Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mommy Slow Down!

Monte Carlo Grand Prix by Chris Flanagan
Monte Carlo Grand Prix

Lexie has become quite the backseat driver. Lately, if I am driving over 40 mph, she seems to think that I'm going dangerously fast. "Slow down Mommy!" "You're going way to fast Mommy!" "Where is the next stop sign Mommy?" "You're making me scared Mommy!". These are the cries that I heard all the way home from camp today. I promise you that I have not been driving over the speed limit. I guess I'll either be puttering along with 20 cars piled up behind me or else she's going to have to close her eyes and get over it :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Mouse Sick Day
Mouse Sick Day

Yuck! I really don't feel good today. I have some sort of a stomach bug. I don't know what I would have done without Ellie this morning. She has been SO good about watching over Nick and keeping him out of trouble - of course this includes LOTS of Little Einsteins. I don't mind though. I really needed the rest this morning. Kate is busy at a day camp (luckily a friend took her and is picking her up). Ellie is leaving in a couple of hours to go to her first "slumber party". She has spent the night at people's houses before, but this time there are actually going to be a few girls. I expect lots of giggles :)
Well, I am going to go try eating something......wish me luck!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dreaming of Dance Class

It's Bunco Night!!!

American Bunco Queen
American Bunco Queen

Yes, it's Bunco night - and I missed it :(

Bunco is my one night a month that I get out of the house and enjoy the company of other ladies - without ANY kids. We eat dinner and dessert. We play bunco and talk. It really is a nice break from life.

I have a babysitting dilemma though. Finding a responsible person to watch all 5 children one Friday per month is not an easy task. I thought that I had found a great babysitter - she is 16, a Christian, a homsechooler, and the oldest of 10 children. Sounds perfect, but she can't EVER babysit on a Friday night. EVER. Apparently she can't babysit from 6 pm on Friday to 6 pm on Saturday because of the Sabbath. I don't have any problem with that, except for the fact that the only time I need a babysitter is Friday nights!! So, I'm searching and hoping that I find someone in the next couple of months. It would be especially nice to continue going to Bunco during the deployment. It's a nice escape :)

On the other hand, I will be able to enjoy hourly care on post during the day for my other babysitting needs. They are also offering one Saturday a month as respite care (for FREE!!) I'll definitely be taking advantage of that. We also get 4 hours a week, per child for hourly care at the CDC (Free also - if you go above your 4 hours, you only pay $2 an hour). I'm thinking of putting Nick and Lexie in that once a week while I go grocery shopping or run other errands - or maybe do something special with the older 2 girls? We'll see.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bag Ladies

Ten Handbags by Tina
Ten Handbags

I have raised bag ladies. My girls love bags and they are not picky - it could be a pretty pink purse, an old suitcase, a backpack, a brown paper bag, a wedding gift bag, a plastic shopping bag, or a canvas book bag. No matter what it is, they will sling it over their shoulder and start filling it with STUFF. When I say stuff, I don't mean useful, normal things that you might put in a bag/purse. I mean very random things from throughout the house.

Here is an example of what might be in their bag (and has been in the past):
1. a Mr. Potato Head nose
2. a notepad and pencil
3. 3 broken crayons
4. an insect field guide
5. magnifying glass
6. bag of goldfish crackers
7. sunglasses
8. a "Littlest Pet Shop" animal
9. a piece of kleenex
10. 1/4 of a deck of cards
11. a paintbrush
12. a play clock
13. various shells and rocks
14. a baby picture
15. one lego
16. a spatula
17. a medicine dispenser

and the list could seriously go on and on.....

Now, maybe this is normal. Maybe this is what belongs in a child's bag. Or maybe my children all got the "bag lady" genes. I am not sure. Do anyone else's kids do this? It really drives me insane, because when I end up putting it away it takes many trips around the house to put everything in their proper places again. Yes, I could make them do it, but it would end up in one big pile on their floor, I'm sure.

Now, this typical bag I have been talking about is what they carry around as a 3-5 yr old. Ellie and Kate both went through the phase. This is what Lexie is doing daily. As they have gotten older, they have kept their love of bags, but it has manifested itself in a different way. Now, if one of them is invited somewhere or if they know we're taking a trip, they will start packing immediately. Even if the trip isn't until 3 weeks in the future. They just love the joy of packing and repacking their bag. Ellie and Kate both carry around purses now, and I admit that they are filling them with more useful things than they used to. But they both regress somedays and like to play "shopping" around the house for random items.

I guess every girl likes a nice bag :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Unicorn Wings

Even though this book isn't challenging for Kate anymore, she still loves it because it has beautiful pictures of unicorns and rainbows. What 6 year old girl doesn't enjoy that? She and Ellie decided that they were going to have a "reading spree" tonight. They both had stacks of books to read and add to their reading logs :)

Brown Baggin' It

Today was beautiful - especially after a couple of weeks of clouds and rain. We had yet another picnic to attend and it was the perfect day for it. This time it was for PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel). They were having a planning picnic to see how many women are going to attend this fall. I have decided to make the time to go. It will give me some much needed adult company, Nick can happily play in the nursey, they have a program for the 4-5 yr olds and then Ellie and Kate will be in a homeschooler's room - Hooray!! It sounds like we will all enjoy it :)
Anyway, the picnic was at a park that we have never been to. It is my new favorite!! It has a large play area that is just the right size. Not too high where I'm feeling nervous and following Nick around, but not so babyish that the other kids are bored. I think that we will try to make it there a few more times this summer....

