Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

My problem-solver husband

Just need to share this:

A couple of weeks ago I bought a new, larger whiteboard for our school room. Jason had to travel two weeks (5 days gone, 2 days home, 4 days gone) in a row for work. Due to that fact, we finally got an opportunity to hang it yesterday. In the process of removing the packaging, it was discovered that a piece of double-sided tape was on the surface of the board near the center. I attempyed to carefully remove it but it ultimately tore some of the surface off. We returned it immediately to the office supply store, the only one within a twenty minute drive. Of course, they didn't have any of the 36"×48" in stock, only the 24"×36" like we have. So we left empty-handed. Jason and I looked online yesterday for other options. However, I quickly gave up, figuring we'd just use the smaller one for now and replace it eventually.

After a rough night for me (stomach bug), I was still not feeling well so the boys and I stayed home from church. When Jason woke up, he gave the dog a bath, Jackson a shower - because what 5 year old wants a bath... - and proceeded to look through the fridge to determine tonight's dinner. Seriously the best help ever! (Leftovers, by the way.) Then he spent the next hour or so researching and trying to locate a whiteboard, even asking me stuff and making suggestions. After searching, he proceeded to call another branch of the office supply store to verify they have one of that size in stock. He is currently driving 30 minutes each way via the turnpike to get a new whiteboard for the wall of our school room so we can start our year tomorrow as planned right. 😍

Sometimes, he drives me crazy trying to "fix" my problems when all I need in the moment is to complain and rant. But today? I needed exactly what he did. And you know what? I think by him being able to fix this for me and help me so much, he was able to show me he loves me in the way HE needs to show it. I tend to forget that. I sure do love that man!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Family Game Night and Birthday Plans

We played a couple of card trivia games last night which both fit in perfectly to the history time period we are going to be starring to focus on! Professor Noggin's Medieval Times covers 1066-1453, and our history syllabus this year covers 1066-1700. We also played Professor Noggin's Explorers, which obviously many explorers were during that time period as well. 

I always find it amazing what my kids know and what they learn from simple things like this. I bought the games originally to reinforce history and science topics for Ethan as well as to help him with his communication skills and executive functioning. I never thought about that added benefits it would have on the other two (similar as Ethan) but also the potential to help our family dynamic. 

Something this simple brought us together last night - and trust me, it wasn't that perfect togetherness you see in old photos and movies, but it was our version of togetherness, complete with laughter and yelling, some crying from the little dude, silliness and seriousness, Jason doubting my explanation, and me being right 😂, the boys each surprising in turn with some little known fact or tidbit of knowledge.

I will never again doubt that reading a random book will instill knowledge. Ethan, who is 15 today, knew the answer to the question "What Norwegian explorer was the first to reach the South Pole?" In surprise, I asked him how in the world did he know that, as none of us had ever heard of the person. (The answer by the way is Roald Amundsen.) He matter-of-factly stated, " Oh, I read it sometime on the Guniess Book of World Records."

While everyone else guessed a country, Alex knew that Marco Polo wrote his book The Travels of Marco Polo in prison! He told us he remembered because of a report he had written way back in 3rd or 4th grade at his old school.

Jackson knew some of the answers, but was really enjoying reading the questions and answers aloud. Some of the words were really difficult but he tried his hardest and did very well.

I'm so glad we let the boys stay up later than normal and had a family game night.

Today we get to celebrate the oldest boy's birthday. Ethan asked to go spend his birthday money from his grandparents on a new 3ds game and some clothes, and also to pick out what he would like from us. For dinner, he asked to go to a local Italian/pizza restaurant with some close family friends. 

The perfect end to his day? He asked for a chocolate crazy cake with homemade dairy-free chocolate "buttercream" frosting. I used this recipe for the frosting, but substituted Earth Balance buttery spread for the butter, and water for the milk. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pardon the tears, my kids are growing up...

Who knew getting rid of toys that have been in our home for nearly 13 years would be so hard?

It's not even about the toys, it's about the memories made with them and the little boys who are now young men (or just bigger boys on Jackson's case at only 5).

The trains and Bob the builder duplos were some of the first real toys E ever had, really connected with and brought us into his world with. He would sit and watch the Bob the builder videos over and over and knew the song by heart (he probably still does!). He played with the blocks and trains daily, at first mostly in his way of just lining them, and later by building elaborate cities with Jason and his brother, Alex. Later when Jackson came along, the older boys would play with him, too, showing him how to make the world's and playing for hours. Now they've moved on to Legos and those items have sat collecting dust for a few months. When I asked if they would like to keep them or pass them on to a friend's 2 year old, they readily agreed.

It's the end of a chapter and as silly as it is, I'm over here holding back tears, thinking about all the things past and all the things in the not-so-distant future. E will be working on his second year of high school, Alex is starting his last year of middle school, and Jackson will be doing his first formal year of school, too. When I think about all the time that has passed so quickly, I am sad that I didn't live in those moments more and grateful for the memories I have. I am looking towards all the great things on store for our future and hoping to slow down and enjoy these crazy teenage years with my older 2 and early years with the little guy and not put off the things I want to do with them any more. In other words, find a way to experience life more fully with them before it's too late.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Sometimes it's hard not to dwell on things or focus on the bad or rough things going on in our lives. Sometimes it's hard to find the positives in the situations. But today, I'm looking back on a few things from the last few days, attempting to do just that.

