Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday to Me! Could I really be Thirty-three??

Yes, it's true. I am.
The kids were cute and made me wait downstairs, while they blew up some balloons, placed a buffet of yummy food on the counter, put some candles on my cake, and got my cards ready.

I even got a pretzel stick Happy Birthday sign. Precious :)

It was another great birthday. The only thing missing was Andy :(

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What a Mess!

The kids have had a great time trying out our various new art supplies. It's nice to step away from the plain-old crayons and markers for a while.

We have fallen in love with the watercolor crayons and pencils.

Oil pastels are fun and very vibrant.

Watercolor paint is a joy.

We have found an art medium that I don't enjoy much though - soft pastels.

They work much like chalk. Very dusty. And they smear everywhere. You have to spray the pictures to seal them in a bit. It was quite a mess to clean up when they were done and I wasn't as impressed with the results.

Ellie enjoyed them more than I did. Maybe it's because I'm the one that ended up cleaning the room....

I don't see us using these much - maybe outside?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Kiddos

It seems like the kids are changing daily. They are growing up so quickly!

Tori is now very hard to get a picture of. She is constantly running - usually in the opposite direction of me. Here is her backside, the side I'm seeing very often now.

Here is one I managed to get of her front side. She had a leaf stuck to her hand and apparently thought it felt weird.Nick is quite the speed racer on his little bicycle now. I can't believe I ever thought that he wasn't big enought for a real bike!!

Lexie's training wheels are off and she's really getting the hang of it - without any help from me.

Kate is growing like a weed.
And Ellie is becoming quite the young lady.
I have learned that getting a photo of the 5 of them without any other adult help is near impossible. There needs to be another person to keep them looking the same direction and sitting still and keeping the bunny ears down. :)

Week Three

We made it through Week Three!! Only 33 left to go. :)

This past week we studied the Rise of Islam and the Moors in Medieval Spain.

Ellie read 1001 Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean. We all listened to the Arabian Nights CD by Jim Weiss.

We also read Sinbad the Sailor. It's a bit graphic, but my kids enjoyed it. I was so impressed that they picked out some similarities between Sinbad's adventures and those of Odysseus. (The ogre story in particular was very similar to the Cyclops in The Odyssey.)

We didn't do any great projects this week. Ellie watched a video on Islam. I watched El Cid with Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren.

We were starting to study the human body in science, but we had to switch gears and skip further ahead to the insect lessons. New caterpillars arrived - these ones hadn't already gone into the pupa stage thankfully. Thank you Insect Lore for sending us new ones, free of charge!!! I really appreciate it. We couldn't wait until later in the year to do this project, or they would have shown up very frozen. :) We'll move back to the body once they have become butterflies.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


We had a beautiful 65-degree day, so we headed out to the lake again for an afternoon picnic. We'll probably get a bit of snow a month from now, so I don't want to pass these days up!

We ate and the kids played around on the beach and the playground.
Then Ellie and Lexie spent a good half hour chasing around grasshoppers. Ick!!

I sometimes wonder how they came from my womb. You would NEVER have caught me doing that as a child. I still don't want anything to do with bugs. I just can't believe that they TOUCH them. :)

Kate definitely takes after me in that respect. The poor kid could barely do her science experiment this week. We have caterpillars that are in the pupa stage right now. She couldn't even look at them while they were in the little jar. The creepy, crawling caterpillars and their waste, were enough to push her over the edge. She decided that she already knew what they looked like and could draw them without observing them. She cracks me up.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Waiting

You would think that after over 11 months, a few measly weeks wouldn't matter much.

But they do.

Goodness, I just want Andy home RIGHT NOW. The waiting is awful.

It is compounded by the fact that he no longer has internet in his CHU and so I can't IM with him. I hate not being able to chat with him every day.

I really feel for military wives who had to go through deployments before the internet age. It must have been so hard waiting for that letter in the mail. Not able to get the instant gratification of an email message back with an answer to your question. I do feel thankful.

We'll make it through these last few weeks, I know. I'm just being impatient and running out of steam...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Huge Weight Lifted

I am heaving a great sigh of relief right now. HUGE.

Andy is coming back from Iraq this month and we should be moving to Savannah next spring.

When we arrived here, there wasn't any post housing available and we ended up buying a house. Owning our own place has been great (except for repairs!!!). We have a huge yard and it's a stand alone house instead of a duplex or quadplex like on post. It's always nice to have a bit of privacy, you know?

