Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas!

3 Kids + 1 crowded van + 3 DVD players (HALLELUJAH!) + several boxes of granola bars and fruit snacks + 1 mommy (Daddy will fly up later due to work) = 1 wonderful trip to Wisconsin (I hope!!!!)

During this Christmas season I pray that we will all remember Jesus not only as the lowly baby in the manger, but also as our risen, glorified Savior. May God richly bless your family this Christmas season and throughout the coming year!

Love and blessings,

P.S. I'll be back on the blog by mid-January.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Doomed Career

Today I put the "Wiggly Wiggly Christmas" movie on for Screech in order to get some Christmas baking done. I was inspired to dance along during the first number, which prompted a full-blown-screaming-tearing-Mommy's-clothes hissy fit from Screech. Funny, I would have expected her to laugh.

This reminds me of the time that Hubby was talking to our then-six-year-old niece about an upcoming Christmas concert that his musical family was planning. She asked worriedly, "Aunt Laura's not going to sing, is she?"

~sniff~ I guess I have no hope of making it in the performing arts!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Go Buy This Music! Now!

Josh Groban's voice has been stopping me dead in my tracks every time I have heard him on the radio for the last few weeks. I didn't even know who he was. (Not having television, I'm not exactly on the cutting edge of things!)

I love his renditions of classics like "O Holy Night" because they don't have any of the pretentious-sounding ad libbing that so many artists throw in as they attempt to put their own fresh spin on them. He simply sings them . . .and they're beautiful.

Go to iTunes (or your favorite mp3 store) right now and buy "O Holy Night". It will be the best 99 cents you've ever spent!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Stealth Sickness

We've had some kind of stomach bug go through the house. I've nicknamed it "The Stealth Sickness" because a child will be fine and playing happily one minute, then will suddenly throw up without warning. This is followed by diarrhea. Lovely. Pete had it first a few weeks ago, and it lasted a few days. Then he got it again a few days ago, and then Drama Queen got it. This morning Screech told me that her tummy hurts. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At least Pete and Drama Queen have the bowl technique down pat, so this minimizes cleanup. I have them keep a gigantic plastic bowl nearby at all times. A few days ago, Bunny watched as Pete, um, utilized his bowl. I would have expected her to be frightened or even disgusted, but instead she asked earnestly, "Is that cat food? Is that chocolate milk? What is it, Mommy?"

My son - the magical fountain of food. At least Screech didn't try to sample any!

We have had a few messes to clean up due to the stealthy nature of this illness. (They're better! Wait, they're not! It's all over now! Uh oh, here they go again . . . ) Early this morning, as I slept peacefully in my cozy bed, Hubby dealt with the aftermath of one of Pete's episodes. Pete had been bowl-less because we THOUGHT he was better. And this was after having had a huge dinner of a curried chicken and broccoli casserole. Emphasis on the broccoli, Pete's fave vegetable.

My hubby, he is a saint.

I didn't get halfway through typing this post when Screech started throwing up. Poor thing, it scared her to death. It freaked her out and there was a huge mess. The second episode (15 minutes later), she did her thing right in the bowl. I heaved a huge sigh of relief as she heaved in the proper place. Then she proceeded to wipe her mouth on a decorative Christmas pillow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Free DVD

I just found out about a great deal. You can get a free DVD of the movie "Amazing Grace" just for registering for (Follow the link and click on the bottom left where it says, "Get free gifts!"

I found out about this through Money Saving Mom. Lots of good stuff on this site!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Prayer Request

Please pray for my dear friend, Tracey. She's close to my age and recently learned she has a type of breast cancer called Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. She has to have a bilateral mastectomy and chemo. I am just reeling from the news. In my mind I know that younger women can also get breast cancer, but it's still shocking to see it actually happen to someone I know and love. Tracey has two young children (ages 8 and 4). It sounds like her prognosis is good, though; the doctors think they caught it early. She is a strong Christian and has a lot of support, but I feel so helpless because I live so far away now. Thank you so much for praying for my precious friend!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mess of the Day: None!

You're not going to believe this one. I could hardly believe it myself.

This display has been on our kitchen table since mid-October and Screech has yet to touch it. I told her not to, and she actually obeyed! Can you believe it? Not a single bite mark on anything!

I never thought I'd see an entire day of obedience, much less a month and a half!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Crisis Averted!

The Sharpie has been found! All is well with our little world. I had actually put it hidden and out of reach to begin with; it just wasn't where I normally put it. WHEW!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh no . . .

