Sunday, November 18, 2012

The day my kids became football fans

My kids have picked their teams and have decided they are now football fanatics.  How do 2 six-year-olds and an almost-four-year-old make football picks, you ask?  It goes a little something like this...

While watching the Eagles game, the half time report gave the rundown of the day's games so far.  The kids sat by watching the report and for each team pictured, they gleefully played their own little game guessing what the names of the teams were and who would, consequently, win based on their guesses.  The conversation led down the following lines of logic:

Hannah: "Ooh, it's the birds against the bigger birds!" (Translation: Cardinals versus Falcons)
Sarah: "Oh yeah, and there's the Tigers!"
Momma: "The Bengals"
Hannah: "Oooh Bagels!  I love Bagels!  I'm voting for them to win!"
Caleb (with Random Loud Interjection): "I'M STILL VOTING FOR THE BLACKSKINS!"
Momma and Daddy: "IT'S REDSKINS!"
Caleb:  "Yeah, them"
Sarah: "So then there's the Redskins and Eagles..."
Hannah: "Oh and there's the Cheetas!"
Momma: "The Jaguars"
Caleb: "Ooh, nevermind, I want the Cheese-its to win!"
Sarah (in overly bossy know-it-all voice): "It's Cheetas, not Cheese-its"
Momma: "JAGUARS.  They're Jaguars."
Hannah: "Ok, so Caleb's for the Cheese-its, I'm for the Bagels, and Sarah's for the Eagles"
And so it was settled.  Caleb's a Jaguars Fan, Hannah's a Bengels Fan, and Sarah is the only one who may still live under our roof after today, according to Ryan.  Only room for Eagles fans here :). 

Then again, I suppose if there was a "Mocha Java" team, that one'd be mine and I would "vote" for them :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

We went to Disney World!!

Well, the title just about says it all... last week we spent 7 whirlwind days in Buena Vista, FL at Disneyworld.  What an awesome, and draining adventure.  I won't deign to call it a vacation because you really can't call anything a vacation that involves 7 days of sleep deprivation and 7-10 mile hikes a day while someone shouts, "The show starts in 10 minutes and we have to get to the other side of the park... MOVE IT!" (p.s. that voice was usually mine, lol).  And despite the fact that I spent the week beforehand sanitizing my children head to toe, avoiding social contact, and making sure my children licked NOTHING, every one of the children ended up sick with whopper colds, as well as 3 out of 4 of the adults by the end of the trip.  I must say, though, God was gracious and answered our prayers for help because every day, magically, by 9 a.m. their cold symptoms lessened significantly and we were all able to enjoy each day's events as they presented themselves.  Therefore, I apologize now to all those in Florida who are now sick at our expense as we spread our germs over several square miles with speed and efficiency.  I especially loved the moment when Caleb licked a handrail from top to bottom for a full 20 feet of germy-goodness.  I'm also quite certain that at this particular moment our bodies are trying to generate antibodies for a whole smattering of illnesses from all over the world.  Sigh.  Alas, it was totally worth it. 

Disney is magic.  It was when I was 4, and it still is.  Starting with the hotel, which was exceptionally wonderful.  We opted to stay in the park, which gave us access to the excellent bus system and allowed us to enjoy Extra Magic Hours (EMH) in the parks (each day of the week a different park either opens early or extra late for those staying in the park hotels).  I know most travel guides say avoid going to parks for EMH's; however, this time of year the parks were sufficiently empty so as to make even the largest crowds a breeze, but I digress...
We stayed at the All Star Music Resort, a very budget-friendly option, and let me tell you, I was worried about what I would find after reading some bad (older) reviews.  But now, what's this?  A completely clean, tastefully decorated suite, complete with kitchenette, 3 pull out beds for the kids, and a SEPARATE BEDROOM for the adults??  Yep, that's right.  Ryan and I were given a magical door which shut out the children and allowed for privacy and the ability to sit up and relax after the kids went down rather than having (as I did in past hotel stays) to huddle in the restroom with the light on, reading a book, while Ryan goes out for a beer wherever until 10ish when we hit the sack.  This room was a complete blessing for our family and for my personal sanity.  I might also mention the pool was very nice and the cafeteria offered a really nice selection of options, albeit marked up to ridiculous prices (as with all Disney food... picture shelling out $10.50 for three modest Popsicles). 

