Thursday, March 31, 2011

Laundry Pt. 2

   I am now going to show you my laundry room.  This is the ugliest place in my house!!  Some day maybe I'll make it cute but I'm not sure how.  It holds our laundry (duh), our freezer, the boys clothes, winter boots, shoes, snow pants, ironing basket, tool box, wash sink, litter box, cat food and his dish and seldom used cleaning supplies.  Here ya go...



Sorry the pictures are so dark, my light bulb burned out the other day so it's only being lit by the little basement window!  The shoe mess is not there when the winter stuff is put away.  The white bucket holds the basket for dirty rags and towels not for any good reason, just wanted to keep the bucket and I don't have any other place to put it!

Now for what I promised.  This is how we handle our boys clothes.


These drawers holds all 3 of our boys clothing for both seasons except church clothes and long sleeve shirts are in their closet.



This is how far it is from the drawers to the baskets for sorting.

Our laundry room is decent size simply because of some of the plumbing and piping that already existed before we redid our basement. I'm glad because it does allow this option for us.  If our room was smaller I still would try to find a similar solution unless our home held huge closets. We wanted the boys to have room to play in their room and with a big dresser and clothes it didn't allow that.  This has simplified many things.  If Carter works out or showers early in the morning he can get to his clothes without waking his brothers.  If we are getting ready to leave and need to have people change clothes they have several private places to go to do that.  AND you are in BIG trouble if your clothes are left on the floor because... come on!  You'd have to be kidding me!  I will say that does happen sometimes but because I am in the laundry room more often than their bedroom I generally catch it right away.  E is my guy who does this when trying to be faster than his big brothers.  Having a little house with many kids makes you really rethink how you use your space.  Sometimes I wonder why it wasn't this way in the first place!  Why haul clothes to your bedroom when they came from the laundry room and that's where they'll return!  I know this is similar to a family closet and I think that's a great idea too but we don't have quite enough room for that. 

 How can you rethink your space to work better for your family??

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Laundry

  Yup, there's a lot of it with 5 kids.  Do I have a secret to keeping up?  Nope!  But we do have a system that works pretty well for us.  Maybe it'll help you.



   First I will say I'd love to have a laundry "day" where it was the only day I did laundry but that is not possible for many reasons.  One is the sheer amount of laundry we have and two, we don't have city sewer.  We have septic and it was recommended to us not to do lots of laundry in one day but a little at a time.  So we do a load a day and then I catch up with any overflowing piles on Saturday.

   I am not super picky on sorting and water temp.  We have 3 bags and a basket to sort.
1= darks to be washed on cold
2= whites/grays to be washed on warm
3= pinks and reds washed on cold
basket= kitchen towels/cloths and our "junk rags" used for cleaning to be washed on hot



   In this new season of life Mr. E who is 7 is a pretty good laundry sorter so he sorts laundry each evening.  Every night Carter empties the dryer and puts the clean basket in the Family Room for me to fold, puts what's in the washer into the dryer and throws in a new load.  I was VERY nervous to have him doing our laundry but with simple sorting and temps he really does a pretty good job besides forgetting to check pockets sometimes.  If we do this everyday on Saturday I usually have 3-5 loads.  Not to bad.  In the summer it's less because they live in swimsuits. Yay!  I may start adding Caleb to a load a day in the next year or two and then I won't have to catch up on Saturdays!  Yee Haw!

   All my kids know how to switch laundry.  Meaning, they know how to empty the dryer and clean out the lint trap, throw what's in the washer into the dryer with a dryer sheet and turn it on.  Hannah can't quite reach all the way in the washer and can't quite reach the dryer buttons but she knows how. We do not have large, fancy or new machines.  Our dryer is the same one shown in the basement of That 70's Show... no I am NOT kidding.  Ours is just mustard yellow instead of avacado green.  Our washer is at least 20 years old.  I've heard many mom's with large families complaining the new washers don't hold up long with many loads and they are NOT cheap to repair.  Paul is a decent handy man and at least willing to try to fix things.  With the help of a local "small town" type shop we found, he has fixed both our washer and dryer many times for under $20.

   As for getting clothes off the floor and into the laundry room.... two things.  One is we have a clothes chute so upstairs Mom, Dad and the girls just throw stuff down the chute.  That's what Elijah sorts each evening.  The boys are another story.  Often their room would be full of clothes and sometimes I'd wash a ton because I wasn't sure what was clean and what was dirty!  (I can't be the only one this has happened to.)  So, call me crazy but I moved those boys drawers INTO the laundry room!  Yup that's right, they change in the laundry room!  I'll show you how that works tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Bad Reality

   This weekend was a strange one for us.  My two older boys as I said were at a friends and Elijah was invited to Grandma and Papa's for an overnight.  That left me with only two little girls who headed to bed decently early and a tired hubby who crashed by 9 after a whole week of 12 hour days and two more to go.  He asked if I was coming up soon and I hollered that I would only be a few minutes but my few minutes turned into several hours!

   What did I do?  I'm almost to embarrassed to say!  I stayed up watching On Demand episodes of MTV's Teen Mom 2.  When it was the original Teen Mom I stumbled acrossed it one day and thought it was nice to see them showing some of the realities of being a teen mom and then as the next season began I wondered how their lives were turning out.

       When I was a young child my mom volunteered at a home for teen moms whose families had kicked them out of their home and they had no place to go.  My mom taught child birth classes and attended most of their deliveries.  She would often bring the girls home to meet us and spend the day.  There's a lot I can say for the good and bad that came out of that situation but one good was a heavy dose of the ugly reality of unwed, unplanned pregnancy.  Watching the original of the show reminded me of those girls.  Watching the new season is really just curiosity.