The picnic was a potluck for the adults and we were supposed to bring lunches for our children. There were a LOT of kids there and I know that they like to graze at the table whenever possible. My kids were a bit disappointed that they weren't eating with me when they saw all of the wonderful desserts laid out. They got lucky, because there were lots of leftovers and they ended up getting a chance to have a cookie or two at the end :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cracker crumbs and pencil shavings...

Tornado and Lightning on Field
Tornado and Lightning on Field

Yes, that is what I just walked barefoot through. I can't say that I enjoyed it either. I have spent the past 10 minutes sweeping up the office floor. Nick "the Tornado"(an F5) hit the office with forceful winds :) He took out the pencil sharpener, an entire bag of crackers, various pencils and crayons, a cup of milk, and some small pieces of paper. He did all of that damage in matter of minutes :)

He is now a not-so-happy camper. I have strapped him into the car seat in the truck. Please don't call CPS on me!! The truck is in the garage, the door into the garage from the house is propped open, and I can see him (and unfortunately hear him) from here. It was the only safe place I could put him while I was cleaning up the damage (without him making more at the same time!) He is getting very sleepy and I am hoping that while I'm working (and now blogging), he's pretending that the truck is driving - he likes to fall asleep in the car seat :)

Well, I have the baby monitor on to the upstairs and I can now hear someone very loudly playing the harmonica. And now a crying baby (probably because of the harmonica!). That is my cue to rescue Nick from the car seat and start the excruciatingly long process of putting 5 children to sleep......

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Inspired by Tinkerbell

Kate is again inspired by Tinkerbell to read another book. This time it is a Level 4 reader (The one she read a couple of days ago was a level 3). It is called The Fairy Berry Bake-Off. How girly!! She really loves the Disney Fairies and she's determined to fill her reading list to #100 to earn that magazine subscription. I'm glad that she isn't taking the easy way out and reading all level 2s. I am so proud of her!! I am hoping that I can find more of these Disney Fairies Easy Readers....

Small Victory: Mowing the Lawn

Glum Victorian Lady with Lawnmower
Glum Victorian Lady with Lawnmower

I am so proud of myself. I actually got the lawn mowed today (about 80% of it) and it was no small task. We have a really big yard!! Tori was asleep in the crib, and Ellie was checking on her and putting the pacifier in her mouth whenever she woke and cried. Kate and Lexie were playing on the computer. I had Nick outside with me. I kept him busy eating and sitting on my swing for awhile, but he lost interest after about 1/2 hr. I then put him on my shoulders until I finished. Man did I get a much needed workout!! He had such a good time too. He just thought he was being my little helper and going for a ride. It took me a long time, because the grass was really long and wet. I had to keep letting up on the mower so that it wouldn't die. It actually looks like someone lives here now!! I didn't do the edging though. I haven't been schooled on the weedeater. I'm sure I could figure it out, but frankly I was tired by the time I finished the mowing - and Tori was hungry. Maybe I'll give it a go tomorrow if it doesn't rain....

My little Houdini

Houdini: The World's Handcuff King and Prison Breaker
Houdini: The World's Handcuff King and Prison Breaker

What do you do with a 2 year old who has figured out all of the buttons and locks in the house?? I can no longer keep him in the high chairs (either one). The stroller is a breeze - he's out of that in seconds (and running away from me as quickly as possible). Now it's the car seat. He can't quite get the bottom button pushed yet, but he unstraps the top and then squeezes his arms out.
What do I do?? I will NEVER get to where we're going when I'm stopping every 30 seconds to strap him in again. It's not an easy thing either. His car seat is in the very back of the truck and I have to either open the back and reach over OR make Ellie get out, put her seat down and climb in to get him strapped again.
I am getting very frustrated. This is a serious safety issue. Barring duct tape, how can I keep his arms in the seat?? His straps are not loose. Do they make some sort of device to fit over the upper car seat locks? Do I need to find a different type of seat?
He sure keeps me on my toes!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Picnic at the Botanical Gardens

Today our unit went to a picnic at the Georgeson Botanical Garden on the University of Fairbanks campus. The weather was kind of sprinkly, but the kids still had a great time running around. We had a very serious talk before arriving, about how these were not wildflowers and these were not OUR flowers and how we were not under any circumstances allowed to touch these flowers :) I am proud to say that Kate only brought me one flower and she was quick to tell me that she found it on the ground.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ellie is back from Camp

Ellie spent the last 8 days at Operation Purple Camp, a free camp for children of deployed/deploying military members. She had a great time despite the fact that it rained most of the week. She went swimming, did archery, shot paintball guns (at targets, not eachother), made smores, sang songs, and just had a good time making friends her age who are in a similar situation as her. She came home with a bag of wet clothes (which I hate to admit I still haven't opened - I should probably do that before they get up and walk away!) We are glad to have her back home with us. It was hard having both her and Andy gone at the same time. It just didn't feel quite like home. I'm glad she got the break from noisy siblings though :) They were all very glad to see her again!

All 5 kids

Andy asked for a picture for all of the kids together, so I did a little "photo session" with them before bedtime. Everyone is in PJs :) I got one of all 5 (it took about 5 pictures to get them to all look at the camera) and one of just the girls!

