Sunday, August 31, 2008

Faux Phones

The girls have had these "faux phones" as Andy likes to call them for almost a year now. We bought them for 50 cents at Value Village and they have been pretending to talk on them.

Today they decided that they should try putting some batteries in them. After a few electro-mechanical adjustments on Andy's part, they are working like new!!

It's kind of scary, because we're getting a look at what life will be like when they hit the teenage years. They are able to text and call each other. They can also take pictures. Not bad for 50 cents!

They've been using them non-stop for the past few hours. We're already on a second set of batteries.....


Bare Feet

I just love their dirty little barefoot feet :)
It means that they've been playing outside and enjoying summer!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thomas and Friends

Nick has recently fallen in love with Thomas the Tank Engine.

I bought him a few of the small, die-cast engines and he has been playing with them constantly.

The first thing he says in the morning is "Where are my trains?" and then he's off to play find them.

Now, whenever we are on the way to the store, he says "We have to buy all of the engines, Mommy!" I think it's adorable, but not adorable enough for me to go out and buy them all. Maybe at Christmas....

The one thing I have been wanting to get for him is one of those small rugs with roads and houses on them. I checked Walmart and Fred Meyer without any luck. Today while I was in Home Depot getting some paint, I walked around while they were mixing it for me. What did I find in the carpet aisle??? Just what I was looking for! This one even had train tracks along with the roads. Perfect!

We put it in his bedroom, in hopes that he will sit and play with his trains and cars there (instead of the kitchen counter, table, couch, etc.). We'll see if it actually works.

Rambling on About School Scheduling

Caucasian Businesswoman Writing in Day Planner with Pen
Caucasian Businesswoman Writing in Day Planner with Pen

Well, I have most of our schoolwork (at least a few weeks worth) entered into Homeschool Tracker.

I have printed out the needed worksheets/notebook pages and put them in order.

I printed out the Tapestry of Grace Unit One Lapbook (times 3 of course, because we wouldn't want to leave anybody out of the fun!)

I have received most of our curriculum in the mail. I still need to order Horizons Phonics and Reading for Lexie. I am waiting for my Parent Designed Course to be approved so that I know I will get my money back from the school. They had preschool options, but they were all WAY too easy for her (ie. learning letters, colors, and numbers). She is already reading and starting to write, so I didn't want to hold her back any. She will be starting Kindergarten this year instead of Preschool.

The office is semi-clean, but could sure use a good mopping. It could use a good "scraping" also. Does anyone else's kids end up putting stickers/tape on everything? Our school room table and floor seem to be covered with decaying stickers. I really need to pull out some sort of a scraper and get them off. I'll put it on my mile long list of things to do....

Now, I'm down to trying to put together a feasible schedule. I have put together schedules in the past, but they weren't realistic. I am going to try to use MOTH (Managers of Their Homes) and will see what I come up with.

I have to decide if I want to teach each subject at once to all the kids (ie. Math all at the same time at 3 levels) or individual time with each kid while the others work independently on something different.

It is becoming more challenging as I have more kids that I am teaching. Luckily, Ellie is such a good reader that she does most things independently anyway. Kate's reading has improved immensely over the summer also. She is now able to read all of her math instructions etc. on her own which makes life much easier for me.

Also, what to do with the toddler and infant?

Tori of course will just hang out with us. She's pretty happy-go-lucky anyway. But, I need to take into consideration that I will have to feed and change her during the school day.

I need to schedule some activities for Nick this year. I need to have something to keep him busy throughout the day - probably changing activities every 15 minutes or so to keep him interested. Otherwise, I spend a lot of time keeping him out of trouble and that definitely slows us down. I'm thinking, play-doh, puzzles, trains, coloring, legos etc.

Of course, I don't see us being able to implement a schedule until Andy deploys. Are we going to want to stick to it and do science at the scheduled time if he comes home early from work? I think we will just need to be very flexible for the first few weeks.

At least that will give me a chance to see how much time I actually need to schedule for each subject. Do we need 30 minutes or an hour for math? How long will it take us to do our history? I can guess, but I will probably guess wrong as I have in the past...

I also need to schedule time for house cleaning, all of the kids' various classes, cooking, shopping, time on my treadmill (I sure need it!), and some special alone time with each of the kids.

This seems so complicated to me!! I will have to give it a lot of thought and probably make it work through trial and error.

Well, I have been rambling long enough. I'm off to the dreaded dentist. Wish me luck :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to the Botanical Gardens

I want Andy to build one of these in our yard when we retire :)

Is this a huge cabbage or what??

We took a quick trip back to the Botanical Gardens today.

Many of the flowers are already starting to die :(

Fall is on its way and winter will come soon after.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Birdfeeder is a Success :)

Ellie built this birdfeeder at a Girl Scout event last year. We filled it with seeds again yesterday and it has turned into quite the bird hangout :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Home School/Learning Room Organization, Part One

I just love our "art carts" as we call them. I picked these up at Costco a few years ago and they have come in so handy in organizing all of our art supplies and papers.

I have a drawer for crayons, markers, colored pencils, glue/tape/staplers, scissors/punches, stickers, glitter, tissue paper, foam craft shapes, etc.

