Funny Stuff from the Kids Today

On the way to Mass today, Molly was bragging to her sisters about how much money she had. I reminded her that any money that goes into Church will be given to Father (in the collection basket). Molly protested, “how come all the grown ups take their purses into Mass and they don’t give all their money to Father?”

Jake is into EVERYTHING. He loves to unroll toilet paper and throw things in the toilet. He loves to dump all the books off the bookshelf. He loves to empty every tub of toys we have. But most of all, he LOVES to get in Red’s food & water bowls. I would seriously be living large if I had a quarter for every time I’m saying, “Jake! Get out of the dog bowls!” So today when we brought home a new set of dog bowls for Red, why was I surprised when the first thing Jake did after JR brought in the new bowls was crawl over to the box & start ripping it apart to get to the shiny new dog bowls!



My Weekend with the Andrews Family (by Chester)

Let me introduce myself. My name is Chester and I am a special friend of Mrs. McCauslin’s Kindergarten class. I am from the book The Kissing Hand. Each weekend, I get to go home with one student and they show me what their family likes to do on their days off from school. I’ve had a great time meeting all of the families and going on all kinds of adventures. This weekend, I went home with Olivia and visited the Andrews Family. Olivia’s mom picked us up from school in the car line. We called her dad to tell him that I was visiting for the weekend. He couldn’t wait to come home and start the fun! On Friday night we had a simple dinner & made plans for the rest of my visit. Olivia made me the cutest little bed next to hers out of a little box. She borrowed one of her brother’s blankets and let me use her pee wee unicorn pillow pet just like the big one that she sleeps with!

Olivia told me that her family really likes to be outdoors. She really would’ve liked to have taken me camping, but it was going to be too cold for her baby brother, Jake. She told me she would teach me one of their favorite games called geocaching instead. Olivia said it is a real-world treasure hunting game where the players try to locate hidden containers, called a “cache” using a GPS-enabled device like a smartphone. First thing Saturday, we piled into her van and headed out in search of our first cache. Olivia carried me in a special backpack like her mom uses for her little brother. It was great! The first cache was hanging in a tree. Olivia’s dad lifted us up so that she could knock it down. It was a “mini” and had a slip of paper for us to write our names and the day we found it. We drove by a second cache on the way to lunch, but there was a man working in the yard nearby. Olivia’s dad said we would have to come back another time so that no one would see us find the cache.

Since we were out geocaching, we decided to try a new hamburger joint (Hat Creek Burgers) that Olivia had heard of on one of her favorite shows – The Daytripper. Olivia’s dad got a Big Hat (two patties) with grilled onions, and everyone else got a little hat. Olivia’s mom wanted grilled onions on her burger, too, but as soon as Olivia saw them, she wanted them on hers so Olivia’s mom traded with her. I haven’t met very many kids that like onions, but Olivia said that the cooked onions are sweet. We got milkshakes for dessert made with Blue Bell ice cream. They were delicious!

The next thing on our adventure list was hiking up Mount Bonnell, the highest point in Austin. Olivia & her sisters took turns helping me up the mountain. There were some great photo spots at the top. Check out this picture of me & the Austin skyline – pretty cool, huh? We decided to take the trail back down to the van and Olivia and I had fun hiding in the forest. We were excited to find another cache after that. This one turned out to be a little harder to get to. Olivia’s dad had to climb a light pole to get it down. It was a bigger cache and there were little treasures inside. We each left something and took home a new treasure. Molly took a marble, Violet took a small football & Olivia got a red bouncy ball to share with me. We drove back by the cache that we tried earlier, but the man was still working in his yard! Olivia’s dad found another cache nearby that we could try. This one was called a “micro” and it was really tiny. It was hidden in a hole in the tree and Olivia found it.

Olivia’s dad went to China last year so the family decided they should take me out for Chinese food for supper. I even got to eat with chopsticks! After dinner, we opened our fortune cookies and Olivia’s said “He who seeks will find.” We thought that was the perfect fortune for a geocacher. What a great day!!

