After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My new miracle calendar

I've realized something.  And I'm sure it's not a huge deal to a lot of folks, but I think it could make a huge difference in my life.  My life that has been taken over by stuff and is seemingly constantly being interrupted by a child needing something, a dog wanting out, the phone ringing, dinner burning, whatever it is that needs my immediate attention at that moment.  And throw homeschooling in and sometimes I feel like my head is spinning.

From what I understand, this is a common problem among mothers.  So I feel I'm in good company. 

One of my goals for the year is to be better every day.  To do this, I need to get organized.  Obviously this is a process too, since it's the last day of January and I'm just getting a 2012 calendar.

Anyway, what was I saying? 

Oh, yes.  I realized something.  The fewer steps involved in each process of my life or system of my house, the better chance there is that my system or process will be successful.  Yes, if I'm going to succeed, I need to ax about half of the steps some folks feel are necessary. 

I'm working on a meal plan that works with our grocery shopping schedule.  And trying to organize all the things we do so we don't end up overloaded.  And coordinating the husband's days off with fun things.  And in there trying to keep track of everyone's birthdays.  For the record, I totally suck at even remembering birthdays of anyone who isn't my immediate family--meaning my kids, my husband, my brothers and my parents are safe.  Everyone else is a total wild card.  So, if you want me to remember your birthday (and are somehow related to me by  marriage, please feel free to remind me of your birthday as well as the birthday(s) of any child(ren) you have.)

Pinterest is a horrible place.  Horrible and lovely at the same time.  If you are familiar with this place, you know what I'm talking about.  Apparently it's a bunch of professional runners planning their dream wedding and their dream home while at the same time cooking amazing food that has a much different result on their bottom than it would mine.  And apparently all the husbands are ka-gillionairs because it all looks really expensive to me.

But, I found this:

This humble piece of paper is my amazing calendar. One year on one big sheet of gorgeous paper.  All the days are there.  I can write all over it.  There's enough room for about four entries on every day.   I spent about 30 minutes so far writing everyone's birthdays, holidays, scheduled events, and a weeks worth of meals on it. 

The best part?  It's totally functional.  Actually it's beyond totally functional. 

In my house normal calendars vanquish when the month turns and I fail to turn the month.  "Honey," he says, "It hasn't been January for three weeks now."  Oops.

Cute little numbers like this?

Cute, but so high maintenance.  Really?  I have to go buy paper and glue it on little cute magnets and somehow get those numbers to print/stick on there all perfect and then frame it and put it somewhere in my house just to look cute?  I think if I tried something like this I'd get, "Honey, it hasn't been February for six months."  Yup.  Apparently I didn't have the time to make another cute little number like that.

Then there's this one:

Cute, functional, but high maintenance.  First, that's a lot of effort to make it all cute.  And it is cute.  But I have to maintain it weekly and my history with such things tell me that I'm not good at that.  In fact, just yesterday the husband commented that our system similar to this one has said for the last three weeks that we are having Prime Rib for dinner.  Every night.  "It's been why I keep coming home," he says, not even batting an eye.  Note to self, must get new system in place.  And hope he keeps coming home even without the promise of prime rib.

This one? 

Again, cute, functional, but high maintenance. 

As is this one. 

All great ideas, but since I can't even coordinate flipping the page on a traditional calendar, how on earth am I going to coordinate cleaning and maintaining one of these babies? 

Enter the Year of Productivity.  Totally awesome.  Tacked it to my wall.  Started writing meal plan right on the calendar.  And those will be there for the whole year!  As will everything else we're doing.  I already have a deal planned in August and I just wrote it on there and it's all done!  I don't have to erase anything, cover anything up, and I can even reference what I had for dinner on January 31st when it's July.

Vertical . . .

Or, mine, horizontal!

Just pick a side.

Not all cutsie, but SO DANG FUNCTIONAL! 

ZERO maintenance.  No erasing, moving, finding, cleaning, re-doing, moving, decorating, designing, or any other silly stuff.  A straight-forward awesome tool that will streamline about three other systems into one amazing functional tool that doesn't take up floor or counter space. 

Better every day.  I can feel it.  It feels awesome. 

Now, if I could just find my darn pencil.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mackerel Sky

Yesterday one of Calla's lessons was centered around the poem Mackerel Sky.  If you aren't familiar with it, it goes like this:

Mackerel Sky, Mackerel Sky,
Never long wet, never long dry.

