Wednesday, December 25, 2013


I have about 8 minutes til the Benadryl I took kicks in, so this post should go from bad to worse by the end. I seem to be having a rash of hilariously dicey conversations with the kids as of late. About a week and a half ago I was tucking James into bed and he made a comment about a penis, mine specifically. What?! I informed him in no uncertain terms that indeed women do NOT possess a dangling participle, thank the good Lord. He was puzzled and said 'Well, girls do but its flat.' Um, yeah. I told him that it had a different name, which led to the obvious 'well what is it called then?' as he giggled with his adorable grin. Doh! It occurred to me in that moment that IF I were to give him the name of the anatomy in question, I would likely hear it about 376 times before the novelty wore off. I may have learned that when I was all 'they might as well know the correct term' and taught them the word testicles. James actually declared in front of friends: "Look, Mom! There is the sheep with the giant testicles!" It was at that point that our friends looked at us in horror and forbade their precious children to associate with my heathen children ever again. Or something like that. Because of this, I decided that I wasn't ready to spill the beans and told him I would think about telling him but not that night. This led to a variety of guesses which combined the two facts he had determined: it was a penis, and it was flat. His guesses included penuflat, crap-nis (because hello...pee-nis?), poopulus, flatulus, and...wait for it.....flatipus. With no sense of the irony of that one. In case you are wondering, no, I was not able to maintain a straight face. And at this point, it would be a tragedy to actually tell him because my source of entertainment would be gone. Today, however, brought the advent of an awesome development in the case. Uncle Phil is here and brings with him all manner of rough-housing and Nerf wars. I went upstairs to get something and Phil accidentally shot me, in the know. He yelled "Oh, I just shot you in the flapjack!" and you could see the light bulb turn on in James' brain. He exclaimed "Uncle Phil just told me what its called!!!!!"  .....Nice.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

An Awkward, Hilarious, Befuddling Conversation

After dropping Katie off at school, Tyler and I headed to the Walmarts so I could soothe my self esteem regarding my running pants/leggings/tights/spandex issues. Just kidding. I actually had to get stuff but I did see some rumps that made me remember it could be much worse. All that, however, is beside the point. My little sidekick decided to pepper me with questions on the drive there, and it quickly turned dicey. I will try my best to reconstruct it for you. My inner monologue is in italics. 

Tyler: I was born in Colorado, right?
Me: No, you were born in New the ghetto, son, I birthed you in the ghetto.
Tyler: Where is New Jersey?
Me: Over the river, on the way to the farm.
Tyler: But then where were you when I was born? 
Me: I was there, because you were in my belly and then when you were born you came out of my belly. Oh, crap! This is not heading in a good direction.
Tyler: But how did I get out of your belly?
Me: Uh....there is a kind of a door, or an opening that babies come out of. What kind of explanation is that? A door? Hey, Bob, show 'em what's behind door number one!
Tyler: Where is the door? 
Me: Uh, well, its not really a door, more like an opening that moms have to get their babies out. It is by my legs. Huh? 
Tyler: When I came out of the bottom of your feet was it bloody?
Me: Uh, yes, and no. I mean, you didn't come out of the bottom of my feet. Santa dropped you off! It was simple! Easy! Less explaining!
Tyler: Then where did I come from?
Me: Inquisitiveness is overrated!!! Sort of at the bottom of my belly, top of my legs. Stop asking me questions!
Tyler: Oh. Was it bloody? Did the door have to stretch a lot? 
Me: What the heck, man! Where are you getting these questions??? OK, maybe you did watch a horse being born on some show recently...apparently you were paying attention. Well, sort of, and yes. It hurts to have a baby but then you came and I was so happy.
Tyler: And then your belly got small.
Me: Yes. Mostly.
Tyler: Is the door still there?
Me: Yes. 
Tyler: Why is it still there? Is it still stretched out?
Me: Is it naptime yet?? Yes, it is still there, but it is not big. This kid is too smart for his own good!
Tyler: So its stays there in case you have another baby? I would crawl back in the door and be your baby again if you want.
Me: No!!! That is not possible.
Tyler: When I was in your belly, how did I see through your blood?
Me: When is it ever going to end? You had your eyes closed, but you weren't in blood.
Tyler: I didn't eat in your belly did I? 
Me: You had a hose called an umbilical cord attached to your belly button that gave you food from me.
Tyler: To my belly button? And how did I grow a belly button from the bilical cord?
Me: That's just how God designed it. The cord dries up and falls off and then you are left with a belly button.
Tyler: How did I grow two belly buttons?
Me: You didn't. You only have one.
Tyler: Hey, is that Alaska?
Me: What? 
Tyler: Is that Alaska over there?
Me: No, that's the landfill. 

Wherein I breathed a sigh of relief that we had reached the Walmart parking lot and turned to new realms of conversation. I don't think I could have carried on much longer with that conversation! I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spoiling Santa

Katie came home yesterday and said she had told her friends that Santa was fake. Oh no!! My kid is THAT KID. I tried to explain to her that while we don't do Santa, some kids do and their parents have fun with the story of Santa and the experience of it all. And not to spoil their fun. She told me she had told two kids that Santa was fake. Today I helped in her class and her little friend looked at me incredulously and said 'Katie and my other friend told me Santa was fake! Can you believe that?' I had to play it cool and tell her what silly girls they were. The other little girl looked at me and said 'You know how I know Santa is fake? I found all my presents in my Dad's room.' Somebody got busted!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


