Tuesday, June 30, 2009

She's into everything now :)

Yes, I've let her out of the cage and she's walking very quickly now. Look out world!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Difficulties

How, oh how, am I going to start school again in a few weeks?

Tori is now happily toddling around the house - and getting into everything in sight.

Nick is still a 3 yr old boy with lots of energy and not a lot of focus.

And this year I have 3 grade levels to teach.

It is going to be interesting.....

Friday, June 26, 2009

Botanical Gardens

We took a trip to the botanical gardens earlier this week and everything is starting to bloom! I think that in another month, it will be even more beautiful.

I was happily surprised at how well Nick behaved. He's a flower-picker, so I was a bit worried that he was going to get us kicked out of there. He was on his best behavior though and held my hand the entire time. :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I ♥ Faces: Let's Hear it For the Boys (Kids)

Looking through my photos, I realized that I really don't have that many boy pics! I have one boy and 4 girls, and my son usually moves too quickly for me. He either ends up blurry or I get a picture of the back of his head. He is 3, so I guess it's to be expected!

This is one I took of him last year, after he was done eating Nutella on toast. Who doesn't like Nutella?? Yum!
To browse through everyone's photos, go to www.iheartfacces.blogspot.com

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my favorite dads - my dad, my father-in-law, and my husband of course :)
It would have been nice to have spent the day with any one of them.

Instead, we headed to the Midnight Sun Festival in downtown Fairbanks to celebrate the Solstice and the coming of summer.

It was hot and crowded. Taking 5 kids to a busy street festival by yourself is a bit stressful. I was so worried that I was going to lose someone. The lines for food and fun were seriously long. We walked around for a while, ate some cotton candy, and then ended up driving to Carl's Jr. for dinner instead. It was cheaper and easier.

Andy called this morning and I was able to wish him a happy Father's Day. It was good to hear his voice.

It's definitely time for him to come home though. I hate that the kids are getting used to him not being here. They still ask when he's going to be back, but it's been so long now that they don't know what to believe.

Poor Lexie. I told her that Daddy called while she was sleeping this morning and that he sent her lots of hugs and kisses. She looked up at me and said "Is Daddy still alive?" It about broke my heart. "Iraq" is such an abstract idea in her head. She doesn't know where or what it is. She only knows that Daddy isn't here and that he's been gone for 9 long months :(

And Tori. I hate to think of the time that he has missed with Tori. She is 13 months old and he's been gone for 10 of it. Oh, I wish this deployment would end...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Summer Solstice!!

We are living in the land of the midnight sun. Tomorrow is the summer solstice, complete with downtown festival. I'm still debating on whether or not we're going to go. I'm so tired...

It really is amazing here this time of year. Can you believe that the sun rose at 2:57 this morning, and that is isn't setting until 12:47 tonight? Isn't that crazy?? It's funny, because I never really paid any attention to the solstice until we moved here. :)

It's Over

This week is finally over. It was exhausting.

I had one kid in day camp from 9 to 4. Then 3 of them had Vacation Bible School from 6-8:30 every night. We also had a doctor's appointment to go to and I took 2 of the kids to the movies.

I dropped them all off at respite care this afternoon and had lunch with a friend that is moving away. It was nice to get away for a bit. But now I'm back home and tired...

Next week, we have nothing planned, so hopefully I can get caught up on my sleep :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Library Use

I love books. I always have. You would think that I was a constant library patron, but I'm not.

We have a nice library here in Fairbanks, but I just can never seem to have a good trip.

I can never find what I'm looking for in a timely manner. The way everything is laid out is confusing to me. Someone always ends up having a meltdown before I am finished.

The kids are lured to the animals in the kids' section (a bird, fish, and turtles)- which is great, but then they never want to go and actually look at books.

Also, the library is FULL of people using the internet. I honestly think that more people go there to wait in line and use the computers than those that actually get books. I can't imagine having to sit in a library to use a computer. I would definitely not be blogging. :) Anyway, I always feel like it's crowded with the internet patrons.

When we lived in Monterey, I was able to make use of library books for our studies all of the time. I would get online and place holds on what I needed. Then I could run in or else have my husband stop on the way home from work and pick up the big, neat stack of books - ready and waiting for us.

That is not the case here. I know that the library staff probably doesn't have time to be my personal library shopper. I'm not trying to complain about their services. It just ends up being too difficult for me to get in and get what I need, so we rarely go.

