Monday, Monday.

It was a rough start to today:( The boys were in rare form and I was up to HERE with them by 11am. On top of their fighting and not listening, Eliana was following me around fussing all morning.

Thankfully things turned around after an early 3 hour nap for E, some outside playing time for the boys and to my surprise, a nap for Zakkai. He was sent to his room for yanking a coloring book out of Eliana’s hands and causing her to fall off the couch. I thought it was awfully quiet and checked after 10 minutes and found him curled up on his beanbag chair sound asleep.

I de-stressed by doing some sewing this afternoon on a fun little project that the boys are excited about. Debut coming soon.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better! We’ve got eye re-checks for Eliana and Samuel.

Wish me luck:)

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Family Picture.

I know that most of you have seen our new family picture on FB but I cannot resist posting it here!!

This has to be my favorite family picture yet!! I’ve been begging Ben to take one and he agreed to help me after church today. We grabbed our camera and the manual and he figured out how to set the self-timer button.

Seriously, no professional photographer, no portrait studio, no $ at all! Just a few minutes of reading, a beautiful day and 3 shots. Usually 1 to 2 out of the 5 of us are looking in opposite directions or making goofy faces or the lighting’s bad, etc. I was really surprised when Ben grabbed the camera to show me the pictures we took.

I fell in love with this one and will treasure it forever!!

A story about our time at the park: When we got there, almost right away Zakkai spotted what looked like a credit card under a park bench. He said, “Oh look! A new play credit card!”

I grabbed it quickly, thinking it was probably a giftcard or something but realized it was someone’s credit card. We decided to take it over to the nearby police station after we finished playing and picture-taking.

I assumed it would be a quick drop-off with a “thanks for being an honest citizen” comment or two. But noooooooo. I ran in, leaving Ben and the kiddos in the car. The depressed looking lady police officer behind the window asked what I needed and I told her that we’d found a credit card at the park and wanted to drop it off. I started to hand it over, only to have her tell me I had to fill out some paperwork with my information first and she would call someone to help me.

Wha? You’re sitting right in front of me. Why can’t you help me?

She turned around to a male officer behind her and clicked off the microphone to tell him why I was there. I could hear her tell him why I was there and he glanced at me and just walked away. She told me that she called an officer and someone would come soon. I was really confused. What in the world? I just wanted to hand this to you so you could get it back to the right person! Trying to be a good person here….

TEN minutes later, the same male officer (who had walked through twice ignoring me) finally decided to help me. He asked to see the credit card and was staring at me so suspiciously. Because I look like a criminal, right?

He started questioning me as to where I’d found it, what was I doing at the park, where exactly was I and where was the credit card, etc. His voice was SO suspicious sounding and accusatory. Hey, yeah, I stole this credit card, made up a story about playing at the park with my family and taking pictures, went on a spending spree and then decided to come here and dorop this off to you!

Right.

I was upset when he finally let me go and I went out to the car, feeling like I was some bad person about to be arrested. They didn’t even say thank you or anything. Not that I needed a thank you; it just would’ve been polite. I was just doing what I would hope someone would do if I lost my credit card somewhere!

People.

I was able to shake it off after awhile and just enjoy some Olympic watching with my family today and the sweet comments from our family and friends about our picture:)

Olympic Weekend!

 It’s been so fun to watch the Olympics today with the boys!! Last time the summer Olympics were on? Samuel had just turned THREE, Zakkai was almost 18 months old and Ben was far, far away in a land called Turkey….

Wow. Time flies!

Samuel and Zakkai are so excited to see what the Olympics (which they’ve heard about but don’t remember) is all about! They were hooked on the cycling first thing this morning, are full of a million questions about who’s winning and what’s happening and what does “this” mean….

We let them stay up a little later to watch some sand volleyball tonight. They were hoping to see the swimming but it was on a little too late. Ben also found a book on the summer olympics at the library which we’ve been reading. It explains how the Olympics started, traditions and about all the sports involved.

It might be better if it had been updated since it was written in 1991 but still….

And I’m excited that the Olympics will still be on when we’re with family in 2 weeks in CO! Too bad we’ll have to miss a couple days of watching while we’re traveling a million miles….

Speaking of traveling, we’ve been stocking up on super cheap books from Half-Price and/or Goodwill for the trip. The kiddos all have some “new” books for the trip to entertain them. We spent $11 today between the 2 stores and got 11 books, 1 board game and a toy computer (for baby entertainment:).

The game? My ultimate, very favorite childhood game. The Game of LIFE!!! Yea! We put E down for her nap and I talked all 3 of my favorite guys into playing with me. Aren’t they sweet? The boys loved it. And Zakkai crushed us as usual. He has such a knack for games!

A note about the 2 pictures above. I was watching Missy play the piano and thought, “I should capture this moment well, because she’s adorable and also just in case she plays the piano someday. I can say this was the beginning of it all….”

