Saturday, October 10, 2015

Not-So-Great Expectations

Our local booster club is hosting a 5K fundraiser next weekend. Under great duress, I signed up for it. I guess it would be pretty bad if the track coach/wife of the cross country coach didn't support 1) the booster club and 2) running. However, lest there be any unreasonable expectations of this track coach/wife of the CC coach, let me point out a few things:

- Yes, I ran track in high school and college, but I was a hurdler (100 meters) and jumper (70-80 feet down a runway). The longest race I ever ran was the low hurdles - 3/4 of a lap around the track in high school, and I begged my coach not to make me do it at every. single. meet.  Also, that was 17 years ago. Also, I have had three children since then.
- Yes, my hubs is a stud. But last time I checked, spousal abilities don't transfer. Ask Ryan to sew some curtains (or pick his clothes up off the floor) if you don't believe me.
- Yes, I coach track. And I thought I would get in shape from the endeavor, too. But when you miss the running portion of the work out because you're driving 40 miles round trip to pick up your munchkin, that doesn't happen. The only thing track did for my physique was cause me to eat more McDonald's and give me less time to run it off.
- Yes, I volunteer in the weight room, but the bench press doesn't make running any easier.
- Yes, I ran a 5K a few years back, but that was the ONLY time I've ever run nonstop for 30 minutes. Any other jogs involve walk breaks every 5-10 minutes.
- Yes, every week I yell stuff like "Power up that hill!" and "Come on! Show them what you're made of!" and "You gotta move on that pack up there!" at Ryan's team, but for that, I now apologize! (Please don't give me a taste of my own medicine next weekend, guys!)

I went for a jog today to see if I could still run 30 minutes without walking. The good news? I did it! The bad news? The pace was so slow, it'll probably only get me about 0.5K.

Maybe next year the booster club will have a pie-eating contest fundraiser. Then I can really show them what I'm made of!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How to Have Empty Laundry Baskets Every Day

Laundry is the bane of my existence. It is a meaningless, frustrating, multiplying, never-ending chore. I still haven’t learned not to get excited when I see the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper, even though EVERY TIME IT’S HAPPENED (all two of them), IT’S BEEN FULL THE VERY NEXT DAY! My mom tells me it will not always be this way, but she also tells me it will be a lot worse before it gets better. Right now their clothes are little and they have yet to develop B.O. Just wait a few years…

But I have recently employed a new trick that at least keeps two of our three clean clothes baskets empty. Here’s the step-by-step tutorial:

Step 1: Have kids (actually, if you skip this  step, you’re already better off, as far as laundry is concerned, so we’ll assume you’ve already surpassed step 1)

Step 2: Survive the infant and toddler years (may the force be with you)

Step 3: When your kids hit age three or so, start having them “help” you put away their laundry. This will not be helpful in any way and will undoubtedly decrease your laundering effectiveness, but it will be worth it in the long run. Don’t skip this step! Eventually, they’ll figure out how to wrestle that hanger into a shirt collar and how to fold a pair of pants wad up a pair of pants and get it in the right drawer.

Step 4: When your kids are all four and above, periodically ask them to put away “20 articles of clothing” before they get to do something they care about, like reading a story or eating. Challenge them to race each other. Encourage siblings to take misplaced articles and throw them in their competition’s laundry basket while saying, “In your face!” Simultaneously, get your kids to become deprived tech addicts by having lots of technology available, but only permitting limited screen time.

Step 5: One summer, decide to give your kids a 10-minute “bonus technology turn” IF they empty their laundry basket for the day.

Step 6: Sit back and relax, but try to pretend that this isn’t happening:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Mommy Workouts

It is well-documented that my work-out efforts have been sporadic since becoming a mother. Being fit? A definite dream of mine. Working out? Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that!  Even with a return to coaching (track - with the hubs!), I’ve been less active most of these last 12 months than I have been--ever! But a few recent incidents/revelations have me back on an uphill swing. First, at Ryan's Dash of Color fundraiser, this stud of a mom: 

photo taken by Karen Belcher of Crooked Creek Ranch Images

pushed her two sons in a double jog stroller for the whole, hilly 5K race and beat half of the Cross Country team! A week later, my friend Laura, the triathlete/Boston marathon runner started a blog with this post. I know I’m never gonna be of the 4 a.m. variety, but she still inspires me to up my game at least a little bit. Finally, I went to summer weight training for my school’s athletes and was super impressed with one of the other female coaches, who has been training hard since having babies and not only looks great, but also beat me in 40 meter sprints even though I’m a track coach and she was being trailed by her 18 month old.

