Wednesday, December 30, 2009

pre·cious 1 : of great value or high price 2 : highly esteemed or cherished

So I started to not feel well yesterday. By this morning I had a raging headache. When I finally got out of bed around 9 Grace came out of her room and said, completely out of the blue, "when you get dressed I will snuggle with you." So of course I got dressed as quickly as my sickly body would allow and went downstairs ready for my snuggling. Grace came along and while we were snuggling she told me that was first on her list.
What list?
Her "to do" list she told me.
So do you want to see what the "to do" list of a six year old looks like?
Behold: (click on each picture for a closer look)
And sure enough...I'm #1!!
Then when I went into the bathroom
I found this sitting on the lid of the potty:
And finally I came down to drink my coffee
and found this on the computer desk:
And so I did this happen to me? How did it happen that I have living in my house two little girls and a husband that for all the gold and riches in the world I would not trade. And scribbled onto a piece of paper I have something more valuable to me than any other earthly treasure. These are the kind of things that make me fall to my knees in thanksgiving for.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Doesn't get any better than this...

Two little girls sitting at the top of the steps waiting to see of Santa came. Look at the stress on Emily's face. Poor girl. She really thinks there might be a chance he didn't come!
Guess what? He came...

The girls with their totally awesome brother Ethan.
They adore him:

Look what he drew for
me for Christmas...

It was a great Christmas. It has been the tradition the last few years that we spend Christmas Eve with the Kensingers and Christmas Day with the Merrills. It works out really well for all of us. We get to spend a lot of time with each family this way.

The highlight of my day was talking to my Grandma and Grandpa Salas on the telephone. I love my Grandpa's voice. I can hear in his voice how much he loves me. Then when I hang up I'm flooded with memories of them from when I was a little girl. Like cuddling with my Grandpa in the morning after staying the night there. Holding his hand. Always. He is a hand holder and I have always LOVED that. Watching basketball on their tv and wondering why the only books they had were nature books. I remember staying the night there and decorating trick-or-treat pillow cases (to hold lots o' loot). I remember my Grandma's jade jewelry box. And taking a HUGE gulp of what I thought was milk with my pancakes in the morning. It was buttermilk!
Buttermilk! Ever have that? Yikes!
I love you Grandma and Grandpa!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Got my Zhu Zhus!! 2 of them!! Yay!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Okay, who did it?

So about 3 years ago I bought the prettiest curtains for our living room. They are the perfect color, a lovely sort of tweed. Anyway, about 2 weeks ago my 8 year old said "Mommy, our curtains are different." I told her she was wrong, that indeed they looked very different (from each other) but that was because the light was on right next to the one causing them to look different. Then last week Merkle says, did you notice our curtains are different? Coincidence?
Fast forward to tonight. We had our friends Don and Anne over for dinner and when we went into the living room to have coffee Don says (read: blurts out) "Your curtains don't match!!"

Okay, so for 3 years these curtains have been fine, now all of the sudden they don't match! AND Anne pointed out, in classic Monk fashion, that the "different"curtain also had very crisp pleats, not the older softer ones of the "original" curtain.

Let it be known that as of tomorrow my garage code will be changed. And, I want my old curtain back!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Oh dear, kindergartner learned two new words today:
boobs and hot, as in (being whispered into her ear) "he's the hottest boy in our class."
God help me guide my children.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Well, how did this happen? What? you say. That's my basement people! For 37 years I have managed to not host a major holiday and then BAM! 4 days before Thanksgiving I get it in my head that I want to do it. And I have to tell was fabulous!
Let me introduce you to my family: In front with his back to us is my cousin Tommy. He's severely autistic. Doesn't speak, never has. Next to him is his mom, my Aunt Maureen, my dads sister. Then my mom, my dads BFF Rudy, my dad, my father in law George, the Grace is sitting on my mother in law, Janet's lap. Then Emily on Merkle's lap. Then my cousins Laura and Bill and Nathaniel, Laura's son.

My parents already had the turkey so they brought it over the day before along with their deluxe roaster thing. I read the directions and Merkle and I got up at 6 a.m. the next morning to wash it (dis-gust-ing) and throw it into the roaster. It was supposed to be done at 12-ish, eaten around 1. Well guess what? It was done 2 hours later at 9 a.m. and completely dried up by 1. I tried to rally the troops for a Thanksgiving Day breakfast but it didn't pan out.
I think Merkle must have put some Xanax in my coffee that morning because I was so calm and relaxed I hardly recognised myself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Okay, so my dear friend Carrie and I had the most hysterical conversation on the phone today. I laughed so much my cheeks hurt. Carrie wants to go to China. And I want to go with her. She has a friend living there for a few years and we both want to go stay with her for a while before she comes home.
Now, I know what many of you are saying "Yeah right, Alice, on an airplane for 12 hours...yeah." And that's furrrshur. I would rather crawl on my bare knees through all the public bathrooms in the greater South Bend area than spend 10 seconds on an airplane. Though the very thought of either makes me want to vomit.
But, I really want to go to China. I really do. So we decided that after Christmas I would test my nerves with my precious supply of Xanax. On a Tuesday, so Merkle is home, I'm going to take 2 pills and have Merkle time me to see how long it takes before I'm so relaxed I start to drool. Then he's going to watch the clock for signs of me coming out of it. That way Carrie will know exactly when to alert the cardiologist (that we will arrange to be sitting next to me) that I need my next dose.
Okay, so good plans, yes? So I get home today from taking Lucky to the kennel and I say to Mark that I am going to go to China. Immediatly Emily goes up to her room and starts crying!!! And Grace is hanging on me saying "No, Mommy, no please don't go to China. Please Mommy don't go." And Mark is upset with me telling me "You're not going to China."


