Saturday, February 28, 2015

If you are wondering ...

... whether you should vaccinate, I encourage you to hop over to my friend Tara's blog post from a few days ago.

Tara is a doctor and one of the smartest women I know.

Her husband is a doctor as well.

They just had their first baby. She lives in California. She is about as close to a hippy as I know. (No offense intended Tara.)

And they vaccinate.

I have many, many, many friends who are physicians. And I have yet to run across a single one of them who does not vaccinate their own children. I think this is a vital piece of information and something I should share.

I continue to be confused why people who are against vaccinations still go to physicians and trust them with so many other vital decisions but do not trust them with this vital piece of information.

So if you are in debate, take a moment to view Tara's blog post.

Also, you can click here to read a past post I wrote about vaccines or click here to read Tara's past very detailed post regarding her feelings about vaccines.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Funnies

She's never even had Tomato Soup, but apparently she loves it and needs to put a bird in it:

I gave the kids a lecture on how bad it would be if they ate more of their vitamins then they were supposed to. "It could be very bad. Those vitamins have medicine in it to help make you big and strong. So if you were to eat all of them ..."
Sidge: "You could get super muscles?"
Abigail: "Your belly could get very big?"

Something like that.


I began reading one of Aesop's Fables: The Fox and the Leopard. Here is an exact dialogue of how the story went down as I read it to my two boys during school time:

Me: "A fox and a Leopard, resting lazily after a generous dinner,"
Sidge: "What is generous?"
Me: "Big."
Sidge: "Okay."
Me: "A fox and a Leopard, resting lazily after a generous dinner, amused themselves,"
Sidge: "What is amused?"
Me: "Goofed around."
Sidge: "Okay."
Me: "So they amused themselves by disputing about their good looks."
Sidge: "What is disputed?"
Me: "Argued."
Sidge: "For real?"
Me: "Well they were kind of jokingly disputing."
Sidge: "Okay. Were they friends?"
Me: "Yes, basically."
Sidge: "What does basically mean?"
Me: "Yes, they were friends."
Sidge: "Okay."
Me: "The Leopard was very proud of his glossy, spotted coat,"
Sidge: "What is glossy?"
Me: "Shiny."
Sidge: "Was is really shiny?
Me: "That's what it says."
Sidge: "So then it is true?"
Me: "Well, the author said it."
Sidge: "Okay."
Me: "So the Leopard was proud of his coat and made disdainful remarks about the Fox,"
Sidge: "What does disdainful mean?"
Me: "Mean."
Sidge: "Mean means mean?"
Me: "Disdainful means mean."
Sidge: "Okay."
Me: "So the Leopard was proud and made mean comments to the fox whose appearance he declared was quite ordinary."
Sidge: "What is declared?"
Me: "Said."
Sidge: "And what is ordinary?"
Me: "Normal."

Thoroughly exhausted, I decided to edit the rest of the story as I read.


I asked the kids if they wanted cereal or pancakes for breakfast.
Sidge: "Wow Mom. That is a really hard question because I really want both."

To save your kids from mediocrity, don't pay for college: 8 tips from 'Guerrilla Dad'

A father of eight provides eight tips for helping raise empowered, resilient, self-reliant individuals. To read the article in its entirety, click here. 
  1. Teach self-reliance. Help them develop a work ethic and help teach them to take care of themselves. Help them recognize what they want and what they truly need and show them how to get it for themselves whenever possible.
  2. Customize their education. Find ways that your particular child has their needs met intellectually. Mark Twain said, "Never let schooling get in the way of your education." I totally agree with this. Boy Scouts, days at the farm -- find the things they are passionate about and teach them -- homeschool or not.
  3. Focus on getting results. Help children discover what information and skills they need to do specific jobs because employers want results.
  4. College is NOT for everyone. This can be controversial, but I totally agree with the author on this one. Give the kids options. College is not the answer for everyone. It depends on what they want to do and what they want to be. But tons of money doesn't equal a happier life.
  5. Let your kids fail. Parent by the natural consequences. This is so hard to do. But it is true. "Most kids, and people in general for that matter, don't learn what they are capable of until they have to learn what they are capable of."
  6. Don't rescue your kids. Let kids handle their own mistreatments and disappointments. Again, I totally agree but man is this hard to do.
  7. Challenge your kids. Find things they love. Set challenging goals. They can learn in many ways that they are in control of their own destiny. 
  8. Love them no matter what. Amen.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Paradigm shift: Curriculum is not something you buy

Click here to read a fantastic homeschooling article reminding we parents/teachers/educators that it isn't so much what we are teaching as it is the lifestyle we have chosen to teach our kids in.