You know you have yourself a keeper of a friend when you lament the size of your butt and she tells you "Meg, just go to Walmart and walk around. You will realize you have nothing to complain about." Thanks for the sage advice, Erin! :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Random Thoughts: Otherwise Known As A Whole Lot Of Nothing

  • It has come to my attention that my mother is cleaning her house an entire week before the company comes. Who does that? Isn't that, like, putting the cart before the horse or something? Apparently when you don't have a surplus of undersized but over-zealous children running about the house will actually stay clean. Interesting. Very interesting. I am just hoping there are no stray waffle remnants lurking in the guest bedroom, which incidentally is Katie's room. And in that case our guest is more likely to find a pair of scissors under the bed, or the missing roll of Scotch tape hanging from the curtains. 
  • Chili: it has become apparent to me that I am something of a chili snob. In fact, I have come to believe that it just might fall into the same category as jewelry and artwork: don't just walk up to someone's house with a gift of your favorite framed Lisa Frank print and expect them to hang it on the wall. As in, chili/artwork/jewelry is personal. Yeah, so my analogy is breaking down faster than Donald Trump's hairpiece in the rain, but do you get my drift? Some people are soupy, watery chili people. Some people leave out the beans (blasphemy!) and others make a sweet chili (horrors!). The possibilities abound: pork, chicken or beef (ground or shredded), black beans, kidney or pinto and spicy/mild/bland? My mother in law used to make a pot of chili every now and then and she would put both pork and beef in it. At the time, Jeff did a valiant job trying to convince me that the white meat in it was not pork, but dog meat. The reason this whole earth-shattering (or mind numbing) topic has come up is because tonight the kids and I are tailgating with some friends in a church parking lot. Tailgating in a church parking lot? Is that legit? I can guarantee that over half our number will be comprised of those aged 10 and under, and that we will be visiting a live nativity scene afterward. But the tailgating involves chili, and it has caused me to spend approximately 6 seconds pondering what the chili will be like. And since I have nothing else to blog about, this is what you get. You're welcome.
  • Last night Tyler told me he didn't want to be Tyler anymore. He wanted to change his name to Jesus. But that no one would let him, because you have to be really old to be named Jesus. I think I will call him Hey-soos from now on. 
  • Last but not least, my backyard intruder notification system just went off to warn me there was a feline interloper. Would you like to know which brand of intruder notification system (INS) I use? It is called a Rhode Island Red and it sounds like this: BAWK! BAWK! BAWWWWWWWK!

Friday, December 06, 2013


Tyler bought a giant plastic candy cane for Jeff for Christmas. He explained his purchase to Mom and I saying "it's shaped like a cane so he can use it when he gets old. And when gets dead I will put it in his pocket so he can have it forever.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Kid Funnies

Today Tyler and I were snuggling on the couch. Tyler happens to excel at snuggliness. He loves to snuggle, and who can complain? Not this girl. We happened to be curled up with a Christmas I Spy book, and he pointed out a doll: "Mommy, I'm going to get you a doll like this because you love dolls, right?" I said "Do you know what I love more than dolls?" After thinking for a second, he said "I will get you a Squatchy doll."

For Christmas I bought James a rifle. Don't get your undies in a bunch. Its a toy. The problem, though, lies in the fact that it is a rifle. Not exactly easy to wrap without being obvious. Hey! Look at this really long package of socks Mom got me! said no one ever. This isn't James' first rodeo and the rifle was at the top of his list. I finally decided to pad it with paper to obscure the shape and just wrap it. On it I wrote To: Sir Francis Bacon From: Octavius Arnold and put it in my closet. As I had predicted, an excited little boy spent a bit of his quiet time closely analyzing the packages in the closet. Afterward, he told me that he had seen a package in my closet that he was SURE was his rifle. However, there were some strange names of people we didn't know, and that he didn't think it was his rifle after all. I asked him what names were on the package and he said "it says its to Sir Francis Bacon but I don't know who that is. And its from some weird name." I told him maybe it was for Uncle Phil and Katie suggested that maybe his middle name is Sir Francis Bacon. They all latched on to that idea and now I am pretty sure that they think the mysterious package is for him. I'll just let them think that!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I completely forgot to write about this when it happened, and was reminded of it when Tyler was telling someone how he grew a giant watermelon this summer. So here I shall record it for posterity:

Last summer, Tyler planted himself a watermelon patch. The garden this year was all over the place, crazy-overgrown but not very productive. Somehow his watermelon didn't really take off (might have something to do with the monster squash vines that invaded the place). It grew, but slowly. Never did it form even a single watermelon, but every day Tyler religiously checked for one. He had such huge faith that it would produce a big watermelon. He told everyone of the watermelon he was growing. Except there was no watermelon growing. After a point, I knew that nothing was going to magically appear on the vine. I decided to take matters in my own hands and make the magic happen. I bought a big ol' watermelon from H-Mart and nestled it in his watermelon patch. When he went to check, lo and behold he found himself a watermelon! A big giant watermelon! And he was none the wiser, despite the fact that the watermelon was in no way attached to the vine. I did, however, remove the sticker to boost the street cred of the melon. It worked, and he is still telling people about it so I suppose it was $6 well spent. Besides, it will make a great story for him to tell his kids someday!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Katie's Hip: Good News!

