First Day of School (1st grade and preschool)


County Fair


Soccer Games

Grace heads for the goal


Waiting on the sidelines


Learning to play with toys


Steelers 3-0.


It’s been a fabulous month here at the circus!

It began innocently enough.  It kind of drew me in with its rich, sweet aroma.  For years I’d enjoy the hint of the flavor… in mud pies or Frappuccino's…even an occasional cappuccino.  But I wasn’t quite ready to sell out and drink a cup of joe for breakfast on a regular occasion. 

Then I went to our annual Labor Day getaway.  Which, in addition to being a house full of my closest life long friends and their chillin’, was also a house full of serious coffee drinkers.    They were brewin it all the time and offering it to any interested. 

So I tried it. 

(With milk and sugar)

And  liked it, a lot. 

They made more, I drank more and by the time I was home and back to life, I found myself longing for that warm sweet cup of love.

I think the big reason why I switched was because I recently gave up Coke and Sweet Tea.   I am not swearing off of it or anything.  I still have it on occasion, but I am not drinking it with the regularity that I once was, b/c I am cutting back on my caloric intake.  (read… trying to fit back into my skinny jeans)

Coffee feels like a desert.  It’s warm and sweet and filling and you can sip it for hours.  (YET, with 3/4 tbs sugar and a dash of skim milk, it only costs me one point on WW). 

I feel like drinking coffee adds a touch of relaxation and luxury to my morning.  It’s like a big treat for mommy.  I get to hold a warm mug and sip as I teach school.  Or bring it to go and sip on our way out the door.  Some afternoons as I head out the door to gymnastics or soccer practice, I’ll bring a cup of iced coffee.  It’s a refreshing treat with much less fat than a Frappuccino. 

I also love that Scott makes it for me.  I don’t know that he will always do this, but for the past 2 weeks he has set up the coffee maker and most mornings even pours me a cup.  (He doesn’t even drink coffee, he does it all for me)… seriously, it’s like a bouquet of flowers every morning.. I feel so loved and cherished, by this simple act each day.  Our mornings are rushed as I to try make breakfasts, fix lunches, over see wardrobes (no you may not wear that flowered shirt with the polka dot skirt… please go change again), nurse the baby, dress myself… and I barely have time to eat.  I love when he just hands me a mug of coffee to sip in the midst of the chaos that is our morning. 

It makes my kitchen smell wonderfully each morning, makes me feel loved, tastes like a dessert yet easy on the waist, warms you up, it’s a lil taste of vacation in the midst of real life…. seriously, why has it taken me 31 years to get on board with this?

Any other coffee drinkers out there?  Tell me, what do you love about it?

Get out your 2011 calendars and circle Sept 19th.  It is International Talk Like a Pirate day.  I assure you it is one holiday you do not want to miss.  (If, by chance, you happen to get the date wrong, ahem, and celebrate it on the 20th per say, no worries, your children won’t know the difference and you can still have just as good of a time). 

We celebrated in 2008, but sadly missed the holiday last year… something about being in my first trimester and starting my first year of home schooling, caused me to forego the optional holidays last year.  But my kids started asking about it this summer so I was sure to look it up and mark the date (incorrectly) on our calendar. 

How does one celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day, you ask?

You randomly shout “Shiver me Timbers” and “Walk the Plank” throughout your meal.


…. and say “argh” after most of your sentences.


Make sure you show your teeth when you smile.



For dinner serve “Pirate Food”

“What is Pirate Food,” you ask…

Chicken on the bone (aka drum sticks)…


X marks the spot breadsticks…


Pot o Gold (macaroni and cheese), Pirate Teeth (corn nibblets) and don’t forget the Grog (aka “Kid Beer” aka “Root Beer”) and of course dessert…IMG_3138

For a fun blast from the past, check out my post from 2 yrs ago describing our Talk Like a Pirate day celebration.  I can’t believe how much we’ve changed!

As I left the house for my second sewing class I eagerly told Scott I’d return with 2 aprons in hand.  I recall him lovingly tried to temper my expectations by suggesting even returning with one would be exciting, but  I blew him off as  ran out the door material, machine, and new sewing scissors in hand. 

I returned 3 hours later having sewed the neck strap for one of my aprons.  (and having cut out the material for the rest of the apron)

hmmmm… perhaps my hubby was on to something with tempered and realistic expectations….

I had high hopes for pressing the seams of the apron during the week and perhaps even working on sewing some straight lines to practice before my next class.  But, I didn’t have any time for such lofty expectations except for the night before class and by the time the kids were in bed that night I really didn’t feel like dragging the sewing machine out.  Sewing is new to me and as of right now it isn’t yet a fun way to relax.  So, I put it off till class the next day. 

