Monday, December 31, 2012

Efficiency expert

I told Sarah to clean her room.  She asked Noah, "Would you pick up all my crayons and put them in the box and stack up all my papers?"  Noah said, "Okay...but can't you do all that?"  The princess replied, "Yes, but it's more efficient if you do it." 

Early morning conversations

Within half an hour of waking up this morning, I had discussed Nature vs. Nurture with one child and ear piercing with the other.  

Sarah woke up and announced out of nowhere, "I am getting my ears pierced for my birthday, and that's final!" as if we'd been debating it all night.  I've never told her she can't get her ears pierced, so I don't know why she takes a fighting tone about it. 

While eating breakfast, Noah said, "Would I have a different personality if I had been raised by different parents?"  I told him that people have been wondering that for years and years and that my personal opinion is that God gives you a basic personality, but it can be affected by your parents and circumstances.  He said, "Would I still be funny if somebody with no sense of humor raised me?"  I said I thought he would, and he said, "Even if my parents didn't allow me to say funny things, I'd still have funny thoughts, and I'd go to my room and snicker to myself."  Five minutes later, he had stopped pondering all that and had moved on to something else.  He said, "Hey Mom, did you know that blowfish are poisonous?"

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Grand Bear--the end

 On our last night, we played laser tag with a couple kids we met from Washington, IL. Noah played on their team vs. Mike, Sarah, and me.  They beat us.  Commander=Mike, Comet=Hunter, Ace=Ava, Chaos=Noah, Alpha=Sarah, Cipher=me.  Yes, I came in last.  

 Mike, Noah, and Sarah did a high ropes course.
 We played some Uno, ordered a pizza, watched a great movie that is now my new favorite ("Lost in the Woods", based on a great book by the same title, but the movie is ever better).  Had a pillow fight,

and then the kids fought over who gets to sleep with Mom.
This morning, we had breakfast with Santa (although, none of us paid any attention to Santa; we were more interested in the food), saw a baby lion cub from Browns' Zoo, packed up, and came home.  It was a fun trip, and it reminded me once again that my favorite place is home!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Grand Bear Lodge -- day 2

Mike, Noah, and I braved the cold to go hiking at Starved Rock. We saw four bald eagles, but I wasn't quick enough on the draw to get a good picture of any of them.

We hiked the trail to Lover's Leap.  Lots of steps.

At Starved Rock Lodge

Lover's Leap
This is the cabin where we got engaged 17 1/2 years ago.  It's still the exact same, but a whole lot has changed with us!

Grand Bear Lodge--day1

We pulled in to the parking lot, and Mike said, "We're home!" They looked confused and said, "What?!" and Sarah said, "We're sleeping here?"  I said, "Yes, for 2 nights!"  Sarah screamed  with delight.  Noah seemed concerned and said, "But we don't have anything packed... "  I said, "Look behind you," and Mike said, "We have everything you need."  Then Noah relaxed and a huge smile came on his face. Neither of them could stop smiling for a long time.  Noah kept saying, "I can't believe you pulled that off.  Nicely executed!"
 This is right after we arrived, and Sarah is yelling, "This is the best day EVER!"

 We walked to Bear Island (playground) before the big blizzard was supposed to arrive.  
 And this is when Sarah's attitude went south.  She didn't want to walk to the playground, and the whining, complaining, and mouthing off began.  Parenting never ends, not even on vacation.  But good behavior and attitudes had reigned for a good hour before that, and we had basked in it.

 She perked up at the water park.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Springing it on them

We were all packed up and ready to go.  We told the kids that as a special treat we were taking them to  Busy Corner in Goodfield for brunch.  Noah, predictably, was resistant.  He doesn't like leaving home, and there's supposed to be a blizzard coming, and it's so far, and it's probably going to be crowded, blah, blah, blah.  Typical Noah reaction.  I think his grouchy mood helped prevent him from noticing the suitcases (covered by a blanket) in the back of the van as he got in.  Also, as they were getting in, I was in the front seat, holding up one of their favorite books on CD, saying, "Look what I brought to listen to on the way!"  Sarah was excited about that, and even Noah perked up a little while listening.

After we left Busy Corner, Noah said, "Are we going home now?" and Mike said, "Well, since we're halfway to Bloomington, we're going to go get gas there, because it's cheaper."  I put in a Mythbusters DVD from the library, and they were captivated.  They didn't even notice that we blasted through Bloomington without getting gas.

When we were a few miles from Minonk, Sarah groaned, "How long till we get there?"  I said, "We're just a few miles from our gas stop."  We stopped for gas in Minonk, and Noah looked around and said, "How far from home ARE we anyway?  This is a long way to go for cheap gas..."  They started up another episode of Mythbusters and stared at the screen until I shut it off, as we were pulling into the parking lot at Grand Bear Lodge.  To be continued....


