Thursday, March 19, 2015

winter boredom busters II

You may be wondering why I am still even thinking about winter boredom busters in March.

If you lived as near the North Pole as what I do, you would probably understand.

We really aren't guaranteed warm spring weather in these parts until the end of April or beginning of May. 

We do have occasional warm days and the daffodils begin to bloom and then we get more snow.

We pack away our winter coats just because we're so anxious for spring only to end up pulling them out again.

You may understand too, if you know what it is like to go from this

to this

 in about 12 hours.(How I ended up in Florida for 24 hours is another story for another day)


If you're of the race that knows Joseph, you'll understand why sometimes a woman must resort to these winter boredom busters.

1. Draw a tubful of water. Put your babies in the water. Give each of them a lollipop.  Grab your book and take a seat on the toilet (make sure the seat is DOWN since this will be a rather long sit). You may be surprised how long water and a dumdum will keep the kids entertained.  I have noticed that my mere presence in the bathroom usually keeps the tidal waves at a minimum. The minute I leave, the bathroom floor somehow becomes mysteriously flooded.

2. Brew a cup of coffee and chat with a good friend online. I am not advocate for online relationships unless there is a real life relationship in place which you are building upon. (Truly. You do not want to get me started on this) I have 2 very good friends that I chat with on a regular basis who bring lots of cheer and joy into my life. I have no intention to spread my web of online chatting much further without having a very good reason to do so.  Call me old and boring or whatever you wish. I am 33 years old after all and I can't be expected to stay up with all the latest communication trends. Especially not when I have issues with them.

3. If all else fails, go to Florida. Don't plan ahead too much or it surely won't happen. And don't cry too much if you only get to stay for one day. One day in the sun is better than none.

In which the daffy family had dinner

I was right.

Setting the table for our dinner required much thought and much talk and much time and much strategizing for my 5 chill'uns.

In fact, the preparation probably took triple the time of the actual dining.

They even planned a little game to determine where each person would sit.

Drama is the key to a successful daffy dinner. I mean, really. Don't minimize the difficulty of eating your dinner with salad tongs. Play it up, for goodness sake.

What fun.

a princess portion setting

have fun trying to eat peas from a bunt pan with a ladle.


remember, always be dramatic

Dad drinking from a sippy cup was utterly hilarious to his little fans

This feels all too good and completely natural for Mr. Pooh Bear

more drama, please.

no comment on the size of the veggie portion.

Christopher keeps asking: "When will it be next year so that we do that daffy thing again???"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

winter boredom busters

So. We're all going a little bit stir crazy, eh??

Well. I thought that I would share a few ideas of what we've been doing to keep ourselves at least semi occupied during this long winter.

Only a few of these ideas are original with me. The majority come either from one of my creative friends or my creative kids or from pinterest. I copy other's ideas shamelessly, especially when it makes me popular with my kids.

I will admit up front that I have more energy before and after  the completion of these projects than what I do in the moment of execution. I often fall faint by the wayside.

1. Painting has become a favorite activity on days when school is cancelled due to inclement weather.
 I found this recipe for making our own paint from scratch. This is super awesome because typically I don't want to go out and buy paint in vicious winter weather. This supplies hours of fun and huge mess to clean up afterwards.

2. Have a picnic on your living room floor. My kids actually planned and pulled this one off by themselves last winter as a surprise for me. I was impressed and it was a great way to ward off the winter blues. They carefully planned and prepared a summer picnic menu of hotdogs in a blanket, salad, fresh cut veggies, salties and s'mores in the oven for dessert. They had so much fun planning this and we all had a delightful time imagining away winter.

3. Here is another very fun and messy project. Mix equal amounts of Elmer's glue and shaving cream in a bowl. Use your fingers to create winter scenes. The glue/shaving cream will dry puffy. We used cardstock to add details to the snowman. You may want to plan this craft right before bath time because I can promise that any artistic child will have this mixtures smeared everywhere. It's either a bath or 211 wet ones. It's your choice.

borrowed photo because I failed to take any of my own

4. Plan a Valentine Party with your daughter and invite all your female relatives. Shoo the guys out of the house for the evening.  Fun.  A little chocolate, actually...I mean, a TON of chocolate and red tulips do wonders for the feminine soul. We threw in a fun photo shoot for the evening that induced lots of good belly laughs.

we introduced our daughter to the cool poses of the '90's

This gal has some obvious affection for chocolate 

p.s. I have the most awesome family ever. Do not argue with me.

