Thursday, January 31, 2013


 For the last two years we've had our dog there has been a strict policy against allowing her on the bed or the couch.  But, lately I've been caving.  I find her up on the bed from time to time and she looks so comfy and cuddly, that I just let her stay there instead of commanding her "Off!"  And besides, she totally matches the blanket!

So far this is just a during the day thing and she's not tried to sleep with us at night yet. Oh, I am going to super regret relaxing this rule, aren't I?


Next Tuesday is the 100th day of school for my elementary kids.  And what better way to celebrate than with a project?!!!  For kindergarteners.  Super!

You know the drill (or at least I do by now since this is my 3rd kindergartener) - use 100 of a particular item and create something.

I give you my son's 100 marshmallows creation:

I'm not exactly sure what it is.  He has some story about a snake and some grass and a flower???  The main thing that thrilled me is that aside from sitting with him while he made groups of 10 to aid in the counting out of 100 marshmallows and supplying him with the materials, he did the whole thing without me!

The teacher sent home a note that read: "Please allow your child to do this project by themselves with your help.  It really doesn't benefit them (or you) if you do the project for them"

Yeah.  I don't think ANYONE will accuse me of doing this project for my 5 year old!

But, I'll get to school next week and no doubt see many projects that look like they were professionally done!


My son came home today with this super hole in the knee of his pants:

Come on shorts weather!


Happy Friday, Friends.  Have super weekend!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Tonight I read The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams to the kids.  It's been a long time and I reflected anew on the classic quote:
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse.  "It's a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.  It doesn't happen all at once.  You become.  It takes a long time.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

And we couldn't help thinking of Big Duke, our 5 year old's beloved stuffed bulldog that has slept with him every night since he was 2 years old.

It gives me great joy to tuck my little boy in with Big Duke every night.  A faithful buddy for him to cling to and cuddle with.

Big Duke has been LOVED.  He's been washed many times, lost and rescued.  You can still buy a stuffed dog like this from Ikea (that's where we got Big Duke) but we have one that we bought just a few months after Big Duke to serve as a spare, but according to my son that other stuffed bulldog, "Is NOT Big Duke!"  He's never accepted the imposter!  But recently we were at Ikea and a little boy was getting a stuffed bulldog like Big Duke and my 5 year old and I smiled and talked of how happy we were that another boy was getting his own Duke!

To any outside person Big Duke looks dingy, worn-out, like he's seen better days.

But, we know the truth, Big Duke is Real!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Baby With Her Baby

I loved this sweet nightgown when my older daughter was this age.  I am so excited Little Girl is now just the right size for it.  With the matching dolly jammies?  Total cuteness!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Stuff Overload!

Several months ago we renewed our membership during a trip to the zoo, and a couple weeks later my husband was reading the mail and said, "If we'd renewed our zoo membership with this offer we could have saved $10.00 and gotten a free backpack."

My response?

"I would pay $10.00 not to get the free backpack!"

Because that's the point we've gotten to, folks.  There is so much stuff coming into this house on a daily basis that I can't even shovel it out fast enough before more comes in (not to mention the difficulty getting the numerous packratish people who live in this house to agree to part with anything)!  And we had too much to begin with!

The longer I manage my home and the more children I have, the more I've realized, LESS REALLY IS MORE!  Less is better.

My 4 children can have 28 coloring/workbooks or they can have 4.  

Let me tell you what happens when you have 28.  They overflow the drawer so you give it all another drawer (by cramming the contents of that drawer somewhere else that is already overflowing with stuff), the children strew the activity books all around and have to be reminded often to put them away, the books will stick around for months, years even, with a handful of pages colored/completed.

Or you can have 4, 1 for each child.  The workbooks easily fit into 1 drawer.  There are only 4 books to scatter and the children are more likely to put them away because hello?  THIS IS MY ONLY COLORING BOOK, I'd better take care of it!  And the entire book gets filled up/used and can then be thrown away and replaced with another!

Really, it is so obvious I have no idea why I've had so much trouble with this concept!  And this is also why I'm blogging about this topic because I'm hoping to preserve this wisdom for my children and they can start off as grown-ups better than I did.

