Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Heart Faces: Happy Birthday (Kids)



This week's theme at I Heart Faces is Happy Birthday. We've had a couple of birthdays in the past week, so I was in luck!

This is a picture of my little Victoria Rose, turning one. It's hard for me to believe that this year has flown by so quickly. My baby is 1 and my oldest is turning 10 tomorrow!
To j0in in the fun or just to look at everyone else's really amazing pictures, visit I Heart Faces.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Nestng


Isn't this a beautiful nest that Ellie found under a tree in our yard? Some poor bird worked very hard on it, only to have it fall to the ground.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lexie is a reader

Really, she's been sounding out words for about a year, so I guess reading isn't a new thing for her.

It just seems like in the past week or so, something has really clicked and it has become much easier for her. She's doing it much more fluently and effortlessly.

And tonight as she laid in her bed, she told me that she was reading a book without saying it out loud. This is a big step. She has now realized that she can sit and read in her head. Hooray!!

I am hoping that she just continues to improve over the summer break. Her reading skills will make next school year a lot easier for me as she will be able to do much more independently. How exciting!

Word Up!

During the school year, the kids don't get much of a chance to watch TV. I don't allow it during the day, unless it's a school-related video. We are usually busy in the evenings, and don't have much time for it except for the weekends.

With it being summer break though, the kids have turned it on occasionally and they have found a new show that they absolutely adore. I have to say that I really like it too!

It is called Word Girl and is showed on PBS (one of the 3 channels we get). It is all about this superhero girl from the planet Lexicon and throughout the entire show, she teaches kids new vocabulary. They aren't simple words either. Some examples: devour, vegetarian, diabolical, exasperated, predicament, sweltering.

We have just discovered that there is a Word Girl section on the PBS Kids website also and Lexie is happily exploring it right now. I actually ended up buying the entire first season on iTunes so that she could have it on her ipod. She can now take Word Girl with her wherever she goes. :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Missing School

As much as the kids are enjoying the sun and the new Wii, I think they are missing schoolwork just a bit. When Kate was on her way to bed, she actually asked if she could bring her math workbook with her. I guess a few weeks without math is all she can handle.

On another note, I have bribed her. Maybe not the best tactic, but it does work sometimes.

She totally understands the concept of multiplication and she knows about 1/3 of her times tables by heart. I found towards the end of this school year though, her math assignments were taking her much longer to do. This is because she would sit and add up the larger multiplication problems instead of actually multiplying them. She would get the right answer, but it was taking a while which was frustrating her.

So, back to the bribe.

I decided that summer break would be a great time to just focus on the times tables so that when we start the next grade level, she will have them all memorized and be able to breeze through her work. I have promised her a new game of some sort when she accomplishes this.

I'm interested to see how motivated she gets.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook



FOR TODAY...May 25, 2009

Outside my window...Light! The sun is barely setting now. The grass is turning green. The trees are finally bushy with leaves. The birds are eating up the bird seed.

I am thinking...that I would love to make a road trip, but I can't. I'm not risking a long drive with no husband to help out.

I am thankful for...great weather. It's been in the 70s this week with a couple of short thunderstorms. It was nice to hear the rumbling of thunder.

From the learning rooms..School is over. We are busy enjoying the outdoors and preparing for next year.

From the kitchen...I desperately need to make a run to Sam's club, but I have to wait for payday...

I am wearing...yoga pants and a t-shirt

I am creating...some photo collages to send in a letter to the girl we are sponsoring in Tanzania.

I am going...maybe to piano lessons. I can't seem to remember if we're taking today off for Memorial Day or not. I suppose I should call and figure that out!

I am reading...The New Strong Willed Child and Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 Manual (still)
I am hoping... that I can get into a groove with my exercise routines.

I am hearing... silence, sweet silence.

Around the house...I'm watching a couple of kids for a friend today.

One of my favorite things...my new laptop. I'm still getting used to it.

