Saturday, December 31, 2011


In honor of our 11th Anniversary, I shall re-post an entry regarding one of our more, uh, special (?) dating experiences:

The Tragic Frozen Steer Incident

A Tale from the Franch
One winter a steer wandered out on the frozen surface of the pond. As it reached the middle of the pond, the ice gave way under the steer’s weight. The poor thing thrashed around trying to get its footing but to no avail. Its owner managed to find the steer in time to try and rescue it. He threw a rope around its neck and tried to haul it out with his truck. It was futile. The steer died in the water and was wedged in such a way as to make it impossible to get out. The ice closed in around it and suspended the carcass in the surface of the ice. A hump remained jutting through the ice to remind us of what was there. That winter, we ice skated around the steer. Why waste a good opportunity to skate even if there is a dead carcass frozen in the middle of the ‘rink’? It stayed planted there till spring began to thaw the ice. We walked out to look at it and saw that the catfish had hollowed out the rib cage entirely. There was even one darting in and out as we watched: the food chain at work. When the ice was soft enough, they got the steer out and we went back to swimming in the pond with the carnivorous catfish. Can you tell there was a lack of cultured entertainment during our dating years? Nothing encourages romance like skating hand in hand around a dead steer. You should try it sometime.

Friday, December 30, 2011

And The Winner Is....

For the last few Christmases, we've taken the kids to the dollar store to pick out gifts for the family. They each choose a gift for their aunts and uncles, Grammy and Chappy, Grandma and Aunt Sally. They really pick some hilarious gifts. Last year's highlight was a magnetic mirror, which whistles at the reflection upon opening the little plastic door. Katie picked that out for Chappy. This year, James took the win for creative gift giving. He picked out three gifts that may tie for first place as far as odd gifts go. First, he bought Dad a roll of trick toilet paper. You can never unroll it. As soon as he saw it hanging there in the store, he proclaimed 'I'm getting this for Chappy!!' and put it in the cart. He couldn't stop there, though, and also picked out a pair of slinky-like eyeball glasses also for Chappy. When he saw a package of three pairs of redneck teeth, he picked them up for Grandma. I thought it was funny at the time but I had no idea there was logic behind the purchase. When Grandma opened them, he told her he got them for her because she had lost a tooth. That kid has got our sense of humor for sure! I can only imagine what Tyler will pick out next year when he is old enough. No doubt it will be awesome!

PS. James was so proud of himself for picking out a pen for Jeff at the school store. He got it so Jeff could use it at work. When Jeff opened it, we realized it was inscribed with 'Mom.' :)

And A Good Time Was Had By All...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


The Christmas festivities are winding down and we are left with a pile of wrapping paper and a lot of good memories. The older I get (ha, ha! cracks me up to say that...) the more I think I appreciate Christmas. I love celebrating the birth of Christ, spending time with family, and watching the kids experience the special times. This year I think the kids are understanding more about the meaning of the season, and of course they get excited about all the festivities that go along with it. We have had a lot of fun this month, and I am happy to say that we have checked all but two things off our Christmas fun list. Tomorrow we are going to make a birthday cake for Jesus, which will leave only one item left on the list. More pictures to come!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Things are busy around here. Grandma is here. (yay!!!!!!!!) I asked her if she move in with us but she declined. Boo! I guess Florida has its perks. Not to mention its probably a whole lot quieter. In other news, I hosted a kids' cookie decorating party on Saturday. It was a lot of fun, even if only only two kids could actually come. Amazingly, my kitchen fared pretty well, although I can't say as much for the 8 bottles of sprinkles I had for the occasion. Let's just say that they hit the sprinkles pretty hard. They also made an ornament while they were here. On Sunday, I filled in to teach the 4 year old class at church. It was my first time teaching at Bible Fellowship, and it was baptism by fire! They were anticipating low turnout, and the 3 year old teacher couldn't make it, so they combined classes. I ended up having 21 or 22 kids. There is also an autistic boy in there who normally has a 'shadow' and they didn't have one for him that day. I kept him from escaping so I feel pretty good about that. Fortunately they sent me two very helpful teenagers to assist. My favorite part of the day was when a kid in class held up his play dough creation and declared that he had made the 'devil' which was really just an amorphous blob of play dough. There was a woman who happened to have popped into the class for a bit, and I think she was totally appalled with the kid. She told him he should be making Jesus instead. I thought it was kind of funny, and certainly creative.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Par-tay

Oh, look! I have my eyes closed again! (My trademark, apparently...)

