Saturday, March 26, 2011

Big Sisters

Eva, clad in wedding dress, feeds Sam M&Ms by spoon at a little desk.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Do We Homeschool in the Summer?

Yep.

I don’t want them to forget everything they learned all year, so we keep up a light schedule in the summer. What else are we doing on summer mornings anyway? The pool doesn’t open til noon!

There’s no reason they can’t do a couple of pages of English and a couple of pages of Math every day with other subjects thrown in every now and then.

Also, summer is a great time for tons of field trips to nature centers, natural history museums, zoos, pet stores, children’s museums, parks and so much more. Kansas City is an amazing place to homeschool.

Regular school suggests kids do a workbook over the summer to keep up their skills, but how many people do you know who actually do that, especially if the kids are in day camp, daycare, at the sitter, etc.?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shoveling Snow as Men’s Work?!

Who said shoveling snow was men’s work?

I love to shovel snow in my butt-kicking Land’s End boots, red coat, gloves and earmuffs.

I just can’t get away from Sam for more than a few minutes to do it. When he realizes I’m outside he starts to cry.

I love the exercise. I love helping my husband. I’m 5 years younger and not with a bad back, after all. I love the solitude.

But you don’t see too many women out shoveling snow. How come?

I also love to mow the lawn. With my youngest in a sling. With headphones on and music blasting, my tennis shoes turning green.

But ask my parents … I didn’t always love to do these things. When I was a teenager it was probably pretty hard to get me to get up and do much of anything. Hey, I was a teenager. I was using my energy to grow, right?

As for Aron ... it’s like you wind him up and he won’t stop shoveling. Then his back is killing him for days.

Friday, March 18, 2011

No-Bake Drop Cookies

It drives me nuts how much grocery stores and cookies shops charge for these cookies when they are so cheap and simple and fast to make at home! Our local cookie store charges $1.50 for one of these cookies, which is the equivalent of about 2-3 of the cookies from the recipe below (they just made it bigger and in the shape of a patty). They also charge $3 for one dozen of the small cookies. Plus, this recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies, which makes them perfect for taking to school or other events while you save some for yourself at home!



1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
3 T cocoa
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups quick cooking oats (not old fashioned)

Bring first 4 ingredients to a full rolling boil in a saucepan. If you don’t, the cookies won’t set up and will be a blobby mess.

Take them off the burner and stir in the peanut butter until it’s all mixed in. Then add vanilla. Then add oats. You might need a little more than 3 cups, but go easy because they do set up once they are on wax paper.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. A small scoop is great for this. Wait a little bit before eating and eat the rest out of the pan using a spatula!
don't let small children help with this recipe because it's HOT!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Resentment Toward Your Spouse

I’d been feeling a little resentful toward Aron. It seemed like the more kids we had, the less he helped out with the boring stuff like laundry and dishes.

Sure, he does outside stuff and takes care of the cars and fixes things as they break (which is quite the job, let me tell you).

But I was feeling ungrateful and like I was doing more than my share with cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, errands, and so on.

Then I started typing up old DayRunner pages from before we were even married and from when we were first married. I want to have everything in one place as far as journaling goes for when I start scrapbooking, plus then I recycle the pages, so that’s less junk in my house!

Anyway, DANG! I sure took a lot of naps in those days before I had kids (it’s a wonder he’d want to marry such a sloth!).

And Aron cooked for me all the time.

And he was there for me when my parents were divorcing (that was a lot of tears on my part).

And he never complained about my dad hanging out with us all the time (he actually enjoyed it, as did I).

And he called my mom on her birthday and helped my dad paint his house.

And he was supportive about me finishing my little ole 2-year juco degree.

And when he was laid off from his job, he went on unemployment for a while, but he worked as a cook to supplement and did not take the full unemployment payment. (who does that these days?!)

And he saved his travel food allowance so he could buy me an engagement/wedding ring.

