Seven Quick Takes-Friday, Aug 23 (Caution! Scary Basement Pictures!)

1. I write these quick takes as I listen to my first St. Louis Cardinals game this season. It is almost September. I feel like an awful fan. I am really sorry about this guys. I have been checking the standings all season and reading my St. Louis Post Dispatch baseball app occasionally. I am not sure what happened this summer, maybe we moved and then the basement was chaotic. Listening to games reminds me of when I was in high school and would listen to every single game playing solitaire the whole time, or keeping score on my homemade scorecards. Before the games I always listened to “Sports Open Live” on KMOX. I even called in a few times. I was pretty obsessed with baseball. I am trying to convince M to let me display my Mike Matheny bobble-head when the basement is finished. I am thinking he won’t go for it…

2. Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!! You are a wonderful and holy woman. Thank you for your example of a beautiful life!

3. I harvested my first tomato from the garden today. I think maybe that I am not watering the plants enough, but it was pretty good anyway. I am going to wait until it is a little redder next time:

4.  Saga of the Leaky Pipe Update:  We first found the leak on June 29. This week was demolition week. A demolition team came out and spent two days riping out knotty pine paneling and the drop ceiling. The basement looked worse than ever with piles of rubble on the middle of it. I did not take a picture of it since it was painful. Today they surprised us and sent out a carpenter to do the framing for the drywall including that for our spare room (egress window to be put in at a future date). I think I am going to call it “the sewing room” in hopes that I actually sew something. And now I am going to treat you with some pictures.

The “Sewing Room” framing. One day this might have two bunk beds and teenage girls in it…      
The laundry room through the “sewing room” wall.
The family room, stairs, and door for M’s study.

5. Soon we will have to decide on wall and carpet colors. We are getting the same carpet in the study, stairs, family room, and sewing room. The question is, what style would be good for all four places and what color. I really want the basement to be a happy, cheery, warm place to be, but I want a carpet style and color that won’t look outdated in a few years. I feel like the choices are a beige color or maybe gray. Would grayish carpet be too gloomy in a basement? As for walls I really want a nice soft yellow color.

I found this palette on Pinterest.

Any thoughts on using the yellow for the walls and the gray or cream for carpet? Will this look totally outdated in a few years?

6. M’s summer night class that he has been teaching is over. I have learned a lot about my vocation having to put all three kids to bed two nights a week. I am not sure I want to go into detail right now, but I think I am closer to the kids because of it and have more confidence in my ability to care for the children at bedtime alone…

7. I feel like I need to make a big deal about our first day of home school preschool for G. I am feeling a little left out with all these “first day of school” photos on Facebook. But you see in Minnesota, I have heard it is not acceptable to start school before the end of the State Fair which ends on Labor Day. I think this is reasonable, since in Minnesota Winter is so long and Spring comes so late. It is good to give the kids a few more weeks to run around outside before they are cooped up for 6+ hours a day (another great reason to home school). If you are my Facebook friend, we are still having summer here, so look for the first day of school photos after Labor Day.

For more Quick Takes head on over to Jen’s Conversion Diary.

Seven Quick Takes-Friday, July 5

1. I bet you are all just dying to know how much jam I made:

8 quarts, or if you want to talk about it in a different way you can say 8 pints and 8 half pints. Or you could say 2 gallons. That is a lot of jam. It only used 7.5 lbs of my 20 pounds of strawberries. We have been eating them a lot. 🙂 The plan for the rest of the berries is freezing and eating. I am going to freeze enough crushed berries to make a triple berry jam when raspberries and blackberries are in. Yum!

Half berries, half sugar, pectin, an lemon juice makes super red jam!

2. I have a small vegetable garden for the first time this year, and by small I mean six tomato plants leftover from a friend’s gardening and a wicked creeping thistle plant that I have to dig up constantly or it will surround my tomato plants and kill them. I am hoping for delicious tomatoes and a dead thistle by the end of the summer. I would really love to can some tomatoes this year, but it might be more cost effective to continue to buy the huge can of crushed tomatoes whenever I need sauce until I can grow a larger garden. I am going to research gardening at some point in my life, like maybe when the basement stops flooding.

3. The basement, yeah, I guess water mitigation teams and contractors don’t really like to do things in a timely manner. We are waiting, waiting, waiting for them to do something besides rip things out and stick a monster dehumidifier in the basement which probably will double our electricity bill for the month. My only hopes for the project to be finished are that it is done for my sister and her family to visit either the last weekend of July or the second weekend of August. Do you think insurance will cover a super nice guest suite?

4. I am just going to say that the nearly 8 month old baby of mine just ate roasted red pepper slices and roasted broccoli for dinner. She could not get enough of the red peppers. M is doing the dishes and she is still eating dinner. This was the baby who would not let me eat vegetables all pregnancy without gagging.