Jeff's party went pretty well, all things considered. I ended up meeting a cute little lady and her husband who are from China and moved to the US. They were new to the company so we sat with them, which means I didn't have to sit next to someone creepy or weird. She was really sweet and it was very interesting to talk to her about cultural things. Having her sitting next to me kept the awkward at bay, for the most part. I did have to roll my eyes when I met one of Jeff's coworkers and he had forewarned his girlfriend about Jeff. Awesome. His reputation proceeds him. I met another one of Jeff's coworkers and after a few minutes of superficial conversation, she told me that she was surprised I seemed normal because I had chickens. She said she was expecting someone 'more...uh...farmy.' That was funny. Who actually says that kind of thing out loud?
Here's my dress...finished with not much time to spare

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Party

Tonight is Jeff's Christmas party. It is quite a fancy event, and fortunately I finished my dress in time. Unfortunately, I have a lovely and glaringly large bruise on my arm that wraps around to my elbow. I got it from a routine blood draw for my Thyroid check. It is quite super, since my dress is sleeveless. Jeff has suggested make-up, which I am afraid will rub off on the dress. I think I will either go with a shawl (wrap?) or a cardigan...hopefully! Tonight also marks the one time every year where I wear pantyhose. Seriously, who invented those? You pay like five or six bucks for a pair and they snag the first time you wear them. Anywho, tonight we will get all shined up and go eat fancy and delicious food with a bunch of tipsy engineers who may or may not talk about playing Dungeons and Dragons in their basement, or the best way to build a nuclear storage cask. Wish me luck! :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hey There, Puddin'

Occasionally someone stops me and tells me how they always wish they had curly hair. I think this is part of the 'grass is always greener' syndrome. In high school, I used to want straight hair so bad. Then I gave up and decided that people actually pay to have curly hair, and mine came for free so I might as well like it. The problem with curly hair is that every single morning I look like Tina Turner after a fight with a Flowbee. If I don't put copious amounts of mousse in it each day, my hair turns from the aforementioned disaster into something of Lion King-like proportions. Recently it dawned on me that...duh!!! I should try out the products in the 'ethnic' section. When I was at Walmart, I perused the ethnic section and found that the clientele apparently like their hair products to sound like food. After perusing such products as Hair Mayo, I settled upon a tub o' Hair Pudding. No joke. And the thing is, it works! I am a new fan of the Puddin'. It even comes with an awesome disclaimer that says 'Hair is flammable. Hair is even more flammable with product in it. Avoid flames.' Thank you, hair pudding, for that timeless advice. From here on out, I promise not to tuck a lit cigarette behind my ear, or try to curl my hair with a red-hot poker.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Ornaments

My bird ornament collection: I had to get creative and hang them from a branch on the ceiling this year to keep them away from the Tylerist.

 I know a lot of people have a tradition of buying an ornament of significance every year. We do too, although my Mom may have taken it to a whole new level. We usually end up with several new ornaments each year, each with a memory attached. It is so fun to take each ornament out and remember the story. Some of the more unusual ornaments we have were ones my Mom made for us. I believe my brother has a small wagon with a few of his teeth glued in it. My sister has one with a piece of the body cast she was in as a baby. (She also has hip dysplasia, like Katie.) I have one that was made from the horrendous contraption I had to have in my mouth because I couldn't stop sucking my thumb. I like the way she made it look so cutesie. Don't be fooled! That thing was awful.

But now, it makes for an awesome and very unique ornament!  (It is missing a piece on the side now)

I seem to have carried on the tradition, because I have already made my kids some strange ornaments. I stuffed fake pine boughs and pine cones into James' baby shoe, and glued a bow on it to signify the year he learned to walk. I had the doctor cut a small piece of Katie's second cast to be made into an ornament. He was kind enough to let me pick where I wanted to cut, and I chose the ankle, where she had worn through the cast dragging herself around. Can't forget that!

I made an ornament from James' NICU bottle, and inside are the cables they had him hooked up to to monitor his breathing. This one always makes me so grateful that he is here and healthy!!

This cupcake ornament has the best story of all our ornaments. I got the idea to post it from my friend Linda, who posted her favorite Christmas decoration today.  When my Dad and his siblings were young, Aunt Sally have them this ornament. Never mind that there were three of them. Somehow this ornament became kind of a fun joke, and it was decided that whoever married first would get the ornament. For my parents wedding, my great grandma wrote and read a poem about the soldier. When Jeff and I got married, someone added verses to the poem and my Aunt Lynn read the poem at our reception, where we were presented with the cupcake. Now it sits high on our tree so the kids can't reach it.

And my favorite Christmas decorations of all, the stockings my Grandma cross-stitched for us!! They are not pre-printed. Every single thing is made up of teeny-tiny stitches. They are so beautiful.

