digging up some dirt.


When we moved from Iowa, we left behind a tiny but mighty garden.

I loved that garden.  I still miss that garden.  Not that I'm really proficient at, or even all that passionate about gardening.  By August every season, I'm kind of just over the maintenance of having an extra child to bathe and pick the bugs off of. 

But in March, I'm not worrying about the bugs or the watering or the idiocy that is planting cucumbers yet again, even though I HATE cucumbers and never get around to pickling them to make them even remotely edible.  No, in March, my hopes are high.  With seed catalogs and graph paper in hand, I start foaming at the mouth to start pretending winter is over and that green will be coming back into my life soon.  I feel the stirrings of some kind of agricultural maternalism - I am woman! I will bring forth life from the womb of my backyard!  I will nurture and water and mama-monkey the bugs off my baby!  This year, I WILL!

The first year we lived here, we didn't have a garden at all.  Last year, we installed raised beds when I was 38 weeks pregnant, so even though I planted a few things, I knew all along that I had other competing and more pressing maternal matters at hand, and that I likely wouldn't commit even the normal amount of apathy to the endeavor.


This year I have garden beds, and amended soil, and a wide-open summer on the schedule.  I have older kids who will help me plant and water and pick and eat. 

The other day, we did our first garden work of the season: clearing the straw off the beds, turning the compost into the soil, and planting a few cool-weather seeds.

This year is going to be different.  I have high, high hopes, friends.  Now, who wants to give me a high-five in solidarity?

the riot and the dance.

We haven't always had TV in our home.  I mean, kind of.  But then again, kind of not.

When Todd and I were first married, and living in an apartment that boasted free cable (and an actual meth lab two doors down the hall, etc.), we had alllllll the channels.  Of course, I used that privilege to watch endless episodes of Friends and Scrubs on syndication while Todd was working his interminable overnight shifts.

When we moved to Story City and the cable didn't come free and we were dirt-poor, we scrapped the cable.  In fact, that was also right around the time that antennae TVs stopped working and you had to get one of those special boxes to even get the free basic channels.  We didn't feel like exerting the energy necessary to figure that out, so we basically watched endless VCR-recorded episodes of Cheap Seats on a massive, ancient, brick of a television set Todd got in the mid-nineties.  The kids had a couple Yo Gabba Gabba DVDs, and I also had all ten seasons of Friends on DVD because, "How do I live without Friends, I want to know..."  I have no idea how someone would go about that.

When we moved to Cedar Falls, we didn't even have a place to hook up the TV, so we watched a lot of very tiny Netflix shows on a very tiny laptop in the living room.

When we got here, we were blessed with a giant family room in the basement, with a giant sectional, to fit our giant family... and a big ol' blank wall where a TV ought to go.  But The Brick had been jettisoned in the move, so we continued to watch shows on the laptop, which was getting harder and harder to crowd around as our family grew.

And then last Christmas, Todd's parents gifted us a TV.  A real TV that hangs on the wall.  A TV that can stream Netflix.  A TV large enough for all of us to see from the sectional.  It has been, well, glorious.

I tell you all this backstory as a wordy way of getting to this point: we have spent some of our family time lately watching nature documentaries together on our slammin' TV, and loving every second of it.  So when we heard about a Creation-perspective nature documentary being released called "The Riot and the Dance," we were really excited. 

It was showing for one night at our local theater, so we bought tickets for ourselves and the four biggest kids, and planned to make a night of it with tons of popcorn and Reese's Pieces.  The kids had a great time, and the documentary itself was so great! 

Ever a cynic, I figured it would be creationistic in the sense that, where the macroevolutionary garble typically shows up in these things, it would just have some little pacifying Christian spin.  But it was rooted so deeply in Scripture, and really highlighted the interplay of Creation, and the Fall, and the longing for redemption as seen in nature, and how they all interact with the principles of mankind's call to stewardship and dominion.

