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Monday, December 28, 2009

A Day Split in Thirds

I'm several days into an extended break from work. Because these sorts of breaks are few and far between for me, I'm not always the best with time management.

Some may say, "It's don't need to manage time!!!" I can understand this sentiment, but I'm realizing that structure helps me -- my mood, morale and attentiveness. That's why I'm experimenting with splitting my free days into thirds: a third for home projects or errands, a third for family time and a third for free or miscellaneous time.

Now, I'm not sure how exact I've been with the thirds so far, but the general concept seems to be working well. Does anyone else have a useful time-management guideline?

Brian Signature copy

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Man

So, Brian had his 20th high school reunion this past summer and I'd intended to write all about it. Then we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in September and I intended to write all about that. And, on Tuesday Brian turned 39 and I wanted to write about that, too.

To spare you the volumes for every celebration, I'll give a brief snippet about each.

Brian's Mom and step-dad came down to celebrate his birthday on Sunday and brought a beautiful sheet cake. Since Brian, Grandaddy and Manley were all piled in Grandaddy's room watching football and the kids were chomping at the bit for cake, we lit the candles and headed in there to sing "Happy Birthday!"  I sat on the bed next to him and leaned over to give him a kiss.  That's when the cardboard the cake was on slipped off the fancy plastic serving tray and the cake flipped upside down onto the floor.  Sorry, baby.

Oh wait.  A business trip landed him in The Russian Tea Room in New York City on his actual birthday.  So, I take it back. No pity for him.  None.

On our anniversary, we pulled out the ol' wedding video.  We don't torture ourselves annually, but we thought it would ok once every ten years. Halfway through, Sammie said, "This is soooo long."  (And, it was.)  About every ten minutes I would look over at Brian and he'd be shaking his head saying, "We were so naive."  (And, we were.) 

I've told him before I want to get married again.  I want him to ask me again, so I can say yes again.  When we said "I do" the first time, I dare say we had no idea what on earth we were saying "I do" to.  It hasn't always been moonbeams and rainbows and some times it's been downright miserable, but now that we're on the other side of that (for the moment, anyway), I can see that we have been well-matched.  I know I can count on him, no matter what. Through childbirth and grandparents. Overwhelming anxiety and the pit of depression. Even biopsies and several thousand diapers. It's easy to see that we're so much better together than apart. (Am I sounding a little sappy with him out of town?)

As for the reunion, I spent more than a few hours watching his classmates, listening to their stories, meeting their families.  And there, it happened again -- that thing that sometimes happens when I look around a crowded room. I realized I was the luckiest girl in the world to be able to leave on his arm.

That's my man.  Happy reunion/annivesary/birthday, darlin'!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

CareFest 2009

CareFest is one way that our church, Sherwood Oaks Christian Church (SOCC),  tries to live out James' call for a faith in action (James 2:14-17). It's a one day event where hundreds of SOCC volunteers do projects for Bloomington schools, social service agencies and city government with no strings attached. 

The informational brochure touched on one of the by-products of the event for our kids: "This is a great opportunity for families to serve together and teach children the value of serving others."

Last November, Sammie and I served together at Backstreet Missions and the Crisis Pregnancy Center/Hannah House. We went back to CPC/Hannah House this year. We were fortunate enough to have Chaser join us this year!  I power washed outside, worked in the yard and painted. Chase split his time between helping me and working with Sammie and few others to make a "diaper cake" and crafts for upcoming baby showers. 

At prayer time that night the kids said one of their favorite parts of the day was "helping the babies." They also loved the pizza that was served afterwards! I'm looking forward to seeing God's plan for Sam, Chase and Ava unfold before our eyes. I'm hopeful that acts of service will be a big part of each of those plans.

P.S. Brad Pontius came around to take pictures when Chase was outside and you were still upstairs, Sammie. Also, Mom, yes...I know that I'm getting a bald spot on the top of my head. I've had it for 5 years, if not more! 

Brian Signature copy

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hardcore Preschool

As homeschool moms often do, I was swapping curriculum and scheduling ideas with a friend before the school year started in August. If you knew this friend, whom I love, her comment wouldn't surprise you, but I had to laugh when she said, in all seriousness, she was going to do some "hardcore preschool" with her 4-year old.