A few plans for the rest of the week: a birthday celebration for Ellie. Could she REALLY be turning 10??? It doesn't seem possible. Am I really old enough to have a 10 year old?????

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

To join in the fun, visit: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Compassion for Roza

We recently started sponsoring a little girl in Tanzania through Compassion International.

I wrote her an initial fill-in the blank sort of a letter of introduction with a picture and I didn't expect to hear back for quite some time. Yesterday, we received a letter from Roza with a new photo of her and a picture that she drew. It was very sweet.

The girls are now trying to think of things to send her or topics to write to her about. I printed out a page with pictures of all of the kids and what their favorite things to do are. We are including some stickers and some printed scrapbooking paper.

Everything we send must be no larger than a regular size of paper and no thicker than 1/8th of an inch. That definitely limits us, but hopefully it will make us get creative.

I have already thought that we could sent some pretty stencils, more stickers, postcards, origami paper with instructions, maybe some drawings from the kids, coloring pages, dot-t0-dots, and definitely some more pictures. Any other ideas?

I have decided to make a commitment to write to her at least once every couple of weeks - even if it's only a line or two and some fun stuff for her. The neat thing is, that you also have the option to send an email to your child. The email goes to the office where it is translated and then sent to her just like a regular letter. I tried it out yesterday and it was very easy.

If you aren't already sponsoring a child, please consider it. For more information, visit the Compassion website.

They also have a new chidlren's section with a game called Quest for Compassion.
Share Quest for Compassion - an interactive game that educates children about global poverty

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Time is flying

Since we have finished school, time has flown by.

Considering we're still in the middle of Andy's deployment, and we're anxious to have him home, it's nice to have the time passing quickly.

The problem is, I don't feel like I have much to show for these past few weeks of free days. I had envisioned myself getting tons of things done. It hasn't happened yet.

I've spent some time on the yard and I've done some spring cleaning around the house.

What I haven't done is started on the school-related stuff.

I need to file away last year's schoolwork and prepare the notebooks for next year. The trouble I'm having is deciding how much and what to keep. There just isn't room for it all. I generally only keep an example or two of worksheet type stuff. Then I put each of the notebooks (science, history, writing) into a folder and pack it away. The kids enjoy looking back through their notebooking pages. Nobody wants to look back through their math work anyway. I'm just wondering where I'm going to keep all of this stuff. With 5 kids and 13 yrs of school each, that is a lot of work to store away. I think we might have to pare it down a bit.

I also need to go through our books and curriculum and clean it out. I have a bad habit of keeping stuff that we have tried and hasn't worked for us. I have a baby and a preschooler still. We're still early in our homeschooling journey. I would hate to get rid of something that we might use later. The kids all have different learning styles and what might not have worked for one, may work for another. But, who has the space for it all? We don't!! I just need to let go a bit and get rid of some of the stuff that we haven't used. I know that if I sell some of it, then I could actually afford to buy the Rosetta Stone program that we'd like to use next year.

The schoolroom also needs a deep clean. Throwing out the broken crayons and sharpening all of the colored pencils. Refilling the drawers of paper and art supplies. Reorganizing the bookshelves and putting things back into their places. I always like to start the school year with everything fresh, clean, and organized.

It looks like I have my work cut out for me! I'd better get to bed at a decent hour so that I can actually have some energy in the morning. I've been thinking that maybe I need to start drinking coffee. I'd hate to become addicted to the stuff though :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Blogging Problems

For some reason, I'm having problems with this blog.

I can open it fine on my desktop (which I use Mozilla Firefox on), but I can't open it at all on my new laptop (Internet Explorer).

My husband wasn't able to open it either today and I'm wondering what could possibly be wrong and how to fix it. How frustrating.

I have another blog that I mostly post pictures to for our family and I'm not having any problems with that one. That's why it makes no sense to me.

I'm going to be really annoyed if I can't blog from my new computer.....