I may not be as hardcore as these women, but they have inspired me, and I thought that maybe I could offer moms of youngins, a few workout ideas from my stunted past to get started. When it seems like all you do is care for children all the time, all the days of your life, some exercise is better than no exercise.

  • Zumba, Just Dance Kids, or any other active video game, especially if it’s competitive and you have little pros for your competition. You wouldn’t think you could work up a sweat blocking leaks in a janky aquarium under the sea, but I’m here to tell you, you can!
  • Kiss attack - chase your “way too cool for a kiss” boys around the house and wrestle them to the ground so you can plant a wet one on their cheeks. Realize you may be faster than them, but they can corner a lot better than you!
  • Take your kids on walks, but race them up (or down) every hill. Circuit training with built in trash talkers!
  • Dump your kids in a muddy ditch at the bottom of a steep hill and tell them to play to their little heart’s content. Hike up and down the hill as many times as you can make it--or until someone has to go poop.
  • Help your little monsters wrestle Daddy. Get really ticked off about how much stronger he is than you as you struggle to get out of submission holds. In vain. With three helpers.
  • Run laps around your house, stopping every 3 minutes to do push ups, sit ups, crunches, lunges, etc. for 2 minutes before running again.  
  • Trampoline circuits - 1) Put kids down for a nap, 2) Jump on the trampoline for 10 minutes, followed by jogging near your house for 5 minutes, 3) When your big kids come out to see what’s going on, let them join in the trampoline time, but only one at a time so you can keep your jumping more vigorous. Try to “knock me down and keep me down” or “rocket launch me.” Also, try not to cuss out loud until you’re out of earshot on a jogging portion of the workout. 4) Die a thousand deaths.

One day, your kids will be old enough to drag with you to the weight room for summer conditioning. You will do box jumps beside your kids and high school kids and feel like you are REALLY working out again. And then you will thank the good Lord in heaven above when your little one has to go poop. A “final wipe” will never feel so rewarding!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Public Apology

I started to compose a private message on facebook to the four people who would be visiting my house this weekend in my absence. I wanted to apologize for the fact that they will need a machete to get through the lawn. Then, I realized that I owed my neighbors an explanation as well. You see, while we were home during daylight hours on Sunday and again today, it rained both of those days and, so, our grass has not been mowed in two and a half weeks. Yes, like all responsible homeowners, we turned our sheep loose in the yard to help the issue, but judging by the looks of things, they are doing just as much fertilizing as they are eating.

You see, we have been runningnonstopforthelastthreemonthswithbarelyaminutetobreathe. Ryan and I have been coaching track together, which has been AMAZING! But baseball season just started as well, so Ryan is coaching/helping coach four teams. One is made up primarily of four year olds and one is made up of teenage boys and girls. 'Nuff said. We've eaten supper at home about as often as the boys have showered (I'll let you guess the number). I bought yet another set of sheets because it was physically impossible to keep up with the bed wetter. Last night, Max rolled up to the ball fields stylin' in clothes from Mrs. Pam's "orphan box."  I don't remember what the bottom of our trunk, sink, laundry basket, or coffee table looks like. In fact, there could be a small child hiding under any one of those aforementioned piles and I wouldn't even know it.

But, glory hallelujah, school's out for summer! It's been an awesome year, but I must say I've never been more happy to say the "s" word! It is 4:30 and we are home! There is no practice or game tonight (a minor miracle!) I have big plans to hide the junk and chisel the toilets clean straighten up the house, but here I sit typing this post, so we'll see.

I guess what I'm saying is, please don't judge the Layton book by its sticky, water-damaged, torn cover! Our sink may be overflowing, but so is our life right now. Come back and judge us in a week, after we've all had a chance to be home together for awhile... Actually, on second thought, let's not do that. You can come check out our house and yard in roughly 14 years. It'll be lookin' good then.

Monday, May 11, 2015

1 Corinthians 13 - the Queen Tobi version

And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I teach the most eloquent lessons, but have not love for my students, I am only a resounding school bell. If I go over a hurdle with perfect form and do box jumps on the top box without embarrassingly bruising the heck out of both shins (hypothetical situation, of course), but have not love for my athletes, I am nothing. If my house is spotless and my meals gourmet, but have not love for my husband and kids, I gain nothing.

