Thursday, June 27, 2013

What I've Learned at "Camp Mom"

To clarify, "Camp Mom" is not a camp that moms go to, although that would be all kinds of awesome!  "Camp Mom" is where I attempt to entertain/occupy my children during various weeks of their summer break from school instead of sending them to camp.  


I know, I know.  You feel sorry for my kids now.  But, I'll have you know that at "Camp Mom" today we went on a field trip to a movie theater where they were having $1 summer movies, only it was one of those movie grill places, so my kids got to eat pizza in a theater WHILE watching the movie How to Train Your Dragon which is WAY better than making lanyards while sitting outside in 100 degree heat.  Just sayin'!

Then today's session of "Camp Mom" ended with the fun that was well-child check-ups for the two boys.  Reading eye charts, being weighed, getting your blood-pressure taken -- what's not to love?!!


And tomorrow?  This is how I phrased it to the kids, "We need to get an allergy shot for the 7 year old, haircuts for the two boys, and if all 5 of us survive all that, then we'll cash in the free ice cream shake coupons you earned in the library summer reading program!"

If I've learned anything as camp counselor it's that incentives (we don't have to call it bribery) help -- always save the fun/best activity for last!  "You guys want to go to the pool?  Okay, sure as soon as you finish your 15 minutes of handwriting practice!"


I have to say we are rockin' the library summer reading program.  The 3 youngest kids have managed to read 30 books; the oldest counts by pages and he's topped 3,000 pages -- amazing!  But, most amazing is that we haven't yet lost a library book; I'm thinking the Mom camp counselor deserves a free shake for that one!  


There are not many pictures from "Camp Mom" because I'm typically too busy counting heads and generally managing the chaos to take pictures.

But, we have hatched dinosaurs:

We've done some thorough cleaning out of a few areas of our house.  (I feel certain at regular camp kids totally miss out on vacuuming under beds and cleaning baseboards!)

We've had some playdates/sleepovers!

We've gotten up early for swim team practice that is now over -- hurray!  Let the sleeping in begin!


There have been times of big fun and times that were the complete opposite of fun!  

Like, taking 4 kids grocery shopping.  I want to like it.  I want to be able to shop with my kids.  I don't want to have to use precious evening or weekend time to do that errand when the stores are more crowded.  But, even if the kids are displaying their most perfect behavior (which only occasionally is the case), just the shear number of people around the cart is a logistical nightmare!  The children are all pretty much too big to ride in the cart, although much to her dismay the 4 year old does typically get forced to ride.  So then there are 3 children either walking next to my cart and thus blocking the aisle for any carts wanting to head in the opposite direction or they are somehow preventing my cart from moving easily.  The whole time I'm like, "Okay, you walk here.  You hold on here.  Wait, now we need to turn left.  Watch out, I don't want to run over your foot!  Honey, that lady needs to pass, you are blocking the aisle."

Then there was the Trader Joe's incident, which is usually a happy place to take the kids because they get to search for Woody and get a prize for finding him and it's smaller so less navigating of the cart, but this week the 6 year old managed to spill his spill-proof cup of water all over the floor in the check-out causing a manager to have to clean it up while the line of people waiting to check out looked on.  At least we lived up to everyone's expectations as they stared at us and thought, "That's too many kids!"


 All in all it's going well and I wouldn't trade this precious time with my kids for anything.  Even as I sat next to a mom at an event recently who was about to send both her kids away to camp for a week and she was musing about what she was going to do while they were away, I wasn't jealous.  Really I was mystified by the idea, like I couldn't really comprehend it.  I just couldn't stop thinking about how crazy it would be to be childless for an entire week!

I even marveled to my husband later about all I could accomplish.  I was like, "World Peace?  No problem.  You give me a week without children and it's DONE!"

Happy Friday, Friends!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cloth Napkins for Kids

We made the switch away from paper napkins a couple years ago and I have really liked it.  It is not hard to throw dirty napkins in with a load of wash I'm already doing every day or every other day.  And I like not having to buy paper napkins at the store; one less thing for my grocery list makes me happy!  Also, it's something small our family can do to better care for the world God gave us.

