Friday, November 11, 2016


Everyone at 3 months old...








Wednesday, November 09, 2016

National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

I've been wanting to write a post about this for over a year, but haven't found time.  This one will have to be super quick, but something is better than nothing!

National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day is November 15!

I love this "Holiday" because you can turn a chore that everyone puts off into a celebration, and it's so lovely to have a clean fridge.  Put on party music, get some hot water and a few rags, and have fun cleaning and throwing out!

Then last year, as a special treat for myself, I got some fridge coasters.  They cover the shelves and are absorbent so a leaky milk jug or tipped over sippy cup is no big deal.  I honestly love them.

They sent me a coupon code this week in my email- 20% off with code Fall4it

My clean and pretty fridge has made me happy all year long.  Let me know if you celebrate!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Call for tiny items

I want to make these for Christmas.

I have a few tiny items that I've been saving-things that you know aren't trash, but you don't know what to do with them-game pieces, etc.  I know I have more squirreled away but at the moment this is all I've got.

I figure lots of people have tiny items laying around.  If you do and you'd like to get them out of your house and into a fun I Spy Jar for one of my children, send them my way!  

Or just comment with some more ideas of what I could put inside.  ;)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fall 2016

Fall!  Everyone loves it.  It's probably my 4th favorite season.

Here's what I hope to do.

1.  Put the garden to bed for the winter.
2.  Can some tomatoes.
3.  Clean up the front porch for the winter.
4.  Mow the yard (have Anna mow the yard)
5.  Harry Announcements!!!  (goal is by 10/18/16-but probably not until MJL is done)
6.  Quilting machine set up (also after MJL is done)
7.  Make many Christmas gifts.
8.  Cut out Lillian's Quilt
9.  4 H Record Book!  (9/30/16)
10.  Halloween Costumes--Anna Mother Teresa, Jimmy Entomologist?
11.  Go Back to School
12.  Switch kids clothes to Winter
13.  Go through toys and clothes and donate many of them for St. Nicholas' day 12/6/16
14.  Make a Project List and Plan for Anna for 4H 2017
15.  Make Christmas PJ's for kids by Thanksgiving.
16.  Finish Anna's Thank Yous!
17.  Make Pumpkin Butter
18.  Make Jam with Anna

Summer's list-

1.  Get out the baby stuff.
2.  Have baby.
3.  Kid photo shoot
4.  Baby Announcements and CD
5.  FAIR
6.  Big Lobmeyer Party
7.  Cabin
8.  Keep up with the garden  ish
9.  Start kids back to school.
10.  Can some things.
11.  Finish lesson plans for August.
12.  Finish Jules' Blankie!!!
13.  Go through big boxes of fabric.
14.  Go through box under table.
15.  Go through big basket.
16.  See the Art in OKC.
17.  Make baby shirt for Big Lobmeyer Party
18.  Read that book from Susan.
19.  Mail things in the big pile.
20.  Make something for me or for house.  Made myself a rug for outside the door to my office, a new dishcloth, and a cover for my mixer.
21.  Green Box I've been avoiding this project for a year!  Took only 90 minutes.  Woohoo!
22.  Bonnie's Birthday gift.  I didn't even put this on the list because I was kind of dreading it.  but it's done and wrapped so I'm adding it now.  :)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summer List 2016!


Here's what we got done in the Spring:

  1. Plant flower bed
  2. Plant flowers in pots on the porch.
  3. Plant vegetable garden.  
  4. Help Anna finish 6 projects early:  
    1. Photography  Pictures are on their way here, so this one is ALMOST done.
    2. Cross Stitch, 
    3. Quilting, This is going to have to be a two year project
    4. Crochet,  She decided to skip this one
    5. Visual Arts, Maybe 1/2 done?
    6. Clothing Construction.  Recycled done and one other, still working on the "main" one.
  5. Sew something with Joela for Clothing Construction.
  6. Green Box
  7. Reconfigure Sewing Room to fit new machine.
  8. Bind Lauren's Quilt
  9. Switch the kids' clothes and eliminate some. 
  10. Finish Jules' blankie.

