Thursday, December 13, 2012

Of course I haven't been posting daily about our Advent adventures like I said I would.  Come on, did you really expect me to have time to sit daily and write stuff?  I have BOYS, for goodness sake!  Plus, Advent is supposed to be about slowing down, enjoying the view, smelling the roses (or the Christmas tree in my living room.  I LOVE the smell of my Christmas tree!).  So, I'm not even stressed about the fact that I told you all I'd update daily (stupid, stupid, stupid) about what we're doing for Advent.

Oh well.  You live, you learn.

By the way, I'm not doing Christmas cards either, this year.  Too stressful, and honestly, too expensive.  I might do them next year.  MAYBE.

Anyway, these are the things we've been up to:

For our Sunday Advent wreath lighting ceremony (anyone have a better name for that?), we've used our Little People nativity to act out the angel telling Mary that she is going to have a baby and is to name him Jesus, then used them to act out Mary and Joseph and the donkey heading to Bethlehem for the census.  We lit the first candle and talked about how it represents Promise.  The angel promised Mary that she would bear the Son of God.  We lit the second candle and talked about how it represents Love.  God so loved the world he gave his only son.  Mary and Joseph loved each other.  God loved Mary.  Mary and Joseph and God loved Jesus.  God loves all of us.  Jesus loves God (that was Ben's).  We love each other.  All good, good stuff.

Also, Scott has been learning Christmas carols to play on the guitar.  He plays while we all sing.  Well, Ben and I sing.  Caleb kind of hums and sways and it's cute but off-tune.  It's perfect.  After we sing, it's the boys' favorite part: cookies and egg nog!  This year they have cute little kid plates and mugs that Scott's parents sent for them.  Love it!

Every night they have been opening one wrapped Christmas book to read before bed.  I thought there were going to be lots of fights and tantrums over who got to open the book, but the boys have been amazingly wonderful about taking turns each night.  Must be the Christmas spirit.  Maybe, if I remember, I will make a list of the books we've read during Advent.  I won't make a promise this time, because, well, you know.

The Advent tree is going well, also.  The boys are still a little young to listen to the whole lesson each night, so we dumb it down a bit for them.  I need to make some kind of something to add to it, though, because the tiny stable scene just won't fit all 24 characters.

Finally the Advent calendar of good deeds.  It was exciting for the first week, but now it has lost its luster.  We've done quite a few good deeds, and I'm happy about that.  The ones I'm most happy about were the ones where the boys had gather first old toys then old books to donate.  Not only is my house that much less cluttered, but the boys actually were HAPPY to give their things away.  In fact, I had to turn a few things down because they were too precious for me to give away.  I think Ben and Caleb have much more generous hearts than their mama!

I love the Christmas spirit around this house.  I love that my boys are learning that the true meaning of Christmas isn't gifts and Santa and North Pole and reindeer.  I love that they know that we celebrate Christmas because God gave us the best and most perfect gift of all: his Son.  Yes, we have mentioned Santa a few times.  And yes, they really, really, reeeeeaaalllly want presents.  But I'm pretty sure they've got the big idea, and that's what matters most to me.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's Advent Time!!

Ah, Advent.  My favorite time of year.  I love all the little traditions we have started for our family to anticipate the coming of Christ.  While the shopping and baking and spending time with family and friends and visiting Santa at the mall and anticipating his arrival at our house is fun and definitely a big part of Christmas, none of these is the reason we celebrate it.  In order to avoid being swept up in all those activities and losing the true meaning of Christmas, our family has instituted ways to daily remember the precious gift God has given us.

Each morning, we pull a good deeds slip from our Advent Tree calendar.  I used to put little candies in each door, but my kids don't need more candy.  Then we would put little toys in each door, but the toys were junky and ended up getting lost or broken or thrown away.  What a waste of money.  This year, however, we are putting good deeds written on slips of paper in each door and the boys will get to learn what it means to give at Christmas time. 

Each evening, we do our felt Advent tree.  Each "ornament" has a nativity character inside, and the boys love to take out the characters and put them in the stable scene.  We read a short bit of scripture to go with each character and tell a little bit of the Christmas story as well.

Every Sunday night we light the advent wreath and have a little service where we read part of the Christmas story and some scripture.  The boys add parts of the Little People nativity each week until Christmas Eve, when we add baby Jesus.  Then we sing carols and eat cookies and egg nog. 


My goal is to blog every day about our Advent activities. This is for two reasons:
1. If I tell you I'm doing this, I'm held a little more accountable to actually doing it and to keeping Christ as the center of our Advent season.
2. Maybe you need some good ideas, too.  I can tell you that all my ideas have come from other blogs/Pinterest/Facebook.  I don't come up with this stuff on my own.  So, I am simply passing down ideas that I have gotten from other people.  Feel free to use any of it that you want.

Here we go!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Praise You In This Storm

Right now is a dark time for Scott and me.  A couple days ago we suffered a miscarriage.  This was not the first one, yet it seems even more painful than the first.  Maybe because the first time we hadn't been trying very long and this time it took us 8 months to get pregnant, only to lose the baby a week after we found out.  Maybe it's because the first time we didn't have children already so we didn't understand just how big of a blessing a baby could be and just how much we actually had taken away from us.  Maybe it's because the first time we were still very young and knew that we had plenty of time to grow our family and now we're getting older and time is running out.