In our haste to finish a project for Master's Academy this morning we lost a black Sharpie. As in, one of those permanent type markers.

I am afraid. Very, very afraid.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WFMW: Oatmeal Trick

My kids and I love oatmeal, but I used to not fix it often because the little ones would be impatient for it to cool down so they could eat it. I discovered a couple of great tricks to not only cool it down instantly, but also to make it even tastier!

Method #1
Add a spoonful of vanilla ice cream. YUMMY! After you taste this, you will never want oatmeal any other way! To save calories, Edy's or Dreyer's Fat Free Sugar Free Vanilla is wonderful.

Method #2 (Thanks to my dear friend Beth for this idea!)
Add a few small frozen berries (blueberries and raspberries work well). They thaw quickly and add vitamins and minerals and lots of other good stuff!

If you missed it, I posted the worst-ever Mess of the Day on Monday.
Click here to see it!

Here are my previous WFMW posts:

Backseat Entertainment
Gifts to Spark Your Child's Imagination
Reading Motivation
Finding a Babysitter
Charging a Cell Phone
Swim/Shower with a Cast
Free Tech Support
Calming Injured Children
Choosing a Phone Number
What NOT to Soak Contacts In
Broken Glass Cleanup
Cheap Rolling Cart for Conventions
Chocolate Recipes
Tooth-Tugging Tip for Terrified Tots
Handy Earache Relief
Uses for Leftover Bread
Leaky Diaper/Pull-up Fix
Snack Mix Recipe (at the end of the post)
Awesome Stain Recipe
(at the end of the post)
"Fun"damentals of Family Life
Removing Wite-Out from Everything
When NOT to Save Money
Public Service Announcement

For more WFMW tips, stop by Shannon's blog!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mess of the Day # 26: Just Guess!

What is Screech into now? (To get a better look, click on the pic to see it full size!)

Three guesses . . .

. . . and the first two don't count . . .

You're right. Wite-Out. Again. Emptied the entire bottle into her hands.

Big sigh. At least I don't have expensive furniture.

By the way, I have decided that Oops! brand remover is the way to go. It was very quick to clean up and didn't have strong fumes.

And my little trick for using baby oil to get Wite-Out off skin? Doesn't work for this amount. (It was crusted on THICKLY.) I used plain old soap and water (Dove unscented to be easier on her skin), and it all with flaked off a little scrubbing.

All clean and back to her sweet self!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Catching Up - Halloween

I have a ton of updating to do, and I'm determined to get it done! Here are some pics from Halloween:

Pete was a Jedi, Screech was a skunk (I have 25 reasons why), and Drama Queen was a pioneer girl. (Not Holly Hobbie, not Laura Ingalls, and definitely not Nellie Oleson, she says.)

Pete is a handsome little Padawan. Anakin Skywalker, eat your heart out!

Screech's costume was just so appropriate (and pretty darn cute, I might add!) I didn't make it (although there are patterns for this exact costume); it's a Tom Arma. Drama Queen wore this many Halloweens ago. Although if I thought SHE was stinker, I had no idea what I was in for one day!

Drama Queen's costume took a lot of time, but I had so much fun making it. There was one slight problem with the main dress: after I finished it I realized that I had made an ADULT size 8! If I'm not just plain dumb, I'm definitely sewing-challenged! I managed to take it in without cutting it, so she can grow into it.

The cute little dragon below is our next-door neighbor.

We went trick-or-treating around our neighborhood with a couple of the other neighborhood children. It was so much fun to do it together. The cute little princess below is our other next-door neighbor.

Although we do participate in Halloween, we don't have anything to do with witches, ghosts, monsters and the like. I had seriously considered not doing Halloween at all due to its pagan overtones (and respect Christians who choose this route), but I figured to be consistent with that we would also have to do away with Christmas trees and other Christmas traditions that have pagan roots. Besides, we are not "celebrating" anything evil in our hearts; we're just dressing up and mooching some candy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WFMW: Backseat Entertainment!

We have enjoyed "Jungle Jam and Friends the Radio Show" for years. It is absolutely hilarious! It is a Christian program with great messages, but without being the least bit preachy or hokey. If your kids like Veggie Tales, they will love Jungle Jam. It is great for those long trips to Grandma's house!

Most episodes have two stories. One story is set in the jungle with funny characters such as Nozzles the Elephant, Millard the Monkey and Sully the Aardvark. The dialogue is a riot. It reminds me a lot of Rocky and Bullwinkle (without the political overtones).

