Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Little Revealing...

I should start with a disclaimer.  The pictures below may be a little too revealing for some of you.  Not inappropriate-revealing, just maybe too much of an insight into my real life.

I'd like to think that most of you imagine I have a nice and organized little home.  The fact remains that not all areas of my house are what anyone would call tidy.  But I've got a list.  And those areas are at least on a list to be straightened up.  There's hope, right?

Our girls have their clothes in two different closets.  Chris custom-built one of them to be shared.  But right now, they're a mess.  We're in that uncomfortable time of year where we're wearing some winter stuff and some spring stuff so the closets are a disaster.  I was going to straighten them up this weekend moving spring/summer stuff down to the bottom and putting their winter stuff up high.  But, it's chilly today and makes me think I should wait a little bit longer.

Seriously, it's not only the messiness that might shock you, but the sheer volume of clothes these kids have. 

Closet # 1. 
Sophia's stuff, age (almost 8), is on the right.  Her clothes (spring, summer, fall and winter) fit on the bottom rod.  Anna's (age 6) is on the left.  Considerably more clothes. Yes, I realize this closet is a disaster....but, I'm letting it go another day or two before I intervene.  Jeans are supposed to be nicely folded in the middle cubbies, with shoes below, but something happened.  Yep, my kids got involved. 

Closet #2.
Isabella (age 4 1/2).  Shocking, but the entire closet is filled with her clothes.  That's what happens when you're the third girl.  Sister # 1 passes clothes down to sister # 2, who gets more clothes at birthdays and Christmases and generally has a different fashion style.  Then you inherit both of their clothes, and add your own at birthdays and Christmases because it's nice to get a few new things too.  Then you put them all in your closet and it's a bit overwhelming!  Okay, it's ridiculously overwhelming.
Like I said, one 4-year-old girl's closet. 

So the plan as they enter their teen years will have to be one big closet of shared clothes.  They are going to have to be pretty close in size for several years I think since they are so close in age.  Here's hoping at least!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Great Room Exchange

We are a big family by today's standards. There's six of us, and when we moved into our home, it had 3 bedrooms.  We knew we'd need to expand our house and luckily I have a handy husband who finished out our basement and our house became a 5 bedroom.  We have done lots of room exchanges since we moved in about 3 1/2 years ago.  Our "office" has been in 3 different rooms.  And each of the kids have been in 2-3 different rooms.  It's not that we like to rearrange and re-paint (Chris hates, well I think it's fun!).  It's just that our needs keep changing. 

At one point we thought all the kids would eventually have their own room.  But the fact remains that we will always need some type of office.  Both of us do plenty of work from home and Chris has his schoolwork.  And all of my volunteer activities keep my house full of binders and boxes.  So Chris and I realized our kids would never all have their own room.  This left us with a dilemma.  Sam would naturally get his own room being the only boy, and Sophia had hers since she was the oldest.  That left Anna and Isabella sharing.  That's okay for now since neither one of them really would want to be alone, but eventually....they might.  So, what to do? 

Obviously the most natural idea would be to put them all together, right?!  We like the idea of the girls sharing a room.  The more they share space, the better they play together, and we hope, the closer they become as sisters.  That's the idea at least.  Plus there's a big value in learning to share everything!  So we put all three girls in one room after Christmas.  We figured they'd have a little harder time falling asleep, but that hasn't really been the case.  And it seems like they really are playing better together.  Sophia is naturally a loner so getting her to play more with her sisters has been great.  We keep telling them their sisters will always be their best here's hoping they believe us! 

We've even thought about knocking the wall down between the two bedrooms downstairs and giving them one large room - more like a sleeping porch I guess.  But we're going to wait and see how it goes.  That's a little permanent for a family that switches things up so much!  But I do think it's a little funny that this family of 6 is back where we 3 bedrooms. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Confession #4

The other day I was watching Wipe Out with my kids.  It's pretty rare that they watch any tv.  We don't have cable and PBS doesn't reach us any more.  So, there's not much on for them.  Not watching tv means my kids also don't watch commercials.  I LOVE that!  They have no idea the products that are out there just waiting for them to nag me to buy.  But on this occasion, Anna saw a commercial for Pop Tarts.  We rediscovered Pop Tarts last summer in an effort to help them be a little more self-sufficient at breakfast time.  That's a lie.  I wanted to stay in bed as long as possible and found they could feed themselves Pop Tarts while I enjoyed the comfort of my bed. 