Last week, Brutus (our year and half old pup) swallowed a bouncy ball whole - leading him to need abdominal surgery on Friday. He had all the necessary blood work and when Jas took him back on Saturday for a follow-up, we were informed he also has hookworms.

Had he not eaten a toy, we may not have known before he got really sick that he had hookworms. In addition (and to me, worse yet!), my children or any of our friends' children could have gotten them by playing in our yard barefoot!

Brutus refused to eat the special diet he was prescribed, even going almost 24 hours not touching it. He would eat the high-fat store-bought canned food, but really needed the low-fat stuff so I had to make him some homemade food. Frustrating and a bit time consuming.

However, we could afford to, and I have kitchen utensils like the instant pot and food processor to make it easier.

Ethan's laptop power button stopped working. No powering on, no putting in or waking from sleep mode. Not responding at all. The same laptop we purchased for him in December and needed repairs in January for a defective battery... And that he uses for math and German as well as research and other school things, and he was still finishing some things this week.

It's still under warranty for 3 months and is definitely a manufacturer warranty issue. The laptop worked otherwise (emergency power button worked but not recommended...). He only had 4 math lessons and one test left of Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 to finish and we were able to transfer it to the other laptop to finish. Geek squad handled the repair drop off and shipment smoothly and the parts are already being replaced! Should have it back in a few days.

Jas dropped his phone on the driving cracking the back of it.

When he dropped it, it fell just right so the cracked area is small and on the back. It's not affecting the function.

The truck's brake lights and rear turn signals keep going out due to connection issues. The truck's a/c keeps going out due to a faulty water temp sensor. In summer. In South Florida.

Jas is pretty handy around vehicles thanks to my awesome father-in-law teaching him, and he can fix them both for fairly inexpensive. Oh and the a/c is currently working again without the repair, so at least it's only randomly going out and usually only for a short time. Plus he will likely be able to replace the sensor this weekend.

We aren't finished with our 2016-17 school year and July is almost over.

I planned to go year round so this isn't really an issue. 😃 But also, we are finishing it up today! E finished math yesterday. Today they both finished writing their final history essay, their final creative writing paper and their final draft of their lesson 6 paragraph from writeshop 1. We may not be as far as I'd hoped with writeshop, but they both struggle some with composition, especially Ethan. In regards to that, I am happy with the progress we've made and know that we will pick it back up in September.

Since this week ends our official 2016-17 school year, we are taking next week off, followed by - by request, as I was willing to take more time off 😉 -  a few weeks of lighter work: A unit study on Ancient India and another on Ancient Japan (both of which include some history, science, art, language arts - we will try our hand at poetry and myths! - and even a little practical math) plus some life skills. A couple of neat field trips that go with our unit studies might be in the works. Oh and throw in a microstudy of the upcoming solar eclipse on 8/21 for which we may just take a road trip north to South Carolina and turn it into a mini vacation too. After all, we have a National Parks pass and that has me wanting to visit some parks. Anyone up for a camping trip to Congaree NP (which by the way has no entrance fee)?

I'll leave you with three of the best reasons I'm am trying to change my perspective and focus on the little ways things are good. These three amazing young men may drive me crazy even in our best days, but I love them so very much and they teach me as much as I do them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Homemade with love

For Christmas, I got a bread machine from Jason and the boys. Well, truthfully, I didn't ask for anything and just ordered it for myself because I knew what I wanted. But Jason totally would have bought it if he had known and so it was from them.

Ever since we started following the Feingold diet, we have had a hard time finding approved bread. In fact, only two stores near us - one of the Walmarts and Winn-Dixie - carried an brand we could have and liked and their inventory was inconsistent at best. There was one other brand but none of us really liked it and it was expensive. Whole Foods is a bit too far to drive every week, sometimes twice a week, for bread and a few other staples. So the homemade bread journey would start just after Christmas.

Searching through recipes my mom had given me years ago and after having tried several I found online, I chose one from my mom's pile. I made it a few times as read but it wasn't quite right for sandwiches. After making an adjustment, we have found the best ever homemade white bread and it's amazing for sandwiches.

Here's the recipe:

White Sandwich Bread (for a bread machine)

1 1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons salted butter
4 cups bread flour (I use King Arthur's brand but any BREAD flour should be fine)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons instant dry or bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine in the order listed.
This makes a large or 2lb loaf so choose the correct setting on your machine.
We have found it best to adjust the crust setting to light.
The bread type is basic/white bread.
Press start and wait until it's finished baking.  If your machine lets you know when you can remove the paddle, I highly recommend it as it makes a much nicer looking loaf/slices. Let cool slightly before slicing. Or save it for the next day or two even!