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Sunday, July 03, 2016

June Overview/Review

This picture right here, pretty much demonstrates how our big push to the end of the school year felt.  Matthew literally fell asleep moments after walking in the door post-bus drop-off, backpack still on.  He worked his tail off to get through his first year of middle school and did awesome – straight A’s!  We’re all happy the school year is done.

Kayliana graduated from pre-Kindergarten.  She’s very excited to be joining the boys in full-day, 
bus-taking school livin’.

Business Venture
Kayliana started a rock-painting business.  We’ve named it “Rockin’ Art.”  She made this “creepy clown” and announced that Uncle Timothy should buy it for either “$50 or $10,000.”  He has yet to complete the transaction.  She started taking her rocks door-to-door and made over $3 in her first day.  The boys quickly realized she was on to something with this plan and immediately joined the family business.  Matthew announced that Kayli should be the main salesperson though seeing as “she’s cute and can sell more.”  He thought a 60-40 split seemed fair.  (Sales-lady would earn a 40% commission).  So far, their primary focus has been on production and they’ve spent several afternoons painting. 

The Creepy Clown rock

 Some of Kayli's creations

 The Rockin' Artists at work

Brief Pet

I discovered this little guy hanging out on our hose wheel.  Matthew immediately ran inside grabbed a vase (of all things!) and built “Winston” a little habitat.  For 24 hours this poor little creature lived in confusion in a vase (with a poked-holy syran-wrap roof) on our kitchen table.  On the 2nd day, he was looking awfully sad.  Winston had lost his bright green glow and was looking a bit blah-green.  We discussed how he needed food.  For some reason, the boys went in search of bugs and managed not to find a-one.  Really?!  Even with the woods behind us and the bug-eaten leaves in my pathetic attempt at a garden?  After doing some Google-research, the next thing I know, the boys are sprinkling bacon bits into the vase.

“Um, what are you doing?” I ask.

“Well, it said that frogs like meat.  We thought we’d give him some bacon,” Zach logically explained.

“Riiiight, so guys, I think we need to set Winston free….” I start.

The confused and terrified frog, was now crouched in the vase wondering what the heck kind of strange land he’d found himself in.  A place where it rains bacon.

The kids agreed and we put the vase on its side in the yard.  Winston VERY quickly hopped out and scurried away from the bacon-captivity madness.

Yesterday, when I went to water my straggly vegetables, I was startled to discover Winston, happily bright-green again and clinging to his favorite spot on our hose.


June brought some exciting events.  Zach was in another Youth Theater play – this time James and the Giant Peach.  He was one of the narrators.

I was blessed with the chance to experience a miracle - the birth of my best friend Rebecca’s 3rd daughter (and 5th child) Maria Grace on June 13th.  She’s perfect.

On June 16th, I was in charge of the Kindergarten graduation at my big school.  They boomwhacked Ode to Joy (beginner and advanced version), Star Wars and Pomp and Circumstance.  They did AMAZING! They also sang An Irish Blessing which – I’m sad to say, after tons of practicing and fabulous run-throughs – somehow turned out to be a major train wreck.  Oh well.  It’s done!  First crazy school year teaching at 4 different preschools – DONE!  Their practice can be watched here:  They did even WAY better at the actual graduation!

We spent a weekend at Lake Cavanagh with our Engaged Encounter family/friends.  We rented a big house and had a BLAST.  Mike gave the kids rock-skipping lessons.  Matthew (aka Mini-Mike) has gotten quite good!

Zachary and I got sassy short summer haircuts.

We’re spending the 4th of July celebrating Zach’s 10th birthday (back on April 28th) with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge water park.  Since we’ll be inside and will miss the fireworks, we took the boys to the Mariner’s game on Friday night, July 1st.  They won – woohoo!  It was a GREAT game.  And afterwards they had a patriotic fireworks show.  Zach and I were FREAKING out with how amazing it was!  (Mike and Matthew were also there but – as usual – quite more subdued in their reaction).