Thursday rolled around and  I realized it would be really helpful to at least have my seams pressed down before class.   (Here’s where I have to confess to you that I hate ironing…. it’s that whole disregard for perfection flaw that I have in my character… good enough cuts it for a lot of things… but ironing (and incidentally hanging pictures also) is not one of them.    Knowing this, my husband lovingly told me when we were engaged that he would take on the ironing in our family.  He did this in part b/c he doesn’t mind ironing and was eager to demonstrate love to his wife and in part because he didn’t want to show up for work with huge wrinkles pressed into his dress shirts)  Soooooo…. when we finished dinner on Thursday with15 minutes to spare before I needed to leave for class, I told Scott I needed to iron my apron seams.  He very kindly offered to do it for me and  I LEPT at the offer.   Isn’t he the greatest?

So, material (with seams neatly pressed by my super hubby) machine and sewing scissors in hand, I headed out the door promising the kids that tomorrow morning mommy would show them the apron she made at sewing class. 

I arrive to class on time and super excited about my pressed seams.  I set up my machine and get started while waiting for others to arrive.  I was really going to town sewing my waist strap when one of the instructors came over and asked what I was sewing.  Upon learning that I was sewing them incorrectly, I restarted the strap. 

I must tell you that as I sat at my machine sewing my seams I honestly felt like Lucille Ball or Amelia Bedelia.  My lines were crooked, my thread spun up like a cocoon, and my pace was snail like. 

Before  knew it class was half over and I had quite a bit left to do on my apron.  At this point the teachers called us over to go over the directions for the second apron (it is a different style and will teach us the technique of gathering).  They wanted us to cut out the material in the next 30 minutes for our second apron. 

Feeling a little discouraged at the prospect of abandoning apron number 1, I set off to cut out apron number 2.  They wanted us to try using a rotary cutter and a square ruler.  The teachers were very eager to help and show us how to cut, but I knew if I let them do it for me then there would be no hope of my ever being able to cut out patterns on my own at home.  So I stared and turned and did my best to figure it out, all the while feeling immense pressure b/c others were waiting in line to use the rotary cutter.  Finally, I gave up and sat on the floor with my scissors determined to cut it out the regular way.  It’s one thing for me to hold myself up, but holding up other people with my incompetence was too stressful. 

Sitting on the floor, tired and discouraged with scissors, pattern and material in hand, one of the teachers came over to see if I needed help.  Hmmm… wonder what tipped her off? 

The teachers in this class are the best.  They are encouraging (not one laughed in my face all night and I am sure that was an enormous feat on their part) and realistic.  It looked like my 6 yr old cut out the material.  No problem she told me, I’ll be sewing the ends under anyway.  They eagerly jump in to help where needed so that we can accomplish our goals, but let us do it ourselves so we learn how.  They patiently hold our hands through the entire process instilling confidence as they do it.  I love them!

The end of class rolled around and they gathered us together to demonstrate the technique of gathering for our next apron.  We can either work on it at home or bring it to class to finish in our spare time.  (judging by my snail like pace, I am thinking I better carve out time to work at home b/c I don’t think I’ll have much class time to spare in the coming weeks).

Here I was at the end of my second class with my second apron cut out and having now sewn a total of 3 straps.  I really didn’t want to go home again empty handed.  The teachers volunteered to hang out a bit for those of us that wanted to finish, so I called Scott to see how the baby was doing and if I could stay out later or if he needed me to come home and nurse.  Thankfully the baby was sleeping soundly and Scott was working on the computer so he said to stay and work.

By 10pm I was packing up my machine and proudly wearing my new apron. 


I did it!!!  I honestly couldn’t believe it because so many times that night I thought I’d never finish.  But I did it, and I couldn’t wait to show my kids!  The next morning when I showed it to them, they were so encouraging and excited about Mommy’s accomplishment.  The seams aren’t perfect.  But, it’s done and I did it.  I really needed the satisfaction of completing a project to give me the encouragement to continue.  I’ve tempered my goals for the class.  We have certain projects which we are assigned because they will teach us some basic skills we need to learn to sew.  Then the last 2 classes we get to work on a project of our own choosing.  At my first class I wanted to complete the assigned projects and also make a duvet cover for my bed, curtains for my bathroom, and something for each of my kids and my nephew Eli.  I now realize this is a bit ambitious.  Now, I want to complete the assignments and make something for each of my kids and for my nephew Eli.  If I do nothing else but make the kids each something, I will be more than satisfied.  My kids love and cherish the things their Grandma and Aunt Karen have made for them and I am so excited to give them something that Mommy has made.  Also, seeing my children’s love for their “Aunt Karen blankets”  makes me want to make some “Aunt Crystal” thing for Eli.  It won’t be the beautiful Aunt Karen quilts my kids have, but hopefully he’ll still feel loved and special. 

