Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oh that boy . . .

Josh--"Go up and comb your hair."
Janna--"Usually I do his hair for him."
Josh--"Well, there's a first time for everything."
Jackson leaves to go do his hair.
In retrospect he was gone for a rather long time.
He returns . . .
Josh--"What happened?!?"
Jackson--"I could see my hair, it was too long."
Josh eyes me sternly--"DO NOT laugh."
I struggle to keep a straight face.
I can't.
I laugh and laugh.
I snap pictures.
I attempt my own stern voice "Jackson you don't cut your own hair!"
I'm sure he got the message. ;o)

But hey, laughter definitely beats the crying I did when Marissa chopped off a whole hunk of hair dead center and sheared Bella's bangs to the scalp!  I attempted to even out his haircut the best I could.  I have a feeling we will be heading to the hairdresser before the day is over.  I guess I should have listened to him yesterday when we getting Emmett's haircut.  He was pretty insistent he needed one too.  He did a right thorough job. ;o)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Fun~Linky Love

Admiring these adorable little embroidery patterns, and contemplating making some for my girls, or maybe someday for a "reading room" that would house all the books and comfortable furniture . . .  It would sit adjacent to the huge and spacious school/laundry/mudroom that would not have carpet but shiny floors and lots of windows where my kids would peacefully do school work and paint while I kept up with the laundry.  A girl can dream right? ;o)

Loving this idea for a kids "writing center"  I guess this blogger also recently had a book come out (that has gone on my Amazon wish list). ;o)  And anyone know where I can get a cute little chicken coop like that (preferably sans chicken poo)?  I can envision using them for all sorts of organizing . . . like for instance all of our hats, mittens, etc.  Or all my sewing notions. Or . . .? What would YOU do with a chicken coop?

Looking for some pretty piano music? Check out David Nevue.  I need to get myself some cd's and make them the daily soundtrack.  I think I would be in a much better frame of mind when I discover the boys in their room with the current crayon population carefully cutting each color in half with scissors.  Not that MY boys would ever do such a thing.  And OF COURSE there are no crayon-decorated sheets gracing their beds either.  That would just be silly.

Here's the curriculum I'm considering for the girls next year. And this for Jackson.  I'm still researching though . . .

I'm cautiously optimistic that we're all on the mend . . . even Owen! ;o)  He is so much happier, jabbering again and being his goofy self.  Hopefully that will be the last of it.  Can you believe it's the end of January?  Today's warm (for January at least) temperatures gave me a slight spring hankering.  I squashed it down right quick, but it always is a bit encouraging to have January behind you, right?  Happy weekend to you all!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Antibiotics and Fresh Air

Should you ever find yourself in the situation where 4/5 of your children are taking medicine, each starting their 10 day cycle on a different day, have I got a practical idea for you!
Behold, the "spreadsheet" . . .
I printed off a blank 100 chart online (which was perfect for a 10 day course of antibiotics) and allotted each child two rows--although Owen's was only once a day--and then I put other pertinent information, like the starting date, and what day each dose is on (and hey look, there's even room for Marissa if she gets sick!). ;o)  And now my brain doesn't feel so overloaded.  I taped it to the fridge, I mark it whenever I dose people up and now life is that much simpler.
And then yesterday in attempt to burn off some energy (they may have "ouchie ears", but it is not enough to slow anybody down . . . they've taken to playing freeze tag and running loops around the living room) we all went sledding (this counted as my workout for the day too, three times pulling Emmett in a sled back up the BIG HILL at Pioneers Park, two times giving him a piggy back ride--particularly painful after my meet-up with Jillian yesterday!).
It was SO FUN.  And brought back wonderful memories of the nighttime sledding I did with my family when we were little.  But oh!! I got some "air" a few times.  It was jarring to say the least . . . ;o)
This week began a new schedule for Josh--we've worked it out so he can take a leave of absence from the paying job and do the unpaid one instead. ;o)  We realized it was going to be too much, particularly with a Saturday class thrown into the mix.  And so we're starting to get used to this idea of having a daddy around in the evenings.  It feels really weird . . . exciting (as in "Yay I don't have to simultaneously bathe children and do kitchen clean-up!" not that I DID that simultaneously . . . although Marissa has overseen Owen's bath many a time).  But it is strange to know there IS a 2nd string coming in . . . it makes me rather giddy! ;o)
I think we're all on the mend, although I still have my concerns about Owen.  He is--to put it bluntly--a river of snot, which is usually not the case for one on antibiotics.  He is slated to head back to the dr. on Monday, but I may be taking him in again sooner than that. It's become my home away from home. ;o) 
Well, time to make breakfast. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Great Day!