What's happened?

Come on people, I'm mostly talk. Don't you know this by now? And if I really do plan on going to China am I going in the next 5 minutes? No. Probably not. Please, though, let me have my dream...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where have you been!!

So, it has come to my attention that I haven't blogged in awhile...MOM!! I think I'd convinced myself that I no longer have anything to blog about since sending my kids to school and losing my dream job.

There has been a lot going on around here. Mostly cleaning. Here's what I don't get. Who shortened the length of the hour during the day? And why was I not informed? I'm telling you I send my kids off to school, come home, dance around the house to the sound of the angels singing hallelujah and then BAM! it's 2:45 and I have to go get them again. Wha??

So, I guess I should fill in my faithful readers...all 1 of you...Mom, pretend you didn't already know dream job may want me back. That's right, for those of you who didn't already know this Pages In Time was bought and the new owners plan to reopen early 2010. We found out on the last day our beautiful store was open. Our boss had us in early so we could all eat breakfast together. She made a wonderful bounty for us. Egg casserole, little links wrapped in bacon and brown sugar mmmmmm soooooo gooood. Anyway, Uncle Harry the Midwest's premier liquidator mogul told us the store had been bought and guess what?? They want to buy the staff. They'll be here in 15 minutes to meet you. I have anything in my teeth? How's my hair? Is my mascara running down my face? Arrrggh!!

Well, guess what? They were great! Really nice normal looking people. I hope they want me. They couldn't tell us much. Just that they wanted us to relax over the holidays and then email them to set up an interview. At that time they will let us know how many of us they can start with. I feel like that kid at recess..."oh please oh please oh please pick me" And all I can say is please let (okay I'm not naming names) be there. PLEASE!! (you are coming back aren't you ladies?)

Other than that...let's see...the girls had check ups and shots for Gracie. Is there anything cuter than kid size hospital gowns (when they're needed for something harmless):

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

From my friend Anne's blog...

Bravery Defined
My dearest friend Alice saved my life from a baby tarantula tonight. I know, I'm as shocked as you are to find out that Northwest Indiana is full of tarantulas, but it had to be. It was the BIGGEST spider I have ever seen! As we were leaving work she threw herself between me and the frightful beast so I wouldn't be attacked. She shielded me from its venomous bite by spraying it with deadly poisonous carpet cleaner. Not only did it not die, it walked away leaving a trail of poison behind. It slowed down and she was sure it was dead so, being the brave friend that she is, she poked it with a stick. She flipped it on its back but it wasn't dead and it flipped back over and started to walk away again! She decided not to play any more games and grabbed the Windex. Everyone knows that Windex to a spider is like sunshine to a vampire (which in fact spiders and vampires are very much alike because they both want to kill people). I ran for my car and locked the doors. I have never seen a truer display of bravery in all my life. I love Alice Merrill.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

So I spawned a couple of geniuses...

...who'da thunk it.

Today was parent teacher conferences. My kindergartner is reading at a 2nd grade level!! I was so proud I could have spit. She also told me that Grace is very well behaved and that she (her teacher) is always using her (Grace) as an example of how to behave. And that she is soooo quiet in class. Oh dear, I thought. We're not talking about the same kid! Crud, and I was so proud.

And Emily had a great report as well. Her teacher said there wasn't much to say since Emily hasn't been in class for too long. But have I mentioned that she was the only kid in her class to get 100% on this big CMA test. It's this language arts test that all the kids in 2nd grade and up have to take. They take a couple each year. She was the only one!!!!

Mama and Papa bear are beaming...

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Mom...

South Bend Tribune Oct. 23, 2009

Founders said nothing about a right to health care

I have nothing but the utmost respect for people who dedicate their lives to serving God, so I read with interest the Oct. 2 Viewpoint by Rabbi Michael Friedland and the Rev. William J. Wassner of the United Religious Community, in which they asked: "If indeed we hold 'these truths' to be self-evident that all persons are created equal (and) are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — then would not access to quality health care for all also be self-evident?"

Actually, I'm afraid I would have to say no. The rights enumerated by our founding document refer to what are known as "negative" rights. In other words, these are rights you already own by endowment from the creator. They are beyond price. The only thing government needs to do is keep its hands off. That's why they're called negative rights: They can only be taken away. Things such as food, housing, education and health care are in a different category. They are commodities with economic value. They must be produced by the sweat of someone's brow. I can certainly agree that we should do everything we can to provide these things for those less fortunate, but let's not confuse the issue by calling everything a "right."

I have a question for the rabbi and the reverend: What about the morality of burdening our children and grandchildren with crushing debt? They will already be saddled with a bankrupt Social Security obligation and a failing Medicare system. Why don't we boldly proclaim that every generation has the right to enter life free of economic debt?