But this I know:  God will take care of us.
I believe that He has a plan for me and for my family.  Plans to prosper me and not to harm me.
I believe that one day I will get to meet my little ones in Heaven.
I believe I will get through this.
I believe that God speaks to me through music and that Casting Crown's song, Paise You In This Storm, is what I needed to hear on my way to the doctor the other day.

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away


I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

[Chorus x2]

If you haven't heard it, I suggest you go listen to it on YouTube or wherever.  It's good.  And it will get me through this.  Because I know God gave it to me. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Calling

  • My Calling

    I went to a Mary Kay retreat over the weekend and had an epiphany.  Actually, it was more like a conversation with God. One of the speakers mentioned that we were put on this earth to do great things.  I always just thought that meant raising my boys to be righteous men.  But God told me otherwise over the weekend.

    I heard a lot of women talking about how we, as consultants, can do great things and bless many women's lives.  "It's all about the women," I heard.  It's not about me.  It's about them.  And every single one of us was meant to do great things for these women.

    I didn't believe that.  In fact, I was a little ambivalent toward my business because I didn't believe my calling was to bless women's lives.  My calling is, and always has been, to work with children.  How on earth would Mary Kay allow me to work with children?  It's not exactly best practice to facial a 5-year old. 

    Then God hit me over the head with his palm and said "You CAN help children.  You will use your business to help children."  Thus, my dream was born in a room with 700 women in a hotel in Kansas City:

    I am going to use my business to raise money, network, and eventually be able to retire my husband so that together we can do something huge.  I'm thinking building a school in Africa.  And it won't be next week or even next year.  I need to be realistic.  But I BELIEVE that within 20 years something big will happen.

    How awesome is that??  God has big plans not just for me but for everyone who will be a part of this.  From my husband and kids who will work with me toward this goal, to my friends and family who will stand by us and watch it happen, to my customers who will financially support this mission, to my director who will lead me toward leadership (oh yes, that is right.  I plan to be a leader in this company.  That's the only way I'll ever make enough money to get this thing going and meet enough women who will be able to help me), to my National Sales Director who will put me in touch with the people who can help make this happen.   Every single person I meet will play a role in this and I am SO excited for it.

    From now on, every dollar of profit I make will go toward something that is NOT me or my family.  In fact, God and I had that argument as well. 
    "But I want new shoes." 
    "Give the money away"
    "But I want new jeans"
    "Give it away."
    "But I want to take my kids to DisneyWorld"
    "Give it away."
    Sigh.  "Ok."

    We'll start with Operation Christmas Child, and work our way up to building a school in Africa.

    I am SO excited!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Well, our Cash experience was short-lived.  Long story short, he found a forever family and they love him and he loves them and that is the end of our Cash story.


That is not the end of our foster dog story. 

A few days after Cash left, we found out Dixie needed a foster family.  This sweet girl (who looks just like our old Bailey-Boo) was a stray who was picked up by another shelter and was about to be euthanized because she had overstayed her welcome.  Our shelter (AHeinz57) rescued her, and she is now sleeping on her comfy bed about 6 inches from her new best friend, Beau.

Beau and Dixie just LOVE each other.  They play and wrestle and snuggle and follow each other everywhere.   They have such a close bond that I'm worried that when she finds a forever family Beau will be very depressed.   Add to that the fact that she is just the sweetest dog on earth and is so gentle and cuddly and timid (but not in the way that you think she'll bite your face off if you look at her wrong) and sweet, and we are seriously debating over here whether or not we should just adopt her.

Oh, and the boys love her too.  Every night Caleb prays for her, and every day the first one they seek out is Dixie.  They love to watch the dogs play with each other, and both of them love throwing balls for her (Dixie is great at fetch, by the way).

So, what to do, what to do?  Another large dog is definitely a financial commitment.  On the other hand, she does bring so much joy to all the "people" in this house (Beau included).  On the other hand, she sure is spunky first thing in the morning :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Let's Add Another Boy!

Before you get all excited by the title of this, I just need to throw it out there that no, I am not pregnant. 

Ok.  Now that that's out of the way...

So, hands up for those of you who have ever made a crazy, spur of the moment decision that affects the whole family and possibly even other people's families.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Or how about anyone wishing they had the guts to drastically change the dynamic in the household?

Ok, now hands up for those of you who just always want to help the underdog.  Or just the dog, for that matter.  I know I have a lot of friends out there with servant-hearts.  Doesn't it just feel good to do good things for others?   To know that you could be a hero to someone?  To know that your actions just might make a difference in someone's quality of life?

Ok, now that we're on a roll, hands up for those of you who just loooooove all of God's creatures, especially dogs.  I realize there will probably be fewer hands up this time, but I know that there are plenty of dog-lovers amongst my friends and definitely in my family.  Right, Mom?  Didn't you once want to be a veterinarian?  For, like, my whole life?

Can you see where I'm going?

