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!)

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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!

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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:)

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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:)

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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!

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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:)

 

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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!

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And we tried to get beautified, too!

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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:)

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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!

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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!;)

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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:)

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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…:)

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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.

Dreams

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?

 

Be.

I recently signed up for a daily email that gives me an advent word and an image to pray over and reflect upon each day. I thought it would help me take time, precious time, out of my too-busy days to be still and spend some time with my Father.

Today’s word just happened to be….BE. When I think of the word “be” I think of stillness. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Such powerful words! But how often are we still?

We live in a society of “do.” I live a life of “do!” I “do” from the minute I wake up until the minute I finally fall asleep! And it is exhausting. I want to get to a place of being. Where I am soaking in the presence of a mighty God who loves me. A place where I can stop worrying about all that I have to do, all I have to accomplish, all I have to “be” for those around me and just be still and know that God is in control. I can relinquish my control, my worries, my to-do list.

When you have a moment, reflect on the word “be.” What does it mean to you? How can you just be today. Before God? With others?

If you are interested in a daily advent email, here’s a link to the website where you can sign up. Just click on sign-up and enter your name and email and that’s it! You will receive an email from “SSJE,” which is “Saint John the Evangelist.” Join me in making this season a thoughtful one, instead of getting caught up in the to-do’s!

Thanksgiving 2016

I have to admit that I am glad Thanksgiving is over! I just wasn’t quite feeling up to all the craziness but ready or not, it came…..and went! All of my sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews came into town so it was busy.

Sunday night, when everyone came in, they all came over to our house for pizza. It was a really nice time for us all to reconnect and briefly catch up in a relaxed atmosphere!

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Monday, we had a Ladies Lunch at a cute place called the Morgan House. Not all of the women in our family were able to come but it was still special!  We got someone to take our picture:) (the angle made everyone look weird! No, I am not pregnant….) And Monday night, my brother-in-law organized a Men’s/Boy’s night out at an OSU basketball game! It was a fun day for all.

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We got a last minute family photo on Thanksgiving! It’s so rare for all of us to be together that we need to take advantage of it. A good-looking crew!

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One of my sisters organized a pie-eating contest which was a big hit! It was actually super fun. We divided people into age categories. Everyone was cheering and chanting names! Zakkai, Sofia and Dylan’s group won the first round!

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The pre-teen/teen group was LAME! They showed typical teen effort….;)

We were even able to talk my older cousins (20s) into doing it and it was hilarious! Wish I had pictures of that…..One of my cousins ate 5 pieces of pie! (and the rest of us felt a little sick….)

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These little cuties spent as much time together as possible! They call each other the three little girl musketeers:)  It was so special to watch all of the cousins renew bonds and enjoy their time together.

I am totally ready for a break in socializing though! Holidays are exhausting….

Mama Breakdown.

I am feeling so discouraged tonight. It’s one of those days where I want to throw in the towel and send the kids to school where a teacher can do a much better job than me. Not to discourage anyone from homeschooling or anything but….it’s really hard!

I am mom and teacher combined 24/7 and it’s quite frankly, exhausting. I’m really tired. Yesterday, I actually shunned my Sunday afternoon nap in lieu of wandering around Kohl’s by myself for an hour. I just really needed some time not to be needed. Not to talk. Not to think about anything important. Not to focus on all the areas where I have messed up. Not to be anything but a random shopper, lost in the afternoon crowd.

I rarely get time to myself. I think I offended an acquaintance when I didn’t go to her baby shower last month because Ben was working a weekend sale and I would’ve had to bring all three kids with me and I just.couldn’t.do.it. They come with me everywhere!

We go to the bank together, the grocery store, my cleaning jobs, ballet, tae kwon do, drs appointments, car repair appointments, dentist appointments. Everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore them. I really do and if I write long enough, I’ll have to justify my negativity with all the great stuff I love about being a mom and homeschooling.

But this post isn’t about that. It’s about me being real and letting down my guard for 5 seconds to say that tonight I feel like a really bad mom and teacher. We had a tough morning, an ok afternoon and then when we had our family round-up meeting tonight, we had to rehash some stuff with the boys and we all walked away feeling “Ick.”

Okay, ready for real, non-Pinteresty, non-facebooky life? This morning, I was so frustrated with the boys’ attitudes over their speech class and assignment (an ongoing problem) that after 2 hours of trying to work with them, I left the room almost in tears, shut myself in my bedroom for 5 minutes, screamed once in my pillow, did 50 jumping jacks and 10 hard-core push-ups (I think I figured out the secret to good push-up! Stress!) and got down on my knees and asked God for help.

Then we took a break and ripped out the rest of the dead plants in the garden (also good for stress!) and I left the kids digging in the dirt while I went in to make lunch.

Mondays are tough. Monday is a very full day of getting back into routine, lots of school work, ballet and TKD. We get home at 7:45, eat dinner around 8pm and don’t get everyone in bed until after well after 9pm, which is late for a certain little kindergartner, I know.

I’m just so glad that tomorrow is a new day and that the Lord’s compassions and mercies are new each morning. I really need that.

 

Fall Camping!

We went on our annual fall camping trip with my parents a couple of weeks ago (finally!) after our many delays and we had a great time! We went to a state park we had never been before and while our campsites weren’t our very favorite, we scouted out several future sites because we loved the park so much!

Ben came straight from work and we were very proud to show him we had set everything up all by ourselves!  It took the boys and I a couple of tries to get that darn tent up! The boys are pros at setting up their own tent though:)

I was SO bad about taking pictures this time. My camera card is filled up and I’ve yet to empty it (a hundred million other things on the priority list!) and my phone has limited space, too.

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We got to the campground Thursday afternoon and spent most of it setting up our sites (which means making a “kitchen/eating area,” pitching tents, getting firewood and sticks, etc. Friday morning we took a walk on a trail that was so pretty! Here are Ben and the boys standing on a giant tree growing over water.

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Ben, being reflective:)

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For the boys, the absolute highlight of our camping trips are the fires and collecting walking sticks:) Here is my adorable Z-man carrying almost more sticks than he could handle! And unfortunately, my hands were too full to take pictures on Saturday when he was carrying sticks twice this long back to the campsite. He loved every second of it!

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Knowing how E reacts to bug bites, I did some research and bought these “really great” natural mosquito repellent bands to wear around our wrist and ankles. E was bitten with in an hour of being there and it started swelling immediately! I remained hopeful about these bands until Ben pointed out the mosquito hanging out 2 inches above the band on his wrist. Sigh. E ended up having a few bites that she reacted badly to and we had to continuously put cream on them. (Note to self: remember the calamine lotion next time!!!)

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My mom invited my sister and niece to drive up Friday morning so the two girlies painted rocks together and we went on a walk and they had the best time! Eliana can hold her own with her big bros but bring a little girl around and the princess in her comes out!

And speaking of the princess….she’s about to turn SIX on Thursday! Wait..what?! She has been anxiously counting down the days and has appropriately changed her favorite number from five to…six! I love the pure kid-joy of birthdays. (wish I still felt the same way!)

More to come soon!