Monday, December 20, 2010

Wecome to the next few years...

Landon got ear tubes put in last week. They'll be in for the next few years, until his ears grow bigger and they fall out (or something like that). He can bathe by himself in treated water and go in swimming pools without wearing ear plugs but if he bathes with his siblings or goes in the hot tub or swimming in a lake, he has to wear ear plugs to keep bacteria out of his tubes.

How do you keep ear plugs in a one-year-old's ears?

You use an Ear Band-It, of course...Are you disturbed by this picture, too? The thing makes him look cross-eyed and smoosh-faced.

Oh well. Hopefully it works.

8th Annual Christmas-Costume Party

This is NOT another "tacky sweater" party. Oh no. A lot of the people who come wear sweaters that they would actually wear out in public and I certainly don't want to offend anyone by calling their clothes tacky.

Instead it's a party where you can wear your beautiful festive sweaters or think outside the box and come up with a Christmas-themed costume. And eat from a chocolate fountain.

Here are some of this year's best:

Mr. Peppermint:

A gift to God:

Christmas Sweater Gigi & Sugar Plum Princess Emma

A gift to Lee (and Lee):(this was great because Billie couldn't move her arms in the box so she had to drink from a straw and have her husband hand feed her the whole night!)
The winners: Reindeer Family
Rudolph, Dancer, Vixen & Prancer

aaand, of course, Grandpa Vern dressed as Santa:

George & Father John
Christmas Tree & her boy!

If you didn't make it this year, you should next year. For realz.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


My kids have had a whole slew of health issues this year.

I'm not really sure why but between the three of them, there has been multiple cases of pink eye, lots of double ear infections, some random rashes, a broken foot, a stitched up chin, and ear surgery.

Unfortunately for my kids, I have never personally experienced any of these issues so I can have sympathy for them, just not empathy.

I could tell Grady that I felt bad that he had to wear a cast, but I couldn't speak from experience and explain to him that it wouldn't hurt when they sawed it off his leg. And I can assure Emma that she'll still be beautiful with a little scar on her chin, but I couldn't really understand why the stitches itched so bad. And poor little Landon- I have no idea what ear infections feel like and why they kept him up at night so I could only give him some Motrin and pray that he could go back to sleep.

Since I'm a mom, you'd better believe that I'd willingly take on any of these ailments just so my kids wouldn't have to go through them, but for whatever reason, that's not the way things work, and my heart gets broken for them each time.

Well, folks, FINALLY this week, I was able to have some empathy for one of my kids:

I don't know what it feels like to have your ear drums cut open and to have tubes inserted. And I don't know what it feels like to wake up from general anesthesia in the arms of a strange lady. Heck, I don' t even know what Tylenol with Codine makes your head feel like.But I DO know why Landon was crying when I took this picture. I know how he felt when we put this little hospital gown on him. I understand what it felt like to have his diaper hanging out the back of his gown for all the world to see. (At least he got to wear cute little diapers with his gown and not stuffed mesh underwear- right ladies?!). I know how drafty and stiff and uncomfortable those gowns can be. And to Landon I can honestly, empathetically say that I hope he never has to go through that again!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Cards

Well, here we are, well into December and we finally attempted to get a decent family picture for Christmas cards.

Sure, we have some great pics that our dear friend Dan Ramming took of us, but those were way back in May and since Landon has changed so much since then, I thought we should try for a more current picture.

So this morning, I dressed my family in coordinated-ish outfits (except for Emma because she owns NOTHING neutral), grabbed our camera, the tripod, and headed off to the beach to take some pictures of ourselves. Aaaaaaand that's when the problems started.

Problem 1: We don't live near the beach so we have to drive for over an hour with Emma asking every two minutes, "Are we there yet?" and Landon missing his morning nap because we're in the car and he has way too much fun in the car to fall asleep.

Problem 2: Once we got to the beach, our kids wanted to play in the sand and waves and not sit still for pictures. And we were using the self-timer on the camera so we had a lot of sitting still to do.
Problem 3: We didn't have anyone behind the camera to get Landon's attention so in most of the shots, he's looking/lunging at the sand.
Eventually, we gave up attempting to look like a pulled together, sane, happy family who can sit still for more than .5 seconds.

Fortunately, once we let them loose we got some great shots of them playing so even though our Christmas card pics will be a bit unpolished, we now have some great photos to hang up around the house.
Does anyone with that fancy photo editing software want to edit them for us?

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's that time again.....

click on the picture to make it bigger and better.

and if you're thinking that this would be an awesome party to come to but you're not really sure if the invitation is for you, well, it is. you should come.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Brave and Not So Much

I have a 5-year-old daughter who is very, very brave.