   I spend a large amount of the time talking to the screen (hence the reason I watch it alone! Ha!).  For example the one girl comments that she always wanted a family and she tried to have that with a baby and her boyfriend (who is a real piece of work) but she guesses she should have gotten married to the right guy first and then tried for a family... ya think??  Another one who is constantly fighting with her mother (who has temporary custody of her son) was trying to get her life on track going to school and working and spending time with her son.  Unfortunately she also chooses to stay with her new boyfriend who has no job and spends his time crashing at other peoples homes and smoking pot.  In the last episode I wished I could jump through the screen and shake the girl.  She was doing so well and making something happen and then she chooses last minute to take a road trip with her boyfriend and pay for it by stealing her mom's credit cards!

   Honestly I don't know if this is a very rare small percentage of the teens out in our world today or if it reflects the majority.  Either way it's a little scary.  I read later that their is concern of girls trying to get pregnant so they can get the attention these girls have.  ???? What??  I'm not sure how the show pays these girls because they are all struggling for money and to make ends meet (well, all but one whose parents take care of everything).  I hope that maybe it's in a college fund for their kids or something.

   Anyways, there's my late night confession.  I confess it has no redeeming quality other than pointing out the things I want to teach my children NOT to do!  My second confession is I'm officially old!  I don't look at these girls as cool and hip, I look at them like a mom and want to scoop them up in my arms and show them love, show them Christ's forgiveness, show them new beginnings.  I'd also like to knock them upside the head and ask them what on earth they were thinking!!

So yes, my name is Tami and I did waste several hours watching really bad reality TV!
(This is where you all say, "Hi Tami" and make me not feel so all alone!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Busy Saturdays

  Although you're reading this on Monday, I'm typing it on Saturday :o)  Saturday is often my day to catch up with... everything!  Although Sunday is suppose to be a day of rest it's usually not unless I do a lot of planning ahead!  In the last few years I have some things perfected for our family.  Notice I say "some"!  We still run in circles often but it's gotten better.

  As I shared before Saturday morning is Pop Tart morning at our house and a chance for Mom and Dad to sleep in.  This Saturday the two older boys returned home around 9am from an all night gaming party with their buddy Asher.  They were exhausted and headed to bed quickly!  I joined my girlies for Pop Tarts and sat for a few minutes and decided it was time to get busy.

   I tried a new homemade sweet and sour sauce because Sundays are generally a crock-pot day here.  I found a recipe for sweet and sour chicken but didn't have the store bought sauce nor the desire to go to the store.  You gotta love the Internet when it comes to finding recipes for EVERYTHING!  I made that (minus the suggested food coloring!), chopped the veggies for the chicken and popped them into a baggie for tomorrow morning.  I then decided to chop and spin some lettuce since I was already making a mess and that way there's lettuce ready if anyone wants a salad.



  Then I put together our usual Sunday breakfast, a make ahead yummy coffee cake.  With that in the fridge I then popped ingredients in my bread machine for pizza dough for tonight's dinner and decided while I was at it I might as well make a dessert for the day.  I tend to be a lot like the kids book, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" in the kitchen... well in every area of my life really.  I get started with one think and it makes me think of another.  I often start cooking and end with a fridge or oven full, start cleaning and end with a mountain for Goodwill or start school and end up on the Internet searching for some strange thing that popped up.

Coffee Cake ready to go.

  After all of that I cleaned up the kitchen and chilled out, oh, wait... I first started laundry because Saturday is also my catch up with laundry day!  THEN I sat down to write to all of you.  I don't feel like I really ever get a whole day to take a break but I try to have part of Saturday and part of Sunday add up to a whole day!  If I cook ahead on Saturday the only work I do on Sunday is get us all out to church and if we're lucky get back up there for Carter's youth group in the evening.  That is no small feat especially when dear hubby is working but that's a different story for a different day!

 Hope you found sometime in your weekend to relax!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Science Experiments

   It seems we are always putting off our science experiments.  The kids love them... Mom feels they are "extra" therefore easy to skip!  Carter is still joining us with our Sonlight Science but he also just started Apologia's General Science on his own.  He's thrilled to have, so far, at least one experiment a week.  I'm thrilled he can do them with very little help! Here's a recap of the last few weeks science for both groups in pics...


making clouds



Carter learns baking soda and vinegar do more than clean!




Batteries and the difference a few volts makes.

   If you look around in the pictures you won't be able to tell by the people which experiment is just for Carter and which ones are for all because as soon as someone says "experiment" they all come flying in to watch.  Even Addison!  Every time I do these I remember how fun they are and that we should do them more often but they always sound like so much work!  Most of the time they are actually pretty easy and they really do remember so much when we do them.  

Note to self... do science more often!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Living Our Life

   The last month or two of doing our "night owl" life has been interesting.  We've learned we do need to set a limit on how long you stay up and sleep in or it can really get out of hand!  But we also learned we do quite well NOT having an exact routine to our day.  We are learning to simply live together and homeschooling is just part of our life.  It's not an extra, it's not a frustration.  It's just part of what we do.

