With No Mom

 Nola Mae is growing up!  A little too fast!

nola mae fall blog

Often, Nola Mae tells me or points out to me things or events that mark that she is getting bigger and will end her sentence “…with no mom.”

She started preschool this fall.  On the first day,  the parents had to stay for the class period.  As we were walking to the school, she wasn’t thrilled that I was staying and told me “The next day I go to school with no mom.”

Nola Mae:  Some day, I can cross the street, with no mom.

Nola Mae:  Some day, I can get chicken eggs, with no mom.

Nola Mae:  Some day, I can take a walk on Sleepy Hollow to visit Anna, with no mom.

Nola Mae:  Some day, I can go bowling, with no mom.

Nola Mae:  Some day, I can drive a car, with no mom.

Nola Mae:  Some day, I can make cookies and eat them all, with no mom.

Nola Mae:  Some day, I can go skiing, with no mom.

Nola Mae:  Last winter when I was three, I skied up and down the big hills, with no mom!

Nola Mae skiing 1

These pictures were taken on her 3rd birthday.

Nola Mae skiing 2

A phrase she likes to use when I am offering to help her do some thing:   “I got this!”  I had no idea where she learned this  until recently I heard Henry using it.

Today she wanted to cross the little street from the parking lot to preschool with no mom and said,


nola mae pheasant

As I was collecting all the comments for this post over a period of a few months,  I arrived home late one night and she was still awake:

“I brushed my teeth.  With no father.”

My Friend

I have this friend, she encouraged me to be a better mother, wife and person.

She is my best friend.

My Mentor.

My coffee drinking and chocolate eating partner.

We talked on the phone, just about every other day, had coffee together once a week. She would always remember to check back with me when I was having a rough day or week, encouraging me and showing me love.

We talked about life, God, religion, parenting, marriage, family, caregiving, authors, books, rummage sales, antique stores, crafting, dogs, flowers, gardening, rocks and my clothes line.

We laughed and we cried together.

She showed love to my kids as if they were her grandchildren.

We went for walks. I convinced her to go snow shoeing with me, twice.

Anna Snow shoe

She had a huge heart and a beautiful smile that I will never forget.




My Dream Come True



Originally posted on life with three boys and a splash of purple!:

I never imagined my life to be as good as it is today.  Well, some days I have to remind myself that my life could have turned out worse.  Especially on days when I have a  head ache, two boys playing basketball in my kitchen and one screaming because he wants the ball all the time.  Or when all three are running around in circles or playing ball tag in the house or tooting and giggling non-stop.  Believe it or not, they could be doing all these activities at the same time! Here is how it all started: When I was 19 years old I was beginning to realize that a healthy and loving relationship is possible.  These kinds of relationships really do exist in this world.   I was in college, trying to get out of a horrible relationship and trying to figure out what my major should be and what I wanted in life. I wanted a…

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Car Ride with a 3-year old.

blog Nola Mae Nola Mae and I have put on a lot of miles during the last five days, having fun visiting some of my family, even though Jack is having a blast with our boys on the vacation they are on. I have admired the photos Jack is sending me and I have wished I was a long for the trip he his on. I got to visit my Mom for two days,  biked with my mom, I had a short visit with my mother-in-law, lunch with my aunt and 24+ hours with my cousin and her three girls, including a little dye party and mulberry tree shaking with them.

 blog bike ride Henry  blog bike ride Nola Mae

Today, I ended my travels with the car ride from HELL. It was time to leave our cousins. Nola Mae referred to them as “my sisters”, so cute. I put a crabby, tired and almost crying three-year old in the car. She was sad to leave, so sad she was sobbing when the oldest cousin told her it was time to go. She didn’t want to give hugs or wave good-bye.

My fingers were crossed and I was hopeful that she would be sleeping within 10 minutes and I could enjoy my audio book for our 2.5 hour car ride. Within five minutes she was crying and screaming about everything.

Nola Mae: My eyes hurt!

Me: Wear my sunglasses.