Tuesday morning I was going through Facebook and drinking my coffee, when I saw this cute guy in someone's status for the day:


Immediately, I called Scott at work (side note:  did you know that he leaves for work at the very unGodly hour of 6:15 every morning?  And that he likes it?  And that he actually was the one who set his hours?  Who does that?  How on earth does he function?), and the conversation went like this:

Me: "AH!"
Scott: "What?"
Me: "I have a proposition for you."
Scott: "Oh great."
Me: "You know how Beau needs a friend?"
Scott: "No.  No more dogs."
Me: "But we don't even have to pay for him!  There's this dog named Cash and he needs a foster home.  It says he's sweet and gentle with kids and gets along with other dogs!"
Scott:  "Hm.  Well, Beau does need a friend..."
Me: (squealing) "I know!!  And we don't have to pay for it!"
Scott: "Ok, let's do it."
Scott: "What kind of dog is it?"
Me: "You already said we could get him."
Scott: "What KIND?"
Me: "A St. Bernard."
Scott: "How big?"
Me: (whispering) "140 pounds"
Scott: "Ok."
Me: "Ok?"
Scott: "Yes, we can try it.  Beau needs a friend."

So I called the rescue and told them we could foster Cash and the next day I picked him up and he is now in our house.  We now have 230 pounds of dog living in our home.  Are we crazy?  Maybe.  But I have a feeling we just got some good brownie points with God.  Maybe it'll go like this when I get to the pearly gates:

St. Peter: "Sorry, I can't let you in."
Me: "Why not?"
St. Peter: "Remember that time you threw the banana?"
Me: "Oh yeah.  You're right.
         But remember the time we fostered the giant dog?"
St. Peter: "Oh yeah, you're right!  Come on in!"

Maybe?  Just maybe?

p.s.  If you're in the market for a super-sweet St. Bernard, let me know.  I have a great one here.  I'd keep him forever myself if I could afford to feed two huge dogs, but that's not the case. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

We're Doing It!

Unlike other things I start and am unable to finish, this whole no TV thing is actually working.  Kind of.  I'm not above turning on a movie for the boys once in a while, but we have to go all the way to the basement to do it, so that makes it more work.  And Scott and I have been watching the Olympics after the boys go to bed, so there's that.

But the cool thing is that the boys are actually having a good time without TV.  I've created a cozy reading spot in the playroom and Ben loves reading in it.  In fact, the other day I asked him if he wanted to come play Grocery Store with me, and he said "well, maybe in a bit, after I'm done reading."  I was totally fine with that.

The fighting between the boys has lessened, and I attribute it to both the TV being gone and my intervention.  My M.O. used to be to just sit back and let them figure out their issues.  As long as nobody was getting hurt, I thought, I need not interfere.  They needed to figure this stuff out on their own.

But they weren't figuring it out.

Now, when I hear things start to escalate, I go in and tell Ben that it is not acceptable to yell at people and that he needs to use a calm voice to tell his brother what it is that he needs or wants from him.  I've also found that making them sit together, holding hands, for five minutes helps.

Things are coming around in this house, I can feel it.

Now, off to break up the first fight of the morning...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

This is Tough!

I didn't think life without TV would be so rough, but we are really struggling around here!  It is very difficult to not cave and turn the TV on when I just need a few minutes' peace.  It is also very difficult to not watch the Olympics (seriously, whose great idea was it to start this experiment in the middle of the Olympics?), or Big Brother, or even just some random thing on the History Channel for the sole purpose of vegging.  Yesterday was an exceptionally rough day for the boys, and I have something to admit:

I caved yesterday.

I could not handle the arguing, the whining, the tantrums, and the general disrespect in the house, so I cheerfully declared that it was time for a movie!

I had Ben choose a movie (Twenty Trucks.  He hasn't watched that since he was three.), and down we went to watch it in the basement, where our old dinosaur TV is hooked up to its rabbit ears.  It's also hooked up to the X-box, which plays DVDs. 

God had another plan, though.  The DVD was scratched up and wouldn't play.  But did I take that as a sign and decide that we (they) weren't going to watch a movie?  Noooooooooooo.  I told Ben to go find another movie. 

He came back with Prodigal Pig, a cute little cartoon about a pig who wants to take his inheritance early from Farmer Brown and leave the farm to go be a big-shot musician in the city.  It has a great moral message, and even better, it automatically repeats itself!

Friends, we watched that movie until LUNCHTIME!  And by we, I still mean they.  I did things like put dinner in the crockpot and check Facebook and play with the baby when she got up from her nap.  It was glorious!

I have another secret....

Scott and I watched the Olympics in bed last night.

Eeeeekkk!!  I felt like a child breaking the rules.  It was exhilarating! 

I might just cave again today.  Maybe.  If I can't think of enough creative things for the boys to do.

We'll see.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The TV Free Experiment

I can't believe we've done this.  It was totally all my idea, and I insisted so much that Scott had no choice but to go along with this, but I still can't believe we've done this.

We took the tv away.

I don't mean that we said we can not watch tv during the day.  I mean that we literally took the tv away.  It is resting peacefully in the basement storage room with a blanket wrapped around it.  It's like it's taking a little tv nap.  I'm a little envious, actually.  I wish I could be tucked in the storage room by myself with a blanket wrapped around me.  Seems quite peaceful.

At any rate, there is no longer a tv in our living room.  It was just getting to be too much.

Too much time spent in front of a screen instead of spending time together as a family.

Too much whining and tantrum throwing when I had to tell the boys that it was time to turn off the TV.

Too much of me using the TV as a babysitter so I could do things like pin things on my Pinterest boards or check my Facebook.

Too little use of imaginations.  Too little physical exertion. Too little getting anything done because we were so obsessed with what was on the screen.

The boys have been arguing and fighting and whining and just generally all-around no fun to be around, and I believe it's because we have just plunked them down in front of the TV instead of teaching them how to act around people.

