Asher Milo, 3 Years Old

Ash-Bug,

How in the world are you THREE already!?  This last year with you has been a really special one.  You rather quickly turned into so much more of a little dude instead of little baby.  Your demeanor became much less clingy and needy than even before and your difficult first year became even more of a faint memory and I often thought “was this really that same baby?!”

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You really came out of your shy shell more and more.  Instead of always burying your face into mom and dad’s body for safety, you became more and more lively at outings and are much less timid of strangers (or people other than “your people”).  It has been so incredible to just sit back and watch you as you talk and joke and laugh.  I’m not sure exactly when it happened this past year but you have become quite the comedian, son!  Daddy always jokes that I’m the comedian of the family but watch out!  There’s a new contender! ;)  You, little buddy, are hilarious.  You are always making us laugh with your silliness and comedic timing.

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You still are a major cuddle bug, and I doubt that’s ever going away (your daddy is almost 30 and it hasn’t gone away in him yet!).  You just want to be held for 15-20 minutes after you wake up in the morning or after naps.  This past year after Ellery joined our family, was a little more difficult for you in that department because you still wanted me all to yourself and got irritated at me when I was holding Elle instead of you.  “Put her down!” you would tell me.  You are, hands down, the best little cuddler in the world.  You rest your head and so gently rub your soft little hand up and down and up and down on my arm. You give tight squeezes and you give the BEST kisses I have ever had.  (Even daddy agrees!) We always joke that you could live on cuddles alone, but I partly think it’s true!  You would still sleep in bed with us every night if we let you, so this year was a little more of a rough transition for you as you had to make room for your new sister and start sleeping full time in your own bed.  You have done really well though and by now, 3 years old, you most often sleep the whole night through.  You are a stealthy little ninja though because the nights that you do end up in bed with us, daddy and I both wake up in the morning wondering, “how in the world did he get in here?”

You mostly potty-trained yourself right around 2.5 years old, exactly like Zeek did.  Only, Zeek decided he was tall enough to stand at the potty right around the same time that you were potty training and all the sudden you no longer wanted to sit – you wanted to stand!  And why wouldn’t you!?  So, while my bathroom and toilet have been messier than usual these past 6 months, I AM thankful that you were so determined to get it done and figured out on your own and I’m thankful to be saving on diapers.  So ya know, thanks for that.  Even if that means I have to scrub down the potty a few times a week now.  ;)

You love big, Ash.  I always wonder about your future wife and think, boy, that girl better be getting prepared for your lovin’ ways!  She’s going to be getting a real winner, that’s for sure.  You, even as a 2 year old (and heck, even as a 1 year old), have always looked out for your loved ones needs before your own.  Getting snacks?  You’ll serve Zeek his snack first.  Someone doesn’t have food?  You’ll give them most of yours.  Someone ate his cookie already and wants another, but mom is saying no? (Ahem, Zeek!) You break yours in half and share your half anyway.  Someone isn’t feeling well?  You get them a blanket and tell them to lay down on the couch, get a cup of water for them and even put a funny straw in it for a little cheer.  Someone didn’t put away something where it belongs?  You hop to it as soon as you notice and move it to the correct location.  You have the most wonderful servant heart and I am so over-joyed to see it in you!

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You are the most independent little bugger, ever.  There was a time this summer that all 5 of us were outside working in the yard when daddy and I realized you were no longer with us.  I went inside the house to find you right as you were working on slicing a piece of strawberry shortcake for yourself.  You weren’t doing it to be naughty and sneak sweets, you just thought to yourself, “shoot!  I’m hungry!  I’m gonna go get me a piece of cake!”  You had gotten the strawberry topping and the whip cream out of the fridge, the cake unwrapped on the counter, and were using a butter knife to slice the cake.  You knew exactly what you needed to do and how to get it done.  So many times this past year we caught you doing something that wasn’t necessarily naughty – but more was funny because you are just so darned independent that you can do it all yourself.  Parents?  Who needs em?!

Your Auntie Shannon has nicknamed you “Schnickelfritz” (meaning a little rascal).  You are my most mischievous of children, that’s for sure.  But most often, your mischief is because of your stubborn/determined will, not because of a destructive nature.  You have a mind of your own and are going to do what you want to do because you’re so determined!  And I can’t get too mad about that because I’m fairly sure you got it from me!

Child.  We love you more than we can ever, ever explain to you.  I love hearing your voice (though, often is about 10 notches too high in the volume department).  I love your sweet way with words.  Your adorable sounding voice.  Your little laugh that you do when you are so pleased with yourself.  I’ll never grow tired of hearing, “Mama?  Will you cuddle me?”  Thank you for your humor Asher.  Thank you for your outpouring of love to our family and your caring nature.  Thank you for your helpful servant heart in helping mom keep house.  You are a treasure buddy and we’re so thankful to have you.

Happy Birthday, Asher Milo.  We love you.