A different writer in a shorter letter offered her opinion that government-provided health care is a Christian concept. She cited the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 4, verses 44-45: "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one's need." This is definitely an endorsement of the communal life of a Christian community. But please note: The early Christians did not sell all their worldly goods and give them to Pontius Pilate to be distributed to the community. Big difference.

Actually, most Christians today emulate the early Christians whenever they give time, treasure or talent to any of the numerous Christian charities. Just look at all the schools, universities and hospitals founded by Christian organizations. Just look who is serving in the soup kitchens and in missions around the world.

One last thought: The Declaration of Independence refers not to happiness as an unalienable right, but to the pursuit of happiness. This is a very important difference. No government can guarantee happiness. No government can guarantee full employment. No government can guarantee a chicken in every pot. Our founders were wise enough to realize that. I sometimes wonder if our modern longing for a government that will supply us with all our needs isn't an incipient form of idolatry.I'd like to close with a quote from our first president: "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oh My Stars...

Where do I begin? How about at the beginning. I have been having a love affair with paper since I was about 5. Isn't that right, Mom? Well, the romance is over. We have broken up. I have touched and counted more paper in the past 4 days than I have EVER wanted to in my life!!! Thousands upon thousands of pieces of by one...and...AND...we had no scanners! You read that right. Our whole data base was lost the day before. We were not able to scan anything. Every wretched piece of paper had to be looked up in our little cheat book Becky so graciously compiled the day before. Every piece. And I'm telling you, thousands.

The pandemonium started on Thursday. When I got to work at 8ish the line was down the block. When we opened the flood gates the people poured in and didn't stop until about 11 hours later when we were forced to lock the door early because of the overwhelming crowds. We continued to check out those people until around 10. The staff stayed to clean up the devastation until about 1:30 in the a.m.. We got about 1/15 of the work accomplished.

I am here to tell you that Thursday line was snaked around the store and those crazy people stood in it for 5 hours!!! They ordered Jimmy Johns. Some of them made arrangements with their "neighbors" to watch each others carts while they took turns going out to dinner and returning to finish waiting in line. There were lifelong friendships formed in line that day my friends. People watched each others children grow up and move away. It was incredible.

The staff was stunned, most of them into delirium. Now, many of you know this already...I do love to talk. It's what I do. But this was too much even for a seasoned gabber like myself. My tongue had blisters on it by the next morning. Most of them from me commiserating with all of our lovely and devastated customers. I'm telling you, our boss hired a massage therapist for us but I think a grief counselor would have been just as useful. I would say every 2nd customer asked the same question..."why?" "Why are you taking my favorite store...why!!" They cried at the counter. They're scared and confused. I can't blame them.

Lots of them brought us food. Cupcakes from Indulgence. Homemade Texas sheet cake, which can I just say is the BEST thing I have ever tasted!!! One loyal PITer bought us all Pumpkin Spice Latte's from Starbucks. We had cookies delivered. Chocolates. Bags of candy from Martins. It was fabulous.

So, I'm gonna have about 120 hours on my paycheck...I'm not made for work like that. I'm not like the other girls at work. They amaze me. I'm weak. A weakling. A softie. I can't go on. Seriously, I think Becky might be a robot. She doesn't even complain. Hey Becky! How many hours have you logged so far this pay period? 200? She doesn't moan, fake fall asleep at the counter...none of those shenanigans.

Oh, one last thing before I go pass out on the couch. So Thursday night, no maybe it was Friday, doesn't matter...this lady comes into the store visibly shaken. Says someone left their

two kids in their car while they came in to shop. And one was a baby in a car seat. Well, they also left their car keys because the older kid tried to drive the car and hit another car in the parking lot!!!! I am sooooooooo not kidding!!!!

Good Night...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pages In Time

Eight years ago I had my first child. Emily was born in September 2001. I will never forget the night I decided to start scrapbooking. I was laying there in bed and decided that I would set up a small table in our bedroom and begin scrapbooking our new baby. I hardly slept at all that night. I talked to a friend of mine who told me about this great store right in Osceola that sold scrapbook supplies. I went there that first week and thought I was in heaven. It was about as big as a BP. It was called the Crop Shop and they had scrapbook paper and tanning beds. Strange but...I could not believe all the paper they had. At least 40 choices. And they had these little people die cuts that were soooo cute. And that was about it.

Shortly after that a new store opened in Town & Country and now I was surely in heaven. It was like...3 times the size of my little gas station scrapbook store.

Then in late 2002 I walked into the newest scrapbook store in town, Pages In Time and this time the angels were singing. Everywhere...for as far as the eye could see...paper. Glorious paper. And walls and walls and walls lined with stickers.

My second baby was due to join our family in September of 2003. I had become a loyal shopper at PIT and met and really gotten to like Anne (who would later become one of my very best friends) I had talked to her a lot as a customer and seen her at MOPS with our little babies. Then...she got me my job. I was now on staff at Pages In Time. I could not believe my good fortune.

That brings me to another PIT story...real quick...I also met my other very best friend at PIT. Carrie. She was there cropping and I was sitting behind her and I was crying about something and I turned to her and I said "Can I talk to you for just a minute, I'm really sad." And she did and now she's like my sister.

