Tuesday, August 27, 2013

and that was August

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Note: I found this post languishing on the drafts. Here it is months later. 

So what happened to the rest of August?

We got back from vacation. We recovered by not going anywhere for several days.

I discovered my garden had been growing nicely. Many peppers greeted me. Carrots and tomatoes are growing in abundance. The strawberry plants are trying to escape their pots.

Elizabeth and I went on a geocaching date, and got some caches that we can't do with the younger siblings. And we watched moveis, and just hung out. And got together for a Not Back To School Picnic with our homeschool group.
And then it was time to start our school year.

Elizabeth is in 1st grade this year. We've chosen to go with a "boxed" curriculum, one that has all of the subjects we'll need for the year. Here's what we're using:

Sonlight Core A, with 1st grade Language Arts for E (Mostly for the writing. She's already finding the reading assignments to be super easy. )
Sonlight Science A
Singapore Math's Primary Mathematics 1A/1B
Handwriting Without Tears 1st grade
Art will be on an interest basis at home and with our homeschool group.
PE with our homeschool group, mostly in the form of playdates, but also group get togethers for rock-climbing, open gym, skating, and whatever else we do.
I'd like to add:
Spanish, maybe using Rosetta Stone, but we will see.  We have several Spanish-speaking children in our homeschool group, and Elizabeth would like to be able to talk to them better.
Music, mostly through piano lessons. Looking for a teacher.

So, I've been trying to get myself ready for teaching, getting a handle on the flow of the material, and making sure we're ready to go.  We've done a couple of days so far, and I can see we'll find our grove with it.

And in a few days, we'll have some people visiting us to finish our fly-by August. Good-bye Summer,  Hello Fall!

wild, wild, west

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I feel like I've missed August.

Here's why:  We went on vacation. Whee!

We piled our family of 5 into our truck, and headed of for places unseen. We met up with my parents and 3 of my nieces for our 2 week tour of the Wild West. We added Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and Minnesota to our children's states list.

In Nebraska we saw: A small train to ride a local park. We rode it. We saw here Papa was born, and where his grandparents lived.  We saw the world's largest train yard, but only from the ground because the tower was closed. I grabbed a geocache or two.

In Wyoming we saw: Dry flat land. Cheyenne, and the biggest locomotive, ever. Big Boy.  I grabbed a geocache, but really Jude found it. A Mountain range.

Laramie, and a bridge over a train yard, which was right next to the restaurant where we had our dinner. Nathanael was VERY excited to be standing on a bridge, watching trains pass right under us. The bridge shook. The wind from the passing trains whipped our hair around, nearly knocked off ball caps, and would have caused skirts to fly, had there been any skirts to be flown. The smoke from the diesel engines was black and surprised several of us. Drivers honked the horns at the crazy people waving at them from the bridge, and the 4 year old who was nearly jumping out of his shoes from excitement.  We all grabbed a geocache.

Do you detect a train theme here?

More Wyoming: More dry, flat land. I tried to grab a geocache, but subtle was needed, and subtle a crowd-of-10-people-milling-around-a-street-corner is not. Mountains! The Tetons!

We made it into the Jackson area, and spent several days checking out locations in Grand Teton National Park. We saw bison, elk, pronghorn, muledeer.

No bears, despite all the signs telling us bears would practically be crawling all over us/our food.  I grabbed a virtual geocache while the rest of the crew was painting on Lunch Tree Hill.



Wyoming, and Montana: We then moved on into Yellowstone National Park.  Geysers, mudpots, and fumeroles, Oh MY! Although I enjoyed Yellowstone, and would go back, I was a little underwhelmed at most of the hydrothermal features. Nathanael was not impressed with Old Faithful the first time around (he had just woken up) but the second day we saw it, he was much more enthusiastic.

He was especially pleased that we were standing on a real, live, volcano. I really wanted to see Grand Prismatic Spring, but they were working on the boardwalks. Boo. We did see bison and elk. We really wanted to see moose, bears, and wolves. Some people saw wolves. Our truck did not.  We did see moose, though.  I grabbed a few more virtual geocaches, and even a traditional cache in Montana. Woot!   We managed to get Adelle to say "buffaloes,"  but really it sounds like "Bup-a-boes!" And then she proceeded to exclaim "buffaloes" every time we saw bison. Again. Blocking the road. 

