Sunday, September 25, 2011

Project 365: Daily Life

Sunday, September 18
The kids have done a lot of bed swapping lately. Sissy loves sleeping in the room with her "brudders" and thinks it's unfair that she's the only one who is alone in her room at night. And the boys switch weeks at times, sleeping on the top bunk. If it isn't a school (homeschool co-op) night for the boys, I'll let her sleep on the other end of the bottom bunk, so they're feet to feet. Well, this night I came to check on them, as I always do before I go to sleep. And this is how I found these two. I asked, "Are you going to sleep like this, next to each other?" She was sound asleep, and without even looking up from his DS, he simply stated, "I had to do this because she was scared." He sounded so matter-of-fact and grown-up. It was thundering outside; so sweet!

Monday, September 19
The boys were on a roll today, wanting to play outside. I think it had something to do with the fact they knew it was schoolwork day. I never want to dissuade them from spending time outside, though, and playing so creatively together. Dash made an obstacle course, including tying this hopping ball from the tree with my assistance.

And when I came out to check on them, they had been tracing each other's bodies, playing hopscotch, and writing rhyming words on the driveway.

Then they came in and got out the Play-Doh.

And then went straight to the train table. They did end up finishing their schoolwork eventually. I think I need to take Tornado's glasses in to get adjusted because they seem to always be at the end of his nose lately.

Tuesday, September 20
Sissy and I had about 45 minutes together before we had to pick up the boys from school. I suggested we make a little treat, and she could serve it to the boys as an surprise afterschool snack. It was a version of strawberry shortcake that I'd seen on my friend's blog. I told her to come to the computer, and I'd show her a picture. She said, "If you show me that, I would faint." I thought that was so funny because maybe I've never even heard her use the word "faint." So then many minutes later, I ended up showing her the delicious-looking picture on the computer screen. And I looked back, and this is what she was doing. She apparently "fainted." I laughed so hard.

Wednesday, September 21
Oh, how Sissy loves preschool. You can see her delight whenever she's with her friends. Today, she had her first field trip.

The boys and I went with her. It was the first full day of the county fair, and the class is doing a unit on Farm Animals. So we all loaded up to view the animals being shown at the fair, as well as all of the booths and crafts inside the exhibit center.

A barn full of animals. I haven't had morning sickness in several months, and when the kids were complaining about the smell I kind of dismissed it, thinking it wasn't so bad. Then, all of the sudden it hit me when I caught a glance of a particular pile of chicken poo. And I had to walk off to the edge of the building to get a breath of fresh air and concentrate away my feeling of wanting to dry heave.

Thursday, September 22
Happy 59th birthday, Dad! Carrot-Raisin-Banana-Flax-Applesauce Muffins with orange glaze on the special birthday muffin.

Friday, September 23
Yay! Sissy finally got to take the Fish Bag home. We already knew about the Fish Bag because Dash had the same teacher and class when he was in K-4. The kids take turns bringing the velcroed-shut pillow case home and returning the next day with a show and tell item. The kid gives clues to see if everyone can guess what's in the bag. AND, he or she gets to be line leader that day.

Every day, Sissy would come home telling me who got the Fish Bag, trying to conceal her disappointment in not being the chosen one. BECAUSE, as she always reminds me, "We don't say, 'Ohh! I wanted the Fish Bag!'" She adds, "We say, 'Yay, Madison!' (or whoever)." (Oh, how I love what she is learning at school.) She decided to bring her new Minnie Mouse dress she bought at the Disney Store in Dallas.

The boys were begging me to take this picture, even though it's a little blurry from being taken through the window. They get especially excited every time they see a bird (behind the bottle) eating from the bird feeder Tornado made for extra credit in his science class.

After the boys got out of the bathtub, Dash rubbed his hair with a towel to dry it off. Tornado said, "You look like a scientist!" He was thinking of Albert Einstein, which I thought was funny.

Saturday, September 24
Dash had his first soccer game for the season today. That's him in the green. Their team is pretty good! They've moved up to 4 on 4 this year. He was also happy that one of his former teammates ended up on his team again.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Elementary Round-up/Preschool Corner/Weekly Wrap-up/It's Playtime!

Last week, the kids and I were fortunate enough to join my husband on his business trip in Dallas. We knew he would be very busy with work, but we planned on relaxing in the hotel with our schoolwork and finding great restaurants and museums to visit all week.

The thing I don't like about Dallas is the traffic. I mean, truly, I think I prefer driving in L.A. and NYC. We did venture off to a few great vegetarian restaurants (here's one), but we ended up spending a lot of our time right next door to our hotel - at the Grapevine Mills Mall, just because it was easier.

