Thursday, January 31, 2008

Clear skies and sunshine!

The sky is a magnificent shade of blue today. As you can see, there are very few clouds today. Winter (when it's not raining) is amazing here. One of the things I especially like about winter time is that it opens up a whole new area for the kids to play....the lake out back. What is completely off-limits all the other times of the year, becomes a huge source of entertainment for the kids in the winter. Once we are certain that the lake is frozen over, Keith and I bring the kids out there for all sorts of fun. A few days ago I ran around the lake taking turns pulling the kids in their sleds. That was an awesome way to get some exercise in! Since our property line extends into the lake, we consider it an extention of our backyard. Today the sun is shining through the windows and it just makes us all feel very productive. Our house is angled so that the sun comes in through the many windows. The window over the porch is right above my kitchen sink. What a wonderful way to clean up after lunch, basking in the glow of the sun. In a few minutes the kids will be up from naps and they will sit at the dining room table and play some play-doh with the sun on their backs from the windows, while I start dinner.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Archive photos

I was searching for some different seasonal pictures of our home to put on our For Sale flyer, and I stopped to take a look at these old pictures. These were taken by our front door when Keith was heading out to work. This was back before we got brave and added some color to our gigantic livingroom. Daniel's cheeks are so fun. They still flop around when he is running. Watching him play in the snow today, the side profile of his face still looks so baby-ish, but his actions are that of a big boy.
Megan with her hair a mess, as usual.




In this one, Keith came up behind Joshua and picked him up really quick. Joshua is giving a startled, "cheese".
The top one is my favorite, but I feel guilty when I don't post pictures off all three, lest someone think I have a favorite child. Truth be told, my favorite is whoever is making the least amount of noise at the moment...but then I know that means they are doing something that's going to get them into trouble.
We played outside again for an hour or so. We went out onto the frozen lake and I pulled the kids around in the sled. Then we made snow angels and came in for hot chocolate. Meow-meow managed to sneak past one of the kids and got out into the back yard. This made for a cold and wet cat. She decided to seek shelter from the snow by going under the deck, which then made for a muddy cat. And just for the record, there really isn't anything fun about giving a fully clawed cat a bath.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snow day!!

We got quite a bit of snow in the past 24-36 hours. The wind has created some amazing drifts. Near our front door, the snow is pretty deep. Poor Daniel, it was up over his knees making it hard for him to walk. After he moved into the center of the yard, he was a happy camper. He was trying to make snow balls. He kept calling them people and giving them little voices and letting the snow-ball people talk to each other. He's got quite an imagination.

Megan looks distraught because she wants to go over and play on the big snow pile that is currently partially blocking our neighbor's mailbox. (Don't worry Dorvals, we've cleared a path for the mail man.) This big snow pile is the result of the plow coming straight down the center of the cul-de-sac and stacking the snow in this one spot.
After I shoveled part of the driveway (Keith had to go into work early), I finally allowed the kids to play on the big snow mound. They were climbing up one side and sliding down the other. It was a good time had by all of them. While outside, I broke the news to a few of our neighbors that we would be putting the house up for sale in the next couple of weeks.
I also continued on our cleaning quest today. I was delighted to bring some baby boy clothes over to the cutest new guy on our block.

Monday, January 28, 2008

This week's review

Just a quick note to review this past week's progress.

Math - Joshua began learning about subtraction this week.

Phonics/vocabulary - Joshua learned about positioning words (in, on, under) and using the letter "a" as a word.

Science - The science curriculum is discussing seasons right now. But the worksheets are just coloring pages of a winter, spring, summer and fall scene. Joshua is not much of a colorer. So instead we talk about the day's weather.

Art - We looked at paintings by Mary Cassatt. And then compared them to all the other paintings we've been studying.

Geography - We learned all about the state of Alaska.

Biography - Continueing our study of the presidents, Joshua studied Thomas Jefferson this week. He also learned all about nickels. We even learned how to tell which mint the nickel was made in.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Carrot Applesauce Cup Cakes

As promised here is the recipe for some yummy cupcakes -

4 eggs
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. applesauce
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 c. shredded carrots

1. Preheat oven to 300. Pop cupcake papers in muffin tin.

2. In mixer, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugars, and vanilla. In another bowl - mix together the remaining dry ingredients. Gradually add dry to wet mixture. Stir in carrots.

3. Bake for 35 min.

Frosting

1/2 c. butter
8 oz softened cream cheese
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat all together in mixer - add more or less powdered sugar depending on desired consistency.


Now, if you are really hungry - go check out Clarissa's recipe for banana cookies (on the Day family of four). Yummy!

A week of birthdays!

Our little friend, Emma, had her 2nd birthday party this weekend. Even though all three kids were welcomed to come, I decided to just bring Daniel. I think it's to hard for the party-hostess to have to worry about providing things for different aged kids. Each of us moms brought one or two large toys and we threw them all in the center of the room and the kids just went wild playing. Daniel became rather fond of the sit and spin toy. I was thrilled that the food was very toddler friendly. Daniel ate his weight worth of fresh fruit.

