Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Halloween Decorating DIY: Spooky ceiling streamers

It's been incredibly busy over here lately!  We've been homeschooling, doing a little fall cleaning, and participating in various activities, like our new homeschool co-op!  Also, my first season as a rostered skater with Upstate Roller Girl Evolution just ended Saturday.  I wrote on the URGE blog yesterday about getting back into running.  Other than that, we've been decorating for Halloween!  We're having our yearly Halloween party soon, so there are a lot of decorations going up right now.  I thought I'd share about one idea I tested out tonight.

 Have you seen these things?  They're non-edible stretchy, gummy skeletons.  I found them at Wal-Mart.  Not every Wal-Mart has them, so if you see some at yours, lucky you!  I bought some for the kids, and it didn't take six-year-old Suzi long at all to discover that they stick to the ceiling.  If you just toss them up there, they stick good and you have to pull them off.  The kids threw all their skeletons up to the ceiling and laughed like hyenas.  Anyway, we noticed they don't really hurt the ceiling, aside from perhaps pulling off a tiny bit of the "popcorn."  (You might want to test out an inconspicuous spot on your ceiling, just in case.)  So I thought, wouldn't they be a great way to hang streamers?!

 I got a couple of rolls of black crepe paper, stuck a skeleton on like so...

And then stuck it to the ceiling!

 I repeated that a few times.  For a finishing touch, I crumpled each streamer up toward the ceiling and then let it fall back down.  Done!  As you probably gathered, it cost less than $10 and only took about 15 minutes to do this.  Suzi the tiny Halloween guru says it's "ah-mazing!"

It's kinda spooky!

Glad to have that done!  Now I'm off to watch The Haunted Mansion with the family and decorate the rest of the house!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A lofty goal: Creating more space in our bedroom

Jordan and I have a king-size bed.  After our second child, Ivey, was born, we decided we wanted to upgrade from a queen, and when Robert was born 20 months later, we certainly were glad to have it!  Unfortunately, though, it took up a good chunk of our bedroom.  With no garage and not very many closets, we were feeling crunched for space, so we recently decided to take action.

Before we thought of doing anything in our room, we got our oldest, Suzi the Artist, a twin-size loft bed with a long desk underneath and put it in our craft room.  Now it's a Suzi/craft room, which works out since Suzi is so frequently doing crafts.  No pictures of that yet; the whole room needs a good decluttering!  But Suzi loves it and it solved several space issues we were having.  When we saw how well that worked out, we wondered:  Why not loft our king-size bed?

Yes, it's possible!  We googled and found lots of inspiration.  This bed by M.C. Woodworks is one of my favorites.  There are also a few examples of loft beds with stairs that open to offer easy-access storage space!  It took us two weekends to get it done, but here is our finished project.

Yes, she's wearing bunny ears.  She's thinking of being the Easter Bunny for Halloween.  Ha ha!

On the other side of that curtain of pretty fabric is...

Steps with storage underneath!  They are close enough to the wall that getting in and out of bed is safe and easy.  They do not flip open--we decided against that.  But there is still a good bit of storage space underneath them that we can access from underneath our loft.

We didn't spend much money at all on the things we put under our loft.  First we have our two nightstands, which we obviously can't use as nightstands anymore.  We added an inexpensive white shelf for books.  A few months ago we found a dining room chair with broken legs on the side of the road, and removed the legs completely, planning to turn it into a swing.  Until we can do that, it'll serve as seating under our loft.  The kids love listening to records on my 1980's Fisher-Price record player, especially while they relax in our hammock, which we found at a yard sale for $3!

So, after a couple of weekends of thinking, planning, hard work, and a little reorganizing, we now have a brand new (and much needed) area to hang out and relax, where there absolutely could not have been one before.  It was so worth it!

P.S.  We aren't experts and you could probably find a really good, detailed tutorial somewhere else, but if you want to know more about how we made our loft, shoot me an email or leave a comment.  It really wasn't that hard!

Monday, July 29, 2013

How to love your little artist--without spending a dime

I have a craft room that I love... most of the time.  Because it's the one room of the house that no one lives in and company does not see, a lot of junk gets shoved in there.  Company will come, or we'll need to move something that we don't really have a place for, or I'll neglect to clean up after a project or five, and bam!  It's a crap room instead of a craft room.  As of yesterday, it was quite crappy.  So I decided to fix that.