I about 2 minutes from falling asleep but I wanted to post a quick update about Katie's hip: she had her x-rays done and looked at by her fabulous orthopaedic surgeon today and he said they look great! As in, the only person who could tell difference between her hips and normal hips would be someone who looks at a zillion x-rays a day. She is still very loose-jointed which is normal for kids with dysplasia but he said that will tighten up over time. I really wish you could meet the doctor. He is like the absent minded professor, and indeed today he was kneeling on his chair and spinning around as he talked to us. Awesomeness. But the real awesomeness is Katie's hips! I told her when we were trekking across the parking garage "Do you know how many times I have prayed for God to make your hips better??" and she said "How many?" (Time for a lesson on rhetorical questions, my darling) and I said "I don't know how many times, but lots!!" She gets to go back in 2 years, which considering it took us 2 hours to make the normally 30 minute drive home makes me very happy. I have had my fill of driving for the day. I got lost (thanks to my GPS: I think I sat in gridlock so long it fell asleep and missed warning me of my exit til I was 300 feet past it.) and had to call my brother 2 times. It was hilarious because after the first time, I hung up and said 'I love my brother!' and Katie said 'What? Uncle Nate is your brother???' Um, yes. News flash!

Monday, November 25, 2013

I'll Take Random Randomness For $200 Alex

Here are a few random pictures from the last few weeks:

Child labor: Tyler increased the efficiency of the shoebox operations by using his wagon

At the ripe old age of 8, James is a pro at this and is our official stacker.

If I play my cards right, they will be able to take over operations shortly.

And they would certainly look cute doing it!

Resting after I worked them like rented mules. Ha!

Moving on to other things, after watching a show about a circus the kids decided to have a circus of their own and busted out the vintage clown costume Mom made for me when I was a wee lass. The costume is pretty much epic, with oversized spray-painted canning lids for buttons. 

Believe it or not, this is not circus related. Going with a long standing tradition originating with Auntie Rachel, Katie dressed up with the Christmas tree skirt. She accessorized with a Dr. Seuss hat and an elf nose (she taped a Lincoln log to her nose)

And behold, a giant spoon! I can't explain why I love this so much. When I saw it, alone and forlorn in the corner of Home Goods, it called to me. Somehow I convinced myself to buy it and I LOVE it! The kids and I giggle about it almost every day. Giant spoon!

It looks quite classy with my ornate chandelier, no?

P.S. You read that right. We have begun decorating for Christmas. Because we can.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Quotable Quotes

Yesterday we were on our way to Farm Hands and Katie was having a conniption about socks. She had spent the morning with Grammy and had worn her flip flops. Yes, it is November. But she is so MY child. Anywho, I brought along a pair of rubber boots and a pair of James' socks. I thought I was doing her a favor, because her socks are ankle socks and I didn't think they'd be comfy. She didn't share that view. You would have thought it was the end of the world. Finally, I offered her the socks off my own feet. (I was hoping she didn't take me up on it!) She looked at me like I was crazy. I told her they were from Chappy and they might be more comfy than James' socks. I will admit my ulterior motive was to just get her to put on the dang socks already! She lamented that they would be too big, and James kindly piped in with quite a gem:
But Katie, Chappy is old and people shrink when they get old so they might fit you!
I whispered this story to Dad in church and I thought he might bust a hamstring there for a second from trying not to laugh out loud. And FYI: she went sockless and has the blister to prove it.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Tyler helping me cook

And taste test. Wearing the apron Mom made me when I was a young whippersnapper.

Katie sporting the new dress and leggings I made her.

The kids sporting the shoebox costumes I wrangled them into wearing. I made 4 of these costumes this year to promote Operation Christmas Child and at first I had trouble getting volunteers to wear them. Now I have kids begging to wear them! :)

A peek at some dresses I am listing in Rachel and I's up-and-slowly-coming Etsy shop.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Loose In The Nursing Home

On Halloween our preschool co-op decided take a trip to a local nursing home. We got together and gave the kids a little speech about what to expect. It was hilarious. My kids knew where we were going and (mostly) what to expect, but apparently some of the other kids weren't so clear. 

One of the moms asked them where we were going. One kid shouted out 'The pumpkin patch!' and a few others showed their excitement over the prospect. No, kids, the only thing a nursing home has in common with a pumpkin patch is that the residents move about as fast as pumpkins. Or not.

She asked again, and another kid suggested 'to the bounce place!' At this point, us moms were laughing pretty hard. Boy, were they in for a surprise. She told them we were going to a nursing home (talk about bait and switch! ;) and that we were bringing them a present. She asked what we needed when we were sick, and some wise-cracker shouted out 'Candy!' Another strike for you, buddy.

Not only are we not going to the pumpkin patch or the bounce house, we are not handing out candy. We are handing out.....tissues!! Three cheers for Kleenex! At this point, the kids were starting to bounce off the (non-bouncy) walls and we were beginning to question the wisdom of taking a herd of hyped-up preschoolers to a nursing home. 

But we did, and it was great. They loved handing out the little packages of tissues they had decorated to the residents. There was a little bit of apprehension (and let's face it, a nursing home can be kind of scary) but they did good. It was no surprise that the residents LOVED it and I was thrilled knowing that the little parade would make their day. (I used to work in a retirement home and know what this kind of thing means to an elderly person) 

They were all patiently and impatiently lining the halls to wait for us to come their way. A few even had bowls of candy to give to the kids. Some of them were chomping at the bit, sending the message down the halls 'When are they coming our way???' 

We took a brief tour through an activity room where most of the people were slumped over and staring or sleeping and Tyler kind of freaked out (and I was freaking out in my head...because now that I am an adult the reality that someday I will be old is a little more real, and I really don't want to end up drooling at a table somewhere holding a stuffed bear, but I digress). Fortunately we were almost done at that point because I think the kids were getting overwhelmed.