As we were coming home from the party, I was thinking to myself that there was an aweful lot of snow out there on the Coast Guard base. In town, we had nothing, maybe an icy patch or two, but for the most part our yard had no snow in it. And then the radio announced that we would be seeing 6 inches of snow this weekend. So after the kids went to bed, I made a run to Safeway and stocked up on some stuff to carry us through the next few days. Sure enough, right now it is really coming down out there. That's fine with me, since I have serious cleaning and packing to do. I packed away 1/2 of the toys and books from the boys' room, and took all the pictures off their walls. Then I vaccumed the heating unit and scrubbed every inch of their room. That's one room finished - a half a dozen or so more to go!
Here are a few shots from down by the Lake Louise housing area. I love my house and the privacy we have off base. But I also miss being within walking distance to a few special friends out that way.



Rezanof Drive, the one road from town to the Coast Guard base. Notice the lack of cars and street lights? I'll be missing that in a few months!


Friday, January 25, 2008

An ordinary ho-hum day

Today was an ordinary ho-hum kindof day. Keith was home from work all day today, and we spent most of it going through the house making lists of things to finish getting done before putting the house officially up for sale. We've given ourselves two weeks to get everything together and then we will officially put the house on the market. We are confident that it will sell to the right family at the right time. Daniel helped me unpack the produce from the co-op delivery this afternoon. Look at all that sunshine coming into the kitchen! It was a beautiful day today. Daniel enjoyed smelling the different fruits and veggies. He liked the smell of the peppers, and the texture of the zucchini. All of his hard work was rewarded with an apple.


I just realized how bad it looks that he's standing up on a chair putting the fruit on the cutting board with that huge knife right there. He's more interested in the fruit than the knife.


We all played out back for a while. Then Keith had the kids playing Hullaballoo while I finished making dinner.



Thursday, January 24, 2008

We have orders!!

We got word earlier today that Keith has orders to move to Clearwater, Florida. This is great news for us for so many different reasons. I'm a little unsure about what happens from here, but I know it's officially time to sell the house. So Keith and I will be working hard to finish getting everything organized. We've already be working on this quite a bit for the past couple of weeks, but now that we really know we are leaving, we've set a date to put the house on the market. The Work-life department of the Coast Guard actually has a two-day workshop on how to make smart decisions when moving, so I'll be going to that in February.

Keith also got word today that he'll be transfering to the evening shift in a couple of weeks. This is also pretty good news, as it means he won't be flying as many hours as he has been, and he'll be home during the day. This also gives him weekends off and we can really knock-out our to-do list with him home on the weekends.

Happy Birthday to Me!

video

So to milk this birthday thing just a little bit more, here is an adorable video of Megan and Daniel taking turns singing the birthday song to me. Joshua was busy creating things out of legos in his room.

The doorbell that rings at the end of the video was the UPS man delivering my present from Grandma. Thanks, Sandi - everything fits perfectly!

I made carrot cup cakes for the kids tonight. I combined two different recipes that I found to create my own. The kids loved them. I brought some in for my AWANA kids and they scarfed them right up. I'll try to remember to post up the recipe sometime soon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Getting ready for the big day

Tomorrow is my birthday. Actually, by the time my East Coast family reads this, it will be my birthday. I've had so many memorable birthday experiences. I remember as a little kid, my birthday parties were always scheduled around Superbowl Sunday. The theory behind this was that my birthday parties got the moms and kids out of the houses so that the dads could watch football. It seems like many of my birthday parties were at McDonald's or Papa Gino's. I always liked the Papa Gino's parties best. Papa Gino's had a jukebox and they let the birthday person back with the pizza making people so that I could make my own pizza. I can remember trying to mimic the guy and making this awesome attempt at throwing my pizza dough in the air. It ended with my dough on the floor and my pride mortally wounded. I've had a few great birthdays since being here in Kodiak. My first birthday here, I was about 33 weeks pregnant with Megan. Keith and I had planned to meet at Henry's (one of maybe 5 restaurants in Kodiak). Keith was supposed to pick Joshua (who was about 17 months old) up from daycare and meet me in town to eat. I waited outside Henry's for over 30 minutes, and just as I was getting ready to leave. Keith pulled in and apologized. He and Joshua had been sitting over at El Chicano's waiting for me. By now both places were packed and I was too hungry to wait, so we just went home. That was also they day that Keith dropped Joshua's Ruffy (his lovey that he sleeps with) on the ground outside the daycare and didn't realize it until hours later at bedtime. Fortunately, Ruffy was sitting under the streetlight just waiting to be picked up by Keith. A quick trip through the washer and dryer and he was good as new. The whole birthday wasn't a complete bust. That was also the day we took a quick peek at the mystery baby in my belly with the ultrasound machine at the clinic and the doctor made an unofficial guess that it might be a girl.
Another memorable birthday in Kodiak was when I turned 30. Daniel was just 3 months old. Keith had gone out with all the kids to the store and bought balloons a cake and a few small things. While I was at work, Keith blew up all the balloons and hid them in the kids' bathtub with the shower curtain pulled closed. Daniel was our child that never took to a bottle. So I would come home every day for lunch and nurse him. As I was sitting at the table nursing the baby and eating a sandwich, Megan was going on and on about something that I just couldn't quite understand. Then finally, she and Joshua ran into their bathroom and starting bringing out balloon after balloon after balloon. It was fun.



