School in the Summer? And Father’s Day Fun!

Today the boys had their testing for school. When you homeschool, you have to show proof to the schools that you haven’t been letting your kids laze around watching movies and drawing with sidewalk chalk all year. There are a few different ways to do the testing and the one we chose is to have them tested by a certified teacher who administers questions from the Woodcock Johnson test.

It’s so nice for the boys AND for me to see visual proof that they are learning, despite all complaining and doubts of their abilities! We get a special signed paper to send into the school district and we get a sheet with all of the scores and percentiles of each category for our own records. The boys did fantastic! Last year we chose not to show them their test scores but just reassured them that they did well. This year we did show them, each individually, with promises not to talk to the other about them.

I don’t want it to go to their heads that they are doing so well but I DO want them to feel encouraged and they were! We were all very happy tonight and are trying to think of how to celebrate!


I try to think of ways to keep the kids learning throughout the summer and not forgetting all that they worked so hard for in the year! I don’t want it to feel like school and to be a little bit fun for them. This summer we are doing a few things.

  1. We joined a book club! There is a book written by Jamie C Martin called “Give Your Child the World” in which she compiled a huge list of books about various countries. The books are broken down into age ranges so I got a few from each age range to entice all 3 kiddos! We are behind the “schedule” but we need a break from schedules so we are okay with that! This week is “Multi-cultural” week and next week is Africa. The kids seem pretty excited about this!
  2. All 3 kids are doing a project about a different subject and they have to present it to the rest of us and “teach” us. Samuel is doing Rain Forests, Zakkai is doing the Ozone Layer and Eliana is doing the Ocean (mostly the creatures in the ocean!) They have to read several books, fill out a bibliography (obv all of this ranges according to their capabilities) and present all of the info in some way. S and E want to do posters and Z wants to do a slide show on the computer:) It should be fun!
  3. And lastly, I got them each a summer workbook so they can do a page or two a day, prob 20 minutes to keep their brains working and hopefully have fun doing it.


We have a family of skunks living under the nasty old shed in our backyard! B, Oliver and I were out one evening a few days ago watching the beautiful sunset when Oliver tensed up. I looked in that direction and froze. I had no idea what I was looking at at first! We hurried inside once we figured it out!

The next night, I went out late to cover up our grill and heard rustling noises. I turned around and saw several little black shapes with tails slinking along the side of the shed and disappearing under the step. And last night, we got home late from a baseball cookout and within minutes we counted SEVEN skunks!! They walk in a little huddle and sometimes walk in a single file. We watched them slip under the fence and go foraging for dinner.

I read that they can destroy gardens, which would explain some of the damage to our new plants so they are being evicted! Phase one started today with our landlord drilling some holes in the floor of the shed and putting in drops of racoon urine (yuck!) and drizzling it around the outside of the shed and step. Once they leave, they will board up the step openings and hopefully they will leave.

We want them to leave but still…..they are kind of cute!


And lastly, we celebrated Father’s Day with a trip to the newly opened “Giordano’s” restaurant! It turned out to be a 2 hour wait but Ben insisted we stick it out:) He’s been looking forward to our favorite Chicago pizza ever since we heard the rumors of it opening! The wait only turned out to be about 1 hr 20 minutes but then when we sat down, they said it would take 1 hr 10 minutes to make the pizza! We were there with Ben’s mom and stepdad so we had fun eating salads and chatting while we waited.

The manager came out and helped serve the pizza and told us that they have been so busy since they opened less than a week ago, that they have reached full capacity for being able to make the amount of pizzas ordered for carryouts and in the restaurant! They have people ordering carryouts for 2 and 3 days in advance! Smart people:)

Ben was very happy all day and we were happy to make him feel special!


Ballet and Baseball!

Our heads are spinning with business over here! We are knee deep in baseball~either a game or practice 5-6 days out of the week!

Samuel’s team got off to a very rough start this year. A “rough around the edges” sort of bunch. He wasn’t enjoying his team and neither were we~especially when one of the games ended with kids getting ejected out of the game, parents screaming obscenities at the umpire and each other (across the teams) and the catcher from the opposing team getting injured so badly, he required surgery!