Mike and I have had a secret for about a month.  It's been unbelievably hard for me to keep it.  Subterfuge is not my specialty.  We planned a 2-day trip to Grand Bear Lodge as a surprise for the kids.  I almost spilled the beans several times, but we managed to pull off a total surprise, which is very difficult when the kids are always home and they're pretty observant and curious.

There was a close call earlier in the week.  I had written "GBL" on the calendar so I wouldn't forget and schedule something else for the same time.  The kids never look at the calendar, so I figured that was safe. But a couple days ago, Noah looked at the calendar and asked me, "What's GBL?"  It caught me off guard, so I stammered, "Oh...GBL?  Ummm....oh yeah....that's a....well, it's a Great...Big...uh, Lesson!  Yes, we're going to have a great big lesson on Thursday.  That's it."  I don't think he bought it, but he got distracted and surprisingly let it go.

Last night we packed the bags and loaded them in the van while the kids were at AWANA.  This morning we packed up the final last minute items while the kids were watching TV.  Then we sprung the plan.  But you'll have to come back for the next post to read about it....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


We just started a unit on Rwanda this week.  First step is to find it on the globe.  It's tiny! 

Each strip of paper has a fact about Rwandan kids.  My kids are categorizing them according to similarities and differences.  I wanted them to see that kids are kids wherever they live, even though there are differences.

We bought yarn made by Rwandan widows and learned to knit a hat. 

 I don't do gender stereotypes.  My boy likes knitting too. He's secure in his manhood.  He does enjoy listening to hard rock while he knits.  :)
 Finished it!
 Upon close inspection, you'll find definite errors, but they did pretty well for their first time.

Best buds

Despite all the bickering, they really do love each other.  The fact that he spelled everything right makes me almost as happy as the sentiment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Random mischief

 Trying to do Bible study this morning, and Shadow came along and took a BITE out of Noah's Bible!  Noah said, "He must really be hungry for the word of God!"

If you get an undecipherable email from me, this probably explains why.
See that yellow smudge by his cute little black nose?  He was helping Sarah paint. 
Noah's math book drying in the sun.  It was completely soaked when Shiloh knocked over a glass of water on it.
I wrote myself a note with directions on it.  Then Shiloh found it and treated it like prey.  Don't think I'll ever find where I was supposed to go with those directions. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Homemade gym set

This is the gymastics set that Sarah wants for her American Girl doll.  It was $85 earlier in the year, but now it is backordered until March of next year, and it's going for $200 or more on ebay.  The thought of paying that much for tiny doll toys makes me a little queasy.
So I spent about ten bucks and many, many hours and made a set that the doll can actually use. I bought a glue gun for this project, and I must admit I love that thing!  Why did it take me over 40 years to figure out how cool glue guns are?!  Of course I burn my fingers every time I use it, but it's worth it.

Sarah's loft

I painted it the colors that Sarah chose.
Guess who helped paint and got it on the carpet?
She likes it!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I was playing the game of Life with Noah.
I noticed that he and his wife were in a separate car from their children.  I asked him if they were having  a date night.  He said, "No, I just don't like having all those kids in the backseat when we go somewhere."  That made me laugh.  Then he said, "Well, it's not that they're annoying or anything.  They just keep falling out, and then I have to waste time stopping to pick them up and put them back in..." 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Laundry limitations

Folding laundry is one of those tasks I put off, for some reason.  Yesterday, after the clothes had been sitting in the dryer all day, I finally dumped them onto the floor in a high traffic area, hoping that:
a) I would be so inconvenienced by having to step over them constantly that I would annoy myself into folding them, or
b) someone else would notice them and fold them.

Neither of those happened, and when I woke up this morning, there was the pile, looking at me.  It wasn't even a pile anymore, because it had been scattered by people walking through it.  I decided I would do it after I finished flash cards with the kids, while they were happily, quietly, diligently working on their lesson (do you hear the sarcasm?).  Finished with the interactive part of the lesson, I turned to tackle the pile.  But there were two kittens asleep on it!  Obviously, you don't disturb sleeping kittens, so the pile wins again.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The major project

 Mike is building a loft bed in Noah's room.
The basement looks like this.  The garage looks pretty similar.  There is mess pretty much everywhere.
 I painted it Cubs colors, at Noah's request.
The children painted the underside.

That was a BIG mess.
Mike had to airlift them to the shower.
Then the carpet went down.
 Meanwhile, Noah's mattress was in the hallway.  Something new to climb, so curious kittens had to investigate. I was pleased that they weren't interested in the paint anymore.  They finally dozed off up there.
They kept inching closer and closer until their heads were together.  
 Ok, back to the project.  Here is a happy boy getting ready to sleep in the loft.  It still needs a ladder and a few finishing touches, and then we have to clean up and put his room back together.  Of course Sarah wants a loft too...
 Hanging out with a buddy in the loft
 His buddy helped him haul up some furniture from the basement. it has steps.