Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sew Happy :o)

Crisis averted. First my mother-in-law and I looked it over, she assured me I was not crazy there was no way what I was doing would work. But we puzzled over the fact I had done exactly what the directions said.

I showed it to a friend at church, and she informed me that's what I did wrong, I did what the directions said. The directions were WRONG!!! So much for taking things literally. ;o) After a little date with Seam the Ripper, pinning the yoke opposite of the way it said, I have a complete bodice.

And I bought bias tape . . . there's no way I'm going to painstakingly cut two inch wide strips, sew them together, iron their creases just so . . . Nobody's going to see that part anyway. I'm feeling much better now, and I MUST go to bed . . . it's way past bedtime for me! ;o)

Sew Frustrated

I'm pausing from my dress-making fury to inform you--
I'm up to my eyeballs in ruffles.
I think Marissa grew and I have to cut out a new bodice.
I'll need to get more fabric for that.
I may end up scrapping both bodices entirely and cutting out a different style.
BECAUSE the "round neck yoke" is not laying right, perhaps once I attach the bias tape it will, but the pattern says I should make my own bias tape--I've never done that before (which would also require more fabric).
I was attempting to explain to Josh what "bias" meant but his eyes glazed over, the same way mine do when he starts talking about moles, vectors, and the like.
I have reread this whole yoke/bodice part of the pattern about 50 times and still can't find anything I did wrong.
AHHHHH! I've never had this many problems before!
Another trip to Jo.ann's is in the foreseeable future . . . stay tuned . . . :oP

Monday, March 29, 2010

Maple Sugar Moon

A fun little fact, today's the "maple sugar moon" . . . the name for the full moon during the month of March. We've been reading our books on maple sugaring and for a fun little craft we're going to make some of that maple sugar candy that so many of the books talked about. Here's that recipe . . . now off to the store for some real maple syrup.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

This week's project--

A week from today this pile of goods shall hopefully be Easter dresses for my girls. I'm getting a late start . . . And I'm going to have to officially conquer my fear of button holes. Can it be done? ;o)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Marissa the Missionary

A few months ago, Marissa decided she would be a missionary. She informed me she might not marry and have kids because it might not fit into her whole life as a missionary (which made the inner granny in me rather sad). At first she decided Saudi Arabia was THE place to go, but now she has set her sights on China (which makes the mommy in me tremble a bit). Last week she asked me if I would begin to teach her Chinese, while her brain is still capable of learning things quickly--yep, she said that.

She hung a sign on her bedroom door that says "Missionary Club" and designated Isabella as her "highly assorted assistant" (I'm not entirely sure what that is). On a wall of her room she has taped reminders on how she is to act, on another wall she has taped up things she is praying about, and by the window she made another sign that says "Don't forget why you're here." When we go to stores she writes a little letter and hides it somewhere at the store for customers to find asking if they want to be in her missionary club.

She began a "Missionary Journal" where she writes information down from the books I check out of the library. She talks about Nate Saint, the Muslim religion, and then there are pages and pages on Buddhism. She's trying to get a grasp on their angle so she can figure out the best way to share the gospel with them.

I watch her from a window when she is outside, fearlessly approaching other kids and asking them if they believe in Jesus. I'm amazed, over and over again. Because you see, I'm someone who errs on the side of keeping my mouth shut far too often, blushing when put on the spot . . . I know her determination comes not from my example.

She saves her money for Bibles for people in Russia, because $1 provides them with the means to produce a Bible in their language. When her first grade Sunday School teacher recently passed away she asked if I would send them her $5 bill. Over and over she leaves me dumbfounded. While Josh and I would love to pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves for (so far) raising such a thoughtful girl with a heart for evangelism, we realize that is just not the case. In her, I see her strengths being where I am the weakest. She humbles me, over and over and over again.