Which brings me to the food.  Ryan and I are foodies, so a good chunk of our Disney budget was spent on  food.  We opted not to try the dining plan, as Internet research seemed to indicate we probably wouldn't save that much, if anything, with a plan.  The receipts will tell in time, but we haven't touched that yet.  Our fave meals: the buffet at Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge (South African Fare... everyone in our party of 13 seemed to really enjoy it), the Biergarten in Epcot (excellent German buffet with a fun show to boot), and dinner for two outside the main resort area in the Dolphin Hotel at Bluezoo, which offered absolutely fabulous gourmet fare for a very hefty price tag (totally worth it!).  We carried our own snacks in the park (granola and almonds) and carried refillable water bottles to save a bit of $$ on snacking and drinks, and ate breakfast in our room after a quick trip to the (also grossly overpriced) local Winn Dixie for groceries.  For the kids meals in the park, I would give a grade of "B".  Offerings were typically the same junk-foody menus of pizza, hot dogs, burgers, and PB & J; however, I was pleasantly surprised to see that instead of fries and chips, kids were given many options, including veggies (usually carrot sticks), grapes, yogurt (granted, the crazy-sugary kind), etc.  And at the sit down restaurants, they offered some variations on the theme for kids, allowing for the occasional nutrient to reach my childrens' gut.  Admittedly, our food choices did not help as the germs completed their tour-de-force through our family's systems, I know.  But again, a huge chunk of our vacation was planned around the food. And I will say, their care for allergy and food sensitivities was AMAZING.  If your child has a food allergy, a chef will personally lead you thru the menu or walk you thru the buffet, and many places offer excellent choices for the gluten-free/dairy free kid.  A friend of mine noted that her son had his first chicken fingers in Disney, with the reaction of "What is this magical stuff you gave me, Mommy?" since he had never been able to have a chicken strip before that due to severe Celiac's Disease.  The kids fave meals: T-Rex in Downtown Disney (the most awesome setting full of robotic dinosaurs in every corner), and the Rainforest Cafe, in Animal Kingdom.  We also attended the luau at the Polynesian Resort... and while the show was really exceptional, I would not say the food lived up to the ridiculous price tag (over $300 for our party of 7 for uninspired bbq ribs, bbq chicken, fried rice, and pinapple flavored everything).

And then there were the parks.  Oh, there just isn't enough time or words to describe all the fun and magic.  My first suggestion: if you have the ability, please go in off-peak season.  I scoured the Internet for planning tips to make park planning simpler, since every blog I read seemed to agree that there are certain strategies needed in order to avoid long waits at the park, like using "fast passes" and hitting the really popular rides early to obtain fast passes for shorter wait times later in the day.  A "fast pass" is a ticket you can obtain at a booth near many of the popular rides which allows the ticket-holder to come back at a later hour (specified on the ticket, i.e. between 1:05 and 2:05)... if you come back in that window of time, you walk thru a fast pass entrance which provides for a much more minimal wait time (like 5-7 minutes instead of 40+ minutes). 

I had it all planned out to a 9 am we hit the park at opening, then proceed to rides x and y for fast-passes on the way to ride z for the short morning line. Suffice it to say, though, thankfully all my planning was wasted because the crowds were fantastically, mercifully, low.  We never had to wait for more than 15 minutes on any ride in any park, save 2.  One was the "Greet the Princesses" experience in the Magic Kingdom (where the kids get to meet, talk with, and get a picture with their favorite princesses... a huge hit right near the entrance to the MK on main street- the girls loved it, but for some reason, at least at first, Caleb found Rapunzel and her peers TERRIFYING.  I have no idea why. Sigh.). We waited 35 minutes at the Princess Greeting because we missed our fast-pass window (and, yes, they now strictly enforce the time window on your fast-passes).  The second line we waited a bit more was the Toy Story Mania ride in Hollywood Studios.  We got to the park at 9 (it opened at 8), and went straight there as per our travel guide advice that this ride fills fast and "get a fast-pass ASAP".  When we got to the line at 9:05, there was a 70 minute wait time.  When we got to the line for our fast-pass time window, we still waited 20 minutes; however, it was totally worth it as the main line had an 130 min wait time.  Please let me assure you, this was one of the best rides in the parks and totally worth driving my family at breakneck speed to the fast-pass machine at 9 a.m.  Every person in our party of 7 agreed on it :)  Other can't miss rides that were loved in the parks:

Magic Kingdom-
I'm sure the Dumbo ride has a kid-crack dispenser somewhere because my kids wanted to ride it over and over.  Never mind that there are 14 other variations on the same ride scattered everywhere throughout the parks... Dumbo was their fave hands-down.  In addition, they loved the motorway, ALL the rides in Futureworld, esp. the Laugh Factory and Stitch's Escape (Caleb now ADORES Stitch and is obsessed with his Stitch stuffed animal he got as a souvenir), Peter Pan, Small World, and the newest rides in Fantasyland: "The Little Mermaid" and "Belle's Enchanted Storytime" (Awesome!  They got to act out the Beauty and the Beast story WITH BELLE!). 

