Saturday, April 30, 2011

Project 365: Tornado's Triumph

(I skipped April 29, but I will get back to that when I have more time. I wanted to post these pictures today, though, for those who weren't able to be there.)

Saturday, April 30

This is the weekend for our big town festival. (It's called Toad Suck Daze!) Tornado brought a note home awhile back, saying he'd qualified for the Crawl, Drag, & Squirt competition put on by the fire department. (There is a preliminary round at the different elementary schools in town to see who will compete in the finals at Toad Suck.) He seemed proud that he'd gotten this letter with "Congratulations!" included in it. I was surprised this was something he wanted to participate in - physical competitions are usually a nightmare for him - but I was glad and encouraging.

When they first called his name, he happily put on the fireman coat and took his place. When the fireman ran out to the starting point with him, Tornado...kept on running back through the crowd, returning to the tent, and burying himself behind a trunk. Yeah, buddy, if I wasn't so concerned with appearances, that's probably what I'd do, too, when faced with standing in front of a crowd!

However, he declared he DID want to do it, (This is a common conflict within my 10 year old son; he often WANTS to do something - it's just really difficult for him to go through with it.) so he went back out there and gave it another shot...

...with a big smile on his face the whole time.

He did great! "Firefighter training" tasks included crawling through the tunnel, dragging a dummy to safety, running around fire hydrants, hammering a moveable weight and spraying the fire hose at a target. (What kid wouldn't want to spray a fire hose?)

nearing the finish line

How great for my son to experience success with a crowd of cheering people and high-fives from firemen.

This was a day of TRIUMPH for my son. He overcame a fear. And he felt good about himself.

All of the kids who qualified for today's race earned a medal, but there were only a certain number of trophies given out.

I had told Tornado not to expect a trophy because only some of the kids were going to get one. He was sooo excited when they called his name. And going up there to accept his trophy was another triumph. (Loud, overstimulating situations aren't always easy for him, and there have been plenty of times he has declined an honor or privilege because it became overwhelming to him.)

I think he warmed the hearts of a few of the firemen who gave him high-fives again after he got his trophy. One remarked, "That smile!" The firefighters and volunteers were sooo kind and patient and fun. We love that they do this for the kids.

Congratulating Big Brother...later tonight, out of the blue, Sissy remarked to me (alone) something like, "I'm proud of (him) for running the race and getting a trophy."

We ARE proud of you, Big Guy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Project 365: Storms & a Royal Wedding

Monday, April 25
I couldn't capture all of the weather craziness on camera. The kids and I sat in the under-the-stairs closet for a bit, thanking the Lord when Daddy made it home safely. Our home and trees remained unscathed. Our neighboring town, Vilonia, sadly didn't fare as well.

Tuesday, April 26
My sweet hubby, washing dishes before bed. As I lounged on the couch. I'm kidding.

Wednesday, April 27
Tornado and I went to Little Rock in the afternoon to run some errands. We also stopped by the library where I checked out England/Great Britain books, and he got a stack of Disney (and a Cars) comic books.

Thursday, April 28
Who else is excited about the wedding?! We're all set for our early morning breakfast/viewing party! (It's not too late for you to make custom Will & Kate plates of your own...)

Garden Challenge Part Two

Garden Challenge Part Two
(For my first Garden Challenge post, go here.)

These are the four garden books we found at the library today. They all look really cute. And not only do they have beautiful illustrations with sweet stories, there are learning elements in each book, as well.

Last time, I wrote about how the kids painted pots and planted grass (or chives - their choice) seeds. Sissy's turned out really cute. (They boys' suffered at the hands of all the recent bad storms. They got dumped over, and we are replanting.)

The pan we filled with dirt and grass seeds also proved to be a worthwhile project.

I think the kids play with it every day (especially my 6 year old son). The grass grew really thick, and it's holding up pretty well to all of their cars and animals clomping through it.

One really fun surprise were these two pots which burst forth with flowers unexpectedly. They still had the dirt in them from last summer. I didn't realize they had contained perennials, so this was such a little gift.

