Saturday, March 28, 2015 see our lil' pup again

...isn't he just the sweetest?

The kids were super excited about going down to see our little guy for a short visit.

They are convinced he has grown...

And the name debate continues.

We are starting to get a bit desperate.  Mark and I are ready to name him without a general consensus.  Our votes count more than all theirs combined anyhow!

We'd like a name that is relevant to Ann Arbor.  

The front runners are: Burny (for Burns Park the neighborhood we live in) and Bo (for Bo Schembechler).  Other popular names in no particular order include:  Yost, Argo, Oliver, Forest, Charley, and Mitch.   Perhaps Amos after his Dad?   Audrey is still holding on to Elsa...

Elsa = Veto

We'll figure out his name, but we had better do it soon.  We have been told that he is already showing just how smart he is.  He has already learned to sit and shake without even being taught...just by watching his parents.

We are looking forward to having him around...

...whatever his name may be.

Thursday, March 26, 2015 put the girls' hair up

...don't they look sweet?

If only the process of putting their hair up went as smooth as they are sweet.

There was a time, once upon a time long ago, when I believed that doing my daughters' hair each morning would be our peaceful and sweet bonding time.  It would be the time each morning when we would chat and talk about the day-to-be.  My little girls' would share their secrets and worries.  In my mind, I was standing behind them, peacefully, lovingly brushing their luxurious locks.

Newsflash.  Doing their hair in mornings doesn't exactly look like the pictures of tranquility I had concocted in my daydreams.

Usually it involves yelling for the girls from the top of the stairs to, "Hurry up and find a brush for the love of all things holy!"

(Why is it that we can never ever find a brush?)

The next moment usually involves me holding my breath while I oh-so-carefully brush through their snarls.  My cautiousness always invokes screams and cries of pain and torture.

I promise, this visual is no exaggeration.  One would think I am plucking their hairs out one-by-one.

This whole hair-doing process most always leaves me exasperated and then I typically allow them to escape before I ever even pop in a barrette.

This week is different.

This week there has been reported cases of lice at their school and in Audrey's class.

I am in a panic/frenzy/crazy-keep-the-lice-away mode.

The only preventative measures I can really take (besides keeping them out of school which is unrealistic) include:

1.  Lecturing them about what not to do at school (e.g., share brushes, hats, lay on the carpet etc...)
2.  Put tee tree oil in their shampoo and conditioner each night.
3.  Put their hair up each day before school.

This morning while I was putting Audrey's hair up and she was complaining and protesting our conversation went something like this:

  • Audrey:  "You put tea oil in my hair last night!  You don't HAVE TO PUT UP MY HAIR"!" (note:  she thinks its from my tea does come in a brown bottle after all).
  • Me:  Sit Still!  Stop moving.  Turn your head.  This doesn't hurt!  Audrey...putting your hair up is just another trick that works to keep those lice at bay.
  • Audrey:  I didn't know that lice lived in the sea!
Some mornings, doing their hair is so-worth all the trouble.

Monday, March 23, 2015 share the pictures of

...our newest family member to-be.

We sure think he is pretty cute.

The kids have been pestering me for several months.   My intention was that we would not get another dog until we moved.  But that was when I thought we only had another two years or so here.  When it was determined that we will remain here in Ann Arbor for another year...well...I started looking.

I knew that I wanted a dog with many similar characteristics that Timber had:

Athleticism: We want another dog that can run with us.
Agility:  We want a dog to play frisbee and catch with.
Character: We want a dog that's devoted and love kids and people.
Size:  We wanted a dog about the size of Timber.

And a few that I didn't want our new companion to have.

Troubles with other four-legged creatures
Not trainable:  Timber didn't exactly pass obedience school the third time through...

I mostly limited my search to Australian Shepherds (smaller than most German Shepherds) and Border Collies.  Although Labs, Retrievers, and Huskies also caught my eye.

I also decided I really wanted the kids to have and enjoy a puppy.

I told myself I wouldn't be in a hurry and I would know if the right puppy came along.

