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.

 

 

 

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What Normal Looks Like…to Me

What Normal Looks Like…to Me

I am far from normal, read here for my reasons , if you like, I may be normal in other ways.

There is a great article floating around Facebook titled “What Normal Looks Like”, written by Elizabeth Broadbent.  This article is raging through the mama groups I follow. I didn’t need this article a affirm my way of life/cleaning habits. But it sure has gotten a few mamas to feel better about the household chores that seem to never get done or to realize that to obtain your house’s cleanliness b.c. (before children) seems impossible when you have more important things to do than dust or fold clothes, at least in my opinion.

I live in a house with four busy and very active children. They make messes, they clean them up most of the time and they also do jobs around the house and our farm.

Everything on Elizabeth Broadbent’s article is what happens here.  I don’t host many playdates or have many friends over because of the state of our house.  When I do the house gets the bare minimum of cleaning – bathrooms are clean, floors are swept (maybe mopped) and the kitchen is clean.  All other doors are closed and no one is allowed up stairs!

I am being a little brave here by sharing some of the normal sites you may see if you stopped in unannounced or went in rooms that are not meant for company.

Normal:  I have a two-year old that puts away the silverware:

silverware drawer

Normal:  Trashed kitchen, dishes in the dishwasher are clean, dish strainer is plump full and sink and counter loaded with dirty dishes because I played wallyball last night.  Missing in this photo – the fridge door wide open.

Normal kitchen scene

Normal:  At least one splat of spilled milk EVERY DAY!

Normal spilled milk

Normal: Boxes and bins filled with dye projects “batching” by the wood stove.

Normal dye projects by wood stove

Normal:  Toy room/guest room is always trashed or in the process of being rearranged and organized by Charlie (9-year-old).

Normal toy room mess

Normal:  Mudroom lockers overflowing with stuff from all seasons.  Boys were at school today so this doesn’t include their backpacks and winter clothes, those items can be found spread out on the floor all over the house in the evenings.

Normal mud room mess

Normal:  We have a selection of sandals to ski boots, year-round!

Normal mud room shoes

Normal:  Upstairs bathroom/laundry room.  A boy took a shower and dropped the towel on the floor, living out of laundry baskets (clean clothes on the right side of the room and dirty ones to the left of the shower), clean sock baskets on the counter for boys (over flowing).

Normal bathroom

Normal:  More laundry baskets of clean clothes downstairs.

Normal laundry

Normal:  Books spilling out of book shelves.

reading books spilled

Instead of changing all this mess…

I will go to play dates, meet friends at the library, maybe host some play dates,

library

I will go to the park or a beach.

Sunset Lake 1st day 2012

I will continue to ignore it all so I can read to my child, sew, dye things, write blog posts, go biking

Biking Henry in PJs

bike train

or go skiing!

Ski family Charlie crash

Call me if you want to do something fun!

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
Kurt Vonnegut

Emergency Room Visit – Charlie (3rd time)

Emergency Room Visit – Charlie

Charlie has been to the ER three times in his eight and a half years of life.  I am not sure if that is a good  or not.  I just hope that it is the end for a while.

His first visit was when he was two.  When he dipped his hands in anti-freeze and licked them.  A story I am ashamed to even mention and a very scary moment for me.  Thankfully, this is the one and only time I have ever had to call Poison Control.  The woman on the other end of the line was very kind and patient with me.  She told me she would alert the ER that I was on my way.  She strongly stressed and reminded me to drive SLOWLY many times during our conversation.

Charlie had a close call when he was about five years old.  We were playing in the barn with a friend, when Charlie got pushed off a round bale and landed on his feet and then fell to his knees.  A stick or piece of wood from the floor jabbed into his knee.  The clinic had an opening with one of our favorite PAs.

