Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Break So Far

I have such a long list of things I would like to do during spring break!  It's wonderful to have a chance to shift gears and do different things. 

We flew kites!  We haven't done that in years.  I have always loved flying kites.  Fish found a cheap R2D2 kite at Walmart last week and I had to buy it for him because I have had a crush on R2D2 since I was three.  The kite flew just great. 

We deep cleaned the toy closet!  Yay for organized toys!

I have also been helping the boys to deep clean their room.  They are very capable of doing a basic cleaning of their room and so I almost never need to bother with it, but every few months I need to supervise a very thorough cleaning and organizing. 

We have played outside a LOT and jumped jumped jumped on that trampoline.  Love love love the trampoline.

We drove across a good chunk of lovely Kansas farmland to visit my amazing friend for an afternoon.  Six of her seven children plus my eight made for quite a lively house.  The kids enjoyed sword fighting and playing games on the Wii and chasing the cat while my friend and I had a lovely visit. 

This afternoon I had another biopsy done on the abnormal growth on my thyroid gland.  I had one done in 2011 and the results were benign, so that is the expected outcome, but it needs to be kept an eye on.  I have not been very stressed or worried about the procedure this time.   However, the after effects have been uncomfortable.  I don't remember this from the last biopsy.   I remember not enjoying having a needle stuck repeatedly in my neck, but I don't remember being anywhere near this sore afterward.  The rest of today was shot... I have pretty much been in bed trying not to move.  I hope I feel better tomorrow because...that list, you know?  So much I want and need to do. 

I am so grateful for my older kids.  Fish made a delicious dinner and they all have helped me today.  "Oh, Mom, it's okay, stay in bed.  We will take care of things."  So even if I'm out of commission tomorrow as well I know they will take care of me. 

And maybe I need rest more than anything else on that list of mine. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Consistency

One thing that I have learned over the years is that when you're dealing with kids, consistency is key.  It doesn't really matter what job chart or reward system you use.  What matters is that you follow through with it consistently.  You can't just create a system or plan for them and expect them to keep up with it on their own.  You must be prepared to continually be the enforcer. 

My "family store" keeps getting fancier and fancier.  I just so loved the glass jars I had to buy more (they're only a couple bucks each at Hobby Lobby when they're on sale.)  And then I went to the local specialty candy store recently and stocked up on some seriously fun candy.  (Do you remember how when I started the family store I was trying not to have it be full of sugar?  Ha!  It's pretty much all candy now!)  Gummy sharks, chocolate coins, hand-selected flavors of salt water taffy, and POP ROCKS.  My kids adore Pop Rocks.  I adore Pop Rocks.  Admit it, you do too.



But it doesn't matter how awesome it is and how delicious the candy is.  It only works as a motivator when I am consistent about it.  If the kids know that I actually am going to open the family store fairly regularly (we shoot for Saturday mornings and most of the time we make it) then when I say "who wants a Badger Buck?" they come running to do my bidding.  But if I'm always too tired or too busy and the family store gets pushed back and back and back then they don't care anymore. 

And that's happened many times.  So we try again.  When I start being consistent about it again, I am always amazed and pleased at how well it works.  Even when the candy is running low and the choices aren't great, they are still eager participants.  It's all about consistency.  

March Onward

Here it is the middle of March already.  There is a lot going on around here.  I will tell you about some of the things we have been doing lately.   

I bought a year subscription to abcmouse.com for Peanut and Frog.  I have mixed feelings about these learning websites for little kids.  The boys did Starfall and the girls did Reading Eggs and I never felt like they really helped that much.  My kids somehow always managed to spend 80 percent of their time on the reward games or changing their avatar's hair and only a little bit of time actually doing the learning stuff.  However, I decided to give the world of online preschool learning another go.  I needed something to help Peanut review and solidify her letters and sounds... something that would help keep what I already was teaching her on her mind.  It is also useful to have something to keep Frog and Peanut busy and out of my hair while I work with the older girls.  Finally, it is a useful carrot: "once you finish this reading lesson with me you can be on abcmouse."  It is working great as a carrot and as a "keep them out of my hair" tool.  I don't know how much it's helping with the learning.  Peanut is doing better with her letters and sounds lately, but I can't tell if it's the website or just her maturing.  

Roo and Rabbit can't stop playing the piano.  They both are getting very comfortable with the notes on the staff, and so are finding that they can pick up and "read" so many books of music.  It's so fun for them right now they just want to play the piano all the time.  There's music in my home almost all day.  I love it, and it gets me to sit down and play more often myself.  I enjoy that.  I believe in the power of music.  I think it is an antidote to all this electronics addiction our kids (and us!) are experiencing.  