God definitely gives us variety in our children. Some amazing me in good ways, some amazing me in not so good ways . . . ;o) In the end, I hope they all grow up with a heart for Jesus, and hope I can do a good job raising them, in spite of myself and shortcomings. This parenting thing . . . it's not for the faint of heart.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Owen~3 months old

The many faces of three months:
Anybody else see Jackson's "angry eyebrows" in picture #5? ;o)
Three months finds Owen--
nearly bald except around the "cuffs"
in his first box of "size 2"
Mr. Social with all his cooing, smiling, and laughing
trying to fit both fists into his mouth (I think he wants to be a thumb sucker but hasn't the coordination for it) ;o)
Today I was reminiscing about my early mothering days, when I scheduled pictures every three months on-the-button at JC.Pen.ny (you know, 3, 6, 9, 12, and then at 18 months, 24, and then we went to every year) Sometime during Jackson's first year things began to space out. Emmett got a picture taken at three months, and that was THE END. Only a crazy person would keep up that kind of schedule with a little person entourage. So, yay! for digital cameras and yay! for photo editing programs. Just the thought of a small room with five children and trying to get "THE SHOT" makes me feel all sweaty. I'm sure I've added years onto my life by discontinuing that ritual. ;o)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oh Jackson . . .

Last night I was going through a pile of papers I had watched Jackson crumple up and growl at. Josh looked on as I unwrinkled every one of Jackson's discarded drawings. What we found were a whole bunch of "failed" attempts at drawing the space rocket from 3-2-1-Penguins (his latest video love from the library). Apparently none of these made the mark: He was going for this:

I think I know why it took him forever to draw.
I think I know why he gets so mad sometimes (ahem, often).
And I think you know why I'm a bit scared to begin homeschooling him.
I have a perfectionist on my hands, and a rather intense one at that.
I'm sure *some day* it will be a good trait. But right now . . .

We are burning through a whole lot of paper.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Happy Day

Sometimes I have these terrible, awful, no good, very bad days. I'm sure you are all familiar with the kind of day I am talking about. But every once in awhile a fabulous day comes along, like today, and I kind of feel like skipping because:

Last night when I got home from Wednesday night church activities I hopped online and saw the blog The Lettered Cottage (a blog I came across last week) had a new post up. This couple has done AMAZING things with their home. They make me WANT a fixer upper. I love the crisp white farmhouse-y look they have going on. Anyway, last week she had a drawing giving away a $100 gift certificate to Lisa Leonard Designs, a mommy who makes really cool personalized jewelry. I have salivated over her necklaces upon occasion and every time I come across a drawing enter it. This time I WON!!!! I don't believe I have ever won ANYTHING before. And now I can get one of these cool necklaces and have all my kids' names engraved! I am soooooo thrilled.

This morning Josh took the kids on our March field trip and then out to eat at Mc.Don.ald's where they got to play in the play area. I was doing a little dance that I would get 2 whole hours home with just me and Owen. There has been a lack of quiet as of late. But what made it even better was that a lady in the play area gave Josh five free tickets to the circus!!! So he is now there with the four oldest, and I get the rest of the afternoon to myself! Can you believe it?

And then tonight I get to go to my in-laws for supper, which I'm guessing will be chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes . . . (it's my brother-in-law's birthday dinner and this seems to be the meal of choice, for very good reason) ;o) So I am off the hook for cooking! Woohoo!

The sun is shining, free jewelry, quiet, no cooking . . . Does it get any better than that? ;o)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Patty Day Plans

On the menu for lunch tomorrow:
Corned beef . . . cooked nice and slow in the crock pot
Colcannon Potatoes (this sounds interesting, we'll see how it tastes)
Irish Soda Bread
Salad (because it's green and all)
Leprechaun Lime Punch
St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes (which will also double as Jackson's Cubbies snack)

I'm heading to later this afternoon to pick up some pipe cleaners and green beads (to string for bracelets) insuring we all have something green to wear. We'll probably color some leprechauns, and I might try to mix up a batch of glittery green play dough. Tomorrow happens to be a rather full day. The children with teeth have dentist appointments in the morning, our festive lunch, this thing called "school" has to get done, violin lessons, orchestra, Aw.ana . . . Is anybody else really struggling with the time change? I honestly feel brainless and can't tell if I'm coming or going right now. I don't ever remember having such a hard time, the kids, yes, but not me! So *hopefully* I can accomplish my to-do list and get everything done for tomorrow! ;o)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy 3rd Emmett James!!!

Dear Emmett,
Today is your 3rd birthday.  I state that with slight bewilderment because I feel I have known you forever, and three years doesn't sound so very long.  The truth is, even though a year can fly, so much life gets squeezed into one year's worth of time.  And you, no exception, have grown and changed in the completing of your third year.
Last year about this time, you were battling ear infection after ear infection.
But this year there has only been one!
Last year Daddy nicknamed you his "ham" and claims the following picture is the eptitomy of what a ham looks like:

All I know is you can be a silly little fellow, a bit feisty at times, but endearing none-the-less.
You reached 26 pounds, officially on the "other side" of 25.  Thirty here we come!!!
You are small but mighty.
You  continue to be best-described in one word: impish.
You survived a van ride across the country to meet your great-granny for the first time.
You saw Niagara Falls.
Plymouth Rock.
You dipped your feet in the Atlantic.
You picked up shells.
You caught some bees . . . and learned an important lesson.
You swam with your sisters.
You used the potty.
You became friends with your brother.

