Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Basement

This is for Mom and Dad, who patiently listened to me explain all of the fun stuff I did in my basement, but were not able to picture it.  Photos are just taken with my iPhone, not trying to be fancy...

We have a very long and skinny basement, so I split it into three sections.  When you walk down the stairs and turn the corner, this is what you see.
If you walk to the middle of the room, and turn back around to look towards the stairs, this is what you see.
The TV viewing section...
Put Curtains along the wall to add some color and texture, bought the buffet table to fit the giant TV from a consignment store.
Used my awesome silhouette and some reclaimed kitchen cabinet doors to make these Shel Silverstein quotes above my new little couch.
 Two bookshelves flank my office door, and the awesome leather recliner is centered to watch TV.
The Middle section is the kid's desk, computer stuff, and a little reading nook.  I bought the antique desk at a thrift store.  I love everything about it except for the idea of ever having to move it up stairs.
On the other side of the room there is this little reading nook.  The table is a hand-me-down from my parents (from the 40s).  I put the basket top on it and some magazines and books and such.
If you are facing this chair, to the left, I have these cute owl canvases.  I made the Owl you need... signs with my silhouette.
At the back of the room, there is another little bench to sit on, and my tread mill.  My new tread mill comes tomorrow!!!  They are hauling this old one away for me.
I moved all of my storage cabinets into the hall.  It seems narrow in the pictures, but it is nice to have the extra storage, and to have them out of the way.
And finally, over Thanksgiving, I redid the bathroom downstairs.  Painted and changed out the towels, rugs, and shower curtain.  I also spray painted my big wicker shelf to add some color.

Monday, September 8, 2014

First Week of School

After a FUN weekend spent playing as a family, the anticipated first day of school arrived.  We had a big meeting Monday evening to discuss the schedule and the expectations.  I wondered if my big plan would freak them all out, but they actually all really liked it.  Tyler loves that he knows exactly what he can help with.  Jack loves it because it helps him stay on task.  Sam loves it because he can know what we are eating for dinner every night, and Logan has no idea what is going on :)

Here are the big successes.  The house stayed clean all week.  We did not eat out even one night.  There was not a lot of screaming or nagging going on in the mornings to get everyone ready and out the door.  We were able to pray and read scriptures, and the overall feeling in our home was just better.  Other than Logan, we hardly watched any television, and no one complained about that at all.

The only downside.  I was exhausted.  I was so anxious the first few nights, that I didn't sleep, but by Wednesday evening I was too tired to stay awake.  I slept, but it was hard to get up again at 5:30.  I will adjust as I get more used to the early morning.

It will be another busy week, but I think we are getting into the groove of things.  Here are our first day of school pics and some comments about each of their first week adventures.

Jack and Sam wore matching uniforms on purpose.  That was weird, but I decided not to comment.  Sam announced the next day that Jack could not wear the same color as him, and they have been checking in each morning to make sure they are not matching.  Logan chose his FAVORITE shirt with the hood, and some "clean, tight pants".  On my long list of things to get done before school started, haircuts never made it to the top.  They were a little shaggy.  Logan was in a brace for the first week of school, but it is off now (hooray).
They were really only interested in taking silly pictures, so I had to promise them that they could if they would take a few serious ones.
Jack is in the 7th grade.  He has new teachers for homeroom and math.  He is doing great.  He announced on the way home that, "All of my teachers already really like me."  He was also excited about some new students that he made friends with.  He made sure to introduce Sam to teachers and administrators.  He is already tired of math homework.  He wanted to change from trumpet to French horn, but mean old mom said no.  He is not taking a high school class this semester, but will next semester.

Photo bomb by Logan.  He was pretty much doing this throughout the process which is why the big boys are pulling funny faces instead of natural smiles.  I gave up.
Sam is in 3rd grade.  He likes his teacher, and has class with several friends from church.  He sat with Amanda and Rosalyn and they got a treat on the first day for being the most well behaved kids in the class.  So far, he has done all his homework at school, and has not had long nights.  He tells me he does not want to go to school almost every morning, and that it is too hard, then promptly remembers that he gets to build things with Legos and happily gets himself ready to go.  I think it just takes him a few extra minutes to wake up and stop being grumpy.  He really likes packing snacks and a water bottle.  We have many discussions about the water bottle!  He also has made friends and has lot of people to eat lunch with and play with.

