Now We Are Four!

KW joined us on November 10, 2010. Thanks for following our journey as a family!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Fair Comes to Missy Dr

I had been feeling sad for sweet KW that Little Man had such a fun ride around the back yard a few years back when the Mid-South Fair came to Chester Ave. But, she recently got her chance. You can take the mom away from the fair, but you can't take the fair out of the mom!

Monday, October 28, 2013

One New Bloom

"There is not a pretty red ribbon around it, but there's hope."
- Louie Giglio

Hope. It is an interesting thing, isn't it? It doesn't matter what the facts are. How dire. How definitive. How final. There is something in the human heart that refuses to believe. Demands a hold onto that little bit of...hope. Only when faced with an end will the heart finally relinquish its hold on the possibility of a miracle. And, even then, we begin to hope for something else. Something beyond the current circumstance.

There is a hydrangea outside my bedroom window. The summer rains came this year and over-watered the bush, leaving all the flowers dry and brittle. This surprised me; isn't rain supposed to add life and color to a plant? Instead, this plant held dead, lifeless blooms until about a month ago. One morning, I noticed new, green growth. The hint of a bloom. It was already October. I guess no one told this plant that the cold was arriving any day. It didn't care; it saw an opportunity to blossom, and it took it. Every morning when I open my shade, I have watched that bloom grow until it has turned into a bright blue bunch of beautiful tiny leaves. In a season of death for our family, it reminds me that there is always new life. There is always hope. Hope may come in tiny bits, but it always creates something beautiful.
After a cold snap this weekend, I wondered what I would see when I looked out the window Saturday morning. The bloom was still there, and just below it, a new, green bloom, just starting out. There is always hope.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Five Things I Learned on Weight Watchers

Last winter, I joined Weight Watchers for their three-month post-holiday deal. I had trouble getting the weight off after KW, and my cholesterol was going up year over year. There were five habits that became apparent to me during my journey, and I have found that whether I gain or lose since then depends largely on whether or not I am following these five "rules" I made for myself. Maybe they can help you, too!

1. Only eat fruit in the volunteer room. This likely applies to few other people, but we have a volunteer room at church. With Bagels. And cream cheese. And muffins. And M&Ms. And grapes. And coffee. And soft drinks. And juice. It is pretty obvious where this rule came from.
2. Don't eat the kids' leftovers. Somebody actually warned me about this one when Little Man was a baby. If the kids did not eat their dinner, no matter how good I thought it was, my eating it is not going to prevent it from being wasted. If the nutrients did not go in their bodies, then the purpose for which I served it is already blown. Adding those calories to my daily count is not going to help.
3. Don't take seconds. Should be obvious, but I usually want more.
4. Eat an apple while making dinner. I am usually pretty hungry by the end of the afternoon. And if rest time has not been so restful around my house, it is easy for me to pick something to munch on while I cook that completely renders my need for dinner null and void. It takes a long time to eat an apple the old fashioned way and cook at the same time. Plus, an apple a day is a good, natural way to help lower your cholesterol. Double bonus.
5. Don't eat out of obligation. I learned this ol' trick from Ernie Harris. If it is in the refrigerator, it must be eaten. I must help clean off the counter - by eating the contents off of it. Especially when it comes to desserts, I have NO obligation to finish the second half of the pie that was left at our house after a dinner party, even if it takes me four days to do it. And I really don't need to eat something I don't love, just so it doesn't get thrown away.

Friday, September 13, 2013

From Scratch

When Little Man turned one, I planned to make every birthday cake from scratch, forever. After thirty-six hours, the cake was a brick, and I knew it had already been pretty dense at party time. So, I decided to use box mixes and to really put some effort into getting my baking technique down before making another birthday cake. This summer was the time. I only made two cakes, but the second was noticeably lighter than the first. This weekend, I will make my third. I have high hopes.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Takes Grease Out of My Way?

For some reason, I have lost several of shirts this year to grease splatter while cooking dinner. Or grease rings made when I use my stomach as the stabilizer when closing the spray oil. Or some other smart cooking move.

Shirt after shirt went to the Good Will. I bought a new set of "cute" tees. Then, as I ironed one day, I noticed a string of grease spots on one of my new favorite tees! Ugh!

I mentioned it to a friend and neighbor a few days later, and she told me to put liquid dish washing detergent on it, let it soak for three hours, then re-wash it. I knew this would not work, because I had already dried the stain in, but I thought it was a worth a try, since I really wanted to save this shirt.