I end up buying the books we need for our studies. I wonder how many pounds over our weight limit we're going to be when we make our next move. I'm running out of shelves again and I haven't ordered this year's stuff yet. I suppose I should get rid of some of it to make room...

Where will be headed next???

World Map
I am truly an Army wife.

We have been in one spot for a little over 2 years and I'm starting to get the itch. The itch to move.

Andy put in an extension to stay in Alaska until next May and it was approved. We didn't want to end up with orders in January and have to try to move during that time of year.

We have always wanted to drive down the Al-Can on our way back to the lower 48. It will be such a beautiful drive! (And probably a very long one with 5 kids in the car!)

So, now the only question is - where will be driving to??

We finally have an answer or sorts. There are 2 possible scenarios. Either:

1. Andy is on the promotion list this year and we go to El Paso, Texas for a year. While I really want him to get promoted, I have to admit that I have absolutely NO desire to move to El Paso. None. It's right on the border of Mexico and frankly out in the middle of nowhere. I'm in the middle of nowhere right now. We could use a bit of culture and I would love to be able to make some road trips without having to drive for days before reaching anything....
Night, El Paso, Texas
2. If he's not on the promotion list, then we will be headed to Savannah, Georgia next June. Now, that sounds more exciting to me!! I love the architecture and culture in that city. And it is on the coast. Being an island girl, I crave the beach. I've also never been to the East Coast, so I have a lot of traveling I would love to do from there.
Aerial View of Savannah, Georgia
So now, all we have to do is wait until the end of summer to find out which place we'll be headed next year...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This Year's Curriculum Choices

Red Apple on Books with Pencil
I have finally finished making curriculum choices for this coming year (always subject to change of course!!)

I turned in my ILPs (Individual Learning Plans) to the school, and am finishing up writing out my Parent Designed Course for Social Studies and Literature.

We are definitely eclectic!! Here is what we have decided to go with for the upcoming year:

Lexie (age 5) She is already reading quite well, made it through Explode the Code 2 1/2 and did Horizons Math K last year. She has been taking piano lessons for the past 3 months and is ready for a bit more school work this fall. She definitely needs to sit and learn to correctly form her letters before she starts forming bad habits. We will be working on handwriting a lot.

Horizons Math 1

Explode the Code Online (yes, I said ONLINE - cool, huh?)
First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind, Level 1
Wordly Wise 3000, Level 1
R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey - Life Science
Piano Lessons and Music Ace software
PE - Pre-Ballet and/or Tap classes
Parent Designed Course for Social Studies and Lit (I will explain at the end)

Kate (age 7) She can read well, but unfortunately doesn't enjoy it much. Her strength (and interest) lies in math. She likes to do problems in her head! She finished Horizons Math 2 last year and Explode the Code 5.

Teaching Textbooks, Grade 4
First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 3
Sequential Spelling 1
Sonlight Language Arts 2 Advanced (I'm using the writing assignments)
Wordly Wise 3000, Level 3
R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey - Life Science
Artistic Pursuits, (K-3 Book 1 and maybe part of 2)
PE - She wants to try out Tae Kwon Do, Swimming, and Archery. We'll see if we can fit any of that into our schedule :)
Parent Designed Course for History, Geography, and Literature

Ellie (age 10) Ellie has always been a voracious reader. She is also becoming quite a good writer. She loves to write very descriptive stories - and I love to listen to them!

Teaching Textbooks, Level 6 or 7 (she passed the test for 7, but I'm not sure which we'll go with yet)
Sequential Spelling 3
Daily Grams 6
Wordly Wise 3000, Level 6 They also have online reinforcement.
Artistic Pursuits, (Jr. High Books)
Gravitas Real Science 4 Kids Level I Biology, Chemistry, and Physics

PE - Ballet and probably various other dance classes, maybe gymnastics, maybe swimming (if we can find it available)
Rosetta Stone Russian Level I Homeschool Edition with Audio Companion
Parent Designed Course for history, geography, and literature.

So, for the parent designed course (that's what they call it at the correspondence school when you don't use a curriculum), I have to submit what I'm going to teach the kids, what resources we will use etc.

I'm still working on exact details, but we will be studying history from the Middle Ages through the Reformation, Counter-Reformation, Renaissance, and into Elizabethan Times. It's going to be an exciting year!

I will use Story of the World 2 and parts of Mystery of History 2 and 3 for our history readings. I am going to chose a read-aloud and readers for the kids for each week, along with picture books for the little ones. We will do mapwork, notebooking pages, and fun projects for each topic.