Our preschool philosophy is a little laid back to say the least. More like following Einstein's idea that imaginative play paves the way to genius. (Or something like that.)

Here's a little of what preschool looks like in our house: it starts with an idea of theirs. A picnic with our colorful plastic-ware required 12 plates, 12 matching bowls and 12 friends for each place setting.

Then 12 cups were needed, but they, of course, had to match the plates and bowls. And, each friend needed at least one piece of food.  That's counting to 12 at least five times. On his own. And a lesson in colors and matching.

Enlisting help from his sisters counts as leadership development and training in teamwork.

Another day we got some shaving cream out for each of them to practice their skill of the day.

Chase practiced writing the letter T.

Sammie practiced adding 8s.

Even little Ava was practicing her shapes and after a while we added a different food color to each pile of shaving cream. Then we got really crazy and tried mixing them up.  We made green and purple and then they learned when you mix every color it just turns grey.  ART!

We even had music practice when they pulled all my pots and pans out of the cabinet to create "Arni's Angels," the living room band.  I only had to throw away one of my bamboo spoons from all the banging.  I think everyone should have a silver drum set.

Rhythm, creativity, imagination and big messes!

Now, is that hardcore or what?


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gooder 'N Snuff

Living with another person can be hard. And, if you're selfish and controlling and particular, like me, it can be really hard. I've come to laugh about this now, but I can tell you it took a while.

I've written before about how Grandaddy takes care of his own needs for the most part. He'll eat my cooking only occasionally so we dance around each other in the kitchen at meal time.  Admittedly, he tries very hard to "get outta y'alls way" if he thinks he's in it.  For instance, if it's Wednesday night, he waits until we're finished eating because he knows we're headed out to church.  Same on Sundays.

As I said, it's a bit of a joke now, but it seemed like I would get everyone fed and dressed in their finest and head to the bathroom to get myself ready.  When I open my bedroom door on Sunday mornings the wave of smoke that hits me is astounding.  He cooks everything on high, so the toast is crispy and the pork is burnt.  I was sitting on my couch last week as he'd just sat down with his breakfast.  The sun helps me tell the story...

Can you see the haze INSIDE my house?  And, that's all the way toward the front door...TWO rooms from the stove.

So, I apologize to my fellow church goers if I smell like burnt sausage on Sundays.  I do get irritated.  I double the perfume or skip it all together some times. I want to take away his cooking privileges on some days.  But it's all worth it when he makes me look him in the eye and says, "Kris, you're gooder 'n snuff and not nigh as dusty."

Bonus points if you remember the comic strip that line is from.  


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Trick or Treat '09

How many Dads would dress three kiddos in costume, take them to a neighborhood hot dog roast and escort them on a trick-or-treating hayride without the momma around?  Not many! But that's what my man did this past weekend while I was away.  I think it helped that none required fancy make up like last year.

Toothless, Blonde Flamenco Dancer (there's one on every street)

Pirate (complete with hot cocoa stains on the shirt)

Ladybug (wasn't it just yesterday that Sammie wore this in the Oxford Halloween parade?)

Neighborhood Hayride (Thanks Feagans!)

Grandaddy, dressed as himself, stayed back and passed out the candy at our house.

The kids came back with so much candy for our little street.  They each got to pick five of their favorites and the rest is going to the homeless shelter.  We figure they like to have treats, too!


Friday, October 23, 2009

The Day School Came

I ordered all Samantha's 1st grade curriculum at once, so the day it came in the mail was a very big deal.  It was a VERY big box o' books.  The kids had a ball taking them out one by one and looking them over.

Sonlight ships their books in a box you can turn into a pirate ship or a castle. This was Chase's favorite part of Sammie's school box.  Sam did the decorating.  Chase did the sword fighting.

Time and time again, Chase asked things like, "Which ones are my school?"  "Is this one my school, Mom?"

Since I have a pretty laid back philosophy on preschool, I hadn't really planned anything formal for him.  After he kept asking, I realized I'd better.  So, off to Wal-mart I went.  

In a few days a box appeared on our doorstep for Chase that had sticker books, new markers and crayons and the coveted Spiderman folder and pencil pouch.  He was so excited. How can I hang on to that excitement until he graduates?


Monday, October 12, 2009

Step Right Up! Face Paint Here!

