Tuesday, September 24, 2013


What is it that is so interesting and lovable about a good old steam train? And as lovable as Thomas and his friends are, I'm sure the Reverend was just making use of an interest that already existed for children in the formative toddler years.

In any case, in our family steam trains have held the interest of our toddlers regardless of their gender, though typically the boys are more obsessed for longer. 

We've taken the kids on the new electric trains, and it's cool but not as fulfilling as we had hoped. In the town where we live the trains are still older, not steam but at least not space age looking. 

We drive right next to some tracks every day to pick up the preschooler. Some days the itch to see a train or drive over the tracks is just too great and the two youngest are clear and persistent in their burning desire. 

After parenting these two for years I have it pretty well figured out when they are STUCK on an idea and since the most likely collateral damage was a bit extra in gas we turned right instead of left. We wove back and forth each block west following the rail line and driving across it only to return to it's crossing a block later.

And I smiled.

Their excitement at each crossing as our van bumped over the rails was the stuff that contented sighs are made out of. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Everyone has just enough of a cold to make me exhausted, since I'm feeling it too. So we kept the kids out of school today. I am writing because I need to note today's successes.
4 loads of laundry folded and put away.
practiced sight words with the kindergartener
taught the 9 year old (again) the correct way to form her b and d's, next up f
9 year old finished a book
2 year old and 5 year old took a nap
4 year old helped fold laundry
I made pancakes for second breakfast (what's that? when the kids get up at 7 with Dad and eat cereal only to be sent back to bed because they are all coughing, and when I get up at 9 after being up all night with the two year old, I make pancakes for everyone)
renewed the library books
practiced writing "e" (with the four year old who writes them as backward g's) and other letters in her name
identified the letters the 5 year old didn't know
read books with the two year old
read tandem with 5 year old
practiced shape identification with 4 year old
said yes (this is a big one folks, it just is)
helped the 9 year old finally put together the butterfly garden she got in June for her birthday
9 year old practiced piano
I made arrangements for supplemental help at tonight's youth activity
No TV has been watched (1 movie by the 5 year old before everyone else woke up)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grouchy Lady Bugs

Today Nev brought home an Eric Carslile book from school. We read it together and she wanted to make a ladybug like Giddy and I did yesterday. ( we made a bee and a lady bug)
So we went at it from the angle on the front of the book. Ripping paper for grass, punching circles out, cutting heads bodies and undersides, and pipe cleaner and black cord for legs and antennae, respectively. I love how they turned out and it was fun to watch them work. At one point Giddy left and started walking off with the paint water, I had just refilled it and figured he thought he needed water since it was clean he couldn't see it? Er something. He kept saying something but as I had no context I couldn't understand until he showed me. 
A frog. 
Whaaat? How did that get in the house? I mean there are a TON of them outside but I'm always surprised at where we find them in the house. Come to find out when he was walking off with the paint water he was saying "wog" aka "frog."  Nev caught it after it jumped out of the paint cup. We took it outside, they each got to hold it before letting it go "home."
And back to our lady bugs. Nev made hers the sweet lady bug and Giddy said his was the grouchy one. 
They turned out so cute and the kids stayed on task well. Nev ended up drawing "names" in white on her lady bug 's back after I took the pic of her with hers. The white lines "are its bones-es" and he needed 8 legs because that's the way she drew it in white pencil. Duh Mom. :) Nev is pretty awesome with scissors now as she's had a lot of practice the last few months. 

She also presented me with another drawing and asked me if I could color it for her like I did her other one. See link for the other one. 
I'm looking forward to it. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Things I thought of while my child screamed all through check out...

To the two grandma age women who really should have been encouraging: First off I had the shopping isle right of way, so don't glare at me when you almost run into my cart with the child hanging off the front of it. I am doing the best I can, you of all people should appreciate that, or has it been too long since you cared for a little being? Or perhaps you are still bitter life dealt you a card you didn't like. If so, I am sorry on both accounts. Smile, your life will increase in sunshine, especially if you are the ones to smile first. 

To the grandpa age man who offered me a spot in front of him in line, just to get the check out over with faster: Thank you. It's too bad, (for everyone) that I couldn't take you up on your offer since the line I was in was really going to be faster. Your thoughtfulness is recorded in heaven and my heart.