5. We did our first book on tape audiobook road trip for G this last trip. I wanted to do a Laura Ingalls Wilder book and the first one that came into the library was Farmer Boy. She absolutely loved listening to it and I am fairly certain she followed the story, except for the words she did not understand. The best part for parents about the book is how well behaved the Wilder children were; I have been using Almanzo as an example of good behavior to G ever since we started the book. And another positive thing about the book is that L actually napped in the car (which she never does), whenever we turned on the book she took a nap!

6. One of the fun things about buying a house in April is the surprise of the first Spring and Summer flowers. These are the latest ones:

I love lilies. There are at least 20 more buds of these.

These are on three flowering bushes in front. 

7. This was the theme song for M all week, which he shared with me about halfway through the week. We listened to it for the first time (since a few years ago when we listened to Switchfoot every roadtrip) while we were on the road. We related to the line , “Everything is broken.”

For more Quick Takes head on over to Jen.

Seven Quick Takes Friday-May 17

One of the things I am really looking forward to after we move is getting back to a normal schedule, and that means blogging beyond Quick Takes. If it weren’t for this link-up at Jen’s blog, my blog would be utterly deserted these days. It is a bit insane what we are attempting to do with three kids four and under, but we are managing somehow…and here come the Quick Takes:

1. My parents and sister came to visit Sunday night through Thursday morning, and it is incredible how much can get accomplished with so many adults around. The house is about ready for us to move in! There is another mornings worth of odd jobs and then we will be set.

2. I am going to have to learn how to use the power drill if I am going to get my curtain rods up. I am a bit nervous to try, but I need to do it. Is it allowable to hang curtain rods with a baby in a sling? Maybe we could get the on-the-back position down and then it would be safe…

3. Remember my yellow console table? I did not get it, but I am planning on painting my current free-standing cupboard yellow and taking off the doors and putting in a shoe basket. I also still need to paint the girl’s ($20 antique store find) dresser white so it looks presentable. It has been living and being used in their closet this past year, but the new house closet is not big enough. I am saving the painting projects for July. I have a vision of the baby happily napping all morning for several days and the big girls playing nicely in the yard while I paint…uh huh…

4. There is some packing accomplished now, no thanks to me. M did the family room bookshelves, and my sister and mom did started in on the living room and kitchen. Now for the rest… We have a week until the move.

5. Did I mention our new oven? In the many unexpected things about our new house, one of them was several gas leaks in the oven that came with it. It was not caught by the inspection. So rather than repair the oven, we decided to tap into savings and by a new one:

I am for serious. This baby is a gas double oven, with five burners including a middle one for a skillet and two super boil burners. I am really excited to cook with it! It also makes my kitchen three steps closer to my dream kitchen.

What my oven will look like next Thanksgiving. The top has cake because it will be L’s birthday.

The catch is that it will not ship until two days after we move in, so this means we will have to do crockpot, foreman grill, charcoal grill, toaster oven cooking for a week or so…

6. We had a fun Mother’s Day. M’s uncle, aunt, and cousins live on a farm about two hours away in Wisconsin, and we spent the day at their farm. We got to see the new kids, kittens, and chicks and some pregnant cows. The kids had a blast and I got to sit around and eat all day. The best part of the food were grilled veggies made in one of these:

I could eat only veggies for dinner if the were always cooked like that. The were amazing. I am pretty sure the vegetables were zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. These veggies are a reason to move the gas grill to top of the “extras” list or I will need to figure out how to make the charcoal grill easier for me to use…

7. You know how I said that we were doing well with home schooling lately? Well I think preschool was having a week long vacation due to family visiting. I know the structure helps the kids stay happy, so even though we are packing all next week I am going to try to get some preschool back into our schedule. We did do a little today, however, when we talked about the M-E-N-A-R-D-S on the first store we went to today and the T-A-R-G-E-T on another. “Mommy, Target has two Ts in it!” We did some color work when I sent her to find brown sugar. I am pretty sure picking dandelions and running around the yard count for science and gym class. So maybe we did well with home schooling preschool this week…

Seven Quick Takes Friday–May 10

1. Things have been pretty busy in Spencer-land these days. Hence, why I have been absent from the blogging world. My mind has been filled with the mundane things of cleaning the new house, painting, maintaining the order in the current house, actually doing home school preschool most days (!!), and figuring out what needs to be done before we move into the new house. Hopefully my brain will be able to think of something more interesting than house stuff soon so I can blog. Or I could post house pictures for you all to help me decorate…

2. The new house has daffodils and tulips blooming in the yard! I would post a picture, but I have not had the camera there yet. We also have rabbits living under the shed who are scared to death and hiding whenever we are at the house of two little girls.