Yesterday morning, a little while after I started this project

On Saturday afternoon we went to pick the kids up from my mom's house (they had spent the night), and when we arrived the girls were making things out of modeling clay.  Suzi (6) had spent hours sculpting a couple of little teacups.  She was so proud of them.  We were getting ready to leave soon, so she put one of her cups on the table and went to wash the clay off her hands.  While she was gone, either Robert (2) or Ivey (almost 4) squashed one of her cups.  She was heartbroken and furious.  Clenched fists, screaming, crying...  It was terrible.  No one should have their art destroyed.

Suzi had a desk at our house, and even though it was counter-height it still was not completely safe from the littles.  I have known she needed a better space of her own for a long time.  We would love to give her a room of her own, but we'll have to add on to the house for that to be an option, so it'll be a while.  I decided to do the best I could for now.  We recently got rid of a ton of stuff we didn't need, which opened up some spaces in the craft/crap room.  The natural light and view of treetops and sky was too much for me to resist.  I decided to set up an arts and crafts nook for Suzi in that spot.

I sent a big pile of fabric to Goodwill, thinned and consolidated craft supplies, moved stuff around, and vacuumed.  While I was at it, I set aside a bunch of scraps, fabric, beads, buttons, and other things for Suzi.  By mid-afternoon it was looking awesome!  I kept the door closed so Suzi had no idea what I was doing in there.  After she was in bed I cleaned off her desk and moved her stuff to the new space.

Here's one more look at the before pic (blech)...

And here's how it turned out!

Late last night, after I finished

When Suzi woke up this morning I took her up to her new space and she loved it!  I made a little reveal video a la Clean House but my voice sounds weird so I won't share that.  There are enough craft supplies on that shelf to keep her busy for months.  She's been up there all morning creating things in her pajamas, and keeps discovering new little things tucked away in the baskets and bins.  I even gave her some Sculpey clay so I can bake whatever she makes, and it won't get squished anymore!

All hers now

Not a bad view, and you should see it at sunset!

The first thing she made was a little sweater for her "dog," Petey, out of a sweater sleeve.  There have been at least five other projects since then, and when I go check on her she shows me what she's done and pauses to smile and say "Thanks, Mom.  Thank you for everything!"  I feel like a fairy godmother.  Robert's naptimes are going to be awesome because (sometimes) I'll get to spend them crafting alongside my little artist.  And I didn't spend a dime!  Why didn't I do this months ago?!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cabin fever, with some pictures to distract

We are STILL stuck at home with an absolutely miserable stomach bug--probably norovirus.  I've barely left the house in a week and a half.  First, Robert woke up puking in the wee hours of Wednesday, April 17.  Then I picked it up the following Sunday, had a horrible couple of days, and am just now eating regular food again today.  I think it was Monday morning that Ivey woke up sick and she is still throwing up, occasionally and unexpectedly.  Poor thing is so hungry, and I feel terrible for her.  We told her to stay away from her sick little brother but she's such a cuddle bug, she couldn't help herself.  Suzi hasn't gotten it yet and is staying with Grandma and Grandpa for a couple of days.  Jordan hasn't had it yet either, and it'll be a miracle if he doesn't come down with it, because he's been thrown up on numerous times and is the chief vomit-cleaner around here.

For unrelated reasons, I could really use a playdate right now.  We all could.  But we can't have one and are stuck here indefinitely, just waiting to see when the vomit will end.  I am starting to wonder if people think we are lying when we tell them yet again that we can't make it somewhere because of the stomach bug.  We aren't making it up!  This evil virus is very, very real!

I miss going places.  Playdates, trips to the park, even taking all three kids to the grocery store by myself.  I miss baking cookies for the kids, Friday pizza nights, ice cream, and candy.  I normally enjoy being a bit of a hermit, but right now I want OUT!  Thank goodness my parents are helping us with the non-sick kids, taking them to their house and on outings so at least they don't go nuts.

I can't wait for this to be over.  It sucks.  And now, some photos I've been meaning to post from more cheerful days:

We dyed our Easter eggs after Easter.  Seems like it always sneaks up on us.

This is a blown-out egg Suzi painted with Sharpie markers.  It was for Grandma.