But, it happens pretty innocently and only in hindsight can you see that the clutter is a result of millions of daily decisions (or lack of decisions).

For example, a couple years ago when at the end of the year the school secretary stopped me in the halls and offered to give me many free unused workbooks, I wish I'd thanked her, loaded them into my car and driven them directly to a shelter or children's clinic or somewhere besides thinking, "This is great, these will keep my kids keep busy over the summer!"  And then stacking them in my under-the-stairs closet where they sat for TWO YEARS as clutter!

We are a family of 6 people and 1 dog living in 2576 square feet.  That ought to be doable.  Certainly compared to the majority of the world, our house is huge!  But if we don't stay on top of our stuff, it is going to take over the house and squeeze out all hope of peaceful life! I do not want a bigger house.  I want less stuff in the house we already have!

With that rant and background out of the way, let me say simply, I've been cleaning out. . .

for the past 5 years since we moved in here 6 years ago!  But, really, truly in earnest this time!  With a "nearly everything has got to go" mindset.

I'm at the point now a few weeks into this mission where I've lost count of the bags and boxes we've donated, the bags we've thrown away, yet there is still too much!  It's frustrating.  Last week I went through bins and bins of baby and toddler clothes we'd saved for hand-me-downs.  Only I saved way too much!  "We could clothe an entire orphanage of kids!"  I exclaimed over and over to my husband as I sat amid piles and piles of clothes. (Note to my younger self: When a house has a separate storage room it is not really a positive thing.  The storage room will just allow you to put off dealing with your stuff.  You'll casually move things out to the storage room and create a clutter mess that will eventually have to be dealt with.)

I sorted and sorted - to sell, trash (spit-up stains multiply in storage!), to donate, to keep.

I thought I'd finished all the boy clothes and then I went outside and found 3 more bins -- NOOOOOOO!

The trouble with these cleaning out/organizing projects is that there really is no time for them amid the laundry, cooking, cleaning, parenting, driving kids places, etc. that needs to go on every day.  But, I'm trying to plow through that and "make time".

I haven't had the soundness of mind to take "before" pictures, most of my organizing projects have been heat of the moment I-can't-take-this-messy-drawer-one-more-second kind of episodes.  But, I need to savor in some of the results, the "after" pictures:

An organized drawer!

Look!  I can see my sewing table again!  Notice how there have been no sewing projects featured here in a very long time?  That's because my table was piled with fabric/half finished projects/to-do mending.  And really who can work with that?  So, I just didn't!  Funny how this clear space gives me the will again!

And some organized stacks of pretty fabric really helps, too!  These were pitifully folded and wadded and crammed in before.  By the way, I'm not allowing myself to buy any more fabric until I've used up nearly all I have -- whoa this is hard when there's so much cute fabric out there on the Internet!

There's progress.  Slow, imperfect progress.  But, progress none the less!

Find more Tackle it Tuesday here and Works for Me Wednesday here. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Are You Googling?

Monday I Googled, "dog ate cheese wrapper".

You know the clear plastic that wraps around an individual slice of cheese?  I left a wrapper on the counter and Madeline the dog jumped up and got it.  I chased her down, but should have known that would just lead to the outcome of her swallowing her prize in one gulp rather than risk losing it.

Turns out many, many people have had the experience of their dog eating a cheese wrapper!

And you want to know what's infinitely better than calling your vet to ask about your dog eating a cheese wrapper?

Reading on The Internet what other people heard from their vet when they called to ask about their dog eating a cheese wrapper.

The prognosis?  It will pass (most things do, don't they?).  People were told to watch for the wrapper come out the other end in a few days.  I have to say, I'm not exactly watching intently for the plastic wrapped poop to end up in the backyard, but the dog is eating and acting normal so I think we're in the clear!

What's the craziest thing you've found yourself Googling?