And he doesn’t say one word about the fact that my fingers are currently too thick to wear that ring. That is priceless to me.

When things are so different and always changing after 15 plus years with someone, it’s nice to be reminded of why you are with someone in the first place.

Now I think I’ll go do something I’ve NEVER done … I’ll bunch his socks together in sets so it’s easier for him to get ready for work and I’ll maybe even go crazy and fold his underwear.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Last-Minute Field Trip to Crown Center in KCMO

* couldn't get the underline function to turn off, dangit.

Whenever Jordan is out of school we like to get the heck out of Dodge.

She had off February 11, so we loaded up and made the arduous, 15-minute trip to Crown Center. Actually, it took a lot longer than that because we stopped at Sonic first (we had coupons and I’d just cashed a whopping $27 writing check!)

Then I took the long way there, via SM Parkway (my old ‘hood was Roeland Park), Ward Parkway, then into the Plaza and down Main Street. Sorry, Overland Park, but things are just more “alive” and energetic toward the heart of the city.

(Overland Park is my wife, but Westport, the Plaza, Crown Center and Downtown are my mistresses.)

As we approached the “Eifely Tower” (pronounced I-full-ee), which is the KCPT tower, we had to pull up near it for photos because Callie thinks it’s the real Eifel Tower. Maybe with my next $27 writing check I’ll fly us all to Paris.

We drove around Union Hill to check out the cool houses (most of them for sale … one can be my summer home), then to Crown Center, where we built our muscles dragging the double stroller up and down stairs from the parking lot to get to the elevators.

First stop: Chip’s Chocolate Factory. I spent way too much on various kinds of bark for the kids. Jordan and I gained weight just watching the kids eat it.

And yes, that was me taking the double stroller down the escalator. Some woman asks me, “Are you sure you don’t want to take the elevator?” I said, “Look, lady, I have to keep my family of 16 together. I can’t take the elevator because my other kids are down THERE already.” Sigh. Such are the problems of mine, looking like a teenager and all that. I get all kinds of unsolicited advice.

Next stop: Under the Sea exhibit at the end of the lower level. Photos below, need I say more? Crazy fun. May I suggest a nice leash for your child at this exhibit so he doesn’t get lost? They should rent leashes at the dang door because they leave the doors wide open and kids escape all the time.

Next stop: Shoot, what’s it called? The hotel that’s connected to Crown Center. We like to ride the glass elevator up and down until we puke. Great view of the city. After that, against my better judgment, I let the kids ride the escalators at the hotel whilst annoying many a businessman. I looked at them and said, “You were a kid once too, Mister, and you’re just jealous you’re working and not riding the escalator, too.”

I must stop here to both blame and thank my parents for my smart mouth. I learned from the best!

We took the long way home (excellent SuperTramp song, by the way) so Jordan could get some schoolin’ of the city … Downtown, specifically.

We love you, Kansas City! You are an awesome place to homeschool for sure.












Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Adopting Older Kids

Every Sunday in our local paper, The Kansas City Star, there is a picture of a kid or kids and the caption says FAMILY WANTED.

Every time I see the photo and read what’s under it, I could just die. I start to cry every single time. I think of how my kids have everything they could ever want … food, a home, two parents who love each other and who planned each and every pregnancy, grandparents who live close by, clothing, beds, toys, books, education, opportunities like dance and gymnastics classes, memberships to the zoo and to the pool every year and so much more.

Here’s one from Sunday, January 23, 2011 that broke my heart because the kids are the same age as my kids are right now and have the same interests (of course, what kid DOESN’T like spending time outside?!):

“These four would like a family willing to provide them a safe and stable environment. Merlin, 9, does well in school and loves to read. His hobbies include playing outside and riding his bike. Caitlin, 7, is a loving child who does well in school and enjoys spending time outside. She enjoys being involved with 4-H activities. Fiona, 5, loves being creative and coloring. She likes spending time with animals, being outside and playing with her dolls. Colin, 3, likes animals, spending time outdoors and coloring. He shows an interest in sports. To learn more about adoption, visit www.adoptkids.org or call 877-457-5430.”