"If we started thinking about our children’s learning in terms of what we hope they will come to encounter in any given year rather than thinking of getting through a particular book or “covering” material, we free ourselves to learn far more than we could by binding ourselves to a set published resource. Of course we will use such resources to reach our goals — but the resource will be our servant, not our master."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wee-wind Wednesday

On this day in 2005, we were enjoying JB's second year of medical school in our downtown Rochester condo. I was busy celebrating because the Maytag dishwasher people had determined our model was too broken and were giving us a brand new one. (You can tell that I really like dishwashers.) Our life was so different then. I worked full time and JB was in medical school full time. We had our two birds but not even our dog yet. So much has changed in nearly a decade. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hannah Meets Slide

I found this video above while looking through some of my blog drafts.

I have hundreds of blog drafts. Quick links I drop in a post -- waiting for a day that I have the time to write something profound.

This video is from the fall of last year -- when Hannah was just around a year old. It was a very hot day, and my little girl discovered, all by herself, what a slide was and how to go down it.

I was so proud of her. This video demonstrated how different she is from each of my previous children. She needed no prodding (like Sidge). She needed no bribery (like Isaac). She needed no one to go with her (like Abigail.)

Hannah is my last biological child. Of that I am certain. My last pregnancy was so terrible, and I am nearing 38. We know it is time to say we are done with children of my womb. If I could have started a bit younger (like I didn't try) and if my pregnancies weren't so debilitating, I think we'd like more children.

We LOVE parenthood.

We may adopt again. I cannot be sure. But even if we do, we aren't foreseeing an adoption of little children.

This means that all these memories are the last memories I will have with my children. That was the last time I would watch a child go down a slide for the first time. Each day, without realizing it, I am saying good bye to the last time of something in the lives of my kids.

I'm so proud of her. And so sad at the same time.

Finding this video reminded me that I want to strive, in all ways, at all times, to treasure every moment with my children. To take as much in as I can and be so thankful for the little moments I have.

I hope my words remind us all to do the same.

To Ms. Basketball mom that I observed by the coat rack,

I was at the gym, putting my coat up on the rack. 

You were standing nearby, talking to another mom. Both of your teenage sons stood next to you, listening to every word you said.

You were saying very unkind things about your son's basketball coach while your boys stood and listened.

And not only were you saying unkind things, but you were saying wrong things.

"I mean the coach said that if he wants more playing time, he has to get more aggressive," you began. "What does that mean anyway? If you want him to be more aggressive, you have to tell him how to be more aggressive. Tell him what to do and he'll do it."

Then you put the nail in the coffin. "So, we won't be at the last game. I'm not putting up with that kind of behavior."

It took everything in my BEING to not stop you right there and give you a HUGE piece of MY mind.

Firstly, my qualifications. I am the daughter of a coach. Spent my entire childhood observing, participating, and listening to coaching. I was a gym rat to my core. Then I was an athlete. I played both basketball and volleyball competitively and was offered full scholarships to Division I schools in both sports. I chose to play basketball at Western Kentucky University. Following four years as a college athlete, I coached for five years -- both basketball, volleyball, and even a little soccer. (I was roped into that last one.)

I know my sports. I know my sports parents. I know my sports athletes. 

And if I weren't such a wimp, I would have stopped right then and piped in. Because you needed to get a piece of my mind.

So, in no particular order, may I break apart and stomp on your little rant:

Chances are Ms. Basketball mom that I observed by the coat rack, you have never played a sport. And if you have, I find it unlikely it was basketball. Because if it was basketball, you would never have considered asking a coach to dissect the word aggressive. I'm not sure you understand what the word aggressive means. It is NOT something you can be taught. You can try to teach it, but the truth is, a child is either aggressive on the court or they are not. You can encourage them, but it isn't like teaching them an out-of-bounds play. It doesn't work that way. (If you don't know what an out-of-bounds play is, I'll need another post to explain that one.)

Chances are Ms. Basketball mom that I observed by the coat rack, that while you love your son immensely, you have started to lose sight of the point of childhood athletics. Do you understand what it is you are trying to teach your son? I devoted nearly every waking hour of my life until I was 21 to basketball and volleyball. Most kids are completely done with competitive sports at 18. If they are VERY lucky, they will get to play a little bit in college. Nearly no one goes beyond 21. I am now 37 years old which means the last 16 years of my life have been away from the game. What I was learning had nearly nothing to do with playing a sport and everything to do with learning diligence, determination, disappointments, coordination, teamwork, and other important skills. Are you using this opportunity to teach your son about life's disappointments and how he can confront the coach and discuss his lack of playing time? Some of the greatest lessons I learned were during some of the most unfair things. (Think not making the all-state team because another coach cheated when voting. Yes, that happened to me.)

