Sunday, March 29, 2009

Painting is therapeutic...

returning a new light fixture because it doesn't fit is not. :-) I spent the better part of yesterday re-doing my downstairs powder room. I even managed to take some "before" pictures, although I didn't remember until after Kelly took down our old mirror. It's not quite all put back together, but as soon as it is, I'll post pictures.

I also managed to find some more clothes for Kora. She's in an awkward stage right now where girls sized clothes pretty much don't fit anymore. Many juniors clothes are inappropriate and misses clothes aren't shaped for a 12 year old. So I always get really excited when I can find clothes that fit her and are appropriate and that she likes. Yesterday I took her to Ross and got her three Sunday outfits, including an Easter dress that her father said makes her look far too old.

My grandmother continues to makes slow steady improvement and will more than likely be moving to nursing home in the next week or so. They are looking at one right down the street from my mom's neighborhood, so it would be very easy for my mom to check on her and spend time with her if she moves there. But I am so thankful that she is doing better!

After talking about it for nearly 6 years, I think I am finally going to dig myself an herb bed! I've had a spot just off our back porch picked out in which to grow cooking herbs ever since we moved in this house, and have never gotten around to it. But my good friend Aubrey gave me a rosemary plant for my birthday in December, and it desperately needs to be planted in the ground. So Saturday morning I plan on getting out and making my small bed and planting it, along with basil, parsley, and maybe dill. I feel that is being very optimistic for my first attempt. I have, if not a black thumb, than at least a very grey one. We only have various types of bushes and shrubs out in our front yard for a reason! Those I can usually manage not to kill.

We have some close family members going through a very important legal hearing this week. I can't go into details, but if you could pray for them, they could sure use it.

My girls are very excited. On Wednesday the kids in our church are beginning rehearsals for their next musical. They can't wait to begin! The older two are also deep in practices for their spring recital coming up in mid-May.

Well, I guess that's all the little doings going on in our house lately. I'll post pictures of the bathroom and herb garden (if I actually get it done) as soon as possible.

Friday, March 27, 2009

If only I had a nickel...

I wonder how many times I will have uttered the following phrase before I die:

"The silent 'e' at the end makes the vowel say its name."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Story Time Felt Board

I wanted to share a really great item that Lauryn received for Christmas a couple months back. This is a felt board set - kinda like Sunday schools all over the nation use - but this one is all about fairy tales!
With a castle backdrop, the set comes with characters and sets to re-create many of the classic (non-Disney version) fairy tales. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, the Princess and the frog, the Princess and the Pea, and St. George and the Dragon all come to life. And of course, they can also use the characters to make up their own stories - which my girls certainly do!

Lauryn loves this and Hailey asks to play with it nearly as often. It is adorable (and is a great activity for them to do while the older girls are doing school work). I was going to order this, but a friend of mine was giving hers away (she'd never even cut the pieces out!) so I gratefully took it and cut the figures out. This is probably Lauryn's favorite gift from last Christmas. If you are interested in ordering from the place I was going to get mine it is here. (I have no affiliation with them beyond thinking that their products are super cute!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chores for Little Ones

I'm big on kids doing chores. Partly it stems from, at one time, having four kids aged six and under. I needed help! Part of it stems from a belief that chores are the best way to instill a strong work ethic in your kids. So I have been very thoughtful about having my kids help me around the house from a very young age.

It started with Kora: when she able to walk she would follow me around with a play vacuum cleaner as I vacuumed the house. She helped me sort the laundry and move wet laundry into the dryer. She helped me sort colors. I gave her a clean, dry rag to "help" me dust.

There are two reasons to have very young children doing "chores" whether you are very formal and structured about it or not. The first is that obviously they have to start somewhere, so they can learn to do some things and do them right and grow from there. That would be the actual help you out part.

The second is just to instill in them that chores are a part of life. Just like brushing your teeth is a part of getting ready for bed, as a member of a team called a family you must pull your weight. It's much easier to start little and have chores as a part of the family structure than it is to try to get a seven, eight or ten year old to jump in and start helping! This is the preparing them for life part. It also has the benefit, if they have older siblings, of making them feel more like the older kids.