The Great Fairy Race

I will do anything to get Kate excited about reading. She found this book at Fred Meyer the other day and decided that she just HAD to have it. She read it to me last night and did such a great job!! She read very fluently and didn't get tired and want to put a bookmark in for later. I am so proud of her!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Those Crazy French

Destination Paris by Tina Chaden
Destination Paris

Yesterday as we were driving in the car, Lexie asked where we were going. I told her that we were going Crazy. That's where I was headed anyway :) She then replied "Is that in France? The people in France are crazy because I can't understand them!" Out of the mouths of babes....

Some things you just have to learn yourself.

Salt and Pepper II by Bill Philip
Salt and Pepper II
Like: Black pepper is not a toy.
For some strange reason, the girls decided that they needed to refill the empty pepper container. They poured pepper everywhere, of course getting it into their eyes and nose. Those were some pretty unhappy little girls. I think they have learned their lesson.

I'm now clean again :0)

Shower Time by Helga Sermat
Shower Time

I just wanted to report that I have showered. Nick and Tori were sleeping at the same time and I jumped while I had the chance. Did I want Nick to fall asleep at 6 p.m.? Absolutely not. Am I going to wake him up? Absolutely not. Will he be up until 1 or 2 in the morning again? Probably, but I guess I'll deal with that when it comes. At least I'll be happy and clean :) I NEVER want to go 4-5 days without a shower again. Not unless I'm camping or something and even then I'd probably go swimming! Ellie comes home tomorrow and I should be able to keep myself clean from now on.

I can't seem to find.....

Nick's recently bought shoes. I have looked in all the likely places and some unlikely ones: under the beds, outside in the yard, in the truck, in the playroom etc. and I can't seem to find them anywhere. I think they are evading me, moving around so that I won't find them. My poor child went over a week with no shoes on because I refused to buy a new pair when they are around the house somewhere. I broke down yesterday and decided that he couldn't go any longer without some tennis shoes. We found this pair of Spiderman shoes which light up when he walks. They are the ones he HAD to have - even though they are not quite his size (they either had them way small or way big, so we went with big) Hopefully these will help keep his toes protected from heavy items falling from the sky :) With his track record though, I probably should have gotten him a pair of steel-toed boots instead!

The water is flowing!!!!

Bronze Faucet by Calixto Berrocal
Bronze Faucet

I just paid $109 for the repair guy to tell me that I need to buy a new water softener. This will cost me at least another $500. I was hoping that it was going to be something simple - especially after we just spent a ton of money fixing our boiler last month. Unfortunately, the tank inside the softener is cracked and it is cheaper to buy a new one rather than get it fixed. At least everything will be fixed and new by the time we sell the house, so the next people can enjoy it :)
Also, I am a blonde. I was searching and searching for a bypass valve so that I could turn the water on. We went at least 24 hrs without running water - Yuck! Anyway, the bypass valve was directly behind the water softener (not in the pictures). It didn't look like what I expected it to look like. It was a piece of plastic that slides back and forth. I just spent all of that time without water for absolutely no reason. At least I am slowly being schooled in the household repairs department.
Now I just have to wait for everyone to fall asleep (maybe 1 or 2 in the morning??) so that I can take a nice, long, hot shower!! Wish me luck!

Science Topics We Will Study This Year

Nasa Solar System
Nasa Solar System

I am not using any one curriculum for science this year. We will be studying Earth and Space Science and will study the following topics. Not all of them will take us an entire week to finish, but some will take more than a week. We're just going to take our time with the topics that the kids show the most interest in:

1. What is Astronomy?
2. The Sun
3. Mercury
4. Venus
5. Earth and Our Moon
6. Mars
7. Space Rocks
8. Jupiter
9. Saturn
10. Uranus & Neptune
11. Pluto & Other Dwarf Planets
12. Stars & Galaxies/Constellations
13. Space Travel
14. Is There Life in Outer Space?
15. Telescopes
16. Earth's Structure, Layers, and Plate Tectonics
17. Caves
18. Volcanoes
19. Earthquakes
20. Rocks and Minerals
21. Fossils
22. Soil
23. The Water Cycle
24. Oceans
25. Rivers & Lakes
26. Groundwater
27. Glaciers & Icebergs
28. Hot Springs & Geysers
29. Weathering & Erosion
30. Landslides & Avalanches
31. Tsunamis
32. Meteorite Impacts
33. Floods & Monsoons
34. Droughts
35. The Atmosphere & Atmospheric Pressure
36. Humidity & Air Composition
37. Climates, Seasons, Day & Night, Time Zones
38. Clouds
39. Precipitation & Rainbows
40. Thunderstorms & Tornadoes
41. Hurricanes
42. Wind
43. Meteorology/Weather Forecasting

Some of the resource books we will be using are: Christian Kids Explore Earth & Space, Exploring Creation With Astronomy, Smithsonian: Earth, Great Science Adventures: Earth and Space, and Great Science Adventures: Exploring Earth's Landforms and Surface Features. We are also using numerous picture books and experiment books to complement our studies. I have ordered a large labeled rock collection, an in-home planetarium (Star Theater 2) and a solar system kit to put together. I think the kids are really going to enjoy science this year!!

Dancing With Daddy

A friend just gave us this picture of Andy dancing with Lexie at the Father-Daughter ball earlier this year. How Sweet!! I had to share :)

The Daddy Dolls Are Here!