Chances are Ms. Basketball mom that I observed by the coat rack, that you are forgetting that your son's coach is probably unpaid and volunteering his time. Or if he is paid, he is making less money per hour than a waiter. You could as easily decide to volunteer your time to help coach or coach your own team, but you don't. You are forgetting that he has another full-time job and that he does this to help and support kids or possibly because he was guilt-tripped into doing it with the fear that some kids wouldn't be able to play if he didn't. He may not be the best coach in the world. This may be the first time he is doing it. He may be learning too. 

Chances are Ms. Basketball mom that I observed by the coat rack, that you don't understand the mentality of coaches. They are sitting on the bench, at all times, racking their brain with how to make all the players (and parents) on their team happy. They are trying to figure out how to get your son more playing time without losing the game and upsetting a whole 'nother group of kids and parents. They are trying to do the right thing by everyone. 

Chances are Ms. Basketball mom that I observed by the coat rack, that you have never attempted to get 12 individuals to work together as a team to accomplish a goal and not look like fools and actually win. Do you know how hard it is to get 12 adults to work together? Now try to take 12 hormonal teenagers and mold them into a team that actually works together and scores points. It is an art so fine and so stressful that it kept me awake at night. It is beyond difficult. Some days I felt it was not possible.

Chances are Ms. Basketball mom that I observed by the coat rack, that you have forgotten that your son is watching you. He is learning far more about life from this conversation by the coat rack then he is on the court. He is learning that is okay to talk about people if you are mad enough. He is learning that it is okay to skip out and let your team down if it isn't working for you. And he is learning that respecting authority is only important if it works for you.

So there you have it. I don't think you'll ever read this post. But my hopes is that another mom and dad will and will think twice before they forget the WHOLE POINT OF YOUTH SPORTS.

We are helping mold successful adults ...

Not successful athletes.

And if we can teach the parents a thing or two in the midst of it, we'll all be better for it.

Guest post on organization

A guest post by Stephanie 
Stephanie was an Early Child Educator for ten years. Here she shares some of her favorite tips for helping keep toys organized with kids! 

First of I would like to say that I feel privileged that Wendi asked me to do a guest post; we have never met face to face we only each other from our mutual friend Joia (I went to high school with Joia and from her blog I started reading Wendi's). I have not blogged before so lets see how this goes.

Toy Organization Ideas:
  • Take pictures of the toys and tape them to the buckets that the toys belong in or the shelf they sit on. The children with time & repetition will learn that when they were done with one toy they are to return it to its home. Then they can get another and so on. (See picture 1 below).
  • Makeup games with the kids for cleaning up ... like let's see how fast you can clean up that mess & time them or see how many they could put in a bucket at a time.
  • Only put out so many buckets at a time. (Sometimes too many toys are overwhelming and help with the fun of dumping them all over the place.) After a week or two, if you notice one bucket not being played with, then swap them for other toys. This helps with less mess & it's like the kids forget about some toys for awhile, and then when you swap them it's like, "Hey! New toys!"
  • There's also the option of (had friends do this at their home) if the kids are not cleaning up tell them that if they aren't cleaned up then that toy would be gone and follow through (put them in a place where the kids won't find them.)  If they want those toys back, they need to earn them back by cleaning up and helping you! This is a life learning experience -- learning to clean up and to take care of their belongings.
  • With them helping clean, they can earn stars for a special treat at the end of the week like cake or ice cream or a fun movie or a dollar store treat from a prize box.
  • Lastly, if you think there's too many toys or toys they really don't play with have them, have them help you you donate them. My one friend at Christmas would have her son pick a few toys he's out grown or doesn't play with any more donate them ... then IF He got new toys he'd have more room for them.
This helps them learn that its nice to give and share and help to declutter.
Some other ideas to help keep little hands busy if you're making supper or need them to sit still (hopefully) for a bit... see web sites below. Please remember though to double bag these feely bags (some children are pretty strong) and use duct tape all the way around the edges.

It may take some time but with patience & perseverance I am hoping these ideas may help some one out there!

Picture 1

Picture 2

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Happy Day!

JB's mom has returned from a trip to South Florida. How wonderful to have her back in our home. The kids inundated her with stories and requests for games and books and anything they could think of. Abigail drew her a picture. The boys created a Manatile mansion in her bedroom (and she was such a great sport about it.) Scrubs sniffed her like crazy. All in all it was just wonderful to have her back.

