Monday, August 31, 2015

Make It Monday - September Goals

September means the official end of Summer, time for School to begin, and time to focus on finishing out the year strong with my goals.  It usually means cooler weather so I can get more done even though this coming week is being forcasted as "the hottest week of the summer".  Yikes! 

Anyway - this is what is on my radar for the coming month:

1.  Sell My Stuff.  I mentioned in a previous post that I've given myself until the end of September to get the stuff I sorted out of the basement sold or it goes to Good Will.  I have about 6 bins of stuff plus about 5-8 bigger items to try and sell. 

2. Do the finishing clean-up in the basement.  This will get accomplished by doing #1 above, purchasing the last shelf I need to store bins (which I have the $ for thanks to selling some other stuff), and getting the last of the rubber floor mats for the boys room (again, I've already sold stuff so I have the $ for these as well! Whoo whoo!)

3. Shelf by Shelf - This project I also mentioned previously.  It's so much easier to tackle one/two shelves a day.  I can clean the area (or empty the bin) and make sure everything either gets donated, trashed, or put in its rightful home in a matter of about 15 minutes.  It always amazes me how quickly things get cleaned out. A "shelf" doesn't really mean just a shelf - it's a drawer, cupboard, bin, etc.  I tend to "stash and dash" when I'm doing huge cleaning jobs like I did this summer with the basement so when I have random things, I pile them on a shelf (or shelves) and now, I can go through all of those items.

4. Scrapbooking - It's time to really focus on one thing.  Getting current.  I will be ordering digital pages, working on current photos and making sure that I am 100% current ASAP.  I'm not even setting a specific goal for September at this point - more like I need to plan during the first week on how I'm going to do this and then just do it every day.

5.  Birthday's and Christmas - With two birthdays and Christmas coming so close together I have to plan now.  I need to order the boys birthday shirts this month.  Plan what we will do for their birthdays, make gift lists for both birthday and Christmas and plan ahead for all things.  There are always Christmas activities we would like to do so I want to make sure that i plan then now so our family takes priority over other things!

6 The Outside.  Our yard has been neglected this year.  Right now, the grass is long because we have a huge underground wasp nest we are dealing with.  Darryl got swarmed not long ago while mowing and ended up with a pretty severe infection in both legs from the stings so he isn't too keen on mowing until the wasps are gone.  Planting new flowers wasn't high on my list because there were other things I wanted to spend our money on (like camping) but, it's time to weed and trim stuff back to get ready for fall.  This will happen closer to the end of the month but it still needs done.  Also, the pool will come down this month and we plan to do a small fire "pit" in the pool area since the grass is dead anyway (we did that this past spring too).  I might also try to get some bulbs to plant this fall - we planted some tulips last fall and it was fun watching them come up this spring. 

7.  The windows.  Yep they get their own category HA!  Darryl and I work together on this project since I'm not tall enough to wash the outside windows even wtih a ladder.  He does the outside while I clean the insides and spray down the screens.  It really doesn't take that long, it is just a pain to do.  We'll also pull the A/C units out sometime this month and store those away. 

8.  Family Activities - I'd like to get to a zoo with the kids.  Nate requested this early this year but I like to wait until fall to avoid the heat!  We are also planning to camp one last time near the end of the month. 

9. Planning - I've also started planning about what I want my theme word/focus to be next year.  It seems early, but it isn't.  I have an idea and want to research ways to actually implement the concept not only in my own life but that of our family too.  I have some other planning to do too - just taking time to write down some things/ideas/plans that I would like to accomplish not only for me but for/with the family too. 

10.  Financial goals - I'll be honest, the "no spend" concept in August didn't go as well.  I let it slide a few times and once it starts to slide it keeps sliding.  So, for September, I'm back to planning out our budget and not spending where we don't need to spend.  August was a much better month but we didn't end quite where we wanted to so I'm hopeful that September will put us back in the right spot.  I'm also doing lots of researching on ways to make just a little more income from home as the Munchkin will be in school full time. 

