Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and time spent with those dear to you. We spent ours with just about 50 family members and my cousin's friend from Honduras (it was his first Turkey day celebration), while another 40 of us of us were not there physically, they were in our thoughts. I love having a large family!! Aside from all the yum-o-licious food my favorite part if watching my boys spending time with our cousins. Life really does get in the way too much and we really don't see our family enough.

Black Friday-while I love all the great deals I did not go out shopping; we spent our day in a sunnier way (there will be more great deals throughout the seasons). We had plans with our friends over at Homeschool Camper to help them with part of their Fall Bucket List by helping paint Peanut's room (We did manage wiping down and priming the walls, painting will be done later by the Campers). One of the highlights of our visit was walking down a trail near their home. The boys and I love walking trails, but the ones we frequent are becoming "old" to us. I was a bit nervous when I heard there were hunters set up nearby, but Mamma Camper reassured us that we would be in no danger as long as we were near home by the time the sun was on the horizon. Also as a precaution for those of us who were not wearing a neon pink or neon orange coat, were accessorized with squares of orange paper on the backs of our coats. All the kids had such fun playing on the bits of ice that was on the path as well and stomping through the ice.

While on our walk (which didn't feel like it was an hour long, we were having so much fun) we marked another Bucket list activity. When I added Fall Family Photo to our list I had not thought about "who" was going to take the picture. Mamma Camper was kind enough to handle that for us and I was able to be part of our family picture. We were bundled in winter clothes so it didn't really look fall-ish (It's Michigan sometimes winter coats come out in October though). I thought we could do a play on words with it and pretend to actually be falling as a family; everyone else pretended but I was the one who had lost their balance and really was falling. We seem to be getting good at putting twists on some of bucket list activities so we can mark them off. I honestly don't know which picture I like best.

I have really enjoyed spending time with my kiddos these few past days. Actually spending time with all 3 of them at the same time for the whole day. While our schedule has kept us busy visiting with many who are near and  dear to us (and loving every minute of it); we have been able to finally slow down. While we weren't doing anything all that exciting, we were all doing "nothing" together and at our own leisurely pace. I feel that slowing down has given us a chance to enjoy being in the moment, as all too soon it will be back to our crazy rushing around everyday. Today we marked off another bucket list item (the post will go up tomorrow about it) and had the grandparents over here for a bit. We still have one more day to veg out and enjoy our "nothingness" and plan on doing just that.

Orange Rhino Update: I had been doing very well and had not yelled in the past 3 days at all. UNTIL... about 5 minutes ago when one of my lovable boys is still fighting sleep at almost 11 pm :( I'll take the 3 days and be proud of myself for that, but now my goal is to make through the 3rd day (and beyond). It's (and I) am a work in progress.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

It's Turkey Day!!!

Happy Thanksgiving from Learning Life With 3 Sons!!!
Thanksgiving is a day we spend as a family and with extended family. This is why I won't go shopping today. Regardless of how great the deals may be, I feel the employee in the stores should also get to spend this time with their families. Also why there will be no blog post today. Enjoy your family, traditions, and of course way too much food. We will see you tomorrow.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Tantrum - The Drop-off

I just need to vent. Its one of those things that if it happened occasionally I could deal with it, but it happens every morning Monday through Friday; and yet I am always surprised that it happens. My boys attend a public school, although I hear this is an issue parents deal with at all types of different schools.

I'm talking about the morning drop off policy. Most days I think I'm the only one who has read them. On paper they sound great, it should keep things moving smoothly. There is one way in and one way out. The drop off line is clearly marked as are the safety zones for the students to walk in. They even have it marked off as to where to pull up so multiple families can drop off their children at once. Sounds great doesn't it. They have taken all the thought out of it. Pull up behind the car in front of you, let your child out and be on your way.

This is not what happens when I drop my boys off, I would love it if it did. Instead every single car feels the need  to stop in the safety zone directly in front of the door. Granted some parents get impatient with this and let their children out four or five car lengths behind the offending caring, but that leaves the children to walk between the other cars waiting to get in front of the door.

Once the offending car gets in front of the door little Tommy doesn't jump out. Oh No, he had no clue it was their turn and now needs to gather his belongings. Once little Tommy is out of the car the mom (or dad) rolls down the window and reminds little Tommy of things he needs to know for that day. While little Tommy and his mom have taken a good 2-3 minutes in front of the door, there is a line of approximately 15 cars still waiting for their turn to stop in the safety zone. Just to top things off, the parent then has to sit and watch little Tommy walk the four feet into the building. UGH! It drives me bonkers!

Not to brag, but I give my boys a heads up with a "hey, we're going to school" starting when they grab their backpacks. So they are not surprised once we get to the school. Once we're in the dreaded drop off line I tell them to grab their stuff, although they know it will still be a couple minutes before they will actually get out. I try to use the drive to school to give them any reminders they may need for the day. ("Remember this week you're goal is not to talk when your work isn't finished"). I end up letting my boys out of the van even though we're not in the safety zone or proper drop off zone, but are right behind little Tommy. On the occasions that little Tommy's car moves before I let my boys out, I pull all the way down to drop off marker and have my boys walk the safety zone to the door; you know lead by example. Yeah, that's as great in theory as the policy itself; little Suzy's mom then takes advantage of the spot I left open right in front of the door and starts her 2-3 minute ritual. I can't seem to win for losing.

If you are like Little Tommy's parent, could you please do the rest of us a favor that would make our morning run a bit smoother.
Just some helpful hints.

Pull up to the end of the line, so we can all drop off our kids. The couple extra feet they have to walk isn't going to exhaust them before class.

