I'm thinking about doing a giveaway. What do ya'll think? Should I? It sounds like fun to me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Big Sisters

Hazel is the epitome of an older sister. She is constantly attacking Amelia. And by attack I mean coming up behind her, knocking her to the ground, and then sitting on top of her and bouncing. And it's all in the name of kissing and squeezing Amelia. Or changing her poo poos. She just wants to help! Ummmm...No.

Another of her favorite older sister roles is being bossy. She loves to wag her chubby little finger at her sister and tell her, "Moowee, No! Momma say no! Say 'es Momma!" You know. All the things she's supposed to remember to do herself but seems to always forget. She even steps in to correct Amelia when I already am. I usually end up telling her, "Hazel, don't be bossy to Amelia. Mommy is the boss. I'll take care of it." But apparently she doesn't like that.

Last night she told me, "Mommy, I boss." I gently reminded her, while stifling my laughter, "No, Hazel. Mommy is the boss. You need to let Mommy be the boss." She replied, "No. My turn."

At least she's getting the concept of sharing!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lessons For Life From Death

I know I haven't blogged in about a week. And the last time I did I promised pictures. Well, I still don't have the pictures I was planning to post. But I do have a post. Will you settle for that?

The last few weeks have been exciting as we've gotten closer to the holidays and spent time with our families celebrating Thanksgiving. But with the joy there has also been much sorrow. In the past two weeks six people who were friends and family of ours or of those we love have died.

Although I only personally knew three of those six people each death brought with it a sorrow all it's own. And as I mourned, prayed, and shed tears for each of these lives I felt within me a nudge to glean from these sad situations. Maybe it was a reminder. I don't know. But I want to share with you what death has been teaching me about life.

I've shared with you before that I have a song that I sing to my kids at bedtime. Well, it started out that way when they were little babies and I rocked them to sleep all the time. But once they were about 4-6 months old we started teaching them to fall asleep on their own. Since I was trying to keep them from needing only me and our routine before they could fall asleep I stopped singing them to sleep.

But when we went camping this last summer I had to help the girls fall asleep since the environment was so strange to them (and there were other people who could hear the screaming!). So after almost two weeks of this Hazel was pretty upset when we got home and I tried to get her to fall asleep on her own again.

At first I struggled with not wanting to start a habit that she wouldn't want to break and the desire to snuggle her for just a few minutes (this girl doesn't sit still for more than a few minutes). I gave in to the snuggling. And I'm glad I did. I really enjoy hearing her ask every night for "my song, Momma!" And then when I am done singing to her she says, "Moowee turn, Momma!" (Millie is short for Amelia) And both girls are pretty good about falling asleep after we are done singing. And we only did this at night time. At nap the girls just go to sleep on their own.

Well a few weeks ago Hazel started asking for, "my song, Momma!" at nap time.And for the first few days I would remind her that we sing our song at night. I didn't want to be starting more habits! And then I got an email with a prayer request from a friend. A former student of his had been in a terrible car accident with her three kids in the car and she, the mommy, didn't survive.

I could hardly read the email. I felt heavy inside. My mind was instantly flooded with the memories and thoughts of my own car accident earlier this year. Although my kids weren't in the car and I wasn't hurt beyond what a good massage and chiropractor can take care of, right after the accident happened I was hysterical thinking about what could have happened to them if they had been with me and what my family would have to go through if something had happened to me. I had to force myself to stop thinking abut the what if's then and I had to do it again when I got that email. I found myself holding my kids a little longer and squeezing them a little tighter.

But it wasn't until Nathan told me about a co-worker who had just lost his 15 month old baby to a rare blood disease that I started to give in to Hazel's request for her song at nap time. How could I refuse? I have my babies. They are healthy and strong. And they have me. Our song takes maybe 5 minutes to sing to both girls. And this isn't a bad habit. And most likely there will come a day when they stop asking for it. Sad.

A few days after all of this one of my parents friends from Africa was shot, robbed and beaten and then had to walk two hours to the hospital where he died from a lack of medical supplies. I was struck by the reality of the quality we have in our American hospitals, lacking though it may sometimes seem. My dad writes of these realities here.

So, as we got closer to the holiday and began making plans for where we would be on what days I got frustrated trying to make all the schedules work. We try to spend time with both sides of our family but we try to spread it out between two days so we can actually visit and be with family instead of eating and running. Our plans were finally settled and we were blessed to find that Nathan didn't have to work the day after Thanksgiving. But I was still frustrated inside and was finding it hard to be excited about the holiday.

At the beginning of this week we found out that my brother-in-law's grandpa, who was like a grandpa to everyone, had a heart attack and wasn't expected to live long. Around the same time we found out that our great grandma, who was known as old, old grandma, had a stroke and also wasn't expect to live long. Then we found out that my step grandma had passed away last week. Both Grandpa Norman and Old, old Grandma Mary passed away Thanksgiving morning. Although I was sad for the families and friends of these dear grandparents I was comforted knowing they are with Jesus and they aren't in any pain.

But I also felt my frustration with the holidays melting. I began to realize that even though we may do more running around at the holidays than I like, we still have family to see and visit with. We have grandparents who don't get to see their grandchildren very much during the year except for these holidays. And while we may choose to change a few things to make the holidays smoother we will still try to make family a priority.

I would love to leave you with an elegant paragraph bringing all my thoughts together. But my sister said it best in her lovely post here on the mixing of life's sorrows and joys. Enjoy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blog, Blog, Blog!

My dear older sister, Summer, just started a blog! You can find her at A Time Of Growth. Check her out! I know she'll have great stories and wonderful recipes to share. I've always looked up to her and I think she is amazing. I have a feeling you will, too.

Also, today I have a guest post at 5 Minutes for Parenting again. Check it out here.

I have some pictures to post later on today so I'll be back with more but right now I need to make some coffee and breakfast and do school with Abiah. Check back in for the fun!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crockpot Ragout

I was reading through a list of crockpot recipes over at Passionate Homemaking and found this wonderfully easy recipe for Ragout. I was hesitant to even read through these recipes at first because I know I don't cook as naturally as they are written out. But I was delighted to find this one and a few others that are healthy, simple and consist of ingredients I already purchase. I altered the recipe slightly so the original is here if you want to check it out too.

Crockpot Ragout

1 lb. burger (P.H. uses turkey burger. I used elk.)
1 onion
6 carrots
4 potatoes
green beans, peas, corn (These are optional or you can just add what you have. I only had frozen corn so that's what I used. Mixed veggies would work, too.)
seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning
1&1/2 C. water

Brown the burger. Add seasonings as desired. I over seasoned the meat as it is the only seasoning for the whole dish. Layer ingredients in crockpot: burger, potatoes, carrots, onion, optional veggies. Pour water over the top. In a crockpot cook: 6 hrs on low or 2&1/2 - 3 hrs on high. In a pan on the stove cook for 1/2 hr. Serve with ketchup.

See. Simple! It was really nummy, too. It's like meatloaf dinner in a pot. Let me know what you think if you try it.