Nola Mae: They still hurt! (sobbing)

Me: Close your eyes and rest.

Nola Mae: NOOOOO! Then me will miss seeing a train if we go past one.

I told her I didn’t think there was a train until we got closer to home. She insisted that she saw a train track by a bridge on the way to our cousins’ house.

Crying and screaming at me every time I tried to start my audio book – “NO MUSIC! NO STORIES!”

At the Madison exit…

Nola Mae: That looks like Aunt Danna’s house (she meant work because the buildings look a little like the university, but I wasn’t going to correct her).

Me: Yes, this is Aunt Danna’s town.


More crying and screaming.

She broke my sunglasses (2nd pair this summer). I told her I was sad about that. I can’t remember what she said, but she sounded more like our 11-year-old, “They weren’t broken. They were twisted apart.” I wasn’t going to argue with her. I just told her that she could try to fix them for me when we got home.

Thirty minutes from home with non-stop screaming and crying up to this point, I remembered I had Smarties in my bag. It was a great distraction and turned her mood around.

Nola Mae fell asleep exactly five miles from home. I at least got five minutes of peace.

I came home to find this blog post from our cousin: http://behindthewillows.com/2015/07/22/the-sign-of-a-great-visit/

Birthday Treat for School

dirt cake in jelly jars 3


Charlie has a summer birthday, during the school year he gets to bring a birthday treat to school during the last weeks of school.

Charlie  was inspired by a classmate who brought dirt cake for his birthday treat.  He tells me everyone loves it, even the teacher.

The tricky thing about taking a special birthday treat to school is figuring out how to transport from home to school on the bus.

I want to save this recipe I used for future use, because it really is yummy!

This recipe was easy enough that Charlie did most of it.

Worm Dirt Cake
(Cooks.com modified for Charlie)

2 packages Oreo cookies, crushed

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1/2 C butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 C + a couple of T powder sugar

3 C milk
2 (3 1/2 oz.) packages of instant vanilla pudding (can use chocolate)

Gummy worms and gummy butterflies.
17 – 1/2 pint jelly jars with lids.

1.  Crush Oreos, set aside.  Charlie used our food processor.

2.  Cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Slowly add the powder sugar. If it is getting too dry/thick, add a drop or two of milk.

3.  Combine milk and pudding mix.

4.  Fold Cool Whip into the pudding.

5.  Fold together the butter/cream cheese mixture and the pudding mixture.

6.  Add approximately 1-2 T of the Oreo crumbs into each jelly jar. Place one gummy worm on top of the crumbs.

7.  Add about 3-4 T of the pudding mixture to the jar, leaving about 1 – 1.5 inch space at the top of the jar.

dirt cake in jelly jars 2

We stopped here and put them in the fridge over night and finished the last steps in the morning.

8.  Cover the pudding with the rest of the Oreo crumbs and top with a gummy worm or butterfly.


dirt cake in jelly jars 4

Bee Morning

Charlie Bee Morning

To my dad for saving me from such an awful pain.

Bee Morning

I got up and said, “Dad can I go kayaking?”  It was in the morning before it was day when the moon was still up.  I went out of the tent very quietly.  I went to the lake.  I snapped on my tight blue life jacket and got in the cold wet kayak.

I paddled and paddled until I was close to the island.  I saw two turtles. I whispered, “Wow turtles!”  I got close and the tried to pick one up.  But I failed.

After that I continued on to the island.

I stepped on the island and I think I stepped on a huge active bee nest because they all swarmed up on me.  They stong me all over.   I dived straight into the water.  It was warm and there was lots of sea weed.  I stayed under water as long as I could.  I had to eventually come up for air.  They were still there!  I screamed, “Aaaaaaaa!”  They stong me several times again.  I swam back to the island.  I was screaming.

My dad heard me.  Then he ran to the nearest camp site and asked them if he could use their raft.  They said yes because they understud that he really needed it.  He frantically paddled out to me.  He picked me up and ran back to the raft.  He got stung lots of times too.  We went back to shore.  We gave back the raft.