And now I'm off to finish this dress! I don't think I want to wear it with the pins, but Jeff's Christmas party is coming up and I had the brilliant idea of making my own dress. Well, it would have been brilliant if I did it like a month ago. Now I have way too many projects to finish before Christmas. Oi!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Fun Lists

I am pretty good at coming up with ideas, but they don't always get done. We are forever saying 'oh, we should do that sometime,' then never actually doing it. To alleviate that, last summer the kids and I came up with a list of all the things we wanted to do over the summer. It worked out well, and so we are bringing the list back for Christmas! Here are a few things on our Christmas to-do list:
  • Bake cookies
  • Drink hot chocolate
  • Make snowflakes
  • Read Christmas books
  • Decorate the front window
  • Make clothespin and candy cane reindeer (Check!)
  • See the lights (preferably more than once)
  • Make gingerbread houses
  • Have a family (Christmas) dance party
Having kids gives me plenty of excuses to do all this fun stuff!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I'm Not Going Tell You What It Is....

Yesterday James had his school 'Holiday Shoppe.' I fondly remember mine from childhood, being able to choose from loads of cheesy trinkets. At the time, of course, the stuff they sold seemed wonderful, and each choice was made with the utmost care even if I did choose a pet rock. Now James has the chance to make his own momentous purchases. Having no idea what things at the store cost, I sent him several bucks for each of us. He came back with plenty of change, and a spring in his step. He ran out of school, saying "I'm not going to tell you what I got you, but you're going to love it!!!" As we walked home, he would turn around and say things like 'they are clothes, but I'm not going to tell you' or 'they are warm and fuzzy and you're going to love them.' It didn't take me long to figure out that he had gotten me socks. Then he turned and said 'It starts with an 'S' Mom!' Bingo! I was right. When we got home, he wanted me to look in the bag and see my socks, because to quote James 'you'll forget by Christmas anyway.' I opened the bag to socks. Instead, the most obvious choice for a mom gift was a compact covered with faux bling. I held it up and he looked at it, confused. 'Oh, I thought I got you socks,' he said. I think he must have changed his mind at the last minute, then forgot. I just found it amusing that he spent the whole way home telling me (without telling me) what he got me, only to have it completely wrong.

P.S. Jeff did his final presentation last week for his Senior Design project and he did great! The professors said he did a very nice job  and was very professional. No surprise! One more class down, only TWO to go!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

It's That Time Of Year......

...for Jeff to bust out his giraffe-sized footie pajamas. Despite the fact that they make him look like a smurf on juice, he wears them quite often! I recently found out that my lovely sister in law thought the footies were just a joke. No, they are not! So here you go, proof that they exist! :)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Rock-a-bye Me

For the last few months, Tyler has had an endearing habit of saying 'rock-a-bye me, Mama.' Its pretty much the cutest thing ever. How can I resist but to rock the little guy until he crawls out of my lap to run and play? He rarely slows down so I take it when I can get it. Then, several weeks ago, he took it to another level by standing up in his crib, wrapping his arms around me and rocking me back and forth gently, while saying 'rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.' I pretty much melted right there on the spot. Now, everyone lines up at his crib at night, wanting Tyler to 'rock-a-bye' them. I have to say he will usually do it for me, but often sends the kids packing. It hurts their feelings, but I have to say it makes me day! He loves his mama. :)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Thanksgiving Pictures (Mercifully Pooptastrophe-Free)

The Guests (One of our traditions is to invite random people who don't have other plans. Its fun!)

Another tradition: Marshmallow gun fights! We started out with homemade guns, then every year someone shows up with something a little different. Straight copper tube=faster marshmallows according to some. My sister-in-law's dad conducted tests on the velocity of various marshmallows and determined that colored are best. This year, we added some store bought guns which were easier for the kids (no wind power needed). My brother in law shows no mercy to anyone, including the kids. And let me tell you, getting hit in the back of the neck at close range really hurts!

Big T and Aunt Sally

My super awesome sister and sister-in-law!

My bro (he's pretty awesome too, but don't tell him I said that! ha! :) He was the one who took out the fence while I was chasing him. I think it was a proud moment for our parents!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Kid-Made Christmas Gifts

The kids are making gifts for each other this year. I will be posting the ideas on the craft blog in case you are interested. My two requirements are that the crafts are easy and cheap! :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Randomness (And A Picture of The Infamous Black Jesus))