Charlie’s second visit to the ER was for many, many bee stings (click here for that story) on his birthday camping trip when he turned six.  We never got a count of how many times he got stung.  In the photos that Jack took I can count about 32 on his back and on his front in this photo I can count about 35.  There were more stings on his sides, his ears, head and arms that we can’t see in the photos.  His lower part of his body was not stung as much because he jumped in the water.  Smart boy!

Bee Sting Charlie 1

The third visit to the ER happened last week.

ER Charlie finger 2

Our school had a two-hour delay because of bad weather – cold temps, drifting and ice-covered roads.  Instead of the bus coming at 6:30 it would be picking the boys up at 8:30 with school starting at 10:10.  I had to take bars to church for a funeral, go to the library, and grocery store so I decided I would drive them.  Long before we needed to leave I fed the dogs and  started the car to take the chill out of the car and melt the ice on my windshield.  At 9:15, I asked Charlie to run out to the car to turn it off.   I was finishing up frying eggs for breakfast.  My back was to the door that goes outside.  He ran out, I heard “that sound” when something gets in the way of the door closing.  I held my breath waiting for screaming and then the door slammed shut.  Then a second later Charlie came running into the house screaming bloody-murder with a very bloody finger.  It took him a second or two to realize that his finger was hurt from slamming it in the door.  The first slam was his shirt and the second slam was his finger.  His nail came out of the nail base and was hanging from his finger tip.    I grabbed a napkin and got him comfortable on a chair.  Robbie brought me a wet cloth, an ice pack and a couple of towels.   Charlie put a little pressure on his finger, it hurt really bad.  We peeked at it and it looked really bad!  I started to freak out.  I called Jack first and left a message.   I called the clinic next.  A nurse was available and we talked about what happened, what his finger looked like and the nurse, bless her heart, very gently said, “You will need to take him to the emergency room.  I will call them and tell them you are coming.”    Before we got off the phone the sweet nurse reminded me, “This isn’t a life threatening emergency for Charlie, so please drive slowly!”

I needed to drive slowly the roads were ice-covered and in a place where there is  a huge open field, the snow drifts were all the way across the south bound lane, and the snow plow was heading north.   I had to come to a complete stop for him to go by and so I could drive around the drifts.

I kept telling myself to drive slowly and prayed for us to get there safely.  I met a lot of cars  as I was leaving town because everyone was taking their kids to school.  Once we got through the next town the on-coming traffic wasn’t constant.  That is when we came upon four cars following a snow plow at a very slow speed.   I cried all the way there, tried to take deep breaths and kept apologizing to Charlie.  I was thankful for snow plows to keep me driving slowly and clearing our way.   There were many times when the snow plow would disappear into a puff of snow when the plow would hit a snow drift.

When we arrived at the ER we were the only ones there and they took us right away.  I was thankful for the tablet as a distraction because I think he would have just sat there thinking about the pain.   I was able to calm down and prepare myself for the rest of the visit.  I like gross things.  This injury was pretty close to sending me over the edge.  It could have been the stress, worry and the hot emergency room that was making me feel like I was going to throw up.

ER Charlie finger 3

The nail is still on in this photo.  The doctor cut it off after his finger was numb.  His finger was poked at least 10 times to numb it.  Charlie did very well, slowly counting to 10 with me for all the poking.  Dr. Bob was the same ER doctor we had when Robbie got stitches.

ER Charlie finger 1

 

Charlie got his first set of stitches.  I am not even sure how many.  I will have to find out and update this post.

Itemized bill:

Lidocaine – $35.20

X-Ray Exam – $166

X-Ray Reading – $23.21

Procedure done in ER – $133.00

Emergency Dept. Visit – $580

ER PHY-Minor – $73.00

Repair of nail bed – $274.00

Total – $1,284.41

As we were getting our discharge papers Charlie said, “This wasn’t as bad as all my bee stings!”  Really?  I am so thankful I was not there for the bee stings!

Charlie didn’t want to go to school to finish the day.  (I wouldn’t have let him go to school.)  He told me, “Because when someone comes to school with a owie everyone stands around them and wants to see it.  And I don’t want to talk about it with them.”  He was very uncomfortable for the next 24 hours.