We had never been here, and in fact, we RARELY go to malls period. We rarely go shopping at all, so it was pretty fun. I remembered why I rarely go to malls; I strive to be as unmaterialistic as possible, but I become intoxicated by all of the clothes, etc., especially at the children's stores. Tornado found a rolling backpack for only $8 at Gap; (and I had almost spent $60 on one the other day!) he really needed one for all of his heavy books and folders at our home school co-op. And of course, Sissy found some cute clothes. Unborn Baby Junior also scored a few cute hats and outfits.

So this was sort of my goal going into the mall: take our time and just have fun. That seems like common sense enough. But I feel like I'm always rushing the kids, always on our way from Point A to Point B. And I don't generally like to spend money on certain things. However, I decided that since this was our mini-vacation, I would let the kids go into any store they wanted and take part in any activity they wanted.

First up was Euro Bobbles, one of the many activities in the center aisle of the mall. My 6 year old wanted to do this. For $7 (which gets you 3 minutes), you crawl into a big, deflated ball which is then inflated.

And you get to roll around in a big pool of water, try to walk, etc. Well, Dash was in there for about one minute before he panicked to get out. (You couldn't hear him, just see his wide eyes and mouth moving, "Let me out!" He said he couldn't breathe (and I think it was just hard to maneuver), even though there is plenty of air in there.

The lady got him out and let my 4 year old daughter use up the remaining time.

She was giggly and had more fun in there than he did. I don't blame him, though. I would have been claustrophobic, too.

There was a Hurricane-Simulator booth, and I excitedly asked Tornado (my storm-obsessed child) if he wanted to get in it. This was his immediate reaction (above). He was clutching his throat with one hand and covering his face with the other. Sheer panic and terror. I've had to explain to people before that even though he loves watching storm videos, reading about storms, talking about them - he does NOT enjoy being IN them. He did not want to go in; the other two wanted to go in, but they wouldn't do it unless their big brother was in their to protect them. So we moved on to the next thing.

See - really; it's the little things that are the most fun to them. We stood here as long as they wanted while I fed them penny after penny to release in the charity funnel.

My 6 year old actually did this activity the next day on our return visit. He really wanted to do it, but this also ended up really scaring him (although I think he would say overall it was fun). He's such an adventurous kid, always up to something, but when it comes down to it, he's all talk. He gets so nervous and hesitant, and he inherited my self-consciousness. The harness/trampoline takes you pretty high into the air.

One of the great things at this mall is the LEGOLAND Discovery Center (one of many locations in the U.S. and overseas). We went back the next day for our visit here. I had wanted to peek in (our first day) and make sure it was something we even wanted to do (since it is pricey - around $17/adult & $13/child IF you buy them online; they're more at the door).

Well, one peek inside was all it took to convince my kids. Tornado, in particular, couldn't wait to go to sleep the night before because he knew the quicker he went to sleep, the sooner we would start our day at LEGOLAND. I love that innocent kind of wonder.

I had read a few reviews on Trip Advisor, etc. that said a visit here was not worth the money. For us, I thought it was. I think they really make it seem kind of spectacular for the kids. After you pay, you wait for your "tour" to start. You can play with Legos outside the door as it counts down time, then the door opens, and you are greeted by Professor Brick-a-Brack. It's not an actual factory, of course - but this pretend version of one which is used to explain the process in which Legos are made. My kids liked this.

At the end of the talk, they make it seem like special Legos come out of the machine especially for this group of kids. They each get a wrapped, souvenir-logo Lego to take home.

Then they are immediately ushered into the first ride (which you could skip if you wanted to). They also liked this. It's a laser shooting type ride in which you earn points from hitting the targets. This is the thing I don't like about the whole Lego world; there are some scary Lego figures, which we don't own, like ghoulish ones and skeleton-faced ones - and ones with scary weapons. I just don't like that stuff, and I think it's unnecessary for kids. There was that sort of thing on this ride (including the fact that you're essentially shooting the bad guys), so skip this ride if you don't like that.

The main draw for my kids was the multi-level play area. (Tornado: top right corner)

I was worried that my 11 year old would be too tall to enter. I asked them the day before if he'd be too tall, but the guys were sort of like, "Eh, it's fine; it's really that we just don't want rambunctious teenagers mixed in with the little kids." He made the 4'9" cut, regardless, but it was close.

One great thing about LEGOLAND for my waddly pregnant self was the ability to sit for long periods and watch the kids play. (The whole place is designed with the perfect mixture of parent/child interaction and solo child play.) They stayed at this roll-y slide for quite awhile. If you look closely, you can see that Sissy's pants accidentally came down a time or two when Dash playfully grabbed at her. To tell me about it, he whispered through the net, "I have to tell you a secret, and it's REALLY EMBARRASSING!"