And here's what I need to do this summer:

1.  Get out the baby stuff.
2.  Have baby.
3.  Kid photo shoot
4.  Baby Announcements and CD
5.  FAIR
6.  Big Lobmeyer Party
7.  Cabin
8.  Keep up with the garden  ish
9.  Start kids back to school.
10.  Can some things.
11.  Finish lesson plans for August.
12.  Finish Jules' Blankie!!!
13.  Go through big boxes of fabric.
14.  Go through box under table.
15.  Go through big basket.
16.  See the Art in OKC.
17.  Make baby shirt for Big Lobmeyer Party
18.  Read that book from Susan.
19.  Mail things in the big pile.
20.  Make something for me or for house.  Made myself a rug for outside the door to my office, a new dishcloth, and a cover for my mixer.
21.  Green Box I've been avoiding this project for a year!  Took only 90 minutes.  Woohoo!
22.  Bonnie's Birthday gift.  I didn't even put this on the list because I was kind of dreading it.  but it's done and wrapped so I'm adding it now.  :)

Probably way too many things-I always think that there will be SO. MUCH. TIME! when I'm on Maternity leave and there is not.  I know that.    But it feels good to have things I want to do recorded somewhere.

This is going to be a great season.  :)

Thursday, April 07, 2016


For the past couple of years, I have had this funny reaction to my birthday.  I feel kind of overwhelmed and frustrated when someone asks me what I want.  I tend to think things like "I don't have time to want things for my birthday", which I realize is a ridiculous thought.

So yesterday as I was checking in books I thought about it and figured out a couple of things.

I don't want stuff, because I spend so much time dealing with stuff.  If I get, for example, a new chair for my office, (which makes sense because it's not the best chair in the world and it's pretty uncomfortable for months 6-9 of pregnancy) I have to deal with the packaging from the new chair, moving the new chair, deciding what to do with the old chair, etc.  That is a lot of work.  I would rather just sit on a pillow or just not sit in my office for a couple of months than add more work to my life.  Stuff = work.  Even things that I do really want-either mean that I would have to find a place for it, or find time to use it, or do something with the old thing, and the thought of adding more work to my life feels like the opposite of a present.

What I do really want, really, is help.  Just help with any of the things that I have to do, or especially help with the things that I want to do, but will never get to because of all of the work.  This was a wonderful thing to figure out.

So I asked Dad to get me gardening supplies-the plants and the mulch, etc. and Susan and Steven to come out and help me and the kids dig up and plant the vegetable garden and get it all set up.

I asked Katrina to help me plant flowers on the porch.  She'll bring me flowers and potting soil and help me and the kids plant together and it is perfect.

It's a much bigger gift though-because it costs both money AND time, and I realize I'm a hugely lucky girl to have these people in my life.

Anna is still not convinced-I remember my Mom telling me she wanted things like "for you all to be happy", "for you and your sisters to get along", "for you to remember to wipe off the counters after you do the dishes" and being so frustrated.  But it's true.  I want those things more than anything else (except maybe hard floors in the house.  I do want that a whole lot).

What sorts of things do you want these days?

Friday, April 01, 2016

Anna's machine

For Science, in their study of simple machines, the kids each had to design a Rube Goldberg machine.
It was a LOOONG, but really fun project for Anna and Daddy to work on together.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Spring 2016

Time for a new list!  Thanks to a perfectly wonderful Spring Break, I got a lot of these things done.  

Winter 2016--
  • Banquette seating/Benches
  • Bathroom in Basement
  • Cut out Lauren's Quilt
  • Katie Birthday
  • Try to make Toffee
  • Peppermint Bark
  • Put away Christmas
  • Figure out Spring Break
  • Teddy Baby Book
  • Hall Photos
  • 8x10 Album
  • Christmas Card Display
  • Prune and Fertilize trees
  • Thank you notes  From Christmas but we're still working on Katie's birthday...
  • Portraits
  • New Schedule
  • Take Recycling
  • Go through house again,  A few things, but not too many.  
  • Go for walks as a family.
Now for Spring!  2016

  1. Plant flower bed
  2. Plant flowers in pots on the porch.
  3. Plant vegetable garden.  
  4. Help Anna finish 6 projects early:  
    1. Photography, 
    2. Cross Stitch, 
    3. Quilting, This is going to have to be a two year project
    4. Crochet,  She decided to skip this one
    5. Visual Arts, and 
    6. Clothing Construction.  
  5. Sew something with Joela for Clothing Construction.
  6. Green Box
  7. Reconfigure Sewing Room to fit new machine.
  8. Bind Lauren's Quilt
  9. Switch the kids' clothes and eliminate some. 
  10. Finish Jules' blankie.
Hooray for lists.  I look forward to this every time the season changes.  :)

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Overheard in the Elementary School-Election Edition

4th grade boy:  What will you do if Trump wins?
4th grade boy II:  Move to another country. 


4th grade boy:  ...Tom Cruise is gonna win.

4th grade boy II:  No, he's a cheater!  He said Ben Carson was not gonna run, but he was still.  So he's a cheater, I don't like Tom Cruise. 

4th grade boy:  He's better than Trump.

4th grade boy II:  No.  He's a cheater.  A cheater can't be president.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Podcast Recommendations for Kids

We love listening to things in the car.  Sometimes it's a book, sometimes podcasts, sometimes (but more rarely) music.