   I'm enjoying this new stage of life.  Learning that homeschooling has become part of who we are as a family instead of this hurdle to jump everyday has helped us all relax.  In fact if I start to think of listing times and plans for our day I get a little anxious!  I've waited 7 years to figure out what "works" for our family and I'm not surprised to see it's very different from everyone we know.  I hated as a new homeschooler asking a "veteran" mom how she did what she did and getting the response, "well, you just have to find what works for your family."  Oh how I hated that!  And oh how I'm starting to understand.  Every family has a different temperament, husband's work schedule, parenting style, sleep routine etc.  It's impossible to say "this is the RIGHT way" or the "only" way.  The Creator of the world is just that... creative!  Thank goodness, what a boring life if we were all the same.  What I can't believe is it took me this long to realize it.

What kinds of pressures are you putting on yourself to live up to somebody else's life/routine?? 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Baking Soda and Vinegar

  Do you know how many wonderful things you can do with baking soda and white vinegar??

- White vinegar and water in a spray bottle makes a great all purpose cleaner.  Add a drop or two of soap (I use 7th Generation Dish Soap), a few drops of tea tree oil and a few drops of orange oil and it smells and cleans wonderfully!

- Baking soda on a damp rag works just as well as those lovely Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to take crayon off your walls

- Sprinkle baking soda in your toilet and scrub it around, pour in a little vinegar and swish and flush

- Sprinkle baking soda into your tub and then soak a sponge with water and a drop of soap and scrub away.  Add in some vinegar if it still needs some help.

- Pour a 1/2-1 cup of baking soda in your kitchen drain and then pour in vinegar and let it fuzz.  Afterward let it sit all night and then rinse with hot water and your drains will smell nice and clean.

- My latest find is as shampoo!  Yup shampoo!  You can look this up all over online but what works for me is to let the water in my sink run until hot while putting 1-2 tablespoons of Baking Soda in a plastic cup.  Then I pour in the water and give it a quick stir.  The Baking Soda will fizz a bit and then dissolve.  Then I set it on the edge of the tub and hop in to shower.  Simply dump it on your hair and scrub it up.  I let mine sit in my hair while I wash my face then rinse.  Afterwards I squirt my hair with a mixture of half apple cider vinegar and water as a conditioner.  That's it!  Can't remember the last time I used shampoo.  It took my hair a week or so to adjust but now I don't think twice about it.  I do the same for my girls and we still have shiny soft hair with no chemicals and next to nothing in price!

You can get a LARGE bag of baking soda and a big jug of white vinegar at Costco for less than $10 total and it can last you for cleaning and shampoo for months!  Seriously... give it a try!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ABC All About Me

  I've seen this floating around on other blogs and enjoyed reading them so I thought I'd do it too.  I have no idea where it started from so I have no credit to give.  Here's everything about me you ever cared to know and then some :0)




A - Age:  36... Yikes!  Did I say 36?  I mean 26 right?  Actually I don't mind 36, it's not a bad place to be.

B - Bed Size:  King.  Fills up our whole little room and seems quite small when you fill it with a 6'3 husband and 1-5 small-large children!

C - Chore you Hate:  Laundry.  It's not so much the washing or the drying it's the folding and the fact that it's NEVER done.

D - Dogs:  Nope.  We don't do dogs well.  Every one we've had we ended up having to get rid of because of one issue or another.  For now we stick with our cat... Moses.

E - Essential Start your Day Item:  Noise.  If it's quiet I will be back to sleep in 2 minutes or less (this is why a morning "quiet time" is very hard for me and why having 5 kids is helpful!).

F - Favorite Color:  I like pink.  Actually I like lots of colors but I guess pink would be my pick if I had to.

G - Gold or Silver:  silver

H - Height:  5'6" or 5'7 depending on who measures me. I'm actually 5'6 1/2 but no one ever counts the half darn it!

I - Instruments you Play:  I'm learning the piano along with my kiddos, least I'm trying!

J - Job Title:  Stay at Home Mom, Homeschool Mom, Juggler of the Fab 5, Awesome Wife... you know the usuals! Ha!

K - Kids:  5 crazies:  Carter (13), Caleb (10), Elijah (7), Hannah (5), Addison (1)



L - Live:  Michigan

M - Mom's Name: Barb

N - Nickname: Tam, Mat or Mattie.

O - Overnight Hospital Stays: Well, 5- one with each kid, one stay for a uterine infection after Hannah, 10 days last year when I was sick and one stay when I was 5 and had my tonsils out (I couldn't get rid of strep so they operated on me while infected so I had to stay longer).

P - Pet Peeve:  People who try to talk really tough and loud, especially in public just to get attention.

Q - Quote from a Movie:  "Merry Christmas Bedford Falls!" -my favorite movie :0)





R - Right or Left Handed:  Right

S - Siblings:  1 older brother and 1 younger brother

T - Time you Wake Up:  I've always wanted to be an early riser... for me that means 7am!  That IS early for me.

U - Underwear:  Umm... not sure what I'm suppose to answer for that... yes, I wear them!

V - Vegetable you Dislike:  Are beets considered a vegetable?  Don't like those but I like most.

W - What Makes you Late:  The 5 kids listed above

X - Xrays you've Had Done:  Broken arm/wrist

Y - Yummy Food you Make:  I make a killer broccoli cheese soup and homemade bread and lots of gooey desserts.

Z - Zoo Animal Favorite: ??? I do like the bears if they are active and the monkeys are pretty funny.




Monday, March 21, 2011

Busy Mom's Guide to Prayer Review

   I recently picked up Lisa Whelchel's (remember Blaire from The Facts of Life?) book Busy Mom's Guide to Prayer from Amazon.  I find it hard to organize my prayers and over the years I've tried many different things.  I've often done a prayer journal but then I would tend to journal long about life which is nice but took a lot of time.  If I didn't have time I would find myself not praying besides these little things here and there.