 Here is James, sitting proudly on his life-sized Lincoln Log toilet. Yes, he is a clever child. With a strange sense of humor...where did that come from!? He even put small Lincoln Logs in the toilet for realism. Nice.
 Here is Jeffrey's pile of reading. He has been working an obscene amount of hours on his Senior Design Project, designing a replacement heat exchanger for a power plant in Kentucky. His reading list includes such page turners as 'Vector Mechanics for Engineers,' and the big one on the bottom, 'Mechanical Design of Heat Exchangers' which was written by the owner and VP of his company. As we speak, he is giving his final presentation which I am sure is going swimmingly. We can't wait to have him back as a member of the family again!
 The other morning when I was out tending to the chickens, Tyler got his pants a little muddy. He told me they were dirty and I told him we would change them when we went in. He took matters into his own hands, channeling his Auntie Rachel, where he dropped his drawers and 'washed' them in the rainwater in my garden cart.
 Where's this kid's mother? He's out in a saggy diaper washing his own pants. Some people!
 Mom showed up to 'do the deed' straight from her day job as a counselor. Have you ever seen such a sassy (chicken) assassin? Mom is a counselor, and I told her she probably should keep her nighttime activities on the DL!
Here it is, the picture that has been passed around for the past 15 years or so. It may be getting a little faded by now, but He's still in the original plastic wrap. I must say it is one of the most entertaining $1 investments I have made.
  • And the rest of the randomness (also known as the longest post ever)......
  • Well, the deed has been done. Katie will probably be in therapy in 20 years. She was very sad about her chicken, and was up til after 9:30 crying on and off. Then she asked where it was. an Amazon box sitting on the dryer? (I didn't actually tell her that, but its true. I don't want any predators finding it before trash day and thinking that chicken is tasty.)  I tried to explain to her that it was sick and suffereing and might get the other chickens sick but I think all she heard was 'bla, bla, bla, we killed your favorite chicken...' James requested the feet, because we are high-class like that. If you're lucky I'll make another post about the wonder that is a chicken foot.
  • Yesterday I found two baby carrots shoved inside the roll of toilet paper in the bathroom. I also found a half eaten (including half the core) apple in the bottom of my purse. That would explain the large cloud of fruit flies that's been following me around! ;)
  • Today was my day to teach preschool. Not sure who gets more excited, me or the kids. I was surfing the internet last night and found a build your own snowman craft that was too cute. I ditched the pipe cleaner/bead snowflakes and cut out felt snowman parts. I was scrounging around in the dark last night finding twigs for the arms. We also worked in the googly eyes...everything is better with googly eyes! As seems to be the norm for me, we went off our schedule in order to fit in the activities. There are just too many fun things to do, and not enough time!
  • Now this might fall into the category of TMI for those of you who don't have kids, but Tyler actually peed IN THE TOILET today. I was thrilled! While part of me wishes I had some sort of perpetual snuggly baby around forever, I would be quite happy to stop buying diapers. I have already decided that potty training will only happen when Tyler wants it to happen, so I am hoping the interest remains.

Random (Part 896.29)

  • James started back to school on Monday after 9 days off. It's sure easy to get out of a routine, but also nice to find it again.
  • Big Martha is coming along nicely. She was in lock-down for a while, but today she is back with the girls and I have been watching them closely and there seems to be no pecking. She is keeping to herself though. 
  • Chicken Dumpling is sick. Well, now she is acting fine, but yesterday she was all twisted up and could barely stand and had no balance. It has been recommended that she be 'culled,' the nice way of saying killed. She still hasn't laid any eggs and she seems like she is 'not all there' anyway, so after yesterday's episode it seems that she has serious issues. I tried to psych myself up to 'do the deed,' but Jeff failed to provide any sort of moral support (AKA 'They're your chickens, you do it!') and I didn't feel like I can do it myself yet. Thankfully, my mom is coming over later today to do the deed. Maybe if I watch it enough times I will be able to do it myself. Not that I want to, but I feel like I should be able to should the need arise. Now that you have lost your lunch, I will change the subject. (You're welcome! :)
  • Over the weekend, I had the most hilarious interchange with a neighbor. He came over to talk to Jeff and I saw him outside. I decided to go out and offer him some of the incredibly decadent 6 layer salted caramel chocolate cake I made for Thanksgiving because it really shouldn't be consumed in more than small doses. He accepted, of course. I turned around to go get some cake and I heard him say (now mind you he is in his late 60's, early 70's) "Hey, you've got great buns!" Now, we talk to this neighbor all the time and never has he said anything like this. I wasn't quite sure what in the world was going on. I turned around to see Jeff standing behind him, cracking up. I started laughing. The neighbor said "I have no idea how you get them so light and fluffy!" Well, I'll tell you, buddy, not just anyone can have buns as light and fluffy as me. Seriously though, it was then I realized that he meant the cinnamon rolls I had brought them the day before. I busted out laughing so hard I had to turn around and walk into the house. I later asked Jeff if he thought that the neighbor ever caught on to what he said, and Jeff said no, he didn't catch it. Too bad for him, because it has given us a bunch of laughs since then.
  • James informed me today that when he burps or farts and I am not there, he says 'Excuse Me' to God. That cracked me right up! I asked him if God told him 'You're excused, goof ball' and he said yes. That kid is a nut.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Not Soon Forgotten: A Thanksgiving To Remember