Here are our kid podcast favorites at the moment.

Brains On! is a Science podcast for kids.  They answer questions sent in by kids, each show is co-hosted by different kids, they incorporate a "mystery sound" sent in by listeners (kids).  We love it.

Story Time is short 10-15 minute bedtime stories, read by someone British.  We have tried lots and lots of different story podcasts, and discovered that I dislike most of them. Either the stories are poorly written, or I don't like the subtext, or they're not well delivered.   I'm really picky about it, but I like this one!

On Wednesdays, my two favorite podcasts come out, and the kids know we're listening to those first.  The rest of the time they get to pick.  (Unless Katie is having a particularly bad day, and then we all agree that the best thing to do is to let her listen to "quiet classical music" which is what she demands requests on particularly bad days).    My two favorites are not really kid podcasts, but are fine to listen to with kids in the car.

Happier  You can tell I'm a Gretchen Rubin fan.  I love this podcast with real life happiness tips.  Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth are from Kansas City, but live in New York and LA now, and I think it's interesting to hear about their lives, in such different places, and I love practical happiness tips.

Three Dogs North  I've probably mentioned this one before because I love it so.  Two seminarians and a priest, talking about faith and life and all sorts of things.  The last episode of February discussed St. Ambrose, and how his kindness to St. Augustine was important to his conversion, and how St. Augustine is a huge figure in Christian History.  And how it ALL MATTERS.  EVERYTHING MATTERS.  I love that.  We are not all Augustine, but that's not the point-Ambrose's kindness is just as important as Augustine's writing.  It's not up to me to figure out how it's all going to work, it's just up to me to do my best and to do what I can, where I am, with what I have.
{We listen to all of these using the podcast app on my iphone.  It's the little purple icon.  Find your podcast, subscribe to it, and it'll pop up with a notification when you have a new episode.  Click on "feed" to listen to old episodes.}

What podcasts do you love?  I'll try them out!  And let me know if you try one of these!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Energy Update

Remember last month when I was thinking about Energy and making grand plans?

Here's an update:  

I made myself some notes so that I wouldn't forget.  

1.  I am tired.  I just have to admit that I am ACTUALLY tired sometimes. And that is OK. So now what do I do with that?

2. Read more books. That way I still feel like I'm getting something done, and there are lots and lots and lots of books that I would like to read. I'm just reading fun things, the sort of productivity stuff that I find fascinating and helpful and like to think about. Here are a few I've enjoyed lately:

The Happiness Project: Gretchen Rubin

Happier at Home: Gretchen Rubin

The Secrets of Happy Families: Bruce Feiler

3. More acceptance:  Different stage of life equals just less time in general.  

4. BUT--the sewing mindset really does help. I was thinking for awhile that the only time I was going to actually sew was on a Snow Day. But then we had some good weekends, and MJL played Kings Quest with the kiddos, and I've gotten quite a bit more sewing done. I have to have a project ready in mind, have the office tidy, and know what step comes next. When I only have 15 minutes to sew, I can only sew if I know exactly what I'm doing next. I don't have the mental space to think and plan when the kids are awake.

5.  Taking a project for the car is good.  I can get a little dribble of some kind of hand work done and that feels good, like time redeemed. Better than looking at my phone for 5 minutes.

6. Don’t sit down by the fire if you can avoid it.  

7.  Some days you are too tired to avoid it.  

8.  Just go to bed early.

9. Go outside! It helps that we've had warm weather the past couple of weeks, it really does boost my energy and spirits. Even shuttling the kids out to the van and back is remarkably nicer when the weather is warm. (But I still want some snow! Or something. It's been really dry this winter).

10. The cycle is interesting. Equal parts "accept that you are tired" and "there are some things you can do about it".

Any other energy boosters you can share?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Leap Day 2016

Monday is Leap Day!

I haven't figured out what all we'll do-hopefully I can make a plan.  Once every four years can't pass without a celebration!

Here are a few ideas from around the web:

29 fun things to do on Leap Day

29 activities that require little to no planning

Really involved Leap Day things-if you have a lot of time and motivation and energy.

I'm really liking the idea that it's an extra day-with a free, bonus, absolutely extra day, what would I want to do?  So we'll do some jumping activities, but also maybe something along those lines.  We'll see!

Let me know if you have things planned-I'd love some more ideas!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"The numbers match!"

Remember when Jimmy was getting up in the middle of the night to play with puzzles?  We solved that!  And it was really easy, and I wanted to share it with you in case you know someone who doesn't sleep enough.

I remembered reading this blog post a long time ago-I probably saw it on Pinterest or something, and so I googled something about kids sleeping longer and found it right away.

