Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mud Kitchen Love

I've mentioned before that the mud kitchen is the best zero dollars we've ever spent.  We're still getting a pretty high return-on-investment with this baby.  All three kids have spent long chunks of time in it and the sand pile since the snow melted.
 This is Scott wailing, "I'm stranded" as he stands marooned on his little island.

 It's pretty great when you can find an activity that appeals to kids from age 2 on up to 11 (and counting!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What We're Reading

We're a family of readers.  Partially forced by daily reading goals from the kids' teachers, partially influenced by not have TV and being very intentional about how much time we spend on screens, we've really all been reading more in the last several years.

Here's what's either in progress or recently finished:
"Deep Blue" by Jennifer Donnelly - the first book in the WaterFire Saga series that Bekah has read through the third book and is already re-reading.

"Paine. Collected Thoughts"

Jesse and I both read “Discovery of Freedom” by Rose Wilder Lane at the suggestion of a City Clerk friend of mine who thought it might be a good read for the Athenian Dialogues we participate in.  Lane referenced the writings of Thomas Paine numerous times and Jesse thought he might like to explore those further so he ordered this one from the library.  It’s a doozy.  800+ Bible-thin pages with lots of hithertos and wherefores.  I will not be reading that one!

"DragonBreath - No Such Thing as Ghosts" byUrsula Vernon
Scott is reading both this series and the "I Survived" series.  My kids drive me nuts reading numerous books at one time.  I am a one-book-at-a-time kind of girl.

Adventures of the Northwoods series by Lois Walfrid Johnson
Bekah is currently on book 8 of this series.  I started reading them as our bedtime book and we've read the first one so far. I have several books in the series that were gifts from my childhood church at Christmastime.  The ones I'm missing we're ordering from the library.

"Revenge of the Baby-Sat"  Both Bekah and Scott love Calvin & Hobbes, also a favorite from my own childhood.

And here are Alarik's current favorites; the ones he picks EVERY time: 

I have finally succumbed to ebooks after discovering that I could borrow them from my library.  I've been on a kick of books about simple living, slowing down, living intentionally, decluttering and the like.  I've read:
"Enough - finding more by living with less" by Will Davis Jr.
"The 100 Thing Challenge" by Dave Bruno
"Simplicity Parenting" by Kim John Payne
"Organized Simplicity" by Tsh Oxenrider and
"The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey (not perfectly in line with the rest of these, but enough related that it is worth a mention)

As you might imagine, these books have spurred a fair amount of purging, sorting, decluttering and simplifying around our house.  Jesse is on board with me and we've talked to the kids during the process.  I think we're at a pretty good age for driving home some lessons about stuff not making you happy, how too much stuff ends up costing you both time and money that you could be spending on/with the people you love, the very few things that you truly love, and helping others.

The results of that will be another post for another time...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Morning

Everyone found their baskets with little trouble on Easter morning.  Alarik's was in the bathroom:

Bekah's was behind the couch and she loved her fabric, thread and air freshener refills.

And Scott's was in the upstairs closet.  He had me text this picture to Gavin and tell him that he Kanoodles harder than him!  He has the original Kanoodle and Gavin has Kanoodle Genius so Kanoodle Extreme is apparently one step up from that!

Alarik's toy seemed a little incongruous.  "Happy Easter! Christ is Risen!  Here's a toy called Skull Slicer!"
But he and Jesse had fun building it together and so far he hasn't sliced any skulls with it so I think we're ok.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

No Screen Time

I declared one evening a screen-free one and this is what Bekah and Scott came up with to entertain themselves:

They are all CLEAN pairs of underwear, I promise!

Screen-free didn't apply to Alarik who has been having lots of screen time while he's been sick.  Jesse and I marvel at how well he plays Stack the States.  He can fill in all 50 states on a US map without missing one!

Friday, March 25, 2016


We colored Easter eggs last night while Daddy was at his ambulance meeting.  We did some rice dying this year and the kids thought that was pretty fun.

Poor Alarik has been sick since Tuesday and he only dyed a couple of eggs before he went and rested on mom & dad's bed.  He has been looking forward to Easter since before Christmas so he was pretty bummed to be feeling crummy when we did the eggs.  I had taken him to the clinic earlier in the day yesterday because his fever had not gone below 101.5 since Tuesday when it was 103.9, then it spiked back up to that on Thursday afternoon.  The doctor suspected either strep or influenza but didn't subject him to the tests for either, just prescribed some antibiotics which has him slowly feeling better.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Duluth Fun

After being out last Tuesday-Friday for a conference, I took Monday off too and we met up with the Kogowskis for our annual water park adventure.  This year I got smart and didn't even try to get photos in the water park.  Trying to keep the camera or phone dry while insisting that the kids stand still and smile when all they want to do is run and play is not fun for any of us.  So instead I just sat back and enjoyed watching them have fun, when I wasn't in there with them, that is.