The other story centers around a boy named Marvy Snuffleson. The story usually begins with Marvy being sent to his room for misbehaving (for instance, refusing to do his math homework). Something always happens (a window left open while raining, etc.) and Marvy's bed washes out of the window and onto the high sea, taking him to Razzleflabben Island. While there, he visits with the Razzleflabbens (large furry creatures) and something happens that is connected to his misbehavior. For instance, the Razzleflabbens need Marvy's help figuring out how many slices of delightful cheese bread need to be prepared so there is enough for everyone. A comedy of errors ensues, and Marvy learns a lesson. Again, the dialogue is hysterical. There's no way to do it justice; you'll just have to hear it for yourself.

The acting and production are superb; the characters are well-developed and very funny. The narrator is great. Fun sound effects and catchy songs are sprinkled throughout. The scripts are well-written with engaging plots and loads of laughs. Like Veggie Tales, there are lots of subtle jokes thrown in just for the adults. I love it as much as the kids do!

Here's where it gets good: you can download a show in MP3 form (with two stories) from their website for only $3.95! There are also single CD's for $9.95, and 4-disc collections for various prices. They are all well worth every penny!

If you would like to try out one of the $3.95 downloads, I highly recommend the one called "The Grandfather". It is absolutely my favorite. It's a story about gossip and is followed by "Katie Sings the Blues," a story about being content. Click here to hear a sample.

The way their website is set up, I can't link directly to each thing I've told you about. Their web address is Just mouse over "Jungle Jam," and you'll find all kind of neat things, including a list of radio stations that carry the show.

One more thing - one of my favorite Jungle Jam episodes was also made into a children's Christmas musical. It's called "Three Wise Men and a Baby." When I directed a children's choir at a church we attended in Kentucky, we put this on two separate times. It brought down the house! Out of the many musicals I directed, this was hands-down my favorite (and the most reminisced-about by the parents). It is still available; you can download the entire script for free on the website and purchase a split-track CD for $9.95. Also, the radio version is available in 2 downloads of $3.95 each.

Here are my previous WFMW posts:

Gifts to Spark Your Child's Imagination
Reading Motivation
Finding a Babysitter
Charging a Cell Phone
Swim/Shower with a Cast
Free Tech Support
Calming Injured Children
Choosing a Phone Number
What NOT to Soak Contacts In
Broken Glass Cleanup
Cheap Rolling Cart for Conventions
Chocolate Recipes
Tooth-Tugging Tip for Terrified Tots
Handy Earache Relief
Uses for Leftover Bread
Leaky Diaper/Pull-up Fix
Snack Mix Recipe (at the end of the post)
Awesome Stain Recipe
(at the end of the post)
"Fun"damentals of Family Life
Removing Wite-Out from Everything
When NOT to Save Money
Public Service Announcement

For more WFMW tips, stop by Shannon's blog!

Public Service Announcement #2

This product . . .

Tastes the way this product smells!

(Don't ask me how I know. I just happen to like to sniff things. The senses of smell and taste ARE connected, you know.)

Now for the weird part: they're owned by the same company. Did the toothpaste people get bored and go play with the teenybopper deodorant people?
Hmmm . . .

And where did they get the name "Kiss Me Mint"? Since this smells like a deodorant, it has conjured some disturbing images in my mind . . .

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Good Ole Days!

The email read: "This Thursday will be a dress up day for all history classes. Wear clothes or accessories from the 1920's."

My first thoughts:

a) What on earth did kids wear back then?
b) Where am I going to be able to find anything like that?

Then, I Googled "children's clothing 1920's" and boy, was I excited! Two reasons:

Short pants.
Knee socks.

Up until he turned five, I used to dress Pete up every Sunday in dress shorts, white high-top shoes, white knee socks, and a little bow tie. I know, some of you are gagging at the mere thought, but I LOVED it! Oh, those sweet, chubby knees!

And, believe it or not, Pete loved it, too! He always, said, "Mommy, do I get to dress fancy today?" And he loved his bow ties (he called them simply "bows").

I was so sad when he outgrew all of that. I could still find the outfits, but the shoes were way harder to find. And he was just so . . .big. Wistful sigh.

Which is why I was so thrilled to dress him like this for 1920's day:

Oh, I could just put him in a bowl and eat him up with a spoon! And how did he feel to be dressed this way? Loved it. His only complaint was that the bow tie wasn't real.