Relaxing on the hammock in our front yard!

We got to ride a bus shuttle to our Spring Jubilee, and it was a big thrill for the girls.

The same view Jordan and I had riding the buses to college classes a decade ago.  It's the same kind of bus we rode.

Jordan's parents took us all to Riverbanks Zoo for Robert's second birthday.

Once it started going up and down, he decided he didn't "yike" it, so Jordan took him off and sat on the bench with him that doesn't move at all.

I love this guy.

Robert's birthday morning.  He is saying "CHEEEEE!" and thinks he is making a pretty face for the camera.

My mom made him a Raggedy Andy, which is the two-year-old tradition.

This was Robert's big gift for us.  It spins and the kids love it.  We put it in the backyard.  My only complaint is that the weight limit is too low for me to ride  :-(

Awesome yard sale find!  I used to play with one of these at daycare, cramming two or more records under the arm to see if it would still work.  It's a wind-up toy made in my birth year, 1984.  It was still kind of expensive for a yard sale find but oh well, I love it.

My parents took us to the Cabbage Patch in Georgia to celebrate Robert's birthday.  Sadly, we have figured out that this is probably where we caught the stomach plague.

It's such a cute place, though.  I love the fuzzy-headed babies best.

Robert picked out a baby girl named Casey.

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!

His doll came with a little baby sling!  Isn't that neat?  I love to see a little boy taking care of his baby.

That's all for now.  I am just hoping and praying that we will be done with this nasty sickness and back out having springtime fun by next week!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Taking a minute to write on a stomach bug day

I have been meaning to write a post about the kids for weeks!  Ironic that I'm finding time this morning.  Last night around 1:30 AM, Jordan and I were awakened by surprise throw-up in our bed.  Robert's.  We had to strip our bed of sheets and mattress pad and camp out on the sofa and recliner in between cleaning up after Robert.  Poor, pitiful little guy.  It's 8:30 now and he finally fell asleep a few minutes ago.  Jordan is taking a family sick day after he attends the meeting he's in right now.  Thank God for amazing daddies who don't mind cleaning up puke.

The girls are in the yard.  Last weekend we did something that some of our neighbors probably think is tacky.  We split our backyard in two with dog wire fence and a gate for the kids to go through, keeping the dogs out of their play area.  This keeps their play area poop-free and our silly Phibby dog from lying in their sandbox.  Also, the way we divided it keeps the kids away from the compost bin and storage building.  I know it's not going to make it into Southern Living anytime soon, but it's beautiful to me.  We now have a yard we can use!

Anyway, here's what's going on with the kids:

Robert:  Just turned two on April 9th!  His Nana and Papa (Jordan's parents) took us all to the zoo to celebrate.  It's the same zoo I visited on my second birthday and has sort of become a two-year-old tradition.  Then on Sunday, my parents took us to the Cabbage Patch.  He adopted a "babby" girl named Casey and has been so sweet holding her and feeding her!  Robert can say most anything he wants and talks in sentences all the time, even though sometimes his words are a little hard to understand.  Still working on potty training.  We got him this spinning seesaw for his birthday and he loves to play on it with his sisters!  Our sweet little guy is really growing up!  Even so, most of my days are hard, hard, hard.  And it's mostly because of him.

Ivey:  She really wants to take a dance class, and I can't wait to see her in one.  We are hoping to get her into a summer camp, if we can find one that fits in with things we've already scheduled.  We aren't really homeschooling yet; she joins in frequently with Suzi and I am helping her learn her letters.  She spends lots of time playing with her little brother and also enjoys working at her desk.  For Easter she got a set of glitter glue pens and loves working with those!  She's becoming such a big kid, not only with how she acts but also how she looks!  I can't believe she'll be four in August.

Suzi:  She just started tee ball yesterday and loved it.  It's a six-week session, and I'm sure when it's over she'll want to do another one.  For homeschool, she has started a sort of journal with writing prompts about recent subjects we've learned about or things we've done.  I give her a list of a few big words she could use for each subject, and then she fills in the rest phonetically.  At first, she insisted on knowing exactly how to spell everything, refusing to misspell a word in her writing.  Now she's having a bit more fun with it.  I also stapled together some little books for her to write stories in, and she enjoys that.