On this commercial, they showed Pop Tarts going into a toaster and coming out steamy.  Anna looked at me and said, "our Pop Tarts don't even have to be warm!"  Um, yep darling, keep believing that.  The poor kids have never had warm Pop Tarts.  Come to think of it, the way they enjoy oatmeal is equally pathetic.  I turn on the hot tap water, add it to the bowl of instant oatmeal, and walla!  Oatmeal's ready kids! 

So either I'm ridiculously lazy at breakfast time, depriving my children of some of life's great pleasures, or I'm a genius.  Either way, it's working for me so far!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring the park

This week we're spending every possible minute outside.  Even though it's been extra warm the last few days, it's been ridiculously windy too.  Not the type of day I can sit outside and read a book while the kids play.  Those are my favorites!   Luckily, the wind hasn't slowed them down or made them want to come inside.  But it has dried out the kids' eyes and every time Sam wakes up more dirt has worked it's way out of his eyes.  Poor kid.  It might be because Chris never finished the sand box part of our playground out back, so instead the kids have taken all their sandbox toys out to dig in the dirt.  All day long. 

Yesterday we hit the parks in Valley Center.  Then we went by our church to the empty fenced in area that will soon become a playground.  We've ordered some equipment and now we're just waiting for it to arrive so we can begin assembling it.  The kids are almost as excited as I am!  I was taking measurements, and the kids were just running around.  It's amazing that kids can have a ton of fun in an empty fenced in area. 

The Boundless Playground :: Entrance to the very enjoyable and kid friendly playground.
Today we went to our favorite park, Sunrise Park (in Sedgwick County Park).  If you haven't been there, you're missing a lot - and I don't say that lightly.  It's a "boundless park" which means it's more accessible for all kids. My kiddos LOVE the swing where they can all swing together. 

And perfect for Sophia, there are a ridiculous amount of things to climb on, hang from, and spin around on. The only problem with this park is it's huge.  Like, lose your children huge.  Like, wear matching shirts so you can find each other huge.  So I always pair Sophia and Anna up together, and then manage Sam and Isabella myself. They come home happy and worn out just in time for lunch and naps.  Can't beat that!  Here's hoping tomorrow's another warm day!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dear Jesus,

Sometimes, Sam would rather play with his cars than come sit at the table for dinner.  And when that happens, it usually leads to a few tears as well.  Yesterday, at lunch, Sam did not particularly enjoy it when I took his two cars out of his hands and made him sit down to eat with us.  He was crying and when he cries the tear drops just flow.  He hates that!  He wipes and wipes until the drops are gone.  So he finally sat down at the table.  We prayed.  Then we began to eat.  Sam said, "I need to pray, I need to pray."  Then this followed.

"Dear Jesus,
Please help my tear drops not get on my clothes.  Amen."

And you know what?  I think God answered his prayer.  His clothes stayed clean.  He ate some of his lunch.  Then he got to play with his cars for a few minutes before nap time.  Good times!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ordinary Mom

Today Chris came home for lunch and asked how our day was going.  The kids had the day off for the start of Spring Break.  They were having a ball.  I didn't answer so Chris asked the kids how my day was going.

My darling daughter, Sophia looked at me, then looked at him and said "She's doing I fine job of being an ordinary mom."  Lovely. 

Chris wasn't sure I heard her so he had her say it again as he chuckled.  I then said, that I had indeed spent my morning doing the laundry, dishes and generally cleaning up after my children, so I guess I was doing a fine job of being an ordinary mom.  Glad he found it so funny. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The rule at our house is everyone takes naps until they're 5 years old. With our oldest, she just rested in her bed for an hour that last year because she really didn't need the sleep.  But, she needed the rest time (and so did I).  She watched the clock and as soon as she could get up she would.  All of our others have needed the sleep.  Now, on Sundays our rule is that EVERYONE (yep, even Mom and Dad) takes an hour to rest/nap.  Part of our practicing the Sabbath and frankly, I love it!