We got a surprise in the mail today. The Hug-A-Hero Daddy Dolls showed up! As much as Andy wanted to be an action hero, he is alas a soft, squishy doll :)
Each is personalized and says "I love you Kate" or "I love you Lexie" so that they can tell them apart without fighting. I ordered the voice recorders also so that he can add a personalized message to each of them and they can push on the doll to listen to it over and over. It will be nice for them to hear his voice whenever they want. Here is a picture of Kate with hers. She was so excited!! These dolls can be ordered for any loved one - not just military members.
Here is their website again in case any of you would like to order one for your children:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Adventures in Single Parenting

I do NOT like not having a husband around :(
Before he left, I worried that things would go wrong. I expected things to go wrong, because that's just the way it works out. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to go to the ER, I wouldn't have to have my truck fixed, and nothing would go wrong with the house requiring me to fix something or make repair decisions.
Well folks, we've hit all 3!!
1. trip to the ER with Nick for his broken toe
2. trip to the repair shop with the truck (while we waited)
3. and now today the water softener decided to clog up and flood the entire garage. I was out the door when it happened and I am so glad that I happened to notice before I left!

Now, I admit that I am mechanically challenged. I admit that my brain shuts off when I hear anything to do with working parts. That is one of the many reasons why I have a husband. All of that being said, I'm still not a complete idiot. When I saw the flooding, I assumed that I should turn the water off until I could figure out what was wrong. Now, am I wrong in thinking that the knob marked "MAIN WATER SHUTOFF" would be the one to turn?????

Well, I was wrong. It ended up being the one BELOW the one marked "main water shutoff". Go figure.

So, then I looked in the water softener. Now I don't know much about water softeners, but I believe that you normally don't actually see the water in there. Mine is full and the valve behind the softener (and up against the wall) is what was leaking all over the place. Maybe I shouldn't say leaking, because that sounds like a drip. I mean a constant, steady, powerful stream of water - covering the floor of the garage.

After using the push broom to get the water out, asking a neighbor for advice, and making phone calls to my dad and brother, I ended up calling the water softener repair man. He is coming sometime tomorrow between 8 and 5. Hopefully closer to the 8 than the 5 since in the mean time I have no idea if I can bypass the water softener and actually have water in the house. At this point in time I am completely intimidated by the amount of pipes and knobs above and around the water softener. I did manage to unplug it though. That's about as far as I got. There are instructions on the inside of the lid on how to clean out the "nozzle" whatever that is. I am not prepared to do this. It would turn out disastrous. I would get it apart and never get it back together again. So, I am paying who knows how many dollars an hour for the water softener man to come (I didn't even want to ask what the hourly rate was, although it is an initial $109 for the service call). It pays to be handy doesn't it?? I just wish I was. I think that my mechanical genes were given to my brother Jeff instead, so that he has an abundance of them and I'm lacking :(

You have to admit though, this looks very confusing:

And even more confusing put next to the boiler and water heater:

If this much stuff is going to go wrong while he's at NTC, what am I going to have to deal with while he's gone for a year?? I need to have him write me out a manual to all of the household stuff.....

All of this added to the fact that Ellie is still at camp (and being rained out from what I hear), Nick is climbing on absolutely everything in sight, I haven't showered in about 4 days, and I now have no running water in our house for the next day unless I can somehow get a hold of Andy and have him talk me through getting it on is enough to drive anyone batty. I'm not completely crazy yet, but I just want to scream THIS STINKS!! And SO DO I!! There, I feel better now that I have gotten that off my chest :) Now I need to go fill the toilet tanks full of water so that we can keep our house from becoming a public health hazard....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Time to Potty Train

It's time to potty train Nick. I have been putting it off since it is so time-consuming and I didn't think I would have the time and patience to spend 10 minutes of every hour sitting in the bathroom with him. I have to spend that entire time keeping him focused on the task at hand. He would much rather pull out the whole roll of toilet paper, flush the toilet 500 times in a row, overflow the sink with water, or jump into the bathtub fully clothed. After 3 girls, I have been dreading potty training a boy.

It is becoming very evident though that he is ready. He has started going in his mini urinal more often (this is the coolest thing!) I was so afraid of him trying to stand on a stepstool at the toilet and falling in. Now he can stand up like a big boy. It even has a little tank to fill so that you can flush it :)

I just have to start asking him if he has to go and take the time to sit with him in there. I should probably be doing that right now while we're off from schoolwork.

Anyway, it is also becoming evident that he no longer wants to do #2 in his pants. This morning, when I went into his bedroom, he was standing on top of his dresser (yes with a broken toe) completely naked, with a bazillion baby wipes all over the place. He had taken his diaper off and gone poo on the floor (yes on the white carpet). He was then cleaning himself off and had already pulled out new clothes to put on. So thoughtful of him :) Apparently the thought of going in his diaper is so gross that he would rather go on his bedroom floor. This was not a mess that was fun to clean up!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Update on Nick

Nick is doing fine. The bandaged foot isn't slowing him down a bit. He has already climbed on kitchen counter, the play castle, the table, and over the baby gate this morning! It doesn't seem to be hurting him much at all. I have to say though that I was hoping for a relaxing day since I expected him to be laid up on the couch watching Little Einsteins. That didn't happen.....

World Eskimo-Indian Olympics

If you've never heard of this event (which is taking place in Fairbanks this year), check it out at
I considered taking the kids, but Ellie is at camp and it would be a chore to sit with the little ones.