  I am actually all about practicing God's presence and walking and talking with Him at all times but what I found myself missing and longing for was praying for those continual long term needs.  I was great with a friend in need or the kids fighting an illness but longed for time (and a memory) to pray for their future spouses, our governor, our Sunday School teachers etc.  I wasn't sure this book would help but I figured it was worth a try.

  Well, I love it!  It has 20 days and each day has six focuses.  Praise, Self, Husband, Children, Personal Influences and Reaching Beyond.  On each page she has a focus, a Scripture reading and a simple prayer.  I simply read through it and continue the prayer with personal thoughts, needs or thank yous.  There is room for you to write extras and I'm sure everyone uses this differently.  For me, I put general topics like our siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, Aunts and Uncles etc.  The thought behind the book is when you finish, you simply start back over. You can never pray too much for our country or your church leaders,  your husband and children!  This book really helps me get started when I don't have enough brain cells to think straight.  Once I'm started I can continue.  Sometimes the starting is the worst!

  The other thing I love is her written prayers so far have hit right on the spot.  I couldn't have said it better.  It seems to cover exactly what I am thinking.  I will be using this book for many years.  I hope to have it worn and tattered from the praying through it.  Don't let the idea of six focuses scare you away.  Honestly, some days I am fast and through it quickly, like 10 minutes. Other days, when I have the time and quiet, I sit for quite awhile.  Regardless, it gets me started and if I happen to not start until I have children running around making noise, it helps me stay focused.

Really a great tool for any mom.  Check it out.
Oh, I saw she has one coming out for Grandma's soon.  What a great gift to give to the Grandmas in our lives.


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Friday, March 18, 2011

"Lazy" Day

  Today (Thursday) I felt like a totally lazy lady.  I was beating myself up when I thought about all I had done this day and realized maybe I wasn't so lazy.  Here is my lazy day...

- I woke at 6am to the blare of our smoke alarm.  Paul was making his breakfast and swears the pan wasn't even smoking but thanks to our over protective smoke alarms they went blaring.  I jumped up and took a good 30 seconds to figure out what the heck was beeping.  I was so confused!!  Since I didn't go to bed until well after 12 I decided to go back to sleep even though I was wide awake.

- I tossed and turned and answered some questions from my two older boys and had the craziest dreams from 6:30-9 and finally decided to get up.  When I did I realized I had quite a headache and felt exhausted.  I figured it would wear off as I got moving but it didn't.  Not sure if it's blood pressure or fighting some kind of yuck but it's made for a long day!

- I got up and went right in to get 1yo Addison who was singing in her crib!  I intentionally woke sleeping beauty (Miss Hannah) and changed little girl's diaper.  I then went into the kitchen and got Addie milk and held her while teaching Caleb how to make smoothies for everyone.

- They sat to eat while I turned on CNN Student News for the morning.  I puttered in the kitchen and thought about the day ahead while I listened and then we talked through the discussion questions.  That somehow led to the fire alarm this morning so we reviewed what to do in case of a fire and I was relieved to hear at least one boy woke to the alarm.  I've read that many kids sleep through them!  After that we pulled up some pics of the river in Chicago all dyed green.

- After breakfast I informed them we were going to get the house in order after a week of enjoying warm (40 degree) temps and being outside all the time.  I assigned some chores, taught some chores and DID some chores over the next hour or so.  I then learned the toothache of Carter's is probably a sinus infection as he bent over to clean the tub and hollered the whole side of his face hurt when he bent over.  I got him some medicine and checked his temp while yelling out "be careful" to Addison who is now enjoying our steps with no gate (yikes!).

- I then yielded several phone calls.  My aunt called to see if I wanted to play racquetball, a friend who had surgery was giving me an update, my friend/piano teacher called to inform me I needed to bring our keyboard because she left her cord at church and we talked about meals as I usually bring them dinner the night of piano but due to some health issues they are trying a new diet (we decided she'd provide the food in her kitchen and I can cook it for her when I come).

- Finally we sat down to read about St. Patrick but first I took two more phone calls, composed an email, talked to Paul at work and turned on "ah bear?" (Pooh Bear) for Addison.  Finally I read and we looked up why we wear green on St. Patricks Day (more an American thing by the way).  The kids got their own lunches while I assured Hannah at age 5 she could indeed spread her own peanut butter on her bread.  I changed a poopy diaper, made me and Addison some lunch, cleaned up Addison who found Hannah's peanut butter knife and open jar on the counter and helped herself, hung some laundry and started two dinners (I'm still bringing a dinner to piano tonight).

- I then pulled out Horton Hears a Who book and read to everyone in anticipation of a musical we'll be seeing this weekend.  I put Addison down for a nap and read another book by an author I'm hoping Carter can meet at an upcoming Writers Workshop.  Then I assigned reading to the 3 boys and Hannah looked through library books.  I chose to be selfish and get dressed! I asked comprehension questions to Elijah and helped him a bit on his words, combed my hair and made homemade taco sauce for tonight's dinners.

- THEN I brushed my teeth, tweezed my eyebrows (they were REALLY bad), helped Hannah find a billion different cute animal clips on You Tube, slapped on some make-up, remembered I hadn't drank anything yet today (not good, so probably is my blood pressure bothering me!) and beat myself up for being lazy.

- NOW I write this to convince myself I'm not that lazy (not sure it's working) while listening to Hannah tell me about a movie she's bringing to share with her friends.  The boys are cleaning their room (aka Disaster Area!), they've loaded the keyboard in the car, I'm off to finish browning the meat and then to wake sleeping Addison to head to piano.  As I write... it's 3:30pm and I still have half a day to go!!