When Anna turned 5 she was excited to stop taking naps.  Unfortunately, she still needs the sleep even at 6.  So a couple of times a week I'll tell her to come lay in my bed next to me and snuggle.  I lay there and read a few pages of a book and within about 10 seconds she's asleep.  Works every time.  Plus, she doesn't feel like I'm making her take a nap, she just knows her body needs more sleep and thinks its funny. 

Last week, she laid down and our dog jumped on the bed.  Not unusual of course since it's more her bed than ours.  But Sadie loves Anna and just wanted to lay right up beside her on her pillow so she could smother her in kisses.  I finally convinced the dog to move away from her face.  Sadie then fell asleep across Anna's legs.  It was pretty cute. 

 A little bit later, Chris surprised us by coming home early.  He quickly decided to join them. 

***Please ignore the random blankets and pillows piled everywhere.  The kids drag them in from all over the house.  Also, excuse the furniture.  While the 1970's are not my favorite decade for furniture, this set and the bedding were free hand-me-downs and they are serving their purpose.  Normally, nobody sees this room. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A typical Saturday Morning

Having four kids means I'm never bored.  Never.  I can't remember the last time I felt bored, or had privacy while going to the bathroom, but that's off topic.  So today I'm going to share a couple of pictures that show you what I mean.  I've got great kids who like to entertain me.  For some reason, they love to stay in their jammies.  Saturdays are perfect because they can stay in them longer.  Sometime the kids have layers and layers of jammies on.  I can't forget the socks which, by the way are probably the best thing about playing ball in the summertime. 
3 jammie shirts + 1 nightgown tucked in + 2 jammie pants + 2 pair of wild knee highs = 2 ridiculous little girls!

They thought they were hilarious!  Our dog, Sadie, was less impressed!

Like Father, Like Son

Both of the men in my life needed haircuts this weekend.  Chris believes in keeping it short, and lately Sam has been waking up with bed head.  Which for some reason, I forget to fix before we leave the house.  Poor kid.  So, we gave them both a trim.  Luckily, only one of them cried during it.  After a quick shower Chris got dressed in his usual, white tee and jeans.  Sam came out of his room looking surprisingly similar. Ignore the holes in the jeans.  Saturdays are laundry days at our house and we're always low on clean clothes.
Afterwards, they needed some snuggle time.  Haircuts can wear a guy out! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Loving Turtle

Anna came home from school the other day with a gift from a little boy in her class.  He had painted an elaborate and rather large turtle on a couple of sheets of paper taped together. 

On it, is written "The Loving Turtle." 

She was pretty excited that he gave it to her.  She's a girl who likes to feel special.   I left it at that not wanting to make a bigger deal of it and embarrass her or give her any wrong ideas.  I figure she probably said she liked it and he handed it to her.  Who knows. (Parent teacher conferences are next week, so I can always find out more then!)

Then in walked her Dad.  He had other plans.

He quickly started asking lots of questions and found out that Anna plays with this boy at school sometimes, but one of her best friends thinks he is her boyfriend.  Anna said she didn't really think that was true.  Ugghh.  It starts early.  She's only 6! 

Tomorrow, Anna is taking a painting to this little boy.  She said he gave her a painting so she should give him one too.  Makes sense.  It's on a framed canvas - a little over the top as a gift to a kindergarten boy, but it was from a craft kit we already had and I had promised she could open. 

It's a sailboat.  Luckily she didn't label it the Love Boat!  Yet.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Optional Challenge"

Optional Challenge

These were two very important words yesterday.  Two words I should have noticed at the top of Sophia's homework page.  Two words neither of us noticed until it was too late.  At 5:00pm everyday Sophia gets out her homework.  Usually, I can help her as I clean up the kitchen and begin to prepare dinner.  Last night, she started with her math homework.  Not her favorite.  She can do it, but not quickly.  It takes time and she is easily frustrated.  (Just like her mama!)  She started her word problem. 

It went something like this.... Tara was doing (insert some random chore) for her aunt.  Her aunt offered to pay her $1.00 for each of the 4 weeks.  Or, she could pay her one penny on day one, two pennies on day two, four pennies on day three, and so on doubling each day. 

Sophia needed to show how she would figure this out and which pay choice to take.  **Note, the sheet never really said to find the final answer, something I realized later.  So, Sophia drew out a chart for the 30 days and started doing the math.  She usually does math in her head instead of writing out the numbers.  That obviously had to change.  We had to get out a separate sheet of paper as we quickly were adding numbers in the thousands and millions.  Yikes.  She's in 2nd grade!  But I showed her how to do the big math problems one number at a time ("and carry the one" was said a lot!).

