Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another Prairie Paper Storm

Periodically we have these strange storms of construction paper that blow through my house. For weeks, the construction paper sits peacefully in a drawer in the "homeschool cupboard." Then one day it's suddenly all over the kids' room or the dining room table.


The kids emerge from the whirlwind wearing clever paper hats.


These storms are very exciting because I never know what I'm going to find in their aftermath. Today I found this. Very cool.



They're not much fun to clean up after, but they sure are fun!
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Wanting What I've Got

Currently at the Badger's job he has abundant opportunities to work extra shifts and make extra money. We're really excited about this because we've got a few bills to pay off that would take years otherwise. We feel really strongly that we need to get out of debt and so we are working hard at it.

When that extra money comes in, though, it's tough to stay disciplined. Suddenly, there's all kinds of things we really ought to have and hey, we have the money to buy them! Wheee!!

For so many years we've lived with just enough money to cover our bases. That can be tough. But I actually think it's harder to have a little extra money. You get in the habit of buying things and before you know it you've overspent. Or both spouses think "we have an extra hundred bucks" so they both go and spend it without consulting each other and suddenly $200 is gone. The Badger and I have had to learn new communication skills. We've definitely grown more unified as we've met this challenge together.

We've also been working on determining what our needs truly are. We've found that most of the things we feel like we need right now we can live without, at least until Big Bill #1 is paid off. Both the Badger and I have returned major purchases to the store in the last several weeks after realizing that we really didn't need them after all, even though they would have been extremely useful to have.

One example is that I've been biking a lot and I would love to have a bike trailer to pull the girls behind me as I bike. It would be a really good thing to have, useful and fun. The girls would love it. Our family would grow closer as we went on bike rides all together. And we would use it often. It is a very justifiable purchase and I nearly bought one this month. But I didn't.

We've realized that there are so many things we already have that are fun and useful that we hardly ever use. So we are making an effort as a family to enjoy what we already have. The Badger has a few books he's bought that he hasn't read yet. We haven't even yet opened the outdoor sport set we bought for Christmas. And I have a ton of fabric sitting around gathering dust earmarked for this or that sewing project that I haven't got around to yet.

The other day I opened my fabric drawer and saw all these scraps in all these bright colors, so I decided to make a scrap quilt. Nothing fancy, just a fun late-evening project made entirely of stuff I already had. Stuff that was just rotting away in my fabric stash and now is part of a useful small quilt that someone can snuggle up in.



And there's lots more where that came from.

I really do have everything I need to not only meet all the needs of my family but keep us all entertained, busy, and productive for quite some time. It's amazing how the many thoughts I'd been having about all the stuff I wanted to get have been replaced by a deep feeling of gratitude for what I already have.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

One of Those Homeschool Moments

I was having a tough time with Bean and his math this morning. He was trying my patience to the utmost. It was one of his flickering lightbulb days. One second he would be totally on the ball and giving me the right answer very quickly. The next second he would be wiggling, pulling faces, flinging his pencil across the room, and acting like he had no idea what I was talking about, even though he gave me the right answer just a moment ago. I have some theories about what causes this and there's some things we do that help but today was one of those days where he was just really struggling and so was I. I was on the verge of screaming. I asked him, "What is six plus eight?" He looked at me with his googly stare and said "two." I took a deep breath and said quietly, "Now, think, Bean. If you have six doughnuts and Fish has eight donuts and you put them all together, how can you have only two doughnuts?" He immediately responded, "I'm hungry!"

A good belly laugh was just what I needed right then.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dressed to the Nines

Here's me and the kids on our way out the door to church this afternoon:


I had us pause and take this because I've been meaning for quite some time to get a picture of the boys in their brown Sunday ensembles that I love so much. I think they look right sharp. Fish just wasn't excited about having his picture taken so he kept pulling faces. This is the "say Cheerios!" shot. It worked the best.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Q. How Can You Tell a Happy Biker?

A. By the bugs stuck in her teeth.



I've really been enjoying biking lately. Now, you must understand that I haven't enjoyed biking since I was ten. I didn't think biking was my thing. But apparently it is because I look forward to my daily bike rides and I normally don't look forward to exercise. It helps that it's a gorgeous time of year. It also helps that I've reached my weight loss goal so I have less to haul around.

Speaking of my weight loss goal, I was supposed to do a before and after picture. Here is the heretofore unrevealed "Before" picture that I told you about but wouldn't actually show you a year ago because it was dreadful.


"Before" pictures are supposed to be dreadful. Yuck. Now, here is the "after" picture. Thirty five pounds gone. Yay!

I often find myself thinking, "is this really me?" I was pretty much overweight and out of shape from adolescence so I'd written on stone in my mind that I was too fat to do anything athletic and I could never find clothes that fit and I didn't think that I could ever change.

