Saturday, December 15, 2012

And the next day...

Day 13:  Play Mario or Uno
Day 14:  Team 3 takes Team 2 to the Library!

Elizabeth, Jo and I got invited to a girls' weekend out, but then Jo was sick so we didn't go.  That was sad and very disappointing because we all really wanted to go, but when one is 'barfing', as Gabriel would say, one must stay home.


That means that we are home so that Annie can come over and spend the weekend!  Yay!  I am sure that Jo will be better tomorrow, so we can plan to do something tomorrow even if it is 'just' hanging the lights up outside.


That means that I have a few minutes that I was not expecting to have to put some pictures up here.  Most of the are of Jo.  I had a friend of mine take some really good pics of her, and they turned out so wonderful that I just have to share them.

So, sorry if this post is biased toward one child.

And yes, I braided her hair myself.  Bet you didn't think I had it in me, did you?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On the First Day of Christmas...

I am a bit behind with this post, but we're having so much fun with it that I wanted to go ahead and put it up here anyway.

I was never really one for traditions.  I mean, yeah, we eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and ham on Christmas, but that's pretty much because that's what my mom cooks every year.  Honestly, I don't even really LIKE turkey or ham, but it's just what's done, so I go along with it.  But other than that, I am not one for doing the same thing every year.

It's not that I like being that way, it's just the way things are.  But I figured that now that Jimmy and I are 4 kids into the game, it's time to start some good traditions that will last us through the years.  You know, some fun stuff that creates some really great memories.  That's what I feel like is the best part of tradition anyway.  I mean, I know that there are some traditions that are meant to mean more, but the traditions that I wanted to start are the ones that will just be fun and be something to look forward to.

I'm the 3rd child out of three, so I know what it's like to see your brother and sister's first baby shoes bronzed and not have any idea where yours are.  So, when Elizabeth was born, and I started scrapbooking her pictures, I was determined not to do anything that would not be easily repeatable.  I didn't want to be the one to blame for not bronzing someone's shoes!

Well, that plan didn't really work out too well because now Elizabeth has great, simple scrapbooks, Jo has a few pages, and Gabriel has a few pictures printed out and Jesse only exists in the computer.  (I blame a lot of that on digital cameras.  It used to be, in Elizabeth's day, that if you wanted to see the pictures, you had to print them, but now, you can store them indefinitely and never even print them out!)

Anyway, I digress.  My point with all that was to say that if I start something, I want it to be easily repeatable so that I can be sure that everyone can benefit from any tradition that we start, not just the first born(s).

When I was little, we always had an Advent calendar that I loved to fight with my brother and sister about who got to open.  I have been on the look out for a calendar like that, but nothing quite fit my desire for my new tradition.

Then I got the idea that I wanted one of those little houses with the 25 doors.  You know, the ones that you open one door a day...but what to put behind those little doors?  Candy?  Nope.  The kids are wired enough as it is.  Little toys?  NO!  I don't need more of those strewn around the house.  Besides, what would work for both Gabriel AND Elizabeth?  So what to do?

Then I came up with this idea and I was so excited!  I would write things on papers and put them behind the doors to be opened!  But what to write?  Bible verses?  Yes, that's good, but I wanted something more.  Something that would be super fun and get us all charged up for the season.  Should I write little things like coupons to be used?  Get out of dishes for the night?  Don't make your bed today?  No...that's not right, either.  I don't like doing the dishes and I surely am not going to be making anyone else's bed in the morning...

Then it hit me.  Hello, light bulb!

This is what we did:

We divided the family up into 3 teams:  Jo and Jimmy are team 1, Gabriel and Elizabeth are team 2, and Jesse and I are team 3.  Then each team was given 8 pieces of paper.  Then we went into different areas of the house and had to fill out our papers.  On 2 of the papers we needed to say one thing that our team would do with each of the other teams (total of 4 entries), on 2 papers we needed to put one thing that we could do together as a family, one paper was a wildcard that you can put whatever you want to on it, and on the last paper we needed to come up with something that we could do together as a family for someone a charity or a neighbor.  Then we all had to fold the papers up small enough and stick them behind the doors without showing them to anyone.

