Saturday, May 30, 2009

Don't Judge Me...

until you've taken a walk in my shoes. My feet look hideous, the sandals I wear almost daily are old and worn...

but I'm about to enter a crisis moment. I'm not kidding. These awesome shoes are a pair of Teva flip-flops that I've had for almost 4 years now. I got them at an after summer clearance sale at a Cabelas in Kansas City and the sales person told me that he had comfortably backpacked in Brazil for a month wearing the male version of these very sandals and I scoffed - totally thought that he was totally feeding me a line to get me to buy them.

Well he didn't have to try to impress me with their comfort. I like the style of them. Now 4 years later I love them more today than the first day I layed eyes on them with that red clearance sticker. They are seriously the most comfortable sandal I have ever owned and I wear them almost daily even though I have a closet full of other sandals (just ask my husband).

I have never gotten a blister from these - my feet have never ached after wearing and walking for long periods of time or distance. They are probably the most comfortable things that I own and they are slowly dying. You can see that my foot print is permanently implanted into their soul.

The toe flap (is that what it's called???) is about to break...

So what's the problem? Just buy another pair, right? I can't find them! I've looked on the official Teva website even, they just don't make them like they used to. I am fearful of a summer without these sandals! What will I dooooo??? (do you hear the desperate whine in my typing?)

I will suck it up and take it like a sandal wearing pro and find another pair I guess. But nothing, absolutely nothing can replace these in my heart... (ok, that's a little overstated, but you get my drift...)

Friday, May 29, 2009

It Took All That Is Within Me...

to not keep this little guy as a pet...

I love turtles... especially cute little tiny ones.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Safe Place for the Baby

It's hard to sweep the floor with a mobile toddler underfoot who enjoys eating *leftovers* off said floor. So where is a safe place to contain your little one while you sweep?? On top of the kitchen table of course.

(Ok, so I'm not really condoning this practice, but I'm not kidding when I tell you that this is the most content this child has been for the past week... at least!)

And while I had her "contained" I tried to get a few nice shots of her. But as you see, she wasn't that cooperative. She is looking more and more like a little girl. Her walking is slowing burning off that baby fat. Her hair is getting longer and curls out at the sides so it looks like she has wings. And she is beginning to understand basic words and tries saying a few of her own. And she's really kind of a nut - here she is squishing her face...

These aren't the best shots but they capture a little bit of her somehow...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ummm, Take My Shoes Off Lillie

Avery (seriously) asking Lillie for some assistance.

This shot is not the best, but I love Lillie's expression...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Time for Battle

It is that time of year - the last few weeks of school for public school kids everywhere. I remember when I was a student how the end of the year would be full of out-of-the-routine type fun and field trips. Yes, you're right if you are saying to yourself right now "doesn't Jessie home school her kids...?" I do home school, but my mother-in-law is a fifth grade teacher in the public school system and she is in the trenches on this her last year of teaching.

Almost every year her grade level and her school would hook up with a group of Civil War reenactors and learn hands-on what life was like for a soldier in battle. They learn so many things and go to different learning centers throughout the day and top it all off with a war reenactment of their own complete with uniforms, wooden guns, a role playing. We look forward to visiting grandma on that day of school every spring and this year's was the biggest and best ever.

For the past several years it was only Gloria's school that participated in this one-day event. But this year two other schools contacted her and wanted to join in the ranks. They recruited a few more reenactors, met on another schools property that morning and then after lunch they drove another 15 minutes down the road to a neighboring town and held the war on an actual historic civil war battlefield. Of course we had to drop by and check it out.

We went to the school that morning (but I forgot my camera!) but we helped grandma for a little bit with her stomp rocket station. The kids enjoyed trying to figure out the right firepower/trijectory combination needed to bomb the cardboard fort up ahead. And in between group rotations all 4 of the kids got a chance to man their own stations and give the stomp rockets a go - ok, so really all Lillie did was knock over the stand and chew on the rockets, but she still had fun.