On Sunday, we woke up to a fancy breakfast made by Olivia’s dad. Then we headed off to Mass at St. William’s. We saw a lot of Olivia’s friends from school – Addison, Kennedy, Shane, Connor, Mary, and Reagan. We even saw the other Chester who was spending the weekend with Connor!! I got to meet Fr. Dean and we all took a picture together.

After lunch, I decided I wanted to make a treat so Olivia’s mom helped us make Fancy Fruit Tarts. We rolled out the dough, cut the tarts, and baked them. Then we filled them with vanilla yogurt & berries and

ate them with tea. They were really yummy! I asked Olivia if we could go geocaching one more time before I had to go back to school. Olivia’s dad found two caches right by our school – it was so exciting! The first cache was behind the school near some trees and the second one was in front of the school hidden near the trunk of a tree. We got some dinner and headed back to Olivia’s house for bedtime snack, prayers & lights out!

I had a really fun weekend with Olivia & her family. I am excited that I will get to come back to their house in a few years when Molly, Violet & Jake are in Kindergarten!

Math Problems

Everyone is getting ready to crawl into their beds. It’s been a long day and due to Daylight Saving it is an hour later than usual.

Olivia: “But I want to go get my Care Bears from the living room.”

Jenny: “You have two seconds to go get them…. One. One and a quarter. One and a half. One and three quarters.”

Olivia: “Mommy, I don’t even know what fractions are!”

Busted! But now the mystery is how she actually knows what fractions are…

Jake at 7 Months

Jake is really coming into his own these days. He’s crawling all over the place and even stood up by himself next to a shelf. He also has two teeth, is eating solid food, and is always starving – or so he acts. We think he is a handsome little guy. Take a look for yourself.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

You know how you have one of those days where nothing goes right? I’ve had a lot of those days in the past few years. Yesterday, however, was not one of them. I got up with Olivia & Jake early enough to get them both fed & do Olivia’s homework, make her lunch & send her off to school on time. And then instead of getting lost in the world of the internet (like I did today), I went straight to work getting Molly & Violet their breakfast and getting them dressed for school. I made their lunches and even did their hair cute before I showered and got ready myself. We headed out to the van with time to spare and it was really nice not to be hollering “hurry up” at anyone. On the way to school, my tire pressure indicator lit up on the van. I called JR and he said to check the pressure & keep an eye on it. We had noticed a cut in the tire tread up into the sidewall over the weekend while JR was washing the van (and I sat in a lawn chair & watched). It wasn’t leaking, but we knew it would have to be replaced before long. I was in & out of school in record time and over to an abortion clinic to pray for an hour as a part of the 40 Days for Life campaign. I’ll have to write more about that later, but it felt good to stand up & be counted on the side of life. Jake & I came home to do some business work (or in Jake’s case, take a nap) and eat lunch before heading back to pick up the little girls. They had a great day and were happy to see each other & Jake. We had a half hour to play before it was time to go pick up Olivia. Wow, I thought, this is really turning out to be an awesome day!

So we drove up to school (about a 10 minute drive) and got in the car line to pick up Olivia. There was an unusual gap in the line, so I rolled down my window to see if I could hear the other parents talking about what was going on. I didn’t hear anything and then all of a sudden the gap closed and we were all moving. Except that when I pulled forward, I heard flop, flop, flop and I knew that there was no air at all in the tire. As luck would have it, our spot in line was right next to the driveway to the office. It is marked off with orange cones because you are not supposed to park there (it is for emergencies only). I figured this would qualify and pulled out of the way so that the other parents could continue on in the car line. I got out of the van and saw that the tire was indeed totally & completely flat. I called JR at 3:14 and said that we had an emergency & the tire was flat. He was in his truck on his way to a doctor’s appointment so he rescheduled his appointment en route to save us. By 3:53, he had changed our tire and was calling Costco to make sure they had replacement tires in stock. Long story short, it took 39 minutes for JR to get our call & resolve the whole matter! For the longer version, keep reading! 🙂

This is the part of the day where I started to pinch myself – could we really have a flat tire and things be going SO well? When we pulled off to the driveway for the office, the assistant principal stepped up to the van to see if we needed something. I said that we had a flat tire and she said she would walk over and get Olivia and bring her back to me since she saw that Jake & Violet were asleep in the van. By the time she got back with Olivia, they were all awake and needed to the use the restroom so since the assistant principal was there with all her keys, she let us in to use the restroom. Then we set out the picnic mat under the tree and since it was only 90, we sat comfortably in the shade & waited for Daddy. When he arrived, he quickly went to work. He had stopped at home and picked up a jack & the air compressor (which turned out to be a very wise move since the spare was flat). Before long, he had the spare tire out and faster than I thought possible, he was completely done. I did snap one quick picture on my phone that I’m glad to have. I wish I’d gone around to the other side to take a picture of the flat tire and JR putting on the spare, too.