Happy 4th of July!  God Bless America!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My girl

Kayliana has many different personalities (like not the needing-to-be-diagnosed kind), there’s just a lot goin’ on in that girl!

She’s playing softball t-ball.  She’s on that super intense cut-throat team, the Blue Butterflies.  They play other frightening sounding teams like the Pink Puppies and Purple Penguins.  We were supposed to face the foreboding Yellow Honeybees this morning, but got rained out.

Most days, Kayli would rather be in workout-type clothes (or something cheetah print so she can pretend to be one all day).  But every once in a while – and it’s gotta be on her terms – she wants to get super girly, be in a dress, and occasionally (occasionally!) I’ll do a little makeup for her.  (If we’re not going anywhere important – like school or church). 

Kayliana’s been in ballet/tap all year.  The whole year is basically one long rehearsal for the recital that is…tomorrow!  Wednesday night was the dress rehearsal and Kayli was SO excited to finally get to wear her costume and – yippee! – makeup!  I’ll admit I a little bit freaked out with the cuteness.  It might be our first AND last year of ballet, so I just tried to thoroughly enjoy it.  Kayli hasn’t been all that into dance class (despite begging to do it for a while).  Like other sports, she doesn’t want to practice she just wants to play in the big game or dance on the big stage.  But the big moment is nearly here.
On the way home from rehearsal she gasped and said, “I have to pee! I have to pee! I have to pee!”  We were about 8 minutes from home, but only 2 from a McDonalds.  Dreading the possible disaster of an accident in THE costume, I quickly decided to stop at the Golden Arch’s restroom facilities.  Of course, she got all sorts of admiring ooh’s and ahh’s and looks as we hustled into the bathroom.   When we were in the bathroom she asked if we might get a treat of some sort.  I quickly caved wanting to celebrate our fun evening as well.  I said that we could pick up three chocolate chip cookies and take two home to the boys.  (And she wouldn’t be eating hers until she was out of her costume at home!)  

She got excited and said, “At least they’ll be free!”

I said, “What do you mean?”

She gestured to herself up and down and said, “I mean, look at me!” 

“Um, so you think you’ll get free stuff ‘cuz you look pretty?!”


Oh geez.  Help us.

Kayli was a little excited about getting cookies.  She started acting like a monster (or crazy person or who knows what) and thoroughly enjoyed playing to the crowd in McD’s.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Yeah, yeah, yeah.  It’s been a while.  I really haven’t figured out a way to add time to my days yet.  I even say that to the kids (especially Zachary – when he starts whining about not having enough time to do something).  I always say, “Sorry, but I can’t add time to the world.”  Really wish I could.

Anyway, here’s a fun project that we did make time for recently.  Zach has wanted to make a fairy garden for quite a while.  We spent Mother’s Day morning going to thrift stores and craft stores to stock up on goods.  I think the most fun find was what he used for the little brick walkway.  It’s one of those stones that you heat in the oven for keeping your bread warm.  Clever kid.  It was a fun project and a good distraction from the other busy activities.

Let’s see, what all’s gone on?  Zach turned 10.  (We’ll be celebrating this summer with a family overnight at Great Wolf Lodge – swim amusement park place.  Matthew made him this epic birthday card with “Zach Sparrow” instead of “Jack Sparrow.”
Kayliana turned 5.5years old.  She’s one of the youngest on her softball t-ball team.  (The ominous sounding “Blue Butterflies.”)  She’s holding her own though!  I told her that – seeing as Matthew hung up his bat and retired from baseball after last season, that – while it’s totally up to her – she WILL love softball and WILL play through college.  She graduates from preschool next week. 
Matthew is still taking trumpet lessons and tries out this week to be bumped up to the 7th/8th grade band next year.  He’s worked his butt off in 6th grade and currently has all A’s!  He’s starting to show some serious maturity (a requirement before he gets a cellphone for his 13th birthday) and – miracle of all miracles! – I found him doing dishes without anyone telling him to.  He also babysits Kayli once a week while I take Zach to his acting class.  So far, I’ve only received a handful of tear-infused, frustrated-with-her phone calls.

