Wordless Wednesday

(I know I just posted pictures of her in this tutu, but I couldn't help myself!)


Closet Case

We have a severe lack of storage options here in our 150 year old house. Fortunately, thanks to the excellent skills of my mom, I am extremely organized. Twice a year, with the season change, I do the big Clothing Swap. All the clothes from the past season get put away and the "new" ones get brought out.

Sound simple enough? Well, here's the tough part: Alec and Benji are two sizes apart, so I will always have four complete wardrobes to store for the boys- one summer and one winter in each size. Also, I buy ahead for the boys (and Ava) on my weekly trips to the Goodwill store.

That has really paid off; I have a stash of nearly new pants, long-sleeved T's, coats, etc. up to size 14 (Alec wears a 10 now).
However, it means even more stuff I have to keep in storage.

Ava's stuff is really easy to switch; she has her own room and two dressers and a closet, and I'm not storing clothes for two little girls! Hers is in and out in a flash. The boys stuff is entirely another story, a whole days worth of work.

Here is a list of the things I do to keep myself organized so that each time I have to repeat The Swap it is smooth and painless:

:: I use clear bins so I can see what's inside right away and avoid opening a bin that I don't have to

:: Once a bin is full, I slide a piece of paper into the front of it, facing out, with the sizes and description of the contents (ex: size 5/6 summer, or size 7/8 Benji winter '09)

:: As I put away the current season's clothing, I sort it into two piles: one pile that's too small and one pile to possibly wear next year. If it's Benji's clothes, the "too small" pile gets donated. If it's Alec's clothes, the "too small" pile gets stored for Benji later.

:: I have what we call the Indian Summer bag in an easily accessible place- if I'm putting away winter stuff, the bag contains a couple pairs of pants and a couple long-sleeved T's for each boy. If I'm putting away summer stuff, the bag contains a couple pairs of shorts and short sleeved shirts for each. That way there is always an outfit or two for the sudden temperature changes we are so prone to getting here and I don't have to scramble and rip out all the bins at the last minute. I also always leave out a couple hoodies and jackets.

:: I do a load of laundry every day so I try to have at most only 7-10 pairs of pants/shorts and 7-10 shirts out. The boys share a dresser and there simply isn't room for an excess of clothing. Plus it's just easier to put things away when the drawers aren't stuffed full. If there is extra clothing that I just can't bear to part with, I'll just put them in storage for the next year (my boys tend to wear summer clothes for more than one year)

:: Lastly, I try to purge each time I do The Swap. If my first reaction to an item isn't a happy one, I just throw it into a plastic bag. It is so much freer and easier to not be burdened with way too much stuff! My extra clothes go to a good friend of mine who has boys similar ages and we tend to swap clothes back and forth. It works very well and saves both of us tons of money.

I'm sure I'm not the only one with storage issues; does anyone have any other good tips to share on storing seasonal clothing for your kids?


80 degrees

It hit 80 very briefly today.

I love summer, I even love getting sweaty!

We don't have central air, we only have window units in our bedrooms. I actually prefer no air, it makes it easier to adjust to the hot outdoors.

That having been said, there have been some 90 degree days that we've spent sitting in one of the bedrooms with the air cranked up, or begged a neighbor to sit in their cool house!

I'm excited to plant our garden in the next couple of weeks, we'll be growing most of our weekly grocery-store produce and hopefully saving a bundle of cash!

Today I pointed out to Benji that the teeny-tiny leaves on our trees will be huge leaves in the blink of an eye and then it will be full-on summer time!

I love the feeling of summer freedom, no deadlines, no one else's schedule but mine. I'm looking forward to carrying that feeling over into the fall since I'll be teaching the boys at home instead of sending them to a classroom.

It's time to think about the hose, the slip-n-slide, flip flops and sun-warmed tomatoes off the vine!

Let summer begin!


Wordless Wednesday


Summer Giveaway!

Go enter my giveaway on meeUp! It's for a meeUp Baby Carrier in Tangerine Dot with Fuchsia border/lining. The giveaway runs till the end of May, so let all your friends know!


Whoopin' it up!

I sent out these invitations to 8 of Alec's friends for a night time scavenger hunt that we hosted last night. Before the friends and their families came, our families came for dinner. Not sure what we were thinking by cramming two parties into one night...whew! That was a lot of work!!

Alec specifically requested a "cake-mix cake with mountains of lumpy, tie-dyed icing, and a number eight in Twinkies" on it! I"m a hater of all pre-packaged foods and it made me cringe, but as you can see, I gave him what he wanted. We bought a back-up cake just in case...
The Twinkie Cake, as we dubbed it, turned out to be a hit with kids and adults alike.

