Monday, January 31, 2011

For Today....

Outside my looks very January - grey skies, bare branches, patches of snow covering dead grass. Colorless. Blah.

I am thinking...that the pressure must be dropping as my head is starting to throb. A big winter storm is supposed to be moving in for the next couple of days. I'm hoping it's not as big as anticipated. I don't want the Husband to be gone for days restoring power. I like having him home.

I am thankful for...a Baby that runs, with pure joy, to me when I walk into a room. I feel like a celebrity.
I'm also thankful that my pantry and freezers are stocked and for a standby backup generator in case this storm is as bad as predicted.

From the learning rooms...the usual. Sometimes I get bored with the same old thing. I have to remind myself that it may be "old hat" to me, but to the kids, it's all new. Perseverance.

From the kitchen...a late lingering breakfast of homemade bread with peanut butter and yogurt smoothies while we studied our Bibles together. I love hearing my children read from The Word of God.

I am wearing...flannel pajamas. Today just felt like one of those days.

I am creating...still working on the house. Bubby is moved in his new room. Now we're painting the front room and still sanding walls in the Bug's room.

I am enjoy having nowhere to go. I am going to play a few games...Rummy, Banana Grams, Quirkle, Doodle Dice and maybe Uno over the next couple of days. We are going to do some baking and watch a couple of movies. Hopefully, I can also force myself to work on the painting projects.

I am reading...the Bible and Large Family Logistics.

I am hoping...that the Husband just gets a little overtime. Not a lot. The last time we had an ice storm, he was gone for 18 days. He was so tired and I worried constantly about his (and the other linemen) safety. No sleep and electricity is a dangerous combo.

I am hearing...The occasional clicking sound of ice hitting the windows. Yuck! It's starting. I hear Clifford on the tv, the Bug and the Baby's laughter, Bubby bringing in a bucket of corn to feed the corn stove and Leeny unloading the dishwasher. As always, there is the hum of the corn stove.

Around the house...boxes of books that need to find a new place to be stored; the kitchen floor isn't working. A basket of laundry needs folded and the vacuum needs put to use or put away. Then there is the buckets of paint and painting supplies...a constant reminder that I have so much painting to do.

One of my favorite things...gloomy days with cups of hot coffee and happy kids.

A few plans for the rest of the week...other than a trip to the Oral Surgeon on Friday for Bubby, nothing that has to be done. I would like to go to the local activities center for homeschool PE on Thursday, but have a feeling that the roads will be drifted shut.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

I love how a baby can be oblivious to everything around them. Sleep in the midst of noise and chaos.

Have a great week!

For more Simple Women, go here.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Dells, Part 2

A big draw to the Kalahari is the addition of their indoor amusement park. It has so much to do - a ropes course, laser tag, rock wall, go-carts, Ferris wheel, carousel, video games, putt-putt golf, etc. It really is amazing! Of course we had to try out the rock wall.

The Bug is our athlete. She is also fearless. Two years ago she rode the Skyscraper
as well as some other scary "couldn't-drag-me-on-that-for-any-amount-of-money" ride called the Skycoaster. They strapped her in some contraption that is supposed to make a mother feel ok about having a child 130 feet in the air and then dropping them. It's like watching your heart going outside of your body. I don't think I really breathed on either one of those until her feet were firmly planted on solid ground. So the rock wall, while it's about 2 1/2 stories high is no big deal. It's more my speed.

Here she is harnessed up. I think she climbed that wall 3 or 4 times. She could scale it in about a minute. It was like she ran up the wall. Very fun to watch!

Bubby really isn't fond of heights (just like his mother). He attempted the rock wall once last year and once this year. He went about half way and was done. He made it further than last year so he was happy.

This is fearless number 2. Leeny doesn't even have a healthy dose of fear. She, unfortunately didn't weigh enough to stay on the wall. She could make it a little ways up but then the rope would pull her off. Better luck next time.

Of course the Husband climbed it too. I forgot to take his picture. Oops! But he climbs power poles for a living. I can't imagine a rock wall is too much of a challenge.
I thought about trying it, for a brief second, very brief. The Husband laughed when I mentioned trying it. I probably won't be trying it next year either......

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Dells, Part 1

Our family has been going to the Wisconsin Dells for 13 years. Yes, we went even before we had kids. We love the indoor water parks. We have two favorite places to stay, the Kalahari and The Great Wolf Lodge. For the most part, we alternate between them, although our last two trips have been to the Kalahari.
This is the first year that I haven't taken any pictures of the kids coming down the slides. I don't know why I didn't. They sure spent lots of time on them, especially the Master Blaster (an indoor water roller coaster). But we also had a first. We spent time in the regular pool. It's hard to believe that in all the years we've been staying here, we had never been in, let alone play, in the pool.
The kids loved playing basketball! Maybe it was because the older 3 could all touch? I'm not sure, but hours were spent here. Of course Leeny loved having daddy help her score some points.