Logan's first day was orientation, so I got to go with him.  He learned all the rules, and got to meet his teacher who was also Jack and Sam's kindergarten teacher.  She was so excited to have Wirick #3 - hopefully that lasts.  Logan did great!  He listen to everything she said, answered questions, and participated.  He did get up and circle his chair a few times, and listening to the playground rules without getting to play just about killed him.  He was excited to get home and eat his lunch out of his lunch box, and ready to go back the next day.  On the second day he got to ride the bus and go all by himself.  He loved it.  He is really cute about the clothes he picks out each day, and is great about sharing what he did in class.  He says he has lots of friends, but he can't remember all of their names.

We had our family meeting last night to discuss what went well, what we needed to change, etc.  This week we are going to work on Jack not complaining about homework on Friday (he thinks he should have the day off), and Sam not saying that he doesn't want to go to school.  I am excited that a friend is picking Logan up from now on, so I don't have to leave work at lunch to grab him.  That is going to help me out a lot.

Overall a successful week, a crazy week, and an exhausting week.  We did it!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I Chose This!

I keep repeating this to remind myself that this crazy year to come is our choice, and that there is a reason why we made this choice.  Hopefully we will survive.  I figure I should document it, so I can refer back when days are bad.

Last year, we made the decision to put Jack in North Idaho STEM Charter Academy.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  In our area, there are three choices for education.  #1 - public school, #2 - "Charter", which is a language arts based program for middle school and up, or #3 - "STEM" which is K-12.

We were happy in our Elementary school.  Jack loved his teachers, and always did great.  He tested advanced on all standardized tests, and maintained high grades.  However, as he got closer and closer to 6th grade, I felt more and more uneasy about the future.  Panic is probably an apt term.  It was a feeling that grew and could not be dismissed.  It was obvious to me that our middle school was the WRONG place for my son.  I have never even considered taking my kids from public school before, so this was upsetting to me, and I was lost.  I realized that this feeling was actually a prompting from the Holy Ghost, and that I needed to turn to prayer to find the best situation for Jack.

After research and many conversations with parents at both Charter and STEM, I decided that STEM fit Jack's personality and abilities.  Being super nerds around here, the science and technology part of this was something we were very excited about.  We put in an application for the lottery, and prayed for the best.  I really felt like like I was guided, and that it would all work out.  I was nervous when he got wait-listed and thrilled when they called to let us know he made it in.

Jack came home from his first day of school, and said, "Mom, this is the best thing that ever happened to me."  It is almost unexplainable the growth that I saw last year.  He learned things that I did not learn until college.  We had amazing conversations about history, current events, literature.  He competed in FLL (lego league), built robots, engineered buildings, worked with NASA, competed on a state level in NHD (National History Day), and I could go on and on.  He was able to maintain all As or Bs in every class, and qualified for the 8 in 6 program which allows him to take high school classes while in middle school, and college classes in high school which will result in a diploma and associates degree by the time he graduates.  He completed his first on-line high school class this summer, and also taught himself how to code in Java Script just for fun.

At the same time, I watched Sam coast.  I had nothing to compare it to before, but my eyes were suddenly wide open.  He had a fun year and a darling teacher, who I believed did the best she could in her situation.  I have nothing bad to say about her or the school, but Sam was not challenged in any way. The difference between the two experiences was vast. (Sam did not make it into STEM last year, he was too low on the waiting list)

To be clear, this was not easy.  Not even a little bit easy - it was HARD!  Jack spent hours each night doing homework, sometimes he had to skip other activities.  Sometimes, he got frustrated and wanted to just have a day off.  Sometimes he cried, and sometimes I yelled.  It felt like at times, Tyler and I spent almost as much time correcting homework, and helping with projects as he did doing it. I also had to commit to driving 20 minutes to get to the school, and 10 minutes to pickup, and 20 minutes back home.  Luckily, we carpooled, so Jack had a ride every morning.  We asked him all of the time if this was too much, if we needed to consider a different option, but he loves it and wants to continue.

This year, we were thrilled that Sam also got in to STEM for 3rd grade.  To add to the craziness, Logan starts Kindergarten.  STEM has a Kindergarten, but we are sending Logan to the public Kindercenter.  Our individual schools do not have kindergartens, instead all students go to one building and there are several kindergarten classes and options.  There were a few reasons why I chose not to send Logan to STEM.  #1 - I don't think he is ready for that kind of structure, #2 - The extra drive to STEM during the day would really be detrimental to my work schedule.

Let's talk about my work schedule.  I am very lucky to have the ability to work from my home office every day, but that does not mean that I set my hours or that I am not expected to work 8+ hours each day, during regular business hours.  I spend most of my day on the phone with my team or with my customers.  My kids are getting pretty good at being quiet when I take calls in the car.  I have my headset, and there were times last year where I conducted a full hour of business on the drive to and back from STEM.  Once I even conducted an interview.  I will have to use my lunch break to pick Logan up from school every day.  The bus to school is just around the corner, so it will be an easy drop off.

