Daily Life

No Place Like Home

The weekend was long and finally over. It was a good weekend. I was at my parents house and I was with my kids but Alex was home and I was not. I love my parents and I am incredibly grateful for all their kindness and hospitality. I’m just a homebody though and like to be home. And I am super glad to be back home with my husband. And not just for help with diaper duty, though there is that.

Monday was my niece’s birthday and my sister had rented an 18 foot blow-up bouncy water slide. It was so high. I had an excuse not to participate, thank goodness, because I am so afraid of heights sometimes. My oldest five kids are not afraid and they were climbing up and sliding down for hours. I don’t know how they could walk after that. Maybe today they will be sore. It was probably the most fun birthday party I’ve ever been to. The kids played with their cousins all week and the party was a good way to end our stay.

We drove home that afternoon and got there right on schedule. Yes, I had a schedule I made and kept. We had to go pick up our fair entries and premiums. Once the kids saw that they were excited to have more entries next year. I was excited just for the ribbons. It was a fun experience.

Once all that kerfuffle died down I got down to business and assembled the IKEA furniture I had been pining after for ages. Last time I’d done the assembly I had to basically assemble everything twice or more times. I remembered that and this time I only did it once! Yay! I still have a couple more things to put together and then to the task of putting everything away. Like there isn’t enough to do. I have a bunch of errands to run on top of meal planning and grocery shopping.

Covid hit my county this past weekend. I’m wondering where it came from. I’m also wondering how it will effect the school year. The school board already pushed the start date back two weeks to implement teacher training on a new platform. I have six kids in school this year and the circus that is distance/ online learning is not something I look forward to. So much uncertainty. This year has been a tough one. I know there are tons of people who will be glad to see it go. I guess we just make the best of it all and do the best we can. There isn’t much else we can do.

Daily Life

I’m Off to the Fair

The County Fair is next week. Ours is pretty small compared to some but it is still the highlight of the season. Even though we rarely enter anything into it we still like to go and see the talents and skills of those who do enter.

This year I was a little more on top of my game. Yes, we should have been working on stuff all year long for this event but at least I warned the kids a few weeks ago that if they had anything they wanted to enter that they better get it ready. Michael has some artwork that he has spent countless hours on. He touched it up and we printed it off. Oh my goodness that kid has got some talent. That and he spends countless hours on it. I used to do the same at his age. So did Alex. That is one thing that we wish we spent more time on is art.

Benjamin had some pictures that he had worked on as well so I printed one off so he can enter as well. I took a pretty cool picture the other day of one of my cats in the strawberry patch and the composition and all that was spot on. Unfortunately I took it with my inferior camera. The pixels are low and it isn’t the best quality. Had I gone for my camera I would have missed the moment. I’ll enter it anyways. No harm in trying.

I got up early this morning to make some sweet rolls to enter as well. I entered them several years ago but I have improved since then and again, why not give it a try. My great grandmother was really in to the fair. She was pretty amazing. After her funeral her kids divided up her fair ribbons. Shoe boxes full of them and a lot of them were Grand Champion and Sweepstakes at the state level. She obviously knew what she was doing. I will probably never get to that level, but I guess I have years ahead to keep trying.

Also this year our garden has been good. My family loves cabbage- even the kids. We planted lots of cabbage this year and three of them are huge. I picked the third largest one for dinner a couple nights ago and it weighed 6 pounds 9 ounces. I only used half of it for dinner and we still had a few leftovers. The others are bigger so I think I will probably enter those two into the fair and see what comes of it.

We are lucky where we are and that our community is so small. We haven’t got Covid-19 in our community and the fair is being conducted as normal. My sister’s fair is bare bones. Her kids have steers they have been raising and all the circus that goes along with steers and the fair has been cut down to just a few quick showings. It is sad how this year has cut out so much fun. We have had fun in others ways, but the normal things we look forward to have changed so drastically or disappeared that it is quite a sad thing to behold. So I am going to enjoy our small little county fair this year.

So wish us luck.

Daily Life, Dating My Sweetheart

Saturday Stuff

Alex and I try to make it a point to go on a weekly date now that the kids can all be left at home. For years and years the only date we could manage was a movie for us after the kids were asleep.

Yesterday we told the kids we were going on a date. They cheered. I think they just didn’t want to do anything and if we are gone they can play with wild abandon. Fine.

We always end up running errands on dates (we usually do lunch dates) and this time was no exception. Before the errands we decided to just get Subway sandwiches and as we were walking in to get them three airplanes flew overhead. It looked like they were practicing dogfighting. Alex loves watching that so we thought we’d head over to the airport to watch. We changed our mind and thought maybe we could see them from the park.