I'm also looking for more crockpot recipes. Do you have any you'd like to share?

Sooooooo Not Expecting That One

So, the other day I told ya'll about my premonitions of Hazel's up-n-coming use of swear words. I was prepared and knew that it wouldn't be terrible. Funny, yes. Awful, no.

When her first swear words was, "Thoot!" I laughed and thought, "No biggie." And then there was today.

Nathan and I were sitting on the couch enjoying our fresh coffee and reading together. Abiah was at the table doing math, Amelia was down for a nap and Hazel is playing "Yegos" on the floor by me. Now, she is still learning to talk so about 50% of the words she says are baby gibberish or a mutated real word. We kept hearing her say what sounded like a nasty word and just shrugged it off as baby gibberish.

Well, it wasn't. She started throwing the Legos at us and instead of saying "throw" she would say, "F*$%#"! She has never heard that word in her life and so we know it is just her mutation of a real word but Whoa Nellie! I couldn't stop laughing which, of course, made her say it more. Bad Mommy!

When I finally stopped laughing we worked on saying "throw!" over and over and over. And hopefully she gets it down because the holidays are right around the corner and this is definitely a word we don't want grandma to hear.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

For His Benefit Only

I've never been one who likes to make a gift wish list. I don't like the idea of handing someone a list and knowing what they'll get me. I like surprises and I don't want people to feel obligated to by me a $50 present when they only have $20.

I don't ask for wish lists from others either. I really enjoy shopping for other people and finding a them a gift they will love but never would have expected. And I usually do a good job.

Except last year when I made a suggestion to my dad about a gift for my mom, those sweater/dress/blankets, and I don't think she loved it like I thought she would. I don't think she knows it was my suggestion either. Uh, sorry Mom! I was just trying to help.

Anyways, Nathan, on the other hand has always asked me for a list. And I fought it for a while. And then I learned that all the hints I dropped throughout the year were forgotten.

So I have started making a Gift Ideas for all Special Occasions list and I thought I'd share it with ya'll and see if you have any suggestions. I don't expect to receive all of these items this Christmas or even this year. But since he asked, these are a few of the things I have had my eye on.

Gift Ideas for 2009-2010 Special Occasions

Crockpot - My MIL was wonderful and picked up a crockpot for me at a garage sale this summer but it is a little too small for the meals I make. Costco has a coupon for a Crock-Pot 6 Quart Stainless Slow Cooker that is plenty big. And it's shiny and puurty. I was just in a conversation on Facebook the other day about how odd it is to want a crockpot for a present but I would use it and can't justify buying it for myself right now. And did I mention it's shiny and puurty?

Shelf for living room - I haven't pick a self out yet but I think something from IKEA would fit the bill. I want something for all of our DVDs, CDs and videos. Something with doors would be nice so I can end the war between me and my girls over the stack of CDs they want to destroy and chew on.

CDs - To add to my new shelf, of course! I've been wanting to get some new music lately and this may be my only opportunity to justify spending the money. Here's the artists I've been wanting to hear lately:
Matt Redman
Misty Edwards
Corey Ashbury
Justin Rizzo
Rita Springer
Philips, Craig and Dean (the one with the Holy, Holy, Holy song)
Susan Boyle (That lady is amazing and I could listen to her all day)
Keith Green's Greatest Hits

CD Player - to go on top of my new shelf and to play my new CDs. A multi disc player would be nice, but those Hello Kitty ones are pretty darn cute, too. Hmmmm...

Cute Photo Albums - I already showed Nathan one at Barnes and Nobe that I LOVE but I would like a couple so I can catch up on storing my photos and start my 2010 album. He picked four albums out for me two years ago and did a great job finding ones that are adorable.

Gift Cards - I always give Nathan a list of places I would like gift cards to. They work well for stocking stuffers and last minutes presents for holidays like Queen's Day and Ground Hog's Day. What? You don't get presents on those days? So far I don't either. But that can change. They are also perfect for I Love My Wife And Was Thinking Of Her While I Stopped At The Store For A Case Of Coke Day.
Barnes and Noble
The Body Shop
Old Navy

Simple Life Dual Trash/Recycle Can - Okay. I really don't want this as a gift because, well, who would. But it's a really cool double canned garbage can at Costco (they even have a coupon). It would make recycling much cleaner because it wouldn't be all over my counter. And it's shiny, too.

So this is my list so far. Do you have any suggestions of things I could add? How do you handle gift buying in your house?

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Knew This Day Would Come

Before you have children you are really unaware of, well, most things, but namely your own personal quirks or tendencies. Like the use of certain words you would never say in front of Grandma, or your inhibitions with your bodily functions/noises when others aren't around.

When Abiah moved in with us at age 3 he had already used a few choice words learned from others and he wasn't new to the idea of clearing a room with one small toot. We have had instances where we know he learned something from us and we've worked at correcting those areas in ourselves. But I think every kid helps to peel back one more layer from us as they pick up on words and tendencies the others haven't.

So, as Hazel has started talking more and more I've tried to remind myself to watch what I am saying because one day she's gonna repeat something I don't want repeated. And today I had another humorous reminder.

We were doing some puzzles together this morning and as she picked one up all the pieces fell out onto the coffee table and floor. She stopped, looked at the puzzle and said, "Thoot!"

I was instantly in stitches and could hardly talk. My husband thought she might have said something worse but thankfully she hasn't learned that one yet. I don't mind her saying this word but I need to make sure I'm not teaching her others!

(Innocent Little Princess)

Since my kids were little they have loved to play in diaper boxes and laundry baskets. Abiah usually pulls the girls around the room or on a rare occasion he gets one to himself and pulls himself around.

(Abiah pulling Hazel around. 2008)

We spend most of our time on the bottom story of our two story house and up until today I haven't had to worry about the chance of the kids going down the stairs in one of their "boats". However, since our bed rooms and changing table are upstairs and I usually have those big diaper boxes or a laundry basket sitting at the top of the stairs waiting for me I have tried to prepare myself for the day when a boat trip down the stairs might sneak into their creative minds. Today was that day.

I was standing at the changing table in the hallway changing Amelia and Abiah had just unloaded the diapers from the box onto the shelf. I glanced over at him to find him in the box, partway hanging over the top step, holding onto the hand rail. This was the conversation we had:

Me: Abiah! What are you doing?

Abiah: (while looking totally guilty) I was gonna ride down the stairs in the box.

Me: You'll crash and break your neck! Get out of there!

Abiah: That's what I was worried about.

Of course he had to prove his theory by sending his sister's dolly down on a few test runs. His conclusion. "You're right, Mom!" At least this time it only caused dolly trauma for him to come to that conclusion.

(My Little Pirate)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Before He Lays Down To Sleep

Every night before Abiah goes to bed we pray together. I have always encouraged him to pray about whatever is in his heart or on his mind. Most of his prayer topics are "normal" kid prayers but he always seems to have a specialty prayer for a few weeks or months. And every once in awhile he gets goofy and starts praying for his sisters dolls or his imaginary friends. I've had to stifle many a giggle on many a night.