We don't have anything big planned for tomorrow. I have school on-line for an hour in the morning, and I have a paper due that I need to finish. Keith has a doctor's appointment that he'll have to leave for while I am doing school. We have the cable guy coming to fix our cable outlet. We don't actually have cable TV, but we have our internet and telephone through the cable company. Keith has to work tomorrow evening and the kids and I have AWANA. So not a lot of time for birthday shenanigans. The kids and I are planning to make some cupcakes tomorrow morning, but that's about it. I'm very stressed about the move and preparing the house to sell and taking two classes at once instead of just one, and keeping up with Joshua's school work - I told Keith it wouldn't be worth the time or the money to go out right now. But next year, we'll be near free babysitters (I mean, Grandparents) and we'll paint the town red for my birthday.
The pictures are Megan and Daniel baking me a cake in Megan's room. They are all about the birthday thing.

An Adventure

Today was a busy day. Keith got called into work last night, so this morning it was just me and the kids. I try to get up an hour or so before them for some quiet time, exercise and a shower. This morning, the boys woke up earlier than usual. I told them to go back to their room and play quietly until I get them at 7:30am. Off they went back down the hallway. Thirty minutes later, when I opened the door, I found them playing nicely together with the Lincoln Logs.
After lunch, while the little two napped, Joshua and I ran some errands. Since it was such a beautiful day, we grabbed a snack and went down to the dock to watch the boats when we were done running around town.

This is the bear that used to be in front of the Harbormaster's building. Since Joshua is about to finish his unit on paintings and enter into some 3-D artwork (sculptures, mobiles), we decided to stop and study it for a bit.



It was unusually warm today, nearly 40 degrees. Keith and I laughed and remembered that it was a nice warm sunny day like this in March of 2005 when we decided to buy our house. Hopefully the sunshine will be on our side when we put the house up for sale soon.



There were quite a few eagles out today. Joshua was watching them fly around near the ferry terminal.
We picked up a package from Grandma and Grandpa today. The kids all love their pens. I don't know what was more entertaining - the glowing bracelets, or Megan's jokes to Grandpa.
























Monday, January 21, 2008

Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Craisin cookies

I surprised the kids with some cookies today. I made Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies. They were very good. The recipe can be found on the Craisin website(http://www.oceanspray.com/recipes/recipe.aspx?id=1143&nid=9) along with some other yummy looking treats.


The recipe states that it makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies, but I tend to make small cookies so I've got about 3 1/2 dozen small cookies. The kids love to have 2 or 3 small cookies instead of one giant cookie. Yummy!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Another fabulous week of school completed!


Joshua has completed through reading lesson 74 in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. This means that in the next month or so he'll be done with the book. I'm trying to think up something fun to celebrate this milestone.
Math - Joshua has started learning about addition sentences (1+2=3). He can add in his head, he just needs to learn what it looks like on paper.
Reading Comprehension - We did a unit on The Amazing Little Porrige Pot.
Phonics - Joshua studied the letters N, and B.
Vocabulary - Joshua is working with writing some sight words - this week it was I, like, my and see. He is also learning to verbally diagram sentences (pick out the noun and the verb).
Music - We listened to a lot of music this week. The public radio has a good mix of classical and jazz that we supplement with our Calvert Kids CD.
Science - Joshua finished his unit on taking care of the Earth. The next unit is on the four seasons, however, looking at the workbook, I can see that he'll be done with that rather quickly, so I'm not sure what we'll be working on next week.
Art - We looked at some Realist paintings this week. One in particular that we studied closely was The Banjo Lesson by Henry O. Tanner. We talked about the colors and the lighting and compared it to the Picasso paintings we looked at last week.
History/Geography - Our biography this week was George Washington. This kicks off our 6 week study of some of the presidents. We discussed why he is sometimes called the Father of Our Country and we read about the cherry tree story. Joshua also worked on his 50 states puzzle (see the picture above, he's in his bathrobe). We will be taking two states each week between now and the end of the school year to get familiar with. This week we only did one - Alabama.




Saturday, January 19, 2008

Enchanted (don't read this if you haven't seen it!)

Enchanted premiered today at the theater in town. I waffled back and forth about taking the kids, and finally gave in this morning. I figured there was no changing my mind once I actually told them we were going to the movies. So here's my review of the experience...


Once we stripped off our mulitple layers of jackets, hats and mittens and pulled out bootleg fun-sized packs of M&Ms from my purse, we settled in for what ended up being a cute movie. For about the first 20 minutes of the movie, I have to admit, I was annoyed. I just can't stand how so many movies have dumbed-down girls. So I sat there making a mental note to add more documentaries to our Netflix. I was honestly thinking to myself, "I wonder if they have any preschool appropriate moves about Sally Ride?". And then the part in the movie came where Patrick Dempsey gives his daughter a book about historical women - Rosa Parks, Marie Currie, etc. I chuckled to myself and realized how silly I can be sometimes. I know Megan wants to see the princesses, and wear her ballerina clothes all the time. I know she likes pink and sparkles, and is the first to notice if I am wearing lip gloss, because she wants some, too. But I also know that we spend many hours a day reading and doing crafts and cooking and just spending time together. I just worry sometimes that her infatuation with all things princess-y is going to turn her into a damsel in distress batting her eyelashes waiting to be rescued. And then at the end of the movie when Gisselle saves Patrick Dempsey, Megan said, "YES!! I like her, she's a brave princess". It was then that I knew Megan would be okay, she's a fighter. The same little fighter that nearly knocked her big brother down shoving him out of the way to get in the minivan because he was taking too long and she was cold.