For dinner we use cloth napkins, and for lunch I was using old baby washcloths for the kids to wipe their hands and faces.  Several of the washcloths had gotten holes, but instead of spending money on new ones, I thought of an idea while cleaning out.  We had several soft flannel baby blankets around the house, but no babies anymore (sigh, that phase leaves so quickly, doesn't it?).  So, I cut the blankets up into small cloth napkins just the perfect size for the kids to use!

I love how soft they are!

I could have/should have gone the extra mile and sewed up a hem around the edge, but I knew adding that step would likely mean the blankets would never turn into cloth napkins, so I just cut around the edges with pinking shears.  Good enough!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

She Jumped!

One of my favorite memories of this summer so far:

Seeing my 7 year old daughter overcome her fear of the high dive!

And now?  She LOVES it, can't wait to do the high dive every time we go to the pool! 

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Blue Hair, Dogopoly, and What is under that bed?

Last Friday was "Crazy Hair Day" at our VBS:

Thankfully that blue did wash out easily!


 I already shared about cleaning out under the bunk bed in my girls' room and discovering the 7 year old's "cotton ball collection".  But, also under the bed was this cardboard box decorated with drawings and stamps:

"It's my boat," my 7 year old informed me, "Please can I keep it?"

I just hope the TV show "Hoarders" is still around when she has her own house someday because she's going to need some intervention!
By the end of this week we were finally able to begin settling into the easier pace of summer.  Here's what this afternoon looked like:

Madeline The Dog LOVES Monopoly!

Okay, maybe it's more the closeness to her family and the snacks that she loves!  She's sharing a chair with my 6 year old and that dog sitting in a chair happens all the time around here.  Honestly, have your ever heard of such dog shenanigans?!!

So, that's Madeline playing.  Here's a shot of Madeline napping I caught this week:

Hey, she lives in a house with 4 kids, sleeping under the bed (or as far under as you can fit) is the only way to even have a chance at an undisturbed nap!  


Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Best Message to Send!

There is a girl named Juliet who we sponsor, she lives at a children's home in Uganda.  

She's 12 years old and we've sponsored her for about 4 or 5 years now, not only sending money to help provide for her care and education, but we've also exchanged letters and pictures.  She likes to dance and to cook.  She wanted to be an actress when she was younger, but now she wants to be a doctor.  She loves learning about God and prays for us!

I'd so love to see Juliet in person some day, to hug her and tell her how much we care about her (I hold these children we sponsor in a very special place in my heart)!  We were able to meet the boy we sponsor in Ethiopia a couple years ago, but I'm not sure that opportunity will come to visit Juliet.

Imagine my delight and awe in God, though, when I discovered that my Community Bible Study leader was traveling to the exact orphanage in Uganda where Juliet is!!  Oh God is just too much sometimes!!

And imagine my joy at the privilege of putting together a little care package for my friend to deliver to Juliet!  I bought some empty notebooks with pretty covers for Juliet to write in, to record her thoughts and dreams, along with some pens, stickers, a long letter from us, a picture of us and a copy of a picture of her that she'd sent us (the one that we display on our refrigerator)!  

But, I wanted something else kinda special for this precious 11 year old girl but not too expensive because the children cannot have anything of much monetary value.  So, I ordered a kit to make bottlecap necklaces and then ordered a template to be able to print any saying I wanted for the center of the necklace.  I thought about what one thing I most wanted Juliet to know.  For me it all boiled down to this:

A necklace to remind her that Jesus loves her.  

Praying she feels that love!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When you download your husband's iPhone photos . . .

My husband took some pictures on his phone of our annual family blueberry picking this past Saturday and when I asked him to download the pictures, it was really entertaining to see all the other photos on his phone.  He hasn't downloaded them in a while.  

There were the typically our-kids-doing-something-fun pictures:

Kids-doing-something-cute pictures:

There was the day our 4 year old asked my husband if he'd take her tiny, red toy ducky to work with him and he photographed it looking out his office window to show her:

And then there was this:

Some random hotel bathroom from one of my husband's work trips!  

"Can you explain this?"  I asked.

He laughed and couldn't even remember what exactly it was about that hotel bathroom scene that struck him as funny - probably the throw-back to the olden days phone hanging there in the bathroom!  Or maybe this picture just snuck into to batch from the 1980s!

If you really want to get to know a person, check out what pictures they have on their iPhone!

Find more Wordless Wednesday here.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Quite the collection!