I think that's all for the month.  Now to take this list and break it down into some daily tasks that can be accomplished around school :-)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Family Fun - Safety Seminiar

This fall I'm slowly re-introducing the boys into our homeschool group (wow, that sounds deep HA).  Really, I just decided to try and take advantage of some opportunities that fit our schedule instead of trying to make the Co-Op schedule work for us.  The group recently hosted a Safety seminar of sorts where the kids got to see all kinds of safety people from Detectives to a K-9 Unit to Life EMS.  Needless to say, they had a lot of fun!

 These three boys!  They have been buddies for 5 years.  They fight like brothers but would defend each other to any one else.  I'm glad the Munchkin was able to come with us to this event too!
 Nervous habits are hard to break.  The kids were broken into groups by age so Josh was without his buddies.  He ended up in a group with all girls except for one very shy, quiet boy.  Poor kid HA!
 Nate listening to the Detective.  Nate kept trying to tell the guy he was going to be just like him when he grows up but the Detective wasn't that great with 4-5 year olds :-) 
 The K-9 Unit was a big hit.  The dog was awesome - such a beauty!

 The officer let the kids turn on the siren and talk in the walkie talkie too.  He was really awesome.

 The EMS guy was the best guy there.  He had this dry sense of humor that only the adults got but he was so fabulous with the kids.  There was no way Nate was going to get strapped into anything but he loved watching the princess get strapped in (and she loved it too!)
 Josh, on the other hand, loved it all.

They all got to shoot the firehose too.  What boy wouldn't love holding onto that huge hose and soaking everything in sight? 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Weekly Menu - It's the end of Summer

Wow.  Where did the summer go.  I can't complain - it has been an awesome summer.  The weather has been better than average for the cooler weather loving girl.  We've been on four awesome camping trips (and are hoping to get one more in this fall!).  We've done some fun activities as a family . The boys have been to Vacation Bible School, Stayed with grandparents, gone swimming and played. Lots.  I love fall, though.  The smells, tastes, cooler temps, colors - I love it all.  Not to mention Football :-)  Yeah!

**On a funny side note, I originally wrote this post a week ago and did it thinking that this weekend was Labor Day Weekend and School starts on Tuesday.  Guess what - I'm a whole week ahead HA!  This is the "last official week of summer" HA! 

Here's the plan for this coming week:

Saturday: Darryl is working today after having several days off for our camping trip.  So, he's bringing dinner home. 

Sunday: Darryl's working today due to taking extra days off because of being sick so, honestly, I'm pretty sure the boys and I will grab something after church.  Cooking for just the three of us is more work than it is worth ;-)  For dinner, Double Crunch Orange Chicken and Fried Rice sounds good!

Monday: Darryl has PT and I have practice so we are two ships passing in the night.  (well, not really night, just . . .evening HA).  Pancakes and Sausage make everyone happy and it is super easy.

Tuesday: Chick-Fil-Lay Nuggets and Fries.

Wednesday.Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes (in the crock!), Fried Zucchini and Rolls

Thursday: Chicken Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and Biscuits

Friday - What else?  tacos!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

August Goals Update

August has been a good month for goals :-)  I accomplished much of what I  wanted to get done.

1) The garage is organized, cleaned and everything has a home.  I cleaned out enough junk to empty one shelf so that Darryl could use it for things that were piled on the workbench.  We got rid of stuff we've had for 14 years and made sure that all of the kids bikes were easily within reach.

2) The basement is basically done.  I'm at a little bit of stand still as I wait to sell some stuff so I can purchase one more shelving unit and some flooring pieces for the play room but otherwise it's done.

3) Selling of the junk HA!  I've sold a lot of school books/books over the past few weeks which has helped clean some stuff out.  I've given myself until the end of September to get everything else sold or it goes to Good Will.  We had some really hot weather the last week or two so hanging out in the clean garage taking photos of stuff to post was not high on my list.  I'm hoping to hit it hard next week and the first week in September.