Overall, the movie was cute. There was a part in the movie where Gisselle and Patrick Dempsey are dancing at the ball and he is singing quietly to her. Megan (was on my lap) leaned back to me and said, "They look like you and Daddy getting married." She's watched our wedding video many times and Keith sings a bit to me during our dance. I thought it was funny that she remembered that.

So, for anyone counting...I've now been to the movies 4 times since we moved to Kodiak 4 1/2 years ago. I need to get out more often!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ring around the moon


Just a little while ago I was studying and my neighbor a few streets over sent me an instant message that said, "look out back at the moon". I was amazed when I went out back and saw a big bright circle around the moon, just as clear as can be. After some quick research, it is believed that a ring around the moon means rain is on the way. There really is some science behind that to make it true, but I'm not about to explain it this late at night. However, here is a link another really cool picture - http://www.lumis.com/picture/87081302/

Ironically, today Joshua and I read a book about space travel at the library. I told him I would take him to see a real rocket ship for his birthday, because I am the coolest Mom ever. And because I know we'll be just a few hours away from Kennedy Space Center. And cultivating our nerdiness is so much more fun than a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. I was going to wake Joshua up to go outside and look at the moon, but the clouds have rolled in making the viewing difficult.

AWANA Parents Night

Poor Keith. The guy is dog-tired. He has flown so much this week, that he is exhausted. He's only been home one night this week for dinner. And he goes in every day at 8am. Oh, wait, he goes in before that because somehow in crazy Coast Guard language being on-time is considered being late. Last night he got in just as we were finishing up dinner and heading out the door for AWANA. The big kids and I got back in the house at 8:20pm and Keith was already in bed asleep. Daniel was in bed asleep, too. But I accidentally woke him up stepping on one of his ridiculously noisy toys (thanks again, Grandma for the fire engine, I'm packing that in my suit case for when we get to Orlando, so I can hang it out my car window and clear the traffic in front of me, it is soooo loud). Then tonight Keith got in at 7:15pm, which wouldn't be so bad but the kids go to bed around 8pm because they wake up so early. And then there was the one morning this week that after getting in really late (I think it was 9pm?), someone called our house to let us know the crew that was on had flown too many hours, so Keith needed to come in right away - that was about 6am, so not too early. He works tomorrow, but isn't scheduled to fly. But he does have duty all day on Saturday. I feel bad for him because the hours have been long lately. But I also feel bad for the kids because they don't know if they should expect him for dinner or not. And I feel bad for me because I don't get a break from the kids.

Last night was Parent Night at AWANA. Which meant that for most of my little Sparkies there was at least one parent present. As the kids were signing off on their memory verses, they could earn an extra AWANA buck if their parent recited a verse. I let my parents off easy and suggested they recite the Sparks key verse (John 3:16). Because it was Parent Night, I got relieved of my duties for a short while and went to Joshua's team to recite a verse for him. I listened as he got signed off on three verses, then I recited one for him and went back to my team. During game time, the parents played the games with the children. Joshua and I played in the 3-legged race. I ended up just picking him up a bit and running with him while he sort-of hung off my leg with his arms around my waist like a little marsupial. After all that excitement, I went to the Cubbie room to pick up Megan. Apparently someone decided it was a good idea to have cupcakes for snack last night, and she was WIRED. She was talking non-stop the whole way home.

Today we had big plans to go to story time at the library. We even got there 10 minutes early, only to find that the story time lady is sick and had to cancel today. Not to worry, we still managed to read quite a few books on our own. I even met another homeschooling mother there. She's got 7 kids and her oldest two are high-school age and available to babysit during school hours if I ever need anything. And they live a few streets over. We exchanged numbers for a coffee/play date in the upcoming weeks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

MOPS, Wal-mart, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

This morning the kids and I went to the MOPS meeting (Mothers of Preschoolers). During MOPS, the children go to a little program, Moppets, in the church nursery. Joshua gets pretty bored, since the toys in the nursery are geared for small kids. The moppets also use the room adjoining to the nursery - which is used on Mon, Wed, Fri for 3 year old preschool. Ironically, this would have been where Megan would have attended preschool had we decided to send the kids outside of the home. There are very few toys in that room designated for the 3 year olds. So today, Joshua and I decided to pack his backpack full of some things he might enjoy doing. He brought his Leapster L-Max and a few math and reading games, a snack, and some paper and pencils. We picked a quiet room and Joshua enjoyed his time away from the smaller kids (while being checked on very frequently).

Today's MOPS had a group of Wise Older Women come in and answer a bunch of different questions for all of us moms with younger kids. It's really interesting to listen to everyone's different thoughts. One of the ladies mentioned that guilt is a tool that Satan uses on all mothers all the time. As mothers, we'll never survive unless we let go of it. I can absolutely see what she was saying. I feel guilty doing the dishes after dinner because I should be spending time with the kids, but I feel guilty spending time with the kids because Keith's on his way home and the dishes need to get done. :) Other great topics were: dealing with Mommy-peer-pressure (trying to keep up with other moms not only with trying to have the best stroller, best dressed kid, first walker, first back to pre-pregnant size, and the list goes on), high energy children, chores for toddlers/preschoolers, allowance, and basic survival with more than one child.

It was a really fun morning, and I'm glad I went. I added a few suggested books to my list of books I'd like to find the time to read. I've been wanting to read The Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson for a while now, I just haven't gotten around to it. I'll add it to my never-ending to-do list.