Love is patient when shoes are missing. Love is kind, even when it really doesn’t care what Optimus Prime did in chapter three. It does not envy prettier, more tan women. It does not brag about how much more it does around the house than its husband. It is not too proud to look silly in front of others. It is not rude to annoying children. It is not self-seeking when it JUST WANTS TO BE ALONE! It is not easily angered by needy children and husbands’ rogue dirty laundry. It doesn’t keep track of how many times said laundry has been left out. Love does not delight in juicy gossip, but rejoices with righteousness. It always protects its family and the dignity of others, it always trusts God to handle every situation, it always hopes for the best for others, it always perseveres, even when it is bone-dog tired and up to “here.”

Love never fails.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How We Pass the Time

Tomorrow will be Snow Day #7, making for an 11-day weekend. We’ve been out on the icy roads once in the last eight days. There’s been a little bit of outdoor play/work every day, but mostly, we’ve been holed up in the part of our homestead that’s NOT -20 degrees--the house. Here’s what we’ve been up do within these four walls:

  • sleeping in
  • facebook stalking people catching up with family and friends
  • Pinning every remotely creative idea known to man
  • blogging a little
  • blog reading a lot
  • prepping vocab cards and unit intro slide shows for the rest of the school year so I survive track season without having a nervous breakdown and/or killing someone
  • playing board games with the boys (and, before he knew better, Ryan)
  • cleaning parts of the house and growling when I realize it’s futile
  • organized the pantry
  • marveling at how many dishes and articles of clothing we dirty in a day
  • writing menu plans and finding new recipes to try; then forgetting to feed my family until 1:00 (lunch) and 7:00 (supper)

  • sleeping in
  • researching ways to spend all our money on trucks
  • writing track workout schedules (we start practice in less than a week!)
  • playing Spades on his phone
  • yelling at his imaginary Spades partners (or opponents--not really sure), Julie, who always “goes set” and Bob, who’s an idiot
  • wrestling so hard with the boys that they have whelps and beard rash
  • reading
  • finishing the entire series of Friday Night Lights

  • waking up in the wee hours of the morning to watch TV, burn up their technology minutes, and eat 17 breakfasts before they ask mom to make them three more
  • talking in weird voices and/or screaming bloody murder all day long
  • building a Lego city
  • begging Mom to play Heroica with them (the official game, not their made-up version, which I've learned actually wasn't that far from the real game)
  • being poor sports when they lose to the ultimate Heroine
  • taking “victory laps” around the house, each with a different theme (crab walk, tiger, skip, backwards) after they beat the timer to pick up toys
  • simultaneously making similar sound effects (I’m not fluent enough in onomatopoeia to spell these sounds) even while they're all in their own little separate toy worlds
  • turning our pillows into potato sacks for a hop race around the house
  • begging for more chapters of their latest Wings of Fire books
  • having a spank-your-butt-more-times-than-you-spank-mine contest with Mom
  • asking to eat all the food, all the time
  • pestering each other
  • fighting like cats and dogs
  • spending a fair amount of time in the time-out chair
  • Limbo-ing under a battle axe wedged between hall walls
  • inventing new games to destroy the house entertain themselves
  • getting whooped up on by Daddy

We may be going a bit stir crazy, and we may be beating the tar out of each other with battle axes, but there’s still time for a few sweet moments. Tonight, Reed and Calvin had were playing some kind of roll-y ball soccer game they’d invented. Max was perched on a stool checking out the situation.

M: Reed, you look awesome! (goes over to awesome-looking brother and hugs him)
R: (to Mom, with a knowing look) Ee’s-hay ying-tray o-tay ind-fay any-hay eason-ray o-tay ive-gay e-may a-hay ug-hay. (translation for those nonfluent in Pig Latin: “He’s trying to find any reason to give me a hug.”)
M: (with a big, sweet smile) Mom, I gave Reed a hug-hay!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Math Facts Fun

In an effort to ease my guilt over spending a ridiculous amount of time on Pinterest engage my children in fun and educational activities, I made a few math games. These will become new math facts centers for my classroom, but I had to run them by my favorite third grade guinea pig first. Of course the first grade mathematician and Tag-along Terry wanted to play, too.

Math Fact Jenga:

For this building game, I just wrote math facts on dot stickers and stuck them on our Jenga blocks. To keep the focus on the math facts, I let them touch any blocks to help stabilize the pile while they removed a block. Max got to take blocks off the top of the stack, but the rest of us had to take from any layer but the top. Max read his math problems (he’s learned to identify his numbers just from “helping” Reed study math facts this year). The other two boys solved Max’s equations. This game was more Calvin’s speed than a lot of the games we've played so far, because it wasn’t a race. He had time to calculate the answers and I could help him, if necessary. Almost every game ended in a tie, which is a whole lot less drama than I'm used to!