You began to draw me pictures, of cars, people, spiders, and snakes.
Your vocabulary grew.
You request to be read books that have a noticable transportation theme (you're a big fan of Virginia Lee Burton--Maryann the steam shovel, Katy the snow plow, and Choo Choo the train are all good friends)
You left the crib behind to share a big boy bunk bed with Jackson.
You shunned your blankie . . . the blue one with cars I bought for you while you were still nestled in my tummy. The one I wrapped you in at the hospital.  The blankie that soothed many tears.  It lays on the sidelines these days, nearly forgotton.
You went from being the littlest . . .
. . . to a big brother. 
Sometimes I worry, like mommies of many often do, that you will get a bit lost in the mix of siblings.
The truth is, that may happen at times.
But know this, there could be just you, or you could be one in a mix of 20, and I would STILL find you just as delightful, giggle at your silliness, savor your cuddles, and feel proud at all you accomplish. If you weren't here I would feel that gaping space, with a palpable realness, for the rest of my life.

Three is big.
I love you always little man.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mocha Layer Cake

I'm in the midst of preparations for Emmett's birthday party tonight, but thought I would take a few moments to share with you a recipe for the BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE IN THE WORLD. It's actually called "Mocha Layer Cake" and it is my go-to chocolate cake recipe for birthdays. It takes a bit of effort to prepare, but the end results are worth it. Honestly, I don't think you have had chocolate cake until you have tried this one. Between the cake and the frosting 3 sticks of butter and 2 packages of cream cheese are used--and let's be frank, it you want something to taste really good there must be fat involved. Agreed? ;o) Therefore it is ONLY a special occasion cake. But you will love me for sharing this recipe (and possibly hate me too . . .) ;o)
(Picture from Taste of Home . . . mine never turns out quite so pretty, it's usually more "pisa-ish" if you know what I mean.)
Click on the pic and you should be linked up to the recipe--after checking the recipe I discovered they changed the frosting portions a bit, which is fine, since I always end up with extra, so you won't end up using 3 sticks of butter and 2 packages of cream cheese like I did, but close!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thoughtful Marissa

(While I appreciate the heads-up, I'm thinking the time involved in making a sign would have been better spent mopping up the spill, but I'm kind of practical that way . . .)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Yesterday, I had this sudden thought, what if . . . this--Emmett's doodling around 18 months old
and this--Emmett outlining his eye in red marker

and this--the most recent "scribble of the day"
are God's way of preparing me for what's to come . . .

AHHHHHH! What do you think, does a propensity for body art as a child lead to such an inclination as an adult? ;o)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


~I saw my first robin yesterday, and then another today. They're back!

~Owen is trying to find his laugh. He knows he wants to and sometimes this dry chuckly sound emerges and it scares him. It's all very hilarious. ;o)

~Says Jackson after observing my pathetic girly push-ups, "Mommy, you're not doing it like Natalie. You have to do it like Natalie!" I will admit, I might have had to bite back some not nice words. Nothing like exercising for an audience . . .

~My oldest three have tied ribbons to a bunch of stuffed care.bears and dangled them from the top bunk of the girls' bunk bed in a humorous attempt at having a puppet show with homemade marionettes. It makes me giggle to see all these care.bears hanging from their necks.

~Spring break is next week (for Josh, not homeschooling)! This semester truly is marching along quite nicely. Josh should finish up the same week the girls finish up their school year. One year from now Josh should be in the midst of student teaching and beginning the hunt for a job. We can hack one more measly year of insanity. ;o)

~Rain instead of snow . . . perhaps we have seen the last of winter?