We got to the park and there was a lot going on there. A food size crowd of men and boys were gathered to LARP (live action role play). Oh good! Dinner and a show. Haha. Imagine an incredibly cheap version of Medieval Times. Alex and I sat and watched the battle. It looked a little unorganized but they were having such fun. They had their swords, mace, arrows, sticks, and shields. Most weapons made from wood and pool noodles for safety. Some had on kilts, some arrayed in metal armor and some just in tshirts and basketball shorts. They would divide themselves into groups and the battle cry would split the air and they would charge.

I think I’ve watched more fights than they have because I am pretty sure you aren’t supposed to turn your back to your opponent and run. And way to many people were hit in the back. Only a coward would get a man in the back. Luckily though they had a resident magician that could heal all the injured and dead.

Once a warrior’s toddler ran onto the field and the mom had to quickly scoop him up out of harm’s way.

It was fun to watch. I am not into LARPing but I could see how it could be fun. They were enjoying it. Plus we got free entertainment out of the deal. We never heard the planes fly over again so the park turned out to be a better choice than the airport.

When we got home we took the kids to an activity at the park. An ice cream social. They ate their ice cream and played with a few of their friends. (For those worried about covid, we are lucky. There have only been a couple cases in our area and that was months ago.) It was nice to be able to visit and catch up after months of not seeing friends.

When we got home the kids immediately asked to go swimming. The water is still cold but the kids have fun anyways. The weather is taking a cold and wet turn for the next few days so they might as well take advantage of the warm days. A storm system moved in a few hours later and we went to sleep with lightning dancing about and thunder rattling the house. I watching lightning storms so I get disappointed when they happen at night when I’m tired and can’t keep my eyes open enough to watch them.

It was a good fairly productive day. There’s always going to be more work to do. I sat on the front steps after the swimming and was holding Evangeline when Noah came up and asked what I was doing. I said I was just enjoying the day. “Because it is gorgeous outside?” Yes, because it is gorgeous outside. I told him he made it all even better.

Daily Life

How to Make Friends

We actually got out and did something yesterday. There is a park/playground about a half hour away that looked so fun. It is huge and the playground equipment was massive. I haven’t seen playground equipment that tall since the 80’s. These toys let the kids climb over two stories high. Possibly three. I stayed on the far side of the park in the shade talking with my sister-in-law and just let the kids play. I’m glad I did because thinking about it now I probably would have panicked the whole time if I had been paying attention. I just let them be the wild monkeys they always want to be.

Alex said he learned something from Elizabeth. Elizabeth got to the park and jumped right in and made a friend. She brought her over to introduce her to the family. Elizabeth told Alex, “You know how you make a friend? You just ask them ‘Are you a friend?’ and then you play.” It works, I guess.

Alex and I tried it last night. We went for a walk around the block and my cat, Piper, followed me. As usual. The next door/across the street neighbor mentioned it as we walked by. Now we have lived in our house almost 8.5 years. We have never talked to the man. Isn’t that awful?! I always felt bad about it but never did anything about it. So last night after our walk and since I’d just pulled a batch of cinnamon rolls out of the oven, we took a couple rolls over and introduced ourselves. He is a nice older guy and he and Alex talked. I didn’t say much and Alex, my sweet perceptive husband who knows me so well knew why. I am partially deaf and I couldn’t hear most of what the man said. It is so frustrating being deaf. It honestly is easier just to stay to myself. But, we followed Elizabeth’s example and made a new friend.

And if you are wondering, there is an update on the house situation: the appraisal is in two weeks. That gives me a timeline to work with but now I am dealing with a deadline. So much to do! And do I schedule the windows to be installed before the appraisal so the house value goes up but we have windows to trim out (more work) or after so we don’t have to do that extra work? Ridiculous choices.

Daily Life

Finally Feels Like Summer

I got a lot done today. A lot of cleaning and laundry and decluttering. Granted a lot of the clutter left the house only to make it to the garage. I’ll get to it eventually. I always do. I got the lawn watered and the last of the flowers planted.

I did not want to exercise this morning. I’d slept in -not on purpose- and felt like I would not get the day accomplished if I took time out to exercise.

Excuses.

I exercised anyways.

And I got so much done. I’m glad I didn’t give in to the excuses.

In working so hard all day by the time four o’clock came around I decided to take a timeout. I sat and watched Noah ride his bike everywhere. Then I decided to join him. I grabbed my scooter and Noah and I rode around the block. Skylar came with us which was a good thing because she needed a run. I enjoyed the time with Noah. He’s a tough kid. He crashed his bike twice, got up, dusted himself off and got back on his bike and kept riding. He did stop once to see if his knee was bleeding. It wasn’t.

