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!

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