Monday, November 30, 2009

Silly Me

I was silly to think that I could sit in the house with 5 sick kiddos without catching it.

The doctor called today and my culture was positive for strep throat too. It looks like we'll be making trip #4 to the pharmacy. If there wasn't at least an hour-long wait each time, it might not be so bad. I'll probably end up sending Andy again. Let's just hope that he doesn't come down with it too!!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Halls are Decked

We haven't taken the frozen pumpkins off the porch yet.

But we have officially decked the halls. The tree is decorated and the house smells wonderful. The Christmas music is playing on the radio and the stockings are put up.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Home for Thanksgiving
Home for Thanksgiving

I am thankful:

that my wonderful husband is here to spend Thanksgiving with us this year,

that even though the kiddos are sick, they aren't uncomfortable and we got our medicine BEFORE this long weekend started,

that this is my last dark and snowy Thanksgiving for quite some time,

for my precious children,

for a warm house,

that we have a long weekend, free of "events",

and that we get to "deck the halls" tomorrow!!! :)

I wish everybody a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Super Confusing

Three trips to the pharmacy and this is what we came back with. Quite the load, huh?

I actually had to break down and type up a word document with boxes to check off so that I can keep track of the kids medicine schedule. It is that confusing.

Tori started her meds on Monday and is taking Penicillin three times a day.

Ellie and Kate started theirs on Tuesday and are taking Acetaminophen twice a day.

Nick and Lexie started on Wednesday and are taking Erythromycin three times a day.

Yikes!! Let's hope that I can keep track of all of this for the next 10 days. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Strep it is

So, we went in for Tori's regular checkup on Friday and they noticed that her tonsils were a little swollen. She had also had a runny nose, but no fever or anything. They decided to take a throat culture just in case since there is a lot of gunk going around.

I got a call Monday morning. She tested positive for strep. The nurse was really nice and got us in this morning to check the other kiddos - since it is really contagious and it would be really crummy for all of them to show up with it on Thanksgiving weekend when the doctor's office is closed. Isn't that the way it usually goes??

I actually feel really lucky, because Kate, Lexie, and Nick all turned up positive also and they don't really have any symptoms -(other than some serious crankiness). I'm hopeful that the meds will kick in and get rid of it before they even feel bad. We're still waiting for Ellie's culture, but she had swollen red tonsils, so they gave her medicine too.

We've thrown out all of the toothbrushes and lysoled the house. I have declared tomorrow a day off of school and we will just hang out at home. Hopefully we can nip this thing in the bud!

Tori Update

I took Tori in for her 18 month checkup last Friday. She's up to 29 pounds now. I think she was in the 80th percentile for height and the 90-something for weight.

She's a big kid - but all of my kids are. I'm 5'11", so I don't think they have much of a chance at being petite.

This last growth spurt of hers has allowed her to reach places that I would rather she didn't. Not good!!! I really have to be careful now.

She has really turned into quite the little girl.

Thankfully, she has finally quit making the annoying, screeching noise. She used to do it whenever she wanted something - which was quite often.

And how did I finally get her to quit? Well, I can't take any credit for it. She has started speaking!! Now she doesn't need to make the noise - she can tell us what she wants!! It's so nice to be able to communicate with her.

Here are some of the words she says: Mommy, Daddy, baby, cup, all of the names of her siblings, NO, yes, eat, cracker, car, play, book, sit, chair, pants, diaper, shoes, socks, dog, and she pretty much repeats anything you say to her. Our little parrot. :)

She loves playing with her baby dolls. She feeds them and wraps them in blankets. She pushes them in the baby stroller. She gives them kisses and hugs and dances with them.

She also loves looking at her reflection. I caught her talking to the baby in the oven earlier today:
Life is getting easier. I am no longer pushing around the double stroller. Tori sleeps well and plays all morning long in the play room while we do school work. She is such an easy little kid!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Mongols, Genghis Khan, and Marco Polo

We spent this week in Mongolia - well at least in our studies. I don't know that I would really want to travel to Mongolia. It looks so desolate and I'm sure I'd starve to death. )

For a while, Ellie was sure that she wanted to become an archaeologist. She insisted that she was going to be the one who found Genghis Khan's tomb. She has since found different interests. :)

We didn't do any exciting projects this week, but we're gearing up to study China next and we have lots of exciting things planned: food to make, artwork, and some projects. It should be pretty fun!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tonight's Sunset

The sun is setting quite early now (it rose at 9:41 and set at 3:30 today). This time of year is so weird to me. I hate leaving the house before 5 and feeling like it's midnight outside. It makes my internal clock a bit confused.

Here are a couple of pictures of the sunset tonight from our deck:

And here is the ice forming on our windows.

Actually, it's forming on the saran wrap on our windows. It's not actually saran wrap, but it's the same concept. I know it's tacky, but it does help keep the cold out. I just hate the fact that it obstructs the view to the outside. Not only do we have very little daylight, but the light we do have is filtered through plastic. Everything looks a bit distorted.