We celebrated Asher’s birthday all out!  We actually celebrated his birthday on Jan 1st (instead of his actual bday, the 2nd, because Daddy had to work on the 2nd).  Grandma and Grandpa even stayed the night on New Years Eve so that they could wake up and spend the day with us!  Big french toast and sausage breakfast, then we played at the Riverfront Park, rode the Carousel and a took trip across the walking bridge because it was so beautiful (though cold!) that day!

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The sign in the Riverfront Park that I saw right after our 20 week ultrasound with him and confirmed the name that I already was in love with (but wasn’t so sure it went super well with Anderson).

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We had lunch at Venti’s downtown and then home for naps and then cake!

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3rd Generation of eating cake in a bowl with milk poured over it.  That’s my boy!

Then we BUNDLED up as if we were headed to play in the snow (because it was like 28 degrees out) and headed up to Portland to visit the Zoolights before they took them down for the year.

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Look how bundled they all are!  HAHA!! 

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Also, I have to point out that when we were packing clothes to go, Skyler kept making fun of me. “You’re going a little overboard.  Snow pants?  Really?  Hand warmers?  REALLY?”  Look at that man now!  He kept whimpering about how cold he was, and he walked around with his face wrapped in this blanket the entire night.  ;)  It was frickin cold that night (and did indeed snow that night!  A rarity in the Willamette Valley.).

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Poor Elle!  Don’t worry we had her wrapped and wrapped in blankets too – but I had to take this picture of her before we took her out because she was SO bundled that she was almost straight as a board and could hardly sit in her stroller!

The next day, for his actual birthday, we did our usual: Chuck E Cheese.  We invited some friends to join us and we spent the morning playing games and had pizza for lunch.

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And, our tradition of taking a Chuck E Cheese photo every year on their birthday continues:

Asher 2016

2016

Asher 2015

2015

Asher 2014

2014

Ellery June {11 Months}

Sweet Lil’ Thing!  How are you almost a YEAR!  GAH!

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Your fake cry face that you have gotten to be a pro at – especially if a brother comes at you doing something you don’t particularly care for…

11 Months

  • You are starting to crawl more “normal” without using your right foot to push along the ground.  It’s almost weird to see you crawling normal.
  • You are starting to say more words!  You frequently say: mama, dada, uh-oh, mo’ (more) and buuuhhh (brrrr.  You say this when we step out of the house or out of the car.  Cutest thing ever.).  You have said just a few times: bye, bu-by (baby), Bopa (our name for Grandpa), A-ha (when we asked you to say Asher!)
  • You have been waking up at exactly 6:45 every morning for the last 3 weeks which is just terribly annoying.  Please stop.
  • You have been making the sweetest little scrunchy-nosed smile.  A heart-melter for sure.
  • You truly cuddle people you know now.  When someone you know is holding you, you smile up at them and then rest your head on their shoulder for a long while. Or after you wake up you love to cuddle into mom or dad for a while.
  • Your hair is now long enough for piggie tails but if I try to play with your hair and put piggies in, you pull your head away and scream at me.  Do you not know how CUTE that will look?!!
  • You’ve started using the play shopping cart as a walker.  We just put some counter weight (usually the laundry detergent tub) inside of it and you joyfully push that sucker all around the kitchen.
  • You are still just the most content little thing.  You happily go (often alone) into the playroom and just sit and play with your toys for 30-45 min before wandering back out to find someone.
  • You have started really enjoying just cuddling.  Asher is still the most cuddly of you three, but you are upping your game.  You quite enjoy just sitting on mine or daddy’s lap, laying your head back on our chest and just being with us.  I’ll sit a little longer for that, Baby Girl.

Love you, our sweet daughter!  You continually are bringing our entire family such an indescribable joy.  Thank you for your smiles and laughter and silliness that you add to our family – we all are so in love with you!

Love, Mom

P.S. I know it’s not possible, but please.  I’m begging you.  Do not turn a year old.  :(

A Culture of Manners

Yesterday was rotten.  No good.  Total crap.

 
I mean, I suppose it wasn’t all fruitless – I got some general tidying of the house done, did homeschooling with the boys, and even managed to make a nutritious dinner for my family.  But the parts in between just about killed me (but you know, better me than them.  There’s jail for that.).  I was getting nowhere fast with the boys.  It wasn’t that they were being naughty in particular but more that they were just doing what they wanted to do without any regard for instruction from me, their mother.  I felt like I got a glimpse into teenage-dom where they ran their own day how they saw fit.
 

It’s those days that I feel like I’m just facing a corner and shouting into the wall.  (Or, as I texted to one of my girlfriends, I questioned whether I was really just a 16 year old trapped in a mom bod trying to babysit someone else’s kids who I didn’t have an ounce of control over.)  No one’s listening.  No one is following instruction.  No one cares that I am the mother.

I decided early on in the day that the battle appeared to be one of just flat out disrespect and lack of manners.  I stood in the doorway of the playroom, giving firm instructions that they were to clean up their two tubs of toys they had sprawled all over, and they responded by continuing to talk to each other over top of me, giggling, somersaulting, ninja-kicking, whatever it was that they were doing – and it wasn’t having a lick of manners for their mother.

