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Saturday, May 30, 2015

An Update For Miss Metz!

I was thinking back today to some conferences in 2nd grade when we were told by Dawn's 2nd grade teacher that we need to encourage her to read more fiction. I have suggested through the years that she read more, but she always seems to gravitate to the non-fiction books about living things and places. She read every book in the Arthur Elementary library on aquatic creatures and many others as well.

Today I am posting an update for Miss Metz to let her know that this is what resulted from Dawn and my trip to the library this morning. She wasn't sure where to start looking so I picked up a few books that I thought she might like and started stacking them next to her. Thinking she would take some and leave some, I kept putting options on the pile as she read the front jackets to decide if the story sounded good to her. She is usually pretty picky.

To my surprise, we left with all but one of the books and she has excitedly put them in the order that she will be reading. She is about half way through the first one after spending the last hour and a half on the couch with her first book Deenie by Judy Blume. She has a couple of historical fiction books and a John Grisham suspense in her stack too. She told me this morning that she hates when the books end because there is always so much more that could happen to the characters and its hard to leave their stories.

Sounds like a reader to me. Ryan grabbed on to the John Grisham book and started that when I gave him the choice to go through all his school papers and sort them into keep and throw piles or read for awhile. Dawn did tell me on the way home she knew there were a couple in the stack she was going to show to Ryan. She was right, he got sucked in.

Then there is Matt. He was reading today too. He has six of his eight Barnes and Noble reading books done to complete their program and three Kernels baseballs colored in. Zach insists that he only likes to read in the afternoon and Stacey is at a sleepover so I can't report on their reading as I type this but Stacey always reads when given the opportunity and now with the new deal that you can get an extra video game time each day that you read for an hour, I am sure that Zachary will be reading more too.

What do we do on a chilly cloudy day at our house? Well, read of course!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Survivor Files: Schedule Your Mammogram!

A friendly reminder from this survivor to the ladies I love...schedule your MAMMOGRAMS!

(Two years ago today a mammogram saved my life!)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Last Day of 6th Grade...3rd Grade...Kindergarten

Today was the last day of school at our house. It is always fun to get up knowing that you only have a few short hours to be in school before the summer months lay before you. At least three out of my five woke up this morning feeling wonderful like that. The other two...well, we have learned that with 12 year olds...one out of three ain't bad!

Last day of 6th Grade

A little extra silliness

Last day of 3rd Grade and Kindergarten

Off he goes!
Soon an end of another year can go down in the history books and summer will begin. Then summer will end and a new school year will start. There is no stopping this cycle...I don't know if I will ever catch up to the speed at which my family is growing. But I sure am enjoying the ride!

To compare check out the first day of school pictures from these posts:
Matthew's First Day of Kindergarten
First Day of 6th Grade and 3rd Grade

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You..."

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might". That was a motto in my house and a good one that my dad would always repeat in our house so that we remembered to do our best, don't do a job halfway. Ecclesiastes 9:10 if there was one Bible verse the Bushlack kids knew, it was that one.

My children have been doing chores since the years when them "helping" me was more of a hinderance. When they knew that mom was doing things around the house, they were helping. Those were the days they wanted to help.

Ahh...the "good ol' days"! Now, we just want to get our jobs done so we can do important things. You know, like watch an episode of something on Netflix we have seen 50 times already, chat with a friend on face time, or wander around the house telling me that they are bored or hungry. There are other things that they do, and it isn't always as bad as all of that but my point is. HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL THEM...

  • how do fold the laundry?
  • how to put the groceries away?
  • how to straighten up their bathroom?
  • how to clean off and wash the table?
  • how to vacuum the floor?
  • how to sweep the kitchen floor?
  • how to brown the ground beef?
  • how to clean up their room?
  • what I expect a "clean" kitchen to look like?
  • and the list goes on...
It isn't that they don't know HOW to do these things. It is that they don't care to do them WELL. For example, I was putting the remaining dishes into the dishwasher before starting it and saw that the one who came before me and started the job put these caked on serving and mixing spoons into the dishwasher expecting them to come out squeaky clean. We had a talk!