The weather is still not great here. School is out again tomorrow. However, the roads to the airport were pretty good, and I had no trouble getting her this morning. She had been due in a week ago but this darn storm threw everything for a loop.

I'm not a science person. (I've pretty much decided I won't teach my kiddos science much past 4th grade.) So it was JB who explained to me why this ice storm happened here, in Tennessee, and we never experienced anything like this during our years in Minnesota.

The reason is that Minnesota is too cold for ice!

Now don't get me wrong. They can have ice. But generally, it doesn't really rain in Minnesota in the winter. But here, where the temperatures hovered so carefully right above freezing, days and days of rain followed by drops in the temperature left Tennessee covered in ice that wouldn't go away. Add to that the infrastructure not designed to support ice like that and it was a recipe for many, many days stuck inside the house.

We weren't stuck inside entirely. The kids could go in the backyard and play. But it was really impossible to drive anywhere. On Wednesday, during a lull in the storm, I decided to brave the roads and take the kids to Kroger and get their hair cuts. Both of these places were less than a mile from our house.

I wouldn't say it was a mistake, but I will tell you that I fell on my rear for the second time during that outting. JB said that I am the person he saw over and over and over again during the string of days he was putting in at the ER. Tons of broken bones from falls on the ice.

I pride myself on staying home and not trying to do too much. I didn't realize until this last week how much I count on our little outtings to help break up my motherhood routine. When your husband leaves at 6am and comes home at 8pm, that leaves you responsible to keep four children alive, fed, and relatively pleasant to be around, for 14 hours a day by yourself. That is a lotta hours without a single break for Chik-fil-A or even a speech appointment! Man oh man was I ready to get out!

I am very proud of myself, however, that during this storm I was basically able to keep up my triathlon training. I had to make a few changes (like running the stairs in my house one day instead of going on my 30 minute run) but overall, I managed to not miss too many workouts. I feel like I didn't really lose too much and today managed a 2 mile run, 15 minute bike, and 1/4 mile swim. I'm hanging in there!

Review: The Beginner's Bible: Come Celebrate Easter Sticker & Activity Book

What a fun book!

I recently received my free copy of The Beginner's Bible: Come Celebrate Easter Sticker & Activity Book from Booksneeze (in exchange for my honest and fair review.)

This sticker and activity book for Easter features the classic art from The Beginner's Bible and is here just in time to celebrate our Lord and Savior being risen from the dead.

The Easter story comes to life through age-appropriate puzzles, activity pages, and stickers in this friendly and fun book.

I let both my 3 year old and my 6 year old boys try out this book. (I decided to skip an introduction to my 18 month old since she mostly likes to rip and eat things still.) Both the 3 year old and the 6 year olds were perfect ages for this book. My older sons could do more of it on their own, without needing much guidance from me. My 3 year old needed me to sit with her, but she was equally able to participate and glean from the lessons and fun activities.

This sixteen page workbook is priced at just over $3 making it an inexpensive and fantastic inclusion in your child's Easter basket. I strongly recommend it as we celebrate a Christian holiday that I want to try and keep that way in my house!

Blanket for sale

Ten year old Alysah has made another blanket! As a reminder these are 49" x 63" and machine washable line dry. This blanket is $20 and your entire donation goes directly to help Joel & Criss Van Wyck have their adopted family forever. Just leave a comment and the blanket is your's!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

We Bought a Farm: Notes From a Blue Bike

"When I ask my teacher friends, they all share the same answer. Statistics and studies have proven this fact as well. There are entire books written on the subject. And there are tons of pinboards on Pinterest and blogs on the Internet about the subject, veritable gift baskets of ideas so large we'd never have time to consume them all. I'm referring to this one simple truth: a child's home life has far more influence on his ability to learn, create, and explore than where he goes to school. Whether a child is homeschooled, goes to public school, or attends a private school, the parents remain the most influential teacher's in that kid's life. Bar non."
--Tsh Oxenreider in Notes from a Blue Bike

I am IN LOVE with this book and cannot thank my friend Harmony enough for sending it to me. It is truly like this woman is writing our story. The details are different, but she and her family lived in Turkey, fell in love with the slow pace, and then came back to America -- blown away by the speed at which they were expected to keep up.

I especially love the quote above. So many of us are in debates over how to educate our children. While I am passionate about homeschooling and I truly believe it has a lot to offer any family who tries it, I do believe that it is not the answer to the world's problems. How involved we are as parents, intentionally, makes a far greater impact, then where they go to school. Homeschooling parents can be uninvolved. Parents who send their kids to public school can be uninvolved. Private school parents can do the same. It is what we do with the time we have that truly will make the greatest impact in the lives of our children.