This afternoon she was standing on a stool in front of the window awaiting the arrival of some dear friends when the stool slipped and she flew off with her feet going high into the air and landed on her chin, splitting it open.

Yes, she cried.
Yes, she panicked when she saw blood.
Yes, she cried even harder when Grady ran and brought her some Barbie bandaids and an ice pack to fix the hole in her chin.
Yes, she cried the whole way to the hospital while holding a washcloth to her chin to stop the flow of blood.
Yes, she panicked when she heard she was going to get stitches and asked if they were going to use a sewing machine on her face.

But when those saintly ER nurses started asking her how old she is and if she's in kindergarten and if she has her driver's license yet, the tears stopped flowing and she was able to tell them all about her life. And how she fell. And ask if they had pretty bandaids.

Then the ER doc came in, and with Dylan and me holding her still, he stitched Emma up while she asked him questions about what he was doing and told him if what he was doing hurt her or not and asked how many more minutes it would be until he was all done and what color of thread he was using.

As soon as the doc finished with his 4 stitches and my very brave 5-year-old sat up, Dylan announced that he wasn't feeling so well. Immediately the doctor had him lay down on the bed and a nurse hurried in to ask if he needed some water or anything. Never mind that it wasn't his chin bleeding all over the place or getting sewn back together with ugly black whiskery thread. The nurse explained that it was very common for male patients to get woozy from the sight of blood and that what Dylan was experiencing was totally normal. Whatever. He's seen 3 live births and that was a LOT more graphic than 4 measly little stitches.

Anyway, once Dylan was feeling better, we checked out of the ER and took Emma straight to Yogurt Park, even though she hadn't had dinner yet. She even got to pick out 2 toppings for her pink frozen yogurt, since she was so brave. Dylan didn't get any.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth

Thank you to Grandpa David for taking all 16 of us to Disneyland!
We had SO much fun!!!!!

Emma's favorite part: Thunder Mountain Railroad and Soaring Over California

Grady's Favorite Part: SPLASH MOUNTAIN!

Landon's Favorite Part: Going on rides with his dad that his mom wouldn't even go on

Dylan's Favorite Part: Having fearless children to go on rides with him

Julie's Favorite Part: Having fearless children to go on rides with Dylan so she didn't have to!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Just another day in paradise...

Some things that happened around here today:

1. Grady woke up at 6:30 am and made everyone else's lives miserable until we let him out of bed at 7. I've felt like a train hit me ever since.

2. I took Landon in to get his ears checked, again, and he has double infections, again. So, the doc finally referred him for ear tubes surgery. Bummer about the surgery. Good about (hopefully) not having infections anymore.

3. I tried to take a nap. But, UPS, FedEx, OnTrac and Lucy's least favorite of Grandma's caretakers came. Which meant a lot of barking. Which meant me getting out of bed to come quiet her down so that she wouldn't wake up the kids. 4 times.

4. My daughter bought me flowers (with Grandma Jackie's help) because she said that her mommy smiles when her daddy brings her flowers. She wanted to make me smile :)
She also made scalloped potatoes (one of my favorites) with Grandma Jackie today and brought some home for dinner so Dylan didn't have to cook!

5. I left (an hour late) for my weekly-ish blissful evening off. Dylan left with the kids because he doesn't like to be home alone with 3 kids. Grandma Phyllis escaped and was found by a neighbor who didn't have our phone number. She tracked Dylan's sister down through a friend who had an old church directory. The neighbor brought Grandma in and waited with her until Dylan could get home with the three kids. Thankfully we had Bible study here last night so the house wasn't totally destroyed and there were some unhidden chairs for them to sit on while they waited.

6. 13 hours after this morning's wake up call, the kiddos (and grandma) are all in bed fast asleep. And now we can go watch last night's episode of "The Middle" and eat a carton of Ben & Jerry's new flavor, Mission to Marzipan which I found at Grocery Outlet for only $1.50.

Good Night.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

I hate spiders

Grady is very, very afraid of ants. He flips out whenever he sees one. And he's always talking about how beetles are bad guys and bite people. And oh, how he panics when he finds a fly in the house (a behavior for which i completely blame my father). And don't even get him started on bees!!! After being stung twice himself and seeing his little brother get stung he. does. not. like. bees. at. all.

But he doesn't seem to mind spiders (a behavior for which i completely blame my mother). Nope, for some reason he isn't bothered by those horrid creatures with eight legs that creep around looking for helpless victims to annihilate and little people to bite.