For a long time his specialty was, "Help us have a good day yesterday. Help us have a good day today. Helps us have a good day tomorrow." Sometimes he still says it. It's so cute. But his recent specialty prayers have been more insightful and challenging to me in my own prayer life.

First of all, he has been very interested in Satan and his role in the present, past and future. He is continually asking questions way beyond his maturity level and mine, too! We've told him who Satan is and how he came to be and about his plan against us as children of God. We've talked about his lies and his tricks and how much he hates us but wants us to think he loves us. Abiah has struggled with fear at bedtime and there have been so many conversations about choosing to listen to God not Satan.

So he recently began praying, "Help me to shut up Satan and to not shut up you (speaking to God, of course). Help Jesus to punch Satan in the face and to cut his eyes out with a sword. Help you to come back soon. And help me not to listen to Satan's lies and to not be afraid. And help me to be obedient. "

He's six. And he blows me away. He has such a strong disgust for Satan. When he talks about him you can here the anger in his voice. And most of the time when he is being naughty I can just remind him that He has a choice to listen to Satan and be disobedient or to listen to God and obey. And he changes almost instantly. And his Bible school work is only helping! He loves learning about God, the stories in the Bible, and their application to his life. And I'm learning, too! Mostly from Abiah's questions!

The second specialty he has added is, to me and I'm sure most people, so precious. Out of his own accord he started praying, "And help Mommy and Daddy to teach me and Millie and Hazel to be a good husband and good wives. And help us to teach our children. And help them to teach their children. And help it go on and on and on and on. For a long time." He's praying for future generations many generations removed from him!

To be honest, most days I get busy and don't even take the time pray. At all! And here he is praying for his great-great-great grand children. What a little man and a wonderful example.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Are They Mine or My Sisters?

I have three sisters. All wonderfully unique and very dear to me. I loved growing up in our Little Women family. And my parents did a great job raising us.

I remember my mom saying to us when we were younger, "You'll understand someday!" when she'd recall our "naughty" stories. You know. The battles that are unique to every child. With me it was hyperactivity (or zest for life as I'd like to see it) and a short attention span (I was kicked out of a pre preschool class. At 3 years old. My poor mother.). My mom was always great about refraining from "cursing" us with children like us (although I think she may have in her dreams) but she understands that children turn out a lot (sometimes too much) like their parents. And so far I have tried not to "curse" my kids (except I'm pretty sure I do in my dreams). And it was no surprise to me when my kids had some of my "traits". That's a nicer word for it. What has surprised me though is that I'm starting to see my sisters' "traits" come out in my kids and I'm wondering what happened in the gene pool!

One of the stories my mom tells is of one of my younger sisters. She was about two years old and she was following my mom through the house messing up everything my mom had just cleaned. My mom kept telling her, "Help mommy. Don't mess it up." And finally after several rounds of this my mom, frustrated and exasperated, said, "I'm sick and tired of you messing things up!" To which my sister, with hands on her hips, replied, "Well, I'm sick and tired of you talking at me!" And then my mom dealt with that. And there were tears.

So, Hazel, my two year old, has just started talking. She surprises us everyday with the new words and phrases she is using. Especially the sassy ones. She definitely inherited my "zest for life" trait and I am constantly chasing after her. Correcting. Correcting. Correcting. And I remind myself many times throughout the day that my mom survived raising me. And I turned out okay. So I can do this, too. Right? RIGHT?!?

Well, one day after correcting Hazel for the same thing over and over I said, "I told you NO!" She looked at me with eyebrows raised and said, "I told NO!" She left out the "you" but I knew who she was talking to...I knew...

And then we dealt with that. And there were tears. And she was sweet to me again. And I wondered, "Ummmm, this isn't my "trait"! Why does my kids have it? What went WRONG!" I expected my sister to have to deal with this in her kids just like I have to deal with the "zest for life" trait. But why, oh why God, do I get them both! And just what am I supposed to do to fix this? And then it came to me. My kids need to spend more "quality time" with their Aunts. It's their trait. They can fix it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Do Over Update

This last week was my second three day fast. This time was very hard for me. I don't know if it's because I wasn't prepared for it or maybe it's just because it's fasting. And fasting is hard.

We had just gotten back from a week at the beach and I had turned around and left for a woman's retreat. I got back Sunday only to clean the kids up and head out of the house to go to a birthday party for my niece. It was a whirlwind kind of weekend but I was unusually relaxed and calm. And then Monday came.

I felt lost in my house after having been gone all week. I know that probably sounds funny but it's how I felt. I was overwhelmed by tasks that needed to be done and I didn't know where to start. The woman's retreat I was at was based on the books Power of a Praying Wife and For Woman Only. I was encouraged and challenged to be a better wife and mom and I want that so much that sometimes I feel like everything I do isn't good enough because it's not the best or consistent enough. You know, when you focus on laundry you turn around to find the kitchen a total disaster. When you try to meet all the kids needs you find that you are neglecting your husband. Or the schooling and meals get made but it's been days since you've sat and read or played with your kids. Am I alone in this? I don't think I am and I certainly hope not. But anyways, that's how I felt. Plus I was trying to fast. And I was failing most of my other goals, too.

After some tears and chocolate (yeah... the fast didn't last...) Nathan said, "You fasted during the day right?" And I was like, "Yeah, but I didn't complete it and the house is a mess...(just read the above paragraph for an overview of the rest of my failures. I don't want to revisit them right now). " And in his wonderfulness he made an attempt to cheer me up and let me know how much I do get done. But I was still struggling. My "pain" was masked by left over Halloween candy, but I was still frustrated and overwhelmed. And frustrated that I was overwhelmed.

I really feel like I'm supposed to be doing this Do Over. And when preparing for it and deciding what goals to make I tried not to put too much on myself. I want to be realistic. And I want to be successful in my goals. And I don't usually set goals because I'm not usually successful and that's depressing. But I did it anyways.

Then I had a wonderfully refreshing conversation with my dear friend, Elisa. She didn't say anything different from Nathan. She just used different words (It's funny how that works sometimes, huh?). She said, "At least you are doing something." And it clicked. I AM doing something. I'm doing more than I was before and I'm continuing to work at doing more every day.

After she left I got and email from 5 Minutes for Parenting and this prayer from the article spoke the words that were buried in my heart:

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
-Thomas Merton

I do believe that my desire to please the Lord does please Him. So, I keep on keeping on. I still don't get everything done every day. But I'm trying to see what I do accomplish and feel successful in that.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Dose Of Humor

Today I have the privilege of one of my previous posts being used at 5 Minutes for Parenting for the Dose of Humor column. 5 Minutes for Parenting is one of five sister sites under 5 Minutes for Moms. I have been a subscriber to 5 Minutes for Parenting and 5 Minutes for Faith, another sister site, for almost a year now and have enjoyed the weekly postings I receive. As a SAHM I can get into a funk and feel like I'm the only mom having to deal with the issues I face daily. These postings have encouraged me in knowing that I'm not alone and have given me ideas for more creative parenting.