Hands down, the family favorite was "Soarin'" followed by the Living Seas Rides and Aquariums (Nemo and "Turtle Talk with Crush").  Ryan and I loved strolling around the World Showcase, and I thought the kids would love it, but the day we went it was blazing hot and they just couldn't enjoy it quite as much as the more exciting parks because the poor dears were too wilted to care.  They enjoyed themselves still at both parts of Epcot, but I will say the heat and lesser number of "kid-crack" rides made Epcot the least appealing for the kids.  Still tons of fun, though. 

Animal Kingdom-
My personal fave park from the week.  I loved the more organic settings, the beauty everywhere you look, and, of course, the awesome animals.  The gorillas alone moved me to tears.  But there are also TONS of fun rides, as well as a petting zoo at the end of a train ride (I'm pretty sure the littles were in ecstasy for those, while the rest of us held our noses in musty-goaty-disgust).  Ryan and Dad loved Expedition Everest, a smallish roller coaster that was too scary for our kids, and Dinosaur (also too scary for small children and people who have motion sickness, they reported), while the kids LOVED Dinoland USA.  They could have stayed there another day and been thrilled, with it's dino-dig area and playground structures, Triceratops ride, mini roller coaster, and restaurants that give out sand pails with kids meals (you would have thought they were given pure gold to eat... my advice, if you want your kid to be happy, serve meals in a .50 cent cheapo sand pail, lol.).  But by far, the shows beat it all.  You must must MUST see their Lion King and Nemo live shows.  Lion King, in particular, had us all bug-eyed, goofily-grinning in awe of the sights and songs.  Really, don't miss it. 
I'd love to go on and on, but really my poor Mommy brain just can recall all the fun perfectly after a 3 day lag since returning.  However, I will share a few fun photos; a preview since we have not fully edited all our photos for posting yet.  I loved the entire time, but I'm gonna need a good 5 year break before going again in order to rest and recuperate, lol.  Thanks Mom and Dad for joining us, and sorry for running you two ragged, but we loved every minute with you! :)


p.s. One more hint:  Buy souvenirs before leaving your home to go to the parks.  Those Mickey ears pictured above were purchased at Walmart for $5 and saved us so much trouble, money, and whining.  We also bought the kids sticker activity books, neon glowsticks for the fireworks show, and a couple of Disney-themed Leapster games at the $5 store beforehand, making it easy to say "yes" when they asked for fun stuff to take home from their vacation.  Also, the princess dresses pictured are 20% cheaper here at our Disney store than they are in the parks.  :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My two selves...

Do you ever get the feeling that you have 2 distinct personalities; one for the morning and one for the evening?  Now, before you start backing up and thinking, "Alrighty, Mel's gone all 'Cybill' on us, time to call the Paddywagon and haul her off," know that I'm OK and just on the right side of the scale from normal to crazy that I should be, but...
I definitely find myself thinking thoughts in the morning that I would slap myself for in the afternoon.  Like, "Hey, that load of laundry doesn't need folded right now.  Why rush now when you'll have 2 hours this evening to do it after the kids to bed." Meanwhile, 8 hours later, my brain is saying, "What the HELL was I thinking??!  Oh well, it'll wait till tomorrow morning," leading to the inevitable moment three days later when none of my family members can find their underwear or clean clothes because they're all in a pile in the corner of my room waiting to be folded.  Or, heaven forbid, still soaking wet and growing lovely cultures of mildew in my washing machine.  You know you've done it- no judging!
Another example: this morning was the weekly mad dash to get ready for co-op that confirms my every notion that I would make a sucky public school mom.  I am not cut out for packing lunches, making sure we all get out of our jammies, brushing people's hair, and otherwise making sure that we are presentable human beings before 9 a.m.  In fact, most days I don't manage to get out of my own jammies until the last possible moment before my husband gets home (so I can carry on the illusion that his wife looked lovely and well-put-together all throughout the day... BWAHAAHAHHA! Not!).  So this morning I had a bit of a hissy fit when, for the fourth week in a row, I had to wait on my children to find their preferred shoes and redirect them when they chose the trashiest ones they own, and then redirect them again to put on those trashy shoes because we cannot find their good shoes in the big horrible mess we call a coat closet.   Last week Sarah actually had a blowout for her trashy shoes and they literally FELL APART while in school, causing her to have to run around barefoot through the day.  This week, it was Sarah again sitting in front of the shoe closet door fretting about which shoes to wear while I sat trying to wedge the door open with about 5 thousand little school things hanging off various parts of my body and trying to balance the keys just right to hit the fob for my other kids, who were trying to scale the van out of sheer boredom because of the whole three minutes they had to wait for us to get out to the van to meet them.  Aaaaannnd that is where I hit my tipping point into the bad side of crazy.  I threw down my school things, popped the van door for Hannah and Caleb to get them to stop climbing my van ("Dear Lord, please protect them from learning to work the shifter while I'm busy inside"), and proceeded to throw every last shoe out of the closet onto the floor, vowing that this afternoon I would organize the whole thing and make it work better for us.  This is the result:
And that's what we came home to, 6 hours and 4 classes later.  My afternoon self is now cursing my morning self with its usual, "What the HELL were you thinking??!"   6 hours later I have no energy and 3 kids bursting at the seems with energy, inside, on a rainy day.  6 hours later I still have to make dinner, put away our school supplies, clean up the kitchen, and "oh, hey, by the way, why don't you consider blogging about your troubles instead of doing something productive about it, Mel?"   Yep.  My afternoon self is not liking my morning self so much right now.  And my afternoon self might not get around to addressing this mess until about 5 minutes before Ryan comes home.  Because my afternoon self would like to make sure my evening self is just as pissed off as my afternoon self is right now, I guess.  And so the cycle continues...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Momma's Gradients of "Dirty"

