Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mall, Belts, and Zoo!

That picture captures a piece of Zack that I see All Day Long. So enthusiastic, so verbal, so intense.

Before we went to the zoo, Zack and I went to the mall and rode the carosel. He chose the "deer" to ride. He was so excited! After the ride lurched into motion, he said, "I wish I don't fall off?" which is every bit as cute as when he asked, "at the zoo, will the animals eat me?"

We also had another belt ceremony. All three big boys got their green belts, which took a good bit of work, including adding Tuesday night classes. Too bad the pictures aren't better...

And now, the Zoo!

Some highlights for Zack included feeding the goats...

...and riding the "choo-choo" train!

Trevor and Samuel really enjoyed the reptile house...

...and posing for pictures. :)

William enjoyed feeding the parakeets!  He's ready to buy one now.  RIGHT NOW.

I had such, SUCH a nice time with the kids. The zoo was SO crazy at the beginning of the day, but we hung around until it started to empty, and I'm so glad we did. Letting the kids roam around and look at the animals (which had perked up tons after the crowds left) was so delightful.

And tomorrow, Grandma and Grandpa come!!!! Yay!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter!! Here we are at church. Our church has a sweet tradition for the children on Easter morning...they use flowers to adorn the cross in the church yard. It was so cold and windy today, but if was sweet all the same.

Something about this picture I just really like...even with the eyes closed and all...

We took another picture once we got home. It makes me laugh that Tim's head is cropped. Do-it-yourself-photo-shoot, and do-it-super-fast-cause-everyone-is-freezing.

It's been a good week. Zack is outside right now see-sawing, the boys are laying on my bed watching Free Birds (for the second time before we return it to Red Box) and Tim is out shopping for a push mower!! We are really getting into this "make the kids responsible" thing. They are going to be the ones mowing the yard form now on! (I've got my fingers crossed, anyway). I was remembering last night that I used to mow the yard with our old push mower--while pregnant with Samuel and with William on my hip!! Ah, the good ol' days.

So, back to the good week: William worked a good bit on the computer, learning more about Minecraft. The kids are wanting to do some "Mindcraft programing." There's ways to make modifications to the game and he's been watching how-to videos. Hasn't had success making anything yet, though.

I made some sugar cookies this week. Zack helped decorate them. I've never seen him work this hard on anything before--I guess that's what the funny face is for anyway!

He loves to help. During dinner this week I heard him grunting in the kitchen and came in and saw he was doing dishes... (He's reaching to get soap from the soap dispenser.)

We had (what we hope is) a break-through this week with the kids. They have been driving us nuts lately about "electrics" (that's what they call watching videos and playing video games). They have limits on how much they can play, and when, but they just pester us about it. We came up with a new system. They have to EARN electronics time. It is awesome. Each day they have 3 "jobs" to do. For each job they get 20 minutes of time. We have little magnets on the fridge to keep track of their progress.

Job #1: Get up, eat, get dressed, make bed, do chore, brush teeth, and start school by 8:00a.m.

Job #2: Finish school.

Job #3: Clean kitchen after dinner and have it finished by 7:30p.m.

Honestly, it has only been 2 I don't have much to go on...but it has worked bea-u-tifully!!! I didn't know they could move so fast! You should have seen them cleaning the kitchen the other night!! Tim and I helped, too, and it got done so fast!!

Additionally: We have another chart for Saturday wii time (or whatever you call it). All week long they will earn time towards Saturday. I made them a chart that has little "life" hearts--like there are on Minecraft. I fill in hearts for them for all kinds of things: helping clean, having good attitudes, doing good on a test, using their time wisely, helping with Zack, etc. (This chart was filled up, but I erased it after their time on Saturday, and they have just started over.)

Not the best picture, but you get the idea. I introduced this on Friday morning, and gave them an automatic hour's worth of hearts since it was so late in the week. Oh my...the work they did the last 2 days to earn another hour of time!!! It was amazing. I'm sure that their enthusiasm will wear off, but I hope that it will set of new tone of being helpful, and of looking for things that need to be done.

One thing they did yesterday was help make food for Easter! William made our annual Pine Apple Crunch salad.

Pineapple Crunch Salad

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sugar
20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
8 oz cool whip 
1 c crushed pretzels
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c pecan pieces
1/4 c melted butter 
Mix cream cheese and sugar. Add pineapple. Fold in cool whip. Put in fridge until serving time. 
Mix pretzels, pecans, sugar, and melted butter. Spread on cookie sheet (I like to line it with foil first) and bake at 375 for 5-7 mins--till golden. Store in a baggie until serving time. Mix together right before serving.

But I digress. William got 2 hearts for making the recipe. Samuel made blue jello with fruit in it for Easter. He got one heart. They were happy. I was happy. Very happy.  I made Kentucky Pound Cake (recipe in linked on the side bar) and I used my Gluten Free flour mix.  It turned out fantastic!

We dyed Easter Eggs. It was a little crazy...but fun.

We did Easter baskets this morning, and had a delicious breakfast: fresh fruit salad, coffee cake, Easter Story cookies, and Sparkling juice (Celebration Juice :).

The kids did a Easter Egg hunt at Grandmother's.

That almost wraps it up...except that Tim pulled up while I was typing, and this is what has been going on:

Our two helpers:

This is William's silly face. He is in responsibility heaven. He just blossoms when you give him responsibility. (And, he's earning hearts!!)

Did ever a mower sound so sweet?

PS--Thanks, Dad, for making me mow the yard growing up.  It gives me loads of confidence that if a silly middle school girl can do it, these boys can do it.  I may have complained at the time, but I'm glad for the experience :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I wish everyone could live in Alabama! It is so lovely here. Remind me of that in 2 months when it's hot and muggy and I say that I can't take it anymore. :)

We have enjoyed watching our new plants get established. The boys' seed are sprouting beautifully, and our seedlings are taking off. I know all these garden pictures may seem a little boring to some, but I'm sure my grandma and grandpa will appreciate them. Plus, it is so fun to look back at them for myself.

Here's the garden at can see that we "upgraded" 2 of our boxes. We just took the old ones apart and moved them to the "compost row" and made new, larger boxes. It more than doubled our garden space.

Here's the boys' box. William said one of his bulbs has sprouted, but it's not in the picture.

This used to be the old compost box. We moved it and put one of the old garden boxes around the compost pile (which works way better), and put transplanted our strawberries to this little box. They seem to be doing great in there.

Here's the middle row. This box has our old kale and strawberries (last year's set, which I'm considering adding to the strawberry box) and now our heirloom seedlings from Gaucho Farms: squash, zucchini, eggplants, and pepper.

Same row, second box, has our old lettuce and onions, plus some heirloom swiss chard and cucumbers, and tomatoes that Tim started from seed.

The third row has a box of heirloom tomatoes and basil, which I read are good to plant together.

Also a box with a random, leftover foxglove from last year. Never had a flower on that yet. Also, some more squash, cantaloupe, and watermelon.

And this last box has some brussels sprouts which have been duds. I had such high hopes of fresh brussels sprouts. But our big beautiful plants didn't make squat. We learned too late that you should snap off the bottom leaves once you see the sprouts starting, but over all they just grew so slow. Maybe a nutrient problem? I'll try again next fall.

We went to an Easter egg hunt at church yesterday. The kids and I had a great time. Too bad I didn't get any great pictures, but that's secondary anyway, right?

Zack has figured out how to do the see-saw all by himself and is so proud.

He can't get up to the bar alone, yet, though ;)

It was also fun for me (though not as much for the kids) to see them helping in the yard yesterday. They don't have regular outdoor chores yet, so it's just up to us to make the time and give the effort to make them go out and work. We discovered that they can use the blower, so everyone took a turn using that yesterday. I got some pics of Tim teaching Sam to use the blower on the patio. Apparently they went up on the roof and blew the pine straw off. Zack came in very excited--he got to go on the roof too. SO glad I didn't know about that when it was going on!!

Samuel was not happy about blowing. But he did it anyway...that's a start.

And now: a lazy day with the Master's on in the background and the doors open to let in the breeze and birdsong. Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, I wish I could teleport you all down here and rescue you from your April Blizzard!!!