Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Flu & Gingerbread

The day after the kids' holiday concert at school Mom, Kaia and I were going to help Ayla's class decorate gingerbread houses.  Unfortunately Ayla woke up at about 12:30am and got sick in the bathroom.  I didn't know until the next morning, because my aunt got up with her and cleaned up the mess.  Thank you, Auntie Tonia!

She felt fine the next day, but I kept her home.  Now that I look at this photo I think she looks rather pale, so I guess that's a good thing.  I ran up to the school to get the graham crackers and candy she had already brought in.  Then all we had to do was find containers (butter cartons) and a recipe for frosting (glue) and we were set!

Micah saved his milk carton from school and made one when he got home.  Now they are gone.  I'm not sure how they could eat them as the frosting really was glue like & gross in my opinion, but hey it's sugar!

Oh & Craig was the only other one that got the flu.  He got it three days ago so I think we are safe!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

How Quickly They Grow

How did all the Connelly kids get so big so fast?  We have two driving,  one on the edge of high school,  one on the edge of middle school, one who just entered the double digits and one on the edge of pre-school.  Not to mention those in between.  Wahhhh!!!

They are all such good kids.  I love it that we finally live close enough to see each other more than once a year.  As much as I hate how quickly they are growing, it is very exciting to see the beautiful young men and women they are becoming. 

Monday, November 5, 2012


Right now I'm listening to the girls outside screaming at the tom cat who likes to pick on the kittens.  It's pretty funny, except......where did they learn to yell like that?  Someone posted recently about yelling at their kids, not liking it and trying to change.  Unfortunately I yell way more than I would like to admit.  I do it even though I know it isn't powerful and doesn't give me the results I want.  So then I started thinking about parenting books and the ones that have helped me.  I have gotten great results from Parenting with Love and Logic.  I have to say though, it is way harder to train yourself than it is to train your children.  Right now I'm reading and very much enjoying The Power of a Praying Parent.  So now I ask you, what books have helped you over your particular parenting hurdles?  Please share.  I'm excited to add a few more to my go-to list.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This and That

Micah is old enough to bow hunt now & Daddy spoiled him with a real bow.  Hunting is suddenly fun.  It seemed to be a bit boring last year.  No good shots have presented themselves yet, but he keeps trying.

The above photo was before we knew he needed glasses.  After the school check they suggested I take him in.  Poor kid has my eyes.  20/150 and 20/200!!!  I had no idea he was so blind.  When I asked him why he never said anything he said he thought that's how it was for everyone!

On Saturday we met Auntie Julie at a farm that has I guess what you would call a fall festival this time of year.  You pay to get in and then do the typical corn maze, petting zoo, etc.  The kids loved the tricycle track the best.  Love this photo.  Click on it to make it bigger.  Expressions are priceless!

Craig was butchering a deer on Sunday and just for kicks thought he'd throw some scraps to the cats.  It was hilarious watching the kittens hiss and growl over the fresh meat.  I don't think they need mama's milk anymore.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

This Girl

She turned four over 3 weeks ago.

I adore her more each day.  Yesterday on the way into the grocery store I scooped her up and asked her to please stop growing.  How did she go from a newborn to this funny, inquisitive, little being with her very own firm, distinct personality?  A girl that has her mind set in STONE every day about what she is or isn't wearing that day.  A girl that can upset her 8 year sister by chasing her around the house & shouting, "Ayla loves avocado".  A girl that will position her chair exactly in my way at supper time just to peel the onions & crack the eggs for me.  Love her.  She is just what we needed four years ago and every day since.  


And yes, that stupid cat was pregnant again.  She has since had 5 more kittens.  That brings our grand total to 13 kittens since spring!!  Luckily some friends of ours want some barn cats and have asked for all 5 of them when they are weaned. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

School Years Resolutions

After six years of having kids in school we are starting to finally have peace in the mornings & relative peace in the evenings.  I thought I would share my goals for this school year.  These are goals.  Some are nailed.  Some are not.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and advice on how you made/make it out the door in good spirits day after day.