Alarik loved the hairdryer in our hotel room and thought it was some kind of new age telephone.  He called home to check on his stuffed animals that didn't get to come along.

Before we left Duluth, we meandered around Canal Park and through the Lake Superior visitor's center.  We had never been in there before and it was really interesting.  We could have spent more time, there was so much to see!

We will be sure to leave time for a return trip there the next time we're in Duluth.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Inside Guy

While Scott was at Rejuve and Bekah was spending the night with Jade, Alarik had mom and dad to himself for a day or so.  He is usually our "inside guy", you know, the one who doesn't want to go outside, even when it's super nice out.  On this recent sunny day he wanted to lead me on a walk through the woods so I agreed.  He had deemed the day "gorgeous" and we couldn't let it go to waste.

This is his favorite part of one of the trails.  He calls it his tunnels.

All that sunshine was good for making shadow monsters.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Bekah and Scott each went with a couple of friends to Elementary Rejuve.  Bekah went to Camp Hiawatha two weekends ago.  She had fun with Corinne, Kayla and a big group of other campers.

Scott went to Camp Vermillion with Caden K. and Dalton.  They had a much smaller group and all three had a good time.  Scott found out that he's pretty good at ping pong!

All 6 kids reported that they ate awesome food, played fun games, studied in the Book of Acts, sang songs and played outside.  I'm so glad they get to go remember the fun of summer camp for a quick overnight stay in winter.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Brainstorming Chores

Bekah and Scott are on a mission.  A mission to save money to buy plants for their very own orchard.  They've been pouring over the garden catalogs that come in the mail.  Here they are brainstorming ways to make money:

And working away at one of their "chores for money" - scrubbing all the kitchen cupboard doors.  Ah...they look so nice now!

We give a small allowance to each of them and they are expected to do everyday chores just because they get to live here.  Anything that I would consider more of a spring-cleaning type chore is something they can do for money.  So far they have cleaned the inside of my vehicle, did an early spring-cleaning of the screen porch, scrubbed these cupboard doors, and sorted/organized all of the canning jars and lids that were strewn about the basement shelves.

What a win-win for Jesse and I - they are knocking things off the deep-cleaning and projects list and they're going to spend the money they're earning on fruit trees and berry plants - Sweet!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bear is found!

Bear has been found!  He's been missing for I don't even remember how long.  I have deep-cleaned the boys' room at least twice since he's been gone and not found him.  Alarik and I even took a detour home from Grand Rapids one day to pass by the hunting shack and see if he'd gotten left there.  He hadn't.  Then Alarik just comes running downstairs with him the other day and said he found him in the corner of his bed.  I can't imagine how I did not find him when I was cleaning, but oh well.  It's awesome that he's back with us!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Haircuts by Grandma

We went to Remer for Grandma Helen's birthday and put her to work cutting all the long shaggy hair in the family.

Scott did not want his haircut, but it was so sloppy looking, we made him!

He was not pleased with the result.

Alarik proved difficult to give a trim to because everything ticked him!

Bekah was going to pass but at the last minute decided she'd like a trim as well.

All the greats with hairs cut (except Eli who wanted no part of this business).

And because Scott thought he looked so dopey, now we have to do this:
Don't tell me you can't see the resemblance.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Government Employee in Training

Jesse has been off of work off and on with the weather lately but had an ambulance call one morning so Alarik came to the office with me until Jesse was done.  First things first, we had to make coffee.  He worked hard on some pictures and played with Hot Wheels before Jesse came to pick him up.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

He Gets Me

Scott gets me all the time.  Not gets me as in understands me.  Gets me as in causes Jesse or whoever else is around to say, "Oooh, he's got ya there!"  Here's his latest:

Me:  Scott, you know you aren't supposed to bring a glass of milk in the living room.  We don't drink in the living room.
Scott:  Then why are there coasters on the coffee table?
Me:  (crickets chirping) Well, uh...(stammering)...because Dad and I can drink in the living room.  Be quiet now.

He's been doing this kind of thing for a long time now.  When he was only 4 1/2 years old I was explaining to him that his bedroom was his responsibility to keep picked up.  He glanced around the kitchen where we were sitting at the time and said, "Mom, yo kitchen...yo weesponsibiwity"  Geeze!

I think his best one was the time I told him he wasn't being fair to his sister and he shot right back with, "I thought you always said 'life's not fair"!