There is another ride (that just goes around and around, but you can also make it go up and down by pedaling). It totally made me nauseous, even though the lady assured me that it wouldn't. And I'm sure it was quite a sight to see a large pregnant woman, trying with all her might, to pedal her car up into the air. (I rode with Sissy, and they got an employee to ride with Dash since kids can't ride alone.)

One big room (Mini-Land) is filled with miniature Lego cities (including Dallas, even the Dallas ranch) and towns. The lights in the buildings even come on as the overhead lights dim occasionally.

There is also a theater (the size of an actual small movie theater) inside the discovery center. There are three 15 minute 4-D movies. We ended up watching two of them, back to back. The kids thought they were cute. It's very interactive; they even spray a fine mist (you don't really get wet) of water across the crowd when the 4-D water seems to be coming out at you.

There are many Lego stations where the kids can create,

a big, slide play area,

and EVEN...a Princess Palace,

complete with karaoke. My princess wasted no time getting up on stage.

There are bins where you can create your own Lego cars,

and different ramps where you can race them against each other.

throwing coins in the crocodile's (alligator's?) mouth outside the Rainforest Cafe gift shop

My big surprise for the kids was lunch at Rainforest Cafe, which is also inside the mall. They were super excited when they'd seen the signs the day before. (They knew about Rainforest Cafe from television commercials and always declared they wanted to go there.)

It was hard to get pictures inside the cafe because it is so dark. The lighting actually changes, including light and sound changes for storms while you are dining. It really is decorated amazingly with huge fish tanks and large, life-like animals that really move and make noises.

There were a couple of vegetarian options on the menu for the kids. The great thing was that we were able to play at LEGOLAND for about an hour and a half, get our hands stamped, eat lunch, then return for another hour to play.

I promised the kids (with good behavior) they could pick out something in the gift shop. The boys each chose a $3 "mystery" pack. They've gotten these before, and we think they're pretty fun. You don't know what miniature Lego character you're going to get. They also got to create their own Lego characters to take home. They chose the faces, hair or hat, shirt, and legs.

Then, they got to put them in these empty packages to be rung up and purchased. I thought this was a fun idea.

Back at the Hotel
I've said it before: some of my favorite moments in life are the ones when I see my kids cuddling up together without any prompting from me. This was first thing in the morning, and although they hadn't all three slept together, somehow they all ended up like this while they were trying to wake up.

Life in General This Week
This week has been a crazy mass of preschool, homeschool co-op, soccer, ballet, Awanas, piano lessons, 2 field trips, and grocery shopping. All weeks of my life are busy naturally, but THIS WEEK...somehow from Tuesday upon waking until...well...right now, I haven't stopped. Ryan keeps laughing at me (good-naturedly, of course) because I have only been able to "hobble" the past two days - I've run myself down so much, my back and legs are aching. I was so tired, I slept through my alarm (on my phone) twice, making us rush to get ready for our morning obligations.

Fun Friday Night and Upcoming Plans
Tonight was a really sweet night which included a dance party and watching parts of old videos (some I don't think I've ever watched back) of the boys when they were little and chubby-faced. I totally cried (especially listening to my 11 year old babbling before he could even talk!), and it made me additionally excited about having another baby. My goal in the upcoming month is to get all of our videos transferred to DVD, with extra copies for the safety deposit box.

Linkin' up:
Elementary Round-Up, hosted by Granola Mom 4 God
Weekly Wrap-Up, hosted by Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
It's Playtime!, hosted by hands on: as we grow, The Imagination Tree, Messy Kids, Quirky Momma, and Let the Children Play
Preschool Corner, hosted by Homeschool Creations

weekly wrap-upGranola Mom 4 God

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-Up Journal

As usual, my "weekly" wrap-up has evolved into a past-three weeks' wrap-up. Here is a little of what has been going on:

In my life this week:
One event we attended this week was an eco-fest in our town. We attended last year, and it seemed to have grown. We didn't even have time to go around to all of the booths and activities. Here are a few photos from the event:
Kids were able to decorate their own kites made from paper, sticks, and tape.

Dash LOVED this. He flew this around outside at home, too, every chance he got - until the kite was literally in shreds and wouldn't fly anymore.

Sissy - I loved her innocent giggles as she ran around, flying her kite.

Tornado liked reading the interactive signs along the path.

Tornado (left) and Sissy (right) made (with help) rag dolls at one booth.

They also made cloth flower pins with fabric scraps.

