After a week of fun, friends, field trips, house work, sleeping in, and even a camp fire, we’re topping off our Spring Break with a long weekend at Grandma and Papa’s.

I have found that packing up the circus crew of 6 for even a weekend away, can at times be a bit overwhelming.  And while the kids love to help pack, sometimes they are anything but helpful.  So, I found a system that works pretty well for us.  It utilizes there eagerness to travel, but keeps us from showing up at Grandma and Papa’s with no shoes.  (yes, once we did arrive at my parents house…. 5 hours from home with no shoes for my youngest daughter…when I asked her where here shoes were she replied, “I couldn’t find them so I just gave up and got in the car”… thankfully it was July and she happily went barefoot all weekend ). 

I give each kid their own bag.  I make a list of what they each need to pack on the dry erase board and they initial off  each item after it is in their bag.  I even draw pictures for those that can’t read as well. IMG_2588


It makes things in the van a little tight by giving each kid their own bag, but it is SO worth it in my opinion to have them each pack their own stuff.  All that leaves me to do is wash everything, pack my and Scott’s clothes, pack toiletries and other general items (nebulizers, BB guns…)

Even though this works really well for us, it is still CRUCIAL that I double check their bags…. sometimes ones idea of church clothes is not the same as moms… nor is one idea of play clothes…  but double checking is still quicker than starting from scratch. 

My 2 year old packed his bag the minute we told him we were going to Grandma and Papa’s.  (we told him on Tuesday).  He has then lugged his bag around all week just incase it was time to go.  I was impressed to see he threw in a few shirts (and even his Papa shirt)… underneath however was QUITE the stash of toys.


Ya know how sometimes you’ll hear men joke when they carry a ladies heavy suitcase?  “What did you pack in this thing, a bag of rocks?”

Well, in the case of my 5 year old daughter, the answer is yes.  Yes, she did. I opened her suitcase to find a literal bag of rocks packed in there.  Apparently it’s her “collection” which she gathered from under our deck.


Clearly the system still has a few kinks to work out before our big vacation this summer.   We are very much a work in progress.

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This morning we said a very tearful goodbye to our beloved Maggie dog.  She’s been a faithful and loving part of our family for 10 years.   When Scott and I brought her home in March of 2003, she was the center of our little family.  Then she lovingly welcomed, one child after another to the circus fam.  She stood guard under their bassinets and cribs.  She gave them something to look at during tummy time.  She cleaned up the food they threw out of their high chairs.  And she slobbered them with kisses when they pulled, tugged, sat on and squeezed her to death.   I never, not once, worried about her with the kids, though I often worried about the kids with her because I knew she would patiently take whatever they dished out to her.  2) I want a kiss

She loved to sit in the sun on the back deck.  She also loved to run in the snow and in the fields at my parents house.  You never had to worry about her running away.    At our new house, one of her favorite things to do, was sit in the front yard and watch the kids ride their bikes in the street.  She would contently sit in the yard and watch them go back and forth. 

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Thanks Maggie for helping us raise our kids.  Thanks for teaching them to love dogs and not fear them.   Thanks for not begrudging them of the attention and love we poured out on them.  A more patient, easy going, low maintenance dog could never be found.IMG_9170

best buds

You were absolutely, the best baby/toddler dog on the planet.   And we will surely miss you.

For More Maggie love:

Puppy Love


Ode to Maggie circa 2006

Our pathetic vet visit

The Good Listener

Maggie: the cake

She’s Stolen His Heart

I don’t really know what it is that possesses a child to just randomly on a whim pick up that crayon and suddenly decide to make the world (or in this case the bathroom) his canvas.  We have crayons out every single day in our house.  I do my best when I see a stray one on the floor to nab it lest it suddenly look inviting to my toddler.  But, truly they are laying on the school table, in reach, every single day. 