I kind of rolled my eyes at the lesson.  Mostly because Calla has NO idea what a Mackerel is.  Nor does she have any idea why someone would call the sky a Mackerel sky.  Not that she couldn't grasp that, but it was too much of a stretch for me to try to get her to understand it on that particular day.  So after I asked her all the questions they wanted me to ask her and getting a blank look answer for all the questions, I said, "Say the poem with me . . . "

And we did. 

Then this evening I happened to look outside.  I love it when I look outside and see something that prompts me to say, "Wow, girls.  Come look outside."  In this particular instance it was a florescent pink sunset.

They all came running and Calla declared, "HOLY MACKEREL!" 

I smiled at her and said, "It's your Mackerel Sky!"

I got a blank look.  It made me laugh.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our little Calla is six

Despite our best efforts, our children continue to grow.  And today Calla turned six.  She is no longer my favorite five-year-old, so I guess I'll have to find a new one of those.  I do have a new favorite six-year-old, though. She happens to be just as cute as my favorite five your old was yesterday.

I wrote on her shirt with washable marker.  It says "It's my BIRTHDAY!" on the front, and "Today I'm 6!" on the back.  It's the second year I've done it and I think it's such a great traditon.  The kids get all kinds of comments on their shirts and happy birthday wishes.  And then I wash the shirt and it's good as new!

Several weeks ago Calla spotted this climbing wall and kept telling me she wanted to climb on it.  I inquired as to the minimum age requirement, and they said they like to have kids be at least four.  I told her we'd definitely consider it. She may have wiggled with glee at the prospect of even considering it.

Last week we asked when the wall tends not to be super busy.  And today we gathered the kids and met one of our new little friends there.  There were three very excited girls.

Birthday girl went first.  She totally tackled the wall.

She made it all the way to the top on the first try. She reported that there was no treasure at the top.

Grace let their new little friend go next.  She made it all the way to the top, too.  Then Grace tackled the wall.  GO GRACE!

After having admitted that she was a little scared, she went at it and showed no signs of that fear once she got on the wall.

And then she went again.

And Calla went a few more times, as well as their little friend.

Between the three of them they did four different routes and went up a total of four or five times each.  The first time they did a route they kind of panicked at the top and wanted down.  The second or third time they would go all the way to the top. I can see where it would be scary when you get up there so high and then kind of feel like you run out of options.  But then getting back up there and tackling it again, that's just awesome.

I had to giggle at their little friend.  I really like her.  The wall is right by a glass room that's used for parties and such and there was cake in one of them.  She asked me if we were going to have birthday cake.  I told her no, this kind of was the cake.  She smiled at me and told me this was WAY better than cake anyway.  I whole-heartedly agree with her.

After climbing for nearly an hour I think the kids were getting tired, but they still had to go to dance class.  So we did a really fast present opening, .

deposited Grace and Calla at their class and returned their little friend to her mom.  Then we went to the little play area to wait for dance class to get over. 

Violet got to do a little climbing in there.  So, all the girls got to climb for Calla's birthday.

 Carsten preferred to slide.  He probably went down it two dozen times in the 35 minutes we were there.

Huge thanks to aunt Alisha for sharing her muffin recipe.  They make great birthday cake!  We put huckleberries in them instead of blueberries.  They are awesome.  The best primal bread recipe I've had so far.  And bonus that they aren't nearly as much work to make as a birthday cake!

But the candles on them are still just as difficult to blow out apparently.

You have to try several different methods in order to get them all out.

Happy Birthday to our little Calla.  I like where you are headed, my favorite six-year-old!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A skirt into a skirt--I love my serger!

A few years back I bought this skirt.

It's a long baby cord number and has (had) some great texture.  But alas, since I've lost a bunch of weight, IT WAS SUDDENLY WAY TOO BIG!


But I need a black skirt!  A cute one!  And the one I want is $65.  A project is born and I sense that I will not be sleeping much in the near future.  Or doing much laundry.  And the kids will probably be feeling neglected.  As will the husband. But whatever.  I'm building their independence, right?

Now, a little while back, someone gifted me a serger.  And to that person, I want you to know that I intend to use it until it dies, or when I die, pass it onto my children.  I love that thing. 

I found this awesome tutorial for a ruffled skirt, but didn't have a skirt in my closet that fit to take measurements, so needed a new route to figure out fit.  And then I found this tutorial.  Awesome fit instructions.  Bonus! 

