One Day at a Time!

This week has been one of those oh-so-busy, “just one day at a time” kind of weeks! It has been good just crazy busy. We definitely have a much busier lifestyle right now, with both of us trying to earn enough income to a)survive (and we have finally gotten to that point in the past 2 months, hooray!) and b)begin to pay off our mammoth debt. It seems light years away that we will not have this monstrous dragon breathing down our necks but we certainly look forward to it! Maybe a miracle will happen and the government will actually decide to help people with school debt!

Right…..I’m guessing pigs will be flying or something of that sort:)

This week, Ben has had a big week at work, taking over as acting manager of the warehouse. His boss went on vacation for the first time in a really long time, trusting Ben (who is unofficially assistant manager these days) to take over! So Ben has been working long days and picking up the slack of other co-workers who may or may not show up for work. After tomorrow, he will have logged in 26 hours of overtime in 2 weeks!

And I started teaching preschool and my newest cleaning job this week. I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed last Saturday night with the week ahead, but we have been constantly praying for each other, checking up on and encouraging one another and saying as our mantra, “Just one day at a time!” And now it’s Thursday and we’re breathing a big sigh of relief! Thank you, Lord, for the grace You give us each day.
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In children news: Samuel started some state-wide testing at school this week. Apparently, these tests do not meet with teacher enthusiasm and make things difficult for schools but they are pushed through by politicians using business methods. Samuel, weirdly enough, says he is glad to be testing because it’s something different and he won’t be bored! Can you tell what he’s been complaining about lately??

He is getting SO big and definitely showing some pre-puberty, pre-teen signs these days (a.k.a. moodiness, self-consciousness over body things, attitude, even needing to wear deodorant sometimes!) Ahh! He is within inches of matching my height and I just look at his sweet face sometimes and I can see the handsome young man he is turning into rapidly. How, oh HOW is my first baby turning 10 this summer?! I can’t think about it….

Z-man loves being 8 and it’s been a good first eight-year-old week for him! He’s been a great listener, lost another tooth and has been burying his nose in books! I do love that we have passed on our love of reading to all of the munchkins. He’s been into some new series this week. He’s funny because they’ve been learning about series at school and he absolutely insists on getting all books in order, even ones that don’t require it like Boxcar Children or Hardy Boys. We cannot sway him! So we make the rounds of libraries to get books in order:) Silly kid.

Eliana has not been adjusting to her new lenses well lately and we noticed a regression in her eye-correction so I took her back to the drs on Tuesday. We have to get her lenses re-made but thankfully it is still under warranty! We also have to start really teaching her to use her bifocals correctly, which will be interesting. She has some strong bifocals that help her eye tremendously but they have to be positioned perfectly on her face for her to use them. Really hoping the new lenses will work!

She’s such a sweetie though and was so patient with everyone taking her glasses on and off, staring at her eyes, doing little eye exams, etc. We had 4 different people in the room at the same time at one point, inspecting her and her glasses! She’s a trooper. She couldn’t have a sweet, more darling personality and character. I pray it always stays so!

So there you have it! A quick update in Thomas-land! Pics coming soon!

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Happy Birthday, Zakkai!!

 Yesterday, our sweet, spunky, loud and very funny Z-man turned 8! Eight? Wow. I kept trying to buy number seven candles at the store the day before and Samuel kept saying, “Mommy? He’s going to be eight!” Everyone warns you that time will fly and you know that but then it really hits you when your fat little blue-eyed monster goes from 9 months old to 8 years in the blink of an eye!

I procrastinated, as usual, in planning a party and then suffered over terrible bad-mommy guilt the past week. But to my surprise, all 8 kids ended up coming to the party, despite my borderline late invitations! I was even getting rsvp’s yesterday afternoon. Good thing I went ahead and planned for everyone coming!

We chose a Lego theme for his party, since he and S are mega Lego-lovers. It is a GREAT theme for a party! You can do primary colors for decorations, which are easy to find at the dollar store and use the legos you have on hand. It was actually fun to pick all the decorations and games, even though it was stressful, too. (Have I mentioned that I am ready to boycott parties?!!!) I just really really wanted our Zakkai to feel special. He is the middle child. King of hand-me-downs and always being “shushed” because he’s talking so loud or pounding on the table like a drum. He simultaneously drives me up the wall and captures my heart in the deepest, most tender mommy part. He is so incredibly precious to us!

No school again yesterday so all three were begging to help me with party preparations all day! Wednesday night I finished the planning and then all day Thursday and Friday I did party prep. Here was one end of the table.

Juice boxes covered with construction paper, to look like Legos!

The boys built a fork holder out of their Legos!

I wish it hadn’t turned out so blurry, but these were the Lego head pops! Made from marshmallows and almond bark coating. I painted the faces on with black cookie icing.