We pulled ourselves away so that I could do a few errands and get the kids some lunch and then we hooked back up with them at the historic battlefield in Centralia, MO. (It's really not but 5-10 miles from our new house!) And this time I remembered the camera!!

Here we are with Gloria as we had arrived. It's really dark, but at least it shows us together!

It was such a pretty place. It has a wooded picnic area right alongside a small creek. Such a nice place for the kids to sit and learn from the experts how the soldiers battled in the 1860s.

As you got further into the picnic area you crossed over a little foot bridge to another nice large area of the park. All along this part they had a flags erected and information booths set up where students could go and learn a bit more about the weapons, the medical conditions and army triage of the time, and also talk to Abraham Lincoln himself (well not the actual Abraham Lincoln of course, but you knew that...)

The medical information booth was packed with girls dressed as their role of nurse. The guy giving the presentation sure held their attention and every once in awhile the crowd would let out a loud, "ewwwww" - Isaiah though that was really funny.

The boys really enjoyed the weapons station. The man giving us the information was so knowledgeable and he let the boys try to lift some of the guns and sabers he had on hand. They were so heavy! He showed us the process involved with loading the guns and even fired one for us without a cartridge intact - it was very loud and he said that if it had been loaded it would have been even louder - it would have sounded like a canon.

When he was done I thanked him for all of the great information and he said, "thank you for teaching them. so many people have no idea what our history is all about."

Avery met Abraham Lincoln while he was hanging out with grandma - he called him the "hat man" and good ol' Abe told Avery that the penny should actually be called a "cent" - I wasn't there to hear why, but that night Avery kept telling Steven, "the hat guy said it a cent"

We then saw the cavalry - folks decked out in full costume on beautiful horses. We were able to pet the horses and they were so sweet. In the close up picture I tried to capture how Avery would pet the brown horses' nose (Ulysses) and he would just get so quiet and close his eyes - a total state of horse relaxation. Avery had just put his hand down when I took this picture.

The park then opened up to a large field where the Centralia Massacre of 1864 actually took place. Here is the marker that informs us as to what transpired that day... or you could click here for more information if you're interested...

At this point the younger two were getting a bit restless so we headed back to the shady picnic area. There we watched the kids practice their marching and preperations for the battle

and this is also where I handed Isaiah and Huston over to grandma so that they could stay and watch the battle that would take place later that afternoon. I took the babies home for some rest. As soon as we got out of the drive this is what Avery looked like...

Isaiah and Huston didn't return home until later that evening. They got to ride the school bus back with grandma and hung out with her and her students for the afternoon. They loved it. They also wore themselves out - but as you can see, the whole busy day was worth it to Isaiah most definitely... this is how I found him that evening when I went to check on him before I went to bed.

A really fun day. I'm kinda sad that Gloria won't be involved next year too - we'll have to make her go back and visit her co-workers on that day so we can go and watch again! :0)

Monday, May 18, 2009

So I Will Remember...

You know how 3-yr. olds have their own theories of language usage as they are figuring out this confusing thing known as English... Avery is no exception. My favorite right now is how he replaces a "with" with a "for" -

"You play for me?"

"Mommy, you sleep for me a little bit?"

"I go for daddy?"

And no, I'm not correcting it yet. 'Cause who wants these fun little quirky things to end?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Don't Get Angry, Grab the Camera

This is my mommy tip of the day. Seriously. It is working for me. Every time my kids do something that makes me want to sigh deeply, hang my head, or reprimand, I stop and think if it is good photography material and then instead take a picture of the inconvenience and it makes me want to laugh about it more than scold.

Yesterday provided a perfect example. The boys were playing outside and I heard the outside faucet come on. At first I thought nothing of it because they like to fill buckets with water and give the flowers a drink, but the water seemed to stayed on for longer periods of time and it was followed by sounds from my boys, that to a mom, indicate trouble.

