Friday, December 23, 2011

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Friday, September 2, 2011

poultry barn or pottery barn...

we started our homeschool year monday with a field trip to the colorado state fair.  in the three and a half years we've lived here, this was our maiden voyage to steamy pueblo.  i can say, without a doubt or the least bit of hesitation, that we will make it a yearly event.

the car ride there consisted of a lesson on how and when state fairs originated (detroit, 1849) and why they were held.  it was certainly not to employee seemingly countless "carn-ees", much to the dismay of the children.  nor was it to consume mass quantities of sugary dough fried in fat or glorified lemonade that costs several dollars an ounce.

so, with our focus on experiencing a "real" state fair, we jumped off the shuttle, entered the gates and headed straight for the 4h building.  it was inspiring to see all the fiber art, fine art, baked goods, canned goods, apparel, leather goods and more made by young 4h'ers from all over the state.  it certainly whet olivia's appetite for her first 4h meeting next friday and even wrangled in ethan to participate.  he only had to see the gun stands and displays of bow and arrows to sign on the dotted line.

next, we made our way to the animal buildings.  the kids and i fell in love with several hundred rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigeons and a sweet pig named teacup.  we hit it at just the right time to catch the "sheep show".  the kids watched other kids show their prize sheep and learned what makes a winning specimen.

the next building housed the dairy cows and bulls.  marcus managed to irritate a bull enough that he snorted on olivia and i was convinced was going to take the massive steel gate down.  we backed away from there and found good ole' bessie.  she was a dairy cow that the kids and i had the opportunity to milk.  as the warm milk dribbled down audrey's hand she said, "it's warm milk, mom!"  yep.  it doesn't just come from inside the fridge, audge.  bessie was incredibly sweet, so even evelyn felt confident enough to crawl right up under that huge animal and give it a try.

several hours had passed and we were all getting hungry.  so, we let the kids have one ride each at the amusement park.  olivia passed on the rides saying, "the animals were enough for her".  audge rode her first mini roller coaster, hands up the whole time.  ev was just happy we got to take the shuttle bus back to the parking garage and the boys went on some spinning vortex thing i couldn't even look at.  then we were off in search of a renowned pizza joint in pueblo, angelo's.  we had our sights set on a 26" monster pizza and darn near finished it.  needless to say, it was a quiet ride home and an early night for all.

to be totally honest, i would love to farm.  marcus and i actually picked up paperwork on it.  we have long wanted to own some land and goats.  i'd rather be in a poultry barn than pottery barn anyday.  i'm not even sure how i know that, as i don't frequent many poultry barns.  but even just a taste of that life with a visit to the state fair, well, i found my happy place.  it's definitely not the beach.  or even the lake, although that's a close second.  wide open spaces, animals, elbow grease balanced by sweet simplicity and a strong sense of purpose.  i'll sign on that dotted line.

Monday, August 29, 2011

just like that...

the "monkey bike", as the children refer to it, is this mini little schwinn that we've had since sam was little. everyone has learned to ride a two wheeler on it, including some neighbor kids here and in illinois.

audrey picked it up one day, got on and started riding. no training wheels, no drama, just riding like the wind. when audge tells the story she says, "i just picked it up and went (insert whistle, hold palm in front of you and extend it out forwards)." when a grown up is able and willing, we sit outside and let the kids ride down the smooth street and up into the end of the culdesac. our very own bike gang.  and about as entertaining as the shriners in the 4th of july parade.  now, if i could get them some of those hats...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

15 years and 333 days later...

sam turns 16 this september. as if that's not shocking in and of itself, i dropped him off at college today. yes, college. he's taking two classes at our local community college this semester (as a sophmore) and according to him "has some 50 year old guy" in his english class.

he's getting a couple of prerequisites done and then he will be able to embark on classes for law enforcement majors. best case scenario, he graduates from high school with his associate's degree for FREE! he'd also like to get EMT certified. it's been a dream of mine to do the same thing for quite some time now. i saw the color drain from his face when i told him maybe i'd take the EMT courses with him.