Maybe this was part of the enticement, Aunt Rachel and her boyfriend Shane. You know, they are way more fun than parents.

Another fun attraction for the girls was the floating critters and ropes. They would zoom across the pool and it was hard to catch their picture. The giggles and squeals of delight just made the Husband and I laugh too.

The Kalahari has a huge lazy river. It begins and ends in the enormous wave pool. The baby would almost fall asleep anytime we took her on it. The big kids love flipping in and out of the tubes. They are anything but lazy on that river.

The best was when I would be floating and the Husband or Bubby would start running and pulling me along. They always managed to come to a complete stop with me under a waterfall. Go figure!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The End is Near

Whew! I thought I was ready, but I'm not. The Baby put herself to sleep tonight without nursing. I am ready to wean her, but I want to be the one choosing when. I want to know when it's the last time. So I can memorize it....every. little. detail.

She's been nursing only right before bed. And that time is so precious. Sleepy eyes, total relaxation, pudgy little baby hands rubbing and pinching and the eventual sound sleep that follows, making her completely limp, totally unaware of anything going on around her. I treasure those moments.

So when she fell asleep sitting on my lap, my first thought was, Wow! She went to sleep without nursing. On the heels of that thought was sadness.

We celebrate all the firsts and look forward to them....first smile, first steps, first words, etc. We never know when it's the last. The last time you change a diaper, the last time they hold your hand, the last time they want to read you a story, the last time you help them in the bathtub, the last time they will nurse. I didn't know that last night was her last time.

I laid her down to sleep. Then I went to soak in the tub. I sat there thinking how I was done with this phase of my life. There most likely won't be another baby; I won't be nursing anymore. And while I know that each phase holds special times and I look forward to watching her grow, I also know how fast it fast it's gone. I had such mixed emotions....

Then I heard her cry and there she was, standing at the edge of the tub, rubbing her sleepy eyes with big tears rolling down her cheeks. She missed her nightly routine too. I couldn't help but smile. Needless to say, I quickly dried off, dressed and headed to our chair where I proceeded to store up more memories of nursing my baby to sleep.

Next week, we'll stop. Maybe.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For Today....

Outside my window...a beautiful blanket of white. And it's favorite! Soon it will be destroyed by boot prints, 4-wheeler tracks and other signs of life.
I am thinking...about our trip to Wisconsin Dells. We had so much fun! This was my favorite trip ever!
I am thankful for...a husband that will try anything. He just finished his first attempt at drywall and did very well. He's his biggest critic and isn't as impressed as I am. But it looks wonderful.
From the learning rooms...just the usual. Reading, writing and math with a side of home remodeling and P.E. in the snow thrown in.
From the kitchen...something with chicken. and rice.
I am wearing...still in my bathrobe. Can't decide between putting on fresh pajamas or actually getting dressed. Think I'll go for clothes, I'll be more productive.
I am creating...hopefully, a clean house. Drywall dust is lingering in every nook and cranny. I will be painting the ceiling in Bubby's new room. He should be in by the weekend.
I am make snow cream (ice cream made from snow) and snow man soup (hot chocolate with peppermint, marshmallows and sprinkles) for the kids. Painting is at the top of my to-do list (YUCK!), some laundry, playing a couple games with the kids, general pick-up and some school work will round out my day.
I am reading...Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit and One Tough Mother as well as still working my way through those Homeschool Magazines.
I am get pictures of our trip uploaded to my computer and posted on here. I'm also hoping to meet my sister's new "friend" and that the Husband will use the tractor to push all the snow from the driveway into a giant pile. I want to go sledding with the kids. We live on top of a hill so we can sled a LONG way.
I am hearing...Sesame Street, the hum of the Corn Stove and the Baby banging a plastic coffee pot on the floor.
Around the house...a giant box from our recent carseat purchase, (Why do we buy toys? These kids have played for hours in that thing.) a basket of laundry that needs folded, the outgrown baby carseat ready to go to a friend, a few toys, paint and construction stuff, an occasional baby shoe...
One of my favorite things...watching the snow fall. It's so peaceful.
A few plans for the rest of the week...supposed to take the baby to the Dr. for her 15-month check up today, but not sure if I want to get out on the roads. Later this week, getting together with some homeschool friends to swim, chiropractor appointment, meeting at church and a trip to Springfield for more paint.
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Memory Lane...Wisconsin Dells, 2005. The kids are hanging on my sister-in-law R. We've been going up there for 13 years now. Wow! Time flies. Pictures from 2011 trip to follow in another post.