So here's list of something that very young kids have done around my house (ages 2-5/6 ish):
  • Take a dry rag and dust surfaces they can reach.
  • Take a dry rag and dust baseboards.
  • Take a damp rag and scrub baseboards.
  • Put the clean silverware in the drawer (this is a great sorting activity).
  • Help carry dirty laundry from their room to the laundry room.
  • Help sort laundry.
  • Fold dishrags and washrags (and cloth napkins if you use them).
  • Gather up trashcans and dump into a larger can or trash bag (with help) and put cans back in the appropriate spots.
  • Dust the stair railings.
  • Check bathrooms to see if they are low on toilet paper and refill. (Every Saturday Hailey has to make sure each bath has three extra rolls of toilet paper, which we keep in the bottom of the linen closet.)
  • Throw away any empty kleenex boxes and put a fresh one in its place (we keep the kleenex boxes with the toilet paper).
  • If a parent or older sibling will put a swiffer pad on the swiffer broom, they can "swiffer sweep" areas with hard floors. (You can also put washable microfiber cloths on the swiffer brooms as well.)
  • Fold and/or stack his or her underwear and put it away (keep in in a low drawer in the dresser).
  • Match his/her socks and put them away.
  • Fold and put away clean jammies, t-shirts, and shorts or pants.
  • Pick up toys.
  • Make their beds.
  • Set the table with napkins, plates, and silverware.
  • Take a damp rag and wipe the sides of the dishwasher.
  • Get the clean laundry out of the dryer into the basket. (This was my favorite when I was pregnant and had a hard time bending down to get stuff out of the dryer!)
  • Helping bake/cook - let them pour measured ingredients into the dish/batter, etc.
I've left out many ideas, I am sure. I concentrate on things that don't involve chemicals or heights and of course, what I think they can actually accomplish while laying the ground work for later chores. However, these things are all things that all my kids have done at this stage, and that Hailey (6) and Lauryn (4) do now. Some of them will need to be taught. Then let them do them with you watching for a while. Then when you are confident they have it, let them go at it.

Just remember, depending on the job and the maturity level of the child, you may not be looking for perfection. A two and an half year old may have a great time dusting the baseboards, but may well miss some spots. That's ok! This is more of get-used-to-doing-chores chore. As they get older you will slowly judge when to start expecting more thoroughness from them.

So what are some great very little kids chores you've had your kids do?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring is Here

The flowers are blooming.
The geese are headed back north.
And Kora and I have been playing with the camera. :-) I think we need some other lenses.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bath Time!

Ashlynn loves her bath! We've never seen anything like the way she splashes. Now she recognizes the word "bath" and will take off as fast as she can go towards the bathroom when she hears it. Just watch.

Ashlynn, do you want to take a bath?
Off she goes!

Now she's happy!
She even loves being sprayed by the shower head - even in the face!
I can't seem to get a good picture of how much she splashes. She really gives the bathroom and the lucky adult who's bathing her a good soaking!
She usually cries when the bath ends, but this night she was being good for the camera.But of course, that's when some serious fun can begin... LOL

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Small Things

It's really easy for me to "leave God out" of the small stuff. Not that He's really not there, but sometimes I get to going along my own way, and forget to seek God in the small things.

A few days ago I asked the girls' piano teacher which recital they would be in. You see, the big spring recital is really four different recitals spread over a Saturday and Sunday. The Sunday afternoon recital is called the Baby Grand recital and is Sunday dressy. The Sunday evening recital, the Grand Piano recital, is the one for the most advanced students, and is formal. Her teacher had told me last year that Kora might be in the Grand recital this year. So I asked her a few days ago which recital she would be in. Ms. Penny told me it would depend on how she performed during juries.

Juries are when the student plays her piece before all the instructors in the conservatory and they critique the students. The only issue is that juries are only a week or two before the recital! If she is going to be performing in the formal recital, that doesn't leave me much time to find a dress.