Some of the events are pretty amazing (this is only a few of them):

This is a game of endurance to pain and a testing of strength. The object is to see how far on can go in a "push-up" position, with elbows bent and knuckles down. The only parts of the body touching the floor are knuckles and toes. From this position, the participant "hops" forward as far as possible keeping the back straight and elbows bent. This games originally was played o n the floor of a traditional community center or hut, or outside on the ground. Now, this game takes place on the arena floor.
Often during a successful hunt there comes a time when the games caught has to be packed for long distances. This is true of packing wood or ice. The for man carry not only test the capability of carrying heaving loads, but it also tests the "weight" - those volunteers "draped" over the participant during the event. Distance is the objective.
The weights used in this event are 16 one pound lead ingots, which are threaded through twine. The contestant must loop the twine around one ear and by lifting straight up, without using the cheek, pack the "weight" and go for distance. Before lead weights were used, sacks such as twenty-five pounds of flour were used. Distances of over 2,000 feet are attained.
The high kick event requires the athlete to jump off the floor using both feet, kick a suspended object with one foot, and land on the floor using that same foot demonstrating balance to the floor officials. Distances the height of a basketball's net is not uncommon. It is supported that when a messenger from a hunting or whaling crew is within visual distance of the villagers, he will kick high into the air thereby giving a message that a whale has been shot, or the caribou are running near. The two-foot high kick means a different but similar message. The high kicks are considered the premier events of the WEIO.
This game requires the athlete to balance on his/her hands with at least one elbow tucked under the lower abdominal area. The rest of the body is parallel to the floor. The participant will then use one hand to reach up and touch the suspended target. Upon doing this, the participant must get that hand back to the floor before any other part of his/her body touches the floor while demonstrating his/her balance to the floor officials. This is a game demonstrating balance, athletic prowess, and strength. Height is the objective.

Here is a video of the 2 Foot High Kick:

Here is a video of the women's ear pull. Yikes!

This is a link to some great pictures of the events:

Here is an article about the World-Eskimo-Indian Olympics pageant. No tap dancing or answering questions on how to save the world in this pageant :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It was bound to happen....

Andy is gone and it was bound to happen. I was going to make a trip to the ER for something. At least it was nothing serious.

This morning, Nick opened up a cabinet in the laundry room (which is not baby-proofed because he is usually contained in the adjoining playroom - but I can no longer do that). Anyway, he pulled out an 8 pound weight and I watched in slow motion as he dropped it on his toe. Some of you may remember that last winter he dropped a can of corn on his big toe and lost his toenail. This time, he broke his toe and cut underneath it (almost but not quite requiring a stitch).

That being said, the trip to the ER was not a fun one - ok, is a trip to the ER ever fun? Luckily, my friend took Kate and Lexie and I only had Nick and Tori. We waited what seemed like forever between triage, x-rays, being sent back to a room, being seen by the doctor, and having the nurse bandage his toe/foot. I have to admit that both of the kids were great though. Nick was charming everyone in the waiting room and flirting with the triage nurse. She ended up giving him 3 popsicles over the course of our stay :) In all, we were there for about 4-5 hours. He's fine, but I am glad that I ended up taking him. Now at least I know that it is broken (the very end of his toe chipped off) and he is all bandaged up and will hopefully stay that way. He has a very bad habit of pulling off band-aids though. I am hoping that it hurts enough that he won't mess with it. He is definitely slowed down. He has only taken a few steps on it (walking on his heel). I'm sure he'll speed up a little tomorrow.

Well, it's been a long day and I think I need to get some sleep....

Monday, July 14, 2008

How Are You Peeling??

I am peeling just fine :) This is another of Nick's favorites, although I have to admit that we rarely read the words. There is just something about fruit and vegetables having such expressive faces! They must have had fun shopping for just the right produce. We also have Fast Food which is equally cute. I am interested in checking out the others by the same author: Food Play, Food For Thought, and Baby Food.

This made me want to cry...

I also posted this on my other blog:

Kate is a budding reporter. She wrote her own newspaper article, complete with picture and delivered it to me rolled up and secured with a rubber band. I thought I was going to cry when I read it. Here is what it says (with the spelling VERY corrected):

The dads will fight in Iraq with bad guys. The moms and children will be worried about them for a while. 1 year is pretty long for a dad to be gone actually for every one to be gone for one year now that is a long time. See you next time. Goodbye. (There is a picture of two people sword fighting to go along with this)

On the other side of the newspaper is a similar story (again spelling corrected - this kid needs a proofreader!):

The dads are going to Iraq for a year. The moms and dads and children will miss them. It has to go that way. The dads are gone right now. It is sad for everyone. In 2 years the dads will return forever and ever. It is happy for everyone and the dads will come back with their kids and wife.

Here he is....

My little monkey. Notice that he is also in shorts, flip-flops, and a Hawaiian shirt. You can tell that his dad didn't dress him or he'd be in jeans, boots, and a black t-shirt :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Walking My Little Monkey

Now, first of all I want to say that I was always one of those moms who thought "I would NEVER put my child on a leash like a dog!" I thought that it was somewhat inhumane. I had no use for one with the girls. Then Nick came along and I have changed my mind. Currently, when we go someplace I put him in the stroller. He usually unstraps himself within a minute and then runs away from me as quickly as his little legs can take him (which is usually quicker than my long legs can take me with a baby strapped to my chest). I end up carrying him on my hip and Tori in the Baby Bjorn. This is extremely awkward and uncomfortable - especially if I end up doing it for a long period of time (because I am usually also still pushing the now empty stroller).
I went to Fred Meyer the other day and saw a "kid leash" and decided that I would take the plunge and become one of THOSE moms. It isn't just a plain old leash either - it has a little monkey backpack attached to it. Nick was excited to put it on when we got home, but he lost most of his enthusiasm when his sisters decided to take turns "walking" him around the house. He did NOT like that. We have yet to use it out in public, but I am thinking that we may try this soon. Probably not in a store though since he would be grabbing everything off the shelves. He is relegated to the front of the cart where I can hold him down out of trouble :) I am going to a picnic next week at some botanical gardens and I am thinking that may be the perfect opportunity to try it out. I will let you know how it goes....2

