Friday, February 28, 2014

Sleeping with the Mona Lisa

Recently, my older boys were asked to give presentations at CC on a famous artist. They both chose da Vinci, so I printed out pictures of the Mona Lisa for them to use as props during their presentations. Clay took one look at those pictures and instantly fell in love, just like so many men throughout the centuries. When the boys were through with their presentations, one of them offered his picture to Clay. It has not left his side since. He takes it with us when we're running kids around to their various activities. He carries it around the house. And, last night, he even insisted on sleeping with it. So, I guess even the youngest of men are not immune to that famous enigmatic smile. (Although, Clay says his favorite thing about "Mo Leese" is her hair!)

Monday, February 24, 2014


The boys and I had a blast today at the Thinkery in Austin with some of our CC friends!

Lots of opportunities to hop around

a little chemistry experiment

creating a hurricane

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Creative Juices

This is a picture of the painting Ruth just completed in her Art class.
I'm biased, of course, but I think she has real talent! 

This is a song that Weston had in his head and stepped away from the Olympics to write down.
Again, I'm biased, but I think it's really beautiful!
(Our God is so awesome.
He loves us so much
And we should do the same.
The world is under his arms.
We take You seriously.
We love You so much.
You are higher than me.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Patio Progress

We have been trying to get our landscaping project started for about a year and a half, so we are thrilled that this week we are actually seeing progress!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Extreme Tuesday

It was one of those extreme kind of days. We arrived at CC, only to find that I had forgotten the drop cloth for our painting project. I texted Jeff, who I thought was working in town, to see if he could come to the rescue. He was actually back at the house, and our communication was out of sync, so he was on his way back into town to save me before I had a chance to tell him just to forget it. So, then he ended up just working in town all day. Meanwhile, Clay was going through clothes and snacks like there was no tomorrow. Max and Weston were both kids of the week, so we celebrated after CC with dinner at KFC/Long John Silver. At 4:30. Because that's how we roll. The three oldest kids had sports practices in three different locations, starting at 5:30, and I was scheduled to conduct a CC info. meeting at 6:00 and then swing by a social gathering with one of the local homeschool groups at 7:30. So, Jeff took the kids and dropped them off at their various locations, and I took myself to my meeting. And, that was the last thing that went according to plan.

Just as I started my meeting, Jeff called, and since I knew he knew I was in a meeting, I answered, because I thought it might be important. Sure enough, Clay had fallen on the bleachers, and Jeff was gathering him up to go the the urgent care clinic for stitches. So, Jeff had the two youngest, but this was going to leave the other kids stranded at their practices. I wrapped up my meeting as quickly as possible and raced over to get Weston from his baseball try-out, and then headed back across town to get Ruth from basketball practice. Weston's basketball team was still practicing when we got there, so he stayed for the remainder of that practice, before we headed to the clinic to pick up Max and check on Claycito. Clay's chin was bandaged up, and he had soaked through his last set of clothes. So, I left him with Jeff, wearing nothing but a diaper, to get three stitches in his chin, while I took the big kids home for much needed baths at the end of a long day. Poor little guy. But, he's seems not to mind too much. In fact, before bed, he prayed, "Thank you I can go doctor and get crayons." A good reminder to look on the bright side.

Friday, February 14, 2014


I'm not even kidding when I tell you that we haven't gone on a Valentine's (*that's Valemtime's, according to Max) date in about 12 years. We've never really been big on this particular holiday, for a variety of reasons, and we've been kind of tied up for the better part of the last 12 years, but about a month ago, Jeff came across a unique event that we didn't want to pass up. The Culinary Center at Whole Foods Market was offering a Valentine's Day Food and Wine Pairing. The chef prepared every dish right in front of us us, just like we were on the set of a cooking show, and then we got to partake in all the deliciousness. (I had good intentions to take a picture of each course, but then I got caught up in the eating and drinking and completely forget about my desire to document the event!) Plus, we were given a copy of all the recipes. And, then we got to shop in the market. For foodies like us, it was the perfect date night. Happy Valemtime's, everyone!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Going where no man(di) has gone before