So, yesterday was lovely . . .
The girls and I had a wonderful "girls day out" and listened to a fabulous concert from the first row of the balcony put on by Joshua Bell and accompanied by Sam Haywood.  Neither of them were too shabby. ;o) I was struck by how effortless (it seemed) each played, just pure buttery silken goodness.  I'm not sure I've ever heard a violin sound just like that--certainly the fact his violin cost a few million dollars had a bit to do with it--but more importantly the focus, passion, and drive it had to take to get THAT good.  I thought how true that is of everything . . . what appears effortless in our own lives to others takes so much dedication behind the scenes.  Is there anything that is truly easy?
So, the concert, wonderful! But then afterward, surprise!
The girls "hanging" with Joshua Bell. 
I was delighted to discover a little meet and greet (and a very manageable line).  Hopefully this will be a special memory for the girls (and a wee bit of inspiration in the practicing area . . .  there's a lesson to be had in everything, right?). ;o)  Thanks for the tickets Granny and Papa Roy!! ;o)

(Oh, and a side note for those of you following our "ear" saga, I currently have three children on antibiotics and today after nap Emmett is clutching his ears in pain.  Looks like another trip to the doctor . . . They couldn't have spaced it any better if they tried! *sigh*)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Librarian He is Not . . .

Yesterday, Owen hit 13 months, and it took me aback for a moment.  Was his birthday really only a month ago? Because it feels like months have passed since that day.  I'm always surprised at how quickly a little one changes once that first birthday hits.  It is kind of like a switch gets flipped, one day baby, the next ornery little boy.
Things he has done in the last month . . .
Well, for starters he's pretty good at feeding himself. ;o)
Walks around with a phone at his ear "talking"
Brushes his teeth and spits in the sink
When I ask the kids "What are you thankful for tonight?" he immediately folds his hands to pray
Points remotes at the TV, pushing buttons
Strings toilet paper all over the bathroom and adjoining rooms
Learned how to go down the stairs
Climbs. Everything.
Knows where all of our eyes are located . . . and our belly buttons too (the beep-beep)
Lots and lots of changes . . . He makes us giggle constantly with all the ways he mimics us, convinced I believe, that he is much older than he actually is. (Except he is still nursing . . . it's mainly a comfort thing, ummmm probably for both of us . . . because I still know he's my baby then). ;o)
Among other news we're home from church this morning.  Owen's nose, still gunky. Isabella went in to the dr. on Friday, ear infection.  And Jackson, up sobbing most of the night with ear pain, we'll be taking him in this afternoon--hopefully in the early part of the afternoon, because today is the day of the Joshua Bell concert and I'm really hoping Josh will provide chauffeur service, dropping the girls and I off right in front of the Lied (and picking us up too!).  That would be awesome.  In a perfect world I believe all my children would get ear infections on EXACTLY the same day--that would be awesome too . . . in a multitasking sort of way. ;o)  Hope everyone is staying safe and warm on this snowy and cold day.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