Double bonus that it doesn't need a zipper.  Double bonus because I, 1) didn't have a zipper, and 2) s.u.c.k at installing zippers. 

This is looking good.  Triple bonus already and I haven't even cut into anything!

So, I threaded the serger with black thread, figured out how to use the gathering attachment (the thing rocks my world!) and cut and sewed and serged and got heart palpitations just putting it all together.  And then I got out the seam ripper and ripped some, serged and sewed some more, prayed that I had enough fabric in the skirt to finish, got it all put together minus the elastic and went to bed.

It was roughly 11:30 pm.  Not bad.  And the morning held promise.

Then the boy woke up and required some attention.  So I ended up being up until roughly 1:30 am.  But whatever.  The morning still held promise.

And this morning I finished.  I tried it on, realized that the back ruffle wasn't quite long enough, rifled through my meager stack of leftover scraps, got out the seam ripper, serged, sewed, ripped some more, serged and sewed again, and declared it DONE. 


The thing is awesome.  And it goes awesome with my new tights and my awesome black boots.  Grace was my photographer of choice.  Love that kid.

The skirt definitely had "character" since cord is as fragile as it is.  But I like the kind of character it has and I think some of the character might soften in the wash,  We shall see. 

It's not very often that I actually love something I make for myself.  It's true that I love this skirt.  Even if I just look at it and never wear it (which is not my intention since I'm disappointed to not be going anywehere today that warrents me even wearing my skirt, tights and boots) I'd still declare this venture a huge success!

My meager pile of leftover scraps--headed for the trash. 

Grace also commented that my skirt looks like I got it at the store.  I'll take that.  And raise her an awesome ruffly brown skirt for her.  I sense some sleep deprivation coming on.  Oh well.  At least I feel like I'm accomplishing something! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

And photos you shall have!

Today I wore my new $10 dress to church.  And my new boots.  And my awesome sweater.  I felt like a million bucks.  Except at about 75% off, which makes it even better somehow. 

The kids all behaved.  We are liking this particular church so far.  They have a lot going on, particularly kid's church.  I was walking the tired boy around and it sounded like they were having a ton of fun in kid's church.  I base that only on the fact that every kid in there was giggling.

After church I told Brent I wanted to run into Coldwater Creek.  Last week they were having a pretty great sale.  This week I was prepared to take advantage of it, if it was still on.  I found a shirt and this awesome sweater.  They were 50% off the already sale price. 

Yes, I put it on over my new fancy dress.  I think it works.  The color is to die for.  Totally me.  And the more I wear these boots, the more I like them. 

Brent drove around with the kids while I blazed through the store.  He got a little impatient and told the kids that mom wasn't allowed to go shopping after church any more.  He told me that all three girls yelled in unison something like, "NOOOOOO!"  I love those girls. 

So far, so good on the whole goals for the year. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A new year, a new ME! (to be continued . . . )

Happy 2012!  And I hope your resolutions are in full swing of being resolved, or whatever resolutions are supposed to do. 

I'll admit, I don't do well with resolutions.  In fact, they have always made me feel like a failure.  So, instead of calling my goals for the year "resolutions," I will simply be calling them "Goals for the year."  This is really the first year I've made such goals, but it just seems right this go-round.

First, I would like to announce that if I am ever pregnant again, I will cry for 9 months.  Probably longer.  Please don't take that the wrong way.  I adore my children.  I loved being pregnant.  Babies are about the best gift anyone can ever get.  In fact, they are little living, breathing miracles.  The simple fact that I have had four little miracles come forth from my body is something I thank God for, well, not enough.  They are amazing and they bless me every day.  Every single day.

But, my body is done being pregnant.  My emotional capacity is done being pregnant.  And now I will be focusing my energy on raising my four beautiful children rather than creating more. 

And now since I'm done being pregnant, I feel like to some extent, I have my body back.  Since some time in September I have lost somewhere around 30 pounds.  It's been a great journey so far, and I totally intend to continue on that path for this year, too.  The holidays put a bit of a plateau in my Primal journey, but we're back on track and loving it. 

I was reading a success story a couple weeks ago and something in that particular story really resonated with me.  "Better every day."  That's one of those things that I can build on.  Better every day.  It's one of my goals.  If I can on average be just a little better every day at something, anything really, this year will be a great success.  Feeding the family, laundry, schooling, scheduling, exercise, managing four kids day in and day out, any of that.  If I'm just a little better at any of those things, every day, that would be awesome. 

