Winter again??

 We woke up to THIS today:

Eliana was practically in tears! She said, “It was spring and now it’s winter again! I don’t want winter again!” She has been so into getting out her warmer clothes and wearing them around the house (hence her 3xs a day outfit changes!) and is NOT happy with me that I had to curb the short-sleeves and shorts for a few days and make her put on her winter coat again!

Believe me, no one in the Midwest is happy about that!

The yogurt turned out great!! Or so they tell me:) We have already gone through 1 qt and a pint of it. It is plain yogurt so we have just been mixing in a little honey or a little confectioner’s sugar (something B learned in Turkey) and a dash of vanilla. Tonight I made a strawberry chia compote that they can mix in the yogurt. I am really happy they all love it!

They feel very sad for me that I can’t eat it:) You know, gag reflex and all….
Our stick system has continued to go really well!! We had a few “bugs” to work out in the first couple of weeks. We decided to let the boys pick 2 sticks on Friday afternoons that they don’t have to do since it is more of a relaxed day and they are extra tired from a long week at school. They usually choose shower as one of them, ha!

We have random bonus days where they can earn something extra for getting all of their sticks. They will never know when those pop up! Zakkai was really struggling for awhile so we talked about some ways for him to be better at managing his time and he is doing awesome with it now! As a matter of fact, he just earned a prize tonight!!

We have to keep on them for not doing shoddy jobs on some of their chores just to get a stick. Sometimes they rush through 5 minute bedroom clean up or things like that. We want them to do a good job, even if no one is watching. Doesn’t it say in the Bible to always work like you’re doing it for God? A valuable lesson for when they are adults, too!

We have been really good about using the discipline chart, too. Admittedly, it is harder for me. I really, really hate to discourage them from doing a good job (especially Zakkai, who struggles with listening and managing time more) and I am not always good at enforcing the rules. It’s like one more detail in an already busy day. But I have been working hard to follow through on what I say and crack down on talking back or not listening, etc. Without too many warnings:)

I’m an old softy, darn it! The chart has been working well though. They are learning that they need to be respectful and won’t get away with talking back or not listening to us. And I get some help with extra chores;) I am really glad that we are doing this system and that it’s really working and helping all of us!
My nephew was released from the hospital yesterday, after 5 days and nights. My sister was exhausted from such a long and difficult week. Still praying for a full recovery for J and for the whole family to get rest and peace! Samuel has been anxious about his cousin and really sad about him being so sick. He was so relieved to hear that he got to go home. Such a sweet heart!

Well, it’s that time of night where I must get myself to bed so that it doesn’t require a screwdriver to pry my eyes open in the morning! Beauty sleep and all that…:) Good night!


Park and Recreation!

 During the long (long!) winter months here, we drive by the neighborhood parks, empty of children, buried under thick blankets of snow and we dream of sunny spring or summer days when we can set the children loose again! That day finally came this weekend, after 4 1/2 very long (did I mention long?) months.

Ben had a paper to present at a conference yesterday and the weather was really nice so the kiddos and I walked to a nearby park and spent a good part of the late afternoon soaking up some much-needed vitamin D and getting fresh air!

They all spent an extraordinary length of time on the seesaw horsing around:) Zakkai brought his basketball to play in the court but had to wait for some bigger kids to leave.

Eliana LOVED the seesaw! Samuel caused a lot of trouble standing in between them:)

My trio!

Then Eliana became a conductor and took us to warmer places on the train.

It was a great way to spent the afternoon! Makes the rainy days bearable when you know more of these kinds of days are coming.

Eliana got herself alllll dressed up for church today! I did a little “tweaking” before church and swapped the polka dot pants for some pink leggings but other than that, let her be:) She gets herself dressed in wild combinations all day. She changes her clothes at least twice a day!

After church and a little quiet time, we headed to the park again this afternoon, this time with Daddy and our neighbor Mikey in tow.

Eliana did some fancy sliding today:)

The boys and Daddy played a lot of basketball and then they came over to climb on the train. Well, the boys, that is. Not Ben:)

Eliana hanging’ on the swing…

Oh, to be a kid again!