These will not get clean. In fact, my husband did a wonderful presentation to all of them not long after buying a new dishwasher and getting complaints from them that THIS one doesn't work either! Oh yes it does...but a dishwasher (even a new one) does not magically make food particles disappear.

Oh how I wish that I had a video of my husband explaining how food is sprayed off of one item in the dishwasher and thrown around until it lands on a dish or utensil that wasn't that dirty to start with. They were all listening. I took note of that! They all said they understood. But a week or so later, this is what I find.

Lazy...lets face it...laziness. I get it too, I want the job to be done fast so I can get to the more interesting things in life. I actually told them this and they looked at me like "how could this be?" It was like an epiphany to find out that Mom doesn't like to do the dishes. (As if cleaning up the dirty mess of a family isn't what I live for). Don't get me wrong...serving my family is a privilege and a blessing but there are very few that love to handle the dirty dishes or stick their hand into that stinky sweaty soccer sock that needs to be unballed and turned right side out before it goes into the washer. I have my favorite things and my not so favorite things too ya know!

We all get lazy...this is just another good reminder for me to do whatever it is my hand finds with all my might. One of these days, they may just "catch" that concept and take own it as their own!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


It has been a few days since I have posted. I guess you could say that I was giving the world a little break, or maybe you could say that I was taking a little break. There is a lot of living to do and not a lot of time. I had a birthday you know and I have been enjoying the end of the year school activities around here. I will blog about a few of those eventually.

But today I will show my new outdoor project. I purchased a pot of succulents over the mother's day weekend and have wanted to plant them in a vintage birdcage to add to the decor of my front porch. Well, these are a bit big to plant in between the little bars of the cage so I headed to the library.

These great books reaffirmed what I had remembered learning about succulents. Most of them propagate very easily. Sometimes a leaf will just fall into the dirt and root. Woo Hoo! I found some old planting flats and filled each space with a little bit of dirt and started taking stems and leaves off to start new plants.

These will grow for awhile and eventually be sturdy enough and small enough to plant in the small spaces of the birdcage and then spread around the cage like I am envisioning.

I am a little excited about this and hope it works. Has anyone seen how much these beautiful hearty plants cost at the garden stores?  Can I hear a CHA CHING?!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBT: It Was A Marcus Welby Night in 1970

My mom was watching Marcus Welby, M.D. and if I had been born during the regular season, I would be able to tell you exactly what episode it was because on Amazon, they list the air dates. I tried once a couple years ago to buy the episode that aired on my birthday and have my mom over to watch together. She loved that show. I remember that much as a small child.

I ran into a problem finding the exact episode because the season ended in April, just a few weeks before I was born so it was a rerun the night I decided to grace the world with my presence. I ran out of ideas to figure out which episode would have aired on May 19, 1970. All I know is that Mom loved the show and I was nice enough to let her finish watching it before she had to go off to the hospital where I arrived not too long after midnight.

My birthday was yesterday and it was very nice. The kids cleaned a bunch the night before and told me not to do any chores while I was home during the day. No problem there, I had a couple of timely projects going on in my sewing room that needed my full attention so that is where I spent most of my day with great success.

Grandpa and I playing way back when

One thing that has been a relatively new emotion on my birthday every year is missing my grandpa. He sent out his last batch of birthday cards the day before he had his stroke. A couple months later he passed away. Grandpa had a sixth sense. He was able to send out birthday/anniversary cards exactly enough days before the event that the card would get there every year without fail on the birthday or anniversary. Every year since, I remember and smile but also feel a little sad when I open my mailbox on my birthday. I will always know that there is something missing. Grandpa loved us kids. He always let us hang around where he was working and was interested in hearing about what we were up to when we visited. Everyone should have people like that in their lives.

I have come a long way in forty-five years. I have learned a lot and have a lot more to learn. I am definitely blessed with the life God has given me. No doubt about that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Our Fourth Little Soccer Player!

I haven't caught Matthew in any pictures yet this spring so I thought I would share what I got this weekend at his practice/game.

Guarding the goal

Kicking with all his might

Relay with mom

Loving soccer
Soccer, gymnastics and wrestling are his things right now. Thankfully they are all at different times of the year. He is pretty young but all of the programs he is in emphasize the fun and for this very active boy, I feel blessed that he has a great outlet to burn off some of this energy! He is my most active child and my very best sleeper!