Directly in front of the door is suppose to be a No Standing Zone so kids whose parents walk them into the building can get there safely.

Try to have your child be ready to exit your car; backpacks for a great way to keep all their school stuff together and are easier to carry them an armful of papers and band equipment.

Talk to you kids on the way to school, tell them then that Grandma will be picking them up, or put a reminder note in their lunch box or backpack.

If you are concerned that your child can not walk safely into the building on their own, please park (in the designated spots) and walk your child into the building.

Just a side note, please correct me if I have been misinformed. When there is only one exit, if you chose to turn left you stay to the left side of the driveway. Also turn signals would be nice when used by the people who sit in the center of the driveway.

Anyone else have to deal with drop off issues like this? Is it just me? Did I read them wrong and have been getting unjustly upset by everyone else doing what they are suppose to do?

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Time To Start Thinking Orange (Again)

I try to look for blessing where I can find them, this week its the blessing of a shorten school week. More time to spend with my boys, family, and friends. We finally get a week to slow down and we have every day planned with something, I'm glutton for punishment :) Monday and Tuesday were school and practice like usual, today the boys are having a friend spend with day with us and will probably be staying the night, tomorrow is Turkey day with extended family, and Friday we're spending some time with our friends over at Homeschool camper. Of course we're going to spend as much time outside as we can stand with the colder temperatures.

While my boys will be home for a five day weekend, this will also test me with keeping my cool. The hope is that with releasing some of their energy outside each day they test the limits less. (Counting the past couple of day spending time freezing outside for 1.5 hours each, we're up to 127.5 hours towards our 1000 Hour goal.)

I also have a backup plan in the works. (Works being the operative word, because it's harder than you'd think.)

Way back in February or maybe it was March, okay it wasn't that long ago, but it feels like a lifetime ago. I had four boys under my roof 24/7 each with their own challenges that challenged me everyday. I was losing the battle and they were getting the worst of me. I was so stressed out and added frequently to the raised voices in the house. I stumbled onto The Orange Rhino's Facebook page and loved their message, "Love more, Yell Less". It was exactly what I wanted and needed in my house at the time. I accepted their challenge to not yell for 365 days. On their page they give alternatives to yelling and everyone on there was so encouraging. For months I tried to yell less, and love more; I just could not get past the 10 day mark. I had all the tools they had suggested, I painted my nails orange, bought an orange coffee mug, got the kiddos on board (3 out of the 4), and tacked up orange reminders EVERYWHERE. The more I stressed over not yelling the more prone I was to yell. I decided to take a break from the Orange Rhino, relieve some of the added stress I was putting on myself. About the same time my nephew moved in with his father and things had settled quite a bit around here. Life was good.

Lately my stress level has been on the rise as I feel like I don't have enough hours to get everyone where they need to be, plus get done everything we need to do. While I can defuse most of my urges to yell, I have been raising my voice more than I would like to. I thought I was handling my stress better than I  had before. I was, but after tallying how often I have been raising my voice, mostly over little things (GET YOUR SHOES ON! WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE!) my stress was getting the better of me. Our awesome friend over at (you guessed it) Homeschool Camper recently accepted the Orange Rhino challenge, and had renewed my desire to reach the goal of 365 days without yelling. She has agreed to keep me accountable for when I do lose my cool and offer encouragement, and I will do the same for her. I will also be checking in with the Orange Rhino Facebook page as well. Early intervention works best right, so I've gotta nip this before it can get back to where it was earlier this year.

Tally up how many times you lose it with the kiddos, it maybe more than you think. If it is, I encourage you to checkout there Facebook page and Yell Less, Love More.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Our Weekend

Sorry, that I didn't post yesterday we were spending the day with family getting home really late. We visited the grandparents a day early and spent a couple hours with them and my nephew. Then celebrated my niece's 14th birthday with her mom's side of the family and enjoyed some really yummy minion cupcakes her mom made. And ended the day shopping for a new winter coat for myself and for Jordan.

Shopping with Jordan is always a treat as he lets down his guard and tends to get a bit goofy. When trying on coats he'd accessorize with gloves/ mittens that didn't match and a silly floppy scarf and dance in the aisle ways in the center of the store. While he had fun shopping and trying on some pretty ridiculous outerwear, he didn't find a coat that he'd actually wear on a daily basis. I however ended up with 3! One fit in the store but  once getting home I didn't care for the fit. Then there were the two others that I loved certain features of and spent over an hour trying pick between them. My goofy self would try one on and stand outside in the 19 degree weather and try to determine which would keep me the warmest when I was standing at the snow hill with my kiddos. I even had my mom try them on and see which one she thought would work the best. I was determined to leave with a decision made, because the coat I have been wearing leaves my feeling like and icicle after my mile walk with Jordan.

Today I am very thankful to have made a choice as the younger two headed out in the frigid temperatures to play. They bundled up grabbed their bikes, soccer ball, and gathered up some of their friends to spend an hour and a half outside playing. Once we could no longer feel our toes, it was time for some hot coco and a movie.

Jordan didn't come home with us last night and stayed at Grandma's, they had plans for today. Jordan went to the theater to see A Christmas Carol, just him and Grandma. I love when they get to spend one on one time with they grandparents, I know it means a lot to them.

The rest of today will be  pretty low key,  we may head back outside now that we can feeling has returned to our toes, we'll work on some of their scouting achievements and get ready for our two day week of school.

How was your weekend? Did you head out to embrace the weather?