4) The boys school area is completely set up - they love their desks and are looking forward to school

5) I'm continuing to work on deep cleaning and cleaning out every nook and cranny :-)  I call it my "shelf" project.  I try to clean off/organize two "shelves" a day.  Sometimes a shelf really is just that - a shelf on a book case or work area but sometimes a shelf is a bin that I threw stuff in because I didn't have a home for it yet.  I'm also slowly working on putting extra trash out each week - all of the odds and ends that get shoved into corners through the years.  I finally get rid of the baby gate that was collecting dust in the basement - I wasn't attached to it . . .I actually even kinda hated it because it was such a pain . . .but I just never took time to carry it upstairs to the trash :-)

When it comes to goal planning, every person is different.  I have learned over and over again that if I am not specific in my goal/list planning, things don't get done.  I'm thankful for my planner where I can make my daily goal lists and I focus off of my monthly goals to make sure I get stuff done.  I am still focusing this year on that goal of "Simplify" and I feel like I've made a lot of progress in this area but am pushing forward to be where I want to be by the end of the year. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Teaching Tuesdays - I might be ready.

I finished up all of the things I needed to do this past week.  The computer is set up and ready to go but I was a little remiss to learn that it is not wi-fi ready.  So now there is a cord running around a wall like in the "olden" days ;-)  I also read through all of the info of my orientation and will admit that I am more than a little overwhelmed with what I have to do.  Starting out it will be a lot more work then when I did my own thing.  There were areas before that I could combine the boys and teach them together (Science, Bible, Social Studies, Handwriting) but now, they all have their own individual lessons.  All lessons are completed on a computer and they all need my direction to read and help them complete at this point.  So the first few weeks will be trial and error I'm sure.  It's possible I might need to teach each boy at a different time in the day so I can spend time one on one with them but I'm not sure yet. 

A week from now will be our first day . . .crazy, I know.  Ready, set. . .go!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Make It Monday - Creativity

Periodically, when I dump photos from my camera I'm surprised by what my future photographer, Josh, captures through the lens.  He has always loved taking pictures and has gotten impressively better through the years.  Occasionally, with my permission and direction, he is allowed to use my camera.  I thought I would show some things that he and Nate have created and have been caught on camera.

 This little train the boys got several years ago and it is seldom assembled but on this occasion Josh and Nate got it all put together correctly; Josh took a photo so they could remember how to do it next time.
 Towers.  The blocks are well loved but we have so few of them and those towers get knocked down often.  Josh took a photo to remember what was built.

 I must say, their building is very good and they have asked for more blocks. 
Finally, they boys are into this "thing" of cutting their lego boxes into teeny tiny pieces.  I don't get it but they will sit for hours doing this "thing".  Josh took pictures of all of the boxes so they could look at them in the future.  I will say, photos are MUCH easier to store than all of the misc. sizes of boxes! 

On a side note, Josh's photography interest is something we plan to encourage.  He loves taking videos as well and has asked for a small camera for his birthday.  This type of ability is something that makes a great side business in the future and is such a great talent to have and use!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Family Fun - Water Fun

My boys love water and they love playing.  Put those two things together and you get hours of fun and creativity!

 The boys wanted a water slide so they hauled the hose over to the Tree house and finagled it until it was running down the slide.

 Rain boots are very important features on a water slide.
 The water coming out of the hose is very cold HA!

Nate returned to the pool :-)  It was bit chilly too but he still loves it!

That pool is one of the best purchases ever.  This is the second year for it and it will be the last for this particular pool.  I love the fact that with the filter and pool chemicals I can keep it clean and fresh most of the summer (by the end it's a bit sandy but that's ok).  The outer ring has a small air leak that we can't find but we just refill it every few days and it is ok too.  Next year we have the next size up already waiting in storage thanks to my brother and the boys will ove having a deeper pool to swim in!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Weekly Menu - the One With Camping

We get to go camping again!  We can't wait to get away and enjoy camping once again.  I feel like we are getting into a good routine with our meals and that makes it nice too. I will admit that the camping menu has stressed me out this time and I'm not sure why.  I feel like there is so much food to plan and I tend to over plan.  I've tried to shape our menu based on things we've learned this summer and things we love!  So here we go!

Saturday - We are leaving!  Lunch will be on the road.  Dinner will be our standard - Steak Kabobs either cooked over the fire or cooked in the frying pan.  This time I'm going to prep two small seven layer salads for Darryl and I to enjoy with our steak, Macaroni Salad (Store bought - I can't make it any better!),  Jello, and Mac and Cheese (a standard for the boys while camping!)