I don't have time to upload photos.  Maybe later in a separate post.  Right now, I'm just glad I got this written!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The fragile state of freedom in South Carolina: Time to act!

Have you heard about this bill attacking our right to birth outside a hospital?

Just a couple of weeks ago, several South Carolina lawmakers tried to take away our right to homeschool our children as we see fit.  After they experienced the backlash from angry homeschoolers who are perhaps more numerous than envisioned, three sponsors have removed their names from the bill and the only one left is backpedaling furiously.  

Yesterday we learned that other lawmakers in our state are trying to take away our right to birth outside of a hospital.  While the bill does not specifically outlaw homebirth, it places ridiculous, unfeasible regulations upon it which would, in effect, eradicate the choice entirely.  For instance, it would require homebirth midwives to find a supervising obstetrician or certified nurse midwife to attend each birth with them.  This would not work.  Let’s assume for a moment that a midwife was able to find a currently practicing, local supervisor who didn’t despise midwives and was willing to help her out.  What happens when this supervising practitioner is on call for his own patients and for the midwife’s and two of them deliver at the same time?  Also, how are we supposed to pay for this superfluous OB?  It has been a struggle for our family to afford homebirth as it is since our SC State plan gets away with denying coverage for it altogether!

The obvious goal of this bill is to force women into doing not what benefits mother and baby, but what benefits the state and/or large, powerful, greedy organizations.  It would be incredibly na├»ve to think that money is not involved here.  Homebirth midwifery is not a very lucrative business.  Hospital birth most definitely is.  There are entire wards devoted to it, they are consistently full, and generous five-figure sums are made off of each mother and child.  This bill has been written to benefit someone, and it's certainly not mothers and babies!  Our legislators need to do the honest thing and withdraw support from it.

This is a human rights issue that should concern everyone.  Do you value your personal freedom at all?  If you do, then please join us in rallying against this.  We cannot let our state’s lawmakers get away with stripping us of our liberties.  Perhaps you don’t personally care about homebirth or homeschooling.  You might not plan to have kids, or you might want to birth in the hospital and send your kids to school.  But this still affects you.  This fight might not hit home for you, but the next one might.  We need to ensure that any lawmaker who intends to take our freedom away rather than protect it is voted out of office.  They only think they can get away with this nonsense because the group they are hurting is the minority.  They know most people want to send their kids to school, and most people want to give birth in a hospital.  They think that if they remove all the other choices, most people won’t feel victimized because they were going to take the mainstream path anyway.  But here’s the thing:  FREEDOM TO CHOOSE FROM ONLY ONE OPTION IS NOT FREEDOM.  This is YOUR freedom these legislators are trying to strip away.  It is time to tell them that this will not stand in South Carolina.  Call, email, or write a letter to your representative today!

Not sure where to start?  

1.  Contact the following four sponsors.  Also contact the committee in which the bill is being discussed.  On each profile page there is a link to send a message to the rep.  You could also call or write a letter.

J. Anne Parks
Phyllis Henderson

Here's an example of what you might say, which can be personalized* to your own experience and feelings:


I strongly OPPOSE Bill 3731 which will impose restrictions on midwives that will prevent them from practicing freely in the state of SC.  This legislation would take away the rights of childbearing women and set South Carolina back decades in the fight for equality and choice.   Midwifery care is a safe, reasonable option for healthy, low risk mothers.  This is about freedom, which you must realize is especially treasured by the people of South Carolina.  Please withdraw your support for Bill 3731.

2.  Find the state rep for your area and let them know we need their support and want them to vote NO if the bill makes it out of committee.

3.  Finally, repost this information all over Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media sites, or email it to your friends.

Thank you for your help!  Hopefully we can kill this bill in committee and send the message that we expect our lawmakers to work for us--the people--and our freedom!