The Importance of Reading

The Reading, circa 1890-95 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
The Reading, circa 1890-95

I have often tried to stress to Kate the importance of knowing how to read. She can read, but she doesn't enjoy it like Ellie does. I usually have to tell her to read. The school we homeschool through has a program where the kids can earn books and magazine subscriptions for reading books. The thought of getting a magazine in the mail every month with her own name on it excites Kate. She read 4 books this morning (only 96 left to go to get a magazine subsscription!) Hooray Kate!
I am as excited about this program as the kids are. We subscribe to a number of kids educational magazines and they are all up for renewal right now - and expensive. I decided that I won't renew any of them and I will let the kids work towards them instead. I've probably just saved myself $100 or more :)

Today, Kate got a very good lesson on the importance of reading. She very politely asked me if she could get a snack for herself and Lexie. I agreed that she could get the two of them a bowl of applesauce. She is fully capable of this task (although sometimes rather messy). When I came upstairs 1/2 hour later, I noticed that neither of them had eaten any of their applesauce (although there was stll a mess!) I asked Kate why they didn't eat it and I found out that she was being lazy and instead of reading all of the names on the spice rack while she was looking for yummy cinnamon, she just picked up the one that resembled cinammon and proceeded to dump tons of it into both bowls of applesauce. I am sure that the two girls were very surprised when they took the first bite of their cumin-flavored applesauce. I can honestly say that I have never tried that one before! I'm sure that next time she will read the labels carefully :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Llama Llama Red Pajama

This is Nick's current favorite book. I read it to him every night and he just loves it. I enjoy it too and it's not too long of a bedtime read (especially since he wants it read a few times in a row!). It's just SO cute hearing him say "Llama Llama Red Pajama" The story is all about a little llama that is going to bed and is not so patiently waiting for his mommy. I have been trying to establish a bedtime routine since Daddy is gone. This has helped out a lot. Tonight I asked him if he wanted me to read it to him and he sait "Wait" and went to his pajama drawer to get changed - he actually knew what was coming which is good :)

Poor Lexie

So, the wives dinner I had last night went great. Lots of people showed up and everyone had a good time. The kids were well behaved. The weather was nice, so the older ones were in the yard playing and we had a babysitter downstairs with the toddlers. It was nice to be able to socialize without kids running through the house everywhere. The house is now clean and I took Ellie to camp this morning (Operation Purple Camp which is for kids whose parent is/has deployed). She will be gone for 8 days and I'm sure she'll have a blast. We will miss her though :(

I am heaving a great sigh of relief that everything went as planned.

We had a late night last night and then had to wake up early to drop Ellie off. I pretty much just woke the younger kids, dressed them and put them in the truck. When I woke Lexie up, I was shocked. She wasn't able to open one of her eyes all of the way and she doesn't seem to know what happened. It isn't bruised at all, so she didn't bump into anything/get hit. It looks to me like some sort of bug bite. She says it doesn't hurt, but it feels very strange to her since it's swollen half shut. It was still swollen tonight when she went to bed. I am just surprised that she wouldn't have noticed being bit by something on the eyelid. If it isn't going down by tomorrow, I suppose I should take her in to have it checked out. Sorry that the picture I took is sort of out of focus. I didn't notice until I uploaded it....
I am afraid to take her to church tomorrow because each day last week at VBS, she showed up with some new mark on her face. I'm afraid that people are going to think I beat her or something! The first thing she did REALLY scared me. First of all, I want to explain that a couple of months ago there was a death of a toddler on post. He died from strangling in the cord to the blinds. This really freaked me out and as I was looking around my house at all of cords hanging off my blinds, I thought that I should probably get rid of them. Andy quickly talked me out of this and called it a fluke - just one of those freak things that happen. Then, last week, Lexie (who is 4!) was in her bedroom with both of her sisters and for some strange reason decided that she was going to wrap the cord AROUND HER NECK!! She was just playing around and got it all tangled up. This scared her and caused her to panic. She was pulling the cord back and forth along her neck trying to get it untangled and got rope burn on her neck. I am just SO thankful that is all that happened. She really could have hurt herself. It really frightened her though and I can't see her ever doing that again - but she has two younger siblings, so who knows what insane thing they might do - especially Nick. Andy will be taking the blinds down when he gets back and I think we will shop for some drapes instead.
Anyway, back to Lexie - on the way to our second day of VBS, we stopped at the grocery store. Nick and Lexie were sitting next to eachother in the car cart when they started fighting and Nick scratched her right under her eye. On the third day, she was running in the house and cut her chin open on something. She really looked like she'd been in a barroom brawl. And now she has an eye swollen shut!!! The poor child is having a hard week. Honestly though, I am so tired and sleep-deprived that we will probably just sleep in tomorrow anyway....

I am hoping to relax for a couple of days and start working on some school-related stuff in preparation for the fall. I got my first shipment from Rainbow Resource Center - next year's math and grammar. Kate is ready to dive into her math book, but I think I'm going to make her wait :) Ellie won't be excited until the history and science books come!

