Monday, April 20, 2015

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, Monday, April 20, 2015

Outside my window...  sunny blue sky, the dogwoods starting to bloom, and laundry hanging on the line.  Ahhhh :D

Hearing...  a quiet house at the moment, both boys home and reading or doing schoolwork.  (Wyatt at the orthodontist.)

Pondering...  Yikes!  What a couple of weeks we've had!  We had a great start to our spring-break-spring-cleaning-BLITZ, and then the colds hit, along with a lot of pollen flying around.  I don't think any of us actually have allergies, but maybe the pollen is exacerbating the cold symptoms.  As we wrapped up our week of spring break, I was starting to feel better but Tate and Gunnar were miserable.  Tate went back to school anyway, but Gunnar took Monday off and then...

Walking up the hill to the park...

Tuesday to Thursday we had a guest ;D  So we ended up having a TWO week spring break.

Praying...  for everyone (Tate especially) to clear up (sinuses), for friends adjusting to a new baby (hallelujah!), and for a friend having surgery Wednesday.

Thankful...  for the new baby!!!  Such an answer to prayer :D  For the sunshine, lifting our spirits.  For laundry drying (for free!) on the line.  For my parents, coming home tomorrow.  And for easy access to health care and OTC meds.  Woo-hoo!

A solitary duck... the only one without a mate?

Wearing...  capri jeans, blue t-shirt, crocs.  And sunglasses ;D

Creating...  hmmm, craft night tomorrow, so I need something to work on.

Do you think she likes the swings?

Going...  to do the things we need to do this week.  It's a good feeling - but more effort - getting back into the groove with homeschool.  Coming down the homestretch, though!

Reading...  just finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and have started Every Living Thing, by James Herriot.

Not the bucket swing, the Big Girl swing.

Learning...  If you make five turkey pot-pies when you have a cold, it's kind of hard to tell if they're seasoned right.  (Not my very best work, but the boys don't seem to notice!)

Looking forward to...  Kerry and the boys are all going river rafting on Saturday - they're really excited!

In the kitchen...  why is it that after grocery shopping, it's so hard to think of what to make for dinner?  Maybe it's some kind of food over-load.  Or maybe it was the chicken-salad-on-a-sourdough-bagel lunch ;D

In the learning rooms...  Tate has eight weeks left, and Gunnar nine (thanks to our extra week of break), but he's plotting about how to finish early.  I like that attitude :D

Puzzling out an I Spy book...

Around the house...  oh how I LOOOOVE having the doors and windows open and feeling the fresh breeze blow through the house.  Yes, yes, yes!  I'm getting my fill now as it's supposed to rain later in the week.

The Mother Load...  oh boy. There's a lot we didn't finish in our spring break blitz, and that's okay, but I really want to deep-clean the kitchen.  Things get lost in the back of the cupboards, and the floor?  Well.  In need of some scrubbing.

She found it!

Noticing that...  Gunnar.  Grown an inch and a half since October.  Whew!

Something to remember for later...  when my boys were little I learned a trick.  I would put their socks on and have them stand on a flat piece of cardboard (like an empty cereal box) and trace around their feet closely.  (Trace then standing up, not sitting, because our feet will spread a little when we put weight on them.)  Those little cardboard cut-outs should fit easily into their shoes.

Kids won't tell you that their shoes are too tight.  They don't know any different.  We had a niece (not Naomi!) live with us for nearly a year.  The shoes she came with were at least two sizes too small and her toes were in a cramped, curled position.  The first thing I bought her was new shoes.  I let her wear sandals and go barefoot a lot through the summer, and her toes gradually straightened out.  Poor kid!

Something fun to share...  the random things kids say.  Out of the blue Naomi asked me, "Do you have a busy skunk?"  Um, NO.  Nor do I have a lazy skunk.

Later I had told her to leave something alone and I know she touched it.  She looked at me quickly and said, "I just fixed it.  It's okay.  Don't worry about it."  Yah.  You fixed it.