I hopped outside and there were Isaiah and Avery filling ice cream buckets with water and dirt from the front flower bed. I said, "Guuuyysss" in that typical mom whine when something frustrating is going on and they declare, "mom, we're making chocolate milk!" So I sighed, then grabbed the camera...

Is this incident really that much trouble in the large scheme of things? Nah - look it's just a couple of little buckets of yucky water and some dirty hands and feet. Big deal. Don't get mad, just take a picture of their innocent, sweet little faces.

Here is how I left them as I went back into the house. Just as content as can be mixing their own concoction in the bucket. Time to go see about supper, check on the other kids, and upload these photos - 'cause trouble = blog post fodder.

So after I checked on a few things and uploaded the above pictures I realized that these two boys were still outside. I had just sent Huston out after we had finished something else we were working on and I heard him say, "Mom isn't going to like that!" I know Isaiah defended his behavior to him in some fashion because his voice was audible, but I wasn't paying attention... because by that time I caught the sight of my children in the middle of a mud fight... using the mud from my front flower garden!! (you do realize that we are trying to sell this house and keep it beautiful and show worthy right?? 'cause I think my children, well I KNOW my children forgot this little detail.) Again I was about to fly off the handle, cause really they were disgusting, the flower bed was in shambles and did I mention that they were disgusting!?! But did I yell? I wanted to, but as I was about to fill my lungs with air (grab the camera) I remembered (grab the camera) that in the large scheme of things (grab the camera) this was not that huge of a deal and I... grabbed the camera!

You can just see the guilt all over the mud-ridden faces.

Next step after grabbing the camera was to grab the hose and I hosed them down right there on the front lawn. Then they were sent to the bathtub and finally they were sentenced to gardening work as soon as we can purchase a few more flowers and a few more bags of dirt to fix what was demolished.

Now the boys still got in trouble, and I still was angry at first. But I didn't blow my top because it's hard to take pictures while you're yelling (gotta keep that camera steady ya know...) and I also have great pictures of their guilty faces to haunt them and hold over them for many years to come! Win, win, win!

So moms, don't get mad! Just grab that camera! It's so much easier to laugh when it's on film.

***UPDATE*** I had told my mom part of the conversation I had with Isaiah after this incident and she told me that I had to put this on the blog as well so we will remember the true poignancy of the moment... I was telling Isaiah for about the thousandth time how we really need to try to take better care of things, especially since we are trying to sell the house, and not dig and mess and destroy what we have. I told him it's important to keep the flower bed and yard looking nice because that's the first impression that people will have of the house in general. As I was telling him this his face got longer and he began to cry in that pitiful type way that little kids do when they are attempting to manipulate the emotions of their parents. I asked him, "Isaiah, why are you crying?" and he answered... "I just never thought that you would love a house more than you would love me..." *sniff* *sniff* *pout* To which I answered... "Give me a break!" :0)

Darn Weeds

We are slowly getting things straightened up with the house. Next week is a big week: flooring (laminate hardwood throughout the main floor), paint (colors picked out, fixing a few minor cracks in the wall this weekend), and windows. All three of these things are going to be handled by the professionals. The guy doing the flooring and the guy doing the windows are both church guys - love it when you can trust the people you've hired and support the folks in the church family. The painting guy is an amazingly fast, amazingly cheap older guy that has probably been painting longer than I have been alive. I am excited that we can afford to take the painting out of my hands (and therefore out of the hands of many friends and family members!). I just would not have been able to get it done myself with the kids and everything else going on right now... and I would have also felt terribly asking people to sacrifice their time and energy on our projects.

Last weekend one project began to be tackled... weeding out the flower boxes. The last time I had paid attention to the boxes (a week or two previous) I only saw scads to daffodils covering the upper box as well as a good portion of the middle box. The lower box was pretty much full of weeds and I determined that it therefore must not be full of anything else. I was wrong. We also have scads of Lily of the Valley.

We had a great team of helpers and we quickly ripped out the weeds and a section of Lily of the Valley to make room for a very small, beginner garden. The root system was pretty entrenched from the Lily so I returned later this week to try to till it up real well and remove a lot of the roots.