3. We have the painting DONE! We did a stairwell, a bathroom, the living room, and two bedrooms. It took two days of just M and I working and a day with help from three friends. It looks pretty good for an amateur paint job and I am happy with the colors.

4. Current project: curtains, blinds, and rods. Ugh…I wish I were a better seamstress. I would make my own except I am worried I will not be able to sew a straight seam (this is fine for children’s dresses where you don’t see the stitching, but curtains seams are definitely visible). I might just be looking for sales on curtains.

5. I can’t decide if I like this table for the kitchen/nook/back door entrance:

 The walls in the kitchen and breakfast nook are gray and I am planning on yellow (and white?) curtains. The cupboards are a light wood and so is the breakfast area furniture. Would a yellow piece “go” with the wooden table and bench? Or would wood look better? I am not sure I want to buy a yellow piece of furniture that we all wonder why I bought it in ten years.

6. L just came up to my computer, opened it and said: “I am going to work on my blog!” The funny thing is L and G both do not know how to use a computer because (when they use screens) it is with the iPad and they go to touch the screen. The keyboard and mouse pad mean nothing to them.

7. I just realized yesterday that G is old enough for Vacation Bible School at out parish. Normally I am not big on them, because they are usually programs made by non-Catholic Christians with an awful music soundtrack. The one they are using is made by Catholics, but it still has the awful music accompaniment (I scouted it out). She also has never been left anywhere (besides a friends house) with people she does not know. Since we are home schooling, I have not dropped her at a preschool.  I think we will try it out and see how she does. Hopefully she won’t absolutely flip out. And it will give L and I some good bonding time during the baby’s morning nap.

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary.

Seven Quicktakes: March 1

1. IT IS MARCH ALREADY!?!??!?! This month we have two birthdays (back to back) and two name days… Also, Easter! But it is still Lent, so lets not forget to eat fish today.

2. I think I need to read this again and again and again and then stop being annoyed at myself for not doing “home school” with my almost four year old most days.

3. Today an insurance issue looks like it is going to finally be resolved. Last March (so it has been nearly a year!) L needed a nebulizer for some wheezing she was experiencing. It was the third time in her life she had needed it so we decided to go ahead and get one especially since our insurance was supposed to cover it. It turns out the one the doctors office provided was not covered and the company took it back at no cost even though we had used it for a week and had recycled the box it came in. So, the next time we went to the doctor for L I got a prescription for a new nebulizer  and called the insurance company to find out exactly who to get the machine from so that the cost of it was entirely covered (we had really nice state employee health insurance in NY). This was in June. I called the company and they had a guy deliver it. The thing is, he did not take the insurance information (this was my fault I suppose). A month later we got a bill for the full price. So we filled the insurance information in and mailed back the paper. But they continued to send us bills every two weeks or so. Finally I called them and explained that the insurance would cover it and they just needed to bill them. After months of exchanging phone calls and finally getting them to bill the insurance we got an EOB in the mail last week. Claim denied. Ugh. Today I got the time to make that important-phone-call-you-can’t-make-when-the-kids-are-around-because-they-yell-and-scream-if-they-know-you-are-making-an-important-call (M held down the fort and I hid in the basement). When I finally got the right person on the line I explained the situation that I had been told this would be covered. The lady put me on hold and looked over the information on the claim. Expecting to have to talk it out more, I waited… She came back and said that the claim had been wrongly denied and it would be reprocessed. What?!?!?!?!??! It made my day. I guess having insurance works out in our favor sometimes.

4. G has only seen one Disney Princess movie (Sleeping Beauty), but I can’t help but wonder if the movies are truer to what little girls are like than I first realized. She sneaks up the stairs multiple times daily from her downstairs quiet time. After the reason for coming up is addressed, she goes very slowly back down the stairs and she sings softly to herself, moving her arms gracefully about her, touching the walls as she goes along. All that is missing is the plethora of animals surrounding her. In fact, Sunday she asked to where her poofy white and green dress she wore on Christmas. Once it was on she decided that she was a princess and danced around until Mass singing, “I know you, I met with you once upon a dream!”

5. We are looking at another set of four houses tomorrow and I have great hopes for at least three of them. A friend is watching the kids so that should make it easier. It seems we prefer the 50s ranch style with a finished basement to the rest of the house styles available in our price range in the cities.

6. The baby went to bed the earliest she has yet! 9:15 PM! She slept until 3:30 AM in the cosleeper and nursed right back to sleep until I woke her for First Friday Mass at 7:20 AM. Then she fell back to sleep at church and I made a successful transfer (with a nursing session) to the cosleeper at 9:00 AM and she napped until 12:30 PM. What a good sleeper. She is just what I needed for a third baby. She will be four months old next week. And I have realized that it takes me a good four months to really feel healthy and strong after pregnancy. Well, on with life! I think I can take it on now.