School Notes

What I wish every day looked like . . .
Truthfully, most of our days involve dealing with this . . .
It seems Owen is under the impression that he is 3 or 4 or 5ish.  He must do what everyone else is doing. His determination has meant that no area is safe from his little monkey self.  We are constantly dealing with him on our table, *running* across it with glee, wrinkly our papers with pudgy feet and hands, doodling on our books . . .  It's cute.  To a degree.  I've tried strapping him into his chair and sitting him at the big table with stuff to do.  That usually starts out grand but ends with him trying to play peek-a-boo with the tablecloth (and the tablecloth is a necessity because we are dealing with an old, peeling table surface).  I'm back to the drawing board (and would welcome ideas!) on how to keep the little guy out of our hair . . . literally. ;o)
The boys remain letter-obsessed.  Yesterday a call came from the local elementary to find out what Jackson's status would be.  I remember when they called about him last year, and I found myself kind of reeling with shock that he could be attending kindergarten (for the 2010-2011 school year).  But this year I'm feeling so much better and much more confident in his kindergarten readiness--a year does make a huge difference!  That call also reminded me next year I could have my oldest three gone from the home on a daily basis doing their schooling elsewhere.  It makes me wonder always, how would our life be different, how would it be easier or harder . . . 
Marissa has developed a huge fondness for grammar, so much that she told me she "accidentally" did 6 pages yesterday.  I said that was fine and she was done for the week.  This morning she told me she was done with her math and grammar, of which I reminded her there was no need to do anymore grammar for the week. "But I just LOVE it!!" she gushes. ;o)  She also used her Barnes and Noble gift card to buy for herself 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea . Yeah.  I keep asking if it is too hard, and she affirms that there are tricky words in it (she just skips over them . . .) but she is plodding through it.  If only she would show the same tenacity for other subjects like, oh, math.  Or practicing violin.
And my Bella.  She has been on a reading strike, informing me she didn't like it, didn't want to do it, blah, blah, blah.  Enter the Felicity doll.  Felicity was being discontinued at the end of last year, so we bought two
of her outfits and tucked them away for Isabella to have at a later date.  Then Josh came up with the brilliant idea that they could be reading incentive.  Felicity's holiday dress can be had for 500 pages.  And now she is reading CONSTANTLY.  Four books (Felicity books of course!) in the last 2 days.  Apparently we have found her "love language."  She sits with the American Girl catalogue plotting all of her future purchases.  Oh dear.  I'm not quite sure how deep our pockets will run for this . . . ;o)
I'm contemplating a new curriculum for next year, or possibly venturing off on "my own." We shall see.  For now I'm doing lots of researching and praying that I can find the best fit for all of our needs--and have a good idea before the curriculum fair comes around again. We're definitely on the "downward slope" for this year though, and that is a wonderfully grand feeling.  Now to make it through February, the "desert" of the homeschool year. ;o)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to make your cookies more addicting:

#1 Butter all the way! (Regardless of what your recipe states, use butter instead)
#2 Dark brown sugar--it just gives it a "deeper" taste
#3 And my most recent found love--Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips (think of them as what would happen if two Dove chocolates got together and had babies . . . yep, that good!)

You're welcome. ;o)

Monday, January 17, 2011


Ah. Monday.  We meet again.
Last week saw 3/5 of the children vomiting at various points during the week.  I'm thinking that phase has past.  Unfortunately, not before we shared our germs with a certain grandpa who has been laid low by a knee replacement (and then surgery again after a fall on the ice . . .).  Hopefully he will forgive us? ;o)
Today found me making yet another appointment for this fellow:
(pictured today at lunch, feeding himself while sleeping)
He's been clawing at his face/ear and hissing--causing me to acknowledge the fact he was--perhaps--in pain.
Possibly because he is cutting 4 molars.
Possibly because his ear is flaring up again.
So, I determined to get him an appointment. 
Problem #1--it is Monday and we all know all the parents who dealt with sick children over the weekend hold out until Monday to get their child into the doctor.
Problem #2--it is a holiday Monday and we all know that parents who have the day off today are going to jump at the chance to get their child in today rather than have to take off work at some later point in the week.
That being said, we were able to secure a 4:00 appt. at the office 20 minutes away (as opposed to the office 3 minutes away).  We all see where this is heading?
25 minutes in the waiting room.
45 minutes in the tiny exam room awaiting the doctor.
(the boys, about 40 minutes into the wait)
The last half hour of which Emmett would peek out the door every few minutes saying, "Uh, doctor?"
(I would half-heartedly discourage him, but deep down I was kind of wondering the same thing). 
He's three.  He can get away with such questioning.
When the doctor did show up he commented on five children waiting so long and mentioned he had six children.
I instantly liked him.
All that aside my little guy has yet another infection, his third in less than 2 months.  We're trying a stronger antibiotic this time.  My little boys and their little ears. :o( 
We got his medicine and came home to supper awaiting us in the crock pot.
Which was rather serendipitous on my part. ;o)
Marissa discovered that drowning food in Dorothy Lynch makes everything palatable (similar to a certain sister I have and her fondness for ketchup).
My floor needed to be mopped last Thursday. Surprisingly, it was still requiring such attention today!
I think every single toy has been dumped out upstairs.
In light of that it is possible I dipped into my "camera fund" and purchased for myself this.
I just know it will be a FABULOUS read.
And a great little treat after a bit of a trying day. ;o)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lazy Mom Phonics