On the way out we got to meet Mr. Gus who is a friend of a friend's dad or something like that. He was cute and we got him to pose for a picture. I was really glad my kids didn't make any loud remarks about his lack of appendage. I think they were more interested in the fact that one of the workers was standing at the ready with a bag of candy for them. So overall, it was lovely, and not a disaster. I am sure the residents were thrilled and it was good to be able to make them smile! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Last night as I was tucking Tyler into bed, he looked into my eyes and sang me a song. My favorite part? "Honey is so yummy, and Mommy is so yummy, and I love her so much". And this morning I came up to get something and peeked in to see Katie, eyes wide open and singing "How Great Thou Art" with all her heart. So stinkin' sweet! She has also nearly memorized the song 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord) by Matt Redman and loves to sing it together with me. These kids of mine are pretty darn spectacular!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Spontaneous Adventure

We went on a spontaneous adventure today, which in my opinion is better than spontaneously combusting. Approximately 4 minutes before we had to go to the bus stop to pick up the gremlins, I decided to throw everyone's bikes in the back and go to the park. There is a nice park nearby that has a 2 mile paved trail around a lake. I managed to squeeze all 4 of our bikes in the truck for our first ever all-of-us-on-bikes trip. It was also the first time I've really been on a bike in, oh, a million years or so. It struck me while we were peddling along that I wasn't in charge of pushing/pulling or otherwise cajoling anyone but myself. The kids rode fast enough that I didn't think I would go backward, and they had no major crashes. If only Katie and Tyler can get on board with the whole 'LOOK IN FRONT OF YOU!!!' thing instead of looking off to the side and riding into the weeds. Although that does make for some pretty stellar entertainment. I am pretty sure when people see Tyler speeding along he looks likes some sort of mini-Evil Knievel flying along. He even honked at some guy walking past (by making a loud honking noise) and the guy said it was the best honk he had heard in a long time.

P.S. Yesterday was Katie's annual CHOP appointment for her hip. She was dreading it, and I was too because it just so happened to fall on Election Day, which is a school holiday in these here parts. It you need me to be more specific, that means I had to take all three...count 'em....three kids with me. Oh, the joys. I armed myself with various junky snacks we never buy and new sketchbooks for everyone. Then I gave myself a rousing pep talk which was somewhat effective. I loaded 'em up and took off for the big city, the land of brotherly shove, also known as Filthadelphia. After sitting in traffic and driving along those blasted concrete barriers that I am sure are only about 4 inches from the side of the car, we arrived in the vicinity of CHOP. At some point, Katie had begun to complain that she didn't feel good which isn't all that unusual. Usually she is hungry/thirsty/tired and that can be fixed. However, when we were only a few blocks from CHOP she threw up. It was pretty awesome because...hello! Three kids in the car who would rather be home, driving narrow city streets that dodge in and out of high rises and lots of hipsters weaving about on bikes...and no parking whatsoever. I ended up passing Katie my sweater to clean things up and drove back home. And a good time was had by all. Or not.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Feeling Nappy

Tyler's latest line is 'I'm feeling nappy' which means he feels tired and needs a nap. He also tries this out when I give him a time out: "But I'm nappy! I can't take a time out!" to which I reply "Then you can nap in time out!"

Someday This Will Be Funny??

Yesterday Tyler behaved fabulously. Until 5pm. Wherein he turned into a raving lunatic in footie pajamas. He had woken the night before with nightmares, so I think his interrupted sleep was catching up with him. In the absence of a padded room and straight jacket, I sent him to his room because he was pretty much out of control. He finally settled down (mostly) and I went to get him ready for an early bedtime. I happened to peer into James' playmobil bin and noticed that something had spilled in there. I didn't think much of it because I was focused with laser-like precision on getting the kid to bed. I was getting him ready for bed when he informed me that he didn't need to go to the bathroom. Why? Because he had needed to go, and James was in the bathroom, so he peed in the bin. Arrrrrrgh!!! Why??? I am writing about this because hopefully someday I will laugh about it. Or at the very least, it will be great when Tyler is an adult to remind him of what he put me through. :)

Frostbite And Other Tomfoolery

This goes down as one of my favorite James stories of all time. On Monday he got off the bus and declared "Mom, I have frost bite on all my fingers on this hand!" Now considering that it was in the 40's when we went to the bus and the temperatures only climbed from there, I knew he didn't have frostbite. I mean really....but it did cross my mind that the boy has watched way too many survival shows and it was getting to his head. He showed me his hand and how the skin around each fingernail was bright red, insisting that it was frost bite. And that's when it all started making sense. You see, the day before we had gone to our friends' house to hang out and have dinner. They always have some sort of interesting Mexican delicacies hanging around and this time it was some chips called Taquis. They are like rolled up tortilla chips coated in some sort of spicy, addictive seasonings, no doubt sprinkled with crack to make them highly addictive. And were they ever! Even James kept dipping in for a few more. And a few more. And did I mention that the seasonings were bright red??? Yep. I broke the news to James that he wasn't in fact suffering from frostbite, but indeed more like a case of an 8 year olds idea of thoroughness as applied to handwashing. At first he insisted it wasn't the chips. After all, he had washed his hands!! But when I asked him which hand he had been reaching into the bag with he held up his poor frost-bitten hand and got a grin on his face. Yep, it was the Taquis!

In other news, we got a frost last week and as we walked to the bus, Tyler declared quite excitedly "It 'nowed! It 'nowed!' He promptly got down and licked the neighbor's grass, declaring that it tasted like snow too. He wasn't as thrilled when we told him it was just frost.