You can read my posting here or you can click on the Dose of Humor button to the right. I encouraged you to check out 5 Minutes for Moms and their sister sites and subscribe!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thanks Dad!

One of our activities while at the beach this week has been sitting in the living room on our laptops emailing, face booking, playing games, and blogging. Sound boring? Well, it has actually been fun and relaxing. We are sharing a three bedroom condo with my parents and between the four of us we have three laptops. Since we've been here my dad started a Squidoo page and has included this blog on it. He included information about a few of my blog posts and now Google finds my site easier.

One of my posts he included is my curriculum choices for homeschooling Abiah this year. When I first wrote that post I did a Google search to see where I placed in their findings. I wasn't even on the first five pages. But now that my dad has me on his Squidoo page I am the first one Google finds when you search for First Grade Curriculum Choices!

He also started his own blog just last night and I am looking forward to reading more. You can find his blog here and his Squidoo page here. Check them out!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Mind Can't Make This Work

I saw this bumper sticker on the back of an SUV the other day that said:



Now, I get that London, New York and Paris are exciting and popular tourist cities. But Estacada? I'm sure there is more than just the Estacada located in Oregon, but it's the only one I've ever heard of. And it's not that exciting. Unless you are a logger. Or you do drugs.

I lived in Estacada for about 13 years. I'm not from Estacada. I just lived there. Anyways, it's bigger than the bump-in-the-road town we currently live in but it is in no way bumper sticker worthy. At least not when it's being associated with London, New York and Paris.

So, I did a search on these city names together and found an article from The Estacada News. They said that these bumper stickers were created by the Estacada Arts Commission who feel that Estacada is comparable to New York, London, and Paris as a destination place. Read the whole two paragraph article here.

I don't doubt that there are wonderful things about Estacada. I loved living there. In my house. And they have a small bakery that is still my favorite breakfast place. But as for a tourist town? Hmmmm.

The flier for the first house my parents looked at in Estacada boasted about the view of the city lights. Fortunately my parents went to see the house at night and got to preview this wonderful "attraction." And you could count the city lights on one hand. From 7pm-9pm.

Estacada does have lovely murals painted on the sides of many of the city buildings. And the are beautiful and artistic. But let's compare. Eiffel Tower or wall murals? Empire State Building or wall murals? London Bridges or wall murals?

My intent isn't to bash Estacada. I'm just trying to figure out the connection between New York, London, Paris and Estacada. And I can't.

Monday, October 26, 2009


We are at the beach this week on vacation with my parents and two of my three sisters and their families. This is such a treat that I was definitely ready for. We are staying at a resort on the beautiful Oregon coast. We wake (early) every morning to a gorgeous view of the ocean and the sunrise. We've spent the last few days relaxing, eating incredible food, playing games, and today we made a trip to the local aquarium. And we are going to be here for three more days!

The last two evenings have been spent playing Boggle until the late hours of the evening. Through the many games we've played I've learned a lot. Mainly, I love Boggle but I'm not the best at it. Also, there are many words out there that I didn't even realize I knew. But the most interesting thing I have learned about is my dad's rather extensive, yet mostly useless, vocabulary highly influenced by Old English, Irish and Scottish backgrounds. Who know?

It's funny to me that I'm not really doing much different than what I would be doing at home and yet it still feels like vacation. And even though we don't have all the gadgets and gizmos that fill every nook and cranny of our house we are still enjoying our time. We are living with significantly less than what we "need" when we are at home and we haven't had a hard time making it work. The kids don't have a dump truck full of toys and they are still having a ton of fun and staying very busy. This really makes me want to make a huge Goodwill donation when I get home. But I'm still on vacation so I'll think about work later.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm Blogstipated

Today I commented on Facebook that I have many blogs in me that won't come out and my wonderfully, humorous friends informed me that I have a case of blogstipation. I love blogging and do have so many ideas daily that run through my mind.But when I sit down to write my brain goes, "jdfvue rugfsa,rjvhbzd fjgfvb zrbvsb ,udbfvbzv xc xdfbvgfv." Not pretty. And then when my thoughts finally makes sense I end up with blogereah and post two or three times within a few days.

So, my questions to my fellow bloggers is this: How do you manage the many blog post ideas that come to you? What program do you find works best for storing posts for future cut and paste jobs so that you can post on a regular basis? Do you get blogstipation and blogereah too? Please help me by leaving your comments below.

A More Whole Human Being

A few weeks ago I got to hog my best friend , Nikki, for about 6 hours while she was here for a waytooshort visit. Nikki and I met about 15 years ago when my family started attending the church she and her family went to. While I was first intimidated by the fact that she is a year older than me (when you're 13/14 that's a BIG deal) I soon found that she isn't just a kindred spirit. She is my bosom friend. So much so that once when playing a game of Pictionary against her brother, Willie, and our friend, Gabe, they got mad because we knew each other so well that one of us would start drawing a little line and the other would know the answer.

In the past 15 years our friendship has grown and changed a lot. Through every season she has been the Anne to my Diana, the carrots to my peas, the Thelma to my Louise, and the Yang to my Grey. The past few years have been so different for us as we've married and started our families. We went from working together five days a week and seeing each other every Sunday to wives and mommies who have other people to take care of and a new life to figure out. There have been times when I feel like we are so far apart not just physically but also relationally. And when you've been close friends for so long it makes you feel like your life is missing some thing vital. But, thankfully, those feelings become faint when we have even just a few minutes to be together or talk. One of those moments happened this last time we were together. But to explain that I have to give you a little history.

There is a small shopping center in a city nearby that had, for many years, a Target with a Barnes & Noble/Starbucks right across the parking lot. I know, perfect world, right!?! I think it is probably our most frequented shopping spot. Well, in the last few years the Big Mall across the street stole the Barnes & Noble (Which I've come to accept because they made it two stories. And put a Starbucks in it.). But what the Big Mall left in it's wake is, to me, a catastrophe. Sure, they left the Starbucks, but right next to it they put a....Petco! And I know. There is a wall separating the two stores, but I'm sorry, Petco smells like...well, pets. Gross!

Since this happened, for some reason or other, Nikki and I haven't been there together. But when I've gone with Nathan I refuse to get coffee at the Petco Starbucks because it's gross. And Nathan thinks I'm weird. And mildly snobbish.

So, back to our recent visit. Nikki and I are leaving said shopping center and she turns and looks and this disaster of a store set up and says, "It may just be me, but I can't bring myself to get coffee from a Starbucks that is right next to a pet store." And at that point I became a more whole human being.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tandem Baby Front Pack

So, 5 Minutes for Mom, a great community for mom's, is hosting a photo contest and after much deliberation I've decided on a picture for my entry. It's about a year old but I think it will prove to be a worthy opponent. Hazel LOVES her dollies but she needed a more convenient way to carry them all around. So we came up with the Tandem Baby Front Pack:

I think it's a winner. FYI: All you mommies can enter your kids in this contest, too. Don't worry. We aren't scared of a little competition. Bring it on!