Here are their creations (top left: Dash, then Sissy's and Tornado's). Each piece was hot glued together, and there is a pin hotglued on the backing, made of a denim scrap.

We were so happy that a health food store had a booth with snacks for sale. The kids actually got to each pick out a ...gasp...natural soda!

The cardboard box maze was once again a hit with the kids. It was the main reason they were looking forward to attending eco-fest, in hopes there would be one.

In our homeschool this week:
A few "homeschooling" photos I captured the past few weeks:
Tornado, cuddled up with Daddy on the couch, working on his Flying Creatures science curriculum. I really, really love working with him on his American history homework because it's so interesting to learn about/remember things I once learned about. Science sometimes hurts my brain, though, so I occasionally pass this off to my scientifically minded husband.

Dash really loves science. We are working through the Abeka Science 1 book together, which includes hands-on activities and experiments with almost every lesson. Here he had to create a ramp.

And a lever.

Some of my 6 year old's workbox activities this week:
To break up all of the schoolwork, I'll often include an assignment like "Watch an episode of Wild Kratts (which he loves), then write a journal entry about something you learned." I write it, then he copies it.

We played a Diego 123 Game together. And he worked on his piano lessons.

After he finished his Sight Words workbook, I tested him on all of the words. I've traced with stencils any he couldn't read AND spell, and he'll be working on activities to help him master these words. (Every few days to a week, depending how long it takes, I give him 4 or 5 words with different activities I've made up.) Here, he had to cover the letters with dried garbanzo beans.

The next day, he colored in each word.

Places we're going and people we're seeing:
*Ryan's parents came to visit one weekend.

*My 4 year old and 6 year old started Awanas last week (on Wednesday nights). My 6 year old thinks it is "Iguanas." I've corrected him a few times, but it's so funny and cute I don't try too hard. We really wanted our 11 year old to attend, as well. I registered him. But he walked in, took one look at it, became overwhelmed with all of the kids and noise, and wanted no part of it. It wasn't an ideal scenario for him. Anyway, the two little ones had a great time, were super excited to see some of their friends, and are doing a great job with their scripture memorization.

*We've been in Dallas since Tuesday, so we brought our schoolwork with us. Ryan had to be here on business. He has had a lot of business trips this year, and we hate it when our family is apart. So this time, we joined him! I'll write about our trip next week.

My favorite thing this week was:
My kids have just been really funny this week. And sweet. We've laughed a lot. And I've obviously enjoyed not having any dishes to wash, meals to prepare, etc. while we're on our trip.

Things I'm working on:
Budget! We've got some "ideas" in the works for our lives, and we need to figure out how to afford them. I ordered several bulk food items off Amazon Subscribe & Save last week. The prices are much better than what I pay in the store. I am trying to research the most practical order to place with Azure and Country Life Natural Foods next time around.

I'm grateful for(#381- 389 on my Gratitude List): all of the sweet well wishes we've received from our family and friends for our baby due in January, time off this week in Texas, free hotel!, those who took over my teaching duties this week so I could have a day off, Spiral Diner, Cafe Bliss, Whole Foods, and cell phones. I'm also relieved when my 4 year old who until now knew NO letters or even cared to know them came up to me this morning and said, "X is for x-ray! And R is for Remi!" - and then later..."A, A apple." There's hope!

Questions/thoughts I have: Unfortunately and of Ryan's grandfathers (his Dad's father) died yesterday. He has been in poor health for a long time. I feel worried for Ryan as he is so immersed in his business obligations this week, and now he has this to think about. His shoulders were sagging last night...He has an important job to do overnight Friday-Saturday here in Texas...then has to figure out how to get from Dallas to Arkansas to Illinois by Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Or go straight from Texas? When to buy something to wear to the funeral? Do we all go? Pay almost $2,000 in airfare? Or drive 6 hours home (after Ryan being up all night working), pick up our dogs, re-pack, then drive another 7-8 hours late to be there in time for the funeral. We know it is a privilege to take a moment out of our otherwise unimportant activities to say good-bye to a very important person...Ryan just has a lot to think about, regarding what is the best way to go about that.

Photo to share:

One homeschooling activity the younger two kids really enjoy is homeschooling martial arts, which is twice a month. They go around the house all of the time, doing their little jabs and kicks, saying, "Key-yu!" (or however you spell it). What I love about martial arts is the respect that the kids are taught. Grandmaster Han is a Christian and operates his academies accordingly. A few of the training principles the kids are taught to repeat include: be polite, be patient, be alert, be brave, do your best, and respect yourself and others. And they insist that "ma'am" and "sir" be used!