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Thankful to be able to Give

We have had a couple opportunities this season to help out those who are less fortunate then ourselves. While we don't have much, I feel it is important for my boys to realize there are people with less than we have. Also that there are many ways we can help out even though we can't give a monetary donation.

The boys participated in Scouting for Food through the cub scouts and handed out donation bags to approximately 300 house, which the families of those houses could donate food items and the scouts would come pick up from their porches the following weekend. We were going to help collected whichever bags that had been placed upon the porches, but thought we'd give the other scouts who hadn't passed out bags the chance to help out.

Again through the scouts, they were able to participate with Operation Christmas Child, bringing in some items to be added to the "shoeboxes". While I  wanted to take the lead and tell them what to donate, I stepped back and allowed them to choose what they thought the children would like to receive. They were very thoughtful about their choices and had thought of some things that I had not. Last night they attempted to help with the "shoebox" filling. I goofed what time we needed to there to help; they were only there for the tail end of project but folded some shoeboxes and made some cards to donate to the senior living center.

We also started part one of our bucket list item -Donate to a local pantry- and went shopping. Again I wanted the boys to be the center of this activity and hung back so they could make their own choices. I was just there to supervise in the store and to pay the bill. They all grabbed their own shopping carts and were given a set amount they could spend. They were thrifty looking for sale items, so they could purchase more things. Jordan remember that a few years back when we received help from the pantry that there weren't many of things geared toward children and there were no "treats". All the boys made a point of grabbing the kid cereal or fruit snacks. They also added a "treat" either brownie mix, hot chocolate packets, or a bag of cookies. Joey had a valid point that every one likes to have a snack, and they usually only get just the healthy stuff they need. They were thoughtful about what they put in their carts, if it wasn't something they would eat, they weren't going to give it to someone else. (Comment from Jordan "How many people really eat canned creamed corn?"). They made a point of either picking things that would go together to make a complete meal or choosing things that could be stretched for more than one meal. Once they thought they were close to there total, we headed to the checkouts where they rang up and bagged their own orders. They found out pretty quickly that $25 isn't much money even if you buy things on sale. They had to think about which items they really wanted to keep and what needed to be put back on the shelves.

Part two- Donate to a local pantry- dropping off the food items. We set up an appointment with our pantry to drop off the items. After school and practice we meet up with some people to drop off our items. The boys unloaded their donations and carried them to the back room where they'll get sorted and stocked on the shelves. The gentlemen thanked the boys for their generous contributions and my by glowed with pride. When we were in the van, Jacob said he didn't feel like he did enough to help, all he did was bring some food. We talked about how every little bit helps and someone will love receiving the item the brought in.

A few years back, I had just lost my job a month after we moved, and we needed help to make it through a week or two. While the younger ones were too little to remember Jordan does. I am blessed with a very supportive family, but at the time of my need they had just left on a much needed and well deserved vacation out of state. We were grateful that our pantry was able to help us out, after being turned away from a nearby church. It's not one of my proudest moments, but I had a 1.5 year old, 3 year old, and 6 year old I needed to provide for. My cupboards were not completely bare, but we didn't have enough to throw together to make decent meals.We were able to get help with a little more than  bare essentials. The point Joey made about there not being any extras is corrected. My main goal was to get what we absolutely needed until my money ran out, which meant no snacks. When we received a couple packages for fruit snacks it was a wonderful feeling to see their faces light up the little extra they were given. I know from experience what it feels like when you realize you'll barely be able to provide for your family, it was a scary and humbling experience. The people we mainly help through our local pantries are not lazy, unwilling to work people, or people looking for a hand out; they are people who fell on hard times and need a helping hand for a while. Many people never would have suspected that my little family receive help through a pantry, as we have been back on our feet for a while since then.

50.1 million Americans struggle to put food on their tables. While everyone seems to get caught up in the season of giving around the holidays, the needs of other people are there year round. 20 million children receive free or reduced lunch each day at school, when the summer months come it can be very difficult for these families.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Precious Memories

This isn't really my thing, but today I'm doing a "Throw Back Thursday". I finished cleaning the boys' room and the house is completely ready for our fresh start to get everyone back on track. I started working on the scrapbooks that are in need of some serious updating and got distracted by just how adorable my boys are. Today I'm sharing a handful of memories from when they were younger and before they started posing every time they seen a camera.

Enjoy :)

Joey and Jacob
3 years & 23 months

Blankie Brothers

These two were the only ones who had to have a "Lovey" that they carted with them everywhere. They had similar blankets except for the tiny picture on one of the corners, but they could some how always just know which one was theirs. Here they are sporting their new bathrobes Grandma had just made for them.

20 months

Trouble Maker

When Jordan was really young he was very adventurous. If there was a way to climb up something or ride on something, he would give it a go. This picture was a common thing with him. All those toys were neatly lined on the shelves, he would toss them onto the floor and clamber up then holler for help to get back down.

20 months

Sudsy Fun

This is a rare photo, Joey didn't like his hair wet. While he didn't like water near his hair wet, he loved playing with bubbles in his bath. There was no way to get this one out of the tub until after his little fingers and toes were all wrinkly.

10 months

Santa Baby

Poor Jacob, as my last baby usually got stuck wearing the goofy theme outfits, but they were just too cute not have one of my boys wear them. His 1/2 inch of fuzzy hair always seemed to add the outfit. I'm sure when he's older he'll question why would I did this to him :)

Exploring Nature

I try to get my boys outside and encouraged them to explore. Sometimes things got a bit messes and other times they would take the time to smell the flowers.

