Monday, June 27, 2011

My Weekend

 One of the advantages of living in a small town is that our airport still has limited security.  For our field trip on Friday, I took the boys to our local airport to see a plane land and take off.  You can look up the arrival and departure times on your airport website.  We just missed the plane landing, but we did get to see the passengers get off and watch from above as the workers removed the baggage.  Then, we raced to the baggage claim to see the bags come down and circle around.  Our airport has only one terminal and one baggage claim, so that makes it pretty simple. 

 This is the boys standing above on the viewing deck.  They loved riding the glass front elevator up and down to get to the viewing deck.  (Sorry for the amazing picts.  The boys were too busy looking out the windows at the planes too look at me.) 
 This is the airplane we saw take off.  We actually watched three of them, but I'll spare you the other picts. 
 Then we made a brief visit to the Japanese Gardens just outside our airport before heading to the car.  The gardens have lots of fun trails to walk on and hills to climb, which was super fun for the boys. 
 In all, it was a pretty successful field trip.

So on Friday night, we wanted to go camping.  I LOVE camping, but the honest truth is that if I am not going for more than one night, it is way too much work.  Due to other commitments we had on Sunday, neither Dave nor I could be gone, so we had just Friday night to camp out.  So . . . we set up camp in our back yard.  We called it Camp Hallea. 

 Dave is always the fire builder.  We placed some cement pavers in the sand box and built the fire on them. 

 It served the purpose.  Of course, we had to roast marshmallows,
and this guy-Seriously!  This is one of those GIANT marshmallows that is seriously 4 times the size of a normal one.  He ate the whole thing! 

 And here was our campsite. 
So the advantage of this kind of camping is that there is no packing involved.  Greyson got to sleep in his own bed.  (That is SO worth it!)  Indoor plumbing.  If we forgot anything, it wasn't far to go and get it.  No checkout time.  It's Free! 
We'll get up in the mountains here pretty soon, but for now, this was pretty fun.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Living On Less

That is my new mantra: Living On Less.  And I usually enjoy it.  I actually love creating my budget each month and seeing where I can scrimp in order to leave more to put into savings.  It is so empowering to watch a debt balance decline, and then pay it off in full.  I love creating a yummy, nourishing meal out of nothing when I have spent my grocery budget for the month and I am forced to cook with what is in the house.  This summer, I have even set a goal to drive as little as possible, and we ride our bikes everywhere.  I have used less than a half tank thus far and feels so good.  (I'm sure it makes then environmentalists happy too.)  It is honestly SO FUN!  So truthfully, today, I was having a pity party.   I received several invitations from friends to go and do some really fun things.  There's a girls night out tomorrow at Chili's, and a group of friends invited my kiddos and me swimming at an aquatic center today.  Another invited me to head out of town to a splash park, and I swear every neighbor I have is headed camping and I am super jealous.  It isn't so much that I can't afford to do these things, but rather that the money left in my budget for the rest of the month is allocated for other things. 
So instead, my kids and I set up our own splash park in the back yard.  Even I went on the slip and slide, and it was much less crowded than the aquatic center would have been. 
A friend reminded me today of the popular saying, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."  I Love that!  It describes how I feel about living.  Sure, I get rid of things (I hate clutter).  But, we make due with what we have.  When I redecorate, I re-purpose what I already have in the house, and simply make a room feel new.  And I enjoy altering and embellishing clothes to give them new life.  Try it sometime . . . it really is quite fulfilling. 
So, I haven't always lived like this.  In fact, for a long time, I have lived quite the opposite.  Budget???  What was that?  And if I didn't have enough money, I always had a credit card.  Dave and I would spend independent of one another and not be accountable to each other for our expenditures.  I didn't really see the need of saving for a rainy day, because credit cards were for a rainy day, and at our house, it seemed to rain a lot. 
I'm not really sure what changed.  It seems that one day, I (we) just realized the error of our ways and started to make changes.  Dave even bought me The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey for Valentine's Day.  (He's so romantic!)  But seriously, it is a great book. 
So, if you're reading this thinking how sorry you feel for me, don't.  In fact, if you haven't reined in your spending yet, give it a try.  You might just discover how fun it is to live on less than you make and become debt free.  We're almost there!  Won't you join us?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Few Summer Fun Ideas

I just had to share these fun ideas we have enjoyed this week as part of our Summer Plan.  As a kid, we would always make "rock animals" when we went camping.  We'd find rocks, glue them together to resemble an animal, and paint them.  I ran across this cute idea, and thought it so reminded me of those cute rock animals from my childhood.  These are "Rock Pets."  

I had each of my boys pick a rock they wanted to use.  As I have 3 boys, there are always plenty of rocks (and sticks) around our yard.  I had told them ahead of time what they would be used for so they had a bit of an idea what size and shape to pick.  Then, they each decided what their "pet" would be.  They both wanted to do a monster.  They painted the rock one main color.  Then we added a mouth and teeth with another color of paint. 
 We finished them off by adding googley eyes and hair out of yarn.  The pig has pompoms for the ears and a button for the nose. 
 Here they are with their creations.  I had a niece and nephew in town and they joined us for the project.  We had a lot of fun and I think they turned out super cute.  Now, they are on display in our front flower beds for all to see.  This morning, my oldest got up and went and sat on the sidewalk in front of the rocks, and just looked at them for a bit.  He is pretty proud of his "pet." 