I finally sent them to two different locations of the house for a time to allow myself to gather my bearings.  (I think all three of us were in tears right about then.)  Slowly, I went and spoke to them one at a time.  I got full on REAL mom with them – spoke to them clearly about manners and respect and their lack of lately.  We talked about the importance of listening, being attentive, and how it looks to have manners in conversation.  How to display respect in following instructions.

I collapsed into bed at 9:30 last night – just beat.  I had dishes in the sink and 4 loads of unfolded laundry on my bed.  But I was done with the day and done with my mothering duties.  Skyler laid in bed with me last night, just listening to me unload with my frustrations and exhaustion of motherhood for the day.  He listened quietly and then gently squeezed my hand as if to tell me, “I know babe, it’s hard.  But you’re doing great.”

I woke up at 5 this morning like I do most days and started my reading.  I’m currently reading through Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson.  (I recently read Bringing Up Boys and loved it.)  In it was an interview with previous Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum:

America today is a me-centered culture. It is about doing whatever a person wants to do, regardless of how it affects other people. Manners convey just the opposite. They show respect for others, especially looking out for their interest, whether it’s opening the door or waiting in line or just saying a kind word. These social graces reflect an entirely different worldview. But unless parents are consciously working to instill those values and behaviors in their children, the culture will stamp its own perspectives on them.” 
Mama’s. We gotta teach them manners.  We just HAVE to. Regardless of the difficulty, the tireless efforts of teaching the same thing day after day after day, the toll it takes on our sanity at times.  Regardless of the cost, we must instill manners and respect.  It’s hard, it’s frustrating, it feels like total crap some days.  But we gotta keep at it. 
Let us cultivate a culture of manners with our babies.

 

Manners Quote
 

Hugs and love to you on those days that feel fruitless.  I promise you, they are not.

 

Homeschool {Week F}

Well, I got way off track with blogging about our homeschooling adventure, but I’ll pick up where I left off to be able to keep track of our schooling efforts.  :)

That leads me all the way back to letter F.  Almost two months ago.  (But we just started letter H this week, so I suppose I’m not too far behind!)

F Calendar Week

I think I mentioned before that it only took a few weeks of school to realize we needed some tweaks and one of those tweaks was doing Mondays as an intro to each letter and keeping it fairly basic.  There was two reasons for this: 1.  An intro to each letter made sense.  An overview of each letter, words starting with the letter, the sounds it makes, and different activities revolving just around the letter (there are a bajillion worksheets in Pinterest-Land to work from).  2.  Mondays have always been my catch up day after the weekend play, and I was falling behind in keeping up with laundry and cleaning the house.  Now, instead of 2-2.5 hours of school on Monday, it’s more like an hour and then I can spend the rest of the morning working on chores.

I think one of Zeek’s favorite things is learning the new “Godly Character Trait” and nursery rhyme each week!

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Family/Friends:

This one seemed fun to do because of our recent discovery of the backpacks at our public library and they had one called Family.

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We went through our backpack (which really is geared more towards younger toddlers but Zeek doesn’t seem to mind and Asher really loves them).  Then we read some books we had also picked up from the library:

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We sang the “Families Are Different” song (found on First Grade Wow.)

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I’ll admit that I don’t REALLY care for singing silly kids songs (rather, I don’t mind them on Pandora… but leading them?  Not my fave.), but my boys love it… so I buck up and do it for them.  :)

Then we did just a short craft with coloring and cutting out our family members to create a family portrait (not pictured…and can’t even find the blog I found the figurines from – sorry, I’m not helpful!).

Firemen/Fire Safety:

My boys have always been into firetrucks so this was a no brainer – plus I figured that fire safety would be a good thing to throw in there, since they sort of have a pyro for a dad….

We read our books from the library:

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And we practiced our “Stop, Drop and Roll”, which the boys loved.  I think I mentioned the “All About” movies in a previous post.  I love love love these movies!!  They are about $5 on Amazon and have between eight and ten 30 minute videos and teach such great information about all sorts of different topics!  We have one about Fire Engines, so we watched that after our books.

Asher has never been one to like movies (maybe hold his attention for 5 minutes) but these ones he loves and sits through the whole thing and really seems to glean information from.  They are awesome.  (I actually got the boys two more for Christmas because we love them so much!)

Then we worked on some number and counting activities, found on the Living Montessori Now blog.

They had dalmatian dogs and had to count the spots and then put the dog collar with the correct number on the dog.

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Then the boys had to line up and park the fire trucks in numerical order in front of the fire station.

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The rest of the morning was spent with free play with their fire trucks and fire stations (a barn my dad made).

Feathers:

I’m not sure what happened this day in particular, but we ended up not doing school… sick day?? I can’t remember…

Fall:

We decided that since it was my sister and mother’s birthdays and it was fall – we needed to have a fall party!  So we did some fall related activities and just got ourselves in the mood for fall festivities!

To start the morning, we listened to the Turkey Dance:

We sang the “Autumn-Time is Coming” song (found on DLTK Holiday’s):

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And then we just finished up with some different activities and worksheets from this free Fall Pack from Serving Joyfully.