Discipline, Not Desire, Determines Your Destiny

I did it! I've completed one week of my six month "Do Over". I know it' s only one week but I am so excited about what I've accomplished this last week. It's not been a perfect week and I have had to allow freedom for the ebb and flow of life, but the tiny mountains that I've conquered this week have given me a renewal of hope and determination.

I struggle with sharing this because my greatest mountain this week was my first fast. I don't want to appear boastful or proud. I am rejoicing in the grace that I have been given and in the knowledge that I can have discipline in areas of my life that I never thought would happen. For me this struggle has been such a huge Everest in my life and it has felt impassable. Now I know I am capable of doing this. I will say I am still not thrilled about fasting, but I do feel an excitement to "discipline my body and bring it into subjection" (1 Corinthians 9:27).

A revelation for me this week was that when my plans for the day/week have to change I tend to let the discipline slide and I put them of for another time when it's more convenient. Examples? Well, Nathan's schedule was different this week and typically I would just put Abiah's schooling off until things "got back to normal" and we would end up behind and I would feel like a failure. We did have to make a few changes to our school schedule this week but we've not gotten behind and I am learning flexibility. Also, I came down with a migrane Saturday that peaked Tuesday and eased off slowly Wednesday. Usually that would be a perfect reason for me to not have to fast. God doesn't want me to suffer that much, right?!? But I wanted to stick it out and work through it. I had to take it slow but I did it. And I didn't die.

The title for this post is from a sermon my mom heard a few weeks ago and shared with me this last Monday night. I realized that, while desire is good, when it is the only thing that we use to guide us we tend to flit from one passion to the next. We may be fully devoted to that one passion for awhile but when a new desire comes along we are easily swept away like a leaf on a blustery fall day. When we have a healthy diet of discipline we have an anchor or guide to keep us focused and to help us achieve our goals.

A dear friend once told me, "If we want to be disciplined in the big areas of our lives we have to start with the little ones." This is where is starts for me. Tell me, what are some disciplines that you have used or are using to help you achieve your goals?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lady Gaga Has Got Some Competition

I don't know much about Lady Gaga. I do know that she has outrageous outfits. And she should watch out because she's got some competition. And they have my vote.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Can I Get A "Do Over" Please?

I was in a six month internship at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO the summer/fall of 2004. Nathan and I had just started our courtship earlier that spring and I knew that when I got home we would be getting married. (That might sound presumptuous but I had known for about a year or more before we even started courting. A different story for another time.) In preparation for this six months away I made a list of things I wanted to do during my internship because I knew my life was going to be way different when I got home. It was mostly a list of personal disciplines that I wanted to conquer or achieve but in the end I wasted my time and didn't take advantage of those six months. I've really tried to not rake myself over the coals for my lack of discipline, and therefore failure, but I do regret it. And I want a "Do Over".

I've never wanted to be one of those people who has to exercise or I'll just die! And I've personally never really enjoyed things like fasting and dieting. But in my attempt to "not be legalistic" I've gotten lazy and am seriously lacking in the area of personal disciplines. So I'm giving myself a "Do Over". This as a choice I'm making, not rules I'm setting.

Here's my plan:

6 Month Do Over

October 2009-March 2010

1. Exercise 5 times a week.
I need it. That's the plain, not-so-pretty truth. And especially after the trauma this body has been through this year it needs some training and LOTS of toning.

2. Fasting.
Oh granny. I don't know if anyone is ever like, "YEAH! It's time to fast!" but I would really like to get to a place where I'm not swearing on the inside when I think of fasting. The main reason really that I want to fast is cause I failed miserably at my fasting commitment while in KC. My fasting plan will follow what I should have done in KC. I will be fasting the first Monday-Wednesday of every month, every Tuesday, and the first full week of December.

3. Read through the Bible in 6 months.
I've read many parts of the Bible over and over. And I've made many attempts to read it Genesis to Revelations but I've never succeeded. So I'm going to now. I found a great Bible reading plan resource online. My personal plan profile is called: 6 month personal do over.

4. Do school with Abiah 5 days a week.
It has been so easy for me to procrastinate when it comes to Abiah's schooling but now that he is in the 1st grade I really need to buckle down and make this a priority. I've learned so far that our schooling only takes 2-3 hours a day. I can do that.

5. Read with Nathan.
We have always wanted to read books together and have never seems to make it happen. But recently we've both been purposeful about it and it makes me happy. Right now we are reading Waking the Dead by John Eldridge. Nathan picked it out and that makes me happy, too. I love it when he leads in this area of our marriage.

6. Blog 2 times a week.
I started this blog because there are so many thoughts and ideas of stories swimming around in my head and I needed an outlet for them. I've always wanted to journal but I still have a fear that my sisters are gonna find my journal and tell everyone what I wrote. So I beat 'em to it and started a blog! Plus my kids are just too stinking cute and funny not to share with ya'll. The problem is that when I have time and the peace required to blog it's much easier to take a nap or watch a movie. And then my brain gets filled to a dangerous capacity with information that is fighting to get out. The truth is I need to blog. Need.

7. Read three "personal growth" books.
I actually don't really know that they would be labeled "personal growth" but I mean "books that aren't stories". My book choices are: Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer, Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, and When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent. You may be thinking, "Wow! That's a lot of reading." And it is. But I've been working at reading Battlefield of the Mind for the past two years and have only recently finished part one of three. But since January of this year I have read at least ten novels. And I've watched plenty of movies and t.v. online. I can do this.

8. Monthly Specials.
Every month I have one special commitment thatwill last just for that month (with the exception of October and December's because it involves more than just me).

October: Potty train Hazel
November: Daily Cleanse vitamins
December: Wean Hazel from thuuuuth (which means friend in Hazel language, which is her pacifier).
January: Fast candy and deserts
February: For One Week*
March: 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels (I've heard it's brutal!)

*For One Week is an idea I read about when I was blog surfing. The problem is that I don't remember who's blog I was on. So whoever came up with this idea, I give you full credit for your creativity and wonderfulness. I don't take credit for this at all. The idea is to commit to do one new thing for seven days that you always want to do but forget about or are just to lazy to do. I have two of my four commitments so far.

Week 1: Greet Nathan at the door every night with a smile and a kiss.
Week 2: Call a different friend every day.

So, this is my "Do Over". It begins this Thursday and I will blog with updates regularly. If this has inspired you to do your own "Do Over"or if you have any questions about my choices leave a comment below and share.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cannibalism Runs In The Family And Other New Stories

Abiah was talking to me & Hazel about dinner the other night. Well, it was more like rambling...any who, he's talking about what I cooked for dinner and starts listing off the ingredients I "used", "salt, pepper, rice, venchables (vegetables), people...", he looks at me to see if I heard and asks, "Mom, do you eat people?" I reply, "Yup. that's why I want you to eat your dinner. So I can grow you up good and eat you." He laughed and pushed his bowl back and said, "Well, I'm not gonna eat then." then he got quiet and 30 seconds later he asked, "Really Mom?"

