Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just write...

     I look at this picture and don't see my 4 year old little girl anymore. 
 Instead, I see

"I want to pick out my own outfit"
"I can pour my own milk Mommy"
"I think I want to wear a necklace"
and
"I'm not tired yet"
and
"Can I spend the night at Grandmas?"


 I'm happy she's healthy & growing up & kind & beautiful
and a million other wonderful things.

I really really am.

But I look at her younger sister... 
and see her trying to be "so big" too.  

Gone are the days of picking Dora t-shirts...
and 
here are the days of pretty roses instead. 


Gone are the tears of not wanting to sit still
and
here are the tears of not wanting to be done taking pictures.  


I feel like each day I lose some of their childhoods... 
having to work
and be gone
and I miss them.
Sometimes I'm home and too busy...
and ironically, it's then that I miss them too.

I'm here but gone a lot... 


And then - 
I see he's fallen asleep on the floor.
(Amidst the crumbs of course)
And I get to stop - and smile... 
and realize I have another chance
to stop and smile.

I'm not losing moments - 
I'm gaining memories. 


To write your own post - visit here.  You'll LOVE it!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

FAMILY REUNION

    Every year, just before school starts, my Dads side of the family hosts a big Family Reunion at the family farm.  My dads cousin is an avid golfer and has actually turned his mostly unused pasture into a very very nicely groomed 18 hole golf course called "The Pastures" (which is part of the PPGA - The Pastures Professional Golfers Association - HA!).  The day consists of a "Cousins Tournament" and some amazing food prepared by Pat (who owns a local eatery in town). 

 

     Each year, I try to get a group picture of all the kids and each year I fail.  True - they are all present in the picture, but never, not ever, can I get them all to look the same way.  Maybe next year I suppose. 




     I did happen to catch some pretty awesome shots of the kids individually - and it amazes me how lucky I get with pictures somedays...  like this one (which happens to be my newest most favorite picture I've ever taken!!) -  She was about to climb up on this old tractor when I said "Hey - Smile!"... she turned to look and THIS is what I got.  A little vignette-ing and Voila!  Perfect light - perfect pose.  LUCKY shot!




     And then comes Lars.  And there goes Lars.  I'm just thankful he held still for 1 or 2 seconds so I could take a picture of him.  He was busy.  The whole day.  But man did that kid sleep last night!!!


    

     Elle had a blast and made new friends who helped her find a caterpillar of her very own (it now lives in a diaper-wipes container because he wanted a sun-roof - smart kid!).  She was WIPED by the time I got her to sit still and take a picture... the day before she had been a flowergirl in a wedding, and the day before that she had stayed at her Grandparents house...  she was exhausted to say the least!


     Her Grandma earns 100% of the credit for this beautiful little girl that day - she chose her dress, did her hair, her nails, found her perfectly matching shoes - and when she couldn't find ivory colored socks - she did what any grandmother would do - she tossed them in the coffee pot!  And it worked!  This woman knows more tricks and tips than anyone I've ever known - she's awesome!!!




     Elle and her sister had lots of fun taking pictures (for 3.5 minutes - then they wanted nothing more to do with them)...  and Lars...


     
     He sat for one picture.  Thankfully it was a decent one.  He's not smiling by the way - he's showing us his teeth.  We just got REALLY REALLY lucky that it happens to look like a smile when he does it.  And also - his shirt is really navy blue and not black like his sisters dress - but nobody will ever notice - and maybe I can photoshop it black, huh?  (again, another tip from Grandma!).  So shhhhhhhh!!!

     I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful weekend - it's starting to feel more and more like fall here - and truth be told - I CANNOT WAIT!!!

    

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Feeling Fall-ish Already...

     I joked with Brandt over the weekend that with the crisp morning air we were experiencing, it was getting closer to tree decorating time.  In less than 90 days, it's very likely that us Minne-snow-tans will deal with beautiful tree-scapes such as this.  In the past, we've had blizzards by the end of October... and for whatever reason, I have a feeling we're in for one heck of a winter this year! 


    
     One thing I truly love / hate / love / hate/ love about Minnesota is the changing of the seasons.  There is always something to look forward to - which is how life should be lived in my opinion.  Fall brings us bonfires, cool air, sweatshirts, pictures of the kids in piles of leaves, pumpkins, crock-pot meals, and lots of wonderful foods from the garden.