Buffaloes! And an unfortunate alignment for nosepicking?
Buffaloes. Blocking the road. Again.
And then, our time (which was still too short) was nearing an end.  It was time to leave the natural wonders of Western Wyoming and start the return home.

More Wyoming, again: We eventually made it over to Devil's Tower, but didn't stay very long.  There was much rock climbing in the time we were there.

South Dakota: Deadwood! We didn't realize how much of a gambling town this would be. Casinos everywhere, even in our little hotel. But we walked Mainstreet Deadwood, saw a model train display, and got some ice cream. We also grabbed a geocache. Gold Mine Tour, panning for gold, driving through the Black Hills. Mount Rushmore! Yup, there it is. It's big. But now that Elizabeth has seen it, she found the humor in a sign she saw, where someone substituted some band's faces onto a picture of the monument.  The Badlands National Park did indeed include bad lands. And Bighorn Sheep! We stopped by the Minuteman Missile historic site, and saw the silo from the ground, but the tours of the launch facility were full. It was still awesome.

And then we headed home. Several days later, we rolled into our driveway. We were done. We were glad to be home. Adelle wandered around the house, playing with whatever she found, glad to be OUT of her seat. Nathanael wanted to make his own geyser (and did with Elizabeth's help - a few squirts of hand soap, and a stream of running water in a cup, and Viola!  A geyser!)

Adelle - "Buffaloes!" Nana, Papa, Anna, J, Go-gan. Splashing in the water. Counting trains with Nathanael. And probably watching the movie "My Neighbor Totoro" pretty much every day while spending hours in the truck. Thank you, inventors of the portable DVD player! (To-wo-wo? Peas!?)

Nathanael: "Going to grand tetons, staying in hotels, eating at restaurants, and seeing my Nana and Papa." Nathanael picked up stick pretty much every place we stopped, turning them into swords, guns, arrows, fishing poles and whatever else. His friend Hammy (the puppet hamster) was his constant companion.


Elizabeth: "Yellowstone. Seeing Old Faithful. Going to the Grand Tetons, and staying at Jackson Lake Lodge and getting to paint with Papa."

Monday, July 29, 2013

pickin' strawberries

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(Forgive the fuzzy pictures.  My camera decided to quit focusing properly, then quit all together. Didn't see if till after the fact.)

We went strawberry picking for the first time this summer. We (me) managed to pick 20 pounds of berries, of which we made jam, frozen whole berries, and some delicious fresh treats!  A shout out to Guelde Strawberries for the easy picking. Great prices, too!  Although the berries aren't organic (I wish!), they say they minimize spraying chemicals on the berry plants.

I'm not totally sure if the kids liked it.  They said they liked the first 5 minutes or so of picking. Adelle, especially, since she just ate the berries out of the box.  After 5 minutes, the kids were done, really, but they hung out around me for another 20+ minutes picking a berry here or there.

Then, the fun really started for them - I  opened the trunk of the car, and spread a blanket out.  They got to hide in there with the trunk lid acting like a sunshade.  Thank goodness for the crazy-big trunk of an Impala! They played with toys, drank water, and kept themselves entertained while I finished picking berries.

I think we'll go again next year!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Nathanael is 4

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Since I don't want to leave out my boy, even though it's been 4 months since his birthday:

Happy Birthday, Nathanael! 

You were born at home in the bathroom, caught by your daddy with just our family in the house. You had little skinny frog legs, and I loved you for them.  For the full birth story, you can read over here.

You are awesome, and sweet.

When Elizabeth is sad because she ate all of her treat, and wants some of yours, you kindly share with her. You are very sensitive to other people being upset.

When people are unkind to you, you cry big tears. And when you try to talk when crying you sound just like your mama: Unintelligible.

You like the water. Except. When it gets in your ears or eyes.  That is the most awfulhorribleterribleworstest thing ever.

You still put your shoes on the wrong feet, and your underwear and shorts on backwards.  Your shirts, too. And while you may not care what you wear, you are very particular about your hair style.

You ARE Iron Man.  And Tony Stark.  Your best imaginary friend is Soldier, who apparently looks like Daddy, and sometimes he has kids, and sometimes not, and sometimes he's even a grandpa.  Soldier was away on a long mission for a while, but he's back now.