I'm going to have to figure this out :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Piano Lessons

Lexie has been taking piano lessons for over 2 months now. She initially started them, because we are getting them for free through post, because of Andy's deployment. They would normally be $125 a month and I couldn't pass that up.

She has enjoyed it and learned a lot. She is starting to be able to read some notes and she can easily find any note on the keyboard.

I don't think that I anticipated how much work it would be on my part though. She is only 5 and I need to sit and help her when she has questions. I have to encourage and motivate her to keep going. It's not hard or unpleasant, but it does take a bit of time.

We will definitely keep taking lessons through the summer while they are still free. We will have to decide what to do when fall comes though.
video

My New Toy

I haven't had much time to get on the computer in the past week.

The weather has turned nice (thankfully) and the kids and I have been outside a lot. They have been going to bed really late and that has left me with no time to go downstairs and plant myself in front of the computer.

I have found a solution though. S0mething that is going to make my life much easier. I will be able to IM with Andy in the mornings. Work on genealogy, blogging, and homeschool planning UPstairs.

Yes, I must be the last person on the planet to get a laptop.

Andy wanted to get a new one when he got back from Iraq. His is getting pretty old and out-dated. He agreed to *share* a new one with me (he has his own computer at work) and I went ahead and got it now. I was thinking about getting a Mac, but he didn't want to get one now. Maybe I'll get my own in a couple of years. I'm happy with the one we chose though. It came in the mail today and I feel like a kid with a new toy!

Now I just need to install and upload all of my stuff and I'll be up and running!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook



FOR TODAY, May18, 2009...
Outside my window...Sun, sun, a lot of sun. It's supposed to get up to 70 or 75 today. Finally!!
I am thinking...that I wish the sun would set a little bit earlier so that the kids would go to sleep at a decent hour!!!
I am thankful for...the great weather, watermelon, sprinklers, and popsicles
From the learning rooms...We're done with school for the year, but I'm busy planning for next year.
From the kitchen...Ellie made some delicious vegetable soup last night.
I am wearing...workout clothes. Treadmill here I come.
I am creating...books on blurb.com
I am going...to a homeschool used curriculum sale!! Fun!
I am reading...The New Strong Willed Child by Dobson and Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 Manual
I am hoping...that our new laptop gets here soon. It was mailed out today. It's for Andy, but I'm going to use it too!!
I am hearing...Nick playing with race cars
Around the house...yard work. I'm almost done raking, finally
One of my favorite things...bubbles
A few plans for the rest of the week:a picnic, piano lessons, a lot of nothing
Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

Head over to http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/ to join in the fun!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Denali National Park Trip





Ellie and Kate headed out to Denali National Park with their Girl Scout troop today. They took the train, which was an adventure in itself. Many of the moms went along for the ride. I wish that I had been able to. It would have been a lot of fun!

The girls earned their Junior Ranger badges and had a very exciting (and tiring) day. We have all been having trouble getting to sleep lately, so getting to the train station by 7 a.m. was painful.

The girls have made me promise that we will make another trip to Denali as a family before we move next year. I can't wait!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blinded By the Light

I know I complain about the darkness in the winter and how I feel like I need to hibernate. It really is very hard to get through those short, dark days.

You think I'd be happy in the summer. And I am, truly. I'm grateful for the sunlight and the weather.

But none of us are sleeping. The sun isn't setting until well after 11 o'clock and it is rising before 4:30. It doesn't actually get "dark" at night - at all, and the thing of it is, we're getting more and more daylight each day until we hit the summer solstice.

It's great for midnight baseball games and evening BBQs.

Not so great for putting kids to bed. Try convincing a 3 yr old that it is truly bedtime when it's still bright as day outside. It's not working.

The thing of it is, I can't seem to sleep either. I'm tired, believe me. So tired that I feel like I could just fall over. But I can't. Because something in me tells me that it's not time to sleep, because it's not dark.