1.  Lay out everyone's clothes the night before.  We manage to do this about half the time.  It doesn't matter much for Micah, but for the girls this is a vital step.  They are four and eight & could spend an hour trying on outfits in the morning ~ soooo opinionated already.  Nothing irritates me more in the early morning.  Get dressed and be done with it for pity's sake!

2.  Keep up with laundry.  That way the favorite go to items are washed and ready to wear every week.  I actually spent a fair amount of time purging their closets this year.  There were so many cute (to me) things that they just don't wear.  It is so much easier to have less and love every piece.

3.  Unload backpacks within ten minutes of getting home.  For some reason I have to remind them of this rule every day, but once they get this done they seem to be able to keep going until all the after school chores are done.

4.  Keep plenty of easy school lunch items in stock.  I go to ALDI once a week and when they have special buys of something we like I stock up.  That way we always seem to have organic juice boxes, organic string cheese, applesauce cups (without hfcs), fruit leathers and individual trail mix packs on hand.

5.  Write out an after school routine and just point them to it when the inevitable goofing off begins.  Ours is to unload the backpacks & lunch boxes, feed and water the animals, fix a snack, do any homework and set the table.  After those things are done they are free until supper time.

6.  Limit computer and/or screen time.  In the past we let them have 20 minutes each two days a week.  Last year Micah began to find this very unfair.  After a lot of talking and considering we decided he can play Minecraft 20 minutes a day after the girls are in bed.  As the oldest child this gives him a bit more privilege to go with his responsibility.  He is now a happier more helpful kid.  We tried letting him get up early and do this in the morning, but it just does not work for me.  It is much harder to be motivated after being on the computer first thing in the morning.  

7.  Once the backpacks are unloaded go through their papers immediately.  Most can be tossed.  Some are saved for the cuteness factor, some are signed and returned to backpacks and some are tossed after writing pertinent information onto the family planner (see number 9).

8.  Plan dinners a week in advance.  Shop once a week.  Check the meal plan every evening to figure out what needs to come out of the freezer and if any meal prep needs to be done early the next day.  If it does write it down in the planner!  I love to cook so this is no hardship for me.  However to give me a bit of a break and to teach the kids some responsibility I let them plan and prepare our Saturday supper. On Sunday I fix one good meal and let everyone fend for themselves the rest of the day.

9.  Write EVERYTHING down in the family planner.  I like to plan my work and then work my plan.  It's so fun to check things off after they are accomplished.  Plus if I am gone the fam has no excuses for not getting things done!

10.  Set up a homework zone.  We have a basket in the dining room that holds papers, pencils and sharpeners since they tend to work at the dining room table.  This spot is not actually ideal for Ayla, because she can't do her homework with a lot of noise going on around her.  Unfortunately she needs the most help with her homework so she needs to be near me.  I'm not sure how else we could do this.  Right now I try to send the other kids away if they are too loud.  This is not quite as easy on the two days I baby-sit.

11.  Make fun afternoon snacks at least once a week.  This can be a big bowl of popcorn, a fruit smoothie or fresh from the oven baked goods.

12.  Sit down and be truly present when the kids come home.  I struggle with this the most.  There is always something I didn't get checked off my list, but I know that it is very important to connect with them after their day.  I also need to help Ayla with her homework so I am really trying to sit with them for about 30 minutes before I start fixing supper.

So, that's it for this year.  What do you do?  How do you make things work with after school activities? Do you have any advice for us?  I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Late Summer Hike

I meant to get here with the kids all summer.

We finally made it a couple of weeks before school started.

We picked up Culver's on the way.  Then we ate and played at the playground, checked out the nature center, and really, really burned off our lunch by hiking to the waterfall!  

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Fleeting Beauty Of Summer

I say fleeting, because my gardens aren't beautiful for long.

Sadly, I am not my mother when it comes to gardening.