Once we felt pretty sure our dog was not in any real danger, my kids and I had fun reading several of the Google accounts of dogs eating cheese wrappers.  That was some good entertainment!  Then we saw a search result that said, "Bunny ate cheese wrapper" and my 7 year old daughter was really excited for me to click on that so she could hear about the bunny that ate a cheese wrapper, but we figured out Bunny was actually the dog's name!


Because there was a request last week for more pictures of our dog.  I give you Madeline, the goldendoodle:

Only she's not usually that clean.  I've learned the hard way that when you have a lot of kids, like I do, you DO NOT want a white kitchen floor or a white dog because they will both always look dirty. 

When Madeline gets to looking too shaggy like below (notice the dingy grey feet and fur covering her eyes and while you're looking, take note of the dirty white floor as well!),  I have to ship her off for a day at the groomer.  Nevermind that I have never spent a day at the spa, I send my dog and therefore cannot afford to go myself!

And if we have neglected to brush her enough in between groomer visits (which is pretty much always the case), she is so matted the groomer has no choice but to clip her really short and she comes home a new dog!

That was in November.  Now we're back to the sheep dog look, so never fear the fur will grow back!

Speaking of animals, ask me how much I love the fact that there is a baby orangutan at our zoo that was adopted by a female orangutan after her biological mother failed to appropriately care for her.

Baby Aurora with her real mother (you know the one that cares for her day in and day out, not the one who gave birth to her):


That's all.  Happy Friday Friends!

Find more Friday Fragments here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Daddy/Daughter Dance

Recently our church had a father-daughter sock hop.

My husband with his two lovely dates for the evening:


I'm thankful my girls have a father who not only loves them but spends time with them, too!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

He rides, too!

Remember when I said here and here that as of a few months ago, none of our 4 children ranging in ages from 9 to 4 could ride a 2 wheeled bike?  And how my husband and I would sit up late at night and say to each other, "Wow, we have totally failed as parents! We are incapable of teaching our kids to ride bikes without training wheels!"

Finally in October we managed to teach the 7 year old daughter to ride hers and then a few weeks (and many, many frustrating moments where we all wanted to quit) later the 9 year old son learned to ride his bike.

Well, guess who's riding a 2 wheeled bike all by himself now?

 The 5 year old son!

Rock on, Little Buddy!

Three-fourths of our children riding 2 wheeled bikes?

We should probably go ahead and retire from this parenting gig right now on a high note!

And NOBODY, and I mean nobody, talk to me about teaching these 4 children to drive CARS in a few years!  I will put my fingers in my ears and say, "La, la, la, not listening to you!"

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Four Little Children

I watched the movie The Help for the first time December 2011 on an airplane flying home from Ethiopia with our newly adopted 3 year old daughter.  I've seen movies depicting prejudice and that time period before and it's always appalled me, but, I can tell you sitting there on the airplane watching that movie, headphones on with my black daughter asleep in my lap, it felt different!

This time it was personal.  Really, really personal.

Imagine if your child were being discriminated against! 

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I share in your dreams Dr. King!

My four little children:

That verse he quoted at the end is from Isaiah 40:4-5 and plainly reads "all flesh" (or "all mankind" in some verses).  God clearly does not see any one race or color as superior to another.  How did/do some professing Christians get it so wrong?

And how far have we come since that speech in 1963?  What would Dr. King say to us if he could see things today?

I say we've come pretty far, but not far enough.  We can do better.  All of us can do something to help.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dogercize and Other Random Things

Yesterday when I was doing my Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred exercise video (Yes, I'm still doing the Shred even years later,  I do it a couple times each week along with some running days as my exercise regime.  Sometimes I think I'd like more variety, but I haven't found a workout video that's as good of a work-out for the time put in -- in this case 30 minutes for cardio, abs, & weights!), this was my view during the abs/sit-ups part.
Each time I leaned forward and sat up for the sit-up, I got a wet sloppy kiss right on my face!  If you've never had this exercise experience, you are missing out for sure!  Dog breath makes the whole thing even lovelier!


I really didn't make any fitness New Year's resolutions, but the fragment above combined with this one will make it seem that way.

Guess who likes to drink green smoothies with me at lunch?