What started out as 8 kids and their siblings turned into what seemed like about 20 kids once it got dark. I have no pictures of the fun in the dark because I was too busy running around like a lunatic trying to keep track of everyone and everything that I could not see. Once the scavenger hunt started, the backyard looked like it was full of UFOs. We gave all the kids headlamps or glow sticks and there was no light at all except for the dwindling fire that we were keeping for s'mores later.

Apparently everyone had a good time, I was too busy to notice! I always feel like a truck hit me after my kids birthday parties; I never feel like I got to enjoy them or visit with anyone except for the brave souls who ask me if they can help with anything. Maybe someday I'll afford to hire someone to run the party so I can attend as a guest and enjoy it!

Oh, and a big thank you to Brittany for using my camera for me!!!!!! At least I can see what it looked like afterward...

Dairy-Free Pt. One

I'm not going to attempt to actually "write" an article about why commercially available dairy products are not a food our family chooses to eat. I'm simply going to lay out some key points of interest and provide links to my sources. My intention in doing this is to peak your interest, and encourage you to find your own information that will be valuable to you.

(If at any time you feel uncomfortable while reading this, OR inclined to leave a nasty comment, please remember that the red X in the upper corner of your screen will immediately remove said discomfort. *grin*)

Ready? Here we go...

~Commercial dairy products affect the way the immune system functions~

::From an article by Robert Cohen, published on the Not Milk! homepage:

"The average American drinks milk and eats cheese containing new strains of bacteria, immune to the 52 different antibiotics which are also present in milk."

You know how scientists are saying that if you over use antibiotics, your body will become immune to them and they will be less or completely ineffective? Well, the above quote means that milk drinkers are consuming not only new strains of bacteria, but also a dizzying array of antibiotics, more than any human should ever put in their body.

:: From an article by Dr. Akilah El, Ph.D., N.D., found here: http://www.celestialhealing.net/milkpage.htm

"The Biggest problem with cow’s milk is that the protein in the cow’s milk damages the human immune system. Amino acids, the units that make up proteins, are building blocks for all living cells. When amino acids in our food are properly broken down by the digestive system into protein, it does no harm to the immune system. Protein from milk, however, is absorbed into the blood fully undigested, provoking an immune response. Repeated exposure to these proteins disrupts normal immune functions and may eventually lead to diseases."

::Dairy products are often a large contributing factor in how healthy our kids are. In his globally renown book titled, "Baby and Child Care", Dr. Benjamin Spock writes, "I no longer recommend dairy products. the essential fats that are needed for brain development are found in vegetable oils. Milk is very low in these essential fats and high in the saturated fats that encourage artery blockage and weight problems as children grow.". More on this can be found here: http://www.milksucks.com/sickkids.asp

:: In relation to the function of the immune system, is the inflammatory response to toxins or allergens introduced to the human body. Here is an excerpt from an article written by Eric Eamedes, found here:http://www.thehumandiet.com/veracitas/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=6&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

"For desert she made apple pie and Hagen Daas® ice cream – my favorite dessert. I ate it with glee – the first dairy product I had eaten in 6 weeks. And within a few hours I experienced the return, with a vengeance, of the du Toit cramps. Now I realized that I had been weeks without them. I was sold – it all came together for me. My allergies were gone, my face cleared up, my throat was neither painful nor itchy, my stomach pains were gone and I had lost 30 pounds – all in 6 weeks."

This gentleman had grown up, as many Americans do, with milk as an unquestioned part of life. After all, he asks, where would we get all our calcium? After being scheduled for surgery to remove his tonsils, he had a friend advise him to try going dairy-free for 6 weeks. After experiencing the complete turn-around of his health issues, he canceled his surgery.
(As a side note, I would highly recommend anyone who is curious about dairy issues to read this entire article!)

Next time:
~Commercial Dairy Products are the largest cause of allergic response, both in children and adults~


Just sitting down to see what comes out, and thought I'd throw a couple pictures in for good measure. That's my kiddos on Easter morning, and how lovely to have a sunny day for a change! The past several Easters around here have been wet and miserable.

I made Ava's dress out of some meeUp fabric that I had sitting around, after I was inspired by a shop on Etsy. I whipped this up on Saturday night (I finished it at 2 am!) and the compliments rolled in all day on Sunday! *wink* Not to toot my own horn or anything...I actually really like the dress, but am a little tired of that fabric. I've been using it for meeUp for quite a while and I think after I'm sold out of it I'll discontinue it and find a different pinky, girly print.

Today was what I call a "coffee day"; cold and damp outside, wearing my Uggs and a sweater inside and drinking a pot of decaf to take the edge off of the chill. Coffee doesn't make me feel that great, but it sure hits the spot in moderation.