An HOUR later, she was done.  She felt awesome and couldn't wait to show her teacher how she learned how to do math into the millions.  Then, I showed her the other side of her homework, and mentioned her other two reading assignments.  Ouch, I watched her deflate right there. 

Two hours later, I had learned a very important lesson.  I will now look at the top of the page for those two very important words.  Optional Challenge. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tax Time

Saturday morning I took a file folder of paperwork into our local tax preparer's office.  I'm not going to name the company, but it rhymes with H & R Sock - if you get my drift.  I refuse to do my own taxes.  It's not that I don't think I'm capable, I have a masters degree in business. I'm a data junkie and love numbers, charts and graphs.  I just don't want the responsibility for getting it right.  I don't want to worry about being audited because I filled out a few boxes incorrectly.   I'm a big believer in the "Peace of Mind" program.  (I also like that if you go back from year to year, your information automatically populates most of the fields and that saves me time!)

Plus, our taxes our complicated.  Chris has a full-time job and freelances on the side from home.  I have three part-time jobs, two of which are primarily out of my is in the ministry which has an entirely different set of rules apparently.  So, I don't do my own taxes.

That being said, I'm ridiculously organized.  I had everything in my folder, paper clipped according to the different tax forms, everything labeled, all my itemized deductions clearly written up and calculated.  Everything was there and it was orderly.

When I arrived I received an unnecessary amount of praise just for showing up on the day/time of my appointment and for being on time.  Isn't that normal?  Apparently not.  Then I handed her my folder.  Lots of praise for my organization (which I enjoy because so far it's one of the few God-given talents I seem to actually posses).  Then she started.  Suddenly, there was a lot of groaning.  Lots of "I can't believe I have to do that..." Several, "I'm so sorry, this is going to cost so much..."  Nice.  And a ridiculous amount of times she had to get up and go ask her co-worker for assistance.  Then, she got out the book.  An actual paper manual on tax preparation.  It didn't look good for me at all. 

Two hours and ten minutes later we came to a stopping point.  Nope, I wasn't signing papers and forking over a ridiculously large amount of cash to pay for her services.  She was essentially giving up.  She had a list of questions to ask her boss early next week to make sure she didn't do anything wrong.  Then, after that happens, I'll get to go back in, sign a lot of papers and fork over a ridiculous amount of money for her services. 

Her lack of confidence was scary.  The tentative amount she quoted me for my bill was even scarier!  But more frustrating is that I will have to wait an extra week for my refund to come.  Maybe it's about time to go to an actual accountant....somehow, I think it actually might be cheaper!  And maybe the "Peace of Mind" I purchase will actually give me some peace of mind. 

Happy tax preparing everyone! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bringing the fever down

Fevers are never fun.  Sam and I spent Monday morning running errands - shopping.  And he was such a good little guy and didn't even need to be bribed with a new Hot Wheel.  Then, on our ride home he started crying out saying he was feeling sick.  By the time we were home, his fever was spiking and he couldn't be comforted.  Poor thing.  It was awfully hard to make lunch for his sisters when he didn't want me to set him down. 

Throughout the day he got progressively worse.  He kept telling me he just wanted to go lay down.  Poor guy. By 8pm, he was at 103.6.  Yikes.  His face was bright red and totally on fire.  A couple of baths later, plenty of medicine and lots of snuggle time...his fever finally broke in the middle of the night. But not before I could snap this picture of him relaxing with his daddy.

Yesterday we went to the doctor because he kept telling us his mouth hurt, not his teeth, but his mouth.  So my guess was his throat.  The Dr. confirmed a severe sore throat complete with sores in the back of his throat.  We also left with an inhaler and breathing mask to check for possible asthma.  Not fun at all.  On an unrelated note, Sam is now just one pound less than Isabella.  They share the same shoe size and are only about 2 inches apart in height.  And they are 2 years apart!! 

Today Sam is feeling a bit better.  He's finally had enough energy to play with his cars for a little while (when he's not sitting on my lap snuggling!)  I'm hoping he starts to feel better soon because it's so hard to see your baby sick!