A favorite quote for today... 
Supposing you eliminated suffering.  What a dreadful place the world would be because everything that corrects the tendency of man to feel over-important and over-pleased with himself would disappear.  He's bad enough now.  But he would be absolutely intolerable if he never suffered.
 - Malcolm Muggeridge

Gunnar reading Winnie the Pooh

One of my favorite things...  a morning walk with Gunnar in this glorious weather!

A Bible verse...  Galatians 6:3-4
If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  Each one should test his own actions.  Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.

I'm meeting with a group of moms talking about parenting and one of the themes is to stop comparing yourself to other moms... which is mostly (but not universally) good advice.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  the usual round of violin and piano lessons, babysitting Sammy, CAP, and homeschool.  My parents are arriving home tomorrow - looking forward to that.  And I'll probably go to a craft night with the chapel ladies tomorrow evening.  Since the boys and Kerry will be having an adventure Saturday (I could've gone, but I've done it lots of times), I'm hoping my mom will be free - having not seen her for a couple weeks :D

A peek into my day...    You are my sunshine...

Somebody loves to play the piano and sing

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Blitzing On...

I should have gotten my camera out, but I didn't.  I washed the curtains (white sheers) and they looked just gorgeous, drying on the line in the sunshine.  But in a still photo you wouldn't have been able to see the beautiful movement of the cherry blossoms floating down like snow flakes, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Or maybe I'm hallucinating on the cold meds I'm taking.  Ugh.  The only meds that really seem effective make me LOOPY-LOOPY-LOOPY!  Hard to concentrate and stay on-task.  And to make it even more fabulous, the cough drops I found in the medicine cabinet are so old they're kind of... chewy.  Hmmm.  Moving right along...

It's a good thing the boys are such good workers, because they take the list and run with it.  Yay, Grasshopper boys!

Today we worked in the living and dining rooms (kind of one big room, really).  We...
* sorted the magazine basket (eliminated old issues)
* cleaned out the coffee table cubbies
* picked up all the Easter decorations (not a lot, really)
* moved the furniture away from the walls
* vacuumed the whole room
* dusted windowsills, baseboard trim, door frames, furniture, picture frames... everything
* cleaned the dining room light fixture
         ---  I've learned a couple of things about light fixtures
                     1.  Pay attention to what kind of bulbs they take (cost)
                     2.  Pay attention to cups that collect dust.  Cups should point DOWN, not UP.
          --- Live and learn, I guess.
* Cleaned the top of the bookshelf (can't see the dust up there, so it accumulates)
* rearranged the furniture
* took down all the living/dining room curtains and washed them - WHITE!  not dusty/beige ;D
* put all the curtains back up

Due to me being such a slacker, all the Easter decor remains on the dining room table, waiting for me to pack it away and decide what to put back out.  Some springish things.  And candles are always good.  We also didn't clean the windows (glass).  Maybe tomorrow.  I'm kind of afraid to touch the big (broken) one, but the others need some TLC.

The boys also cleaned the "back bathroom".  Normally this bathroom doesn't get used much, but as Wyatt is STILL picking away at repainting the boys' bathroom, they've all been showering downstairs, so that bathroom needed "freshening up".  You know what I mean.

But the fun thing about cleaning out, is FINDING THINGS.  I found the boys' little Bible study notebooks.  When they were much littler, we would read the Bible together.  Somewhere I got a neat idea to keep them focused, but I can't remember where it came from!  (Maybe from Gladys Hunt's Honey for a Child's Heart ?)  Anyway, if you have littles (or maybe not-so-littles) this may work for you, so I'll share.

We'd read a passage aloud together and the boys had to write down four things:
1.  What the passage was
2.  One sentence summary / high-point
3.  A new or unfamiliar word, with brief definition
4.  Favorite verse from the passage, copied out

Here's an example from a boy who was VERY enthusiastic about the story.
1.  Esther 7 (chapter 7)
2.  Haman's plan DOUBLE BACK-FIRED, two times!  And he got hung on his own gallows!
3.  Adversary - enemy, antagonist
4.  v10 So they hung Haman on the gallows that he prepared for Mordecai.

