Thursday, October 25, 2012

Whoa Pumpkin

On Sunday after church we decided we would go to the pumpkin patch. We have visited the same farm for several years. It's THIS one and again HERE. Over the years it has gotten more and more commercialized...more glam...more money. Last year we were horrified. What used to be a nice place to get pumpkins, run around outside, pet the animals, run the corn maze had turned into a three ring circus with food vendors and mylar balloons! Seriously? Mylar balloons? All the kids wanted to go on a hay ride. It was $25.00 for a 10 minute ride for our family. They wanted to sling pumpkins...that was too expensive too. It was too much for us.
So, this year we decided not to go back. We love the place we cut down our Christmas tree and we noticed earlier that they were growing pumpkins in the adjoining fields. We like this place because we can go get our tree and that's it. Well, the guy does give the kids a candy cane. But, the point of it for us is to enjoy each other, select a tree while running around together.
Oh no, when we arrived we realized too late that this would not be just a pumpkin patch. As we pulled in we noticed a new barn. A huge bright red barn. Hmmmm. We also noticed zillions of cars. Uh-oh. Then as we parked we spotted something we REALLY didn't want to see. A bouncy house. Gulp. And, food vendors, and horse rides, and playground...and....
Now, we are not against any of these things. But, what we wanted was to run around a field and get pumpkins. That's it. Of course as soon as the kids saw all the the mini carnival...they were no longer really interested in picking pumpkins.
I should also explain that we are working really hard to spend know that really hard thing called living within your means. After back to school shopping and vacation we are broke. Anyway, we are on a strict budget which doesn't include funds for horse rides on top of pumpkins.
In order to even enter the field you had to put on a plastic wrist band (so carnival like). In order to enter the area of the bouncy house, corn maze, playground, horse ride, had to pay $9.00 per person! Yikes! $63.00!! Plus you have to pay more for horse rides, hay rides, etc. We sucked it up, huddled up and told the kids, No. No to everything that costs money except a pumpkin.
Now on to the pumpkins. The shock of the price of pumpkins! Who would pay $25.00 for a pumpkin? I took this photo to show you how ridiculous the prices were. I can go to Safeway and get one of the midsize pumpkins for $3.99. Really? Why are pumpkins in a muddy field that I have to pick myself more expensive? Ridiculousness I say!
We almost left but decided to let the kids get one the 2-4 dollar range.
This proved difficult. I'm sure every other parent had the same idea. And, due to the extended sunny weather we had this year the pumpkins grew huge! We looked and looked to find 7 smallish pumpkins.
This is me joking that I found a pumpkin we could afford. The joke was on me! This little thing was 79 cents! I balked at the price so they offered me a discount. I got four of them for $2.00.
I was surprised to find the wheelbarrow use was free! Yeah!
BG and Sis had a great time watching this horse eat his hay. They really, really, really wanted to have a pony ride. It did tug at my heart and make me feel guilty...for about 5 minutes until Cam snapped me out of it. Good thing.
It's our goal next year to find a field of pumpkins, just pumpkins...and mud. Lots of fresh air and the mountains in the background. The birds flying overhead. And kids running through mud undistracted by glitz.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

First Place

First I should say that in July Cam earned his black belt in TKD!! I neglected to announce that fabulous news! My boys are loving TKD!
This past weekend Cam and Mr. P attended a tournament. They both won first place for their age group/belt level for sparring AND forms!
So proud of them!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Works For Me - Books

We love the library! Over the summer we visited our local branch about once a week. All of the kids now want to check out lots and lots of books. Five kids multiplied by lots of books equals.....LOTS of books! Most weeks we check out about 50 books. EEEK!

Here's what I do to keep the books together. I need to be able to find them when it's time to return the books. So far...we've never lost a book. Will that statement jinx me?

The Rules:

1. All books go into a big basket on the hearth.

2. If you take a book to your room it has to go back in the basket. I browse the bedrooms and look for library tags and return them to the basket as needed....not everyone gets them back there.

3. Library books cannot leave the house. Other books can go in the car or to appointments etc. NOT library books.

At the end of the week when it's time to return them I have two bags to put them in. But, the librarian recently told me that she has seen moms (with lots of kids) bring a suitcase on wheels for the books. Genius!! No more broken arms from the weight of all those books.

Here's our library basket. It can't really hold all 50 books so sometimes the overflow goes on the hearth next to the basket. But, it's all in one place. Works for me!
Movies/CD's from the library...they are another story. Not so easy to find. Phooey!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall is Here!

I love Fall!! And we have had a beautiful beginning to the season this year. The whole month of September and the first part of October was rainless....that is unheard of around here. Beautiful I tell you. Sunshine galore!

Now we are into the cold weather and rainy days. I still love Fall. We've had a fire in the fireplace most weeks. I love the smoky smell left in my house the next day. It's so fun to cuddle up in the living room and warm up. We all love to watch the flames. After the kids go to bed Cam and I sit in the quiet and enjoy it. The quiet is amazing!

