Sunday, January 31, 2010

Project 365 - Day 31

Ellie was bored and made up a game to play with her siblings. In case you hadn't noticed yet, she loves art projects. :)

She made her own game board and used some little figures as the pieces. She even had cards that you had to choose if you landed on certain squares. The kids had so much fun. They had to do things like "dance like a chicken", "recite John 3:16", and "giggle".

She is so creative.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Project 365 - Day 30

When we finally settle down somewhere, I really want to get our piano fixed and tuned. Right now it's just a piece of pretty furniture. A shelf for the knick-knacks. Lexie practices on the electric one. I really love the sound of a real piano though. :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Project 365 - Day 29

I have had a bowl of candy out as we show our house.


We just keep eating it and I keep refilling it. That was not my intention.

I knew that there was a reason I never left candy sitting out. It's so easy to pass by and pick up a piece!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Project 365 - Day 28

What do birds eat in the winter? Leftover McDonald's.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Selling Houses is for the Birds

I have to say that this home-selling thing is for the birds.

Maybe I'm just going overboard on the house being perfectly clean every time we have a showing. I just can't bear to think of people walking through the house and scrutinizing it - and having it be messy.

It has really taken a serious toll on our school hours. We've had 3-4 showings a week for the past couple of weeks. Each time, I spend a couple of hours getting the house cleaned and ready - and it's usually at a time that we should be doing schoolwork. (ie. late morning or early afternoon showings).

Part of me wants to have all of our stuff picked up and we can just sit in an empty house until it sells. Then I wouldn't have so much "stuff" to pick up and clean and keep organized. We could focus totally on school and reading and hanging out. That sounds good to me!

We spent over an hour at Sears today, looking at new appliances. You don't know how much it makes me want to cry to be picking out gorgeous stainless steel appliances that I will only use for a month or two. The majority of the houses in our price range have them and we've decided that our very outdated cream colored ones have to go. They function, but that's about it. :)

We are also replacing the bedroom carpets (which at one point in time were white - not anymore).

Thank God for a huge tax return this year or we surely wouldn't be able to afford it!

I'm hoping that with these little upgrades, we'll get the house sold before we have to move. I REALLY don't want to be stuck paying a mortgage payment on a house that we aren't living in.

We still have 3 months, so I'm optimistic that we'll find a buyer. I just want to get it sold before we get down to the last minute though. Time is flying fast and it will be May before we know it!

Maybe I just need to get the house completely ready every night and then take off and do school somewhere else during the day - so that we don't mess the house up.

It's so hard to keep it really "ready-to-be-shown" clean when there are 6 of us sitting in it all day long. Too bad that it's the middle of winter and our options for places to go are very small. Actually, the only place I can think of going to do schoolwork is the library. Really. It's not like we can hang out at the lake or anything. :)

Well, we have another showing tomorrow, so maybe this will be "the one"! :)

Project 365 - Day 27

Katie :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Project 365 - Day 26

The sunset from my driveway. Very pink tonight. :)

Tori update

I took Tori in yesterday morning to have her frenulum clipped. I had been going back and forth about having it done. She was pretty tongue-tied though. I was afraid that she would have speech problems later because of it and I really didn't want to wait for it to happen. Mine was clipped as a baby - it's hereditary.

I had scheduled the procedure over a year ago, but backed out a few days beforehand. I didn't want to do with while Andy was gone.

My only thing that worried me about having it done now was that they had to put her under anesthesia. I really didn't want to do that. She's so big and wiggly now though that they couldn't do it without sedating her.

All went well and she was out for less than 10 minutes. She woke up without any crying and her mouth hasn't seemed sore at all. I know that it sounds funny, but I honestly think that she is pronouncing some of her words a little better already. I think that I made the right decision in getting it done now while she's so small, before any speech problems occur.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Project 365 - Day 25

She actually kept this piggy tails in for a little while. I can't believe how long her hair is getting!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Project 365 - Day 24

Lexie won first place for design in the AWANA derby races!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Project 365 - Day 23

This rose is sitting on the top of our piano, obviously gathering dust! Looks like I need to wipe it down. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010


I think that I'm finally starting to understand Photoshop Elements a little better. I can add a layer and do some minor adjustments. I'm learning a little bit at a time. I had fun playing around with this picture I took earlier today. I wish I had more time to spend learning all of this...