Twenty-four hours later his finger still looked horrible and not so gross to me.    We soaked it on and off all day in attempts to take the bandage off.  The gauze was stuck.  I should have asked for the non-stick gauze because that is what I use at home and it works!  We needed to pull the last three layers of gauze off strand by stand.

We have given it air, kept it clean and a bandage for the day time.

ER Charlie finger bandage ER Charlie finger open

On Monday Charlie came home from school and told me, “I showed everyone in my class my finger.  The only person that didn’t get grossed out was Gavin.”

 

2013 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

This info is pretty interesting and fun for me to see.  I am disappointed that I didn’t get my last two months of blogs done for the year before this was generated.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Old Times = Productivity

Old Times = Productivity          

Last week we were having serious issues at our house.  My friend, Samuel, said that it sounded like we were living during the “Old Times” after hearing my story and being reminded that we don’t even have a TV.  First our computer stopped working and then our cordless phone died.   Plus the only semi working tablet in our house was getting repaired and went to completely not working!  I was waiting for our electricity to go out!  Then we could be back in the times when there were wood stoves and candles and lanterns.  Thankfully that didn’t happen.   Although, one night I didn’t start a fire in our wood stove before going to bed and we woke up to 45 degrees in our house (our furnace is turned off so it never kicks in when it gets a little chilly in our house).  

I was able to quickly find our back up phone that plugs in the wall.  I was able to make frequent trips to the library to use their computers.  

library marion

On one of our trips to a library computer was on the day we needed to run errands in Marion.  I usually use this library’s drive through window (they are in an old bank) to drop off books and never go in.   They have an awesome train table!  I loaded up the car with the pile of stuff to be donated that has accumulated in our basement. 

One load out:

trunk load leaving

Our coming home load:

Two paper bags from the resale shop, two 100 pound bags of chicken feed, library books and some food from Country Corner Sales.

trunk load home

I am not admitting that I waste a lot of time on the computer.  I wasn’t able to email my family and friends, arrange for my next book club meeting, make arrangements to meet friends.  No blogging happened which put me behind on my November post.   Nola Mae didn’t get good nursing times and nap times.  That is what I do when I work on the computer, nurse and type while she naps!

Since we still had electricity I was able to bake a turkey, cookies, dinner rolls and successfully burn cinnamon rolls.    I wasn’t able to talk on the phone because that would require me to stand in one place and do nothing else.

   dinner rolls

I was able to walk into a room to find multiple kids quietly reading. 

Reading Robbie  reading Charlie to Henry

All this reading meant that I needed more books from the library and a box to keep them in.  We have used the end table as the place for library books but there is just too many for me to keep track of.

books box

I went to bed early, woke up early, read many pages in my own books, started and completed sewing projects, did a test dye job and had a clean house.  

dye PVC towels

An ice dye on Charlie’s cape…

dye ice cape

My latest sewing project…owls from sweaters I have collected.

owls group

 An apron with owl fabric for the pocket…

apron owls

As of today our computer is working.  My house is still clean.  I have caught up on most of my emails.  I am still working on catching up on reading the blogs that I follow.   I realized I am thankful for a husband who can fix computers and the fast speed of our computer.  I learned this week that I don’t need to see all the crap on Facebook, but I miss the contacts I have with my Facebook friends.  Did they miss me?  Probably not.

 

A Random Act of Kindness for 19 Days

A Random Act of Kindness for 19 Days

Have you heard of “The 19 Days”?

I recently learned of the greatest kindness and compassion campaign there has ever been…one random act of kindness, every day, for 19 days, October 5 – 26th!  Please read the story behind Avery and how her mom came up with this idea.

