Nov. 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012


Yes, I knew they were doing this.  Yes ,I allowed it to happen.   They needed a haircut anyway and usually we just take the shears to them.  It served its purpose...the house was quiet for a good hour, they were enjoying their time and they were making some fun memories.  The scary part is that they actually think their new style looks good.

Finished Product...certainly in need of a buzz cut in the next few hours. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Funny Prema Moment

Kyle left the house tonight after dinner to see about an electrical job.  We had eaten chicken curry for dinner and I had put the bones in the garbage can.  Duke laid solemnly between the door Kyle left and the garbage can that held the chicken bones.   Prema came down and saw Duke's lamenting for both things he could not have: his owner's presence and chicken bones.   (I was sitting on the couch and was able watch Prema's private moment with Duke.  It made me chuckle).

Prema felt Dukes head as if checking him for a fever.  (very dramatic repetitive hand movements all around the head).  

Prema signs to Duke:  sick? 

Then Prema leans down and puts her index finger behind her ear and puts her ear close to Dukes stomach.  

Prema signs:  baby moving?  jumping?  soon baby born.  wait.  

Duke gets up and wanders to a new location.  

Later I informed Prema that Duke is a boy and thus won't be having any puppies. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

One Year Old HAM

Kyrie is 1 and quite a ham.  I chalk a lot of her unique (to us) ham moments up to being a girl.   She knows how to use her eyes to get your attention or dismiss her undesirable ways: opening them wide, batting her eye lashes, or closing them tight.   When we are holding her and she wants to communicate, Kyrie leans over and tilts her head to make sure she has our attention and we are speaking face to face.   When Daddy is holding her, Kyrie will often lay her head on his chest.   As most babies she loves to move to the music..always cute.

We get the most laughs lately from watching her eat.  She loves food, particularly meat and bread.   She pounds the food (literally and in terms of quantity).   More than I remember with the boys she is also quite particular about what food she wants to eat since the start of eating solids.  From the moment she sees a food she doesn't particularly like, she shares her complaints with HIGH PITCHED LOUD SCREAMS.   (This high pitched scream is one girl aspect we highly dislike). 


As of yesterday, Kyrie is starting to prefer walking over crawling. She took her first independent steps around 11 months.   I teared up when I saw her take her first steps (its sad in one way to see them growing up so fast before your eyes), but it will be really exciting to see her run the bases in our family baseball games.   Up to this point the boys have held her and run the bases for her.   Her head bounces, legs dangle, and teeth shine through the smile as the boys run her around the "field". 

Besides food, Daddy and Mommy,  Kyrie also loves Prema, Isaac, Eli, Duke and paper.  One of her favorite pastimes is flipping through real paper books and magazines.  She doesn't care for board books because she prefers the feel of the real paper.   She also loves sucking on wet paper towels.   When the other kids and duke are not around Kyrie isn't very happy.  This morning Kyrie woke up at 5:30 a.m. and wasn't ready to go back to bed.  Within 10 minutes of being downstairs Kyrie went to the bottom of the stairs and shouted as loud as she could "Iyaac (Isaac), I-eye (Eli)"   

It has certainly been a fun year to have our little Kyrie in our family.  She is a gift of joy.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ways to Get Rid of "Problems"

Isaac has a knack for finding creative (yet classic) ways to get rid of his "problems".

He strongly dislikes eating tomatoes and other veggies.   How does he solve this problem? So far we have caught him...

Hiding the veggies under the table or chairs in little places. 
Putting the veggies on his siblings' or cousin's plate when no one is looking

We haven't discovered him feeding it to the dog yet, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.

Isaac wants his playing field in the backyard completely free of other items besides his cones or bases.  Today there was some dog poop in the area.  How does he solve this problem? We caught him...

Getting a shovel and throwing the dog poop over the fence into the neighbor's yard.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Yesterday at our homeschool community class day, the boys partook in a nature hike in search of animals.   They were encouraged to apply their science memory work as they searched: classifying the animals.