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Up next, Week G! :)

Some affiliate links may be included in this post.

The Christmas Post

Christmas has come and gone (as well as the old year), but today we woke up with snow and so a post about Christmas just felt appropriate.

We had a fast but fun December.  Baby girl still wasn’t sleeping well and spent most of the month with some sort of cold or sickness (and therefore we were both lacking in the sleep department)…. which made everything feel rushed and like we were running on empty the whole month, despite not really doing too many Christmas-y activities.

I did branch out this year and try something new!  I made gingerbread cookies!  I know that’s not a big feat for most, but I have never been a gingerbread house builder/decorator in my childhood.  I wasn’t game for a full on 3-D house construction so I cut house shapes out of the gingerbread for a good ol’ 2-D decorating session.  :) We invited some friends over and had a messy good time!

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Even with lack of sleep, I tried as often as I could to wake up at my normal 5/5:30 am time to enjoy the living room – the fire blazing, tree lit, Christmas music softly playing.  This is my favorite favorite time of the year.  I love the ambiance of the lights and Christmas decor!  So. These pics are all dark because they were taken just before 6 am. ;)

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This year, my mom passed on her Christmas village to me and the boys loved it.  We are now on the look out for more pieces to add to it.

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Oh my word.  When I see this picture above, all I see is the fireplace redo that we have planned.  I WANT TO TACKLE IT.  It needs some TLC, badly.

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Christmas Eve, all 3 are bathed and in their clean jammies.  It was a Christmas miracle!

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Can’t even handle that sweet Asher boy!

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Daddy reading stories on Christmas Eve to some very very excited children!

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8 am Christmas Morning – time for opening stockings!!  These sweet babes were so patient on Christmas morning.

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The boys were so excited to give Daddy their presents they picked out.  We spent an afternoon at Sportsman Warehouse and the boys each picked a fishing lure and beef jerky stick for dad.  :)

Grandma and Grandpa showed up around 10 and the kids were so excited to get the morning started!  Grandma showed up in a candy cane headband which the boys promptly decided looked like caterpillar ears.

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We sat down and ate our breakfast – I love having a big yummy Christmas breakfast before opening presents!  The kids?  Well.  They were incredibly patient and wonderful.  :)

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My signature egg dish!  I always make this for MOPS or Bible studies or breakfast gatherings at my house.

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Pioneer Woman’s Coconut Ginger Baked French Toast.  This is TO.DIE.FOR.  One of my best girls made this about a year ago for MOPS and I ate like 3 helpings and then went out and bought all the ingredients for it.  Then I saw that it was an overnight recipe and it seemed quite daunting… (it isn’t.  There are a few steps but it’s not difficult.)  I bucked up and decided to make it for Christmas.  NO REGRETS.  This is an amazing dish.  It’s in her A Year of Holidays cookbook which my sister in law bought me for Christmas a couple years ago.

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Also.  I have a confession.  It feels major to announce it here because it almost seems like a crime…While I love love love Pioneer Woman recipes, I don’t read her blog at all or watch her on tv.  I know so many other people just adore her, but I just have never been able to get into her blog.  But I do love all of her recipes that I have tried.

Asher was up at the table and eager for breakfast before it was even quite ready to be served!

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Then we all listened to daddy read about Jesus’ birth from our favorite kids Bible – The Jesus Storybook Bible.

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And then – PRESENTS!  Even lil miss did an ok job opening presents.  Grandma was smart and wrapped her presents with tissue paper for easy ripping!

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Ash pondering which gift to grab next!  One of my favorite things that my mother in law has always done is wrap everyone’s gift and label them with nicknames and then it was our job to figure out who gets which gift based on the nickname on the package.  I did the same this year and the boys had fun figuring who each gift was for.  I used names like The Nest Sleeper (Zeek), Lil Baldy (Asher…. he pulled some hair out of his head last month), Snuggle Bug (Asher), etc.

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Grandma helping Ellery open her gift.

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My sister in law bought me another Pioneer Woman book!

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Girly got tired of unwrapping presents and cuddled in with Grandma.

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My grandparents stopped by later for a visit with my uncle.  It is always soo good to see them and makes my heart so happy to see them with my kids!

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I love this picture!  Ellery gets some of her big expressions from her Great Grandma Grace!

The next day, we all headed to my parents house to celebrate Christmas with my sisters family too.

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Ellery and her oldest cousin Kaily.  (Also, ^^ this retro music box was Ellery’s gift that I got her.  Girl LOVES her music and loves dancing.  I hunted all over for this toy because I remember loving it as a child too!)

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Asher sure is a Grandpa’s Boy!

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Ellery loved this giant bag and played on it for so long!

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She sure loves her daddy.  “Sweet Thing Buttercup”, as daddy calls her.

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Grandpa bought all his grandsons little tool buckets with small sized tools in them so they can tag along with their dads and help out on jobs.  :)

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They loved it!

Christmas was lovely and relaxing.  We enjoyed games (Ticket to Ride was played several times!), good food and lounging around.

How was yours?  What’s your favorite “must do” each season?