We are on day two of this experiment, and so far it has gone somewhat smoothly.  On Sunday, we sat Ben down and told him that the TV was going to go away for a while because we were spending so much time watching it that it was hurting our family.  He wasn't happy, but he didn't throw a tantrum, so I consider that a successful talk.

Yesterday morning, as is their routine, both boys came downstairs and sat down with their thumbs in their mouths, demanding "boy shows".  I showed them we no longer had a TV.  They whined a little, but got over it quickly.   However, they were both incredibly moody all day long.

I guess we're going through TV detox this week.  The withdrawal symptoms will be rough, but I think we can do it.

Tell me we can do it. 

(p.s.  Spell check just told me that it's not tv- it's TV.  I think it looks funny all capitals, but I'll go with it.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

B is for Boys!

Last week we worked on the letter B.  The week before we did A, but forgot to take pictures.  Caleb really likes B, as did his brother when he was little.  Something about that letter, I guess!  We started with a big letter B printed out on paper from Confessions of a Homeschooler, on which the boys glued beans.  I forgot to take pictures of that, too, but they turned out pretty ok.  Ben, of course, had his beans lined up perfectly on his entire B outline.  Caleb tossed a few on and decided that was good enough.  I'm learning that his attention span is not as long as his brother's, so we need to do quick projects that are a few minutes or less.  (You learn as you go, right?)

The next day, we did a B hunt.  I put several small objects on the table, and had the boys find the ones that started with B to put in their baskets:

The next day, we made B baskets.  We did some bubble wrap printing first (painted in B for Brown, of course!), 

Then used some foam letter B's I had on hand from when I taught kindergarten to stamp B's on to the basket:

The stamps didn't come out very clearly, but Ben had a good time with it anyway.

Caleb was sleeping while Ben did his, and by the time he got a turn the camera was put away.  It's a good thing, because Caleb can get a bit messy with paint.  Caleb put a few more B's in his basket than Ben, and every time he stamped the letter onto the paper he'd say "B!!"

Two things I learned:
1. Caleb's attention span is short, so I need to find/make activities that jive with that.
2. I need to take more pictures of this stuff!

Monday, June 25, 2012

We're Learning!

I don't want to brag (well, maybe just a little), but did you know that Ben knew all of his letters, both upper-case and lower-case, and the sounds they made, by the time he was two years old?!  That's crazy to me!  Of course, I did have plenty of time to work with him on his alphabet (oh yeah, he could sing the whole alphabet song by that time, too), so I'm sure that helped.  He also knew most of his colors (except things like purple and pink and gray), numbers 1-10, and a few shapes.

Now, did you know that Caleb is already over two years old and can recognize a couple upper-case letters, and knows that "B" says /b/?  I AM SLACKING!!!  I have not done a single thing to work with Caleb on his alphabet, colors, numbers, or shapes!  He does know the color blue, but that's because his blanket is called "Big Blue".  So, everything is blue.  He can count to five, but doesn't recognize written numbers.  And forget shapes.  Shapes haven't even entered the picture yet.

So, I've decided that we are spending the summer doing a bit of learning.  Caleb will be learning his ABC's and all that stuff, and Ben will just get a light refresher for the things he does know.  I've been incorporating letters, colors, numbers, and shapes into our every day lives.  I'm sure I sound a little strange when Caleb points out a ball in the store and I say "Yes, that is a ball!  That ball is green!  That ball is round, like a circle!  What does ball start with?  /b/, /b/, /b/, Ball!  Ball starts with B!". 

But you know what?  I don't care.  That's how they learn.  We do this all day long.  And I think it's starting to sink in a little.  Yesterday, he pointed out an E in the newspaper.  That's progress.

In addition to incorporating all those things into our every day lives, we are also doing a letter of the week.  I know there are many ways to introduce letters (having been a kindergarten teacher, I fully understand the myriad of ways in which a person can introduce letters), but for the sake of remembering which on we're on I've chosen to start at A and end at Z.  I'll periodically blog about what we're doing through the course of our "summer school", but don't expect too much consistency from me.  This is me, after all!

With that being said,  I am off to start a Monday of learning for my boys, who just rolled their sleepy little heads out of bed.  We're on C this week!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Incident

I love my boys.  I truly do.  I could never imagine life without their sweet little voices singing out loud at the top of their lungs or their funny giggles or even their little tiffs that they have with each other.  What I really love about them, though, is that they provide me with some really good stories that I can entertain you all with.

When Ben and Caleb start getting too rowdy in the house, I act on my grandpa's advice and send them outside.  You can run and jump and scream as much as you want... OUT of the house!  Usually they stay on the back deck, which is good, because then I don't have to go out there with them.  If they choose to go down to the yard, I have a hard time letting them go by themselves because I can't see what's going on and God forbid they get abducted or something.

So the other day they were getting a little rowdy (ok, a LOT rowdy), and I sent them out, and out they scooted as Scott stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes and I sat at the kitchen table feeding my daycare baby.  Scott and I took full advantage of a pretty much quiet house and started chatting about our days and our plans for the week.  It was nice.  Heavenly.  And a much needed moment for us, as it feels like with two very chatty little boys we can hardly ever get a word in with each other.

Suddenly, Scott looked out the window, and said "Is that...?  Is..?  HE IS!  BEN JUST POOPED ON THE DECK!  OHHHHHHHHH!  AND BEAU IS EATING IT!!!!!!!!"

Time stood still for a minute.

