Monday, June 22, 2009

A Foggy Day

Seems like my titles lately relate more to nature and the weather and less to real life. Perhaps that's because the weather seems to be invading my personal comfort level these days. Actually, I don't mind WEEKS of rain on a personal level, but my children are going to die soon if it doesn't stop. (Just kidding- don't go reporting me- it really is a joke!) Anyway, they are restless. We've been outside every day we can and the kids have been out on plenty of the rainy days too. They come back in sopping wet from stomping in puddles- which I don't mind really until the fourth time they change clothes in a 2 hour period- then I mind.

So, it's wet again today. The kids are desperate for fun and have more energy than I could get out of 10 cups of coffee! We did the painting thing this morning- paint with water, that is- on those preprinted paint sheets. They wanted to do all of them this morning, but I cut them off at two a piece thinking I might need some back up for the next three days when it's supposed to be raining some more. We've read, rearranged furniture, done housework, colored every Cinderella picture you can find online for free, used charcoal to draw with- that was MESSY (and I don't recommend it unless you just have a strong desire to torture yourself with the massive clean up involved), and a host of other things. We dug Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land out of the attic. The kids played that until they realized that the older kids play with "rules" and that doesn't "let" the younger kids win, so they don't want to play that way. We've pushed the baby stroller in the rain, pilfered the umbrellas- all 2 of them that actually work. (I might go snag them before we are down to 0 that function.)

So, what else do you do? Besides plop them in front of a movie? I tell ya, I even have a list of things to do with kids on rainy days (you'll find it in my new book soon) and I've gone through the list. Well, it's been 2 weeks and then list wasn't really designed to keep kids busy for that length of time.

I don't think Renna likes the rain either. She seems more fussy when it's gloomy outside. It doesn't allow for bright, shining, sun in the house. It makes things inside feel damp and cold- like wet fish. AND MY HAIR WON'T DO A THING IN THIS WEATHER!!!!!! I think I'm missing my happy feelings I get from plenty of sunlight as well.

Don't get me wrong, things are going well, but I'm stuck in a cycle of procrastination, looking out the window, checking my inbox, coming up with something for the kids to do, cleaning up the previous activity, and thinking of ways to spend money, then remembering I have none to spend, then coming up with a different idea that involves no money, but involves time and effort and that's not appealing- so I scrap it- all to come back to procrastinating and looking out the window at the rain...and sometimes the fighting children.

I think I'll sign off here and go get a cup of coffee. Then maybe the kids and I will do some more house work. After that, I may have to cave in for a movie for them for lack of another brilliant idea!

Here's to the concept, "The Sun will come out...tomorrow..."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Pleasant Whirlwind

What a day! What a week! Lately, things have been going really well. I'm so glad God gives us times of joy and relaxation to offset the hardships. Of course, not everything is perfect, but lots of things are great and I am rejoicing in his goodness.

Jonathon (8) and James (6 1/2) are really growing up. Today they worked really hard for me helping clean up the house. We started having "30-min clean up time" a while back and recently I've realized that if I'm enthusiastic about it, the kids really will work hard, with Jonathon carrying the pack. James is right there with him usually, both having a good attitude after the initial discovery that they have to work. So, in a very short time this afternoon we got the living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway, entryway, and school room cleaned up. We also got some garbage emptied, the toilets and counters washed in the bathrooms, and Rachel watched Renna. All in 30 min. The only thing I did was sweep the floor under the counter and then spent the rest of the time keeping everyone else busy. They did a great job!

Then, this evening, we went out into the garden for a little "forced family fun" (as one friend called it this evening :-) and weeding. I hoed around a bunch of the plants and Jonathon worked on his garden- pulling weeds. He has corn and okra. I sure hope that okra grows! I wanna eat some. Anyway, he worked on his plants and James weeded around the pumpkins. Then the two of them went to town on their weeding. They had little cultivators and they ran them up and down next to most of the corn rows, and cleaned out the weeds in the broccoli! Most of that time I was ignoring them. Only when they asked, "What do we do next, Mama?" did I have to pay attention. Rachel happily pulled out little grass slivers all over the place. Jeff worked on the carrots (that's "his" garden) and Joseph got by with only stepping on a few plants. We spread old grass clippings around the tomatoes and peppers and then the boys helped Brandon- when he came home from working elsewhere- with fertilizer. They were especially eager to help because we were spreading "Dried Blood" around- which is apparently a nitrogen source. They thought it was cool that we were feeding our plants "BLOOD!!!!" Anyway, by the end of about 1 hour, the entire garden had been hoed or weeded, the fertilizer was down, the grass clippings all spread, and the children good and dirty.