Left: Jacob (16 mos)
Right: Joey (3 yrs)

Lil' Cowboys

I didn't even realize how similar these picture were until I uploaded, they we taken about 2 years apart. The one of Jordan (28 mos) was taken on our first visit to Missouri and Joey's (14 mos) was taken in Michigan at the fair.


We spend a lot of time goofing around and being silly. There is no better sound than that of laughter.

Left: Jacob (3 yrs)
Right: Jordan (3 yrs)

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Calgon, Take Me Away!

Yay, another full moon! Which means my kiddos are going to be more out of wack. Actually things have been crazy around here since the last full moon. Slowly my boys have being acting like they are losing their mind and they're taking mine with them. Our house usually runs smoothly, especially with the routines that have been set in place for as long as I can remember. Since the beginning of the school year we have been stumbling to climb over all the bumps thrown into our normal schedule. First we had to get used to the new school schedule with a later release time, that pushed us back an hour a day. Once we refigured our routine we threw in scout meetings twice a week plus catechism. We handled it and established a new system, until recently with the addition of basketball practice five days a week (with a variety of practice times). No wonder we all feel lost, overwhelmed, and disorganized. Within three months we've changed things up so many times.
I rely on our routine as much as the boys do. I like things orderly and organized. Lately we haven't been able to get a tight grip on those things, and it's effecting the whole house. Last night while sipping on my congratulatory glass of wine for making it through an interesting high energy day; I thought we need a fresh start. Just moving things around isn't working.  We just need to start over. A clean slate. Then started making my list for a home makeover (kind of).
Once all the boys were at school I started setting my plan in action. I started with taking down the house rules and lists of daily reminders. I figured if I was going for a fresh start I may as do a  thorough job of it. I started with the kitchen, re-organizing the cupboards and panty, washed up the stove and fridge,then pulled them out (how does so much stuff accumulate under there), and scrubbed the floors and wiped down all the walls and countertops. While everything in there was drying I tackled a complete scrub down of the bathrooms and all the downstairs walls. During a lunch break, I rewrote all our reminder lists and the house rules on different paper and hung them in a different place also rearranged the kitchen furniture. Then moved on to the living room where I dusted and vacuumed every nook and cranny. Every fingerprint is off all the windows and mirrors (that will last until the boys get home).
Now I'm exhausted and feeling very accomplished. Everything looks fresh, new, and organized. I can feel my sanity returning, and feel as though we can get ourselves back on track. As I had hoped they were excited by the small changes I had made. During dinner the boys and I sat down and went over the routine and the few changes to the house rules as well as the consequences. They asked to start doing the "Caught being Good Wheel" again. We haven't done this for over a year, they can earn a spin on the wheel for behaving exceptionally well. The "prizes " are simple things like play a game with mom, extra reading time before bed, etc. The atmosphere in the house is different, everything is shiny and scented candles are filling the air with calming fragrances. Everyone seems eager and ready to be back on track. 
*Jordan had practice today, but he and I talked while we did our mile walk after school. I made sure included his thoughts when I talked with the other boys during dinner.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kitty Bits

Otis and the kitty
playing just before her
new pet parent came to get her
Last Thursday I wrote about a tiny little fur ball and how she came into our lives. If you missed it you can find it  here.  She was such a little sweetheart and quickly found her way into our hearts. We would have kept her too, but there is a strict one pet policy where we live. (I guess so we don't turn into crazy cat ladies.) The boys gave some thought into exchanging our lovable 5 year old cat Otis for this little ball of energy, who went by the name Missy. Although she stole my heart, I wasn't going to part with my cat, he's family. He's no longer a kitten, but he's my baby.

Within 24 hours, I had two potential families for her, our friend at Homeschool Camper and my parents. While both would give her a great home filled with love, the boys were pushing for Grandma and Papa to take her. If we weren't going to be able to keep her they wanted to be able visit her at least weekly. We'd still get to visit if she went to our friend, but not as often. So her stay at our home was short lived.
She climbed up a tall shelf
and got herself stuck

Little Missy melted my mom's heart, but my dad was still on the fence. He really wanted an older, fat, laid back cat. This kitten didn't have any of those qualities. My mom told him they'd take her for a week and see if she was a good fit. This is a trick that worked for me when I was younger. I'd "pet sit" for a week and everyone would attached and *POOF* a new furry family member. It's almost a fail proof plan, I've never seen it not work.

Seems the kitten came to us late at night, it wasn't until the following day my mom called to see about picking her up. When she called she said, I like Gracie. I think her name should be Gracie. Well, that's it! She named her, it's her's now :) When my mom showed up with the carrier the boys had mixed feeling. They were excited that Grandma was getting a kitten, but upset because they were going to miss the kitty (I told you, we got attached quickly). You know she's going to a good home, when my mom buckled the carrier in with the seatbelt. We just put our cat (in the carrier) on the floor of the van, locked between one of the boys' feet. I never thought about buckling him up.

This past weekend when we went to visit my parent's the boys (ok, me too) were excited to see Gracie. I'm glad she's living there and not here, her paws barely touched the floor while we were there. We kept picking her up to love on her and because she's just so cute and so tiny. She is adjusted quickly to her new home and acts like she's always lived there. She's got herself a kitty bed, and a abundance of toys. With all of her kitty cuteness, Gracie now has my dad on board. She has a new name, new family, and a new forever home.

Side note: Since the kitten had been at our house my boys seem to remember that we have a cat and Otis has been getting a lot more attention from them.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Do As I Say, Not as I Did

Since it's the time most parents are receiving report cards and attending parent/teacher conferences I thought this was fitting.

