Monday, April 30, 2012

Car Trips with Kids: Ideas and Tips to Keep Them Occupied

(My latest Hub) With a little planning, you can have a relaxing (and quiet) trip! I am a mother of 5 small children, ages 7, 5.5, 4.5, 3, and 10 weeks. We travel around the country with my husband's job. We are currently on our 12th move (not counting all the times we've moved 'home' in between jobs) and in our 5th state in just under 5 years. I know long car rides. And I know long car rides with a bunch of toddlers and small children. Here are a few ideas and tips that we have used to keep the kids busy and quiet so we could have a relaxing and stress-free trip. 1) "Free box" toys Most of us who frequent garage sales during the Spring and Summer months have seen the typical box at the end of the driveway labeled "FREE". A few may rummage through the box but a lot of people pass it by not even giving it a second thought. Well, don't pass by it anymore without checking it out first as it may contain a secret for long trips with children! Small little gadgets and kids' meal toys are usually plentiful in this box and are the perfect thing to keep little hands busy in the car. And don't be afraid to take them all! They are in that box for a reason and most likely will be thrown in the garbage once the sale is over. Many of times I have asked to take the whole box when there are lots of items to choose from. I stock up on my collection of free box toys and gadgets (without letting the kids see them!) and once it's time for the car ride, I seperate them into ziploc bags and give each child a bag of toys. It's like Christmas-time! They have tons of fun going through and playing with each little thing. Once they are done looking at and playing with everything in their bag, they can swap bags with another child and start all over again. And the best was free! 2) Homemade "I Spy" game Take a jar or clear container of any size (a 32oz peanut butter container washed out with the label pealed off works great!) and fill it about 3/4 full with rice. Then find small items around the house that you can place in the jar for them to find. Items could be things like: small rubberband, penny, dice, corn kernel, bead, dry bean, button, paper clip...anything "mini" would work fine. Put them all in the jar with the rice, put the top on (securing it would glue would be a good idea), and shake it up! Give it to the child to find all of the items by turning and twisting the container. 3) "Find it" picture game Make a page of pictures of items for them to find during the trip. Depending on the age of the child, you can make it easy with things like: a cloud, a tree, etc or a little more challenging like: a pink car, a firetruck, etc. Other ideas could be: dog, stop sign, airplane, semi, squirrel, police car, traffic light, etc. Use your imagination and include anything you think you might see while traveling! The easiest way I found to make this game is to find free clipart pictures off the internet and copy and paste them onto a document page and print it off! Remember to save it so you can use it again and again! (You could also make it into a bingo board and have it be a contest between kids) 4) Snacks Obviously most of us would pack some snacks for the kids during long trips in the car but in it's in the way you 'package' them that makes them fun! Give them the snacks in ways they are not used to. Seeing what we have lots of children, we usually buy things in bulk so my kids hardly ever get cute little packages of their "own" thing. For example, to shake it up a bit, for car rides we will buy the little individual packs of raisins which they think are the best things ever since they each get their own box! Another thing could be their own box of those animal crackers or special treats they normally wouldn't receive or in a way they normaly wouldn't receive them. 5) DVD player or Laptop If you have a portable DVD player, great, bring it! If you have a DVD player in your vehicle, even better! If you have neither, like us, but you have a laptop, it'll do the job! Just get a power inverter (like this one) to plug your computer into a cigarette lighter and you'll be good to go! Buy a movie or two (the $5 ones work great!) that they haven't seen before so it keeps everyone's attention. 6) iPhone and iPad Apps There are SO many different apps that you can use on your iphone or ipad that are both FUN and FREE that you can "purchase" and use during cars rides (as well as many other times!). My 3 year old has a blast playing on my iphone when we've exhausted most other activities on long car rides. A few of her favorites are Tozzle, ABC Lite, Shape Builder (fav!), Cookie Maker, If You're Happy, Old McDonald, Phone 4 Kids, and Match Animals. The other kids enjoy Fruit Ninja Lite, Bike Race, Angry Birds, Glow Hockey, Lep's World, and Talking Gina. 7) Obey Money We tell the kids that they each have a set amount of money in coins (ie: 10 dimes) that is theirs to spend on a special treat when the car ride is over.....but here is the catch....each time they disobey, bug their sibling, act unruly, etc, they get a coin taken away. And whatever is left (if any) at the end of the trip, it is theirs to keep (or spend on a treat)! It might take a couple times for them to understand but they catch on quick!....especially if a sibling gets to pick a treat with their money but the other had all of theirs taken away and doesn't get anything. You'd be surprised at how motivated they are to behave when "their" money is on the line! 8) Color book and crayons We did this on our last trip (8 hours) and it was wonderful!! I bought them each their own coloring book ($1 from the dollar store) and their own box of crayons and let them color. And a tip with the crayons...don't keep them in the box that they come in, it is too hard for kids to get them back in. Find another container, like a plastic one with a flip open lid or a zippered pouch if they can handle the zippers. Not having to share crayons in the car minimizes sibling fights. You could also purchase the color wonder markers and coloring pages for little ones so you don't have to worry about them coloring all over the seat (or melting in hot weather if one gets accidentally stuck in the seat!) 9) Make them a binder Each of our kids gets their own 3-ring binder filled with color pages, blank pages, stickers, and a variety different activity pages. This keeps all those pages contained to their binder and not all over the car. You can give them each a different color binder to clearly see who's is who's or you can put their names on them. 10) Let them pack their own bag Let the child pack their own small bag or backpack (we use lunch bags that zipper) with toys and special items that they can have in the car. It needs to fit in the bag or it doesn't come. Nothing more can be brought into car. They place their toys back into their bag when done and they are in charge of it. 11) ABC game Depending of the age of your child, you can play this several ways. For us, we just have the kids idenitfy the letters of the alphabet on billboards and different signs they see, no matter where they are located in the word. This especially works well in the city. You could also play the word has to start with that letter, etc. 12) Disposable camera For slighty older children, or ones who know how to point and click, you can give them a disposable camera and let them take special pictures of things they find along the journey! In the age of digital everything, this can be a good lesson in patience since they have to wait until the pictures are developed to see them. 13) Word game And for the kid in all of us...this is a great game to play with your spouse or other adults (or older children that can spell) to pass the time. You can play it with really any category you can think of but I'll take "movies", for example. The first person says a movie title name...say "Finding Nemo" then the next person thinks of a movie that starts with the last letter in the previous movie, in this case, an "o". So they could say "October Sky". Then next person could say "You've Got Mail", etc. And you keep going until you can't think of any more. You could do this with book titles, tv shows, movies, professional sports teams, foods, anything! Hope this helps keep everyone calm, happy, and occupied during your next car trip! Stay tuned for Part 2 as I'm sure I'll be coming up with more as our trips continue!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jaeger's birth story