To top it all off, they salvaged the treasure chest from the broken fish tank and buried it in an unplanted part of the garden with grand plans to come back tomorrow dressed as pirates and dig it up! Now if that isn't fun, I don't know what is!!!

I had a good dentist appointment today- so thankful for good teeth! Much of it has nothing to do with my faithfulness to brushing and flossing- it's just genes! But I'm glad for that!

I also got my workout in this afternoon. I'm really enjoying this new workout. There's a different workout for every day of the week, so it changes up a lot! I've worked muscle groups in the last 3 days that I had forgotten I had! But it feels good. Right after the workout I feel like a blob of Jell-o wobbling around. But I've discovered that if I drink a glass of Emergen-C with electrolytes in it, the shaky stuff goes away pretty quick. I can't explain how good it feels to be sore and sweaty, but it's awesome. I'm super tired, and yet at the same time I have energy from somewhere. I think it's helping me sleep better, eat less, and be more productive overall. I forget every time how much it helps until I'm in the groove again and then I can't imagine why I let it go. So, it's pretty awesome.

Been working on a book- a list book. I've been working on it off and on for about 6 years now and I'm finally close to printing. Today I worked on some illustrations that I've had in mind for a while. The text is off for editing and I'm going to work on chapter arrangement and pricing issues while it's gone. I'm super excited to be getting it out. I hope it will help other people as well!

I love that the kids are loving Renna, by the way. She's 1 month old now and up to 8.2 lbs. I'm glad she is starting to look like she has something besides skin and bones! The last couple of nights she has been sleeping better too. She sleeps in her cradle half the night and then in our bed for the other half. We're working on getting her to go back to her cradle, but she just loves our bed. Sometimes I feel a little trapped. No matter how I position her, she always manages to squirm her way back over to me and for reasons unknown, nuzzles her head up under my arm and seems to sleep best with her face almost in my armpit! I shove her over to the middle of the bed time and time again and she just quietly wiggles back to her spot. Sometimes I've found myself almost falling off the bed in the morning! But she's happy.

Back to the kids thing- they take great care of her. All of them except Joseph can carry her without making my heart stop. Joseph has gotten her and brought her to me, but I'm not sure I like it too much. He's cute with her and so far hasn't dropped her, but she's almost as tall as he is and I think he's just a bit unstable when he's lugging her around. Rachel is just the little mama. She holds her, rocks her, sleeps next to her, carries her, walks her around while patting her on the back. She just has a brand new doll, only a live one. The older boys are great too. The best part about their help is that James LIKES changing her diaper and Jonathon can feed her a bottle unassisted! Jeff is good at getting her from her bed and bringing her to me in the living room. Ah...I LOVE having kids old enough to DO SOMETHING!!!!!!

It's just been great...
-this past week we discovered that they like baked beans for dinner!!! Bring em on- they're cheap!
-Jonathon and James have been working on their math- just to keep it fresh- and doing well.
-Jonathon is writing thank-you notes for his birthday gifts for the first time this year. He's got 2 to mail and 2 left to write. I'm so proud of him. One friend gave him a little set of notes that have a picture to color and the words, "Dear _____, Thank you for the ______. I like it a lot! Love, ________" I LOVE IT! It's perfect for him! He can write the important parts, color the picture and not be overwhelmed about doing 8 of them! What a great thing to help a little kid be successful with showing gratefulness!
- Jeff loves to cook. He's helped me make a number of things lately and one of the things he does best- better than his older brothers- is crack eggs. In fact, most of the time he can get less shell than me. He's really careful. He loves to stir things on the stove and does it so well that I can leave him stirring something and work on something else and know it won't burn. We haven't gotten into chopping yet, but he can peel vegetables. He has peeled his finger, too, but only once.