Boy, am I glad I was wrong. It's so fun to be like this. It's so fun to look in the mirror and say "hey, I look great!" It's so fun to come home from a long bike ride with Bean and say "Wow, we went eight miles today!" And I realize that THIS really is me and what I used to think was me wasn't really me at all.

I am still struggling with a strong compulsion to eat and eat and eat and eat and eat until I am sick, especially when it comes to sugar. Sometimes I still give in, but overall I am slowly getting stronger. Even when I still overeat I can tell that I stop a little sooner than I used to and I am happy with any little bit of progress.

I hope that I can be an inspiration to somebody. I used to look at people who'd lost weight and think "that will never happen to me" and then it did (starting with a dramatic 100 pound loss after I had Bean.) So when you look at me don't think "that will never happen to me" because I don't believe that. You shouldn't either.
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First Steps

This evening the Rabbit took her first steps, for her daddy. She did it a couple of times and then I ran and grabbed the camera so I could video her. So what you see on this video are some of her very first steps. I'm posting this for the sake of the doting grandparents and aunts and uncles. Enjoy, doting grandparents and aunts and uncles!

video

Watched

When I am in the kitchen I am usually being watched. I am busy stirring, measuring, washing, frying, wiping, and chopping and then I turn around and see these eyes....


It always catches me a little off guard. They are such soulful eyes--it's a sudden, bright glimpse of heaven in the middle of my tellurian processes.

I'm sure that phenomenon is something all mothers are familiar with. After all, it's why we do what we do.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Baby Oak Leaves

It's that time of year again!


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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Skills

The Rabbit is learning new skills. She can now pull herself to a standing position unaided.


With a great deal of help from her tongue, of course.


We're watching her closely so we can see her first step. Should be any minute now. She just has to figure out how to get her legs closer together when she stands up.

And then I'm going to be running to catch her for the next 17 years.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cheap Thrills

Our Family Store is still going strong. The kids love it. It is sometimes a challenge trying to keep it stocked with stuff that excites them without spending a bunch of money or feeding them too much junk food. I've been buying a lot of dollar store type stuff and it makes them happy, but you know how it is. It usually only lasts a day or two before it gets broken and ends up in the garbage. I would rather reward them with quality stuff but I would either have to spend a ton or make everything cost so many Badger Bucks that they would get discouraged. So I put in some nice things that I charge them more for and some cheap things that don't cost them much and so far they've seemed pretty happy without me going broke.

I'm always on the lookout for Family Store fodder. I try to look for things that are sold in packs that I can break up and sell individually. That makes my money go farther. Remember those little capsules that you put in hot water and watch some sort of sponge creature emerge as the capsule dissolves? There were twelve of them in a package in the dollar bin at Target. Instead of selling someone the whole package I opened it up and charged one Badger Buck for each capsule. Only three got bought this week, but the kids were completely riveted as we dropped them in the sink and watched various bugs emerge. I was surprised at how enchanted they were by such a simple, cheap thing. The rest are going to sell like hotcakes next Monday night and I'd better buy some more.

I love how kids are so easy to please.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Painting Gnomes

For Making Day on Friday I bought "paint your own garden gnome" kits in the dollar bin at Target. (I love Target!)

They were a hit.





So many times cheap, simple crafts turn out to be more fun than expensive, complicated stuff.
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A Good Show

With a little bit of pillow-rearranging, we had a terrific and comfortable view of a very dramatic lightning storm yesterday evening.

Wild storms recharge my ch'i. I think we all have something in nature like that, that makes us feel replenished. For the Badger, it's the ocean. For me as a child, it was thunderstorms. I remember the summer we moved to Utah from Minnesota. I was fifteen and very unhappy. I remember just aching for a good prairie summer thunderstorm. From my vantage point on the east bench of Salt Lake City I would watch with excitement as the clouds built up on the west side of the valley, but then I was always let down as all we got was a spatter of rain and a few small flickers of lightning. Oh, I felt so hungry! Eventually after more than twelve years out west I learned to get the same recharge from the mountains and then later the ocean. When we left Oregon last year I thought "How can we move away from all this?" I had forgotten the thunderstorms. I had forgotten how alive they make me feel. They were my first soul food and they taste so good again, after all these years.

Especially when I can watch them from my own comfortable bed, curled up with my snuggly kids.

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I Love Bath Time

It's always good for a laugh or two...

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

First Haircut

We did haircuts at our house this morning. In addition to the boys, Roo got her hair cut for the first time in her entire 38-month life. She didn't really need it, but I thought perhaps if I started trimming her hair it might grow faster.