Later, after dinner, Alex suggested we go play basketball. I ran with the idea and calmed all the kids and we went to the park. We jumped rope, played on the playground set and played basketball. Evangeline had never seen such a thing. She was running all over with a big smile on her face giggling and clapping the whole time. She loved it. Lauren was shy at first and said she didn’t know how to play. I told her to just get in there and she managed to make a basket on her first try.

Afterwards we were all hot and sweating. The kids all ran home to get into the pool to cool off. I’l never understand why they all have to shout and scream when they are all literally the feet from each other.

It was a good day. It finally feels like summer. We (I) got a lot done and I got to play with my kids. At the end of the day Alex found me sitting in a chair by the raspberry bushes. I was watching all the honey bees busily flying from flower to flower in the setting sun. It might seem a little bit of a crazy thing to do but after a long and full day it was nice to just sit and mindlessly watch the bees.

I’ll leave you tonight with a picture of Luna. She was sleeping so funny that I had to take a picture.

Daily Life

Another “Day Off”

I kind of took the day off- again. I am off social media so books are calling my name. I reread one of my favorites. I had just had enough of kids fighting over stuff, the mess and life in general and wanted/needed an escape so I disappeared into a book. Let me just say it sounds nice, and is, but once one emerges from the make believe world that the book has sucked them into, well, the real world awaits and it is sometimes covered in peanut butter and sugar.

Yeah, the little kids got into the sugar jar and the peanut butter. It wasn’t that bad but I did have to mop the floor again. Sugar is awfully sticky once it has gotten wet. Evangeline still doesn’t understand the concept of keeping her water cup upright so we have random puddles of water all over the place and then sugar gets dragged around. Is it any wonder I don’t want carpet in my house. That mess is just one possibility they have come up with.

It was a warm day outside but the wind was horrible and kind of ruined it. I didn’t go out at all. I am a wimp, I admit it.

We managed to get everyone in bed at sunset. I used to let the summer be a free for all but once Alex got his new job a few years ago and had to be up at 5:30 a.m. every day it was too hard having everyone one on such drastically different schedules. Alex would be the one to suffer because everyone else could sleep in while he was exhausted and living off caffeine. Not good. So now even in the summer it is off to bed early on weeknights even if the sun is still out. The kids used to want to stay up late to watch tv and such. I finally told them that if they want to watch tv they have to get up early to do it. That’s what I did when I was little. It worked well. These kids are spoiled though because all the stuff they watch is on demand. I had to watch whatever was scheduled on tv.

It is almost the weekend and I have plans to make plans (weekly menu planning), grocery shopping, all other shopping, stuff, life, etc. Being an adult has its perks but man is there a lot to do and keep track of. I like being an adult but really, being a kid was a whole lot easier.

Have a good weekend!

Daily Life

Last Day of (Elementary) School

I got a late start this morning because my stomach was bothering me. Never fun.

It is finally warm enough to walk without a jacket and the dog was up early barking at the backyard. The neighbor’s yorkie was running around my chicken coops. I headed out and there was nothing I could do but wait for my dog to chase it out, which she did. They get along just fine but Skylar is protective of everything. I fed the chicks and cats and took off on my walk. One of the cats came, too. I am sure I looked ridiculous walking around the track with a cat following me. She followed the entire half mile before I was done being followed and went home. She followed me home. Actually, I followed her. Weird cat.

School assignment deadlines are on Friday. Lauren had one class’ worksheets to finish and turn in. There was lots of drama. So much drama. It seems the kids all pitch a fit until they realize I really will sit next to them all day long so they might as well buckle down and get it done. She did. All done and turned in with a minute to spare before the school was done for the day and locked up.

It wore me out though having to sit there and listen to her chattering and reading out loud and thinking out loud for 2 hours. But she is officially dinne with elementary school. It is off to junior high for her next year. And then another starts elementary school. They are growing up so fast! I’ll worry about all that in a few months. I’m going to enjoy the summer.

But, after dealing with the last few weeks and months I’ve decided I just can’t do homeschool unless it is my only option. I could get organized, I could get the curriculum all set to go, but some of my kids and I clash. One child takes instruction from others great but from me it is a battle and always has been. She has to do it herself. So I am realizing it just won’t work. I can be a support and cheerleader and help that way.