Yesterday I got a bug up my butt to get the kids' play-set water sealed.  Why this idea occurred to me right smack in the middle of planning season for school and a day before company comes is a mystery even to myself, but nevertheless, the idea wouldn't let go.  Then I, much like any red-blooded American, put it off till "tomorrow."  That means, I did it today instead; the same day company is coming.  Smart.
Anyway, I put out the kiddie pool for the littles, made sure drinking water was available, and set to ignoring my kids pleas of boredom so I could begin my work.  After 4 hours of back-breaking work and 2 containers of Thompson's Water-Seal, plus several reapplications of sunscreen, and a 10 minute break to wallow in the mudpit my children created out of the kiddie pool, I was a whole new level of dirty.  I possessed on my skin several alternating layers of water-sealant, sunscreen, sweat, and mud.  Pretty though, eh?  I don't need to tell you how welcome that shower was. :) Aaaah.
So, while I was showering, it occurred to me that I have several gradients of dirty for our family,
scaled according to the type/level of dirt and how it gets removed (from simple to downright nasty):

1.  Balmy: This level is what occurs just through ordinary play or a walk outdoors on a humid day.  In my house it means a scrub down at the sinkside with a washcloth and occasionally, but not often enough, a new set of clothes.  Why?  Because too many changes in a day means more laundry, dernit, and I am as cheap as I am wordy. 

2.  Murky: A trip out to the play-set sandbox or the kiddie pool with sunscreen on results in "murky".  A mixture of the white, nasty oiliness of sunscreen plus muck creates a muddy sheen on the kids skin.  Off to the shower and the laundry room for you!

3. Crusty: this is the level my family gets to after a good long day of gardening or yard work.  Layers of dried mud plus grass and, in some cases, insect carcasses (yes, we've been there, esp. after the caterpillars invaded our yard the other day...picture my kids frolicking through the yard with glee, covering their feet and clothes in caterpillar parts).  Get a hose and leave your clothes on the front mat- you aren't worthy of the tub, yet. 

4. Zoo-Worthy:  After a day at the petting zoo loving-on (squishing) chickens and rolling in the hay (covered in goose poo), and perhaps kissing horses, I sometimes consider just leaving them there to continue to wallow while I grab a Starbucks...

Well I consider it, I didn't say I DO it. 
This level requires a hose, removal of the clothes, antibacterial scrubs for the shoes, and a extra long shower.  Plus bleach for the clothes.  And Starbucks.

5.  Swamp-thing.  - At this level, they've been allowed to run a little too freely in the woods, and probably should be left to live there as they're already nicely camouflaged and insect-proof from the dried mud.   They also probably have contracted some sort of gastrointestinal problem from the pond water and would be better off left behind, rather than suffer thru what it will take to get the filth out of their hair and orifices.  This level involves burning/trashing clothes, plastic sheeting over carseats and upholstery on the way home, and small people moaning about how mean mom is that she makes them scrub the bathroom and clean the floors after they've walked thru the house and showered (and after being hit with the hose outdoors, as well). 