To the young couple with the three month old boy: It's not always like this. Sometimes it is better, sometimes it is worse. That's okay, because when I get home and put the little boy who cried himself to sleep in his bed for a nap, I will look on his angel face and wonder what I did to deserve charge of such a cherished child of God. Seriously. It's amazing how quickly a sentiment can change when they are sleeping. Though it might sound crazy, I'd take that shopping trip again.

Here's why:

*The old man who smiled at me and the children in the prescription line, because yes, they are cute, and yes, I am a good Mom, thank you for noticing.

*Because that two year old was so excited to pick and count tomatoes and apples with me and I know that these moments matter when he's looking at me wondering where to go from #4 before he drops the imperfect tomato he could reach into the bag.

*And when we stop to pick out underwear with the 4 year old who will look at all the options but still know exactly what she wants (Hello Kitty) because she is confident and her very own unique personality, I can be happy because I was a big part of that.

*And it's because when the two of them are picking out juice they think about what flavors their siblings will like. It's because I am working to raise individuals who care about others who can reach outside of their own sense of entitlement that is so rampant today.

*It's the little girl who could tell Mommy was worn out but really wanted the princess squinkie on the horse. She knew she could use her hard earned allowance to buy it, and also knew she'd not been the cause of Mommy's stress and so she gave me her best puppy-dog-eyes and-fist-clasped-pleading and then accepted it when Mom said, "no," (I later changed my mind because I was able to translate what "my lowance" meant).

So if I seem distant or unconcerned, cold or uncaring while my two year old cried the entire 30 minute checkout... (Note to self: never shop on a Tuesday again), it's because I care SO much, I'm not giving up. I'm fighting this battle against everyone who tells me mothering is a waste of time, against every Time Magazine Article that says a life with out children is "having it all," against every cocktail carrying woman who looks down at my newborn in the stroller and says "Why would you have a baby?" against, everyone who says, "you are too young to have kids," or "# that's enough," or "you have your hands full" or that "children ruin your body" etc. I'm fighting against the women who say I am throwing away my college education by choosing to be a stay at home mom. I'm fighting against everyone who says family doesn't matter, or that it can be modified to mean something other than what God intended.

I'm fighting for the four little people who are growing and changing faster than I could have ever imagined. I'm fighting for their lives, their happiness, their essence and their destiny. I'm fighting for my family. I'm fighting for all the young women out there who understand how important it is to be a mother, or who are even interested in trying to understand. I'm fighting for the future.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Little toes 
push into my knees
His body is long
It unraveled overnight,
It seems.
His softness fades slowly
As I cherish the moment 
His even breath 
And arms around my neck
His persistence has worn me down 
But I can still smile 
as I listen to him sleep
It sounds the same 
as when he nuzzled at my breast 
Years ago now.
Tomorrow he will be longer still 
his cherub flesh stretching
Into boy.

Monday, July 29, 2013

I don't know why he swallowed the marble, perhaps he'll die.

But I sincerely doubt it and yes, I'm laughing about it now, why wait? The kids are so I'm joining in. 

I was cleaning up lunch and turn around to Z with a traumatized look on his face. What's the matter?
He starts to cry, "I swallowed a marble."
"What? A marble? Why? Really? Where is it?"
"I swallowed it, it's gone."
"Where was it?"
"On the floor."
"And it jumped into your mouth?"
"No. Well it slipped."
"How did you swallow a marble?"
"It slipped into my mouth."
"Why was it in your mouth? Just tell me the truth."
"It wasn't."
"Huh? What happened?" 
"I fell on the floor and it slipped into my mouth, it hit here (roof of his mouth) and then went in."
"Do you feel it now?"
"Well I guess you are going to poop a marble."

From the bathroom we hear a squeaky toy squeak. Giddy is washing his hands. 
"What was that?"-o
"The marble burping." -z 
And now it's a big joke about sucking the marble out of him.  Nev is singing about swallowing a marble. He and Olea are running around. He burps and says, my marble just burped. 
I pick up my iPod to journal the anomaly and he says, " Mom please don't call the doctors! Look I'm fine!"

Nev is doing a stand up comedy routine about swallowing a marble.