5. Disguise yourself and go scare a few neighbors. ( I would highly recommend parental involvement)

6. Find a good book to read aloud as a family. Our children enjoy working on a puzzle while listening to the story. This is one of my favorite evening activities since it generally has a calming affect on our family.

7. Plan a daffy supper. You might think that your kids are too young for this, but I bet they would love it.  As for me, I find it more enjoyable to eat my dinner with a huge dipper in front of my kids rather than my peers. This is actually pretty simple to pull off. (we're doing it tonight!) I'm making spaghetti and salad. I'll throw in some bread and applesauce. The kids will gather the tools for eating and set the table.(this by the way, will occupy them for at least an hour) Then I'll take pictures while we're eating and we'll all giggle ourselves silly and the kids will mark this down as one of the best days of their lives.

8. Create a dream pinterest board. My kids loved this. We created their dream home complete with an indoor pool, a winding staircase with a slide, a big game room, a room with a real tree growing in it, a bathtub shaped like a canoe and so on and so forth. They were totally wowed by the ideas and photos. I am thinking you could dream about vacations or pets or just about anything. I wouldn't want my kids on pinterest without my supervision, but it turned out to be a super fun activity for us to do together. I don't think it is an activity that you would want to do multiple times in one winter.

9. Visit some local {indoor} attractions. I am all about local, low cost activities  For those of you who are local to Meadville, we visited the Tom Ridge Environmental Center last Saturday with our family. Admission is free. We did pay to watch an educational film in their big screen theatre. The children really enjoyed browsing the museum and climbing the tower. They also have a very cool activity center for toddlers.

While we were in Erie we visited the lake to show the kids the ice dunes that form when the lake freezes over. It's pretty awesome to feel like you're walking over snow covered mountain ranges.

10. Make your own butter by hand. Even the most energetic child will find himself panting a bit by the time the cream forms itself into butter.
11. Make snow cream.

12. Make soft pretzels. Invite some friends over to help eat them.

Now a few ideas just for Mom

1. Snuggle with your little darling. She'll be off to school and growing independent of your arms in no time flat. I say snuggle now, work later

2. Borrow a good book from a friend's library. It comes in handy to have some good reading material when you need to spend extra time snuggling the sick darling.
3. Plan a casserole exchange.
4. Offer to teach your Ladies' Sunday School class.
5. Crochet a hat. (Learn to crochet if you don't know how)

6. Join the community choir

7. Plan your garden for the upcoming spring and order seeds. Try something new. Hobby gardening is so much more fun than traditional "need it, grow it" gardening.

8. Come visit me. I would love it. There isn't anything that beats the winter blues down into the ground like inspiring, vigorous, real life conversation.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

spring fever


Waiting patiently for warm weather and bare ground. This little outdoor girl does not enjoy the snow! She cries to go out and then cries when she goes out because she doesn't know what to do with all the white fluffy cold stuff.

                                        {that puffy pink coat and those little stripy gloves}

We are all going a little stir crazy at this house these days.

 Day after day after day of subzero temps. + Ice + Snow + 7 people trapped into our 1560 sq. feet of house + more snow + cancelled plans due to bad weather + numerous stomach bugs + more snow = insanity

                    Little sick people can be very endearing, that is, when they're not puking all over the place.

A little fresh air and some sunshine does wonders to the human body, both physically and psychologically.

Coming up next:
Winter time boredom busters, especially for a houseful of energetic youngsters.

Friday, February 20, 2015

winter cooking slump

This is the time of year I go into semi-hibernation.

I wish that I was a bear.  Truly.

I would love to hibernate for at least 48 hours.

No cleaning, no cooking, no talking, no cooking.

Did I mention, no cooking?!?

Last February I hosted a casserole exchange with some friends in an attempt to get out of my cooking slump. It turned out to be great fun and I actually have another one in the works right now.