Today the boys were eager to collect animals from the backyard.   At the end of the day they had created 3 animal habitats in jars and collected 7 lizards, 1 frog and 1 snail.  Each man made habitat they created is different: 1 has a log, 1 has a handmade ladder and 1 is completely shoved full of grass.  Each animal has a name: Baby William, Tailless Jerry, Redhead Henry, Diamondback Bob, Hannah Mom of William, Rose Mom of Jerry, Mad Robby, Sluggy the Snail, and Croaky the Toad. 

It is important to note that the boys determined that 2 of the lizards were female and moms because they saw them "kissing" the other male lizard. 

On another side note in regards to the lizards, Kyle seized the moment and conversations to make comments common from Cullum men.  

 Eli:  "Mom lets go downstairs and look at the lizards."
Kyle:   "I tried to show mom my lizard last night but she didn't want to see it."
Eli: "Really"

(drop the subject)

A few minutes later another moment for Kyle to seize the moment:

Isaac is sweeping up the bathroom after Eli decided to pull out all of the grass onto the floor so that he could put a wet cotton ball in the jar for the pets' water.

Kyle: "You don't know how to handle your broom.  I know how to handle my broom but mom is not impressed."

Just another peak into our family and life. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Funny Schooling Moment

As almost every parent experiences...none of their children learn the same.   True in our house.

Eli could care less about any academics most of the time.  He'd rather be outside building something.

Today while were were doing math, he wrote a number correctly but couldn't name it...a very common occurrence for him.

"Eli what number did you just write.?"

Eli: "I don't know."

Me: " Eli try and figure it out."

 Usually he will count in his head and then he can name it.  I didn't want to tell him the answer because just then I was thinking that maybe the harder he has to work he will eventually just realize he should remember it.  (One of many theories I have had over time as to how I can encourage him to remember names of things.)

Eli: "That is how I try to figure it out.  I just say "don't know."

 ( is a whole lot easier to say "Don't know" since mom will just tell me the answer.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Joys of Semptember

Some joyful moments from our home this month of September...

  • Eli had to come inside to eat dinner before he could play with our backyard neighbor, 4 year old Ruby.  While eating Eli says "I told Ruby Red I would meet her at 3:30 to play."  (It was 6:00 p.m.)  He was eating really fast too and says, "I am trying to respect Ruby, so I am eating fast so I can play with her."
  • Kyrie has been joyfully greeting Kyle when he comes home.  She reaches out her arms or calls (screams) for him.  Once she gets in his arms she lays her head on his chest and rests for a few moments.  Very precious. 
  • Prema's interactions with Duke the dog and Kyrie are quite comical if you know Prema.   She is often telling the dog to be quiet when she is the only person making noise.   She greets Kyrie and Duke each day and says good night to them as if she has not seen them in ages or will not see them again.  She repeats the expressive greetings and goodbyes over and over again each moment in hopes of them reciprocating the zealous expression.  Both just stand there and stare at her.  
  • Isaac is excited to teach Eli how to read. Eli has a long way to go but Isaac is his biggest cheerleader.   At lunch today he says "Eli if you LOVE to read as much as I do, then you will want read while you eat breakfast and lunch.  The tricky part is that you gotta know where your food is at all times so that you can keep your eyes on the book."
  • Eli sounding out words and tickled with laughter at his accomplishments when he does it himself.  
  • Eli says "I am cold" after a shower.  We tell him then he needs to dry off.  He says "I am but I can't find my eyebrows to dry" (in all seriousness). 
  • Duke catching the frisbee in mid-air.  The dog's skills are quite impressive and exciting to watch.  Yesterday we started to try and teach him to go through our legs.  We have another trick up our sleeves.  
  • Kyrie jumping in her Johnny Jump up is so joyous.  She has figured out how to jump and get great momentum and then lift her feet and swing all around.  She loves to do this while watching us chase Duke and she squeals in excitement.  
  • Duke frolicking in the cool weather.  We have had some great Fall weather days and Duke can't get enough of the nice temps.  He rolls around in the grass with sticks in his mouth a lot now.  
  • Isaac understanding puns and jokes.  He understands a lot of them now. 
  • Isaac racing Grandpa, Dad and Uncle Sam in the pool.  Regardless of the odds against him with his short stature, his drive and determination to win exceeds anyone I've witnessed.  
  • Kyrie loving the sounds she makes when she crawls up to the piano and plays the keys. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cullum World Series

The Cullum World Series happens every year with Isaac and Eli. This time it was the Red Sox and the Rays. It was a 7 game series.  It was a battle too.  It was a fun family activity.

written by Isaac

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The DUKE of Cullum Manor

We got a dog!