This Thanksgiving could be remembered by the fun time spent with family and friends. It could be remembered by the epic dessert table, including plum torte, blueberry pie, and a six-layer salted caramel chocolate cake. Perhaps we could remember this Thanksgiving by the beautiful weather, or the multiple rounds of marshmallow gun fights. It could be remembered by those things....but it probably won't be. No, this Thanksgiving will likely go down on the record books as the year of The Great Thanksgiving Poop-tastrophy. It all started innocently enough. My brother nailed me with a marshmallow gun and I took off after him. We were chasing each other around the yard at top speed. Nate ran around the side of the house and I thought I would have him cornered. Instead, at the last minute, he decided to jump the fence. I lunged for him, he didn't quite manage to clear the fence and instead took the entire fence OUT, like pulled out of the ground out. I was laughing so hard, mid-air, and I fell to the ground still cracking up. I rolled over and realized that I had landed right in a stinking pile o' dog poo. Sorry, folks, but there's really no way to sugar coat that one. It was pretty much the grossest thing ever. There were some (un)helpful suggestions that it can't really be that bad, because after all, 'you deal with kid poo all day.' Au contraire! First of all, kid poop is removed from cute little kid butts. Yes, it stinks, but not nearly as bad as a dog's. And it doesn't come in quantities large enough to pass for elephant dung. Also, last time I checked, I don't roll in it. If Henry the dog were not so darn cute, he would have plummeted in poopularity with me. (har, har!!) After going home to bathe myself in Purell and more Purell, I returned to the festivities in fresh attire. The awesome part is that we invited some friends from our church (also from our preschool co-op). It was great. Nothing like having new guests over, then impressing them by chasing my brother all over the place and rolling in dog poo. It gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it. Not! Note to self: Never, ever, get a dog!!!

If you don't mind a little poop humor, here are a few titles I considered for this blog post:

And They Called It Poopy Love
Scattered Thoughts About Thanksgiving
Who Dung It? A Riveting Thanksgiving Tale
A Tale of Sibling Love: So Fascinating and Heartwarming It'll Have You Hanging on Every Turd

OK, OK! I'll stop now...:) My mother has probably disowned me by now! ha! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chicken Emergency

Yesterday I was herding the chickens back into their enclosed run when I noticed that Big Martha was bleeding. She is the flightiest of our chickens, and it was a pain to catch her. When I did I found that she had a pretty big gash on the end of her back, about 1" by 2". It was really gross. I couldn't figure out what in the world could have happened. They were only out for an hour and Jeff was sitting at the kitchen table and didn't hear any squawking. I took her inside and wrapped her up in a towel so she couldn't flap her wings. She was actually pretty calm. Jeff helped me hold her while I washed out the wound and used hydrogen peroxide and neosporin. I tried to wrap it up but of course she was having none of that. After talking to my friend Linda, we think it was a skunk that attacked her from behind. We have had skunks in our neighborhood in the daytime, which according to the Animal Control people is not out of the ordinary and does not mean they are rabid. Linda said that skunks are vicious and nasty and really bad around chickens. Now Big Martha has to be on chicken lock-down because the others peck at the wound, the chicken version of kicking someone while they are down. She will have to stay caged up til she gets better. I made her a little living space which we have dubbed the 'double wide trailer,' which is two storage bins zip-tied together with an opening between them.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life And Times Of A PK

Today I was talking with some peeps from church and I discovered that I was talking to a former pastor. We got on the subject of being a 'PK' (Pastor's Kid) and the interesting shenanigans that PK's get involved in. It got me thinking about some amusing times, so here are a few things I remember, in no particular order:
  • When my brother tried to use the 'I didn't bring my Bible because we don't have Bibles in our house' excuse (There was also the 'There was lots of traffic on the way to church and that's why I was late' excuse.) 
  • The time my brother tied my dress to the chair. When we stood up to sing my dress ripped (fortunately not too much).
  • Playing hangman on the back of the bulletin with my Mom during Dad's sermons
  • Drawing people in the middle of church (the backs of their heads) and making Mom guess who it was
  • I once drew a detailed portrait of Evora Rippy, complete with her yellow polka-dotted polyester blouse, polyester pants, and ever-present corset (Yes, that was her real name)
  • Moving all the chairs to the side of the sanctuary and bring our boombox down. My friend Kim tried to teach me to line dance late at night in the church sanctuary.
  • During my childhood years, I believe I folded and stuffed approximately 16, 482 bulletins, give or take.
  • When we lived in California, we figured out that we could break in to the church nursery window, climb through, and run down the hall to disarm the alarm before it went off. (Side Note: The secret code was the reference to one of Mom's favorite verses)
  • We could do a mean impression of Dave Epps or Mel Dietz praying.
  • I once found a portrait of a black Jesus with dreadlocks and light shining down from heaven on him. It was so amusing, and I bought it just so I could sneak into my Dad's office before the Sunday morning prayer meeting and hang it up. It was awesome, and black Jesus has been circulating back and forth ever since.
  • Once, at the pastors' conference we went to every year, my brother, myself and a few fellow PK rebels bought magnetic nose rings on the boardwalk. We waited til all the pastors and their families were gathered in the dining hall for lunch, and we sauntered in to see what reaction I got. I think we raised a few eyebrows, but if I remember correctly my parents weren't fooled. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Argh, Matey!