The thing is, when you own a house and are moving, you have to sell it (or rent it out). I don't know about you, but I don't have an extra $1900 a month to be forking over for my payment when we're not living in it. I've been really worried about being able to sell our house in time and not leaving it empty when we move. (Yes, I realize that it's a bit early, but I'm one of those people that likes to be early enough that if I'm late I'm still early. I know - I wish that I could take a pill for it or something!)

So, in walks someone I know who is interested in our house. Now. We haven't even put it on the market yet. She was seriously considering buying it. The catch? She needed to be moved in by the end of next month.

I thought that maybe we could do it. Am I insane or what??

One month to do the paperwork, pack my things (myself) and move them into a storage unit, start searching for a rental - all of this when my poor hubby was supposed to be coming home to our comfortable house.

The stress of it all was really starting to get to me. I could barely sleep last night just thinking of how many things I would have to do in the coming weeks. And how crushed the kids would be to be sitting in some junky little rental for the next 6 months. STRESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!

I ran into her today and I think that she could see how frightened I was of the coming weeks. I know that I was sending freaked out vibes her direction. She decided to put an offer in on a different house.

And I have a huge weight lifted right now. I think I'll sleep like a log tonight.

I now know that we will be able to welcome Andy home - to our home. I won't have to put him to work moving furniture and we can spend his well-deserved time off just hanging out as a family.

We'll wait until this winter to put the house up on the market. It will sell. I won't let myself worry about it anymore. Everything will fall into place......

Monday, August 24, 2009

We Picture This: Reflections

we picture {this}

When our snow melted this past spring, our entire backyard was full of puddles - and leaves from the previous fall. This is a picture of my daughter Lexie, trying to escape from the sogginess on the swing. :)

Click the above button to join in the fun!

Art: Still Life

First of all, I have to say that I love all of the cool art supplies we purchased this year. Our new favorite thing is watercolor crayons. You color with them and then paint over them with water. The effect is neat - and much easier than actually watercoloring with paints (in my opinion).

Today, we did a still life. I just grabbed a bunch of interesting things from around the house and put them in the middle of the table. All three girls drew what they saw and then colored them in.

Here is what was on the table:

Ellie's interpretation:

Kate's version:

Lexie's masterpiece:

I think that they all did a wonderful job!!!

We couldn't stop there though. When the art supplies come out, they tend to continue drawing.
Lexie's bird:

Ellie's sketch of an old man:

I had them listening to their history CDs while they worked (Story of the World and Mystery of History). I like to multitask. :)

I also read them a couple of fairy tales of Charles Perrault since we're studying France this week. Wow, are the originals different from the glossed over versions that we usually hear! Did you know that the prince's mother in Sleeping Beauty was part ogre and wanted to eat her daughter-in-law and grandchildren? Yikes! And there was no happy ending for poor Little Red Riding Hood. The kids enjoyed comparing the versions they had heard with the ones I read today.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not Back to School Blog-Hop: Day-in-the-Life Week

This week is "A Day in the Life" over at Life With My 3 Boybarians.

Last year was pretty chaotic. My husband was in Iraq (he'll be coming home next month!!) and I was single parenting. We didn't have a lot of structure to our days. It was mostly just working until we got things done (in various different orders) and then driving around to dance and gymnastics and art and other classes.

This year will be a bit different. I have another student (Lexie is now 5 and doing full-time work) and my baby turned into a very active toddler. Andy will be home and we will have more of a "normal" schedule.

We have just finished 3 weeks of school. It has taken me this long to assess what we need to do as far as a schedule.

There are some subjects that we do together (history, art, read-alouds). There are some that the kids do independently (the older two do their math on the computer, Ellie does most of her writing assignments on her own, literature reading to themselves, etc.). And there are some that need to be one-on-one (spelling, language arts, math with Lexie, science with the younger two).

I have also had to figure out about how much time we need to spend on each subject. And what to do with the younger kids during school time.

This is a lot to consider. I think that I have finally come up with our schedule. Nothing is set in stone of course, because we have yet to actually try it out. We'll see if it works out by the end of this week!!!

I have decided to lump the one-on-one mom time into "meetings" with me. Each kid gets one individual meeting with me where I can give their spelling test, discuss things we're studying, give instructions for writing assignments, and help with whatever subject they can't do on their own. I am hoping that this will work out.

Before, I was jumping from kid to kid all at once - different subjects and different levels. It was pretty distracting. Kate has a very hard time concentrating if other people are talking and couldn't handle the noise of other people asking questions and making noise. I am hoping that this helps her out a bit too.

This is what our schedule will look like:

Ok, so I obviously haven't actually come up with a plan to keep Nick and Tori busy yet. :)

I'm hoping to just rotate toys, puzzles, and manipulatives with Nick to keep him actively doing something.