Drama Queen's dress is from Strasburg. I bought it for $1 at a consignment store. Yes, as in one single dollar. It probably cost $120 new. Please don't hate me.

This was so much fun! I am tickled pink that Drama Queen loves wearing dresses and that Pete still loves "dressing fancy"!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Field Trip Fun

We are having such a great school year. We got to go on five field trips this month! I know that may seem excessive to some, but they get so much out of them. I believe it is important to expose children to as many different experiences as possible. Books are one way to do that, but what better way than to actually see and touch and hear and smell?

Here's what we did:
We went to a botanical garden and were treated to a wonderful program about trees, the forest ecosystem, and so much more. Here the kids were acting out the roles of the different layers of the tree. Our friend in the middle chanted, "I support! I support!" while Drama Queen and Pete's group wiggled up from the ground while saying, "Slurp!" Another group swayed back and forth, saying, "We protect. We protect." It was so fun and memorable.

Pete checking out a bug he caught.

We went to an arts center that hosts a yearly fall festival in which they have hands-on activities teaching children about everything historical under the sun: blacksmithing, toys of yesteryear, printing (which Drama Queen and Pete are trying in the above pic), woodworking, weaving, spinning, quilting, feltmaking, cooking, beekeeping, churning butter, music, dance, making cornhusk dolls, caning chairs, art, trains, you name it! It is a fabulous experience. There was also a civil war era home next door that we were able to tour. The tour guide was top notch, and because we arrived as the school groups had to leave, we had him and the house all to ourselves!

We saw Slim Goodbody in Atlanta. Okay, this obviously wasn't the original Slim Goodbody, although when we saw this show two years ago we did see Slim himself. (And believe it or not, after all these years he really is still slim!) This show is AWESOME. He covers every one of the major systems of the body with an interactive, multi-media show. Even Screech is still singing the songs a month later! I can't recommend this show more highly.

I know this picture is freaking out many of you. Screech. Has. No. Fear. Of. Anything. Right after this pic was snapped she got fussed at for grabbing the snake! I'm not saying I want my child to be neurotic, but a little healthy fear is a good thing. If a dog barks in anger at her she gets in its face, wags her finger and yells, "Stop barking!" We are SO in trouble.
By the way, this was taken at the Georgia National Fair. (I don't get what makes it "National", but anyhow . . ) It is awesome. They have dozens of live exhibits and shows related to all things agriculture. We learned about beef cows, milk cows, sheep, dogs, rabbits, bees, pigs, chickens, and so much more. They had a free petting zoo and many hands-on exhibits. It was well worth the trip, and next year we plan to stay much longer.

Yes, this is a sweet pic, but I didn't take a pic moments later when
she dropped the poor thing on the concrete!

There was one more trip we took that I don't have pictures for: we went to see nationally acclaimed storyteller Odds Bodkin. He is incredible - quite possibly the best I've ever seen perform live. I am amazed at all the different things he can do with his voice. Be sure and check out his website. There is nearly an hour's worth of stories you can download for free!

This month has been so much fun. It's so funny how people who have no significant experience with homeschoolers assume that they're deprived. Deprived? Deprived????? In what other school can children have five field trips in one month's time? And as I've said before, being herded along like cattle on a field trip with a group of 75 kids is a completely different experience than having your own personal tour guide (Mom) and being able to take your time. With gas prices these days, many schools are cutting back so much that many kids are lucky to go on one or two field trips a year. To us, school is not just what we learn in books (although we read a lot!); it's about what we experience. There is so much out there to learn about and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

WFMW: Gifts to Spark Their Imagination!

Today's Works-for-Me-Wednesday is the "The Toys Worth Buying Edition".

A couple of years ago, I hit all the after-Halloween clearance sales and bought LOADS of costumes and accessories to make the ultimate dress up center for my kids and gave it to them for Christmas. I found funny wigs for $2, light-up superhero costumes with built-in "muscles" for $5, and much more! We have had the BEST time with this. Not only do they have SO much fun with their dress up center, their imaginations have been sparked like never before. Here is a partial list of what they have:

princess (2 different dresses)
Darth Vader
Power Ranger

Plus many awesome accessories:
black cape
various hats
Elvis wig
several long-haired wigs
opera singer wig
clown wig

I cannot tell you how much fun we have had with these things. The kids will literally spend hours playing pretend.