(blogger is still not letting me break between paragraphs so again i'm sorry! grrr) After a lazy day in the hotel room (which drives Nathan more crazy than it does relax him), he decided to take the older 4 kids with him to Target to get a soccer ball as a birthday present to himself (bday's tomorrow) and then go to the park to play. I decided to stay back because 1) it's freezing outside right now...about 40 degrees and windy, 2) I had to feed Jaeger who I woke up at 6:15pm bc he'd been sleeping since NOON!, and also bc I already got out for a few mins this morning when I went to Goodwill to find a few things we needed for around here (like some more hangers to hang laundry and to replace a bowl I broke). So now that baby's fed, and it's quiet for the time being, I'm FINALLY going to write (or start to write) Jaeger's birth story!! And it goes a little somethin' like this... Well, again with baby #5 we were living on the road in Northern MN so we decided that I would come back to our house to have the baby (about 2.5 hrs away). Since Brayan was 2 weeks early, surprising us all, and Ariella was 1 week early, I knew I wanted to come home earlier than later but I didn't want to leave Nathan working up north by himself for TOO we tried to find a nice balance. We had planned on me coming home the day I turned 38 weeks, a Wednesday. Earlier that week on Monday, Nathan and I were blessed enough to go out on a "last date" while friends/co-workers living near us on the resort were watching our kids! On the way to the restaurant, I noticed that I hadn't stop having contractions, they came every few minutes. Nothing big but noticable. I tried to ignore it but they kept coming at 3-10 minute intervals lasting about a minute. Our whole conversation on that last date was around how long the contractions lasted and if I should drive home that night just to be sure I'd make it (We were having flashbacks to Brayan's labor). By the time we got home, contractions were becoming more infrequent and after a call to my midwife, we decided just to stay the night and see what came of it. Well, nothing came of it and I was able to stay until Wednesday morning as planned and we headed home. The next couple days were filled with errand running (still needed to buy a carseat!) and waiting! We had Ana come stay with us again, the young lady that was gracious enough to stay with me a few days a week last year when Nathan was working away from home. She worked hard in the kitchen preparing the meals and cooking ahead so we could enjoy meals that we already prepared after baby was born. She also helped with the kids and watched them while I ran errands and taught Tiernan his school...I liked having a sub :) Then it happened. I woke up on Friday morning, the 19th, got out of bed and immediately felt wet. "Well, that's not normal!" Sure enough, I had lost my mucous plug and my water was leaking! This had never happened with any other of my kids, my water had always broke when I started pushing so it kind of took me by surprise. I called Nathan. Since it was about 7am he was still in the yard at work and hadn't gone out to the job site yet. We talked for awhile about whether or not he should come back and since I wasn't having contractions or anything, we decided that he could work for awhile longer. Well, a few mins went by and after thinking that I really don't want him to miss this birth since he missed Ariella's, maybe he should come home. So I called him back and he agreed. He was on his way back! By 11:00 or so he was home and I was happy! My husband's going to actually be here for the birth! One big relief! But still no contractions!! We left Ana with the kids and decided to run some errands. We went to Coborns to drop off some movies and then headed to the mall. As we were walking around Target, the contractions would come and go. We laugh now when we think about how I would act during one. Nathan would be talking and say "hey, look at this." (or whatever) and I'd respond "No, let's just keep going. Maybe we should go back." a kind of crabby tone. And then when they were over, I was totally happy and would say "Lets do some more walking over here." :) So we came back to the house and the evening went on like usual. (Usual meaning normal chaos like two of the boys running into each other downstairs, making them both scream and giving Caedmon a bloody nose which dripped all the way upstairs on the carpet. So Caedmon's on the couch crying, Tiernan's crying, my parents were coming over, and I'm trying to make sure that blood's not coming from anywhere else on Caedmon all the while my water is dripping down my leg...nice timing. So, ya know, that kind of 'usual' :) before bed on friday night
During the night I started having contractions again at about 12:30am. They were coming every 3-5 minutes if I was standing up but would only last 30 seconds or so. If I'd lie down, they were about 5-8 mins apart but they'd last a minute. This lasted all..night...long. They were hard contractions too, I really had to focus and breathe. During this time I had texted my midwife just to let her know what was up. At about 5:30am I noticed that when I was laying down, the contractions were starting to come more frequently...8 mins, 5 mins, 3 mins, and still strong so I let Joy know and she said "great, let me know when you want me to come over". And almost immediately after I texted her...STOP. Nothing. No more contractions! What?!? You've GOT to be kidding me?! This NEVER happens to me! I always go into labor and a few hours later baby is here! This has been going on long enough! So Saturday I decide to mostly just lounge in bed. I was exhausted from being up all night and frustrated that this labor was seamingly going no where. Contractions were nothing consistant, one here, one there. But the thing is that they were strong. Like really strong. Like strong enough to bring me to tears twice...and that has never happened. After a strong one, I went out to the couch and asked if Nathan could come