Friday, July 31, 2009

Choking on Smoke

Our weather forecast said "smoke". Sounds strange, but it's true.

There are dozens of wildfires raging around Alaska right now and a couple of them are close enough to be sending a lot of smoke in our direction. One of the closer ones is over 340,000 acres. Isn't that huge??

We're not in any danger of the actual fire where we are, but the smoke has been horrible. They have canceled all outdoor sporting events and the air is considered "very unhealthy". So, the kids have been cooped up in the house - with me!

I look forward to the summer, so that I can kick them outside to get some fresh air.

The temperatures have been warm, but we've had to keep the windows shut. Without AC, the house is almost unbearable.

To top it off, my ceiling fan died on me 2 days ago. I have had it on nonstop for a month, so maybe it just couldn't take it anymore. Then yesterday, my floor fan died too. So, we went out to buy a new (and better) fan today. The ceiling fan will have to wait for Andy to take a look at it...

I'm hoping for some rain so that we can get these fires out and get back outside before it snows!! :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Social Studies this year

I can't leave anything alone. I don't know why, but it's true.

This year for Social Studies, we're studying history from the Fall of Rome through Elizabethan England. I'm so excited for the fun projects and great books we're going to read!

I haven't chosen any one curriculum, but am using books, projects, and ideas from Tapestry of Grace and also am using the CDs from Story of the World and Mystery of History. Here are our weekly topics:

1. Fall of Rome, Barbarians, Byzantine Empire
2. Monks, Monasteries, and Missionaries
3. Islam & the Arab World, 1001 Arabian Nights
4. Medieval Europe: Charles Martel, Charlesmagne, Holy Roman Empire, Frederick II
5. King Arthur, Knights
6. First Kings of England, Feudalism
7. Vikings
8. Crusades
9. King John Magna Charta, Robin Hood
10. Daily Life in the Middle Ages
11. Daily Life in the Middle Ages continued/ a couple of days on Jewish history
12. Mongols, Khans, and Marco Polo
13. Medieval China
14. Macbeth, Scotland, William Wallace, Robert the Bruce
15. 100 Yrs War, Black Death, Joan of Arc, War of the Roses
16. African Kingdoms: Zimbabwe, Ghana, Mali, Songhay
17. Medieval India
18. Medieval Japan
19. Ottoman and Persian Empires
20. Russians
21. Australia and New Zealand
22. Ideas & Inventions: Dante, Gutenberg, Erasmus, Machiavelli
23. Medieval & Renaissance Science
24. Renaissance Art
25. Renaissance Art continued
26. The Reformation
27. Reformation in England, Henry VIII, Tudors
28. Reformation/Counter-Reformation
29. Spain, Portugal, & Early Exploration
30. Exploration
31. Exploration continued
32. Spanish Domination in the New World - Aztecs, Maya, Incas, Conquistadors
33. Elizabethan England & Scottish Reformation
34. Elizabethan England, Sir Francis Drake, Spanish Armada
35. Shakespeare
36. Catch up & Celebration :)

Now if I can only get things set and ready for Monday morning...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I think I'm going blind

Retro Eyeglasses
Retro Eyeglasses

I've been bad about staying up at night and reading in bed.

I don't know if it's the dim lighting or my sleepy eyes, but I have been having such a hard time focusing on the pages. It's blurry.

I've had good eyesight my whole life, so maybe I'm just getting old. I'll be 33 next month. :)

I ended up picking up some "reader" glasses from Sam's Club a few days ago. I got the lowest level. I can't believe the difference!! I can see without squinting. It's amazing!

The kids think I look funny, but I don't care. I can read much quicker when I'm not spending 10 minutes deciphering one word. :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

There are days...

that I hate living in Alaska.

Today is one of them.

Everything is more difficult. Nothing is easy. I can never find what I want.

I want a new crib. A convertible crib that will change to a toddler bed, a day bed, and a headboard for a regular bed. Sounds easy enough. It's not like they are uncommon.

We have a Sears. It's the only department store in town. It doesn't carry cribs.

I checked Walmart. The only one I would consider was out of stock.