I responded to a few ads.  I checked Petfinder and the shelters.  

And then I came upon him.

And this photo was sent to me.

How could I resist?

Here are his mom and dad.

His momma is a tri-color smooth Collie.  His dad is a sable-colored Rough Collie.  He looks a lot like Lassie.

It's a little too early to tell if our little guy will be smooth or rough or what colors he will be...I am pretty sure it doesn't matter to the kids.

The face painted tiara is a nice touch.

They already love him.

Isabella has been carting photos of him around.  Abbey keeps talking about how he can't walk very well and will need to be carried everywhere.  Will is thinking about all the tricks he will learn and Audrey is working on trying to convince her siblings to call him Elsa.

I think he is going to fit right in...

Too bad it's still too more weeks until he can join us.

Thursday, March 19, 2015 hang out with my little girls Daisies...

I have been a leader in Girl Scouts for a long time.  I started a long time ago with Isabella...first Daisies, then Brownies.  While she was a Juniors, I was only a helper.  Mostly because we were new to Fort Drum and they already had a leader there and also at this point I wanted to lead Abbey's Daisy troop again.

Besides, it's no secret, I love the little girls.

Want to know the real reason though?  Because they are easy.  Yup.  9 giggling girls are simple.

I can easily handle the giggles and the silliness of 5 & 6 & 7 year olds.  BECAUSE they are happy with songs, stories, coloring sheets, construction paper projects, games of musical chairs, and rounds of freeze dancing.

Happy is an understatement.  They LOVE those things!

And those things don't require hours of planning and prep work and trips to Michael's to gather art supplies.

Enamored with story time while enjoying their snack.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 share a gift idea

...that will give any mom two hours of peace...

I spent the afternoon on Sunday in the basement with the purpose of finding treasures to donate to my 40 bags cause.  I needed something to occupy the girls and keep them out of my hair while I found oodles of their treasures to purge.

Isabella to the rescue!  She so kindly offered to show the girls how to use this Graphic Skinz Design Studio that Abbey received as a gift.  What was in it for her?  My thoughts exactly...well she got to try it out first.  Oh, yes.  And she got to use up the coolest of the skinz first.

Sounds like a cheesy kit?  It is.

But this kit provided my girls who turn out sketches and drawings and paintings and coloring pages in droves...with two + hours of design time.

The greater news?  There is a boy version.

I have some friends whose boys may need this very thing!  Beth?  Meghan?  Kristen?

Did I mention the Skinz stay on with water?  The machine luckily needs to be filled over-and-over again.  My socks may have gotten wet when I walked to the table to check on their progress...but I'll take water over glue or paint or glitter any day.

purple cheetah print!! A win-win for Audrey.

One of their completed projects:

As for the mess clean-up... was not included.

Thursday, March 12, 2015 try a new recipe

...this evening.

One of my New Year's resolutions was supposed to be try one new recipe a week.

However, I never exactly had the opportunity to make any resolutions.  Which means I didn't technically break any resolutions either....however, this was something I wanted to try to be more diligent about.

Following a menu plan makes our life so much easier.  I know I have said before.  A menu keeps me accountable, keeps the kids accountable, and assures we eat even on evenings when all four of our children have four different activities.

When I do plan my menu, I always note the days we have activities and the days we are free.  Which usually actually means days that activities don't start until 6:30pm on 'free evening'.  This means we can eat dinner at a normal time.  This all translate to:  I have time to prepare something that preferably will be ready in less than an hour.

This recipe caught my eye a few weeks ago.

This meal was well received by each member of the family.  Maybe I should write that sentence again?

Someone always complains in our house...but not tonight.  Even Will, who doesn't love chicken didn't complain.

I'll admit I didn't exactly follow the recipe.  This means I left out all the key ingredients such as the ground mustard, the parmesan, and the lemon and I didn't exactly cook it completely in the fry pan...but the preparation method was the same.  And the chicken was still delicious.

