Tuesday, December 13, 2011

JamieJames gets into trouble

Do you know this boy? 

Sweet-tempered, chubby and contented. Big brown eyes in his squishy face. 

That's James.

Today, he so sweetly wedged himself into this cabinet. 

He brought me the tube of toothpaste and showed me the minty white moustache he applied to that chunky face. 

At dinner, his nose contained not only large crusty boogers but also a carpet thread that he was saving there. 

The other day, it took him four big bites out of this candle to decide that it was yucky. He looks concerned but probably not for the right reason...

A few weeks ago, he convinced us all that he'd swallowed a small toy. We haven't found it. 

At two, James' vocabulary is increasing but he tends to rely on miming his thoughts to us with a few sound effects. When he tells us about the vacuum, it sounds like, "This. This. NNNNN!" But while he says that, he's signing "loud" and pretending he's vacuuming and pointing to the electrical outlet. 

When he finally learns to put it all together, I'm really curious about how that carpet thread got up there.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


The island in the middle of our rental house kitchen is good for a lot of things. On this particular afternoon, we are using it to find a home for all the remaining Halloween candy. I've heard tell of people doing this; cutting up, freezing, setting aside all the chocolate candy for future use.

So we did that. 

And then we made a big batch of chocolate chip cookie dough 
+ peanut butter 
+ rolled oats 
+ Snickers, Kitkat and Milkyway pieces
+ M&Ms
and called it good.

Then we did it again a week later. We still have candy in the freezer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


What we some of us did on Thanksgiving (besides eat and be thankful):


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Broken House

So, the cold water supply under the kitchen sink failed. It dripped all night right around Halloween. Bob and I thought the floor seemed a little strange in the kitchen one morning. What was strange was that water was coming up between the planks of our laminate flooring. Upon further examination, we found that the water was every where. Or at least it was almost everywhere important in our house. Specifically, the kitchen, the laundry room and the (one) bathroom. 

We wondered what to do about it for a day or so before we realized that this is why we have insurance. I don't know why it didn't occur to us to call them right away. We kind of thought, "Well, I guess we're just going to add this to the Things We Have to Live With While Living in a Partially Remodeled House list."  Little did we know that once we got the insurance ball rolling, we would begin an adventure that mainly consists of not living in said partially remodeled house at all. At least not for now. 

Pictures to prove it:

Ugh. Something's not right here.

Here's our kitchen with all the wet parts removed. Big, loud, green fans aid the drying process.

All the contents of our kitchen, bathroom and laundry room are in our family room.

Since we had no kitchen, bathroom or laundry room at our house, our insurance company put us up in a hotel for about a week. Despite Mercy's look of boredom here, it was a pretty sweet deal.

We did have to eat a few meals on the floor since there wasn't a table big enough for eating in our hotel room...

And we felt a little cramped doing our school work. On the bright side, the weather was beautiful that entire week and we took walks and played outside between calls to the insurance company, the general contractor, the ServPro people and the temporary housing coordinators.

(If your baby can do this, he is too big for a bouncy seat.)

After everything dried out at the Broken House, and after it was determined that the first layer of vinyl on our floors had asbestos in it, the best course of action was to take all the floors out. Completely.

And why not? It sure makes it a lot easier for the city inspector to see that our floors lack a certain structural soundness. Or insulation. Or proper drainage beneath them. (A few days after this picture was taken, the space beneath the kitchen was under 6 inches of water because we live on a swamp.)

This all starts to sound pretty crappy, I know. And never would we have chosen this route if we could have. And there have been some pretty stressful moments that I didn't choose to memorialize here because I'd rather forget them. But the list of benefits to our situation is much longer than the irritations we're facing:
1. New floors in 2/3 of our house
2. A week's stay at a hotel with free hot breakfasts and dinners (Something we've never done with our kids)
3. A very comfortable rental home 
4. Fees waived and rules bent to accomodate our family specifically
5. The discovery of yucky mold growing in our house and the clean up of that mold 
6. An opportunity to put fresh paint in the kitchen (I did this last night. YES!)
7. Generosity shown to us by family and friends
8. Time spent more purposefully with our kids 
9. A room in our rental house entirely devoted to ALL LEGOS. ALL THE TIME.

For now, we're still in the Upstairs House waiting for the Broken House to be fixed. Currently, Bob and Daniel and Michael  and Reuben are building lego cars and spaceships. Josiah and Mercy have been chasing eachother around the house and James is coloring next to me. We're about to have our 2nd Advent Evening and we have some hot chocolate to drink. 

Despite all the changes and upheaval, I think we're feeling pretty cozy.

The kids and Great Grandma Veda at Thanksgiving

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I heart Agritourism

At our house, we school 6 weeks on, 1 week off. A whole week off usually affords us some rest and a renewed perspective when we return to our busy school routine. I try to "save" big projects around the house for these breaks; moving furniture around or switching out summer clothes for winter, or maybe even cleaning out the car*. And I defnitely like to plan some kind of adventure for the kids and I that we normally wouldn't make time for. 

Well, it's fall and I love fall and all that comes with it- rain, turning leaves, pumpkin everything. So this week I took the kids to a pumpkin farm. 

We've been to lots of pumpkin patches in our area but this one was new to us and it's now my new favorite. 

 Josiah says it's too bright. Washington native for sure.

Annie Oakley

Oh, this is one of my favorite things in the world: seeing my big kids learning to love serving their younger siblings.
There's Josiah's smile!

James makes a super cute horsey sound.
See the wooden cow Josiah is roping?
I guess cows need milk to make milk.

Okay. Let's stop for a moment and look at what my kids have enjoyed so far at this pumpkin farm:
1. "Horses" albeit pretty cute horses made out of yarn, plastic barrels and wood.
2. A tractor
3. A large wooden cow and a calf feeding bottle.
Why is this fun? 
It's agritourism! We pay to play that we are doing what some people do for a living! RIght? 

I have always felt just a tiny but conflicted about this. Part of me wants to run a get-up like this when my husband and I are grandparents... and the other part of me thinks wait! I want my kids to have a blast on a real horse or a real tractor or feeding a real calf. Admittedly, my view of farm life is a bit romantic. You know, all those cute animals and healthy appetites from workin' out in the fresh air. That's just what I think about sometimes when I'm paying to visit a "working dairy farm" that has a pumpkin patch and a coffee stand. Or a U-pick blueberry farm that that serves up blueberry breakfasts at it's onsite restaurant. Or a roadside attraction that charges for rides behind a tractor in a garbage can painted like a cow. Or a pumpkin patch that boasts helicopter rides over the cornmaze and goats that walk on narrow bridges above our  heads to food dispensers filled by your well-placed quarter.

But do you want to know what I really want? My own agritourism business?

No. I want one of these:

I want my own big barn full of corn to play in. We had so much fun smooshing through this enormous sandbox of corn. 

I wonder if they have to cover this up at night... Or if they have rodent problems... 

So here's why this is my new favorite pumpkin farm in our area: It comes down to the money, really. It was a flat fee for entering the play area with a very few extra activities that had to be paid for separately. We opted out of those extra things but didn't come away with the feeling that we were missing out. With 6 kids, we try to choose our group activities carefully and plan ahead. 

All right. 
I'm out of pictures. 

I'm probably not out of ranty/rave-y thoughts about agritourism but it's okay that don't share them all in one post.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Typical Again

So if you are just joining us, I've been recording a typical school day. Let's get back to the action.

So I'm still feeding Reuben and James has come to visit me... This can be a challenging time for me and the smallest people in my house. I think I really used to read to them... I'm pretty sure that was a standard activity when Mercy was a newborn. I would sit with Daniel and Michael and read to them. 

Josiah is ready to meet the challenge of Reuben's mealtime HEAD ON! It looks like the walkie talkie antenna is in a weird place, doesn't it?

 Settling disputes... I didn't realize how much of my time would be spent helping the kids to treat eachother kindly... any moms out there want to venture a guess at how often we do this? I mean, it's a worthy lesson to teach at home but wow. Sometimes it feels like it's the only lesson I'm teaching. And I wonder if it's sinking in. At all.

I'm happy and full!

I spit everywhere. EW.

And because he spits everywhere, it's time for a bath...

James really really wanted to help. I unwittingly let him play with a cake of soap that was on the counter. Soap Face!

More helping.

My big boys do their math assignments after our morning break...

And if they are diligent, they are typically done well before this time. To Daniel's credit, he did spend some time taking pictures for me and he was the unseen helper during Reuben's bathtime.

And finally, lunchtime. 

So there we are. 

A full morning of school and busy kids. 

It used to be that our afternoons were reserved exclusively for resting which meant that I had a bunch of time to myself. Now, after lunch, the older kids and I tackle the subjects that require the least interruptions and Josiah, James and Reuben rest.

If you know me and my tendencies in parenting, what activity from this day is NOT typical?

Friday, October 21, 2011


If you read here, I hope you know that I'm doing this to preserve and remember much more than I am to prescribe. 

The other day I set about our school morning with camera in hand, just to try and capture what is typical for us right now. And remember: I said "typical". I had a little help with the photography when I needed an extra hand. 

First lessons of the morning: ready to practice our memory work. James in the packnplay sucking on a ...Knife?, Josiah on his blanket.

And...we're reciting.

Josiah stays on his blanket during Bible but the Bumbo seat he's sitting in is own special addition for today.

Oh good. Plastic knives. James plays here during Bible each morning. Usually he isn't still in his jammies... 
A note about homeschooling and housework: they generally aren't compatible goals. So we leave the morning dishes and clean up until we take a break to do chores later. This leaves us fresh energy for school. I spend a lot of time telling myself, "It will get done. It will."

After Bible comes History. We've just finished a 6 week unit on Early Colonial America. My older boys' favorite thing is to color these maps from Story of the World.

Mercy hasn't quite figured out why they like it so much.

James, still in his jammies, takes a turn on the blanket during History. Happy James.
Josiah is in there. He plays with a rotating selection of toys during his Alone Time while we study History. I think this is his happiest time of day and I will leave him to it. *tiptoes back down the hall*

Reuben is still in the stage of many naps a day. Doesn't he look cozy?

I think Mercy was having a particularly difficult time managing her mope on this day. We're almost done with maps and history... then the boys do copywork and Mercy does some handwriting practice. After that: RECESS.

We take a break before the boys hit their math books. Reuben gets a meal and James and Josiah join us.

**And I think I'll take a break here too.**