Have a great week!

For more Simple Women, go here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Entertaining the Baby

Yes, that is my Baby. Yes, that is a 5 gallon bucket. We call this Red Neck Fun.

She likes it best when Daddy swings her.

She wanted Leeny to carry her around it it too.
Oh the fun we have around here!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Eve

We don't like to go anywhere on New Year's Eve. Too many people, too long of waits and too dangerous. Besides, we're homebodies.
This year was no exception. We made lots of homemade pizza, some family and a neighbor that we think of as family came over. We ate, played games, visited and ate some more. Very fun, very relaxing and made me realize again how blessed we are to have family living so close.

Leeny, the Baby and my niece K. Silly, silly girls. They giggled and squealed most of the evening.
Memaw J trying to learn Bubby's new game, Mancala. The Bug was loving having free range over the junk food.

Bubby and I playing so that Memaw can learn the game. Bubby and I have been playing Mancala every chance we get. It's addictive.

Memaw teaching the little ones how to play Old Maid. She kept them entertained while the older bunch played Quirkle and Rummy.
We didn't plan to keep going till midnight. But we did. Papa T, my sister and I were in a very competitive round of Rummy while Memaw J and the kids played UNO Attack (they were very noisy) and we almost missed the New Year. We paused long enough to say "Happy New Year's" then we finished our game.
It was lots of fun and we're hoping to not have to wait until New Year's to have another game night.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Old Fashioned Fun

We had wanted to try a Taffy Pull for quite a while. It always sounds like so much fun when you read about them in books like Little House on the Prairie.

We had some friends over that we hadn't seen for a couple of months. We let them in on the fun. First you cook the stuff till it reaches 248 degrees, then you let it cool for about 10 minutes, butter up your hands and pull. I don't know why this picture is so dark. But, do you see that tub of butter? Well we used over half of it. The table was literally dripping. There was butter everywhere. Everywhere!

It was the oddest stuff. So sticky. Then we used too much butter and it felt like a big glob of slime and wouldn't stick together.

A couple of kids got frustrated (namely Bubby). They kept washing their hands and buttering up again hoping to get it to work right.

We never did get the desired results. Finally, we just stuck the whole blob in the big mixer and tried that. I'm not sure if it really worked or not. We wrapped up little pieces in wax paper. They were more like buttery peppermint caramels than taffy. But we had fun and lots of laughter. That's what mattered. And the mess cleaned up very easily.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Funny Faces

First it was her "cheeser" face. We'd say "cheeser" and this is what she'd do.

Now she makes her "funny" face. We just say, "Show me your funny face." And she does.

I wonder what she'll do next?

Monday, January 3, 2011


Outside my window...a gentle breeze, a brilliant blue sky, tiny shoots of winter wheat across the street, the dog lazing in the pasture after a night of protecting the almost looks like spring is on the way. How's cold out there!

I am thinking...about a girl I went to school with. Her little boy, who's not quite 3, is having his 5th heart surgery today or tomorrow. I don't think he is doing very well. My heart just breaks for her. I look at my children and try to imagine having one that sick and I just can't wrap my mind around it. So I'm praying for her. Her name is Angela and the little boy is Landon - if you would pray too.

I am thankful for...for my children. I am thankful for their health. I'm thankful for their strong minds. I am thankful that they love Jesus. I'm thankful that they are so helpful.

From the learning rooms...We've been doing lots of "informal" learning. But this week, we'll make some progress in the textbooks. I think we also might start one of our 4-H books for science...bugs or electricity???

From the kitchen...homemade pizza (I made too many crusts for New Year's Eve) or Mandarin Beef Stir Fry. I will have to take a poll.

I am sweats and a John Deere Tractor sweatshirt. I am hoping nobody comes to the door and thankful I don't have to leave today.

I am creating...I should say we are rooms. Our toyroom is almost finished being converted into a bedroom for Bubby. Bubby's old room is becoming a bedroom for the Bug and the Baby will be moving into Leeny's room. Leeny has no desire to have a room to herself (which is good because we are out of rooms). Of course we have a ton of painting to do....all the bedrooms, hallway, front room and area outside Bubby's room...I do NOT like painting.

I am going...we are going to Wisconsin Dells! I am very excited. We go every year and I just love playing in the water when it's winter. I'm not so excited about wearing my swimming suit (my legs are white enough to blind someone and the holidays have not helped my waistline), but we always have so much fun. The Husband plays like a kid and everyone loves the water.