I looked online at Amazon and found exactly what I wanted. One problem: they won't ship it to me, because I live in Alaska!!!!

It's not like I can just take a couple hour trip to the next town or a big city to find what I want. This is it, unless I drive 6 hours to Anchorage. Sounds like fun, huh? I wouldn't have any room in the truck for a crib anyway.

So, Tori is still in a play pen and might be for a while.

I am going to check Fred Meyer, but I don't recall them having much of a selection.

Sears says that they ship, but I don't know if that means that they ship here or not. Their site was down. Of course. :)

I guess I'm just having one of those I-don't-like-being-cut-off-from-the-rest-of-the-world kind of days.

Update: Sears will ship to my house. Shipping a crib is $75 though and I would much rather find something in town....

Why won't I have a garage sale??

I love to go to garage sales. Something about finding a treasure amongst the junk is exciting to me. I don't mind sifting through the used tennis rackets and piles of toys to find that one thing that makes it all worth it.

I almost always have to go alone, because my husband doesn't share my passion for a deal. He just thinks it looks like piles of junk. And a lot of it is.

Even though I love to shop at other people's yard sales, I will probably never have one of my own.

I'm weird like that.

It's not as though I don't have enough junk to hold a sale. Come on, I have 5 kids. I could probably make a small fortune by filling my driveway with what we don't need anymore.

It's just that the thought of other people sifting through my junk is frightening to me. And I don't haggle and don't want to be haggled. It's just not my personality.

I remember working at a post-wide garage sale when we lived in Monterey. I stood back and watched many of the foreign wives in awe as they offered pennies on the dollar for items. Ten cents for things marked ten dollars - in the first 10 minutes of the sale. I guess I'm one of those weird people that pays what the price tag says.

And so I usually just leave my bags of stuff at the "reuse" area at the transfer point and let people sift through it for free.

The only reason I'm thinking of this is because I've been busy rearranging bedrooms again and getting rid of bags of stuff we just don't need anymore. If I've had the piece of clothing through 4 kids and no one has worn it yet, then we probably could do without it, right?

Part of me wishes that I were a garage sale kind of a gal. I'd probably have a few hundred extra dollars in my pocket right now. Maybe someday I'll get up the guts...

Not ready

I have decided that I am absolutely not ready to start school on Monday.

It's not going to happen.

It just seems like things keep going wrong and I can't finish what I need to.

Ellie was at camp all week, so I had no babysitting or cleaning help from her. I spent most of this past week getting nothing productive done.

My printer is not cooperating. It magically uninstalled itself and I can't seem to get it set up again. No matter how I try. I have things that need to be printed before we start. I am working on solving this problem. Maybe it's just time to get a new one...

Also, I just haven't had enough time to get things set up and ready to go. All of the assignments aren't yet entered into Homeschool Tracker. I'm still searching for room on the bookshelves. The school room needs to be cleaned up. Copies need to be made. There is so much to do!!!

Then, for some reason, I decided that I need to rearrange the bedrooms again. Now. I don't know why I do this. I get an idea in my head and then I just have to start in on it. Even if it's 8 o'clock at night.

Tori's crib has been in my bedroom this past year. After I moved my treadmill in there, it got pretty cramped. The bed is against the wall and I can only get into half the closet. It hasn't bugged me much, because Andy hasn't been here.

He's going to be coming home in the next couple of months though and I'm sure that he'd like to get into his half of the closet and be able to get into his side of the bed without climbing past the crib at the end of the bed...

So, I have moved Ellie and Kate back together again (Ellie already had bunk beds anyway). I moved Lexie upstairs and Tori in with her. Nick will have the downstairs room to himself. It will work out for the best, because his room is next to the school room and is almost empty on the floor. I will be able to let Tori play in there during the day while we're busy at work.

Anyway, I started moving furniture around and I broke Tori's crib. In pieces. It can't be repaired. She's sleeping in the play pen right now until I get her a new one.