Our veggies are growing - even our "mystery vegetable" which somehow went unlabeled. Here are a few of them.

All of the rain has been a blessing, and there is obvious growth in our garden. However, in other areas it has been a detriment. Many of the seeds we planted directly into the ground are sprouting up, but some areas really washed out. A lesson in gardening and farming.

The kids are going to be helping me replant some seeds, weed, deadhead flowers, and plant some Easter Lilies my dad dug up for us.

Speaking of plants, my parents gifted me with two beautiful plants on Easter. My dad planted these Hen and Chicks in this cool pot. I love it.

He also planted these Calla Lilies in a very cute bird pot. Thanks, Dad!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ireland Studies

We began our Ireland unit around St. Patrick's Day. I wrote about the books we've used and Irish related activities we did during that time here. We still had a few activities left to wrap up our unit, which we finished this week. One thing we did was watch a few videos on youtube, etc. about Ireland. We also watched a few Irish jigs on youtube and practiced doing it ourselves. We may have even gotten Daddy involved. But, sadly, I don't have any photos to prove it.

For our St. Patrick's Day meal, we had eaten GREEN foods. So for this family fun night, we ate an IRISH meal, which consisted of Corned "Beef" (actually seitan) & Cabbage, Potato Soup, Apple Mash, and Irish Soda Bread (so easy!). I wrote about our meal on my food blog. For table decorations, I found Irish flags online, printed them, cut them out, and scattered them around.

I managed to come up with five different green ribbons around the house. I told them I was using different shades of green to remind them that Ireland is a country known to have "40 shades of green." (I also want to do an art project with every shade of green crayon I can find.)

Two of the books we read recently, Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka & Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato (both by Tomie dePaolo) were the inspiration for our potato activities:

In Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato, the townsfolk grow sick of eating potatoes after awhile.

Here are just a few of the ways we've eaten potatoes lately, in honor of Jamie O'Rourke: potato soup, Apple Potato Mash, french fries, and fried potatoes. We've also eaten tater tots and roasted potatoes & roasted sweet potatoes.

I got out the Mr. Potato Heads for the kids to play with. And then they made Potato Head puppets. I cut out a potato head shape from a brown paper bag. Some of their facial features and accessories were drawn & cut out by them, and I helped on some of them, like the hands. My 10 year old (not surprisingly) wanted to go in his own direction by making a "Spider-Man Potato Head." :)

notebooking pages from Enchanted Learning and Activity Village

Monday, April 25, 2011

We Eat Dinner in the Bathtub

We had gotten away from doing Friday Night Mystery nights this winter, but we recently started them back up again. This is Friday Night Mystery night: Ryan and I plan an activity for our family. It doesn't have to be big; the kids are truly excited no matter what it is because of the "mystery" element. (Two recent mystery nights: a movie and a Parents' Night Out for the kids at a local play area.)

I give them a few hints earlier in the day, and they try to guess but don't find out until that evening. These were the hints for this particular evening: 1) It's something small. 2) We're not going anywhere. 3) It involves food. 4) It's not a "craft." (I said that because one of them guessed that's what we were doing. I usually answer a question or two if it doesn't give it away.)

The Book
Easy Read (This is a Level 2 Hello Reader.) books aren't generally riveting, but we love this book! It is so clever and humorous, and it's always great when Mom enjoys reading the book as much as the kids enjoy listening. It's the story of a boy who invites his friend over for dinner. It comes out that his family eats dinner in the bathtub. And that's because they sleep in the dining room...and that's because they cook in the bedroom, and so on.

These are the last few pages of the book, when Josh tells Harris (whose family eats in the bathtub) his family eats in the dining room:
I love, love the ironic ending - the boy who eats in the bathtub telling his friend that he's different. Great little lesson there, eh?

Friday Night Mystery Night
I made homemade pizza for the kids, but before we ate, we sat on the couch to read the book together. One of them guessed, "We're eating dinner in the bathtub?!" Which resulted in squeals and giggles all around.