Your favorite stuffed animals are Hammy (your hamster puppet), Elmo, and your baby doll.

Your favorite color is blue. You still love trains, planes, and cars, but mostly trains.

You will eat almost any green vegetable. You enjoy veggies and will eat them straight out of the ground/off the vine! You don't care much for melted cheese (pizza, casseroles, even grilled cheese) but you'll usually eat it anyway. You don't care much for pizza at all, really, and never have.

Your energy knows few bounds.  You dance like a crazy monkey. You sometimes literally run in circles when you have more energy than you know what do do with. You run, and jump and are filled with much derring-do. 

You cuddle and snuggle, and like to rub your face on people's arms.

You are my boy, and I love you!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Adelle's Words

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*Note: This post is about 2 months old. Many more words have been added!*

Adelle has had a huge explosion in vocabulary over the past month.  We are recognizing new words almost daily.

At the beginning of April, I was wondering when the rush of words would hit.  At that time, she had just a few - maybe 10 words that we recognized that she used on a regular basis.

Now, here are the words she has:

outside, other side (side?)
Peek-a-boo (tee-ka-goo)
drink (gink)
let go
let's go!
no (mo! mo! mo! mo!)
again (nen?)
balloon (bbbboon)
nurse (moose, noose)
duck (guck)
train (ten!)

Chase (neighbor)
Jack (neighbor)

Animal sounds:
grunt, grunt (covers many animals)
arf, arf

Various songs:
Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream
mary had a little lamb
ABC song
whatever she happens to be singing about

Thursday, June 20, 2013

blogging bucket list

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It is hot in this room.  Too many computers running, I guess, and too many things stacked in front of the AC vent.  So much for organization.

I'm currently cycling through a state of nothing being effectively organized.  There are mixed piles of stuff strewn about the house.

(Random: Strawberries were originally called "strew" berries, because they were strewn about the plant/ground.)

I've been working on a bit of a blog bucket list for the summer.  Here it is:

Blog something once a week (ambitious, no?)
Finally post about Nathanael's 4th birthday, about 4 months late.
Post the cuteness that is Adelle.
Share out family summer bucket list, some of which we've already done (Hint: "strew")
Post about Adelle more.
And Nathanael
And Elizabeth
Write about not being pregnant for this summer's grand adventure. (wheee!!!)
and blog stuff.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

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Happy Mother's Day!

I'll admit, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this (and many other) holidays.  I absolutely believe mothers should be honored and thanked.  I recognize that sometimes, if there's isn't a special day set aside many people will neglecting doing something special, or recognizing the mothers in their lives.

I do not appreciate the commercialization of this day. I am concerned about how this day can have an unintentional impact on others, such as:

People who's mothers have died.
Mothers estranged from their children/children estranged from their mothers.
Children who have never had someone to call mother.
Women who have given children through adoption to other families to raise.
Women who want to be mothers, but are unable to be a mother.
Women who have lost children in pregnancy or as infants.
Women who have lost grown children.

I have spoken with women who avoid going out, or going to church on this day, because flowers are handed out to mothers, and they sit there, mourning their infertility, or suffering in the knowledge that others don't recognize that they are a mother, even though they have no living children.

Maybe I'll still end up being unintentionally insensitive.  I hope not, because that's not my goal.

To my family and friends who have born children who didn't have a chance to live and grow, or who have given children to other families to raise - Happy Mother's Day.  You are a mother, and you are not forgotten.

To my friends and family who want children to love and raise up, Happy Mother's Day - you have been a mother to my children, and to other people's children. Thank you for your giving heart.

To my family and friends who have raised children, only to have them pass on too soon - Happy Mother's Day.  You are loved and remembered.

To my friends and family who have estranged relationships with their children or mothers, Happy Mother's Day.  Your experience of this day is complex, with no one or right answer.  I know that oftentimes you love and hope, even if from a distance of miles or years.

To all of you who no longer can say "Happy Mother's Day" to your mothers, I'm glad that you have memories of the wonderful women who have been mothers in your life. Thank you for loving and honoring those who have gone before us, and those who are mothers for us now.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

closing in on summer

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We're getting close to summer.