So why do I feel so lazy?  I don't know!  None of our "official" school was done and there was no order or structure to the day at all!  I let the girls sleep way to late which means they won't want to go to sleep tonight, I didn't drink my water, I didn't exercise, I didn't read my Bible or pray (besides a few cries for help) and I still want to crawl back into bed!  It's just one of those days!

I know I will really miss these days when all my kiddos are big and grown.  Right now I'm trying to imagine what it would really be like to sit still and relax for a whole day... heck, a whole hour!  I can't even wrap my brain around that!  However,  there is no other job I'd rather be doing even if it is day after day and all 24 hours!  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Elijah

  Last but certainly not least!  Elijah's poem.

Energetic
Loving
Inventive
Jumping
Awesome
Happy

  Again, totally Elijah!!  He has been the Energizer Bunny since he was 1 and he tells me he Loves me a million times a day!  He loves to make up games and stories and in any weather it's possible he is Jumping on the trampoline (which is so appropriate because as a baby/toddler he LOVED Tigger!).  Of course, he's my guy, so he's Awesome and he really is a Happy person.  Elijah is also my hardest kid to parent.  He has very little self-control and I never know what's going to come out of this kids mouth.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and is hurt easily by other's words or actions.  He also is a great encourager of others and loves to provide comfort to anyone hurting.  Here's Eli the french fry in pictures...


He LOVES babies and frequently asks me when we'll have another.


He was our walking jack o' lantern for Halloween!


LOVES these brothers!!!


Best snuggler of all!

   One of my favorite funny stories about E is when he went to his buddy Caleb's house for one of his first overnights.  Caleb has a brother named Elijah and so when they headed to their house Caleb's mom asked if he had a nickname so they could know who she was calling.  Well, the kid goes by E or Eli or Elijah so any of those would do but instead, without missing a beat he says, "You can just call me Fred."  And they did!  And still do!  I have no idea where that ever came from.  That's Elijah for you.  As an onlooker he'll have you in stitches, as his mom... it may be more like tears depending on the day! 

 He's learning a lot and has such a loving heart. He really has been my easiest kid to teach how to read which surprised me since he is so wild.  He had to write a paper the other day about himself in a different time period. We could all barely breathe we laughed so hard from his story.  His brothers wanted to be alive during Viking times or fight in WWII but not Elijah.  He wanted to live in the Middle Ages and be a king with many  MANY servants and a pet dragon!

Lately he is just drinking in Scripture and his teachings from Sunday School.  I don't know what he will become yet.  He's not as clear cut as the other boys.  Maybe a missionary in the middle of the jungle or something crazy like that. Whatever he does he will do it well and be the funniest partner you've ever had!
  Oy I love this kid!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mom and Toddler Workout

  I pulled out this DVD I bought for me and Hannah right before I got pregnant with Addison to try today.  Instead of using it with Hannah like I had planned when I bought it, Addison was my toddler partner!  It's called Mom and Toddler Fitness and Addison loved it!  It's for children 16 months and up, with older children encouraged to work out with you/next to you.  Hannah (5) enjoyed watching and doing some of the exercises with us and next time I may encourage her to grab a stuffed animal as her "toddler".

  You use your toddler for weight (for me that's 24 pounds of giggling girl) and you fly them like air planes, curl them like logs and squat and lunge while you cuddle them.  Is it hard?  YUP!  My tush and legs were killing and I think they will be screaming tomorrow.  After most exercises she would turn to me and sign and say, "more more".  What's really nice is they show/tell you the exercise and then you can focus on doing it with your toddler.  A little bell rings which tells you it's time to tune in again and find out the next exercise.  It moved fast enough that she never cried when we didn't do "more" because we moved on to something else fun.  It was about 35 minutes and I would say more toning than aerobic but you did really get huffing and puffing sometimes.  It was a nice mix of doing things with your toddler and doing things BY your toddler.  Let's face it, there's no way your going to convince a 1yo to do what you want and have fun doing it for 35 minutes!

   As a mom of many I often feel like Addison gets lots of attention from everyone but not a lot of focused time with me.  She's always with me, but I'm often holding her while I explain math or entertaining her while the boys are at basketball or piano.  I wasn't sure I'd like doing the workout but I felt very connected with her for the rest of the day.  And as an extra bonus, working out is a lot more fun when a cute toddler is giggling and laughing with you (or was it AT me??)... either way, a definite thumbs up from me!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New/Old Friends

   So what do my shy, quiet, under socialized children do when they meet new people???



Our old friends we haven't seen in FOREVER came over to hang out and have dinner.  Our kids had never met, in fact both families were not even sure of the other kids names!  Did it matter?  Nope!  We picked up like no time lost, their boys took off with ours and our girls decided "Miss Carie" was the greatest!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hannah

 Continuing slowly but surely on our poems.  Here's Miss Hannah...

Happy
Amazing
Nurturing
Nice
Adorable
Horses

  Horses?  Yup, horses.  Hannah LOVES horses.  Her favorite stuffed animal is Patriot the horse along with a million other horses!  She is ALWAYS happy which is Amazing!!  Adorable is pretty self explanatory and Nurturing is the best word for this girl.  She loves to help take care of people and serve them.  Today she made her brothers a "mix" of nuts and raisins and brought them down to their room so they could keep playing Legos and have a snack.  When Daddy was sick a month ago and throwing up, she went in the bathroom and rubbed his back while he hung over the toilet! ( Daddy told her thank you but she didn't have to stay.)  She is really that sweet and loving.  As a big sister she is starting to realize how much she can manipulate teach her baby sister and that is pretty funny to watch!  This little girl can have anyone wrapped around her finger in less than 10 minutes flat!  She's pretty awesome!  Hannah in pictures...