Then I got up and went to the door to find that yes, indeed, Beau (the dog) was licking his lips as Ben stood there with his pants around his ankles.  Caleb was squatting down next to Ben, pointing to the area where he had just pooped on the deck (?!), saying "Ben poop.  Beau eat it," over and over again.

We quickly ushered Ben into the house, where he admitted that he did, indeed, poop on the deck.  Apparently he just couldn't hold it in anymore and decided to drop his pants right there and do his business.  On a side note, Ben has a long history of being constipated (sorry, buddy), and had tried to go several times that day but nothing happened.  I'm sure that when he felt that urge again, he dismissed it, thinking nothing would happen again.

Scott took Ben into the bathroom to clean him up, and I sat back down to finish feeding the baby, completely oblivious to what Caleb was doing next to me.  When I heard a splash, I looked over, and realized that he had taken an old cup with dried milk in it from lunchtime off the table and was using it to scoop water out of the dog's dish and drink it.

I think the two of them had a meeting when we sent them outside and said "Let's see how much we can gross Mom out today.  That'll teach her for sending us outside!"

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day Four- We Cheated

Yesterday I kind of cheated and fed the kids (and myself) some processed food.  But really, what else am I supposed to do with all those chicken tenders and tater tots in my freezer?  I can't just throw them away, and nobody wants a half-eaten bag of frozen food!  So, yes, we did eat those things for lunch, and I did feel a bit guilty.  And while I'm confessing things, I might as well let you know we also had Coldstone ice cream last night.  And it was GOOD. 

We did behave for breakfast (fruit smoothies, whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter) and dinner (leftover jambalaya), however.  Remember how Ben didn't like jambalaya the day before?  Well, I told him that the first person done got to have a chocolate and he put a whole bowl of that stuff away faster than anyone else (except Scott, who pretty much finishes dinner before I finish chewing my first bite every night!).  So it turns out he didn't not like it; we just had a battle of the wills and he won.  I learned my lesson there!

So I guess that this week my thought process is that even though I realize processed food is no good and maybe even poisonous, and even though I will try to avoid it as much as possible, sometimes some good old frozen deep fried chicken parts and overly-processed ice cream are just necessary!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rainy Day Fun

Today was one of those annoying days where the kids have colds and it's raining out and I'm feeling guilty for having let them watch tv for the last three days straight, so I decided to break out "Fun Mommy" and do a few activities with the boys.

First, I broke out some Post-It Notes.  I showed them once that it was ok to stick them to the walls, and they took off with it!  Ben actually went across the room to find his own wall:

Caleb stuck a few on the wall, then thought it would be cooler if they were on his belly.  Then he watched Sesame Street:

Without any prompting, Ben got the box of crayons (yes, that is an old wipes box.  They are PERFECT for holding crayons!) and started drawing on his Post-Its:

While the boys thought this was pretty awesome, my mistake was keeping the tv on.  This activity lasted about 10 minutes before they all lost interest and tuned back into Sesame Street.  Oh well. 

While they watched Sesame Street, I assembled these:

They are bug sensory bins!  I've been collecting fake bugs from the dollar bins at Target and the Dollar Tree for quite some time, and today I thought it would be good to assemble them.  The green stuff is dyed rice.  I found a blog on Pinterest that told me you can squirt some Purell and green food coloring into a Ziploc bag of white rice, so I did that.  I enlisted a couple assistants to help me mix it up (they did so well with taking turns!):

Caleb thought the "rub the bag on the dog" method was most effective.

I then filled the bins, quietly set them down on the floor, and took a step back.  This is what happened:

Ben came running over to see what I was up to.

He immediately started digging through the bin, putting insects into the net.

Then I quietly set a muffin tin down next to him.  Almost immediately, he started sorting his bugs into the wells.  I love that it was all on his own!

Quietly examining his bugs with the magnifying glass.

Caleb wised up to what Ben was doing and came to join in the fun.  I thought it was neat that he started using the magnifying glass, too.  Especially since he never saw Ben doing it.

I also got some bug masks and aprons.  Ben was the only one who actually wore his.

After several rice spill incidents, I moved the whole operation into the kitchen and put a sheet under the bins.  Caleb thought it was neat to fill each well of the muffin tin with rice:

This activity would have kept the boys a lot busier a lot longer, but we had issues with toddlers throwing the rice.  I'm trying to teach them that it's not ok by immediately removing them from the activity when they throw.  So far, it hasn't worked with any of our sensory bins, but I'm hopeful that one day they'll be able to play with them without making such a mess!

Real Food Wednesday

Yesterday was an interesting day for the boys as far as "real food" goes.  For breakfast, we had homemade granola with strawberries cut up in it.  Ben ate just a little, Caleb ended up with a NutriGrain bar (just about the most processed breakfast he could have), and Ben ate about  five bites of his before declaring he was finished. 

Lunch was popcorn (everyone loved that!), grapes (only Caleb likes those), berry smoothies (another universal favorite), celery with peanut butter (nobody ate it), and homemade cheesey crackers (not a hit.  I think I need to make them thinner and bake them longer).  The good news was that both boys seemed satisfied with what they did eat and didn't ask for anything else.

Dinner was homemade jambalaya.  Oh. My. Goodness. That was the most delicious jambalaya I've ever made (nevermind that it was the only jambalaya I've ever made...)!  It was absolutely delicious, and Scott, Caleb, and I gobbled it right up.  Ben was not a fan (he doesn't like anything "mixed up" like that), and ended up just eating a piece of whole wheat bread with butter on it.   We at least made him try one bite.