I even cleaned the bathroom for the occasion! They enjoyed their pizza and smoothies (and even had me bring up dessert so that could be eaten in the bathtub, too. (Mom sat on the closed toilet seat while she ate her dinner.) Clean-up was a breeze! I just swiped out some crumbs with a piece of toilet paper, then gave the tub a little spray of water - done!

Look for the buttons to these great sites on my side bar.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Project 365: Easter Sunday

Sunday, April 24
Happy Easter, everyone! Much love sent to you from thousand oaks!

Project 365: Monkey Brain Shakes

Saturday, April 23
This morning Dash had a soccer game. We spent a relaxing day at the house, puttering around and completing a few chores here and there. This afternoon, I took Sissy and Tornado to Little Rock for a Whole Foods trip. Dash missed out because he was throwing rocks around his brother and sister for the second time of the day. (He was warned, then he lost the privilege of going with Mommy. We're making sure he knows how serious we are about him being careful around his siblings - especially after the Sissy/black eye incident.) Sissy and Tornado shared a cookie with a free coupon I had. They also filled their boxes from the salad bar for the drive home and ordered Monkey Brain milkshakes. These consist of soymilk, bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate syrup.

I stayed up later than normal tonight, cleaning the kitchen, filling Easter baskets, baking Easter muffins, and chopping vegetables for tomorrow's meal.

We had to put our car back in the shop this week since they were unable to get the air conditioning to work last week. But finally, we got it back, and it feels amazing to go places now without sweating. Once when we were borrowing my parents' car, I had the windows down, feeling miserable and once again reminded of why I really don't want to be Amish (no matter how much I think I do at times) - it dawned on me, what am I doing? I forgot we're in my parents' car; we have air conditioning!

This might be a good time to add something to my Gratitude List, which I haven't done in awhile: #362 - cars, #363 - my parents' willingness to loan me their car in a time of need, #364 - car air conditioning, #365 - Monkey Brain Shakes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Project 365: girl trip to St. Louis and Sissy's first big boo-boo

Saturday, April 16
After Dash's (super chilly!!!) soccer game this morning, Sissy and I packed our bags (seriously, I didn't pack until right before we walked out the door) and drove to St. Louis. We were very excited to see Cary, Andy, Rush, Puddy, Winnie (and her windsock she made at preschool).

Just a funny little quote from Sissy when we were about to leave our house, "Does Cary have a trashcan?" She had a piece of paper in her hand. "Yeeees, why?" She giggled, "So I can throw something away."

Sunday, April 17
The girls were all matching and fancy during our morning lunch at Rooster and visit to a downtown bookstore.

Sissy isn't wearing her matching necklace, anymore, because Rush kept wanting to wear it. I wrote more about our trip, including all of the food we ate, on my other blog. I'm going to make another post about our fun afternoon at the princess tea party.

Monday, April 18
Today, we met up with Cary's neighbors for a fun morning at Lafayette Park, which is a really neat place to go. They fed the birds, played at the playground area, danced, and ran around.

After lunch, we packed up and headed home. We had a great time and didn't want to leave! Sissy said she wanted to move in with Winnie. It was a really hot day. I picked the wrong time to leave (my naptime, ha!). Sissy fell right to sleep, which I wished I could have done. And get this: I still don't have airconditioning in my car. It was WAAAARM. The flashing lights woke me up, though, as I was pulled over for "potentially driving too fast." I didn't get a ticket, though, because he didn't really know how fast I was driving. (It was too fast.)

Tuesday, April 19
Right before bedtime, I said to Ryan, "Oh, I forgot to take a picture today. Looks like it's going to have to be of you!" He didn't agree, so I took a picture of the dogs' nightly, growly, wrestling play.

Wednesday, April 20
Sissy's eye accidentally met with the 18 inch wooden bat held in the hand of her 6 year old brother. After-hours medical exchange was called.

Thursday, April 21

Friday, April 22
It just keeps getting worse. My sweet little girl.