I am convinced that some of the best bonding between my kids takes place after we kiss them goodnight and shut the door.  The policy in our house has been that they can talk in bed (or in their drawers) as long as they are quiet and stay laying down.  (no jumping off the bed or playing with toys) The giggles and chattering drifting down the hall are some of my most cherished sounds.  In fact, it was during one of these “behind closed doors chats” that my son led his younger sister to the Lord.  She told me one day that she knew she was a Christian because she had prayed with her brother one night asking God to forgive her of her sins and be her Savior. 

So, naturally, when my oldest son moved out of the room he’d shared with his sisters for 4 years in order to share a room with his little brother, it was a bittersweet moment at the circus.

But, I think in the past year since that happened the bond of friendship between the girls has grown.  AND a genuine love of reading has transpired in my oldest sons life, as well, as a unique bond of brotherhood between the boys. 

IMG_1996When he moved into his brothers room, we knew the late night talking would cease for awhile.  But, we told him, you may stay up and read in your bed.   I had no idea at the time the hours of reading that would transpire with this new arrangement.   It is not unusual for me to have to go back and tell him lights out at 11:00.  In fact last Friday, he was beyond excited because he had managed to stay up until midnight! 

It’s a cute little arrangement that has taken place.  My youngest will contentedly lay in his crib falling asleep watching his big brother reading.  It doesn’t bother him to have the light on, or to fall asleep with someone else in the room.  In fact, I dare you to try to put him to sleep at night without his brother there. 

Last night we told the kids to get ready for bed and we went down the hall to find this. 



He sat there so quietly, so contently that we ended up leaving him there for awhile before going back and moving him to his crib.   IMG_2169

When I was taking my Elem Education classes in college, I learned that reading in front of your children is crucial to develop a life long love of reading.  They need to see that you too enjoy reading and it just isn’t something you do because you have to.  I can only imagine growing up watching his big brother read for hours every night, will have a similarly positive effect on him. 

While we didn’t plan it like this at first, Sunday ended up being date day for each of our 4 kids.   Each child ended up with some one on one time with either mom, dad, or Aunt Karen.  Good times had by all!

One of the duties of our church deacons is to unlock the church on Sunday mornings.  When Scott became a deacon 3 years ago, he started taking one child with him on his deacon duty mornings.  This served a dual or maybe even triple purpose.  1.  it got him some one on one time with one of the kids  2.daddy deacon date  it allowed the kids to participate in serving the church alongside him  (rather than serving at church being something that took Daddy away from the fam) and 3.  it left me with one left kid to get ready for church Sunday morning.    The kids LOVE when it is their turn for deacon duty with Daddy.  They love unlocking their SS classrooms, turning on the lights, and turning on the heat in each room.  They also enjoy watching the worship team practice and probably most of all, they love having Daddy to themselves for a few hours on Sunday morning.    This Sunday it was our 4 year olds turn and her face lit up when Daddy asked her on her date.  (they also LOVE getting to ride in Daddy’s car and put the windows down!)

This Sunday after church Aunt Karen took our 6 year old out for a belated birthdayaunt karen date date at the mall.   They went to lunch, went shopping for a new pair of earrings, and even got some dessert afterwards.  She was so excited the night before when Aunt Karen told her to wear something nice and they would go to the mall to pick out her birthday gift.  I was so excited that they were able to have some one on one time together.  I love that Aunt Karen wants to take an active role in my kids lives. 

Meanwhile…since we already had 2 cars at church, I took our oldest son out tstarbucks cub scout dateo Starbucks for a Mother/Son Cub Scout date.  He only had a few more requirements left to complete in order to earn his Wolf Badge.  These involved discussing a few hypothetical situations and how he would and should respond in each scenario.  I thought it might be more fun to complete the questions on a Starbucks date…things didn’t work out the evening I planned to go out with him and the banquet is next weekend, so Sunday afternoon was a must!   After our trip to Starbucks, we visited the library to pick out some more books for him to read.  A perfect afternoon date if you ask me!

Every Sunday evening is Daddy date time for our youIMG_2098ngest.  I take the older three to evening church for catechism class.  Since I teach one of the classes, I stay there with them.  This affords Scott some rare one on one time with the lil guy.  Scott has always appreciated this time on Sunday evenings…. when I first started 4 years ago it was his Daddy/girl time while the oldest and I went to class.  He really does treasure a few hours on Sunday evening to play with the youngest of the crew while everyone else is away. 

