Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Life With 3, Plus You And Me

Our little family is 5 months in to being a family of 5. Appropriate time to reflect on being a family of 5, no?

So far three kids really has not proven to be that much more of a task than having two. Sure, there are more clothes to keep clean. Sure, my time is a bit more divided. Sure, there is often a baby in our bed come morning. Other than that, not all that much has changed.

Except that Kyle comes home from school so excited to make Keelee laugh, saying he really missed his brother and sister all day long. And Kaleb wants to show her every picture that he draws. And they literally fight over who gets to sit by Keelee in the car. Screw the window, they want to sit by the baby. They take diapers to the trash for me, they wipe her face when she urps, they read stories to her or sing to her to keep her content. They are amazingly wonderful in their big brother roles. Keelee is one lucky little lady.

As far as Larabee and I go, we are in a pretty good groove. He is so helpful to me in so many ways. Even after working a 12-15 hour day, he helps with the kids and the house. He makes my life easier when and where he can. He is a rock star.
We are busy with work, with our family, with friends, and with hobbies. It is a balancing act, but we are so very glad to have added this final addition to our family. She is a complete joy and we are all thankful to have been blessed with her!

Keelee Anne

Keelee has not made her appearance on the blog since birth. That is a total bummer.

On April 9, 2013 Keelee Anne Willey joined our family and we could not be happier! She is such a little doll and has such a sweet, content personality.

And see how cute she is?!

Catching up....again

I finally figured out how to write blog posts from my phone, which should not only make things infinitely easier for me but should also mean that I will actually quite some posts again!

Now I just need to figure out how to put in photos and then I will be golden!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Is Raising Children Like Baking Cookies?

Yesterday Kyle helped me make a batch of The World's Greatest Cookies. Since Kaleb had gone fishing with Daddy, Kyle got to help me with every step. I was able to set aside my own well-honed routine and allowed him to really take part in the process. Did it bother me that instead of carefully unwrapping the margarine and letting it roll off the wrapping into the mixing bowl without a mess he chose to fully unwrap each stick, grab it with his hand, and toss it into the bowl? Hell to the yes, it was all I could do to bite my tongue. Did it irritate me that every single ingredient I grabbed he stated "I can do that" instead of asking politely if he could do it? Yes! Most importantly though, did the cookies get done and did they taste awesome? Of course!

This morning I was laying sleeplessly in bed, unwilling to commit to getting my butt out of bed but also unwilling to admit that I was too uncomfortable to go back to sleep. As my thoughts wandered around in my head I had a thought that seemed to require more in-depth thought. Is raising children like baking cookies?

When you set aside time to back cookies you first decide what type of cookie you would like to end up with as your final product, right? Once you decide you want chocolate chip cookies, do you grab a recipe for peanut butter cookies? Of course not, you choose your go-to, tried and true family recipe for awesome chocolate chip cookies. Once the recipe is chosen you then simply follow the directions. You carefully measure each ingredient and add it at the proper time, taking care not to mix the dough to just the right consistency. You set the temperature of your oven with great care as well, knowing that getting the temperature right will keep you from either undercooking or overcooking an entire cookie sheet of yummy deliciousness. You space your cookies out in the sheet and, when the oven has preheated, you place them in the oven, set the timer for the absolute proper amount of time, and trust the oven to handle the rest. When the timer goes off, you remove the cookies, likely let them cool for a bit, and place them on a sheet to cool. If you are like me, you cannot resist trying one or two while they are still warm and fresh. And they are mostly perfection! A few here or there may be too done or not quite done enough, but they are all very good and you do not throw one own for slight imperfection. Let's face it; some people like cookies that are overdone or burnt. And some people like cookies that maintain a level of gooeyness because they were slightly under baked. My point is, there are varying opinions of what the final product should actually be, though they are all chocolate chip cookies.

When we make the choice to have children we are not able to simply decide what type of children we want to have. Even if science has come to the point that gender selection is technically possible, we do not have the option of deciding our final product. Most of us want to produce respectful, smart, successful, contributing members of society. So...where is our recipe?

Some parents believe whole-heartedly that they possess the recipe required to raise their children into the ideal final product. Actually, some non-parents believe in their recipes even more, which is a whole different blog post! What is your recipe? Is it one based in faith or science? Is it a combination of the two? Do you have a one-size-fits-all recipe for all of your children or do you have hand-tailored recipes for each child? What makes your recipe superior to mine, superior to that of your neighbor? Does my faith in my recipe give me the right to make you feel like your recipe is never going to work? Does your belief in your own recipe give you the ability to feel better than other parents about your own skills? Are you still searching for the recipe, believing it exists? Do you hold no illusions that a recipe exists?

All too often it seems that parents are in the Betty Crocker Cook-off, Parenting Edition. When are we all going to wake up and realize that everyone's ideal final product is different, everyone's recipe for achieving the ideal final product is different, everyone's recipe changes and requires adjustment over the course of hands-on parenting, and everyone is desperately trying to appear as if they know exactly what they are doing when they are simply learning through trial and error.