And in other, other news, Katie, James and I are back in Farm Hands. On Saturday they basically shut everything down so that everyone could witness the 'once in a lifetime' event of raising a windmill. Who knew? I never thought about it, but a windmill has to get up somehow. They rigged everything up and we all got on the rope and raised the windmill. It is amazing what people-power can accomplish. The windmill was 30 feet tall and went up pretty easily. I am sure arranging all the ropes and pulleys beforehand was no easy task, but the actual raising of it was quick!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sick Kids

The kids have all taken turns getting sick since last Thursday. Fun times! Fortunately it was a quick, 24 hour bug for Katie and Tyler. James had it for 2 days, and this morning woke up and was much better. I put him on the bus and it wasn't 15 minutes after school started I got a phone call from the school nurse. She said he said he felt fine, but that he was pale and green (seriously) and looked sick. And besides, he was sick yesterday and apparently they have to be fever free without any Tylenol for 24 hours before they don't require hazmat suits. So I had to pick the little turkey up, even though he was clearly not green and looking fairly chipper. It really wasn't a hardship because I kind of like the kid and spending an extra day with him is nice. Now if only I can convince him that his 100% spelling test history is reason not to worry that he missed three days of spelling practice. I mean, hello! The kid NEVER misses a spelling word.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Here are a few pictures from the last...oh, month or so. The first few are from the kids' birthday party.

James and his friend Hudson

James and his friend Richie (both boys brought him a bow and they know him well or what?!)

Katie getting some advice from her friend Katie about how to open/use her birthday presents

Katie, Katie and Emmy

The rest of the pictures were ones Tyler asked me to take of him in the tree. I think he was enjoying hamming it up, you think?

Monday, October 07, 2013

Packing A Shoe Box: More With Less

Operation Christmas Child is something we love to participate in as a family. Recently, my husband's co-worker gave him $20 and a shoe box to fill for a child. He wasn't sure how far the money would go, but my husband assured him I could do two boxes with the money and that we'd pay the shipping. Such confidence in my shopping skills! This inspired me to document the contents of a shoe box, along with sources and prices to give you an idea of just what can be done. This is a great project involve kids with, as they can make simple crafts or write a letter to the child. They learn about giving in the process!

The Goods! Here are the contents of one shoe box for a girl, aged 10-14 years old.

The Details:

Crayons: Walmart, $.25
Toothbrush: Walmart or Target travel section, $1
First Aid Kit: Walmart or Target travel section, $1
Notebook: Walmart, $.17
Frog Hopper: Walmart party favors, $.10
Glue Sticks: Walmart or Target, $.25 for 2
Rainbow Loom bracelets: kid-made, free
Cross Craft: kid-made, free
Painting: kid-made, free

Peppermint Candies: Walmart, $.50 (I usually get these at BJ's for cheaper)
Soap:, $.18
Washcloth: Walmart, $.22
Kleenex: Walmart or Target, $.50 for 2
Pencils: Walmart or Target, $.50
Chalk: Michaels, $.10
Hello Kitty Bag: Target Dollar Spot, $.30
Pink Shirt: Walmart, $.50
New Old Navy jeans: free at a yard sale ( awesome is that!)

You didn't believe I could fit it all in the box, did you?! I have skillz. Also hours of experience playing Tetris in the days of my youth. And the grand total: drumroll please....$5.57 if I did my math correctly! Add $7 for shipping and the total cost to send this box is $12.57. The only thing missing from this box is a pencil sharpener which I will add when I get them.

Now, on to the boy box. The 10-14 age group is the most under-represented, especially for boys. I try to pack a number of boxes for this age group each year.

The Goods!

The Details:

Peppermint Candies: Walmart, $.50 (I usually get these at BJ's for cheaper)
Soap:, $.18
Washcloth: Walmart, $.22
Kleenex: Walmart or Target, $.25 for 1
Pencils: Walmart or Target, $.50
Chalk: Michaels, $.10
Blanket: made from brand new fleece from thrift store, $.75
Toothbrush: Walmart or Target travel section, $1
First Aid Kit: Walmart or Target travel section, $1
Notebook: Walmart, $.17
Frog Hopper: Walmart party favors, $.10
Rainbow Loom bracelets: kid-made, free
Cross Craft: kid-made, free
Painting: kid-made, free

Check out these shorts! I paid $.50 for them, and they come with a belt too!

Toothbrush: Walmart or Target, $1.00
Crayons: Walmart or Target, $.25
Gluesticks: Walmart or Target, $.37
Shorts: Walmart, $.50
Shirt: Walmart, $.50

The total cost for this box is $7.39, and with shipping $14.39.

Other tips:

  • Add a letter! You might hear back from your child. (I have...twice!)
  • Buy in bulk and split the items up: for example, I got soap on Amazon in a 16 pack, and I ended up paying $.18 a bar. Way cheaper than the dollar store.
  • Let your friends and neighbors know what you are doing. They will bring you stuff. My neighbor brought me 80 (!!) brand new toothbrushes his sister was going to throw away. The same neighbor is also a travel agent and has given us lots of the free promotional stuff she gets like water bottles, key chains, and tote bags. 
  • Look at yard sales. This one is new for me, but I have found a lot of stuff this year at yard sales and thrift stores. Keep in mind items must be new. I have found Happy Meal toys, stuffed animals, games, and much more this year, still with tags and for dirt cheap! There is also a thrift store in Trenton that sells new with tags beanie babies in bags of 4 for $2. Can't beat that!
  • Stick with a normal sized shoe box. I know, I know! It is hard to fit everything in, and in the past I have always thought bigger shoeboxes were better. However, now that I've worked at the collection center at church I have changed my ways. The shoe boxes are packed into cartons, and each carton is supposed to have at least 17 shoe boxes in it. (I am 94% certain that is the magic number) It is really hard to fit that many in, and when you have a boot box it is impossible. The problem comes when the distribution points believe they have a certain number of boxes to offer, and sometimes come up short of what they anticipated. 