Yesterday, while at my parents my mom came across a file with all my school records. She saved everything progress reports, report cards, and disciplinary notices. I know I was beyond rotten when I was in middle school, that's why I wouldn't tell Jordan about my middle school experience (well, not until he was in high school). Time has changed my memories of what I really was like. I could have swore that I got my act together before high school, my file says differently. Jordan was really intrigued by my report cards since I'm a stickler about their grades. He couldn't believe that every year I had barely squeaked by to pass. He told me (bless his heart), "Mom, I' m really disappointed with you. You really needed to apply yourself." I was shocked by how often I spent time in the principal's office and in school suspension, after seeing the notices I remember. I also forgot about attending summer school, because I was too cool to actually go to class during the school year. It was neat and somewhat embarrassing to share my adolescent school experience with my boys. They were shocked both at how I behaved and what my grades were. They pointed out that if I had been my kid, I would have been in SO MUCH trouble (LOL).

Last week I had conferences for my boys and received their report cards. I keep pretty good tabs on both their behavior and their grades, so not much the teachers tell me isn't something I wasn't expecting. We have a practice that the boys tell me what they think their teachers will be telling me once I see them, which helps me prepare for any other surprises the teachers might drop on me. Also gives me the chance to address any issues the boys' had expressed. All my boys are doing good so far (some more than others). Most of the teachers' comments I expect, and can relate to what my boys are doing in class.

After seeing my report cards it was ironic to hear the same comments from my kids' teacher as my mother heard about me. I must not have mastered those skills well enough to pass them on to my boys. All four of us got comments such as: Very talkative (For those who know me, know how true this is), disrupts other students (how else are we suppose to get them to listen to us talk), does not turn in assignments on time (we do them, just forget to turn them in), shows eagerness to learn, very help, helpful to other students, positive attitude (except for mine in middle school), participates in class discussions.

I want better for my kids, than I gave myself. They are right middle school Me would have been in so much trouble if I was my child. I expect a lot of my boys, but they always reach (and sometimes exceed) my expectations.  I took discovering my old school records as a teachable moment to explain how they do in school and how they act now is so important. That I want them to learn to care about their own grades and attitudes, because I didn't when I was younger and it reflects in those reports. Do as I say, not as I did. I wish I had done better when I was younger, cared more, fought everyone less; but it is what is. Now it's up to me for help my kiddos learned the skills they need to be successful in school.

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Typical Sunday

I had every intention of writing yesterday but after an all day tornado watch followed by high wind advisory, I thought it best just to wait until today. With my luck I  would have just finished writing this up and lost power before I could save. Thank you for your understanding. Anyways...

We didn't really do anything all that fun or exciting, just a typical Sunday with my parents.

Today is my brother's birthday, he would have been 38. Although he passed when I was younger than Jacob he was a very special part of my life. I try to share his memory with my boys. We have his picture near the boys' rooms. I talk about what I can remember about him. One of my brother's favorite things (besides me) was graham cracker pie. The last few years Joey has taken it upon himself to make "Uncle Jason's Pie" on or near Uncle Jason's birthday. While Joey never eats the pie, he has to be the one to make it. Yesterday Joey made the pie and we took it down to share with my parents. We took a shortcut and use a premade crust, it just was not the same. We try to make it out to the cemetery with a birthday balloon, but didn't get there yesterday due to the weather.

Although there was a tornado watch, it was warmer than it has been and was only a bit cloudy; so we spent most of the day outside. We watched for changes in the weather, but it was too nice of a day to hide in the house. This also gave them a chance to rake up some leaves and help Papa clean the garage. When the rain finally did come we went inside to work on some of our bucket list projects.

I wasn't really sure how were going to pull off make leaf people and what kind of leaf art we were going to do. Also I can never find anything at my mom's house, you'd swear she moves everything around every week just to keep me on my toes. While I hunted down the paints I told the boys "make leaf people, I'll be right back." They each had their own interpretation of what that meant. Joey drew a person on his leaf, leaf  + person= Leafperson. Jordan made different faces on his leaves. Jacob went all out with creating a whole body for his leaf person. This was a super quick project, by the time I found the paint they were finished. I guess they could have gone into more detail, but didn't feel like it. I have to look for some of our leaf people, the think they may still be at Grandma's or were blown away in transit. Next we tried leaf art, that is such an open ended project. We started with leaf prints, where they painted the leave (on the veined side) and stamped it on the paper. Some turned out better than others. They seem more interested in just painting the leaves so we that's what we did. Once the leaves were dry we glued them to a piece and paper and called it art :)                                             

 That was the last of our craft projects from our Bucket List. We have almost completed our whole list with only four more to do. I enjoy doing the "bucket lists" because it helps keep me accountable for all the neat projects I say I'll do with the boys. They enjoy coming up with new things to try, even if they don't always work the way we plan. Plus it's a great way for us to do things together (especially now that Jordan's reaching the "I'm too cool for my family" stage). You can see which items we have checked off our list here. Once we've finished, we'll start planning a Winter themed bucket list. For those who have also been keeping a Fall Bucket List come share your progress with us on our Facebook page.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Slacking Off Saturday

This morning started off a little bumpy. We were suppose to pick up the boys' friends to take to catechism with us while their mom worked at a mom2 mom sale, then they would come back to play for about an hour at our house. We were up and out of the house and went to get our friends who would be with their mom at our old school. We were there at the agreed upon time and didn't see their van, thinking they may have taking a different vehicle to accommodate all the stuff for the sale, we went into the school to search. Almost instantly the assistant principal noticed us and gave us the stink eye while we located our friends table. They weren't there either, so stopped home to grab my phone and check for a missed call or text saying they would be late, no missed calls or texts. Thinking I had misunderstood our arrangement we headed to catechism not wanting to risk being late. Later my friend sent a message and we were able to sort things out and have her boys still come over after catechism, that she had dropped them off at after I had left (somehow we passed in crossing near the church). My boys were excited to have their friends over whom we don't see too often anymore and after a short hour it was time to return them to their mom. We dropped them off at the sale and helped their mom box and load up what was left. She even gave me some clothes that would fit Jake and some to take to my brother for my his son and his girlfriend's son.