I became “that mom” and contacted the president of our baseball league. Long story short, he read my email and called me and we talked for a good 45 minutes, in which he asked lots of questions and really listened to my concerns. Two of our players got penalized with sitting out a second game and one has been ejected for the season. It was rough for a bit with so many missing players. Then Samuel had someone on the team say some pretty cruel stuff to him (but that is the player that is gone now.) We took care of that really quickly!

The GOOD that has come out of it is that his team is really starting to come together. They are being kinder to each other, encouraging one another and playing well. Samuel is enjoying baseball again and we are so relieved!

Zakkai is just loving baseball!! He has such a good attitude and is picking up skills quickly! I told him I need to take his picture tonight before his game to post here:)

Eliana had her big ballet/tap recital this weekend! She was SO excited that she bounded into our room at 6am on Saturday:) She got to do two dances this year, one ballet and one tap and changed skirts for each one. She did so well!!

Looking so pretty in her ballet skirt before the recital! (It was SOO fluffy! They gave us tips to “de-fluff” them but nothing worked:) The kids got to hang out with their grandma right afterwards for a couple of hours before S’s baseball game. She was very tired and refused to take any more pictures at first!

I shamelessly bribed her by telling her she could take silly pictures on my ipad for 10 minutes if she smiled and posed for us:) It worked!

And last but not least, I just wanted to share a picture of our butterfly releasing! All the butterflies except one flew away so quickly we couldn’t even get a picture! But the last one came out slowly and stayed on E’s hand for several minutes. She loved it! We all went through butterfly-withdrawal for awhile and are hoping to do it again soon:)


April Good Weather Brings May Showers?

We had gorgeous weather for awhile over here….and now we have rain and went back to cool temperatures and coats! Just in time for baseball:)

Speaking of baseball, BOTH boys are playing this year. I got the schedules for the games last week and about hyperventilated! We have 3-4 games a week plus 2 or more practices a week for the next 7 weeks. Plus ballet recitals, weddings, homeschooling, cleaning jobs and regular life.

Some people really thrive off of being busy but we do not! Ben and I are both introverts (I have some of both) and we get worn out by busyness and really need downtime. This will be a stretch for us but it does make us happy that the boys are enjoying it. Zakkai, especially! He has only watched S up to this point and has minimally practiced with S and Ben but he is picking baseball up very naturally! His team won their game last night and he was very happy about that!


Zakkai is on the “Indians” team (in the picture, he’s up to bat at his first game. He got a hit!) and Samuel is on the “Blue Jays.” Eliana has decided she wants to do t-ball next year;) Here is a video of her practicing batting!

We got outside last Sunday and took advantage of the sun that we hadn’t seen in so long! Here are the kids resting on a bench for a minute, grudgingly posing for a picture for their dear old mom;)

Eliana got a butterfly garden kit for her birthday and we finally sent in for the caterpillars! It was pretty amazing to watch them grow so quickly, turn into chrysalides and hang themselves upside down on the lid of the container and then a week and a half later, turn into butterflies! We currently have 5 Painted Lady butterflies:) We are going to set them free in the next couple of days. Oliver finally discovered them and we’ve had to keep them way up high because he wants them SOOO bad! He is such a predator:)

Hopefully I’ll find time in our busyness to write again soon!

Birthdays, Marriage and Getaway!

It’s been a busy last month! 6 days after Ben’s birthday was Zakkai’s 10th birthday! Can’t believe both my boys are double digits now. On his actual birthday, we had a pretty normal day and I made him a dinner he likes and a chocolate brownie/cake. (one of the ways to his heart is definitely chocolate!)

He also got the surprise of his life when we ushered him out the door minutes after dinner for a ride in a Mustang convertible!! He was sooooo happy!

The kids had been sick for awhile and then I got really sick for awhile so we postponed a party until a couple of weeks ago. He invited 3 friends over and we took them all bowling and then to our house to make pizzas and have cupcakes. Then one of them spent the night! (the other two had basketball games the next morning so they couldn’t.) They all seemed to have a good time!