This year I actually labeled each drawer so that the girls have no excuse for not putting things back in their proper places :)

The nice thing about these is that:
1. They are on wheels and can easily be pushed over to the table (we have wood floors).
2. The drawers easily pull out, so when they want to color, they can just pull the crayon drawer out and set it on the table.

I have another regular set of small plastic drawers from Wal-Mart next to these which is full of different papers (white, construction, tracing, etc.) along with drawers of old magazines and things to cut up for art projects.

More Learning Room Organization to come as I get everything cleaned and ready for Monday!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Busy Days

Busy days are ahead.

This week the girls got registered for AWANA. They started dance and gymnastics classes.

Next week we start Girl Scouts. The good thing is, I think I got them both into the same troop (a mixed Brownie-Junior troop!) This will make it so much easier for me.

Next week we are going to be starting schoolwork. I'm still not quite ready. I have copies to make, the office to clean, and a schedule to put together.

Thankfully, the kids are enthusiastic about starting again. They have already cracked open their math books and finished the first 4-9 lessons, because they just can't wait! I'm glad that they are ready to go. This has been a long summer off for us. I hope they haven't forgotten too much :)

We have a lot of things to do before the deployment. We have our checklist and are busy marking things off as we go. Andy has been working on fixing various things around the house. We have had a tune-up done on the truck, powers of attorneys made, etc. There are a lot of thigns to think about and prepare for.

I have a lot of things to get done through our FRG (Family Readiness Group). We have a fundraiser coming up in a couple of weeks. I have a newsletter to write. We are also trying to get ready for our first "packing party" in October so that we can mail out packages of essentials to the guys. We are also trying to procure enough Christmas stockings for each of the soldiers in our troop before we send the Christmas packages out in November. Anyone own a stocking factory??? :)

All of this AND trying to keep up with the housework and take care of the kids is getting hard.

Well, I had better go and get to work!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hard at Work

We have a couple of rotten beams on our deck. We knew they were bad - but not this bad!! Look at how the wood crumbled when Andy dismantled it. I am so glad to have married someone handy :) All of these home repairs would be super expensive if we were hiring someone to do them!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge

We took a trip today to Creamer's Field to see the birds and take a short walk. There were tons of birds out and the kids got some good exercise on the nature trails. There were also quite a few people there. We didn't realize that this weekend is the Sandhill Crane Festival and that the cranes would be flying south. The weather here has been beautiful the past few days. It's finally starting to feel like summer!

The kids are now playing in the yard and Andy is about to clean the gutters out - sounds like fun, doesn't it? He knows that I won't be doing it while he's gone though....

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

No, it's not quite my birthday yet, but when we got back from Anchorage, there was a present sitting on our porch!! Andy is the best husband on earth and he got me the EXACT camera I wanted. He always gets me the nicest things. I wonder how he knew what I wanted :)

I am now able to get arsty-fartsy and take all sorts of neat pictures.

You can expect my blog to get a lot prettier in the near future.

Now I just have to find the time and actually read the manual so that I can work all of the neat bells and whistles this camera has!

Magazine #1: Cricket

Ellie read 30 books for the school's reading program and has earned her first magazine subscription. She chose Cricket, which is full of literature for children. I love it, because it doesn't have any ads. I hate children's magazines full of the latest, greatest do-dads they have to have, movies they need to watch etc. This is just short stories, poetry, reader recommended booklists, and a small project/crossword puzzle. They also have writing contests for kids. It's just a great all-around magazine for 9-14 year olds.

Trip to Anchorage, Day 3

Ellie took this picture out the back of the truck. This was on Ft. Richardson.
Denali National Park.

What a good traveler!!!

Our Little Adventurers!

It's nice to finally get out of the car!

On the third day, we drove back home. It was a short trip, but we had such a good time!!

We stopped at Chili's on the way back and ate. We don't eat out much, so the kids were excited - and thankfully very well behaved.

I think the hardest part of the trip was the fact that I had to drive by two almost-finished Target stores. I'll have to make a trip down next summer and do some shopping :) I was wanting to drive down next June for the Highland Games anyway. We'll see if I'm brave enough to do it alone with all 5 kids...

Trip to Anchorage, Day 2

Lexie in front of Exit Glacier.
Posing in front of Exit Glacier.

The view from the Aquarium.

They feel so funny!!

Captain Ellie at the Aquarium.

Splish Splash!

Mr. Moose at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Day #2 of our Anchorage vacation, we decided to take a drive down to Seward. I am so glad that we did!! What a breathtakingly beautiful drive! It is one of the National Scenic Byways. There were so many places to stop and take pictures and just enjoy the view. I wish we had more time to spend, because we could have taken a couple of days.

We stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on the way down and the kids got to see moose, bears, elk, and bison up close. It was nice, but I'm not sure it was worth the $25 we ended up paying.

In Seward, we went to the Alaska SeaLife Center. It was a very nice small aquarium, but we spent 4 years going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is infinitely bigger and better. The kids still had a good time and the view outside was gorgeous.

On the way back, we stopped at Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. We hiked out to the edge of the glacier to take some pictures. The kids got a little worried when they read the informational board which explained what to do in case of a bear encounter. The part about fighting back if you are being eaten by the bear scared them a bit. Luckily, we didn't see any bears on our short hike. This was probably our favorite part of the trip - and it was FREE :)

We headed back to Anchorage for the night.