Tsh (yes, that's her real name!) writes about the act of living intentionally in a chaotic world. This is truly a summary of the life JB and I are striving for. It takes a conscious decision to slow down and keep your days simple. It doesn't come naturally.  (You can read my own musings on this topic by visiting my past post: The Simple Life.)

A great book to read if you are looking to simply life in any of the following ways: food, work, education, entertainment, and travel.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Funnies

Abigail showed me her toy washing machine and dryer. "You can sit on these," she said. I told her it really wasn't a good idea to sit on toys like that. "Oh. Okay. Well, we can lay on them then."


Abigail was in the car, repeatedly asking for her butterfingers. At long last we determined she was trying to get us to give her some of her chickenfingers.


While doing my exercises, Abigail decided to do them with me. While doing our sit-ups, I cracked up when she told me, "Mommy, this is really hard. My head is too heavy."


Sidge wanted a pancake for breakfast.
Me: "Can you I just give it you to eat without a plate or syrup."
Sidge: "I really want a plate and syrup."
Me: "Okay."
Sidge: "Is that okay?"
Me: "Yeah. I'm just feeling lazy. Syrup is a pain."
Sidge: "Oh. It hurts you?
Me: "No, I just don't feel like getting out syrup."
Sidge: "Kind of like how you feel about wiping our butts?"


Confession: I canNOT keep up

I finally succumbed and called in reinforcements. A cleaning crew showed up to help me clean my house.

They concluded their work, and I sat on my sofa. I had made it a point to have all the dishes and laundry done prior to them arriving.

(My Turkish and Portuguese housekeepers used to do those things for me, but here in the USA, you only get the basics I have come to be informed.)

I made it a point to get those things done so that when the cleaning crew left, I could sit on my couch and feel ... finished.

The entire house was clean.
The laundry was done.
It was put away.
There was not a single dish in the sink.
The dishwasher was empty.
The dog was outside where he could not leave any hair on anything.

My job was done.

I watched the clock. Eight minutes went by. Eight whole minutes of a feeling of ... completion.

And then Hannah woke up from her nap.
The older three were ready to eat.
An outfit was soiled during lunchtime.
Dishes were stacked in the sink.
Food time ended.
Books were pulled off the shelf.
Scrubs came in and shook his hair into every crevice imaginable.
An apple juice went flying further than I thought juice could travel.

And finished became begin again.

My Blog posts, the real posts that aren't just about our day or our life, usually well up within me for a few days before I finally carve out an hour to sit down and write. That is what I have done today. The girls are asleep. The boys are playing a game on the kitchen table. And I am writing as fast as I can, keenly aware that one of the girls could wake up at any moment and that I still have two other big writing "things" I need to get done.

And this post is all about this picture:

This picture was taken less than 24 hours after the cleaning crew had worked their magic. To be fair, half of that mess is my preparation for our vacation. The other half, however, is my three olders and their mess.

I used to be able to contain their messes. They were little and their messes were little. But suddenly, their messes have:

They are spilling into hallways and staircases and into closets. Suddenly Abigail's dolls and Sidge's Superheroes are coming together and breeding off of each other and growing and filling rooms that they never coexisted within. They definitely help clean up. And they aren't allowed to move onto another thing before a previous thing is cleaned up. But getting them to help clean up requires time and supervision and there's Hannah who is occupying more of my time than I thought a 1.5 year old child was capable of occupying.

But what do you do with the idea by one of your children to hide all of their animals somewhere in the house and you are finding them in linen closets and underwear drawers for weeks on end?

Creativity is good, right? Innovation. Ideas. Expression. Free spirits. Learning through play.

But, oh the mess! And the list of things to do that grows with their messes. 

So I had this idea to write an innovative post. It would be a post like none I had ever written before. I would admit how hard raising four tiny children was and how much I needed to try to appreciate things and not get stressed about the mess and clutter and feeling that I was never done. And I would ask for all of you to encourage me and tell me that this was going to be okay!

I decided to look through and see if I had ever written anything like this before. And, ummm, this post is FAR from innovative. Here is my compilation of past posts I have written which all basically touch on the fact that this job is hard and we need to not compare ourselves and that we should not feel guilty and all that jazz. Here is the list:

And as I re-read some of my old posts, I realized that the advice I was going to request from my readers was sort of something I had already given myself through these old posts. I'd encouraged myself and answered my own concerns with my own words, hand't I?