Oh well, that is life in Alaska I suppose. :)

What a change in Nick

I really can't believe how much Nick has changed in the past few months. He has somehow morphed into quite the big boy preschooler.

Every morning as we start schoolwork, he asks if he can do school too. He wants to practice writing his letters and to draw pictures.

He loves to play on Jumpstart. He'll ask "Can I play on my Jumpee??" and then gets on the computer all by himself. He'd sit on there for hours if I would let him.

He has learned all of his letters, numbers, and colors. It is actually getting a tiny bit frustrating at night, because when I read him his bedtime stories, he insists on pointing out each letter and telling me what they are. It makes it take a little bit longer than normal, but I'm very excited for him and his newly acquired skills. :)

Speaking of bedtime, he is SOOOOO easy compared to how the girls were at this age. Seriously.

I don't know if it's because he's a boy or maybe because he's the 4th child.

He puts his PJs on and brushes his teeth by himself. I read him 2 stories and turn the light out and we don't hear from him again. Period. He falls asleep within minutes and never gets out of bed. It is amazing to me.

I have flashbacks of when Ellie and Kate were his age. I can't even believe how many hours I spent hanging onto one of their hands as they fell asleep - simply staring at the dark walls. Those were some long nights.

Then as they got older, we had to chase them back to bed 50 times before they fell asleep. Not fun.

We must have done something right this time. Live and learn I suppose. Your parenting style definitely changes a bit with each kid.

Anyway, Nick is very easy going, loves to be dropped off at the babysitter, and can sit for hours playing with a few little Lego pieces. He's such a great little boy!!! I sometimes wish he had a brother to play with, but I think we're probably done....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ideal School Day

I think that I am finally admitting to myself that there is no perfect school day. It's taken me long enough, don't you think?

Life is life and more often than not, our homeschool day is not perfect.

We get sick. We have errands to run. We go on leave in the middle of the year. We accidentally sleep in. We have to say "goodbye" to Daddy or welcome him home from a deployment. We have another baby. We move to another state. We have events or obligations to be at.

It is always something - and I'm okay with that.

Homeschooling gives us the freedom to do these things.

I'm not saying that there aren't days that I wish I could drop the kids off down the street at the public school.

Sometimes I think that it might be nice to have that much free time during the day, but the thoughts only lasts for a fleeting moment. And I realize that I'm not hoping for them to get a better education there, but only looking for a short break for me. A babysitter. :)

I'm not saying that I don't need a break sometimes. I'm sure that every homeschooling mom does. But the benefits outweigh the hardships and I'm content with the decision that we've made to keep the kids at home.


Here are some more pictures of the bush in my yard. I'm not very good at identifying plants, but I think that it is Mountain Ash. The berries are very bright red. It's nice to see some color in the yard when everything else is white. :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Winter is in full swing

Winter is in full swing here in Alaska.

Everything has a layer of snow on it.

The river is frozen over.

And it was below negative 20 degrees out when we drove to piano lessons this afternoon.

We have the humidifier running full blast to keep it from getting to dry in the house.

We now have to keep our lips covered in chapstick and our hands slathered in lotion.

Ice is forming on the outside of the windows.

And the days are getting shorter and shorter.

Just think, only 5 months until break-up. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

I ♥ Faces: Autumn Beauty

This week's theme at I ♥ Faces is Autumn Beauty.

I'm not exactly in the autumn mood right now. We're under snow and definitely into winter weather here in North Pole. It's supposed to get down to negative 35 tomorrow night. BRRRRR.

We had a pretty quick fall, which is normal for this area. This is my son, enjoying being buried in leaves :)

To join in the fun, head on over to I ♥ Faces!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Rambo

I think we need to work a bit on Lexie's spelling:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bird Artwork

Lexie's little bluebird:

Kate's little bird:

Ellie's bird art. I love her use of color!:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week Ten: Medieval Times

We are in the middle of studying the Middles Ages. :)

We had a medieval feast:
We didn't get too fancy with it. We made some stew and had some yummy bread. The kids thought that it was cool. :)

We built a castle:

Well, we started to build a castle.

I should rephrase that - my husband started to build a castle.

I was so silly and thought that we could simply open this kit and put it together within a few hours. That was not the case. At all. Unless you have a child that aspires to be a stonemason, then they might not enjoy this very much.

I'm sure that the actual building of the castle (which we will do in a couple of days) is fun.

The problem is that you have to make each itty bitty little brick. The kit comes with a mold to make the bricks. One small mold.

To make the castle pictured on the box, you have to make 22 batches of bricks.

And it takes a half hour for them to set up.

And you have to measure and mix the plaster each time.

Wow. My poor husband spent the bulk of Saturday making batches of bricks. Luckily, he was model builder and it didn't bug him too much. I would not have even attempted it without him, that's for sure.