Is there anything Little Girl won't eat, you may ask about my 4 year old (home from Ethiopia 1 year)?  Peanut butter!  Yep, she doesn't like it at all.  But, really I can't think of anything else she won't eat!  Recently we discovered that she LOVES grapefruit juice!  I'm so thankful for what a great eater she is, I just had my moms' group tonight that is a support group for adoptive mothers and it's more the norm that adopted kids have food issues!


My husband took the training wheels off the 5 year old's bike a few weeks ago.  He's actually pretty stable, has gone some very short distances on his own, and seems just about ready to take off on two wheels all by himself.  But for now, he does need someone to walk alongside and steady him a bunch.   Today, while I was doing that he told me he wanted to do "super fast mode".  As in, he wanted me to sprint down the street while holding onto his bike helping him balance!  Um, no, Buddy, you gotta wait 'til you're doing this all on your own for "super fast mode".  I'm huffing and puffing just through "medium mode".


I saw something this week that quickly became reason #2,248 The Internet has made me a better homemaker and it is an entire website devoted to what's good at Trader Joe's?  Don't ask me how much more money I spent on my Trader Joe's run after discovering this website!  But the cookie butter?  Honestly I don't get the hype.  I tried a spoonful straight from the jar and really I wasn't impressed, maybe it's because I don't love gingerbread?

So far, it's the pizza dough, the cereal bars, the Jo-Jos (vanilla, chocolate or candy cane -- all awesome), the chocolate bars, and the Ethiopian coffee that keep me going back to Trader Joe's.  But, I have some new stuff I bought this week that I've yet to try, like the veggie sausage patties I'm going to try to slip into my family's Saturday morning breakfast as if it's regular sausage! 

Happy Friday, Friends!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Operation Give to Beggars

I never shared a recap of our Family Advent Calendar that we did for the first time this year in the days leading up to Christmas.  All in all, we loved it!  It was a lot of work and I'll be the first to admit that some activities got put off to different days (as in "we don't have time today, we'll just do two activities on Saturday") and at least one didn't get done at all.  But still, I call it a success!  The kids loved opening the envelopes each day and reading the activity and verse.  It kept us on track to actually do both the meaningful and fun things we wanted to do during the Christmas season.

One of the activities I've been meaning to write about was "Give $5 to each person we drive past begging on the streets."

I have to back up a bit for some history.  My husband and I give a lot to charities and to our church, and nearly two years ago we committed to giving an amount away each month that actually hurt, like above and beyond the tithing and the giving we were already doing.  It has been good, great really.  It is not our money anyway, but all given to us by God and we believe He doesn't want us to steward His money by just buying ourselves stuff!  And now it has become so natural that we don't even count the money as a loss, like "We could have gone on this vacation or bought this new car if we weren't giving this."  We are happy to be able to give.  Challenged to live on less so we can give away more.

All that to say, I used to not believe (even as recently as a few months ago) in giving to beggars on the streets.  I felt like we were better off giving to organizations that can truly help people and then we know the money is being well-spent.  Also, I worried that giving to beggars just encouraged them to continue begging rather than pursuing "real jobs".  And my logic felt biblical.  You know, "for each one should carry his own load." Gal. 6:5.

But, I live in a large urban area where I come face to face with beggars often and it never set right with me the ignoring their cardboard sign pleas for help.  I debated giving out just food or bottled water, at least then I'd know they weren't using the money for drugs or alcohol or cigarettes!  I often wondered what Jesus would really have me do stopped there at the red light. 

Then a few months ago, I saw it.  A verse I hadn't really read before, "Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back." Luke 6:30.

Wow!  So that's pretty clear.  And it's Jesus talking.  You know, the red letters!

So, I was excited about this Advent activity.  For the 1st time I was going to roll down my window and give to those who were begging from me.  I wasn't going to judge their life or how they were going to spend the money, that wasn't really my worry.  For my part, I was being obedient to Jesus and what He commanded.

I stuffed some ziploc bags with a $5 bill, a cereal bar, a candy cane (for Christmas cheer), and a Bible verse ("This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." 1 John 4:9).

