You Don’t Know What You Got…

They say that you don’t know what you have until it is gone. I think they’re right. At least in our house. At least for today.

We spent our morning as usual… working on school, with little play breaks in between every few subjects. Usually the kids get along really well for these, playing and laughing hard. Not so much today. It seemed as if any time that Kelsey and Dylan spent more than two seconds in one another’s presence there were tempers, tears and time-outs (which didn’t work). Talking about it didn’t work. Losing cherished items didn’t work. Making them sit next to each other didn’t work.


An oldie but goodie. I saw these expressions a few times today.

Finally I gave up.

“You can’t stand to be around each other? Alright then you don’t get to be around each other. No more talking to each other, no more playing with each other… in fact, just pretend like the other person doesn’t exist. Dylan, you don’t have an older sister. Kelsey you don’t have a brother.”

Oh the drama. I was a bit unprepared for it actually. Once they realized I was serious about keeping them apart, out came the waterworks.

“I do have a brother/sister!! You can’t make me ignore him/her!”

It was almost like they loved each other after all. Once we got all the attitudes squared away I told them they could be siblings again. For the rest of the afternoon, any time one of them started getting snippy at the other, I heard a hissed out, “Remember what happened before?!” And that, was that.

It’s reassuring to know that they really do like each other after all.

These kids! Another oldie since we don't get many of both of them together these days, and because this still perfectly captures their personalities.

These kids! Another oldie since we don’t get many of both of them together these days, and because this still perfectly captures their personalities.

The Gift of Time

Spilled drinks, a fight to break up (again),another mess to pick up, owwies to kiss, hair to brush, and why can I never catch up on that laundry??

Diapers need changing, the kitchen floor could use a mopping since I can’t remember the last time I mopped it, and let’s not even begin to discuss the vacuuming that needs doing… In the middle of it all, I hear, “Mommy can you…”, “Mommy, I need…”, “Mommy, he/she is being mean to me…”, “Mommy”, “Mommy”, Mommy”.

Some days (I am ashamed to admit, too many days), I look at my house and my kids, and see little more than an invasion on my time. Even when I don’t say it out loud, I’m thinking, “Can’t you be quiet? I’m trying to read this! Can’t you stop fighting? I want some peace! Can’t you stay clean? I want a break!” Selfish much??

Since we moved back to Wisconsin I have felt strongly that God has given us this time to draw closer as a family. We have been re-evaluating family patterns and habits that we have gotten into. I have been trying to work on rounding out our homeschooling experience to make it more enjoyable for all, and in doing so, have come across some wonderful advice on family. Specifically perspectives on motherhood.

It’s changing me. I’m beginning (emphasis on beginning) to see the beauty in our young-family chaos more often. Spilled drinks don’t have to be an annoyance – they can be an opportunity to model patient service. A fight to resolve is a lesson to teach – not just in how they should act, but in how they see me responding to the situation. Owwies to kiss, hair to brush, tears to dry up… are a privilege! They don’t always feel like it, but then chubby, little arms press tightly around my neck. Sweet, childish voices respond “I love you too.” And I know it. I am privileged.

I am enjoying a very precious gift right now. It’s called time. Time to love and discover my children. These beautiful babies call me “Mommy!” and I am blessed.

As for the laundry and mopping…eh… we try.

When Life Gives You a Basket of Socks – Go Fishing!

Confession: I would rather do just about anything than sort socks. There are always pairs that are missing, it’s tedious work, and I don’t even like wearing the things, so why would I want to fold them?

For those reasons, there is always a basket or box of socks in our house. Any socks that I can’t find an immediate match for while I’m doing laundry go there. It’s never empty, and more often than not, approaching full. It sits there day by day, reminding me that even if I catch up with all of the rest of the laundry, I haven’t finished. There are still those socks. 

I’ve been trying to be better about making work into games for the kids because it’s much more fun for all of us. Like when I asked Dylan to see how long it would take him to get up to 20 looking for marbles in his room. (And then legos) He got motivated to see how fast he could complete the challenge, and aside from getting told every time his number count went up, it worked great for me! Definitely worth trying to come up with some creative ideas to make working more fun.