So anyway... now more than 6 years later it is all coming to an end. My bosses, the Turners, have decided to go ahead and close the store. Out of respect for them I won't go into details about the specifics but I will say that I have good and honorable employers and it has been a privilege to work for them all these years.

It has been a dream job. If I needed more hours, I got them. If I needed to cut back, I cut back. If I worked tomorrow night and wanted the night off, I make a few phone calls and there was always someone willing to pick up your shift. Mark would get off work late sometimes so I bring my kids to work with me. I have been surrounded by my favorite "stuff", some of my favorite people, and did I mention I got PAID to be there!!

I have had some of the greatest conversations with these women I have worked with. I have laughed with them. And goodness knows I've cried with them. I will so desperately miss this place and these people. I will so miss bickering and sparing with Becky. I will miss my Tuesday night girls Sherry, Cathy, and Tammy. I will miss people walking up to me with a sliver of paper with a smidge of yellow print on it and desperately saying "have you ever seen this paper?" and me leading them right to it.

I know that store like my reflection in the mirror. I am so going to miss my job.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Okay, the ball is rolling...

So the girls are on their way. This morning the girls and I went down to their new school and got a tour and met their new teachers.
Mommy has been doing a great job acting happy about all of this. And I am. But I'm so not. But I am. But I'm so not.
Grace is so completely excited about leaving the nest that she is starting tomorrow. She's a funny thing that Grace. Ever since she could walk she sees no need for me. The only use she has for me is that I can reach the cups and bowls better and quicker than she can.
Emily will start on Monday. And I will be...what will I be doing on Monday? Oh dear...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Well, a lot going on around the Merrill household. Big changes people. I think I need to have my medication increased.
We are thinking very seriously about sending the little ones back to school. That's right...public school. Which to me sounds like government school which to me sounds like indoctrination which to me sounds SCARY!!!
But, I just don't know if I can do it any longer...I just don't think 24 hours a day with these little ones pecking away at me can go on much longer. It's all day. It's all night. My 2 hour break finally comes at 8pm when they finally go to bed. And I can't take it anymore!!
My heart has been jumping all over the place the past few days. The thought of it on a purely selfish level makes me delirious with glee. Then is washes away to guilt and I can barely breathe.
So, there it is. Mark is almost completely against it.

Quick story...yesterday the girls and I walked down to the corner to collect some sticks to glue to the side of a box to make a log cabin. As we're walking by one of our neighbors houses he says "Do you mind me asking why aren't your kids in school?" I wish I would have said "Do you mind me asking- do you even know my #$@^&*% name" But I politly told him we homeschool to which he said "Oh, so you're the one who's doing that." I AM SO SICK OF VIRTUAL STRANGERS THINKING THAT I CARE ABOUT THEIR STUPID OPINIONS ON HOMESCHOOLING!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


How great are these...
Thanks to my dear friend Anne for talking her UBER-talented brother-in-law into taking my girls pictures. Thanks Mark!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


So, for the past 4 or 5 years to commemorate September 11th, my girls and I have visited our local firefighters to thank them for their service to our community. The past 3 years we've baked them our specialty too...banana bread. It's our specialty because it's all we really know how to bake.

And Emily made them all cards...

This year we expanded our visits to 3 firehouses. I only remembered my camera at one...

A HUGE thank you and to all of our county's heros who daily find it worth it to risk their own lives for us.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

If You Know Anyone...

...who can analyze this dream I had...please let me know.

Ok, so in my dream I had twins. A 6 month old girl in footies and a boy...snake. So, I thought I would take my baby snake to the park for some fresh air so, I swaddled him up (he was coiled up in my hand) in a blankie and tucked him away.When I got to the park I unpacked him and Noooo!! I suffocated him! I was panicked. I rubbed his tummy, I was screaming. Then he gasped for air and stretched his big mouth and it occurred to me that I need to feed him. So...I nursed him. That's right. I nursed my baby snake. When I woke up I said out loud: "snakes aren't mammals".

What does it all mean?




M E A N ???

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Nowhere Else I'd Rather Be

I had the nicest day with my daughters yesterday.
We headed out at 9:30 to go to Target and Claires for some window shopping. I was actually trying to get some ideas of what they would like for their birthdays, which are fast approaching. Then we grabbed lunch and went to the library. Fridays are library day. That's my favorite day.

Got this book I've been waiting for for a while:

Sixteen of the world’s foremost photographers traveled to thirty nations around the globe to live for a week with families that were statistically average for that nation. At the end of each visit, photographer and family collaborated on a remarkable portrait of the family members outside their home, surrounded by all of their possessions—a few jars and jugs for some, an explosion of electronic gadgetry for others. Awesome book!

Got the info on that book from one of my favorite websites...The Pioneer Woman. Found here:

Picked up a couple new memoirs. To be honest, I should probably find a new favorite genre. Because in the past month I have read the best funny memoir and the best dramatic memoir. I should stop now because from this point on they will all be measured by these two fine books. And they can't possibly measure up.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Well, today was the first day of school for Merrill Academy. I actually woke up at 7am this morning. I could not for the life of me fall asleep last night, I was so consumed with thoughts about today. But I did manage to drag myself out of bed on time and get our first day started at 8am sharp. We went over all of the expectations Daddy and I have for them, we went over the incentive program Daddy and I set up. And, the day went pretty well. Actually, it went great.