Every summer here, I feel like I don't ever get a full night's sleep. Every night I feel like I'm only napping. I guess I just need to remember to hibernate a bit more in the winter :)

Well, I'm off to try to convince the kids that it's bedtime...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rosetta Stone Latin Contest!! :)

From JenIg's blog:

Rosetta Stone is the fastest way to learn a language and has been the #1 foreign language curriculum among homeschoolers for a while — and you can WIN the *all new* version 3 Rosetta Stone Homeschool LATIN program… FOR FREE! This is the first year you can get Latin in the brand new Version III update.

This is a $259 program (and believe me it’s worth every penny!)
This is a computer based curriculum and Rosetta Stone will also include a headset with microphone, and a supplementary “Audio Companion” CD so you can practice lessons in the car, on the go, or where-ever! Students participate in life-like conversations and actually produce language to advance through the program. Rosetta Stone incorporates listening, reading, grammar, vocabulary and writing along with speaking and pronunciation lessons. For parents, the new Parent Administrative Tools are integrated into the program to allow parents to easily enroll up to ten students in any of 12 predetermined lesson plans, monitor student progress, grade completed work (the program grades the work automatically as the students progress- I love that!), and you can view and print reports for transcripts. Homeschooling a lot of kids at your house? This program is designed to enroll and track up to ten students (five users on two computers) and will work for nearly all ages — from beginning readers up to college students.

To win this most excellent Latin program copy these paragraphs and post them in (or as) your next blog post, and/OR link to the contest from your facebook page and/OR email the information to your homeschool support group – Then go to the original page http://Jeneralities.com and leave a comment saying that you’ve posted about, or have linked to, the contest. Please make sure the link works to get back to the original contest page when you post. And good luck!

***

We are planning on doing Rosetta Stone Russian this year, but Latin would be pretty cool too. Ellie did Latin for Children Book A this year and didn't enjoy it much. Anything that she can do on the computer always seems like more "fun" than work to her. :)

Not Quite Watermelon Weather



I bought my first watermelon of the season the other day. I'm horrible about picking the right one. They usually end up too rubbery, or not sweet, or just plain blah! It's so disappointing when that happens. Everyone is excited about sweet juicy watermelon and then the letdown.

Well, I started off the season with a winner!! It was just right - and of course they devoured the entire thing in one sitting. Food doesn't last long in this house.

I gave them the watermelon right after I had scrubbed the floors on my hands and knees. That's why they were sent outside on the deck. They all ended up putting on coats or sweaters, because it just isn't quite watermelon weather yet. We were teased with a week of 75, but it's been down in the low 50's ever since. I'm hoping that it warms back up again soon!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bubble Fun











We picked up some bubbles from the store the other day and despite the cloudy weather, we headed out for some fresh air this afternoon. I decided to pull out the camera and see if I could get some pictures. I ended up having so much fun trying to capture the kids inside the bubbles. I think that they turned out pretty good! The bubbles turn out looking so magical. I'm going to have to try doing this again :) I didn't "do" anything with them. I suppose if I lightened them up they would look even better... If only I had the time :)

Spring Cleaning, Day One

Since we're officially done with everything school-related, I have no excuse not to start Spring Cleaning. The house needs it - especially after such a long winter.

I started out on the kitchen today. The tupperware cabinet alone was enough to make me cringe. Please tell me that I'm not the only one drowning in the stuff.

The kids have been good about emptying the dishwasher, but when it comes to putting the tupperware away, they would shove it in there and shut the door quickly so that the next person who opened it would have everything fall onto the floor in front of them. Yes, it was time for some purging and organizing.

When I pulled everything out, there was an entire counter full of the stuff. Yikes!:
Of course, the empty cabinet was very inviting:
And when I was done:
I also cleaned out the stove, microwave, and toaster oven. I pulled all of the food out of the cabinets and wiped them down and reorganized. I cleaned on top of the fridge (that was scary!)
I swept and vacuumed and mopped. I scrubbed out the sink and the counters. I purged stuff from the junk drawer and I cleaned the dining room. And then of course I made them eat cereal for dinner - at the table downstairs. Can you blame me? I wanted it clean at least for a few hours :)

And now I'm sitting down to relax for a while!!