Sunday, March 6, 2011

FREE Indoor Kansas City Playtime: Cedar Ridge Christian Church

Back in January we decided to go somewhere we hadn’t been in about 2 years: Cedar Ridge Christian Church at 87th and Lackman in Lenexa, Kansas. They have a big carpeted room with large Little Tikes toys for kids to play around and a few tables for moms to hang out at. They used to have puzzles and books and toys, but kids probably stole them, so now the place is pretty bare.

They also have a gym that you can play in as long as it isn’t already reserved by another group (like those crazy homeschoolers or attachment parenting mamas). The gym has tables to sit at and basketballs, scooters and small ride-on toys. Some kids bring in their own Razor scooters.

There’s also a small rock wall just inside the doors of the church.

The best part for me, though, is the Parkside Café. HEAVEN! Their coffee drinks all rock, but recently I got a Peach Extreme smoothie that transported me to a tropical island, where in my mind I sat and watched episodes of The Real Housewives while sipping my magical drink.

They have no problem with you bringing food in as long as you clean up after yourself. That day we hit Aldi on the way and brought juice pouches and Lunch Buddies (a Lunchables knockoff I never let the kids get). I dropped 5 bucks on my smoothie, but it was so worth it.

Now I just want to know … where’s the coffee bar at MY church?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kansas City Field Trip: Crown Center, Fritz’s, Kaleidoscope

For the last 2 years the kids and I haven’t been hitting the town like we used to. Toward the end of my pregnancy with Sam I was pretty sick (turned out to be an infection I should’ve gone to the doctor for or maybe Sam wouldn’t have been born with meconium aspiration … I’ll ask God when I’m dead).

Then having 5 kids was just a bit overwhelming as far as taking them all places, since my oldest was only 8 at the time. Whenever I’d do it, I was so proud of myself! We went to the zoo a few times and even made it to Crown Center once last fall. But Callie sleeps in, then by the time we get around Aron comes home for lunch, then Sam naps, then school is out, then it’s dinnertime. The days fly by, often without us leaving the house!

This time was different because we got to take along Jordan, who was out of school. It was a Friday in January. I love going to Crown Center because I used to work there … at Fleishman-Hillard Public Relations. My old boss, Betsey Solberg, told me on the day she canned me that I needed to “focus.” The trouble was, I was focused on having babies someday and wasn’t the best worker I could be!

So having kids for Aron and me (or is it still I?) was obviously a dream come true, and taking them to Crown Center, where I used to dream of them in advance, is always special and emotional.






Before you call The State on me for letting my kids play in fountains in January, keep in mind it was an unseasonably warm day! Here are some pics:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mommy Got to Wear Heels

A couple of weeks ago Aron and I got to go on an actual date. Our last date was in October for our anniversary, and it stunk because Michael was having OCD stuff and we went to dinner anyway and pretty much scowled at each other the whole time because we disagreed on how to handle the OCD (turns out Aron was right). Anyway, we try to go out on a date once a year whether we need to or not, so we went out recently for Valentine's Day, leaving all 5 kids in the capable hands of Jordan for TWO HOURS ... almost a record! We ate at On the Border and ran into the best boss I ever had and his awesome wife. So ... let's recap. I got to wear stretchy skinny jeans with these heels, I got to be alone with my husband, didn't have to cook, had adult conversation with other people, and none of my little people even cried while I was gone. We may just have to work this sort of thing into the budget THREE TIMES A YEAR!

How about you? Ladies, when was the last time you wore heels, or do you wear them all the time? I personally love the look of them but hate the feel. These are the only heels I own, along with my other like 5 pair of shoes. I know, I'm such a guy.

As for dating, how often do you date? My friend dates her husband weekly. Some do it annually and have a strong marriage.

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