Yesterday morning, the kiddos were a little rowdy so I put on a music CD I got from the library and before I knew it, they were all dancing and having a great time! I need to do this more often!

When we go to the park, Eliana takes off running and runs ’til she can run no more! She has this really cute bouncy run:)

Hope you had a great weekend!

Spring Break

 Spring is fighting to make it’s presence known here in the good old Midwest! It hasn’t been too warm for spring break but today we finally reached 40 and that was good enough for all the neighborhood kids to come out and play!

Monday it was sunny and we spent a little time outside, too.

Eliana begs to go outside like a puppy! I really wish we had a nice backyard so it would be easier than hanging out on the sidewalk!

She was so happy with her bike and can peddle very well now:)

Samuel was “helping” her for a few minutes. Good old big brother torture:)

The boss giving me directions!

Little Miss Boss also organized some races:) She saw the big kid races and she wanted to take part, too! She waited until everyone was lined up…

Then she would take off and they would pretend they couldn’t catch her! So cute..

Poor Z just wasn’t feeling up to racing. It’s taken him a long time to get over this virus. He is doing much better today and played outside for a long time, which I was happy to see!

But not so much on Monday. He still needed some rest and early bedtimes.

He also does NOT cooperate with pictures these days. Grrr!

Finally got a little shot of that cute face! His cough kept Samuel awake the past few nights so he would go to sleep in our room and then we’d carry him back into his room when we went to bed. Tonight’s the first night we haven’t had to do that!

Missy Magician!

She doesn’t know any tricks but she’s pretty cute:)

She saw I was taking pictures and ripped off the hat but I snuck in a picture just in time! I hope she doesn’t start taking after her brothers and refuse to take pictures!

The boys have really been into Legos this week, especially Samuel! I’ve barely been able to get S to come down for dinner because he is so involved in building his creations. Samuel is a stick to the directions kind of builder 90% of the time and Zakkai is the opposite, mostly an inventive builder! Today Samuel said, “Mommy, I think that Legos are even better toys than matchbox cars.” I said, “Yeah, you’re right, Samuel. They are actually some of my very favorite toys!” He then wanted to know if I played with them when I was little, too:) He was a little surprised to find out there weren’t pink Legos back then!

Things have changed a lot since I was little, that’s for sure!

A few sweet moments and sickness

Eliana is our little snuggle bug! She rarely refuses an opportunity to sit next to us or get picked up and receive hugs and kisses. The other day I caught this cute picture of her watching Curious George so intently after she climbed up next to me:) Love that sweet, soft face!

We had a couple of days of nice, sunny weather this week! Eliana begs to go outside like a puppy, starved with spring fever! She found our neighbors’ skateboard and decided to go for a little ride:)

Smauel got out his skateboard and both boys had their scooters. I told Z, soon it will be time for rollerblades! We just needed some of the mud and puddles to dry up.

The other day, Samuel did a funny little trick that my uncle taught me in childhood: he “cleaned” his eyeball! He showed Eliana and then she tried to do it herself. It was SO funny! I had her do it again for the video. It was funnier the first time but still, so cute!

Our poor little Z-man is one sick little dude:( He must’ve been susceptible to germs since he was just sick a couple of weeks ago. He woke up yesterday with a low-grade fever, sore throat, headache and stomach ache. He was pretty tired and even took a nap, which is weird! He started to really droop in the late afternoon/evening and was in bed and asleep by 6:45pm. I made him a dr’s appointment since he was recently exposed to strep at school and he had a white spot in his throat.

I woke him up this morning around 7:15am and could tell he wasn’t doing very well. He couldn’t talk for awhile (no voice) and his face was flushed from fever. He let me try to see into his throat and then fell back asleep for about a half an hour. He made it downstairs before I took S to school and watched about 15 minutes of a cartoon, drank some OJ and promptly fell asleep. He slept ALL morning and got hotter and hotter. He finally woke up a little at 11am and felt so bad, all he could do was cry:(

I got some Tylenol in him and then he rested awhile before it was time to take him to the Dr. He threw up on the way to the car. His fever was almost 102 even on meds:( They tested him for strep and it was surprisingly negative so I guess he just has a nasty old virus! I was so sure it was going to be strep because it is rampant in the school right now. The school nurse told me that she has sent the strep notice (“Your child has been exposed…”) to every single class in the school except one in the past month or so.