I'm not sure who has more fun with this. The kids love having painted faces, and I love painting them! (Disclaimer: Samantha made Chase into the Hulk, I did the butterflies.) Hard to believe this kind of thing costs ten bucks at the County Fair. I think I'll get a booth of my own next year!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Grandma Tricked Me?!?! ("Play-Doh" Recipe)

Mom copied me on this email to Kristin. Can't believe my beloved Grandma tricked me...


Found something today that might interest you. My Mom's recipe for Play-Doh that you make yourself: 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar (this is very important), 1 cup water, 1 T. vegetable oil. Put in pan and stir over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly for approximately 3 minutes. Store in an air tight container.  (Put food coloring in water before cooking if you want it colored. Also, leave out vegetable oil if you plan to make something and let it harden.) 

Story: Mom made Steve and Brian this dough to play with. Brian did not like it because it was not Play-Doh so he didn't play with it. So my Mom went out and bought Play-Doh for her "little pumpkin" and he played and played with it-well when it got dry she took out the old Play-Doh and made hers and put it in the Play-Doh containers, and he played and played with the "Play-Doh." 

Love Mom/Karen

Brian Signature copy

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kissing Your What?

Parenting is a constant education for me.

Ava does almost everything at the top of her lungs.  Yesterday we tried to figure out where this little chant was coming from as she marched through the house.  Go ahead, say it out loud, in a marching rhyme. Imagine it in the cadence of a two-year old. This is what we heard:

"Eatin' peanut BUTtuh, kissin' your CHUDda."

Kissing your what did she say?

She said it over and over and over again.  Finally we asked where she learned it. A neighbor girl apparently taught the kids the new ending to an old elementary-school incantation.

Mister Tiger Missus Tiger sittin' in a tree.
First comes love, then comes marriage.
Then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
Eating peanut butter, kissing each other.

Oh....kissing each OTHer.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Marshing Mellows by the Fire

We've had a fire pit in our woods for a few years to burn brush. Last Autumn, after clearing and burning brush, we'd typically make s'mores or just sit by the fire and talk. 

Our fireside fun is up a notch this year with the addition of a fire pit closer to the house and five or six fireside meals so far. I'm not even sure if it's technically Autumn yet! Because the pit is closer to the house (don't worry, Mom, it's not that close to the house), Grandaddy is able to join us now and shuttling food and drinks isn't nearly as troublesome.

We've had a great time with each and every fire. I especially like that this time feels like an escape of sorts and clean-up is a breeze. It doesn't hurt that we're typically joined by neighborhood kids or visiting family members or that the kiddos almost alway something or 
do something that's hilarious. For instance, last Sunday Ava asked me, "Dad, are we marshing mellows now?"

Anyone else have fond fireside memories?

Brian Signature copy

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bradenton Beach '09

School is well underway, so I've been reminiscing about our trip to Florida in June. Come back with me a minute.

This was the first time Chase had full-on access to a big pool and he found some courage with his water wings and hasn't looked back.

The first day it rained, we found the science center down town. This is a laser harp. If only the real things were that easy to play.

They had some kind of frog there that grew as big as a man's hand. It apparently just sits in the forest waiting for insects and crawly things to go by, but since it's in captivity they have to feed it. (YUCK!) The kids were enthralled.

Don't tell Ava she's too little for anything. She's moving a bowling ball with some kind of gear thing. (I'm the non-technical one standing by.)  Brian would want me to clarify that the bald guy near us is NOT him.

The second day it rained, we let the kids play outside our condo and pretend it was the beach.

The third day it rained...

It day rain a fourth day and we (er...uh...Brian) found the dollar theater. It was Ava's first theater experience and we saw "Monsters Vs. Aliens." good pic of that. At least where we don't all look like aliens ourselves.

The "big" kids helping Ava jump the waves.

I'd forgotten how long Sam's hair was. It's super short and super cute now.

I only include this to see if anyone else thinks it's funny that Sam is giving herself rabbit ears.

Dad started the burying with me, which I think he enjoyed immensely, then we went on to Sam.

I think she liked it.

Even little Ava braved the itchy adventure.

Five minutes after we left the beach...

I used to say I loved the beach and I thought I did. Put my family in the sand with me and it surpasses every other beach moment. Ever. *Sigh.*