I made the kids do some much-needed cleaning out yesterday.  While helping my 7 year old daughter tackle the space under her bed, 

we found this shoebox she'd covered in construction paper and stickers:

I opened it and the look on my face must have reflected my question because my daughter immediately informed me, "That's my cotton ball collection!"

Of course it is!

Because really everyone needs a "cotton ball" (pom-pom) collection!

So, tell me, what strange things do your kids collect?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Do you want to see?

Do you want to see the dog that is actually tempting me to get a second dog?

Did you click on the link?  How cute is that puppy?  So, so cute!  The puppy is a Labradoodle, so part lab and part poodle.  

Our dog is a Goldendoodle (part Golden Retriever and part poodle) just like that puppy's big brother.  My dog would really love having another dog to play with!  Too bad there'd be all the extra work and expense!  As it is with one dog I am always asking "What is the dog eating?!!" when I notice her suspiciously chewing on something.  Tonight the answer to my question was packing peanuts!  The dissolvable kind, I hope that makes them non-toxic!  I can't begin to imagine the craziness of that "What's the dog eating?" game if we had two dogs!!


Do you want to see the inside of my dryer?

Acorns!  Really clean acorns.


Do you want to see what my girls race to do when a summer rain shower strikes?

Swinging in the rain!

Do you want to see what we'll be coming up with tomorrow to help make Father's Day special at our house?  Here's a link to our annual tradition of a Father's Day Treasure Hunt.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

Find more Friday Fragments here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Teaching my Kids to Cook

Summer break has not yet been here a week and we've been super busy with swim meets (2 in less than a week) and VBS at our church every morning this week, so I haven't gotten to many of my summer goals.  Namely, cleaning out all the clutter that has built up the past few months during our busy season!

But, I have been cooking with my oldest 2 kids, which is part of my summer plan, to get them more proficient in the kitchen.  I have to say so far so good.  They are very eager to help and learning quickly.  I'm excited that they are able to truly be of help, unlike cooking with little ones where everything is 10 times harder having them "help" you!

The 10 year old chopping up vegetables for a stir-fry:

The 7 year old putting a pan of bacon in the oven:

And my 7 year old mastered the waffle iron!

I am doing my best to council them on safety in the kitchen but it does still scare me, them using knives and the oven and stove.  But, I'm trying to let some of that go, giving them only the dull knives and reminding myself that they have to learn some time!  

It is a privilege to be able to coach them through some of these skills that will serve them well the rest of their lives!  And I'm looking forward to the day they make ME dinner!  Maybe by August?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

If you need me . . .

Lately I've spent a whole lot of time watching this:

and this:

and this:

It's hot, really, really sweaty hot, but such a privilege for me as a parent to see my kids enjoying a sport I loved as a child!

My 3 oldest kids are doing summer swim team (the youngest has had some tears about the fact that she is not old enough for swim team) and it is busy.  I spent five and a half hours at a swim meet yesterday, with my 6 year old needing to be at the pool at 4pm for his part of the meet and my 10 year old not finishing his last event until 9:30pm!  Thankfully the season is short -- it's all over by the beginning of July!  And, it is fun to watch! 

It's been especially cool to see my 10 year old, who has gotten more into swimming the past year, be able to improve his times and make it into the fastest heat of swimmers where the competition is intense.  Last night we swam against our big rival and my son's 9-10 year old boys medley relay won first by fractions of a second with my son swimming anchor.  I was so proud of the boys for swimming so hard!  It's neat to see this group of boys, some of whom I remember lining up for their swim races when they were 5, so grown up now, and how much their swimming has improved -- also it's nice that now none of them suddenly have to go to the bathroom really, really bad right as they line up at the starting blocks like happened all the time when they were five!

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


It finally came, the last day of school for my 3 elementary-aged kiddos!


It was a whirlwind these past few weeks so I was counting down the days and I really look forward to having my kids home more over the summer, but I was a little sad today for the ending.  Each of my kids has had such a great year with super teachers who love what they do, love my kids, and truly their teachers are people I've become friends with and will miss seeing regularly!  And there's also the reality that my kids are now in grades 5th, 3rd, 1st, and pre-K, which all just seems way too old!