I did of course reassure him that I don't eat people, but he might want to watch out for Amelia.


My mom has been so helpful to me lately. Well, always really, but lately when she comes over she seems to find time to fold my ever-existing mound of laundry on the couch. Well, one day I managed to conquer this task while the kids were napping and when I brought the girls down stairs Hazel saw the folded piles of clothes and exclaimed, "Baba!" (which is Maga, which means Grandma). I rolled my eyes as I laughed and told her that mommy had folded the laundry, but she still looked around the house for Baba. Whatever!


Abiah informed me that when he gets older he's gonna get a sword or gun and fight Satan.


Hazel picked up Abiah's stuffed dog uniquely named "Puppy" and sniffed it's butt. I don't know why she felt the need or where she got the idea from. But she did it. And it is totally mommy blog material.


My Mom took Abiah into the restroom at Costco and when he needed help with unmentionable things she asked him to unlock the door for her. He asked he why she couldn't just crawl under like he does. Ewwwwww! I had NO idea. I swear.


My husband, Nathan, has a false tooth. He didn't have all of his adult teeth and the dentist pulled a baby tooth that didn't have a replacement so he wears a retainer with a false tooth. Abiah LOVES to do EVERYTHING Daddy does. So, when he saw Nathan take his false tooth out while brushing his teeth Abiah ran to his bed room and got his toy teeth (They are all silver with jewels on them. Very Flavor Flav. I know.) and put them into his mouth so he could take them out before brushing his teeth.

Monday, September 21, 2009

1st Grade Curriculum Choices

Abiah started 1st grade this year and I am excited and nervous at the same time. We have decided to homeschool for many reasons. Since I get asked often I thought I'd list a few of the main reasons here.
  1. Because of Nathan's work schedule (swing shift) he would only see Abiah on the weekends.
  2. Because "we" hunt it gives us the flexibility to start school when it works best for our family.
  3. We want to protect Abiah from being exposed to "mature" information before it is time.
  4. I used to homeschool other people's children for a living and so I have lots of experience and very little reason not to.
Because of our recent hunting trip we started school this week. At the beginning of the week I felt like I was trying to find my footing. I was not as prepared as I hoped to be, but by the end of the week I felt more sure about my daily plan.

I get all my curriculum from Exodus Books (see link to the right). Aside from the fact that I know the owner, I like the variety and prices as well as the honesty and eagerness to help homeschooling families. Exodus Books also has a great website with helpful tips and tools. Check it out! (I am not getting paid to say this. I just like their store.) So, here's my choices for 1st grade curriculum.


Horizon's Math Book 1&2 Grade 1
I chose this math book for it's colorful pictures, repetitive content and easy teaching. I don't purchase the teacher's guide because of the skill level and because right now Abiah still needs me to sit with him and help him stay on task. So I am correcting as we go. We used this curriculum for his kindergarten math and it seemed to challenge him and keep his attention (as well as a five year old's attention span can be kept). I plan to use this math curriculum through third grade. At fourth grade we will switch to Saxon.


Grammar Practice
I am usually an Easy Grammar and Daily Grams kinda gal but they don't have books until 2nd grade. After looking through Grammar Practice I decided it is a book that is easy to use without a teacher's manual (and an answer key is in the back) and it should only take us about 10 minutes every day to work through a section. There are 22 lessons that contain 5 sections each. We can do one lesson a week and be right on track with our other school work. I feel like it will give Abiah a good exposure to grammar in preparation for the books I plan to use next year.


Bible Truth's: A Father's Care Grade 1 BJU
Abiah has been asking for more information about the Bible and his interest moved me to choose a Bible curriculum for our schooling. Although there are many activities available to go with this curriculum I am just using the basics. I did need the teacher's manual for this subject but because Exodus Books carries used books I was able to get one in good but used condition for a lower price. One of the drawing points for me was that it teaches the Catechism. Now, I wasn't raised in churches that taught the Catechism but I have always wanted to know it and I figured I can teach it to myself while I teach it to my kids.


Startwrite 5.0
I LOVE this program! Startwrite 5.0 is a computer software that allows you to create your own handwriting worksheets. You choose from multiple fonts, letter sizes, character guides and much more. I have used this program since last year to teach Abiah to write his name and alphabet. This year we are incorporating it with his Bible course. I created a worksheet for his weekly Bible memory verse and he uses it for handwriting practice and memorization.

Science 1 BJU
My America and My World A Beka Book

I enjoy both Bob Jones and A Beka for science and history curriculum. For this year we are just slowly reading through the books and I ask Abiah a few questions about what we have read. My goal is exposure to science and history without the weight of tests and experiments. This is not to say that we won't do any experiments but I am trying to keep our school time at the table to a minimum. So we talk about and included what we read about into our daily lives. Another plus for this choice is that I found used books in great condition for three and four dollars. At Exodus Books of course.


Spell to Write and Read BHI

I am a huge fan of Spell to Write and Read. The program can feel weighty and really involved but I think that every family that uses it can find what works for them and make it their own. I used this program when I was tutoring ESL students and I had great results. The repetition and flash cards make memorizing the rules for phonics easy and fun. We also read together every night and I am hoping that Abiah will be reading to me by the end of the year.

Well, that's it. Even with choosing to do 8 different subjects we are done with school in 2-3 hours. I love it! What are some of your favorite curriculum choices. And if you don't homeschool, what are some of your favorite books to read with your kids. I'm always looking for new ideas.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No Place Like

We've been home for a week and so this seems late, but I have had a hard time putting our trip into words. Well, words that didn't sound negative and complainy (I can make up words). When people ask me if we had a fun trip I have a hard time answering because it was mostly work. It was much better than it could have been. But it was hard and a LOT of work. Abiah loved it and so did Nathan. I had a nice time with the family but being out in the woods with a 20 months old and a 7 month old is a lot of work. Have I mentioned that it was a lot of work yet?

This was my 5th year of hunting with Nathan's family. Usually we camp out in the woods where there are no eminities. We brought up water, my father-in-law dug a hole and put up the "crapper"tent, we took two minute showers every other day, and when the guys were out hunting we women spent most of our time in the trailer hiding from the many noises outside. It worked well. We had it figured out and it was "roughing it" but it worked. This year we would have seven adults and six kids ages 7 months to 6 years.... we decided to try out the local camp ground.

My in-laws still brought the trailer and we ended up in sights that only had water but we loved it. The camp hostess cleaned the bathroom 8 times a day. She tried to clean the showers after every use. The kids could run around and play and we didn't have to worry too much about wild animals. There was a play ground with "wings" as Hazel called them and our camp sites were close together and close to the bathrooms. This made our trip easier and I'm so glad we went there. We are going back next year, too.

While we were camping I started compiling a list of lessons learned on this trip.