What grabbed my heart about this story is this how Avery’s mother took the loss of her precious daughter (Avery would be a 6th grader this year) to share and empower people to do kind things for others, like Avery would do.  After reading her blog I was impressed with her strength, her ability to be positive, and following Avery’s heart by keeping Avery’s kindness alive.  Let me tell you now, if I lost one of my kids I don’t think I would be able to do anything but struggle to keep my head above water and some days, I know, I would want to just sink to the bottom and be done!

The next thing you need to read is the post Avery’s mother wrote this summer (get some tissue) about what Avery inspired in Haiti. 

A spark has been lit under my butt and I am going to participate by spreading the kindness and compassion to the world!  The wheels in my brain are working and I am making plans for my 19 days!  Please join me!

I have more ideas and inspiration…

While my wheels were turning about what I am going to do during my 19 Days I started to read the book How Full is Your Bucket?  by Tom Rath  He has a wonderful website, click here.  My book club is reading this book for the month of October.  I live a sheltered life, so maybe this is all old news to most people, I am just learning about all of this.   The book was first printed in 2004!  This is old news!  When I did a Google search for “How Full is Your Bucket?” a lot of website and blogs are writing about it.  You can even find this stuff on pinterest!

I finished this book last week and I can see how the book  How Full is Your Bucket? and “The 19 Days” are very connected.  If you do or say something nice to someone you are a “bucket filler” to their bucket and your own bucket.  If you say something mean, hurtful or judgemental you are a “bucket dipper” taking away from both yours and their buckets.

When I was reading the book I thought of all my places of employment, all my relationships and of the certain people who are always filling my bucket.  I wondered if I could have filled more buckets when I was a supervisor and a co-worker.  I know I filled many buckets when I worked for Head Start parents and their children, that was one of my main goals.  I know I could be a better “bucket filler” than what I am today.  I have already started to change my ways.

While reading this book I thought every single person in this world should hear what this author has to say about the research that has been done in regards to positive human interaction – being kind and in-tuned to the needs of the people around us.  This information is useful for parents, grandparents, spouses, aunts, uncles, children, friends, teachers, employers, and employees.  Did I miss anyone?

Every single person on this earth interacts with someone.  Everyone deserves a full bucket!

The day I finished the book we had our boys’ school open house.  Guess what was on the wall!  Robbie’s 4th grade teacher, Mrs. B, has pockets for everyone in the class to fill each others buckets and to get their own bucket filled.  They have read the children’s version of How Full is Your Bucket? in class and are implementing it!  AWESOME!

How full is your bucket pocket design

The other 4th grade teacher used cups.  Two great ideas!

How full is your bucket cup design

Consider doing something wonderful for someone in the next 24 hours.  Fill someone’s bucket!

The littlest things can make a difference in someone’s day and maybe their life.

Fast Facts From How Full Is Your Bucket? website:

  • The number-one reason people leave their jobs: They don’t feel appreciated.
  • 65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year.
  • Bad bosses could increase the risk of stroke by 33%.
  • A study found that negative employees can scare off every customer they speak with — for good.
  • 9 out of 10 people say they are more productive when they’re around positive people.
  • Relentless negativity resulted in a 38% POW death rate — the highest in U.S. military history.
  • We experience approximately 20,000 individual moments every day.
  • The magic ratio: 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction.
  • Too much positive emotion? More than 13 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction could decrease productivity.
  • Extending longevity: Increasing positive emotions could lengthen life span by 10 years.

(For details and references, please see the print edition of How Full Is Your Bucket?)

Related articles:

Being a Bucket Filler! (learningandfuningradeone.wordpress.com)

http://www.theartofed.com/2010/07/22/how-full-is-your-bucket/

If you are on Facebook, “like” The 19 Days page.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-19-Days/520963567981575

They are looking for 2,000 “likes” and participation.

Photo: 2,000 likes. Is it possible...?

Will you participate in The 19 Days with me?

I would love to hear about your acts of kindness.