With the weather warmed up finally I need to get the summer clothes out of storage, store the winter clothes and take stock of what I need to buy. But first the garage needs to be cleaned so i can get to the boxes. I have this dream of taking everything out of the garage, cobbled shelves, scavenged cupboards, etc., everything! And starting over with a nice organized garage system. I can tell you that will not be happening anytime soon. But I can dream!

Nothing much else got done. The kids had fun and Evangeline made messes because that’s what a one year old does.

I had made bread earlier in the day and it was fantastic. Softest bread! It made for really good peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It all got eaten so I’ve got to make more. I wish I had an outdoor oven though because without an air conditioner the house gets so hot.

The kids’ elementary school had a drive by parade tonight. The teachers all stood lined up in front of the school and the students would be in the cars and drive by. My van is a fishbowl and I noticed the teachers laughing. We looked back and the kids were all smashing their faces against the windows. That would look funny. It was a fun way to say goodbye for the year.

After we got home from the parade Alex sat down to watch Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It is one of his favorites. I watched for a bit but left to do something that needed doing. Of course I got distracted and ended up folding laundry. Then Noah asked me to go outside and sit on the hammocks with him. Sure thing. I went outside, watered the garden and then asked Noah which one he wanted to sit on. He told me he would sit on one and I would sit on another. Okay. If that’s how he wants it. He eventually did end up sitting next to me.

Bedtime went smoothly but Gideon woke us up crying about growing pains. I really wish he would grow ot of their has been going on for years. At least they are less frequent now. I got up (at 1:30 a.m. mind you) to help him. As I walked him to the stairs I looked into the basement and saw another kid walk by. I’m going to have to take away all the electronics. Apparently some of them are staying up way too late.

Daily Life

Yesterday

A business on Facebook was doing a giveaway and asked the question what is you least favorite thing to clean. I had to think hard. I do like to clean. Honestly. I love seeing things go from dusty to shiny. I have collected hints and tried tricks and all that in an effort to do it better and faster. I did decide on bathrooms though. I think it is the awkwardness of the space. And having boys. That’s just gross sometimes.

I found this Instagrammer the other day who cleans for a living. (I would consider doing that in the future when my kids are all in school.) She has tutorials and the like and I love watching the cleaning videos. I learned a ton. If you are interested look her up. She’s on gocleanco. I tried a couple of the things last night. Wow! Game changer! I felt slightly stupid for not knowing some of the stuff before and rolled my eyes at myself. But now I can teach my kids and they will be that much better off.

The thing that got me interested in her was laundry stripping. I stripped a load of laundry last night. I didn’t do it for the full length of time but it still worked. Stripping laundry means taking perfectly clean clothes and stripping the residue and hard water deposits and everyday oils and junk off them. It works and it is disgusting. Even if you think your clothes are clean you should try it, they probably aren’t.

Anyways, I spent yesterday studying budgeting and cleaning. Literally watching videos and taking notes. Homemaking school if you will. This I did in between taking kids to the dentist, helping with schoolwork and grocery shopping, picking up vehicles from the mechanic, and general everyday life with kids. Anything that will make my life run smoother I am all over.

I love that we have a world’s worth of knowledge in our pocket. There really is no reason to not know something. Have a question? Look it up. Growing up if we had a question the only options were to ask an adult and hope they knew (it was hit and miss) or go to the library (which was again hit and miss and so much work).

By the way, yesterday Sam finished school. He buckled down and did all the work and we turned it in. Yay! Only four more kids to go.

And the van I picked up from the mechanic? The air conditioner works, the blowers in the back work! When we go to see family in a couple weeks the kids won’t be sweating in the back and I won’t be windblown and none of us will get out with sweat dripping down and staining the back of our shirts. That was last summer and it was awful. We thought it would be a several thousand dollar repair so we just dealt with the heat. I couldn’t do it again. It was about $300. Um, kick myself much? Sometimes it is better to know reality that to guess. But we got a feel for what it was like pre-air conditioner and that was a pretty bad place to be.

Today we can hopefully check off a few more subject and a few more kids can be done with school. I hope because I know I am not the only parent on the brink of insanity.

Daily Life

Monday and Tuesday

I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: I am not good at this school from home thing. Rumors are that school in the fall will be a continuation of the same. Please no.

Both days I spent hours upon hours working with each child individually. One subject at a time we finished all their work for the year. We are almost done. A few more subjects, a few more tears, a few more threats, a few more meltdowns. That’s all. We can handle it. Right? We have to. My sister told her kids that summer school will be open so they better get their work done so they don’t have to go. We are all getting desperate.

On Monday I had a bunch of energy. I even managed to get the kids to help me weed the dandelions from the front yard. We got several buckets filled. We have about a fifth of the front yard to go. They didn’t mind the work for the most part.