I'm not sure if I am the last person in the world to learn of the Leap Frog DVDs, but in the event I'm not, I had to put a plug in for them.  This DVD is awesome!
I had seen a few glowing reviews on different blogs and I have to agree--it might be my favorite educational DVD!  Within a few days' time all of the hit/miss lessons I have done with Jackson over the last year have been completely solidified by this DVD. He now knows all the sounds.  And to top it off he's really excited about letters and wants to write them all the time. 
It has also gotten Emmett interested and he has learned many sounds too.  He'll just spontaneously come up and tell me "F says ffff!"
I checked at the library and they have the follow-up DVD (I believe it's called "Word Whammer") which will show how the letters stick together to make words.  And there's a 3rd DVD that teaches about silent E and other hard-to-get concepts. 
Overall, I'm not a big tv fan but I do let my boys watch 30-40 minutes every morning (so I can start my day with a bit of peach and quiet).  I can't tell you how delighted I am to find something for them to watch that  they enjoy AND will sneakily teach them to read. We all win. ;o)

Monday, January 10, 2011


I've been thinking today about unexpected gifts.
How what some deemed a big driving mess meant my husband got to stay home for a day of fun.
How a baby throwing up in my bed during the wee morning hours meant crisp and fresh sheets to sleep in tonight.
How getting school and violin done first thing this morning meant time for
snow adventures and chili and cinnamon rolls and
(starting a new read-aloud--I always forget how much I love these books!)
How a baby under-the-weather meant lots of sleepy snuggles and long naps.

Technically it was a Monday. A snowy one, intermixed with vomit, 2 loads of dishes (and counting), 4 loads of laundry (and counting), lingering weekend messes, and snow clothes x4.  It would be so easy to dwell on that. Last night I went to bed with a sense of dread, knowing I hadn't made the most of my weekend and consequently would be staring "down-the-barrel" of a really messy house come morning. But instead, I see a gracious God, working out little details, and I come away feeling blessed for such a wonderful day. 
I must say it always makes me sad to see (particularly on the grumbling, the complaining . . .
It's true you know, there's always, always, always!!!
something to be thankful for.

Praise for a gorgeous snowy day where I remained tucked inside my cozy--and somewhat cleaner--home, eating gooey cinnamon rolls and reading some Laura whilst cuddling a wee boy with flushed cheeks and frizzed curls to my heart's content. 
It was a perfect day.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Week in Review

--Josh survived his first week as a student teacher, adjusting to leaving the house at 7:15 and many nights not returning until the 9:30 pm range. Summed up: I got to pack him a school lunch every day. He's becoming quite the fan of baby carrots.  And he will never wear his "salmon" colored shirt again due to its similarity to "pink" and the subsequent ribbing that ensued from the other "science dudes."  But all in all a good week. ;o)

--We started back to school too.  It seems my eldest has a hard time getting back into routine and consequently THE ATTITUDE was back in full force.  As a result my parents offered to take her "on retreat" and picked her up yesterday afternoon.  We went and got her this afternoon in hopes of getting some time to play outside on the farm. Unfortunately it is rather windy out there--like hold-tight-to-the-steering-wheel-or-you'll-blow-off-the-road windy.  We stayed inside. 

--Jackson has grand plans for a family sleepover in his room.