On Saturday my mom and I went to Jo Ann Fabrics and picked out the material I need for my remaining projects as well as material for the things I want to make Eli and my girls.  I wasn’t able to find what I wanted for my sons, so I will keep looking, but I am so excited about the things I will make in the next few months! 



Here we are using my new apron to bake our traditional “Welcome Fall”  apple pie.

Writers block


Mushy brain

Call it what you will, but I am sorry this circus mom has nothing to give ya.  I’ve sat down and started posts 3 separate times this week only to stop half way through.  I wanted to fill you in on our hamster wheel paced life the past few weeks but when I write it all out it just seems boring.  Really, do you want to hear about the circus family’s daily routine?  Yea… I didn’t think so. 

Then I started to post pictures from our trip to the county fair.  But, I noticed that my last several posts have all been pictorial in nature and was afraid it would seem to journalistic. 

So I stopped. 

But I really can’t go yet one more day with the same post sitting up there begging to be commented on. 

It’s 3:00 on Friday.  There is 30 min left in our afternoon quiet/nap time and I have 3 baskets of laundry to fold, a kitchen to tidy,  an apple pie I promised the kids we’d bake on Wednesday that I am really hoping we get to today, bathroom floor to scrub, guest bed room to tidy and a little schoolwork left to be finished.   I’d also like to clean out the minivan b/c it is a complete disaster again and I hate looking at it like that.  But I know that will get bumped to next week never never land.

I am afraid the elusive, clever post I keep hoping to come up with will have to wait yet again.

So, help this momma out.  (if your even still checking the ol blog)

What do you wanna hear about?

*our Talk Like a Pirate Dinner (which we celebrated a day late b/c I got the date wrong for International Talk Like a Pirate Day)

*our annual trip to the county fair

*first day of school pictures

*my new found love of coffee

*my sewing class

Perhaps next week I can collect my thoughts and write about one or more of the above topics.

Until then, Happy Friday!

So long summer 2010….

We’ll forever hold you close in our heart for you were the summer that we welcomed dear sweet, squeezable number 4 to our fold.


We enjoyed your lazy hazy days as we spent time playing in our back yard and splashing in our pool…


We enjoyed time with family




We caught our first keeper… and enjoyed time on Nana and Pop’s boat.IMG_1883

  We enjoyed sleep overs with friends….


and reunions with friends.


We went to the ball park.


And spent some evenings home sleeping on the couch.

Mom and Caleb catch a quick nap

We were refreshed and rejuvenated by all of your lazy, hazy days and can now ride into fall with its busy schedule and new routines, while eagerly anticipating the traditions the next seasons has in store for us…apple picking, pumpkin carving, trick or treating, football watching, soccer playing, pie eating…


Ecclesiastes 3:1

“There is a time for everything,
       and a season for every activity under heaven.”


Woa Dad!  What are you thinking? 

Your starting him on your fantasy team?IMG_3122


Here’s hoping you have some time to kick back and relax this weekend!

You may or may not have noticed that lately, I haven’t been blogging much. 

I can’t put my finger on why exactly.


It’s not his fault… he is super easy going. 

And it isn’t due to lack of fodder… the circus crew provides me with a never ending supply of bloggable material.  But, my days have been “more full” lately.  Our schedule includes  home school, tutorial, gymnastics, soccer, (and cub scouts starting soon).    I’m also struggling to get back on top of the laundry and maintain the house… got a schedule for that too.  (if I could just get caught up again so I can work on maintaing it)

It seems when the day is done, I haven’t the mental capacity for more than a status update on face book.  

So, here’s my past week via face book to fill in the gaps here on my blog. 

put my youngest to bed tonight wearing the "hand me down" shin guards and holding the pink Adidas cleats that were given to her by another soccer mom at her sister's practice today.

**I realized after posting that status update that I misspoke, she is no longer my youngest, but rather my youngest girl**

USED to love going to the library.... Now I wonder, is it really worth it?


is tired and unmotivated


Just made my daughter a new sweater (I accidentally put my 100% wool sweater in the dryer)


my son was just yelling back and forth with my next door neighbor about tonight's game, I reminded him to be respectful and he said, "Mom, we were just trash talking."


is taking the kiddos for donuts this morning as I promised them we could go to celebrate the new Sunday School year...nothing like sending them off to meet their new teachers all loaded up with carbs and sugar!


is too tired to do anything... we had one FULL day... 2 early morning soccer games, kids first lemonade stand, party, target trip, then home for dinner, baths, bedtime...leaving the mess for Monday, Momma is ready for bed!


is excited and inspired after my first sewing class!


is frying up some white perch for dinnerIMG_2988

The cool crisp mornings we’ve had lately signal that fall is near.    So, this weekend I made good on a summertime promise I made to the kids. 