I am ready for a new blog name

I am ready for a new blog name

When I started this blog in January 2011 we had three boys, eventually I was hoping for a fourth. I struggled finding a blog name for about six months.  When “Life with three boys” came to my mind I knew it would be easy to change to “Life with four boys” when we had our next baby.

Things don’t always go as you plan. It took a little longer than I planned to conceive our fourth baby. When the fourth baby finally arrived in April 2012 I was in complete shock with the birth of our daughter, Nola Mae Margaret.  (Click here if you want to see the post I did after she was born)

Finally, sixteen months after Nola Mae’s arrival, I am ready to change the name of my blog from “Life with three boys”  to:

“life with three boys and a splash of purple”. 

Tractor kids 720

Thank you, Jack, for helping me with the photos!  And for helping me make and birth these babies of ours.

2012 in Review

Be sure to click on the link below to see all the stats.  It is very interesting!

Thank you to everyone who subscribes and visits my blog regularly!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for my blog.  Thank you for visiting my blog this year!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,400 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I am…

I am… (Not Just a Mother)

I love my job as a SAHM, and my interest are driven by that love.

But at the same time, I am able to hold onto many interests, and realize that there are still many things that make me ME, even if most of my focus is still on parenting my children.

I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Jenny. I’m a mom, but I am also many other things:

I am a gardener – I love flowers, apple orchards, raspberry and blueberry patches and vegetable gardens.  I love to grow milo (A.K.A. broom corn) and garlic.  The less lawn to mow the better!

I am a farmer – I should probably say “a-wanna-be-farmer.”  Currently I have a horse and a pet cow named Vanilla and 25 chickens.  I want less cows, but can’t part with my sweet Vanilla, and I want more chickens.  Maybe a steer or two this spring?  I love red meat but can’t buy it from the store!

I am a-wanna-be-soap maker – I have been making soap for over two years.  I completed my ninth batch tonight.  My success rate is 50%, kind of stinks!  I should clarify – 50% success means that the quality of my soaps were good enough for gifts or to be sold.  The other 50% was still usable for us.

I am a quilter – I love making quilts and hand quilting them.  Since I don’t have much time for that right now I sew  things that can be completed during nap-time or in the early evening hours.

I am a runner and cross-country skier – I have completed only two running marathons in my life and five skiing marathons.  I have plans to run every marathon in the state of Wisconsin and some in the bordering states before I die.  My skiing goals are to complete the American Birkie on my classical skis and to travel to Norway to ski the Birkebeinerrennet.

I am a reader – I read every night before going to sleep. I will read most books recommended to me by my friends.  I learned to love reading in my late teens, in my opinion, way too late!   I started a book club twelve years ago that meets every month.  I love my library.  I don’t have to purchase books because I can find just about any book I have ever wanted to read in our library system.  People who say they “don’t read” freak me out. It is as foreign to me as telling me you don’t like chocolate.

I am a grocery shopper – the only kind of shopping I love is for groceries.  When I go to a new town I love to find their local grocery store.  I love stores that sell bulk foods.  I love huge grocery stores and I love little ones.

I am a stockpiler of food and supplies – when something that I always buy is on sale I buy a lot of it (I learned this one from my mom).  Since I live in a small town and don’t get to the store or a larger town very often I make sure I never run out of the main staples for our meals and needs.  I can’t just run to the store for of a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread or toilet paper.

I am a cake decorator – I love to bake and decorate cakes for all occasions.  I love any excuse to decorate a cake even for silly occasions, like an ice fishing weekend with the hubby’s college buddies.

I am organized and my house is always trashed – cleaning is for the birds!

So there, ten things about me that are true, current, and have nothing to do with my children. Sometimes when I feel like all I do is take care of them, I remind myself that I have many things that make me ME.  Things that are true ALL the time.  I’m still ME, no matter what happens, and I don’t have to wait until my children are grown to remember that I still have my own unique personality.

Now that I’ve talked about me, how about you?  Feel free to leave a comment using “I am”, tell me a few things about yourself that have nothing to do with your kids.