Monday, May 18, 2015

While We Were Away

Dueling Smokers

While we went north on Saturday, David and my brother-in-law planned a smoking day. Both of them have smokers now and there was plenty to smoke on our back patio. The whole neighborhood already smelled yummy before we left Saturday for Waucoma. So when we got home (later than planned) we ate some of the delicious smokiness!


David hit his ten year mark with his company this spring and they offered a few choices for gifts to pick from. He chose the smoker and has been looking forward to trying it out for awhile now! I loved the beef short ribs best I think. I didn't try the chicken yet but that will be later this week. He smoked some bacon for later and a lot of ribs.

I know that I could get used to this!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Road Trip to Waucoma

We don't really need an excuse to drive up to Waucoma but yesterday was my cousin Kalissa's bridal shower so the girls and I jumped into the van and headed north. First of all, let me say, this was the first trip without my GPS leading the way. I arrived in a timely manner and without getting lost.

David asked me with that look in his eyes on Friday night if we would be home late Saturday. I answered him with a "no" because this was a shower and we would stay a few hours, see her open gifts and head back home. It wasn't a "sit and visit" kind of visit. (I mention the "look" in his eyes because I know he doubted my words, not so much my intention, but he did look like he thought I had lost touch with reality.)

I am sad that I didn't pause to take a picture of the dish towels I embroidered before I wrapped them. I had all intention of doing so. After coming home from seeing my grandmother last month I was in the mood to embroider and knowing Kalissa's shower was coming, I thought it was the perfect thing. I am happy she loved them.

There is no days of the week on them. I told her it was because I didn't want her to feel obligated to use a certain one on a certain day, but the real reason is because I haven't embroidered in a long time and I wasn't sure if I could get all seven of them done before the shower! I did though and I am so glad that I opted for making something homemade.

I didn't take into consideration that this shower was being held at my aunt's house. Most of the time when we travel for a shower it is held at a community center or other public area. When it is in a home, it is a lot easier to hang out for longer and get into conversations with the other stragglers.

The girls came up to me about an hour after we got there and told me that Karl was going to arrive at seven and "could we stay til seven to see Karl?" I had told their father that we would be home by seven so we would have to see Karl another time because today we were here for Kalissa's shower.

Fast forward to about six o'clock (about an hour after we were going to leave) and in the kitchen sits me, the girls, my uncle and aunt, another visiting cousin and her girls and Craig and Kalissa and her sisters. That was when Karl walked in with cupcakes! He arrived early and the girls were thrilled to be able to see him! Karl has had a special bond with my children for a long time. He is patient and willing to spend his time doing almost anything with them even though he is grown up (I have heard my children say that or a version of that thought many times).

I knew at that point we would have to stay a little longer to catch up with Karl before we got off down the road. But then dogs needed to be picked up from Kalissa's house and Karl offered to take my girls and walk over to get the dogs. "Yes Mom, Please Mom, can we go for a walk with Karl and the dogs?" Of course...but THEN we are going to go home. "Okay, Okay, we will Mom!"

When Karl got back we talked for quite awhile longer. We haven't seen him for awhile and so it was nice to hear about his plans for a career in elementary education. I know any of my kids would LOVE to have a teacher like Karl. He will do very well.

Fast forward again...8:26 p.m. and three texts from David "ETA?" later and we were winding down our visit. It was my aunt, Karl, and the girls and I. I am thinking "Oops...I did it again"! I can't seem to head north without loosing all sense of time. Thankfully, my husband knows me better than I do and wasn't at all surprised when I walked in the door at 10:10 p.m.

He even greeted me with a smile and a hug! I really love him!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A First Time for Everything!

Ugh! It finally happened. I had heard of people running over their fingers with the sewing machine but it had never happened to me. That is until yesterday! What a great couple of days it had been sitting at the machine and cranking out some projects that I had planned ahead for properly and could complete before they were actually needed. That is a little unlike me!