Enter the socks. I woke up a few mornings ago with a (in my opinion) brilliant idea! Why not play Go Fish with socks? It might take a little longer than just gritting my teeth and sorting them, but it’s a giant leap up from not doing them at all. And more fun!

So we did. I put a big bag of our unmatched socks in the middle of our circle, and we hid our socks under blankets so that no one else could peek at them. For about 30 to 45 minutes we laughed and giggled as we raced to be the one with the most matches. It was fun! Some socks were sorted! And best of all, I’ve had a few requests since.

“Can we play the Go Fish err…Go Sock game again, please?!” Mission Complete.

Of Tea Parties and Fairy Gardens

IMG_2452“It’s Tuesday!! We get to have a tea party, we get to have a tea party!!”

This chant is a weekly occurrence in our house these days. Tuesday dinners are our special tea party dinner, complete with poetry and good literature. It is, quite possibly, everyone’s favorite night of the week.

I came across Tuesday Poetry Tea when I followed up on a recommendation for the Brave Writer website:

I’m beyond happy that I did. We have started using a lot of the ideas and tips shared on the blogs and in a couple of Julie Bogart’s books, to spice up our writing curriculum for homeschooling, and the kids love it!

I mean, why not right? What kid is going to argue with real tea parties, good books and fun (like really fun!) writing assignments? Not mine.

Now don’t get me wrong, homeschooling is not always tea parties and fairy gardens in our house, but we certainly don’t complain when they come along!

And speaking of fairy gardens… I was inspired by a friend’s little, indoor, succulent garden when I saw a picture of it on facebook. It was adorable! It had a tiny house, a couple of round, jolly looking gnomes, and some succulent plants. As soon as I saw it, I wanted to get the kids involved and do our own, little, indoor garden. Except with fairies.

Tonight we finished our own “fairy garden”, which became a Smurf Garden instead because the price was right. The kids had fun, Michael and I had a blast, and we now have a lovely, miniature garden to add some whimsy to our classroom.

In Which We Move, Settle in and Read Winnie the Pooh

Life has been a whirlwind these past few months. Between packing up our life in Missouri, saying goodbye to dear friends, unpacking our life into Wisconsin and getting plugged back in, I have been, to be honest, a bit lost.

It is hard to say goodbye to people who have become such a large part of your life. It’s hard to leave the familiar, even when you’re going back to something familiar, because life didn’t stop when you left. Things changed, people have changed, and now you’re faced with the question, “Where do I fit?” Bit by bit, you ease yourself back into what used to be “home” and you start to find where you fit again.

And those are just my adjustments. The ones the kids are making are many ways, much bigger. “I wish we could go back to Missouri!”, is commonly flung at us when something goes wrong with life here. It makes sense. They miss the familiar as well. They miss their friends. They miss being able to run outside in 60 degree weather in February. (This is legitimate. I miss it too!)

Still, even with the slow, somewhat painful start, we’re beginning to find our feet. A homeschool routine is starting to feel more comfortable. The kids are loving their Sunday school classes, and making friends at church. We’re able to catch up on family time that was missed while we were busy with classes in Missouri. This is a mixed blessing at times, but overall good.

We spend many hours of our week reading and discussing literature together. A few weeks ago we finished The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, much to the kids’ disappointment, and began reading The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh. It didn’t take long before Bear won them over. In the middle of large amounts of upheaval, and change, reading of Pooh Bear’s adventures is like a warm cup of tea before a crackling fire. A reminder to slow down and savor the magic of childhood. (Ok, so he really won me over, but they love him too!)

I’m grateful that my children are learning to make friends with good books at a young age. Friends that they can take with them when they move, and revisit over and over in the coming years.

Summer in a Nutshell…Or Two

I was very happy to see the end of last semester. Linguistics was a great class, but very mentally draining, and I was looking forward to the summer. And we have had a good one. Busy? Definitely. But still good. Feel free to continue reading to get a quick overview of life this summer, or just skip to the end for the “Summer By Pictures” section.