How to Teach your Children to Sleep Longer

In a nutshell-you tape a number (in our case a 7) over the minutes on a digital clock in the room, and tell the child that he or she has to stay in bed until the numbers match.  I'd say it took two or three days of asking Jimmy in the morning if the numbers matched, and putting him back in bed if they didn't, and after that, easy peasy!  He stays in bed until the numbers match, and then happily gets up.

Sunday during our weekly meeting (that's another new thing I'll tell about sometime) his contribution was that the numbers were always matching-when he went to bed and when he woke up-as his good thing about the week.  That means we're getting to bed on time, and he's waking up later, and not needing to wait in bed for the numbers to match.

It was such an easy solution-and that is a joy.

Please let me know about solutions you've found!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Katie's Conference

I asked Katie "What will your teacher say to us at conferences?"

Here is her wonderful answer. (She moves back and forth, hope it doesn't make you seasick!)

P.S.-I'm beyond annoyed with the difficulties I'm having editing videos.  I used to always use Windows Movie Maker, and it was easy and quick, but my last couple of cameras shoot video in .mov, which I can't use with Movie Maker.  AND, I've been using Zamzar for a free file converter for years, but it's an annoying extra step and this movie was too big anyway.  Grrr...  I love having videos of the kids, but I don't have time for nonsense.

I need a simple video editor for .mov files.  Can anyone help me out?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Audrey Assad ~ Inheritance

MJL gave Jules a new CD for Valentines Day, because Jules can hear now (20 weeks).


Inheritance by Audrey Assad.  It's a collection of hymns.

I've been playing it on repeat in the kitchen.

I give it my highest recommendation.  I'd buy one for all of you if I could.  Available on itunes and Amazon and probably your friendly local bookstore could order you one.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Ingleside 2/2/2016

I took these pictures a long time ago...

This is one of the first quilts I made.  It came back to me, and the girls are enjoying having it on their bed.  I'm still working out the happy/sad mix I feel when I see it.  I guess in a divorce you don't take the things your sister-in-law made for you.  

Puzzles on the floor ALL THE TIME.

I made MJL this blanket from old flannel work shirts and jammies for his birthday.  He likes it!  And I like seeing the familiar fabrics and having more homemade things in the house, and gifts that are free and use up "trash" are my favorite things ever. 

These are supplies for the bathroom downstairs!

This is where the bathroom is going to be!  It still mostly looks like this though.  

We were incredibly fortunate to have this great couch given to us!  I would never, in a million years, have thought to spend money on nice furniture for the basement, but it is amazing what a huge difference it makes.  Who knew?  Nice furniture makes a place really a lot nicer to be in!

We cleaned up MJL's office, and some days, when it is the only tidy spot in the house, I'll just go in there to look at it and take a deep breath and enjoy it.  

I set these pumpkins back here the day after Thanksgiving to toss outside.  They were still there until Mid February, when I finally took the 30 seconds necessary to toss them into the bushes.  

I "finished" Teddy's baby book!  That means I did enough to say 'OK-good enough' and put it on the shelf.  None of them are completely filled out, and that's just fine with me.  Done(ish) is better than perfect.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Jimmy language answers

Here's what it all means!

1.  Banana
2.  Police
3.  Giraffe
4.  Pillow
5.  Airplane
6.  Airport
7.  Penguin
8.  Pray
9.  Play
10.  Alert

How'd you do?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Jimmy language from long ago

We had a list on the fridge of great Jimmy words, but the sun has faded it to almost nothing, and tonight somehow Teddy got it and brought it to me in a mangled state.  So I'm recording it because this piece of paper is not going to last.

Can you guess these words?

  1. Dabana
  2. Taquise
  3. Dagraff
  4. Quiwoah
  5. Aequane
  6. Oarport
  7. Quenguin
  8. Kray
  9. Quay
  10. Awerp

I'll post answers in a couple of days.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Modern love problem

Have you seen this around?

it's a gift you can make quickly and inexpensively - and keep all year long to show your love to your husband or kids!:

It's everywhere!  In this Valentine's book-it's the main theme.

 Each page lists a different friend and a different reason.

This book lists more and more reasons. 

This drives me crazy because that's NOT LOVE.  Love is not utilitarian.  We don't love people for what they do for us.  If Pig falls down and breaks both of her legs, is she out in the cold because she can't dance anymore?  NO!    We love people because they are unique and beautiful creations with inherent human dignity, not because they bake us cookies or make us laugh.   

Why is the world trying so hard to teach this weird wrong lesson?  