Mom had a full knee replacement a few weeks ago.  My brother Timothy and I took turns being her coach and helper-outter.  I’ll admit it was almost a vacation to stay in her quiet apartment and pick up meals from the restaurant in her building.  Not a bad gig. 

Mike, Zach and I all got to attend the Broadway-touring show of Newsies. It was SO stinkin’ amazing.  Geez.  It was a nice break for Mike and I who have both been working A LOT.

Meanwhile, my kindergartners put on their own astounding performance – a dramatic retelling of Going on a Bear Hunt complete with some fun songs I added in.  Now, we focus on preparing for their Kindergarten graduation.  They will play three songs on Boomwhackers – Ode to Joy, Star Wars and Pomp and Circumstance.  Then they’ll sing this touching number (and play bells while making their parents shed sentimental tears):  Not my best singing/performance, but I wanted to do it slowly and clearly enough for the Kindergartners to use for practice.  Kayli has also really enjoyed making a cameo in many of my videos – especially the dinosaur ones.  


Saturday, April 23, 2016

So very helpful

And here is a glimpse into my life (and why I typically make these when the kids aren't around):

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

On with the show

While driving to the zoo, I overheard a conversation between Kayliana and her friend Zoey.

Zoey, says, “Do you have a boyfriend, Kayli?”

Kayli (thankfully!) replies, “No.  You don’t have boyfriends until you’re a teenager.”

Then Zoey says, “Oh, well, I have five….or ten.”

Then the conversation moves on to marriage.  Zoey  says, “You get married and then you kiss and go on your Honeymoon.”

Kayli adds, “Yep, and when you’re married all you do is smooch all day and take silly pictures to send to each other.”

I asked Kayli, “Do daddy and I do that?”  She quickly responded in the affirmative.  Huh!

So, this past weekend was the Zach-show.  Zachary had a BIG weekend.  He was in his first real on-stage play!  He’s done several classes and camps where at the end they put on a mini (ten minute) production in the classroom just for the parents, but this was the real deal.

The show was at the Youth Theater (right near where I grew up and close to where my mom and brother Chris live).  It was called “Cinderella Rockin’ the 80’s” and it. Was. Awesome.   Totally cheesy, very much geared towards the parents in the crowd who actually remember the 80’s.

The first night I went to pick Zach up from practice, the cast – including just one other boy and a gaggle of giggly girls – were singing Cindi Lauper’s “Girls, Just Wanna Have Fun.”  They spent an entire evening of rehearsal going through the script with the two directors explaining every 80’s reference to these younguns.  (Honestly, I’m not sure the directors were old enough to have lived through the 80’s, themselves). 

Zach landed the part of “Prince Cruise Swayze’s” sidekick Charles.  Friday night – opening night – Zachary was a perfect combo of nerves and excitement.  I was those plus a bit emotional.  Nearly our entire neighborhood showed up to cheer him on (post-bus stop Happy Hour).  We were all there plus my mom and her friend.  My oldest brother Timothy came Friday night and Chris came Saturday night (with my mom again).

Now, obviously I’m biased.  But really, I feel like sometimes I’m reversed biased.  Because they’re my kids, I’m actually a little more critical of them.  Maybe I had (and am ashamed to admit) slightly low expectations.  From the few times that Zach said a couple of his lines to me…well, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed.  But…No lie…No joke...No exaggeration.  He stole it.  Took the show and ran…well, he and maybe 1 or 2 others.  I’d say 3 of the performers really carried it and he was easily the leader of the pack.  I was so proud and just so super…impressed!

We celebrated afterwards by going out to ice cream with the whole fam – Grandma’s treat.  She pointed out that it was the exact same Baskin and Robbins we went to after celebrating my first ever opening night (of a middle school musical).  I realized that subconsciously I must’ve known this is ‘what we do’ since we went to Dairy Queen after Matthew’s first band concert back in December.