I am reading...a couple of homeschool magazine, a Backwood's Home magazine, a book on canning and One Tough Mother. To say I'm reading them would be a stretch. It's more like scanning an article or two or reading a few pages. When this room project is done, I'm hoping to do a lot of reading.

I am have the Baby moved out of our room, sleeping through the night again and weaned within a month. Not sure how easy the weaning part will be, but we're going to try.

I am hearing...the Baby hollering, Bubby and Leeny on the verge of an argument, the rustle of a trash bag being put in the can and the hum of the corn stove.

Around the house...drywall dust. Yuck! Bags of building materials, tools, toys the Baby has scattered, more building materials, tools and dust.

One of my favorite things...a completed project. Too bad we are so far away from the whole project being finished.

A few plans for the rest of the week...take pictures and get a box full of stuff listed on Ebay, tackle Mt. Washmore, paint toenails, have Bubby's room ready to move into by the weekend, get rid of as much drywall dust as possible and play games, lots of games with the kids.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing..

This will be Bubby's new closet in his new room.

Thanks for stopping by! For more Simple Women, go here.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas Memories

Christmas is crazy for us. With 4 sets of parents to visit, multiple sets of grandparents, well, we kind of meet ourselves coming and going. A couple of years ago, we decided that Christmas morning was going to be spent at home and we were not going to be rushed. It was a great decision.

My kids still believe in Santa. They, of course, know the true reason we celebrate. But to be a kid....the Christmas magic....I love it! I think Bubby "knows," but chooses to believe.

Anyway, Santa left a scavenger hunt/clue find for the kiddos. They had to run outside, to the basement (3 times) and all over the house to find their clues, leading to their gift.

Here they are reading the first clue. They were sooooo excited!

One of the clues was under the kitchen table.
What did Santa leave?
A family trip to Wisconsin Dells! We are looking forward to our annual trip.

The Baby wasn't into the presents. She just had fun taking off with the kids stuff and playing with boxes and wrapping paper.

We got Leeny a Pogo Stick. Maybe it will help her burn off her excess energy?!

This was the first year that the Bug didn't ask for toys. She wanted a bath robe from the store, Justice (she likes everything from there) and Bath and Body Works. She's growing up.

Bubby got an electric guitar. It was perfect timing, as his piano teacher just told us that he was ready to learn a new instrument. He taught himself how to play two songs within an hour. Hopefully this guitar will work for a little while. But we'll probably be getting a better one sooner rather than later.
We really enjoyed Christmas this year. Spending time with lots of family is always a blessing. The Husband's older sister was home from North Carolina with her family so that added extra
The 3 older kids were in the Christmas Eve Program at my in-laws church. That church is just beautiful, especially at Christmas time. The program was simple and perfect. Kids telling the Christmas story and the congregation singing Christmas songs together, just makes Christmas.
So that was Christmas for our family. I wish I would have taken more pictures, but I say that every year. I hope your Christmas was wonderful too.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cranberry Buttermilk Scones

I don't plan to turn my blog into a recipe site. But I had to share one more recipe.

3 c. flour (all-purpose)
1/3 c. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. butter
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. dried cranberries
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1 T. milk or cream

In food processor, dump the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Pulse a couple of times. Add the butter. Mix until mixture is crumbly. Add buttermilk and mix just until moistened. Add the orange peel and cranberries. Pulse a couple of times to incorporate them into the dough. Turn on a floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape each portion into a ball and pat into a circle about an inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush with milk. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Unexpectedly Good

Sometimes you see a recipe and just know that your family will like it. The soup I made today was one of those. Everybody liked it. A whole lot. It caught my eye because I thought it would be fast. It was.

Hearty Hamburger Soup

2 lbs. Ground Beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
6 c. water
1 pkg. (10 oz) frozen mixed vegetables
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg (6 3/4 oz.) beef pasta dinner mix - Yes, it's Hamburger Helper
1 bay leaf
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
I added a couple tsp. sugar.

The recipe says to brown the beef and onion till its done; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until pasta is tender. Discard bay leaf before serving. Yield: 12 servings

*I made it even easier. I keep hamburger already cooked in my freezer. So, I dumped everything except the noodles into the pot. I used dehydrated onion. Then just let it cook for a while. I added the noodles about 10 minutes before we wanted to eat.

This is my idea of fast food. It's way healthier too. We will be making this again. Like when we've been gone all day and get home at supper time and haven't planned ahead. Twenty minutes and supper is on.