The last square of the quilt I was working on and the blanket got caught on the edge of the tray. Pulling a little too hard, the fabric jerked and my thumb ended up under the needle. All I knew is that it happened. My other hand went right to the thumb and squeezed it tight. I didn't want to look at it.

When I did I was surprised to find that it was just a little prick, like when I stick myself with a pin or needle. Okay, not bad I thought. Then I went to reach for the quilt to straighten it out and I noticed the machine needle. Bent...It is hard to see from the picture but it was bent at almost a 45 degree angle! Reaching for my needles to change it out was when I saw the under side of my thumb. There was bleeding there too.

The needle actually hit my thumb nail first and then went through the edge of my thumb. So there was an entrance and an exit wound. That is when my stomach started to get a little queezy and as I was squeezing I could feel the pain.

Oh man! The last square to quilt and I did this!

Friday From the Heart: Proud Mom

I have blogged a little bit about band in the past. Ryan is learning the drums along with piano and baritone. Now he has added the trombone. Dawn is playing the clarinet beautifully and has now added piano to her instruments.

The Vernon 6th Grade Band got chosen to go to Des Moines and play for the IBA Conference this year. It is a pretty big deal. From what I know, they don't pick just any band. They auditioned by sending in a recording and out of all, they were chosen.

The kids gave a send off performance in the gym at the school before getting in the buses and heading for Des Moines. I was so impressed with their hard work, the concert was so good. I stood there listening and thinking back to just last year when the fifth grade band was a little painful. They all have put in a lot of hard work and it was so great to hear!

They performed in Des Moines at about three in the afternoon and then enjoyed pizza and bowling before heading back home. It was a great day for them and there were a lot of stories to share last night before bed.

I am one of those cursed people who can never get good pictures of my kids at concerts or activities. No matter what the event, I happen to choose the seat right behind the director or the emcee and don't have a clear shot of my child. But I did have the great program to share. It was pretty clever and entertaining as well as informative!

There are a lot of things I love about having middle schoolers in the house. Music is one of them!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

TBT: Seven Years Old in Heaven

Seven years ago today, had our third pregnancy been experienced like the others before it, we would have welcomed into our family a baby girl. Since having our triplets, we had planned C-sections that had been scheduled a week before the baby / ies' due dates. Because of where the weekends fell in May that year, we would have scheduled on May 14th.

By the time her due date had occurred that year I was able to accept God's will for our family although grief is never an easy road. Fast forward to today and I actually can smile, knowing that we will meet again. I like to imagine but more than that, I am thankful for this lesson of trust in our great Creator who knits us together in our mother's womb from the very beginning for a very sacred purpose. Amy's mission was short and sweet on this earth but it has made an eternal impact in the hearts of our family.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This Boy Needs a Dog

Zachary went on and on Monday night about how his teacher was going to be bringing her dog to school for a little bit on Tuesday. Well, yesterday around lunchtime I got this sweet picture in my inbox from her.

Fast forward a few hours and Zach comes home ranting and raving about how cool her dog is and how much fun they had with "Capone". I got online within minutes and started scoping out some sites that have dog adoptions. I thought I would see if David would consider a dog for Zach's upcoming birthday.

Met with an adamant NO, I am a little disappointed but not totally feeling defeated. I have found articles with research to show that dogs help autistic children develop socially and help them learn to care for another living thing. I also looked through the list of "hypoallergenic" breeds to see if any of those would appeal or fit in with our family. This is all good.

I don't know if it was just this great picture or what but he looks like a natural to me. He is my one out of the five who could take his role as pet owner seriously. David doesn't think so but I haven't told him yet that if I am wrong and Zach wouldn't step up to the plate, I am more than willing to pick up the slack. I wasn't ready six months ago but hearing Zach go on about dogs and watching him grow over the past year, I am ready to help him (and the rest of the children) develop new skills. Plus, on the up side, it would give him another thing to obsess over as summer is coming and the video games take center stage in his brain!

It's just a thought.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

This Weekend's Soccer Highlights

I picked my three favorite pictures of our soccer players from this past weekend's games and thought I would share. I wish that I was better at taking action shots! 