And after school, I loaded my 4 kids in the car to go search for beggars.

I talked to the kids about the many reasons people end up begging on the streets and also the Bible verse from Luke 6:30 and told them that we were going to give because we had the means and it's what God tells us to do.

We headed towards a street corner I figured would have a beggar.  I was right.  The kids spotted him from a block away and started yelling excitedly.  I had to U-turn to get where he was on the driver's side of the car and as we came back around I saw that he did in fact have a sign and he was smoking.  God was really working on me here!  "Remember, don't judge.  Just give!"  I kept saying to myself, but it was hard.  I really wanted to skip that guy to say he wasn't worthy of our giving, oh it was ugly!  Have I ever mentioned how much I hate cigarette smoking?  Thankfully, my kids were too excited and I couldn't explain why we were skipping that guy, so I rolled down my window and gave.

At first it was awkward, but by the 5th person it was just awesome!  I'd told the kids they could shout "Merry Christmas!" if they wanted to, only Little Girl actually did it.  But she did it with enthusiasm and volume!  I'm sure the beggars thought we were nuts!

The 4th person we encountered begging was a woman and that seemed to hit my kids pretty hard, my oldest son, especially.  I'm also going to be honest and say that when we just had one bag left I was ready to go home, tired of weaving through traffic.  I tried to convince my kids that it would be good to have a bag left in the car and that way the next time we encountered a beggar and we weren't specially looking for one, we could still give.  They weren't having it!  They were determined to give them all away.  Seriously, my kids are better people than I am!

This activity was good, very good.  My kids are praying now more for "people who don't have homes".  And Little Girl frequently asks me as if she just can't believe it to be true, "Mommy, some people don't have houses?"  

I've given a couple times since to beggars just cash from my wallet, even when it wasn't our devotional activity, and even when my kids weren't in the car to see or hold me accountable.  It won't be our main conduit of giving, I still believe in giving the bulk to well-researched organizations that are doing true good, but giving something to those who ask of you is good, too.

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Preserve Those Precious Creations

A scenario I encounter pretty often is that a child will build/create something and, of course, they want to admire it for a while, sometimes they even want to show it to Daddy went he gets home from work 7 hours later.  Problem is that when you live in a house with 6 people and 1 dog, like we do, block towers just don't hardly stand a chance of surviving the hour, much less the entire day.

So, I've figured out an easy step that helps a lot to ease the upset feelings for a child when their creation can't last forever (or even 10 minutes).  

I take a picture!

It sounds so basic I have no idea why it took me so long to start doing this.  I could have saved myself so many hard moments trying to rebuild a creation with a tearful child!  Having the picture is usually enough to satisfy my kids that their creation lives on, but should you need to rebuild, trust me, it is SO MUCH easier to do when you have a picture to go from instead of just a 5 year old telling you, "NO, that isn't how it was!"

Monday, January 14, 2013

She Loves to Run!

Little Girl's preferred method of getting from point A to point B is running. In fact, since she's been home from Ethiopia these past 12 months, it's definitely been a recurring source of conflict between us, because she just can't always run. 

But, I have to say:  Little Girl IS FAST!  

She runs like the wind and she's only 4!

We go to pick up my big kids at elementary school and Little Girl begs me to let her do a lap around the track.  She finishes the lap and is not even breathing hard, begs me to let her "Do it again!"

She doesn't yet have the stamina to keep up with me for the entire 3 miles I typically do on my runs, but she does get out of the jogging stroller and run for parts.  These pictures are from last Friday's run:

Look at that stride!

She needed a rest, so as we slowed to walk a bit, she said, "I LOVE to run!"

The way she said it, the wistfulness to her little voice, made the fact that I wasn't really getting a work-out with all the starting and stopping of running with a 4 year old, totally worth it!