Always up for an adventure with her brothers!



Like any girl... she loves the camera!


This is one of her favorite people she has wrapped around her finger!  Hee Hee!

Hannah was my first girl after three boys and I can remember my second day home with her, I walked into our living room and saw a pink blanket and thought- huh, who left their blanket here??  I was not use to seeing any pink in my house!  Well, that has surely changed!  She is all girl, pink is everywhere and I love it!  She told me the other day, "Mama, it won't be long and I'll be grown up and gone."  I bout cried :0(  I told her I certainly hoped not and she reassured me she would be just down the street and she would come help me cook everyday because, as she will tell you and any stranger she meets, "I never let my Mama cook alone." She very much wants to understand God and His love and has asked some pretty funny and amazing questions at times. I can't wait to see where the Lord leads her as she grows.  As much as she talks, we'll all know every detail about it when He does. And as fast and as giggly as she talks, you'll be lucky to understand her!
 Love you Hannie Max :0)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mommy Tip

  Waiting at the doctor's office is never fun but when they call you back to the room and then you have no books or magazines the wait can seem like forever for Mom and kids!  I know you could plan ahead and bring toys and books but lets face it, generally you're going because you have a pretty sick kid and you're half out of you mind anyways!

  Here's my little trick I came up with years ago.  Pull a pen or pencil out of your purse and let the kids have a ball drawing all over the exam table paper.  They have to roll out new for every patient so they're going to throw it away anyways, might as well make it pretty while you wait.  We've practiced letters and drew pretty pictures but what always makes me smile is when they choose to trace their hand.  When they are really little, too little to draw themselves but are starting to lose it from waiting, I would trace their hands to entertain them.  My children hardly ever trace their hands when coloring at home but almost every time they draw at the doctor, a hand print shows up!  Cute.




Next time you're waiting give it a try... but once you've done it once, don't EVER forget to have a pen in your purse, you'll be sorry!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wandering Toddlers

  Every mom knows the scare of silence.  When you have a 20 month old and they are happily wandering around your house and then it is quiet... if you are wise, a deep sense of terror should run down your spine as your feet RUN to go find out what kind of trouble they have gotten into!

  On this lovely day I was enjoying conversation with my girlfriend on the phone when I told her I better go because I suddenly couldn't find my toddler.  As I was getting ready to hang up I found her and let out a gasp and then a laugh saying, "Addison!  Oh, Addie!  No no no no no!"  After telling my girlfriend what I found she insisted I take pictures because it was definitely blogging material!  So this is how I found Miss Addie...


What is it you ask?  Why it is my MASCARA that she was trying to put on like lipstick!!



I asked her if she was so pretty and she shakes her little head and says, "yeah!"  How can they be so cute even when they cause such trouble?  I'm not sure, but I am sure either the bathroom door now stays closed or the make-up finds a new home ;0)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No Sugar No Caffeine

   I'm waiting for final talks with my heart doctor but he's leaning towards thinking I have some issues with my nervous system, something called Dysautonomia.  We're not 100% there yet but I do seem to fall under that umbrella and most of the things to help it are lifestyle changes that are good for us but not always fun or easy.  One thing is lots of water and fluids (good for all), extra salt (not good for all but quite yummy for me), daily aerobic exercise (not so fun but doable) no caffeine (including decaf products-WHAT!) and no sugar (are you CRAZY?).

  So I completely freaked out and refused to give up my treats calmly decided to tackle these things and see if I noticed a difference.  The water and salt I was already told to do and all the rest can't hurt anything.  Before you decide this shouldn't be too big of a deal I have to tell you even my 5yo knows my "happy place" is at Biggby Coffee.  My favorite Christmas gift was my gift card there.  AND one of my favorite hobbies is baking... and eating the sweets I baked!

   I got some advice from a friend who has done no sugar and I again freaked out and told her no way  decided I could do this one day at a time.  I can promise nothing but today.  As I write this I'm on day four and I even enjoyed survived a trip to a coffee house without coffee or sweets.  I do feel pretty good but I am realizing I was really addicted to sugar!  I never knew that but wow!  I ate sugar often, more than I ever realized. And after every evening meal my mouth was not happy without something sweet.  Stopping wasn't as hard as I thought.  Actually eating a small amount of sugar for me is harder than none.  I will at times splurge I'm sure but because of how gross I felt the first few days I will think long and hard before I dig in.

   The coffee I thought would be really hard but I knew even the decaf affected me so I should try.  Then a lovely mom from basketball told me about this coffee substitute called Roma.  You can get it at some grocery stores and most health food stores.  It's actually a roasted grain and you use it like instant coffee.  I was desperate and tried and it is REALLY good!  It tastes like a weak coffee and if I add it right to warm milk it tastes just like a latte!  If you put them side by side you could probably tell but honest you'd have to really thing about it.  I'M SO HAPPY!  It has almost no calories and instead of subtracting my fluid because of the caffeine it's adding to my intake!  So I may not be able to have my cake and eat it too but I can have my "coffee" and drink it too!