Stacey's flying ponytail!
Zach's determination
Ryan anticipating the ball

Monday, May 11, 2015

Thoughts on Motherhood

Following up on Mother's Day, today I will attempt to list twenty things I did not know about being a mother BEFORE I was a mother:

My first face to face meeting with
my firstborn...I am a mom!
  1. Free time? What free time?
  2. It is very frustrating to realize you have washed items of clothing that have not even been worn but have instead been thrown into the dirty hamper because that seemed to be easier than putting them in the drawer!
  3. Milk is expensive - and it can make you more angry than you ever imagined you could be when a whole cup is poured, two sips are taken and it is left on the counter overnight!
  4. Children are ALWAYS hungry.
  5. There would be times in my life when the love I have for my husband would war with the love I have for my children!
  6. There would be times I would offer to let my kid who wants to run away stay at home so that I could run away!
  7. There is no place on earth that I loathe more than the grocery store!
  8. Wet dirty boys smell just like wet smelly dogs!
  9. I can never have anything nice anymore.
  10. Children have a difficult time distinguishing between any type of ball and home decor.
  11. Children can not tell time, even after they learn how to do it!
  12. Messy looks a lot like clean in the eye of a child.
  13. God is available to give me peace 24/7 day or night!
  14. The passenger seat in the minivan is quite a hot commodity once a child is old enough to sit there on a trip. I could actually make money if I would charge them for a turn!
  15. White out does not come out of brand new Nike shorts!
  16. There is a natural remedy for almost anything and most of them work as good or better and are cheaper than a trip to the doctor for a prescription.
  17. Children are selfish creatures!
  18. I am much more selfish than I thought I was!
  19. Love covers a multitude of sins...theirs and mine!
  20. The lifeline to God's Word in the life of your child can reduce the stress in "me" against "them" kinds of conflicts.

Just a few thoughts that came out yesterday as I was surrounded by my children in their various stages of life. Motherhood is harder and a lot more time consuming than I ever knew it was before those little faces graced my days. My mom made it look much easier than it really is, or maybe she is just better at it than I am. As I sat next to her at dinner last night, I thought of how much more appreciation I have for all of the things that she did for me.

There is so much to do and so little time before they are off and making their mark in the world!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Making it Stretch

Ugh! Almost done but not quite!
I was finishing up a cross stitch project the other day and got so annoyed when I got so close to the end and ran out of blending filament. For those who don't know, blending filament is a lighter thinner thread that usually has some kind of property that makes the project just a little fancier. It could be a glitter or a sparkly sheen.

I had used this particular filament on two other projects long ago and thought when I decided to add a little pizzazz to this project that I would just use something that I had instead of going out and buying something new.

Found some scraps

I was blending it with some of the blue in the project to make part of it stand out a little more. If you see in the picture above, this is where I was when I officially ran out of my blending filament! UUUGGGGHHHHH! Not a happy moment. Good news is, I keep a small little metal container next to me every time I am stitching. I put all of my little ends and scraps of thread in it so that whenever I am far from a garbage can, I won't leave my trash behind. When my container gets full, I spread the contents outside around the house so the birds have small little lengths to use in their nests. It is a win win. ESPECIALLY in this situation.

What I found in my tin to work with...not much but
thankfully just enough!

See, If you look above, I was just a few crosses short of finishing the area that I needed the filament. The rest of the project was just the blue and I had plenty of that! Thankful for my little scrap tin, I dug around to find the tiniest of scraps of blending filament! Thankfully, I was able to finish this small area with two scraps (the longest was about three inches).

It took a little time and determination, but you can bet that I did not want to go out looking for matching blending filament for about 23 cross overs! I am glad that I keep my scraps and that I was able to use up something I already had on this project!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sore Fingers

Why don't I sit down at the piano anymore? 

Marrying a man who can sit down and play anything that he hears hasn't helped my piano skills. For many years I have just said to myself that David can play so I don't have to. No doubt that I can only blame myself for not keeping up on my piano playing.

This week I realized that I have really missed playing the piano. Maybe it is because I am tired of my children skipping their practicing all the time. I was thinking that maybe if I jumped back in and practice on a regular basis, I could be the good example they need.

Little did I know that it wouldn't take long sitting there with an old music book to realize that there was a dimension of my life that has been missing for some time. I decided I was going to start giving myself lessons so that I can get my fingers back in shape!