     It's a time to button down the hatches so to speak...  mow the lawn for the last time - change over the John Deere from lawnmower blades to the snow-blower attachment, take a few walks around the yard and find all the toys that have been scattered the past few months... open the windows, turn off the air, clean out the garage, the trucks, and fill the freezer.

 

For today, however, there are still memories of the fair - just a few weeks old...  and a summer wedding coming up next weekend... a family reunion the day after... and a family vacation the week after.  I still have plenty of pool pictures that need editing... family pictures that need taking... a fall Harvest party that needs planning - a house that needs cleaning, and 2 more decent sized house projects that need finishing. 



      There is however, definitely FALL in the air today - and Christmas on my mind.  Already.  Yet.  Still, I suppose.  In spite of the warm weather, green grass & sunshine - I'm already somewhat living several weeks ahead of myself...  and editing pictures from the past!


      What an incredible summer it's been!  Many days by the pool, a day at the County Fair, the big girls spent lots of time at our friends cabin with their daughter - and even got to spend a week with their Grandparents at a cabin too!  We've had several family dinners with our extended family, and worked all-together too much.  There was "exciting" weather - the loss of 18 trees, a pool, part of our deck, some shingles & some siding...  flowers were planted and a garden too (100% of the THANKS goes to my Dad...  Bumpa Jim as the kids call him)... We finally splurged and got a front-load washer/dryer (on clearance nonetheless!!!) - and my last baby moved out of his crib & into a twin-sized bed (which was more traumatic for me than him I think!)... 

 I believe I'm now quite ready 
to move along to my fall. 
I've filled my summer with memories - 
and taken pictures of them all.
I'll file them all away nicely
when I'm old and have more time
And will likely become teary-eyed
as I remember you learning to climb.
It's onto new seasons and holidays
where photographs are waiting to be made
Thanksgiving dinner, Halloween, 
Christmas toys and games to be played.
Always something to move us forward
Growing, Changing always new
Today is real and in my grasp
Your little boy hug so true...
These memories move right along with me
everyday... they have been made to last.
Though each time I find some spare minutes
I recall all these days of my past.

By:  Me  :)




Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to stay cool with kids

      I've learned a thing or two in my day - and it's odd, but at times I am just now feeling like I've got this "Kid Thing" down to a science.  It's moments like this when I feel sad about not having more children and start to really think if being done with that chapter in my life is really what I want.

     As soon as I remind myself of the past 4 years of sleepless nights I remember why I like this stage of my life.  My baby is almost 2 - my oldest is 13.  Besides, nap time is a sure thing these days!

     Here are a few tips I've learned that have helped me tons! 

    And some cute pictures from a family get-together we had this week. 





 #1 - Juice boxes = ice packs.   I always keep a few 8-packs of juice boxes in my freezer.  I leave them bound together by the plastic wrap they come in.  When we go somewhere (lake, park, long car-trip) I bring them along.  By the time the kids are ready for a drink - they are mostly melted and still ice cold!  These double as ice-packs and keep other foods cold too!



#2 - Keep a soft sided cooler in your vehicle at all times.  When it's time to go somewhere, we toss snacks, baby wipes, frozen juice boxes, several empty bags (for garbage, wet swimsuits, diapers), and whatever else we think to bring in it - and we're ready to be out for several hours.  


 

#3 - Run out and buy a hexagon shaped baby-gate.  I've shared this with so many other moms and have gotten NOTHING but positive feedback.  First of all, it's a secure play area for ANYWHERE.  It's lightweight - costs just over $50 (walmart has theirs priced @ $50 with $0.97 shipping!) - and is SUPER easy to set-up and move.   You can put this outside and hang clothes on your clothesline without chasing any children -  you can put their kiddie pool in it...  you can put their kiddie pool on your deck  and open this gate up to block off part of your deck (zip-ties work GREAT for tying this gate to your deck and is easily removed!).    Need to scrub the kitchen floor?  Set this up in the living room.   This very gate has helped me so many times that we finally bought a second one!

#4 -  Eat Outside.   Often.  Heck - anytime you can!  I'm NOT gonna show you what my floors look like after ANY meal, but I'm sure you can imagine.   We eat on our deck as often as possible and many times cleaning up involves using a hose.  before we eat, I fill a clean ice cream bucket with water.  After they eat, we use the water to wash their face and hands.  Then the plants get watered (and of course all the ketchup & food bits that get in the water are treats for the flowers and plants!). 