7. My next post will be number 100. Over half of those were written last year, the year I decided to make this blog at least a weekly commitment. It has existed since 2008. Well, I hope to keep on going strong with it. Thanks for reading.

For more Quicktakes head on over to Jen at Conversion Diary.

This Month in Girls-February 2013

I have decided that I want to copy my friend Mary and keep a record of the kids each month. She has all boys so I stole her title and made it girls. I hope she does not mind. 🙂 (If you want to see pictures of my kids, though, you need to know me and be a Facebook friend.)

I cannot believe that this girl is going to be four next month! She has beautiful brown eyes and her hair is becoming the long hair she so desires. She is advancing well in her “school”work now that I am semi on top of doing it frequently. Finally sitting mostly still at Mass and knows how to be quiet. She has told us recently that she is afraid that the school kids at daily Mass are going to take her and make her go to school with them. This makes me glad because a few months ago she was anti-home school. Her favorite activities include: pretending she is Clara from The Nutcracker, mothering one to three dolls at a time, watching me cook, cooking her own food, talking for at least an hour after bedtime with her sister, and singing and dancing. She is a mostly kind big sister, though disputes over toys are frequent. Lately she had been pulling the baby onto her lap which makes her mother nervous. She likes to discuss the books she has had “readen” to her and recognizes almost all her letters.

Another pair of beautiful brown eyes with eyelashes so long I am not sure how she holds her eyes open for so long at night and at nap resisting sleep. But that is two for you, right? I think she is missing her babyhood as she asks constantly to be held or hugged that is when she is not following G around playing along. She mothers many dolls and whenever a friend comes over she pulls out her doll and proclaims, “I got it for my birfday!” She is trying to count and learn her letters since she wants to be like her sister. She has been seen lately playing with a small glow-in-the-dark plastic statue of Our Lady. Mary has many adventures to the family altar, bookshelves, and where ever L decides to play. She also has a great devotion to Baby Jesus so we pray to him to help her stay in her bed.

Big brown eyes. I have always been a sucker for those big brown eyes. She is babbling a lot, rolls to her side, and grabs things above her on her play-mat (whatever it is called). She also has the baby muppet smile on her face whenever she catches anyone’s eye.  She sleeps wonderfully on her back in her cosleeper all night (that is 10:30pm-6am) most nights. Sometimes she even falls asleep on her own. She is a great third baby. It must just be that the third daughter is the best at everything…

Seven Quick Takes

1. I am doing this at the encouragement of Claire and Liz. So, ladies this one is for you. 🙂

2. Since we are all talking about spiders, I want to say that there are an absurd number and variety of spiders in St. Paul. Since we have been here, there has been one living about six inches from the handle of the front door and today I went at his web with a stick because it looked abandoned. There was a huge one in the garage yesterday on the floor. I have sucked about six up vacuuming our basement family room and study. G whigged out about one on the outside of the car window this morning. And yesterday from the inside of our garden level window I watched one attack and eat a bug in his web.

3. I think it might have to do with her age, but all summer G has been narrating from time to time her actions. For example, “She ran across the room and opened the door…” It is quite amusing. Maybe she will be a writer.

4. At a different stage of development, L has been learning all her verbs and everytime she does an action she says the verb that goes with that action. Some of the favorites include running, climbing, swinging, swim, kiss, eating, drinking, jumping, shake, sing.

5. We got a book with the story of “Peter and the Wolf” this week from the library. I found the recording of it on Youtube that M and I both listened to as children. We have been listening to it everyday per the request of G. It is a Soviet commissioned piece for children to learn about music.

6. We did our first official pre-school week this week. Monday I bought the last minute supplies. And then on Tuesday I picked an activity from Teach Me to Do It Myself for each day and planned to do as much or as little as G wanted of My First School Book from the Handwriting Without Tears series. We spent less than five minutes on each thing a day, which is appropriate for pre-school home school. I am glad I have a little structure this year and once I planned things and have books to use I am realizing that home schooling will work. 🙂 Further, L has been coloring in a notebook very contentedly while G and I do the school activities.

7. Claire linked this article today about a couple struggling with infertility and the pain they go through and the way they offer up their suffering and desires for a child. I cried through the reading of the article, realizing how easy it is to forget how blessed M. and I our with our two beautiful children and third on the way. The husband in the article discussed how he has been drawn closer to God in a way he never expected because of their infertility, and I am reminded how God uses our hardships to bring us closer to Him and form us into better people. I really need to work on not complaining about my children and the struggles I have as a parent.