Extra curricular activites - I am not crazy!  This is definitely a sacrifice, however my kids are not very into sports, so they don't care much.  We are taking swimming lessons on Saturdays, and both Jack and Sam take piano.  Jack also plays trumpet in school.  Both of the older boys are in scouts.  We could not possibly add anything else at this time.

Now comes Stake Conference last week which focused on what we need to do to keep our families on the path of salvation (scriptures, prayers, temple, family history, etc).  I had been thinking about the number of hours in the day and realizing that there was literally not enough time to make this all work.  Add the feeling of importance that I need to be better at having scriptures and prayers with the kids, FHE (family home evening), and all of that jazz, and that is when I began to panic.  How will we do all of this?  How will I still be able to work?  How will we eat?  Deep breaths, I chose this!  It occurred to me that this is what I am good at.  I manage and organize teams, and projects at work.  I organize my life, and it is my job to bring those skills home and put together a "project plan/schedule" for my family.  I am not naive enough to believe that this is going to go smoothly every day, or that I wont have to tweak this to make it work, but we are going to give it our best shot.  We were joking yesterday that I really need to go to the Doctor to have a look at my shoulder, but he would probably recommend physical therapy, and there is no room for that on the schedule.  Sad but true, advil will work for now.

So, after several hours playing around with a schedule, here is our great plan.  It is tight.  Jack is going to have to get quicker at home work, but it can work if we support each other.

Here is my schedule as it applies to the rest of the time in the day...

Here is my plan for the weekend...
I don't pretend to think that this is the right school for every kid, or the right choice for every family, but for now I know that this is the right choice for us, and I am willing to sacrifice my time to give this opportunity to my kids.  I know there are "football dads" and "cheerleader moms" that live through watching their kids play sports.  I have to admit that I am a little jealous when I hear about the educational opportunities that my kids get at STEM.  -Again proving (as if we needed more proof than the charts) that I am a super nerd.  So for any of you that run into me looking like a total mess repeating the words, "I chose this", just pat me on the back or feed me chocolate.  I will make it through this year.  Having all three in the same school next year will be a lot easier!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day Fun

As promised, Monday was a family fun day.  We settled on a bike ride along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.  There are a ton of places you can pick up the trail, and we went up to the mountains (Enaville) to catch the trail.  We rented a tag along bike for Sam.  We have a trailer for Logan.  When we arrived at the trail head, we unpacked the bikes (which we shoved into the back of the van; we probably need a bike rack :))  Tyler went to attach the tag a long and it the screw heads were stripped.  On to plan B, we put Logan and Sam into the trailer and off we went.  The trail was amazing.  It is nicely maintained, there were people, but it was not crowded, and there were plenty of places to stop, rest, and enjoy the view.  We rode for 6 miles before we turned around.  We stopped once each direction and got out to play.  The highlight for the boys was that the chipmunks would eat their granola bars.  Logan even fed one a "fruit by the foot".  My favorite was the Logan kept asking me, "Can I talk to them?"  I would tell him that yes he could talk to them.  Then he complained, "Mom, they aren't talking to me!"  Too many Disney movies!  I was pretty surpised that I could ride for 12 miles.  It has been a few years since I have been on a bike, and I was still pretty sore from the yard work.  Jack did great too!  Tyler could have gone a lot farther even hauling the two little boys along.

On our way home, we stopped to buy a few more things for the garden and some groceries for a BBQ.  Tyler made a yummy dinner and we ate our first salad from the lettuce that we grew in the garden.  We also used some chives from our garden for our potatoes.  YUMMY! 

While I cleaned up, Tyler and the boys planted more of the garden.  At some point, Logan was getting in the way, so I brought Sam and Logan in to give them a bath.  I am not sure that I will ever get my bathroom clean again after three days of muddy baths.

Here are some pictures of our ride.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Tyler and I have been pretty happy with our front yard.  I love all of my flowers and work to keep it looking nice.  We have hated our backyard for a long time.  It is a cool backyard in that there are trees all around, so it feels like you are camping, but that brings challenges of pine needles, dark spots where grass wont grow.  The yard is also sloped in strange places, so it has been hard to decide what to do with it.  It is still a work in progress, but progress has been made.
Last year, Tyler built a raised garden box and we loved having the fresh veggies. He decided that we needed more room, so he built a second, bigger box. We have limited sunshine areas, so there was only one option for where we placed it. Tyler had been watching the yard for weeks to determine the best area for sun.