in the room for a second. He did and I lost it. Sobbing I told him that I just wanted this over with. I was tired and was tired of a drawn out labor. More than it being painful, I was frustrated. Frustrated because I knew that the contractions weren't frequent enough to make real progress but they hurt like crazy. I wanted to be done. I knew Nathan knew that I was serious when he agreed to call Joy and didn't make me do it. "Yeah, Hi Joy. Uh, Dawn wants to be done. She says she's at her end. Yeah...okay..see you in a bit." She's on her way over. So about 1:30 Joy arrived to see where I was. She checked me and hoping I was at like an 8, she says "5 and a half". UGH! Seriously?? So she stretched me out, stripped my membranes, and "irriated" me a bit. She instructed me to take a bath, relax, take a nap, and then hopefully once I'd wake up from my nap, things would start heading in the right direction. So she gave me a two different liquid herbs to help relax me and then I was ready to get in the tub. Joy said she was going to leave and just to call her when I woke up or when things started to progress. So she was filling out her paperwork while nathan started the tub. I sat up in bed and immediately had a huge contraction. Wow...didn't see that coming. Before I got into the tub I thought I'd better use the bathroom first so right after that big contraction I stood up and mid way to the toilet, had another contraction. On the toilet, had another contraction. Got off the toilet, had another contraction. Got in the tub and had another contraction...see where this is going?? :) While in the tub, I had contraction after contraction every 2 minutes, lasting about a minute. Now we're talking. Joy decided not to leave until she saw where this was going. So she pulled a book from our book shelf in the bedroom and started reading on the floor. Nathan was sitting on the edge of the tub trying to read his book, which he said he couldn't at all because he was timing the contractions and they were coming too close together to get any reading done. Well, excuse me! :) Seeing how I was soooo tired, my desire was to just lie my head down. All I wanted to do was to rest my head and I didnt know how long I would be having these contractions before pushing so I decided to get out of the tub and onto my bed. The bed needed to be made up quick so Joy and Nathan got it all water-proof for me. While they were doing that, I was trying to get out of the tub and into the bedroom but that was a lot easier said than done. Nathan said "Yeah, I knew it was serious when we were getting the bed ready and I looked back and you were on the bathroom floor." Yeah, on my hands and knees I was in the bathroom, trying to get enough time between contractions to stand up. It wasn't working, they were coming too fast and too hard. Nathan came over to help me and in mid-stand I had another one. I gripped the trim on the doorway as Nathan held the other side of my body. We finally made it over to the bed but there really wasn't any resting of my head for me! I was positioned on my side and the contractions were on top of each other giving me no rest in between. Joy still wasn't convinced this was it so she went to her car to get a magazine. Once she came back in, she knew I was close. She asked if I wanted to get back into the tub since I wanted a water birth like my previous 4 but at that point I didn't want to move. And honestly, part of me wanted a "land" birth bc people ask all the time how water births compare to land births and I've always said I have no idea bc I haven't had a land I kinda wanted that comparison. (water births are waaaaaaay easier on your body and let baby come a lot easier more land births :) But I did want to change positions. I wanted to be upright like I would have been if I were in the tub. We tried getting the birthing ball on the bed to relax over but that wasn't working, so I just had Nathan take all our pillows and prop me up real tall on the bed. That's when I decided to start bearing down with my contractions. I wanted this over!! "Let me check you to make sure you are all the way dialed before you push so hard." I was at a 9.5. She told me to just listen to my body and push when I needed to. Well, I needed to! With one push the head crowned and Joy told me to reposition myself so my pelvis was straight. I pushed again and the head was out. (During that contraction, I heard Nathan "whining" even louder than me!) One more push for the body and our beautiful baby boy was lying on my tummy! "He's a tiny one!" was Joy's first words when he came out. Which was surprising to me since I thought he was going to be our biggest. Six pounds even was the weight and 19 inches. Yes, he was our tiny one. I was so thankful to be done and for both of us to be perfectly healthy. Since this was a land birth, Nathan got to watch the baby being born which he never really did before because it was under water and I was usually upright so he really couldnt see. He said it was the most amazing thing in the world. The only thing that I'm bummed about is the fact that we didn't have any pictures taken or video of the birth, even though I was all set up for it. No one else made it there (a couple students, one of Joys and our babysitter) were planning on coming but because it happened so quickly after she "irritated" me, there wasn't really time. I went from 5.5 centimeters to 10 in about 2 hours. We waited for everything to be cleaned up and snuggled in before we told the other kids. (although they figured something was up when they heard a baby crying from our room! "Is the baby here?!?!" they kept asking :) After a few hours we settled on a name. Jaeger Brave Legatt was added to the family as our 4th son and 5th child (9th if you count our 4 sweet little ones with Jesus). It's definitely true that no two births are the same and they all come into this world with their own story. weighing him (bad lighting i know)
measuring him
dad holding his son for the first time
Jaeger Brave