So I was faced with a dilemma - what to do about a dress? Should I go ahead and shop for one, keeping the price tag on it so I can return it if she doesn't need it? I did a little looking, but nothing I was finding was appropriate for a 12 year old anyway. All the dresses were prom dresses; strapless is definitely "in" this year. And what about the cost? For a dress she'll wear a couple of hours and probably outgrow before next year?

I admit it: I fretted, I worried, I pondered. I remember asking the Lord, "What am I going to do about her dress?" But honestly I didn't really expect an answer. After all, it's just a dress.

Yesterday when I went out for my Saturday afternoon errands, I stopped in a thrift store that has just opened in our area. I was hoping to find some skirts for Kora. I was looking through the dresses to see what they had when I saw it.

In perfect shape, among the denim jumpers and granny dresses, was a beautiful formal dress, somewhere between a cranberry and burgundy color. I'm guessing it was once a bridesmaid's dress, but it is simple yet elegant, and very appropriate for her age. I picked it up, thinking that it looked about the right size. I looked at the tag - a misses XS. Perfect! When I got it home, Kora tried it on and it fits perfectly. It is a little too low cut in the front, but because of the way it is made I can either create tucks to alter the neckline or can get her a lacy camisole to wear underneath it.

And the price? $5.99!

I am humbled that even amidst job issues and family illnesses the Lord cares for even the small details of our lives. I will think of that every time I see that dress.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fall-out from Friday Night

We had such fun taking the younger two girls out to eat last night. Two things were particularly funny.

1. We had been telling Lauryn (aged 4) on the way to Red Lobster that they had yummy rolls. I didn't tell her this, but a few months back I had done an internet search for a copy-cat recipe for the yummy cheddar bay biscuits from Red Lobster. When the waitress brought our drinks and rolls to us, she finally got to try out these rolls. She bit into it, chewed, and then looked at me with a look of complete surprise.

"Mommy, you make rolls like these at home!"

Guess my copy-cat recipe is pretty good!

2. Kelly and I both ordered the coconut shrimp, which comes with a pina colada sauce (anyone know how to get the enya to show up over the "n"?). Kelly, being a typical dad, has to let Ashlynn try some of the sauce. He does this with everything - ice cream, ketchup, even picante sauce, which Ashlynn loves! Well, the pina colada sauce was a hit! She kept opening her mouth for more in what we've always called their baby bird face. Kelly fed her several bites and then finally said no more. Ashlynn did not appreciate his fatherly wisdom, and fussed quite loudly at him for more sauce! We are still laughing at her. :-)

The older girls had a great time. Kora tried to stay up all night, but did finally fall asleep for about 20-30 minutes. They all crashed this afternoon, and will be going to bed early tonight!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spring Break Sleepover!

Our oldest four girls - Kora (12), Aubrey (10), Brynna (7 11/12), and Hailey (6) - are going to a sleepover party! Two of the (completely crazy) families at church are hosting most of the kids from church: the girls at one house, the boys at the other.

So Kelly and I decided that after we drop them off, we would go out to eat. After all, we would only have two kids with us, and one of them doesn't eat table food yet! It would almost be like going out by ourselves! We also decided we were not going to any of our typical relatively-cheap-to-feed-a-family places, but would go somewhere we NEVER take the girls. We are thinking Red Lobster.

I expect to get back four girls tomorrow whose sugar to sleep ratio is decidedly tilted towards the sugar side. :-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One of those days

Yesterday started out pretty normally for a spring break day. The kids went outside to play after breakfast; I was switching out winter clothes for spring clothes.

Then around lunch time, Ashlynn (10 months old) started running a fever. By the time she went down for a nap, it was over 102. I had a late afternoon eye doctor appointment, and when I got home she had just woken up from her nap. Kelly said her temp was over 103.

Supper was just about ready, so I was sitting, cuddling Ashlynn when she started throwing up. All over me. Kelly took the baby and started cleaning her up, which included a bath. I had to take a shower too, because she got me good. I took all of our clothes and the towels we had used to clean up and threw them in the washing machine.