Kids at the Spouses Dinner

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Busy Week

We have been SO busy this week. I have barely had time to sit at the computer. The kids are enjoying a week of Vacation Bible School at the church. The kids are learning about having Beach Be-Attitudes (Be Bold! Be Kind! etc. with a beach theme) They are having so much fun and are making friends! I have been out of the house every evening until 9, so I haven't had much time to get things done at night.

My vehicle's window decided that it wanted to quit working (it is protesting the fact that Andy is gone!). Anyway, it had to be fixed - especially since it is stuck in the "down" position and we have had rain this past week. On Tuesday, I packed up all of the kids and a big bag of snacks and we headed to the repair shop. Just in case anyone ever wondered, 5 little kids in a repair shop lobby for 4 1/2 hours is not any fun. Especially when there is a thunderstorm outside and you can't walk around. I have to admit that they were good for the first few hours - reading, listening to music, eating etc. When we hit the 3 hr mark though everyone (including me!) started getting cranky. I mean really, who wants to sit there for that long? Poor Nick was relegated to the stroller most of the time (when I could keep him in it). On top of that, I still had to take them to VBS in the evening and when I got home I had to work on their ILPs (Individual Learning Plans) for the school. I had an appointment yesterday to turn these in, so I ended up staying up until 3 a.m. writing them out. Tuesday was an exhausting day.

Today I am busy cleaning and cooking in preparation for the wives dinner I am having at my house tomorrow night. It is a chance for all of us to get together while our husbands are gone. I have a babysitter coming to watch the smaller kids in our playroom so that we can enjoy ourselves a little more. It should be fun - but I have a lot to do in the next day! Plus, I have to pack Ellie's bag for 8 days of camp (she leaves Saturday morning). I am hoping that I will finally get a good night's rest maybe Saturday night? I've got to catch up at some point in time :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's that time of year again...

Summer cleaning and organizing for the next school year. If I give myself the next month, hopefully I'll finish it all. I have a lot to accomplish:

1. Empty the notebooks and store away last year's schoolwork (I don't keep math and grammar - maybe a page or two. This is mostly our history and science notebooks. I bind them up with metal rings or string and then put them in the kids' memory boxes - rubbermaid totes which they get to keep their schoolwork and mementos in.)

2. Turn in my ILPs (Individual Learning Plans) to the Correspondence school we use, stating what subjects, curriculum, and supplies we will be using. I will be writing my own "Parent Designed Course" for science using various books which I will post later.

3. Order curriculum and books for next year. This is the fun part!! I have $1900 to spend for Ellie and $1700 to spend on Kate. Of course, I will be using about $800 of that a piece on gymnastics/dance classes. That still leaves me with a bunch of money to spend - and it goes so quickly!!

4. Go through our "art carts" and throw out old markers, broken crayons, etc. and then buy new supplies for next year.

5. Re-organize our bookshelves to make sure that they are in order. I have them set up by subject (history, science, art, etc.) and then within each subject they are organized further (the history books are in chronological order and the science are further split into subjects - plants, animals, space, etc.) These were in order when we moved in last year, but the kids read them (thankfully!) and they don't always end up in the right places :) We have so many books that if they aren't in order, I will never be able to find the book I'm looking for. Of course, maybe I should wait until all of our new books come in the mail to make sure that I make room for them :)

6. Enter next year's lessons into Home School Tracker.

7. Clean under my large desk (I am frightened at what I might find under there!)

8. Make copies of all maps and worksheets needed for the year and arrange them in notebooks by week.

9. Come up with next year's daily school schedule. This is going to be trickier this year. I now have a tiny baby that I have to attend to. My 2 year old has defeated both high chairs and the baby gate to the play room - what I'm going to do with him, I'm not yet sure. Plus, I now have 3 students instead of two since I'm going to start Lexie in K this year. I think that I am going to have rotating toys (and sisters) scheduled with Nick to keep him busy throughout the day. It's going to be interesting :)

10. Breathe a great sigh of relief when I'm finished and can enjoy the month of August as a family before Andy deploys.

I will post a picture of our clean and organized school room when I've finished.....

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!!

The Fourth of July, 1916 by Frederick Childe Hassam
The Fourth of July, 1916

My Bug Question Answered

This was in the newspaper today. It seems I wasn't the only one wondering what these things are!

Long-horned beetles swarm Fairbanks, bringing painful bites
By Tim Mowry
Published Friday, July 4, 2008