So, my one question is why on earth didn't they include a larger mold for the bricks??? The kit was over $20 and all it included were some plastic knights, the brick mold, plaster mix, glue, and few little things (a door, brush, etc.) I think the box probably cost them more than the contents.

In case you didn't notice, I don't really recommend this kit. We will persevere and build something though. We don't have quite enough bricks for the castle shown on the box, but we will design our own. :)
We played Medieval Games on the Wii:

The kids have had fun jousting, shooting arrows, and racing horses - among other things. My husband and I even tried it out the other night. It has some annoying parts to it - like the fact that you have to have 4 players each round you play (which means you'll be playing against the computer quite often - and they are sharpshooters).

This next week we're talking about William Tell, and also Jewish people in the Middle Ages.

Family Photo

We tried getting a family photo this weekend. It didn't work out very well.... :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Randomness Again

I had every intention of blogging throughout this past week. It didn't happen though. Here is a quick recap of what we did:

1. I managed to turn in the first quarter's grades and work samples - an entire month early! I feel so much better now that it's done. For those of you who don't know, we homeschool through a local program. We receive money to spend on curriculum, supplies, and classes ($1800 for my oldest and $1600 each for my younger 2 daughters). In return, I have to turn in quarterly grades and work samples and the kids have to do state testing. I have been very happy with the program and have been able to put the kids in various classes (gymnastics, piano, ballet, TaeKwon-Do, etc. that I might not have otherwise been able to afford).

2. Andy returned to work this week. Nick had a hard time the first couple of days. When he woke up, he immediately asked where Daddy was. He was concerned that he had gone back to Iraq. I think we need to take him to Andy's office this week so that he can see where he goes every day. That should help him understand that he is just down the road. :)

3. As Andy headed to work, we headed back to school. It was a hard transition at first. When Andy was on leave, we were sleeping in quite late and the kids were just hanging out during the day. Waking up at 7 a.m. proved quite a shock. I find that we need to get up this early to get everything done though. We'll get used to it soon enough. Ellie has actually started getting up with Andy at 5:30 - crazy girl. :)

4. For some very strange reason, I scheduled a dentist appointment for the girls at 8:30 in the morning. What was I thinking?? Yes, we had been getting up at 7, but getting everyone dressed, fed, and out of the house by 7:45 was pushing it.

I realize that public schooled families do this every day, but I'm not sure how. I personally don't like to get completely dressed until I have to leave the house (which sometimes doesn't happen!).

So, we ended up doing schoolwork this afternoon - which I despise. If we don't get it done in the morning, then it's a chore. I have to remember to make all appointments in the afternoon from now on.

5. I have been spending a lot of my "free time" (what little of it I have) reading the manual to my new camera and trying to learn how to use it. I am kind of disappointed that the purchase of my camera has coincided with the recent change in weather/seasons. It's now in the teens outside and the ground is covered with snow. The days are getting darker and I no longer have many chances to do outdoor photography. There isn't much natural light indoors either, so I suppose I should learn some more about flash photography for the time being.

6. We sent out Christmas packages to Roza this week. I am beginning to think that they won't get there in time, but I'm sure that they will still be appreciated. We sent some picture books, a coloring book, stickers, a Christmas card, and postcards. I know that she won't be able to read the books, but I figured that she would appreciate the pictures.

7. Nick cracks me up. We were perusing the fall clearance aisle at JoAnn today and he spotted an Indiana Jones hat that he just HAD to have. He wore it all afternoon.

I'm going to try to get outside and take some pictures tomorrow - without kids so that I can take my time trying different settings. We are also going to attempt a family photo, because my remote control for the camera came in the mail. I want to get my Christmas cards ordered from by tomorrow evening so that I can get the free shipping!!!!

I will post later this weekend on our studies from this past week. We are learning about daily life in the middle ages. I sure wish that they had Renaissance Faires in Alaska.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Review: Startwrite

I have bright, intelligent children. They are ahead in many subjects.

One of the areas that they are definitely behind in is handwriting though.

I suppose it's my own fault. I have to admit that I don't particularly have the patience to stand and watch my 5 year old write her letters out one at a time. I tend to walk away and do something else. And they get sloppy and careless.

I have decided that we need to tackle this problem this next quarter. I have ordered a great program called Startwrite. I can make my own handwriting worksheets (in cursive, manuscript, or italic) and print them out as I need them.

The cool thing is that I can have them write what I want - poetry, their names, addresses, etc. as opposed to what is written in a generic workbook. You can even add clip art to make the pages pretty.

You also have the option to print dotted letters or letters with arrows telling which direction to write. I am hoping that this will help out a bit while I'm not looking over their shoulders.

I have already printed out a couple of practice pages and Kate was very excited to be my guinea pig and try it out. She has been begging to start learning cursive and so she devoured her first worksheet.

I think that this is going to be a great addition to our school day! They have a free trial, so check it out for yourself!