These are the directions I would give:

Take one humungous package of chicken
Slice each large piece of chicken into cutlet thickness'
salt & pepper them
dredge each piece in flour
dredge each piece in beaten eggs
dredge each piece in panko crumbs

Fry chicken in batches in an iron skillet for 3-4 minutes on each side in peanut oil or olive oil.
(If necessary) bake in an oven for 10-15 minutes at 350 in a large baking pan.
(I didn't cut my chicken thin enough and it wasn't quite done after I fried it.)

I also did as the article suggested and went ahead and prepared the rest of that giant batch of chicken then placed it in the freezer ready to just be prepared for our next meal.

Two meals, one mess.  This is a bonus recipe.

Monday, March 9, 2015 enjoy some sunshine

...on a lovely Sunday afternoon.

Sunday was the first nice weather we have seen in weeks.  It was the first above freezing weather we have seen in months.  AND it was the first sunny day we have seen since probably fall.  (I may  have exaggerated a teeny-tiny-bit...but not much.  MI is gloomy in the winter!)

We kicked the kids outside.  

And proceeded to tell them they had to remain outside for 1.5 hours.  

It one of Newton's Laws of motions.  What gets put in motion stays in motion.   Until an external force is applied (as in the clock telling them the 1.5 hours is up).

There were plenty of grumbles and delays tactics but in the end the time was a success.



Wet sidewalks...

Jumping child...


All four playing together...

...getting very wet.

Can you tell?

Saturday, March 7, 2015 make a central charging station

...for all of our electronics

We have so. many.  The acquisition of all of these devices happened so accidentally...

About two years ago we had one laptop and the kids had a Chromebook.  My computer started to process slowly.  So then, I needed a new laptop that was more reliable.  So we bought another.  (The kids then got my old one.)  We moved here to Ann Arbor and then Mark started school.  He needed a new laptop for school...he got a new one.

Mark and I have our phone and we have an old one we keep as the home phone.

The handheld devices have multiplied as well.

And then we have the Kindles...three of 'em.

And with all of these electronics we can never ever find the chargers.

Then there was the other little problem of some-children-who-must-not-be-named constantly leaving the electronics anywhere but in their right places.  We would sit on a computer when it was left on the couch, we would nearly step on a Kindle because they it was left on the floor, we would even find the home phone squished between the cushions...

In desperation one afternoon Mark told me to look for a treasure.

Yes, Mark did in fact request that I hunt for some type of map holder or large drawer cabinet to bring home.  Since I love furniture and the quest of treasure finding, I started to search.   While I found many that I loved, they didn't exactly fit my budget.

And then this week I was out running errands and stopped at the recycling center in Ann Arbor.  And I came upon this lovely treasure:

It didn't even need to be refinished!

I took the back off of the cabinet and then Mark organized the cord chaos.  He ordered an extra long cord with a 12 outlet surge protector that he hid in the back of the cabinet on the bottom shelf.

The view from the back:

The view from the front...

he used some 3M cord holders so the cords wouldn't slip back,

and now we are all set up...

The trick will be to get our cherubs to put their devices away!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 celebrate Isabella's


Yes...we are a bit late but...

Moving in middle school is hard.  It's harder to make friends for so many reasons but one factor is this is the age when kids become involved in so many different activities; activities that are probably not affiliated with school.  In Isabella's case, she has chosen swimming and the classmates she would like to get to know better play basketball and soccer.

Since Isabella's birthday is Christmas Eve she never gets to celebrate with her friends.   Typically we celebrate after the fact so we have something to look forward to in the dreary months of winter.  This time we used the premise of celebrating her birthday to help facilitate having her spend some time with a few girls she enjoys in school.  The gathering was a no-gift affair and we topped the evening off by stopping for ice-cream on the way home.

Some of the best things in life are worth waiting for.

I think Isabella will agree.

Before they started climbing

A capture of them all mid-climb.


Giving her friend a little lift.
All tired out.

Several tired, sore, yet happy girls.
These may or may not have been candid photographs.