Sunday - When we camped last time, it rained.  A lot.  So we ended up eating cereal and Poptarts and guess what, we loved it and it was easy so this time, We will have that (and bagels for me too!)   Lunch will be out - we want to do some sight seeing so we'll be out and about for awhile.  Dinner - Sloppy joes (I can leave it in the crock pot while we are gone!), Potato Salad,  Cole Slaw, Jello, and Beans

Monday - Breakfast - The Same Easy Breakfast! ; Lunch - Out.  The campground has a cafe or maybe we'll explore the town and eat somewhere.  Dinner - Brats/Hotdogs and Loaded Baked Potatoes.

Tuesday - Breakfast - I do love the smell of bacon cooking in the outdoors so on this last morning, we'll have bacon and Pancakes before we start packing up! ; Lunch - We will grab something on the way out.  Dinner - Pulled Pork - all ready made just ready to be heated up when we get home.

Wednesday - This is recovery day!  I know from past experience that we will come home with food.  So, we will either have leftovers from camping OR Corn Dogs and Mac and Cheese.

Thursday - Darryl always has PT so it is just the boys and I - we will have more leftovers, Corn Dogs, Mac and Cheese, Pot Pies or something else depending on what we feel like eating :-)

Friday - TACOS!  (Normalcy HA!)

Thursday, August 20, 2015


I don't know about you but I think neighbors can either make or break a homeowner and thankfully, ours are good! 

We have Glenn and Cindy who are fabulous neighbors.  The week they moved in they repaired a fence the previous owners had neglected for years.  Cindy just went through major surgery and is dealing with unexpected set backs like infection and kidney problems.  She is really just so a sweet person - I plan on putting together a little gift bag for her next week :-)

Then we have Louie.  Louie has lived in his house for 80+ years.  Louie is . .well 80+ years old HA!  Yes, he has lived in the same house his whole life.  He is the best neighbor.  Nice, quiet, kind and always has a smile.

Finally, our third neighbor is Eric.  Eric moved in about 6 years ago and is really a great neighbor.  Yes, he has a foul mouth at times and plays his truck stereo way too loud but anytime he sees us needing help with something, he steps in.  Just yesterday, he saw my husband getting attacked my bees and quickly came over with spray to start going after the next.  Or one time he saw us working to secure our new willow tree - he walked over with long pieces of metal rod, beat them into the ground and then helped Darryl tie the tree up.  He's just a good guy.  We never thought we had any impact on him until recently when he was going through a super difficult time after witnessing a co-worker get crushed in a machine.  He came to us and just cried and asked us to pray for him.  Which we did. 

So, where is this post going?  Simply this, we have now run into something we've never had to deal with and I know many of you had!  Eric's girlfriend just moved in with him this past week and she has two girls.  The youngest is somewhere around the age of my boys.  Yesterday, she came over and literally spent the entire day in our yard with the boys.  We have never had neighbor kids to be concerned about since, well, there aren't any HA!  So, how do I graciously limit the time this new neighbor is over?  The little girl is slightly bossy and is frequently knocking on the door asking for things.  Darryl and I are uncomfortable having a child whose parent we don't know in our house so the rule is they kids play outside, in our yard . .. yet several times she managed to wonder inside uninvited.  She asked for drinks and to come to lunch (I did give her a bottle of water but sent her home for lunch) and to use the bathroom (I sent her home for that too) Any suggestions on how to be gracious yet firm?  If I'm going to babysit her, well, her mom needs to compensate me :-)  (And I don't want to babysit her!)  We also have to deal with the fact that she uses not always language we would approve of and have already (after one day) had to talk to the boys about being examples of Jesus in the words we use. 

I know this is an odd post but I figured I would ask to see if I get any comments!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What We are Eating - Crock Pot Lasagna

So, I have no photo because, well, taking a photo of Lasagna in the crockpot isn't pretty HA!  But it IS tasty! 

I've been wanting to try this for awhile for multiple reasons such as I'm always looking for something to take to a potluck and I'm also looking for Sunday After Church Meals that are ready when we get home and I love my crock pot in the summer!  I did some reading on some different sights and decided to try it out and this is what I learned.