Joseph is a MESS. That's a southern "mess". He is frequently "messy", but most of the time he is just a "mess"! (You say it like "mae'-yus") Anyway, he makes us laugh all the time. He scares visitors when they come too- and we laugh cause we know better. He has a little chair to eat in that is attached to the counter and he loves to stand up in it, turn around, curl his toes around the seat cushion and lean over the back upside-down! We know he can do it. He has fallen on his head a couple of times, but apparently it's hard enough that it doesn't phase him a bit- he just keeps right on doing it. He hasn't fallen anytime recently, so we just ignore it, but it makes others' hearts stop! :-)

I wish you could have seen him the day he made mud puddles in the front of the house and then poured the muddy water all over his super blonde hair. He was grinning from ear to ear and was pleased with his dirty self. He loves to go fast on his trike. I've never seen a kid go so fast on a cheap trike that I thought didn't actually move. The plastic wheels are so tight they hardly turn, or so I thought until he made it go! He just careens down the driveway like there is no tomorrow and then down the road around the corner and down the church sidewalk. He's make it all the way past the main house, down the hill, past the garage and to the golf course if I would let him. It's down hill the whole way and a child's dream for a trike ride. Brandon was out with the tractor and trailer today and came home with no less than 5 riding toys in the trailer from various children riding down the hill. (Who wants to ride up?) I have no idea what we'll do with our kids when people come and our family has to act like the rest of civilization and avoid running over old men and pregnant women. Just beware of that little blonde headed two-year old. HE STOPS FOR NO ONE....except machinery...he always stops for that. It's WAY cooler than a trip down hill!

Brandon is just staying in his usual rut. He likes it there. Every once in a while I did him out of it for something like a movie, or going out to eat, but ruts are his vacation. He's still bookkeeping, mowing lawns, paying bills, rough housing with the kids, working in the garden, and helping me out with the laundry and dishes frequently. Did I mention that he MAKES BREAKFAST 6 days a week!!!!! I LOVE HIM!!! And, he regularly keeps up with the laundry. If I could just fold it and get it put away! He's been riding his bike more this summer. I'm glad- he really does a lot around here and gets out very little. I'm glad he's getting the exercise, the time away, and the awesome brother Jeff gave him his old Ipod and he's been loving having something to listen to for his rides and while he works. He seems pretty happy and I like that.

Well...that's us and the kids and us lately.
Yeah...kind of gag-reflex happy, but then I'm not complaining about it!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Rambling Rose Colored Glasses

It's been gorgeous outside- both yesterday and today. Plenty of sunshine, comfortably warm temperatures and not as many flies and mosquitoes as in the weeks before. I love being outside. It calls me out even when everything inside is screaming for help...well the children only scream occasionally- I really meant the housework screams. Anyway, I've been playing in the garden some this week. I never thought I could get addicted to pulling weeds, but I'm coming close to such an addiction. We've gotten our garden in- complete with corn, tomatoes- Roma and big ones (I forget the name), cucumber seeds, zucchini and summer squash (we hardly ever plant enough- the kids love it!), bell peppers, winter squash, carrots, broccoli, turnips, pumpkins, and plenty of grass. I also planted a host of Zinnias right along the road and if I win the grass war they should look beautiful in the middle of the summer. Jonathon insisted on having his own garden and he spent his own money to by his own corn and okra seeds and has his little plot as well. Right in the middle of the garden we planted some sunflower seeds to make a sunflower fort and as soon as they come up we're going to plant some morning glories around them to climb up the sunflower stalks. I think the kids will like it. We are also going to plant some green beans in a couple of weeks. We got some blue lake green beans and some Turner special variety that we are going to try this year as well. I've had a jolly good time getting dirty, pulling grass weeds, mixing in manure (who'd have thought that was fun!), and just generally relaxing in the sun. It's so enjoyable. I wish I could spend all day out there.