#5 - Dirt is ok, the towels will dry themselves if you leave them outside by the pool, rain cleans the ketchup off the deck quite nicely, ants can live inside a dixie cup kept in a baggie for 5 or more days and do make nice pets, and pink certainly can be a mans color!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Buttons.

My buttons came today.
 Suddenly I was back to being 8 years old
sitting on the livingroom floor
sifting through a button jar
still seen so clearly today in my mind.
Stringing them together making necklaces.
Sorting them by color, 
shape,
size.
 


Now I'm the Mom.
I have the buttons
Passed down from the Great Grandma and the Grandma and the Mom.
Adding to the collection with treasured buttons of my own. 
Learning the history they hold
while creating their future at the same time.  

Everything has a story.
Whether old or new.
Some stories are passed to you from generations ago
while others start with you - today
and years from now will be a story told to your great great great grandchildren
who will sit on their floors and make button necklaces. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Minnesota Nice...


     I'm proud to be from Minnesota.  
     Why?



It's simple.
We planned to spend our 4th of July helping ( & visiting)  a good friend - 

when a pretty bad storm hit. 







Before we had a chance to really worry about home... 

A friend had sent us pictures of our yard.

Then another friend - and another.   


 So we cut our vacation very short and drove back home. 
It wasn't pretty - but it's all fixable.  

Shortly after, we learned the family my sister was staying with 
was much worse off than us.  

MUCH.  


 
So we got a sitter and went on a date 90 miles away to go help.
 yes... alone without children = a date!





 Today we are home again - with some help of our own.

From Family & Friends - so it doesn't seem so much like work.




But more like the 4th of July weekend we had planned to begin with.
Food, Family, Friends, Fireworks...

And now - thanks to God...

Lots and Lots of Firewood.  
 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Little Boys...

 
   I used to think that children born to the same parents, raised in the same home, with the same rules & morals, would be somewhat alike.  I totally understand that our personalities are as different as a Minnesota summer & winter, but I still thought (maybe hoped?) that we'd all have a little something in common. 

     Boy was I wrong!!!

     Babies are babies - whether a boy or a girl.  Diapers are diapers.  Onesies are onesies.  Breastfeeding is breastfeeding - bottles with pink rings or blue rings are almost identical.  It doesn't matter if I'm awake at 2am because of a sleepless girl or a restless boy.  But NOW... almost 2 years into this - I'm finally starting to see some major differences in parenting a little boy -vs- 4 little girls.  And I'd like to commend all my friends on their little boys.  

   
  Heh...  there I was all these years -  wondering why they didn't discipline those boys.  Rolling my eyes as I watched them tear across a baseball diamond trying to catch their son while a game was in play.  I watched their kids spend hours just DOING things.  Nothing specific - just things.  Non-stop.  Constantly being in action - and I secretly wondered just how much red food-dye these people were feeding these children!  I was shocked at times - and appalled at others.

Ahem,
     I was obviously a much better parent. 

  
  Then it hit me.  Literally.  Right in the side of the head with one of those plastic golf clubs that all three little kids got for Easter this year (because they matched and it was cute and I could get a picture of them all playing golf in the backyard with their Grandpa). 

     And then he turned to hit his sister and ran like a thief!  We sat on the floor and did the only thing we could do.   We laughed.  Which was wrong on so many levels - but the surprise and shock of an almost 2 year old wielding a plastic golf club in this way did us in.  We heard him circle the stairs - patter through the kitchen - and saw him come back into the dining-room heading for us in the living-room just swinging away. 

     Of course I stopped him and scolded him - and held back my laughter the best I could.  And his bottom lip stuck out further than I thought possible.

     At that moment - something else hit me. 

     I was so wrong about my friends. 


     I've since joined the "I have a boy" club - and for anyone who does have a boy,   you all know there certainly IS a club.  We earn badges almost daily for competing in events such as "lets scream for Grandpa all through Best Buy" and "I can change a diaper faster than you can pee on me" and for spending 3 continuous hours walking/jogging behind you while you wander through every square foot of our yard trying to push the double stroller and refusing to let me help.  Most of us moms could easily diaper an octopus in under 30 seconds or successfully re-buckle a monkey in a carseat while driving down the interstate doing 70 mph. 