We stayed busy all both monday and Tuesday with school, weeding, cleaning and of course the kids played. I am tired at the end of the day. It is a good thing.

So I have to laugh. My neighbors are all retired and apparently keeping tabs on what’s going on is what they like to do. Saturday Alex and I went on a morning walk and we were stopped by one neighbor who was looking at another neighbor’s yard. A sprinkling system was being put in and he had no qualms about inspecting it. As he finished showing us the spectacle he said we better get to our two mile walk. Shows how close he watches, I usually only walk a mile. Haha.

Then yesterday as I was weeding another neighbor came over to talk. We talked about weeds but then before he left he asked how far I walk every morning. I told him as much as I have time for. See, nothing gets past these people but it can be a good thing. Nothing gets by them so I get the extra eyes on my house and kids.

Tonight though we had a bit of a tragedy with the chicks. Turns out the big chickens are bullies of the worst kind. We had a chick die. Lauren discovered it and it was hers that died. Poor thing. There were tears shed. It is unfortunate. Alex spent two hours building a separate yard and shelter for the little chicks to stay in until they can better defend themselves- get bigger. It is upsetting to put time effort and money into something only to have it die. I feel bad every time we lose one.

Today Lauren made a toy for the cats. That’s all well and good but she insisted the cat be in her room while she made it. I told her it was a bad idea but let her make her own choices. She is allergic to cats; most animals, actually. She paid for it tonight. Itchy eyes and all that comes with it. Now we have to wash everything in her room tomorrow. I don’t think she’ll make that choice again.

Tomorrow I have to take Elizabeth to the dentist. She’s been worried and crying all week. We’ll see how she does. I’ll give an update tomorrow. Until then though, I’ve got to get some sleep.

Daily Life

God Loves Marshmallows

We went to bed early last night so I didn’t take time to write.

Yesterday though, I got an early start. It was below freezing and I was waiting for it to warm up before I went on a walk. I got up and started folding laundry and it dawned on me that I could do my workout first and then go on a walk. It’s weird how routines get us in a rut and other ideas take a while to be heard. So I started a load of laundry and then did my workout and walk. I am incredibly sore this morning. I don’t mind the muscle aches from actually doing something. The muscle aches/tiredness from not doing anything is way worse in my mind. Mostly because one ache is from doing something hard and accomplishing something and the other is from avoiding doing something hard.

Right now I’m loosely following the diet I used previously to lose 25 lbs. The scale is going down again and it is a very good thing. My mom and some of my siblings are following the eating plan as well. I have one sister who has to follow it because she is allergic to so many things.

Anyways, after my workout I got ready for the day and got a lot done. It made up for all the days this week that were less than productive. The laundry got washed and put away, dishes done and the kitchen cleaned up. I then sat and made kids do some schoolwork. We may be behind in some subjects but all the kids have finished all their math assignments early. They are done with math for the year. Yay! Now to catch up on all the reading.

So yesterday the chicks turned six weeks old. They have all their big girl feathers. Time to go out into the real world. Poor dears. The real world is harsh- especially if you are the new chicks. Literally.

Pecking order is a real thing. See the big Red Hen? She’s the boss. Those poor little chicks are going to be put in their place. They can’t do anything without her permission or she’ll peck them. Ouch. So the newbies just cower in the corner. The chicks had their own boss. She’s a brave one but she will have to reign in her pride or she might fight it out eventually to be the boss. Time will tell. Either way, they survived their first night outside in the coop.

Yesterday Lauren was playing with Evangeline in my room while I was folding more clothes. They were just being silly when I heard a new voice chime in “I got you!” Clear as a bell and unmistakable. Evangeline talked. She said “thank you” clearly at dinner as well. I asked her to say other words and she did. Of course she wouldn’t say a word when I had the camera on recording her. But she talked! 17 months old next week. All but one of my kids started talking at this age. It is so cute but I love it because I don’t have to guess what is wrong or what they need anymore, they can tell me. It is a happy thing but I get a little sad to because all my babies are growing up. I registered Lauren for junior high yesterday. Like I said, happy but sad.

The other day Noah came up to me and said, “God likes eating marshmallows.” He spoke it with such authority that I don’t doubt it’s true. He is a funny kid. He was asking me to help him get his bike out of the garage the other day and I told him just I would in a few minutes. “What does in a few minutes mean?”, he asked. I love that him and Elizabeth hear a word and instead of guessing or assuming what something means, they ask. It is so cute to watch them learn.

Well, the sun is racing across the morning sky. I need to get the day going. Lots of stuff planned. We’ll see how much I actually get to.