*Here is my letter, if you'd like to read it:

I strongly OPPOSE Bill 3731 which will impose restrictions on midwives that will prevent them from practicing freely in the state of SC.  While it doesn’t specifically outlaw homebirth, this legislation would enact regulations that are unfeasible, unaffordable, and unreasonable.  It would take away the rights of childbearing women and set South Carolina back decades in the fight for equality and choice.   Midwifery care is a safe, reasonable option for healthy, low risk mothers.  For the birth of my first child, I trusted a hospital to deliver my baby.  I regret it to this day.  Our baby was healthy and safe, but some of my choices were ignored and we were disrespected in several ways.  It was stressful and made for a difficult beginning of motherhood, to say the least.  Our daughter required frequent visits to the doctor to keep an eye on her jaundice and slow weight gain.  Later, I went on to have two peaceful, beautiful homebirths with a responsible, well-educated licensed midwife.  Had my babies or I EVER been in any danger, we would have transferred to the hospital immediately.  I trust my midwife’s keen eye and careful judgment.  After having my babies at home, I experienced greater breastfeeding success, quicker postpartum healing, more confidence in myself as a parent, and greater satisfaction in general.  During our homebirth babies’ first checkups, we received comments on how alert and healthy they seemed and how well they were gaining weight.  I realize most women want to give birth in the hospital, and I think every woman should give birth wherever she feels safe.  I do NOT deserve to be forced into a birth setting that makes me uncomfortable.  My midwife does NOT deserve to lose her livelihood and life’s work.  This is about FREEDOM, which you must realize is treasured by the people of South Carolina.  We expect our legislators to protect it for us.  Please withdraw your support for Bill 3731.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

An open letter in defense of homeschooling freedom

Note:  If you are unfamiliar with South Carolina's homeschool laws and would like to know more, there's a summary here at  I would have linked to, but the website is down today.  Hopefully it will be back up soon.

To South Carolina's General Assembly and all concerned citizens:

The 2012-2013 school year has been a special one for our family.  This year our firstborn daughter turned five and we began our official first year as a homeschool family.  We’ve known since she was a baby that we would homeschool.  Our reasons for choosing this path are many and deep, and we take it seriously.  Our journey to this first homeschool year has been filled with research, networking, and preparation.  We’ve spent hundreds of dollars on curricula, books, and manipulatives.  Last summer we drove out of state for a wonderful homeschool conference.  We are active members of a homeschool enrichment cooperative.  We pour our time, money, and energy into this for our children’s sakes.  Knowing this, can you imagine how I felt upon learning that lawmakers in our state were devising a plan to have us jump through extra hoops and pay more money?  The passing of House Bill 3478 would mean less time and money for diligent, responsible homeschoolers to spend actually homeschooling.

While there may be a few parents who do not fulfill their responsibilities, the majority do.  All of the homeschool parents I know go above and beyond.  Likewise, most third option accountability associations do an excellent job of ensuring that parents know what is required and seeing that they fulfill it.  Palmetto Homeschool Association, which our family uses, certainly does.  It has always been clear to me that failing to submit the documents certifying that we have completed the required work is unacceptable and could result in termination of our membership.  No, it is not required that we submit details of what we do every day; more specific records are maintained privately at home.  But why would I lie?  A school bus passes our house every day.  If I were a lazy, uncaring parent, all I’d need to do to be within the law is nudge my daughter out the door to get on the bus every morning.  Of course, most of the parents of public school children I know are also passionate about their children's education.  They spend hours helping with homework, chaperoning field trips, and volunteering at the school, but none of that is required by law.  If I really didn’t care, I could put my kids on that bus once they reach kindergarten age and have six hours to myself every day.  We could become a dual-income family and enjoy more luxuries.  Instead, I choose to stay home with my children and homeschool.  A large portion of our spending money goes into buying educational items or to pay for family field trips.  As I think of a few of my homeschooling friends, I know I am not the only one.  We are passionate about helping our children learn and grow.  If this bill were to become law, it would take money we could put towards our children’s education away from us.  The sponsors of this bill have apparently seen some poor examples of homeschooling parents, but this is no reason to hurt all the good ones with expensive and invasive measures.

This proposed legislation would create financial hardship for many homeschooling families.  Membership in our third option accountability group, Palmetto Homeschool Association, tops out at $65 per year for an entire family of homeschoolers.  It's quite affordable and has fulfilled our needs perfectly, but the sponsors of this this bill want to kill it.  Membership in SCAIHS, the second legal option, costs upwards of $400 per year depending on several factors.  What’s more, the president of SCAIHS has said the organization “adamantly opposes” the legislation, according to this article on wyff4.comIs it really wise to place thousands of extra protesting families under the auspices of this organization without their permission?  Also, if this bill becomes law, we will be having tests administered in our home so that our daughter will be in her own learning environment, particularly while she is still very young.  Public school children get this for free.  I have no idea how much in-home testing would cost us, but we could make some budget cuts if necessary to afford it.  Many families wouldn’t be able to pay that extra money. 