To top it all off, I think that both Kate and Lexie have strep throat again!! Isn't that insane?? It seems like we can't get rid of it. We all had it. Then Ellie got it again. Now they have it again. Of course, it's Friday night and I will probably have to wait to take them to the doctor until Monday morning. I hope it doesn't get too bad before then.

So, all of things added up together means that we aren't starting for another week. I need time to get the house put back together (it still looks like a tornado hit!), get the kids feeling better, and get myself organized and ready for school.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I ♥ Faces: Feet Week

This week's theme at I ♥ Faces is Feet.

I love my kids feet. Especially when they are dirty from being barefoot in the backyard :)

To join in the fun, or just to look at all of the wonderful entries this week, go to:

A Day of Peace

Saturday was wonderful.

I didn't do anything very special. Nothing too exciting.

But I did it alone. Completely alone.

That was a very strange feeling. I have been alone so little in the past 10 months since Andy left for Iraq. The kids are always with me - constantly.

The Army offers free respite care to spouses whose husbands' are deployed. One Saturday a month, you can drop your kids off from 9-5 for free (and also one Thurs./Tues. evening a month). Amazing, huh? And much needed.

I have used respite care in the past, but throughout this past year, the girls had art class right smack in the middle of the day, which only allowed me to use it for an hour or two. Also, I didn't like to leave Tori when she was little. I'm just silly like that.

This past Saturday, I dropped them all off at 9 and didn't pick them up until 4. It was soooooooo nice.

I went to the store and browsed the bra section. I can't even pass that part of the store without snickers and giggles from the kids...

I got a coffee and perused the book store.

I went to the library and I ventured past the children's section. I wasn't rushed and I was able to leave with an armload of books - for me and only me.

I went to Old Navy and actually tried some things on in the dressing rooms. I never do that. I usually just buy things and then return them if I don't like them. I mean really, who wants to be crammed into a dressing room with 5 kids laughing at you trying to squeeze into a pair of pants? Not me.

I still had a lot of time left after all of that, because I wasn't slowed down by unloading kids and loading strollers, strapping everyone into their car seats, making lots of bathroom trips, keeping kids from touching everything we pass, etc. You get the picture.

I hadn't remembered how easy a morning of shopping could be.

Anyway, I decided to head to the movies. Yes, I was alone, and yes I had already gone and seen Harry Potter earlier in the week. Two movies in one week must be a record for me. I usually only go once or twice a year.

I ended up seeing "The Proposal" with Sandra Bullock. It's a chick flick and I knew that I had better get them all out of my system before Andy gets back. :)

I enjoyed it. I was good and didn't spend tons of money on popcorn and a drink again. This time I opted for a monster box of Hot Tamales. I no longer have any taste buds.

The best thing of all is that the kids did wonderful at respite care and I now know that I can easily use it again! Maybe next time I will actually plan something fun and exciting. White water rafting? Sky Diving? Ok, so maybe not that exciting...

World Eskimo -Indian Olympics

I got to cross off number 13 on my list of things I wanted to do before I left Alaska.

I made it to the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics this weekend and it was truly interesting.

I watched the Ear Pull, which is essentially a tug of war between two people with a string wrapped around one ear. Ouch!

They also had a pageant with some cute little kids in native dress. It was really hot outside though and I felt sorry for the kiddos. They had to be baking in their outfits.There were booths full of handmade goods. Jewelry, figurines, food.

I chose this set of nesting bowls. I have always had a thing for little bowls and boxes. I'm not sure why, but I can't seem to help myself.

I would have liked to see more of the events, but they were spread out over 4 days. We went during the day, when it was less crowded and free. The evening events were supposed to be even better - with dancing and demonstrations along with the finals and award ceremonies. I just wasn't up to braving the crowd and trying to sit in the stadium seats with all of the kids.

We still had a great time!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Treasures in Our Yard

I did manage to kick the kids outside for a while yesterday.

I don't know why they fight me on this so much. They just don't seem that interested in hanging out in the backyard. They are more than happy to ride their bikes - because that involves me keeping an eye on them in the driveway, but as for the backyard - it's boring.

I wish they would all remember that our last house had a postage stamp yard and the one before that was an apartment. Then maybe they would appreciate it a bit more.