But that's just one of my goals for the year. I have some more goals, believe it or not.  My husband thinks I'm crazy, but whatever.  He knew that before he married me. (Though maybe one of my goals could be to get him to accept that even if he doesn't understand it.)

One thing I'm looking for this year is some class.  Christmas kind of put me over the edge.  Or it would have if I had even been on the fence.  I guess it mostly reinforced what I was already thinking. 

How on earth had I sunk this far. 

Oh, yeah.  I had four babies in eight years.  And moved four times in there, too.  Those eight things will suck the class right out of a person, I think.

Not that I was super classy to start with.  But that's beside the point.  Somehow moving and realizing how many first impressions I'm making here in this area was a bit of a kick in my too-big pants.  Not that I didn't care to begin with, but this place is so much more intimidating to me.  My rural roots run deep.  So deep that they seep out at the seams and I think I definitely qualify as redneck.  Don't get me wrong, looking around, there is definitely a group of people who fall into that category.  But, there's the other end of that, too.  With three girls and this boy, I am finding myself leaning towards the other end of the spectrum.  And sadly, there's some work to be done.

Take our Christmas tree for example.  We got a $5 permit, went to the forest and cut it down.  We jammed it into the back of the car between two kids, brought it home and realized that our tree stand was broken.  That's where it all went down hill.

Brent saved the tree stand.  He found a piece of wood, cut it into about 18" chunks and screwed it to the tree. 

Then, since it was pretty front-heavy, he wired it to the wall so it wouldn't topple over on someone.

Last year we got our tree all decorated and then watched as it just fell over.  It was rather irritating.  Decorating the tree a second time is not nearly as fun as the first time.

We found the decorations, which I realized are really pretty sparse.  I think about nine years ago we realized our lights were at the end of their life and ran down to the local market to see what they had.  All they had were icicle lights.  And now nine years later, we still have them, plus one more strand of white and a couple color strands.  Except now only half of one of the icicle strands works. 

Here's me trying to figure out how to make it all work and not be too sad.   Honestly, it took a couple tries.

The boy is oh so helpful.  At grandma's house he unscrewed nearly every light bulb he could reach.  By the end she had a pretty dark bottom half of her tree.

And because of him I also didn't feel comfortable pulling out the glass ornaments.  That made for not too many choices of things to actually hang on the tree.  Plus, a good dozen of those broke last year when the tree just fell over.

At any rate, we managed with the help of some ribbon and some snowflakes the kids made.  And I guess it looked okay.  At least I got a decent picture of the kids in front of it.  YAY!

The ribbon really saved it.  

The whole point of this story is that I have sunk to a level I never thought possible.  But, if all goes well, by this time next year, I'll have found enough class that I can go get at the very least a few new strings of lights for the poor tree.  Maybe even some new fancy red and purple ornaments.  I'd love those.

Having recently moved, I have also recently gone through most of the stuff we own.  By most of it I mean that there are still a hand full of boxes that have not been open from the previous three moves.  But the whole process makes me really think about what kinds of things I need, want, like and would move again.  So, another one of my goals is to only bring new things into this house that I absolutely LOVE.  Not kinda love.  Not maybe could grow to love.  Absolutely love to the point that I go out of my way to use it and will use it until I wear it out.  Maybe even longer.  And while I'm at it, I think I'll try to get my kids to buy into that one, too.  The husband might take a little longer. 

Today I made a pretty significant step towards my goal.  All of them, actually.   I went shopping.  Without a single child.  For the first time maybe since I even had kids.  I didn't even take anyone with me.  I went ALL BY MYSELF.  After all, I had some boot money from Brent and the kids to spend!

To kick my behind in gear, I realized yesterday that it was quickly getting to the end of boot season and if I didn't get on the ball, I was going to miss out.  So last night I announced to Brent that I really did need to go shopping TODAY to get what I wanted.  Or I was going to have to wait until next fall.  Especially if we are looking at possibly having a child or two or three or hopefully four with the chicken pox in the next week or so.  (They were exposed about 10 days ago.  Crossing my fingers.)