They crack me up.  When we read the story of Jonah, Wyatt and Tate both picked the same favorite verse from chapter 2, v10 "and the Lord commanded the fish and it vomited Jonah up onto dry land."

Because HELLO, the Bible just said VOMITED and that is HILARIOUS if you are a little boy, apparently.

So that's my tale for today.  Tomorrow we clean the kitchen - yay!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter, Spring Break, and No-Grasshopper-Days

Do you want to know what really chaps my hide?
It's finally spring break.
The weather is sunny and warm.
I have a four page list of chores and projects to accomplish with the boys.

I have a nasty cold.

So, insert a ridiculous amount of whining about how truly unfair that is,
and we'll just move along, alrighty?

Fortunately, it didn't really "hit" until Sunday night, meaning Easter was wonderful :D

With a bare minimum of protest, the Grasshopper Boys were up and ready to go before 7am, to make it to Sunrise Service.  We may not look traditionally "Eastery"...

... but there's a good reason for that:

And the temp actually dropped as we drove to our friends' farm for the service.

But such a gorgeous morning!

We walked through the frosty meadow up to the top of the hill before the sun came up.

Everyone is bundled up - Gunnar even has two pairs of pants on!

Our friend Katlyn was able to get a (Skype? FaceTime?) connection with our friends serving in Myanmar, so they could be part of the service!

They could see the sun coming up, behind the fir trees...

... the crowd of over a hundred gathering for the service...

... and the nearby fields and mountains...

... but they didn't get any of the cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate!

One of our gracious hosts - Emily - on the left.

From the farm, we went on to "regular" church, in view of these Canadian mountains.

And our own Mt. Baker, with a cloud cap.

As is traditional, we headed up to my parents' for family lunch and celebration,
which included an Easter egg hunt for Naomi :D

The big kids were careful not to hide them too well :D

Grandma had carefully filled each one with a little bit of chocolate.

Which led to...

... a fun day for everyone.

Our Spring Blitz, however, is moving forward at a bit more lethargic pace than last year,
thanks to me.  Blah.

Also, I'm running a shuttle service for family members who get to go on cruises, and vacations to warm places (not us) and have been both to the airport and up to Vancouver BC already this week.

But at home, the boys and I have accomplished a FEW things...

* got all the recycling out (picked up this morning)
* got rid of all the shredding that needed to be done
* emptied garbages (will need to do again, after all the cleaning!)
* disinfected all switches and doorknobs around the house
* wiped down the walls around the switches (gross)
* dusted picture frames all around the house - they're so easily forgotten at other times!
* sorted/cleaned coffee table "cubbies"

* tidied the boys' desk drawers
* sorted their "save boxes"
* cleaned off dressers
* went through dressers/closet - what fits!
* strip beds
* wash sheets 
* dust/mop under beds and all floor

* vacuumed the stairs and landings
* cleaned out the vacuum
* emptied two hall closets
* wiped down shelves
* sorted/reloaded closet items
* dust mop the floor

* cleaned out "closet" with hot water heater
* cleaned out under bathroom sink (that bathroom has a lot stored in it)
* cleaned out the medicine cabinet
* dusted/cleaned all flat surfaces
* cleaned toilet
* cleaned sink and counter

* picked up/tidied (ACK!!!)
* organized the closet
* hung the winter coats (not using right now)
* put away some lego creations
* took down (and disposed of) old curtains
* dusted all bookshelves
* organized the DVDs
* wiped down the baseboard heater
* dusted everything else
* vacuumed all the way to the edges (with little attachment)

We're making good progress, but there is a lot left to do!  The bed sheets are drying on the line, so all the beds need to be remade.  Also, I have materials to make new curtains for the family room, but don't have my sewing machine out yet.  Need to finish some lesson planning for Sunday school first.