I will admit that I do not regularly move my sofa to clean underneath it. (Go ahead and judge me, if you must.) In my book, that chore falls squarely into the categories of "out of sight, out of mind," and "ain't nobody got time for that!" Now, that's not to say that I never think of cleaning under there, especially when I'm sitting in the chair that faces the sofa and can see a bit of something poking out. But, it is ultra low on my priority list. I recently lost something, though, and so tonight, after the kids went to bed, I decided to scootch the large sectional out of position and see if I could find the missing item. I did not find what I was looking for, but comfortably situated amongst the dust bunnies I did find the following items:

  • four mateless shoes
  • a broken crayon
  • two pencils
  • a foam football with a bite taken out 
  • a plastic gun
  • three board books, one of which was literally in tatters
  • two odd dice to a game I know nothing about
  • four large connectable building blocks and one small one
  • a plastic pocket knife
  • a red foam ball that looks just like a clown nose
  • one brown M&M
  • a few pieces of popcorn
  • the non-sticky (trash) back part of a sticker
  • a metal loop to one of those crazy disentanglement puzzles
  • a bottled water cap
  • a petrified piece of mac and cheese
  • a bottle cap toy with a happy apple face on it
  • a penny
  • a squishy submarine bath toy
  • two tiny vehicles
  • And, a rotting apple core
So, now you know all one of my dirty little secrets. What part of your house never gets cleaned unless dire circumstances call for it? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

February Faves

After using up every last bit of elbow grease I had,
I ordered these to make my life easier. I love them already.

Absolutely Can. Not. Wait. We are re-watching all the previous
seasons to prepare ourselves for the new season, coming in May.

Jeff and I think we may like this better than regular milk.
(Be aware: pudding will not set up if you use this instead of milk,
but you will still have a yummy milkshakey drink to enjoy.)

This. Light weight and fun enough for the kids to
WANT to clean up (some) of their own messes! Love it!

I love the smell and the soft feel of my delicates when I use this.
It's definitely my favorite gentle cycle detergent.

These delicious, zero-calorie syrups have changed my whole coffee drinking experience.
They are also delicious poured over plain yogurt, ice cream or probably anything.
I haven't tried all the flavors, but so far, I like Salted Caramel best.

Gets grease stains out of fabric, even after it's been through the dryer.
If you have met my oldest son, you know what a miracle this is for me.

We use our KitchenAid immersion blender all the time
during soup season to puree everything. We love it! 

These motivate me to drink more (even water!) during the day.
Hot and cold beverages are equally fun to consume.
And, in our family of six, everyone has an assigned color. 

Possibly the best brunch we've ever had.

Friday, February 07, 2014

I'm Already There

I have to tell you, I'm so done with winter I can hardly stand it. But, as my observant hubby pointed out, it's not done with me. So, in an effort to banish the winter blahs, I'm focusing on summer. Specifically, I'm focusing on our beach vacation. In my heart, I'm already there!

NorthTopsail Beach, North Carolina

Bahia Beach, Florida

Thursday, February 06, 2014

10 ways to get your kids to eat more fruits and veggies

  1. When grocery shopping, pass through the produce department first and let everything be a "yes" in that section. It is easier to say "no" as you continue shopping, if the cart is already full and you've already given the green light multiple times on healthy choices. 
  2. If you need to limit the number of yeses in the produce section, let each child pick out at least one veggie and/or a fruit and buy enough of it to share with the family.
  3. Use a clear bowl or open-sided basket to make a display of fruits and veggies to keep out on the counter or as a centerpiece for the table. It will look so beautiful and appetizing, the kids (and adults) will be drawn to it like fruit flies.
  4. Keep fruits and veggies in the lower drawers and shelves of the fridge, so that they are easily accessible to the smaller members of the family.
  5. "Sell" fruit as a dessert and then don't feel guilty for saying yes to dessert every night. Adding heat to fruit brings out a greater natural sweetness, so baked apples or peaches with cinnamon or caramelized bananas make excellent desserts. (It doesn't count if you add sugar and/or butter, though.)
  6. Kids love to snack (sometimes in place of eating actual meals), so let them snack on fruits and veggies any time they want.
  7. Make a Half and Half rule. Any time someone fills their plate, they need to have half fruits and/or veggies and half other stuff. This should apply to seconds and thirds, as well.
  8. Involve the kids in the menu planning and meal preparations. Let them throw together a fruit salad or choose a vegetarian entrĂ©e. They will feel a natural affinity for something they helped create. 
  9. On gift giving occasions, give fun, age-appropriate kitchen gadgets, like an apple corer/slicer, a peeler, an avocado slicer, a strawberry stem remover, or a banana slicer. The kids will be thrilled to have their own equipment and will look for opportunities to use them. 
  10. This is probably the most important: Model the behavior you want to see in your children. If your kids see you eating fruits and veggies, they will follow suit.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Curbing the chaos