1) It works.  The lasagna was done in about 4 1/2 hours cooked on high. 
2) I followed a recipe I found on a recipe blog but as I was making it I thought, why didn't I use my tried and true Lasagna recipe and just follow the concept. 
3) Spray your crock pot with Pam Spray well to ensure easy cleanup (or use crockpot bags but I tend to only use those when camping)
4) The recipe I used said there was no need to cook the noodles before hand and yes, that is true because the noodles were soft but, next time, I would precook them.  I've found that putting the noodles in uncooked makes them slightly gummy. 

So the concept - Place a layer of your sauce/meat mixture on the bottom of the crockpot, followed by noodles, a layer of whatever cheese mixture you use (ricotta, cottage cheese, etc), and I put on a layer of Mozzarella cheese (I use cheese slices, not shredded cheese) and repeat the layers (meat, noodles, cheese mixture, Mozzarella, noodles and then one last layer of Meat Sauce).  Just before serving add one last Layer of Mozzarella cheese and let it melt. 

The Lasagna is a little "loser" when cooked in the crock put but the leftovers the following day were just like oven baked lasagna.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Teaching Tuesdays - The Countdown

Three Weeks.  That's right.  Three weeks until School Starts. This is different than past years because I've always been able to set our own schedule and normally, we would have started school by now.  Connections Academy, though, has their own schedule so our first day is September 8th.  The boys have been assigned teachers and I've heard fabulous things about Josh's teacher. 

I still have the same few things to finish up as I did last week :-)  Setting up the computer and watching a video session that teaches me what I have to do.  My goal is to get that stuff done this coming week. 

The boys have completely organized their desks, their way (and I about plucked out my eyebrows watching them mess up what I had done HA!) 

On Sunday, the boys and I each had a gift.  Someone, so thoughtfully, gave us all gifts - the boys got $1.00 each plus markers, crayons and more markers.  I got a travel mug and some truffles.  It was so thoughtful and I have no idea who did it!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Make It Monday - Clean Towels

No, I did not make towels BUT I did make my towels fluffier and smell better! I found this tip over at Passion for Savings quite awhile ago and tucked it away for one simple reason.  We have never had hot water to our washer.  A leaky pipe kept us for using the hot water and it wasn't on our priority list since I've always washed with cold water anyway.  Recently, though, we had to have some plumbing done so in the process we had the pipes to the washer replaced.  I pulled out this idea and washed all of my old and slightly stinky towels.  And . . .it worked!  My towels are softer and they don't stink anymore! 

Quite simply:  Wash your towels on the hottest setting on your washer.  The first time, add one cup of white vinegar to the load.  Once done, leave the towels in the washer and wash them with one cup of baking soda, again on hot.  Once done, dry them like normal. 

It's really important to make sure your towels are always very dry after you wash/dry them or they will start to stink.  For us, we had a dryer that didn't not work well for several years so I know the towels didn't dry well and then we didn't have a dryer for a few months so they hung in the basement.  Not to mention years of "summer drying" in the bathroom - they never really dried and always smelled.  Now, I plan to do this with my towels every couple of months just to keep them fresh!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Things My Kids Say

My boys love to talk about their future.  They talk about where they will live, what they will do, and who they will marry.  Recently this discussion happened:

Nate:  When I grow up, I'm going to marry Kate.  I'm going to have 10 kids. I don't want babies all crawling around at the same time though so I'll have one, wait three years and then ask for another one; wait three years and ask for another until I have ten. 

Nate also told me that all of his kids will have long hair except the oldest because, well, he is the oldest.  Once he leaves the next one will get a haircut. 

Josh asked his little friend that comes over to Marry Him on Friday.  She said yes.  He then said that they will change their names.  He has decided that when he gets married his name will be "Jack McMaster".  That's kinda crazy.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Family Fun - The Park and "Sleep Over"

The boys recently asked to go visit a park near our church at the local elementary school.  So, a couple of weeks ago, while Darryl had to work on a Saturday, the boys and I headed out to the parks.  The weather was great - not humid and super breezy so it didn't seem quite so hot. The school has three separate play grounds and the boys tried them all!