Throughout the showing, Penelope just kept whispering, "I love this!  I love this movie!"  The boys were pretty quiet through most of it.  Laurelai was super wiggly - understandable, as this was her first experience in a movie theater, but unfortunate, as she was barely heavy enough to hold the folding chair seat down and catapulted herself right out of it a couple times.

Oh, well.  She survived, and actually enjoyed the little bits of the movie she saw in between wiggling, chatting and begging for more Reese's Pieces.

I'm so glad we got the chance to go to this.   We'll definitely be getting it on DVD once it comes out. If you have a chance to see it at your theater, you really should!

finneas' birthday party, and our trip to the science center.

Well, everyone.  Finneas turned six.  I know, I know.  Considering his history of sticking forks in electrical sockets, and his penchant for hazarding brave and dangerous deeds, it comes as somewhat of a shock that we've made it this far.  But glad I am to tell you that he has indeed survived, and so far has maintained all his fingers and toes.  (Though one tooth has been lost to the fray.)

We celebrated with a Knights and Dragons-themed party at my mom's last weekend, and she made him a cake out of Krispy Kreme donuts as the starting gun for an exciting rest of the day.


Oh, you know.  Just eatin' and flexin'.  What's up with you?

This photo cracks me up.  The troll-guy is going all Tonya Harding on the dragon, and the dragon is  just like, "Whoa, man.  I didn't want to start any trouble."

After cakenuts, Finneas got to open his presents, and a grand time was had by all.

Once Callista woke up from her nap, we headed to the Science Center for some more fun.  ...Well, at least one of the kids seemed enthused.

Once we got inside, the nature area was a big hit.  This snake seemed to vibe that he was in the presence of a 'freshly-six'-year-old, and got pretty excited.

We were mesmerized by this Foucault pendulum clock.  It was so relaxing to just sit and watch it, and we all started getting very, very sleepy.  Luckily, Finneas was so entranced by it that he didn't notice he was standing next to two kids with red hair.  If there's anything Finneas loves to rudely point at, it's a person with red hair.  Usually, the point is accompanied by an ever-demeaning, "Look!  It's A Ginger!" 

I don't love that.

 And, because we're human, and the kids were experiencing insulin crashes from Cake For Breakfast, we experienced a couple of meltdowns.  Todd and I can't decide whether to caption this photo, "Mad-icus," "Sad-icus," or "Dramatic-us." I think all would apply.  Poor kid; he deserves better parents.

 I hate breastfeeding in public.  I always have.  I just don't like nursing around strangers, even while covering up.  But ever since Laurelai, I've had to get realistic about the fact that I can't just hide in bathroom stalls or in the van all the time, though I'd honestly prefer to.

 After the clock, Finneas announced that he was finished at the Science Center and was ready to go home.  Well, okay.  As you wish.

That was our Fab Fun Finn Day!

what's up weekly.

I'm channeling my inner Rebecca Black today as I celebrate the fact that another Friday has rolled around.  I love Fridays.  First of all, it's PIZZA NIGHT, which means I don't have to cook.  Second of all, it's Family Table night, which means I get my head back on straight for a little while.  And third of all, it means another week has been logged in the books and I can look forward to the weekend.

We started this week with a trip up to Iowa to visit my mom.  We left Friday night and got in late, and woke up early to get a jumpstart on all the activities planned out - we were celebrating Atticus' birthday, which meant for a full day.  We did a pancake breakfast, a trip to the military museum, lunch, and cupcakes.

Then, while the kids napped and played that afternoon, Todd and I left for a bit to see my sister's new house, and to get Callista's ears pierced!  Oh man, guys.  She looks A.DOR.ABLE.  Unfortunately, we haven't yet gotten any photos of her smiling and showing off her new bling; the best I can do is this semi-heartbreaking photo.  (No worries, she cried for about two minutes and hasn't paid any notice to them since, including when I clean them.  We've gotten all the girls' ears pierced in infancy, and have never had any issues with the piercings getting infected, or with the girls messing with them at all - it has made the whole ordeal such a nonissue in the long run.)