I drove the truck with the flat tire in the back on the way over to Costco and thought to myself how well JR embodies the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared.” He wasn’t a Boy Scout, but I have never met someone who is ready for anything like JR is. And he just loves to save the day like that – he couldn’t have been more cheerful when he arrived and didn’t even break a sweat changing the tire. He really thought of everything. When we got to Costco, the tire center was ready to work on the van right away. They had a special on tires which was only good for a few more days and we got $70 off the set. JR had them rotate the tires on the truck, too, since we were there & waiting anyway. We had time to kill in Costco and found the Christmas tree I’ve been wanting for 2 years (there were issues with stock in the past). Since we had the truck, JR said he would buy it for me & put it in the garage until Christmas (fyi, filling the garage with “stuff” and storing “stuff” for months before we need it are usually not on JR’s good list). So, in a matter of hours, JR had the whole issue wrapped up and we were ready to go without a single inconvenience. I was even home by 5:30 to make spaghetti for dinner, as planned.

Mrs. Fox: You know, you really are… fantastic.
Mr. Fox: I try.*

By the way, honey, there is something trapped in the chimney. Seriously. We look forward to your quickly resolving that matter as well. I really love that I never have to worry about these little challenges – and with us, there is always something, right JR?

*Excerpt from the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox.

7 Quick Takes (Take 13)



Where does the time go? Seriously, it is absolutely crazy that Jake is 6 months old today. I had so hoped to write a beautiful, long post about how fabulous he is – because he is just the most adorable baby boy that ever lived – but life does not slow down much for us anymore. So here’s the clif notes: Jake makes everyone smile. He is adored by his sisters, as expected, but even strangers stop to comment about how sweet natured he is – and he is! He sits up and is getting ready for crawling. He’s eating solids now – pureed sweet potatoes, squash & pears. He was dying to join family dinners and is super cute at the table. Only problem is the fight over who’s going to sit next to him. He has his well check on Monday so I will update with his current stats, but he is putting on weight and filling out nicely in the last couple months. I think Jake’s best feature is his smiles. He hands them out generously, but they are just so big & so bright that no one can resist smiling back. We really need to update the photo album …


Molly & Violet both had birthdays recently. We had a joint party at a sprinkler park when it was like 110, but it was still fun. Molly turned 4 and is really seeming grown up lately. She started back to preschool and is very happy with her teacher & classroom. She already knew most of the kids, so that helped, and her teacher is very sweet. Molly’s presents from mom & dad were a critter car and a puppy game (at substantially reduced prices, thank you very much!). Both have been a big hit. Violet turned 3 and is in that stage where she is sometimes a little girl and sometimes a big girl. This is her first year of preschool (two mornings a week) and she is doing pretty well, but still not so sure about the whole idea. I haven’t quite figured out what we’re doing with naps so that has made things a little harder for her – we miss our happy girl – I need to figure out how to get her some extra sleep. She got a critter camping set and some magnetic pattern blocks for her bday, which she has enjoyed. The gap between the two little girls (12.5 months) is really seeming smaller & smaller as time goes on. They wear almost the same size clothes & shoes and have almost identical interests. They make really good playmates and enjoy one another’s company immensely. I’m happy they have so much time together.


I did an on-line assessment with Olivia on the 5 Love Languages recently. She scored highly in Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, & Physical Touch. It was a good reminder for me that while Words of Affirmation are the most natural to me (as they are my love language) and Acts of Service are the most common ways I show the children I love them, it is the other three categories that draw her attention. And it makes sense that for a child it would be the joy of a gift, the special attention of a parent, and hugs & kisses that reassure them of our love. With Olivia gone to Kindergarten this year I am trying to find ways to make our limited time “quality time” and I’m trying to work in some more of the things that will really speak to her. This has been challenging, but I know if I can make some good habits we will see the fruits.