Monday, March 8, 2010


I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.
I will meditate on all Thy work,
And muse on Thy deeds.
Psalm 77:11-12

Today is one of my "remembering days." Four years ago today I had an MRI done on my head. That afternoon I sat in a chair by the window wondering at the conversations I had with the MRI tech, asking me if I had experienced any hearing loss in my right ear, encouraging me to contact my doctor if I didn't hear from him within the next day. I knew they had found something wrong. While sitting there, my phone rang and it was the doctor's office. You know the saying, "no news is good news" . . . Well, this would be one of those times that saying rings true. The nurse on the other end of the phone says "We found what appears to be a benign brain tumor . . ." and sets up an appointment for me to meet with a neurologist. The hours that ensued afterward were not pretty. I thought benign was good, but they said "appears to be" were they just saying that because they weren't going to tell me over the phone I had a malignant one? I was devastated. I wondered if a year from now my kids would have a mom. By God's grace, my endocrinologist just "happened" to call. She could tell I sounded upset and asked what was wrong. I told her. She took it upon herself to check into everything and called me back. And her words, "It's going to be a pain in the butt but you're not going anywhere. Keep loving on those kids." This phone call gave Josh and I huge relief. And so began a journey that would lead to surgery two months later.

I count this day as one in my "collection"--special days where I saw God working, changing me, giving me a miracle. He could have given me brain cancer and sent me on an entirely different journey. But he gave me a simple tumor, truly I think one of the best brain tumors to have (if you're going to get your choice and all) ;o) I collect these days in the way a coin collector collects coins. They come in different shapes, different metals, you turn them over and around in your hand, study them, each one meaning and worth something different. "Diagnosis Day" is one in that collection, a day I pull out sometimes, feel its weight in my hand, study the details, and am left thanking God for bringing me to it AND bringing me through it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Gift of a Day

Today dawned with me determined to ride out the cleaning frenzy I had begun the day before. On the agenda--a thorough tackling of the upstairs bathrooms. I was looking forward to it . . . which truly doesn't happen all that often, so when it does I definitely take advantage of it. ;o)

It seemed like a good plan. It was number one on my list, but in the end it wasn't what God would have me focus on today. Yesterday, Marissa had been complaining of a sore throat, and I had been hoping she had just caught the cold I had last week. But, as our morning progressed it was obvious she was in a lot of pain. I encouraged her to lie down and rest, but she just kept following me around, whimpering, sniffling, and obviously needing my attention. So, I stopped what I was doing, and remembered a quote my friend Kathy recently had on her blog--which I'm cutting and pasting (hope you don't mind!). ;o)

"Every day that dawns brings something to do, which can never be done as well again. We should, therefore, try to do it ungrudgingly and cheerfully. It is the Lord’s own work, which He has given us as surely as He gives us daily bread. We should thank Him for it with all our hearts, as much as for any other gift. It was designed to be our life, our happiness. Instead of shirking it or hurrying over it, we should put our whole heart and soul into it." ~ James Reed

I was shirking and hurrying over the care Marissa needed at the moment. Instead of cleaning, I drew her a bubble bath and let her soak, found her some comfy clothes for lounging in, braided her hair, and called our doctor's office and got her a 2:10 appt . . . which meant the boys would miss nap time . . .

While I did these things, unbeknownst to me, Isabella prepared a little tray for Marissa with orange juice, paper/markers, the current book she's reading, her "missionary journal" (which I'll have to tell you about another time), and a thermometer. *smile* Not only that, but she gave up her own bed so that Marissa didn't have to be way up near the ceiling and forgotten about. (This was so me as a girl--I hated being up in my bunk bed, sick, and all by myself, I always convalesced on the couch in our living room, in the midst of the action).

Marissa was in much better spirits after all the TLC. And Isabella was praised heartily for being selfless and showing such care for Marissa, an area that Isabella struggles in. I don't know about you, but a moment like this comes few and far between, and it was the bright spot in my whole day.

(Because I ended up waiting a good 45 minutes for the doctor, with five kids in a tiny room. Owen pooped up his outfit. I had forgotten a spare. Marissa has strep. Emmett was upset he didn't get weighed. I convinced Marissa to go with a penicillin shot in the rear instead of a ten-day course of antibiotics. She got so worked up she threw up a bit. She still hates me for it. We all celebrated by squeezing in a huge grocery shopping trip at Wal.mart on a Saturday afternoon (where Josh met us after finishing work). I hate crowds. And I REALLY hate maneuvering two full carts and a smattering of children through throngs of people.)