Anyway, they ventured out into the back corner of our lot, which is overgrown and outside of our fence. They came back from their travels with some treasures!!

First, they brought me an entire bowl full of raspberries. They were very tart, but still good.

They also brought me this beautiful flower. I'm not sure what it is, but it's gorgeous!

10 Day Countdown

We are starting school in 10 days.

I am officially starting to panic

. I have a lot of prep work to get done this week and Ellie (my helper) is going to be at camp. I have most of the lessons entered into Homeschool Tracker. All except for the one I am dreading - History. This one is the most important for me to have completed, since I am not following any one curriculum this year. I simply HAVE to get it all laid out so that I can just print out the assignments. And that is going to be time consuming. I wish I could send them ALL to camp this week. :)

As much as I am freaked out about it coming so soon, I am totally ready to get back on a schedule and get back to work.

I enjoy lazy summer days, but the staying up late and sleeping in is driving me nuts.

Also, I have been surprised at how bored the kids claim to be! No one wants to spend the day outside in the yard. They are constantly asking for things to do. What is wrong with my children? Maybe it's because they have been off of school for over 2 months now and are just ready to get back at it.

Here is most of what I have gotten in the mail so far. More packages are still arriving daily. I told you that the mailman probably hates me...

Yes, we're studying Russian this year!! I am SO excited about this!!

And what school year is complete without Dover Coloring Books? No matter what we're studying, Kate wants something to color. She especially likes the fashion ones.

Look at all of these great books!! The only problem is that there is not a single inch of empty space on the shelves. Where is it all going to go??? I haven't figured that out yet. I might just have to pack away some books that I know we won't use in the next 10 months before we move.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Trip to the Movies

I took the kids to see the new Harry Potter movie this morning. I now realize why I always wait for the DVD to come out. For 4 of us (with snacks of course) it came to $60!! That seems absolutely insane to me for a simple trip to the movies. Not to mention the 4 bathroom trips I had to make. I like having a pause button :)

It was worth it though, because the kids enjoyed themselves and got some special time with me. I dropped the younger two off at hourly care on post (for free!) and we enjoyed 5 whole hours to ourselves. I have to admit that it was nice.

I don't think we'll be going back to the theater anytime soon though. Once or twice a year is enough for me :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eielson AFB

On the way back from Ellie's taking Ellie to the doctor on Monday (yes she tested positive for strep throat AGAIN!) we took a short drive down the Eielson AFB and I let the kids out at the park for some fresh air.

We had to spend all day Tuesday in the house. There are forest fires about an hour or so away from Fairbanks and there is a lot of smoke outside. The air is "unhealthy" right now and it's not safe to play outside. Our windows are shut and the house is uncomfortably hot. I'm hoping that it clears up soon, so that we can get back outside to enjoy the warm weather we've been having. I just wish there was an outdoor pool in the area....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Buried in Books and lost in LOST

I haven't been on the computer much this past week.

I've had a couple boxes of books arrive every day. I love this time of year :) I've just been trying to clean the school room up and make some room for them!

I also discovered the TV show LOST a couple of weeks ago. (I don't have cable and haven't gotten ABC in about 6 yrs, so that's my excuse). Anyway, I love that I had 4+ seasons to catch up on all at once - they are free online!!! So, I've been working on school related stuff in the evenings while watching a few episodes of LOST. I'm running out of episodes though, so I'm sure that I'll be back to having some more internet time :)

We will be starting school in two weeks. I have a lot of work to get done in preparation. I just hope that I'll be ready!!

On another note, we all just finished taking our meds for strep throat a few days ago. Ellie woke up this morning with a sore and swollen throat and thinks that she might have it again. Not what I wanted to deal with right now. So, I ordered some pizza and got a couple of Wii games. We're going to plant ourselves here for the weekend. If she still feels sick Monday morning, then I'll take her back in to the doctor. I'm just crossing my fingers that we're not doing this again....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Miserably Hot

We are miserably hot right now.

It's 90 degrees out at my house. We have no air conditioning. One ceiling fan and a couple of small fans is all. It's just not cutting it.