Today I think I hit Zoo-Worthy.  Pity that I don't have the gumption to hose myself off, because now I need to vacuum my path back up the stairs and start a load of laundry.  On the upside, I am now waterproof in some parts of my body :)  And I need Starbucks, cuz now I have to go clean the house up for company, lol. 


Friday, May 18, 2012

No Comprende

So I've been teaching the girls lessons on World Geography since December, with one country spotlighted each week using video tours, map work, worksheets, and fun country-specific activities.  So far we have covered the assigned countries in our curriculum for Europe, Asia, and North America.
This week, we studied Mexico, with the first part of the week focused on learning a little about the history of Mexico, including the history of the native Mexican people and how Spanish Conquistadors explored and later claimed Mexico for Spain until Mexico became it's own independent nation.  Later in the week, as part of our studies we created a "quilt" of images that are representative of the culture and peoples of Mexico.  We colored images of Chichen Itza, a cactus, a sombrero, the flag of Mexico, etc. 
One of the last images added to our patchwork of Mexico was of a bull.  When we got to that image, Sarah's eye's lit up with a spark of recognition... "Momma!  Is that bull there because they have bullfights in Mexico?!" 
"Yes," I replied,"bullfighting is the national sport of Mexico"
"But Momma," Hannah said, "that's the sport for Spain, too!"
"Mmm-hmm.  Why do you think Spain and Mexico would have the same sports?" I asked.
"Ooh ooh, I know!" Hannah said excitedly.  "It's because Spain and Mexico are neighbors!"
Mentally facepalming myself... I sighed and composed my patient, kind-Mommy response.  "No honey, remember we learned about Spain, that it's part of Europe, and that the explorers who came to Mexico came all the way across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain.  It was a far voyage, so they're definitely not neighbors.  Try again.  Why would Mexico and Spain have the same sport?"
Sarah chimed in, "Ooh, it's because they both speak SPANISH!"
"Oooookaaayy.  But why do they share the same language and sports?"
"Remember girls, we learned that Spain ruled the country of Mexico for many years?  That means that people from the country of Spain owned and lived in Mexico, and so they would have similar language, foods, sports, etc." 
"Do you remember, girls, when we learned that Great Britain used to own and rule the 13 original colonies of what is now the United States?  Remember I told you that?"
"YES!" they beamed cutely. 
"Ok, well we speak English here and for many years had many things in common with the people of Great Britain because it was British people who originally helped start our country.  In Mexico, it was the country of Spain that helped make Mexico what it is today, so the people there speak Spanish and have more in common with the people of Spain." 
"Sooooooo, Mommy," Sarah asked, "Most people here in America speak Spanish?"
(Losing my cool)... "What?  Where did you hear me say that??  Most people here speak English.  That's the official language of the United States." 
"Ohhhh, ok," Hannah mused, "so that means in Spain people speak English,too?"
"Gah!"  I decided to start again,  "Ok, listen.  In Spain they speak..."
"Good!  And what do they speak in Mexico, since Spain ruled Mexico for many hundreds of years?"
"Good! And since the United Stated was ruled by Great Britain instead of Spain, what do we speak here in the United States?"
(real facepalm)
Is it this hard when teaching in public schools?!
In their defense, they're mostly right nowadays for a big part of our country.  :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Why I am well suited for raising a preschool/kindergarteners...

I sometimes ponder the fun I have with the kids and think to myself, I have so much in common with the boy, it's no wonder I find him so entertaining.  I was never the girliest girl growing up, but there's just something about playing with Caleb for which I just feel so well suited.  Here are some of my ideas why:
1.  We share similar literary and television tastes... In Caleb's case, in particular, we love all things superhero.  An actual excerpt from our car conversation today:
Caleb: Mommy, what does the Green Lantern do?
Mommy: He channels green energy from his special Green Lantern ring to create all sorts of special weapons and crime-fighting tools. 
Caleb: How did he get his ring?
Mommy: It chose him after its former owner, another member of the Green Lanterns, was killed. 
Caleb: So is he a hero or a villain?
Mommy: Definitely a hero, Buddy.
Caleb: So what about Iceman?...
You name the hero, and Mommy knows his background, origins, and the villains associated with him.  And if I don't, you betcha I'll look it up. 

2.  We both have a deep and abiding love of base humor. - I'm sorry, but the word "poop" still makes me giggle, though I have to, as Mom Law states, pretend not to think it's funny and remind him it's inappropriate for social circles.  I also think that farting can be really quite funny, as well.  Esp. when it's done around Daddy, and not me.  Yep, my sense of humor hasn't evolved much beyond my three-year-old's level. 