     My little boy screams SHRIEKS louder than any of my girls ever did - and his temper is much shorter as well.  There is however less gray areas than there were with my girls.  To this day - they are much moodier in many ways.  With him?  He's only mad because he's hungry, or tired, or thirsty, or because someone is once again taking away the screwdriver (or the golf club).   I need to baby proof in new more creative ways because this boy tends to catch on much faster than the girls ever did and he's apparently not afraid to climb onto the kitchen island even after 13 14 15 16 falls.

     I've been humbled with him - and know I haven't even seen the tip of the iceberg.  The stories I've heard about his Dad weren't exaggerated as I originally thought.  There is truth to them and it scares me.  A lot.    I'm nowhere near as experienced as other moms to boys and know I have years of gray hairs to earn ahead of me - but am thankful to know that so many of my friends are able to recommend the best hair coloring brands as they've walked this road before me!   

    

     

   

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Changes...

      Just a short time ago, I was done with having babies.  
An appointment was made to get my tubes tied. 
I was very much ok with that chapter in my life being over.   
Her 
and Her
and Me.
Three.













And somehow God found out about that plan.   
And he laughed. 
And he changed my plan and probably laughed some more.  


And then there were four.
Plus Me. 
And Plus her Daddy.  
So then there were five  
Five was enough and five was all.
Really just five.  No more

And then a year passed and life settled a bit.
I almost got a full nights sleep.  I think...
And God remembered my old plan
and chuckled at the irony.
And 
then
came
six. 
 And THEN...
We outgrew our car
and our house
and our truck
and our pantry
and our bedrooms
and somedays our sanity.
Well... with 5 girls and just one of him - 
I think he outgrew his sanity first.  

And God watched and loved
and laughed and grinned
and less than a year
after there were six

 There were seven. 
 
To be continued...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Randomness

After a year of thinking and mulling it over and tossing it around and hemming and hawing - I've decided to stay with Canon and purchased an EOS 60D.


I'm really very cheap frugal when it comes to purchasing anything expensive.  I should add that my qualifications for deeming something "expensive" are much broader than most.  I should add that I ALWAYS use coupons and tell you that they don't make coupons for cameras.   No they don't - I checked.  And... I'll tell you that I still have a pit in my stomach from buying something like this for myself.

BUT - It's here to stay and I love it!





   We were lucky enough to have my Dad come stay with us this weekend and he helped Brandt get a nice start on the woodpile.  Apparently wood burns nicer/easier when having a bonfire if it's been split first.  Who knew!



     Last week we spent 4 days in Wisconsin Dells with our kids.  While we were gone my Dad came to house sit for us.  At least he told us he was going to house sit.  What he really did was plant the garden, clean the garage, mow the lawn, and trim the trees.  I love that he did all of this but feel guilty WE didn't get to it ourselves.  I don't feel as guilty as I do about buying my camera - but still....  



     I'm especially excited about the radishes.  Mostly because they will be ready first.  Then the peas.  The glorious sweet sugar snap peas.  The "I'll be in the garden eating raw peas right from their pods" peas.  Then will come the table onions and the green beans and then the corn & the potatoes.  I'm not gonna hold my breath for any/many strawberries though and know not to plan on asparagus until sometime in 2013.  I think the raspberries & blueberries will show up that year too except for the wild ones.  Those will be here SOON!


 
     I had to play with my new toy as well - and found I have a lot to learn. 

Luckily I had a very willing model!

     Canon EOS 60D for Dummies has been read to page 30 so far.


     And finally a more updated picture of the house. 

  Finally our house.

  Our home. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's all right there in Black & White!


It's amazing what a white sheet and a little editing can do.

For less than $20 (thanks to The Canvas People and their wonderful sale!) I made Lars quite the nice whimsical canvas for his bedroom.    

Ahhhh...   being cheap is fun!

Monday, May 23, 2011

5 kids and I'm still inexperienced. Go figure!

     There are plenty of days when I feel I've finally got life tamed if you will.  Like when I realize that lining up a weeks worth of pull-ups, diapers, & pj's by the tub will make life so much easier every night after bath time.  Or when I make the bedtime bottles (GASP!  Yes... I give my 2 littlest ones bottles at bedtime) during our breakfast routine which saves time and effort later in the day.  While being a mom for 13 years has taught me quite a few things - I'm still left empty handed in many cases!