Project 365 - Day 22

Project 365 - Day 21

Tori and her crayons. She loves to draw now and concentrates so hard while she's working.

Cloud Land by Lexie

Lexie wanted me to post the coloring page she worked on this afternoon. It is Cloud Land.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tori's Masterpiece

I have finally given Tori the chance to use the crayons. She loves them! They kept her busy for at least an hour. I just have to make sure that she is strapped in at the table when she's using them, so that we don't end up with colored walls and furniture...
I have finally given Tori free rei

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Peacock

The Peacock
by Ellie Woods

"Open the box!" Princess Jahanara ordered, masking her brimming anticipation with her unemotional words.

Her father's guard rushed over to the teen princess, his size twelve feet clanking on the marble floor. When he got there, they young monarch was tapping her pink silk slipper impatiently.

"Hurry up!" she mumbled. The guard took his shark tooth spear and stabbed the top of the container, careful not to shish kabob whatever was inside. He pulled off the top of the sea-worn mahogany crate. An azure head slinked out, the top of which was dappled with silvery green and blue feathers.

His yellow eyes twitched and darted around, drinking in his new surroundings. He looked at the two people standing in front of him and cocked his head in exasperation. They seemed to be frozen, wondering where this strange beauty of a bird had come from, what distant land it called home.

The peacock slowly stood up and winced, his thin legs sore from the trip. Suddenly, the uniquely clad girl reached out and stroked his pride and joy, his marvelous train of tail feathers. Very distraught, he squawked in warning and flew up to a long silver pole with a yellow flag on it.

"Oh great! How are we going to get him now?" she said in exasperation.

The guard strolled out of the small villa where the bird had been delivered and shouted some orders to the servants working there. The poor servants, hoping to get a raise for fast service, shot to the king's villa, about a mile away. Soon, they arrived, all carrying large bags. The king's daughter raised an eyebrow when the items were laid out in front of her. A golden cage, a gargantuan watermelon, and a bowl of grapes.

The guard grinned slyly. "Do I have my lady's permission to catch the bird?"

The princess waved her hand carelessly as a signal to go. The watchman took the bowl of grapes and held it out to the bird. The peacock looked wistfully at the sweet fruit but restrained the ominous offer of enchanting food. The sentry grabbed the cage and grunted with its enormous weight. he placed it by a small window, where the princess sat every night and watched the sunset slowly fade into night. With his iron sword that never left his side, he sliced the watermelon in two. Its sticky juice ran down the table, like blood.

Jahanara slowly smiled, catching on to her guard's plan. While she placed a trail of grapes to the flagpole, he put a half of the watermelon in the cage. The both sat and waited, stock-still, until the bird was tempted to follow the trail. When the king of birds got to the watermelon, he rejoiced for so much food in one day! The guard and the monarch locked the cage and left the bird to adjust and eat his fill.

Project 365 - Day 20


I got Andy's W-2 this morning and had the taxes done an hour later.

When you're getting back a huge amount, it motivates you to get it done quickly. :)

We need this money to put new carpets in the house and to cover closing costs and possibly pay off part of our mortgage if we don't sell the house for enough money.

It would be nice to use it frivolously, or even to pay off some debt, but it looks like this year's return goes completely to the house.

Maybe we can use next year's return for something fun. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Project 365 - Day 19

From our yard.

Derby Races

Every year the kids do 2 derby races - one for Girl Scouts and the other for AWANA.

Last year, we were a little lazy and just let the kids color in their pre-cut cars.

This time around, Andy went all out. (at least for 2 of the girls - Kate couldn't make up her mind and just painted her own!)

Here is Ellie's pencil car:

And Lexie's Very Hungry Caterpillar:

Kate's car, with a Littlest Pet Shop fish as the driver:

None of them won a prize for speed, but Ellie and Lexie both won first places for looks. :) Glad they had Daddy here to help them!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Project 365 - Day 18

Kate, practicing breaking boards in Tae Kwon-Do

Project 365 - Day 17

After-bath glow.

I've moved off of the food themes, Christine. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010


This is our year for travel.

These past few nights, I've been starting to put together a loose itinerary for our trip this spring.

We usually don't plan our drives out. We just hop in the car and drive until we can't drive anymore and then stop for a few hours at a motel. I can usually talk Andy into stopping at some tourist attraction or another, but we rarely take our time.