Later in the afternoon Jordan had catechism (he only goes once a month) after dropping him off the other boys and I set about searching for some not too dried leaves for two of  our fall bucket list projects. Lack of planning on my part we are doing these projects at the end of the season when most of the leaves are brittle. We had to check a couple parks before we found one with enough leaves still in the trees and on the ground (the park maintenance guys sure are on top of all the fallen leaves around here). While we were searching for the leaves, we were not going to start the project until Jordan was with us. Part of the idea of our bucket list as to do things as a family. We figured we'd just get a jump start on collecting the supplies. Once we thought we had enough leaves the boys took off to race and roll down a hill we usually go sledding on.

When it was time to pick up Jordan, we hung around the church waiting for mass to start. They have a soccer field next to the church so we spent some time playing while we waited. Jacob and I took turns as goalie and practiced our shooting skills, then Joey and I played with a scoop catch game. Jordan decided it was too chilly and sat in the van, I think he just wanted to play on his IPod. (I'm not sure I like this whole teenage I want to hang by myself thing.) It seems this is the easiest way for us to make it to mass, just to hang out on Saturday after Jordan's class.

We actually attend 3 different churches, everyone has a different church they prefer so we alternate which one we go to. Sunday mornings are rough for us because it's the only day we sleep in passed 7:30, and I try to allow the boys to do that (and myself too).

Saturday service at this church works well for us usually, today however after all the fresh air a 5:00 mass was too much for Jake and he slept through 80% of it. Today's mass was a children's mass and after service there was pizza and a craft for the kids. We were unable to stay for the activity because it was a $4 donation per person and I didn't have enough money on me. The nice gentleman looked at us with pity and told us we could just go ahead and stay, I can't stand when we people pity us for not having enough money and thanked him as we left. Joey was sure to voice his disapproval about leaving and carried on all the way out the door about 'how they had food there and he was starving, couldn't we just please stay and get some food, he was so hunger.' I'm thinking great now these people think were poor AND don't have enough food; which is not the case, Joey just really wanted the pizza.

Once we were home and he had a couple turkey hot dogs in his tummy he forgot all about the pizza. We spent the rest of the evening cleaning up the mess from having friends over and just relaxing. We were slacking today and didn't really get much done, but that's what Saturday's are for right :)

We did just complete our sixth week as part of the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge and our total is up to 106 hours now (only 894 more to go). The freezing cold, windy days had us inside more than we had planned, as did Jacob's breathing issues this week.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Crazy Day

All the boys having activities means a lot of shuttling around. This is the first time they have all been involved in different activities. While Jordan's practice/games schedule fits almost perfectly in our weekly schedule, it fills most of our empty time slots. We have been working on finding better ways to get everyone where they need to be and still get their other stuff done, as well as making sure we still sit together to for dinner.

Yesterday was one of our busier days, with only a few hours of down time for me. It started with the typical multiple trips dropping them off at school, allowing just enough time for me to grab a quick shower and a piece of toast while making some phone calls, before heading to help in Joey's class. Which I love doing. I often forget how much I enjoy being in a classroom teaching and helping the students. (I really have to finish my teaching degree.) After helping with some reading lessons, I had a few hours to get some thing done around the house and prepare for dinner on the run. (I packed a blanket, plates, cups, and pop so we could have a picnic dinner in the van later that evening.) Then it was time to pick Jordan up from school. We made a run to the bank, post office (Yes, I still use snail mail), and Jordan helped me move the seats from the middle of the van to the trunk so we could have more room later for dinner.

That's when things really started to pick up. I dropped Jordan off for practice and raced to get the other two from school. I collected some food I had ordered from a fundraiser and carted it to Jake's conference, then carted it to Joey's conference. I went over my allotted time slot talking to the teachers. (I don't know why they think they can give you an full update on the students within 15 minutes, especially if the child has been having issues in class.) We darted home so Jake could get his uniform and I could put the fundraiser food in the freezer, then we were off again. We stopped to grab some pizza on our way to scoop Jordan up from practice. We then had 20 minutes to get to where the scouts were meeting and eat dinner.

Once we were in the parking lot the boys helped me lay out the blanket and set up for dinner. We finished our meal with just minutes to spare before Jake's meeting was to start. I know I could have easily grabbed some happy meals and tossed them to the boys in route, but it's important to me that we sit and eat as a family. When it seems we're all just seeing each other in passing, I wanted to make sure we could sit and catch up. As far as picnics go, this was a good one; we ate and joked around with the heat, lights and radio on.

Once in scouts things finally slowed down and  all the boys participated in the making rubber band balls. I'm not sure which patch/badge they are working towards that has them make rubber band balls, but they were fun to make. At 8:30 were finally on our way home to prepare for school the next day and head to bed.