What else do I love about Fall? Hot drinks. I love a cup of hot tea. GoodEarth green tea with lemongrass is the best...also love black tea, coffee, cocoa, and cider. The yummy casseroles and plenty of comfort food have been churning out of the kitchen too. A little Mac-n-cheese, pot roast, a roast turkey, and lots of soup. We love soup in this family!

I love boots. It's Fall and I can wear my boots....rain boots, leather boots, black ones, brown boots....I really want some more boots. And sweaters and jeans and coats and scarves and mittens. Oh my!

There is so much outside to love too. The leaves are turning brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow. I love the sound of crunching leaves under my feet. The fog covers the water and islands in the early part of the day. It looks like a big pillowy blanket.

I got to go to The Farm on a field trip with my little ones. What a fun and special day. We had a great time going on a hay ride, playing on the playground, visiting the animals and picking pumpkins too.
What do you love about Fall? Also, I love to decorate my front porch for the season. Do you? If so, take a picture, post it, leave a link in the comments so I can see a picture of your front porch.
Kairos Moments:
The sunrise today caught my eye. Brilliant shades of pink and red across the sky.
An eagle flew over my van while driving to the gym. Stunning.
I didn't feel good the other night and Sis uttered a spontaneous prayer for me. She said, "God, make Mommy feel better". So kind and precious.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hernia Alert

My busy wild girl has a hernia. Everybody keeps saying, "Ouch, poor baby". But, to tell you the truth she isn't in any pain. Occasionally she will say it hurts...and then she races off at warp speed. She is jumping, somersaulting, kicking, skipping and blasting through the day.

We are waiting for the Dr. to call and tell us when the surgery will be. Not my favorite But, it's the only way to fix the hernia.

We think she was probably born with it. I have always noticed a slight swelling on one side of her pubic bone. I had the Dr. look at it last year at her well child visit. The Dr. thought that it was normal asymmetry and possible swelling from lymph nodes when she was sick. I have had Cam look at it numerous time too. Because it would come and go and was very slight it has gone on for a long time.

But, recently it has become more pronounced. Cam looked at it this past weekend and while pushing on it could feel it slip back into the abdominal wall. He declared, "a hernia!". Off to the Dr. and then an ultrasound and yes indeed it's a hernia.
But, meanwhile....screaming, zooming and playing are the norm. I wonder if she'll slow down at all the day of the surgery? Maybe an hour or two?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Just Use It

When I was a little girl I was a saver. If someone gave me a pretty bar of soap I would keep it unused. As I grew up and got my own home I decorated with pretty towels, pillows, and other things that were just for looks. Not to be used.

For years I would dry off with an old worn out towel so that my new fluffy ones would stay nice. I'd put my pretty pillows on a chair at bedtime. I think that with age I've realized that time is short and I should enjoy....or use the things I have. I should enjoy drying off with those nice towels.

 I've taken a look around my house and decided to get  some things out and enjoy them. When Cam's dad died he left us a trunk full of old heirlooms. In the trunk were six old quilts. I love quilts! But, these quilts were old, and not in great what to do with them. They have been in a box for 9 years.

I opened the box and took them out. I talked it over with Cam. Should we use them, sell them, or store them? They wouldn't sell for much and sticking them back into a box just doesn't seem right. So, I took out my favorite ones. I am really enjoying them.

They may get damaged or used up. That's okay. Better than sitting in a box unseen for generations to come.

I've got more Just Use It items coming out of boxes and closets and I'll post them soon.

I put this sweet little quilt on Sissy's bed. It looks so cute.
I draped this pretty scalloped edged quilt over a chair in my bedroom. So cheery.
What is your Use It philosophy? What do you store or decide to use? Take a picture of something you are taking out to use. Post it to your blog and leave the link in the comments here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We Love Kids

Today I was at Mr. P's classroom volunteering. So fun! I really have a great time being in the classroom (no surprise...I did get my teaching degree).

I love kids. Cam loves kids. Our kids love kids. This makes me so happy.

In the grocery store, at church, at school, in the neighborhood....everywhere I go I talk to kids, smile at them in passing, wave at them or give a wink. Cam does the same. We are drawn to kids. I find kids fun. I love their honesty and zest for life. I have always loved to be with kids and spend time talking to them. Always.

This has rubbed off on our kids. They especially love their cousins and LOVE it when they get to come over and stay with us. It warms my heart.

My niece Payton climbed up in bed with Mr. P at bedtime. She pulled up the blanket and asked for a book. Ten minutes later they were both asleep. So precious.
Sis loved helping Aspen play basketball.

Uncle Cam getting smooches from Aspen and Mr. P sandwiched in the middle of a snuggle fest.
Busy Guy was having so much fun playing with Payton. They were hysterical!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Works For Me

I will be regularly sharing something that Works For Me. I love to organize and I thought I'd share with all of you ways that I keep our lives/house/car/schedules/accessories/junk in order...or at least try to.

