Thursday, April 23, 2015

The last day of kindergarten.

Well, the last day of school has come and gone, but I would be remiss if I didn't tell you at least a little bit about it.

Leah Madeline, last day of Kindergarten 2015.  Age 5.

The kids celebrated their accomplishments this year with what we call Finale Night.  I wish I could tell you that I took lots of pictures, but as Casey was out of town... well, I do the best I can.

They were absolutely adorable.  The group recited the presidents in order from Washington to Obama, and then each class got to do a quick presentation as well.  Leah was so excited, as she was responsible for pointing out Montpelier, Vermont on the map by herself in front of the audience.  There was a dessert reception afterward, and our Nana, Mimi and Poppy attended with us.  She was so very proud of herself!

I just can't believe how much she has learned this year.  It stuns me to listen to her, and the sophistication with which she can speak about so many subjects that she really has no context for.
"Look, Mommy!  I made water with my snack!  Two hydrogens and one oxygen!"

At her five year check up, our pediatrician was telling me a story about how her grandfather attended one of the schools that was first to be integrated in the south.  Without missing a beat, Leah chimed in, "are you talking about Brown vs. the Board of Education?"  OH, how the doctor's mouth dropped open as she said, "I am!  What do YOU know about Brown vs. the Board of Education?!"  It was just priceless.

It has been such a wonderful year.  Homeschooling is such a blessing to our family.  Even though it is tough sometimes, I can't imagine that we would do anything else.  I don't know exactly where or how far this journey will take us, but we are so very happy to be able to spend this time together now.

Everyone in our family loves to learn!

Besides that, one of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that we're not bound by pesky little things like schedules, or whether school is "out" or "in."

We can learn anywhere, any time!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

That time we built a playhouse.

I don't much mind fixing up houses.  In fact, I greatly enjoy the process - even though in this particular house in our particular season of life, things are taking a rather long time.

Rehabilitating yards, however, is not my favorite thing in the world. 

In our first house, there was no yard when we moved in.  Literally, just a pile of dirt. After a failed attempt at re-sodding the yard, and then a lot of seeding, patience and TLC, the yard was thick and well cared for by the time we put it on the market to sell.

Of course, when we bought this house, we were pretty much back at square one.  No grass.  The yard was 50% dirt, 40% weeds and only 10% grass.


We've been slowly caring for it and bringing it back, fixing and pruning and seeding and waiting.  Longing for a yard that our children can actually run and play in.

Weed city, 2013


We took out the ugly, tiny concrete slab that used to serve as a patio and replaced it with something better.  Slowly, slowly, grass has replaced the dirt and weeds.  We're getting closer all the time.  



But one thing I've said that I wanted from the beginning was a playhouse.  A really awesome playhouse.  And Casey?  He delivered.  

In a really big way.

I know.  I'm in love.

It measures 8 feet by 10 feet and stands about 7 feet tall.  The best part is, it brilliantly utilizes the first and second levels of our yard, making the totally unreasonable second level that measures about 6 feet wide and runs the length of our yard not so completely unreasonable.  FINALLY!  (You'll see what I mean below.)

It took him more than a few runs to Home Depot over the course of about three days (mostly, plus a little additional roof work several weeks later when he got home from a trip).

The first step, and probably the hardest part, was building this frame.  It was so heavy all by itself that we had to ask a neighbor to come and help us move it into place. 

The front of the playhouse sits level with the house, the back drops into this stupid and so far unusable lower area.
Next, Casey laid what would become the floor.

After that was completed, he started on the walls, building each separately.  We had already determined that there would only be three, with the fourth wall open instead of a door.

The next piece was simple: frame the three walls and bolt them in place.

And can I just tell you?  We were a HUGE help in this process. 

This is the kind of project that I would have helped with, once upon a time before my job was more about keeping people out of the way.

The roof framing went up, and the roof went on.

And then it was all about the aesthetics. Starting with paint,  


exterior paint, and my favorite: this amazing fence.  AMAZING.

You can kind of see in this photo that there is a slide that connects down to that lower level.  Eventually, either this summer or next, we'll put in a nice big sandbox, too.  But that's a dream for another day.