Am I alone in this crazy rant?  Have any of you noticed it?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Overheard in the Elementary School

We're incubating eggs in Science class (which is in the library) right now, so I get to hear all about the life cycle of a chicken.  Last week 3rd graders were discussing the age old question "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"  One student answered-

"We do too know the answer to that question!  It was probably like a Jesus chicken or something, that came down and started all the other chickens".

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

Every year I look for a video or something for Ash Wednesday, and every year this video wins.

Every year I feel vaguely bad posting since the illustrator is not the one who made the video, but I just found a link to purchase a book of the drawings.  So at least that's something I can share to give credit where credit is due.


Monday, February 08, 2016

2015 Year in Review

I forgot about these, and then ran into them today when looking for something else.  Every year we print them out from 30HandmadeDays and fill them out on New Years Eve.  Then every year I forget to do something with them.  Hmph.  This year, at least, I printed pictures to put in the photo album, and if nothing else, we can find them here next year.  

Friday, February 05, 2016

Katie is five.

Tomorrow this sweet girl is five.

I had fun looking back at these posts from when she was new.

Katie Comes Home

Katie Lesson #1

Katie Lesson #2

Katie Lesson #3

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Lent 2016

Next Wednesday, February 10, is Ash Wednesday.  Early this year-but-big win-Valentine's Day is on a Sunday, so even if you give up candy, you're ok as long as you view each Sunday as a little mini-Easter.  There are both sides to that, of course, but it's so sad when Valentines Day is during Lent, so at least for that Sunday, we'll be feasting.

Here are a few posts with some interesting ideas about what to do for Lent:

Outside the Box: 66 Things to Give Up or Take Up for Lent (in beginner, intermediate, and advanced)

The most "successful" lent we've ever had, MJL and I both only drank milk and water.  It was horrible, and we're never ever doing that again, but we did learn that we're most likely to stick with something if we do it together.  So we have to agree on something.

We will trade our usual TV after the kids are in bed for something else.  MJL got Robert Barron DVD's for Christmas, and we'll probably watch those.  We watched the Catholicism series last year and it was fantastic.  Honestly, I think anyone would love it-it was fascinating, and I think would be interesting and thought provoking for all Christians.   It's mostly Christian Theology that everyone agrees with, I think.  I'd be happy to lend our set to anyone who wants to watch it.  

Last year we had a box for the Emmaus House, and we took turns taking something out of the pantry every day and putting it in.  It was a simple thing that even the littlest kids could do, so I think we'll do that again.  

Anna wants to go to confession weekly.  I don't know if we can get to town for that, but we're going to try.  

Katie loves to pray the Rosary and it is hard hard hard with all of these wiggly people and busy schedules, so we're going to try to pray a Rosary every week.  Hopefully we can manage a decade a day on most days.  

I'm putting away some toys-we'll just have the basket of Magna-Tiles out upstairs.  They've been away since Christmas, and I'm hoping having them out alone will inspire some new kinds of play.  

What are you thinking about for Lent this year?

Monday, February 01, 2016

Thoughts on Energy

I haven't been getting much done lately.

I've been feeling awfully tired in the afternoons, and in the evenings after the kids go to bed, and I don't like it, because I don't trust it.  It doesn't quite feel like actual fatigue, more like laziness, and not doing things that I know will help me to feel better, and giving in to grouchiness instead of taking a deep breath and being kind.  

So I've been thinking about what to do about it.  

My strategies in the past have been to take a deep breath, say to myself "I have so much energy!" instead of "I'm so tired" (thanks Dylan via Chelsea!), to have a drink of water, to go to the bathroom (I'm so bad about that) and to go outside for a little bit.  All of those things are good, but they're not quite enough right now.  

I know that I get energy from getting things done.  Making something, tidying up, crossing something off of a list, sorting through something, taking out the trash, doing the dishes, all of these things, some much more fun than others, give me energy.  I feel happier and more energetic the more productive I am. 

I read an article last week, while sitting by the fire, that really got me thinking.  Take Action! starts with the interesting correlation between increased time watching cooking shows and decreased time actually cooking.  People experience vicarious satisfaction just by watching or seeing or reading about something, and have less motivation to actually do it.  It's the same idea I was talking about at the beginning of the month in my Winter 2016 post.  

Then the article shifts into one of my favorite things, what I think of as pop culture brain research (Not that it's not real research, it's just that it's brain research about things like how people learn, or motivation, or impulse control, the sorts of things that I'm interested in).  

"This isn’t just my own crazy idea, either. It’s backed up by the science of mirror neuronsMirror neurons describe a phenomenon that happens in our brains whenever we watch someone else completing a task; to an extent, our brain fires in the same way as though we ourselves have completed that task."