  Now I must say I am not overweight but who wouldn't love to drop a few pounds?  If I don't and I gave up all my yummy stuff I will be so flipping mad will still be glad I made some new healthy lifestyle changes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Suffering and Guilt

I am part of an online support group and we often have some deep discussions.  One friend was sharing her frustration with some homeschool mommy guilt and struggling to understand the suffering her family was dealing with over the last year.  I responded back and then thought it might be nice to share with all of you.  So here was my mini "sermon" for her.  Hope it blesses you somehow today :0)


--Leslie, this may be sporadic here, I need to go grab the baby who slept blessedly late today! I wanted to share a couple quick thoughts. I was VERY ill for 3 months last year and at times unable to care for my children in any way. I too questioned what we were suppose to be learning and prayed we'd learn it fast so we could move out of the chaos. It wasn't fast. We are still tying up loose ends to my physical issues. It was really hard. BUT we learned a LOT. When you said you're trying to see the purpose, trying to understand... here's what we learned. 

As someone is sick and others serve them, your children learn the meaning of being the hands and feet of Christ in a way they normally never would. 

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come SO THAT your faith, OF GREATER WORTH THAN GOLD (and greater worth than math and history I might add), which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise , glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

1 Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong and firm and steadfast. 

2 Corinthians 1:4-5  He comforts us in all our troubles SO THAT we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 

Galatians 6:4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else. 

Hosea 6:6 I want you to show love not offer sacrifices, I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. 

I was listening to Diana Waring last night and she shared that we homeschool and do the things we do, not because we are so clever and smart but because God revealed this way to us. He showed us. This way of leading and teaching our children may often look foolish to man but to a person who knows the Creator mans "wisdom" is nothing.  Most Christian homeschoolers do what they do because of a calling they received from God.  That was true for us, even though we didn't fully understand why, we knew He was clearly calling us to this journey. It's hard to remember that sometimes.
One last thing and I'll end my sermon. When I was sick my mom got me a wonderful DVD by Louie Giglio. It was about suffering and something he shared was so true and really helped me through the time of testing that was at hand. He said that when we suffer it is like God has handed us a megaphone to speak to the world. When you suffer, your actions and words speak very loud. For example I could preach to you forgiveness and what you should do blah blah, BUT, if I shared about forgiveness and then told you (this is a story not real so don't freak) if I told you my 4yo daughter was killed in front of me in my own front yard by a drunk driver and not only did I forgive him, I love him and want to help him and I walk the young man out on stage and we cry together... that is a megaphone!  Suffering sucks. There is not a pretty word to put on it. I didn't like my suffering. I never want to do it EVER again, but as always, God's words are true. My compassion for others is much bigger, I was shown God in ways I never knew. Mainly he taught me to take His Word seriously- all His words but in particular these... 

-LOVE the Lord your God with ALL your heart and soul and strength and LOVE your neighbor as yourself 
-I want you to show LOVE not offer sacrifices 

I did and still do sometimes slip back into doing things "for God" and knocking myself out and every once in awhile He whispers, "Hey you, remember... I want your LOVE! I want you to show LOVE. What your stressing over now is not important to me! How are you showing MY LOVE??" 

And guess what, love is so simple! It's also quite fun! If your kids learn to love God most and then love others, it doesn't matter what they do they will be successful. 

K, I'm done with my sermon now...  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Volunteering

   I've always wanted to find a volunteering opportunity for our family to do.  I want to teach my kids the world is not just about them or us.  I want them to not only see needs but look for ways to help end those needs.

   Having such a wide age group makes this very difficult!  Our church does a day volunteering once or twice a year.  We call it "Church has left the building" and we go out on a Sunday morning and serve others all over the city.  Our family usually chooses to do the road side clean-up because it's something we can all do.  I often have a baby on my back in the Ergo!  BUT, I really don't want to clean up road sides ALL year long!  I looked into some food programs but they don't like littles in tow and because of my husband's job there are a few things out of the question for us (those who know us will understand that).

   Enter in Miss Dawn :0)  I've known Dawn for many years and her firstborn is the same age as Caleb.  We were pregnant together and were part of the most awesome mommy group ever at our church!  Because of church changes and kids growing up (darn it) we don't all see each other as much as we'd like, but Dawn and I usually meet up for coffee every couple months and play catch up.  During one of these times she was sharing that she really liked her new job working at one of the elementary schools in their library.  Unfortunately this area that was once well off is not anymore.  General Motors closed down the factory in that town and it's been all downhill since then.  They are under funded and lacking in many areas.  One area is parent participation.  The families there are often not traditional families.  Many single parents or even grandparents or relatives raising children and that leaves the school without many parent volunteers. Why does this matter?  Well often schools count on volunteers to help in the "media center" and Miss Dawn is not getting much help!!  She has classes coming in and out and she's reading to them and helping them check out books pretty much all of the time she's working.  Guess what that means?  No time to shelve books, clean tables, sort through and bar code new books, get rid of old books etc.

   So guess what we are doing??  Kind of a weird volunteer idea for a homeschool family huh?  We are going to Miss Dawn's elementary school once a week and helping her sort and shelve books, wipe tables and anything else she needs.  I take the 3 older boys and Paul stays home with the younger girls.  As the girls get older they'll join us I'm sure.  The bonus is they are learning the ol' Dewey Decimal System and getting practice alphabetizing and putting things in numerical order.  Doesn't sound like a big deal but when you're 7 & 10 that really gets you thinking.  It's also kind of funny watching my boys take in a school setting.  They really have never seen school "in action".  They've been in schools but not during school hours.  So they hear announcements, see kids sitting in desks or on the floor around their teacher and they hear what's expected of them as the classes come in and out of the library. It's brought up some interesting conversations on the ride home for sure.  And even though it is a school filled with teachers who want the best for "their" kids it makes me more thankful for the freedom and opportunity to homeschool every time I go.