Next we took off our wet shirts because there were bees in them.  They were so wet and stuck to us.  We went back to ower camp site.  My bee stings were still hurting a lot.

After that I wasn’t feeling very well so I went and layed in a hammock.  My cousin Sara read a book to me for a half hour.

Bee sting reading

My dad and I hiked to the showers and I soaked in the shower.  It felt so soothing!  I used cold water.  I had to use cold water because that would help my bee stings heal.

When we were done we drove to the hospital.  I had to go to the emergency room.  I was there for more than 3 hours.  When I was done they gave us some medicine to use for it if it happened again because they thought I might be allergic to bees.

(Charlie’s writing assignment in 3rd grade, 2015)

I wrote about this event shortly after it happened in 2012, click here for that post.

Spring is here!

Spring is here!

We celebrated two birthdays last week.

Henry birthday cake 6 birthday cake Nola Mae

dyed birthday shirts

Nola Mae loved her Peppa Pig.

peppa pig love

First paddle of the year, Lake Iola, on a very windy day, April 12th.

first paddle 2015

My paddle with three kids in the canoe didn’t last very long.

We paddled into the windy part of the lake and got blown to the shoreline.  My strategy of paddling in this wind was:  paddle really hard for as long as you can, get blown to a shoreline, aim the canoe to where you want to go, paddle really hard for as long as you can, get blown to a shoreline, aim the canoe to where you want to go.  Repeat until you get back to where you started!  Charlie and I aren’t ready to paddle to a campsite in the Turtle Flambeau Flowage this year.

Our first hike on the River Walk Trail in town.

spring first river walk

Snake Watching:

(There are NO snake pictures on this post!)

We have seen the first snakes of the year. One the other day by the garden woodpile and today by the deck. I try my hardest to not show fear and disgust when seeing snakes.  I have accepted the fact that we have to live on the same planet as each other and I still dislike them very much!   I must be doing well at this because Nola Mae has no fear of them. She is curious and knows to give them space. Today the sun is shining, it is warm outside with a slight breeze and the deck is a nice place to snake watch. snake watching 1

snake watching 2

I was amazed how long this kept Nola Mae occupied.

snake watching 3

Henry's letter

This doesn’t have much to do with springtime, just a cute photo I took of Nola Mae, who fell asleep in my room waiting for me.

Nola Mae – 3 years old!

Nola Mae black hat

Happy Birthday! Nola Mae – 3 years old!

I dyed this shirt for Nola Mae’s birthday. I found this shirt at a thrift store early this month and thought that it needed a little more rainbow to it. Nola Mae Birthday   Nola Mae wasn’t interested in getting interviewed, this is how our conversation went before I gave up:

Me:  I want to know what some of your favorite things are, like your favorite movie?


Me:  Is it Peppa Pig?

Nola Mae:  NO, me not watch it. You take it back to the library.

Me:  How about your favorite color?

Nola Mae: Me not telling you.

Me:  How about your favorite snack?  What do you like to eat when you are hungry?

Nola Mae:  Me not telling you.

Me:  Where do you like to go?



Nola Mae: Me want to go to that restaurant. Me want to go a playground. Me want to go to school. WAIT, NOT school, a playground!

Me:  What do you like to play outside?

Nola Mae:  Don’t know, something else.


Nola Mae: What do you want to play?

Me: I want to play, “You tell me what you like.”

Me: So Henry, what do you think Nola Mae’s favorite food is?

Henry: I don’t know.

Nola Mae: CANDY! Nola Mae Ellevill wrap Me:  Henry, what do you think Nola Mae’s favorite game is?

Henry: Maybe hide-and-seek?

Nola Mae: YEP!

Me:  Henry, What do you think Nola Mae’s favorite color is?

Henry: Nola Mae, is your favorite color blue?

Nola Mae: NO, blue AND purple! AND RED!

Me:  Henry, what do you think Nola Mae likes to do outside?

Henry: What do you like to do outside, sledding?