So, for the sake of keeping our child happy, and because we're homeschooling so we have to do this kind of stuff, and because my cousin who hates spiders as much as I do invited us, we went up Mt. Diablo the other night for a tarantula hunt.

Grady was the first to spot one, and let me tell you, the shriek out of his mouth was priceless! I guess he wasn't expecting something so large!

(a male)

October is peak tarantula mating season, so these guys are crawling around all over the place.

We were even lucky (?) enough to find a female, which are very hard to find since they mostly just hide in their little holes all the time. Did you know that female tarantulas can live up to 20 years? 20 years!!!! That's just crazy.
(a female)

Tarantulas don't really bite, but rather inject poison via fangs and then dismember their victims. So I guess this means that they're totally safe to let crawl all over you. At least that's what the guides were saying. Being the responsible parents that we are, we took their word for it and allowed our children to touch and play with these arachnids to their hearts' content.

(this image is hard to see but it's a tarantula climbing up grady's pant leg).

We saw 5 or 6 tarantulas on our hike and I'm pretty sure that Emma loved them so much that she wanted to bring one home with her. Seriously, her and Elijah were fighting over who got to hold them the most. The other kids (and adults) on the hunt couldn't even get near the tarantulas until we told those two to step back.

I was certain that when we got home and the kids settled down and went to bed that they would have nightmares about being attacked by giant spiders. I was fully prepared to be awoken in the night by their terrified screams, in which case I would go into their room and comfort them by telling them to not worry because mommy won't let tarantulas into the house. I was NOT fully prepared to be awoken in the night by my husband jumping up and violently ripping off all of the covers and throwing them to the floor to get away from "the spiders, the spiders!" Unfortunately for him, I didn't have compassion on him as I would have had with my children. I just started yelling at him to go back to bed because I'm freezing. Poor Dylan.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Test

Which is more difficult?

A. Keeping a 3-year-old boy in a cast occupied for 3 weeks


B. Keeping a 3-year-old boy (sans cast) off of a newly poured concrete patio for a whole day

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


What did you do on the hottest day ever?

I packed up my kids and drove two hours away to wonderful Sebastopol, CA (which was even more hot) and took them apple picking with our home school co-op. There were great moments; statue climbing, Screamin' Mimi's Ice Cream, a super cool Johnny Apple Seed sculpture, learning about Apple farming, spending quality time with other young families.Aaaand there were some not-so-great moments; Johnny Apple Seed's apple being kicked off the sculpture and rolling down the road, the 101 degree heat, the dust everywhere, and my favorite Sebastopol coffee shop that sells my favorite drink ever (iced horchata latte) being out of horchata. Emma summed her feelings up through tears: "I don't like this day at all!."

Then we got home to find Dylan (and Grandpa David, Uncle Dan, Matt, Uncle Craig and Uncle Charles) doing this on the hottest day ever:

11.5 months after the initial digging out of our back hillside and moving the hot tub, we now have a patio! And just in the nick of time- Dylan told me I could turn the hot tub on on October 1st and that is the first day we'll be able to walk on the concrete.

Finally, gone are the days of walking in the pitch black night around a corner and across old fence boards laid across the mud to get to the hot tub. I'll be able to flip on a light switch, walk out from my bedroom through the french doors, down a step, across the patio and into the hot tub! Oh man, what a life of luxury I'll live this winter!

And I'm thinking some winter weather (or at least fall weather) sounds pretty good right about now!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some thoughts I have today...

1. I should never, ever go to Costco again. I always spend too much money there- and not even on fun stuff. Julia would not be very proud of me.

2. Because of #1, I wonder if I can go a month without grocery shopping- other than buying milk and fresh produce? Anyone want to challenge me to see if I can?

3. I don't appreciate it when people have nut allergies. I have to buy snacks for Emma's soccer team and since there's a kid with nut allergies, I can't buy them anything other than sugary snacks or chips or crackers. No trail mix or granola bars with nuts. Lame-o.

4. For as long as I can remember, our church's weekly Bible study was on Thursday nights. Two years ago they switched it to Wednesday nights, yet I still wake up the morning after Bible study excited that it's Friday. Every time. What a let down when I realize that it's only Thursday.

5. Landon is really cute.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A day in the life of a brand new 3-year-old

7:10am - wake up. get mad at your parents when they tell you that you're 3 today.

7:15am - get excited because you realize that you're big and so now you can wear your sister's clothes. get mad because your parents inform you that you still can't wear her clothes because they're girl clothes.