I have decided to separate the writing assignments from my history this year though, only because last year I had a very hard time with the Tapestry Writing Aids and ended up not really doing much for writing. I feel like we have some catching up to do in that area.

That is why I went ahead and decided on Writeshop for this year. I looked at IEW, but it looked WAY to confusing to me. I know that a lot of people use it successfully, but it looks so HARD to start in my opinion. I don't have the time to sit and watch DVDs on how to teach them writing right now.

I really agonized over our history studies this year. I almost went with Sonlight, but I decided that it wasn't going to fit this year. We just finished studying the ancients and the kids are geared up and excited about the Middles Ages and the Renaissance. I like having them all on the same page when it comes to our history. I felt like we would either be repeating or skipping if I jumped into one of the cores this year. I'm keeping it as a definitely possiblity for next year though when we move on to American History. It would definitely make my life easier!!!

Yes, we're going to be busy this year. I can order my curriculum pretty soon and I'm hoping on starting school in late July, after the girls have gone to camp. Andy will be home from Iraq in the fall and will have lots of time off to spend with us. I would like to be able to take off as much time as we can then. :)

Oh, and I got good news from the correspondence school. They will pay for Rosetta Stone. I had thought that there was a $200 cap, but that is only for large items, not curriculum. I'm so glad that I don't have to pay out of pocket for it!!


To read what other homeschoolers are using this year, or to join in the fun, visit www.my3boybarians.com !

The Loneliness

A lone ponderosa pine tree under a cloud-filled sky
A lone ponderosa pine tree under a cloud-filled sky

I think the hardest part of this deployment has been the loneliness.

Not that I'm ever alone! I can't even get a thought in sometimes without being interrupted by someone needing something. It's lonely all the same though.

My best friend is gone. He has always worked long hours, but I'm so used to having him to reconnect with in the evening, to hang out with on the weekends, to make road trips with and talk to throughout his work day.

We email each other and IM, but it's not the same. We used skype for a while, but it was more frustrating than anything. One of us was always having a problem with the signal or our microphone. We weren't communicating very well on it :)

Lots of wives hang out together during deployments and keep each other busy. They go do things and travel and visit family. I can't do that though. I don't have a babysitter and honestly, I don't really want to leave my kids anywhere.

We don't live on post, so I'm not surrounded by other lonely wives.

When it comes down to it though, I don't really want to hang out with a bunch of lonely wives anyway. I want to hang out with my husband. That's why I married him :)

The days are going by quickly. Redeployment plans are being made and that makes it feel more real. I know that 3 months is still a while, but I've made it through 9 already!! We're in the home stretch.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I Heart Faces: Sepia Kids

This week's theme at I Heart Faces is Sepia. I love Sepia!! I often use the sepia setting on my camera and take them in it instead of editing them later. This one was a black and white shot though and I used picnik to change it into a sepia.

I remember this day well. It was back in April when the snow was finally really starting to melt. It was still cold outside though and not a very nice day to play. We had somewhere we had to go shortly, so I wouldn't let Lexie go out and play. Can you see the longing in her poor little eyes?? She really wanted some fresh air, and I don't blame her. Alaska winters are long and we all are itching to get outside when April rolls around! Of course, now that it's warm and gorgeous outside, do you think that I can get them to stay out there for long??

I can't wait to see everyone's sepia photos this week. To join in the fun, or just to check out all of the beautiful pictures, go to iheartfaces.com

P.S. Does anyone know how to make the neat little heart shape in I heart faces instead of typing out the word?? Thanks!

Cover Your Ears

Disclaimer: I will not pay for any medical treatment you may need after listening to this.

That is Tori's new noise. Not a cute one either. Sometimes she makes it when she's really upset, but usually it's just when she wants something. Once it a while, it seems like she's doing it just for fun.

So, if you've been trying to call me and you're wondering why I'm not picking up the phone, it's probably because I have permanent hearing damage...

P.S. Yes, she looks especially messy in this video. I promise that I bathe her. Lexie just got done being the good big sister and fed her a jar full of peaches - most of which ended up on her face an on the floor. Looks like I'll be mopping again this morning :)

Better Attitude

I woke up today with a better attitude. Maybe it's because I actually got 7 hours of sleep - in a row?? It's amazing what a little rest can do. :) Thanks guys for your words of support. I know I can do this. It's all down hill from here!!