3.  We both would rather play soccer than dolls. -  I just get the love of kicking and throwing balls (though I stink at it, thus my negative school sports record) and vrooming cars around the house.  Doll play, not so much, though I try hard to show interest for the girls' enjoyment.  Thankfully none of my kids are that into dolls except for occasional stints. 

4.  We both find bugs fascinating. - I love a cute little wiggly worm or a neat millipede from the sandbox.  We'll sit and study them for long periods of time.  We name our garden spiders, and sit entertained for hours watching them wrap up their prey in their webs.  I do, however, draw the line at slugs.  Do NOT bring Mommy a slug.  The consequences may involve vomit.  Sorry for the mental picture, but I don't do slugs.  Worms are somehow kosher in my mind, but their smaller, black, slightly slimier relatives must die.   Irrational, yes.  Logical, no.  Nonetheless true. 

5.  Simple games are awesome. - I'm sorry, but in my stage of the game, when I'm exhausted all the time, I HATE any game involving much brain power.  I am not cognitively alert enough for monopoly or chess, or even really the game of Memory, but I can totally hang out for a game of Candy Land, Twister, or War.  Just don't ask me to remember what color my game piece is.  That's my kids' job to remember that little detail for me.  :)

6.  We both think brussel sprouts suck.  Unfortunately being the adult, I have to choke them down and pretend their AWESOME in order to broaden the horizons of the others in my home.  I guess that's what makes me the adult in this zany madhouse.  In fact, I can think of a whole list of things I hate that I have to pretend are great for the sake of the littles, including (but not limited to): car trips, grocery shopping, most raw vegetables, brushing my teeth and flossing (dirty little secret alert... I totally hate the feeling of the toothbrush on my teeth), healthy cereals (OH MY GOSH, would somebody PUHLEEZE sneak me some Lucky Charms?!), and being outside on a cold day, etc., etc.

 I do so enjoy getting to hang with my little peeps all day, especially at this particularly fun and adorable age where practically anything could fall out of their mouth at any moment (like Sarah pointing to a Muslim woman with a headdress and asking, loudly, "Momma, what kind of a person is THAT!?"... I swear I've explained other world cultures, but she had a moment of forgetfulness).  And hopefully some day I'll mature with them, so that I can continue to enjoy the things they're interested in, but for now, who's in for a game of Spiderman vs. She-Ra? 

"I'd totally kick Spiderman's tail, by the way." 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

First let me apologize...

    I am a terrible blog-keeper.  But I beg your forgiveness, being a Momma of three (four if you count the hubs), and a homeschooler, and a Jane-of-all-trades lately has made it tough to log in and share my experiences.  I find myself at the end of some days with my head spinning from all the busy-ness and wondering how I ever got it all done.  So here I am, playing catch up.
    First of all, I can start with the girls' sixth birthday.  They didn't have a party this year, but they did get some good celebratin' in with Ryan and I and my parents, and a small to-do at Ryan's parents' house during Easter.  We had a nice night out for sushi (their choice) and presents all around.  This year their big present was a soccer goal.  They've started playing again this year with the Upward organization, and Mommy can't get enough of them running up and down the field.  Hannah loves it, and scrambles back and forth in the yard every day to her little hearts content trying to shoot her ball in the goal.  She's turning out to be our little sports-enthusiast, who knew!  Especially since normally she hates all things competitive. Sarah, on the other hand, informed me after practice 1 that, "I only wanted to sign up so I could play the games, not PRACTICE! (rolleyes)"... I call her "the entemologist"- too busy looking for bugs and butterflies to take the time to practice.   So I have a braniac and a jock.  Ok by me :)
   And then there's Caleb.  Ah, Caleb.  Sweet and sparkly, full of mischeif Caleb.  He's really starting to enjoy school now, as long as it's on his terms, and he can't wait to play soccer, either, once they let him.  He's a total trip, trying his hardest to figure out how to make jokes, singing lyrics to our favorite songs at top volume and with hilariously mispronounced wording, and finally starting to try to do things for himself (like put on his own no-tie shoes... COME ON, You're THREE already! Men!).    And he still lives to make his sisters crazy.  Sometimes it takes only an otherwise-innocuous sound, aptly timed and at the appropriate volume at the breakfast table, and he masterfully can have his sisters squealing and writhing in agony and angst, begging me to intervene. 
    Meanwhile, Ryan and I have been house hunting... searching for a quasi-home-of-our-dreams.  Mostly we'd like to find a place with another room for homeschool so that we don't have to take down all our stuff when family comes to visit.  And we'd also love to find a place with a pool and some land for things like gardening and maybe keeping some livestock (because, oh, I don't know, I don't have enough beings to care for as it is?! I think maybe I must have contracted mad-cow disease or some other brain eating disease to think I need more work, but I've somehow convinced myself it will be fun, ha!).  I'm finding house hunting to be harder and more emotional than I expected, but I'm trusting that God will lead us in the right direction, or tell us to keep our butt right where we are.  Either way, it'll all work out. 
    Anyway, just wanted to explain what's up lately, and let whoever cares out there know I'll try to get back on real soom with more posts, but if your still here, thanks for listening and I'll try to do better :)  Or I'll collapse from exhaustion and then it won't matter, will it? 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tea Party!