The only time he was awake today was for the dr’s appt and about an hour and a half this afternoon when he watched a little basketball. Later he woke up crying and told me he had a bad dream. I asked him what it was about and he said, “Basketball!” I asked how it was a bad dream and he said through his feverish tears, “I dreamed Tennessee was losing instead of winning.” Kind of funny! You can guess which game he was watching before he fell asleep…

We were supposed to go on a date tonight, our first in a year (I know, right?), but we felt increasingly uncomfortable with leaving him over the course of the day and it turns out our instincts were right since he was still throwing up a couple hours ago and feels miserable enough to just sleep and cry. Poor little guy!

I am really praying no one else gets this! Looks like we’re in for a quiet weekend…..

Sticks, Forts and Lent!

I meant to come back and update on the sticks earlier but a certain adorable 3 year old someone so kindly shared her cold with me and I have been just plain miserable!!

Thankfully, today my head doesn’t completely feel like exploding and despite not sleeping well, I am functioning a little better:) I suppose I was due for one last good old cold before spring finally pries winter’s clutches off of us!

As for the sticks, they.are.awesome. Seriously, absolutely best plan we have implemented yet! The boys LOVE them and eagerly set them up each night in order for the next day. We have had no complaints so far and all 3 kiddos have earned their colored sticks every day this week!

And the best part? I have a lot more free time now that I’m not nagging so much!!! Really, this is amazing. I wake up everyday to the boys’ beds made and their pjs put away instead of tossed on the ground. They eat breakfast, clean up their dishes and have extra time usually to spend time with a sibling or do their quiet time.

A couple of times I’ve had to stop myself (or Ben has reminded me) to step back and let them fail if they need to. It’s hard to let go of micromanaging when you are so good at it! But I bite my tongue and let them do what they need to do and somehow they are getting it all done! If you have children, DO THIS!! You won’t regret it!

Eliana may have a moment or two everyday in ridiculous toddler-fashion where she swears off sticks forever but she is right back to proudly dropping her next stick in the cup an hour later:) I am so happy we have tried this!

Last week, E and I stopped by Panera for their Tuesday bagel deal (a baker’s dozen for only $6.99!) and we heard this little guy peeping above us so cheerily. Like a sign that spring really will come someday!

Daddy and the boys were playing Mario Kart this weekend and Eliana decided to make a little house. Can you guess where she is?

Peek a boo! She got the boys into it and next thing you know, all three of them were collecting blankets and building little personal-sized forts all over the living room:) I do love when something simple like that entertains them for hours, just the way it used to for us when we were little.

Lent really sprung upon us this year. Probably because we have been preoccupied with minor things like figuring out what to do with our life:) This is only our second year ever taking part in Lent and appreciating the traditions and beauty of what it represents. Our sugar consumption has crept back upon us with the comfort of ice cream and what-not so we have decided to cut it out completely, except for Fridays. So….I guess not completely. Almost completely:)  I think it will be hard, as my chocolate cravings have been speaking lovingly to me lately but I think it will be good for both of us.

Ben told me that besides chocolate and alcohol, the next top two things people are giving up this season are Twitter and Social Media. Boy, our culture has changed! I would give up FB in a heartbeat, if it weren’t for the fact that my family has a private family page and I love seeing the updates and posts from my family. It makes me feel more connected to my loved ones who are dispersed all over the country.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to blow my nose, unplug my ears and pray for spring…..

Spring is in the air!

 I went out with Eliana to some stores today, searching for a few things the kiddos need for the summer and I just loved seeing all the bright, happy, spring colors all around! It’s so refreshing to see stores filled with pinks, yellows, blues, bright greens. Just like the outdoors:)

I love dressing my little angel girl in cute spring dresses! Her hair is getting SO long! It doesn’t look the greatest in this picture but I was trying to get a pic of the curls. She always has curls and ringlets in the back of her hair, especially after she wakes up from a nap!