The excitement was palpable!  Gabriel and Elizabeth went upstairs, Jesse and I went into the living room and Jo and Jimmy were in the dining room.  Gabriel kept coming down to show me what he 'wrote' (I think Elizabeth sent him to be a spy!) Jimmy and Jo kept giggling and Jesse kept trying to crawl into the dining room to see what all the fuss was about.

Anyway, here's what we have so far:

Day 1:  (Team 1's entry) Movie and popcorn together
Day 2: empty because team 1 missed one of their slips of paper
Day 3:  Team 3 takes Team 2 to Target (no purchase necessary) This was so fun!  First we went through the clothes for Elizabeth, then we went to the toys and let Jesse and Gabriel play...and put it all back, of course!
Day 4:  Team 2 will wake up early so the Team 1 can sleep in.  This was great for Jimmy because he is the one who always wakes up with the little kids.  And since it was 'in the house' the little guys didn't complain at all like they usually do if someone else tries to pour their cereal.
Day 5:  Team 2 is going to draw beautiful pictures for Team 3's enjoyment.
Day 6:  (Team 2's entry) Family Game Night (board or TV games)
Day 7:  Team 3 takes Team 2 to Best Buy (no purchase necessary)
Day 8:  Team 1 gives foot massage to Team 3 (mmmmm....not sure how much Jesse will appreciate this, but I know I sure will!)
Day 9:  (Team 3's entry)  Family trip to see the lights in the DC Zoo
Day 10:  Team 1 will do leaf rubbings with Team 3
Day 11:  (Team 2's Charity)  Go to the Thrift Store to buy clothes and toys to donate.
Day 12: (Team 2's entry) Family movie night!
Day 13:  Hah!  I can't tell you yet!  We haven't gotten that far.  Now you're just going to have to wait!

Every morning, everyone is so excited to gather around the Advent house to open the next door.  And it's been so much fun to see the family come together to do the different things that have been listed.  We have not done them all yet, we can't always do the one for that day on the day that it is opened, but we will get to all of them.  So there is the fun of opening the doors plus the fun of bringing the family together to do things that are special to us.

And I say that's just what a tradition should be.

Oh, and we got our tree up.  Well, I guess that's a tradition, too!  ;)

Monday, December 3, 2012

For the Sake of Writing

I have not written on here for a while.  I often end up doing that...I think of all the things that I want to write, but then I want to put a picture with them that I don't have yet, or when I actually have time to sit and write, my thought seems trite and not worth spilling out here, so I do nothing and I leave this page blank.

But then so much time passes and the whiteness of this screen haunts me like a ghost and calls me back to its pure perfection and begs me to mar it with these keystrokes.

So here I am.

Today was a wonderful day.  I love days like today.  I love it when the day washes over me in all its bumpy, jumpy, sticky-fingered way.

Jesse is cutting more teeth, so he was up a lot last night, and so I was bleary-eyed tired this morning.  I took Jimmy to work and I didn't take anyone else with me because there were no car seats in the car because we had just picked up a bed for Jo yesterday and hadn't installed the seats again.  (Yay!  Beds!  What fun!  I'll post pics when we get the other bed and get it set up, too.  Jo was too funny last night, her first night in her 'new' bed.  She looked so little there in this bed even though it is just a twin bed.  She and Elizabeth have been sleeping on the floor for the last few month.  Jo's comment before dozing off was, 'But Mom, this bed just feels to high or something!')  But anyway, after taking Jimmy to work, I cruised on back home and Elizabeth and I started in the rhythm of the day...dress the kids, do the laundry, pick up the living room, wash the morning dishes...

Elizabeth had a class this morning at the library and she had to babysit this afternoon.  But when I sent the kids outside to get them ready to take with me to drop Elizabeth off at her class, I realized that these last weeks have been really hard.  We have just been pushing and pushing between school and my bookfairs and Pampered Chef's just been a constant run.