Our Family

I know a lot of you have seen these pics of our family on Facebook but since some of you haven't and MOSTLY because I make my blog into a hard cover book each year to keep for our journal, I'm posting them here too :) The Family
The Kids (Brayan-4.5, Tiernan 7, Jaeger 8 weeks, Ariella 3, Caedmon 5.5)
The Boys
The Girls

Thursday, April 26, 2012


So I'm super excited about HubPages!! Since everyone I know (and then some) have told me at one point in time or another that I should write a book, I've decided posting some articles on HubPages! You can click on the widget on the right of my blog and see my articles or you can sign up HERE! ...and become an author yourself! (and make a little money doing so!) Check the sight often, I have so many ideas! (it's just about finding the time!)....gotta go write some more!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trip to the Mall

I said I would post more about our company that we had last week...well, here's the "more" :) A friend of ours from back home who I knew from way back in our young adult group days at church and who Nathan has known since going to school in Foley was in Chicago for business. He saw via facebook that we were staying in a hotel close to the airport in Chicago and we decided to hook up! We haven't seen each other in YEARS! So last Thursday evening, Joel came over for some homemade pancakes (which I think he appreciated since he eats out Monday-Friday while he travels!) and some fellowship with lots of laughs. We had to joke that our houses back home are 5 miles from eachother but it takes us both being in Chicago in order to get together. :) Lots-a-laughs
Due to the weather, Nathan was off work last Friday and we decided to take a trip to the mall. We had no idea what kind of mall it was, it just had The Buckle there and that's where Nathan wanted to find some pants. Once we started to walk around, we realized that it was a tad bigger than the mall close to where we are staying as it remided us a little of the Mall of America, except a bit smaller and minus the amusement park :) But we did look at the directory like 15 times, just to give you an idea. We ran into the Rain Forest Cafe restaurant and our kids were mezmorized by everything they had there. "We wanna eat here!" they all said excitedly. Well, first we needed to finish shopping and then it was time for a potty break. Since we were right next to Sears, we thought to just go in there. We noticed though that there were quite a few people sitting on the benches and standing next to the entrance of Sears with lots of security. We thought there must be a show or appearance or something? But we kept on...needa find those bathrooms! One step into Sears and we saw this sign....
Ahhhh...that makes sense now! Well, pretty sure it might as well be the president making an appearance with as much security and police and rope and walkie-talkies and other badge-wearing people there were!!! It was even 3 hours before they were coming! The mob of people about an hour and a half before their arrival.
We decided it was time to eat and it was quite the experience for the kids! They loved it!! They were so well behaved too! I think it had something to do with all the things going on around them but the waitress had to comment on how they were are sitting so still and quiet and then they ALL ate everything off their plate and literally licked them clean...she was impressed with that too. "AND good eaters?!?...Where were you when I had kids?!" she said :)
They had a big screen at the mall where you could see yourself and then penguins and polar bears came out of the water on the screen by you. The kids had fun. Can you see us on the screen? :)
The one thing that we are finding out living in a big city is that 5 kids is A LOT!! My friend here said that she thinks she's seen a family with 4 but that's the most. So when we are walking out in public, like the mall, we might as well have aliens sticking out of our heads with the looks that we get :) We've mostly only received nice comments from people, which is always fun to hear. One guy kinda stopped us and asked (of course, as does everyone) "Are these ALL yours?!" "yes" we say with a smile. And after he takes his jaw off the floor, he says "Do you have a couple jobs?" I said "No, just one good one." "Well, that's great!" He says. Then he realized we weren't sure which route he was taking so he went on to make sure we knew that he thought it was great. "Oh, well, beautiful family...really, I love it! Way to go." Another elderly man stuck his hand out and touched Nathan's forearm while saying "You have a beautiful family". Another lady walking with her 3ish yr old girl says to me "Excuse me, are these ALL yours?....These?...All of THESE??...yours???...These are all yours???" YES!! "HOW do you do it???...I can't even handle this one!" Another guy friendly argued with me that I wasn't old enough to have all these kids. Yep, pretty positive that I am :) Those are just a few of the recent comments. I'd love to be with some friend of ours who have 10 or 12 kids! I'm positive people would think it was a private school on a field trip or something. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Bridge