She was staying safe inside this day while the boys and some neighbors were having a water gun fight:)

I have a good friend who sends me all of her little girl clothes and I send her all of my boy clothes, since the ages of our kiddos works out just right! Eliana is loving picking out “new” clothes to wear! She usually fights me in the morning about getting dressed and wants to stay in her jammies but I can entice her by pointing out clothes with butterflies or strawberries on them:)

Getting so big!

I found a huge thing of sidewalk chalk at Aldi last week, which is disappearing rapidly! The kiddos have decorated all the sidewalks and porches nearby with endless tic tac toe games and drawings. Today Zakkai wrote in big letters on the sidewalk, “God is inportint.” (important.) He’s so cute!

Eliana is very territorial about the pink chalk! Every time you ask her what her favorite color is, she says pink! She loves to have us write her name in chalk. As soon as she sees an “E” anywhere, she said, “E L I A N, Ewlyiana!”

Samuel has been doing his alphabet countdown at school and today was “Interesting Fact” day. The kids all had to share an interesting fact about themselves. Samuel chose to share that he was born in Indiana and we moved here when he was a baby so his daddy could go to school and that his daddy has been in school his (Samuel’s) whole life and is about to graduate! (finally! ha)

We talk about that sometimes; the fact that our kids know nothing different. Heck, (pardon me) I know nothing different! Ben has been in school our entire married life. 10 years! He graduated with his Bachelor’s right when we got married and 4 months later, we moved to good ole Indy so he could get his (first) Master’s. Crazy.

It’s so exciting and even a little scary to be done with this. Our whole life has revolved around school. We live around the academic calendar so our “year’ begins in September. I suppose when B gets “the” job we will still be living off of that calendar but it will be different. We’re going to start a whole new phase of life. It’s exciting, hopeful, scary, new, adventurous, you name it!

This afternoon, I was researching some information about the graduation next month and I found a video of the diploma and hooding ceremony for the Humanities department from last year. I was totally teary and emotional and it wasn’t even his graduation! ha:) It will be such a great day and I guarantee that Ben’s mom and I will be handing each other tissues throughout the ceremonies!

We have a lot to look forward to and we are so very thankful.

The Great Outdoors

 It was such a beautiful day yesterday! Ben had to return some books back in our old stomping grounds so we decided to make it a family affair and have a little fun! We packed up our leftover homemade pizza from Friday night, made a stop at the local produce store that we miss SO much and headed down to the Point by Lake Michigan.

The boys brought their scooters and soccer ball and Ben had fun kicking it around with them. Mostly Samuel because Zakkai was more interested in eating fruit!!

Z is my little beggar:) Which mostly drives me crazy!

Beautiful blue sky!

Eliana went back and forth between making little kicks, offering Samuel his water and checking out the produce in the bag:)

Here is Z crawling to me with a terribly injured leg. Not. Oh, the drama these boys can cook up!

Ben loves to torture the boys so he snatched up Samuel and told him he was going to throw him in the lake and Zakkai ran after him. Of course, Samuel didn’t get thrown in but thoroughly enjoyed screaming and laughing about it!

Eliana only needed a wipe to keep her occupied. She wanted to change Baby Anna’s diaper but since Baby was in the car, she settled for wiping down the boys’ scooters:)

After horsing around for awhile, we went to go sit on the rocks and look at the skyline and the water!

It is a cool city!

My favorite people in the whole world!!

Then we spotted a tiny beach down at the bottom of the rock steps and we all climbed down to have a little fun.

The boys’ shoes and sock quickly came off!

And of course, Missy needed hers off, too! She just walked around, sprinkling sand everywhere and inspecting the boys’ sandcastles.

They got busy right away trying to build and trying to keep the water from washing their creations away!

And we sat, soaked in the sun and found pure pleasure in watching our brood:)

Such a sweet girl!

We kept remembering how small the boys were when we used to live down here and spent lots of time taking walks to the Point and having picnics. They were good times!

The rock steps where people love to come sit, eat, talk and look.

My little darlings that drive me crazy and fill me with joy all at the same time!

It was such a great day!