Lessons Learned Hunting 2009

  • Reading The Shack isn't a good idea if you ever plan to camp with your children.
  • Synchronizing kids nap schedules with other camping family members is a must.
  • Synchronizing nap schedules does not mean that all kids will actually be asleep at the same time.
  • Bringing a fan to drown out noises is a great idea....when you have electricity.
  • Swapping dinner for lunch makes for an easier clean up/bed time/relaxing evening.
  • It takes a whole village to raise six children, a dog and a praying mantis.
  • Four women is not a village.
  • Finding food for Lucinda the Mantis is a great activity for bored kids.
  • Finding a male mantis "friend" for Lucinda the Mantis leads to uncomfortable questions from kids about why bugs give piggy back rides to each other.
  • A five hour kids free trip to a podunk town to do laundry for almost three hours and browse a few shops makes for a refreshed and happy momma.
  • When every step you take causes a dust storm expect everything to be covered in dust. Kids, clothes, camping gear, food, vehicles, mantises...
  • When you return home from an 11 day trip there is more laundry to do than you knew existed in your house.
  • When the hubby washes his USED game bags in YOUR washing machine there will be remnants of things that God and the Maytag Man never meant to be in there.
  • Hubby will clean these remnants out of washing machine OR ELSE!
  • Scheduling a pedicure for the day after you get back is crucial to returning to a "normal" state of womanliness.
  • I can live 11 days without Facebook, my blog and just takes a while for the shaking to stop.
Also, we had a very successful hunt. My FIL got a 4x4 bull elk at the beginning of the trip. Nathan went back up this last weekend and also got a 4x4 bull elk. And then Nathan's childhood best friend, Jesse, was here from Texas and got a 6x5 bull elk and gave the meat to Nathan's sister and brother-in-law. So we all will have freezers full of meat for this year. I'm very proud of Nathan and his accomplishment. And I do like being out there with him. I just have to remember it will get easier.

Pictures coming soon!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gone Huntin'

We'll be back in about ten days. Pray for a successful and safe hunt. I'm hoping to find a place with WFI up there so I can post some pictures but ya'll might just have to wait 'till we get back. See you later!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

An Adult Like Momma

Today Abiah was explaining to Hazel the cycle of life. Well, what he knows about it. He said, "Everyone starts out as a baby. Then they are a kid. Then they are an adult. Like Momma." Inside I'm thinking, "Huh! An adult? Momma doesn't feel like an adult." But, you see, he and I have two very different definitions of that word.

To him that means:
  • Staying up late.
  • Eating chocolate and candy.
  • Drinking soda.
  • Drinking coffee.
  • Driving a car and going wherever you want.
  • Watching adult movies (In our house that means movies he can't watch. Not "Behind The Big Red Curtain" movies.).
  • Eating nachos for lunch instead of burritos (burritos are, in theory, cleaner).
To me that means:
  • Staying up late to regain sanity and finish cleaning up from the day.
  • Feeling guilty over the candy and chocolate consumed an hour after my morning walk.
  • Full responsibility for three kids, one husband, one house and three vehicles .
  • A constantly dirty right shoulder and thigh which, today, is compliments of the a fore mentioned theoretically cleaner burrito and the toddler who sits next to me at the table and uses me as a napkin.
  • Slug like snot trails on my shoulders and legs from children.
  • Loving nap time and bedtime way more than the kids.
  • Missing the kids as soon as they are down for nap time or bed time.
  • Eating nachos instead of burritos because I like the spicy nacho sauce that's too hot for the kids.
Are there split definition words in your house?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Married A Hunter So I Wouldn't Have To Be One

We have kittens. Five of them. The thing is, we don't own a cat. Well, we didn't. But we might now. Saturday Nathan went out to the wood shed to pull a bunch of scraps out so he could fix the roof and promptly came back to share the news.

Now, I'm not much of an animal person. I can do fish or hermit crabs. You know, tiny things in cages that require very little of you. But cats? No. And DEFINITELY not in my house. But I am a sucker for cute little kitten faces. It doesn't mean I'll own one but I get all mushy and start talking in a baby voice. It's rather silly really.

So, we grabbed all the kids and ran out to see the little tiny kitties and OMG! They are adorable. And skittish. There are two that are black and white, two that are calico and white, and one gray and white (my favorite). We watched them for awhile and then realized that in order to fix the wood shed roof we would need to make sure that all the kittens were safe. This means catching all the kittens. And this is where the point of this story comes in.

Remember how I said I'm not much of an animal person? Well, that is especially applicable when animals are running at me or jumping at me or trying to scratch and bite me. So, we found a box that would fit the kittens and, hopefully, keep them contained. We taped a few of it's holes to make it sturdier and made a plan. I was to stand at the back of the shed with the box laying on it's side up against the hole the kittens were using for their escape. Nathan was in the wood shed trying to catch those that didn't use the hole to escape and Abiah was in the wood shed doorway. Nathan spooked them out of their hiding spot and three came out the hole in the wall and into the box I was watching and Nathan had the other two. And then.....

I forgot that I needed to pick the box up to keep the kittens in ( I blame mommy brain). And Nathan's kittens were scratching and biting so he ended up dropping one. I quickly ran the box over to him and we had one kitten. Out of five. We chased another one down and then found a third one under one of the many piles of scrap wood and brush in our backyard. All this was happening while we were trying to keep our 22 months old toddler, Hazel, contained and happy and the 7 month old baby, Amelia, happy.

So, being the ever-susceptible-to-her-big-brown-eyes parents that we are, we couldn't refuse when Hazel begged us to see the kitties. As Nathan slowly tilted the box over for Hazel to peer inside the feistiest of the five kittens started hissing and scratching and jumping. It jumped out of the box. Towards me. AT ME!

I want to take this moment to say I am unashamed-ish of my behavior because I feel justified by my (to me) understandable fear.

So, as this kitten, deranged as it was, comes jumping out of the box at me I start screaming. And jumping. And waving my arms like a crazy person. My heart was racing and my hands were shaking, I kid you not. I'm sure I looked crazy. Especially to my husband who was growing more and more frustrated by the minute by his incompetent wife. Nathan yelled, "What are you doing?!?" And in my fragile state I tried to explain my "condition" but he, being the skilled archery hunter that he is, would have none of it. To him it was ridiculous to be afraid of a tiny little kitten. And he kept telling me that.

So, we chase said kitten around the huge intheway shrubs that are taking over the backyard and I spot him. He's crouched down on his belly in the whole wide worldly known cat attack stance. Looking at me. No. AIMED at me. As I get closer I yell to Nathan to come quick because, "he's in fighting mode!" Nathan, in his frustration, yelled, "It's just a kitten!" and came over and picked the kitten up and took him to the box. While the kitten was scratching and clawing and shrieking.