7:30am - still mad at the world but you get to watch the fireman movie before breakfast.

8:00am - your mom made you delicious buttermilk pancakes and put a #3 candle in it for you. you're still mad so you refuse to eat.

8:30am - decide to eat the pancake, and then 4 more. things are looking up.

9:00am- get dressed all by yourself in your #3 shirt and not-so-much matching camo shorts so that you can go outside and play with Grant.

11:00am- decorate a big envelope for the mail

11:30am - collect pacifiers from their various hiding places around the house and put them in the envelope because big 3-year-olds don't need pacifiers anymore. suck one of them one last time.

11:40am - put the envelope full of pacifiers in the mail to send them away

12:00pm - eat mac n cheese and apple slices for lunch, per your request

12:30pm - read the book about moods and then decide you're in a pretty good mood afterall. tell your sister that it's not her birthday- it's YOUR birthday!

1:00pm - naptime. without pacifiers :( you get the new big huge blue stuffed dog that you picked out at the store as a consolation prize. you're not quite sure about it.

1:10pm - come out of your room and inform your mom that you want your pacifiers and that you don't want to be 3. mom puts you back to bed and snuggles with you.

2:30pm - wake up from the shortest nap ever. eat a snack.

4:30pm - load up bikes and hit the town for your birthday dinner

5:00pm - first stop: Round Table Pizza
5:15pm - next stop: a park for a picnic5:45pm - attempted kite flying. the wind died down so that didn't work out too well6:15pm- don't cooperate for a family photo op. start the ride home.
7:14pm- home and tucked into bed with your sister's gigantic stuffed dog to snuggle with since the blue one you picked out wasn't quite good enough. snuggle with your dad as he prays that you'll be able to sleep.

8:15pm- still awake and missing your pacifiers

8:30pm - fast asleep :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

So, you're homeschooling.....

We're two whole weeks into official homeschooling around here and here are my answers to your FAQ's (you know you were wondering!):

(first day of Kindergarten)

Q: Oh, you're homeschooling. How do you do that?

A: I teach my kid. At home, in the car, at the store. Don't you? We're not talking physics here. She's in kindergarten. So we're learning about safety and adding and social skills and coloring.

Q: How do you do school with the other kids around?

A: I include them. When Emma is playing with pattern blocks, so is Grady. And when Emma is brainstorming a list of things that grow on trees, so is Grady. And when we read a story, they all sit on my lap. And when she is working on writing lowercase letters, Grady and Landon are playing Lincoln Logs on the floor right next to us.

Q: Where did you make a classroom in your house?

A: I didn't. We have a cupboard that houses our books and supplies. Otherwise, we use our dining room table, and livingroom floor, and backyard, and laundryroom, and the grocery store, and the zoo, and Mt. Diablo. Basically, the world around us is our classroom. (Does that sound Hippy or what!?!)

Q: What about socializing with other kids?

A: Well, lucky for Emma, we don't live in a cave. We live in a community, and have friends on our street, and friends on her soccer team and friends at church.

Q: Homeschoolers are weird. Do you really want your kids to be weird?

A: Um, do you think I'm weird? Well, I mean, I know I'm a little weird- but aren't we all? Well, I was homeschooled for 8 whole years of my life and I was able to acclimate into normal public school life just fine. And I was never classified as a loner. And I don't have any weird twitches. And I am able to make eye contact with people. And I don't wear prairie dresses and bonnets.

Q: When do you have time for yourself? Don't you ever get a break? Aren't you going crazy?

A: Well, honestly, this was a concern of mine. I mean, with three kids at home, I'm bound to get a bit stir crazy every now and again. However, being more intentional in teaching my kids has helped me establish more of a routine for our days and also helped me to get out and do more activities that we normally wouldn't have done. And when I have a routine, it helps me to function better and be happier. So it's been great. I also have a mother and mother-in-law who are more than willing to give me a break whenever I ask. Finally, I believe that it is my God given responsibility to care for and nurture and raise up my children. And if it means that I don't have a bunch of free time and "me" time, if I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, that's okay!

I read an article this morning that pretty much summed up the way that we want education to look like in our home. You can click here for the whole article, but here's an excerpt:
"We generally start our days the way we normally would- eating breakfast, playing, reading. To this, I gradually add on any schoolwork- half and hour of math here, a science project there, as they fit throughout the week. If life happens to collide (say, a birthday party, get together with friends, or a massive pile of laundry in need of putting away, then we just go with it.

After all, the beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility- we aren't necessarily chained to a schedule.... In an average week, we balance traditional schoolwork with everyday activities."