We don’t have a set schedule for who gets one on one time with whom when.  It doesn’t happen on a set rotation each month.  (other than keeping track of who is up next for deacon duty) But, when we can we try to seize the opportunity for a little one on one time with each kid… to see their personalities apart from the rest, to listen to just them, and to foster our relationships with them as individuals.  This Sunday was a rare opportunity for each child to enjoy some time in the lime light. 

Can I make a little confession?  I was going to skip Presidents Day… truthfully, it’s a holiday that I’ve only really given a nod to in the past, no real hoopla.  And this year it falls right before Fat Tuesday and the end of Mardi Gras… Mardi Gras is another holiday I’ve skipped in the past but for some reason this year I decided to educate the kids on New Orleans food and culture as well as jazz music… (I think it’s b/c of these Family Fun magazine recipes)…

Anyway, I was all set to celebrate Mardi Gras on Presidents Day this year b/c we are off school on Presidents Day and Tuesdays are crazy busy with school at home, piano lessons, and gymnastics…

But, then my son mentioned to me yesterday (after we had already left Aldi’s mind you)  “Mom, didn’t you say you were going to make cherry pie for Presidents Day?”    oh right…. I did…. IF ONLY HE HAD MENTIONED THAT AN HOUR EARLIER WHEN WE WERE AT THE STORE….

so… I shuffled around my Mardi Gras plans… and brought the presidents back to Presidents Day…. thanks to 1. Pinterest I found a cute craft  2. this year’s Halloween Costume we even had General Washington make an appearance… and 3. 2 additional trips to the store (b/c when I went back to Aldi’s on Monday they were out of pie crust)…. we had ourselves a President’s Day celebration….



(FYI the picture I saw on Pinterest used cotton balls for George’s hair but we were out, so we used toilet paper instead and I actually like the end result better)



Look who I caught later trying to sneak himself another piece of pie….


In the midst of all the birthday party and Valentine’s day preparations and excitement, someone suffered from some severe neglect.


Excuse me while I attempt to make up with my overlooked and neglected washing machine.   If you don’t hear from me in awhile, look under the pile of clothes… I may have surrendered in defeat!

I love holidays… all holidays… as in Chinese New Year… Ground Hog Day… Mardi Gras…St Patty’s Day… Cinco De Mayo… give me a reason to make a themed meal and I’m in.  I love celebrating life with my family.

So, yes… I go a little crazy for Valentine’s Day… even if it is a holiday created by Hallmark…. I’ll still serve heart shaped food for every meal and dress my kids in red.

Scott and I went out last night.  He surprised me with flowers and a card and we went out for dinner and a movie, with Ben and Jerry’s when we got home.  It was a delightful evening.  I realized as I was getting ready last night that it was the 15th Valentine’s Day we’ve celebrated.  I still vividly remember our first… when he held my hand for the very first time. 

Today we had heart shaped donuts for breakfast… heart shaped pizza for lunch, heart shaped sandwiches for dinner and heart shaped lollipops for dessert.   We passed out Valentine’s at gymnastics and we all wore red.   It was a fun day!

I love these kids and this picture just makes me smile… more than if it was a perfectly posted one.


And I could just eat these two up… I think the candid shots might be my favorites..




Can he just be Momma’s boy forever?


My heart is so full this Valentine’s Day… with love for my husband… who makes me feel loved and adored every day of the year…and love for each of my children…I can think of nothing sweeter than being his wife and their Momma.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

My oldest daughter turns 6 this week.

6 years old.

It just sound so old… so, not a baby, not a toddler, not a preschooler, but a… girl. 

I spent some time looking back at pictures and videos this past year and I realized that 5 is a significant year.  She grew up A LOT this past year.

She started school.

She learned to read.

She learned to add and subtract.

She lost 3 teeth.

She learned to ride a 2 wheeler.

She taught herself to slide tackle in soccer… totally illegal in pee-wee soccer, by the way, but so completely instinctual for her that it was impossible to get her not to do it.

She grew as a gymnast…learning new skills…taking longer classes…

She made new friends.

As my role shifted from just mom to mom and teacher in this year of her life, I realized I have gotten to know her better.   I didn’t know how much she loved numbers and math and order and categories. 

As I think back on her 5th year of life, I’ll remember the winter hats she loves to wear… 24/7  because “I like the way my head feels when I take it off.”… The way she always writes all her Sunday School papers in black and yellow crayon, alternating each letter, for every paper, every single week…the Hello Kitty book bag and lunch box that she was SO excited about getting for kindergarten that she proudly told anyone and everyone everywhere we went, all about it….The cute khaki jumper she wears to tutorial and the fact that she always has to put shorts on underneath so she’ll be allowed to do cart wheels at recess.