Shortly after this Nathan's parents arrived. Nathan and his dad took over and we ended finding four out of five kittens and later found the fifth kitty with the uptothispoint missing momma. Great. Kitties are safe with momma. Shed roof never got fixed, but there' always next Saturday. We had a delicious dinner with the in-laws and a nice evening visiting. In-laws went home. Mommy's behavior during kitten fiasco is brought up almost instantly. I defend my position as a frightened, fragile mommy. Nathan doesn't buy it. He says kittens are tiny and practically harmless. I remind him of the fact that he was bitten and scratched and hissed and shrieked at. Practically is not completely! He says he wanted to laugh when I said the kitten was in fighting mode. I giggle because it was kinda funny. Then I remind him that, including many other wonderful reasons, I married him so he would fight my battles for me. Whether it's taking out the garbage, defending me against naughty children, fixing things that aren't supposed to be broken or catching the scary little kittens threatening my life. And he does a great job.

This fear also applies to any and all sports where something is flying at me.

Public Notice: No kittens were harmed in the making or retelling of this story.

What about you? What battles does your hubby fight for you? Comment below.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why He Needs His Daddy

The other day Abiah was in a goofy mood. You could see all over his face that his main goal was to get his dad to attack him so they could wrestle. At one point I was entering receipts into the computer and asked him to go get my wallet for me. I went back to focusing on the computer and didn't hear him when he said, "I'm just gonna sit here until you forget that you asked me to get you something." But his dad heard. And as he went to get my wallet we sat on the couch stifling our laughter and shaking our heads in disbelief. And then, as Abiah would say, he got "pounded."Which is what he wanted in the first place.

After that wrestling match was over, I was asking Nathan about our plans for Sunday's church potluck and he jokingly asked me, "Can I shoot my bow at the potluck?" (he is preparing for archery hunting) And Abiah replied, "No. You have to listen to God's words." And then he was chased down and he and his dad had yet another wrestling match.

Then Abiah got his sister's pink sunglasses and was running through the house laughing as he tried to do his best "girl" impersonation. When Nathan saw him he told Abiah to, "Get those off right now!" To which Abiah replied, "No. They're pretty!" And, you guessed it, another wrestling match ensued.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Half an Olive

The last time my mom and I made once-a-month-meals she showed me this great tip for quickly slicing olives in half. And no, we didn't hire a hand model. My mom's hands are just that pretty.

You will need:
olives (duh)
two Tupperware lids
large knife (you need a knife long enough to reach across the middle of the Tupperware lid)

Begin by placing one Tupperware lid on the counter, top up. Pour olives on top. the lip of the Tupperware helps hold olives in place.

Place the other Tupperware lid on top of the olives, face side down.

While gently holding the top lid on, slide knife through horizontally.

The results:

We were able to slice half a can at a time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Shade of Green

Kermit the Frog had it right. It's not easy being green. And sometimes it's not affordable either. I have a list of things that I would love to do to have a simple, low waste, organic, healthy home but somethings just aren't feasible for us right now. However, there are things that we are doing and, as I love to learn knew ideas or be encouraged in what I am able to do, I thought I'd compile a list of what I am doing and hopefully it will encourage you to do what you can. Or even give you ideas for your home.

I recycle as much as I can. My purpose is mostly selfish. About 80% selfish, 20% awareness. Or 80% selfish, 10% awareness and 10% convenience... which is still selfish. The reason I say it's selfish is because we mostly do it to save us money. I also do it to get rid of junk. I love sorting through old papers and magazines and de-cluttering the house. Goodwill has been blessed by our donations many times. My husband, Nathan, recycles the soda cans (yeah for Oregon's bottle return deposit!) and since he's the main soda drinker in the house he saves the cash for man stuff like fishing, hunting and tools.

We recycle anything they let us put in the big recycle garbage can outside. This saves us so much on garbage bills. We set our main garbage bin out once a week and our recycling bin (which is almost twice as big) about once a month. I've also been trying to cut back on the trash by putting all our food scraps in a compost pile outside. I recently read here about making your own worm compost and want to try it but we don't have a garden yet so I'll wait.

We have a burn barrel outside and so we burn most of our paper and cardboard. If you don't live in a burn area but know someone who does ask them if you can use their burn pile or barrel to get rid of your papers. It saves money and creates an opportunity for visiting with friends or family. Nathan has found that magazines don't burn well so we have a small recycle bin for those.

As for being organic, this is a little harder for us as most things organic are spendy. Probably our main organic source is our meat. Nathan is an archery hunter and tries to supply us with an elk every year. Although I've had to get used to the difference in flavor I love that elk meat is low fat and organic.

I would love to have a garden but juggling toddlers and a garden doesn't appeal to me right now. I do get organic produce from Costco when I can. I use their organic carrots and organic frozen veggies to make Amelia's baby food. The organic coffee they sell is also a great deal and makes a deliciously strong cup of coffee. I do get organic, eco friendly cleaning products from Melaleuca. I have really liked their laundry and dish detergent and have just started using their cleaners and hand soap, too. If you are interested in their products I have a sister who is a representative of theirs.

Since I can't do much in the organic area I still try to keep us healthy by making meals that are as nutritious as I can make them. Plus, making homemade meals is, a lot of times, cheaper than eating out or buying prepared foods. We get a lot of veggies from Gleaners and so I try to chop, shred and puree them ahead of time and freeze them so they are easy to add to meals I am making. Most of the time my family has no clue that they are eating three to five different veggies which they wouldn't have touched otherwise. I also try to include fruit into one or two meals a day. A lot of times it ends up being oranges or apples but it's still fruit. Balancing out the carb/fruit/veggie/protein/fat ratio in our meals is helping me to feel better about what I serve my family.

For both of my girls I made their baby food. I found it to be more cost effective and if I make it then I know what is in it. I was given a recipe book written by the La Leche League International for making baby food and have used a few ideas. Mostly I steam veggies, puree them and store them in the freezer in the same containers you would use for jam. I make a variety and pull a few out at a time so that Amelia isn't getting bored of one flavor. It is easy and very convenient.

I also make freezer jam for our family. I started a year ago and we have enjoyed the jam almost everyday since. I don't use any sugar substitutes so far but I do like that I know where my fruit comes from.

Because I'm a stay-at-home mom I'm home a lot. Which I like. Which also means I don't use very much gas. I try to only fill my van once every 7-10 days. There are times when I can go many more days and others when I need to fill up more often.

To make things simpler in our home I like to do:
once a month cooking
regular de-cluttering
flexible daily scheduling

And a few more money saving tips:
use cold water for laundry
do full loads of laundry
lights out during the day
in the winter: more clothes/lower temp on thermostat
mainly use wood heat
hand-me-downs worked for the Wilder children it will work for you

And here's my list of things I'm trying to convince Nathan that we should do to save money, etc:
cloth diapers
stop trash pickup and take trash to the dump every three months (if you have a trailer this can work for you)
minimize our belongings
haul and chop firewood on our own
Turn our yard into a large garden to make it more efficient

I hope this list is encouraging to someone. Let me know what you do to make your home more simple, low waste, organic and healthy. Let's glean from each other.

Also, in the next few weeks I plan to post recipes for once a month meals and homemade baby food.