And, speaking of moderation, I gave up sweets for Lent (which I've done for several years) AND I've been watching my grain intake AND I've been getting up at 6:30 every morning and excercising instead of putting it off till later in the afternoon. SO...I've lost a couple pounds...SO I might not look like a beached whale in spandex this summer if I keep it up!!! I'd like to continue with the no sweets thing, but there are some birthdays coming up, which makes it hard.

Marvin just got back from his yearly trip on "tax night" to the post office that's open late on the other side of town. I can't believe he does this to himself every year! He is always so tired and miserable the next day. In his defense, though, this year a miracle occured and he was working on taxes in January and was about 2/3 of the way finished. When he went back to open up the file last weekend to finish, it was completely deleted! ARRRRGH! He had to start over...poor guy!

I'm running a giveaway this week over at Peanut Butter and Pickles for an adorable little girls hat, come and check it out and see if you can win!

I'll put up the second part of my "no cheese post" before the end of the week...I mostly wrote all that stuff to remind me why we don't eat dairy, it's easy for me to figure out something once and say I don't do it, but I often forget the reasons why. So read along if you wish!

Ok, I don't normally do this sort of rambling, non-specific post. I kinda feel like I'm on the phone with a friend at the end of the day or something! So, friends, do ya like this kind of chatty post??


Say Cheese!

When I was in high school, our English teacher had us write a speech about a controversial subject and deliver it to our class. Mine was titled, "Don't drink your milk". My classmates stared at me during the speech like I was speaking French, and no one said a word afterward during the Q&A session.

I knew what I was getting into when I chose that subject. Here in America, drinking milk is as much an unquestioned part of daily life as the sunshine and the trees. People are becoming gradually more aware and responsible for their own health, but 15 years ago when I made that speech, it was the equivalent of me saying that a tree was really a man-made flagpole and the leaves were fabric flags. It sounded ludicrous!

At our house, we are largely dairy free. Among the five of us, we have various degrees of problems with dairy ranging from full-on allergy to just a little intestinal discomfort. That alone is good cause for our avoidance of dairy, but there are a plethora of other reasons why dairy foods, as they are commercially available, should never be consumed.

Before I begin displaying a fraction of the "anti-dairy" research to be found, let me temper my statements with this: We love ice cream, and cheese on our pizza. We eat ice cream all summer long and have home made pizza several times per month. But that's ALL. We don't drink milk as a beverage, we don't cover our nightly dinners with shredded cheddar, and we skip the cheese when dining out.

Everyone has (or should have) something in life that they're passionate about. When you choose nutrition as your passion, you must also adopt the "everything in moderation" slogan. You must realize that food is inherently associated with culture and woven into the fabric that is the human life. No one has died or become less moral from consuming the occasional nutritionally void or even harmful food stuff.

The choice our family makes to be nutritionally conscious and selective about what we put in our bodies does not, by any means, make us superior to anyone on a cultural level, but it does give us an edge in preventative health care. By imprinting our children's bodies as they're developing with whole, unprocessed, easily digestible foods, we are laying the groundwork for healthy adults with healthy habits.

It is simply a choice we make for our family. Nothing more.

Over the next week or so, I'll be posting various segments of research on why dairy foods, as they are commercially available, should never be consumed as a key part of our diets. While I welcome comments on this, I do not wish to debate or argue the subject. I will provide links to all my sources so that if anyone has questions, they can find the answers.

~If you want to get a jump start on the reading, check out Brittany's post on the same subject~


10 on 10

Joining in the fun over at Brittany's for "10 on10"
Take a look...

Consequences of a late night

Waiting to be read

It's still too cold to put these away

In the office

Potty-training incentive

On my front porch

Too cold to wear the tutu by itself

It's raining today

Guilty pleasure

Finally sold my mixer!


The Urge

This comes and goes, but right now I've really got The Urge to have a really large family (I define really large as over 4 kids). Not sure what started it this time, but I'm inwardly griping that I don't have a husband that shares the same ideas on this subject.

Of course, we initially said we wanted four kids, so HEY! where's my fourth?? *grin* Hm mmm, I'll have to remind him of that...

Alec has been praying every night, "Jesus, please give Mommy a new baby". He and Benji prayed every night for months for Daddy to have a new job so he could stay home more and they were answered in the most perfect way we could imagine.

So during this Urge, Ava is of course in her Sweet and Sour phase (the twos, which has almost become like a curse word around here!)and I'm wondering, do I want to do this phase again? Really? What am I thinking?

I'm thinking about that newborn smell, nursing on the couch after the family is in bed, the first smile, the tiny toes, the tiny diapers, chubby fists, first steps, elfin giggles, need I say more?

Well, I can't say more, I have to hop in the shower so I can go to the grocery store with two of my three delightful children. Maybe I'll lose The Urge while I'm in the store...