Use Your Head:

Two people drew a card and held it on their forehead without looking. The third person was the “caller,” who said the product (actually, we went with sums to be fair to Calvin, who knows his addition facts). The first person to look at the visible card and calculate what must be on their forehead won the round. I made a rule that if your first answer was incorrect, the other person got to answer before you had a chance to correct yourself. This kept certain shouty guessers from having an advantage. The winner of the round stayed in for the next round, when the loser and the caller traded places. Max held cards to his head for grins and giggles and got to be the caller when I would whisper sums in his ear.

Multiple Hop:
The first game was inspired by this. I cut an old sheet into four large squares of fabric with pinking sheers. I used crayon to divide each piece into three 1 ft x 1 ft sections (I used our kitchen floor tiles as a rough guide--nothing fancy). Then I labeled each section with a multiples of a certain number. I chose to make a mat for 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s, since these are the math facts most of my students have the hardest time learning. 

Multiples of 6

On the back, I used hot glue to “label” which factor the mat was made for. The hot glue will provide a non-stick surface to keep the mat from sliding. 

To play, a caller will flip a flash card or call out a multiplication problem. The jumper will jump to the correct answer. Being super-competitive, the boys turned it into a race. Calvin had a cheat sheet made by Mom to level the playing field. Max just played freestyle, jumping wherever he felt like. I called out “7x9” and the boys raced to be the first to jump to 63. 

Apparently, if I decide to let the students do it competition style like we did, I'll need to cover a few simple rules:

  • You may not play hopscotch all over the board.
  • You may not push your opponent down to the ground if you think they are going to reach the product before you are.
  • You may not throw yourself down on the mat, forming your body in the shape of a large “X” so that you cover five of the nine answer choices.
  • You may not deliberately jump on top of an opponent’s feet.
  • You may not shriek in a high-pitched voice, “That’s not fair! He’s trying to beat me ON PURPOSE!”
  • You must not show up in your pajamas, shirtless.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Family Game Night

It’s been getting a little hairy up in here lately. As much as I’m loving the break these snow days bring that allow our family to slow down and spend some quality time together, there’s been a little TOO much family togetherness lately. Today was Ash wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Ryan gave up caffeine and spent the day in withdrawal mode. I gave up sweets and felt like the huge tub of Valentine candy on the counter was taunting me all day. The boys have been out to play in the snow daily, but never long enough to burn all of their pent up energy. And there’s still a good foot of snow on the ground, so we won’t be going anywhere soon. So rather than listen to the boys wrestle and break things for another night, I decided we should play a family game instead. 

We pulled out Scooby Doo Mystery Mine and got ready for an evening of family fun. The game has the members of Mystery Inc. climbing precariously up a mine shaft in search of clues. The goal is to get to the top of the mine and name the guilty suspect.  Every once in a while a mine car is released and you risk getting knocked off of certain danger spots on the track. Or, you might get lucky when the mine car gets stuck and you’re safe. 

Unless an overzealous Scooby shoves the mine car down the rest of the track just for grins and giggles. Then we all had to reset all the game pieces again. And again every time a super-coordinated Shaggy would try to squeeze himself past Velma and send the whole mine teetering. And again every. single. time. someone would bump into the coffee table and knock all the members off the track. Velma was getting a bit perturbed only halfway through solving the case. “She” even had to walk away to calm down at one point. Daphne started out frustrated, but eventually had to give up and just laugh and try to take pictures of the craziness for her blog. 

Even after passing a strict “DO NOT TOUCH THE COFFEE TABLE!” rule, the gang plummeted from the mine shaft at least a half a dozen more times. Fred, Scooby, and Shaggy thought the game was awesome and wanted to try to solve a new mystery. But both of the Mystery Inc. “girls” agreed that they will probably never be playing that game again. Zoinks!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


The Squiggy Squiggs officially turned four. We were home for snow day #2 on his big day, so we celebrated with sleeping in (ok, Mommy and Daddy slept in. The Squiggs and his brothers watched a movie), opening presents, playing in the snow,

drinking hot chocolate, and sneaking a take-to-daycare cookie out of the freezer for each person to eat. His party won't be for several days, so we ended the night with birthday sundaes instead of cake.