If you eat enough popsicles, does it qualify as a meal? I don't feel like cooking anything. I suppose we'll eventually need to eat some solid food :)

I'm thinking about taking everyone for a drive - just so that we can enjoy the air conditioning for a bit.

55-70 degrees out is plenty warm for me. I suppose I would enjoy the warm weather more if we had AC and a pool.

How on earth are we going to move to Savannah next year?? I think we're all going to melt....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In a Haze

Summer has finally kicked in. It's been in the low 80's!! Time for swimsuits and popsicles!!

We don't have air conditioning, so it's pretty miserable in the house, even with the ceiling fan on.

I've been trying to kick the kids outside as much as possible to enjoy the weather while it's here. Before we know it, snow will be falling again :)

The problem is, there are some huge forest fires to the south and west of us (One of them is 75,000 acres, another almost 30,000 and another almost 20,000 - that's pretty huge). They are very far away, but the smoke is here. The sky is hazy and the air isn't very clean.

It looks like we won't be enjoying our heat wave as much as I had hoped.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

I hope that everyone enjoyed their Fourth of July!!

I have to admit that since we've moved to Alaska, it hasn't felt the same.

I grew up spending the day at the beach, lighting fireworks all night over the water.

It doesn't get dark enough in Alaska to enjoy fireworks. It just doesn't quite seem like the Fourth without it.

The girls marched in a parade with their Girl Scout troop.

No 4th of July parade is complete without an appearance from Santa Claus, right? Well at least not if you live in North Pole :)

Nick happily sat and collected the candy that was thrown at him. He didn't like the sounds of the fire truck sirens though.Next year, I'm hoping to spend the Fourth together as a family - watching fireworks on the backdrop of a dark sky.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Books Memorized

We have a lot of books - at least a couple thousand. There are bookshelves and piles of books everywhere you turn in our home.

You would think that with such a selection and variety, I would be reading a different stack of books every night. But it's not so.

Not only am I re-reading the same books to Lexie and Nick over and over, but many of them are the same exact books that I read every day to Ellie and Kate.

As a result of all of this repetition, I have quite the library of children's books stored neatly in my head. :) It's nice for those nights when I'm too tired to open my eyes. I can just recite them blindly and turn the pages every so often. Now that Lexie can read really well, that isn't going to work so well anymore. :)

Here are some of our favorites that we have read time and again.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sorry, Mr. Mailman

White Rural Mailbox in Field with Overgrown Grass
White Rural Mailbox in Field with Overgrown Grass

The mailman is not going to be very happy with me in the next few weeks.

The funds for next school year are now available through the correspondence school that we use. I spent over $2000 yesterday - can you believe it?? I have another $3000 left, but I'm going to use most of it for lessons/classes throughout the year.

Anyway, I made an order to Teaching Textbooks. A humongous order to Rainbow Resource Center. And another huge order to

The thing is, I was trying to get the best deals, so about 25 of the books that I bought off of Amazon were used. Which means that they are coming separately from various used book dealers.

Which means the mailman is going to be working extra on my account. :)

I can't wait until the boxes start arriving. It's always so exciting to get set up for the new school year!

Mr. Clean

Nick's new favorite pastime is vacuuming.

Yes, it takes him 20 times longer than it would take me to do the same job.

It keeps him really busy though. He loves searching the house for crumbs (although they are never hard to find!!) He is very meticulous and does the best that he can. He enjoys it. And it keeps him occupied and out of trouble for about 20 minutes - which is amazing.

Of course, this is because vacuuming is his idea, not mine. As soon as I ask him to do it, he probably won't have any interest in it anymore. I suppose I will have to keep letting him think that it's what he wants to do!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Under Quarantine

Yes, that's a lot of antibiotics.

The kids had been feeling crummy for the past couple of days. I got Ellie an appointment today and she tested positive for strep. The doctor was nice enough to check the rest of us. Kate, Lexie and Nick had it also - and Tori and I had the beginnings of it.

So, we headed on over to the pharmacy and left with a grocery bag full of meds :)

It looks like we'll be staying home for the next day or two...