To present the gift, I bought a clothes rack to hang the costumes, an over door shoe rack for the wigs, and a large plastic tub for the accessories. After setting up the area in a corner of the playroom, I taped large pieces of giftwrap from one wall to the other. The kids had a ball ripping it down to see what was in the corner!

I found that even though there were two Wal-Marts
in my area, one of them had way better clearance prices. Toys R Us had a lot of unique items, including some foam wigs that looked like cartoon character hair. Nearly every costume I bought was $5 or less.

Her is a pic of Drama Queen modeling several pieces:

I have two other great gifts worth mentioning:

For ages 8-adult: 20 Questions
This handheld electronic game is addictive! Think of something specific, such as a shoe or a bowling ball, and then answer the yes or no questions that the game asks. It will often "guess" what you're thinking - it's freaky! It has even guessed items like "utility pole" and "light switch cover"! People can't put it down. It has been a humongous hit with everyone I've ever given it to, and it is my all-time favorite go-to gift for anyone.

For toddler girls ages 2-4: Fisher Price Snap 'n Style Dolls

Screech LOVES her "snap dollies". Little hands can easily change the clothes, unlike other dolls. (Barbie, anyone?) They have rooted hair and are positively adorable. You can also buy different clothing sets for them. These dolls are hard to find; the only place I have seen them is Toys R Us.

Here are my previous WFMW posts:

Reading Motivation
Finding a Babysitter
Charging a Cell Phone
Swim/Shower with a Cast
Free Tech Support
Calming Injured Children
Choosing a Phone Number
What NOT to Soak Contacts In
Broken Glass Cleanup
Cheap Rolling Cart for Conventions
Chocolate Recipes
Tooth-Tugging Tip for Terrified Tots
Handy Earache Relief
Uses for Leftover Bread
Leaky Diaper/Pull-up Fix
Snack Mix Recipe (at the end of the post)
Awesome Stain Recipe
(at the end of the post)
"Fun"damentals of Family Life
Removing Wite-Out from Everything
When NOT to Save Money
Public Service Announcement

For more WFMW tips, stop by Shannon's blog!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Praise Report!

Several months ago, I shared that my dear father-in-law was diagnosed as being in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. He recently had some additional tests done, and it turns out that the original diagnosis was wrong! We are elated! With a few brain-building exercises, he will be just fine. Praise the Lord! Thank you all for your prayers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vacation Pics - Finally! (part 1)

Finally - here are some pics from our trip to Canada! Sorry it took so long!

We had a wonderful vacation, despite the weather being cold (low to mid 60's!) and rainy almost the entire week! Obviously, I snapped a bazillion pics on the one sunny, warm day we had.

Despite the rain, it was so much fun simply to be together. We played a lot of games like Mexican Train Dominoes and Rook. In Rook, I usually end up playing on a team with my nephew, who has a habit of taking the bid with absolutely nothing in his hand. Somehow, he always wins!

It is amazing how well Hubby's family gets along, even in close quarters. They always treat one another with so much respect. I enjoy being a part of them!

We took many cold rides on the fishing boat. Pete and Drama Queen had a ball, but Screech got so tired due to her erratic and poor sleeping during the trip. During one meltdown I said, "Aw, honey, what's the matter?" Screech bawled, "I need new batteries!!!"

She had her precious moments as well. It was overcast most of the time, but one day as we were returning to the dock some streams of sunlight burst through a break in the clouds. Screech exclaimed, "Look, Mommy! A window!"

Screech and Pete absolutely loved being with their extended family. Princess and Drama Queen are only 2 years apart and get along beautifully. Pete loved wrestling with and being tickled by Uncle D.

More pics to come soon! I look forward to sharing about how I drove all the way from Georgia to Milwaukee (and back!) with the three kids by myself!

They. Were. Angels. (Really!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things 2

I am so sorry I haven't been posting! I have been struggling with some sleep issues and have been a walking zombie for weeks as a result, but I'm trying to get back in the swing of things!

Mommy: Pete, what do you call an animal that hunts its food?

Pete: Ummmm . . .

Mommy: Starts with a "p" . . .

Pete: (thinking hard) Ummmmm . . .

Mommy: Pre- . . .

Pete: (brightly) Pregnant!!!!

(Hmmmm . . . judging by the extreme hunger I had during my three pregnancies, I'd say he's not too far off!)

One more . . .

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaugh!!!!!" Screech heard me growl in frustration at the microwave.

She asks sweetly, "You crazy, Mommy?"

