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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend~A Review

Several meals involving hamburgers, hot dogs, blueberries, and lots of this--
(It's probably like the eighth time I've made it this spring!! I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so when I tell you I like this almost more than a brownie or a bowl of ice cream, that means I REALLY like it!). ;o)
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Three graduation parties to attend!
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Owen's feet show up at the table . . .
"Hi toesies!!"
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I broke out a favorite dress, the one that reminds me of a picnic tablecloth . . .
All it needed  was some black plastic ants hot-glued on. ;o)
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And did a bit of summer decorating . . .
Summer can go one of two ways I think--
1. Beach
 2. Americana
Seeing as we're rather land-locked, I go the Americana route.  I don't have tubs and tubs of summer stuff (like I do the fall or Christmas)--in fact this just about sums it up (I did stick a few more little flags here and there).  But it's still nice to acknowledge a new season.  And did you know that Hobby Lobby has started pulling out the fall stuff??  I'm so not there.  Maybe because our spring has felt like a fall . . .
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We had planned to wrap up our weekend with a bonfire and s'mores out at Josh's parents.
They weren't really digging that idea . . . something about it being windy?? ;o)
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Today Josh officially finishes up his long-term sub position with a teacher's work day.  He finds himself rather delighted to get paid to stick a few things back on shelves. ;o)
I did a little grocery shopping this morning.  Jackson is now my "fruit-picker-outer".  After noticing him picking through the blueberries for ones that wouldn't be sour, I let him have a go at the cantaloupes.
"Ohhhhh, this one smells good!" he proclaimed.
I promptly bought it and wouldn't you know, sweet as candy.  I've  been a bit hit-or-miss in this area.  Jackson has always been rather sensitive to smells.  I'm delighted to know I can put this quirk to good use.
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And this just in--looks like I'm getting a little niece this October.  "Team Girl" pulls into the lead for the Hansmeyer cousins. ;o)
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So, a good weekend, laid-back and lovely--a very wonderful way to officially kick-off our summer!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Complete and Utter Randomness

After a week prone to "klutziness" I now have two large bruises located a few inches southwest on each knee and one 2nd toe (that I think I may have broken a few years back . . .) re-stubbed.  The bruises are doing much to off-set the lovely glare my legs are beaming out.  At least they are a matched set.
~
Last week's craigs.list find . . .
Blue canning jars.  Why?  Just 'cause they're pretty. And blue.
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Surprised with roses from our Girls of Grace director at church . . .
Yesterday ended my three years of working with Marissa's class.  I was a bit teary.  May has been kind of bittersweet.  Usually, I look forward to the break of routine that the summer months bring about.  This year there are just a lot of endings . . . and a lot of unknowns.  Will we find an Awana program?  Will we come back and I get to serve in Girls of Grace again?  Only two more rotations at my nursery post, a handful of Sundays at the timpani . . . *sniffle*  This kind of thing is always so hard on me.
~
Owen's idea of getting ready for a trip to the library . . .
He completely accessorized all by himself. 
Upon arriving at the library he decided he was much too big for the stroller and had to walk.
He lingered over the funky grasses.  He pushed the handicap accessible button to let himself in.
Set himself up at a kid's computer.  Turned it off (and several others).
Got himself a basket, put a book in it, drug it around, left it.
Headed off to the far opposite end of the library, was hauled back kicking and screaming.
Wandered into the boys bathroom, lifted his shirt and stood next to the toilet thinking he was going.
Helped himself to a few paper towels.
Etcetera.
I know I'm his mom and therefore kind of biased, but I think he's a bright little fellow.  (Insert all of your eye rolls . . .) ;o)  And while it is fun to have a bright little fellow who mimics, repeats, copies, and remembers everything we do, I'm also realizing knowledge is power.  Needless to say, Mr. #5 has become rather opinionated and strong-willed.  I think we may have begun those "terrible twos."  Bummer.
~
Library day is becoming known as *magic day* around these parts.  Hauling home bags (yes, plural) of books affords me several hours of complete and utter quiet from 3/5 sometimes 4/5 of the children.  In fact, if you don't believe me, you can ask my mom who stopped over around noon today and was kind of ignored by a few grandchildren.  (One of which was so excited with her new reads that she promptly started three of them and is rotating which one gets read). 
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I made a blueberry and rhubarb pie tonight. 
*Bluebarb* the recipe calls it. (I was going to link it up, but apparently Taste of Home won't let me, so let me know if you want the recipe!)
It is awesome (if you like blueberries or rhubarb or both).
Don't forget a scoop of vanilla ice cream!!
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The end.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quick Pics

A few favorites on my camera this week--
His baby blues . . .
But I also like the quiet contemplation in black and white . . .
Her freckles, the eyelashes, the swoop of her hair . . .
My "mechanical one" with a front row seat to chainsaw tune-ups . . .