Sunday morning was Marathon Sunday in our city.  I ran the marathon 11 years ago (before any of my 4 children existed), but this past Sunday instead of tackling the 26.2 miles, I sat on the couch next to Little Girl before church and we cheered on the Ethiopian runners on TV as they won 1st in the men's marathon (with $40,000 prize money, no less), 1st in the women's marathon (also with a $40,000 prize), 1st in the women's half-marathon, and pretty much swept the 2nd through 5th places of every race.  It was a great day for Ethiopia right here in Houston, Texas!

The news interviewed the Ethiopian 19 year old who won the women's marathon, and she said (through a translator), "I love to run and this is just doing what I love."

I have no idea what will become of our Little Ethiopian Runner and if she'll always love it and want to do her own marathons one day.  I do know it's in her blood, it's in her DNA.  Olympics 2028?  I have no expectations except that if she's going to do it, I hope she'll still be sporting the pink running shoes and tutu skirt!

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Too Tired To Title (Take Two)

We've had 4 children for over a year now and my blog header still reflects life as a family of 5.  In fact, it reflects life as it was the end of 2008 when I began this blog (nobody drinks out of sippy cup or has a suction bowl any more)!  On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the worst), how bad is that?  

How old is your blog header (okay really only answer that question if it's older than mine, to make me feel better)?

Can I use the "I have 4 children" excuse?


 I know the football playoffs are going on right now, and there is a team we'll be rooting hard for on Sunday, but I have to say, #1 cutest football player is right here:

My 5 year old, I could just eat him up!


I took the boys to get haircuts last week and realized it was likely the last haircut for my 9 year old before he turns 10 and the price goes up.  Because of that, my crazy, frugal mind decided that this haircut must last as long as possible and I got their hair cut shorter than it's been in a long time.  At first I thought it was terrible and they looked like they'd been sheared like sheep, but then I noticed that the shorter styles made them look younger and that's just pure awesome!  Enjoying my little boys while I still can and their fuzzy little heads!

Do you know what else is awesome?  Craft time for the 5 and 4 year olds lead by the 7 year old!

 There's something about leaf rubbings that's just really cool!  Even if you don't have kids, I recommend you go peel the paper off some crayons, pick up some leaves, grab a sheet of white paper, and make a rubbing.  Your day will be better for it!


This video clip of comedian Jim Gaffigan talking about having 4 kids is hilarious!  I can relate!


Happy Friday Friends!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Girl Playdates and Boy Playdates

Last Friday, my 2 daughters had 2 little girls over to play.  My 7 year old had been to a playdate at her friend's house, and wanted to invite the friend over to our house and I started thinking, "Why not invite her 4 year old sister, too, to play with my 4 year old?"  It worked out really well.  The girls got along nicely, I satisfied playdates for 2 kids in 1 swoop, and having a playmate for my younger daughter helped with the typical problem that she wants to tag-along playing with the older girls when they don't want her to.  And, supervising 6 kids for a few hours was totally doable!

The only issue of having the "girl playdate" was that my 2 sons immediately began asking about a "boy playdate" and making me feel bad that it has been a while since either of them has had a playdate.  So I emailed the mother of my 9 year old son's best friend from school and the mom of my 5 year old son's best friend from school and was able to set up a "boy playdate" for Monday, their last day off school for winter break.

I was a little worried about the "boy playdate", especially knowing my trick for the girls of having some craft time when things got dicey (like someone was bored, running through the house squealing, or not playing very nicely) was not likely to go over well with the boys!

Thankfully Monday brought nicer weather and I realized "outside time" could simply replace "craft time" as a diversion of activities in the middle of the playdate.

I was completely surprised!

Do you know which playdate was easier?  The two 7 year old girls plus the two 4 year old girls (along with my 5 and 9 year old boys who were also home) OR the two 9 year old boys plus the two 5 year old boys (along with my 7 and 4 year old girls who were also home)?

The boy playdate was much easier!!!

Not that the girls were bad because they were not, I was just really surprised that 4 boys in the house would be easier than 4 girls!

I really liked the combining playdates and plan to do more of it.  It definitely helps cutdown on my usual playdate problem of the younger siblings pestering the older ones when a friend comes over!  And now that my younger ones are old enough for drop-off playdates, it is totally a feasible option.