I hope to have some pics up for you soon. My hard drive is full and I need to purchase another before I can download any more!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

WFMW: Reading Motivation

Reading is such a critical skill that I am always on the lookout for ways to encourage my kids to read more. is a great website where kids can create an account and read books for prizes. It is similar to the Accelerated Reader program that many schools have: the child reads a book, takes a short multiple-choice quiz on the book, and earns points toward great prizes like a free subscription to Highlights magazine. Not only do they offer quizzes on difficult chapter books, but they also have them for beginning reading books like Dr. Seuss. My kids love it and are so excited about reading! I like it because the prizes are really absolutely free!

Sorry I have been so slow about posting lately! I am slowly getting back into a groove, but our lives are a little hectic lately because Drama Queen is in a local musical and has had rehearsal every night this week. In case you missed it, you can click here for the latest "Mess of the Day" post, compliments of Screech. (I was afraid it would be missed since I posted it only a little while before this post.)

Here are my previous WFMW posts:

Finding a Babysitter
Charging a Cell Phone
Swim/Shower with a Cast
Free Tech Support
Calming Injured Children
Choosing a Phone Number
What NOT to Soak Contacts In
Broken Glass Cleanup
Cheap Rolling Cart for Conventions
Chocolate Recipes
Tooth-Tugging Tip for Terrified Tots
Handy Earache Relief
Uses for Leftover Bread
Leaky Diaper/Pull-up Fix
Snack Mix Recipe (at the end of the post)
Awesome Stain Recipe
(at the end of the post)
"Fun"damentals of Family Life
Removing Wite-Out from Everything
When NOT to Save Money
Public Service Announcement

For more WFMW tips, stop by Shannon's blog.

Mess of the Day # 25 Artificial Sweetener

While we were chatting with friends at a fine restaurant, Screech did this. (For the record, Daddy was watching her!)

Kinda gives fresh meaning to the old Def Leppard song: "Poooour some suuugar on meeeee . . . "

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I'm So Honored!

I was nominated for this award by Beachy Mimi. I am so honored, because Beachy Mimi is exactly the sort of person I would give this award to. She's a hoot! (You have GOT to read this post. It's a riot!)

(And Mimi, I am SO sorry it has taken me so long to post this!)

I am hereby conferring this prestigious award on the following people:

Queen B
Grace for Gayle
Bring the Rain
Diary of a Former Atheist
Boo Mama

I am really sorry that I have been so lax about posting lately. I have been struggling to get back in a groove ever since our vacation. I had health issues for weeks, then sleep issues, and now we're plowing full speed ahead into school. I've been wiped out lately, and everything has fallen further and further behind. I'm trying to claw my way back out, though, and soon I'll be back to posting regularly! You're going to love what Screech has been doing lately!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

WFMW: Finding a Babysitter

I used to have the worst time trying to find a sitter for daytime, until I found a gold mine: the College of Education at my local university. I made a flyer with the following information:

Sitter needed for (number and ages of children).

When needed (on a regular basis, occasional, or both)

References required!

I placed my contact info prominently on the flyer in the body of the message as well as included several "tear-off" tabs with my contact info at the bottom. (This was handy after all the tear-off tabs were gone.)

I then put the flyers up all over the education building at the local university, then the calls started rolling in! I had potential sitters who were majoring in child development, child psychology, early childhood education, education, you name it! (This was so wildly successful that I eventually had to go back and take all the flyers down!)

I interviewed each person by phone (see link below for sample questions), then called the references (minimum of 2, but preferably 3) for the best candidates. (See other link below for sample questions to ask references.)

Questions to ask a potential sitter

Questions to ask references

Once I had chosen a few sitters, I had them over separately to meet my children and see how they interacted together.

For those sitters who made the final cut, I tried to rotate them every time I needed a sitter so my kids would get used to them.

Other babysitter ideas:

These days, I am really blessed to have a wonderful homeschooled girl who lives only 5 minutes away who has done 99% of our babysitting since we moved here. Homeschoolers are the BEST sitters, because they are often flexible and more available than other sitters. Also, many have young siblings and are very experienced with children. Best of all, the vast majority of homeschoolers I know are very respectful, dependable, and have strong moral values.

Another thing worth mentioning is that of the pre-teen homeschooler who is mature and responsible, but too young to babysit. (These are the most eager helpers you will ever encounter!) There are many times I've asked a 10- to 12-year-old girl to come be a mother's helper for an hour or two so I could get some major projects done. It's win-win: she gains valuable experience and you get something done (all the while training a future sitter!) This was invaluable when I was working on THE DRESS. Screech is such a handful, but having someone to read to her and entertain her makes all the difference in the world!