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Defining Self-Control

Self-Control . . . when you have this Amazon wish list full of good stuff and you have this Amazon gift card balance hovering at $270 and you don't buy the stuff on the wish list because you really want to get a new camera.  I keep thinking about all the little Amazon boxes I could be "surprising" myself with in the mail. Let's say I spent $25 a week (to get the Super Saver Shipping of course!)--I could keep myself in little brown boxes of books for nearly 11 weeks (if one was going to pace oneself).  That sounds quite lovely.

But I have resisted.

That camera better be worth it. ;o)

(And yep, that Amazon balance has been funded by Swagbucks!!!  If you still haven't signed up and want to I have a link down somewhere along the right side of my blog--little by little it REALLY does add up!)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lazy Days

We are slowly finding our way to some semblance of a summer routine.  I'm finally getting back to my early morning run . . . and really I love it . . . once I'm officially out doing it.  It's just that whole getting-out-of-bed-and-getting-dressed-to-the-shoes thing that makes me drag my feet.  Once that has been accomplished it's smooth sailing. ;o)
Josh's car has been kind of cantankerous lately which translates into him using the minivan every day.  It's not that big a deal for the most part--the kids and I can hoof it to Super Target in about 8 minutes.  And really, if you are going to be stranded, what better than to be near a Super Target? ;o)  We went there twice this week, once for some shredded coconut and a lemon and once because we were out of printer paper (aka our drawing paper).  Yesterday, feeling particularly ambitious, we walked to Barnes and Noble.  I really didn't know how long it would take us and we got there 20 minutes before they opened.  We ended up walking all around South Pointe and hunting for bird's nests.  Those birdies are particularly fond of building in all those big letters making up the stores' names.  The favorite? "AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS"  Every single "e" and "f" had a nest--one "e" had two nests, making it an apartment I believe? ;o)  All said and done we had a really enjoyable morning.  We probably ended up walking about 2.5 miles and as a result Emmett had himself a 4.5 hour nap that afternoon.  We will do it again soon . . . ;o)

Our afternoons are spent reading or playing in the only available patch of dirt: 
(Poor kids.  I'm hoping our move will bring about a better play area for them).
Overall, I find myself more relaxed and just enjoying our days instead of feeling like I'm constantly on a mission to check things off of the to-do list.  It's a great feeling.  Josh on the other hand . . .
I'm not sure I've ever seen him so tired.  He has one more week of actual teaching, and then finals week which should be easier.  He's also got an online anatomy class going on and a project due for a class that ended awhile ago.  It is not uncommon for him to leave the house at 5:30 in the morning and it's also not uncommon to find him working on things past midnight.  We are definitely counting the days until school is out for him.  He will have two summer classes, but hopefully the summer will provide him some time to get refreshed.
And HOPEFULLY this weather will officially decide which season it wants to take part in!  Can you say fickle?? ;o)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

~Five Years~

Today's the "five-year mark."  I can't help but mark these days each year.  On May 9th I say to Josh,  "Do you know what we were doing five years ago today??"  He replies "No." (While thinking to himself that he can't remember what he did five DAYS ago . . .) And I gleefully remind him "We were on an airplane to L.A.!!!"   And today I'll say, "Remember what we were doing five years ago today??"  And he'll say, "No."  And then I'll remind him of his experience with LA public transit when he went off in search of blueberries and strawberries--food I had requested in a drug-induced pre-surgery stupor and later had absolutely no interest in eating . . . Good times. ;o)