Then last week, Ben and I celebrated our 14th anniversary! We celebrated by getting away for 2 days…..the first time we’ve done that since 2009! So needless to say, it was long overdue:) We had a really good time. We tossed around a few ideas but in the end, decided to get to know Columbus so we went downtown and got a good deal on a nice hotel. We did things we never get to do or normally wouldn’t do like going to a Blue Jackets game ( Columbus hockey), the Art Museum, a nice dinner out, a movie, etc. It was a really great weekend and the kids had a blast with my mom and Ben’s mom!


100th Day of School, Valentine’s Day and a Burn!

The kids and I celebrated 100 days of school last Monday. We did lots of different “100” day activities,which they thought was great fun, including learning about what life was like 100 years ago (WWI!) and imagining what life will be like in 100 years (according to Z there will be solar cars that fly!)


One of the activities was that I created 3 piles of 100 Legos and they had to build something using all 100 pieces and it had to have a function. Enter the “Blue Blueberry Machine,” the “Red Rocket Machine” and the “Wicked White Machine.” They shot blue blueberries, rockets and toilet bowl lids at people! Ah, such imaginations!

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A week and a half ago, my shortness got the best of me! I was taking a glass bowl out of the microwave filled with scalding hot water and baby potatoes. The microwave is above the stove so I have to lift it down from above my head. I lost my grip and dropped it on the stove and the scalding hot water sloshed all over my arm! Oh boy, it HURT! I ran to the sink and ran it under cold water for a few minutes and then slathered it with aloe.

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Once the redness started going away, I could see where the worst of the burn was. It hurt SO bad. I could not bear for even air to touch it and all I could think was how horrific it must be for people who get bad burns all over their bodies.

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This was a couple of days later. The worst spot where I blistered was just past my wrist bone. I walked around for days with one rolled up sleeve!

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Then a few days ago, I started having a reaction to the Vitamin E oil I was slathering all over and my arm got extra red and itched SO bad, on top of the already itching skin!! I had no idea healing burns itched so bad.

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Here it is today; healing well. It’s feeling so much better, the skin is just tender and I still have these awful itchy times each day where I have to put vaseline or aloe all over it to moisturize it. I am incredibly thankful Eliana or Oliver weren’t standing right below me when it happened!


We celebrated this guy’s 37th birthday this week (Valentine’s Day!) Look how handsome he is! (and skinny!) The kids were just sure that he should’ve had the day off of work. Daddy Thomas from the Lego family that the kids created celebrated his birthday, too, but he did get a day off of work:)


My silly guy! I am starting to rebuild a good recipe repertoire finally! I felt such discouragement a few months ago about this Paleo business but since then I have armed myself with a few good cookbooks and Pinterest recipes and have found some winners! It feels good to be eating healthy and also to be able to have some baked goods or treats sometimes:) Helps us not miss the oldy but goodies so much. For Ben’s bday, I made a Paleo flourless chocolate cake! Mmmm!

Another birthday coming up in a few days!

Winter Sickness

We’ve been passing our new year by with sickness, unfortunately. It started with Z (again!) and the next day S, and the next day E. Sore throats, bad coughs, lots of sneezing and congestion, fevers, eye pain and for Eliana, we are battling an ear infection:( She got better for a few days last week and then went into the ear thing and has been running fevers off and on for a couple of days. I am really hoping today will be a new day!

Ben has it, too, now so that means I am the last one standing. Everyone knows when Mama goes down, everyone goes down! Ben keeps begging me not to get sick so I am not getting kisses from anyone and my hands are rough from all the hand washing!

Other than germs, we are doing well. Plugging away at school~today is the 100th day!


Here are my kiddos working a couple of weeks ago:) The boys have been working hard at having good attitudes about doing schoolwork and surprise me some days by getting up early and beginning their independent work. ( I love those days!) They have been reading really great books for school like “The Wrinkle in Time” series (Z), “Lad” (S), “Black Beauty” (both), “Little Men” (S) and more! They all love reading.

Eliana is blowing me away with what she can do in school! She is regularly working at a 1st grade to 2nd grade level and her reading really took off last month. She was reading really well and then she asked to have a book to read for school so I decided to get her some chapter books and you rarely see her without a book in hand now! She finished her first chapter book (“Ivy and Bean”) in 1 day and proceeded to read 4 more in the series that weekend! She got bored of those after book 8 and switched to “Socks” and currently is devouring all of the Roald Dahl books we own.