Real life. You can't make this stuff up. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reusing toddler paintings

My kids have a sweet easel which they use love and abuse.
 I am happy to provide water, paper and new watercolors etc on occasion. 
And because I was a born and raised saver I like to use things to their fullest extent. So when we've appreciated a painting long enough it goes into the re-use phase. 
 I like to use their random paintings because most often at the ages 2-4 they are quite lovely color washes. I hand them scraps of card stock and then later use them to make greeting cards, or cut up their work to use on bag toppers or other crafts. 
We use the large paintings as wrapping paper etc. 

My mother in law showed us how to make crafty 3-D flowers. They kids enjoyed it a lot. However, flowers in nature aren't perfect and I don't have those scalloped dye cuts but I do have little hands that are learning to use scissors so on occasion I have set them to work cutting circles with those fancy pattern scissors.
I then have them arrange their circle-ish shapes in order of size and have them select graduating sizes. 
At least 4. I poke a hole in them all and they put a brad through. 
They crumple them up and then open it back up.
They usually do a few of these and then go on to another project and I save their circles and flowers for when I want to embellish something. 
I also ready their easel with new paper and card stock for the next time they get a hankering to paint. Which I hope is soon because I need more card stock color washes for cards. :)

We both win. They get to practice cutting and sorting and fine motor. I get to reuse their art and pass the pretty along. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

El Galeon and Andrea

We came up to St. Augustine with Gary for work so we could go to El Galeon together. It was too late last night after travel and work to go on it so we looked at it on the bridge and watched the drawbridge go up and down in front of us. 
We saw dolphins in the intercostal and ate dinner, watched a magic show walked the shops, a confection store, etc. I picked up some macaroons, a new favorite. 
This morning we checked out of the hotel after the power flickered a little and went to get tickets for El Galeon, but they weren't doing tours today because of the tropical storm. Gary and I were so disappointed. But here's the good news: the ship is docked til the 23rd. Still bummed but at least we'll have another opportunity, potentially. So we tailed along as Gary visited clients. Yay for a portable DVD player and a creative mom making Simon says style silent faces etc while Gary was on the phone. Gary decided to visit clients further north and hope for potential weather improvement to see El Galeon on the way home. 

We rode a car ferry, and got out of the van in the poring rain to let the kids enjoy the ferry to the fullest. :) Our change for the ferry was 4 water logged bills. 
We stopped to see a container barge while Gary booked a hotel. We discovered that Gary was missing his AAA card and we spent some time searching for it. He was bemoaning the fact that Giddy had probably lost it while playing with his wallet a few days ago. I called for a new card, punched the hotel in the GPS and we were merrily on our way again. 

We were driving along a costal road and I commented, "Instead of going home you are taking us storm chasing following the tropical storm Andrea north." He said, "it is on the other side of the state," "ya, but it's got to cross the state sometime, and there's the arms..."
We continue driving and see debris scattered and garbage cans upturned and things generally out of order. People are out inspecting stuff. Further along shingles ruffled and missing and then a deck in pieces smashed up against a palm tree etc.  We pull over and ask someone and they said it was a tornado that passed through just about ten to fifteen minutes ago. Our hotel is just up the road so we continue on and then I notice power lines down across the road and Gary stops because the road is blocked by police, we ask a volunteer for the best route around the downed power lines and turn around. 

As we take the detour I realize the time we spent looking for Gary's AAA card potentially was just enough time to save us from diving through that tornado. Call it coincidence if you want, but I'm calling it one of the Lord's Tender mercies. 

As we come on the east stretch toward the hotel you can tell the tornado ripped down that street, limbs and branches down. Awesome. It's still windy seems to be calming but we're bunked out in a costal hotel on San Fernandina Beach. 

Life is such an adventure. I'll Add some pictures later.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Bear and his Boy

 When Giddy was diagnosed with Wilms Kidney Cancer we were relocated to a small room lined with shelves on one wall, a desk and chair at the end of the thin room and two chairs on either side of a small round end table with a fake plant on it. We sat in the chairs and had time to unthinkingly look at the offering of comfort items a child would be given on diagnosis. When the doctor handed our all boy one year old a sagging stuffed teddy bear, it was not what either of us would have chosen for him, as cute as it was. It sat in the hospital crib with him that time while we did tests and waited for Surgery and healed from surgery, mostly undisturbed.

 I'm not really sure when it happened but at some point he began cuddling with it at night. 