After MOPS, we went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. While there, we stopped and had lunch at Subway. We must have ran into about 5 different families that we know during our trip. And we got a state quarter that we needed for our collection, so Joshua was thrilled.

Joshua picked out a pack of colored pencils today. Joshua told me last week that he really misses the colored pencils from Mrs. Wallace's class (he preschool teacher last year). So I let him pick whichever ones he wanted - and he picked out a huge pack and a zippered pouch to put them in. He was pleased with himself.

While Joshua used his colored pencils, I was able to get some planning out of the way. The rest of his curriculum through the first week of February is planned. The homeschool curriculum we are using, Calvert, doesn't include very many history or geography lessons. It is very story and phonics oriented though, and I really like that. So, for the next 5 or 6 weeks, we will be studying a different president each week. This week, we started with George Washington. Here is a picture of Joshua using his finger to stamp some cherries on the cherry tree.



Joshua's reading is really coming along. He's been struggling with his sight words, so I've been looking for a good list to give him to review. I ran across Jan Brett's sight (http://www.janbrett.com/activities_pages.htm) and loved the free sight word lists she has available on her site. I printed them out so that they are about the size of kindergarten flash cards. There are 11 cards, each with 20 words on it, and a beautiful picture from different children's stories. I laminated them and tossed them in the diaper bag for something he can work on when we are out and about.

Knowing how much Joshua loves to invent things out of his tinker toys, I knew he'd love the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. We watched the first half of it tonight since it's a long movie at about 2 1/2 hours. Joshua loved all the inventions that the dad had made. I realized I probably haven't seen that movie in about 20 years. How can that be? Am I that old? But sure enough, when I hear the music in the movie, I am reminded of watching it in our big old house just outside of Boston. I can remember watching The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights sitting on a brown plaid couch in a room with burgundy carpet and wood paneling on the walls, so it must be that house.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Joshua's got a job!

Joshua was hired tonight to collect the mail and newspaper for our neighbors while they are off the island. Joshua is such a cheerful helper. He actually agreed to help out before he even knew what the task was. He's very excited and asked me to write it on the calendar so he doesn't forget.

But my favorite part of the conversation was this one...
Joshua: Hey, Jason, you wanna hear me count to 900?
Jason: (trying hard not to laugh) umm, errr, ummm
Joshua: I can do it really fast!
Jason: Hmmm, maybe another time, okay?
Joshua: okay.

As Joshua's getting into bed: Mom, I'll need to practice counting to 900 for when Jason comes back in two weeks.
Me: Okay, Daddy can help you with that tomorrow. :)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kid Day Out at the gym

After a great workout this morning, I came home and Megan asked where I was. I told her I was at spinning, and that I was going to take a shower because I was all sweaty. At which point Megan began to spin herself around in circles. After twirling around about 5 times, she looked at me with her head cocked to the side and said, "you're sweaty from doing this?". She's so silly.

I took Joshua with me out to the base gym today because I needed to pick up some of the children's exercise equipment that had been left behind. I did not know that it was Kid Day Out at the gym. Just as we got there they were setting up the big jumpy-houses, putt-putt golf, and a batting cage. Joshua had a blast. He enjoyed the batting cage. I was very nervous to let him in there, as the balls were shooting out of the pitcher pretty fast. He was grinning and having a blast (I wish I had brought the camera!). They had a little fishing game set up where Joshua held onto a fishing pole and fished over the edge of a table. Someone behind the table clips a prize to the fishing pole. Joshua won a pair of really cute Incredibles pajamas. Unfortunately, the jammies were for a size 4, so Josh was sad that they were not going to fit him. However, on the way home he decided to give them to Daniel. Daniel loves them, and looks very grown-up in them. I'm happy about them because they don't have that yucky flame-retardant stiff feel to them.

I couple of weeks ago I ran into a friend of mine at the library. We were talking about the toddler lunch time rut. There are only so many different ways to make sandwiches, fruit and yogurt look exciting. My friend, Jen, mentioned that she serves her daughter Bento-style lunches. Which is basically a container with 5 or 6 openings filled with different foods that might not actually be related to each other, but are still yummy. Similar to the theory that makes the mass-marketed Lunchables so well-liked by kids. (I prefer not to buy those pre-made lunches). We generally don't really do a lot of lunch meats because I have concerns about the nitrites/nitrates in them. So since I had some spare time tonight, I thought I would read more about this Bento-style lunch that keeps Jen from fighting with her girls about lunch. I came across a site that I thought was really neat - http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/ . While we are not vegans (the lady that runs that site is a vegan), I'm interested in the different ways she's creatively included protein into her child's diet. Her daily pictures of her son's lunchboxes are really cute.

Friday, January 11, 2008

End of week update

Back to our first full week of school for the year 2008.
Reading lessons: Joshua has completed through lesson #69 in his 100 lesson reading book. He is reading like a champ, with just a few concepts to fine tune. I need to make him some "sight words" flash cards. Sight words are words that don't sound right if you try to sound them out. Words like: said, of, some and at least a dozen or so more.
Math: Joshua had a Math test this week. (I know that he circled the cup instead of the milk container on his worksheet - I accidently told him to circle the object that holds the least - silly Mommy didn't read the directions!). He got the questions all correct, so he got a sticker and a star. We started an introduction to addition. This week was just some easy adding with objects like apples and bears. Next week has some actual number addition.
Reading Comprehension: We read a two short stories about families - Tortillas and Lullabies and Shoes from Grandpa. We also read an a short article about families. Joshua made a small family tree. The purpose of the family tree exercise was to reinforce that he has a Mom and Dad and that Mom and Dad each have a Mom and Dad, and that some day he'll have a wife and children of his own, and then he'll be the Dad and Keith and I will be the grandparents. So there are no great-grandparents or aunts/uncles or anything like that on the family tree, yet. He'll grasp those concepts in later grades. The flowers have the names of friends on them, since he wanted to include them as parts of the family.
We also studied Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Joshua practiced retelling the story and answered all the reading comprehension questions correctly.