Our kids have been asking for a dog for about 1 year. When they began to ask we told them they needed to buy the dog and pay for all of it's needs for 1 year. We researched the possible costs and came up with $1500 needed to purchase the dog, feed the dog, purchase toys and other dog items and visit the vet for 1 year. After saving money gifted to the children from past birthdays and Christmas and additional change jar savings the children had $800.

 In early spring our backyard neighbors offered us a yellow lab for free. The puppy was extremely cute and we almost said yes, until we realized based on the time in our life we were only saying yes because he was free. This dog would have taken a lot of work since we would need to work on potty training and crate training.

 A few weeks ago we were again offered a free dog. This time a 9 mo old Australian Shepherd already crate trained and potty trained, neutered, and immunized. We researched the breed and felt this dog fit our family perfectly, except the hair shedding.

Duke (aka The Duke of Cullum Manor, Dukie McDukerson, Dukie dog) has been an awesome addition to the family. We made the right choice. Since he is already crate and potty trained we have been able to start focusing on obedience training and trick training. Aussies are a very very smart breed and that is evident with Duke. We have hired an in home dog trainer to help us train Duke to be obedient and help get him ready to be a service dog for Prema. After just 2 training sessions, Duke is learning very fast.

Aussies are very loyal to 1 person in the family. Kyle is Duke's person, hence most of the day while Kyle is gone Duke lounges in various places waiting for Kyle to come home. Once Kyle arrives, the playful adolescent comes to life until bed time.

We are super glad we had the kids save the amount of money we did. Dog training, dog supplies and food are not cheap!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Suprise Is Coming

Today the boys were sitting at the table with us this morning as Kyle and I were planning out the day. We shared with them that A SURPRISE is going to happen. Eli got upset...he dislikes surprises very much, just like me. He can't stand the wait. He spoils the surprise for others. Eli started asking lots of questions to try and figure it out. "Is it a person?" "Is it going to walk here or is someone going to go and get it?" "Is it our friends coming to sleep over night?" They are going to be very surprised. I can't wait to see their reaction.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Crazy Months

Life has been extremely crazy lately, with planned and unplanned events. Today was the first day I could say that I hope to get back into a routine since February.

 In February Kyrie and I took a trip to Wisconsin for a week to visit my parents.

 In March the whole family drove up to Wisconsin to see my parents and help them move out of their house. It was quite a trip. Eli broke his leg falling out of a tree at a rest stop in Kentucky on the way up. Isaac had a jaw infection and Kyrie started with bronchitis. Hence our time there was filled with doctor appointments as well as many days of doctor appointments after our return home.

Three of our kids had birthdays all within a few weeks in March and April. Sandy, Kyle's mom, planned wonderful celebrations for all 3 kids. She went all out on her planning for Eli's birthday. See my sister in law Amber's post for some great photos and details. Amber and Sam's son Bennett also had a birthday celebration tucked in between Prema and Isaac's.

The night of Eli's birthday party, David (Kyle's dad) was returning a bike to our house and happened to walk in on our house flooding. The water line from the ice maker detached from its fitting and thus water was over majority of our bottom floor. This wouldn't be such a big deal except for the fact that Kyle had spent about 3 months laying all of the hardwood floor in the house less than a year ago. A few days after the water was dried off the surface the floor began to buckle in some areas. Now we are just waiting to see how much we have to fix once all the moisture is gone. Our home repair/ finish house list became longer instead of shortening so that was a bit overwhelming, but we do realize that home repairs are really never ending.

 Kyle has been very busy at work and I have been busy with planning a Classical Conversations practicum.

February through April Isaac was on his first participation on a real baseball team. Sadly The Rockers team (his imaginary team for years) is no longer playing month long seasons in the back yard. Isaac LOVED his experience with his RED SOX baseball team. We enjoyed watching him love playing. It was our first time learning to juggle the baseball commitment with other family life. Grandma and Grandpa Cullum were a HUGE help in getting him to games and practices at times when it was either impossible or a tight time crunch for us.