I love how easily she smiles and how hard she works.  I love watching her grow into herself.  She no longer follows in her big brothers shadow wanting to do everything that he does the way that he does it.  She’s come into her own.  Which has caused some ripples at the circus this year.  But, I love the girl God has created her to be and am excited to see her continue to grow. 




Grace Girl

Now We Are Six - A.A. Milne

When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new
When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more
When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I'm as clever as clever;
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

At the end of last year Scott and I went out for a big fun day date.  As we thought back over the year and looked ahead at the new year we talked about things we wanted to do differently in the coming year. 

Scott had a few suggestions on the food front.  One was that we eat more meatless dinners.  He was not advocating we go vegetarian…(good thing too b/c this meat and potato loving gal would have surely lasted all of 2 days at best) the other was that we starting eating more fish.  And, truthfully, eating any amount of fish even once would have been significantly more than we’ve ever eaten.  Because, to be honest, I don’t like fish and therefore I don’t cook fish.   I hide behind the fact that since I don’t eat it, I wouldn’t know how to cook it… but truthfully, it’s because the look, smell, and texture disgust me.

But, I was willing to give it a try.  Because I love my man.

I decided to instill Meatless Wednesdays at our house and to cook fish for dinner once a month.     6 weeks into the endeavor and we’re having some successes.   Actually, more successes than failures!

To be honest, I was skeptical at first.  But, then after scouring the internet and calling on my face book friends, I’ve found it really fun to come up with a whole slew of new recipes to try.  I didn’t realize I had been in a rut, until I discovered how much fun I was having stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things.  I picked Wednesday b/c it is a night that we are all usually home for dinner.  I didn’t want to launch any new meals when I was flying solo for dinner or when we were eating in the gymnastics waiting room.

Though part way through the month I realized Meatless Mondays would have had more of a ring to it, with the alliteration factor and all… but we’re kinda all stuck on meatless Wednesday and when you gotta good thing, you don’t want to mess with it.  (in fact, last week when Scott came home and saw our dinner he said, “Oh it must be Wednesday'!”)

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of our successes and failures for Meatless Wednesday

Squash Ravioli—this was delicious, it was so sweet and everyone in the family loved it.  I was delighted to find Safeway carried in their own generic brand.  Not only is it meatless, it is easy.. Boil water, pop in ravioli, 7 minutes later serve with melted buttered on top.   (definitely added to our meal rotation)

Sweet Potato Burritos-  another hit.  This tasted like comfort food to me.  My oldest son loved it as did both my husband and I.  The girls and my youngest ate it, not their favorite, but not a huge fight put up either.  Have already served it twice and will continue to serve it regularly.  It is quick, easy, and also great for eating on the go… like say, at gymnastics….

Mexican Pierogies.- hmmm, not such a hit.  I knew well enough to serve the ingredients individually rather than all together when serving the kids.  Which helped… the girls don’t care for potatoes so needless to say they weren’t so fond of the pierogies.… they ate the noodle on the outside.   My oldest son loved them.  When I served them for Scott and I by combining the tomatoes, beans and pierogies, I kinda messed it up, so it didn’t turn out quite right.  All that to say, I can see pierogies. making another appearance, but first time around wasn’t a smashing success.

Squash Tortellini- I tried a variation on a recipe from Wegmans which for some reason won’t link up right now… basically I served normal tortellini, using squash soup as the sauce, with chunks of squash in there too.  Scott wasn’t a fan.  He felt the squash soup was too sweet and too much for him.  I am wondering if he would have liked it better with the goat cheese stuffed tortellini.  But, I didn’t think the kids would.  The kids didn’t really care for the soup either.  I didn’t mind it, but didn’t love it either.  Probably won’t be serving that one again. 

Pad Thai with Tofu-  this was so, so good… basically peanut butter sauce over noodles, was how I described it to the kids.  The boys both devoured it, as did Scott and I.  The girls ate it.  Didn’t love it, but ate it.

Tofu-Veggie Hotdogs-  I made these for the kids tonight to eat at gymnastics.  My oldest daughter loved them.  She said they didn’t taste like the normal ones, but she still liked them… and ate 3.  No one else cared for them.  And I gotta say, they smelled bad.  My son said, “What are these?  I know these aren’t made of pig!”  I think next time we’ll try grilling them and serving with toppings rather than just plain.  But, truthfully, I think they are going to be a hard sell.