A bit of planning helped us survive a very hectic 2 1/2 hours in which we made seven stops at various places; make it to everything (on time) and still manage to eat as a family. I don't know how some parents manage to have multiple kids in 3-5 after school activities. I feel like I don't have enough time with my boys and they only have one activity a piece plus catechism.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Helping A Fur Ball

Last night a friend of mine had called just before 10 pm and asked for my help, our neighbor had thrown a 4-6 month old kitten out in to the freezing cold. Along with its litter box/carrier, a bag of it's food, and a bag of litter. It had to be about 10 degrees considering the wind chill. Being a kind soul she grabbed up the tiny kitten and brought it in her house. She had it in her bathroom because she has a dog that was excited to play with this little fur ball. She also posted on Facebook that she needed help finding this little girl a safe home. I offered to take it for the night because I only have a cat and could keep the cats separate more easily than she could with her dog.

There's all her stuff
they tossed out with her.
After about 20 minutes and very minimal hissing the cats were use to each other. I allowed the little lady free range of my home instead of keeping her in my bathroom. Otis and her got along extremely well; with the exception of his kitty bed, he wouldn't let her any where near it. I had called my mom to see if she would be interested in the kitten, although I know they would prefer an older cat. I sent pictures and a little bit of guilt her way. I'm waiting to hear back from them after she has a chance to talk it over with my dad. I also contacted my friend who loves all animals, who is willing to take the kitten if my parents decide an older cat would better suit them.

She tried it out while
Otis was napping
This morning the boys were excited to find this tiny girl roaming around. They each took some time to play with her, making sure to play with Otis too so he didn't get jealous. She has been a ball of energy; running through the house, batting around toys Otis has been neglecting, and picking on Otis. I forgot how much fun a kitten can be; while sorting laundry she was swiping at socks and rolling in the laundry.

After finishing the laundry the neighbor who's father threw the kitty out last night came over to ask for her back. Even though it was his cat and his father was the one who tossed her out, there was no way I was going to willing let this poor kitty back in that house. I politely explained this to him and he politely said he understood.

Maybe 10 minutes later I see the police pulling in across the street. I'm thinking your kidding me. He called the police on me. After a quick chat with the officers and explaining what had occurred the night before and that I did not steal his kitten (as he had claimed), they decided that animal control would come and take the little fur ball. One of the officer was concerned that the "owner" of the cat would just get the cat back from animal control and it may end up in worse condition then being thrown outside next time from the father, and went to talk to the young man across the street. I'm pleased to say he made a very mature choice to just turn the cat over to me, because he doesn't want the cat to get hurt by his father. He acknowledged that she was better off with me, plus I had two possible forever homes for her. He even gave me info on her, she is indeed about 5 months old, her name is Missy, she is fixed, and up to date on her shots. However he didn't offer me her paperwork (that would have been nice). At least I know she is safe and won't be going back into the house with those hateful people.
She's such a sweetheart.
*We later learned the father threw the kitten out because it had eaten/chewed up their house plant.

So now we wait to see who will be the lucky people to have her live with them. The boys are hoping Grandma's because they visit there more, but are ok with her going to my friend too (we visit there too). Until they decide, we're going to enjoy her company. She reminds me so much of a cat I had years ago, same kind of personality as well as looks just like he did. Even in sure a short amount of time we have all become very fond of her.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why I Love Being A Single Mom With Sons!!

I'm linking up to weird unsocialized homeschoolers for List It! {Tuesday} through my friend at Homeschool Camper . Being a single parent definitely has it's challenges. I never expected to be a single parent, but it does have some unexpected perks. If our family dynamics were different it would have shaped us differently; I love the people we are not in spite of my being a single mom and having 3 sons, but because of it. Here are my 5 reasons I absolutely love being a single mom learning life with 3 sons.

I'm the Boss!
I'm the one who decides on what form of discipline is used with my children. My boys can't turn to dad when they don't like the answer I give. I don't have to check with anyone else's schedule if we chose spur of the moment to go do something or play hooky from school. I get to solely monitor what they are exposed to (scary movies, snacks, etc). I have no need to argue my point of view with anyone else; like switching schools, having my child repeat a grade, or no dyes.

I get to do "boy stuff"
 I love that I get to check out frogs and bugs, build forts,  play in the dirt and get grass stains, and just  enjoy things in nature. I have worked on getting over my aversion to unhooking a fish from a line. I get to discover things with them, build fires, and of course break I mean take things apart ;) I'm learning about sports, the correct way to throw a football, how to kick a soccer ball without breaking my toes, also which sport teams to cheer for. I get to check out "Sweet Cars" and learn what makes them so sweet. They get to teach me so many neat things. I get to show them that girls can enjoy these things too.

I get to teach them 
I teach them math, reading, writing, but they also learn so much more.  They learn to accept both their aggressive and sensitive sides and to balance between the two. Joey use to have a baby doll he would have me watch while he "got "the bad guys. I have shown them how to cook, they can cook as well as I, sometimes better (Jordan can make some killer chocolate chip cookies). I teach them to craft, while a dad could teach them to draw/sketch I have shown them the fun of crocheting and cross-stitching (and soon latch hook). My boys make key chains and rubber band bracelets. They have learned to budget and stretch a dollar. I have 3 pros at couponing and sale/clearance shopping.

There is always something going on
My boys are high energy and always doing something and love to include me in their activity. They are full of surprises, granted not always good ones. I have walked through many battlefields that have been set up throughout the living room. We celebrate successful experiments and scrub up the unsuccessful ones. I have stepped on Legos and Hot Wheels countless time. Someone is usually up in a tree, racing on bikes, or flipping off the couch. They present me with unlimited opportunities to test my parenting skills (and my limited nursing abilities).