And, what do you know? It worked! I have a short soaking as I type, a casualty of the spray can. Can't wait to wear it again.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Adjustable Seat

After showing virtually no interest in riding a bike, Little Man suddenly started riding a tricycle this spring. So we went out on a limb and told the grandparents to get him a balance bike for his birthday. He had ridden one at a friend's house, but - again - showed no interest in owning one.

We had to buy the taller seat. When we put it together, we tightened it at about the furthest point you could, and waited to see what would happen.

At first, he would ride it around the driveway one time, then go get his trike. A month later, we found a quiet little elbow in the neighborhood behind us, and he could really practice his stuff.

It's the stuff after-dinner-walks-in-the-summer are made of.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Icky, Yucky, and About Time

When we looked at our house, we knew we were going to remove the shower doors in our bathroom. I had read about it and knew it was not difficult. But time passes, and the yard turned out to demand a lot of attention. And the shower door stayed and remained gross and yucky.

Things changed when we got rained out for the Fourth of July. Since we were stuck inside, and had no plans (my fault), we decided to tackle it. We made a list, and I set off to The Home Depot, where I joined  everyone else in East Cobb. (Apparently, the Fourth is a big day or More Saving, More Doing.) B was left at home to read the latest shower door removal post I had seen, so we would both know what we were doing.

We knew the grossest part would be the gunk that had grown / collected under the door, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. A little scraping and scrubbing got it right off. Oh, and bleaching.
 Here is my horrible after shot, because it is not really apples-to-apples, as I had not bought a shower curtain yet. But so much better, right?

Monday, July 8, 2013


I am sure I won't get much resistance when I say inhibitions are learned. Talking to children, playing with children, and dancing with children confirms that. I have a friend who told me she would participate with children more fully when other adults are not around. I am the exact same way.

So I never make one comment about the things my kids do, and I try not to laugh. Even though they are so cute, I can already see the look of hesitation on KW's face when I giggle at something, or try to get her to say something for someone else to hear. I promised I would never try to get my kids to perform, and this sweet, unsure look reminds me why.

Last week, we made a trip to the Levitt Shell for a concert. We brought pizzas for a picnic,
then waited for the rain-delayed show to start.
Little Man and his cousin immediately started dancing when the music started. I loved the way he used his arms, hips, and booty to get into the music. He didn't even care when he saw me filming him.

When we left to head home, Little Man told me it was boring. I explained that sometimes an event has things the grown-ups like, but we thought he would have fun dancing and playing on the lawn, too. He replied, "My favorite part was Arden, but none of the grown-up stuff." 

The kids were so pooped, and both keep talking about how loud it was, so it may be a little while before we try this again. KW says, "I don't want to go to the concert with the drums and the tunnel." 

At the very least, it reminded me that we need to have a little more music and dancing around the house. You know, to keep those inhibitions at bay.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

History, Inspiration, and Goals

I have not forgotten about Sewing Accountability 2013, though my sister is officially out of the game. I am, however, now two months behind. But I finished my March task on time. It was to reflect on my sewing history, inspiration, and goals, and to - theoretically - get myself really excited about starting with my first projects. Here is what I put down on paper:

What's been keeping me from sewing has been that I do not have anywhere to set up permanently, or even semi-permanently. As a result, I never really get past the first-sewing-day stage; I always have too be refreshed on how to do everything before I can get started again. This is not going to change anytime soon, so I am going to have to figure it out. I don't really want to paint my dining room, finally borrow a table from my in-laws, then spread out a bunch of sewing gear on it, but this may be what happens.

It appears that KW is set on clothes for the near future, but I would really like to be able to make clothes for the both of us. I dread having to go back and undo mistakes over and over, though. Gotta get over that, at least until I get good.

The first three things I would like to make:
  1. A girl's dressy dress (duh)
  2. Set of 12 napkins and matching dishtowels (do people even make that?)
  3. Full apron (Why do they even make the skirt kind? It does not protect.)

Next up is getting my supplies in order.

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Reading: The Amazing Spiderman

No memorizing this time; Little Man is reading! It is one of his favorite books right now. I think he likes that he can get KW involved for a good part of the story.

It is pretty cool.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Remember Chuckie?

No, not the doll. The mouse. A few weeks ago we took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese for the first time, after much delay. Little Man had chosen this as his reward for being a good friend last summer. I don't know why I thought it would be so bad. I had a thoroughly great time. It's a place designed to nurture little gamblers, mind you, but it was good fun. And good pizza.