Phonics: focused on writing and using words that start with the letters M,S,T and B.

Vocabulary: Joshua learned to use nouns to list the members of his family.

Music and Games: The focus this week was to learn left from right. Of course this involved lots of silly things like trying to write with our left hands, and jumping on the trampoline and doing the Hokey-Pokey.

Science: We are still learning about the environment, reducing, reusing, and recycling. We wrapped the week up with a few lessons about pollution (threw in an anti-smoking lesson there), and being a litter-bug.

Art: We studied Picasso this week. We usually study more than on artist each week, but Picasso was so interesting, we used him for our biography this week, as well as our art lessons. We studied the Blue Period, as well as Cubism. Joshua drew a picture using shapes (below).


History: This week we learned about Democracy. On the occasion our house is a democracy. We let the kids vote on which movie to watch for family night, or we let them vote on which game to play first on game night. So Joshua understood the whole voting concept. We read Duck for President by Doreece Cronin (who also did Click, Clack, Moo, another book we love).

Geography: We used the U.S. floor puzzle to work on state placement. Then Joshua picked one state to study about. We scored a National Geographic Children's Atlas at the library book sale last year for $1. It is short and sweet and perfect for the elementary school aged kids. Joshua picked Michigan since it had a car on it.



Hairy monkey-boys

It was a hair-cut day for the kids today. Keith got to take a free half-day off of work today. I guess as a bonus for having lost a certain amount of weight since their weigh-in day last year. Keith has worked hard and is now back to his pre-pregnancy weight. :) Seriously though, could you just imagine if all of our jobs started weighing us and doing neck and belly measurements?

So to celebrate Keith being home during the day, I got to get out for some errands without the kids. I actually got to use a real grocery cart today, not the gigantic pain-in-the-behind-doesn't-steer-in-the-direction-I-want-to-go truck cart. I went to Safeway to grab a few things. I don't understand why the bananas in the produce section are always neon green, but the bananas in the center of the cereal isle are perfect. Of course, I'm sure there's some marketing ploy going on there, but for me, I just head straight to the cereal isle for bananas, then zip back to produce for the rest of the fruits/veggies.

After the groceries were put away, we decided to give the kids haircuts. It becomes an assembly line of sorts. Joshua went first with Keith doing the cutting, and me helping him take a big-boy shower. Then it was Megan's turn (I didn't get any good pictures of her, because it was just a quick trim of the bangs and I didn't have time to grab the camera). Then she went in the tub.
Look at all that hair on his shoulders! He thought it was so cool that he was all hairy. Next up was Daniel. Look at him with the hairy back and pooched out belly. And yes, he's wearing a pink princess pull-up because it was under the sink in the bathroom and I put it on him after he successfully used the potty. After his haircut, Daniel went in the tub that Megan was in. She got pulled out to get jammies on and dry her hair, and Daniel swam in the tub for a bit.





Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Is this a healthy relationship?

I think I have a problem...I'm absolutely crazy about my Kitchenaid mixer. Keith (who I'm even more crazy about) bought me the mixer a couple of years ago for Christmas. Since then, we've purchased some attachments for it. I love the shredder attachment - I just shredded 3 heads of cabbage and 5 lbs of carrots for cole slaw and carrot/banana muffins. But even more than the shredder, I LOVE the plastic splash guard. The kids can help pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients without making a mess, but more importantly, without coming anywhere close to the moving mixing paddle. Tonight we made chocolate chip cookies. Which I then ate about 6 of them after the kids went to bed as I sat on the couch watching The Biggest Loser. And now I feel guilty, so I won't eat any more until tomorrow.


Joshua had a great day of school today. We did a lot of dancing around and jumping on the trampoline today as a way of reinforcing Right foot and Left foot. I think we sang the Father Abraham song at least 5 different times today. Joshua and Megan helped teach Daniel how to do the Hokey-Pokey.
Here is Joshua reading from the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. The story is on one page and the picture is on the other page. At Joshua's request, we cover the picture so he can guess from his reading what the picture will be of.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Back in the saddle

We resumed school today. Joshua had been off for 3 1/2 weeks and he picked right back up where he left off. I got the feeling from him that he was happy to have a loose schedule back in his day. Truthfully, I was, too. Keith went back to work for a regular work day today. It's been nice to have him home on the "holiday routine" schedule. The kids were really confused every day the past couple of weeks. They kept asking, "is Daddy home or at work?" as soon as they'd get up.

Tonight after Daddy got home from work, Joshua read him one of the easy-reader stories. Joshua was just beaming. He had been practicing all day reading his different stories and then picked out one to read to Daddy.

I also resumed classes today. It looks like it is going to be quite a busy semester.

Monday, January 7, 2008

What makes a family?