During our supper, Ashlynn kept throwing up. Poor girl. Meanwhile the girls and Kelly were wondering why the load in the washing machine was making such a racket. Suddenly it hit me - I had kept my cell phone in my pocket during the doctor appointment. Had I taken it out when I got home? Please, let it not be in the washing machine! I hurried to the machine, but of course, I found a very clean but dead cell phone in the machine amid the clothes and towels.

By this time, Ashlynn had crashed in Kelly's arms, and I needed to go to the store to get some Pedialyte and a few other things. Kelly told me to look at cell phones while I was there. I looked, but not for long - too expensive there. Kelly later found me one on Amazon. So for the time being we are down to 1 cell phone - his phone with my SIM card in it.

Ashlynn finally perked up a little and was able to keep down some pedialyte and breast milk. After she ewnt to bed, I was ready to crash in bed and read for a little bit before going to sleep. But as I went to get in bed, my book wasn't there. It wasn't on the school table, or in the suburban. Then it hit me - I had left my father-in-law's book at the doctor's office! (Don't panic, David, I went and retrieved it this morning!) Definitely not one of my best days ever.

Ashlynn was up a lot overnight, so I didn't crawl out of bed until after 8:30. And I'm already drinking a Dr. Pepper. But hopefully today will be less destructive!

Monday, March 9, 2009

News Flash: The Stork Delivered Big Foot

I had to buy my oldest daughter, twelve year old Kora, size 10 tennis shoes today.

I've always had a long foot - I was wearing a size 9 by the time I was 10 years old. And so was Kora; I had hoped she would stop there as I had. And she did - for a while. (In contrast, her 10 year old sister Aubrey wears a 7 or 7.5) Then she needed 9.5. OK, so do I ever since my 4th baby. But last week, her 9.5 size tennis shoes were rubbing her toes. So I had to bite the bullet, and go shoe shopping.

For size 10!

If she doesn't stop soon, I'll have to special order her shoes off the internet.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Heavy Hearts

There are times I just don't have the heart to blog. There are times when my mind races with blog posts. There are times my kids supply my blog posts for me. This last week, I have not had the heart to post very much, except what my kids provided for me.

We've had so much going on, and much of it I didn't want to put up here. Kelly has been going through a time of great uncertainty and turmoil at work, and we weren't sure if he would have a job in a few weeks or not. My only living grandparent - my mother's mother - became ill about three weeks ago and was admitted to the hospital just a few days before I left for my conference. While I was there, Grandmama developed pneumonia and has not been doing well. She has so many things wrong with her and very little strength to fight any of it.

These two major things, on top of normal everyday things like sick kids and insurance issues, have just left me emotionally worn out. Of course, the Lord always uses these times to teach us (meaning me) to lean on Him more. We've also had many sweet friends and family praying for us through this time.

The job situation seems to have been settled, although it won't be 100% until a couple of things fall into place. Hopefully that will happen quickly and smoothly! I am also leaving today with Ashlynn to go see my grandmother in Abilene. Most of my side of the family will be there. So while I am not looking forward to leaving Kelly and the kids for another weekend, I am looking forward to getting to see my grandmother and my parents and siblings, aunts and cousins. Unfortunately, since my girls have been sick, we decided it was best not to take them and expose my grandmother to any more germs. So Kelly is sweetly being single dad for the weekend again. Fortunately he's very good at it, and doesn't really mind as long as I leave the fridge and pantry stocked with dad-friendly meals. :-)

Oh, and when I get back next week, we are taking a WEEK OFF! I really need a spring break!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

She's been on a roll lately - More Conversations with a Four Year Old

Today, Aubrey was feeling a little puny, so she was lying on the sofa, watching a movie. Lauryn sits down to watch too. Then the lead female character makes a funny remark. Lauryn starts laughing and says:

"She always says that every time I watch this!"

Monday, March 2, 2009

Menu Monday Recap

Well, the last eight Mondays I posted our weekly menus, so now I have started over. If you are just dying of curiosity, go over to the side bar and scroll down until you get to the the list of categories and click on "food." You can then look back on my two month rotation menu.

I do have an extra week menu and shopping list made up for those times when there are really nine weeks in a two month span. I'll post that next time that happens.