I don't have to share them
All the hugs are MINE!! Okay they share those with others also, but I get the most. I'm the person they run to share good news or accomplishments with. I'm the person they turn to when they are frustrated or upset. I'm the one they cuddle next to during family movies. My boys seek advice from me before anyone else about big or little things. I get all the credit for their upbringing and the wonderful young men they are growing into; okay, they get credit for that too :)

I can't provide them with a lot of the material stuff their friends have. I give them what I do have; love, laughter, understanding, an ear that listens, a shoulder to cry on, and a mom that that is always there for them. I can give them memories and strive to give them a happy childhood to look back on. I wouldn't trade my days as a single mother with my boys for anything. While things can be loud and chaotic, it works for us.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Never A Dull Moment Around Here

Today I'm surviving off of many cups of coffee, we had a very late night last night. Yesterday Jacob wasn't feeling well. I chalked it up to having a fever and a really nasty cold. After a warm bath in hopes that the steam would help ease his breathing I sent him to bed with cold medicine and the vaporizer running. I kept getting an unsettling feeling and was checking on him every 15 minutes as his coughing seemed to get weaker. Every time I checked on him his wheezing sounds seemed to be more pronounced. When he was sleeping I could see his diaphragm jerking trying to move air, his whole upper body moving with each shallow breath he took. I kept asking him it he thought he needed to go to the hospital and he kept saying "I don't think I need to go yet. Let me sleep for a while". I know my kids pretty well, but they know their bodies better than I do and are really good about letting me know when something isn't right with them. Finally at almost 1:00 am I couldn't stop this nagging feeling that we needed to head to the hospital; I knew I wouldn't get any sleep until I knew for sure if it was just a really stuffy nose or something worse. I woke the other boys and packed them in the van and we drove down to the hospital. I know I said that if my kid was having problems breathing I would call for an ambulance, but I still had to take the other two with me; and for all I knew it could have just been a stuffy nose.

My poor baby finally breathing a bit easier.
Honestly, it drives me crazy when I take my kid to the hospital because I think there could really be something wrong them and they want to chit chat and get height, weight, etc. I'm thinking "my kid is struggling to breathe and you want to chit chat". We finally get into a room and  they inform me his oxygen levels are really low at 89%, they like them to be not lower than 95. They gave him some steroids and got a breathing treatment ready for Jake and he had a mini panic attack; he thought they were going to put him to sleep. *The last time we wore a mask was for his scope and he remembers waking up rough. After explaining that it was clean air and I wouldn't allow them to put him to sleep or poke him with needles he was okay  with it. After the treatment he was put on oxygen for a bit, then they rechecked him and gave him another treatment. They repeated this cycle for about an hour, before he finally started to respond. We started taking him off the oxygen for short periods of time and his levels would continue to drop back down to 90 after 7-10 and they would put him back on it. He was taken for an x-ray that came back clear, thankfully.

The other boys were wide awake and excited to sit and watch TV all night. They learned they are not fans of infomercials, lucky for them we found some old Three Stooges to watch for about 2 hours. All three were up the whole night, red eyed and wired. After five hours, 4 breathing treatments, and 4 hours of oxygen we were handed an at home nebulizer and a prescription.

When we got home around 7 everyone headed off to bed. The younger two would not be going to school today. Jordan on the other hand had to be at school (No school- No practice), he slept for a couple hours before going in for a half day. He really didn't want to miss his first team practice. We are all still in a sleep deprived haze, but managing.

I was afraid to look like naïve parent for taking my kid to the hospital in the middle of the night for what might have been just symptoms of the common cold. I just had to follow my instinct that something wasn't right. I know myself to over react in the middle of the night, I have a fear that my boys may go to sleep and not wake up. After talking with the many nurses and doctors whom we saw last night, I was informed that with the way his levels kept dropping so rapidly that if I had not brought him in we could have had a very different result this morning. I'm very grateful that I listened to my gut and to my child. I would rather look naïve or an over protective mother than to ignore something that could seriously be wrong. Mothers are give a gut instincts for a reason, we have to trust ourselves to listen to it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Just Another Weekend

That's a hot water bottle he
 is blowing up, until it exploded
We've had a busy weekend; after spending some time raking and playing in the leaves went spent a little bit at home before it was time to head to a church down the street to an event our cousin invited us to. This was a really neat event called STAND Strength Team (visit there Facebook page here)  where we not only heard the testimonies of a few of these guys but they put on a show of strength. We got to see them rip phonebooks in half, bend metal using their TEETH, break concrete, break baseball bats. One guy even leg pressed a basket with  4 children, then 4 teenager, then 5 adults. The boys had a blast and it was very entertaining to watch. After the show we able to meet the performers and have our posters signed. We had seen a similar show put on by Team Impact (visit their Facebook page here) at our own church back in May.

My Poor Baby
Today I had a baby shower to attend for a cousin of mine and the boys were excited to be spending a few hours with Papa. Papa brought out our mini air hockey (useful for keeping boredom at bay on cold and wind days) and Joey's stilts. While I was catching up with family members that I don't see nearly enough, I thought the boys would be out and about doing "guy things" with Papa. When I got home I learned Papa have a couple fun things planned but ended up just hanging around the house because Jacob wasn't feeling well. Kind of a bummer for all of them, but they still enjoyed having Papa come hang with them are our house.

It's not as easy as you'd think
The rest of today is going to be pretty low key. Joey is playing with some neighborhood friends outside, attempting to teach them the useful skill of walking on stilts. Jordan has his IPod charger he left at Papa's and now is being antisocial and spending some alone time hanging in his room. Poor Jacob is zonked out fighting a nasty cold and a 100.8 fever. I'll probably read some more of one of my many books I have going and enjoy the "nice" weather. Looks like it's only going to get chillier for here on out.