As far as all the sorting, we got rid of a ton of stuff last year, so this year the sorting is going much more quickly.  Gunnar, of course, has grown out of nearly everything, so he and I will be doing some shopping later this week, but at least we weeded out everything that doesn't fit.  It filled a LARGE (garbage size) bag.

And for dinner tonight?  Leftovers... again.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A New Light, and Tate Bakes

So, for you thorough readers, I mentioned in my last post that I was replacing something.

Not the boy (though we have our moments), the light fixture.
Because I'm a cheapskate frugal, and can't bear to buy any more ten dollar light bulbs.

So thankful my dad is such a helpful guy, AND an electrician!
I owe him a batch of oatmeal cookies ;D

Yes, you may have noticed it's missing something.  
One of the globes was already broken on arrival,
and Amazon is 'on it', so yay for them.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE all the nice, warm light :D

However, I realized I'd neglected to consider one thing...

This fixture is wider than our old fixture, and if we don't watch out...

I think Kerry is going to put some kind of stopper on the cabinet door, or I foresee replacing a great many more globes in the future.  Oops.

No, really, it came with a broken globe!  We didn't do it!

Also, the astute reader may remember Tate's charming plea for a friend's dessert recipe.
Well, we just made it and the kitchen smells so good I think I'm gaining weight just by the aroma.

Here he is melting the butter and giving me the side-eye...

Meanwhile, the dish is greased and floured.

Cracking eggs...

Measuring the almond extract - lots of almond extract!

Yes, he knows how to dip-level-pour the flour.

And mixing it all up.  Yes, we each licked a beater - yum!

And then sprinkling sliced almonds and sugar on top.
He may have gone a little heavy on the sugar, but with a whole cup of butter in the batter,
well... this isn't exactly health food ;D

And after about 30 minutes...


A tasty treat to bring to Easter tomorrow :D

And in case you're wondering about the device around his neck... that's his compilot.  It's a blue-tooth device that works with his CI's.  He was streaming music while he waited for the almond bars to finish baking.  Love technology!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brain Dump and Partial Blitz

1.  This whole thing about boys growing up isn't easy, you know?  Sometimes I miss these days...

Although these days are pretty good too :D

2.  At least tonight the boybarians are all together at CAP.  And tonight is special, because it's a fifth Tuesday, therefore they get to wear civvies, eat pizza, and play games.  (Rather than drilling/marching, attending classes, testing, having a uniform inspection, etc.)  But the older they get, the more they're going different directions, especially now that Wyatt's at the college.

The powers that be (at the college) have - very inconveniently! - scheduled their spring break a different week from the public schools'.  And now that Tate is p/t at the high school, we're tied to TWO different school schedules.  (Good grief, homeschooling is a lot of work, but it sure was a lot simpler!)  So while Tate, Gunnar and I are doing school, I'm trying to motivate Wyatt to work on his own, since we can't have our annual Blitz Week all together.

3.  What's Blitz Week?  If you're new here, let me explain.  During Spring Break, we do spring cleaning and projects.  The minions work for me until lunch, and then they get free time during the afternoon and evening.  Of course, I love that we get so much done!  And my not-so-secret motive (besides that they need to learn cleaning and organization) is that if I work them hard enough, school will seem like a welcome break ;D

Wyatt had definitely inherited Kerry's "allergic to morning" gene.  *sigh*  The whole "work until lunch" thing doesn't work if you choose to sleep late, y'know?  So he gets a daily chore list.  So far, he has:

* tidied up his personal stuff (bedroom, school backpack, etc.)
* done his own laundry (which I no longer do for him)
* scrubbed the ceiling in the kitchen (how did spots of food get up there, anyway?)
* partially disassembled one of the kitchen light fixtures (more about that later)
* scrubbed the boys' bathroom walls (mildew - yuck)
* bleached the walls
* wiped the bleach off with a damp cloth
* vacuumed out the van
* cleaned all the surfaces inside the van
* cleaned the inside of the van windows
* squished down the garbage in the tote (because we missed garbage day two weeks ago - whoops!)
* emptied all the house garbages
* collected all the recycling
* done the dishes
* picked up Tate from school twice
* mowed half the lawn (Tate did the other half)
* made small progress on the book he's supposed to be reading (Sex, Dating, and Relationships)
* spent hours and hours playing an online war game (grrrr....)