I'm not exactly sure why I despise cooking so much this time of the year.

I suspect that it has something to do with lower energy levels but maybe even more valid is the fact that my creativity is off  frolicking in a far away place like Timbuktu.

Truth is, I don't really just love following recipes.

I come alive when I am making my own modifications to a recipe or stirring together a few of my favorite ingredients to make something tasty.

Recently I tried two new dishes that my family has really enjoyed and since my creativity is off on an extended vacation, I just keep repeating the same dishes over and over again.

We all really love haystacks around this house. My children perform a happy dance when I tell them that haystacks are on the menu.

I was getting sick though of all the tiny side dishes and the mess following the meal.

I decided to try to streamline the haystack idea by baking a few of the ingredients together and serving it as a casserole.

I layered ( 2X):


Taco meat



Topped it off with Nachos.  Heated in the oven until bubbly.

Served with just 3 sides and our all time favorite salad dressing.

My family enjoys this just as much as haystacks and it is much easier to serve and clean up than traditional haystacks

My second creation is not original with me.  The idea comes from the mother of a life long friend. Vivian is an amazing cook so I had no doubts about trying one of her recipes.

Introducing: Hamburger Pizza.


pizza crust

ketchup & mustard (used in place of pizza sauce)

fried hamburger




Any additional toppings of your choice


Serve with fresh lettuce and tomatoes

Again, this was a hit with my family. It really doesn't taste much like traditional pizza at all, but more like a mouthful of summer!!!!

Speaking of which,  I'm anxious for some summertime freshness again!!!

Do you have any tried and true dishes that get you and your family through the long winter months?

I would love to hear your ideas!!!

Because two dishes, both of which include hamburger, lettuce and tomato, are going to get old mighty fast around here.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Update on Christopher

It's high time for a little update here on Christopher because I dislike seeing the horrifying pictures of my son and because some of you have been asking about him.

Thanks for caring about him and us.

Jesus has ministered his love to us deeply in so many ways and through so many people in the last 3 weeks.

I was stunned by how quickly so many people all over the world heard about Christopher and how many people were interceding for him. I can't tell you how many times I heard the phrase, "we are praying for your son".

There is NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING!!!! that compares with the love of Jesus that is expressed and shared and received among believers. It is the very love of the Father being manifest through his children.

We drank deeply of this love.

And now the promised report about Christopher.

They say a picture is worth a million words.

Christopher at my brother's wedding 2 weeks (minus one day) after his accident. I feel like I am looking at a miracle when I look at my son. Active. Bouncing. And back to his ornery old self.
Christopher has an appointment scheduled this coming Wednesday to see his doctors at Pittsburgh Children's Hospital.  We have no reason to expect anything but a positive report.  However, we are anxious to hopefully get permission for him to resume all boyish activities. It's been a constant battle to keep him from romping with his brothers.

Christopher's story has been a fun one to tell because it is full of restoration, health and the mighty hand of God.

We have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

We will not forget all that He has done!!!

We have had many reasons to rejoice in the past 3 weeks in addition to the health of our son.

 The birth of a beautiful and perfect baby girl  to our dear friends, Geryll and Carla

The beautiful marriage of Mr. & Mrs. Kyle A. Lehman

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

through a mother's eyes

This is my view of the happenings of the past 3 days. I am attaching a report that Amos sent to family and friends. I admit upfront that the photos are more traumatic than the words written. However, this is truly what I was seeing and experiencing. I really do not have many words to say. Even though I typically enjoy writing, I was happy to let Amos keep people informed. 
My first view of Christopher upon arriving at the ER

Dad talking to Christopher. Christopher never lost consciousness until he was sedated.

Intubated. A mother's worst nightmare. Even though they declared this a "precautionary measure"  it still made me feel that my son was dangling between life and death.


waiting to be transported to Pittsburg Children's Hospital

Through the ER and into ICU at Pittsburg. They extubated him soon after arriving at the ICU. It was wonderful to be able to talk to him again as he was coming out of his sedation.

taken early Monday morning. (1:30 am)

Christopher was comforted by the presence of Dad and Mom. The hardest moments for me were when we were pushed aside and he was surrounded by medical personnel.