(Blogger changed their website and apparently they won't let the spacing of how I have my paragraphs, etc show up on the blog, so sorry everything is smushed together...blame blogger...) So the weeks seem to be flying by...which I guess is a good thing seeing how we are still living in a hotel room. Although I do have to admit that its growing on me and since we were already used to living in small spaces, its actually not that bad. I mean, someone else cleans my bathroom; washes my towels, dish rags, and bedding; vacuums; takes out my garbage; and makes my bed every week! What house can I say that about?? ;) Nathan is working 5-10s now which we are all still trying to get used to! He is home SO much!! Not that I am complaining by any means but it makes for some creativity in finding stuff to do as a family while he's here! and speaking of that...he convinced me...well, actually just told me, I didn't really have a choice...that we were getting a wii. I thought I had one up on him when I told him that even if we wanted one, we couldnt get one bc the tvs in our room are the old school kind and don't have any cable hook ups on them. Well, we happened to have a friend over from back home (more on that later!) and he told us that we can just get a converter and it would work fine! Well, thank you for nothing, Joel!! :) So after our outing last Friday (Nathan got the day off bc of the rain..and more on our day out later...), we stopped at Walmart and picked up a wii...and a converter! Well, I'm actually glad we got it as it's given us some fun family time playing super mario brothers and Tiernan can kick our butt in most any world :) Random Pictures.... Since I don't want to go broke doing laundry here...I typically wash and then hang up on my hangers I bought at Goodwill. After the first load, the hangers paid for themselves :)
Typical scene of the planes...even I love to watch them :)
Jaeger smiling and talking with Daddy
The kids before church last week
So about our awesome church!.... Once we got to Chicago, we knew we wanted to get plugged in to a church immediately in order to start making connections and friendships. I put 'churches' in the search bar of my phone and all the little pins dropped on the map. I scanned thru them quick and came upon one called The Bridge Community Church. I clicked on their website and thought that it'd be a church that we'd like so Easter sunday was our first service! Everyone was soooo friendly and welcoming that we decided to sign up for 'pizza with paster scott' after church the following Sunday. We met even more people during pizza and continue to make friends each week. The kids love it as they get to go to their class during the service. Last week I decided to take the boys to Awana for the first time, even though there were only 4 weeks left for the year (it goes by the school year). Tiernan WILL NOT stop talking about it!! He had so much fun and CONSTANTLY walks around saying his memory verse from last week (John 3:16). He is in "sparks" andthe 2 other boys are in "cubbies". We will go back tonight for awana again!! And the other nice part about it is that it is from 6:30 til 8:15 and we drop them off so Nathan, Ariella, Jaeger and I get to spend some quality time together! Aside from the actual church service and Awana, we have met some awesome people there who have already invited us over for a bbq last Wednesday (and even let me do a load of laundry there!) I also meet with some of the stay at home moms at church on tuesday morning for a playgroup where we meet in the GYM (yes! they have a gym too!!...actually TWO of them!) where all the kids run around and burn off some energy. I also met the moms again last Wed for a date at a park in town as well. We will soon be joining a small group at church as well, making our connections circle even larger! We are very happy to have found The Bridge! Thank you Lord for giving us a church family right away! And I'm starting to like this part of the city a little better as we start learning our way around. Even though I'm a country girl, I do LOVE having every store that I could want (Sams club, Target, Kmart, Goodwill, Chipotle!, etc) all within a max of 2-3 miles from where we live..with some being just a couple blocks down!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rewind,Part 3, Oct

The traffic at the resort slowed down and fall was in the air! We took as many walks were possible, making the trek around "the loop". It was a half hour walk, even going fast, so it was much needed for both the kids and me!

The boys got to watch the owners' sons clean some goose! They loved it! And they even offered Nathan the gizzards of one. He didn't know if he would like them but after frying it up, Nathan wished he would have taken all of them!

After seeing an idea on pinterest, I decided it would be a good idea to make 'blessing bags' for those in need! The kids and I went to the store and bought the required products. The kids (esp the older ones) had a great time trying to figure out what would be good to include in the bags...(bouncy balls didn't make the cut :)

After we made the bags, I heard on Dave Ramsey that they wanted to know of your giving story for the Holiday season. I decided this would be a great fit for his article and I sent in a few words about it. I got an email, followed by a phone interview from Dave's team and they wrote up an article about it and featured it on Dave's website!!!

Here is the article:

Dawn and her husband Nathan have four children, ages six, five, four and two—and one on the way. When she saw the idea of making bags of practical items for the homeless on the internet, she knew it would be a great fit for their family.

So, they headed to the store to pick up things like washcloths, toothbrushes, Chapstick, Kleenex, Band-Aids and soap to go in the Blessing Bags that they now keep on hand in the car— simple items that make a big difference, especially in the subzero Minnesota winters.

The Man With No Home

When Dawn told the kids what they were going to do, she made sure to put it in their terms: “We're going to go to the store and get stuff to put in bags for people who don't have homes.”

On one of the shopping trips, Dawn continued with family shopping after picking up stuff for the Blessing Bags. As she added an item to the cart, her five-year-old asked: “Is that for the man?”

She'd already switched gears and asked, “What man?”

“Is that for the man with no home?”

“They totally get it,” Dawn said. She's loved watching their selflessness come out as they help to pick out items , even though she had to explain that a bouncy ball may not be a necessity. She asks them, “What would you want if you were cold and didn't have a place to go to?”

The kids get to add items to the bags in a family assembly line, including pictures they've colored and notes of encouragement. Their oldest child is quick to remind the family to look for someone they could give a Blessing Bag to while they're on the road.

The Freedom of Baby Step 6

The Legatts are freer to experience the joy of giving than ever!

They took Financial Peace University in 2004, but it wasn't until 2007 that they got intense about applying the principles to their lives. But then, they sold nearly everything they owned and lived in a camper for seven (insert: it was really 9 :)months. It paid off in 2008 when they became completely debt-free! Now they are working to pay off their home early.

“Before, we made giving a priority, but it was a little harder,” Dawn said. Sometimes they had to decide whether to use money toward groceries or to give it away. “Now, we don't even really have to think about it because giving money is already saved up. There's no way we ever want to go back to being in debt!”

The family buys items like washcloths, toothbrushes, Chapstick, Kleenex, Band-Aids and soap to go in the Blessing Bags that they now keep on hand in the car.

A Family Affair: Molding Future Givers

The Legatts have a family goal of keeping giving in the forefront. “I want to raise my kids to be givers and servers,” she said.

Dawn knows that they will be more impacted by making and giving out the bags than seeing her write a donation check. She knows they'll remember seeing the look on people's faces of, Is this really for me? Why would you give me this stuff? “It's different than their reaction to getting a dollar,” she said. Plus, it gives the kids a way to use some of their giving money and see the results first-hand.