Ellery June {10 Months}

10 Months Waving Hello

Waving hello – your new favorite trick!

10 Months

  • Oh how you have grown by leaps and bounds this last month!  You also had a really rough month – 2 weeks of teething, a cold, a few days of reprieve, another cold which then turned into croup.  Awesome!  But you’re all good now.
  • When you holler out that you are awake after a nap, you are usually not sitting and playing with your bunny like you used to.  You are now standing at your crib side facing the doorway, just standing and waiting… Waiting for someone to rescue you from that confining place.  Usually, you have also thrown your binky on the floor in protest.
  • You have started furniture surfing.  You have realized you can get places by walking and holding onto the couch/coffee table/chairs.  You also have enjoyed this newfound ability to dance all the better by standing up and holding onto something.  You love dancing your little booty.
  • You are starting to do and say things!  You can say “Uh-oh!”, “bye!” (sometimes), “mama” and “dada”.
  • You also have learned a few non-words.  You can grunt and growl and “Chewbacca” with the best of them.  I sometimes fear you growing up with two older brothers and being poorly misguided that grunting is a proper way to greet someone.
  • You wave hi and bye.
  • You are starting to do some sign language which is FAR better than your shrill screams for more food at dinner.  You can sign “more” (for more dinner) and “all done”.
  • The amount of real people food that you can eat now is unreal.  UNreal.
  • Your hair is getting longer and longer and I’m so excited because if you were a boy, I’d be needing to give you a haircut right about now, but you’re NOT and I can just watch it grow longer!  Yahoo!
  • You must have your mama’s feet.  Yours are so so tiny.  I’ll bet that the summer sandals you were “supposed to” wear this past summer will actually fit you next summer!
  • You are getting more and more excited about toys.  Thank goodness Christmas is coming up and your birthday (EEK) isn’t too far after that because we need to get some GIRL toys up in here!  You are all about playing with trucks and trains and dinosaurs right now because you have little option for anything else.  We need some dolly’s and …. shoot!  What else to girls play with!?
  • You do a new fake laugh, which is pretty adorably hilarious.  You also do this insanely cute scrunchy nose face when you’re grinning.
  • One of your favorite activities that I often find you doing nowadays is emptying your pajama drawer out or taking all your books off your shelf and spreading them all over your floor.  Where this sort of thing used to frustrate me when Zeek was a baby, now as a more seasoned mom of 3, I welcome this sort of thing!  Quietly occupying yourself for 15-20 minutes of play that takes 2 minutes to clean.  Done and done.  Play your heart out.

We love you, Sweet Thing Buttercup!  We’re so glad you’re in our family!

{Before & After} Down the Hallway

Back to the house tour, finally!  I don’t know why it’s taken me so long (more than a year) to show you more of my house, other than – KIDS.  Craaap.  Do you know how hard it is to make your house clean enough to get it photo ready with kids in the house?  You can spend 2 hours cleaning and then have about 3.7 seconds before the baby pukes all over and someone else drops their underpants right in the middle of the floor for no good reason.  So, the reason I haven’t shown you more of my house, including the really exciting places like my hallway, is because I have too many kids dropping their drawers and I apologize mightily for that.  Onward.

The hallway.  Not the most exciting of spaces, but a well used space.  Not as big as a bedroom but took almost equally as much love and attention to get it properly showing again.  Let me first remind you what it looked like when we moved in… (Although, because this space is not a room, I didn’t actually get any “before” photos but you can get the gist.)

Before:

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Now that you see it, let me point out all of it’s flaws and let downs.  First, the paint.  ALL THE PAINT.  Whoever painted in here previously must have demanded that all the paint have the highest possible sheen and shine to it.  Because everyone loves shiny reflective surfaces right?  Folks.  The same is not true for paint.  Please, for the love, do not buy shiny, high gloss paint for your whole house.  It will make your whole house appear vintage (not a good vintage) and greasy.  So, to start – we needed to paint IT ALL.  Including the trim (baseboard and around doors) that hadn’t ever been purposely painted but had sloppy past wall painting jobs that left globs of paint all over the hardwood trim.  You can see in the above photo that we had done 3 of 4 doorways at this point.  There is also a hole in the wall on the right where a dented and dingy old poop brown wall register had been hanging out.  And at the end of the hallway?  This beauty:

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Oh, the shine!  Who needs mirrors?!  HIGH-GLOSS PAINT!  I rather quickly ripped the doors and drawers and ugly gold hardware off and primed for painting.

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A couple coats of paint later and some white and black pinstriped contact paper…

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The ugly gold hardware:

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My dad, master at fixing/replacing anything, helped us give the hallway a real quick updated look by swapping out the doors (which *ahem* are still just primed and we need to officially paint!):

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All the hardwood floors in this house were really in great condition (except Ellery’s room), so all we had to do to get them looking pretty again was to go over with a couple coats of Polyurethane.

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Then we pieced the hallway back together – put the cabinet doors and drawers back (with new hardware), changed out the light fixture, spray painted and replaced the ugly faux wood doorbell box, replaced the wall vent with a new white one…

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Doorbell box.  Still ugly, but less ugly than also being 70’s plastic faux wood colored.