I think Tyler might be on the verge of re-discovering that he can climb out of his crib. I say 're-discovered' because a while back he figured it out but I think he forgot or gave up after he had fallen on his head a few times. Now, he can climb out or stand up on the crib rail to look out the window. This can't be good. Any of you who know the mini-beast know that he is, uh...energetic? Translated: the kid is nuts. I can only imagine that teaching him that he has to actually stay in his bed for naps and bedtime is going to require the patience of a monk. Just last night, he decided to chuck his beans off his plate because he didn't want them. I told him to pick them up and put them back on his plate. I got a loud 'NO!!!!' I told him he either needed to pick up his beans, or sit in timeout til he was ready. It went on for 45 minutes. Seriously. He wasn't crying or screaming, just stubbornly refusing to pick up even one bean. He just sat there. Finally, he nonchalantly went over the table and picked up the beans and.....ate them!!! Recently a friend of mine watched him along with the other preschool siblings, and I always have to ask how he did. She said he was a little rough and had to take some time outs, but that he was so pleasant. Yes! That's how he operates. He can be such a stinker, but so darn sweet too. All that said, the imminent transition from crib to bed has me a little leery. Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll forget again that he knows how to escape his crib. Ha!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

*Public Service Announcement*

James has lost his first tooth!! He is so excited it is hilarious. He came running out of his room last night holding it in the air and jumping up and down. You'd think he won the lottery. He called Chappy to tell him the good news, then we told him he actually needed to sleep at some point. Now he is working on wiggling another one loose. It is hanging on, but just barely. I'll post pictures of the new gap as soon as I can get a decent picture of him.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Everyday Pictures

James has been back into blocks lately. Here is one creation he was particularly proud of. He benevolently flashed me one of his nicest expressions, as you can see.

We had our friends Jenni and Danny over on Sunday, and our girls loved playing together. They got dressed up as princesses and some sheer curtains so they could get married. The groom? Joann's little brother, Armando. He was not interested in the proceedings.

Leaves at Grammy and Chappy's house (everything is more fun at their house!)

Can you handle the deliciousness?!

Good thing the little stinker is so cute! :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lowly Worm

Tyler really likes Richard Scarry books, with a particular interest in Lowly Worm and Huckle (cat). I decided to make him a stuffed Lowly and Huckle for Christmas. Lowly is made from felt with some sort of electrical wiring inside of him, courtesy of Jeff. The wire makes him completely pose-able! Wee! I finished off his hat with a feather I scrounged from the chicken coop. You can check out the gory details on my craft blog, in case you have the random urge to create a stuffed worm yourself. :)

In other news, Jeff called today to tell me he was cruising through the ghetto near Temple University (bad neighborhood) when he saw two white horses tied up in an abandoned lot between row houses, grazing on the weeds. How weird is that?!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Every Cowboy Needs a Horse (An Ode To Patty, The Stickhorse)

James and Patty
Since James has been a very wee lad, he has been into everything cowboy/farm/horse. He was about 18 months old when he found a pair of cowboy boots in the closet. They were hand-me-downs from my 6 year old nephew. He didn't care that they were way too big. He insisted on wearing them every day, until  his Auntie bought him a pair that actually fit. He has since gone through many pairs of boots, two pairs of chaps, a plethora of Wranglers and Western shirts. Never has he strayed from his interests. In fact, he thinks dinosaurs and Super Heroes are boring and 'dumb'. When he was about two, I found a stick horse at a yard sale for about a buck. It had already been loved, but it was still in nice shape. Little did I know that my $1 stick horse would be used and loved for another 4 good years. 'Patty,' as she was called (from Laura Ingalls) has been through a lot. She has been left in the yard, fought over by visiting friends, and suffered more than her fair share of injuries. It is always tricky when we have friends over, because to James, Patty is not a toy. She is his horse. He don't take too kindly to someone wanting to ride his horse. Usually Patty ended up being put away til the company left. For quite some time, James would tether her to the end of his bed, in her 'pasture', and leave her grass to eat when he went to bed. He would stop at the creek when we took a walk to 'water' her. He would pick her 'hay' (grass) in the yard. He turned the playhouse into his stable. Patty was well loved, and (usually) well taken care of. In an unfortunate turn of events, Patty recently found herself in need of a transplant. You see, her stick was battered, bent and sticking out of the fabric. I performed the surgery and gave her a new implant. It worked, for a while. Over time, the implant started coming out again. Around the same time, Patty's harness broke and her insides started coming outside. Her battery pack was hanging forlornly out of a seam. While technically I probably could have fixed her, it was more effort than I cared to expend on poor Patty. James, however, was not happy about the lack of a horse. He needed a horse, and stat!! I headed to the Devil's Lair, also known as Toys R Us. (I hate that place!!) I found a box o' stick horses, and picked through until I found one that I thought was semi-decent. (Why does everything have to be made of plastic and break in 3 days?!) I was hoping that James could except this replacement for his beloved Patty. I was a little skeptical. It was sure not love at first sight. He looked at her, turned her around, and was kind of indifferent. I talked her up, and he eventually came around. He took her out in the yard for a gallop. She threw him off. He declared her 'faster than Patty.' Now, he and the new stick horse are in the 'getting to know you' stage. He says he has to get used to her. You know, they have to learn to work together, the man and his horse. Since Saturday, James and the new horse have had barrel races, bucking rides, and time in the barn. Yesterday, he declared that she is a he, and his name is Little Red. Phew! He has accepted the new stick horse as his own. Sorry, Patty. I will put your disemboweled carcass to rest in James' memory box, right next to the tiny cowboy boots and mini-Wranglers.