FAIRBANKS — With their long antennae, stout mandibles and dark, black bodies, they resemble Darth Vader, and this summer they seem to be invading Alaska’s second-largest city.
They are whitespotted sawyers — wood-boring, long-horn beetles that are getting under the skin of some Fairbanksans.
“I’ve had 16 calls in six days,” Diane Claassen, pest management technician at the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service said earlier this week. “In a normal year, I might get four or five calls about long-horn beetles.”
One man called because he was painting his house and the beetles were raising havoc by landing on the fresh paint. Another man called because they were swarming around his firewood pile, and he was concerned about starting a breeding ground for the insects. Other callers want to know if the beetles will kill trees.
Most people, though, just want to know what the bugs are, how to get rid of them and what to do about bites, Claassen said.
“They do bite and they bite hard,” Claassen said, speaking from experience. “Almost everyone who has called me says they’ve been bitten or they know somebody that has been bitten.
“I always tell people to keep them off you and keep them off kids,” she said.
Some people call the beetles “pincher bugs,” she said. They are also known as Japanese beetles, and one woman told Claassen should knew them as “whisker bugs” when she was a child.
Other than their nasty bite, though, the beetles are basically harmless, Claassen said. They don’t kill trees because they target only dead or dying trees to deposit their eggs, she said. The beetles lay their eggs under the bark and the larvae bore their way into the sapwood to spend the winter before emerging as adult beetles the following summer.
Not only do the beetles appear to be more plentiful this summer, they also seem to have arrived early. They usually don’t start appearing until early July, Claassen said.
The beetles have “little claws” on their feet, said Derek Sikes, curator of insects at the UA Museum of the North, which makes them difficult to shake sometimes. He compared the claws to the barbs on a fish hook.
“If you pull them quickly, it’s like a fish hook getting stuck in your clothing,” Sikes said. “They’re very good at holding on.”
The beetles are especially noticeable on warm days, Claassen said.
“They’re more active when it’s hot,” she said. “That’s when we get the most calls about them, after a hot weekend.”
The beetles are attracted to humans because we stand upright, just like trees, and they don’t have great eyesight, Claassen said.
“They zone in on vertical things,” she said. “They think you’re a tree. As you move, they’ll follow you.”
The beetles will inhabit white or black spruce trees and they love decks of cut, round spruce logs, Claassen said.
“You can hear them chewing in the wood,” she said. “You can’t believe a bug that small can be making that kind of sound.”
The beetles’ bite is like being cut by a piece of stainless steel or a razor blade, Claassen said.
“It hurts more than when you’re stung by a bee,” she said.
There is no treatment other than to run the area that was bitten under cold water, Claassen said. The bite doesn’t break the skin, but the two mandibles leave a mark.
As far as eradicating the beetles, about the only way is to crush them, she said.
“Spraying something at them would probably do more harm to the person spraying than it would the beetle,” Claassen said.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wave You Flag Cake

We don't have any grand plans for the Fourth of July this year. It's too light outside at night to see any fireworks :( Ellie might be going to a friend's house for a BBQ - we were all invited, but I'm not sure if I'm up to chasing Nick around someone else's house.
We made this cake today in preparation for the Fourth of July anyway :) It sounds pretty strange to me (the pound cake with jello on it) but we decided to try it out. We haven't tasted it yet, so I can't tell you if it is actually a success, but it is pretty!

Here is the recipe:

Wave Your Flag Cake
Submitted by: Cool Whip BrandRated: 5 out of 5 by 9 members
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 4 Hours 25 MinutesYields: 18 servings
"This all-American flag cake is delicious and easy to assemble. A pound cake and gelatin base is frosted with whipped topping and decorated with blueberries and strawberries."
1 quart strawberries, divided
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 pkg. (8 serving size) JELL-O Brand
Gelatin, any red flavor
Ice cubes
1 cup cold water
1 (12 ounce) package pound cake, cut
into 10 slices
1 1/3 cups blueberries, divided
1 (8 ounce) tub COOL WHIP Whipped
Topping, thawed
Slice 1 cup of the strawberries; set aside. Halve remaining strawberries; set aside.
Stir boiling water into dry gelatin mix in large bowl 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Add enough ice to cold water to measure 2 cups. Add to gelatin; stir until ice is melted. Refrigerate 5 minutes or until slightly thickened (consistency of unbeaten egg whites). Meanwhile, line bottom of 13x9-inch dish with cake slices. Add sliced strawberries and 1 cup of the blueberries to thickened gelatin; stir gently. Spoon over cake slices.
Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Spread whipped topping over gelatin. Arrange strawberry halves on whipped topping for 'stripes' of 'flag.' Arrange remaining 1/3 cup blueberries on whipped topping for 'stars.' Store leftover cake in refrigerator.
Printed from 7/3/2008

Little bird

Ellie was playing in the yard today when she found this little bird in the bushes. We put him under one of the trees which was full of birds, hoping it was his family :) I obviously need some work in the animal identification field because I don't know what type of bird this is - can anyone out there help me?

What is this bug?

This is the monster that has been terrorizing my children these past few weeks! I finally got my camera in time to take a picture of one. The kids are terrified to go outside because of it - especially Kate who claims that she hates the outdoors (a recent phenomenon). I have heard these bugs called "pincher bugs", but I know that isn't their latin name :)

Does anyone out there know what these actually are? And do they bite? And does it hurt???? I have to admit that they are pretty creepy looking -especially their long antennae.

One of these guys somehow got into our vehicle yesterday (probably because one of our windows is "stuck" down until it gets fixed next week). I was happily driving along on our way back from the store, when all 3 girls started screaming hysterically. I am lucky that I didn't crash the car - yes it was that loud! Kate took off her shoe and handed it to Ellie to do the dirty work :) She managed to get rid of him, but the whole trip home Kate was convinced that he wasn't really dead. I am hoping that these bugs are only around for a few weeks and not the entire summer!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Yorkie Peanut Butter by Ken Bailey
Yorkie Peanut Butter
I am trying to decide what to do with my recent picky eaters. I refuse to become a short-order cook!! Do I make them eat everything they are given - or at least a good portion of it? With 4 of them at dinnertime, one of them is always bound to HATE what I made. I am thinking that maybe I will just have one thing offered if you don't want dinner - like a peanut butter sandwich. That will be the only other option - that way I'm not searching for something else to make and they will know what to expect if they don't want to eat what I've made. I really don't want to be cruel and make them eat something they don't like - I know we all have different tastes. But, it isn't fair for them to be asking for different things when I have already slaved over dinner!

I will announce my new rule in the morning!