I thought they were adorable! Probably my favorite thing I made:)

The boys drew faces on yellow balloons and helped color Lego figures for decorations. Thankfully, my mom and stepdad showed up early and helped us tape up decorations really fast!! I forgot to take a picture of the cute sign we put out on the door…

My mama!

Ben and his mama! He’s such a goofball….

It took about 15 minutes for everyone to arrive so we sent everyone upstairs to the boys’ room to play Legos until it was game time. We are limited on space in here, with a really small living room so I made the boys clean their room so we could use it, too.

The first game was a car building game. We divided up the kids into two groups of 5, each getting a bowl of the exact same Lego pieces. They had 15 minutes to build the coolest, most creative, drivable car they could!

This was the upstairs group working hard. I supervised the upstairs group, making sure everyone was playing nicely and fairly! They were both done in about 10 minutes so we started the judging!

We brought their cars to the table and had them gather around and brought Ben and a friend of ours (whose son was invited) who stayed for the party to be the judges.

This was group One’s car. They said it could drive and fly and they had to prove to us that it was drivable. It was! They won “Most functional Car.”

Group Two went wild with their elaborate creation and won “Most Creative car!” They even said their car was computerized! How’s that for some modern kids?!

Zakkai listening to the judging:) They were having so much fun!

For their prizes, each team got to pick a Lego Head Pop out of the jars. Most kids liked them, although a few handed their gnawed off pops to me wanting to save them for later:) ha!

I didn’t get a picture of it but while they were waiting for the pizza to be ready, we played Lego Bingo! It was SOOO fun! They all sat in the living room and I handed out Lego Bingo cards. They all got a little pile of Legos to use as the markers and I was the caller. I had cards that matched all the Lego mini figures on their cards and I would call them out and show the cards around. We had time for 2 rounds before eating.

Coming up with prizes for games can be expensive on top of everything you already have to get so I did no prizes! The winner of round one got to be first in line for pizza. They loved it! We had a tie for round two so they had to do rock, paper, scissors to see who got to be second and third in line. Who needs a prize?! Here were some of them eating at the table.

It started out being the “girls club” in the living room but by the end they were all in there together. They started to get a little crazy at this point (and this is about when my mom and stepdad made their escape!!) I didn’t get pictures of this part either because I was so busy trying to round everyone up and get them ready but we did Lego Head jars. You can click on the link to see what they are supposed to look like!

The kids and I ate baby food (yum!) so we could have jars to use. Pears are my favorite:) I painted all the jars and lids yellow and then at the party, set out plates of red, white, black and brown paint for them to paint Lego faces on them. Some of them turned out cute; some just look like paint blobs and 2 boys messed up and wanted me to re-paint them yellow so they could re-do them at home! It kept them busy until cake time.

I tried valiantly to make a Lego block cake and it looks awful but I tried! (It’s okay, I really do know it looks bad! I was disappointed but I am hard on myself and Zakkai was happy so that’s what matters!

The bottom layer was chocolate and then top layers were vanilla. The block parts were marshmallows and oreos. It may look terrible but it tasted pretty good!

Z blowing out the Lego candles! (found those at Meijer!) Poor kiddo got a bad tummyache during the painting part and sat on the couch with his Grandma for awhile. He didn’t even try his cake until today!! We set aside a big chocolate piece for him. His friends went around the table and said something they really liked about Zakkai and then before they were even finished, the parents started coming!

For goodie bags, which can get way too pricey, I got plain yellow cellophane bags and drew Lego heads with faces on each one and wrote their name. In it we put a cool sucker, glowing slappy thing (who knows), smarties and if they wanted, another Lego Head Pop. They were supposed to have their Lego Head jars, too, in the bags but they were all wet! I told them Z would bring them to school Monday…

Everyone rushed off into the cold night and then we were left to open presents. Ben’s mom stayed with us to watch, which was really nice. Couldn’t believe how quiet it was after all the chaos!!

Such a beautiful boy:) I hate that his tummy felt so bad. He wouldn’t get off the couch so we had to hand him his presents. (He felt much much better after some “manly time” in the bathroom right afterwards;)

Ah! Look at all these presents he got!! He got lots of Legos, a game, a giftcard and even a Dictionary from us. He seriously asked for a Dictionary for his birthday and was thrilled with it! He has been using it all day today:)

Happiest 8th birthday, sweet boy! You fill our life up with your zest. You drive us crazy constantly beating on everything like a drum but you tell me you like it and it makes you happy so how can we get too upset?? You are so funny, tell the most elaborate stories with the most minute details, have captured the hearts of your teacher and student teacher with how fun and smart you are.

You can build anything, figure out problems and mechanical things quicker than anyone I know, love to write your full name on all your homework, hate to dance, love doing math on the computer and underneath, when you stop and are still, you have the sweetest, most tender heart. We absolutely adore you, Z-man! Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthentine’s Weekend!