Chicken on a Lease + First Day of Preschool = Fun Times!

This is roughly the 54th attempt by James to walk a chicken on a leash. This time he was successful in tying her in such a way that she wasn't thrashing about bawking, but she was not so cooperative with walking. Can you blame her?

He was so gentle in trying to pull her along. Maybe the next batch of chicks we get he can train one from the get-go.

Katie mercifully took her back to the coop.

Tyler's first day of preschool co-op

He know asks everyday when he can go back.

T and K hamming it up under the tree

This girl and her faces...she can get Tyler to go from fuming mad to a fit of giggles with her looks.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Little Artist

Here is one of Tyler's latest drawings. Not that I am biased but I think he is a little Picasso! :) I love watching the kids develop their styles. James draws detailed little scenes with speech bubbles. His sense of humor shows through. Katie draws all sorts of things, and really likes to write her name on everything. Tyler so far specializes in people. This one has a 'happy mile'.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Quote Of The Day

**We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to bring you the quote of the day**

I overhead this on the walk back from school:

Why don't you just get a public defender and spend the money on something better?

Yeah, let that one sink in. Maybe congress needs to hear this one, because we are paying for public defenders so people can spend their money 'on something better'. Sounds perfectly logical.

Two Posts In One Week!

I'm failing in the blog arena. Sorry Grandma. So, because I am lacking anything witty or insightful, I will give you some brief tidbits from the Franch:

  • Someday I aspire to have an actual Franch with a sign over the driveway heralding the entrance of the Rocking G Franch (or something like that...I can come up with something), like this:

  • James is a voracious reader. I get the little turkey a chapter book and he reads it in 2 days. If you have any suggestions for good books, leave a comment! He really likes western history, civil war, indians, history, adventure.....he brought 3 books to school today, 'just in case', to which I say: Awesome! 
  • Homework: James is not a fan. Katie did her entire weeks' homework on the first day, then asked when she was getting more. I had to print homework sheets out for her today so she would have some to do. Tyler didn't want to go to bed 'yet' because he 'had to do his homework'. I wrote his name a few times and he traced over it, then drew a bunch of little pictures in all the blank space on the page. He told me in detail what he learned about in preschool yesterday (Daniel in the lions' den, the letter M, writing his name) so the kid is paying attention!
  • Rachel and I are working in starting an Etsy shop. Woo! It is something we have talked about for a long time. Right now I am busy making a few more items for the shop.
  • I also finished another painting (way different than the last one, but fun!). I will post pictures soon. It may involve an armadillo.
  • When I let the chickens out yesterday I noticed that my black Australorp was hanging in the nest box. When she saw me, she did the egg squat. Now, I am no chicken expert, but I am getting better at spotting the signs. (The comb gets red, the egg squat, staring at the nest box, becoming less flighty) She sat in the nest box for at least an hour, which made me very exciting that she might actually lay her first egg! The reason this is so exciting is that she is supposed to lay dark brown eggs and I really want to see one. So basically I spent the morning stalking the chicken coop, but no egg today. Maybe today?
That's it for now. I have important things to do. Like stalk the chicken coop.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

First Day of Preschool

Tyler's first day of preschool went swimmingly. He was so excited. He adopted James' old backpack, into which he loaded a folder, glue stick, a new box of crayons from me, a 'nack', and another one just in case (you never know when you're going to eat next!) and a water bottle. He was also supposed to bring something for show and tell that started with an 'M'. He chose Giraffey, his favorite stuffed animal. When I told him that Giraffey started with 'G' he said 'I will name him M-ee M-ee M-eee!' and that was that.

After we dropped Katie off at school Tyler and I went on a 'date' to the Amish market. He stood before the giant glass case and picked out the donut of his dreams. Interestingly, he wanted plain chocolate, no sprinkles. He also asked for a spoon and a knife to eat it, which he gets from Jeff. Jeff even eats pizza with silverware. It was fun to have 'the Squatch' all to myself and watch him devour a giant donut. I, for one, was very happy to find a maple donut!! That was/is/forever will be my favorite variety of donut, and I have had a hard time finding them in the great state of P-A.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Katie & Kindergarten