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New hardware, which I love.  I want these all over my house.

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We replaced the chintzy 80’s version of the “boob light” with this oil rubbed bronze light fixture with some dollars, my electrician daddy and a few prayers that my boys wouldn’t throw balls directly at it:

 

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Sorry for the stock image from Amazon.  After about 25 attempts to get a nice photo of the one installed, I threw in the towel.  Our hallway is long and semi-dark, so this just wasn’t an easy task for a non-professional photographer like myself.  Also, we tried this vintage Edison bulb like in the photo and, true to what I just said about my hallway being dark already, this type of bulb just lent it an extra eerie look.  Since I wasn’t in fact going for the “haunted house” vibe, I opted for a regular white light bulb which made things right in the world again.

And then, it was mostly complete!  Except… one small problem, emphasis on small.

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Look at how ridiculous my hallway rug looked!!  That is a regular ol’ 6 foot hallway rug.  (Did I mention my hallway is long?)

I kept this rug there for a few months while rug hunting but didn’t have much luck finding anything longer than 8 foot, which I knew would still hardly make a dent in this hallway length.  Then I got tired of staring at this too-small rug, so I moved it into the laundry room and we had a bare hallway for months.

Do you know how creaky 60 year old hardwood floors can be?  Especially when 3 babies are sleeping and their mother is trying to creep down the hallway for some quiet alone time at 6 am?!  I couldn’t take it anymore!  I needed to do something about it.

Then I learned about Sisal Rugs Direct.  Sisal Rugs makes custom sized rugs which was the perfect answer to my incredibly long hall!  Hello.  Exactly what I needed.  I wanted to get this sucker ordered and quiet down our hallway asap!  The customer service was amazing.  The man I worked with knew I had kids and he suggested a durable indoor/outdoor style.  He emailed me several suggestions for my space which I picked a few from to get free samples of so I could see and feel them in person before I selected and ordered one.  With a quick measurement of my hallway, I was able to order a nice 14’x2.5′ rug that was perfect for my hall.

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Much better, right?!

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I was also sent some coordinating color options for the binding to choose from.  I ended up ordering the Lana Desert Sand with Moon Rock Gray binding.  I love that it’s a natural looking rug but isn’t painful to walk on like some other natural fiber rugs (ahem *IKEA*) that I’ve had in my house!  This passes the barefoot test which is key in this house.

Also, in the couple of months we have had this rug, the little girl has decided to really put it to the test by spitting up on it probably at least 25 times.  Why she had it out for this rug, I don’t know.  Thankfully, the customer service man I worked with had suggested the indoor/outdoor variety and her spit-up has cleaned up nicely each time.  :)

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Look at that! Can’t even tell this thing has been barfed on multiple times! ;)

And with that, our hallway is mostly complete!  And onward with the bathroom and master bedroom…. :)

Disclaimer: Sisal Rugs provided this rug to me for this review but the opinions expressed are entirely of my own.  Thank you Sisal Rugs!

When Fall Fell Hard.

You guys.  I don’t even want to look at or know the last time I blogged.  I know it was a long time ago.  Too long.  To say we have been “surviving” this last 4-5 weeks is being quite generous.

I briefly alluded to the fact that I broke my toe in a true Wipe Out fashion a month-ish ago.  I was a wreck.  Hobbling around like a fool for a couple weeks, and naturally, when something like that happens is exactly the time when all three of your children want to step right on your foot every time they come near you.  And because of face diving into the couch while tripping and breaking my toe, my neck and back were also royally messed up for a couple weeks and required a lot of laying down and a trip to the chiropractor.  Then Ellery was teething for a couple weeks, without any sight of actual teeth.  Rough/no sleep for her or myself.  Then a couple days of normalcy – Praise God.  Then Ellery got a gross cold.  Sleeping all about stopped again.  Then a few days later my brother’s family flew in from Texas and while we quite enjoyed their visit, almost all of us passed the cold germs around to each other.  Then, just as Ellery was getting over her cold, she got it again.  And then it progressed into croup.  Which leads us to today – 4 days into croup.  Like I said, just surviving the month has been the goal but I think we’re finally heading in the right direction of the mends (and return of sleep).

AND SO!  Here I am!  :)  All late and tardy to my own party, but I’m gonna have it anyway.  Yep, I’m gonna talk about fall still.

Last year we had just moved into our house a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, so hosting anything was completely out of the question.  This year we are more than settled and I was happy to host my growing family.

My brother, sister in law Shannon and niece Eila came in from Texas a couple days before Thanksgiving.  Shannon is a fantastic cook (she has a gardening/cooking blog The Dig In where she shares great recipes) so I had invited her to come early on Thanksgiving to help me make the meal.  Together we knocked it out pretty quickly and I enjoyed our time being able to visit while we cooked.

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Your typical Thanksgiving meal.  :)  Like I said, we had been surviving this season, but I did manage to get my house semi-decorated for a mix of fall/winter.

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And our Thanksgiving “adult” table – yep, totally had to do that this year with our ever growing family!