Can’t you just picture the great Concert Pianist Eliana Thomas? Such a ring to it…;)

And this, while also adorable, is why we put bows in her hair. Of which she wants 54 at a time lately:)

Happy Weekend!

Toddler ‘Tude

I love to find a good deal. Don’t you? It always makes me happy when I find something that usually costs a lot and I can get it for cheap. (Like my beautiful new Vera Bradley bag!!!)

I noticed the other day that Little Miss’s shoes were starting to get awfully tight. Her very first pair of walking shoes were Stride Rite and she has just loved them. But her cute little toes were pressing up against the top and she just seemed a little more uncomfortable in them.

Since we definitely can’t afford to keep her in nice, new Stride Rite shoes ($30-50 a pair!), I started looking around to see what I could find. Here comes the deal! Ready?

Ebay. Stride Rite. Barely worn. With Shipping…$9.99. Woohoo!!

And the best part? She gets to keep her much adored bells on:)

So, I plopped her in the chair to get a pic of her shoes and she immediately started being silly! She always gravitates towards my computer and pushes as many buttons as she possibly can before I pull her away:)

Oh yes, you are a silly girl!!

What?! What is this face? Are you practicing for the teenage years?

Oh, I see that smile starting….You’re a little imp!

And a very cute one.

Produce and Green Stuff!

We had a very low-key day today. Ben and I weren’t feeling the best so we took it easy. Ben’s allergies have been horrible this year (thanks to rotten weather!) and he was exhausted from 2 extremely long days in a row of work. (he gets home close to midnight.)  And I’ve had ongoing stomach issues for a few weeks now that often leave me feeling yucky. Would love prayer for it to go away, as I would like to lead a normal, energetic life with my family!

Today was produce pick-up day, which we always enjoy! I was getting a bit overwhelmed by all the leafy green stuff we’ve been getting that I can barely pronounce but we are slowly learning how to use it all and how to store it properly so it doesn’t wilt in 2 days. Not that we’ve ever had that happen….

I’ve made smoothies with kale, kale chips, egg noodles with kholrabi, stir-fry (s) with different green things in it and more! We are eating more greens than we’ve ever eaten before.

Today we got more kale, lettuce, swiss chard, zucchini and squash, basil, red potatoes (in the brown bag), yellow and red tomatoes (not pictured), turnip heads, baby onions, and hot peppers! We already used half the tomatoes and some basil in a fresh tomato, basil, mozzarella salad tonight. Mmm!

Now that we’re figuring out how to use these veggies and not feeling so overwhelmed with giant heads of leafy green stuff, I can say I’m really enjoying doing this CSA farm thing and would highly recommend it! I am very glad we’re only doing bi-weekly because we’d be overrun by vegetables othewise;)

Not that that’s a bad thing…

And maybe we can head off Eliana’s typical toddler phase of “All Green Things Must Die” if we work quickly enough.

One can hope.

The Bug and Silly Faces.

 The bug of change bit me again. Same old, same old; it hits me here and there. Things become too complacent or I become discontented with how things are “working” and want change.

It’s been driving me crazy that the first thing people see when they walk into our home is our tv center with mess in it and on top. (I cannot stop certain people from putting their stuff on top of the tv center!)

I can’t forget the words of one of my favorite books about home organization where the author challenges you to really look at the focus and purpose of each room in your home. Well, I don’t want the purpose or focus of my living room to be tv mess.

So I sheepishly asked my dear wonderful husband-of-the-bulging muscles if he would help me brainstorm and/or possibly move some furniture around:) You could practically see the distress roll across his face but his kindness and love for me warred with it and won. What a good man!

He helped me come up with a new arrangement and voila!

Now when you walk in, you see a nice cozy reading area!

The living room area is much more open now! The big chair used to be tucked in the back corner which made it hard for conversation when we had guests over. Now we can face each other and talk, a definite important focus for me.

I’m planning on making some covers for the tv area so the tv can be hidden when we’re not watching it, which is most of the time!

Also, notice the cute little rocking chair reading are for the kiddos in the corner now:)

We even did a crazy thing, which my dear husband was sceptical of, and moved the table and chairs out of the dining room! It was becoming a breeding ground of junk (thanks to my mini junk hoarders) and I really wanted the space opened up more.

It’s definitely tighter fit in the kitchen now but I’m okay with that! It’s actually really nice to have the kiddos closer to me while I’m preparing or serving food and makes setting/clearing the table easier! Eliana likes having the boys closer, too, from her perch in the highchair:) I think it will be nice for doing homework, too!

And on to silly faces:) The boys taught Eliana how to stick her fingers in her mouth to pull it out and make goofy faces. I missed that part and suddenly she came up to me saying, “Mama!” and doing this. She wants us all to make faces at the same time all the time now:)

Silly girl!