So I decided to not take Elizabeth to her class and we went to Huntley Meadows and saw the beaver lodge and beaver dams instead.  And we spotted some turtles, some cool scat and some really neat prints.  The geese were there floating in the beaver pond and flashing us their white underbellies as they dove for food under the water.  We took the double stroller, so Jesse rode and Jo and Gabriel took turns riding and running along.

The birds were singing and the sun was out and the sweaters came off and the conversation flowed.

And I remembered again why it was that we decided to homeschool.  I was there with all 4 of my kids.  Not just the little ones, not checking the clock to meet a bus, but just there, enjoying all that God has to offer in his wonderful creation and just soaking it all in and watching in wonder as the kids all discovered anew God's handiwork.

Then it was home for lunch and naps and then Elizabeth went to babysit and the baby woke prematurely from his nap, so I snuggled him back to sleep and just sat there with him in my arms as he slept off the rough night that he had had last night and as he dreamed of beaver teeth while his little teeth struggled to push through his sore little gums.

Before I knew it, it was time to pick Jimmy up from work and the day wound down to it's snuggly long-sleeved pajama end.

And I realized that there are different kinds of fulfillment.

Last week, I worked very hard and each day was full of getting things done, of working hard and feeling good with my accomplishments at the end of the day.

But there was a sort of disconnect.  Dinner was a random affair, and Jesse and the kids were clingy and winy because I was out for most of the day almost every day.

Today, however, I got basically nothing 'done', but I felt connected with the kids and connected to myself.  Even though I don't have that sense of 'get 'er done', which I love, I have a sense of a day well spent with people with whom it is well worth spending.  

Before it was all over, though, Team 3 took Team 2 to Target.

But that's another post, so I guess I'll have to keep on writing!

: )

Monday, October 29, 2012

Another Visit to the Bookshelf

So here's another peak at what I've been reading lately.  Once again, it is a smattering of random stuff, but it sure beats reading the back of the cereal box...again!

Plastics A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel was a great read.  I actually read this one a while ago, but it didn't make it on my last list.  This was not an easy read.  It had a lot of chemical names and compounds that you kind of had to pay attention to and me somewhat familiar with to make it through the book.  The author did explain the words she was using, but to make it easier to follow along, it was nice to already have a background in the jargon.  This book was a real eye opener.  I think that one of the biggest things that I hadn't thought of was the whole plastic pollution issue.  The thing is, or so I learned in this book, is that it is not the bags and bottles that are the biggest plastic pollution issue.  It is that these things never compost, but rather break down into little micro-sized pieces that are now in our oceans.  It is impossible to remove these micro pieces because if a net were used, it would also remove the tiny organisms that are important to our ecosystem.  Another aspect that I had not thought of was how the tubing that is used in the hospitals is all plastic and that is used in babies in the NICU.  That means that sometimes in healing our babies, we are also infecting them with plastic 'runoff' from the tubing and therefore causing complications down the road.  Never thought of that.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon was an incredible read.  It took a minute to get into it, but once I did, I really couldn't put it down.  It is the fascinating true story of a girl who lived in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule.   It is written by a reporter, and I could feel this in the way that it read.  I can't quite put my finger on it, but it was not written in a way to entertain, but rather to inform one of details.  But it was not dry at all.  I was captivated.  One day, while I was shopping at Safeway, I saw a woman in full chadir (the one where the whole person is covered with only a little net rectangle over the eyes to see out) and it really made me think about the huge differences in our cultures.  But this book does not focus on the culture so much, but rather on one girl's life and how she moved purposefully through her life constantly striving to help her family and her community against what seemed to be insurmountable odds.  After reading this book, I wondered what exactly is it that I am doing for the good of my community and if I would have had the ability and perseverance to do what she did.  

Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk
For some reason, this has been Gabriel's book of choice for the last few weeks, so I have read this one about one million times.  Well, actually, what happened was that he was into Miss Spider's New Car

which anyone who knows Gabriel will know that this one is more up to his speed, but he misplaced the book and so he had to settle for the tea party one.  It's still cute with lots of bugs in it.  He likes to read the same book every day at nap time for a while then he will just up and pick a new one.

I just finished reading The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner with Jo and Gabriel, so they have spent the last week or so playing boxcar children in the backyard or under the table in the dining room in inclement weather.  It's a cute story about a group of children who are on their own and find an abondoned boxcar to live in.  They are running away from their grandfather, who they think is mean, but it turns out that really he was looking for them and is very nice and rich, too.  I think that part was kind of lost on the kids, but they liked the part about the kids making their own home in the boxcar.  Honestly, that's all I really remember about the book from when I read it when I was little, too.  Cute read.

The Enclave by Anne Aguirre was also a good read.  It is another one of those books that takes place in the future (the not so distant future, it would seem with all this crazy weather we are having!).  It is about a girl who lives below the ground in what was the subway system and then is sent away from her clan to live above the ground.  She realizes that there is indeed life above ground and she and her friend, who was cast out with her, try to survive above the ground.  There is a sequel to this, and I will read that one, too, but it seems like an awful lot of the new literature is about the future, and sometimes I get tired of reading about everything getting blown up, taken over and/or enclosed and ruled and teenagers trying to figure out how to live.  Maybe because it's kinda scary to think about?  Or maybe because it's not the literature I grew up on, or maybe it's just because I like to vary my reading (as is made obvious by what I end up burying my nose in!)

On another note...

A neighbor called and asked if we have power.  We do.  They asked if they could run an extension cord from here to there.  I told them that they could but that the part of the house that is closest to them is an addition, and is not wired well and the fuse can't take much before it blows.  It blows on us all the time with just the fridge and the microwave.  I told them that they could use the power, but mainly just to run a lamp or charge a phone or something small but not like a TV and lights and a computer and everything.  They said they would call me back.  They never did.  It just seems like two things:  1.  This storm did not spring suddenly upon us.  If you know that you will probably lose power, you should prepare at least somewhat so that you have some sort of lighting and a plan of what to do when you can't turn on the TV, and 2.  If you want to borrow electricity from your neighbor, you should not be expecting to power your whole house with it in an attempt to act as if the power is not off.   Anyway, that's just my opinion, but then again, I am the one sitting here with full power.  If my lights were off, maybe I would think differently.

I hope everyone is safe and I plan to go to bed now and hopefully sleep through what's left of the storm and wake up with at least some of the shingle still on my roof!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Yearly Tradition

Every year we go to the pumpkin patch.  For some reason, I just love the pumpkin patch.  Maybe because it's our last big hurrah into the great outdoors before the winter comes.  Or maybe it's the kettle corn.  I don't know, but for some reason, I just love the pumpkin patch.

We have been going to Cox Farms in Centreville for...well, forever.  We usually try to get there on the first day it opens because they have a huge discount (3 kids free with a paying adult) that makes it cost effective, but for some reason, this year we missed it.

But, since we are homeschooling this year, we can go during the week and get the week day discounts, so that's what we did.  Yay!

Jo was super excited, but Gabriel couldn't really remember what a pumpkin patch was since he was only 18 months old last year when we went.  So when we got there, he was all excited and happy to just be at the fun little things that they had in the entrance and was upset to leave them to go in to the bigger and better stuff inside because he just didn't know what was in store for him.

Jimmy's humor....

In fact, when we first got there, we ate in the car, which got everyone all excited because we usually do not allow food in the car, so that made it already be a special occasion.

But then we actually went into the park and had a blast!

There were slides, a hay ride, goats to pet, pigs to see, cows to moo at, and ropes to swing was so much fun!

I will let the pictures do the talking...

Kettle Corn!

Gabriel just didn't really get the point of these things...

Elizabeth cruisin' in her new car

We had barely left the parking lot when he was out!

Anyway, we had lots of fun and now Gabriel can't stop talking about it!  I'll bet he remembers for next year!