Snack yesterday was supposed to be cheddar cheese on Triscuits, but I didn't have Triscuits so instead I used Ritz crackers.  I know, I know, they are incredibly processed.  Sometimes, though, frugality wins out over healthiness and I just couldn't bear to let a whole box of Ritz go to waste.  When they are gone I will get Triscuits.  Ben loved his crackers but not his cheese, and we kind of forgot to give Caleb his snack because he woke up so late from his nap.  The boys also had apples, which they love to eat whole.  The only thing that bothers me about giving them whole apples as opposed to sliced is that they never eat the whole thing.  It is, however, much easier than having to slice them!

According to our meal plan, today's breakfast is smoothies and toast.  I'm pretty confident they'll do fine with that.  Lunch will be pb&j on whole wheat and some kind of sliced fruit (probably the pear that is about to go bad).  Again, I'm confident they'll do fine with that.  Dinner, however, is jambalaya again, and I'm wondering what we should do for Ben, since it has been established that he does NOT like it!  I hate making two dinners, but I hate even more being woken up at 5:45 am by a boy who is STARVING.  Maybe the boys can have eggs & toast or something...

All in all, I'd say our first few days of not eating processed foods have gone pretty well.  The boys aren't asking for junk, and Ben is even asking if certain foods are healthy for them.  And, the best part of all: Ben is having a much easier time going to the bathroom!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Getting Crunchy

So I came across this recently and decided to give it a try.  Mostly because Ben has been having constipation issues since he was born, but also because I'm a bit grossed out by all the chemicals we eat.  I'd like to get my family eating a little healthier, so I've accepted this challenge.  So far we are on day 3, and it's going well, although I must admit that yesterday I was craving something processed so I ate one of Ben's Peeps. 

Yep, we're getting crunchy.  Soon I'll start keeping chickens and possibly sheep so I can make my own wool and knit things.  Of course, they'll be dyed with natural dyes that I find in my backyard.  Until then, though, I'll stick with these yummy homemade cheese crackers.  The really cool thing about this is that I spent about $80 on groceries last week.  I'm not buying organic produce quite yet (that stuff's expensive!), but sticking to basics and making everything from scratch just seems... simpler.  And simple is my main goal lately.

So, we'll see what happens.  I'm not opposed to eating processed stuff at other peoples' houses (for the love of God, someone PLEASE invite us over!), but in our own home, these boys will eat only non-processed foods.  Or at least as much as possible.  I'm not too firm in this.

Over the next few days I will document what we've eaten and the boys' reactions to them.  I'm interested to see what happens!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

In case it hasn't yet been made abundantly clear, I just need to say that I live in a house full of boys.  My children are four and two years old, and then there's my husband, and of course the dog is a boy.  I kind of feel gypped because we got rid of the girl dog and then got a boy.  That's when I became outnumbered.

Part of living with all boys means lots of boy messes.  Any mother of boys who are toilet trained can attest to this: they almost NEVER aim correctly.  There is almost ALWAYS pee somewhere on the toilet or on the floor near the toilet.  And it's not just the little ones that do this, either.  I'm fairly certain Scott does it too, but I don't have a way to prove it short of busting out my CSI skills.  Anyway, I digress.  The point is, I'm surrounded by testosterone and I love it.

Why do I love it?  Because Benjamin has started calling me "Your Majesty".

That's right, the boy knows how to treat a girl.  He can consider me royalty all he wants (although most days I feel more like a servant than royalty).  I am totally ok with that.  In fact, I encourage it.  Not only will future girlfriends swoon over his romantic ways, but he understands his place in this house.  I ask him to hold something for me, and he says, "of course, Your Majesty".  I tell him we need to turn left when we're out on our walk, and he says, "yes, Your Majesty".   Every command or request I give of him is met with "yes, Your Majesty".  I am loving this.  Of course, I usually answer with something like, "thank you, Your Highness", and he gets a kick out of that.  But that's ok, he can be the prince.

Because Mommy is the Queen. 

Never forget that, sweetie. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Car Wash

Sooooooooooooooo, it's been almost a month.  I really didn't mean for it to be so long, it's just that life kept happening and every time I thought of something cute or funny or just neat to blog about it was the middle of lunchtime and there was NO WAY I was going to be able to touch the computer, let alone open it up and write on here during that time.  So now it's 7am and in the next thirty minutes I will be bombarded by children who want things like food and "boy shows" (which, by the way, are what we call cartoons around here).   But I just wanted to show you real quick what Ben and I came up with last week.

Welcome to the car wash!  I'm not sure really how this idea came about, but I thought it would be fun to fill one container with soapy water and one with plain water, then he could wash his cars.

As you can see, there are sponges in there.  I thought that the car wash was too plain.  I meant for him to scrub the cars with the sponges, but then he realized he could drive his cars around them and it would almost be like an automatic drive thru car wash.

He was so happy that I made this for him.  He played for almost an hour!

"But Mommy, where will we get more bubbles?"
(of course, the bubbles went away after a while in the soapy dish.  I had to froth them back up again for him.)

Completely occupied!

I haven't tried this with Caleb yet, but I have a feeling he'd love it too.  And he'd probably splash in it and make his brother really, really mad.   But Ben has been asking for this every day, and it's a great way to keep him occupied while I do important things around the house, like play Angry Birds or Words With Friends  (another post on that to come later...).