I'm pretty worn out. But I keep reminding myself that 'THIS was the day the Lord had made' I wish I had something tangible to show for it (like shiny bathrooms), but obviously He had other plans for my day. Even in the humblest work I need to persevere at doing well and delight in the blessings found there--like a six year old adopting a servant's heart. In the end, it is a day well spent.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Some tidbits--

~The kids got outside yesterday for some fresh air. The boys wore snow boots and stood on top of our shrinking snow pile (only about two feet high now!) and attacked it with various yard work tools. The girls wore flip flops which they removed and jumped in melting snow streams. We discovered our "It's a Boy!!" sign, rather squashed and soggy. Isabella made a "fairy umbrella." I don't think we quite reached 50 degrees, but we'll take what we can get!

~I keep coming across cool bag patterns, one here, and another here. I can't wait to get some fabric and go to town. And I'm debating purchasing this pattern for the girls' Easter dresses . . . I'm still trying to decide if I have the time.

~I'm hoping to start (and finish) that bunny pillow I had mentioned sometime over the weekend. There seems to be a lack of time for anything extra lately. Which I'm puzzling over--it looks like I have done absolutely nothing this week and yet I've felt busy all the time.

~I've been sticking with my "Shred" and Level 1 is still providing me with a good workout. I took off Sunday, but otherwise have remained consistent. Woohoo! And I'm down 2 lbs. Another woohoo!! But my ring STILL DOES NOT FIT. I really think the knuckle grew.

~I'm taking inventory of what we have/what we need for clothing for spring/summer. I love going through drawers and getting rid of stuff with holes, reassessing what fits, etc. I REALLY love hauling out bags of garbage from a room. It is completely liberating.

~I'm also assessing curriculum needs for the next year. This is also something I love, because it means the purchase of shiny new books. And I think Marissa is finally old enough for this magazine which I've been wanting to get forever.

~I'm thinking I want a band saw. (and a few other saws too) I think it would be like using a sewing machine only with the whole cutting off a finger option involved. That Knock off Wood blog is giving me a huge interest in woodworking though. I have lots of plans . . . ;o) (and I have used a saw before . . . 8th grade shop, but that was awhile ago . . .)

~Josh has given us a science mission today, to find out what a "lenticel" is. He wants the girls to define it, find it outside, and draw a picture. Should be fun. ;o)

And THAT would be life currently!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spring Projects for Kids

Now that it is March 1, my brain has fully swung into spring gear. As much as I love snow (yes, I really do!) I'm ready for some new scenery outside my window. In the meantime, while we wait for it to green up outside, here's a few projects I hope to do inside as we celebrate spring's return.

1. Take the kids to a garden center and have them each pick out a favorite bulb--tulip, daffodil, hyacinth, etc. Either we will plant them individually in small clay pots, or group them all together in a bigger one and set it on the counter and watch what happens. I may get a few hyacinths for myself--they smell WONDERFUL. (following image from Magic Cabin--their basket and bulbs kit costs $30--I'm hoping I can do it cheaper!) Edited to add--Okay, so you cannot buy bulbs in the spring time at all, store, online, anywhere, all Ea.rl Ma.y had available were "paperwhites" they're still a bulb and still pretty, but not the mix of color I was hoping for. They are also 5 for $7, so that kit from Magic Cabin isn't looking too bad now!
2. Gingerbread "Birdhouses" (also a Magic Cabin idea)--not sure if we have the time to pull it off, but it would be so much fun to make birdhouses with all the pretty pastel Easter candy available. But maybe we will settle for the good ol' chow mein noodle nests with candy eggs (and I was going to find a link for that recipe, but truth is, just go.ogle it, there are a million different recipes, some feature chocolate, some peanut butter, some marshmallow) . . .
3. Planting some grass seeds in a pot and watching them sprout--or possibly we'll add some grass seed around the bulbs we plant. I love the fineness and brightness of baby grass. ;o)

4. Dye some eggs. Marissa pointed out we've never done this before, so I'm thinking we will have to remedy that.

5. Most likely some more cookie decorating in fun little spring shapes--I know I have a duck and a lamb around here somewhere. (And also because I love buying seasonal sprinkles in seasonal colors . . . the pastel sugars are so pretty!) ;o)

6. Have them make spring-y decorations for my bulletin board area--perhaps eggs cutouts with glitter, rickrack, etc. to glue on and decorate with, tulip shapes to paint with watercolors . . . Stuff like that. ;o)
That should keep us busy for March. Of course, there is also St. Patrick's Day, but that happens to fall on a Wednesday (violin/church activities night), so maybe we'll try for an Irish lunch instead of a supper. I'm gearing up for a good corned beef . . . if you recall, last year's was downright awful!