“In our culture, it's easy to have the mentality of 'throw some money at it and it will be fine,'” Dawn said. “But that doesn't always engage your heart. For us, it's really important to let our kids know that there are people who have less than we do, and there is something we can do about it—to get into their spirits that to give really is better than to receive!”

Monday, April 9, 2012

Rewind, Part 2, Sept

The tiny turtles that we all over the resort. They were trying to make their way to the water before fall. They were adorable!

My "cowboy princess" :)

Making applesauce. Pretty sweet mechanism if you ask me! Just boil the apples for a tad to get them slightly soft, then put them thru the hopper on top, turn the crank, and out comes applesauce!

The peels, core, and seeds come out the other side dry as a bone. Super slick!

And we made this much applesauce (13 quarts) in a couple hours (I froze it).

By far one of the coolest pictures...yeah, my little girl's not afraid of snakes!!

Homemade silly putty for school. Elmers glue and liquid starch. The boys LOVED it!

Rewind, Part 1

So I thought I'd travel back in time a tad and go over a few things during our time at "the cabin"...just so I don't forget them.

We ended up staying in the 600ish sq ft condo for a total of 7 months. His hours continued to ramp up like they normally do and 7 days a week started mid Jan and lasted the rest of the time we were there (thru March). The hours were anywhere from 10-13 hours a day.

A few weeks before Jaeger was born, we were driving back to the condo from getting milk. We passed a church that for some reason we never saw before but thought that we should look it up. I searched for it online and thought that it might be something that would suit us well. Since Nathan was working 7 days a week, I decided to bring the kids by myself the following Sunday. They loved it, I liked it, and we made friends the first Sunday, even inviting us to eat with them at Arby's after the service.

Besides the 'young families' group that we were apart of (we went thru the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan), one of the best physical things about this church was that they had a gym!...A full size gym with a closet full of balls, bowling, hockey equipment, scooters, tents, you name it...all for us to use whenever!! This was a life saver on a couple of occasions! All I had to do was make sure that it wasn't reserved by another group and we could go there and play all we wanted! Let me tell you, it SO helps to have a GYM to run around in when you 1)have 4 small children with a lot of energy cooped up in a small space and 2) when you can't play outside.

They also had a large playgound area outside that is all fenced in that we used once the last time we went to play. It was almost 70 out and it was March 19th!

Guess this is why they call it Sunset Cove Resort. So beautiful!

Another blessing during our time there was that another co-workers of Nathan's who moved into another condo at the same resort brought his family with him. They have 2 boys, ages 4 (Leif) and 3 (Lewis) and one girl who is 5 months (Josephine). It was SO nice to have another woman there with her kids that I could talk to. She would watch my kids when I needed to nap at the end of my pregnancy or when I needed to get some groceries after baby was born. The kids would play together nicely and Ariella just loved her baby girl (bc she wore pink!). It's because of Natalie that I found out what a "breve" was, as I am not a coffee drinker, and introduced me to Tillamook cheese (made in her native Washington state). Ryan and Natalie were a blessing to us and we miss being next door to them!

Jaeger and Josephine

Happy (day after) Easter!

Caedmon 5-1/2, Tiernan 7, Jaeger 7 weeks, Brayan 4-1/2, Ariella 3

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kohl Children's Museum

So despite not having very good luck driving around this city, we decided to give it another try and make our way to the children's museum.

"It's Good one's going to want to go to the children's museum" we thought...WRONG!!!

We pulled up into the lot and read the big words on the sign 'LOT FULL'. Oh, gee, that's wonderful. Guess a few more people had the same idea we did. Crazy how that works in a big city.

So we drove around to the other side of the block as instructed and walked. And it was a little chilly walk. We, of course, don't have coats on and it's a brisk 37 degrees with lotsa wind. Have I mentioned that it's windy here? Always windy?? Hense the name 'windy city' I suppose.

So anyway, we found our way inside and realize that not only was it Good Friday but it was Spring Break so I'm sure all these mommas were ready to get their children out of the house after being cooped up all week. We were wondering what was taking the line so long to enter and then we realized that the building had reached it's max capacity so once x amt of people left, they would let x amt of people from the line into the museum.

We paid our dues and were on our way inside. It was crazily busy with children and toddlers EVERYWHERE...playing, pulling, banging, screaming, yelling, feeling, touching, looking...just being kids I guess! There were 17 different stations from music to body to water and more.

After a few hours we decided we had enough and left.

Next up was lunch at a place we'd never been before called Steak 'n Shake. We had no idea what kind of food was served there so a quick search on google I found the menu and sounded like something we'd eat!...burgers and fries mainly but also milkshakes. They were very INexpensive and the milkshakes were super good. And since we were there during happy hour, the shakes were 1/2 price.... this baby was only $1.75. It was huge. And this is their 'regular' size. Notice my drink glass next to it. :)

Today has been much more lazy. Lounging around the hotel room, nap in the late morning, then to wandering around Target for a couple hours. The kids were begging and begging to go play at the park across the intersection from us so after dropping me and the baby off at the hotel, Nathan took the other 4 kids to the park. I tried to get ariella to stay with me, even bribing her with candy but to no avail...she wanted to play at the park.

After getting back, Nathan said "well, we were definately the only white people there...well, white people that speak English anyway." It's very interesting to us how many Europeans and Indians are around here. We are the minority by far. Nathan said being at the park was like listening to the forgein channel on TV but without being able to turn the channel." :)

Tomorrow we will try out a church...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Well, that was fun (not!)

So Nathan left in the morning for work and I was left with packing everything up and loading it into the van. Thankfully we were right next to the outside door and our van was parked not too far away. Before we buckled in, the kids and I ran around the lake to get some wiggles out. The view was beautiful and it was a nice sunny day!