Casey also built this cute little climbing wall to help them get back up.  Actually, that was my idea - gotta take credit where I can get it in this project!

The kids were pretty thrilled.  I mean, who could blame them?! 

I added a cute rug from IKEA, and painted that table white with a chalkboard top.  After that, well... it's pretty much done!

And if you're wondering, the plans were not ours.  I saw them (and set my heart on them) years ago.  If you are interested, you too can build a super awesome playhouse here.

Casey and I may or may not have spent the past several nights sipping hot cocoa in this baby.  Without the children. 

We can't wait for summer!

Serious kudos to my awesome husband.  You're an awesome playhouse builder, but an even better Daddy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter this, plus a husband

It is worth noting: we had our very first Easter with our daddy this year!  

Okay, so maybe not our first Easter ever, but certainly the only one I can remember in quite a few years.  Although, as I look through my photos, you can't really tell!  I suppose the proof will have to rest in the fact that I am in several photos, and I couldn't take them myself.

We started off our Easter festivities by attending our neighborhood egg hunt.  We've never been able to attend before; one year we had something else scheduled and one year it was cancelled because the neighborhood was buried under 3 feet of snow.  Can I just say?  I love our neighborhood!

There were SO many people.  They did three VERY full heats of egg hunting, and even with hundreds of eggs they were scooped up in no time.

We have never actually done an organized egg hunt before.  We always felt somebody was too little to have much fun with it, but this year was absolutely perfect!

They were so happy!  It went fast, but the kids really enjoyed hunting and chasing the eggs.

How adorable are these pictures, right?  Just in case you were thinking that my family is adorable, poseable and super photogenic, let me just show you what happens each and every time I say, "Everybody smile for the camera!"

Yep.  One looks left, one looks right, and absolutely nobody looks at mom.  Oh well.  Bless you, digital camera.  Above said adorable shots were eventually obtained because I told them that they couldn't have any candy until they looked at the camera. Yup.  The only mom above bribery is the foolish mom.

And... proof(ish) that Casey was there:

Okay, I know Casey isn't actually in this one.  I know.  But he took the photo, otherwise I'd never ever get to be in one.  It counts.

They also got to meet the Easter bunny, who, I'm afraid, we've decided to debunk with the truth: there is no Easter bunny.  I know, we're horrible parents.  But we couldn't quite wrap our heads around the purpose of the Easter bunny (giant anthropomorphic rabbit who breaks into your house, hides your stuff and leaves you presents?  WHYYYY????!!) and there seemed to be too many conflicting messages about what exactly we celebrate on this holiday.  It was time to narrow the field and make sure they know the BIG reason this day is worth celebrating.  

They were still excited to see the guy in a giant bunny costume, so I'm pretty sure there was no harm done. 

The next day was Easter, and I was so excited about their baskets!

You won't find much candy; instead, we chose things that the kids would enjoy for the upcoming summer season: jammies, sandals, band aids, a headband or hat, and pool toys.  On each item, I found a Bible verse that corresponded with what the item was.  Leah had so much fun reading each little verse!  The others... well, they'll have to wait a few years to jump in on this tradition, what with the not being able to read. 

But they enjoyed their baskets, just the same!  Though Heaven forbid I should get them all looking at the camera at the same time.

This year, I've gotten into the habit of making cinnamon rolls for Sunday breakfasts before church.  We enjoyed our breakfast, dressed up and headed to church for an awesome message. 

Hah!  All five looking at the camera.  Win.

Later that day, my family came over for an Easter egg hunt and for dinner.  The kids loved running around to find the eggs we'd dyed earlier in the week!

Leah is ever my little mother.  She loved shepherding cousin Greyson around and helping him find the eggs.

Despite the fact that my family only lives about 45 minutes away, it is extremely rare for us all to be together at the same time.  So it was especially precious and fun to see the kids together.

And, of course, Nana and all the grandkids.

My poor sweet Livvy was running a fever and getting ready to break her first teeth, so she was not particularly thrilled with the afternoon's goings on.  She was especially clingy, and on the generally miserable side. 

But OH, that face!  How can I resist her?

It was a wonderful day, and such a happy memory!

I changed my font at