Almost as soon as classes were over, I jumped into home school planning with a bang. We decided that in light of the fact that we’re going to be in Oklahoma for a big part of next semester and the kids will be unable to go to public school we would home school. That put us in the position of either trying to get ahead over the summer, or starting homeschooling while doing linguistics studies down in Oklahoma (ick!).

So while summer hasn’t really been a break from school per se, I think the kids have still had fun. We’ve had our good days and our bad days, but overall, I’ve been really encouraged to see how much the kids are learning.

Throw in a couple thousand miles of traveling, between visiting family and friends in Wisconsin and Texas, and you could say it’s been a different kind of summer. We’re enjoying being in “our” house for another week and a half before we start the semester back up by moving to Oklahoma for 7 weeks. The kids are traveling pros by this time.

A few adorable quotes from the kids, when arriving back at their house:

“I’m so happy to be in our big house!!!” ~ It’s a three bedroom.

“Our toys! Look, it’s my stuffed animals!!” ~ One thing about being gone for a long time… it’s like Christmas when you get back.

“It’s our Missouri home, it’s our Missouri home!!!” ~ All of their homes have labels. Wisconsin, Texas, their home-to-be in Africa… love my little mks.

Warning: Potential Picture Overload Following



Our baby spending most of her free time pushing her babies around. Or just an empty stroller. Whatever works.


Little man turned six this year!

Little man turned six this year!



Contrary to how it looks, he is actually overcome with joy at the sight of his present. Really.


Our second visit to Bookworm Gardens was just as magical as the first! Love that place!!


Beautiful gardens, and books that can be looked at as long as you want them… outside. What more could a little girl want?!

Pool time at Nana and Pawpaw's. She turned into a little water bug.

Pool time at Nana and Pawpaw’s. She turned into a little water bug.

Indoor science project: learning about wind power

Indoor science project: learning about wind power


IMG_1108 Construction day Saturday, courtesy of Home Depot. The kids working on their bug catchers. So cool to help them create something on their own!…ish

The older two girls also had birthdays, just this week, but I didn’t have pictures of them with their cake. 8, 6, 4, and almost 2… the party just keeps going!!



She was lying. I was almost positive, but of course I couldn’t prove it. Her brother was telling me one thing, and she was saying the opposite. Both had lied before so it was hard to know for sure, but… she was lying this time.

Every time one of my kids lies to me, there is this moment where I think to myself, “Now what am I supposed to do? Do I call them on it? Do I just let them get away with it?” Lying is one of my least favorite things to tackle as a parent… at least so far.

We talked for a bit longer and all of a sudden she was a weeping mess, admitting she hadn’t told the truth. I stood there… betrayal, disappointment, frustration, all of these things I feel when they lie to me were there again.

It’s always hard not to take it personally. They lied to me! Their mother; the one who cares more than just about anyone else, and would do just about anything for them!! They should know by now that it really doesn’t get them out of any trouble…

I stood there, as she slumped toward the stairs in tears, knowing that we needed to talk, and I couldn’t leave it at that. But what should I say?

Seriously, at least half of the time as a parent, I am wondering, “Now what?” Hope it’s ok to admit that. 

I called her back, settled on the couch, and decided, holding out my arms and waiting for her to scoot onto my lap. I wrapped her up in a tight hug and reminded her that no matter what she does, daddy and mommy love her. I said a few other things, told her that we wished she had been honest this time, and asked her to tell the truth next time…

Even as I was talking though, I was wondering if anything I said after that opening line really mattered that much. She knew she was wrong, she had admitted it, and what I think she needed most of all was security. Knowing that she was loved and forgiven made all the difference in her world. She relaxed as I held her, the tears dried up and soon her smile was back.

I’m thankful that this time I didn’t lecture (sometimes I do, not that it’s always a bad thing), and instead just held her and talked. Because in the middle of it, all of my frustration and hurt feelings drained out, and I realized how much I loved this girl.

And I was thankful that my imperfect little girl still welcomes the security of her imperfect mama’s lap, even though she’s a grown-up *little* eight year old now. I’ll take it as long as I can.