Here are my previous WFMW posts:

Charging a Cell Phone
Swim/Shower with a Cast
Free Tech Support
Calming Injured Children
Choosing a Phone Number
What NOT to Soak Contacts In
Broken Glass Cleanup
Cheap Rolling Cart for Conventions
Chocolate Recipes
Tooth-Tugging Tip for Terrified Tots
Handy Earache Relief
Uses for Leftover Bread
Leaky Diaper/Pull-up Fix
Snack Mix Recipe (at the end of the post)
Awesome Stain Recipe
(at the end of the post)
"Fun"damentals of Family Life
Removing Wite-Out from Everything
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Aaaaaugh!!! There's No Escape!!!!

Our babysitter loves to tell us all the cute things the kids do and say. Recently she told us that when she was playing Trivial Pursuit Junior with the older two, Drama Queen was struggling with the question, "Name a state which is named for someone famous." She thought and thought, then suddenly she brightened and shouted, "Hannah Montana"!

(Sigh. My work is cut out for geography this year!)

Good grief! There is no escaping this girl. We don't own Hannah Montana anything. Drama Queen has never watched the show even once. I think the only way to get away from Hannah Montana is to boycott Wal-Mart. And the mall. Well, all stores.

Sheesh. The Amish really have the right idea on some things.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm a Rebel!

I was raised to be ultra-frugal. It's in my genes. I had a great aunt who washed and reused plastic wrap. When we cleaned out her apartment after she passed away, we found a vintage box of Glad Wrap (likely an original from 1966). I think it's the only box she ever bought.

It used to be extremely hard for me to throw things away. Everything - toilet paper tubes, Crystal Light containers, the stiff piece of white cardboard that comes inside a new pair of pantyhose - could have a potential use when you're crafty and you have kids. The mere thought of throwing away a new strip of twist ties, even when I have a drawer full of hundreds thousands of them, causes me to twitch.

So, why don't I feel guilty for throwing out a handful of markers just because they're not washable?

Hmmmmm . . why, indeed . . .

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Going Postal Over Peaches

For the first time recently, I ventured over to the local, heavily-hyped farmer's market in search of peaches. I was so looking forward to them because there were none when we moved here last year due to a late frost.

Now, when you think of "farmer's market," what do you think of?

Produce!!!! Yes, those things called fruits and vegetables. Just the things you would expect to find at a FARMER'S market.

As I listened to some earthy music, I found handmade jewelry.

I found homemade soaps.

I found herbs and breads.

I even found some espresso and overpriced smoothies.

Funny, I didn't find any produce.

No cantaloupes.

No red potatoes.

No green beans.

No squash.

No watermelons.

And, HELLO, here we are in the great state of Georgia, and NO PEACHES?????!!!!!!!

Okay. In all fairness, there were a couple of people peddling some yummy-looking tomatoes, but that was it.

I finally found peaches a half hour away, and they were pretty tasty. We're near the end of the season, so I look forward to trying more varieties next summer.

I just packaged some peaches to mail to some very special people, and I went to great lengths to write in HUGE letters on EVERY surface of the box:


And what, pray tell, does the postal worker do with it?

She throws it. In. The. Bin.

I'm surprised that it's always the postal workers who go cuckoo and not the customers.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Scary, Scary, Scary!

Screech's thing to say lately is, "That's scary, scary, scary!" (I think we have another Drama Queen on our hands!)

We had a moment that was "scary, scary scary" this morning. Hubby woke me at 6:00 AM and said, "I don't want to alarm you, but do you know where Pete is?"

I'm wide awake.

The last time we saw him was when we tucked him in bed. (Of course, my mind is racing, thinking of JonBenet Ramsey, Elizabeth Smart, and Polly Klaas.)

I asked if he checked between the wall and his bed, as he is always falling out of bed and sleeps so deeply that he usually continues sleeping wherever he falls. Of course, he had already checked all over his room and closet. We ran all over the house checking every room and closet.

Bathrooms - no Pete.

Kitchen - no Pete.

Living room -
no Pete.

Screech's room
- no Pete.

Drama Queen's room
- no Pete.

Closets - no Pete.

Homeschool and computer rooms
- no Pete.

Laundry room
- no Pete.

Attic - no Pete.

- no Pete.