For me personally, I feel that as soon as I feel like I have a rough recipe figured out life comes along and changes it up for us. The recipe may work for a month, it may work for a week, but at some point it will simply stop working and the recipe will need to be tweaked...or thrown out for an entirely new one. I try really hard not to dole out advice about parenting to others who are in the trenches, though that is difficult because it is human nature to give others advice. When someone comes to me seeking out advice, I try to give it with the disclaimer that these are the things *we* have tried and are what works for us *most of the time*. I try not to give advice so much as I try to help people see another approach to a situation that they may not have tried, something that may or may not work but is worth a shot. I fail at this, I know I do. But please, know that I am working on it. When I ask for advice please do not say "what you should do is....", just let me know what you have tried and what has worked for you.

We are all in this together and it is not a competition. Let's help each other succeed.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Our Perfect Life"....And Other Blogger Lies

Life is just peaches and cream, isn't it? We wake up in the morning to the sun shining and birds singing, our perfectly perfect children asking oh-so-politely for a wholesome breakfast. We jump out of bed, our feet barely hitting the floor and we fawn over our children and whip them up a breakfast fit for princes and princesses. Our children never say anything rude or mean, they never fight, they never makes messes or throw fits. They are always clean and their clothes are never rumpled. Our house is basically a show house, no sign of lives being lived or memories being made, but by-golly it is ready for the photographers from Home Beautiful to stop by for a photo shoot at any time! We never have money problems, acne, aches or pains, issues with family, or fights with our husbands (or wives). Our husbands are perfect and only care that our every happiness is fulfilled. We do not have to try to keep up with the Joneses because, well, we ARE the Joneses.

This is what SO.MANY Mom blogs lead us to believe.

Please, someone gag me with a fork.

Let's talk reality.

Our kids faces are a mess, their rooms remind us of a natural disaster zone, our sink is occupied by dirty dishes we have no desire to take care of, we have baskets of both dirty clothes ready to wash and clean clothes already washed sitting on the floor....and we are not sure which is which, and we are always worried about something.

Life can be peaches and cream, but that is not how it is all of the time. Life is hard. Having children is hard. Just. Be. Honest.

It kills me when people blog about how much they love their children and how pseudo-perfect they are at parenting and showing patience....and then they turn around and whine on Facebook about their situations. Kids are work, or did you not get the memo? But you know what? Cherish it! Some days it is damned hard to cherish it, we all know that. Take the time to cherish your life and your children and make the most of it every day. And hold off on the perfect life blog posts please. Being gagged with a fork hurts!

And right now I am going to sit on the floor in the kitchen and put together a HUGE puzzle with the two little Tasmanian devils we call our sons, all the while leaving at least one heaping basket full of clothes to fold and a sink full of dirty dishes to be put into the dishwasher. Because that is how we roll.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Random Information About Yours Truly

If I could, I would sleep until 11:00 every single morning simply because I am a night owl and I seem to get my most restful sleep after 8 am.

My life is so different today than I would have ever pictured it 5 or 10 years ago. And I am humbly grateful for that.

I would really like to move out of the country, if only for a little while. Australia...maybe South America.

Having our first child scared me to death.

Having our second child scared me to death.

Having our third child is currently scaring me to death.

Being a Mom scares the holy living shit out of me. It is so much responsibility on so many levels.

I prepare an Arby's Roast Beef sandwich the same way I always have. I dissect it, put half the meat back on the sandwich, add ketchup and horsey sauce, put the rest of the meat on it, add more ketchup and horsey sauce, then put the top bun back on. That is the only way I will eat it.

The older I get the less I give a crap about what people think. Or maybe it has more to do with getting busier.

The older I get the more selective I have become in choosing friends. I am blessed with friends that have been by my side for...oh, 20 years. Those friends are simply family. I have friends I have met more recently that I would not know what to do without. If I am friends with someone it is because I genuinely want to spend time with them, not just because they are someone who lives close-by and the friendship is convenient.

If I could go work with the guys from Antique Archaeology every day I would probably be in heaven. That kind of stuff is in my blood and it is genetic for sure. Our boys will sit and watch "the junk show" (their term, not mine) all day long.

Even though it is not fancy and flashy I would not trade my engagement and wedding band for something more extravagant if you paid me.

I would, however, wear something awesome on my right hand!

I have a 'thing' for argyle.

I have a 'thing' for cookie dough.

I have a 'thing' for mushrooms sauteed in butter.

I genuinely love to cook, when I have the time.

I am sure I will think of more, but now it is time for bed!

Monday, February 18, 2013


Homeschooling. It is a topic that has laid on my heart for a long time. If I am entirely honest with myself, it is a concept that I have felt drawn to since before we even started a family. For some reason, a reason that is not entirely known to me as of yet, it is something that simply feels...right for our family.

Kyle is so much like me it is just silly. He has an extreme love for learning, is passionate about the information he is given, and wants to gain knowledge simply for the sake of knowing things. He is so much like me it is scary. There is rarely enough information to satisfy his curiosity and he has a wonderful ability to understand concepts on a very deep level very quickly.