And yet, despite reading that it's going to be okay and I need to chill out and that I can't get it all done, I can't help but feeling I am doing something wrong? Surely there should be a magic formula to get everything done and not feel behind? 

Tell me I'm missing something magical that is going to make this job way easier.

Because today, and if I am being honest I know that PMS is factoring into this feeling, I cannot help but feel like this is too hard for me. Like I am going to feel behind forever. Like I am so incredibly outnumbered. 

And I KNOW that this is a season. I KNOW that this will not be like this forever. And I do not WANT this to go too fast. I want to treasure each day with my kiddos.

But I feel like all my magical ideas aren't enough. I am using a meal service and I am getting a housekeeper when I feel behind and I am saying no to as many things as I can and we are staying home and moving at the slowest pace I feel possible.

And I am still feeling so ... very ... behind.

I am not going to end this post with a magical summary of how this is going to be okay. I know it is going to be okay. Instead, I am hoping that some of you out there will just tell me I am not the only one feeling that I am waking up in the morning already two laps behind.


Hannah talks

Hannah is, so far, our second biggest talker, following a very verbose Isaac. She is repeating nearly any word we say, and just making us crack up when she repeats what one of her parents or siblings say. This morning she echoed my very common, "Guys!" So sweet.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wee-wind Wednesday

On this day in 2008, I was the mother to only one -- my dog Scrubs. Here I am letting him hang out with my friend Joia's son Keenan -- wanting to introduce him to as many kiddos as possible in preparation of meeting his own little brother just a few months later. 

Day Three of Snowed In

We are snowed in for the third day in a row. There isn't a ton of snow, but coupled with the ice, driving isn't really advisable.

And driving when you have to try and lug around your four small children is even less advisable. (I don't think in that case it would be the driving that would be dangerous but the managing to walk them in and out of locations that could be you-tube video worthy in possible laughter that could ensue.)

The down part of this snowed in experience (of which I never faced even while living in Minnesota for four years) is that JB had to work all three days. While most businesses are closed, I have become very aware that the Emergency Room never closes. 

We had previously decided that three days in a row for him to work is a lot no matter which way you cut it. It is 36 hours in 3 days -- which is what a full-time job is in five days. He is exhausted. And he barely gets to see the kids at all as he has to leave around 6am and doesn't get home until close to 8pm.

But when you are stuck in the house for three days in a row, not having Daddy there for three straight FULL days is even more of a bummer. The kids have played some in the backyard, but I can't really get out there with them as taking Hannah out in the slick yard is really more than I feel I can bite off. (It's one thing to help three kids get all their winter stuff on and off. But add yourself and a baby to that, and I know my limits.)

So what have we been doing for the last three days? Well our normal schoolwork. We've played a lot of board games and read a lot of books and watched some movies too. Grama K. was supposed to return from Florida on Tuesday, but she got snowed out. So it is really just me and my four kids and my big dog and a nice warm house with no ability to leave it.

I'm also training for a spring triathlon. Yesterday I had to figure out how to get a 20 minute run and 20 minute weight session in with no ability to get to the gym. I opted for the stairs in our house. 20 minutes of those will kick your tail! But I am most likely going to miss my swim session today. There's just no way to get there right now!

I really thought that I was a "lay low" gal. And I think I am. But I realized that our few little jaunts out of the house actually do make a difference for me. This week I had planned to meet my friend Stebbs and her boys in Birmingham for a day at a Science Center. We had to cancel that. Isaac's speech lesson was cancelled. Our music class was cancelled. I would have definitely made a trip to the library and grocery store. We need hair cuts. All those little things that make 14 hours of solo mom time a day a little less long.

Bring on another day of long folks.

Day three commences now!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Random moments

Here is a compilation of recent moments in the recent days of our life:

Eating S'mores we made in the microwave. What a mess!

Hannah demonstrating her ability to take her arms out of shirt sleeves anytime I put her down to sleep.

The boys showing off their ability to color AND make anything but a normal face for a photo.

Sidge at his Brick4Kids lego class. They love going to this class!

Hannah's first real time out in the snow.

A shot I snagged of the new ER JB is going to be working at when we get to our new home on the farm.

Peaceful sleep.

On a date I had with Sidge.

Another snap at Brick4Kids. And more crazy faces.

A braid by cousin Briana when she came to visit.

The boys playing a game in the play room.

Mr. Jimmy at Bricks4Kids somehow convinced Abigail to be his friend in mere moments -- no small feat.

These two LOVE getting out into the snow to play together.

Abigail knocked out by a BAD stomach bug.

I have just given up -- I totally let her dress herself.