Today we had a real tea party in honor of our week studying the United Kingdom. The girls got to dress in full costume, and Caleb even got a cute little stove-pipe hat we made him. It was a big deal, and for my favorite quote of the day: "Mommy! Ladies do NOT scratch themselves at tea parties!" (Sarah) - for the record, I was scratching under my hat, not under my dress ;) Enjoy the pictures!
p.s. if you want to see larger versions of the pictures, you can double click on the top pic. and it will switch to slideshow view.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Math Games- Playing Banker

I'm recording this here because 1) I have no idea how to pin things to Pinterest, nor do I want pictures and names of my kids floating around on there, and 2) I wanted to share this with some of my other homeschool moms so they can use it, too. We invented a new math game for the kids this morning after trying to find creative ways to teach 1 to 1 correspondance and numeral recognition to Caleb. I noticed they all have a deep and abiding love of coinage and putting things in their piggy banks, so we invented "Banker". There are two versions, one for preschool, and one for school age.
In Caleb's case, on index cards I made card "dollars" with a numeral on each card made to look like a dollar amount (from 1 to 5, in his case). On the back of each card I drew a corresponding number of penny-sized circles (ex, on the 5 dollar "bill" there are 5 circles on the back of the index card), that way he can lay out the appropriate number of pennies in the circle if he has trouble counting them out. Caleb used his magnetic fishing pole to fish for a dollar amount (with paper clips on each "dollar" index card), then he matched the appropriate number of pennies up with the number on the card he fished out. After that, he got to put that number of pennies into a piggy bank, made from a raisin can with a slit in the top.
Here are the pictures:
After that, the girls were clamoring to play, too, instead of doing math worksheets, so I quickly modified the game for them. They're goal lately has been to recall plus 8 and plus 9 math facts (ex- 8+4= , or 9+7= , etc.), so I made more "dollar bills", so that we had numerals 1 thru 9 on the cards, and then I glued a number 8 to one side of a quarter, and a number 9 to the opposite side of a quarter. Their goal was to fish for a "dollar" amount, then flip the coin to reveal either an 8 or a 9. They then had to add up the number from their dollar bill with the number from the coin (ex- they fished up a number 5, and flipped the coin to number 8- meaning they had to sum 5 + 8). When they arrived at the total, they then had to determine the right coins and the right amount for each coin to add up to that total. Since they're very unfamiliar with coin values, I made a guide for them showing that dimes are worth 10, nickles 5, and pennies 1. That way, they got to put the combination of coins that best fit their amount into the bank. (ex- Hannah summed 14, so she wanted more coins than just a dime and 4 pennies, so she decided on 2 nickles and 4 pennies).
The game was wildly successful, and the kids are still up playing without my assistance as I'm typing. Here are the pictures for their version of the game:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

You might have Mommy-brain if...