Tori is another story. She wants to move around A LOT now, but she still needs to be watched every second. She is pretty happy to be in the playroom, which adjoins our school area, so she will probably have to play in there for a good part of the morning.

I sure hope this works!!

P.S. The greatest thing that I have done this year is moved all of our extra-curricular activities to the afternoons. No more missing out on dinner at home - together!!

I ♥ Faces: Nostalgia

This week's them at I Heart Faces is Nostalgia.

This picture of my son Nick, just reminds me of summer when I was a kid. I can't even begin to imagine how many popsicles and otter pops I must have consumed. :)

I can't wait to look through everyone else's wonderful photos this week. Join in the fun at I Heart Faces!!

Precious Moments

I was just looking through old pictures and rediscovered this one. It was taken in Carmel when Kate was just a little toddler. Isn't it precious?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Come Shoot the Breeze With Me

So this is just a collection of various random thoughts and links that you might enjoy. If you want to shoot the breeze with other bloggers, then head on over to and join in the fun.

*I am a BBC/Masterpiece Theatre fanatic. I enjoy almost all of them, with a few exceptions. I can't say that I liked Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but it was very well made. I just didn't enjoy the storyline (I hated the book too). I'm a happy ending kind of a girl. So, I was very pleased when this new movie came out on DVD. Little Dorritt is WONDERFUL. I've never read the book by Charles Dickens, but I added it to my reading list for this year, because it looks so good. And it has a happy ending. Watch it!

*The Lattice House. Every day, we pass "The Lattice House" (as we have nicknamed it) at least a couple of times and every time we pass it, it puts a smile on my face. The kids never tire of pointing it out. The house is COMPLETELY covered in lattice and has a matching lattice fence. It just cracks me up. I'm not sure if it was on sale, or if the man works in a lattice factory or what. It is very interesting though. :)

*What do you guys drive? I'm in a 2003 Ford Expedition. It's paid off, thankfully. I don't particularly want a car payment again, but I can't help salivating over those huge 15 passenger vans. They have so much room!! 5 kids and the double stroller and our truck is pushing capacity. We could actually fit groceries and stuff if we had a larger vehicle. I can't justify the price though. What we have works and has enough seat belts in it, so I will have to live with it for now.... I can dream though.

Monks, Monasteries, and Missionaries for kids

This past week, we studied Monks, Monasteries and Missionaries. We read stories about Augustine, St. Patrick, Columba, Birgid, St. Valentine, St. Jerome, and St. Benedict.

We tried reading Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle as a read-aloud, but it didn't work out for us. The kids had a very hard time following the story and we ended up reading Augustine, The Farmer's Boy of Tagaste instead. This was much easier for me to read (the words were bigger!) and the kids could actually understand it. Ellie probably could have done Otto on her own, but she was already reading Augustine Came to Kent.

Here are some of the books that we read:

Some of the others we got from the library (and aren't available at Amazon), including The Man Who Loved Books, by Jean Fritz (about Columba), and St. Jerome and the Lion, by Margaret Hodges.

Our favorite project of the week was definitely illuminating our own manuscript page. The book Marguerite Makes a Book is absolutely beautiful and inspired the girls to make their own. They even wanted to try making their own paints - which we haven't done yet.

An interesting side note: We're moving to Savannah in the spring, and they appear to have a very vibrant Mardi-Gras type St. Patrick's day celebration (that is a week long). I never would have guessed that! We'll be arriving there too late to enjoy it this March, but the year after, we will definitely stake out our place on the street to enjoy the parade!! (I found this while reading about St. Patrick online.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Week Two is Through!

Whew! Week Two was a difficult one. It was no one's fault but my own though.

I decided to let the kids have some end-of-summer fun and we ended up doing school mostly in the evening and on the weekend. A trip to the fair, a visit to the bird refuge and botanical gardens, and a slumber party kept us really busy.

We still managed to get all of our work done - thankfully!!!

We studied Monks and Monasteries in history and had a lot of fun with that. Next week, we're on to the Rise of Islam.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Field Trip: Chena Lake

We spent the morning doing schoolwork and then went to a piano lesson.

I noticed how beautiful it was outside and thought I'd better take advantage of it.

It was sunny, but not especially warm (mid-50s). We decided to head to the lake for a picnic. It won't be too long before our weather turns too cold for trips to the lake - unless you're up for ice fishing!

School is back in session and the weather hasn't been very warm. We briefly saw two other people pass us on the beach. Other than that, we had the whole place to ourselves!!!

I made them run on the beach to get some PE. :)

Ellie found a dead dragonfly which she had to examine.

We were attacked by hungry geese.