And what do I do when I'm "tired" and can't manage to do the things I ought to do?  Or the things that I know will give me energy, like making something, or getting something done and crossing it off of a list?  I'm looking at pinterest by the fire, or reading a blog about what someone else has done, or reading about a new recipe or cooking technique, or looking at instagram pictures of what's going on in other people's lives.  It's fun, sure!  And I don't think it's evil or anything, but I do think it's what's sucking my energy.  Whatever part of the brain gets pleasure from seeing those things, it's not the same part of my brain that gives me energy.  Maybe it's the sitting that's the problem!   

A few days later I read this article about How to Read 100 Books a Year and I've decided to apply some of the ideas-but in a different context-sewing.  I love to sew, it makes me happy and gives me energy and when I make it happen I'm always glad.  His five big tips are:

1. Buy In Bulk--I already have enough fabric, patterns, and ideas to sew forever, so I think this is already covered.  
2. A(always) B(e) R(eading)--Always have a project going.  Usually I finish one, and then clean up, and then feel like I ought to do something else first, something more "important" or less fun for some reason.  I'm going to try to stop that.  I can spend a little time each day on something fun.  Certainly more fun than looking at my phone anyway.  
3. Read Relevant Books Only--He's talking about not reading a book because you think you "should" or because someone else liked it.  I'm applying that to mean that if a project isn't working, I can just let it go.  I love to finish things, but sometimes that gets in the way of making new things-sometimes things don't work.  Failure is fun! Nothing new happens without some failure.  
4. Read Multiple Books Simultaneously--I don't know about having more than one sewing project going on at a time.  I think that might make me feel a little crazy.  But I can remember, and try to work on, all of the other things I like to do and have going-little crochet projects, embroidery projects, etc.  Those are things I can do when I'm upstairs, or out of the house, or anytime I can't be down in my office. 
5. Retain The Knowledge--I'm bad about remembering things, so I'd like to try to record and document more about my projects, so I can remember what I've tried, what works and doesn't, what's fun and what's not fun.  You'll probably see all of that here.  :)  
So--That's the plan.  Here's to a fantastic February!  
What gives you energy?  What drains you?  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bossy Betsy: Kansas Library Audiobooks

Bossy Betsy says:  You should be listening to audiobooks!  And you can do it for free!!

The State Library of Kansas --  has tons of wonderful books for you to check out and listen to.  They have an app that is easy to use, you can download the books to your phone or device when you have wifi, and then listen in the car without using any data.

Listening to books in the car is amazing.  The kiddos don't fuss, everyone loves it, and it redeems all that time in the van.

You need to have a Kansas State Library card-but I'm a librarian!  I can get you one!  Just email me and I'll help you get all set up.

They have kids books, grown up books, fiction, non-fiction, everything.  MJL likes to listen to long history books on the tractor, and we like to listen to juvenile fiction in the van.  It is honestly one of my very favorite things in the whole world.  

In the Summer, when we don't see Daddy so much, sometimes we'll all listen to the same book at the same time-and then when we do see him we can talk about it.  It's fun to have a project together even when he's busy working.

Here are a few of my recommendations to get started:

  • The Ramona Series--read by Stockard Channing and just wonderful.  We've listened to them all more than once because they're just so fun.  For parents just as much (maybe more) than for the kids. 
  • Everything by Patricia Reilly Giff--Historical Fiction is one of my favorite juvenile genres, and I have loved living in these histories and discussing them with Anna.
  • Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms--one of my absolute favorites, but the caveat is that I don't want you to read ANYTHING about it.  Don't look at the synopsis or read about the author or anything.  That way every moment is a surprise and a delight.  
  • Clementine--Sara Pennypacker  Three of the books are available and they're wonderful.  Funny and sweet and clever.
  • E.B. White-Even if you've read them dozens of times, all of these are fun to listen to again. 
  • Blue Balliett writes interesting mysteries that combine elements of math and art.  They have some suspense, but not too much.  
So send me a message if you want me to help you get set up.  Or visit your public library and tell them you want a library card for the State Library of Kansas.  Once you have a number, you sign up for the OneClick digital app and you're off!  

Do it. 

Bossy Betsy out.  

Friday, January 22, 2016

Overheard in the Elementary School

Every month I have a memorization challenge for the kiddos.  In January, for Kansas Day, it's the first verse of "Home on the Range".  Here is an attempt from a first grader today. 

Please sing it, with trailing off as needed. 

"Oh give me a home, where the buffaloes roam,
and the deer... play... trumpets
and it's not cloudy all day!"


Wednesday, January 20, 2016


We had the most persistent, sneaky mouse in the world at our house for Christmas.  Dozens of all sorts of mouse traps, in all sorts of places, and we could not catch him.