The proposed new requirements could create more than just financial stress for families.  Forced testing of homeschoolers is unfair.  First of all, public school children are taught from the same curriculum and learn the material that will be on the test in the same environment in which they will test.  They would be much more comfortable testing than children who were accustomed to learning at home.  I took standardized tests when I was a public school child, and I remember my teacher telling us not to worry and to do our best.  For a public school child, the test is no big deal.  For a homeschooled child, however, there's a chance it could be.  The law states that if a child performs below the appropriate grade level on a standardized test, as one of several invasive remedies, the child may be forced to attend public school.  Some children, despite a teacher’s best efforts, do not test well.  Some of them might have debilitating anxiety.  Some of them might naturally be a grade level or two behind on one subject, while ahead in another.  This happens in public school classrooms all the time!  Would it be fair to fire these students’ teachers?  Is it fair to cause me and my children anxiety all year long because if, for whatever reason, they perform poorly on the test I could be fired as their teacher?  This probably would not happen to us, but it could happen to some families and it would completely change a homeschooling family's way of life.

The government has no business reaching into our lives in the way this bill proposes.  It is not the will of the people, and it's certainly not what the freedom-loving people of South Carolina want and expect from their legislators.  We parents raised these children.  We’ve changed diapers, fed them, taken them to the dentist, washed their clothes, and read “Goodnight Moon” fifteen times in a row.  We’ve done everything for them and have poured our very lives into helping them grow.  Now that our children are school-aged, there are some who would suggest that we are not qualified or don’t care enough to offer our children a decent education.  That is simply uncalled for.  The vast majority of those who homeschool strive to offer the very best education to their children—and in the United States of America, and especially in our state which values freedom so highly, they should always have the right to do it as they see fit.  Lawmakers, please abandon this and any future efforts to restrict the freedom of homeschooling families.  It’s a waste of our time and tax dollars, and propositions of increased government control certainly won’t win you any popularity in our state.


Jenny, a hardworking homeschooling mother

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Long overdue family update

A typical weekend breakfast

I didn't mean to neglect my blog for this long!  It's so hard to find time for writing, and especially for posting pictures.  Sometimes I think about it, and then when I see how messy the house is and how rowdy the kids are, I think, oh, never mind.  

But I do want to update on what my kids are doing, if for no other reason than so I can remember later.  Here's what's going on with each of my kids, and me and Jordan too while I'm at it.


The older she gets, the more fun we have.  If it weren't for Ivey and Robert (well, mostly Robert) I could sit and read to her for hours on end.  She is also starting to read on her own now!  We are going through our collection of First Start Easy Readers and, increasingly, she can read through them with little to no help from me.  It's usually just help with a tricky word here and there.  She continues to enjoy art, singing, and acting.  We got the Les Mis soundtrack and she sings along with several of the songs in the car.  Her favorite is "Castle on a Cloud," but she also enjoys "Master of the House," which is funny to hear from her.  I love to take her rollerskating.  When we first took the girls over the summer, she was so nervous and didn't want to leave the carpet.  Now she takes off on her little black and blue skates with the light-up wheels, pops up on her toe stops, and scoots around at homeschool skate socializing with her friends.  I am bursting with pride and have given her the roller derby name R.L.  Bustya.  She says she wants to join the team when she's 18.  I hope she doesn't change her mind because with those long skinny legs and 13 years of skating experience, she would be so fast and awesome!  Below, Suzi is directing a doll choir.


Cuddler supreme and big sister extraordinaire.  She plays with her little brother, who adores her and always wants to know where Iyee is.  She works at her desk we have set up for her at the end of the counter, and enjoys drawing with markers and using tape.  As for homeschooling, she's mostly been joining in with me and Suzi when she feels like it in between playing.  She has attended the Tri-Art shows with us this year and she and Suzi are taking a drama class together again this winter.  I am helping her learn to write her name.  Increasingly, though, I am realizing that I need to start having more special Ivey time.  She loves to sit and have stories read to her.  I think I'm going to use the Oak Meadow Kindergarten curriculum for her when we start school next year.  She'll be four in August.  Like Suzi, she can dress herself now.  Her style is more practical and a lot less snazzy than her big sister's.  Her current favorite activities include playing dress-up as a princess, fixing her own hair, and working at her McDonald's cash register.  Oh, and jumping on the couch.  She hates taking a nap, and it's sometimes incredibly hard to get decent food into her.

She is quickly getting taller!  Time to buy her longer pants!


Robert's big news:  The other day he decided he was ready to start using the potty!  We'd tried it out a few times before, just sitting him on it first thing in the morning or right after a diaper change, with mixed results.  Usually he just sat on it for a second, then got up and said "done!" and the potty was still empty.  But this time he said "nee potty, Mom," and sat on it and peed!  Then today, for the first time, he sat on it and pooped, too!  I can't tell you how happy I am.  He is now wearing the cloth training pants, and has only been wet once since this morning.  I know we are still far from being done, but that's okay, we've begun.  Yay.

He has his own little bed now, but he rarely sleeps in it.  Robert loves to cuddle.

Other than that, Robert sings loud, nonsensical songs and is talking up a storm.  Cute little sentences.  Here's a bit of Robert-to-English for you.

Nee yight on! -->  I need the light on!
Yight off!  -->  Now let's turn it off!  (again and again and again)
Wah dow, Mom. -->  I want down, Mom (from the highchair).
I wah dee daw!  -->  Hold me up so I can ring the doorbell before you shut the door!
Nee booboo side!  -->  I need to nurse!  or  This side is empty, now I need the other one!
Is yock, Mom.  -->  It (the drawer to the McD's cash register) is locked, Mom.  Open it?

There's so much more, but I can't think of it all right now.  There's this hilarious song we heard at homeschool skate and he and Ivey both sing and dance to it.  Robert's favorite place to play is in the toy kitchen, or at the Cinderella hair care vanity that Ivey got for Christmas.  He even enjoys pretending to put makeup on Ivey's Rapunzel styling head.  He seems to have a love for shoes, always wanting to put his own on, and mine on me.  When I get a fancy new pair, he likes to look at them, and the other day he stole (borrowed?) a little board book about shoes from church.  He still enjoys babbies and other classic toys such as the little wooden pound-and-roll.  Also, balls of all sorts.  We went bowling in January and he was fascinated with those big heavy balls he couldn't lift.  I loved him right away, of course, but Robert is developing this awesome personality and, despite making me very tired, is more and more fun to be around.

Recently learned how to tie a bowtie!  I think he looks so cute.

He is working and taking one class towards his degree, and the other day he got his motorcycle permit!  We are going to buy him a motorcycle soon to replace the car he's been driving, which is the 13-year-old Corolla I got when I was in high school.  It's badly sun-damaged, and to get out he has to roll down the window and open the door from the outside.  The interior is shot.  He is always the one in the family to say "it's okay, I can wait and get my (whatever he needs) later," and he definitely deserves a motorcycle!  We will be buying one soon, shortly after he takes the three-day motorcycle safety class at the beginning of March.  I'm excited for him.  Other than that, he is working on a couple of projects such as putting a fire pit in the back of our yard.  Because he is an amazing dad and spends so much time with the kids when he is home, he doesn't have much time for himself.  I'm trying to work on that.  At least now that my parents can keep Robert more often, we have a bit more time for dates and things we can do together!

At Jordan's cousin's wedding in January

Still doing roller derby, now with a renewed determination because there is an invitational bout coming up next month that I'm hoping to skate in, and to do that I need to pass assessments.  I'm getting close!  Sometimes I get so stressed out, but overall I love staying home with my kids.  I love homeschooling/unschooling and am so glad we chose this path.  Sewing and making crafts for profit is currently off my radar, as I've just been too busy, but I have enjoyed some volunteer crafting.  I'm doing a lot of the decorating for my high school reunion that's coming up in July!  I'm also becoming more involved with our church, and looking for ways I can craft to help others.  I hope to someday do craft fairs and make custom items, but right now I'd have to give up something else I love to fit that in.  I'm trying to find the time for running again, because I'd like to stay in shape and it also helps with my skating.  Life is busy!

They are wonderful.  I love it when they all play together!

That's all for now.  Hopefully it won't be over a month before I get to blog again!