*don't ask him if he's getting his license, though. it's a bit of a sore subject around here. we chose to wait until he was 16 and avoid the ridiculous fees for driving school for kids 15 1/2 and under. this way WE get to teach him how to drive. he'll be a little bit older, a little bit wiser and we'll be a little bit saner. sort of.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

sock monkey soiree

"i loved my birthday party, mom!" music to my ears. it really was a fun afternoon and was the first party where olivia and i really joined creative forces to make the day a success.

olivia made adorable handmade invites, a sign for the front door, frosted the cupcakes, colored in the paper plates with sock monkey faces, glued sock monkey faces to the cups and helped ready the house for her guests. at nine years old, she's a huge help to me around here! she also learned that putting together a party takes a lot of work and preparation.

our friend miss angela and her son connor came over early (thank God) to help with the last minute scurry, which included housefly killing and mixing the monkey poop. yes. monkey poop. amazing no bake cookies made with cocoa and peanut butter and oats. actually, they look more like cow pies, but i can't say i've seen a lot of monkey poop.

we feasted on monkey bread, monkey poop, ambrosia, banana pudding and the cutest darn sock monkey cupcakes ever. the girls made an adorable hair tie, played pin the tail on the monkey and hot potato (well, we used a little stuffed monkey, so i guess we played hot monkey) and spent some time on the trampoline to round out the day. she received a lot of craft supplies, some gift cards, candy, flip flops, t-shirts and a snuggly new blanket made by our neighbor samantha. how good it is to be a 9 year old girl: 99% sweet and 1% monkey!

Friday, August 19, 2011

man alive, audge turned 5!

having a birthday on july 3rd is just plain fun. we started the festivities with the usual and customary flag cake (our thanks to ina garten).

the next evening, still in the celebratory mood, we headed over to miss angela and mr. gene's house for a cookout with both of our extended family and our brits. after eating an amazing potluck bbq dinner, we ventured out to see fireworks. the kids ran around the golf course completely lit up with glow sticks waiting for it to get dark enough. grandma graciously stayed back with ev and the dog, neither of them being too fond of the 4th.

a few days later, we set out on one of daddy's days off for a birthday outing. we give the kids the option of having a dinner out with just family or a party at home with friends. audge picked flying "w" ranch as her birthday excursion. it's what she fondly refers to as "cowboy dinner". picture tin plates and cups, baked beans and bbq, fiddles and viddles. there's a dinner show, complete with cowboys singing songs~patriotic, funny, or lonesome tales of being on the range. grandma and our neighbors, seth and kim and their kids, joined us for a night of western fun.

there's an old cowboy town on the property to wander about. one of the buildings is an actual cookbook library set up with stations to print from the books. i have a mental note to grab a coffee and head over there one afternoon. oh-i almost forgot. they serve up the best honey biscuits this side of the mississippi. i just hope they don't serve them in the library...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

liv's 9 lives

olivia is nine! we celebrated with homemade pizza and cheesecake. daddy and i gave her a "real" (big girl) Bible and adorable carrying case, an "o" necklace i picked up while in breckenridge and a rather frustrating spool knitting kit. that may go back to hobby lobby. this weekend she's having a sock monkey themed birthday party (pictures to follow!)

liv at nine: she loves (is obsessed) with animals, watches animal planet whenever she can, reads books on animals, draws pictures of animals, searches for animals, takes care of animals, begs for animals, looks for animals to rescue on craigslist. best of all, she just picked out animal print eyeglasses. we have joined a 4H group and will attend our first meeting in september. one of the 4H projects is raising rabbits! i'm not sure which one of us is more excited...

happy birthday liv! you are loved!

adventures of audge

Well, Audge is off on her own adventure this year. She's going to an in-home Montessori program just a few miles from the house. It's only five other kids two mornings a week and gives me some one on one time with Evelyn, while it helps her spread her wings a bit. Although, that's never been an issue for Audrey.

At Orientation, her teacher, Miss Susan, asked Audrey whether or not she had any allergies and she responded, "just poison." Duly noted.

Evelyn isn't so happy about her "sisser" leaving the nest without her and expressed her discontent while I was getting Audrey dressed for school. Ethan walked out of his room on the way to the bathroom when Evelyn stopped him and said, "no Ethan! Don't use your penis to go potty!" I burst out laughing and told Ethan, "sorry, buddy. You'll need to find another way to do that today."

Today was Audrey's first official day. On our way there, I asked what she thought they might have for snack and she responded, "I don't know, but I sure hope they have coleslaw. I love coleslaw."