This time, it's going to be different.

We have a full 30 days to make our way down to Savannah and we're going to meander our way there.

We will be stopping in Montana to visit my sister and Kansas to visit Andy's family. The rest is all vacation. :)

Here are some of the places that we're thinking of visiting:

Edmonton, Alberta (they have the largest mall in the world there!)
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Devil's Tower, Wyoming
Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota
Wall, South Dakota
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
St. Louis, Missouri (Gateway Arch and maybe the art museum)
Ft. Knox, Kentucky (they have a tank museum there that my husband is dying to see!)
Louisville, Kentucky
Mammoth Caves National Park, Kentucky
Niagara Falls, Lockport, Old Fort Niagara and Silver Lake, New York
Indiana County, Pennsylvania (for genealogy)
Hershey, Pennsylvania (We have to go on a chocolate tour!)
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Winchester, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia (Monticello)
Appomattox, Virginia
Lynchburg, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia (Museums and genealogy)
The Blue Ridge Parkway
Asheville, North Carolina (The Biltmore)
Great Smoky Mountain National Park (NC and TN)

As you can see, we are not taking a very direct route to Savannah.

I had been thinking about visiting New York, Boston, DC, and Philadelphia, but we decided to pass by the big cities this time and we'll make another trip to see them after we've been settled in for a while.

So, any other suggestions for places to stop? Anything that is close to this route that we just have to see??

I have never been East of the Mississippi before. I've been to Europe, but we flew OVER the East Coast. This is all a wonderful new adventure for me!!

And if that weren't exciting enough, I'm also going to be driving to Washington state and back in August for my little brothers wedding.

And we've promised the kids a trip to Disney World later this year.

In the past 3 years, I have left the Fairbanks area ONCE. We took one trip to Anchorage and Seward. Other than that, I've seen the same places, stores, roads, etc. for the past 3 years. I am SOOOOOO ready for this!!! :)

Japan with the kids

We studied Japan this past week.
Learned about the Japanese Tea Ceremony and drank some tea.

Made origami.

Learned about Hokusai.
The Great Wave at Kanagawa , c.1829

Ate with Chopsticks
Tried Sushi. Yuck! (that is only my opinion of course.)

Learned about Sumo Wrestling. Of course the kids couldn't believe the outfits they wear! There was a lot of giggling going on that day...

Colored pictures of Kimonos

Here are the materials we used. (Along with Story of the World and Mystery of History CDs)

Project 365 - Day 16

We were in charge of snack time at church this week. That meant baking lots of mini muffins...

Project 365 - Day 15

We have been studying Japan this week. Ellie cooked up some Japanese noodles for us to enjoy.

Project 365 - Day 14

Ellie was proudly chopping up vegetables for tacos.

Project 365 - Day 13

We always have tons of fruit in a bowl on the counter. The kids are free to take what they like when the want a snack. Now that we have been showing the house however, I have added some more colors to make it look prettier. I normally don't have lemons in my fruit bowl. :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Our house was on the market a total of 5 days when we got our first offer - can you believe that? I wasn't expecting someone to want it so soon.

They didn't offer enough for us to break even, so we have counter-offered and are now waiting to see if they accept it. If it goes through, we'll be out of our house by the end of February.

That means that we will be living in something temporary for 2 months. It's doable, but until I started calling around to various hotels that offer extended stay suites, I didn't realize that they won't allow us to get one room with 5 kids. The thought of having to pay over $3000 a month seems a bit steep to me. We're going to continue looking around and hopefully we'll be able to get into the temporary billeting on post, but I'm not sure that they let you stay for that long.

Things will work out, I know it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Car Schooling Tomorrow

Looks like we're going to be car schooling tomorrow.

This selling a house thing can be rough. I'm excited that we have 2 showings tomorrow, but that means that we have to be out of the house all morning. I think we're going to head to the library and then go swimming. That should keep the kids entertained.

I really do feel bad for them. We aren't total slobs or anything, but this past week I have been very adamant about keeping the house perfect. It can't be very fun for them. :(

I am thankful though. It just went up on the market and we have people looking. That's a good sign.

This isn't the best time to be selling a house - especially one that you have only owned for three years and don't have any equity in. It's kind of scary. We're setting aside our tax return to pay for closing costs, replace the bedroom carpets, and possibly pay part of the mortgage if the sale of the home doesn't cover it. I'm praying that everything works out and we end up breaking even.