Friday, Tyler had a big pile of dirt delivered.  Logan and I got to "supervise" as the dump truck dumped it into our backyard.  For a three year old, that is pretty much the best day ever. (Sam had a PJ day at school, so he is indeed playing in the dirt in his PJs and cowboy boots.)

On Friday night, I developed a scheme.  Tyler was going to be fishing all day Saturday.  Wouldn't it be fun, to have all of his dirt moved to his garden when he came home?  I couldn't sleep, I got so excited.  My plans grew into a mini backyard makeover.  First thing in the morning, I talked to Sam and Jack.  The thing is that my kids don't know how to work hard, they don't know how to finish a job, and they don't have a lot of opportunity to do service.  I know this is my fault, and it really bothers me.  When I have tried to provide these opportunities, it ends up with 1 - 4 crying Wiricks.  I used my best excited voice and attitude to describe how happy Dad would be if we did this for him.  I also told them they could earn money for the extra work, and that if we got everything done on Saturday, we could spend all day together on Monday having fun.  They signed on, hesitantly, but agreed to the job at hand.  I think digging in dirt sold it.  We had a few tears and some stop and go activity, but they really worked hard. 

Once we filled Tyler's garden, I landscaped a corner of the yard.  It was a corner where grass didn't grow well, it is sloped, and it always looks messy.  We used the left over dirt to make a nice little raised garden area.  We also have a cool bird house that Tyler's dad built us a few years ago.  I have always wanted to build a stand for it.  I drew up some plans and purchased the materials.  Jack and Sam helped me execute the plan.  Jack was hilarious as always.  He said, "Mom, I didn't know that you would know how to do something like this."  (Honestly, I wasn't so sure myself) We made a cute sign for the front and bought bird seed to attract some birds.

On the deck, I replaced some over sized patio chairs that crowded the deck, replaced the old faded umbrella, and cleaned up the clutter.  I added flower boxes around the edge and planted bright colored flowers.  We are having our deck re-finished in the next few weeks, so it will look a lot better.  I also mowed the lawn, so that Tyler didn't have to do it.

At about 7 p.m., Tyler told me he was on his way home.  We waited and waited.  Sam sat on the stairs with the garage open.  He was almost in tears, because it was taking too long.  He told me that he said a prayer, but it hadn't worked yet.  Jack and I built a fire in the fire pit to get it ready for smores.  Tyler finally got home around 8:30 or so.  It was dark, which was a bit of a bummer.  Sam got him right in the house with a big grin and brought him to the deck.  He immediately noticed the new landscaped corner, but had no idea about the garden.  We showed him, and he was flabbergasted.  It was perfect.  It was so much fun.  After the kids were in bed, he went right to Walmart to buy some seeds and plants.

For fun, here are some pictures of our front yard too.

p.s.  I have never hurt like this before.  My back hurts, my arms hurt, my hands hurt, my legs hurt.  I even have blisters.  It was so worth it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The end of an era!

Logan is FINALLY potty trained.  We had a bumpy start.  We picked out little toys to put in a treasure box.  We lovingly called them "poop prizes".  I filled a jar with hershy kisses for when he peed in the potty. 

He was all in, but then refused to participate.  I ate the first jar of hershy kisses, and then we went to Utah over spring break.  He had a few successes at grandma's house, so we tried again.  It took a few days, but he figured it all out.  One night he came in wearing little striped pirate underpants that his Aunt Angela bought him.  I told him that he should change into a pull up, so that he didn't have an accident in his bed.  He got very serious and in his cute little baby to boy voice, he said, "Mom, I not a little baby anymore.  I have to wears unnerwears!"  And that was it.  No more diapers!  He loves his "unnerwears" or "unnies".  He changes them several times a day, so that he can enjoy all of the characters.  The thing I am having a really hard time dealing with is that he REALLY enjoys peeing outside.  This is not something that the other boys did.  He doesn't have any problems dropping his pants in public.  He can pee and wave at passing cars at the same time. 

Once he was really potty trained, we went to build a bear and bought a costume for his bear.  His bear was a baby, because the brothers bought it for him when he was born.  Now that he is a big boy, his bear also became a big boy.  He got to buy him unnerwears and he chose the Woody (Toy Story) costume.  It is pretty cute.

No more diapers!  Such a sweet thought!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I didnt get a chance to post about Easter this year.  It was another hectic holiday like usual around here.  The boys had a blast painting eggs and finding candy.  I had a blast dressing them up on Sunday.  Here is a shot of their outfits.  They would not cooperate for a picture, but they are still pretty dang cute!