Nola Mae: Yes.

Nola Mae:  Playing games. Sledding.  Games. Nola Mae's sled I have given up on her favorites, she loves to talk about what she wants to talk about.  And if I word my questions or statements differently I could get more answers from her.

I want to remember our 2-year-old Nola Mae…

Nola Mae called Henry “Henny” until two days before her birthday.  Now she is saying “Henree”.  Sometimes she would think I was calling her Henny when I would say Honey to her.  In my sleep deprived/fried brain sometimes I think I did call her Henny and she wasn’t very happy with me about that.

Henry and Nola Mae

Nola Mae isn’t keen on nicknames and is very vocal about that now that she knows they are out there.  The first time someone referred to her as a little peanut is when she learned this.  Later she asked me “what a peanut?”  After I explained to her what people sometimes say, she told me in a very clear and loud voice “ME NOT A PEANUT!”

Nola Mae is friendly and very talkative to everyone.  Every day at the ski hill we would see people getting ready to ski and she would want to know their name and sometimes tell them something about what happened that day.  I appreciated all the grown-ups who gave her a few minutes of their time.   And it was fun to see them again and they would talk to her (not me) and make sure she remembered their name from the last time.

Nola Mae has a friend, Lily.  She talks about her almost every day.  Lily is an imaginary friend.  Lily has been at Nola Mae’s school, rides Nola Mae’s bus, is nice and sometimes mean to Nola Mae.  Sometimes Lily is sick.  Sometimes Lily helps Nola Mae.  One day I was sick and accidentally fell asleep, while I was sleeping Lily came over to play.  I think Lily is avoiding me.  Recently, Nola Mae told us that Lily died.  I wasn’t sure if Lily dyed or died, since both words are talked about in our house.  I haven’t noticed much talk of Lily, lately.  So maybe she did die.

Nola Mae was an awesome skier this winter.  She loved the downhills and groomed trails.  At the end of the winter she was flying down the hills in the tracks all by herself.  After a nose-dive into the snow she wasn’t afraid to do it again!

Nola Mae skiing 1

Nola Mae skiing 2

The things I know Nola Mae loves…

  • to paint. “Painting with Pappa!”
  • to cross-country ski.
  • to play our memory game and her version of Blokus and Spot It.
  • to read books with someone and by herself.
  • candy but not enough to motivate her to use the potty.
  • to play outside.
  • to follow her brothers anywhere.
  • to push the kid sized shopping cart around the grocery store.
  • to help with any project.
  • to show any guest to our house her jumping on the bed tricks.

Nola  Mae Painting 2 I know she loves Peppa Pig, so I made this stuffed Peppa Pig out of fleece. peppa pig 1   Click here to read last year’s birthday post for Nola Mae.  

Henry – 6 years old!

  Happy Birthday!

Henry – 6 years old!

I dyed this shirt for Henry to wear on his birthday, unfortunately he is sick today and can’t wear it to school:

 Henry's rainbow shirt(Henry asked that I wash it tonight so he can wear it again tomorrow)

He picked brownies for his birthday treat to take to school.

We have been on spring break, Friday – Monday.  I made a big deal yesterday with Henry about his last day of being five years old.   There is something special to me about being five. You are only five once!  When you are five you are cute, innocent, funny, happy, full of energy, a philosopher, smart, polite, kind, honest and caring.  Henry has been all these things and more!

Henry smile


I learned at Henry’s parent teacher conference, that Henry does get grumpy, Mrs. Fechter share this with me:

Henry grumpy


When I interviewed him on his last day of being five years old he told me these things:

Favorite color:  Blue.

Favorite animal – Baby cub lion.

Favorite food – Fried chicken.

Favorite fruit – Pear.

Henry's missing teeth

Favorite restaurant – Hibachi Grill.

Favorite thing about school – Gym.

Henry skiing

Favorite movie:  Batman.

Favorite job:  NO JOB!