If there is anything we’ve passed on to our kids that I’m happy about, it’s the reading bug!


Eliana is really into helping me cook these days. She wants to stir things (cooking scrambled eggs here!), add ingredients, help me use the food processor, etc. I keep telling the boys they need to learn to cook so they can make breakfast for everyone:)


My “teacher’s helper”:)

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Etc:)

Well! I’m a little behind! I play catch-up with my life all the time. So, Merry Christmas 2016, Happy New Year 2017 and everything else!


Eliana had her Christmas ballet recital the weekend before Christmas. She LOVES ballet. She begged for it for so long before we were able to swing the lessons and you never know with kids, whether they will stick to it or not but this girl has not wavered in her dreams of someday becoming a prima ballerina! She did such a good job at her recital. You can tell she listens closely in class and really tries to learn her steps:)



One of our very favorite things we did this Christmas season was to go to the ballet “The Nutcracker!” My MIL gave us tickets for Christmas and it was awesome. We counted down the days for months! The kids got all spiffed up. I cannot tell you how thrilled the boys were to have their own ties. No joke!


And we tried to get beautified, too!


The Nutcracker is at the Ohio Theater, which has really cool architecture. They make it such a special event each year in December. The boys weren’t so sure they would like it, especially since Eliana and I were so excited, but they really enjoyed it! Especially the Mouse King part:)


We went to a Christmas Eve service with Ben’s mom, where we heard the most beautiful rendition of Silent Night ever! Really powerful. I just love Christmas Eve…..even better than Christmas day, I think!


We had waaaaaay too many Christmas’s to go to and this is how Eliana ended every single one of them. We were pretty wiped out by the end of it all! I told Ben that we’d better write it down to remember how tiring it was next year so we can run away on a vacation or something!;)


The boys received “Warfare by Duct Tape” books for Christmas. They are very cool. Basically, you buy some PVC pipes, ductape and a couple small pieces of wood, cut them to the length required and let the kids have at it! They build swords, shields, helmets, etc. There are rules in the front of each book about how to play the game with chivalry:) This was a quick battle they had early in the morning to test out their first weapon! I will have to get a picture of them in full gear:)


And last but not least, we have jumped into the New Year with both feet, trying to make this year get off to a good start. I totally (nicely) forced my family to do another Whole30 this month to detox from the Holiday sugar and Paleo treats! It’s so easy to slide into long-time habits and I was getting a little too comfortable making muffins in the mornings, treats at night and allowing special things when we were at parties, etc. It just feels so good to take a step back and get back on track. No one is complaining at all, which is nice! We aren’t even really counting the days; just enjoying our food!

So, we are one week into stuffing ourselves with veggies and let me say, it is SOOO much easier the second time! Since we already cut out most things they require you to from our regular diet, basically the only thing we are giving up is our sugar (honey, maple syrup), the occasional dairy (in ice cream!) and corn. We aren’t supposed to be having corn anyways but we can’t help the occasional tortilla chips (our favorite are Luke’s Pumpkin Chips from Costco!!) or popcorn treat:) Last time we had to give up bread, pasta, rice, corn, dairy, white sugar, all sugar, soy, peanuts, etc. It was most of our diet!!

Anyways, I highly recommend a little Whole30 cleanse (at least the 2nd time anways…:)


And last but not least, I always try to think of a word that I want to pray for for the new year and I try to incorporate it into passwords or little things in my life to keep it in the forefront of my mind. Last year’s word was “Hope.” We have struggled for so many seasons now to find hope and meaning amidst broken dreams and we have just floundered, not truly thriving or living. I read a poem with the kids at school recently by Langston Hughes that perfectly captures what this kind of season feels like.


Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.

God answered the prayer of Hope in this past month or so (He likes to take His time!) and we are beginning to see it sprout like a tiny plant blooming in a crack in the frozen ground.

This year B and I both decided our word for the year will be “Live.” We want to live again, thrive, grow. We are taking some baby steps to do this, like a newborn colt taking its first trembly steps. Hopeful (see there’s that word again!), cautiously, excited and nervous all at the same time. We don’t know what this year will hold for us but we are praying for Life to flourish with our blooming Hope, as we trust our loving heavenly Father.

Do you have a word for this year?