Giddy had pretty good communication and speech by the fall of 2012 (to the point where I understood him better than his sister who was 2 years older, and we put her in speech) so one Sunday afternoon after a nap he and I were cuddling in my bed and chatting the way you do with an 18month old. I introduced him to Surgery Monkey and asked him what his bear was named. To this point we were just calling him Bear. I asked him a few times when he started saying "Dap" every time I asked and I'd repeat it back to him and he'd agree, "ya, ya, Dap." So Dap was named.
About six months later it occurred to me he probably was saying "stop" instead of naming his bear, all the same it stuck. At bed time or nap time he'd wander the house singing Da-ap while looking for him. Or we'd forget and put him to bed without Dap and he'd ask "Where's Dap?"

Recently he has been calling him Dappy. He will croon "Dappy" and snuggle him when he finds him. Sometimes he will find acceptable substitutes, if it is brown and looks like a bear he will cuddle it (when Dap isn't around) they are usually small Beany Babies. Dap goes lots of places with us though, he's even been on a plane and the oldest City in the United States.
Dap is loved at nap time and bed time and often any time in between.

He goes on Renal Doctor visits, and regular ones.

One Sunday he brought him to church and took him to nursery with him. We were all loaded in the van and had driven halfway home at the end of services when I hear Giddy say, "Where's Dappy, at church?"
"We don't have Dap?!" I ask.
He puts his hands up. "Dap at church."
So we turned the van around to get Dappy.Thankfully they didn't lock the toy cupboards like they normally do and we were able to get Dap who had been packed away with all the other toys. That would have been a looooong Dap-less week. 

We have been grateful for Dap and the comfort he brings to this little boy. He is part of a charity that supplies a new stuffed animal to children in emergency situations called Allie's Friends Foundation. Dap is part of the family now. :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Day's End

 and there goes the Day
 jauntily marching out the door
 his laughter wears me
 as a badge, as a blow

 he d’n’t overstay
 ditching his mess upon the floor
 stranded, he’s left me
 there in a silent row

 evidence away
 try, rid the place of his decor         
 there’s a guarantee
 there will always be mo’e

 nothing left to say
 for perpetual is the chore
 and the confetti
 welcome Day, tomorrow

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Red Wagon

We got a red wagon in anticipation of taking the kids to Disney World for the first time.
If you are thinking the same.... don't. Buy it for another reason. About any other reason.

I'll tell you why. The van with 6 people in it can only hold so much. That wagon took up the trunk pretty effectively.

Imagine arriving at the park with 4 excited kids, 8, 5, 3, 2 who had never been, whose minds might literally e  x  p  l  o  d  e in the anticipation and getting that red wagon all loaded up with snacks, rain coats, lunch, sippy cups etc. Hauling the kids up to the Tram in the wagon and being told you can't take your pretty red wagon.

So we'd have to go back to the van, figure out how to carry all our stuff... and thinking ahead to tired feet and tired legs and tired bodies who would want to be carried, who wouldn't want to carry their own coats by wearing them and who would have no care for how much Mom and Dad were carrying already or how badly the bum-wheeled shopping cart messed up Mom's back the day before. All while the kids are asking WHY? and When can we go? and a myriad of other questions; so it makes it nearly impossible for Mom and Dad to think of solutions.

And imagine, because it would totally happen that the 2 year old would start wandering off in between cars and make a game of hiding... and inevitably someone (Dad) would raise his voice and some "concerned citizen" would call DCFS because Mom was hauling a screaming child away from a car door that he was desperately clinging too.

Then imagine that someone (Dad) threatens the kids that if they don't stop asking questions we are going to load back up in the van and go home. Of course they wouldn't stop asking questions and since Mom and Dad still don't have a solution and now are worn out already and are trying to stick to their resolve on following through on "threats".... They load the screamer, the crier and the angry and disbelieving kids in the van and try to then decide if they really go home or if they go buy ANOTHER stroller....

Hope you got a pretty good picture there. I sure did.

Thankfully, I did just imagine all this because Disney World does not allow wagons.

We discovered this the night before we left. Like 11pm.

What a blessing.

Staying up late deciding which to take (Stroller or pram) made for a much better day than if we had showed up at the gates with our shiny, new, red wagon, personalized and everything.