Not a bad way to celebrate four years of awesomeness.

At this age, the birthday boy:
  • Wants to do whatever his brothers are doing
  • Is into Lego Ninjago (see above) and race cars
  • Is starting to notice letter sounds. Ball starts with “b, ”dog starts with “d,” frog starts with “fee,” Squiggy starts with “Squee”
  • Equates “hungry” with “desire to eat” - ie. I’m full. Oh wait, we’re having dessert? I’m hungry!
  • Is shaping up to be quite a little athlete
  • Still has that scratchy voice we adore
  • Has mostly given up his nightly request for a "regular, bonus, and tada moose" kiss, but is still spontaneously affectionate - “I love I give you a hug?  Two hugs? Two kisses?” and "I'll trade you a hug for a kiss!"

Tonight, he told us he wished that, instead of four, he was “, so I can go to heaven!” But I’m sure enjoying four so far. Let’s not rush to 97--or heaven--too quickly!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Romance Is...

Romance Is…

...An early gift--made by two high school chemistry students on behalf of your husband (but with a sweet note inside written just by him)

...Spending Valentine’s Day playing dodgeball for a high school fundraiser.
...Going out to a quiet lunch at a Hibachi grill. In your sweats. With five other adults. And all of your/their children.
...Watching basketball, playing air hockey, shooting hoops, and testing out an elliptical.
...Getting home after dark and going for a moonlit stroll together. To load a wheelbarrow with firewood for the night and wrestle it back to the house.
...Falling asleep watching a movie together.
...Waking up early before church for another jaunt to the clearing to load the truck up with wood for the upcoming storm. Then making yet another trip after church when the forecast sounds like it’s about to get real.
...Not doing lesson plans, instead staying up super late to wait for the snow to start.
...Sleeping with the outside light on and waking up every hour or so to watch the flakes fall.
...Waking up to a foot of snow and the sweet promise of a week at home together!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Not so Greatful

I'd like to publicly apologize to our families for the weak-sauce thank-you cards they will be receiving in the mail soon. They are a far cry from our "aren't I such a great Mom" 2012 productions. Probably because I aren't such a great Mom this year. I've been a pretty big slacker all around, and that includes not keeping track of who got what from whom. And thanking those people. Or even acknowledging that we got their package in the mail (sorry, Mimi and Papa).

So, when we sat down to write Christmas thank yous, we still had two sets of birthday thank yous to write as well. Sadly, one of those birthdays was in October... It was on my to-do list for Christmas break, but it didn't happen until today, when the boys asked for an extra technology turn so they could try out their new DS games. I decided to use that as the bribe for sitting down and writing thank yous. Bad idea. Mr. Technology Lover rushed through his cards in record time. This is the artwork he created last week as a belated "Brother's Day" present for Reed:

This was his last thank you. Nice.

Squiggy started with Ninjas for everyone (I'm not sure he received any Ninjas this year - he just knows how to draw them), then tried to branch out to a tractor and motorcycle. One of those turned into a  horse, which he asked me to adorn with a cowboy head. Then the cowboy head became part of the horse, so I was thinking minotaur. But when I asked, I was corrected. It was a "dramverees." My bad. I already labeled it cowboy, and that's what I'm sticking with. Gramps isn't on the internet, so what he doesn't know won't hurt, right?

He ended with this series:

Fire. Fire and wood (ooh - fancy!). And then, something that he labeled "drinseravus, 'cause I didn't want it to be fire" after I gave him my honest opinion on his efforts.

I had him dictate each message to me. My favorite? "Thank you for the present, and it's maybe the Spiderman thing." I couldn't even argue with him.

The bright spot in this production line is Mr. Perfectionist. He meticulously drew a picture of each item (that we remembered) and wrote a letter including a salutation, body, closing, and signature (complete with an uncapitalized, misspelled last name, but whatevs...) Then, he folded the paper in half and wrote the "to" and "from" on one side, labeled it "thank you" on the other, and designed fake seals, unique to each card, that looked like they closed the fold. I gave him a break after he finished all his birthday and two Christmas cards. He still has seven to go. Maybe I should let his brothers help him...

But seriously, family, please forgive my slacker parenting and 2/3 of our children's impulsivity. We may not remember who gave us what, but we really HAVE enjoyed and appreciated all the awesome goodies you took the time to pick out and purchase. More than that, we enjoyed spending time with you over the holidays (and that birthday party four months ago). We are truly blessed!