Five years is truly another lifetime ago.  Another "Janna" ago.  I was so incredibly naive.  I so incredibly *didn't get it*.  Five years ago was when my carefully plotted and planned-out life drastically went off course (ummmm, off-roading it??). ;o)  The brain tumor, which at the time was overwhelming enough, was soon followed by a few years of extreme financial difficulty.  The stress of everything nearly imploded our marriage.   I allowed the trials to suck the joy out of me.  I spent a solid two years kind of mad at God . . . "Why aren't you doing anything??!?"  And then slowly, I started to *get it*.  I grasped onto that word "steadfast" because I wanted that to be true of me--a life lived under pressure.  I started to understand that sometimes you can want "good things" but if you aren't getting them and it's making you mad, quite frankly those "good things" have become a god--something you must have for happiness.  And you know God and His whole "no other gods" rule? ;o) No wonder He wasn't answering my prayers (probably more like demands . . .) how I wanted.

Can I tell you what an incredible blessing it is to be five years down the road from the surgery that "kick-started" it all? And Josh officially hired to have a "real" career again?  It took awhile.  Sometimes trials linger (and yet our trial doesn't even compare to the long-term sufferings so many have to endure).  But today celebrates so much more than just the removal of a silly old tumor.  It reminds me of God's faithfulness.  It reminds me that I don't always see how God is working, but that doesn't mean He has forgotten me. It means practicing thankfulness in the  "blessed with much" times and practicing thankfulness in the times of need--that one's a bit trickier but just as important. The Lord DOES give and the Lord DOES take away, but blessed be His name.  I can say emphatically I am thankful for those trials.  They made my faith real.  

Five years doesn't just celebrate a successful surgery, but the conclusion of a pretty intense time in our lives.  I'm so excited to start the next chapter with my family!  If somebody out there is reading and struggling through a hard time, I hope my words might give you a bit of encouragement, and I hope this song might minister to your heart.  "Places where grace is . . ."  I LOVE that phrase!  Nothing is random or by chance, God is orchestrating it and knitting it altogether with unbreakable strands of grace. 

I have been so blessed.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Recap

So, the Mother's Day Pictures went down kind of like the Easter pictures . . .
This one isn't too bad, aside from the fact Isabella is partially sticking out her tongue, Jackson is giving his best evil eye and Owen eating his hand.
Next we have Emmett's tongue, Jackson just plain wacky, Owen red from all the screaming and wrestling to keep him in the picture, and Marissa's eyes closed.
Those are my best options.  After that it goes downhill fast. ;o)  Oh well. 

We didn't have any big festivities.  I planned myself a tasty lunch and enjoyed it immensely--Josh grilled some chicken breasts marinated in teriyaki sauce and we had them on a bun with Swiss cheese, pineapple, tomato, lettuce, and some caramelized Vidalia onions for me.  Very tasty and highly recommended.  I also tried a few new recipes I had found in magazines, the first Governor's Mansion Summer Peach Tea Punch came from Southern Living.  It was yummy.  I almost liked it better today with the fizz having gone out of it a bit and I wonder if instead of using club soda and ginger ale you could just keep it simple and use water.  I may experience with that at some point, but I'll definitely make it again.  And a new kind of potato salad, but also yummy (in a grown-up way--Marissa informed me she could eat it if she had to but she didn't want seconds) Fingerling Potato Salad with Honey-Thyme Vinaigrette.  The fingerling potatoes are cute but I think you could easily sub in quartered Yukon gold potatoes and it would have the same taste.  Anyway, I think both recipes are keepers for summertime entertaining. 

Mother's Day always ends up much more hectic than I would wish it--a quiet afternoon bookended by a busy church morning and a busy church evening--but the hugs and handmade cards (Isabella's proclaiming "your buetiful!") do wonders for a mama's heart.  I have a dream job . . . and really you couldn't PAY me to do anything else. ;o) 


Sunday, May 8, 2011

For my Mama

Dear Mom,
I have these little things I remember . . .
like recognizing the word "RED" after you highlighted it with a red crayon
homemade goodies in my lunchbox and snacks when we got out of school
watching you sew--Christmas dresses, Easter dresses, doll clothes
the clothesline you hung up for my doll clothes
planting the garden
you standing in the kitchen doorway watching me practice piano
attendance at cross country meets, band and choir concerts, piano recitals
your pride in all I did
your cheerful good mornings to my grumpy "umphs"
helping me get my crazy-long hair into a ponytail
making the coffee while I pulled an all-nighter to get a term paper done
(proofing in the wee hours of morning)
your hug and shared tears when my heart was broken
how you held it together when you moved me to my dorm--and I was oblivious to the significance I was the first one flying the coop