Monday afternoon. Transferred from ICU to a regular hospital room.

Monday evening...Doing well, but 100% miserable. This was probably the peak of the swelling.

First time on his feet.  Tuesday @ 6:00 am. It's just fine when your kid wakes up at 6:00 am at the hospital and wants to get out of bed. We were delighted because previously he didn't want to move at all.  Christopher improved tremendously from bedtime Monday evening to wake up early Tuesday morning.

overlooking the city in the early morning hours.

Christopher was approved to start a soft diet at 7:00 am Tuesday morning. A sure sign that he was feeling better was that he was gulping down the yogurt. *no neck brace!!! yay!!!

Smiling because the playroom had his favorite game....Thomas Trouble.

Getting ready to go home!!!  Doesn't he look like a little panda bear ?! :)

Home (evidenced by that floral couch!) and clutching his paint from his Kauffman friends! His swelling is going down but the discoloration continues to spread. He is able to open both eyes again and his pain is also subsiding. Our challenge now is to keep him from rough activities. Because of the fractures in his skull it is very important that he doesn't reinjure his head.

Happy to be with Cassie again and wearing his own pjs!

Painting. I love this smile. This is a painting of him with his mouth and nose bleeding. (I didn't tell him this but he sure wasn't smiling when it was the real deal)
To say that we're grateful to all be home again is an understatement. Glorify the Lord with me!!!
And here is Amos's story:

Dear Friends,
Thanks for your prayers during the past day.  Chris seems to be doing well considering the speed at which he was going when he hit the tree.  Here are a few details of the events since his accident.

We were sledding on the hill going down into the ravine at the Cora Clark Park next to our place yesterday afternoon.  We had been sledding for awhile and Chris wanted to take one more ride before quitting.  He was on a sled  by himself lying down going head first when the sled left the trail and collided squarely with a tree stump that was cut off several feet above ground.  He immediate started screaming hysterically.  By the time I got there (within several seconds) he was bleeding profusely from his nose and already had considerable swelling  on his forehead. 

I called 911 and emergency personnel arrived within several minutes.  Christopher maintained consciousness the whole time and the ambulance wasted no time in transported him to Meadville Medical Center.  At MMC they did a CT Scan which showed a fracture between his nose and his eye on both sides, as well as a fracture above his left eye.  The good news was that there was no bleeding on the brain.  However, they did want to fly him to Children's Hospital in Pittsburg because it was a head injury.  Because of bad weather in Pittsburg, they could not fly him down so they arranged for a ground transport.  While we were waiting for the transport to arrive, Chris vomited. This caused the ER doctor to decide to have him intubated to avoid the possibility of him accidentally getting vomit in his lungs during transport.

We left MMC about 8:30 with Shaunda and I following the ambulance.  Because of the intubation, Christopher was sedated for the ride.  The roads became quite dangerous as we got closer to Pittsburg and we were very thankful to arrive at the hospital safely.  The number of emergency personnel that was waiting for us was a bit overwhelming.  After a chest x-ray and some ultrasound work, they sent him the ICU.  Within 15 minutes of having him in ICU, they extubated him, for which we were also grateful, especially since this allowed him to talk with us once again. 
For the next several hours, a number of different specialist doctors (trauma, neurology,  optometry, plastic surgery) stopped in to check him out.  All the reports were positive.  Chris was very cooperative and communicated well with the nurses and doctors.  He thought it was pretty smart to read the numbers on the optometrist's chart, even if the nurse had to hold open his left eyelid!  Overall, he has been a real trooper throughout the whole ordeal.

About 2am we settled down for the night.  I slept fairly well for about 4 hours.  Shaunda couldn't sleep so well; she said she kept hearing Chris and I snore!

This morning we are still waiting on the radiologist to read the scans on his neck and for all the doctors to convene to evaluate him.  We expect him to be moved out of ICU anytime but not to be released from the hospital for at least another day, maybe more.  His left eye is discolored and swollen shut and his right eye has considerable swelling as well.  However, he can open it a bit and just said several minutes ago that he wants to watch TV!  Oh, boy...

Thanks for all your prayers.  We are relaxing and feeling peaceful, and are very grateful that his injuries aren't worse.

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