It will be on to the office and laundry room next. Then the bedrooms and bathrooms. Then the yard and the piles of leaves (now wet) that are still waiting for me...

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Heart Faces: Laughter


This week's them on I Heart Faces is laughter. Tori is almost always smiling and laughing. She really is such a happy, joyful baby. Here is a shot I caught of her last month while she was chilling out in her high chair.
Head on over to I Heart Faces to join in the fun and to look at everyone's great photos!!

Simple Woman's Daybook


FOR TODAY May 11, 2009...
Outside my window...cool weather. Leaves are still all over the front lawn. After raking the backyard up, I don't seem to have the energy to move on to the front. Our trees are just beginning to get leaves. They will soon be bushy and green.
I am thinking...that I need to get a start on spring cleaning. There are snow pants still hanging on the coat rack. The garage is full of a winter's worth of "stuff". This year's school papers need to be filed. You get the picture :)
I am thankful for...wonderful, understanding children.
From the learning rooms...We are done with this school year!! I turned in my 4th quarter reports on Friday and I'm starting on plans for next year (which we will be starting in late July)
From the kitchen...Ellie was in the kitchen this weekend. She made a cake, chocolate chip cookies, and a pizza. She also brought me a wonderful bowl of fresh fruit with whipped cream for breakfast on Mother's Day.
I am wearing...exercise clothes and tennis shoes. I have every intention of actually getting on the treadmill this morning.
I am creating...a blog-to-book and a homeschool yearbook using Blurb.com. It seems to have slowed my computer down considerably though, so I'm going to need to uninstall it when I'm done.
I am going...to sign the kids up for swimming classes.
I am reading...through catalogs and websites, coming up with a shopping list for the next school year.
I am hoping...that the warm weather returns. The kids would love to be outside in swimsuits.
I am hearing...Nick watching Sesame Street upstairs.
Around the house...Spring Cleaning.
One of my favorite things...Summer Break :) I feel like I have some time to regroup and relax. Also, my new telephoto lens I just got for my camera!! I can't wait to play with it
A few plans for the rest of the week: the girls are taking a train trip to Denali with their Girl Scout troop. I'm excited for them! Also, the first post-wide yard sale of the year is this Saturday. I'm looking forward to doing some yard-saling. :)
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Beautiful flowers my husband sent me for Mother's Day.

To join in the fun, or read other journals, go to: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there - especially my own!!

The kids are excited to get up and make me breakfast and to have a celebration today. They are so sweet. :)

To be quite honest with you, I don't feel very deserving of a day to celebrate my motherhood.

Single parenting doesn't bring out the best in me. I am tired and haven't been very patient lately. My hats go off to those of you who are single parents. I don't know how you do it long term. I am very ready to have Andy back with us again this fall - only 4 months left!!!

I know that I'm doing the best that I can at the moment. Things are getting better as summer looms. I am hoping that by next Mother's Day, I can feel like I deserve to be celebrated :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's Raining Catkins!!



The catkins are falling off of our birch trees like crazy. The yard is full of the fuzzy caterpillar-like things. They seem to be everywhere.

I actually had to google what the correct term for them was. The kids kept calling them cattails, but I knew that wasn't right. They are catKINS :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The fun begins

We're finished with school. I almost have quarterly reports done.

Almost all extra-curricular activities have ended. The only thing we're continuing through the summer is Lexie's piano lessons (gotta keep going while Andy is deployed and they are free!!) and the girls have talked me into letting them take some swimming lessons. I can handle that.

The weather hasn't been super warm, but it's comfortable. The kids can play outside. They are getting better at riding their bikes. Ellie has planted various things in the greenhouse. The swingset is getting much use.