Favorite thing to do at home – Ride my bike outside and play on the tablet.

sledding Henry air

Friends at school – Alex H, Micheala, Sophie, Landan, Addy, Michael, Emmett, Lewis, Gwen & Jocelyn.

Favorite holiday:  Christmas and Halloween, cause there is candy.

Henry's kite

I asked him, “What do you want to do when you are six years old?

  1. “Just eat, so I can grow even more!” and
  2. “Play outside!”

cards Henry smile


Click here to see Henry’s favorites from last year.


December 2014

December 2014

Jack took our annual family photos:

Family Profile 2014

Family 2014

Aunt Carol brought us the trees behind us in the spring of 2000 (our first spring).  This batch of trees never got cut for a Christmas tree because they were too big when we started having a tree.

We had good snow and great skiing early in the month.  After our first night of skiing Henry wrote a note to his teacher.

Letter from Henry

We had good sledding in our field.   Henry would get a running start and get some serious air before hitting the snow!

sledding Henry air

Nola Mae ran up and down the hill many times.

Nola Mae

The best hats!

Henry black hat  Nola Mae black hat

Early in the month I had two more kinds of soaps that were ready for the holiday: 

  soap vanilla & patchouli soap lavender & lemon grass

The first photo is Lavender, Vanilla & Patchouli.  The second photo is Lavender & Lemon Grass with ground lemon powder.

Charlie dyed a pair of bamboo socks for his teacher.  We did a test pair last month because I wanted him to have a feel for the syringe and working with the dye.  He was easily frustrated with his own socks and it seemed like he hated the whole process.  So I figured we would have to find a different gift for his teacher.  About a week before the last day of school he asked, “When are we going to dye my teacher’s socks?”  I just assumed he hated it and would never want to do it again.  Charlie promised me he would have extra patience for this project.  And he did while he got help from Nola Mae.

dyeing Charlie 3

Mrs. Johnson’s socks:

dyed socks Charlie

The color in this photo is so off from the actual color.  He used a purple and a teal color called Kingfisher Blue.

Charlie and Nola Mae messing around with a backpack:

Charlie & Nola Mae babywearing

We cut our Christmas tree from our property:

I remember planting this tree very well, even what clothes I was wearing, and the pair of gloves I had on. It was one of the first days I accomplished something significant after feeling like crap for months with morning sickness (my pregnancy with Robbie).  I planted a total of 15 trees, only three trees made it this long.  I tried to imagine when we would be cutting this tree down for our Christmas tree.  I didn’t imagine we would have four children around this tree, 11 1/2 years later.

christmas tree 2014

Nola Mae strawberry hat

One of my sisters got engaged this month:

Becca & Ben

Here is some kind of Elemental Warrior equation Robbie made with  some calligraphy pens that I had.

Elemental warrior equation

Dyeing and sewing projects (I have a post all for my December dyeing projects, click here to see them):

My friend, Michelle, gave me some curtains she had in her daughter’s room.  I dyed them, because they were white!

dye ice curtain

Nola Mae and three of her cousins got pretty snow dyed skirts.

dyed ice curtain skirt

My first Maxi skirt for one of my sisters:

sewing maxi skirt becca

Two bags made of dyed fabrics:

bag dyed red mandala

Front of bag:

bag dyed & embrodiery

Back of bag:

bag dyed Aunt Karen

Robbie and I went Christmas shopping and he had the idea that I dye the kids matching shirts.

dyed family shirts 1 dyed family shirts 2

It was my idea to do a “V” for our last name.  Jack helped me with the colors.

dyed family shirts

Jack has been busy in his workshop:

A book shelf for Robbie.

Robbie's book shelf

A tool box for Henry.

Henry's tool box

A bench for Nola Mae.

Nola Mae's bench

We set up the ping-pong table for Christmas break, this could become a tradition I could get use to.

ping pong

More of my favorite photos from this month:

Trombone Robbie

   Robbie Runs

Nola Mae's sled

Monopoly Grandmas

Mama santa hat

Charlie computer

cards Henry

cards Henry smile