I would like to promise that someday I will post something coherent and sophisticated but that would probably be shooting for the stars. So here goes: Kindergarten. PM Kindergarten to be exact. Who exactly invented afternoon Kindergarten? It is annoying. In the morning, I get everyone ready to go to the bus. Sometimes being 'ready' is more like Tyler in jammies, Katie in some wildly mismatched clothes and James looking presentable (mostly). We clomp off to the bus like a rag-tag band of oversized lawn gnomes and send James off to school. We come home, I get ready for the day and then we squeeze in any activities/errands/etc. that needs to happen. Then we get ready all over again. I am learning rather quickly that Katie needs at least an hour to get ready for school. (I mean, yes, she is a girl...but still?! This is Kindergarten!!!) This is how it usually goes down: at 11am, I start by feeding her lunch. This involves offering her a few different kinds of tasty leftovers and she decides instead on the usual: a bowl of puffed rice. Not the rice crispy kind, but the actual super healthy (and pretty bland) real puffed rice. She loves that stuff. She also loves art. She combines the two by attempting to make a Picasso while shoveling cereal into her mouth. That is, if she's not talking. Because she does that too. She tells Tyler things like 'If you eat 3 more bites, I'll give you this penny!' and 'Tyler, when you're done we can set up a restaurant and we can sell donuts!' At some point, she will think of something she was going to do earlier and wander off to do it. I call her back to the table and she takes another bite. Then she draws a stick figure and wanders off to go to the bathroom. On the way, she sees something shiny and runs after it. She refocuses, onto something entirely different. In the meantime, I am sweeping the floor/getting her snack ready/loading the dishwasher. I see she has again wandered off and have a mental debate about redirection?consequence?tough love?does she have ADD?look, squirrel!! and send her back to the table. She finally finishes eating and it is time to get dressed. I don't know about your kids, but my kids can't stay clean to save their lives so she usually changes before school. She goes to grab her clothes and sees her baby doll, whom she decides needs to be held and cuddled. At which point she sees her rainbow loom and remembers that she needs to make bracelets for her 10 closest pals before we leave for school in 5 minutes! I remind her that if she doesn't get dressed she's going to school naked, which is mostly effective at lightly a fire under her butt. She then remembers that she's supposed to go to the bathroom BEFORE school and I remember that I should probably brush her hair, which is somewhat akin to trying to give a squirrel a manicure. She brushes her teeth, I brush her hair and we're ready to go. Except she can't find her shoes. Because she didn't put them back on the shelf. So we run around finding the shoes and finally she's ready to walk to school! Its a Christmas miracle! My theory is that if we had AM kindergarten, I could get everyone ready at once. Katie would still be a bit groggy from waking up and that's when I would pounce! I would get her dressed and give her breakfast before she knew what hit her. That's the theory anyway, which will stay firmly in the theory category since there's no switching now. You better believe I'm requesting AM Kindergarten for Tyler!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tyler's New Interest

Tyler has lately been fascinated by the show 'Hogs Gone Wild'. Basically, people hunt down wild hogs and either catch them or kill them. Despite the fact that I have aspirations to hog hunting someday, this show annoys me. It is basically the same thing every show and after the second episode you are left to wonder why they don't just shoot the hogs. And I'll tell you why: that wouldn't make for good TV. However, Tyler is entertained. Last week we were walking back from school and Tyler saw a small tree with some scarring on the bottom. He walked up and carefully inspected it. Then he declared that a hog must have done it, and that he and Dad would have to come back at night to hunt it. That kid is too much!

On Saturday we had our Small Group picnic and basically the adults let our whole collective pack of children run feral and semi-unsupervised. One of the families brought their 'Oma' who was the only one out there watching them. After a while, some of the dads went out and relieved Oma. When she came in, she said she now knows everyone's family secrets. She knew that Emmy had a tea party with her Mom, and that Tyler's mom thought he looked very cute in his new coat. (He does!!) And...she said that Tyler was fearless. We all cracked up, because it didn't take her long to figure him out! Sometimes when people ask me 'what happened to his face?' or 'how did he get that bruise?' I just want to tell him: just watch him for 5 minutes! It would save a lot of explaining.

And one more Tyler note: we were looking at James' baby album the other day and Tyler spotted a picture of Jeff, with hair. He looked quizzically at the photo and then at me. He asked 'Is that Daddy?' I told him yes, and he looked again at the picture and asked 'the same Daddy???' I forget that he's never seen Jeff with hair.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Update Overload

Yikes! I have tried to blog several times lately and gotten distracted. Look!!! Something shiny!!! More likely I was distracted by piles of dishes and running to the bus stop. The kids are settled in to school and working out a new 'normal' for them. They usually do great in school and save their meltdowns for home. Tyler joins in just for kicks sometimes. 'You cut up my chicken!!! I didn't want my chicken cut up! Now its gross!!!' which from a preschool perspective means 'ITS THE END OF THE WORLD!!!' So to fill you in on the last few weeks, I present to you the trusty bullet point list:

  • I got my CPAP machine last week. I've slept with it for about 7 nights and I think I am getting used to it. Katie says I look silly, James says I look like an elephant trying to pick up a box, and Jeff calls me 'Goose' from Top Gun. It has helped me to sleep more soundly and I think when I get used to it and don't wake up I will start to feel a lot more rested. Apparently these contraptions are pretty expensive and the insurance company won't pay for them unless they know you are going to use them. It has a memory card in there that records when I use it and I have to turn it in after a certain amount of time to verify I have used it consistently. At that point, the insurance company will cease to rent it and actually purchase it for me. Very interested, as Grandma Heppner would say.
  • Katie LOVES school. She pretty much skips to school on a big puffy pink cloud she's so happy to go. The very first day, she had already made a friend to sit on the bus with. (More on that later) She loves music, art and library. And recess, and pretty much everything else. She usually comes home and goes into meltdown mode. Its a lot to adjust to for someone who has made a successful career out of having tea parties, climbing trees and making art projects out of everything imaginable. 
  • So, the bus....putting the kids on the bus freaks me out a little. Isn't the bus where so much bullying happens, and you learn new words you know you're probably not supposed to say? Not to mention that a big bus makes even my swiftly growing 8 year old look tiny climbing up those stairs. So knowing that Katie would ride the bus home (we walk to school; there is no midday bus) was enough to freak me out. I told James he was to look for her on the bus and sit with her the first day. I also told them to sit toward the front of the bus. Well. Apparently I failed to recognize that Katie wouldn't need to have James with her, because dang it! She don't need no stinkin' brother to boss her around! She can do it herself! Not to mention she made a friend the first day whom she sat with on the bus. When they got off the bus the first day, they were fighting and crying and spitting mad. It took me a long time to figure out what happened. James was being protective and told her to sit right behind the bus driver. Katie was not going to listen to him, and sat 3 seats back. The bus number also changed since last year, causing James no small amount of anxiety. Once he got on the bus, he didn't see Katie and panicked. Once he found her, he was mad! She didn't listen to him! He actually pushed Katie's friend (or maybe Katie...this part was fuzzy) and sat down with them. Katie was mad, because hello! Bossy brother!!! Then, when the bus stopped at our stop, Katie was sitting there smiling like the prom queen while James yanked on her backpack for fear that she wouldn't get off the bus in time and it would be...drumroll please....THE END OF THE WORLD!!! We had to establish that they don't have to sit together if they don't want to, as long as James keeps an eye out for Katie. Sheesh! Such drama for the first day of school.
  • Speaking of drama, the kids had their birthdays a week ago. They were both bestowed with some cold hard cash for their spending enjoyment. Notice I said 'their enjoyment' because it certainly isn't for mine. Let me explain. You give the kid a crisp shiny $10 bill, or in Katie's case, a $25 gift certificate to Target, for the purpose of acquiring the fake American Girl doll of her dreams. Somehow it is the parents' job to taxi the kid to the store, all the while praying that there are only 2 dolls to pick from so that we can get out of the store by closing time. (P.S. Its only 10am...ha!) Parent and child arrive in the doll aisle where mercifully there are only 3 doll styles to choose from. After several minutes of deliberation, a doll is chosen. Success!!! Parent breathes a sigh of relief and heads toward the art supply section to let her pick out a box of crayons to round out the gift certificate because there is no way I'm coming back again so she can spend $2.18. Epic fail! We pass through the home section where we see bean bag chairs, and low and behold if she doesn't declare that she's wanted one forever and she needs it now!!! In an instant the carefully chosen doll is cast aside in favor of an oversized pink corduroy bean bag chair that happens to cost $40. I carefully try to convince her to love the lesser priced (but not pink) beanbag chair next to it: look! Its lavender! Its everything you've ever dreamed of! And more!!!' At which point she looks at me and declares mournfully that she doesn't want the lavender one, she wants the PINK one! We discuss the logistics of paying for the thing, as in, $40 is more than $25 and if you pitch in the rest of your birthday money on this thing you will be broke as a joke with no income in sight. And you will be left with a beanbag that you will probably end up cutting a hole in with scissors when you are bored. None of this logic worked. It kind of had the opposite effect. I also tried to remind her how much she wanted the doll and how she could just walk away from the bean bag and into the plastic arms of the doll she loved. Yeah, that didn't work either. Finally, I hit on the idea that the college dorm stuff was on clearance and if there is anything that shouts 'college dorm' louder than a bean bag chair I don't know what it is. OK, maybe milk crates or lawn chairs. We struck out on the bean bag chair but found a big super-soft white pillow, the kind with arms on it, for $10. She decided it was worthy of her love and $$ and we threw it in the cart. Here's the problem: $25 minus $10 still leaves $15. So back to the toy aisle we went. At this point I begged the Lord for mercy and began to wonder if there really was such a place as purgatory. She pointed down a row that was dangerously full of $50 baby dolls (seriously, who buys these things? don't they know it will end up getting shorted out when the kid trys to give it a bath and it will never say 'mama' again?!) and what Katie refers to as 'Spinach Dolls'. Which really means Cabbage Patch dolls. I was bracing myself for the inevitable 'I really like that doll! It talks! It pees! It makes a sandwich!' that would have to end in another lecture in economics, also known as the 'Money doesn't grow on trees' speech. She miraculously spotted a baby stroller that cost exactly $15 and we put it in the cart. I was looking for the quickest escape route when she changed her mind. Ugh!! Fortunately she had spotted a doctor kit that was also $15 and I never left a store quicker. She spent her money and left a happy girl. Which is amusing, since all I left the store with was a nervous twitch. Also a greater appreciation of what my parents put up with when we were growing up. In the end, Katie had a great time deliberating how to spend the most money she's had in her life, and so far, no buyer's remorse.
  • Remorse is probably what you're feeling after wasting your time reading this, so I'll stop for today. I really need to blog more often.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Photo Overload (And For Once I Won't Ramble On)

Digging a James' sized hole in the sand

Keep going!

Playing with their friends

Katie and her best little friend


The girls collecting water for their project

Burying Tyler in the sand

The guys going out on the jetty with the kids

Cool sand art courtesy of a plastic egg carton

Crazy girl: its a shame she is lacking personality ;)

Finally deep enough to bury him!

My latest favorite picture of James: seriously? How stinkin' cute is he?!

And my latest favorite of Katie: adorable!

Looking for critters

Aren't these kites cool?

Moving along: first day of 2nd grade (waaa!!! Where has time gone?)

And first day of Kindergarten! My babies are growing up.

A Vision of Cuteness

Getting off the bus

And the birthday girl who just turned 6! (James turned 8 on Tuesday, then Katie had her birthday the next day...too much for me to handle!)

She seems more grown up just since she started Kindergarten

A beach treasure

Tyler found this at the beach: any ideas what it is? According to my google research, it does not resemble a shark or a turtle. 

I would like to solve the mystery. Whatever it is has some sharp little teeth!