I don't know if you can even tell. I trimmed a few tiny wisps off her bangs and then snipped some fuzzy flyaways off her neck to give her a little bob.

I think it suits her. She has a good face for a bob.


Though it would also be fun to have a daughter with long, curly hair. The Badger and I both experienced some emotional pangs as we saw the delicate little curls from her neck on the bathroom floor. So, here's for the baby book:

But at the rate Roo's hair grows she would have a full head of magnificent curls at age 75.
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Rabbit Rocking




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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hand-Me-Down Heaven

There's nothing quite as exciting as opening up a big bag or box of hand-me-down kid clothes and discovering what's inside. You can't lose. If it doesn't fit or suit your tastes you can pass it on to someone else with no personal loss. And often there's something absolutely wonderful inside that you really needed and you don't have to worry about whether you have the money for it or not.

Just the other day I was looking at Bean and noticed that his pants were getting too small. I made a mental note to put Bean Pants on the "Needed" list. Then on Sunday Cousin Cynthia brought over a bag of boy clothes from a co-worker of hers. Right on top- Ta da!- were three nice pairs of size 8 boys jeans. That saved me a good wad of cash right there. In addition there were also some really nice shirts and shorts for both Bean and Fish. It's really hard to find good hand-me-downs for boys beyond toddler, so I felt like I'd been handed a bag of gold. My boys' clothes are always so hammered when they're through with them that the person I hand them off to isn't nearly as excited as I was on Sunday. In fact, I probably inspire them to have a nice bonfire.

My girls are hard on their clothes too. But they get even more hand-me-downs than the boys do and that's even more exciting because little girl clothes are so, so cute. I just opened up the Rubbermaid tubs in the basement that contain the 3T and 18 month girls summer clothes from Aunt Pineapple and the next-door neighbor and Sister Nicely at church and I don't know who all. It was so fun to go through.

Aunt Pineapple sent fifteen summer dresses in Roo's size. FIFTEEN!!! And they are all adorable! Most of them are of a similar style of the same brand, so I think she must have come across a clearance rack and bought one in every color. They are so perfect for Roo for this summer because she likes to wear dresses all the time. They are cotton, so the backyard mud washes right out of them. And they are cute, cute cute. Here's a sampling:




Life is good when we all share. And when you have a daughter that likes to make fish lips for the camera.
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A Cracking Good Recipe

One of the best improvements to my life that has come through the advent of the blogosphere is the wealth of recipes I get from food blogs. I love food blogs. It's such a scream seeing what people have made as well as how they made it, especially the people who do the blow-by-blow photographs of the process. It makes cooking seem so much less daunting. I also love to post about what I make, when I can. This isn't the season of my life for me to have very many moments to be snapping pictures while I'm cooking or typing up recipes afterwards. (I have a lot more fun things to do chasing my four Fun Things around.) I actually rarely have time to even read other people's food blogs anymore. But every once in a while I break down and spend a glorious hour online salivating over pleasant pictures of the culinary arts.

My cousin Glenda, who is a kickin' awesome cook and who has a tiny bit more leisure time than I do, recently sent me a link to a food blog called "Life's a Feast." I haven't have a lot of time to peruse it yet, but this recipe caught my eye because: 1. I adore cheese, 2. I adore muffins, and 3. Jamie used Wallace and Gromit to introduce it. I adore Wallace and Gromit. So I made Cheddar Mustard Muffins for lunch today. And then I took a picture of them. Because I adore them. And now I'm putting it on my blog. So you can adore them too, if you have time.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Soft and Sweet

My young cousin took these photos of the girls during our Easter revels. They turned out a little fuzzy but so, so sweet.



I somehow didn't have my camera running during Egg Hunt 2009 and Easter Dinner 2009 but several cousins did, so as soon as they get pictures posted on facebook I'll blog 'em. We had a great time. Now I'm going through massive sugar withdrawal. (I'm going off sugar again until my birthday. I handled it in moderation for a couple of weeks and then started back into my old binge behaviors, so this is the only way I can get myself under control.)
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Singing Baby

This afternoon as I was washing dishes I heard a little voice behind me singing "ah ah ah ah" to the tune of "I am a Child of God." I wasn't surprised at first because Roo sings this song all the time, but then suddenly I realized something: Roo was in the other room and it was Rabbit that was singing. Dead on pitch!


I thought maybe it was a fluke and I was imagining things-- I've never heard a 13-month-old carry a tune before-- but then she did it again this evening as she was sitting in her high chair.

So I have a little Singing Rabbit. I am so delighted. She isn't even walking yet and she can only say 2 or 3 words, but she sings!
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Egg Dyeing '09

We had a fabulous time dyeing eggs this morning as a family.




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