Lawns are being mowed, we've started some kale and lettuce in our containers.  I have some strawberry plants to replace the old ones I managed to kill last year.  So, we'll have a small container garden up and running.

Elizabeth is doing very well with reading.  She's reading aloud confidently, and sounding out unfamiliar large words. 

Nathanael is expressing interest in letters and words, so we've done some occassional work.

Adelle's interest in language is mostly toddler-ish.  "Mommeeee!! Up! Up!" Or "Da! Hi!" Her other words are hit or miss - words that she used before, she doesn't use now.  And, instead of saying words, she prefers to nod yes to anything, and everything.  At least now animals are getting different sounds instead of the ubiquitous "grunt, grunt."

I'm experiencing mommy guilt, but as we all know, that's nothing new.  Right now, my guilt is centering around the fact that I haven't printed Adelle's one year portraits yet.  She's almost 18 months.  Maybe I'll take the 18 month portraits, and then just send them all at the same time.  2 for 1!

I did a 5k in April, and managed to finish in less than 45 minutes.  My mom came in exactly 3 minutes behind me, and we were both glad to be done walking/running.  I now have a running buddy here, though, so I'm hopeful that our bimonthly get-togethers will spur me on to further progress.

I finally (quickly) found a geocache I'd been hunting and missing.  Don't know why it didn't occur to me to look on the other side. Probably I was trying to keep young children from falling into the icy water?

I'm getting rid of stuff.  I have boxes of things piled up.  I'm planned to do a yard sale at some point this summer, and the rest will be given to Salvation Army/Freecycle.  So.Much.Clutter.

I am grateful my city offers curbside recycling.  I feel a lot better about throwing out old magazines, papers, and random whatevers.  And grateful for freecycle. I wonder if I could freecycle my extra body weight?  Jude hasn't been too interested in swapping metabolisms with me, so I guess it's all on me now.

 My mental self-talk involves a lot of "I'm fat."  Which is probably because people didn't recognize me when they hadn't seen me for a few years. And I've gained about 20 pounds since November 2011. Not cool. Midlife metabolism change?  Probably. (yay 34!) General sense of stress/emotional eating? Absolutely! (You mean I shouldn't seek validation in my food?!) I'd like to blame it on not having the genetic switch that makes me want to exercise.  I saw something about that on TV recently. Maybe I should be watching less TV.  But why, when there are so many yummy-looking recipes to make?  Especially the sugar-laden carby ones?

I have half a cow sitting in my freezer, waiting to be used. If I were 2/3 of my brothers, I'd totally be grilling that beef.  However, I feel my grill is inadequate, and I am embarassed to bring it out to grill on my patio. It's a teeny camping charcoal grill.  I should get over it.  Who cares what the neighbors, with their big, shiny, no-squatting-to-turn-the-meat, propane grills think.  I got beef. And summer is made for grilling.

And spring, and fall, and winter if you ask my brother.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Elizabeth is 6

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I'm late posting, but my darling girl turned 6 a couple months ago.

Such a precious girl.

Things about E:
She is missing her two front teeth and the two bottom teeth on either side of her front teeth.  I can't think of what those are called, and clearly haven't the motivation to google the answer. Just be glad I'm even blogging anything, yo.

She ADORES anything princess, fairy, tea party.

When she grows up, she's going to be a paleontologist-gymnast-dancer-actress-doctor-mommy.  I'm most proud of the last one - it's the only one that stays the same, and hey it must mean that I'm doing something right.  Or that as six she's figured me out and is already planning to do better.

Favorite color steadfastly remains RED.

She is the queen of the segue as non sequitur - "Speaking of {whatever} I think we should have a tea party!"

E can read, and read pretty well. Her read alouds are pretty smooth and she appears to be reading the sentences as a whole (in general) rather than as discrete words.

She got her own camera for her birthday, and has been taking tons of selfies and making videos. Perhaps she'll be a photographer like her mom or dad. Or a TV producer or a star in her own Food Network show.

She's testing out her independence.  She just recently asked to take showers instead of baths. She is asking for guitar lessons from Jude.  She rides her bike (no training wheels!) by herself, and usually remembers to put on her helmet.  She doesn't usually want anyone to buckle her carseat harness - she can do it herself, thankyouverymuch. She sometimes helps with meal preparation. She wants to do lots of things by herself.  I have to remember to let her try.

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