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I stole a bunch of feathers from the boys’ collection to come up with this center piece.  Thankfully, Zeek loved it and forgave me.  ;)

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We quite enjoyed our meal and the fruits of our labor!  And my fridge was stuffed with leftovers for a week after, so that was great. :)

The rest of our day was spent in typical and untypical ways.

Typical: relaxing, browsing Black Friday ads, playing games, indulging in pies.

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Enjoying my pie (ok, okay.  Pies.) and glass of milk… which Shannon thought was odd for me to enjoy from a goblet so she snapped this photo.  Hey – ANYONE can be fancy, right?!

Untypical: My brother noticed 3 huge boulders in our driveway and asked why they were sitting there.  Sadly, the answer was that they had been there since May when we ordered about 8 boulders and dirt for our landscaping redo project… because they were just too darned heavy to move.  Dad and Skyler had tried, oh yes they had, but to no luck.  Jeremy (my brother) insisted that since there were 4 men there (Jeremy, Skyler, dad and my brother in law Brad), that they give it a try.

Skyler had the idea of being cavemen and rolling these boulders with a log/board system – which to our surprise actually worked.  It still wasn’t an easy task, but they did it!  It took them more than an hour, but they got those 3 giant boulders moved!

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We called it some “brotherly bonding” time.  This girl over here was quite giddy that after 7 (SEVEN) months of those being stuck in our driveway, we could finally park BOTH cars in the driveway again!

Ellery and Jeremy & Shannon’s daughter Eila got to bond also and played together.

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Eila wasn’t terribly fond with the idea of sharing her daddy.

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A few days later we all gathered for the first entire Miller Family photo session that we have had… I think since Skyler and I had been married – so at least over 6 years, but I think closer to 8… So yes, it was long overdue.  The weather was sunny but chilling.  It was about 30 degrees out and we were all frozen, especially the poor babies.

But my cousin Erica took some great photos of us all.

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After family photo session, we headed to my grandparents church to have our entire Miller family Thanksgiving celebration!  I lost track, but I think there’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 of us now… which is why we host it at the church most often instead of someone’s home!

We ate food, played games (White Elephant, which is my favorite game ever.), visited with each other and tried to get more cute photos of Ellery and Eila together.  :)

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White Elephant – where you get the best gifts ever.  We had santa underwear, and even a “redneck briefcase” made with big tighty-whitey’s and wooden handles make their way through our party, along with some genuinely good stuff.

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I got this:

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A wiener dog serving bowl which is basically my favorite thing ever now.  It will grace all of our friend and family gatherings with… something in it!  I’ll figure it out…

Eila Grace staring deeply at her name-sake Great Grandma Grace.

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Nearly all the great-grandkids (missing 2 boys!).

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Asher couldn’t end the night without begging to hold Eila one last time.  That boy sure is a sucker for babies, and especially baby girls!

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I am so thankful to be dipping my toes back in blogging and capturing our memories again!  I sure do rely on these blog posts for my own memory!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying the beginnings of Christmas season.  :)

Homeschool {Week E}

Oh my word.  I feel so behind in these.  But I’m gonna keep truckin’ along.  (At the very least, this will be a great way for me to look back over the years and see what we learned each year!)

E Calendar

*Also, let me note that not everything on our “to do” schedule gets done all the time.  These are all activities that I think would be fun and helpful but if the boys particularly like one activity, I let them spend longer on it, or some activities take longer than anticipated and we don’t get all the way down the list.  I usually try to list the activities in order of preference.

EGGS:

The boys are fascinated by eggs so I knew it would be a good choice for letter E.  Dinosaur eggs, bird eggs, chicken eggs – they love to eat them, seek them and read about them.

We have a few books about eggs already at home, but I found a few new ones for us to read from the library:

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I had pre-filled 12 Easter eggs with black beans numbering from 1-12 and hid them around the playroom.  I sent the boys off on the hunt to find them all.

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Once collected, I had them one by one open them up and count the beans.  Then they had to match the number of beans inside the egg to the correct number in the egg crate.  We’ve been really working on recognizing numbers 1-20 with the boys, so this was a great activity for that!  They loved it.

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After this activity, I swapped out the beans in the eggs for little slips of paper that had a variety of egg laying animals printed on them and hid the eggs for the boys to find again… simply because they are 2 and 4 and love egg hunts. ;)  After they found them all again, they opened the eggs one by one and called out the animal tucked in their egg.  Zeek, who knows MANY things about MANY animals was even surprised at some of the animals that he discovered were egg laying.

Then we took those slips of animal pictures and used them in our craft next.

I cut out two large egg shapes, one for each boy.  We had an egg poem (from here), glued it to the egg, and then glued all the animals around the poem.

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A few days prior, we had gone to our favorite little Asian foods store around here – Wing Wa.  We picked up some duck and quail eggs!

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We hadn’t ever had duck eggs and these were a little too salty for us, so we lovingly passed them on to our neighbor-friends who are also homeschooling, doing letter E and EGGS! ;)

We DO love quail eggs though!  They are so tiny and cute – we’ve been getting these for years because they are the perfect bite sized protein snack for little hands.