--Owen is officially a toddler.  Not only is he throwing various items in my trash, stuffing his pants in the toilet, and emptying oatmeal containers, but he has all figured out how to climb ladders:
Thankfully, he stops after that second rung and gets on Emmett's bed.  Heaven-help-me when he figures he can climb to the top. (please ignore that diaper . . . it is possible he was a bit overdue for a change) ;o)

--Tomorrow is grocery shopping day!  I had to move it from Friday to Saturday mornings since Josh no longer has Friday available.  But since he has to work tomorrow (and eventually will have a Saturday class) I have scheduled grocery shopping for 8:00 am.  Josh is sooooo excited. ;o)  We could wait until he gets home from work, but there is supposedly a snowstorm a'coming and I am not going to Wal-mart on a Saturday afternoon with a snowstorm on its way.  I envision a very peaceful experience tomorrow morning at 8:00.  Tonight I'll be putting the finishing touches on my menu and list.  Monthly shopping kind of requires a bit of preparation but is SO worth it.

Wishing you all a cozy Friday indoors--I wish tonight were "Soup-er Saturday"--on the menu tomorrow Wisconsin Cheese Soup (I'm trying out a new recipe) and that sounds soooo good right about now!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Books, Books, Books

Favorite fiction read of 2010--
This was one of those hard-to-put-down books and gave great insight into life in the South and how much I've taken for granted being "white."
Favorite Non-fiction read of 2010--
LOVED this book on hospitality--it was hugely motivating and encouraging and I will probably read it again this year.

Currently in my reading pile--
This one was a recommendation from my teacher/coach of a brother and it has been a fascinating read.  The premise behind the book--there really is no such thing as a "prodigy"--people get to be masters of whatever skill by good old-fashioned hard work.  He gives many examples of people we think of as "great" and how they got to be that way. It has given me much to think about as I strive to motivate my own kids to work hard (which has lately consisted of lecturing . . .). 

I'm only a few chapters into this one, so I'm not really "digging" it yet but I kept coming across this book on other people's "favorites" lists so I thought I'd give it a whirl.  This is a trilogy, so my plan is to read all three.

I've purposely NOT read this book just because it was talked about endlessly and I don't like to jump on bandwagons.  But I've decided to see what it's all about--I got it from the library, but I need to finish the other two before I start it. ;o)

And once those are read, a book I'm planning on rereading--
It's one of my favorite "mothering" books and one I return to nearly yearly--particularly when I'm in need of inspiration and feeling like I've lost my "vision."  Like in the middle of winter. ;o)

So, there you have it, my book basket for the next month (ish). ;o)  Anybody know of any other good reads I'm missing out on?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Word for 2011

"Love is . . ."
I need to react better to life's daily "disasters"
I want my kids to react better to life's daily "disasters" (I recently came across good advice that went something like this "Whatever it is you want your kids to be, be that." That says it all doesn't it?)
I want to be remembered for kindness not "barkiness"
I do not know how long or trying the interview/hiring process will be for Josh--this is THE YEAR!!
I have many activities I want to do but I may not be able to do them this year

I'm drawn to many words in the definition of patience--the thought that patience is an act of will, a choice I make on how I react, steadiness in the performance of a task--not too different than what has become my "life word"--steadfast.  Oh, and the waiting . . . without complaint.  I've been firming up my "waiting muscles" for awhile, but it's the "without complaint" part that is still a struggle.  I read somewhere that we often "write" the plans for our lives in bold Sharpie when we need to be more of the etching-in-pencil kind of people, leaving room for God to edit and change as He pleases.  That would have been some good info to have when I was getting going on my own! ;o)

So, patience--I'm looking forward to growing in this area this year, in spite of the fact I've already blown it several times and we're only on day 2 . . . :oP  It may be a long year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year!

(goals, resolutions, call them what you want them, here's my little list for the upcoming year) ;o)

Read more books, like 3 a month (this year I averaged a little over 2 . . . and for the record Marissa completely outread me this year, the first time an immediate family member has outread me in . . . well, probably ever!) ;o)

Run a half marathon (still uncertain if Josh's school schedule will afford me any training time, but if I can swing it I'd sure like to make this THE YEAR).

Do a "Project 365" taking a picture a day, documenting life for a year--sounds like fun!

Save up for this camera.

Take photography classes to learn how to use that camera. ;o)

Take a beginning upholstery class--reupholster my steal-of-a-deal wing-backs (taking any classes will once again depend on Josh's schedule, and if I can't this year, maybe next year . . .)

Get Jackson reading

Make sure Emmett knows all letters/sounds

Start the girls in piano lessons

Keep a cleaner home . . .