All the doors are still locked.
We are trying not to freak out, but we cannot figure out where he could have gone. Just when we were getting ready to call 911, Drama Queen comes out of her room.

"Are you looking for Pete?" she asks.

Um, YEAH!!!!!!!!!

She proceeded to show us a little pallet she had made under her desk - which was hidden by a toy box - where Pete lay sleeping soundly with not a care in the world. She told us that he came to her room during the night and told her that his room made him have bad dreams. Little mother that she is, she took him in.

"He just went right to sleep," she said.


What a sweet, caring sister! What a precious brother-sister bond they have!

What a couple of stinkers they are.

The story unraveled a little while later when I went in to get them up. That's when I saw a large, homemade banner that said:


I asked Pete, "Did you really have bad dreams?"

He thought for a moment, then replied sheepishly, "Drama Queen planned it."

Of course, we missed every sign there was:

- Pete's bed was neatly made (he always does this as soon as he gets out of bed);

- Pete never, ever has nightmares. In nearly six years, I can recall his having only one; and

- What kid goes to his sister when he has a nightmare, anyway?

I'm telling you, I need to get my mommy radar fixed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mess of the Day # 23 & # 24: Peaches and Underwear

Our model is sporting the newest line from Fruit of the Loom. I hear that Spiderman will be red hot this fall . . .

I would have had # 25 to post as well, but the evidence was gone before I could get the camera. She had stuck Band-Aids all over her legs and around each toe. I couldn't believe I missed the photo op, because she has always been good about keeping Band-Aids on!

Peach update: The one in the picture isn't the only one she nibbled on! I have just found 2 peach pits under the table (her favorite hideout when she's sneaking food!). What a little toot!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mess of the Day # 21 and #22 : Art Supplies

I am so sorry that I haven't posted since I got back from my vacation. I have been having some health issues that started while I was on vacation, and it has been incredibly hard for me to get caught up on everything. (To give you an inkling of how it's been going, I still have not completely unpacked and cleaned out the van and we've been home since July 15!) I'd rather not go into detail on what's been going on with me, but I promise, it's nothing serious! The issues are not resolved 100%, but I'm feeling MUCH better. Actually, the side effects of some medications I was on were worse than anything, and thankfully I'm done with all of those!

I will post about my vacation - which was WONDERFUL, BTW! - another time, because I haven't felt like uploading all the pictures, etc. (I have so many that I need to find a website where I can share entire photo albums.) In the meantime, I want to share some sweet and funny things that the kids have done and said recently.

At one point, while I was on several medications and felt SO bad because I had been unable to sleep for several nights in a row, I got really depressed. (This was also partly due to a side effect of one of the medications.) Everything was getting to me: I was laying around all day and watching the house get trashed while I did nothing about it; the laundry was piling higher and higher; I didn't feel like playing with the kids; and everything was falling further and further behind. I was also bummed because I had huge plans to complete several projects around the house after we got back and before we started school, and of course they haven't been touched. I felt like I had been robbed of my summer. I told myself that I was a horrible mother because my kids were stuck at home all day with a slug of a mom who laid in bed 24/7. I commented to Drama Queen, "Honey, I'm so sorry that I haven't felt like playing. I wish I could do something special with you, but I just don't feel like it. I will as soon as I'm feeling better." She replied, "Oh, Mommy, we're already doing something special. We're together everyday!"

I bawled my eyes out. What a blessing she is!

Pete has been so helpful. When I was feeling my worst, I tried not to rely too much on Drama Queen. It would be so easy to do that because she is so responsible, but I have to remind myself that she got that way partly because she has been given so much responsibility. So, I try hard to give Pete the same opportunities. He felt like such a big shot the day I let him fix lunch all by himself! He has also been great about entertaining Screech.

Screech was actually pretty good on my worst days. It was simply a matter of slogging through until lunchtime, after which I could put her to bed and enjoy a 2-3 hour respite. (God has showered me with blessings in this regard; all of my kids have been excellent sleepers and nappers!) She did manage to get into a few things, though. There was more to get into because Drama Queen and Pete weren't putting things away (and I wasn't up to making sure that they did). Here is her latest handiwork:

I would like to personally thank the people who invented Magic Erasers, as well as the people who invented washable paint, crayons and markers! I don't even allow non-washable art supplies in the house anymore. I have a few Sharpies and permanent markers, but they are well hidden. Even Hubby, Drama Queen and Pete don't know where they are!

I'm going to try to get back into the blogging groove this week. Talk to you again soon!