They spent quite a while watching this little guy diving for something. He was cute.

They enjoyed playing with their shadows.
And wading in the water. Brrrrr.
And just hanging out with each other.
Then, we packed up and drove down past the river just to see the view.
What a nice afternoon. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Spotlight on Lexie

Lexie is our little mouse. We've always called her that, although I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe because she really likes cheese. :)

She is such a sweetheart and quite the ham. She always likes to make people laugh and to make silly faces for the camera.

She started piano lessons in March and has been steadily progressing since then. There are moments when she becomes frustrated - especially this past month when she started learning to play with both hands at once instead of back and forth. She is very musical though and really does enjoy it. I'm glad that she started young.

Here she is playing "Basketball Bounce". Before watching this, please disregard the fact that: 1. she has a lollipop hanging out of her mouth 2. she is wearing her big sister's sweatshirt and no pants 3. that Tori is in the crib right behind me and is trying to sing along. Enjoy!

Her reading is improving daily. She is amazing me with what she can just pick up and understand. She is way beyond the little 3 word phonics readers. This has made teaching her so much easier. She can actually read the directions on her worksheets!!! I just wish that her handwriting skills were up to par with her reading. We definitely need to work on that.

We are using First Language Lessons and she has memorized her first poem: The Caterpillar, by Christina G. Rosetti. Here is the serious version (although I don't know why she is swaying back and forth the entire time. She has ants in her pants.):

And here is the spastic version. I told you she was silly. She'll do just about anything for a laugh. :)

She is zipping through Horizons Math 1. She can count by 5s and 10s. She is adding single digit numbers with no problems. She just wishes that she got to do her math on the computer, like her sisters.

She is excited for AWANA and ballet to start again and is hoping to find a Daisy Girl Scout Troop. I can't believe how much she is growing up!!! She'll still always be my little mouse...


Wow, Andy has been gone for 48 weeks. That is a really long time.

He has missed so much this past year - and he's been so missed.

He wasn't here to put the Christmas tree up or to help me fill the stockings.

Or to ring in the New Year.

Or to celebrate the birthdays of our 5 children.

Or to take me out on Valentine's Day.

Or to take the girls to the Father-Daughter Ball.

Or to see our oldest off to camp.

Or to cook breakfast on Saturday mornings.

Or to collapse into bed with after a long day.

Or to hold my hand while we drive around town.

Or to do all of those husbandly honey-do handyman things around the house.

Or to see our baby learn to crawl and then walk.

Or to hibernate with when the weather got down to negative 40.

Or to watch Ellie in her play.

Or to help potty train our only son.

Or to read bedtime stories and tuck the kids in.

He's not going to believe how much the kids have changed since he was home for R&R in early January. He's seen pictures, but it's still going to blow him away.

The time is drawing nearer for him to come home. The fences outside of post are filling up with "Welcome Home" signs in preparation and I can tell that everyone is starting to get excited. It seems real now and I JUST CAN'T WAIT!!!!! :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Perfect Class for Kate

Yes, those would be Nick's feet. I have NO idea what he was doing. :) As you can see, he is not being held back by his broken collar bone. I took this with my iPhone, so I couldn't zoom in closer...

Today, Kate had her very first Tae Kwon Do class.

She happened to be the ONLY kid in the class (it won't be like that normally).

It was nice though, because she got tons of individual attention and the little ones weren't "in the way" while we were watching.

She was a bit shy and embarrassed that we were there looking on, but I can tell that this is going to be a great thing for Kate. It is perfect for her.

It is going to be a big boost to her confidence and help her with self-control. (She has a bit of a temper).

The coolest part, was that she got to kick a board in half at the end of class.

She was positively beaming and so proud of herself!! I was proud too.

From now on, I think that we will wait outside instead of sitting in the viewing area though.

That will make her feel more comfortable. She tends to think that we are judging her or that her sister is laughing at her. She is very sensitive and self-conscious like that.

We will go in when she is testing or if she invites us in to watch. Otherwise, I will let her have some time to herself.

Happy Back to School Day!!

Playground IV
Playground IV

Today is the first day of public school in our area.

This is a happy day for me. :)

We got hot fudge sundaes and hung out at the park for a while - and we were the only people there. I love doing things during the day, in the middle of the week and not having to deal with crowds.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Not Back-to-School Blog Hop: School Pictures

Here are the kiddos:

Ellie, Grade 5, Age 10

Kate, Grade 2, Age 7

Lexie, Grade K, Age 5

Nick, Grade PK, Age 3

Tori, Age 1

Head on over to Life With My 3 Boybarians and join in the Not Back to School Hop :)