What would you rather have - a houseful of girls or a houseful of boys?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


My kids LOVE the storm shelter at their Nana and Papa's house in Oklahoma.  This past Thanksgiving they even turned it into a clubhouse and took games down there to play.

When the sun is shining that storm shelter is all fun, but when the big storms come, it is a refuge.

Where do you seek refuge when the storms come?

And if all else were blown away, what would still stand?

For me the answer is God's Word.  His promises.

There is so much to meditate on from Scripture.  So many verses chalked full of the good news!

I go back to them over and over, reading, re-reading, and have so many jotted into a small notebook to memorize.

But, instead I just reference the notebook, or my Bible, often.

I've been lazy with scripture memorization and therefore I know what many verses say, but cannot recite them word for word or include the correct verse reference.  There's really no excuse.  It feels like my brain just can't remember, but it's the same mind that memorized the entire Krebs cycle down to every last carbon in college!

I want to do better.  His Words are powerful.  I want them etched into my mind.

So, I'm trying anew.  With lofty goals because that's how I roll (and also perhaps why I often fail).  I'm taking on Ann Voskamp's Memory Project for 2013.  Romans 1, 8 and 12.  As in all three chapters in their entirety by 12/31/2013.  

Wanna join in?  All the details are here, including a link to a really cool program that helps you learn scripture by typing it.  Maybe I'll get my oldest 2 kids to join, too, they've been all about practicing their typing lately! 

I don't want His words just in my Bible or my notebook, I want them inside my head.  Not just to know of them but to know them by heart!

 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Ps. 46:1b

Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Store Legos?

I've been asking that question or some variation on it for years now.

"What do you do with your kids' Legos?!!"

"How do you keep all those tiny, colored bricks from contaminating the entire house?"

"What about those fancy/expensive lego kits, you know where you build a police station or Anakin's Star Wars jet fighter?  Once built do you leave them set up to play with?  What about younger siblings breaking them?  If you take them apart, do you store the lego pieces for that set separately or just throw all the legos in with all the others for free and creative building?"

You see, my questions were plentiful!  I polled many people and found out that most people I know say they also want Lego help or are not "Lego people" or just build the sets one time and then mix all the pieces into a big bin/bucket after it's broken.

I tried out for a while saving the sets before they got broken and the pieces scattered and kept them in ziploc bags along with the instructions.  The problem was they never got rebuilt and my boys just dreamed of different lego sets they wanted.

I tried leaving the cool sets set up to play with, but we had to keep them on a high shelf to avoid the youngest child breaking them.  This led to them only collecting dust on the high shelf and the shelf becoming overcrowded.

I began lobbying my boys and my husband (who is also apparently not too old to be really into Legos) to just keep 2 or 3 sets up and then break them all down and mix all the pieces together to be played with creatively building anything their minds could dream up.

They would only go for this idea on the condition that the Legos be sorted in some way so that they could follow the directions and pick out the needed pieces to build some of their beloved sets if they so desired.

Sorted.  Well, now we are speaking the same language!

This is what we came up with over the Christmas break:

An organized Lego storage solution, complete with a top for lego play/display!

Thank you Ikea!  That is the Trofast line of furniture.  I know I've seen the idea to glue Lego building plates to the top, but for now my guys are enjoying the versatility of just the tabletop.

The top is too cluttered looking for me, so let's just focus on the bins organized by color.  That's where I tell my eyes to look when I walk into the playroom and then no matter the chaos in the house I can tell myself, "See, there is SOME ORDER in this home!"

You have no idea how long the sorting took my husband!  

Really I was kind of bemoaning all the time and energy we spent on Legos of all things.  But today my oldest son had a playdate and seeing two 9 year old boys happily playing there at our new lego station for an hour rather than with some technology devise made it seem worth it!

And the instruction manuals?


With clear pocket inserts!

My new favorite past time?  Picking one color and building something entirely out of that color!  I wish I'd taken a picture of my cool, modern all blue house before I let the kids break it apart! 

Linking up with New Nostalgia Anti-Procrastination Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday