This is what I found while I was making dinner...

We have a rule about no TV or XBox on a school night. (unless it involves Max and Ruby or Team Umizoomi to keep Brooks occupied)

Turns out, when they get bored enough, they READ!!!

Caleb's Washington Monument

For those of you on pins and needles about Caleb's last minute project... here are some pictures to prove that I actually did help him get it done!!!

To read about my downfall as a mother... go HERE!

"I like to look for rainbows..."

Despite what they say, it is possible to have a "right-out-of-a-fairy-tale-moment" with 3 kids! It's tricky.... the stars have to be aligned and it often requires a little heavenly help, but it is possible. Our heavenly help came in the form of an arc of prismatic colors that exploded across the sky to make a full spectrum, perfect rainbow! It really was a beautiful moment... and what made it even better was the boys noticed it themselves, and continued to point out the rarities that you don't usually see with rainbows.

1) it was one continuous arc from one side of the sky to the other
2) you could see all the colors in fairly distinct bands all the way across
3) the sun was shining and light streamed through the clouds in beams
4) raindrops continued to fall letting the light from the sun reflect off them
5) dark rain clouds in the distance provided a beautiful blue-gray backdrop, allowing the colors of the rainbow to appear even more vibrant

I didn't have my camera with me to document it myself... but found a true-blue, Alaskan Rainbow for your viewing pleasure!

We were enjoying it so much, we had to take the "long way" to school so we could see it longer. But by the time, we pulled into the school drop off lane, it was gone. We could've easily missed it... as well as the stimulating and thought provoking conversation that came about because of it. I'm grateful that we walked out the door when we did.... and that Josh spotted it... and that Caleb marveled about it... and that they both really "thought" about the beautiful meaning behind the rainbow... and mostly, that I was there to witness all of it!

As I drove home alone, I couldn't help but think of THIS. I reread it again this morning, and it was a good reminder to me about what it means to be happy. And, oddly enough, it even refers to a rainbow...

Leaves... please leave!

Every fall, our yard gets buried in leaves! One year, we had 70 bags of leaves out front waiting patiently (ever so patiently) as the garbage collector took a mere 8 bags each week. Since that first year, I have gotten more efficient in my bagging skills, so we don't have as many bags. But I can't escape the blisters and aching back that comes with hours of raking and bending over.

That is, until today when I finally mastered the leaf blower! Despite carefully watching landscapers blow leaves for various techniques, I did have a little trouble at first, which involved a wall of leaves flying 20 feet in the air and scattering leaves everywhere. But, even with the rough start, I managed to tame and maneuver the leaves into a large leaf pile that literally filled the entire driveway!

Then I bagged the leaves in record time using a new technique I invented. It was extremely efficient... and I challenge any profession leaf bagger to a duel in bagging leaves! I've decided to share said technique with you to assist you in your own bagging efforts.

1) Pile up leaves in a long, heaping pile
2) Take empty bag, and step on the inside, top edge of the bag with both feet, about hip width apart.
3) Bend over and shovel leaves into the open mouth of the bag using your hands.
4) As the bag fills up, occassionally smash leaves by sitting on the bag
5) Continue hand shoveling until you can't cram anymore.
6) Then sit bag up and alternate pressing leaves into bag, and then smashing... pressing, smashing, pressing, smashing until you literally can't get anymore in.

I didn't time myself, but I think this whole process took about 5 minutes per bag! And I did it all by myself without someone else holding the bag!

Maybe tomorrow I'll shave a few seconds off my time for a new record! I entertain easily.
I'd love to hear how you get rid of leaves... so share your techniques!

she's warming my heart

This is what I found on my front porch the other day. The neighbor's cat.

I'm not particularly fond of cats. Let's be honest... I can't stand them. But this hasn't always been the case.

I remember my first childhood pet, which was a black kitten with white paws. I named her Mittens. I remember carrying her all over the place... and then when she had kittens of her own... many, many kittens, that eventually went ferrel all over the farm. Meanwhile, my Dad was very allergic to Mittens, and he had suffered long enough, so he told me that he was going to take Mittens to a place where she would be very happy and could run and play with other cats, on a big farm with lots of meadows and fun places to hide! I agreed that Mittens had to go, so I remember a tearful goodbye as he put her in a cardboard box and drove away.

I was heartbroken... for about a day.

Since then, I developed an allergy to cats as well, so I've continued to distance myself more and more from them. Now, they literally give me the creeps!

So back to my neighbor's cat, Pumpkin. She is attracted to me like crazy... it's like she can sense that I don't like her, so she's trying desperately to win my affection. She rubs up against my legs and she sits on my windowsills and stares at me, (shiver), she sneaks in my garage, and eventually into the house. (double shiver) But my husband thinks it's hilarious and keeps telling me that she will grow on me. I keep refusing. That is until I saw her curled up on my doormat. She looked so small and helpless on that chilly, fall day. Her fur moved slightly as she tried to warm herself in the sun, despite the breeze. Despite my best efforts, I have to admit that as I watched her through the storm door, my grinch-like heart grew 1/2 size that day.

Well, years after I said goodbye to Mittens, I realized a couple things. Remember, the farm that my Dad promised to take Mittens to? The one with all the meadows and cats and big open spaces? It seemed so wonderful and so I was sure that she would be much happier to go there. The ironic thing is... THIS IS WHERE I GREW UP!

How in the world did I fall for that line? I was standing on a huge 160 acre farm with barns and meadows... a cat's paradise!

As it turns out, the big farm that Dad was referring to, was that "big farm in the sky"! That's farm-life for ya! Rest in peace, Mittens.

morning wake up call

THIS IS WHAT I HEARD THIS MORNING! (click on the link)

FYI: I don't live near a train station or train tracks.

Unless you're counting the one in Brooks' room.

Looks harmless enough, right? When he wanted to leave it out before going to bed, the thought crossed my mind that he could use it to open his door again. But unless he could move large furniture, I concluded that he wouldn't be able to get out. And if I was lucky, maybe it would entertain him for awhile.

Sadly, it never occurred to me that he would start blowing the train whistle at 6am... and it would continue approximately every 8 seconds. (I counted them and anticipated it like contractions... knowing it was inevitable and not being able to fully relax in between)

Hoping that Mike would not be able to take it anymore, I held out, pretending to be slumbering peacefully. It wasn't until I looked over and saw the pillow over his head, that I realized he had every intent of enduring this from the comfort of under the covers. Desperate, I tried the pillow thing, but could still hear it streaming in the baby monitor.

Reluctantly I stumbled out of bed 40 minutes later to pack lunches. That's when this morning got EVEN better. I came downstairs to two boys wearing dirty clothes. Coaxing them out of their favorite, smelly t-shirts is more exhausting then the train whistle, so I went straight to the threats... "If you don't go back upstairs and put on the nicely folded, clean clothes that I work extra hard to put in your drawers every week, then you'll be grounded for life."

Several altercations later, they were both grounded for the after noon... with their form of punishment being an endless list of chores to last them until dinnertime, or the house is spotless, whichever comes last. And contrary to what you might think, and to protect the reputations of those involved, they DIDN'T get grounded for wearing dirty clothes.

Meanwhile, back upstairs at Brooks Central Station, I reluctantly opened the door to find him very distraught clutching all the trains he could hold. The only thing that calmed him was the promise to watch "a lot of cartoons"... his words, not mine. Right now he is simultaneously watching Dora the Explorer, while playing on his Leapster, and pushing the train whistle.

I need a vacation.

he's at it again...

We have a Houdini in the family.

We purchased the best lock we could find to keep Brooks in his room, not only to prevent him from waking up everyone in the house at 3am... but also for his own safety! And now that he is no longer taking a nap, it is even more crucial for him to get his rest... and when he wakes up at 5am and can't get out of his room, he will go back to sleep on is own. But all that is compromised when he can get out of his room that is locked with a lock at the top of the door frame (which is at least 4 feet above his reach!).

But after ruling everything out (like me forgetting to lock the door, or his brothers opening it for him), and even locking myself in his room and failing to get out, I concluded that he just might be a genius!

So I took Brooks into his room armed with my camera, and told him to open the door. This is what he did... and this is how he explained it.

"First I did this!" (He also successfully used a sword, but he preferred the "hook" approach by putting his race car tracks together in a hook formation.)
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"I climb up here." (then he climbed up on the nightstand that is right next to the door)

"I go like this!" (Then he simply uses his "hook" to move the latch over)

"See? I did it!" (One smart kid!)

Now I know why he often insisted on sleeping with his sword and tracks. That very day, I moved the night stand away from the door... and removed all paraphernalia that may be used as an escape tool. BUSTED!

Last night he slept in til 8am! Hallelujiah!

trick or treat!

Halloween Eve was not a happy day for Brooks.

It actually started out the night before at the Trunk or Treat. By the time we got home, he had worked himself into an angry, candy-overloaded tizzy! So when I came downstairs early Sunday morning to find all three chillins chowing down on candy for breakfast, I knew we were off to a scary start to the day. When I managed to pry a tootsie roll from Brooks' kung-fu grip, he erupted in a string of toddler obscenities. I eventually had to get in the shower, so I left Dad to begin the wrestling match and attempt to get a kicking, flailing 3 year-old into a shirt and tie for church! (insert evil witch laugh now!)

When I was drying my hair, I could tell that the screaming Brooks had been left in his room to "cool down"! By the time I was putting on my earrings, I heard Mike open the garage door to get the other boys out to the car to wait for me. Brooks obviously heard the door too, and in the nicest, sobbing voice he could muster, he pleaded, "Mommy... Daddy.... please don't leave me!"

I opened his bedroom door and saw the tear-stained face of my little munchkin, who was obviously relieved to see me. Contrary to his understanding of the situation, we had no intention of leaving him at home while we were at church for 3 hours... but his fear of abandonment worked to our advantage when he promised to be nice and willingly got into his car seat.

When I picked him up from his nursery class, I was informed that he refused to clean up, and told another boy, "I don't care if I hurt your feelings." This was turning into a Halloween full of TRICKS!

After lunch, I lured him into my bed and we curled up to take a "little snooze". 2 1/2 hours later, I rolled over to a wide-eyed, smiling little dude as he said, "Good morning Mommy!"

Thanks to our afternoon nap, the remaining hours left of our Halloween Eve turned out to be filled with cheerful after-dinner chores, a fun game, playful banter and lovely singing... turns out I got a TREAT after all!

who says you don't use algebra as a mom

If you've ever felt like your brain is going to mush because of lack of use... try THESE mind benders to ward off the Alzheimer's!

Algebraic Equation:
Multiplication: Distributive Property

Sample: 4(a + b) = x

Mom Equation:
4 days (chocolate milk in sippy cup + under bed) = chocolate cottage cheese


Algebraic Equation:
Solve using the FOIL method
Sample Problem: (1 + x)(3 + 2x)

Mom Equation:
Laundry FOILed again!
(1 dryer + brown crayon)(1 load of whites + 2brown crayons)
Solution: Poopy looking underwear


Mom Equation:
(2a + 1b)
________ x 4d (2s) = M
(1h + 3c)

a= cans of cherry pop
b= clumsy husband
c= towels laid on top to keep our feet from getting wet
d= days lapsed
h= hours scrubbing carpet
M= Mildew smell wafting through the house!


All this is enough to make my head spin!

you might be a bad mom, if you did this...

Last Friday was NOT one of my finest moments as a mom. Even as I write this, I'm experiencing serious inner conflict about admitting this. But one of my goals is to be more humble... so here I go.

9:00 p.m. last Thursday
I crawl out of Brooks' bed and shake the needles out of my right arm. I must have been pretty tired to have fallen asleep in a toddler bed with a wiggly 3 year old. As I lock Brooks' door behind me, (look back HERE to see why I have to lock the door in the first place) I realize that Josh and Caleb are still awake despite having been in bed for an hour. Caleb informs me that he has a project due tomorrow. Confident that I would've known about it, I tell him he must be mistaken and coerce him into bed and turn off the light.

Just to be safe, I look around for any evidence of a project deadline amongst the plethora of papers that arrive home every day. There it is. I stare in disbelief at the project flyer right on the kitchen counter. Why is this the first time I'm seeing this? How did it magically appear right in plain sight. I do admit, I have been a bit preoccupied, and the house has been "under the weather" lately, but I'm in shock! I do a double take at the weekly homework sheet that has been posted on my bulletin board ALL WEEK LONG when I notice that right there, plastered across the top are the words, "We can't wait to see all the American Symbol projects that are due this Friday!"

"I'm the worst mom ever!" I mutter to my husband who is in the reclined position watching ESPN.

I have visions of Josh's American symbols project from 1st grade... and can see clearly in my mind's eye the Washington Monument model that is collecting dust in the attic. I brush the thought away because it isn't honest, right?

"You could always pull out Josh's old Washington Monument project from the attic?" my husband suggests sarcastically. Embarrassed to admit that the thought had already occurred to me, I tell him it's out of the question. I slump on the couch in silence as my mind races with horrific images of Caleb going to school WITHOUT a project... and the sight of possible "excuse note" sentences flash as I consider how I can possibly explain this oversight!

Don't get me wrong... Caleb is partly responsible. But he's also 6... and I'm 33. And who is the parent again? So after much debate with myself... and weighing out the outcomes of every possibility, I come to the conclusion that the only logical solution is to keep him home from school. Luckily we have the weekend to come up with something that is 3 feet tall, made out of clay (Caleb's requirements) and somewhat resembles either the Washington Monument, an eagle, a flag or the Statue of Liberty (the teacher's requirements).

Caleb is literally elated when I inform him the next morning that he will NOT be going to school that day, despite the absence of a fever or sore throat. But he voices his own thoughts to fix the situation by saying, "Why don't I just take Josh's Washington Monument project in the attic?" Great minds really do think alike, I guess.

Thanks to a friend's suggestion, a last-minute trip to the craft store is averted when Caleb becomes giddy at the idea of building the Washington Monument out of Legos. So, in addition to all the other things I HAD to get done that very day (I'll spare you on the details... but take my word for it, this day was intense), we spent the next 2 hours burrowing through Lego bins sorting out all the small, white lego pieces... including white slanted pieces, which are hard to come by.

The end result is something that both mother and son are proud of! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture. So hopefully it will make it back in one piece, so you can see the masterpiece for yourself.

Until then, here are a couple fun facts about the Washington Monument:

The Real One:
-555 feet tall
-897 steps to the top
-36,491 blocks of marble
-50 flags surrounding it... representing each state

Caleb's Model:
-13 inches tall
-35 levels of legos to the top
-325 lego blocks
-25 flags surrounding it... representing every 2 states!

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