Little Man loved trying all the games, and sported a look of extreme, tongue-out, concentration while playing. KW got creeped out by the first little ride she rode and preferred to hang back and watch the rest of us play.
I played a rousing game of Whack-a-Mole in homage to one of my favorite parenting articles of all time. I held the high score for the night.
And, speaking of parenting, this mom is showing her little girl how to walk up the ski-ball ramp and put the ball in the highest scoring hole. You should have seen how offended she looked when she was asked to quit showing her child
Both kids found their favorites by the end of the night - KW talked on the phone to Chuck E. and Lee discovered air hockey.
Such fun. I have already created the Self-Control Challenge for this summer, with another visit as the prize. (More on this later, because I am part of the challenge - no yelling.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Not For Fun

My desire is not scare my children unnecessarily. Not to expose them to any materials that de-sensitize their little hearts earlier than I need to. I know the world will be happy to do this for me, so I have made it a point for this not to happen at home or through me, as far as it is possible.

I had a little wake up call last month at Safety Town. The City of Roswell puts it on each spring, and you really should go. There is a little town to practice pedestrian and driver safety, and the kids meet a real police officer and fire fighter, and learn tips from them. You really should go next year. It's for children ages four to six.
I have told my kids about strangers, and not to talk to strangers, and to stay with me. I have even told them that strangers may want to take them to "be part of their team," since we are The Hardman Team. But this is what the director of Safety Town had to say, "When Sarah goes to the car to look at this man's puppy, he will push her into his car, and she will never see her family again. Never play with her friends again. Never play with her toys again."

It was quiet in the room - a gymnasium full of four to six-year olds. At that moment, the light bulb went off. In this arena, it is not about sugar-coating the truth. It is about sharing the brutal truth with my kids, a truth that may save their lives.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Darn It

Did you think I forgot Sewing Accountability 2013? I didn't. On the evening of February 28th, I sat down with a few items I bought with Christmas money a couple of years ago. A couple of years, you ask? Yes, as in Christmas 2010. I needed to learn how to use them before I am going to crack open the book from Christmas 2011.
In case you don't have these items laying around your house, they are a darning egg, yarn, some special needles whose name escapes me at the moment, and a pair of Little Man's socks with a hole in the toe.
I slipped the sock over the egg and found a tutorial online on how to darn. It was not hard, and looked good, but I feel like it does not meet the basic requirements of mending via darning. There were knots involved, and I could certainly feel the seam I had made. The whole point is to mend the sock in a way that will leave it comfortable in the shoes, and prevent rubbing and blistering on feet. Unfortunately, Little Man cannot wear these socks anymore, so I can't test it out. I did see a pair of B's socks in the wash yesterday with a hole in each heel. I may be pulling out my supplies in the next night or two to test out a new tutorial.
I did like the technique enough to use it on one of my favorite sweater's sleeve. It's going to take a lot more than a little hole in the arm to force me to get rid of this unisex J Crew relic. That's right, Mom. Get excited. This baby will be back next Christmas!
Last - but definitely not least - I mended these pj pants of B's. He said he didn't care how my experiment turned out (i.e., how the pants looked after I took to them with needle and thread), he was NOT cutting them into dust rags.
So, there you have it. Month Two of Sewing Accountability 2013. I am pretty sure my sister is not even in the game, but she is free to answer the challenge.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sinking In

One of my fears as a parent is that nothing I do will sink in. In particular, it is of utmost importance to me that they develop a relevant faith - one with which they can see that the principles in Scripture always come true. Then, they can know and trust God's perfect will for them, even if they don't see Him working, or even if His will doesn't seem "good" at the time.

Last week, we built structures out of food items from around the house, and we started talking about what makes a structure stronger. To illustrate the point, we did this little experiment: We built a cube out of linguine and marshmallows. We tried to balance a lasagna noodle on top. It fell down. We added "crossbeams" to our structure, then tried to balance the lasagna noodle.
It stood.

Little Man said, "The wise man built his house with triangles. The house on the sand did not have triangles."

"It was foolish for him to skip the triangles, wasn't it? To make his house stronger?"


I didn't expect it. I didn't plan for that to be part of our lesson. I am so thankful that it was.