 Lots and Lots and Lots of climbing walls! 

 "Look mom, I made it to the top - take my picture!"
 Followed by, "Mom, Help . .. I can't get down!"

After we left the park we got ice cream . . .and Chicken Nuggets.  Nate is not an ice cream eater HA!  Give him McDonald's Nuggets anytime!

The boys also put together a plan of sleeping in the basement.  They, with Darryl's help, made up beds using a toddler mattress and couch cushions and added night lights all in anticipation of sleeping in the "bedroom" they had made.

 All snuggled in, listening to Darryl read stories.
 Nate loves to stand by his dad while he reads and watch all of the photos.

 Getting ready to say good night . . .notice the faces of fear HA!
We said good night and turned out the light.  Nate was back upstairs in 2.5 minutes saying that he would sleep down there a different night before crawling into his bed in his room.  Josh tried to stay down there by himself but was up 5 minutes later saying, "It is too scary to sleep down there"  I'm sure they will try again and some day, I'm sure they will actually make it all night but - sometimes half the fun is just preparing for the sleep over :-)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Weekly Menu

We've had a few simple weeks without too much going and this week continues that pattern for the most part.  I'm looking forward to fall, as I do this time of year every year, not just because I enjoy fall very much but because we get to return to some of our favorite meals like Lasagna, meatloaf, and lots of soups!  For now, we need to make better use of the grill and all of the fresh veggies that are starting to show up in the farmer markets. 

Saturday - Despite our spending freeze, I'm planning for dinner to be brought home by the big D.  Pizza, Tacos, or Chinese, it doesn't matter - I just don't want to cook!

Sunday - Spaghetti and Meatballs.  This is such a simple but good Sunday after church meal.  Salad and Garlic bread will round it out. 

Monday - Darryl has PT and doesn't get home until about 7:00.  I have a meeting at 5:30 that will go to about 7:00.  So I think I will pick up McDonald's for the boys to eat at my meeting (it will take up some time for them to eat) and Darryl and I will be on our own. 

Tuesday - Time for the Grill.  I've been wanting to grill pork chops - we love them so that's what we will do!  Mac and Cheese always goes with Pork chops along with green beans and applesauce.  I might even make my own in the crock pot!

Wednesday - Shall we grill again?  Why, yes!  Steaks!  Yum!  Baked potatoes in the crock pot, corn, and Garlic Bread

Thursday - Darryl has PT again so breakfast sounds good.  I love Amish Breakfast casserole and some muffins.  I'll make frozen waffles and sausage links for the boys since neither really gets into the casserole concept yet (Everything touches and that just isn't right HA!)

Friday - Well, tacos of course!  Yum!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August Goals

Yes, August is half over but I still like to post goals even if it is just for my own benefit. 

This months goals are still a short list:

1) Do the finishing touches on the basement.  I have some shelves that I need to clean off, some odds and ins to clean out and put out to the trash and clean out the work bench area. 

2) Clean the garage.  As  I finish up the basement clean out and sorting the last of the bins in the garage from the basement I will then move to going through the stuff in the garage shelf by shelf and cleaning it all up and organizing it. 

3) Organize the kids school desks and get all of their stuff set up. 

4.) Continue deep cleaning the upstairs.  I have a few things left to do in the kitchen and bathroom before moving on to the living room and dining room.  I'm hoping to have everything done by month end so I can get back to following the Flylady weekly cleaning plan. 

That's it :-)  I know it doesn't seem like a lot but it is.  Both the basement and garage projects take up to an hour to an hour and a half total each day plus the deep cleaning takes up another hour.  Throw in snack time, helping kids do . . well . .everything, and other misc things like menu planning, bill paying, and . .well . . reading :-)  My days get full fast. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What We are Eating

I went through my photos looking for a photo of something I've cooked recently but realized that even though I've made quite a few new recipes, many of them have been mediocre so I didn't take photos.  I tried a Chicken Thigh recipe in the crock pot last week for the sole purpose of not turning on the oven; it was ok, but not great.  I tried a cake recipe a few weeks ago that was ok but it didn't turn out the way the photo looked at all and wasn't anything to write home about.  I tried another recipe that I can't even remember at the moment and that speaks volumes.