Right before Christmas break, Joshua and I were doing a lesson about "family". One of the objectives of the lesson was to name the members of his family. So I asked him what a family is, and Joshua's answer was that a family is made up of people who love each other. Interestingly, when he began to make his list of people in his family, he didn't start right out with people that live in our house. His list included Grandma and Grandpa, his cousins in Florida, our neighbors (the Dorvals and the Koehlers). I think it's sweet that he includes everyone he feels safe and happy around as parts of our family. He clarified to me that the Dorvals and the Koehlers do no have our last name, so they aren't really part of our family, but they love us like family. I thought that was a pretty interesting point for a 5 year old to make. One of our objectives this month is to work on a very basic family tree. Homeschool starts back up in the morning.


I went to a small baby shower for Beth today. We are so excited for them, they are leaving soon to head to Guatemala to pick up their son, Gabriel. Keith and I have been talking to Joshua about Gabriel, since Joshua has a pretty good grasp (or at least the 5 year old version) of where babies come from. Joshua knows that Gabriel grew in another Mommy's belly and Beth's belly grew Donavyn.

We watched Meet the Robinsons tonight, to continue our discussion about different families. Joshua asked why the boy's mother left him in a box at the door of the orphanage. I told him I really didn't know. I guess I could have given some well thought out politically correct answer, but I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all explaination. So I gave him the only answer I could, "I don't know, honey, let's see if the movie tells us". So we continued to watch the movie. And just as Joshua was trying to find out why the boy was left at the orphanage, the boy in the story was trying to find out the same thing. I really liked the movie, I liked the characters (there wasn't any one weird person, they were all weird), I liked the message, and I liked the general positive plot of the movie. I didn't like the overuse of the word stupid.
These are little shirts made with potato stamps. A princess for Donavyn and a prince for Gabriel.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sadness in Kodiak tonight

I was tempted earlier tonight when I posted about our day, to add that we had been listening to the radio and checking the internet frequently for updates about a plane that had crashed into the ocean today at the Kodiak Airport. However, I didn't because I try to keep our home page a happy place.

It was a small commuter plane from Servant Airways leaving Kodiak and heading to Homer.

I just found out about an hour ago that the pilot was the husband of my friend and former co-worker, Judy. Robin did not survive the crash; he was one of 6 casualties. Please keep Judy in your thoughts, as well as their two college age sons, Doug and Randy.


http://www.adn.com/ (updated link takes you to the Anchorage Daily News, you can find the article on the first page)

A (mostly) inside day today...brrrrrr....

Megan woke up this morning complaining that her tummy hurt. So I started my day sharing a warm cup of tea with Megan snuggling on the couch. I ended up losing track of time and realized it was Saturday at about 9:45am. There was no way I could be dressed and to spinning on time, so sadly, I missed out on my one standard weekly "me" activity.

Keith and I have really seen a change in Joshua since it's been dark, cold, windy and just plain yucky outside. Joshua just seems to have this glazed-over look, like he never truely wakes up all day. I've been tempted to share my coffee with him (just kidding). Keith and I decided that no matter what the weather looks like, we'll offer Josh the chance to go out and play in the back yard for as long as he wants. However, the smaller two kids don't go out in the whipping winds and sub-freezing temperatures. Mostly because the little two get cold, so they stand still and then get colder. Joshua moves non-stop, so he never really gets cold. So Joshua chose to go out to play for about 45 minutes today in the windy 23 degree weather.

Joshua came inside and joined the other kids up at the table, where we had some serious creative juices flowing with the help of our new play-doh (another great Christmas present).
Daniel is working on rolling out a snake.
Daniel is learning how to use his play-doh scissors.

Joshua created little tables and chairs.


Megan's long purple snakes. We used her snakes to make letters and spell out her name. Incidently, she decided to dress herself this morning by putting on a clean pair of pajamas and a Thanksgiving hair-pretty.
After nap-time, we had yummy snacks and then turned the livingroom into a race track for the remote control cars. Keith was extreemely patient teaching the littler two how to drive the cars. He knew I was sad that I didn't make it out of the house this morning, so he was trying to occupy the kids so I could get some other things done.











Friday, January 4, 2008

And this is how I know I'm in trouble....

Tonight at dinner time, Meow-meow was pestering us under the table. Keith got up to go feed her. In the 90 seconds he was gone, Daniel reached over to Keith's plate and grabbed all the fruit off of it, shoving it in his mouth. Then Daniel turned around and said (with a full mouth), "I share with Josh", and proceeded to hand his big brother a sticky, drippy handful of chopped citrus fruits, most of which had already been in Daniel's mouth, which didn't seem to bother Joshua. The boys wolfed down their stolen fruit before Keith made it back to the table.

Let this be your warning, don't leave your dinner plate alone at my house. (And here's where we stop getting invited over to other people's houses for dinner!)

January is National Book Month - a book list

My fellow homeschooling friend, Mrs. Darling, shared a link to the National Education Association's page of Teachers' Top 100 Children's books. The list was compiled from an on-line survey. I'd love to know how many teachers were surveyed, if they were from all types of schools - Christian vs. Public; affluent neighborhoods vs. urban projects, and what grade level the teachers taught at. Of course I take the list lightly, and there are probably 5 or 6 books on there that I know we won't be reading, since I'm not sure they qualify as good children's books. But nevertheless, it's fun to have a list of books to check off as we go. And it seems like a decent list.