   One funny thing in all of this is it's the school district my husband and I grew up in.  Back in the good ol' days it was a great district people wanted to be part of and we were all very competitive.  The elementary schools against each other and then the two rival high schools.  In fact Miss Dawn's husband works at our rival high school so sometimes it's hard to be her friend!  LOL!  And Paul said, "I can't believe you're volunteering THERE!"  See, he went to East and we are at West.  As 8 year olds you can guess how that went right?  "East is the least and West is the beeeessst"!  Now poor East has been torn down (maybe it was the least! Ha!).  I went to one of the other elementary schools in the area but they all look about the same!  It's been fun.  Dawn plans on snagging the boys into reading to some of the classes which I think is great... the boys aren't so sure about that!  She keeps us busy and our goal is to do it well but fast enough we can grin at her and say, "What else?".  So far that hasn't happened. But... one day it will we are just sure of it!

What simple needs are there in your community or the ones around you?  How can YOU help?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Healthy Eating Update 2

   Ok, so yeah... it's not going so well over here!  We are making healthier choices but the all or nothing idea is not really working out.  Some days I just don't have the time or energy and then I get crabby and cranky.  So we are pulling out of our own challenge.  We are still trying to make as many "green light" choices as we possibly can BUT I am also accepting reality here for us. We eat quite healthy and I'm proud of that.  I also know we need balance and that sometimes means store bought bread and Aldi jelly!

 On my behalf I have re-written a Proverb to make myself feel better... maybe it will remove some of your mommy guilt as well.

Proverbs 15:17 Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.


Tami's Proverb...  
Better a meal of hot dogs and joy than an organic veggie delight with a stressed out cranky mom.  


Can I hear an Amen?
Have a great weekend!




Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Floor Finally

So who knew watching a floor being installed could be so entertaining?


It's finally in and looks lovely!  Here's a few pics...



Last but not least... here it is!


I don't know why it's kind of blurry...my phone wasn't happy for some reason.  Anyways, it's very nice to not trip over floor tiles and have all the dirt gone!  It's not a lot different which is good because, like I said, I liked my old floor!  They went down several layers and the original flooring was so lovely- orange, green and yellow!  Awesome!  Now the funny thing is Paul feels great and I'm exhausted.  The whole time it's going on he's super stressed and I am trying to put all my energy into keeping positive and encouraging him it's not that bad and it will all be OK.  Now I'm exhausted from all of that and he's relaxed.  That's our normal routine with home improvements!  We did get to surprise him when he came home from work which was fun.  Not only was the floor done but the boys put all the baseboards back up and Hannah wiped them clean (Elijah brought them all up for the two older one's to pound in- a true team effort).  Daddy was thrilled not to have to mess with it all.  The only bad that came out of it was now I noticed how horribly dirty and in need of a paint job my baseboards are!  Oh well, another day!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our New Floor...Sorta

Are you ready for the big reveal???



Yeah, well, we ran into a bit of a snag so as I type tonight I have mud stuff drying on my new sub-floor but no pretty new vinyl down.  Remember my concern of no kitchen with 5 kids??


Since my stove has no gas and the refrigerator is resting against my couch... tonight was a pizza night!  And lunch you may ask??  Pop Tarts... so healthy.  So tomorrow we rescheduled some plans with friends so we can be home and let them lay our new floor.  Maybe tomorrow I'll show you my new floor, if we're so lucky to have one!  By the way I'm really not complaining here.  It took longer because they are doing it RIGHT so I'll take a one day delay!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Floor!!

    Today is the day!!  My old floor in the kitchen is getting replaced!  We had vinyl laid when we first moved in and the company that did it did a HORRIBLE job.  They didn't level our floor and it wore with this huge lump in it.  We called them back many times but they never officially replaced it.  So years back we just covered it with peel and stick type tiles.  I actually liked the look but over the years they have slowly separated and started lifting.  In the last year it's gotten worse and worse to the point I actually taped a corner down I kept tripping over!  Notice all the lovely dirt stuck in the cracks too?  Ewwww!



And the 1yo's favorite past time is peeling them up! One day she discovered she could and now anytime she trips over a corner it reminds her of it again! 



   I tried to convince dear husband we (meaning he- and a friend) could do it ourselves and save lots of $ but when we got the flooring for such a steal he decided we could pay to have it done and still be in the budget we were looking for.  I'm not really thrilled we need to have it done.  I kind of like my floor, if it would just stay where it's suppose to!  When we went in they asked what we were looking for and I told them our cabinets were black so probably something with grays or blacks mixed in but my #1 concern was that it hid dirt!  Yup that's all!  I just don't want to spend every spare moment scrubbing my floor! Now I'm kind of excited.  To walk on  my floor and not feel all the cracks and grooves!  To sweep and have it actually clean instead of all the dirt stuck in the cracks!!  I can't even imagine! And now I can use my handy dandy steam mop and it might work instead of just making steamed mud in all the cracks!  Woo hoo!

   I'm curious how many layers of flooring we have and what they find when they pull it all up.  In the summer when it's humid, no matter how well I clean, my house smells...old.  It just has a musty old house smell.  I thought it was old carpet on the steps but that is out and it still gets the smell.  I'm hoping it will look pretty and smell clean!  Wouldn't that be lovely!

  So here's my before.  


I'll post my "after" tomorrow.  Now I just hope it doesn't take all day because I won't have a kitchen to provide food for 5 kids for awhile!  5 kids get loud when they are hungry!
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