So, there are no pretty pictures or recipes this week but I do have some new recipes to try soon!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Teacher Tuesday - We are all set up!

This past week, my parents made the drive over and brought us two desks.  I used one of my days without kids to unpack their school boxes, set up their desks, and set up the computer.  You may wonder why I did this without the boys and quite simply, because it make it easier.  The boys love to help but sometimes, their help is helpless.  HA!

We are about ready for school to start.  I have an instructional video that I still have to watch but otherwise, I think we are good!

 The boys new desks.  Their desks hold their specific school items, books and supplies.  The carts in the middle hold other art supplies like extra markers, crayons, glue etc as well as art books, painting items and more.  The desk on the left, the white one, my mom picked up from a friend at a garage sale and the one on the right, the brown one, was my mom's many years ago and has stayed in the family.  It is the same desk that I took to college with me and was most recently housed at my brother's house until they moved back in June.
 I have more books than the boys do!  This little shelf holds all of the teacher manuals for both books.  I'm curious how much I'll have to use these throughout this year or if I can figure out K-5 and 1st grade work on my own ;-)
 For now, we've set up the boys computer on a table in our dining room.  We need to work on how much they use it verses using their I-pads for school to determine if we need a better set up later.
 One of the benefits of this new setup is that I get to put a tablecloth on my table again!  When our table was our school "desk" I couldn't keep a table cloth on it since it made it difficult for the boys to do their work (hard to write on top of cloth!) but now, I can keep a tablecloth on it and my beautiful candle on it too!
Finally, the piano got moved to the opposite wall which I like better (for now).  It seemed to really crowd the walkway before and now it is more out of the way. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Make It Monday - "Making Fun" and "Making Clean" and "Making Projects"

So, we've been making lots of stuff lately. 

1) Making Fun.  Darryl and I had the opportunity this past weekend to hang out together and celebrate our anniversary.  I took my camera but took no photos!  This is what we did:  We went to Good Will (I know, crazy).  We never, ever, ever shop at Good Will - I just have zero luck so I never go.  Well, on this particular day, Darryl found shorts, pants and a shirt; I found a pair of shorts; and I got dress shirts and pants for the boys for the winter - all really nice name brand stuff.  From there, we went into Grand Rapids to the Downtown Market.  It's a really cool specialty market but beyond that, a brand new BBQ just opened there so we decided to try it for lunch.  The food was pretty good.  We also stopped at the awesome bakery and each got the most amazing cookie ever.  Then we headed out to the brand new Tanger Outlet Mall.  It was a total Zoo HA!  We, amazingly, got a parking spot by following people headed to their vehicle (total stalkers, yep!).  We did enjoy walking around and checking out some stores but, for the most part, the stores did not have any deals.  I did manage to get a couple pair of shorts at an amazing deal and Darryl found a pair of tennis shoes that he really needed but otherwise, I'd rather go to the much less busy mall.  Lets see, we then got coffee, stopped at Best Buy to ask some questions and price out options to possibly "cut the cord" on the dish and then went to Olive Garden for dinner.  It was a beautiful night so we drove around and checked out various neighbors where we might like to move someday and ended the night by getting some the best ice cream  at the coolest ice cream shop! Yep, we had fun! 

2) Making Clean - Since the kids are at Papa and Nana's for a few days, I wanted to wrap up some really big cleaning projects that needed more than the 15 minutes I can usually dedicate to them.  I finished up the project in the garage which included loading the truck with the final stuff for Good Will (a full truck load!) AND totally cleaned the garage.  I mean totally.  We got rid of stuff that has been on the shelves for 10 years and organized everything else.  Normally we do this project twice a year (spring and fall) but, since September 2013, it hasn't really been done so there was a lot of work to do!  I do have a bunch of stuff to now list on the local garage sale site which I will do bin by bin over the coming weeks.  I also took time to vacuum out the truck and wash it plus put in new car mats that I bought six months ago but never got around to putting them in HA! 