Someday.  Maybe.  I hope.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Heritage Days of Summer

We only made it a few times this year, but we have an awesome little Heritage Center in town.

In the summer they have different bands playing one night a week for a couple of months.

There was something so summery about spreading out our blanket, laying down, listening to live music mixed with the shouts of children, eating a gelato.........mmmmm.  I miss it already!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Flashback Friday

July 2007
Swimming at Uncle Seth's.

July 2008
Rubbing Uncle Seth's feet for pocket change.

July 2009
A lazy morning with mom.

July 2010
On the beach in North Carolina.

July 2011
At Grandpa Pat's memorial service.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Heading Home

Our ride is behind us.

Our goodbye committee.  Bill & Matthias came to say hi and bye.  Then the three of them went to the lighthouse to wait for us to pass by.

I love it that you can see Jenny pretty much in the center of this photo.  Goodbye!  We loved every minute of our vacation with you!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Vacation: Day Six

Most of our group got up very bright and early on Thursday morning.  They took two charter boats out to go salmon & trout fishing.  Kaia & I slept in & then I did some of our sandy, icky laundry!

We were fortunate enough to stay some of the time with some new friends, Mike & Dorothy.  Mike took Kaia & I to meet the fishermen as their boat came in.

Here are both crews and their combined catch of the day.

Dorothy is an artist.  Her house is filled with her beautiful paintings.  Her gardens are so gorgeous that even though it was extremely hot, I had to get out there and take some photos.

We had a lunch of grilled fresh salmon & trout along with roasted new potatoes.  For dessert we had two kinds of homemade pie.  Yum.  I think it was the best meal of the whole trip!  After we ate though,  we had to pack up & head back down to Ludington.

We went out for supper & then walked down to the harbor.  We tried a couple of times to get ice-cream  but both times we walked by the shop the line was out the door.  We found another less busy place that was very good & then headed to our hotel.  That's when things got interesting.  I booked our hotel on Priceline and somehow things got messed up.  They had reserved a room with 1 king bed and a jacuzzi tub right in the room!  Uh-oh, that doesn't quite work for 3 adults & 3 kids!!  Unfortunately all the rooms were booked so there was nothing we could do.  Luckily we had our camping gear & some were able to sleep fairly comfortably with camping mats & sleeping bags!

Vacation: Day Five

I must have been tired on the 4th, because these are the only photos I've got!  We had breakfast over the campfire & then slowly started packing up.  We dumped off our camping gear and then headed to another lake.  I can't even remember the name of that one.  We had kayaks, a paddle boat & a wave runner at our disposal.  We enjoyed those toys until it was time for supper & then got cleaned up and went to a gospel meeting.  Some friends of Kendra's (from North Dakota) met us there and followed us back to where we were staying.  We got through Traverse City for the most part & then stopped along the lake to watch fireworks.  When we noticed the kids were playing with their glow sticks more than watching the fireworks we loaded back up and called it a night!

Vacation: Day Four

Tuesday was a big day spent by the big water.  We went to Sleeping Bear Dunes to hike and check out the views.  

I took this photo to give you an idea of how far down the hike is to the water.  The tiny specks in the surf are people.  We didn't go down right here, because we don't think Kaia could have made it back up.

We got in the vehicle and drove to a different location with an easier hike for Kaia.  We had a picnic lunch there & then hiked through the woods to the dunes.  The big dune way off in the distance is the one we went to first.

Even with the easier hike I couldn't get Kaia to walk down the dunes.  Her butt trail cracked me up!

Once we got down we walked way down the coast to where we had left a vehicle parked.  

Then we drove to a beach and spent the rest of the day swimming, lounging & burying each other in sand.  We camped that night & I did not take one photo of our beautiful campsite!!!  My only excuse is that we didn't make camp until close to 8 and then were busy making and eating supper.  I saw a few photo ops, but was always busy at the time & then I just sort of forgot about my camera.  Oh well, this post is long enough!