Enjoy your adventure Audrey! And keep thinking outside that box!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

snake for science...

it was an average monday morning. that is, until sam ran into the house announcing the presence of a six foot bull snake near the swing set. now, bull snakes are not poisonous, but they are really, really big. all snakes bite and bull snakes even rattle just like a rattle snake when threatened.

a few weeks ago, i saw a large mound in the open space just feet away from the sand box and the swing set. a snake's nest for sure. not something we really wanted to deal with so close to the littles. but, if this was the resident of the local nest, i was just thankful that it wasn't a rattlesnake!

so, after a few minutes deliberation, we decided to "deal" with the snake. sam + shovel + snake = a monday morning science project! i printed out a snake dissection guide, the middles grabbed tweezers and scissors and audrey squatted down poking the snake with a stick to make sure it was "dissection ready". grizz was still feeling under attack and kept trying bite at the snake and shake it. he was so sweet in his concern for us. plus, i think he thought it would make a fantastic chew toy.

the internal organs of a snake are fascinating. very long and slender and really packed in there efficiently. audrey's one question during dissection was, "why did God make snakes, mom?" good question audge. good question. ew.

Monday, May 9, 2011

gluten tag. yes, gluten...

liv has been having lots of tummy aches. and headaches. i responded in the typical mother of the year way. "you're eating too fast" or "you'll be okay, just lay down for a bit". it seems to be getting worse, so we recently took her to our doc.

liv, audge and i walked into the office, checked in and sat for a just a few moments until we were whisked into an exam room. after a few basic questions from the nurse, she left us to peruse the highlights magazines and the safari artwork adorning the walls.

our doc came in and listened intently to liv's series of symptoms, listened to her heart and felt her belly. we let him know that gluten intolerance runs in the family, along with lactose intolerance on both sides. he said the safe things: that it's difficult to diagnose, the blood test often comes back as a false negative and that a lot of this is over his head.

so, he wants to send her to a pediatric gastroenterologist. we're just not so keen on that. so, we're thinking allergy testing first. because we have so many family members already years into a gluten and dairy free life, we know how far behind the rest of the world is regarding this topic.

liv had a field trip with the cottage school today and she didn't want to be having a tummy ache while she was gone. i had picked up some rice based pasta and decided to make her a roasted veggie pasta salad with homemade dairy free mayonnaise. the entire family loved it! she also took fruit salad and trail mix.

liv's field trip pasta salad:

1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 T. olive oil

chop veggies, mince garlic and mix both with olive oil. roast on a cookie sheet for 40 minutes at 425.

boil rice penne (tikayada brand) until al dente. i added a t. of olive oil to the water to prevent sticking.

make your favorite homemade dairy free mayo recipe and chill. here's a great one:

after veggies are cool, mix with drained pasta and a can of sliced organic black olives. lastly, chop up fresh chives and mix in. a bit of sea salt and black pepper and it's done.

we're going to give the gluten free dairy free life a whirl this summer and see how we ALL feel. i'm really looking forward to focusing on whole foods, healthier eating and new recipes! i promise i'll share if you'll share yours too!

Friday, May 6, 2011

audge loves awana...

audge loves awana! her program is called cubbies and it's a crazy filled night of crafts, games, music, snack, story time and scripture. she earns littles patches for memorizing scripture and i get to sew them all onto a cute little blue vest. she comes home with adorable art and side splitting stories about the kids in her class. the best part is close family friends run the program, so we couldn't be more comfortable about leaving her in very loving hands. sarah, their daughter is audge's teacher and babysitter extraordinaire!

last wednesday night, the cubbies group graduated! they sang on stage, received their "diplomas" and had a cookie reception afterwards. even cubbie bear came to visit them! well, it was actually sam, who got conned into dressing up as cubbie bear.

it was a magical night for audge. she loved the stage, sang her little heart out and beamed a giant smile from the front row. she's a bit sad that we're done for the summer, but asked if we could read her cubbie book all over again. we're so thankful for all the volunteers and our church for sponsoring this program. i'm trying to talk marcus into being a leader with me next year. believe it or not, ev will be old enough to join the ranks of accomplished cubbies everywhere!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


grizz has a best friend, other than me. a furry one named patch. patch is the howards' dog, good family friends and neighbors up the road. he's part border collie and part lab, a really smart and sweet mix! we have him over to play when they head out of town, or when they are gone all day. we love having him here~he just settles right in and makes himself at home.