This chick just LOVES to color

I took the three older kids to see "The Elephant and the Piggie" at the Nashville Children's Theatre. We had a great time!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hunkered Down

Like many people across the country -- especially in the south -- we got word that a winter storm was coming our way. We watched as all the birds, obviously knowing it was coming, went crazy eating out of our bird feeder. 

On Monday morning, I got up at 5am. (This is the time I go out to train for my triathlon -- it gives me about 90 minutes before JB has to leave for work.) This particular morning, I headed outside thinking that the storm hadn't hit yet. But in fact it had. There was tons of ice that I couldn't see in the dark. Once it got light, I took this picture. This is from our front door. But because I didn't see the ice, I fell off this porch at 5 in the morning. (And thus opted to forgo my workout.) I bruised my hand, my knee, my toes, and slightly twisted my calf and knee. Sigh ...

Here is a photo of the start of the ice storm. You can see our rugs completely under ice. And that yogurt cup I threw Scrubs some food in the other day -- stuck solid.

Icy yard.

Icy bird feeder:

We got about 1/2 inch of ice, then a ton of snow, and then the ice came back again. This was the first time since our life in Minnesota that I was completely "snowed in." No way in the world to go out with all my kiddos. Most businesses were closed. Most doctors offices were closed. But my dear husband works at an ER. Translation? Not closed. Not ever. Not only did I fly solo on Monday, but this ice storm caused me to have to cancel a trip to meet my friend Stebbs halfway between our houses tomorrow. And JB will have to work tomorrow too!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My sister!

On Friday I had the incredible and amazing opportunity to visit my sister at her convent in Knoxville.

For those of you who know me well, you know of this friend. And you probably know of how this protestant gal (i.e., me!) came to have one of her very best friends in the whole world be a nun.

Her life is one of privacy so I can't share any pictures (even though I took some) and I can't share any content of our conversations (even though there were some great ones.) What I can tell you is that she is doing absolutely fantastically. She will do her final vows in a little over a year (I will definitely be there for those!), and feels incredibly positive about her commitment to spend the rest of her life "married" to her savior.

She only gets a limited number of visitors a year, and it is always such a blessing how the other sisters take care of her (and me) while we are there. They feed us and water us and just allow us to sit and fellowship and be together.

I was especially excited because it worked out that JB and the kids could come with. They stayed for about thirty minutes and then went and killed time on our farm while I got to have one-on-one time with my sister. Then they came to back to pick me up. JB even brought Chik-fil-A for the sisters. While it was Friday (and they don't eat meat on Fridays) they were excited to wait until the next day to eat their sandwiches.

Six years is a long time to be friends with someone with no technology to aid your friendship. You can imagine that she has lost touch with many people. But I love the cards and letters we share. She is the godmother for all my children (in a non-catholic alternate sense), and the prayers she offers on my family's behalf are such precious gifts to me.

P.S. If you'd like to see a few pictures of our day because you know sister, please feel free to send me an email, and I'd be happy to share with you!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What's in the Bible DVD sale

I have been looking for a fun Bible curriculum for my kiddos I just purchased the "What's in the Bible" 13 disk DVD set from Veggie Tale's creator Phil Vischer. Normally, this product is $194.87, but it is currently on sale for $5 a DVD. That means $65! Click here to see for yourself. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Funnies

Sidge asked me this morning if I wanted to hear his best snake voice?

Abigail told me that the hair on her legs is smooth but my hair is spiky.

Good morning to me!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Another way to donate today!

Meet Alysah! This 10 year old wanted to help raise money for Because of Isaac. She and her mom brainstormed and decided to make blankets! (49" × 63" / Machine washable line dry). 

Alysah is selling the blankets for $20 and the proceeds go directly toward Joel and Criss' adoption.

To purchase this blanket, jump on over to the Because of Isaac Facebook page and be the first to leave a comment.

And if you miss this one, don't worry. She plans to keep making 'em!

My husband's sick and my keys are in the van

My husband constantly impresses me. For the second day in a row he went to work so incredibly sick, I am still unsure how even made it out the door. He honestly doesn't even know if there is a sick policy for the ER docs at his hospital. 

(I find this a bit ironic that doctors there to treat sick people, don't have a policy in place to be sick themselves?)

However, because he was at work, I was forced to call a locksmith when I tossed my coat on the front seat of the van with my keys in the jacket pocket while out running errands with the kiddos. I thought of calling my cousin or brother-in-law, but even if I did, they'd pick me up with a vehicle without car seats, and I would have no way to get into my house since my house key was on that same ring that was in my jacket pocket. JB works over an hour from where I was so there was no way I could just run and pick up the keys, go all the way back to where we were, and then go back to our house. 