Since we are staring down the second half of the school year, yet we are more than 3/4 the way through our planned curriculum, I'd imagine the latter spring and summer months will be filled with much more reading. We've read 24 out of the 100 books listed. I'd like to bump that number up to 50 books by the end of the summer. What I don't understand is how small books like Cordury and Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom made the same list as larger, more young adult books such as the Harry Potter Series (which I won't be reading to Joshua). So I'd love to say we'll have more than half the list finished, but some of those books are really long, and not quite at the Kindergarten level (Little Women? I think I was in the 7th grade when I read that.)

Anyhow - here's the list - I've bolded the books that we have already completed.

1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
3. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
4. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
5. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
6. I Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
7. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
8. Oh! The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss
9. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
10. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
11. Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
12. Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
13. The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss
14. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
15. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
16. The Mitten by Jan Brett
17. Crunching Carrots, Not Candy by Judy Slack
18. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willlems
19. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (We won’t be reading this series.)
20. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
21. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
22. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
23. Corduroy by Don Freeman
24. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
25. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
26. Tacky the Penquin by Helen Lester
27. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
28. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
29. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
30. Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type Doreen Cronin

31. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
32. Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
33. Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park (We won’t be reading this book.)
34. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
35. Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
36. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
37. Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini
38. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
39. The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone

40. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
41. A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
42. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
43. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
44. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
45. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
46. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
47. Olivia by Ian Falconer
48. The BFG by Roald Dahl
49. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
50. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
51. The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
52. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
53. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
54. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
55. Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
56. Bunnicula by James Howe
57. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
58. Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom DeLuise
59. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
60. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
61. Frederick by Leo Lionni
62. Frindle by Andrew Clements
63. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
64. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
65. Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen
66. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
67. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
68. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
69. I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
70. Is Your Mama A Llama? by Deborah Guarino
71. Jan Brett’s books
72. Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr.
73. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
74. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
75. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
76. My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
77. My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
78. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
79. No David! by David Shannon
80. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
81. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
82. Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch
83. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
84. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
85. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Warner
86. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
87. The Empty Pot by Demi
88. The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop
89. The Giver by Lois Lowr
90. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
91. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
92. The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
93. The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements
94. The Napping House by Audrey Wood
95. The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
96. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
97. The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
98. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
99. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
100. The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A Pop-Up Book by Keith Faulkner

I also really enjoying the Association for Library Services to Children website http://www.ala.org/ALSCTemplate.cfm?Section=AboutALSC . You can search on that website for Caldecott winners (books that have won awards for outstanding illustrations), Newbery Medals (honors authors that have made outstanding contributions to children's literature), as well as other recommended reading lists.

So when I'm loading kids into the mini-van wondering what secular books to grab at the library, I now have a couple of good resources, or at least a quick list to take a peek at.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Resolutions

Daniel in December 2006 contemplating his resolutions for 2007.
I ran into my dear friend, Maria, at the gym today. As we huffed and puffed side by side on the cardio equipment in the parent/tot room, we talked about our resolutions for the upcoming year. I've never really taken the whole "New Year's resolution" concept seriously. However, for fun, I'll make a list of various fun things the 5 of us would like to accomplish in 2008.
* Megan would like to learn to fly a kite. (Guess who loves Mary Poppins?)
* Joshua would like to play soccer again next summer.
* Daniel will be out of diapers. We are excited about this because we've been changing diapers since July of 2002.
* We'll be moving into a new house (not sure where, not sure when, but we know it will happen!)
* Joshua would like to learn to ride his bike without training wheels.
* Daddy looks forward to riding his bike more often next year as well.
* We plan to take a family vacation in 2008.
* I plan on adding 30 new recipes to our recipe book in 2008 (That's roughly 3 per month, with some wiggle-room).
* Megan wants to learn to read like Joshua.
These aren't real measureable goals. But it's fun to think of what the new year has the potential to bring.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Good-bye 2007

The next time I decide to go to the grocery store to pick up a few things on New Years Eve, somebody please talk me out of it! It was beyond busy. And because of the bad weather, there was not a large amount of variety in the produce area. I really, really, really wanted an avocado, only to find there were none. I had planned to make turkey and guacamole wraps for lunch and it just didn't work out.

We had quite a little celebration to ring in the new year. I don't think any of the kids really get it, but it's a fun excuse to party anyway. After they got an early bath, they used Megan's new art supply paint dotters to decorate party hats.
Not as messy as stamps, and produces quick creations, so the paint dotters are definately keepers. I had my doubts, but was pleasantly surprised when just a small amount of ink came out of the tip at a time.

Daniel is frowning because he was in the tub for too long and his fingers are pruney. He gets very upset if his fingers and toes are pruney. He cries, "Fix it, Mom." And I have to kiss every finger to make it better.
Joshua is pretty proud of his hat. He did a great job, and he helped Daniel quite a bit with getting the caps on and off the paint dotters.



Megan did a great job decorating her hat too. She, of course, decided to go with a pink crown. She claims to have decorated it with purple and gold jewels.



After creating party hats, we all had a yummy little buffet of appetizers. The kids were thrilled to be having a "party" for dinner. We tried to explain that we were celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of another, but they really don't get it, yet.
We then played with the Wii for about 30 minutes. Even Daniel plays. Daddy has to help him with most games. Our favorite is to play a family game of tennis. So tonight we played tennis all together and then Keith and Joshua played baseball. Then is was stories and bedtime.



Stay tuned for our accomplishments during 2007, and our goals for 2008....