We carried out the folding table and chairs…decided on a fair price for our product and made some signs.


While the kids began chanting “25 cent lemonade,”  I quickly stirred some country time and water.

They eagerly watched for cars and walkers and when they saw them they’d enthusiastically wave and chant.   (I think they learned well from the vendors at Camden Yards).

Nana and Pop heard about their business venture and swung by the neighborhood to support the family business.


She quite easily drank as much lemonade as we sold. IMG_3001

The smiles on their faces made all Momma’s efforts worthwhile.  


They earned enough to buy 2 packets of silly bands at Target that afternoon.  Though honestly, I think the fun they had selling it was much more valuable.

I do not consider myself to be either creative or crafty.  And most of the time I am ok with that.  Even though my mom and grandma are both talented seamstresses, I’ve often joked that I missed out on the sewing gene.

The truth is that sewing seems to require patience and an aspiration for perfection.  And for me, close enough is usually more than good enough.  But close enough doesn’t seem to work when sewing, b/c you kinda want your dresses to be straight and your sleeves even. 

So, I typically don’t even try to sew and get my sister in law, mom, or talented friend Jen, to do it for me. 

My kids know this and when they need their slippers patched or a stuffed animal repaired they don’t even bother to ask me, they just pack it up and when we see Grandma or Aunt Karen next they’ll pull it out and ask her to repair it for them.  I’ll often laugh about the fact that they didn’t even bother asking me. 

Then I found out one of my dear friends and her mother in law (one of my favorite high school teachers) are teaching a intro to sewing class for adults.   And I jumped at the chance to try.

I get to bring my sewing machine to use (this I think will be huge as I will learn  how to use my machine).  And they’ve got a slew of projects planned for the semester that will teach us all sorts of basic sewing skills and provide us with useful products.  (aprons, bags, pillows…) 

Tonight we met at Jo Ann Fabrics.  They walked us around the store telling us about the different kinds of fabrics and which kinds were easy to sew with and which are more difficult. 

They answered questions and encouraged.  They started with the basics, as in very, very basic. 

When I left the house I foolishly thought I’d be buying all the fabric I needed for all 7 classes.  After staring at material for over an hour, I left with the material needed for our first project. 

Lesson One:  choosing fabric takes time  (and I made a mental note to myself that there is no way I am bringing my kids with me to the fabric store, ever)

I am really excited about this class.  We’ll be meeting twice a month for the next few months.  I feel like this class is just what I need right now. I am excited about the opportunity to have a night out.  I am excited to spend time with friends.  I am excited about the opportunity to accomplish some tangible projects for myself and my family.  And I am excited to spend time with one of my favorite teachers again.   Can you tell I am a little excited?

Oh, and I bought my own pair of fabric scissors!  I couldn’t wait to tell my mom that I too have special scissors that the kids can’t cut with paper. 

Next week, I will be making 2 aprons.. one half apron and one bib apron.  I am super excited!  (must think of another word with which I can convey my enthusiasm) I will wait to buy the next material after that.  We’re going to take baby steps…  (which is good b/c once I was in the store I found myself wanting to make so many things… I need to take it small and accomplish tangible goals otherwise I will become overwhelmed and will most likely give up… and I really, really want to succeed this time). Perhaps if things turn out like I hope, I’ll post pictures of my finished work.  (unlike those curtains I aspired to make last spring and never even started) (which , by the way, I am hoping to try and get done this fall)

There are many familiar and epic battles out there.  At the circus, I am often subject to reading, watching, and even role playing in such battles over good and evil.

Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker fighting for the future of the galaxy.


Spiderman and Doctor Octopus dueling over the city of New York.


Optimus Prime and the autobots verses Megatron and the decepticons in their fierce battle over the fate of earth. 


But none come close to the battle currently being fought at the circus. 

One one side we have my son who as a baby was comforted by his pacifier and wants his little brother to find comfort in the same place. 

His littlest sister weighs in in the other corner.  She’s found great solace in sucking her fingers and takes delight in finding her baby brother doing the same. 

On more than one occasion I have seen them trying to convince their brother that their way is the best way.  (Yes, that’s right my son will pull the fingers out of a content baby’s mouth in order to stick in the pacifier). 

Who will win for the heart and soul of the youngest circus member?  Will it be the pacifier or his fingers?


Right now, he’s a bit confused and scared over the choice at hand.