Friday, March 9, 2012


I think I'm in trouble.

You know how men are notorious for being big babies when they're sick?  Well Ben already has that one down at the ripe old age of four.  From the moment he stumbled into my room at 6:30 this morning with rosy cheeks and declared in his most miserable voice "I'm siiiiiiiiiiiick", he has been milking this sickness for all it's worth.  He even made me call my mom today to tell her that he was sick.  She told him that when she's sick she snuggles up on the couch and watches tv and eats crackers to feel better.

So my little snuggler got up on the couch and wrapped up in a blanket and watched Cars today while the little boys played (L's mom chose, wisely, to keep her home today).   Every so often I would come feel his forehead and give him a hug and kiss on the cheek and he tell me, again, in his most miserable voice, that he was sooooooooo sick.  Then twenty minutes later he'd be up and running around chasing the little boys.

Soooooooooooooo sick.

Tonight the boys and I were on our own for dinner.  Now, I can cook.  I really can.  Except the only time I enjoy cooking is when it turns out amazingly fantastic and I have the house to myself and I don't have to do a whole lot on top of the stove (I prefer baking).  So usually Scott cooks.  And when it's just the boys and me we have peanut butter and jelly.  So pb & j was on the menu for tonight. 

Thanks to Grandma, though, Ben refused to eat pb & j because it "doesn't make me feeling better."  He insisted he could only eat crackers because that's what Grandma said would make him feel better.  However, the only crackers we had were those little packages of crackers with peanut butter in the middle.  And guess what Caleb thought they were?


Too-ees are cookies in Caleb speak.  And Caleb was so furious at the injustice of being forced to eat pb & j while his brother got Too-ees that he he threw his sandwich across the table.  Luckily, it just landed further down on the table, so I just picked it up.  It was the principle of the matter, though, so my nearly two year old, who hasn't sat in a high chair in months, was banished to the high chair to finish his dinner, while his older brother smiled smugly and chomped on his Too-ees.  Caleb then proceeded to smear his yogurt all over his shirt in rebellion and then complain that he was messy.

And I blame this all on my mother (sorry Mom, but someone has to take the blame for this).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pretty Like a Princess

Last night I had a Mary Kay meeting and got home after Ben was already in bed.  Except, as is his norm, he wasn't sleeping.  He was reading instead.  Loudly.  So I went up to investigate, and a very excited little boy insisted on reading his book to me.  He was SO proud of himself for being able to read it, and I was SO proud of him as well.

I told him how proud I was of him, and informed him that reading hour was done and it was time to sleep.  As I tucked the covers in around him, he asked if I'd stay for "just five minutes" because I am his "very best friend".  I know a buttering-up technique when I see it, but rarely is this boy ever this sweet, so I complied and crawled in under the covers with him. 

After he pulled my arm across his chest and put his own across mine (well, his short little arm made it about to my left breast, where it rested a moment until I slid it down to my ribs), he leaned in and said to me, "Mommy, you're so pretty.  Just like a princess".


I just love my boys!

Saturday, March 3, 2012


There are two (well, technically five) parts of the day that I hate:

1. Mealtime
2. Bedtime

Before we address the former, I believe we should address the latter.  Now, I know that many parents enjoy bedtime.  Sweet little freshly bathed pink-skinned children, ready for their stories, eagerly listening, and then tucked in cozily in their sweet little beds, a kiss on the forehead, an "I love you" and a "sweet dreams", and blowing kisses at the door.  It's so peaceful and idyllic.  For most people.  Except our house looks more like this:

After Scott finally manages to wrestle the boys into the tub and they spend twenty minutes turning into prunes until one of them poops in the tub or knocks his brother nearly unconscious by pushing his head into the faucet, it's time to get out.  Now a fight ensues over who gets to drain the water and who has to get out first.  Ben typically runs around naked, shouting "I'm a NAKEY boy!", while Scott wrestles a diaper onto Caleb and shoves some pajamas on him.  Finally, eventually, both boys have pajamas on.

Getting upstairs to their bedrooms is a small circus act in itself.  It involves several trips up and down the stairs to retrieve Lovey (Ben's), Big Blue (Caleb's), milk for Caleb, water for Ben, Ernie (Caleb's), and maybe a favorite book or two that got left downstairs.  Then it's a fight in the bathroom over prime tooth-brushing real estate.  Normally Caleb loses out and has to stand on the toilet while Ben sits on the counter.  Ben MUST put his own toothpaste on his brush, and upon seeing this, Caleb also proclaims "My do! MY DO!" until someone allows him to put his own toothpaste on his brush as well.  Of course Caleb doesn't let anyone actually brush his teeth, but I can't have him sucking on the toothbrush and just swallowing all the toothpaste, so I have to pin him down and jam the toothbrush into his mouth in order to at least swipe a couple of his teeth.

Then it's into Caleb's room, where Ben dictates which books will be read to him.  The limit is two, although Caleb insists it's 76.  Cue tantrum.  Ultimately, he gets tucked in, but how I'm not sure, since his brother is usually doing something incredibly noisy in his room like playing with his Marble Works or kicking the wall or singing at the top of his lungs.  Caleb doesn't always cry when he's tucked in, but most times he does.