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We most often hard boil them (though they do make the most adorable little fried eggs you’ve ever seen!).

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Aren’t they cute!?  Just like mini chicken eggs, but an even creamier yolk, in my opinion!

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We finished off the morning having some lunch and tasting our eggs.

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Dad, reading their state book to them.  Delaware and Florida this week.

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EYES & EARS

Zeek ended up being sick one of the days this week, so we lumped Eyes & Ears together into one day, which seemed fitting anyway. :)

After our normal morning activities, (Pledge of Allegiance, Godly Character Trait/Bible Memory Verse, Letter E Nursery Rhyme, Weather, Calendar, Ee Journal), we read several books about eyes and ears!  We had a couple … uh, “graphic” surprises as we turned some of these pages and some some very detailed looks at these body parts… As in, cadavers that were flayed open and photographed!  But thankfully, the boys were really into it.

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Eye to Eye was a really fun book that showed different eye shapes and functions of a variety of animals.

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And for a special treat, MAGIC EYE books!!  Oh my.  I had completely forgotten about these little gems until I spotted one at the library.  These were my favorite back when I was in about 2nd grade… And I should probably bust them out around that time again for Zeek, because he was too young to be able to grasp the concept of what he was supposed to do and these books ended up being a major source of frustration to him because he couldn’t quite get the hang of it and couldn’t see the hidden picture.  Many tears were shed over these two books… :)

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After we learned all about eyes and ears and their functions, we sifted through several magazines and cut out any good photos of eyes or ears that we could find.  Then Asher took on gluing the ears in a collage, and Zeek took on eyes.

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Then we did a couple of hearing games (which I didn’t photograph).

1.  I had previously recorded different sounds around the house on my phone (the microwave beeping, the garage door opening, the signal on the washing machine, markers being shaken in their container, the paper cutter arm being moved up and down, etc.).  I played each one and had them guess what the noises were.  I was pretty impressed with how quickly they got them correct!

2.  I took a wind up timer and hid it around the house in a few locations and had them try to hear the soft “tick tick” of the timer and see how close they were when it went off.

EARTH:

I was super excited for Earth!  I knew that Zeek would enjoy learning about it, plus I had a Magic School Bus movie on the agenda – holla!  I personally have always loved Magic School Bus (I mean, LILY TOMLIN! Come on!) and keep trying to push it on Zeek, but he’s not super interested.  I am determined to make him a lover of it! ;)

Before the flick though, we read some books and learned the basics about Earth and also briefly about the solar system.

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After learning about the Earth and it’s layers, we colored and labeled our own worksheets.

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To be expected, Zeek understood slightly more than Asher….

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Then we made a “Where We Live” craft of Earth.  We started out with a picture of Earth…

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Then zoomed in to our continent…

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And our country…

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And state…

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And county…

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And city…

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And finished off with a zoomed in shot of our street… which I didn’t photograph because, you know.  The internet.  :)

The boys each made one of these books, which they thought was pretty great.  They have them stored in their desks.  I love when they love an activity that we do so much that they keep them with their “special” school stuff.

And that about wrapped up Letter E!  We have had Letter F & G weeks, and are currently taking a break this week for Thanksgiving and just doing some fall related activities.  Letter H will resume next week – and hopefully I can get F & G posted sooner than later!

Hope you all are having a great Thanksgiving break with your family as well! :)

Ellery June {9 Months}

Baby Girl, I am seriously sucking at this posting thing.  Forgive me.  There are three of you little folks now.  Enough said.  Also, photos.  I couldn’t choose just one.

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9 Months

  • You are a super fast crawler now!  You still crawl funny with your right foot on the floor, but you are fast regardless.
  • You say “mama” and “dada” but only as the moment comes to you – not on command.  You do sit in your crib and say “mamamamamama!” when you want me to come get you after naps.
  • You love just trailing along behind your brothers.  You love to follow their steps and do what they do.  Glad you are so easily doing life with two brothers!
  • ^^ That said, you know all about trains, cars, dinosaurs and nerf guns.  I can’t wait to show you the world of dolls, Calico Critters and kitchen.
  • You are getting a bit more cuddly.  In the mornings and after naps you like to snuggle with your head on my chest.  I eat it up.
  • You have started pulling yourself up on furniture to stand!
  • You are eating more and more “real” food.  You devour eggs on the regular and even scarfed some ground elk the other night.
  • You’ve had the typical 9 month sleep regression/teething which has SUCKED.  You have been wanting to party for a couple hours every night.  One night, mama even went to bed before 10 and still only barely scraped 3 hours of sleep out of the whole night.  You may stop this at ANY moment, my darling.
  • Nicknames: Sweet Thing Buttercup, Honey Girl, Elle Belle, Ellie June.

Despite a rougher month with you for lack of sleep, you are still a gem and happy girl when you are awake and for that, this mama is incredibly grateful.  You COULD be awake AND grumpy.  I’ll gladly take awake and happy.  :)

Love you, Elle!