Of course there are other concerns beyond selling the house.

What if we do sell it? We aren't leaving here until late April/early May. We would be homeless.

The thought of living out of a suitcase until we get to Savannah in June is a bit daunting. What do we take? It might be kind of fun though, living without all of our "stuff". I would get a break from cleaning a large house and keeping all of the stuff tidy and neat.

I'm not going to worry about it too much yet. I just have a lot of things going through my head right now...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Project 365 - Day 12

It was a little bit chilly out today.

"Gold Leaf" Pictures

Today, the kids painted pictures and added "gold leaf" to them. We used gold foil origami paper to get the same sort of effect. Ellie modeled hers after "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt and Kate decided to do a landscape scene.

Project 365 - Day 11

One thing we have a lot of during the winter is static electricity. I took this with my iPhone yesterday while we were out and about in town.

Nick's Cucumber

Yes, you read that right. Nick likes cucumbers. Loves them actually. He could eat them all day long. So, here is a picture of a cucumber.

Ellie is teaching him to write his name. Not too shabby for a 3 year old. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Project 365 - Day 10

I can't deny that we are addicted to books. We just can't seem to help ourselves. We are quickly running out of room though.

I sure hope that we aren't over our weight allowance when we move in a few months. Books are heavy. :)

The bad part is that this isn't all of them. There are 4 more single bookshelves in the bedrooms.

I think that when we build our own house, we're going to design our own library - complete with a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, window seats, and a secret door. I can't wait!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Project 365 - Day 9

As we prepare to sell our house, I haven't had much of a chance to take "artsy" pictures. Today, I went around the house, snapping photos of each room. Not very exciting, but it's all I have for now. Here is the kitchen.

Project 365 - Day 8

Wow, we were busy yesterday. Our house officially goes on the market this Monday, but we had our first showing today. You know what that means. We spent ALL DAY Friday cleaning. Which means we had pizza for dinner. :) Tori loves pizza.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Project 365 - Day 7

Poor Andy spent most of Thursday painting. And painting. And when he was done painting, he did some more painting.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Freaking out - just a bit

I am starting to get a bit nervous.

Our house was supposed to go on the market next Monday. We were going to spend the entire weekend decluttering and cleaning in preparation.

Then, someone wanted to book a showing - this Saturday!!! Luckily, Andy is taking the day off of work on Friday so that we can scramble to get everything ready.

I really don't like the whole home-selling process. It is a pain.

We aren't leaving here for another 4 months, but we decided to put it on the market now rather than let it sit empty after we leave.

So there is a possibility that if the house sells, we could be homeless for a while. But living in a hotel or apartment is better than paying a mortgage for a house that we aren't living in.

I am trying not to think about any of it too much.

Project 365 - Day 6

We had an early appointment this morning and then some time to kill before a class. I decided to take the kids out to eat. They had never been to Denny's, so I thought we'd try that. Chocolate chip pancakes kept everyone happy!! I am happy to say that they were all very well behaved. As we were leaving, I noticed this sign outside of the restaurant. Our Denny's happens to be the Northern Most Denny's in the world. I can believe that. There isn't much north of here.

Project 365 - Day 5

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I received a letter from Roza today, thanking me for the money that I sent a few months ago.

We're by no means rich, but I am grateful to be reminded how good we have it.

We have running water and a clean floor beneath our feet.

We have a refrigerator full of food and a comfortable home.

We have electricity and cozy beds.

My children have shelves and shelves of books and toys.

I don't think that Roza has any of those things and it makes me so terribly sad.

A portion of the money was to be spent on her specifically and the rest for her family.

She is beaming in her new dress and shoes, isn't she??

It really hit home how hard their lives must be though when she wrote that besides the dress, they had bought soap and buckets for hauling water. Can you imagine having to haul water in those buckets??

I only wish that we could do something more than a few hundred dollars a year.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Project 365 - Day 4

I've only hit day 4, and I can already tell that this project is going to be a challenge. I love taking pictures, but there are days when I don't leave the house and I really don't do anything interesting.

I made myself pick up the camera while my kids were playing with the Thomas trains and I took a few pictures. The more and more I looked at them, the creepier the faces on the trains looked to me. Maybe I'm just being weird.