We ended up taking the pram and then for spring break the next week did buy a double/ sit and stand stroller. If Giddy could share the pram would have been great, but he's a super jealous youngest child and it wasn't happening.

The Red Wagon (Part 2)

So here we have this nonreturnable personalized wagon. Which, let's be honest, I've always wanted for my kids. So we let them play with it in the yard, and we go on walks with it.

Sunday evening we went on a walk with it after General Conference.

We turned down a street we never have before. Neither of us brought any electronic devices, and finding ourselves in a dead end had to turn around. By this time the kids were tired and had switched in and out of the wagon walking or riding and Giddy was getting all jealous of Mom holding hands with Dad so the middle two were in the wagon. Olea trailed with us.

I watched the middle two and listened to their laughter as they leaned over the side of the wagon trailing sticks in the white shell-sand road. I soaked in the feeling of Giddy clutching tightly around my neck as I held him on my chest. I wanted a picture, but didn't have one so took a snapshot with my heart.

Life at it's best.

The Red Wagon

Daddy pulls the red wagon 

In a winding path
Creating soft ruts in the fragmented shells
Their two heads jostle 

each on a soft arm resting over the side
Their other arms drag a stick pressed into the ground
Like sparklers in the sandy road
leaving snakelike wiggles behind them for the length of our travel
Giggles at the simple joy peak and die
as they watch the sand spray
and listen to it grind and fall
In harmony with the wagon wheels

She wanders behind
skipping back and forth in the lines
as Daddy pulls the red wagon.

His arms clutch 
warm and squishy 
solid in his resolve 
to hang on
to Mommy
I wrap my arms
snug against him 
creating a seat
hanging on to my hips to anchor it
as I walk with him
carried against me
his sweet curls catch
in my eyes 
his kisses saturate my cheek 
his little hands pat my back
renew and tighten his grip 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bathrooom redo

The half bathroom has always bothered me since we moved in. It is shoddy all around. An access panel was cut and instead of fixing it it was covered with wainscot and then painted with a random color, it was poorly hung and didn't match any other wainscot in the house. And it had floral wallpaper... do I even have to describe why that was ugly, not to mention that it was peeling off. The pedestal sink allowed no storage and the little shelf that was in there was a bit water logged and the kids kept pulling the towels off it and carpeting the tile with them.

The kids pulled the towel rack out of the wall... so that was another beauty mark. The caulking at the bottom of the toilet was done poorly and stained. The mirror backing was peeling off on the bottom and the sink had issues draining.

One day I decided I was serious about fixing it and so I started removing the wallpaper. This said to Gary, "I'm serious and I want it now." But things are never that fast so we worked on it when we could we have kids and all that which come first.

I was finding the before image and Nev who is almost 4 says, "That is ugly." Yes, it is dear.
The after pictures don't even show new baseboards, toilet caulking redone, new light fixture (square since I broke the other one on accident while painting, and yes it really was an accident) etc. and my bathroom art on the right wall. And look at all that STORAGE. Just what I needed. The sink drains and everything.

I still have some detail work to do on the frame around the mirror, it has a leaf pattern that I was going to add some accent touches to but haven't gotten to it. (I've been obsessing over my carpets lately)

I am so much happier with it. It is right next to the dining room so the grossness of it REALLY bothered me. I feel so much better now. :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A new chin

Nope. Not plastic surgery.

I haven't seen my husband's chin for 8 years except a short lived appearance in about 2008. I am hoping the appearance will be at least as shortly lived this time around. But that's selfish and conceited of me. Both appearances were dictated by his obedience to a clean shaven recommendation to participate in church callings. So since I encouraged his latest one... I will probably be seeing his chin reappear and slowly disappear over and over. I guess that's okay. It is just SO different. He's half Irish so facial hair doesn't come in large quantity or quick growth.

after College Graduation:
The mustache was briefly introduced in 2008:
 I did not approve:

But it came back in 2011:


This Past week The Before and After:
 The process:
He was going to see what he had in way of a beard, but it was looking pretty patchy and while I was searching for pictures he was upstairs shaving everything but the goatee.

Looking back to find these pictures has been fun. Makes me appreciate my husband's looks more. We're coming up on 10 years. 

And this one, because it is one of my favorites, but not of me. :0) The date on the picture is SO off.