I got good news from Andy this morning. His extension got approved, which means that we won't be getting orders when he gets back like most everyone else. The thought of trying to move out of here in January just made me shudder. I know how cold and dark it is. Last January it was down to negative 40. I can't imagine trying to move and travel at that time of year. I feel sorry for everyone that has to do it - although they might have a different outlook on it. They probably want to get the heck out of here instead of riding the winter out another year.

We should be here through next May, which is great news in my opinion. We'll be done with school, so I won't have any worries there. Also, we can live out one of our dreams - driving the Al-Can back down to the lower 48. We took the ferry from Washington on the way up, so we were really hoping to take a different route on the way back. I don't think I could bribe the kids back onto the ferry. :) It was gorgeous, but they all got sea sick and it wasn't pleasant. I'm just glad we had our own cabin and bathroom...

So, we will be roughing it through one more winter. It won't be as bad though, because I won't have to worry every time I leave the house - what will I do if I break down? Who can I call? Now I know that I will have a husband around this winter and I can always call him and he'll rescue me. That's a good feeling!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Single Parenting Stinks

I can't wait for Andy to get back. This single parenting gig is for the birds!!

I dearly love my children, but I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

I'm just tired of never having a minute to myself.
Never having Andy to defer to in decision-making. Having to be the only disciplinarian.
Not being able to go to bed early or sleep in or take a nap when I need it.
Not being able to run errands without 5 little ones tagging along.
Having to deal with all of the homeowner stuff. Fixing pipes and garbage disposals and bike chains and doing yard work. Not my thing.

It's funny, because we're on a break, yet I feel like I have even less time and I'm even more tired than I was during the school year.

Maybe it's just the past 9 months crashing down on me all at once. I'm sleep-deprived and grumpy. Tori has started constantly making a noise that could shatter glass. :)

I'm hoping that camp and Vacation Bible School this week give me a nice little break (from a few of the kids at least).

I have to remind myself that we're almost at the end of this deployment. I made it through the freezing cold winter alone. He'll be home soon (relatively speaking) and then "normal life" can resume.

I just need to be very careful not to dump everything on him when he gets back, especially since he's probably even more tired than I am (if that's possible!)

And now I'm going to try to get them all to bed...

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Trip to the River

On the way home from Tori's doctor appointment, this afternoon, I decided to take a trip down to the lake and river down the road from our house.

I had never been there before (water + 5 kids and only me to supervise frightens me!).

Anyway, it turned out to be absolutely beautiful!! I scoped out the sites and decided that it's more doable than I thought. I'm planning on taking the kids there for a picnic and a maybe even a swim if I get brave!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Look Out World!!

Tori is finally starting to walk without holding onto anything. She takes a tentative step here and there. She is becoming much more balanced and confident.

Of course, she did slip and fall on her face this afternoon. She gave herself a fat lip. The wood floors are slippery and very unforgiving.

She got over it pretty quickly though and was back to smearing her face all over the sliding glass door. She also - unfortunately - realized that she could open all of the drawers in the kitchen. I knew there was a reason that I never let her down on the floor. :)

Honestly, I know she probably would have been walking a couple of months ago if I had given her the chance. The other kids were all walking in between 7-9 months. Here she is, past her first birthday and now just taking steps.

I really never let her down on the floor though. It's not that I don't want her to play and learn to walk. It just makes me nervous.

We have a split level home. Wood floors. Wood stairs. We have a baby gate, but honestly, the kids are up and down the stairs all day long - often in a hurry to "just grab something" and forgetting to shut the gate.

Also, I have a very rambunctious 3 year old boy. He is very good and gentle with her, but he doesn't always see her when she's playing on the floor.

So, she always was moved from the play pen to the high chair to the exersaucer to me holding her. Poor kid.

I have finally let go though and decided that I can't hold her back any longer. She was so excited to be exploring today. I tried to let her have some fun. :)

I had some pictures of her to add, but I still haven't figured out how on earth I put my camera card into my new laptop. I guess I'll have to find the pesky manual and see how it works.
I'll add the pictures to the post when I get it figured out (or when I go put it into the desktop and put them on the thumb drive....)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why I can't sleep

This is why I can't sleep. These pictures were taken at 12:30 - at NIGHT!!!!!!!!

The sun is setting at about 12:30 and rising at 3:15 - so no, it doesn't get completely dark. I will never get used to this. I think it's kind of cool (who doesn't want extra daylight for BBQs or outdoor fun!), but my body doesn't like it much. None of us can get to bed at a decent hour.