Fish Nuggets- I tried these at lunch a few times.  The only one who likes them is my 4 year old and she LOVES them. But, I think she has proven to be the fish eater of the crew.  She begged for more last time we were at Trader Joes and happily eats them for lunch while the others eat “real” nuggets… aka  chicken

Then there’s fish.  I had heard that tilapia was a good fish for those that don’t like fish.  Since that described me, that was the first fish I opted for.  I baked it with lemon pepper seasoning and served it to the kids and I with ketchup for dipping.  Scott and my 4 year old LOVED it, going back for more on their own free will.  The rest of us ate it.  Which, truthfully is a success. 

So….. we had it again in Feb already.  (I’ll be honest, I kinda try to serve it early in the month to get it out of the way, b/c when I make my monthly meal plans I get excited about certain meals, eagerly looking forward to making/eating them… fish isn’t one I’m excited about so I don’t want it hanging over my head all month).    I went with tilapia again b/c it worked last month.  This time, I baked it with seasoned salt for the kids and for Scott and I , I sprinkled seasoned salt and then poured salsa and shredded cheddar on it.  Next time I make it, I will not put the seasoned salt on it… too salty.  Otherwise, Scott loved it and I was able to eat it without ketchup.   This time all 4 kids willingly ate it all without complaint.    Next fish I’m going to try is white ruffy.  Someone posted about it on face book, so being a fish novice, I wrote it down when I saw it and bought it next time I was at Trader Joes. 

So far, I am enjoying spicing up the menu with some new things.  And the family seems to be embracing it well.  Meatless Wednesdays and Monthly Fish dinners, just might be working for me at the circus!

Any of you have any favorite fish or meatless dishes to share?  I’d love to add them to our menu!

More times than not, when I peek in on my girls before heading to bed, I find them sleeping together. 

Sometimes this means they are both down on the bottom bunk.


Sometimes, it means they are side by side in their drawers (truthfully I find them like this almost as often as I find them in the bottom bunk). 



Sometimes they are both on the floor.  (haven’t found them like that in the last 2 weeks)

And once, last week, I even found them side by side in the same drawer.  IMG_1430

As I peek in on them snuggled up together, it gives me hope that as they grow, they’ll share secrets, slumber parties, and hopefully a life long friendship, side by side….

One day my 4 year old came to me with about 8 pony tail holders and asked me to put them all in her hair.  I was surprised with how cute it turned out and she was excited when she received compliments on it from her friend at church.  After realizing how well it stayed in, I decided it might be worth trying this for gymnastics.    (this is it after a night of sleep)IMG_2235

So, we tried it out for gymnastics that Tuesday.  After their classes, my 5 year old told me she gives me 1 point for her hair that day b/c it stayed in, but was loose at the end.  Her sister however awarded me 3 points b/c not only did it stay in, but her teacher told her she liked it. 

And so it began.  

It, of course, being, my receiving scores for how I style my daughters hair for gymnastics.   (because you know there isn’t enough pressure already as a mom…)

Each day before class we started allowing extra time when getting ready so I could do something special to their hair.  They always have something in mind that they want, and I try my bestest to make it happen.  And after class they’d come out and tell me my score. 

This fancy do right here earned me a 300 from my 4 year old (even though the barrette fell out in class). 


IMG_2311However, this do on my 5 year old (in which I divided her hair into 5 sections, braided each section and them combined them into a pony tail) got me a whopping 1 point.  (because it looked nice but got loose by the end).

This caused me to delve further into their grading scale.  Basically, my 4 year old is happy if I use a lot of pony tail holders, someone compliments her and it doesn’t all fall out.  She’s easy to please, and more about style than function.   

My 5 year old is a tougher judge.  She informed me that the highest score I could receive is a 10.  When I asked her what I could do to earn a 10 she told me, “Well mom, you could just do a pony tail, just a pony tail, and if at the end of class all my hairs stayed in and none were falling out, that would be a 10).   So, with her the issue isn’t number of compliments, number of pony tails, or even style.  It’s all about function.



Well, it turns out that if you sleep in a head full of braids, you wake up the next day with wavy hair.  This was a big hit.  In fact, when she wore her hair to the tutorial the next day with two tiny pony tails and the rest all wavy, it went over very well.  (whew… perhaps redeeming the 1 point score from the night before)

The next day for gymnastics, she told me that she wanted 2 little braids to come together into a pony tail.  This seemed much easier than the 5 braids I had attempted on Tuesday.  And it combined a little bit of style to the function of a pony tail.









Actually, I think the style helped with the function, as the braids helped keep those loose shorter hairs from flying out during class.  This was of course critical to my scoring at the end of class.

My score? 

100 points! 

(off the charts baby!)

As if the sight of one boy playing the piano, didn’t melt my heart enough…


2 boys just turns me to mush