Camping!

Either that was the longest nap ever or I was too tired to come back and give details:) You can guess which one!

So, we knew we had to make at least one trial run camping adventure before the big adventure two weeks from now. We’d been debating all week off and on whether we should go this weekend but hadn’t made any plans.

Until Saturday morning. Nothing like last minute ideas!! We picked a campsite in a forest preserve about 35 minutes away, packed our things and drove off, hoping they would have a spot available.

They had 4 spots left! The attendant, Lt Dan (I admit, it possibly brought up all sorts of Forrest Gump references), told us to walk and check them all out but I was too anxious that he’d give the spots away and we’d be left with nothing, as lines of people started showing up right after we got there!

So we picked a site and headed off.

We all piled out and after picking up stray twigs, got out our new tent, hoping no one would realize what rookies we were!

With a little help from the boys and from me, the tent master got our new home-away-from-home all set up!

We took turns keeping Little Miss occupied climbing around in the car and checking out her brothers’ carseats:) It was pretty warm and humid and we were all pretty hot after our hard work setting up tents and beds so we decided to take a drive around the preserve and cool off. And give Eliana a chance to rest.

She fell asleep in the car so I stayed with her while B and the boys checked out the lake!

There were people fishing and kyaking, canoeing and just enjoying the beautiful sight!

They came back and Ben handed me the camera. When I asked if he got any pictures of the boys, he looked a little sheepish and shrugged. Goof!

We decided to go back and have our campfire dinner after our cool drive! Poor E was SO hot and sweaty so we took off her clothes and let her enjoy the glory of nature as is:)

She had a heat rash that started a couple days before we left and was it’s worst on Saturday. She kept scratching so we had to put cream on her a few times.

Her curls came out in full force with all the humidity!

Even the boys went shirtless! Samuel does eat, I promise. I think he’s sucking in a little….

We chowed on hotdogs and delicious, cool watermelon! But the best part was our delicious, traditional camping dessert of….s’mores!!

Eliana wanted nothing to do with the graham crack (aside from one bit) or the marshmallow. Chocolate only for her!!

And Samuel decided his 2nd smore would be “raw” not toasted. Strange but true!

Daddy and Zakkai roasting marshmallows!

We brought a few games to play. The boys played a couple games of Guess Who before we took an evening walk down to the lake to kick the soccer ball and admire fish and ducks:)

This is a picture of one very tired little girl yesterday morning. Tired? Oh yes. Allow me to tell.

After our lake walk and a rousing round of Hangman the board game, we tried laying Miss E down in her pack ‘n play (our tent fit 1 queen sized air mattress, 2 sleeping bags and 1 pack ‘n play plus bookbags!). She wanted none of it! We all decided to lay down and be quiet to see if that would help her go to sleep.

2 hours later…..Eliana was the only one awake. I kept dozing off inbetween laying her down, getting beaned with her elephants on my head, etc. I tried a couple of times to get her to lay down next to me, hoping that would settle her down.

All that earned me was her head bashing into my nose twice and a fat, bloody, bruised lip. (me, not her.) So by 11:30, I’d had it!!! She was SO overtired and almost wild because she just couldn’t settle down. I picked her up, knowing she was almost ready to give up, and rocked her back and forth. Ben was over there stage whispering that we should get out the carseat and strap her in to make her lie down.

Ha! I shook my head at him and whispered back that her eyes were CLOSING! I laid her down, only to have her cry out again. One more quick round of rocking brought sweet peace to our tent.

For about 30-45 minutes. Before she startled awake, crying almost like she was in a panic. I leaped up and grabbed her, the paci, the elephants and cradled her. I rocked her a bit and she fell back asleep and ended up spending the rest of night asleep with us on our air mattress. She was restless at first and I was awake every time she moved, recovering her or putting her back on the mattress when she’d roll off and have her head on the ground.

Finally we put her between us (after B woke her up when he snuck out to use the oh-so-lovely pit toilet!) and she slept deeply, sometimes half on top of us. We all woke up somewhere between 7-7:30am.

Poor Little Lady was so exhausted from her restless, wild night that she fell asleep after we got home after breakfast for about 3 hours. And then went to bed early last night!

Now we have to figure out how to get her to sleep better for our next camping adventure….in 2 weeks!

All in all, it was pretty fun. The forest preserve was beautiful, we were adventurous, no one got bitten or hurt and we got a little sleep:) It’s amazing how loud nature is! Zakkai was restless before falling asleep and he suddenly whispered, “Mommy! I can’t go to sleep. It’s too loud!”

He was right! Between the cicadas, the crickets, the strange, unidentified bugs and creatures, the owls hooting and coyotes howling, it was very loud! We got used to the noises and the boys slept well. They really enjoyed their first camping trip and are excited to go again!

Here’s to many more peaceful camping trips:)