It went so fast, you know?
And you were there, doing those quiet things, the simple things--the most important things. The things a good mom does as she raises a child to independence.  You, standing in the shadows, while your kids' lives became center stage.
Thank you for that example.  Thank you for staying home to raise me. Thank you for a sister and two brothers to play with.  My childhood was golden.
 Thank you for giving me a love of learning.
Thank you for pointing me in the direction of a Savior.  Without Him, I'd have no life at all.
Thank you for every selfless sacrifice that you made.  I wish I had the eyes to see then.
I get it now.
Happy Mother's Day Mom!
Love you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lilacs

My mother-in-law let me loose with some pruning shears last night and my littlest man and I (and our respective buckets) went out to clip a bouquet. 
It's amazing what a gathering of fresh flowers can inspire in me.  It just seems wrong to plop a fragrant bouquet down in a big ol' mess.  So this morning I dusted the dining room and vacuumed.  I cleaned off the kitchen counters.  I shined up my sink.
Cleaned up the table. Admired the slants of sunshine.
Sometimes it is the very smallest and simple of things that provides me with the best motivation.
It's wonderful how a bit of nature refreshes a soul. 
Have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wrapping up the '10/'11 School Year

Our school year officially met its end the Friday before Easter.  I am just now getting around to blogging about it. ;o)  Overall a good year . . . learning did happen . . . but it was also my hardest year to date.  I had to deal with more attitude and heart issues than I would have liked. 
~
My girls often express their displeasure toward math.  There have even been tears.  In spite of that they are both doing fine.  Marissa is capable of long division and multiplying while carrying and all that jazz, Isabella is carrying/borrowing and just beginning multiplication.  (We use Singapore Math, Marissa did books 3A and 3B, Isabella did 1B and 2A).  I'm hoping to hit the multiplication flash cards this summer for both of them--there is still too much thinking involved there.
~
We learned that Marissa loves grammar with a passion (We did Easy Grammar 3).  She continues to love to read and the fantasy genre remains her favorite--her most-loved authors at the moment:  C.S. Lewis, Madeline L'Engle, George MacDonald and Elizabeth Goudge. She doesn't read as much as she did a year ago because she now splits her time between reading and writing her own fantasy story (which is at the moment 38 pages in length). ;o)  Isabella doesn't enjoy reading as much as Marissa, but will do it when bribed . . .  I'm hoping at some point she will realize how wonderful it is too. ;o) She likes the American Girl stories, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was a big hit, and she enjoyed a few of Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy stories (great books for girls!).  She used a "bare book" and wrote her own story complete with illustrations entitled "A Fairy's Tale" which involved lots of fashion and dress changes (in case you were ever wondering what Isabella's passion was . . .). ;o)
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Violin-wise, Marissa is nearing the end of Suzuki book 2, and Isabella just began the last piece in book 1.  At this point they continue to play entirely by ear, but I think beginning note-reading is lurking in Marissa's future shortly.
~
We used My Father's World "Creation to Greeks" as our main curriculum source.  I've used My Father's World from the beginning and have always been pretty satisfied, but this year kind of left me wanting.  We followed history chronologically from Creation right up to learning about Alexander the Great.  We created history notebooks that follow through this time period in order.  The girls LOVE the history notebooks and love to pull out the ones from prior years . . . it really is a great keepsake of the year.  I asked them to pick a favorite picture they had drawn.
Marissa chose King Solomon--

Isabella chose the Hebrews exiting Egypt with Moses--

~
We never got around to learning cursive.  I'm hoping to work on that with both girls over the summer.  We usually don't do any school during our summer months, but last year I found that the sudden start of structure brought with it a couple of trying weeks, so I going to try to have just a "little something" happening over the summer (mainly for my own sanity come fall). ;o)
~
And as far as my Jackson-boy goes, I am SO very thankful I waited a year for kindergarten.  I completely see him ready now, he's digging the letters and numbers (particularly numbers--he loves to fill in 100 charts in his free time!) and has a desire to learn that just was not there a year ago.  That ended up being a good decision. 
~
And I think that would summarize our year.  There were good things, there were bad things, and I'm excited to do it again come fall.  I guess I consider that a successful year. ;o)