As for Kindergarten, Olivia loves it. She is the perfect personality for school and has so enjoyed all the fun activities & themes so far – she has a very creative teacher. This week was all about apples and today they made applesauce. She said it was delicious. She is also  the class meteorologist this week (and that is really what they call it). As she describes it, her job is to “go outside & check the weather. Then tell the teacher if it is cloudy, sunny, rainy or cold. Then you color it in and she will ask you some questions. Then the whole class will sing the weather song.” I’m guessing this would be a harder job if you didn’t live somewhere where it is just HOT HOT HOT everyday of the year … at least she is excited about having such a big responsibility. She told me last night that they ran out of sunny cards already and they had to make new ones, but she was excited because one day this week she reported “cloudy” – the first time it was on the board! Too bad she didn’t get to say RAIN! A lot of people have asked me how I’m doing with Olivia going to Kindergarten. I read a quote recently that pretty much summed it up:

I must admit that it’s a challenge to accept that things will never be quite the same again and that that’s the way it’s supposed to be.


One of the fun ideas we’ve had recently is doing ‘rainbow lunches’ with Olivia. She & I came up with the idea to color code her lunches to add some interest & variety (I think I read something about that on Aubrey’s blog awhile ago to give credit where credit is due …). It has been fun! It got me thinking about something else I read recently. Something to the effect of being intentional about the things you do in front of your children. Those are the things they know you do. So when they are around are you doing the things you want them to model (even if there’s not anything particularly bad about what you’re doing?). I decided it goes back to those 5 basic things I used to write that I was working on – the 5 things that make me a healthy person (that will also make them healthy people) – eating healthy, exercising, praying, sleeping well, and taking care of myself. I have gotten much better at those things, but not much of that takes place in front of the girls. I think that is something I’d like to work on – rearranging when I do things so that they see me doing the things I want them to do, too!


I have been reading 10 Prayers that God Always Says Yes To by Anthony Destafano on & off over the last few months. I picked it up the other day and read Chapter Chapter 6 “God Give Me Peace.” Destafano states:

Before Christ completed his mission on earth, he took the time to roll up his burial cloth and put it neatly in a corner.

I have been pondering it ever since … why would he have done that? It speaks to another thing I am still working on, still trying to grasp … I like this series about wonder & order … but it is all still theoretical for me … taking baby steps in the right direction perhaps … but how does one create a world of order with 4 little children in a tiny house … and yet how do we not go crazy living in chaos?


And I’ll close with a few funny things the girls have said recently. Yesterday I came into a room to discover Jake with a 2-inch scratch on his arm. How did this happen, I asked. Molly piped up “Maybe that is just the way God made him!”

While using my terribly neglected sewing machine to repair a doll stroller seat, Violet looked at me suspciously. I realized she had never seen the sewing machine (and not just because I don’t do it in front of her, but rather because I don’t sew anymore). Finally she said, “Do you really think that is going to work?” She was stunned & thrilled with the results!


Bonus randomness! I’m looking for a few things so if I loaned you my Happiest Baby on the Block book or Salsa DVDs (Spanish education videos, not dancing!), please let me know! Thanks.

Hope you enjoyed my 7 Quick Takes – be sure to visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary for links to more 7 Quick Takes Friday!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Happy Birthday Violet!

For Violet’s birthday we decided to go down to SeaWorld in San Antonio for the day. First thing we had to do was buy a pass for her since only two and under are free :-(, but it was worth it. We got there about half an hour after they opened at 10:30 and went over to the dolphins. After putting on our sun screen it was time to feed the dolphins and boy were they happy. They let would have let us pet them even without fish to feed them, but they ate the fish anyway.

After that we went through the aquarium. Ate lunch. We had picked up Subway sandwiches on the way so we ate our picnic lunch on the benches outside the park. Then it was time for some rides, but first the height check…

So Livy and Molly could definitely ride the Shamu Express and they did.