The first part of the drive was going very smoothly. With my iphone open to the map and my gps set, we were on our way to the next hotel. We got within a few minutes and I saw it....DETOUR AHEAD. Oh no! I HATE detours, especially on the freeway in Chicago. I had NO idea where to go, which road to follow, and apparently I must have missed my detour because I came up to the road I was supposed to take and had to just keep driving. The bridge was out so obviously there was no way I could take it anyway!

So now what do I do?!? I've missed my exit and instead of going left, now I was going right! My gps and map would have got me back on the road but they had no idea the road was tore apart so I had no clue what to do. In 4 lanes of (fast) traffic and no exits that lead anywhere except other freeways, I had no idea what to do! I took a few exits in hope it would lead me somewhere I could pull over and figure out where I was....and it eventually did....

...when I drove into the airport terminals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was like "this is not good!!...this is not good!!..." Terminal A, terminal B, pick up, drop off, buses only, yadda yadda...which lane to choose?? Lanes everywhere, buses, cars, airplanes flying overhead, trains passing by...and me trying to figure out where I can go to find to think for 2 seconds. I'll admit it too that by this time, I was pretty much panicking. I am IN the terminals of one of the major airports and I have NO IDEA how to get outta here!! But as crazy as it sounds, I did have time to think to myself "Oh man, if my dad is "watching" me on latitude (an app where he can see where I am by where my phone is), he is going to be calling me soon asking why in the world I'm in the middle of the O'hare airport! :)

So I pulled over and rolled down my window to ask one of the airport employees how to get out of here and get to the road I needed to be on. i knew I was close, but had no idea how to get from A to B without going back over the bridge that wasn't there. She was no help. She kept saying which roads SHE takes to get to work. Uh, really?? I'm not asking you how you get to your job, I'm asking how I get to my hotel! She flagged down some other guy (thankfully) and he gave me very simple directions. I just needed to follow this road out, take this exit, and the exit for the road I needed to be on should come up quick.

Perfect. Except one TINY problem. I missed the first exit. Yeah.

NO NO NO NO NO!!!! Not this again!!! ARRRRGGG!!! I'm going in the wrong direction and can't just do a u-turn!! Seriously frustrating. The kids, in the meantime, (because you all remember that I have my beautiful brood with me this whole time) have been so extremely patient and quiet, thankfully. But by this time, they were starting to ask 'are we there yet?' since I had orginally said that it should only take a few minutes.

So I saw some bigger building with parking lots off the freeway and thought if I could just get to one of them, I could look on the maps, find out where I was, and get back. I pulled off, turned into one and saw that the lot I was in was a hotel. So I plugged in my address I needed to get to and found a route! But I had one problem, I didn't know which direction I needed to go out of the parking lot!! Dumb, I know, but by this time I was so turned around it wasn't even funny. Really, it wasn't. So I called the hotel we were going to be staying at.

"I'm by this street, how do I get there." "Oh, just follow that up to this one, and your here." Perfect. But I didn't really know which road that was. (Remember, I am in a city that has roads EVERYWHERE, even in places where it doesn't seem like roads should be.) So just to be sure, I pulled up to the hotel whos lot I was in, instructed the kids to stay in their seats and that I would be right back. I ran in and asked the nice and patient man how to get to this certain road. I musta sounded like an idiot bc I repeated which way I was supposed to go about 28 times, but I HAD to be sure.

I got in my van and prayed to God we could find the road without a problem and finally get to our hotel. LO AND BEHOLD, we did!! WHOO HOO!!! FINALLY arriving 2 hours after leaving our previous hotel (should have taken about 30ish minutes). I thought there was NO way I could instruct Nathan how to get here since I had no idea how I even got here but after putting the addresses in my phone, I found a route where he didn't have to get onto the freeway and we were only 6 miles from his work!! Although 6 miles in Chicago is about a half hours time...but at least he won't miss any exits :)

Here are a few pics of our room that we call home. It's not exactly the Marriott but it's definiately not as bad as the trailer we stayed in last August! We love the openness of the room and the floor space is amazing!! The boys share the pull out couch double bed (little tip: you can fit more little bodies on a bed if they lay across the bed rather than how you would normally lay on a bed :) Just in case you too had to fit your family of 7 into a hotel room with 1 bed and 1 couch for an extended amt of time :), Ariella sleeps on the floor on a blanket and Jaeger sleeps with me.

The kitchen is great and obviously HAS counter space which our previous hotel did not, which makes for making meals for the family WAY easier. The table is only a 2 seater, but Nathan says it makes him feel like we are on a date when we sit there and eat supper together. Awwww..that's sweet. But, yeah, ok...I'll use my imagination. The kids sit on the floor and eat on the coffee table that we now keep by the counter in the kitchen for easy access.

I unpacked Wednesday and Thursday was already Nathan's last day for the week! Wow that went by fast! Didn't even feel like he hardly worked! 4 day work week, what's that?? Next week he will be going to 5-10s but having him home for 2 or 3 days, especially since me and the kids are in the hotel all day, is SO nice!

Today we ventured out to a children's museum. It was fun but let me just say two words: Spring Break. You know that scene in Toy Story 3 where they are at Sunnyside daycare and all the toddlers come bursting into the room, running everywhere, playing with everything???...Yeah, that's pretty much what it was like :)

That will be my next post :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chicago bound

Wow! Where to begin?!

I know I need to still post Jaeger's birth story, and I will, I just wanted to keep up with all that has been happening with us moving this time!!