When school started back up I began using this little white board to detail the afternoon. It really helps me have things ready when the boys get off the bus. They come home hungry (are kids ever not hungry?) and need a snack while doing homework. And...It helps me to have a dinner plan. Ever have one of those nights when it's time to eat and everything is still frozen. Uh-huh.

It is great for the kids too. Mr.P and Busy Guy come in and look at the board. I change it up a bit each day....different colors, new greetings, I might tell them to hug a sibling instead or do both. It has really eliminated everyone wanting a different snack. I rarely have to use my stand-by phrase of, "I'm not wearing a name tag that says Flo and this is NOT a restaurant!". :)

Also, the standard, "what's for dinner" question is already answered. Now when they ask I just point to the board.

Works for me!

What tips do you have for keeping the after school time organized?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Why Blog

I have limited time in my day. Sometimes I wonder if I should be taking time to blog. Maybe I should be cleaning, organizing or gasp, playing with the kids.

I continue to blog because I like to write on my blog. That's funny to say because really I do not like to write at all and would rather do hundreds of algebra problems than write even one small essay. But, writing on my blog is different. There is no grade, no red-ink corrections, no limitations. And there are comments...only positive ones. You can't beat that.

I must tell you that I do worry about my grammar. By the time I carve out a few minutes to put a blog post together and add some photos (on a horrid old barely working computer) I don't have time to edit. I just spell check and hit publish. Sigh. I know it is not great writing. But, that keeps me from worrying and obsessing which would make me not like doing it anymore. I get to just throw my thoughts out there. No pressure. Sorry for you red pen teacher types (ironically I'm one of them) who notice all of my errors.

Also, I like to share with others. Share my family, my struggles, my successes. Plus, it's a nice way to keep track of my rapidly changing kids. I had the first year of my blog's posts published into a book. It's just a paperback thing but the kids and Cam really enjoy sitting and looking at it. I plan to do this with the others years too. It was about $60.00 to have it done.

I also like to read blogs. I keep up with the ones listed on my sidebar and a few others. I like each of the blogs for different reasons. My favorite blogs give me parenting advice or inspiration, share their faith, show me their family, make me laugh, make me cry, give me ideas, tempt me with recipes and generally teach me something while providing a nice mental escape.

Do you read blogs? Which ones are your favorites and why? Do you blog? What do you like most about blogging? Why do you continue to do it? Or what would you like to read more of on my blog?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bedtime Stories

One of my favorite times of the day is story time....right before bedtime. The kids are all snugly in pj's and cozy next to me. Or, they are wiggly and talkative. It's always a bit of both.

It's been a challenge the last few years to have story time with a wide range of ages. The big boys like a chapter books. The little ones like picture books. Some of the kids can sit very still and listen....some (Sis) wiggle and talk and run off.

Cam and I have tried different things like splitting up and each taking separate kids to read. But, lately it has mostly worked to have everyone in the living room to sit and listen to the same story. I try to read the younger kids books during the day or right before we settle for the main story.

We just finished reading Charlotte's Web. I loved it! The kids did too. I figured out along the way how to best get the little ones (Sis) to sit and listen. Get a rope! No, just kidding....a little. These are the rules:
1. Pick a place to sit, you have to stay there the whole story time. NO getting up.
2. No talking. Thank you.
3. Sis MUST sit next to me. :)

With these simple rules it goes much smoother. When someone gets chatty I just give them my Teacher Look. Cam really appreciates getting The Look.

Back to the story. Love, love, love. What a beautiful story. I love the characters. I love the descriptions of the farm and of the changing seasons. The friendships are moving. And yes, I cried at the end.

It made things extra special that while reading the story we had two big spiders right outside our picture window in the living room. For weeks we watched them catch bugs in their webs...and grow fatter. The kids were fascinated watching the spiders working on their webs.

A couple of nights the little ones would drop off to sleep while listening. Sis just wiggles, jumps, twists, spins, shouts right up until the moment you make her sit still and then she is out! Story time has been a great quiet end to the day.

Sweet baby boy all tuckered out from school and hard playing all day long.
A Kairos moment. We were getting in the car at the preschool and saw these beautiful webs. The morning dew was making them glisten...just like in Charlotte's Web. My cell phone camera does not do them justice.
Other recent Kairos moments:
I got lost looking into my sweet girl's milk chocolate eyes. Beautiful!
The thick fog blanketing the islands outside my bedroom window.
We are trying to decide what to read next. What are your favorite books to read your kids?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Church Love

On Saturday we attended the baptism and chrismation of a family. It was so lovely to watch them come into the church together. Our amazing choir director took this photo of us.

I love this photo. It shows one of the many reasons why I love going to church with my family so, so much. I love the quiet time to stand with my favorite people. I love to hug on them. Hold them. Rub their back. Kiss the top of their heads. Hold their hands.

There is no housework or other pressing distractions to pull at my attention. For a couple of hours it is time to worship and quiet my mind....and love on my family.

What are your favorite times or places to connect with your family?


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