But then there is my homeschool stuff that just recently arrived and I am torn between the fun of being outside and the fun of being inside at my desk pouring over our new books for next year. It's ridiculous how excited I am about school stuff. This year was such a success- I have expectations that next year will be just as fun if not better. We are learning all about world geography this coming year- continents, countries, cultures, various people groups, ecosystems, animals,'s gonna be great. I went with My Father's World for our curriculum last year and LOVED it, so we decided to try it again. In short- I could sell this stuff I love it so much. I would be a great person to be up there saying, "Hey, this is the best stuff for school on the planet and you should buy it right now- even if you don't have kids, cause you might know a kid somewhere and..."'s really awesome- so much information and really good books and resources combined with a Biblically based worldview for all of it AND written for homeschoolers who need age integrated materials. If you can imagine a three year old wiggling in his seat from the excitement of merely anticipating eating his birthday cake or the last two minutes before the six year old gets to run into the water at the beach- that's me and this school stuff. Love it, love it, love it!
K...and then there's the baby...having a blast watching her study her world. She's so alert and awake much of the time. She is dainty and looks so thoughtful. She folds her hands in front of her and looks as though she's 50 and politely listening to the conversation with her ankles crossed and knees together and a little smile on her face all the while nodding to let you know you have her attention. She doesn't do all that of course, but she makes me think she would be if she only knew how to sit up. She's giving me some rough nights wanting to be awake at 2 am and such, but that's the way it is with babies and part of me secretly loves the fact that she doesn't want to be in her bed, but instead is content to lay awake snuggled in my arm which after 2 hours can't move from that position anymore because the joints and muscles just froze that way. It hurts so much, and yet I wouldn't trade it for the world, cause she's so happy. Of course, there are plenty of times I wish I could just roll over onto my stomach and sleep for a good 12 hours straight, but she's so precious and it just makes my heart melt to have her there and happy- sleep deprivation and all.
Then there is exercise...glorious exercise! I worked in the garden and felt sore later and was thrilled. I went for a walk and got my heart rate up and it felt so GOOD and energizing. I've been trying to eat better- mostly counting calories and trying to figure out how to eat the most food for the least amount of calories- which usually involves having mostly healthy choices (like who wants to waste 140 calories on 2 TBSP of mayo when you can have half a sandwich with mustard, pita, turkey, lettuce, and tomato for about the same amount???) I'm learning alot about how many calories I put in my body every day and I am shocked at how many I was consuming! I had no idea! Anyway, trying to make it a healthy amount for me and baby and the weight is gradually coming off. I know it helps to be nursing to, so I figure- use the edge while I have it. For all you worry warts out there, don't think I am "dieting". This is just an attempt and eating what I really need and stopping there- I'm not starving myself or my little girl- or coming anywhere close. I also got ChaLEAN Extreme thanks to a wonderful person who helped us afford it. I have friends who seem to love it and have had good success with it and I am looking forward to starting it when I'm all safe from baby to workout again! So, right now, just focusing on the food side and getting some form of exercise- walks, or stretching, or just working up a little sweat and can't wait to get to the next step!

So, things are going well. Mom happy, children happy, Daddy back to work most of the time. Oh...and I'm loving my freezer meals. We packaged some up before the baby all on one day- 21 meals. They weren't all completely made, but they are just prepped. But none of them are high fat casseroles. They are all fairly healthy with whole grains, good cuts of meat, healthy lower fat sauces, plenty of veggies, and taste good. So I just pull out a bag at the beginning of the day and most of the work is all ready done. It's just throw it in the skillet or crock pot or whatever and add a potato or salad or veggie on the side. So easy...part of me wishes I did this all year round...I might consider it. I still make some meals, but these take the stress out of meal preparations! I know I have a healthy easy option for when I don't feel like cooking up a storm or when I just need to be focused on something else.

You know, writing this all down makes me think of David and his Psalms- partly because of what someone said to me once about my posts sounding real, but this is one of those that's just overflowing with thankfulness to God for his goodness. I've had some of those that just cry "WHY" and are pretty distressing, but this is just the opposite. I feel VERY blessed and as much time as I spend telling Jesus my problems, I want to Him to know how much I appreciate it when I feel His bountiful goodness pouring out all over me and around. And I suppose, since I'm writing this publicly, I'd like you to know too! God bless your Friday and upcoming weekend.