somehow, we started calling patch "patch-weeza". so, when they're together, they're "weez and wonk". they can be found chasing after the same tennis ball, napping on the green formal living room couch together or standing in the kitchen waiting for manna from heaven (crackers from ev).

i have always loved border collies and would love to rescue one someday. having patch around is almost as good as having one of our own. almost...

hit the deck...

we desperately need a new deck. well, we did anyhow. when we purchased this house, the deck looked brand new, but the previous owners had thrown a fresh coat of paint on it, hiding the wood rot underneath. but worst of all, they actually used PAINT! anyone who knows the weather extremes of colorado knows that's a recipe for disaster.

while on vacation, marcus rented a floor sander and a smaller belt sander and hit the deck. literally. he painted it the same color, but this time used an appropriate outdoor product. it looks amazing! i cannot wait to spend time out there as a family this summer and adorn it with flowers and a picnic table stained to match.

no more slivers on the girls' chubby little feet! no more paint chips on the lawn below! all of marcus' hard work definitely bought us some more time with the deck to save up for all of his plans out there. we have this gorgeous view and we spend quite a bit of time out there together star gazing, listening to coyotes out in the distance, grilling. it's our happy place. and now it's even happier!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

music to my ears...

tonight was the cottage school's spring concert. oh, how the sound of recorders brings back warm memories of mrs. lebensorger and my days at madison school. she was an excellent music teacher and always made you feel as if you were playing in the philharmonic.

ethan and liv are both wanting to play a new instrument, guitar and violin, respectively. i'm actually thinking about taking violin lessons with liv. we'll see. sam is still playing guitar but having a bit of trouble finding a new teacher. the littles are about ready for some formal music instruction and i can't wait!

i really love having a piano, guitars and other instruments around the house. it's such a great outlet for the kids away from technology! sam and i are going to download the music to "the office" and try to do a duet on the piano and guitar in honor of the last episode. it's not mozart, but it ought to provide a few laughs!

dos hermanas y el ciervo comen tortillas...

deer love tortilla chips. who knew? moreover, little girls love feeding deer tortilla chips. listen for audge's belly laugh when she gets her salty little fingers licked.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

winter park...

world class skiing practically in our backyard is one of the best things about living in colorado. we took the oldest three to winter park for a mid-week spring ski session today. what an absolutely amazing day we had on the slopes! no lines, no crowds, and brand new powder overnight! yet another benefit of homeschooling! (we did do math and a state report on alaska in starbucks while dad and sam skied some more challenging runs.)

skiing down a mountainside together is one of my favorite family activities. today they were playing some reggae music as well, so two of my favorite things in the universe collided! we mostly stuck to the greens, but marcus always tricks us onto blue runs. i have to say, we're so much more confident each time we go! sam was poles up, head down the whole day! he was bailing down those mountains light years ahead of the rest of us. liv and i stick together and before long she was saying "come on, mom" or "mom, let's go faster!"

on our third run, a brutal front rolled in out of nowhere. marcus, liv and i were caught in a complete white out. we literally could only see the tips of our skis. we basically had to ski blind down the mountain, with fierce wind tearing through our layers and snow stinging and pelting our faces. we made it to the lodge, met up with the boys and thawed out for a good hour. a few chili dogs and some chicken soup later, the front passed and we hit the slopes again.

but what would a ski trip be without the ski patrol. we lost ethan. well, actually, ethan lost us. we turned left, he turned right and went down a blue/black, complete with rails and a jump. way, way beyond his ability level. he was missing for about 30 or 40 worrisome minutes. marcus finally found him at the base of the mountain. (ethan said he snow plowed the whole way down!) let me tell you, the ski patrol was johnny on the spot! they alerted each other quickly on their radios, and let all the lift operators know. we were so thankful to see his sweet face at the base of the mountain. then i wanted to wallop him over the head with one of my ski poles for leaving the group. i refrained and hugged him instead, while marcus hugged the ski patrol guy in charge of the search. he was the sweetest rastafarian named larry you'll ever meet.

we all feel like we've been beat up. a few of us popped some motrin and took hot showers. i can only imagine how we'll feel tomorrow. can't wait to do it again! the last hill closes in june, so we have a trip planned to a-basin in may. gotta love colorado!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

matinee with the middles...

since january, the middles have been preparing and rehearsing for their parts in two separate productions with a local childrens' theater. so, we all packed into the mini-van, filed into the theater and settled into our seats to watch the middles matinee.