Sigh ...

Here's to four kids and no vehicle and a husband working 4 towns over!

At least the reason I was taking off my jacket was because it was "such a beautiful day!"

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We Bought a Farm: Update

We have now set our dates for moving to the farm! We will be moving out the last week in May. JB starts his new job at a new hospital on June 1. It is getting very real that this is really going to happen.

(If this is new news to you, click on the "We Bought a Farm" label to see all past posts on this topic. Or you can click here for a Q&A on our move.)

I absolutely love the town we live in now. I think our church is fantastic. I love that we are near some family and I have really enjoyed meeting some great new ladies -- especially my friend Julie and her awesome kiddos.

But our hearts were never allowed to fully establish here. We knew from very early on that this was a temporary stop and that we had one more move to make until we found our forever home. We have purposefully not allowed ourselves to create a more permanent life here -- all in preparation for the move to the farm.

This town we are moving to has less than 800 people. It does not have a grocery store or any of the things we have right around the corner form us at our current house. It is going to take a lot of adjusting.

But I am ready. We are ready. Our kids are thrilled. And my husband is, honestly, giddy.

In preparation for this move to the farm, I am going to be making some Blog changes. You can click here to read the details and make sure I have your contact information.) My Blog will still exist for the public to read, but the more personal and private family entires will only be available to those individuals on "the list." (So make sure you are!)

In the meantime, we are continuing to take one or two trips to the farm a month, towing behind us a little U-haul trailer, attempting to get more and more things there. (In the hope of making the final move easier. Yeah right!)

We do not foresee that our life will slow down at the farm. In fact, it will probably get busier if you looked strictly at chores needing to be done. But that busier life will be intentional. We will be growing and eating our own food. We will be spending our time together instead of spread out all over the place chasing non-congruent dreams. We are purposefully choosing to live a more intentional, purposeful life, away from the "normal" rat race.

This does not, in any way, place judgment on people who live in the rat race. We definitely do not believe the life we are choosing is for everyone. (It couldn't be as there certainly is not enough land for everyone to do what we are doing.) But for those of you who are interested in this life, either because you consider it or because it intrigues you in a voyeuristic way, then this Blog will continue to update you on the ups and downs of my ol' city girl self moving to the country!

However, for us, this life feels like the only way we can go. Our years overseas have left us seeking more quiet, more dark skies, more stars twinkling.

And we're going to go after our dream.

We hope that it will be a place of respite -- not only for us -- but for YOU when you come visit us. We hope that we will be able to provide those we know and love with a place of respite as well. So stay tuned for "visiting the farm" details!

Monday, February 09, 2015

Speaking engagement

Today I had the opportunity to speak to a local church's Mom to Mom group. The group was about 100 women, and I spoke on finding community during difficult times. I thought the talk went great, and I continue to find myself taking these speaking engagements as they avail themselves. I share my testimony intertwined with different aspects of faith and friendship, depending on what the group desires.

If you have a local women's group that you might be interested in having me speak at, don't hesitate to let me know. I can't promise how many of these I will or can do, but I am open to seeing where the Lord leads me in this. Feel free to visit my speaking page by clicking here for more information.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Tooth #9

Tooth #9 in our house belongs to our Sidge. This is his second tooth outage. I asked him to smile so I could get a picture of him and his missing tooth for the Blog. I need to see some teeth Sidge!

Much better! He actually asked Daddy to finally yank this one out since the big tooth behind it was completely in and he was sick of waiting. "I"ll say Uhhhhh if I want you to stop because your hand will be in my mouth and I can't say STOP!"

Church selfie

I always get incredibly proud when I manage to get all four of my kiddos dressed, fed, and ready to attend 8:30am church service BY MYSELF! I don't think I have ever taken a selfie before, but I decided this morning would be a good time to try. Here we are getting ready to leave for church. (Abigail wanted to show the picture she colored for her teacher.)

First try: not quite.

Second try: a little better!

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Fun Few Days

On Thursday and Friday, my awesome friend Claire made the 4 hour drive to visit. Since Grampa and Grama are both in South Florida now and JB was working full days, I was loving the company! I didn't get any pics of me and Claire, but here are the kiddos.

Abigail with Bria

The guys: Sidge, Jacob, Gavin, and Isaac.

On Saturday, the weather was SO beautiful, we decided at the last minute to hop on up to the zoo. We even splurged and let the kids ride on the carousal. 

After the zoo, we picked up our niece and nephew so their parents could go out on a date and took everyone to Chik-Fil-A for dinner.

It has been a great couple of days!