Finally, Abby suggested lining the entire floor of the linen closet with traps (previously we just had a line under the door) and a few hours later he was squeaking and stuck.  I breathed a big sigh of relief and prepared myself to begin mounds of laundry.

Then the next morning there was another one in a sneaky cracker trap MJL had devised.  (One cracker on the outside of the trap, and then another on the inside, to lull mousey into complacency).  That was great, and also a little awful, because I really thought we were just dealing with one.

No signs of anyone else since, and I finally got through washing EVERYTHING in our linen closet and almost everything in my closet.  

I keep feeling like I should be doing laundry, since it's basically been my fun time activity the past few weeks.  

I was awfully glad I had been through the closets and done a major paring down in the last year.  

This chore, of cleaning up mouse poo-made me ridiculously angry.  I can't think of anyone the anger was directed toward, just a general fury.  I'm positive there are more little nooks I'll find that need to be vacuumed and cloroxed to death, and I'm not looking forward to it.  

Are there jobs that make you crazy angry?  

Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 Schedule

2016 Schedule
                     Betsy                                           Anna                 Katie
Monday:    Tidy, Kitchen, Linda Dinner     Cooker Helper  Water Plants
Tuesday:    Bills, Photos, Mail, LL, LLB     Bathroom       Cooker Helper
Wednesday:House purge and clean              Helper               Helper                           
Thursday: Errands, Library, Lesson Books  Van                  Van
Friday:      Laundry                                        Vacuum             Trash

Daily:                                               After School:   
Make beds.   Start Dinner 3:30 No Phone 3:30-8:00 pm (except recipes)
Chores, Tidy before dinner              Eat 5:00          All help clean up
Be kind and cheerful.      Jammies, prayers and stories, bed 7:00, 8:00.  


This is the newest iteration of the never ending attempt to arrange life for maximum efficiency.

So far the dinner changes are working (ish)?  Progress, not perfection.  I'm deleting the meals from my calendar when things don't go according to plan, and that way I can look back and see how many days are wins.

Does everyone else do this?  I love systems.  The more systems the better.  More systems=fewer decisions, and I love love love reducing the number of decisions in my life.  (I even have a system for choosing which color I'll be in a board game-I match my shirt).

What are your systems?


Monday, January 11, 2016

Overheard in the Elementary School

Overheard in the Elementary School:

"Why did Superman go to the bathroom?"

"Because it was his duty".

Hilarious laughter from boys- "Eeewwww".... then giggles from girls. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Winter 2016

I just heard about 30 seconds of a TED talk about how sharing your goals makes you less likely to work to achieve them, because you get the positive feedback before you reach the goal, but I think my problem is more remembering my goals than lacking motivation to achieve them.

How did Fall 2015 go?

  • Slipcover for basement couch
  • Mail things to babies
  • Big basket on the sewing table
  • Green box
  • Portraits of Children!
  • Videos of Children! Took them, but didn't do anything with them...
  • Make as many Christmas gifts as possible.
  • Enjoy Fall weather.  Be outside.  Kids outside.  
  • College Kid Boxes
  • Visit Abby
  • Memorize quote from St. Francis de Sales--"Never be in a hurry; do all things quietly and in a calm spirit.  Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset."  Just the first half.
  • CD project
  • One of the stack of boxes in office.
  • Decide on design for Lauren's quilt. and fabric ordered!  So excited.
  • Be home more.  Try to make home the default option and do less.   Took Wednesdays in town off the schedule!  Lovely.  
That's not bad!

Winter 2016

  • Banquette seating/Benches
  • Bathroom in Basement
  • Cut out Lauren's Quilt
  • Katie Birthday
  • Try to make Toffee
  • Peppermint Bark
  • Put away Christmas
  • Figure out Spring Break
  • Teddy Baby Book
  • Hall Photos
  • 8x10 Album
  • Christmas Card Display
  • Prune and Fertilize trees
  • Thank you notes  Christmas, but not Katie's birthday yet.  :(
  • Portraits
  • New Schedule
  • Take Recycling
  • Go through house again
  • Go for walks as a family.
Some of those are really MJL's goals-I'm not actually going to try to build a bathroom in the basement, but I need to remember that when big projects are going on, there probably will be less time for my projects.

What's on your Winter List?

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Abby Doodle

21 years ago, 16 year old Betsy  woke up because the phone was ringing.  I can’t imagine how many
times it rang before I finally woke up enough to answer it. (Susan remembered that the radio was playing, the alarm that I was ignoring-"Linger" by The Cranberries).    It was absolutely bewildering to hear my Mom’s voice.  I remember saying “You’re not here?” and twisting around to look past the kitchen and peer into her bedroom.  She told me she was at the hospital, with my baby sister, and finally, blinking, things began to make sense.  I think I said something obvious like “But I didn’t know that!”