Meanwhile, the Rabbit has lost all motivation to do her school work.  I practically have to sit on her to get her to do anything.  She is going to be doing math into July.  Sigh. Maybe we just need a break.  We skipped our last break in favor of an earlier summer vacation, and then aligned our next break with Plumfield's spring break so we'd be out at the same time as the boys, which pushed it back two weeks.  So this coming break is long overdue and we're all desperately looking forward to it.  

Especially me.  My creative juices seem to rise up with the sap in early spring.  I need to Make Something.  I do not have time to Make Something.  But I Need to.  I bought fabric for another set of those cute skirts for my girls.  I am so glad that Roo doesn't think she is too old for them yet, but this may be the only time I make a set for all five of my girls.   It's been three years since I made the last set.  So this is important.  These skirts have been such a cherished part of their girlhoods.  

The line of fabric I chose for the skirts is "Poetry" by Moda.  Lovely, soft florals.  I love working with beautiful fabric.  It makes me so happy.  

I will try to get some pictures posted soon!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Clouds

Recently we enjoyed watching a magnificent display of storm clouds building above our front yard.  They were moving away from us, so there was no danger, just an absolutely spectacular show.  It included the moon, the pink tinge of sunset, rapidly expanding cumulonimbus clouds, and a bit of lightning.  I love stuff like this, and I love it that my kids love it too.









Thursday, March 9, 2017

Butter Bites

I am grateful for our fridge lock.  It works well at this stage to keep the twins out of the fridge.  Boy, do they love the fridge.  For awhile their favorite thing was to grab the bottles in the door and carry them off and mess with them.

But lately, they have another passion: butter cubes.  They know where to find them, how to unwrap them, and that they are delicious.  If anyone leaves the fridge unlatched, I am certain to find one or more gnawed sticks of butter lying around.  It happened five times this last week.  I have to admit, those little teeth marks make me giggle.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Evening

The twins are finally asleep, and I get to type with both hands!  I should go to bed too, but this is too good of an opportunity to pass up.  I'm just going to blab on and on about stuff.

Bean is reading The Other Side of Heaven by John H. Groberg.  I've been trying to get him to read it for awhile now and it finally took.  He's loving it.  As I knew he would if I could just get him started.  It's hard to get teenagers to do stuff like read a book you want them to read.  I remember when I was about Bean's age my dad gave me a copy of Dale Carnegie's classic How to Win Friends and Influence People.  Goodness knows I needed it.  But I didn't read it.  Because I was a teenager and he was Dad.  That was stupid of me.  I wish I had.  Sorry, Dad.

Bean is DRIVING now.  He has a learner's permit.  I've only driven with him once so far and I found myself completely freaking out, to my surprise.  "AAAAH!!!! My KID is DRIVING THIS CAAAAAAAAARRRRR!!!!"  Bean thought it was funny.  I'm grateful the Badger has been driving with him and teaching him.  I don't think that I'm going to be a very good driving teacher.  I'll potty train 'em, you teach 'em to drive, okay Honey?

They're going to grow up and move away!  Even those cute cuddly little twins that want to cling to me 24 hours a day.  Isn't that awful?

I remember when I was about Roo's age my mom used to put one hand on top of my head and then tap on it with her fist, like she was hammering me down.  "Stop growing!" she'd say.  Well, it didn't work.  I'm 37 and I have eight children.  Sorry, Mom.  I don't think it's going to work with Roo either.  Roo hasn't changed much over the last couple of years and she is still small for her age.  So it seems like this will last forever.  But she is on the verge of big changes.  Sigh.

I'm getting ready to make some improvements to my living room.  I've been waiting for this for a long time.  It means a lot to me and I'm really excited about it.  First up will be window treatments.  New lamps are also in order, and I have been looking everywhere for the perfect rug.  I still haven't found it yet, but I will.  There will be some other decorative items as well.  I can't wait!

I have to say, I'm not really crazy about most of the current home decor trends.  This whole mid-century thing?  Not my thing.  I have to look hard to find stuff I like.  I love the looking though.

The Rabbit is upset because Peanut went to a birthday party last week and Roo has been invited to one this week.  The Rabbit, despite the fact that she is friendliest person in our family, has not been invited to a birthday party outside our family in three years. She has lots of friends, but for some reason there just haven't been any birthday party invites for awhile.  I deliberately try to teach my children not to be jealous, but it takes time and maturity before those lessons fully sink in, especially for some kids.

The weather has been colder this weekend.  I don't mind a bit.  In my mind, February should be cold.
And I should go to bed.  Goodnight!