If you've never shopped for boots, let me tell you that finding the perfect boot is hard.  They are either too tight around the calf, cheap, cheap looking, too big in the foot, too sloppy looking, or a whole host of other things.  I went to about four different stores before I finally went to Nordstrom and tried on about ten pair.  I walked out of there with four options.  One of them these: 

These are the kind of boot that I would wear out.  Or at least I would try and then my girls would inherit them.  They are expensive.  Like nearly $300 expensive.  On sale they are $247.  But, that doesn't stop me from thinking they are amazing.  Because I'm a shoe snob and I know that when one pays that much for shoes, they are worth every.last.penny.  Frye Jane 14.  Simply a gorgeous boot.

Then I walked over to Macy's.  The pickin' was slim over there.  I picked up a pair of boots and told the sales lady that I was looking for "something like this in a size 8."  She brought a few pairs out and I was not super impressed.  I told her I needed real leather.  She went back in and came out with these:

Born Massi.  Just looking at them they were beautiful.  Seriously, full grain leather.  And then I put them on.  The heavens sang.  I was even able to zip them up with no problem.  To add to the heavens singing, they were a return and were less than half of the original $200!  I barely took them off as I sprinted to pay before someone snatched them off my feet and ran away with them.

Now, I'll be honest.  I do still feel the brown ones calling my name, but they can wait.  I did walk back to Nordstrom and pet them again.  I felt kind of bad for the sales lady.  Josie.  She totally helped me out.  I do need to go back and look her up and buy something from her.  She rocked. 

After leaving there, again, I wandered around some more since I had accomplished my main mission and wasn't feeling ready to return to the herd.

Poking around some I found an awesome dress.  Originally $129, marked down to $50ish.  I thought I'd try it on.  It was beautiful.  I also found a silver shirt (I need shirts) and a pair of pants (I need pants).  The pants were a substantial knit that I would wear every day and then not bother to change out of to go to town.  They are that comfortable AND classy.  When I went to pay, the dress rang up at $10.49.  I felt like I was stealing it.  All the other stuff was well over 50% off, too.  At that I called it a day, paid for parking and skipped to my car with my loot.  All of which I fully intend to wear out.

If all goes well, if I'm better every day, find some class, and work on getting stuff in this house that I absolutely love, next year at this time, I'll have another even more awesome new me, a totally awesome new wardrobe, boots that I totally love, a new Christmas tree stand, and new Christmas lights and decorations.  And maybe, just maybe, someday, I will look back at my redneck days and giggle.  Because really, I kind of am giggling now.  Only this giggle might be a giddy giggle of joy over the new, fancy boots and pants and dress I now own. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fun stuff

Well, since I haven't said it in type yet, Happy New Year!  I had to laugh at a quote about how a pessimist will stay up to make sure the old year leaves, but the optimist stays up to see the new year in.  What about if you go to bed to be scared awake at midnight by the fireworks next door that are literally shaking the house and you are joined in bed by scared little people and hear your husband mumble something about the idiots next door?  Maybe that just makes me old. 

But, all the little people had recovered by this morning.  Enough at least to do what their mom told them to do.  Maybe we'll make it our annual New Year's Day tradition. 

Then we had breakfast and got ready for church.  We've been church-hopping.  And frankly, you never know what you are going to experience.  Today's church has promise, except that it's 40 minutes away.  They had a cute little children's message.  The girls are not shy about going up front.  And today the little Mister marched right up there with them.  It was pretty funny.  He was not going to be left behind. 

I'm the crazy mom in the back with the camera.  This is the best picture of them in front of a Christmas tree.  Ever.

After church we went and drove around town for a bit.  We found a Starbucks because someone had to pee.  Then we found a beach.

But that wind was really cold.  It was actually whine-inducing cold.  But, after the promise of a hot chocolate after a nice, whine-free walk, the whiner straightened up pretty fast.  (And yes, it was the same un-named whiner from the previous post.)  I later the husband that there was a hot chocolate bribe in affect.  He said that he'd noticed a quick change of attitude. 

No, I'm not above bribing my children if it means I don't have to listen to them whine for 22 minutes.

This guy was particularly handsome today in his white shirt and tie and cute little coat and great new shoes. 

We found me a bike while roaming around the town.  I had no idea I even needed a bike until the kids saw this one and daddy said that I needed it. 

Pretty amazing piece of machinery. 

And we met this animal.  Violet thought it was a lion.  I told her it was a dog.  It's name was Grizzly. 

So, there you have a lion grizzly dog.  Yes, we had permission from his owner to both pet it and get it's picture.  And it's the only picture V smiled for the whole trip. 

Here's to a great 2012!  It's gonna be AWESOME!!