On Sunday, we partied for Finneas' birthday.  I'll tell you more about it next week, but it involved a cake made out of Krispy Kreme donuts and a trip to the Science Center.  Daaaang, that's a good birthday party.  (And I should know; I've thrown and/or attended approximately a million of them by now.)

After the Science Center, we hit the road for home.  We hadn't even been in the car for five minutes before Rocco completely conked out.  It was a fun weekend, but it was evident we were all exhausted by the end!

Long road trips always mean having to stop to breastfeed in random gas station parking lots.  I am loving that Callista is still wanting to nurse, but I'm starting to look ahead to weaning her in a few months (if she doesn't do it on her own first) and feeling a bit of relief at the thought.

Since we needed a day or two to recover from the trip, it was great timing for the natural break that came in our homeschool schedule this week.  We had just finished up our second trimester the previous week, and all we really needed to get done was a little bit of catch-up reading, and oral exams.  No biggie.  (I also should have spent some time grading and organizing the past term's papers, but I didn't.)

We spent the week recuperating and enjoying the beautiful weather.  I also did a bunch of mapping out our current schedule, and brainstorming ways to streamline things a bit once May comes and we hit 'reset'.  I've been trying to visually organize our daily and weekly routines, so I can get a better idea of where the trouble spots are, and where I would like to set some goals. 

I'm really visual, and stuff like this helps me.  I have schedule ideas doodled in all my planners and bullet journals; I have schedule ideas scribbled all over bits of loose paper stuffed in my purse and in random corners of the house; and now I have this giant thing taped inside the basement door.  I'm beginning to worry that this is the stuff psychopaths do.

Anyway.  I'll tell you more about that in its own separate blog post, but for now, it's enough to just have it up where I can look at it and move things around as I get ideas.

And last but not least, we started working in the garden this week!  It requires its own post because it was just so glorious, but I'll tell you this much: Penelope and I are loving the prospect of this year's garden.  We're going to be trying a few things we've never done before, like strawberries and potatoes, and finding lots of reasons to get our hands in the dirt!  (The boys could really not care less about gardening itself, but any excuse to wield a big dirt fork is enough to arouse their interest for at least a little while.)

Did anyone else take advantage of the amazing weather to get some work done outside this week?

atticus turned nine! ...a really long time ago.

For the past six months or so, we have been throwing the kids' birthday parties at my mom's.  Atticus' birthday was in December, and we have had to cancel the trip multiple times.  On his actual birthday weekend, it was storming, so we weren't able to make the five-hour drive.  Then, on our scheduled make-up weekend, Callista started vomiting the day we were set to leave.  So obviously we stayed home.  Which is how we found ourselves celebrating his birthday in March.  Better late than never, right?

Last weekend we finally found ourselves at my mom's, and we were ready to par-tay.  We kicked off the morning with pancakes and a trip to... (drumroll...)

The. Military. Museum.

Atticus was in heaven.  There was a display room full of guns.  There was a simulation of being in the trenches of WWI.  There was a real, working periscope.  There were dozens of real military vehicles... some of which were outfitted with things like missiles.  Hot dang.

As we drove up, Atticus saw this and said immediately, "That's an M4 Sherman tank!"  He was... well, not even a little bit wrong.

After a couple of hours exploring, we loaded into the car to head back to my mom's.  I suppose I should clarify that the boys got the honor and the privilege of riding in my brother-in-law's Bronco like absolute bosses.  The loved every second of it.

Todd and I drove behind them, and could clearly see the moment when Atticus found a poster tube in the Bronco and started pretending he was shooting a bazooka at legions of advancing Nazis.

When we got home, we had lunch, and then continued the party with cupcakes.

It was such a fun day, and so very 'Atticus'.  I have a feeling this is going to become an annual tradition.