He is also supposed to be studying for his next CAP promotion, and LOOKING FOR A JOB.

But in the meantime, if he's not going to work for pay, he can work for me for free.  I've got a loooooong list ;D

4.  This whole "three teenage boys" thing means FOOD FOOD WHERE IS THE FOOD?  I go to the store and buy six gallons of milk, and I'm not even Canadian.  I'll go to Costco and buy six tubs of peanut butter, ten pounds of cheese, and I could buy granola bars and breakfast cereal by the pallet if I had somewhere to keep it.  What I'd like to do about now is thaw out a turkey, but I don't have room in the fridge!  Maybe that's Wyatt's next challenge ;D

5.  We must not forget to put the garbage out tonight.
We must not forget to put the garbage out tonight.
We must not forget to put the garbage out tonight.
Yah.  I have to remember.  We can only do so much squishing, and no more will fit.  Ugh.

6.  Is it a female thing to spend money to save money?  Or do guys do this too?  I know Kerry does, anyway, so he's on board with my latest plan.

It's about the kitchen light.  When we remodeled the kitchen in 2003 we had EVERYTHING new.  (Wow.  That was amazing!)  I picked out this light fixture:

It didn't actually put out as much light as I had hoped, but I liked the blue shades so much I put up with it.  But here's the thing.  It takes halogen bulbs, and they're crazy expensive.  Like, ten bucks each.  Ten bucks!  For a light bulb!  And they don't seem to last very long, either.

So, cheapskate or frugal - call me what you will - that has been driving me nuts for year.  I want a light fixture that takes NORMAL BULBS.  I had thought the fixture we had might be convertible (screw out the special socket to reveal a normal socket, hence the partial disassembling of it) but it doesn't seem to be the case.


So... I've ordered this:

And I'm lucky to have an electrician for a dad who will install it for me - thanks, Dad!

We'll have more light, from cheaper bulbs.  Hallelujah.

7.  And now, to make the master list...  I have three more days to keep Wyatt busy, and then five days to work with Tate and Gunnar.  Wish me luck!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, Monday, March 30, 2015

Outside my window...  everything is still wet and drippy from rain in the night, but the clouds are higher and lighter today.  So many trees are blossoming, leaves are unfolding, and it feels like spring, but the dogwood right outside my window is a later bloomer - still just a winter skeleton.

Hearing...  Wyatt working away at his spring break chore list (woo-hoo!), and the dryer tumbling as he's doing his laundry (double woo-hoo!).  Gunnar is working quietly, and we're about to go for our walk. 

Pondering...  life gets more complicated as the boys get older.  On a small scale, Wyatt's spring break is this week, while the other boys' is next week, lining up with the public school.  Obviously, I could put Gunnar's wherever I want, but Wyatt and Tate are both bound by their schools' schedules, and it made more sense to align Gunnar with Tate than Wyatt.  On a larger scale... well, college, jobs, LIFE.  Whew.

Praying...  work for Kerry.  Actually, we're so thankful that several projects have come in.  Enough that he's able to take a figurative step back and evaluate if he may even turn away a project for some potentially very difficult clients.  Yikes.  I kind of hate the thought of turning away ANY work, but I totally get this.  (Sorry, no details.)  Also praying for a friend at church with cancer - praying it's just what's visible and not a secondary spot - revealing something hidden elsewhere.  Praying for the boys' good work habits - heh heh heh :D

Thankful...  for work, yes :D  For a relatively relaxing weekend.  We had our two choir concerts (Friday evening and Saturday afternoon), and I knew that would be a lot of work so I didn't plan anything else.  Of course we went to church Sunday, but that was it.  Had dinner already going in the crock-pot Saturday so I wouldn't get home tired and have to cook, and then Kerry treated us to lunch out (McD's) on Sunday, so it was a real break for me :D

Creating...  chore lists for the boys (!), planning a spring break project for me to work on - can't share that yet.