We have been so unbelievably busy around here! I got 2 new part-time jobs this week, one being another cleaning job and another being a preschool teacher! Eliana’s teacher is leaving for another position somewhere else and called me earlier this week to ask if I would finish out the school year. Thankfully, it will work for me to get the boys to the bus stop and then leave immediately for preschool.
 
So now I clean 3 times a week some weeks and teach preschool 2 days a week. Add all regular activities and household errands on top of that and I am swamped! I had to turn down an extra day teaching at the preschool because I just knew I couldn’t handle it. On Friday Ben was leaving for work and he said, “Don’t take any more jobs today!” haha.
 
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We’ve had a fun weekend. On Friday night we went to Ben’s mom’s house and had a birthday dinner for Ben and his grandma, whom he shares a birthday with. It was really fun! We had a yummy Olive Garden dinner and cake and played a game.
 
Yesterday morning we had a special treat and went to breakfast for Ben’s birthday! We found a really inexpensive cute diner and had the best waitress! She even put a birthday candle in Ben’s toast:) We ran a couple errands and got caught in a white-out on our way home. I have a couple cute pictures from breakfast but my phone keeps dying randomly so I can’t get it right now. (gotta love technology!)

In the evening, Ben’s mom came over and happily took on our Trio to allow us to go on a date! Can’t remember the last time we actually got to go out on Ben’s birthday (we don’t celebrate the Valentine’s Day part of it so he can feel special!) We went out to eat at PF Changs, which we loved and got some cheesecake and browsed at a bookstore. Our kind of date;)

Today it is FREEZING outside, so admittedly we played hookie from church which we never do but we’ve had 2 late nights and it was -2 out this mornings so….we stayed warm inside! We’re having a dinner of popcorn and leftover muffins from breakfast and tucking everyone in their warm beds:)

A great ending to a great weekend!

Weekend!

 It’s been a nice weekend! Usually the most exciting thing we do is visit the library or something of that caliber but yesterday we went to a model train show downtown! It was free for kids and it was very crowded!

It’s fun to see all the little cities and scenes set up. There is a lot of detail in each one!

We really enjoyed walking around watching the trains and studying the details of the cities. They had trains for adults and trains for kids, too!

Z even got to help drive one of the trains sets:) Our favorite part was listening to an expert speak on Walt Disney and the Railroad. It was really cool and we learned some neat facts! A nice way to spend our morning:)

Ben had to work for a little while later in the day so after I fed my trio, we attempted our first game ever of Monopoly! The boys really liked it and Eliana did, too, and tried to buy as many properties as she could:) She said to me, “Now I know how to play Monopoly! You just go around and around the board.” Wish it were that easy!

I finished my cooking magazine project! It took almost two weeks of working in all my “spare time.” I love, love how it turned out!! I made a little cover by cutting out magazine letters.

I got a 3 inch binder since I was going through about 100 magazines. I probably could’ve gotten away with a 2-inch but I wanted to have plenty of room in case I add to it later.

I got wide tab dividers for all of my categories. Each recipe is cut out and glued on a thicker white paper and in a plastic sheet protector. There are about 60 pages, front and back. Can’t believe I reduced all those magazines to one binder! I think it’ll be so much easier for me to use now and it makes me look forward to cooking more!

(this was about half of the magazines I went through!)

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And this afternoon, we met some friends at the park for about an hour and got a little exercise and fresh air, which always lifts the spirits! It was by no means a beautiful day, being muddy and misty off and on but it was good:)

Now we’re ready for a new week!

Project Fun!

 Life seems so much busier here than it was a year ago. It just seems like we are involved in more things and seeing people more often. Which is probably a good thing for us:) I am keeping very busy with my cleaning houses, running to/from preschool and all the errands and things that upkeep our own home. I have been trying to get smaller things accomplished during Eliana’s rest time in the afternoons (when we are home) instead of sitting down and reading, which I would really like to do instead:) It’s my only quiet time of the day where I don’t have to talk to anybody and I treasure it!

Today I made myself finish a couple of projects that have been waiting in the wings. I made some knit leggings for Eliana a couple weeks ago in light pink, which she loves and I finally finished the navy blue pair today! They are SO easy and I love how soft they are!

This is the hem in a fun zig-zag pattern. Eliana has a slight bit of sensory sensitivities just like Samuel and can be picky about the material of her clothes so it feels good to be able to make something she actually likes wearing! My goal is to keep an eye out for good sales on knits and make these in lots of colors for next year. She wears leggings all the time. Under dresses, with shirts, sometimes under other pants. Leggings are great!

I got an inexpensive chalkboard that had a dark frame, which is just not quite my cup of tea so I decided to paint it!

I painted it the same aqua blue color as the furniture I re-did in my kitchen and added some coral accents.

Ben hung it up for me tonight and I love it! I am going to write verses, sayings or my menu plan for the week on it. I am not great with decorations in the house, hanging things or interior design so I decided I needed something to brighten up my favorite room of the house!

More on the kiddos later!