Wordless Wednesday


Spring Break

Last week, the kids did this

and this

while Marvin did this

and this.
He spend the lion's share of his time this week removing some old fence and replacing it with a new privacy fence. He rented a post hole digger, dug 15 holes, sank 15 posts in fast-drying cement, and installed most of the sections. He has never put in a fence before, and you'd never know it. He worked like a pro and nothing went wrong! I can say with most certainty that that has never ever happened on an project we have attempted. I kept holding my breath waiting for him to come frustrated into the house and he never did.
As I'm writing this, all but two sections and the gate are up. The rest will get finished this week in the evenings.

At the end of the week, we took the kids to a museum center a couple hours south of here. We have been to the children's museum portion of the building, but were looking forward to seeing what else it had to offer. Since it was Alec's birthday weekend, we decided to sweeten the pot by splurging on a hotel room for a night with a pool.

Our hotel had Select Comfort sleep number beds, down comforters, down pillows and REAL cotton sheets! Score! However, much to Ava's dislike, we had a portable crib brought in for her to sleep in. After she screamed, "I WANT MY MOMMY!!" at the top of her lungs, we decided to let her experience the sleep number bed with us until she fell asleep. In the morning, we realized that her head and feet were touching the rails on both ends. I guess we'll have to find a room with three beds next time instead of two...is that even possible?

The hotel was a perfectly round tower, each room has a balcony overlooking that particular part of the city. We opted out of paying the extra fee to insure us a view of the river and the boats. Instead, we had an exciting overhead look at a very busy highway and some office buildings...it was still pretty at night- heck anything's pretty in the dark if you add twinkle lights!

The building is what I would consider vintage; the elevators were complete with marble floors and elaborate carved wood lining the walls.

We loved the elevator so much that we had to take our picture in the giant mirror on the back of it.

At the museum center on Saturday, we spent most of our time in the Natural History museum. It had super-cool features like a large and very realistic man-made cave, complete with bats and dripping water.

After learning about the extinction of the wolly mammoth, the kids partied with a moose and a wolf in one of the many life-sized dioramas.

Ava scaled a toddler-sized mountain,

and the boys posed with one of their favorite animals.

As all vacations do, the week went entirely too fast! And sadly, we now have drippy, damp, stay-indoors weather *sigh*
Summer's almost here...almost


Happy Eighth Birthday, Alec!

Eight years have flown!

When I was pregnant with you, Daddy was very nervous about being a daddy. He also took very good care of me because I was so sick. I threw up so much that I lost 11 lbs. and had to go to the hospital.

I was working at the Spa, cutting hair, and I would work a 40 hour week with two 10 hour days back to back. Everyone was in disbelief that I could stand up that long with my huge belly.

When my due date came around, my doctor wanted to induce me. Being the natural freak that I am, I said no. Two weeks later, you were still comfortable in my belly and I was very uncomfortable! We packed up our bags and went into the hospital to be induced.

You were born in the middle of the night. Nana and Papa, Grandma and Grandpa, and lots more people were there. They all came into the room to greet you; you were the first grandchild for everyone.

When it was time for me to go back to work, I cried a lot because I didn't want to leave you. You stayed at Nana's house while I worked and she gave you bottles and read you books and played with you. You used to go upstairs to Nana's window seat and make "spaghetti" with Papa's pens and pencils and say, "frinkle, frinkle!" while you sprinkled on pennies for cheese.

Now you are eight years old, and full of questions, answers, and smiles.
You are a wonderful and patient (most of the time!) big brother to Ava. I love it when you read to her or let her play on the "Alec playground" when I'm trying to fix dinner.

You and Benji have lots of fun playing with your Legos and Star Wars guys and making battle scenes and JunkBot mazes.

You are an important part of our family. Benji and Ava will learn lots of things from you. As you grow, Daddy and I will depend on you to help our household run smoothly.

You love science and history, and you are quite the artist and storyteller. You are very creative and like to make things from your imagination.

I will be teaching you at home this fall, and I am very excited to begin a journey of new discoveries and learning with you.

Daddy and I love you very much. God made you special; there is no one like you. You are a blessing from our Heavenly Father and we are grateful to have you here with us.

~Happy Birthday, Sander!~


When I'm sick...

...the Moon Sand doesn't get swept up

...the poopy disaster Ava orchestrated during her "nap" gets even stinkier as it sits in her room

...the dog cleans up the food on the floor

...the DVD player works extra hard

...Benji's coat lays where he dropped it

...the toilet doesn't get flushed

...no one eats anything but bread, cereal, and crackers

...my used tissues sit in a damp, snowy pile on the carpet beside the bed

...I really, really, really wish that Santa had brought that Nanny I requested last Christmas

...I really, really, really wish that my husband had gone to culinary school

...I'm grateful that I'm healthy enough to be complaining that I'm sick


Wordless Wednesday

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