Now my favorite part of the school year begins - planning for next year. What makes it even more fun for me is the fact that I use a correspondence school and I have money to spend!!!

When July 1st hits, I can order next year's curriculum. This year, I will get $1800 for Ellie, $1600 for Kate, and $1600 for Lexie. It all gets put into one family account (that is $5000 all together!!) and I turn in reimbursement forms throughout the year as I spend it. I could go directly through the school to order my stuff, but I find it's just easier for me to order it and get paid back. They are quick and efficient about reimbursing money, so I don't worry about it.

So, this is the fun part. What do I want to spend our money on? Everything that is under $200 is considered "consumable" by the school and we get to keep. Anything above that has to be returned to the school eventually.

Since I know that this will be our last year homeschooling in Alaska and I will have to start paying for our stuff again when we move, I am trying to buy things that I know we will need in the future and things that can be used by the next kids in line. Last year I bought a stereoscope and a very cool dry erase globe. I have been consistently stocking our home library. It's huge. We could start checking out books to the neighborhood. :)

So, I'm making my wish lists and looking through catalogs. Trying to decide what we are going to need for this upcoming year. One of the things that I want to order is Rosettta Stone Russian (the homeschool edition). The problem is that it's over $200 and I would really like to keep it. I'm trying to find it on sale. Anyone know where it can be bought for less than $200?? :)

I'll be sure to post when I figure out what I'm going to order!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Monterey Kind of Day








I am having a I-really-miss-Monterey kind of day.

Maybe it's because I'm a west coast gal who grew up on an island, but I really desperately miss the water.

I like being able to see the water every day - passing by it while I'm out running errands. Smelling the salty air. Feeling the breeze. Stopping by the beach ANYTIME I want. Walking along the bike path that skirts the shore.

In case you didn't know, there isn't an ocean here in the middle of Alaska. I suppose we have some rivers, but it's just not the same thing.

Monterey had beaches everywhere. And a world-class aquarium. And a wonderful farmer's market full of fresh veggies. And constant cultural activities - with the Defense Language Institute and another international school in town, there is a lot of cultural diversity and celebrations there. I miss that. There was always something exciting going on.

And Monterey had virtually no winter. Not really much of a summer either, but I didn't mind that. You could take a short drive to Salinas if you needed a suntan. :)

Oh, I would love to go back there again. I'm very thankful for the 4 years we spent there. Don't get me wrong - I don't hate where we are. It has its perks and it's been an adventure, but it definitely has its downfalls too. I'm getting antsy for some travel. A road trip. A PCS. It's time to start thinking about where we'll be going next - even though it's still a year away.

Maybe we'll never get to live in Monterey again, but I would love to at least go back and visit!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My keyboard is kaputt

For an entire day, I couldn't figure out why my keyboard wasn't working. I can type certain things, but the bottom row of letters, space bar, and enter key aren't working at all. That makes it a bit hard to type!!!

One of the kids finally fessed up to spilling lemonade on it.

It's been a couple of days now and it hasn't miraculously fixed itself. I was hoping that if It dried out, then maybe it would start working again. Apparently not.

So, do I use this oppotunity to go out and buy the computer of my dreams??? I wish.

I suppose I will go shopping for a new keyboard today...

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, May 4, 2009

I ♥ Faces:Hats(Kids)


Be sure to head on over to www.iheartfaces.com to check out all of the beautiful face entries this week!

I Heart Faces:Hats(Adults)


Be sure to head on over to www.iheartfaces.com to check out all of the beautiful face entries this week!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bird Migration Festival


Yesterday, we spent the afternoon at Creamer's Field Migratory Wildlife Refuge, celebrating the arrival of birds in Fairbanks :) The kids got to do all sorts of bird-related activities, we at lunch, and we observed the birds. If the paths hadn't been muddy, then we could have gone on nature walk too. I didn't want to get the stroller stuck in a big mud pit. We'll wait for it to dry up a bit before we venture out on the trails!