This next project we did for our "Tastee Tuesday."  I wanted to make homemade ice cream and I thought it would be so much more fun if the boys could "be one with their work."  So, I found this recipe and thought I'd try it out.  It was super easy and fast.  We needed ice cubes, rock salt (I took mine from my water softener brine tank) and two sizes of ziploc bags.  (I used the slider zip top bags, but next time, I'd use a regular zipper bag.  The seal was not very good on the slider bags and kept popping open.) 
 So, in the smaller of the two zipper bags,  place 1 cup of milk, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  The recipe called for half-and-half but I just used what I had and it worked fine.  My youngest even chose chocolate milk and it was great.  Then, seal the bag. 
 Place it inside the larger zipper bag and fill around both sides with ice and rock salt.  Then, let your kids roll it around for five minutes and . . .
Voila!  Ice cream!  It really was that easy, and I was surprised to see that it froze that quickly.  I did snitch a taste or two, and it was super good. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Report on Summer Plan

I have been working on my summer plan.  You can read about it here.  As the summer has progressed, I have realized the need for some major flexibility regarding our daily activity.  Initially, I had intended to have our activity each day before lunch; that way, we would have the afternoon free to play with friends, work around the house, etc.  Well, I have discovered that I need a little more flexibility in my day than that.  So, we just fit in our activities when we can.  Basically, we are just flying by the seat of our pants around here.  Here is a recap on the last few weeks since we started. 

Our local library had a display of stuffed animals the boys enjoyed seeing.  They could even touch them.  This was in place of our story time for Thinking Thursday. 

Just couldn't resist putting this picture in.  Greyson was feeding himself spaghetti. 

These were our second Monday craft project.  The boys made these for Father's day.  I used Plaster of Paris and just some metal molds, marbles, and whatever else I had around the house.  The plaster was less than $5 and dried super fast.  It worked great!
We also made suckers which my boys sold at our yard sale.  Chad made $8 selling suckers!  I taught them how to make popcorn with an air popper.  I tried to convince them that that was the real way to make it, but they wholeheartedly disagreed, since the only poprorn they have ever had was made in the microwave.    Finally, we have spent a significant amount of time running in the sprinklers and sliding on the slip and slide.  My activities are usually at our home, free (or very cheep) and we just fit them into our day as we can. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011


This . . .
is what we have been working on around here.  Chad has been mastering riding his bike without training wheels.  He's been ready for a long time.  The thing is, he is so resistant to change, especially any change that may involve him getting hurt.  But, when we were camping over Memorial Day weekend, my sister in law and I took off the training wheels (for I swear the umpteenth time) and worked with Chad to go on his own.  He took off from his first try.  Now, I have been working with and encouraging him to go over the curbs, turn a corner, ride for long distances, and start on his own.  He is making Progress.  In fact, I'm really proud of how well he is doing.  His confidence seems to grow by leaps each day.  It's been fun, too, to see and hear others encourage him.  Just yesterday, while Chad was riding by to go to the park, a neighbor his age called out, "Go Chad!  That's awesome!"  I could hear him telling his mom that Chad was riding without training wheels and she joined in the cheers for him as well.  He was grinning from ear to ear.  It totally boosted his confidence.  He had been really nervous, as I was making him ride in the road to a park, about a mile away, for lunch.  That bit of encouragement was all he needed to muster the courage to make it to his goal.  Today, he is begging me to let him ride to the park again. 

I never realized that as a mother, I would feel peer pressure.  I have felt so much pressure to have this kid riding without training wheels.  The truth is, he was the one in control of this decision.  And until he was ready, he was not going to do it.  I did plenty of encouraging, which was necessary, and Chad put up plenty of resistance.  But he made slow and steady progress to reach his goal. 

As a mother, often the progress I make is slow, or small, or undone at the end of the day.  When I look at the small picture, I often feel that I am not making any progress at all.  But when I step back, and look at the last 6 months, or the last year, I can see where I have made progress.  I got to thinking where I have grown this year. 

Love and Logic-I took a class.  I am a better parent; less impatient, I show more love to my children
Weight Watchers-I have lost nearly 40 lbs. 
Running-I ran my first 5-K, and then another
Life/Motherhood-I have been focusing more on what really matters; I'm trying to be more flexible
Debt-I have paid off $16,374.22 since January (Okay, Dave helped too :))

It's progress.  But it takes me (and you) reflecting back over time to really notice it.  And just like Chad, I have had plenty of resistance (often from myself).  And I also have had wonderful encouragement to keep me going.  Sure, it's easy to get overwhelmed when I realize how much progress I still need to make.  I have a lot of areas to work on.  But it will come, just like it did for Chad.  Thanks, kiddo, for being such a good example!