Livy is already a “no hands” kind of rider. Molly went with it for a while. They loved it, but since Violet couldn’t ride we had to do something for her. So next was the carousel.

And of course she rode the purple pony. 🙂

After that, Jake needed a break so the little girls stayed with Mom at the sprinkler park while she feed him. Livy and I went off to find the “Journey to Atlantis”. I thought it was the huge “log ride” roller coaster which splashes down in water. Sure enough it was. Was she scared?

From Violet’s Birthday at SeaWorld

Needless to say she was not. She went no hands the very first time. And since there was no line we doubled-down and went twice. Then back to find the rest of the family. That was cool enough that we had to see if Molly was tall enough. From the original height check it looked questionable. We found them and Molly was game. Mom, well she had to be coaxed a little but eventually she said that if Molly went with me once, then she would go with them. And we were in luck, Molly was just tall enough. Jenny didn’t get a chance to go right then because we had wait for a boat (not ours) to get ‘unstuck’ at the top. That didn’t phase Molly at all though. She held on, but just like Livy, there was not a hint of fear; just screams of joy. (Sidenote: I love how kids have no fear. No doubt that they can do something unless someone tells them they can’t or they should be afraid. And that isn’t going to be me.)

Then it was time to hit the last Shamu show and we went all in and sat in the “splash zone” at eye level with the water. The show was wet, cold, and salty. Yeah, Shamu is serious about his splash zone. It was great. Then off to see the penguins, sea lions, and otters before circling back for Molly and Livy to take Mom on “Journey to Atlantis” a couple of times.

Then back home, but not before hitting Rudy’s for some bbq for dinner. Overall, Violet was very pleased with her birthday. At least it seemed like she had a better time than her birthday party at school.










Maybe not the best day ever …

As noted with my optimistic post yesterday, things started out pretty well on the little girls’ first day of preschool. Violet was a little apprehensive about my leaving, but not too bad and just a few tears, which I considered a success. I went to the parent meeting and then a dentist appointment and a quick run to the uniform store for Livy. What a productive morning, I cheered for myself. Now on to a leisurely lunch date with my best little buddy. And then JR called and asked if I was at home. Since I was out running errands, he told me to go home & pick up Red because there was a fire on Parmer near Riata. What a strange & eerie feeling it was to drive toward home with fire trucks racing past me and smoke coming up from the general vicinity of our house! Very sobering. Thankfully, for me, when I drove through Riata toward our house, I realized the fire was at least a half mile, if not a mile, from our neighborhood. I was confident the fire fighters would keep it at bay. However, just this morning I found out how close the fire was to a friend’s house – just one block away! Her story reminded me of the time there were bank robbers on our street – the kind of experience you will never forget. Our power was out for the afternoon, but I was reminded how nice it is to have your water & electric separate in the city (on the farm, the well is electric so if you are without power, you are without water as well). I’m so glad my friend’s house was spared. I have learned from my parents’ experience that not only is there the mourning of things lost in the fire, but there is also the full-time job of re-establishing a household. Yes, houses & things can be replaced, but it takes a lot of effort to do that. My heart goes out to the nearly 600 families in the Austin area who are just starting down that road this week … I can’t believe how many have lost so much … and sadly, it can no longer be said that there were no lives lost in these fires. May God bless those families who have lost what cannot be replaced.

Best Day Ever!

The girls have been watching a little too much Phineas & Ferb, I suppose, but I decided to pop online this morning and say that today is looking to be a very good day!

1. The weather is COOL (currently 66 – I kid you not!!).
2. We can hear the drum line from the nearby HS practicing while we get ready for school.
3. Violet goes to her first day of school ever today! More on that later – I can’t believe all of my girls will be in school this year (even if it is only two mornings a week)!
4. One of our dearest friends is having a baby today!
5. We have Violet’s bday to look forward to this weekend.
6. The high is a meager 90 for today – and 88 for Friday – I kid you not!

However, there are serious struggles with fire in the area so please pray for the fire fighters and the families who have lost their homes. Strange to be able to say, I know something of that loss… We were sad to learn that 2/3 of our favorite State Park were burned, too. Thanks be to God, there have been no serious injuries or loss of life in the fires near Austin.