     Take for instance last night.  After dinner, we decide it would be nice to take the kids outside for 4-wheeler rides.  HUGE parenting faux pas!   It had just rained quite a lot... puddles were everywhere... and unfortunately, all 3 little kids were everywhere too.  After 15 minutes of chasing and loading and re-loading the kids into the 4-wheeler cart, I had to take a break and go inside to do dishes.  Utter chaos and I do NOT get along late in the day.

     Another example of my lack of common sense would be the many times I get GENIUS ideas to load up the kids and go somewhere as a family.  Obviously I'm feeling brave to start, but after a carsick child has had her way with me once more, I'm defeated yet again.  I decide lunch might help her tummy and we end up feeling bad for the wait staff at TGI Friday's - left behind to clean up 11 pounds of crackers, napkins, spilled smoothie & chicken nuggets on the floor under our table.  The mall is our next stop because apparently I've forgotten how easy it is for ALL our children to escape from the buckles of any shopping cart or fire truck looking stroller.  One might think Houdini was their father.

     We return home several hours after our adventure begun feeling like we truly accomplished something - yet at the same time - feeling like total failures... because, really... everyone else does this and it can't be that hard for them.  Right? 

     Experiences like this are cause for the ENORMOUS pit in my stomach today.  In 9 days - we'll be taking all 7 of us on the biggest adventure our whole family has gone on to date:  Wisconsin Dells.  It's time for this - We've spent the last 5 years being pregnant & on bed rest, in the hospital with preemies, at home with preemies, and not doing very many fun family-like activities.  But as much as it IS time, I'm still left unprepared. 

     We FINALLY have Lars sleeping through the night (at 18 months of age!) in his own room.  Will 4 days of sharing a room with his sisters change that?  What about the drive?  Our 2 year old gets car sick even on short 5 mile drives.  Zofran has a 50/50 chance of working based on past trials with her... and since we're taking 2 vehicles how does 1 parent drive AND hold a bucket???  Add to this the anxiety of our 13 yr old babysitting in an unfamiliar condo when we have our dinner banquet to attend and the constant sunscreen application rotation + snack dispensing + sippy cup re-filling.

     I'm VERY VERY open for suggestions and ideas and helpful hints from ANY Mom or Dad out there!   I'm sure that either way, our first entire family vacation will be full of memories and laughter that will be recalled for years to come!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In search of a bench...

     We all have something specific in mind when it comes to decorating our homes.  A "theme" if you will.  My Moms "theme" was:  De-Clutter.  Really it was.  Growing up we had a couch, a chair (all on one wall) a recliner on the other wall, one end table, and a tv.  The layout only changed once or twice over the years and even then, the changes weren't anything profound.

     I think that's why I have always dreamed of having a comfortable, cozy, country-like HOME.  One people love to visit.  A home where anyone and everyone is always welcome, never needing an invitation and always having one.  I wanted a house we could grow into a home.  This house would grow roots over time (and it already has started!) - and would develope a personality of it's own. 

     We were finally blessed to be able to purchase our own home this past winter.  Long story short - the house we bought had slipped from our hands several times over the past 3 years and we had wondered many times if God was telling us it wasn't meant to be, or if he was seeing how long and how hard we'd fight for it.   We fought (and prayed) and waited (and prayed) and cried (well at least I cried) (and prayed) and it happened. 


     Sorry for the winter picture.  Time for a new summer one SOON!

     And since that day, I've been slowly getting ideas, finding new pictures, mirrors, and ways to decorate - all within a very tight "budget" if you will...   (thrift stores, garage sales, and by painting old furniture).  

     But - I'm stuck on a bench.   I thought I found it once - but when I saw the price tag I KNEW I hadn't!  It will live in the main floor hallway up against the wall beneath the mirror with the coat hooks - it will be a shallow bench - but it will be a tall bench - with a back - and maybe the seat will lift up and I can store things under it.  It will be barn red and NOT new looking.

     So if anyone out there has one for sale...  I'm interested!!   

     I'm learning so much about myself even after being a homeowner for such a short time and can't wait to see where we're at this time next year!  Heck - I wonder if I'll have my bench!?!?!?!