And pretty much most of the time, he leaves them be.  Or colors on paper or his coloring books.  It’s not like every day I find him scribbling on my walls.  (for if I did, you better believe I wouldn’t be leaving those crayons lying about)

So, what was it today that made that blue crayon call out to him? 

What possessed him to literally paint the down blue?

It was a classic homeschooling momma moment.  One child was practicing piano, the other working on a handwriting sheet (lest this sound picture perfect, let me tell you that the child not on the piano was loudly complaining that the piano was too loud and she couldn’t concentrate).  “Great, I thought… I’ll run up and grab the  sheets off his bed so I can throw them in the wash, while they bicker do their assignments”  As I started up the stairs, I noticed my 2 year old scribbling on my dining room chair.  He noticed me too, b/c he instantly stopped, tried to cover it up and smiled sweetly at me.

Great, I thought. Forget the sheets… and the bickering… I’ve got another problem to tackle. 

As I confronted him about what he was doing he lied… so as I confronted him about lying and coloring on my furniture, I noticed he smelled a little funny too… as I checked his pants, I noticed he was missing his underwear… I then thought to myself, “shoot I don’t think I followed up on him when he went to the potty awhile ago”  (I told you this was a classic homeschooling Momma moment… this is the real deal… not the Norman Rockwell version)  So I went to the bathroom to grab a wipe and noticed soap running down the wall outside the bathroom… taking a deep breath, I opened the bathroom to find this.


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and this

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and this

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and this

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Blue crayon on the wall, toilet seat, toilet bowl, toilet lid, toilet paper, and bathroom sink. 

Clearly I was right and never followed up on him after I put him in the bathroom awhile ago… who knows when that was

As I grabbed the magic eraser (which works on walls AND on porcelain by the way) he turned his back to me and wouldn’t admit his wrong doing. 

I didn’t have him scrub it up b/c I knew that would be a reward for him, so he sat and I scrubbed. 

It was therapeutic actually. 

Finally, after an incredibly, long time… he conceded that it was him and finally I got him to apologize.  Meanwhile in the background there was the ever pleasant, piano, no piano debate going on. 

All I can say is 1 more day till Spring Break!!!!!!!! 

And this momma/teacher needs it in a MAJOR way!

Last weekend was our Cub Scout Pack’s Pine Wood Derby race.  It is one of the favorite Cub Scout traditions.  Scott and our oldest son worked hard on the car.


My son had one focus:  speed

He wanted his car to be as fast as possible.  Whenever they discussed designs or modifications, speed was always his deciding factor. 




He designed his car to look like Bullet Bill from Wii Mario Kart.



Bullet Bill (the car on the right in the picture above) did well.  He took second three times and first twice in the preliminaries.

I love their faces on these next two pictures…. you can tell this was one of the times he took first.



In the finals, he ended up coming in fourth.  So, he didn’t medal.  This was a disappointment to them both, but after the race they were already talking about what they would do differently next year.

Truthfully, I know he would have liked a trophy.  But the real prize is in the memories they made this past week designing, shaping, building, and racing their car.  That’s a prize that with time will not gather dust, but rather grow sweeter.

Scott has been a huge help and support to me this week… taking time off of work so I can rest up (apparently surgery takes more out of you, then you anticipate)… driving the kids to their activities, helping with school, and meals and cleaning up… So, today, I thought I’d show my appreciation and wear my “My Husband Rocks” tee shirt. 

My 7 year old looked at my shirt, read it aloud and said, “So, why did you wear that today?”  I told her I just wanted to say thanks to Daddy for all his help this week while I was healing.

Hmmmm.  she replied, “So, why don’t you have a ‘My Kids Rock’ tee shirt?”

I had to have surgery this week to remove a skin cancer spot on my nose.  Having gone through skin cancer a few other times, I naively thought it was going to be no big deal. 

So, I went into the surgery center very low key. I couldn’t believe how many people were in the waiting room when I arrived for my 7:45 AM appointment, but since I was the youngest one there by a good 40 years or so, I am guessing this is normal.  I don’t think my generation arrives quite as early for their appointments as those of older generations. 