I have practiced three times since my first lesson earlier this week! I am pretty proud of my student if I do say so myself! I found a version of one of my favorite songs I played in my younger years and although "rusty" would be very kind way to describe my attempt to play this song, I was able to bring it back to a semblance of recognition. I am excited to keep working on it.

There has been a lot of emotion in my house this week. I forgot how playing the piano helps calm me and bring a little bit of joy to my day. I am thankful for that and I am going to use it for my advantage. I am done playing for today though, my fingers are very out of shape - but not for long!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday From a Broken Heart

I can't post a picture of Kristi and I together. I don't have one. In fact, when we lived close, I can't say that I did anything out of the ordinary to build a relationship with her. It isn't because I was rude or unkind, just because of where we both were in our lives at the time. I was newly married and had moved across the country from a place where I was surrounded by family and the people who knew me well to a place where I had one man to lean on and a whole new world of people and places. So to pick one out of the many who already had established relationships and history was hard and I was young and immature.
Pray for the Maxwell's!

Fast forward to us today. It was probably around 2009 when we connected on Facebook. My family had moved across the country back to my home and she was in Georgia. I remember when we became Facebook friends pouring over her pictures and trying to get to know her family. She was married now with four beautiful children. We sent small little notes back and forth, "liking" and commenting on each other's pictures like some on Facebook do.

The thing that made Kristi stand out among the Facebook friends on my list is that when I sent her a message or posted on her wall, she would respond. It is amazing how much you can share across the miles, especially when you have things in common and all of the "young and immature" grown out of you! It was exciting to go through a pregnancy with her and wait with anticipation for the first pictures of that sweet new little one. I too oohed and ahhed over that beautiful little boy. We talked of making sure we get together next time we visit Georgia.

There were a few times that I remember thinking how I felt like I know her so much better now than I did when we lived close. When she was diagnosed with cancer we shared some messages back and forth and I promised to be praying. She told me that she felt comfort in the fact that I knew what she was going through having recently gone through cancer myself. I was a little doubtful at the time not remembering nearly as much uncertainty in my journey. As her path continued to be laid out before her I was sure that I was running out of personal experience to pull from. But my admiration and respect only grew as I continued to check in with her and send her a few things in hopes to brighten her day.

There are a few very small things that I can shed light on having gone through cancer myself, but her experience left me in the dust months ago. I sit here now and think about how fast the hope in this life turned to acceptance in the last month. We had written back in December about a possible trip to Georgia this summer and how we should plan to spend time together introducing our families to each other. I think of that through tears right now because as I type, Kristi is in her last days at a hospice care center where they can give her what she needs for the pain. 

Those who are close to her want that pain to end for her. Those of us who have been driven to distraction praying for her and her family want that for her too. She has taught me so much, she has given so much and as I type I wonder how can this be happening? I am thankful for Facebook. I am thankful for the notes I can read through. I am thankful that she knows her Lord. I am thankful that she is in His hands and I am deeply and profoundly sad.

The last couple of months in my house have been calmer. My heart has been calmer, I have brushed aside the world's lie that things should be busy, busy, busy and that kids should be doing, doing, doing. My house isn't as clean as it probably could or should be. But, is there an update on the things that really matter? There certainly is!
  • There is less yelling from a frazzled Mom
  • There is much more talking to the Lord
  • There is more reading His Word
  • There is more patience for myself and for others
  • There is more laughing
  • There is more crying
  • There are more moments that are worth remembering
  • There are again more moments around the dinner table eating together as a family
  • There are better behaved children
  • There is more peace
  • There is more time spent on the things that matter
  • There is less trivial
  • There are more lessons learned
  • There is more love flowing through us all
What do I attribute this to in the Sloan home? Well, sometimes people come into your lives to teach you that one day there may not be a tomorrow. I think that is what God wants us to think about when he tells us in Psalm 90:12 to number our days aright. The question each day then becomes "How can I make this my best last day?" Because the truth is, cancer or no cancer, someday we all will wake up to our last day on earth. I can tell you from where I am sitting, I want mine to be a good one, WHENEVER it occurs. .