OK, so this is a list of thinks I thought in the last 24 hours. Seriously... I have not been able to put two thoughts together in a straight line today, and I'm chalking it up to Mommy-brain. If you are familiar with Mommy-brain (the grouchy, caffeine-aholic, not-so-cute-and-cuddly cousin of Pregnancy-brain) then you can relate, I'm sure, but if not, this is what your brain looks like "on kids," in the form of a 24 hour (not organized chronologically because did-you-read-the-first-part-of-this-paragraph?) synopsis of all my lovely screw-ups:
-I shampooed my child's hair twice. Because I couldn't recall if I did it the first time.
-I threw out two batches of baked goods. Because sugar and salt look too darn much alike.
- I lost my broom on three separate occasions. Really? How hard is it to lose a 5 foot stick with a day glow yellow straw tip? Kinda tough to miss, you'd think. I had to send a five-year-old off to find it.
-I discovered I have a delightful form of sleep-deprived language disorder (aphasia) which makes me able only to produce intelligible speech when it is made up of words I shouldn't say in public. Kinda like motherhood-induced Tourettes. (ex- "We gotta go! Get in the .... DOH... DAMMIT... you know... the big 'ole mess with wheels that we take to the library. And where is your... CRAP! You know... the warm thing you wear outside?!!")
- I salted my hubby's veggies for his lunch tomorrow twice. This is because I forgot that I did it the first time, until I noticed that the scene playing out in front of me looked hauntingly familiar. I cannot WAIT for the call at 1 pm tomorrow asking why his lunch tastes funny. And yet, I still haven't fixed said error. Shhh.
- I have been blaming the kids for the shortages of silverware in our drawer, thinking they have been tossing it in the trash when clearing their plates (which, I'll note, is true since I've caught them red-handed doing it), only to notice that I just threw a spoon the trash while clearing my own plate (face-palm, sigh).
So there you have it- Can you relate?
"Shh, I'm working hard to convince her she's lost her freakin' mind. Tee hee!""

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If Our Lives Were a Fairytale...

Hannah, in the eyes of her three-year old brother
Apparently it would be written by the Brothers Grimm.
Caleb's favorite story lately has been "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." I must have read it to him about a million times lately, and today was no exception.
"Read me THIS!" he ordered as I was putting him down for a nap.
"Ooh, let's give the Billy Goats names today, instead of calling them just 'little Billy, middle Billy, and Big Billy,'" I suggested, desperate for a fresh change in the oft-told tale.
"Yeah! That's a ger-ate idea!" (My son says "great" like Tony the Tiger")
"Ok, so this one's Caleb (little Billy), this one's Hannah (middle Billy), and this one's Sarah (big Billy)," I told him.
"NO MOMMA! You're wrong! This one's Caleb (little Billy), this one's Sarah (Middle Billy), and this one's Mommy (Big Billy)."
"Well then, where's Hannah? She's gonna feel left out," I warned.
"She's right here, Momma! (pointing to the Troll)"
So I clarified, "You think Hannah should be a troll?"
"Uh-huh, Hannah's the Mean Troll!"
Sorry Hannah, but somebody had to be the Troll, I guess. Don't worry, you're still Momma's Princess, even if you're a Troll in your brother's eyes ;)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Another Homeschooling Fail, Courtesy of Mommy :)

I have always dreamed of sharing my love of literature with my children. It's a true joy for me that they can now sit and listen to stories I've loved all my life, and to see them really grasping what they hear. For the last month, they've been listening to me as I read "Charlotte's Web," and we finished the last chapter yesterday evening before bedtime. I'm somewhat ashamed to say I broke into ugly tears on the last paragraph- but I digress...
Tonight, in celebration of completing the story, I got a copy of the movie version for them to have a movie night. They were so thrilled, and all the more so when Ryan made homemade caramel popcorn and they got to decorate little popcorn bags with stickers (have I told you about how I'm repulsed by stickers- my children treat them like diamonds or million dollar bills when they're allowed to use them). It was such a lovely evening!
The girls, in their excitement, also decided to make little puppets for the movie before showtime and during Caleb's naptime. Hannah made a little pink bug on a Popsicle stick, while Sarah decided to make a "spider" for her puppet, though it looked less like a spider and more like a cross between a bumblebee and a centipede. When she proudly brought her "spider" downstairs after the movie to show Daddy, Ryan asked, "Hmm... that's really interesting. Do you know how many legs spider's usually have, Sarah?"
"Sure Daddy, that's easy. Eight!"
"But why does your spider have 16 legs?," he asked.
"He doesn't...see, there's 8 on this side, and 8 on the other," my little sweetie answered.
"Ummm, that means 16 legs... see. One, two...[counting thru 16].

"I guess I probably should have taught her that 8 legs means 4 on each side, huh?," I remarked sheepishly from the kitchen, seeing his barbed look my way. I knew full well the meaning of that look... "Do you teach them NOTHING?!," it said.

So Ryan then turned to Caleb. "Caleb, what has Mommy taught YOU about Spiders, Buddy?"
Caleb's in the midst of hopping and crashing cars into each other, looked up and swiftly answered, "Dey come from SPIDERMAN!"
"Greeeeaaaaatttt job Hunny! You are doing a bang up job teaching!," said my sarcastic love.
Another homeschooling fail brought to you by Mommymel. :)
(I swear I really taught them a lot more about spiders, and basic addition/mathematics... really! If it weren't Ryan doing the asking, I bet they could spit out tons of incredibly accurate facts [she said while rolling her eyes, ugh!])