3) Making Projects - My kids.  Oui.  They have gotten into making "projects".  For two boys who wanted nothing to do with art projects, the past few weeks have transformed them into Art kids.  They have painted and glued.  They have dug through stickers and paper scraps.  They have found Popsicle sticks, cotton balls, pipe cleaners and every other art supply I had stuck in a drawer and created.  It's been fun and I've been informed that they each want a million stickers for Christmas :-)

So, yes, we've been "making" a lot of stuff which means . . .life is good. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Things My Kids Say

* Josh has all of a sudden started calling Papa, Pop.  It made me smile to hear him say, "Hey, Pop, I will shine that flashlight where ever you need me to." or, "Pop, let me help you carry that desk."   Why, cause I've called my dad "Pops" forever so it all fits right in :-)

* I bought the boys some new PJ shorts on clearance the other day since they.  When I showed Josh his, he said, "Mom, those are the exact shorts I've wanted for 100 years!".  Yes, prone to over exaggeration, that kid.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Family Fun - The Fair

I've mentioned a few times in past posts about our local Free Fair.  It is the largest Free Fair - but I recently asked Darryl how it was free.  We had to pay to park and pay for every single thing in the Fair.  He pointed out that it is the fact that there is no fee to get into the Fair - I guess I never realized that you normally paid to get into a fair! 

We went to the fair two years ago with the boys but they were both still so young they were very limited on what they could do.  Last year, Darryl was in the midst of recovering from his back surgery so we didn't go.  The boys started asked several months ago about going so we knew we had to take them!  It was awesome.  They are at the perfect age and were able to ride just about every ride they wanted to because they are just barely tall enough.  I was pretty impressed with all they did!

 This was their very first ride (Josh is on the yellow slide and Nate is on the Green).  We arrived at the fair at about 11:00 on Saturday morning hoping to beat the heat.  Thankfully it was cloudy and breezy which helped alot!  We bought the boys each a ride bracelet which gave them unlimited access to all of the rides.  We probably made our money back 4 times over with the amount of rides they rode! 
 Because we came in at the front, they started on these little "kiddy" rides.  They are the rides that they were able to ride two years ago. 

 This car ride was hilarious.  It had really hard turns and the first time the cars came around the turn, the boys screamed and then, couldn't stop laughing the whole ride.

 There were two roller coasters - this "little" one (the boys are in the yellow shirts) which they were not impressed with at all.  Why?  Because there was a big one that they were not big enough to ride without an adult.  Darryl and I did not have tickets to ride so they have to wait until next year to ride the big one!
 Nate went on this ride by himself the first time.  I can't remember where Josh was at this moment but . . .
 It didn't take him long to make his way over to ride again with Nate!

 The "Cliff Hanger" was a favorite ride.  This is a ride that Nate was barely able to ride - good thing his hair was standing on end ;-).  It was actually one of the more peaceful rides since all they did was glide through the air!
 This huge pirate ship was a favorite.  They rode it five or six times ending by sitting in the very back row where it went the highest.  Nate claimed this as his favorite ride.  It was about this time that the sun came out and we were all ready for a break not to mention that the sun came out and it got HOT!  We headed back to the truck and went to McDonald's for a snack before heading home to relax in the cool house.
 After dinner, around 7:00, we headed back to the fair.  We really wanted the boys to enjoy the fair at night because of all of the lights.  They didn't disappoint, it wasn't long after we were there that the boys noticed, and talked about all of the lights!  This time, when we got to the fair, the boys wanted to ride different rides so Josh with with Darryl and I took Nate.  Nate had been waiting to ride the swing - he was so serious the whole time watching everything about the ride - I think trying to figure out how it worked.
 This was one of the "extras".  We gave each of the boys $5.00 to try out the bungee.  I didn't get a photo of Josh but he had more success than Nate - Nate's little legs got tired and he ended up stopping before his time was up yet he talked about how much he loved this activity.
 This was the final ride of the night - it was a HUGE ride that went up super high and yes, that is Josh sitting in the seat.  I was amazed he went on it by himself.  He was sitting next to the nicest lady who he talked to a lot HA! 
Look how high this ride goes!  Whew!  Josh loved it though and Nate said he won't be scared to ride next year :-)

The fair was a total success.  We are already looking forward to next year :-)