I started out really optimistic.  The way this procedure works, is they take a circle of tissue out, then cover you with a bandage while you go to a special patient waiting area, then they look at it under a microscope, then if the margins are all clear, your done and can be stitched up.  If not, they go in again and take another sample until you are margin free.  My MA was super duper nice… the Pandora station they had playing in my room had music I liked… I felt like I was in good hands.  She gave me my local anesthesia, which admittedly is painful, but I was ok.  The procedure itself took only 10 min, then they  cleaned me up, put on a temporary bandage and to the waiting room I went.  The room was filled with many other people with huge white bandages…. we had our own little club as we sat watching the Today Show.  What a novelty this is I thought.  I never watch tv during the day.  Ever.  They were brewing coffee, I had free cookies, my phone, tv, and a book… I actually thought to myself, “this is going to be like a vacation day”


7 hours later I learned that ….

1.  Twinkies are going back on the market

2.  What the black smoke and white smoke signify ( I seriously thought my friend was having car trouble the other day when he posted about black smoke)

3.  Daytime tv really goes down hill drastically after 10am. So much so in fact that they show clips from late night tv and play those popular videos you see circling on Facebook. And then after that, they really have nothing left to say.

4.  Most people with skin cancer are over the age of 70. 

I ended up spending 7 hrs in the surgery center yesterday.  I knew that could take up to 4 hours.  I honestly thought I’d be out in 2.  hahaha…. so na├»ve I was.    They had to go in 6 times to remove it all.  tAfter the second trip, I texted Scott to say, “They think they got it all this time. “And after time number 4, my optimism was falling.    I didn’t have the same MA (though all of them were nice) or the same nice Pandora station every time.  (twice I had no music at all)  I did learn my way around the maze of rooms though.  I am convinced that even music I don’t care for is better than no music while having someone dig around in your face.    I had told Scott I was fine, didn’t need him to miss work to sit in the waiting room… and didn’t need lunch as I wasn’t hungry.  After time number 4 I called to say, “Ya know they said maybe I should let you bring me some lunch and he said, “I’m already on my way and almost there.”  Seeing his face did my spirits a world of good.  As we sat side by side watching Access Hollywood and eating our bagels, I felt so blessed.

After visit number 5 I was told I was the “case of the week”…. a title no one ever wants.  By the time they finished, the Dr felt it would be best for me to see a plastic surgeon to reconstruct my nose.  So I left with a huge marshmallow bandage on my face and an appointment for the following day to have yet another surgery. 

Before going my 5 year old was quite nervous b/c she didn’t want me to look disgusting.  “Mommy… what if I can’t bear to look at you?”  So thankful that when you birth kids God gives you thick skin.  I assured her that if I looked disgusting, I’d try to sit so she didn’t have to face me. 

Today was part 2 and I am convinced ignorance is bliss.  Because I was WAY more nervous going in to today that in I was yesterday.  Because even though this is the “good kind of skin cancer” and they got it all and it doesn’t’ spread… what I failed to take into account before was, it’s still surgery and the worst part, I am awake for it all.  So, even if I don’t feel much pain after they prick me 20 or so times to numb me up, you still feel stuff and it’s gross to think about and feels like an eternity.  However, God was so good to me.  My MA was super nice and caring.  My Dr was funny and light hearted.  It was a great combo.  Talking to the Dr helped a lot.  Which is crazy b/c I am a classic introvert who HATES small talk, but I’ll small talk like the best of them if it means it keeps my mind off of them cutting up my face. 

Thankfully, my Dr was a football fan.  Even though he was a Ravens fan, our rivalry gave us some common ground and gave me something to talk about while he worked on my face.  During pre op he went to make marks on my face with a marker, he told me “Don’t worry this is just marker, and it’s purple so it’s Ravens colors which is great.”  I responded, “Actually I’m a Steelers fan so be careful.”  To which he said, “I’m the one with the knife, maybe you need to be careful.”