P.S. We are watching Sid the Science Kid's show about recycling, and they showed what looked disturbingly like a bottle of Crown Royal in the glass recycling bin. Why???

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Change O' Plans

Despite having lots of plans for the week, we are all hanging out at home still in our jammies. The kids all have a cold, nothing really bad, but James and Katie have pink eye. I am pretty sure Tyler is working on a case of his own, so I am also giving him the drops. Our nice doctor prescribed drops that I could use for all the kids. Giving eye drops to three kids is something special, I tell ya! It involves pinning down flailing arms and legs, prying open eyelids and trying to make a single drop of medicine go in their actual eye. My copay for one teeny, tiny bottle was $35 so each drop probably costs me about $2. Ha!  Despite their sickness, they are quite active and in need of entertainment. My goals for today involve keeping them alive, possibly entertained, making some bread, a nap-time skype date, and finishing a bendable Lowly Worm doll for Tyler's Christmas present. (How's that for a random craft to make!) We'll see how it goes...

Monday, November 07, 2011

A Space Of His Own

In the past several months, James has been getting more and more frustrated at the lack of his own space. The kind of space where he could set things up just the way he wanted without his younger siblings trashing it. Since we don't have a lot of space, I thought there was just no remedy for the situation. It dawned on me one day that I could probably use the space under my stairs. I moved the stuff that was in there up into Katie's closet, and we turned the closet under the stairs into an 'office' for James. He loves it! He has a library that he has carefully arranged and labeled. Each book has a number on it that corresponds with the shelf that it belongs on. We are allowed to check out books. He will also make recommendations on what he thinks we would like to read. He has also carefully decorated his mini-man-cave with his favorite memorabilia: cap guns, his drawings, and his firetruck turned eraser holder. Having this space seems to be a big boost for him. If he is having a rough time, he will often disappear into his office to do a little 'work' and have a little time to himself.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

One Of Our Favorite Places

On Saturday, Jeff had a lot of school work to do. It involved equations so crazy they include Greek symbols and require multiple pages just to house one equation. My brain hurts just thinking about it. He needed a little peace and quiet, so I loaded up the kids and hauled them off on an adventure. We first went to the feed store, you pick up a 50 pound bag of layer feed. I love the feed store and I'm glad I have an excuse to go there. It is one of those crammed-to-the-gills-with-stuff places where the people are actually friendly. After scoring ourselves some chicken pellets, we went to the Covered Bridge. It was a busy day, and we spotted lots of horses, which of course made James' day. I also took along a picture frame to play around taking the kids' pictures. I am so out of practice with photography, but I am not going to worry about it. Tyler made sure to get as close as possible to every drop-off he could find, just to give me a heart attack, I'm sure. The kids loved to run in the wide open spaces and play in the tall grass. Of course, it made me wish for the milltionth time that we had ourselves a big piece of land somewhere.

Friday, November 04, 2011

As Usual: Pictures I Should Have Posted Last Week

Katie playing outside early in our October snow storm. Notice that she is wearing footie pajamas, rubber boots, and Tyler's coat. I REFUSE to dig out the winter gear already!

James the Cowboy (or the Gold Miner..ha, ha!) at his Halloween Parade. This is the view he gave me when he walked past. Nice...