Y'all. I'm one of those people that requires order. I seriously need it to stay healthy. Unfortunately (but also fortunately), I decided to have four kids and inadvertently created an environment where chaos rules and order absolutely cannot thrive. I have mostly learned to act like it doesn't bother me ignore the day-to-day chaos. But if I'm really honest, I'm slowly suffocating in it. I can feel the tension creeping up in my neck and shoulders, threatening to choke the life out of me. And, I can hear myself becoming snappy and impatient with the people I live with. I know what's causing it, but I'm afraid I don't have the first clue as to how to fix it. It seems the best I can do while I have small chaos-producing children in the house is to reign in the controllable parts of the chaos from time to time, even though I know it won't last. Today, I tackled the smallest room in the house (the pantry), which is all I felt I could manage. When I was done, I wanted to lock myself inside and just breathe deeply from this life-saving air hole of order. Tomorrow, the kids will no doubt go in there and pull things off the shelves and spill things on the floor and quickly shove something where it doesn't belong in an effort to not get caught stealing, but for a few brief hours, I will have had the pleasure of knowing there was order in the midst of the chaos. And, in this chaotic world where I live, that counts as a victory. (By the way, if any of you experienced moms out there have figured out the key to controlling the chaos, feel free to share your wisdom!)

Controllable Chaos

Uncontrollable Chaos

Monday, February 03, 2014

Daily Disaster

Adventure lives on at the Watts' house. Here's some of the fun we had today:
  • A slosh fest with the juice (of course)
  • Another sticky drink spilled in the exact same location, just moments after clean up
  • Poopy toddler pants (again, probably obvious)
  • A Kleenex blizzard (Thank you, Clay!)
  • A dropped jar of jelly (sticky AND dangerous!)
  • Ketchup bombs, while trying to get that last little bit of ketchup out of the bottle
  • Overfilled chili dogs
  • Escapees from the ant farm
  • Overflowing bath tub (and not just a little--there was water running out in the hall)
  • Earring down the sink
And that's just the messes. I'm not even going to get into the drama! Makes me tired just thinking about it. Think it's time to bid this Monday adieu. 

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Sunday, Fun Day

Early this morning, Jeff took the boys over to Mimi and Grandpa's to hang out for the day. Then, he came home and picked up Ruth and me, and we dropped Ruth off with her new horse riding instructor so she could go into Austin to watch some of her classmates participate in a horse show. Jeff and I then made our way Austin, as well. We had one of the best brunches we've ever experienced at Jack Allen's Kitchen, which fortified us nicely for our major shopping trip to Sam's. Eventually, we landed at our Improv class, where we spent three hours being silly and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. At one point during the class, I literally fell on my rear. It was awesome. When the class was over, we hurried home for the Super Bowl party happening at our house. It was just us and Jeff's parents, but we had enough food to feed 10 times that many people. Sticking with our trend of themed veggie trays, Jeff put together this one (which I'm pinning on Pinterest for anyone needing some inspiration for next football season. Who knows, this might become someone's Pin of the Week at some point!):

The game was pretty ridiculous, but there was a whole other level of ridiculous going on at our house during the game, which included smoke detectors going off, two boys being drenched with water, a little boy getting sunscreen in his eye, and another boy having an opportunity to mop the bathroom floor as a consequence for some unfortunate choices. You know, a normal day at the Watts'.