We got through all of the subjects we had scheduled for the day. Emily actually asked me if she could read to me. There was $ involved but hey! you do what you can, right? She took notes during history and actually liked the story. Hannibal. Seriously, the guy attacked his enemy with a herd of well trained attack elephants! What's not to like?

Grace did pretty good with her stuff. It's pretty light for her right now. I have to brag on her for a minute. My little 5 year old girl is such an amazing reader! That girl loves to read. She has been loving to read out loud to me lately, which I'm sure you can imagine is like hugs and kisses for me. To see her get excited about reading is so wonderful. I can't tell you how much I love it.

So, on the agenda for the year:
History (The Story of The World)
Math (Saxon)
Latin (Prima Latina)
Sewing Lessons (Jackie Gentner at Hancock...awesome!)
Swim Lessons (YMCA)
Handling $$ God's Way
Shakespeare Can Be Fun (Hamlet)
Answers (In Genesis) for kids
Poem Memorization
Scrapbooking (class to be held at my house)
Some various lessons on reading maps, making analogies, christian hero's, that sort of thing.

Pray for us...I'm serious.♥

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tower Hill

Wow, I wonder how it got that name?
Had an awesome day at the beach with my good friend Andrea and her sweet boys. 4 of them to be exact. And, believe it or not I actually climbed to the top of that wretched "hill". I think I'm going to start a campaign to get some defibrillator pads stationed about half way up, or at least some kind of helio-port at the top to carry off the near dead. Never mind that dear Andrea did it while carrying her youngest. She's awesome.
A view from the top...

and the bottom...

And the whole gang, almost...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vacation all I ever wanted

....vacation got to get away. Ahh, the Go-Go's had it all right didn't they?
So, a bit overdue (not unlike every book I've ever gotten from the library), here are some vacation photos...Our first stop was the Children's Museum in Indy. Oyyy, was it packed. Note to self, schedule next family vacation during the school year.
The first exhibit was the Dinosphere. It was loud and had lots of flashing lights and screeching sounds. So needless to say this is how Emily spent all of the dinosphere and most of the Creation Museum:

Poor child. The museum was cool, the girls enjoyed it. Emily's favorite part was the walk through maze up on the 4th floor. Grace liked the dinosaurs the best.

Momma's favorite part was running into friends from church. 3 hours from home and we ran into Jeff and Jodi Toner and their adorable little girl Mallory at the museum. That was a nice surprise...
I also loved the walk through Egyptian tomb:

After 7 hours of that we went back to our hotel , isn't it pretty...

...and on to Caribbean Cove!!! We spent about 6 hours there and about $1000. Just kidding, but seriously, my kids love ski-ball and I can't stop watching them play it so I just kept pouring quarters into that darn machine. There is something magical about watching those little tickets spitting out.

And for the first time, Emily stood under that huge bucket of water that dumps out on the kids heads every 20 minutes or so. Yay!! She loved it!

This is Grace on the lazy river. Is it just mama bear or does she look way too bitty to be going down this alone?

So, a good time was had by all.
When we were done here we went on to the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Now THAT was awesome. I can't recommend it enough. I know this may sound tacky, maybe cliche, maybe (fill in the blank) but honestly, that trip to Kentucky changed my heart. I am so grateful that my husband felt so strongly about taking our family there. But, I must save that story for tomorrow, as I need to get this day started with my little bitties...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


So here we are in Kentucky. You should see this hotel. WOW. It's ultra modern, with a self check in kiosk and everything. The decor is unreal. I can't believe we found this place for just $66 a night. baby. Anywho, more on that later, right now I must tell you that I have finished reading "I Love You Miss Huddleston" by Philip Gulley. And all I can say is put down whatever you are doing and get this book. now. It is a laugh a minute. Out loud laugh...out loud while you're sitting by yourself next to the pool laugh. That reminds me, the lady sitting next to me at the pool had on a shirt that had "I Put Out" emblazoned across the front of it. I'm serious. And she was there with her kids. Is there anything that would have been appropriate to say to her? Anything that I could have said without getting myself beat up in the elevator later, probably whacked on the head with my own book.
Well, I can hardly wait to get some pictures posted on here from my new fancy camera...come back in a few days.
BTW...I want to move to Kentucky. I even made a list of the pros and cons of moving here. Don't worry Mom, so far the cons have won.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Check Me Out...

Mama got a brand new camera...
Behold the Olympus Stylus 9000. 12Mega Pixels. 10x Optical Zoom. 2GB Memory Card and a lovely case. Oh and because I got it at Gene's Camera Shop I get a free class on my awesome camera and 144 free prints at their store!!! Love Gene's!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Ok, seriously, here is how my last 45 minuets or so have gone.

7:00 read to girls while they happily munch on blueberries

7:30 girls brush teeth and get ready for bed

7:35 pray with Emily

7:38 pray with Grace

7:38:15 Emily gets up to go into bathroom

7:38:25 prayer interrupted by Emily in tears standing at Grace's door asking if I can come into her room. I say no, I'm putting Grace to bed.