Monday, February 25, 2013


{KW is 28 months old}

KW loved this little pop-up game. We put her in a box, sang a little song, and she popped out. As we played, she got better and better at waiting until I said, "pops." Of course, she had a helper...
Every couple of days, when she sees my Slow and Steady book, she looks for the page with the picture of a boy jumping out of a box and asks me to "sing" the "poem song." She is almost saying the whole thing with me now.
Finally, we had to play with the real Jack.
Check out other ideas for your little one at 1+1+1.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Newspaper Construction and Clothespin Snap

Little Man is learning about construction this month. The first week, we talked about blueprints. We talked about architects (and interior designers), and how you have to think through what you are going to build before you start. We looked at several different types of plans, and how everything that we make requires some thought. Then we built a fort.
We rolled newspapers*, two sheets at a time, and had about fifty rolls. When we tried to build our fort, however, the rolls wouldn't stand (especially with a toddler around). So we attached groups of seven with tape, then we were able to get to work.
I was impressed that after such a brief discussion, Little Man suggested we get chairs to make our fort stronger, and to hold the blankets more securely.

While Little Man worked, I had KW place clothespins on a box**. I had placed dots around the edge of a shoebox, and she was to slide the pin over the dot. I am always surprised how much she likes these activities, and how much I have to learn about learning.
The activity helps her with eye-hand coordination, one to one matching, and increased awareness of "on" and "off."

She was not able to clip the pins yet, but she has asked for the box at other times, and repeated the activity. I plan to add the clipping in when she gets bored with the current set up.
* Activity from Mudpies to Magnets, p.50.
** Activity from Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready, p. 97. Check out other tot school ideas on 1+1+1. You won't be disappointed!

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I don't know how this will ultimately play out for our family, but I do know God has pressed it into my heart for the past three years. How could we ever say our family is too full for these little ones? How could we not help them get un-stuck?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Roundabout Way

I want to pin this image. It is from a magazine that stopped publication a few years ago, but remains one of my favorites of all-time, Cottage Living. I found a PDF with the picture, copied the part I wanted, and stuck it here. So I could pin it to my dream board for our future mountain house.

Yes, you can all come stay.
I love the ledges, the hearth, and the pass-through to the kitchen and dining area.

This will likely be the only image ever to have been pinned from my blog.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Matchstick Mouth

I recently watched The Help. In the movie, there is a scene where a young woman is asking for housekeeping advice from a maid. She needs to answer the question, "How do I keep my eyes from watering when I am chopping an onion?" The answer? Hold an unlit match between your teeth.

I tried it tonight, and who knew? It worked!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sewing Accountability 2013

My sister and I are doing a little project this year. We have both had sewing machines and teach-yourself-to-sew books for over a year. But we haven't yet learned to sew. SO, we are holding each other to making some sort of progress every month this year. For me, this is to finish a chapter a month in my book.

To begin my work, however, I had a few things to mend before I got started. This was good, as they helped move project-unpack-and-move-into-your-new-house-finally forward. Who can get started on something new with these hanging over the head? Here was my short list:

  • sew hook & eyes back on peasant blouse (that I happen to love and haven't worn in years, due to missing hook & eyes)
  • sew buttons on smocked UGA jumper so KW can wear it (mom added darts to girl-ify it)
  • sew button back on KW's coat
  • mend pocket on Arden's sweater that KW was wearing last week
  • add final stitching to t-shirt quilt I made for B, to hold the batting in place
So, there you have it. My February project is also not from the book, but along the unpacking lines. Watch for a post...I hope it turns out well. I am actually doing something new.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On the Rope

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the first stage of the Advent calendar my mom knitted for me. My intention was to create the weights out the yarn my mom used to knit the mittens, then hang it up the following year. That was my intention.

What really happened was that I took it to Memphis with me in a non-descript box during our summer visit. Because I was going to have a lot of time to work on it, then, right? Then I accidentally left it there. But I didn't realize it was missing until - you guessed it - it was time to at least throw those mittens in a bag again. By then, my sister had moved home and was living in the room where I had left the box. Everything in the room had been shoved in corners and stacked in other places. And, did I mention it was in a non-descript box?

Finally, the mittens were discovered and recovered! This past summer I added the weights, which are styrofoam balls wrapped in the various yarns used to make the mittens, and we finally got those babies up on the rope. Lee and I had a lot of fun hanging up the calendar. (There were some bursts of over-controlling mom ruining the moment; I plan to do better with that next year.) Despite the horrible, flash-less pictures, it looked really cute, though there is still some tweaking I want to do for next year.
Next steps for this treasure:
1. Finish writing the "script" we will use. (I found one that I thought was really cool until we started, so I am writing my own, using this one as a model.)
2. Gather all of the "treats" for the mittens to store with them. (Of course, chocolate is included every day, but I will buy that fresh.)
3. Determine a permanent order for the mittens and sew the numbers on. (1-25, in case that is not readily apparent.)
4. Re-assess some of those balls, and make new, smaller ones. (My yarn wrapping skills turned out to be nil, so some of those weights ended up being huge.)