Going...  to ask Kerry about our taxes.  We gave all the stuff to the accountant a couple weeks ago - why haven't we heard anything???

Reading...  Safely Home, by Randy Alcorn, with the boys.  Realistic fiction about the persecuted church in China.

Looking forward to...  spring break!  And after that, just eight more weeks of school.  And - I just realized - after Easter I only have six more weeks of Sunday school.  Our church takes a break from Sunday school from Memorial Day until Labor Day weekend.  I've always thought that was a great thing, to give all the Sunday school teachers a break, and now that I am one I like it even better!  Well, I enjoy teaching my little class and I'll commit to one more year, and then I'll probably rotate out.  But as much as it is fun, I'm looking forward to the break!

In the kitchen...  I have a big elk steak marinating in the fridge, for dinner tonight.  Maybe I'll even get ambitious and make some more homemade bread.  The boys would sure love that!

In the learning rooms...  while Tate and Gunnar both have school, they have a lighter week - of homeschool, anyway.  With the science curriculum we use there are 16 chapters that each take about two weeks, giving us about four weeks of leeway if we need extra time.  I decided not to start a chapter, then have a week of break, and then try to go back to that chapter, so they both have a week off from science, which is fairly time-consuming because of all the labs we do.

Around the house...  the spring cleaning is starting!  Wyatt is currently scrubbing some walls and a ceiling, preparatory to some much-needed painting.

The Mother Load...  in flux.  I need to spend some time today making my lists for the boys and for me.

Noticing that...  the sun just came out!

Something to remember for later...  Tate tried a new dessert at the social after our choir concert, and he liked it so much he emailed the woman - a friend's mom.  His note was charming. 
Mrs. S, 
I didn't used to like desserts with nuts in them, but now I do.  You could call it a conversion of sorts.  My mom and I are just dying to learn the deep, dark, Dutch secrets of your almondy dessert.  If it's not a closely guarded family secret (and then again, even if it is) would you consider our humble plea and share your recipe with us? 
Sincerely (with hopes set high),
Tate G
And, YES, he got the recipe.  I mean, who could resist?   ;D

Something fun to share...  or funny... I finally "noticed" the orange umbrella that's been in our mudroom since our neighborhood Christmas party, and tracked down the owner.  Genius, I'm not!

A favorite quote for today...    To think of God for who He is, is to lapse into worship. - Dallas Willard

One of my favorite things...  when my hair finally gets long enough to pull up in a pony tail... but not there yet.  *sigh*

A Bible verse...  Psalm 24:7-8

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  lots going on for Holy Week!
We'll have a Maundy Thursday soup and bread potluck on Thursday, then a Tenebrae service on Friday, Sunrise service and regular church and Easter brunch all Sunday morning, and then get with my family for Easter celebration.  All good... but "all" is a lot!

A peek into my world...  Gunnar spotted this after breakfast...

Friday, March 27, 2015

That's Educational... Homeschool Moments

It's a rainy Tuesday and it's time for Biology, so what do you do?

Dissect a frog, of course.

While the raindrops stream down the window.

Looks like he's enjoying it.

More rain... 

That's a photinia bush, in case you wondered.
The new leaves are red.

And... we have a female frog.
Those are eggs.
Lots and lots of eggs.

And that's the last dissection of this round of Biology.
He's done an enormous earthworm, a fish, a crawdad,
and now a frog.

Go, Tate, go :D

Yesterday, with the sun shining, I sent him up to the pond to do his Field Study.
Besides his written description, he brought me this fabulous duck picture...

Yes, it's spring, and the males are competing for females ;D

One more week, and then spring break.


And how's your schooling going?