7:39 Emily is now in FULL PANIC MODE screaming her head off. I am not kidding.

7:40 finish prayer with Grace and go into Emily's room where she is screaming that she has something in her throat. We go downstairs to get a glass of water. She is screaming as though she has just swallowed a mouse.

7:42 I am screaming at Emily to for the love of all things drink the water and wash down whatever is causing her so much agony.

7:43 we go upstairs to the bathroom to see if she's going to throw up where she finally tells me she thinks she's choking.

7:44 I perform mini-drama in my bathroom to show her what choking actually looks like and try to convince her that she is not indeed dying.

7:45 I lay Emily on her bed and tell her that if she can stop crying I will come back to her room in 5 minutes.

7:50 I go back into her room where she is looking at a book and looking very very exhausted. I tell her I will come back again in 10 minutes if she can keep herself staying calm.

8:00 I return, she is ok. I ask her to forgive me for yelling at her. We pray together. I told her I'd come back at 8:30 to check on her again. She said she might have her eyes closed but she will still be awake.

Now: I am heartbroken and crying, wondering what to do and begging God to help me. help her.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Oh I just spent my first night at camp. And yes I'm sure this whole story will have some of my friends rolling their eyes as they read but...I don't care. Humphffff to you!

Emily has been going through quite a phase lately. Really nervous, anxious about everything. She has had a hard time lately being away from me. She has this fear that she's going to get sick and throw up in front of someone. The poor child is tormented. But, I feel fairly confident that this is just a phase and that life will return to it's normal rhythm very soon. Until the next phase hits but hey, let me take this one psychosomatic day at a time.

Ok, so yesterday (Sunday) was supposed to be her first time getting to go to camp to spend the night. Now, months ago when we first brought this up to her she decided she'd go but wanted to take a friend. Fine. So about a month ago this new phase is all settled in and I happened to mention camp and she totally freaked. Complete terror. Will not go. So, I make a mental note not to bring that up again. Well, sure enough time ticked on like it has a way of doing and all of the sudden Mark and I are laying in bed Saturday night trying to figure out what to do. And the best we could come up with is that Sunday morning I would ask Kelly, a lovely and kind girl at our church who also works at the camp, if maybe I could come up with Emily and could they just put me up in a cabin somewhere. Kelly says that's fine so Sunday night Emily and Madison and Mom head to camp.

Now, I won't go into the details of the stay. I survived. Emily survived. I was given a lovely air conditioned room and was treated very kindly by many people. But I think I'll just leave that part of the story at that.

But I do want to share the highlight of our adventure together. During swim time Emily was on the deck wrapping her massive beach towel around her head, trying to look like me when I get out of the shower. She was laughing and looking adorable and wanted to look in the mirror so I pointed out the bathroom so she could have a look. A few minutes later she came out with a look of horror on her face. "Mommy, the sink fell off the wall!!!!" Now, I'm sure you can imagine my look of "what!?" She leads me in and yep, the sink did indeed fall off the wall. I asked her if she had climbed up on it and (thank you God) she told me the truth. So I had to go get the dean and let her know. In the meantime Emily is about to melt. out. of. her. skin. That poor child. So after the dean took a very confused look at the sink hanging from the wall, I told Emily she needed to go up to her and tell her that she was the one who did it and that she was so sorry. And do you know that my poor, fearful, and frightened daughter walked right up to her and told her what she had done.

So, you know what!? Say what you want about my poor parenting decisions. Say what you want about "gee, Emily, fearful? Why, wherever does she get that from?" Say what you want about our decision to homeschool our girls, because I've heard about enough about that this weekend too. Say what you want but here is what mama bear has to say...I have one awesome daughter!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Yeah, so my entire house has been crammed and overflowing with every sort of craft , craftable crafty craft craft thing ever made! I mean to tell you I have double sided sticky tape stuck to the bottoms of my feet, I have 50 milk gallons stinking up the garage, I have toilet paper rolls on every surface of my house and I have pipe cleaners and foam and puff-ball-thing-a-ma-bob-ers and glow-in-the-dark-$10-per-pack-paper and popsicle sticks coming out my ears!! BUT, only one more day of VBS then summer starts!!!!!!!!!!!!YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

August is the Merrill Family month. We kick it off on the first celebrating my fab sister-in-laws bday. Then Merkle's is on the 8th. of all...Merkle has 2 WEEKS OFF!!! Oh, I can not wait. 2 weeks. Yes, we're going out of town. Indianapolis Children's Museum then to Cincinnati for the Creation Museum. Can't wait...

Check that out here:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Note To Self...

No more solo bike rides through Potato Creek bike path at 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Little Bitties

OK, it is possible that this feeling will be a distant memory by the time I wake up tomorrow but right now I have to say, I am beginning to wonder if my days of teaching Sunday School are done. Those kids kicked my butt today! Now, I will say it was a really large class, I had no adult helper, and the story was REALLY long. But I just didn't have a handle on them. They were out of control. Boys were beating each other up, new girl screamed a lot at the other kids, had a kid that cried quite a bit when he did not gt his way, had kids up in my face and pulling at my leg and tugging on my shirt and calling out my name and I just don't know how much longer I can take it all. The craziest part was at the end. I had them all, most of them, alright maybe 1/3 of them sitting on the blue rug to answer questions about our story. Here is a small sampling of how it went...