Kaleb has a different way of going about things a lot of the time, but he is just as hungry for knowledge and passionate about learning as his big brother is. He sometimes prefers to learn by watching and processing what he is hearing rather than going the '50 questions in 60 seconds' route, but he retains information like Larabee does. I swear my husband's brain is a safe; he retains knowledge and information much more efficiently than I do.

I am a Mom just like any other Mom; I want my children to have the very best education they can. I want them to be well-rounded and knowledgeable on many subjects. I want them to be able to have intelligent conversation about those topics rather than rattling off a series of memorized facts. I want their education to have meaning above and beyond what the Government of the United States and/or the State Government deem fitting. I want their education to have purpose beyond a simple cookie-cutter education.

Perhaps homeschooling is the solution we are looking for. Perhaps it is not. One this is certain amidst all of the fretting; it will be a scary and exciting ride no matter what we choose!

I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions, and advice on the matter! Leave a message below if you would like; I generally do not bite!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Catching Up

I am still here. We are all still alive. I have just allowed the hectic lives we seem to lead pull my attention away from this blog!

I guess this post will be a simple catch up post. A lot has changed in the past year after all.

Things that have been going on for me in the past year.
  • I got a promotion at work.
  • I learned how to do a whole new job on top of what I already took care of.
  • I was very involved with Head Start program in Stanley.
  • I became an active board member for the Stanley Commercial Club. I love it!
  • My craft business has been growing and doing really well. I am excited to see how much more I can do with it!
  • I have made new friends.
  • I have strengthened friendships that I value.
  • I got my fish tank back.
  • I became known as the Fish Hitler by my husband because of how many fish have died on my watch.
    • (We have  terrible water for fish-keeping here, so it is a whole new learning process. Give me a break!)
  • I got my sewing machine(s) back!
  • I became an Auntie again!
  • I got news  that I am going to be an Auntie again this June!
  • I became a homeschooling Mom, though it is not really official just yet.
  • I am now a work-from-home, homeschooling, business-owning Mom. It is daunting.
Things that have been going on for Larabee in the past year.
  • He has worked a crap ton of hours per week every week that he has not taken vacation. A crap ton. That is a lot, by the way.
  • He has been given more responsibilities at work and is now a Foreman.
  • He went fishing every chance he could this summer. We ate lots of yummy meals thanks to his love/obsession with fishing.
  • He started taking the boys with him when he goes fishing. Both boys. Without my help. He is a superhero in my book!
    • I did go one time and it was fun, but I personally think we need a bigger boat!
  • He got himself back into the dog business. This time it is a bird dog and not a hound, but he is happy to be involved in a dog sport again. Penny is a Brittany Spaniel and she is just a great dog all around!
Things that have been going on for Kyle this year.
  • He went to Head Start 4 full days per week until the Minot head office closed down the program in Stanley.
  • He went to daycare a bit and while he liked it, I was unimpressed with the things he picked up in that environment. We pretty much decided daycare was not for us.
  • He learned how to swim entirely on his own with no floatation devices.
  • He got a bigger bike and is a total hot-shot on it.
  • He started Wee Care, a local preschool program.
  • He made the decision to stop going to Wee Care and to start homeschooling.
  • He learned how to read. Or, is in the process at the very least. He is doing really well and is a self-starter who never wants to stop doing schoolwork. I wonder where he gets that?
Things that have been going on for Kaleb this year.
  • He mastered dressing himself, even his socks!
  • He became a big boy...aka, became potty trained. That happened December of 2011, but it still counts.
  • He got a big-boy bike and learned how to pedal it like a pro.
  • He learned his colors, his ABC's, and how to count.
  • He learned that he loves to draw and color.
  • He went to daycare while Kyle was in Wee Care. He was the victim of a 'biter', and we were not that impressed. Again, daycare is not really for us.
Things that have been going on for our whole family this year.
  • We made the decision to add another little one to our family. We were originally going to try to conceive baby #3 in January, but we were unsure of what our futures held and decided to wait a bit. We held off until June and conceived in July!
  • We made the decision to stay in North Dakota for the semi-long-term.
  • We bought a home in North Dakota. Well, we bought it in Minnesota and moved it to North Dakota. It got here in June and we love the extra space!
  • We traveled home to button things up and put our home on the market. Going home solidified our decision to stick it out in North Dakota for a while. We spent two great and busy weeks at home and enjoyed ourselves a ton.
  • We conceded that 'home' is now more North Dakota than it is Idaho. At least for now.
  • We built a shed and a fence and skirted our new home. We worked sun up to sun down for months to get everything done before winter.
  • We found out that we are having a baby GIRL!
  • We freaked out when we found out we were having a baby girl!
  • We are so excited that we are having a baby girl!
  • We had a 'gender reveal' at the boys' birthday party. The boys and everyone else were shocked that baby #3 is a girl, though Kyle will tell you he knew all along.
  • We got to celebrate Christmas in our new home. Our first 'real' Christmas ever, complete with a tree and an elf that visited the boys for the month of December.
I am probably forgetting more than I wrote. I guess that happens when you never update your blog. I am trying to be better. Honest.