We are now looking forward to some down time this summer. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Loving Kyrie

The oldest 3 are still so in love with having Kyrie here. They are so enamoured with her that it is often we have to tell them to leave her alone. We don't have a camera that works and I don't have time for daily/ weekly posts so uploading some video will have to do for the time.

I have a video of Prema with Kyrie but it is taking too long to upload.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How to choose a President

Isaac, after watching several GOP debates with me and hearing many adults discuss the candidates, has decided that he would vote for Romney. According to Isaac, Romney's name fits best into the Presidents Song we sing for Classical Conversations (our homeschool curriculum). Romney is not who Kyle and I plan to vote for on Tuesday, so Isaac has not been influenced by our thoughts. His criteria is quite comical to me.

I hope you all take the opportunity to vote in your primary election in the coming days and months. Your vote counts!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A nick on the stairs

We love our new home. One of the luxuries of building your home is the ability to choose the layout and finishes. Kyle and I both really like the craftsman/bungalow style home. Two reasons I love the style is because it reminds me of the homes in downtown Madison that I always used to love walking past, and secondly because the stain wood finishes. Hence we chose to have hardwood floors in our new home. Some people may think that is a crazy choice given that we have very high energy boys and a very clumsy daughter. Our floors will certainly have imperfections as it is impossible to keep them from spilling, dropping or hitting something on the floors and trim. Today Isaac dropped a his toy gun on the stairs after being told the gun was not allowed in the house earlier in the morning. He obeyed the first time but his pretend play overruled his desire to thoroughly obey later. Although I would love for my new wood stairs to look perfect, the reality is that my stairs and floors tell the truth about our family. We are not perfect. Instead my stairs and floors tell the story of our life within the walls of our home, a story I will be grateful to still have when the children are grown and out of the house. I love the look of the wood and I also love the stories it tells. I am grateful for a piece of advice I learned when working through Reactive Attachment Therapy with Prema: the child is much more important than the furniture and house.

A few pictures of Isaac and his gun. The WWII replica gun and helmet, coon hat, and adventure vest were Christmas gifts this year. Eli also received a coon hat and adventure vest along with a cowboy hat with pistol. We are much safer now in the Cullum home.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Typical Weeknight

Third post in a short span of time. WOW!!! Don't get too used to it yet. I probably will find myself on a long hiatus here soon.
Here's a snippet of life in our house these days after dinner. The three oldest playing together loudly and energetically. Kyrie is 6 weeks old now and already cooing away. Today she even wouldn't continue nursing after a burp break until she "chatted" a bit. I don't ever remember the boys doing this at such a young age. I think we have a talker on our hands.

Just before this video we got the results of Eli's allergy tests from the doctor. He was tested for the most common food, and indoor and outdoor allergies. Test was negative for everything except for indoor dust and mold. He scored a 3 on a scale of 1-6. So now I need to keep on top of the dust in our house in order to keep Eli's reaction to a minimum. His allergy is probably the reason that he had a reoccurring cold the past month or more when the rest of us were remaining healthy or only having the cold once.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

This is how our family rung in the New Year.

We have not gone camping since Eli was 1 year old. That experience, although fun, included a tent filled with water by morning. The boys have been asking to camp again so we thought we would play it safe first and have them camp out in the backyard first.

Last night's camping experience included
- an extensive incense treatment to deodorize the tent
- a plethora of bathroom trips by Eli within the first hour (at least 5 or more)
- several reminders to calm down and go to sleep between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.
- Kyle sleeping on the concrete porch with mats and sleeping bags just outside the tent since the sleeping quarters were a wee bit tight with 3 kids and 1 adult.
- Eli sneaking in the house sometime in the wee hours to get a banana to eat.
- Isaac determining they heard "something" outside the tent and therefore he needed to "cock his pistol" (pretend gun) to prepare for what may come. The pistol was in the tent with them for protection.
- Kyle moving inside and sleeping on the floor in the family room since his sleeping bag made him too hot and any body part not in the sleeping bag was too cold.
- Kyrie and I sleeping in our own beds in the comfort of our home. BLISS
- Joyful "campers" waking up asking "When can we go camping again?"

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Cullum for lending us your camping gear and setting up the tent with the boys.

Happy New Year!!!