I will just try to remind myself of this when it's December and the sun isn't rising at all.
I guess we'll catch up by hibernating through the dark winter...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Feels like home

Today was a drizzly, sprinkly kind of a day and it made me think of Washington. I miss "home".

I actually like the rain. I love the smell and how it turns everything green. I actually think that I could see my grass turning greener and growing taller today. And I just mowed yesterday! The constant daylight makes the grass grow really quickly.

We shut ourselves inside, not because of the rain though. Yesterday, it was gorgeous and warm out and the kids were in and out all day long. So were the mosquitoes.

When we went to bed at night, they ate us alive. Poor Tori and Lexie must taste the sweetest, because they were covered in bites. :(

So, I didn't let them open the doors today and I haven't really seen any in the house. I'm hoping that they are gone, so we can all sleep in relative peace.

I let the kids play on the Wii, Ellie baked some Snickerdoodles, and they all watched a movie.

I used this time to transfer my pictures from my desktop to my new laptop. I did the tutorial lessons in the Adobe Photoshop Elements "Classroom in a Book" and I feel like I learned a lot. I can navigate around much better and I have been spending the evening tagging my pictures. It's going to be quite the job since there are about 15,000 of them....

I'm attaching some pictures of Tori from yesterday. It was her first experience with spaghetti. The first stuff I gave her was all nicely chopped up, but then I just gave it to her whole and let her have at it. She had a blast and of course went straight into the tub afterward.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Where is the time going?

Considering the fact that we're in the middle of a deployment, having the time fly is generally a good thing. We are excited for Andy's return in the fall and are anxious for that time to come.

I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone or something though.

No husband going to work every day. No classes (except for piano). No schoolwork. No meetings of any sort. I have no babysitter, so I don't attend the spouse's coffees or bunco nights.

The days are all running together. I have to remind myself what day of the week it is.

You would think with all of this time off from our regular "stuff", that we would be getting a ton of things done. That isn't the case though!

I have a to-do list ten miles long and I feel like I have barely started on it. We will be starting school again in late July, because Andy will have a lot of time off in the fall and we'll want to spend it with him. :)

So, what HAVE we been doing with our time? Good question.

Eating a lot of popsicles.

Getting eaten alive by monster-sized mutant Alaskan mosquitoes.

Staying awake super-late, because who can sleep when it's still light out past midnight???

The one thing I have been doing consistently is exercising. I bought a Wii, along with Wii Fit and Active and have been using that and the treadmill. I've had a lot of fun with both of the games and I feel like I'm getting a workout. I'm sure it wouldn't be beneficial to an athlete or someone who was in really good shape. For me, out of shape after 5 kids and unable to go to the gym, it's perfect. :)

I've had extra yard work to do. I guess that is something. With the sun being up practically all night, the grass grows like CRAZY. I just mowed it a couple of days ago and it has already grown back. Weird.

I have been working on next year's curriculum choices and general spring cleaning. I haven't really finished anything though. I think that I just need to focus on ONE thing at a time instead of 20 and maybe I would feel a sense of accomplishment then.

I'd better go actually work on something...

Why can't they just get along??

Kate and Lexie are almost exactly 2 years apart. You would think that they would be best of friends, joined at the hip, partners in crime.

It just isn't so and that makes me sad.

Kate is very easily frustrated. Little things annoy her to distraction.

Pair that with the fact that Lexie NEVER stops talking and it's a recipe for disaster.

Kate will very nicely ask Lexie to be quiet or let her know that she has already heard what she has to say about 10 times in a row. But she doesn't stop. She's a little motor mouth!

This drives Kate crazy.

They used to share a room, but I had to move Lexie in with Nick instead, because she would keep Kate up at night - talking. Or singing. Or making various strange noises.

I am hoping that as they get a bit older, they will grow closer and become best of friends.

Monday, June 1, 2009

10 Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today, my sweet little Ellie was born. She came into this world in a hurry. I was only in the hospital for 2 hours before I had her and for a firstborn, that's pretty quick :)
She walked at 7 1/2 months and never looked back.

Could it really have been that long ago? Could I possibly be old enough to have a 10 year old??

It seems like only yesterday that she was Tori's age. Toddling around the house and keeping us on our toes. I'm afraid that I'm going to blink and she'll be 20. It makes me want to savor all of the little moments we have together right now.