ethan was uncle albert in mary poppins. we had just received a hand-me-down sport coat from our friends the parsons~perfect timing! paired with a clip on tie from the dress up trunk and some khaki pants, uncle albert was born. ethan is so naturally comfortable on stage. it's really apparent that nerves don't even play a factor from the smile he beams. he really loves being part of a cast and enjoys all the hoopla of performance day. let's just say the singing and dancing part isn't really his favorite. he's looking forward to drama class rather than musical theater in the future.

olivia was "tola" in the king and i. we found her costume at the tibetan store in the mall on massive clearance. i'm going back to get the other girls one so we'll be set for halloween! we twisted her hair into a bun, shellacked it with several ounces of hairspray and used some dramatic black eye liner. she was a bit quiet this morning in the car on the way there. olivia does get jitters before performing, but after a few moments on stage realizes that she really wants to be there.

while we won't necessarily make it to hollywood, it's really not the goal. we're thrilled that they want to keep performing and learning the ins and outs of stage productions. the confidence they gain and the self-assuredness is reward enough. and it makes for great photo ops. next up is a musical theater camp this summer themed "Jesus is the rock hop", a 50's style sock hop for the savior. grab your saddle shoes and poodle skirt! we'll save you a seat!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

popper toilee

ev loves the potty. she sits and sits for probably a couple of hours cumulatively a day. she talks to herself, talks to passersby, opens the drawers of the cabinet to have a look, investigates the goings ons in the water below.

the other day, while i was teaching the middles, she calls from the bathroom for me to come help. "mom! i need popper toileeeeeee!" ethan, olivia and i exchanged a glance and then burst into laughter. toilet paper. ev needs toilet paper. i think she made some kind of new hybrid word mixing paper towel and toilet paper. doesn't matter. i'm not sure i'll ever be able to write plain old "toilet paper" on my grocery list every again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

i know, i know...

i am horrible about keeping up this blog. i have great intentions, but somehow after putting the littles and the middles to bed, straightening up the house, chasing sam off facebook and folding a load of laundry, my bed is much more enticing than the desk chair.

now that we're almost half way through april, i have a dilemma. do i try to catch up from christmas until now? impossible. frankly, i'm not sure i can even remember february and march at this point. the days are just full. full of the usual: homeschooling, cooking, laundry, laughing at the littles, managing the middles and savoring these years with old man sam. full of the unusual: audrey trick or treating in march, ev using watercolors as eyeshadow. i guess i can just cover some of the highlights.

we've celebrated another birthday! clark david wonky aloysius grizzwold ("grizz") was two years old in january. he's one of our favorite things about "home". an amazingly patient and loving dog, totally trustworthy and as loyal as they come. most days he can be found in the yard with the kids, chewing on a stick and waiting to hear the coveted word "treat". or at the fort with the boys investigating the woods, searching for deer poop like truffles. ew. and when we can get away, being the best running partner a girl could ask for. (scroll down to see the video at the bottom of the blog!)

grandma came in january and graciously allowed marcus and i to escape to the broadmoor for an overnight. time away from the kids, just the two of us, is so precious. let's just say it gives us hope and we see a faint dim light at the end of a very long tunnel. did i say that out loud? then jessica our old neighbor in westchester came to visit with her adorable 2 year old miranda. the zoo, playtime, snacks, giggles. it was lots of fun and evelyn is still asking for her friend "'randa". a sock hop at church, a valentine's day brunch at a friend's home, a renovation of the laundry room, a father daughter dinner dance for liv, winter camp with church for sam, out for dinner for marcus' birthday, spring break with a day trip to denver, watching 5 dogs over spring break, and most importantly, ev is potty trained!

lest you think we are now in the witness protection program when you try to call, baseball has started. when we're not at home, we are most certainly at a ball field watching ethan, our lefty pitcher, throw strikes!

there are days when marcus and i look at each other in disbelief over the pile of dishes in the kitchen, the shoes by the front door, the constanly revolving doors, the entire neighborhood's bikes in the front yard, the craft supplies and maple syrup on the kitchen counter. we are so in the thick of parenting and it can be really overwhelming at times. but we know we are blessed, they know they are loved and what happens in this house on a daily basis is eternal. so, we do the best we can, ask each other for help when we need it and we try to take time to marvel amidst the monotony and the little moments in this crazy, good, good life.