So, two performance nights – Friday and Saturday and then Sunday brought a different kind of ‘show.’  Zach altar served for the first time at Mass!  I was, once again, a little nervous, but once again, very impressed.  We – the rest of the family – were asked to bring up the gifts for Communion.  Super special to bring up the gifts to Father Todd who then handed them over to Zachary!  Proud mama weekend for sure.

Alas, not to be outshined (outshone?!) by my own kid, I did the only thing any good mother would do – and started a YouTube channel.  Actually, it’s something I’ve been planning on for a while.  And with the Kindergartners preparing for a little show for their parents, the teachers asked if I might leave them with music to practice next week (while I’m gone on Spring Break).  I thought – well, the easiest way would be to just sing it all out on video.  I also did several drum videos.  My primary goal with these is to help other early childhood music educators.  There really just isn’t a lot out there, so I might as well start sharing some of my tricks and tips.  I plan to do playlists for each of the different instruments we use and then playlists for all of my different themed songs.  After doing this (toddler/preschool music-deal) for 12 years, I have a heck of a lot of ideas to share.  Maybe it’ll just be my mom who watches them, but, whatever!  It’s out there. Little Ditties Music Academy YouTube Channel

Sunday, March 06, 2016


Last month, we had our Mid-Winter Break.  As a much-more-workin’ mom, now, I was really looking forward to just being home with the kids – maybe having a few fun outings and just getting some stuff done.  I’ll admit I was jealous of the nonstop Facebook-photo parade of others spending their break in sunny CA or Maui (seems like an insane amount of people went to Maui)…but, I was happy to be home…until our Mid-Winter Break turned into Mid-Winter Bleak.

Zachary woke up on day 1 with an ear infection – took him to the doctor to get antibiotics and spent the first couple of days taking care of him.  On day 2, Matthew woke up with pink eye – took him to the doctor for antibiotics.  We were then basically quarantined for the rest of break.  Kayli got to make her trip to the doctor when we were concerned about a possible UTI.  She also, eventually, got the pink eye curse.  On the day before we returned to school, we did manage a successful family trip to the zoo.  After many days of lameness, this was the only highlight of Break by a lot.

After our first week back at work ‘n school, Mike got the heck outta here.  He basically went as far away as you possibly can.  7,415 miles away.  He traveled on a direct 14.5 hour long flight to DUBAI!!  The guy’s hardly been out of the country – Vancouver and Victoria B.C. and a trip to Tijuana as a youth that he barely remembers! –and his first international trip is to Dubai!!  He traveled with two other co-workers and met up with almost 30 other employees of Wargaming for a Tools Engineer Summit.  It certainly wasn’t all work though.  They visited two enormous malls (including the biggest one in the world and one that has an indoor snow area with ski, snowboard slopes and sledding).  They went on a boat tour and also saw endless parades of wealth (Ferrari’s, Lambourghini’s, etc.).  On their last night there, they got to have dinner in the desert.  There was belly dancing entertainment, camel rides, a sand-dune 4x4 ride and Mike attempted sand-boarding (but said the board needed to be waxed and he just sunk down in the sand).  Talk about an adventure!

I managed to get all three kids off to three different schools every day, get myself to work (I now teach 31 toddler/preschool music classes each week), I hosted book club, attended an early parent-teacher conference, and – maybe no shocker – by the end of the week came down with a cold.  But I got through and I’m proud of me! But exhausted and extra thankful that Mike is back home!!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Love is in the Air

Just. Not. Enough. Time.  (And I have yet to figure out how to mentally write and post on this Blog. That would be very helpful and would ensure more Blog updates). 

So, last post was actually on Christmas (well over a month ago - boo).  We had a wonderful, great Christmas!  Mia joined us on Christmas evening for gift exchanging (she knows the kids so well and completely rocked with her present-choices), dinner-eating and game-playing.  We had such a wonderful time.  Mom took this picture for us.  Zach is looking especially...floral?