Egg

The Badger gave Frog a stuffed bear for his birthday last December.  Frog Loves his bear.  He named him Egg.  Isn't that the best name?  I just love this adorable fuzzy bear named Egg.  He makes me so happy.


I really loved stuffed animals when I was a kid.  They were cherished friends.  Bean and Fish were never really into stuffed animals when they were little, and that was kind of disappointing.  Now I have several kids that love and treasure their animals and I love to watch it.  Frog might be the most attached to his of any of my kids.  

A New Trampoline

One of the highlights of life when I was a kid was jumping on trampolines.  We never had one ourselves, nor did any of our neighbors or close friends.  Trampolines weren't very common in Minnesota back then (they were much more common in Utah for some reason.)  But every now and then we were visiting someone (usually in Utah) and they had a trampoline.  And I thought it was heaven.  

I wanted my kids to have one, and that finally happened back in 2010 when our neighbor in Oklahoma gave us one.  We got so much mileage out of that thing.  The kids were Always jumping on it.  The novelty never wore off.  Bean practically lived on it for a couple of years.  

One day in 2014 it broke.  One of the metal joints just snapped, we think because we had it on uneven ground for awhile.  That was a sad day.  

I've been wanting to replace it ever since, and we finally did!  We had some money we set aside each month last year as an incentive to help us stay on track with our family scripture study.  We were going to use it on a family trip, but we decided to put it toward a trampoline instead.  We made it a birthday present for the Rabbit.  

Here is a picture I snapped while the Badger was still working on putting up the net.  You can see the kids couldn't wait!


I think we got a good one; I read lots of reviews before buying, and we didn't buy the cheapest one.  We also made sure we got one with a high weight limit because my football lineman son weighs more than the weight limit on most tramps, and he LOVES to jump.  

As I read those reviews, I read about how many people think backyard trampolines are too dangerous.  The American Academy of Pediatrics wants to have them banned.  

Yes, they are dangerous.  We had a broken arm with our last trampoline.  However.  We also had kids that were getting a TON of exercise and staying in better shape.  Also, they were spending a lot less time on screens and using their imagination more.  It was well worth it, and I think there are plenty of other things kids have and do that are just as dangerous.  

We are pretty excited about our new trampoline!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Happy Birthday Rabbit!

NINE years ago now, my little Rabbit was born.  I have such fond memories of that day.


Oh, how I have loved these last nine years, being this little grl's mother!  She is so full of energy.  It is usually happy energy.  When it's not, she's as intense as a Kansas thunderstorm, but the sun comes out quickly again and the fun continues.

The Rabbit really cares about people.  She is so full of love.  She is often marvelously thoughtful.  She loves to be with friends and she loves to talk.

The Rabbit is very capable and competent and brave.  When she decides she's going to do something, she does it.  When she decides she's not going to do something, it's really hard to get her to.

Th Rabbit loves music.  She loves to sing and play the piano, and she has considerable talent.  Same with art and writing.  She says she wants to be an author when she grows up.

We had a fun family party for her.  She wanted Domino's Pizza-- not our family's usual pick, but a fun choice.


And then she saw this ice cream cake on Pinterest and that's what she wanted.  She Made Sure that I bought All the Right Ingredients for it, and she mostly put it together herself.  It turned out fabulous, and was a big hit, as you can see.






We gave her a couple of small presents: a book and an outfit for her doll.  There is also one large present that I will showcase in a later post.  I love this picture: such a typical Rabbit face.


Here are the clothes on the doll:



Happy birthday to my dear, dear Rabbit!

Leaf's Class

I would never have signed Leaf up for a gymnastics class if I hadn't had a voucher for a free one.  She's two... what's the point of signing her up for classes, right?  But I figured there was no point in letting the voucher go to waste.

Leaf LOVES her gymnastics class.  I have been very pleasantly surprised.  I have had so much fun taking her to the gym and watching her climb and balance and bounce.  I have long been a proponent of gymnastics for children-- the skills they develop in the gym spill over into every aspect of the rest of their lives.  But now I see that it can start when they are toddlers.  Balance, coordination, problem solving, listening, following directions... the list goes on.



Leaf excels at the climbing activities.  She hasn't figured out jumping yet, but the coach says that usually comes after they're two and a half.  It will be fun to watch her skills develop!

Still

When Frog was a baby, he loved to play with my hair, especially when he was falling asleep.  I loved the feeling of his chubby little fingers twining through my hair.

He still does this.  It's still his preferred method of falling asleep, when he can get away with it.  He does it throughout the day too, whenever he catches me sitting down.


I love it.  I will miss it when he grows out of it.