I don’t remember waking Susan up, or if she spoke to Mom on the phone, or getting us dressed and out the door, but I do remember vividly-running along the sidewalk, looking down at our feet to watch for ice and snow.  I can see our feet in the light of the streetlamp on the corner, and I remember our breath, and holding Susan’s hand.

I remember the yellow light of the hospital room, and happy, tired, Mom.  I remember red and wrinkled Abby, and being astonished that we got to see her so new.  She hadn’t even had her first bath yet.  I remember Susan being concerned that she didn’t look right, having never seen a new new newborn before.

I remember going to school, the first day of the new semester of my Junior Year, just a few minutes late for my first class, Anatomy and Physiology.  I remember Mr. Schaefer was a little gruff with me, and, beaming, I gave the reason for being late.  He was big on pop quizzes, and the quiz that day was Abby’s length and weight.  I remember feeling a little guilty for the free extra credit, and kind of astonished that he seemed also excited about my new baby sister.  That was my favorite class, and at that moment I still wanted to be a doctor.  6 weeks later, when Mom went back to work, and Abby was still so tiny, I changed my mind about that.

I remember rushing home from school to see her, and in my memory, the next 18 months before I went to K-State are full of Abby.  Holding her on my lap while filing debate evidence, holding her on my lap while doing calculus homework, talking about her in Student Congress speeches.  I remember holding her in the grass the summer before I left for college and feeling an ache inside at the thought of leaving her.

I remember noticing that Mom looked older in pictures before Abby was born than in later years.  I
remember Abby hanging on her leg, literally being dragged around, happily!  as Mom moved about the kitchen cooking dinner, like she could never get enough of her.

I have heard it said that the greatest gift you can give a teenager is a baby sibling.  I can't agree enough.  A few times I have encountered a Mama, having a baby after 40, with big kids at home, usually worried and saying something about it being crazy.  I try to tell her that it will be the best thing in the world, the most wonderful gift, but I don’t know how to use words to express the magnitude.  

Thanks Mom and Dad.    Happy Birthday, sweet baby sister.  I thank God for you every day.    

Monday, January 04, 2016

2016: Dinner!

I'm really trying to have only one resolution for 2016-and that is Dinner!  I have finally worked myself out of all of my excuses and gotten around to the fact that not wanting to make dinner is, essentially, selfishness.  So.  Here is my plan.

1.  Make a list of the meals that people actually like to eat.  Cook from that list first.  Maybe one new recipe every couple of weeks or so, but mostly all of the time food from the list, until it is not so daunting.  Familiarity breeds ease.  Practice makes perfect.  Etc.

2.  Make a calendar and plan out the meals, putting them in my phone where I'll see them when I see all of the other agenda items.  So that every day I am reminded that I will have to make dinner.

3.  Make the start time for cooking dinner 3:30 pm, as soon as we get home from school.  Eating early will be better for all of us.  The goal will be to be done eating and be cleaning up by 6:00.

4.  Further goals include teaching everyone to help clean up, having children pick up all toys from upstairs before dinner, lay out clothes for next day, etc,  so after dinner can be nice time of stories and prayers instead of grouchy time of hurry up and get ready for bed.

But step one:  Dinner!  

What are your resolutions?

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Mama treats for the New Year

Here are three treats I'm giving myself (or attempting) for the new year.  

1.  Blog!  I really enjoy it, and there are things running through my head all the time, with no one to share them with.  But it is very hard to find 20 minutes to sit down at the computer because we all know the "work" never ever ever is "done".  I'm going to try though.

2.  Jimmy got new bath toys for Christmas, and after one too many poopy baths, I scooped up ALL of the old bath toys and put them into the trash.  ALL OF THEM!  I feel simultaneously guilty (because of course I could have washed them all AGAIN) and giddy because CLEAN TOYS!  Jimmy was really into this photo shoot.  

3.  I started a new laundry system last year wherein I put all of the socks into a basket as I am folding, and then match them up at the end.  Or have a child do it.  The bonus is that it feels much faster, and is easier for a child to help, and the idea was that the lone socks would find their matches in subsequent loads and all would even out. 

Instead, on December 31 I had 33 lone socks.  And I put them all in the trash!  I haven't actually thrown them out yet, maybe I'll finish the laundry today and double check one more time, and maybe I'll keep them in a box somewhere, but I want to just throw them out and start over.  

So--is it wasteful, decadent, or something else entirely?  And do you have any Mama indulgences for the New Year?

  1. (of a person, action, or process) using or expending something of value carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose.

  1. 1.
    a person who is luxuriously self-indulgent.