So last Wednesday, Nathan texted me about 8am and said "I could go to Chicago for hot time." He had been telling me that guys were getting laid off and we usually want Nathan to be at the top of the lay-off list because we want to get out of where we are at and get back on the books to go to a different job, maybe one that's closer to home. So I was excited for him to go to work to get his pink slip and here is a text about Chicago and hot time (he needs 800 hours of hot time for his apprenticeship and he has 5, so it's something that's needed...and wanted by many men as it's tricky to get.)

So I text him back... "Um, ok...did you get your pink slip?!" Pretty much ignoring the Chicago thing. There wouldn't be ANY way he was serious about that! ::ahem::

Text from Nathan again "I could go to Chicago for hot time."

And then nothing til a call at 3pm to say he doesn't know anymore. At this point he doesn't have a pink slip and he doesn't have a go-ahead for Chicago. I wait.

He calls at 5:30..."Did ya hear?...We are going to Chicago!" Yeah, honey...hear from who?? "Uh, ok...When?" "I start on Monday."

And thus begins our crazy weekend.

We were scheduled to go home Wed night anyway bc Nathan had class in the cities on Thursday so instead of just packing our clothes to be washed, I started packing anything and everything that I could fit in the van. We drove home and got there about 11pm. Nathan went to class the next day and because my dad was willing to watch the kids, I was able to run to a couple appointments.

Jaeger got adjusted by Dr. Mike....

And got weighed, measured, and checked out by Joy...

Both appointments went great and he is one healthy boy! At 6 weeks he is 22 inches and weighs 8 pounds, 11 ounces :)

Since we wanted all the time we could to unpack everything from the condo (which ends up being a lot of stuff given the fact that each time we drove home we drove back up with a van full of stuff...and we stayed there 7 months), we decided to drive back up to there Thursday afternoon without the kids so we could take the seats out of the van, load the rest of the stuff, and then drive back. My parents were nice enough to watch our kids while we did this! (My poor dad was with the kids from 8:30am til we got home at midnight!!...although he was lucky enough to sneek away to a meeting for a couple hours while my mom was there ;)...Thanks Dad!!

This was everything that was under our one couch...and I just vacuumed under there a week prior...yes, my kids are crazy.

So Friday morning was filled with unpacking and laundry...I did more laundry than should be humanly allowed...seriously. And the rest of the time looking online for a place to stay for a couple months while we were going to be in Chicago.

Then it happened.

Nathan gets a call from his GF (no, not girlfriend...general foreman) who tells him that theres a good chance he wasn't going to go to Chicago because only a certain amount of guys were allowed and there were higher step apprentices ahead of him in line to go. And last we heard Friday afternoon was that his foreman was going to check a few things but if the Chicago thing wouldn't work out, then he was to show back up in Cass Lake on Monday to work....but it really wasn't clear either way.

So the rest of Friday went by...and Saturday...and since there was pretty much no chance of going to Chicago, we took a break from unpacking and I started organizing my house...cupboard by cupboard, starting in the master bath. And after several attempts by phone calls and texts to get ahold of the GF to see what was up, Nathan said there was "zero chance" we'd be going...I mean, we'd have to leave in the morning and there was NO way that was happening!!

Then it happened.

5:30pm Saturday evening Nathan gets a text from his GF "You are going to Chicago! Good Luck!"

Oh, boy!!

QUICK!!! UNPACK!!! THEN PACK!!! (...and everything else that goes along with being away for an extended amt of time that you really have no idea how long will be...Oh yeah, and pack as light as possible...uh huh...for a family of SEVEN!)

Our house looks like something exploded in it when we are in transition

So we did it. Packed, loaded up, and out the door by 8:30am to leave for Naperville, Illinois. We made awesome time and stopped only twice for quick potty breaks. I do have THE best travelers for children. Although...they have been doing this their whole lives and don't know any different. Anyway, I am thankful for that!! We arrived at our destination about 6pm. Felt good to be out of the car and into our 1 bedroom suite.

The town is gorgeous. The grass is green. The cherry blossoms are blooming. The crab apple trees are bright purplish-pink. The hotel has all the amenties that we want, not to mention a great basketball court out back where I make my boys do killers (don't worry, they love it :)

Killers :)

All the counter space I have...yeah, none :)

2 months in this hotel is what we planned for. I start unpacking early monday morning (today) and making our hotel room "home"....

Then it happened.

I get a call from Nathan about 8:30am..."Just to warn you we might need to move more north. I'm not sure yet. I'll let you know."


So I tried to keep occupied...not being able to unpack because another possible move and not being able to look for another place to live because I'm unaware of the location makes for an antsy momma!!

Our stuff waiting to be put away.

So after a few hours I get another call from him..."A little north and more towards the city." Great.

I spend the rest of today looking for hotels that have the amenities that we wanted (breakfast, pool, etc)...which I didn't find at all...without costing a fortune...yeah, $159/night when we need to stay a number of months just won't cut it. Did you know that when you stay real close to Chicago it's really expensive?! Whew! So anyway, I found a place pretty much at the end of the runway of Ohare airport...yeah, traffic will be wonderful I'm sure...that we will venture to tomorrow.

Oh myself. I hafta drive in the city (big city to be exact! You know I'm a country girl, right?!), right next to a big airport, with all 5 kids, while Nathan is at work, check in to the hotel, unload the van, haul it to the second floor, unpack, and make it a home before Nathan gets off work...should be a great time.

I'm just looking forward to bringing all the kids with me on the free shuttle to Target!...not. But in reality, that will be our fun for the next...oh, who knows how long!!

Stay tuned :)