Then it's on to Ben, who insists on a few more drinks, eleventy-five books, and a trip to the bathroom AFTER he's already tucked in.  There are usually no tears, but a gazillion questions for me, like "Mommy, why did dinosaurs live in the Cretaceous period?" or "Why do we have to go to church next year?", followed by made up fears.  Anything to keep me in his room.

I'm an instant gratification kind of girl.  When I want something, I want it NOW.  And when I want my break from the people I have seen since six a.m., I want it NOW.  I have no patience for bedtime.  I like the book reading part, but the rest of it needs to be five minutes, tops.  Quicker, if possible.

That's why I hate bedtime.

Mealtime is worse, for several reasons.  The main one is that I don't like preparing food.  Again, it's the instant gratification.  I think of food and want it, NOW.  I have no patience for cooking.  So when I'm in the kitchen I'm already in a distressed state.  Trying to figure out what to feed these picky little boys is no easy task.  Trying to figure out what to feed them when they are crowding around me declaring how hungry they are and critiquing everything I pull out of the freezer is even more difficult.

If I manage to survive preparing the food, I can move on to getting their hands washed.  Now, keep in mind that during the day I have two daycare kids that I watch.  B is 20 months and is also an instant gratification kiddo whose screams rival banshees when he doesn't get what he wants when he wants it, and L is a 3 month old sweetie pie who always just happens to need a nap when I'm in the middle of getting lunch ready.  So washing three sets of hands isn't always easy for me, especially when the oldest set has an aversion to water or just being clean in general.

*side note: I'm pretty sure Ben is going to be my boy who doesn't shower or wear deodorant when he's in high school.  How can a boy who is so NEAT detest being CLEAN?  It makes no sense to me.

Hands washed, the boys race to the table and fight over who sits where.  Then it's peace for about 10 minutes while they eat, and I really do appreciate that time.  Soon, though, B drops his cups and screams, resulting in mild hearing loss for everybody else in the house.  Then Beau (the dog) steals some food from Caleb, and Ben spills his milk.  When the meal is done, I have a small panic attack as I realize what a mess I need to clean up.  Why on earth we ever decided we needed dining room chairs with beige microfiber seats is beyond me.  Soon I will have them re-covered to something more child friendly.

So there you have it.  The two times of day (well, five, because there are three meals and nap time) that I absolutely detest.  Please tell me I'm not the only one.

A Slight Change

When I started this blog, I copied from other blogs I've read and nicknamed everyone in my house.  Somehow I recently realized that this is a method that just doesn't work for me.  So, from this point on, my husband is Scott, and my kids are Ben and Caleb.  Much easier to keep track of, I think.  Plus, I don't have to think when I'm writing.  I just write.  I don't have to worry about nicknames.  Now you don't, either. 

It just works, I think.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Valentine's Day (belated)

I've been on an Awesome Mama kick lately.  I know, I know, you are quite shocked because you thought I've always been an awesome mama, but the truth is most days I'm mediocre at best.  Most days it's all I can do to get through the day without screaming at somebody, and I usually spend half the day on Facebook (hence the hiatus.  But that's another story for another day, if I get around to it).  Usually my most creative moment with my children is coloring, or (gasp) painting.

But this Valentine's Day, I was pretty much awesome.  Look at what I did:

I made these pretty cool sensory bins for the boys. 

As you can see, they were quite a success.  They've enjoyed them for pretty much the whole month.  I get these things out and  the boys all go crazy.  This usually buys me a good 15 minutes at least!

These are the Valentines Munkin and I made for his class.  Pretty cute, if you ask me!

The boys got delicious heart-shaped french toast with nutella and strawberries, along with strawberry milk for breakfast.  Also note the mailbox full of goodies from the Target dollar bin and M&M's (they wouldn't fit).

They were pretty happy with their breakfast choice!

And, of course, since I'm on an Awesome kick, I got up early and made breakfast for Mr. (he leaves for work at 6:15 am, so I REALLY got up early).  He was pretty happy with his, too.

Snack time brought these delicious cherry pie pocket things:
(the boys didn't like them)

And this was lunch:
(hot dogs and pink mac & cheese)

After naptime, I tried the whole paint-in-a-ziploc thing.  It was ok.  They got bored pretty fast though.

Dinner was heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's:

And everyone had little gifts at their seats when they got up in the morning!

So, that was my one day of awesome-ness. 

I think that's enough to last me a while, right?

Bring on the Reinforcements!

Yesterday my in-laws came for a visit from New Hampshire.  Mr. and I are getting away for a night tomorrow night, and I'm not sure who was more excited for the grandparents' arrival- us or the boys.  Munkin Man could hardly contain himself the night before they came, and was up well past 9:30 because, as he said while throwing his arms up and down in excited exasperation, "I am JUST so EXCITED for GRAMMIE and PAPA to BE here!"  We had the same problem with naptime yesterday, until I threatened to not let him go to the airport with Daddy to pick them up unless he took a nap.

It was no wonder, then, that the second he saw them he started jabbering and did not shut up until his grandparents (not me, not his dad) tucked him in to bed.  When they arrived, exhausted, at our house at around dinner time, Munkin wasted no time showing them every. single. thing. in our house, as Bug toddled behind saying "yeah!" in agreement with his brother, as though he had to get his word in as well.

When I say everything, I mean everything.  A couple hours after they got here, we heard this coming from the bathroom:

"Papa!  Come look at my poop and wipe my butt!"

Welcome to Iowa, Grammie and Papa!