The boys had fun finding worms, snails and a caterpillar. The collected all the snails and lined them up on the steps. Avery kept a watchful eye on them for a time....

Another creature was found... this is one that I didn't stop everything to hop over to see. Isaiah took these pictures.

It's not necessarily that I am afraid of snakes. It's just that I don't see the need to get all friendly and personal with them!

Here is a portion of the plant material we removed from the flower bed. We now have 4 nice sized tomato plants in one section... not quite sure at this point what else we will do.

We did keep some Lily of the Valley in honor of our own Lillie. She had fun playing with grandma and hanging out with her brothers. (Isaiah took this picture as well)

I guess that's all. Right now my brain is mush and my body is very tired. Hoping for a nap so that I have the energy to tackle a few more projects this weekend. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Little Art... A Little Culture

My friend Tammy and I both home school. The best part of home schooling is finding those families you click with and partnering up to do things together. Tammy's kids are a bit farther along in their schooling than mine, they are studying Vol. 2 of the Story of the World - so while my child is obsessed with Rome, her kids are learning about other civilizations. One of them being the Ming Dynasty.

We found out that the St. Louis Art Museum had a Ming Dynasty exhibit until the middle of this month, so Tammy jumped at the chance to take her kiddos and invited us to go along - and we jumped at the chance for a field trip.

My mom sat with my younger two and Huston, Isaiah and I headed to St. Louis with the gang on a very rainy day. It rained cats and dogs the whole way there and the whole time we were in the Museum... so much for the plans of a picnic lunch and exploring Forest Park afterward!

Here are the kids waiting patiently in line to see the exhibit - luckily there was a wishing well right next to where the line snaked around so the kids were enthralled with the amount of money they saw in the water, and the line moved swiftly enough that we didn't have to wait around too long. (you can tell my kids are really excited to have their picture taken!)

And here is where the pictures take a break because you can't photograph their exhibit items. But we saw some beautiful things. Things too awesome to even describe - intricate embroidery, awesome carvings and paintings and all of them dating at times hundreds of years before our country even began. Admittedly the kids were bored at times, if not a good part of the time for my kiddos, but it exposed them to a few great lessons: how to behave in a museum, that there is important and interesting stuff outside of our own country and culture. Hopefully some seeds were planted.

Our tickets for the exhibit were right around lunch time and so we didn't stay around to see much of anything else in the museum because the kids were getting both bored and starving, mom! so we skedaddled and went to find some lunch. But Isaiah noticed that the museum has an Ancient Rome exhibit until Sept. so I guess he'll drag himself back for that!

Some parting shots - the only "exercise" the kids had that morning, jumping around on the front columns while Tammy got the car, in the rain. (did I mention it cleared off as soon as we sat down for lunch... *sigh*)

A look out to the statue in front of the museum, wet from the rain :0)

Really, the kids did great and we will be back on a nice sunny day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Having That Wind Blown Look...

And Avery's not the only one that feels that way. His hair is especially poofy and curly in this picture because the driver's side window in our van is stuck open (again.) and so he gets the brunt of the fresh air streaming into the passenger area as we fly down the road (always observing the speed limit of course).

But this picture capsulizes what I've been feeling over the past several days. Here are the past few days in review:
-took a trip to the art museum in St. Louis with friends
-backed into friend's husband's truck as we were leaving her house after said field trip
-went to grandma's retirement party
-prepared for Sunday morning stuff and baby dedication on Mother's day
-weeded out flower bed, prepared the soil and planted 4 tomato plants (so far)
-the driver's side window broke
-our computer was down for a few days (luckily an easy fix that Steven could take care of)
-2 house showings (nothing to "show" for it though)
-lost cell phone, received new one, then found old one (grrrr....)
-mix in all that is day-to-day in the Spellman household, stir together, and you end up looking like this...

I will give you a more sufficient report on these happenings in the near future... but for now, I need to run! :0)