I give myself bonus points for making it to all 3 of their end of the year class parties this morning, with Little Girl in tow, but she was thoroughly spoiled and offered pizza and treats at each party!  I did the kindergarten party at the park first for an hour, left that early to catch 40 minutes of the 4th grade party, and then hit about 20 minutes of the 2nd grade Hawaiian themed bash.  My kids love having their mom at their parties so it's worth it to run around like a crazy person to show up for each of them!


We came home and rang in summer with these frozen treats I made from this recipe.   So yummy and festive!


Then it was time for this:

And this:

And this:

Happy dance:


And we have it tomorrow -- a glorious day of nowhere we have to be!! 

Maybe we'll hit the library, maybe the pool or maybe we'll just stay in our jammies all day!  The possibilities are endless!  

Happy Summer!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What The Second To Last Day of School Looks Like

This is my house 10 minutes after the kids got home today on the 2nd to last day of school:

The last day of school is a half-day with pretty much just their class parties, so the teachers sent everything home today and the kids were told not to even bring their backpacks tomorrow.  Hence my breakfast room becoming the dumping ground of our local elementary school.  A swim practice pretty soon after school also contributed to the mess because clothes and shoes were tossed off along with the school paraphernalia.

My house is a sea of half-used glue bottles, crayon nubs, pencils that have long ago lost their erasers, school journals, stinky lunchboxes, ratty backpacks and mounds of school work!  Next year I really need to anticipate this day better and set a large trashcan just outside the door to the house and have my children toss everything before they even come in the door!  Maybe we could just save those daily journals that have precious thoughts recorded in my child's own handwriting!  But, now I'm done for because the stuff has infiltrated the house and I'll be working to shovel it out all summer long.

As if the last day of school is not celebrated enough, my kids will wake up to this when they come down for breakfast:

Each child gets a workbook for their next grade level and a bucket with a bubble wand, a water gun, and a soaker ball.  Then the tub in the middle of the table are new things to share:  a large bubble solution refill, a kit full of bubble tools, pool dive sticks in fun character shapes, and some packages of basic lego bricks I bought on eBay to help us have more of the often-used/first-to-run-out-when-we're-building lego pieces.

Bring on the summertime!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Father's Day Treasure Hunt

Our Father's Day tradition is to send my husband on a treasure hunt for his presents. The clues relate to memories with the kids throughout the past year and send him all over the house until the last clue leads him to his presents!

I do around 6 clues and now that my kids are able (I actually started this when my 1st was a baby) they help with ideas and hiding the clues.

Examples of some past year's clues:

clue: POP ART!!!
location: a sticky note with the next clue will be taped to the Pop Tart box (my toddler screams "Pop Art!" at breakfast each morning until he gets a Pop Tart to go with his cereal.

clue: "Dr. Wink looked at me and said, 'You have a very rare and acute case of Pinkititis.'"
location: a sticky note leading to the next clue will be found on the page containing that sentence in the Pinkalicious book my daughter has had us read a hundred times and memorized herself."

clue: You pulled my 1st loose tooth here
location: presents will be found on my 6 year old's top bunk bed.

It is really fun coming up with the clues, hiding them, and, of course, watching the hunt! My kids and I follow my husband around as he follows the clues.

This little tradition makes Father's Day more fun and special!

Here's my 3rd child's favorite lovey, his Big Duke stuffed bulldog that was holding a clue last year:

And my older daughter's favorite doll was the answer to the very last clue and held the present!

All the clues from last year on sticky notes:

Find more Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Most Stressed Out Moms

I heard about the results of a survey where they polled 7,000 U.S. mothers.  Who do you think reported the highest levels of stress - moms of one child, two children, three children, or moms of four or more children?

The survey found it was the moms of three kids who were the most stressed!

Do you want to see the survey?  Here it is.

Surprised with the results?  I know I talked to several moms at a dinner this evening who were.  But, I get it.  As a mom of four kids, I see it.  That once you have four kids, you just have to let many things go and not worry about them.  Things you might still be trying to do or do well with 3 kids but they are really not easy to stay on top of for more than 1 or 2 children.  I know I always say about our experience going from 3 to 4 kids that it was already chaos with 3, so yeah, what's 1 more?  Except maybe an excuse for the chaos!

What do you think?  What number of children is the most stressful?  And why would moms of 4 or more report less stress than moms of 3?