What are you working on to improve in your life?  Look back and see how far you've come.  (Be patient.  Sometimes, it takes a while.  Afterall, 40 lbs. in a year is less than a pound a week, but it still adds up to 40 lbs.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Peace and Quiet-More of the Same Thoughts

I'm home.  All alone.  (Well, almost.  The baby is sleeping.)  It is just SO quiet!
A neighbor called and invited my two older boys to join her children at a movie.  They went to see Gnomeo and Juliet.  That's a brave mom, huh?!  Her three and my two makes five kids, ages six and under.  At a movie theater!  Bless her soul. 
So here I sit, in peace and quiet till the baby awakes.  I like it.  I think.  To be honest, this is what I long for on most days.  Just quiet time to myself.  The thing is, I'm actually quite lonely. Because I had not planned on this, I don't even have any projects waiting for me to work on.  I can't help but realize that all too soon, this is what I'll have every day . . . quiet.  On most days, it doesn't feel like those quiet days ahead will be here very quickly.  When school is in full swing, I still have 2 children at home, and I fully intend to have more.  So when I think of it that way, I can't help but be overwhelmed by the thought that I still have probably ten years before all of my kiddos are in school.  At times when I am feeling especially overwhelmed, my sister always tells me to think of my 5-year plan.  I laugh and remind her that my 5-year plan involves having two more children. 
I have been very guilty of wishing away this stage of motherhood. But the truth is, we can no more speed up the days of our lives than we can slow them down. Someone once said it this way, "Have you ever sat down to eat something yummy, only to get distracted by a phone call just as you take your first bite? The next thing you know, the phone call is over and your food has disappeared. But you don't recall tasting a thing.". If I'm not careful, that will be my experience as a mother. One day I'll wake up and my children will be grown and I'll have missed it all.
Does this quote by Emily Halverson describe how you feel sometimes? "Many days [are]colored by the paradoxical perspective of not wanting life to change, yet wondering if I [can] bear it's chaos a second longer. [I] wonder how I [can] make it through the next twelve hours before bedtime arrive[s], while worrying that [these] hours [will] never be enough to harvest all the possible joy. How [can] I want to fast-forward,, pause, and rewind all in the same breath?"  I LOVE that!  And it so describes how I feel. 
To be honest, just being aware of the passage of time brings change to my mothering. Tonight, Chad came into my room after getting out of his bed. That is always frustrating to me, as I so long for a few moments to myself in the evening. I was reading in my bed. He asked, "Mom, can I fall asleep in your room?". I responded with, "Well, sweetie, that's going to be awfully hard because the light is on.". Without missing a beat, he reached for the bedside lamp and said, "Well, you can turn off the big light and use this lantern.". I just couldn't say no, so off went the big light and on went the 'lantern'. And for this moment, I'll pause time and let my oldest son snuggle by me in bed, knowing that there will come a time when he no longer wants to snuggle in my bed.  At least I can take comfort in the fact that although I can't stop the passage of time,  I can still harvest its memories. 
Here are a few memories from this last week. 
Who needs anything else when this is in your back yard?

Our first craft (Monday)

A field trip to the petting zoo
The baby is awake and my older two are on their way home.  I had best go and enjoy these moments, the laughter, the screams, the giggles, and even the lack of quiet.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stages of Motherhood

I seem to be surrounded by mothers who have come to the end of their child bearing years.  These are women whom I admire.  Whom I have shared pregenancies (and miscarriages) with.  Women who I feel I can relate to and share my joys and struggles of motherhood with.  But these women, many of whom started their families before I did, are done having babies.  Their families are complete. 

Mine is not.

For a while now, I have had a feeling of envy toward these other mothers.  I have envied the completion of this stage in their lives.  I have wanted to be able to cross off my list, "have a family."  I'd love to begin discarding the endless birrage of children's "stuff" that has accumilated over the years.  It would feel so nice to know I never had to gain 30 lbs. and then try to loose is all over again.  I envy the beginning of independence that is creaping back into the lives of these women. 

Then, just yesterday, I read this post.  This young mother of five kids, including two sets of twins (all in just 4 years), shares her feelings on the fact that for her, the baby stage is ending.  It's slipping away.  She shares how she wishes she could freeze time, and hold her babies longer. 

I couldn't help but be grateful for the chance I will have to bring more babies into this world, to hold and to snuggle those tiny bundles.  I know I often wish it away-all the work and the tantrums and the worry.  I have said so many times that I wish I was done having babies.  That I could feel an end to this stage of my life.  That I could look forward to the independance of older children.  And then I hear from every mother who is where I am not yet, a caution to enjoy it now because it will be gone before I know it.

They are so right!  My oldest just finished Kindergarten.  I feel like he just started!  I do realize that he will be grown before I know it.  They all will.  The last 12 months has been a blur of events, beginning with Greyson's birth, on to David's graduation, his new job, Chad starting school, then finishing school, and here we are. 

I don't hold my children as often as I should, and I certainly don't appreciate every moment.  But I must, before they are gone. 
How do you enjoy each day of the journey, and cherish your children before they are grown?  On the especially difficult days, what do you do to keep from wishing it away? 

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