Me: "OK, the name of the prophet in our story today was Elijah and do you remember the mean King Ahab? OK, who can tell me...what was the prophets name?"

Them: "Stone and wood!!"

Me: "What, no...not stone and wood. Remember, the prophets name was Elijah...(pause)...OK, what was the prophets name?"

Them (louder): "STONE AND WOOD!!!"

Me: "OK, no, stone and wood is not someones name. OK, how about the king? Remember the mean King AHAB? Remember King AHAB? Ohhhh, he was so mean...(pause)...OK, what was the kings name?"

Them: simultaneously "King Darian" "Am I going to get in trouble with my mommy?" "oh, he has an elephant" "I never get a turn" "I have a dog"

Me: "Oh dear, OK, everyone who is sitting and not making any sounds gets a cookie!!"

Them: silence

How much longer can I do this? I do love those little bitties. When there aren't so many of them...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Is it possible

to have too much fun? According to Emily the answer is...yes. So all this week she has been at Granger Community Church for Springhill Day Camp. This girl has rock climbed, tie dyed, swam, been flung through the air...she's played paintball, been to the wave pool, crafted stuff, and played some crazy games (skittle skattle battle just to name one). And last night, because it was dollar rides at the 4H fair and she and her sister had projects in, which meant free admission, we decided to go. So, after picking Emily up from 7 hours at camp we grabbed Grandma and Grandpa and cousin Ben (Daddy was in Chicago at a Cubs game) and took off.

So the first thing my girls want to do is the Ferris wheel. Ok. Now, if you don't know me let me first tell you that in my extensive and well organized list of fears my fear numero uno is flying. Followed very closely by #2...heights. I can't even look at a tall building or worse yet a high ceiling without getting vertigo. However, I knew I could not send the girls up with my dad. That's right, my dad. I love him so very much and believe he truly is the best and funnest grandpa on the planet BUT...I remember years of fair rides and elevator rides and boat ride and my dad jumping and shaking and rocking and let me tell you...FREAKED ME OUT!! So I decided I couldn't risk freaking the girlies out too bad so I decided to go up with them. Oh My Goodness, it was terrifying!! When we got to the top and had to stop so they could load people in at the bottom, I was clinging to the center pole and wondering what exactly it will look like when I finally crack. Will I jump? Hurl my backpack over the edge? Stand up and scream in terror? I just didn't know. So I decided to redirect my thoughts. I got out my cell phone and desperately dialed my husband. No answer. So I call Anne. Not home. Oh God help me!! All the while I'm having this inner turmoil, I was cool as a clam on the outside. Telling the girls how beautiful it was from up there...oh look at the pretty trees! Oh look at the little tiny cars...GET ME OFF THIS THING!!!!! And finally it started to come back down. I don't really remember the rest of the ride, just the chest pains that followed. Fun night for mommy...

The rest of the night was pretty much the same, me getting completely freaked out watching my dear beloved nephew being locked into a cage and spun in horrendous upside down circles on the Ring of Death...I mean Ring of Fire ride. Then having to go on the Crazy Mouse roller coaster with Emily. Ok, that wasn't as bad as the Ferris wheel but I was sure it too would result in my death.

Funny story here...earlier in the evening my mom was waiting in line with the girls to ride on the Crazy Mouse (CM). She was only supposed to be in line with them while my dad went with Ben to ride the death rides then he was going to come back and take the girls on CM. Well, her line went a little too fast and so by the time I ran over to get my dad and got back my poor mom was being strapped in. Oh dear. My sweet, kind mama being crank crank cranked up that steep hill and then swooshhhh down that steep hill. Oh dear. Well, she did really well. And, it wasn't me (just kidding mom). hee hee.
Ok, I could probably write about the terrifying events that fueled my children's joy last night for another 10 paragraphs but I'm getting a nervous tick so I'm going to sign off...
good times...good. times.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Well, this has been a fabulous Miles family reunion weekend. Miles was the last name of my great grandparents, George and Florence. They had 7 children. Six girls (Virginia, Patty, Donita, Nancy, Eileen and Tina) and one son, Joe. My grandma was Virginia. She had 9 children, the 5th one being my dad, Mark Kensinger. Then Donita had 5, Nancy had 9, Eileen had 3, and Joe had 4. My great grandparents raised their family in Plymouth after moving here from Hugo Colorado in the 1930's. I don't remember my great grandpa. I only remember the day he died. I remember my dad sitting me on his lap in the evening and telling me he had died. I must have been about 5. But I sure remember my great grandma. She was something. She lived alone for 20 some years after my grandpa died. She was as tiny and delicate a person as I've ever seen. I spent the night with her a couple times when I was younger. It used to freak me out. Her house was HUGE and old. I used to sleep upstairs in my Aunt Tina's room and I would lay awake for hours waiting for some ghost to come floating into my room. But in the light hours I loved to be with her.
But mostly I loved my Grandma Kensinger. She died 2 years ago. She would have loved this weekend.
It started out on Friday at the Conservation club house in Plymouth. We had a pizza party/talent show with cousins and aunts and uncles. It was a beautiful afternoon and a perfect evening. My brother brought his catapults and rubber band machine gun, which were a huge hit. The young people had a ball shooting stuff across the field out back. My daughters made me so proud. They are such shy little creatures. But they got up in front of everyone and Emily did the preamble to the Constitution and Grace did the beginning of the Gettysburg's Address.
Then Saturday we all met at Centennial Park for a rainy day picnic in the pavilion. But, the rain really didn't dampen our fun. We had games and crafts and water balloons, which I think the kids had as much fun filling them up as they did throwing them at each other. We had fabulous food and lots of catching up. And finally today we had Mass at my great grandmas church. And then goodbye's.
Some of these people I'm really going to miss.
Oh, and let me tell you the devastation I've been dealing with all digital camera broke!! I had to use film!! So, no pictures yet, until my cousins get some posted...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