Point taken.

And I liked him instantly.

I am thankful for the team of doctors I had.  They got rid of all the cancer and my nose doesn’t look nearly as mutilated as I feared it would.  I have a nice line of stitches up the side of my nose and promise of a black eye and swelling to look forward to tomorrow…and the day after that…

Upon further reflection, I have decided that I will no longer consider surgery however minor it is supposed to be, to be a vacation day.  Even if I don’t have to make dinner and I get to take a nap and read a book in the middle of the day… it is still a far cry from a vacation.

So it was one of those library trips where I was really regretting going.  We were pushing close to past bed time and Momma was tired.  But, I knew there were some books on the hold shelf waiting for me and I had two bags of books in the van to return, so I figured we’d run in “real quick.” 

But, of course, it wasn’t real quick.  I had to help my Kindergartner find a book on cats for her science book.  And I wanted to grab the reading book my first grader was going to need for school next week.  My third grader wanted to see if they had the next book in his current series… and so they all disappeared to find the books they wanted while I tried to find the ones we needed and well my 2 year old was the wild card tonight.  (as 2 year olds often are).   He typically likes to look for choo choo books and beg to take home as many as he can find.  But tonight his pleasure seemed to be in running through the stacks giggling. 

No amount of quiet reminders to “use his library voice” and stop running seemed to be working.  And unlike the after school hours, the library at 8:00 in the evening is deathly quiet. 

Except for the circus fam.

So, I did my best to hike all 30 lbs of him on one hip while I threw my purse around the other shoulder and carried my bag of books and searched the stacks for “Bread and Jam for Frances.”   After finding it, I rounded the corner to see where the rest of my brood had gone to.  

And when I rounded the corner, the sight I saw literally made me gasp.

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And I remembered why I keep going back week after week.  Why I endure the stares from the librarians, the overdue fines, the chasing of the giggling toddler through the rows and rows of books, why I lug the heavy bags of books  to the van and into the house and then scattered around the house, and regathered and re lugged into the van and out of the van and into the library again…and of course the over due fines… 

This is why… and it’s so, so, very worth it all.  Sometimes Mommas just need to be reminded why.

This afternoon I was finishing up in the shower, when my youngest walked into the bathroom.    I told him, “Hold on bud, Momma’ just needs a minute.  Can you give me some privacy?”

His response?

No Mommy. I can’t.  I can’t find your pivacy. 

Neither can I…. going on 9 years now since I lost it.

So, it turns out we have a sneak here at the circus.

Yes, behind this adorable smile is actually a rather devious little chocolate hoarder. 

Earlier this week the kids received a package of chocolate from their cousins for Valentines day.  I let them all have one after lunch and then we put the box up on the counter for later.    Later that evening when the kids wanted another piece after dinner the box was no where to be found.  We found an empty bottom half of the box, but the top half (with the chocolate) was MIA.  We checked the trash and every single Mommy candy hiding place I could think of with no luck.

I figured it would turn up eventually, so we gave up searching.

Then the next day I found my little man pretending to sleep on the couch.  IMG_9747

“How cute,” I thought to myself.  I also remembered I had seen him doing the same thing the afternoon before.  “Ah, what a funny little game he’s playing sleeping on there couch.”  When he noticed me he kinda popped up and looked my way.  I (completely ignorant of the wool being pulled over my eyes) smiled sweetly at him and said what a sweet boy he was on the couch. 

When I walked over to turn on the stereo, I noticed one of the speakers was down by his head and when I went to move it,  I discovered that missing chocolate!


He smiles b/c he knows he pulled one over on Mommy.


Oh, I gotta watch out for this one… stealing candy, hiding it under blankets on the couch, returning to steal some more the next day… he is gonna keep me on my toes!