We spent December 26th, car shopping. Our sweet 'lil '98 Honda CRV was, in fact, totaled from my December 3rd accident. We bought a 2013 Honda CRV.  It’s a funky-fun 'Kona Coffee Metallic' color.  I'm a big fan.

I'm still getting treatment for my neck/shoulders/back injury from the accident.  I see the chiropractor once a week and get medical massage once a week.  The strains and sprains haven't ever been unbearably painful but are definitely still present (I can't turn my head all the way to the right still) and definitely bug me after my longest teaching days.  The heating pad is just permanently on the couch so I can use it daily.  

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s only appropriate I update you on the love lives of the Martin girls.

First: me.  I have a suitor.  An admirer.  There’s a little chubby-cheeked 3 year old boy named Lawrence in one of my classes.  He hearts me.  He loves me so much.  He is so stinkin’ adorable. One day, one of his teachers came down to tell me that Lawrence had nearly broken down in tears when he asked about me and they’d had to break the news that that day was not a Ms. Jenny/Music class day.  His teacher wanted to borrow a couple of maracas for him to shake just to tide him over ‘til we next could jam.

The next day, when his class arrived, Lawrence ran in and threw his arms around my legs – making sure to then sit as close to my stool as possible.  After I passed out egg shakers and we were about to start, I glanced down at his little smiling face.  He gave me the slightest chin lift and kissed the air twice.  I started laughing and said “Were those kisses for me?”  He grinned and said something like, “Oh yeah.” 

The following week, I bedazzled my messy ponytail with a sparkly headband (you know, trying to distract from my fatigue, etc.).  When Lawrence walked in, he opened his arms and said, “Ms. Jenny….QUEEN.”  Too much.  Way too cute. That kid just makes my day – no matter what.

As for the younger girl in this house, Kayli is very busy making plans of her own.  As I reported in my (lengthy) post on December 19th (last section titled ‘Kayli’s Betrothed’) – she seems to be rather taken with this young man at preschool named ‘Kruse’ (not ‘Cruise’ as I SO wrongly assumed). Well, last week, I arrived at preschool to pick her up.  I found Kayli chatting with Kruse in the sandbox.  Neither had seen me and this is the conversation I heard:

Kruise asks, “So, what are you going to be when you grow up?”

In a bored (like – this is SO obvious – voice), Kayli responds, “A dolphin trainer.”

“OK, that will work.  I’m going to be a scientist.  Will you at least have a kid?”

Kayli seemed noncommittal and didn’t clearly answer. Then, perhaps, trying to seal the deal, Kruse stood up, walks across the sandbox and plants a kiss smack on Kayli’s lips.

I kind of gasp-surprise-laughed, “UMMMM, what was that?”

Kruise turns to me and innocently answers, “I kissed her.”

“Right, but, we really shouldn’t kiss – especially on the lips. It’s germy.  We should save kissing for our families.”

“Yes, but I kissed her on the lips because I love her.”

Oh. My.

So, while Kayli and I navigate the raw emotions of the preschool boys around us, Matthew and Zach are establishing their own roles and methods.  Zach recently told us about the lines he’ll have as Prince Charming’s sidekick in the youth theater play “Cinderella Rockin’ the 80’s.”  He said the gist of one of his monologues is that this character is always the sidekick, the friend, the 2nd place, the vice president, etc.).

Joking, I said, “Oh, Zach, do you feel you can relate to that as the 2nd born?  As Matthew’s younger brother?  Are you just his sidekick?”

Before Zach can answer, Matthew pipes up, “I work alone.”

Then Mike ever-so-helpfully interjects, “No, Matthew you’ll want a wing-man.” (As in the when-hitting-on-girls scenario…something I’m quite certain Mike knows next to nothing about.)

Where is this family headed?!  A 5 year old getting kissed in the sandbox?  Training our boys to be each other’s ‘wing men’?!  Valentine’s Day might be interesting this year.