Look! He took his finger out of his nose long enough to give me a courtesy smile.
(As usual I am posting pictures way past the time of their actual relevance. Oi! Better late than never.)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tyler Has Chicken ESP

Yesterday I heard that Tyler had woken from his nap. I went in there to get him and he quickly climbed up on the railing of his crib and stuck his face through the curtains. He kept pointing and saying something, over and over. I realized he was saying 'chicky outside, Mom, chicky outside.' I had let them out into their bigger (but fenced in) area, so I just nodded my head in agreement and got him off the crib rail. As soon as I put him down he went running for the backdoor, again saying 'chicky outside, Mom!!!!!!!' I followed him out to see what he would do and he made a beeline for my garden and went around the corner. There was Pippy, who had apparently flown over the fence in search of greener pastures. I have no idea if he heard her from his room or if he saw her out the window, but he just knew that she was out. He scooped her right up to put her back with the others. I think he may have a future career someday as a chicken whisperer. I hear there is a high demand for those these days. :)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

'School' Day for Katie

 Last week was my week to teach our little preschool group, and I used it as an excuse to do as many fun crafts as possible! Are you surprised? We made leaf prints in model magic clay, painted jack-o-lantern candle jars, and painted backgrounds for their silhouettes. We also read two really fun books, Harold and the Purple Crayon and Are You My Mother?. It was quite a lot of fun!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Where's My Vacation?

This weekend was crazy. Friday night we took the kids to a hockey game in Trenton, NJ. Jeff's coworker gave us tickets to go. We parked in a shady parking lot in the shadow on the NJ prison. That made me feel all warm and fuzzy. The kids found it highly amusing every time the players would crash into the walls or each other. We left half way through the hockey game when the kids started to get tired. On Saturday, we had snow. In October. Yikes! Sunday was pretty much uneventful (if I remember correctly...its all blurring together now). Oh, yes, I did sew an entire western shirt for James. Then, Halloween. Yes. James went as a cowboy (surprise!), Katie as a princess (again...surprise!!) and Tyler went as....himself. Until, that is, I recruited Jeff to strong-arm him into a cute pumpkin costume. It was actually pretty funny to see a spitting mad little munchkin running around screaming in a pumpkin costume. He finally got over it when we waved a tootsie roll in front of him. We took the kids to a few neighbors to trick-or-treat then came home and went to bed. And that's when it started. Tyler cried and screamed pretty much the whole night. I don't know if he got any sleep, which means I didn't either. I have no idea if it was candy-overload, too much excitement, something scary, or what. All I know is that now, I need a vacation. Somewhere where I can sleep uninterrupted for a whole night.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Its hard to believe but we got a snow storm yesterday. While it only dropped about two inches of heavy, wet snow, it was quite out of the ordinary. We haven't even had a real frost yet! Fortunately, we were unaffected by the storm. We did hear, however, that only a few miles from us there was a 30 car pile up early this morning, and two people died in a separate accident nearby.

Friday, October 28, 2011

James' School Report

I am happy to say that James has been happily trotting off to school the last several weeks without any problems. He has yet to have a bad day at school, saying each day was super! fantastic! spectacular! He is making friends and has sadly learned about 5 ways to make fart noises from his friends. Friends...He has friends! Little people his age, who sit around and laugh like little old men at the thought of bacon, or their little brothers riding on motorcycles or teaching each other various ways to make the aforementioned noises. Among James' friends, there are a few girls. One little girl sits at his table, and she always says 'bye' to him when she leaves. The other day, she said goodbye and James just stuck his head down and wouldn't respond. When we got in the car, he threw a paper up in the front seat that had hearts all over it. Well, let me tell fast can you say 'handsoffmysonlittlekindergartengirl!!!' Alas, James informed me that she had made pictures for several of the kids, but I do think he was a little embarrassed by it. Today his teacher called to give us a mini-progress report. He hit way above the benchmark for identifying letter sounds, and above benchmark and average for letter recognition. No surprise, she said he likes to ask questions to make sure he heard things right. She also said he always behaves, which of course was good to hear. I think James' primary concern right now is learning to read. He wants to read so badly!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tyler and Wasabi Peas

Jeff brought some wasabi peas home from work yesterday. Tyler wanted to try one. He made a really awesome face when the heat hit him, then chugged on his sippy cup. Then he went for another, and another, and another. He must have eaten at 20-25 of them. After each one, he would take a drink and then slam back another one. It was so funny (and unbelievable) that we had to take a video.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

13 Years

On this day back in 1998, we had our first date. Jeff was a whopping 17 years old and I was robbing the cradle at 18 years of age. Its a wonder Jeff ever wanted to see me again after he saw my car. It was pretty awesome the way the wiring was all funky. The horn would honk if I pushed the blinker wrong, or randomly when I was shifting gears. Yes, it was a standard transmission. You could also electrocute yourself if you touched the horn and the window trim at the same time. I used to occasionally leave me keys in the ignition with the doors unlocked, but still, no one ever stole it. It was with that car that we went on our first date. Sweet ride, eh?