So, I'm a 4H fair judge. Yep. Scrapbooking. Yep. It's fun. Yep. But let me tell you, if I have to look at one more photo of a teenage girl with her tongue hanging out in the direction of her friend I AM GOING TO VOMIT! Seriously girls, act like a lady! And simulating gang signs and the"look at me again and I'll kill you" face is going to drive me nuts. One girls album actually had a picture of some guy flipping the bird. Oh, and her and her friend acting like they are pole dancing. It's the 4H fair people.
But hey, 2 fairs, $100's all good...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

OK, so yesterday was what can only be described as a horrendous day.

It started out harmless enough. The girls have been taking a little dance class with a friend of mine so they were there until about 2:30 when I went to get them. Up until that point I had been to the grocery store and running kind of late. I hurried home to put away the refrigerator stuff and thought how much fun it would be to surprise them with a trip to the pool. I also knew they would love it if I brought along their dear friend Kaitlyn, and Gracie's little friend Ella.

So, we get to the pool and for the first time I can remember I didn't go into the pool with them. It was going to be a quick swim because I had an eye doctor appt. at 4:30. Emily and Kaitlyn were fine on their own. And Grace could touch bottom in the shallow end and Ella had on a floatie vest that was keeping her afloat. So, I sat down on a chair not far from the edge of the pool and I'm not sure now how it happened but Grace and Ella had gotten to the deep end and Grace had had a little kick board floatie thing and before I knew it the board got away from Grace and she was keeping herself afloat by holding on to Ella. Well, that was causing them both to go under.

Now I have to tell you if you don't already know...I am a worrier. I have thought through every horrible thing that can happen to kids. I always say that then I know how to react because I have played through so many situations in my head. Well, guess what. What was supposed to happen didn't. I froze. I actually froze. Well, I didn't completely freeze. I screamed for this lady next to me in a bathing suit to please get them and when she froze I screamed for the lifeguard. Thank God, he didn't freeze. He jumped in and brought them to me at the edge.

I am filled with so many feeling right now. Here I was being trusted with the safety of someone else's kid and I froze in a moment of need. I'm ashamed and embarrassed. But I am also so thankful to God for bring those girls back to the edge of the pool.

P.S. Turns out I have an ulcer on my eye.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Good Neighbors

I love my neighbors. Last night they invited us over to roast marshmallows over their new fire-pit. Glad I had green peppers for dinner instead of the Little Ceasers everyone else had. So I had 3 marshmallows. Yummy! I probably gained 2lbs. from eating them...That's okay...I love you Traci!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Strawberry Fields

It was a perfect day for strawberry picking. And my girls did so good! They each filled a box and hardly ate any while we were picking. And let me tell you...they are the sweetest, juiciest, yummiest strawberries I have ever had! De-lish!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Full Day

Yes, the girls and I had just that...a full day. It started out with a little play at the new and fully awesome park at Pottawatomie. We then hopped on our bikes and rode around the campus at IUSB. They've got an awesome bridge over the road/river that the girls loved. Then we got home and I took a nap for about 30 min.'s and then babysat for a couple of cuties for about 2 1/2 hours. During that time we went for a walk around our unusually large block and played at Hums park for about 1/2 hour. Then when Daddy got home we went to play Putt-Putt for the first time. Grace got a hole in one! Then to my friend Carrie's friend Libby's house. Yikes! Did that all make sense? Oh, and I just walked the dog...again.
No pictures today :(

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Great movie! I want to adopt Russell...and Carl. And Doug. And Kevin.


My friend Carrie has talked about Fernwood many time in the years that I've known her. She and her husband were married there. I've seen the pictures. But I did not know. I did not know the beauty of this place. I am so glad we went. I love you Carrie!
Don't forget you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

This awesome sight was the first of many that thrilled us all. The little black dots are this frogs eggs. There were hundreds of them.

This poor guy thinks he's hiding from us. So cute!

My beautiful girls.

I don't have any idea what this was but it was so beautiful. All the leaves on this bush were turning this lovely pink color.

So pretty...

This was definitely the highlight of the day. All of the kids went running into this beautiful gazebo and came to a halting stop. Tucked away, right at their feet was this precious baby deer. They all were able to get a really good look at her before she just jumped up and took off for her mommy. Amazing.

I love the looks on the girls faces here...

The whole gang...