Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Around the Homework Table

It has also been awhile since I have filled you in on what we have been doing in school.  Things have actually been going pretty well now that we have gotten into the new rhythm of having Baby B in the house.

Here's what we are working on:

Jo is improving her reading skills daily!  She can sound out words and pick out a number of sight words.  She has an uncanny ability to memorize, so she is doing great on her AWANA verses and we have taken the challenge together to memorize Psalm 62.  So far, I have verse 1 down, and she fills me in on the following verses!  Pretty much the only thing that we are pretty consistent in doing every day is her copy work, which is to copy her AWANA memorization for the week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and then she can copy an old verse on Thursday and Friday or she can work on Psalm 62.  Her handwriting is very nice, and writing out the words she can't spell or read herself but then memorizes helps her to remember longer words and really builds on her vocabulary.

In math, she is working on money and counting by 5's, 2's and 10's while reviewing addition.  She will also tell you she can tell time, but that's just on digital clocks, so I'm not sure that counts!

For geography, we read an article about a missionary and found where she lives, where she goes and who she helps.  We also did a brief lesson on Afghanistan, but I didn't get nearly into it as much as I had wanted, and I think that we will revisit it, hopefully soon.  She can identify where we live, where Afghanistan is, where El Salvador is, where Rwanda is and, of course, where France is.  Elizabeth is doing a report on Egypt, so Jo is interested in that, so I think that's where we'll go next.

Science at this point consists of trips to Huntley Meadows and watching what the beavers and geese are up to over there.  The beavers have now added a pair of jeans to their den.  Who knows where they got them from, but they are there incorporated into the outer wall of the den!

Social studies consists of talking to the mailman every day as he comes by.  Gabriel and Jo love him!  He addresses them by name and always has a piece of mail to give each of them to bring into the house.  Oh, that and watching the trash and recycling trucks come by on Tuesday morning.

We decided to keep Jo in the gymnastics class for a while longer to see how things go, and she seems to be settling in a bit better now.  She really likes it, and it is nice because we also get a chance to go to open gym once a week and Gabriel can go, too, and play on the equipment.  I figure that's fair.  I don't want to get him into gymnastics because I really want Jo to be able to have her own thing, but open gym is different since it is not a class, and Jo gets to show Gabriel how to use all the equipment, so it works out.

Elizabeth is, as I mentioned before, working on a project about Egypt.  She must present Egypt in 8 minutes in a fun and interesting way.  This is part of her literature class that she takes at the library once a month.  She has been procrastinating on getting this done, but since I told her that I would not take her to Kung Fu classes on Thursdays if her school work is not caught up, she has suddenly turned into quite the scholar.

She is taking on quite a few baby sitting jobs during the day, but I told her that jobs or no jobs, she must have her work up to date or no Kung Fu Thursdays!

She is really doing well in her Kung Fu.  She took the belt test on Saturday and passed!  Now she is a gold belt.  This is the first test that she has taken and didn't really know what to expect, but it turned out that it had much more pomp and circumstance than what she thought!  She had to show that she knew the drills and forms, and then she had to fend off repeated circle attacks.  Once she did that and did well, she was asked to kneel in front of her teacher and an oath kind of thing was recited.  I didn't know it was going to be like that, so I wasn't there, but I would like to see the next one!

The next book for her reading group is The Iliad, but we are looking into finding another reading group.  I am not sure that this group that she is in right now is meeting what we are looking for.  It is part of the African American Homeschool Support Group, which Elizabeth still participates in on Thursdays, but I'm just not sure if the book discussions are what she needs right now.  I told her that if she found another suitable group, then she would not have to read The Iliad.  We'll see what she comes up with.  If she comes up with  nothing, then I guess she really does want to read The Iliad.

Her spelling is still horrible, which I wouldn't usually say online here for all to see, but she admits it, and it was my claim to fame, too, so we're in this boat together.  But she is still slogging through her tests and actually getting some of them right sometimes.  Well, it's not that bad.  Usually.

Right now, she is upstairs working on her biology and Algebra 2.  Biology will be done by the end of the year, but since we started Algebra 2 late, (in February) I don't think that she is going to get through it by the end, whenever that is anyway.

Gabriel is funny because after we read a book before nap or bedtime, he wants to sleep with the book standing up on his bed so he can see the title.  I heard him sounding out the words of the title of the book we read yesterday, and then his little finger poked out from under the blankets to point out the letters of the words.  We don't do any formal schooling with him at all, but it seems that he is already working things out on his own!

Jesse, however, at the ripe old age of 13 months, still shows very little interest in walking.  I would say that it is nice because then he stays put more, but really he is a very fast crawler and climbs and and cruises everywhere, so it's not really too much different other than when he is upright there is more chance of tumbling over and off things.

And that's pretty much what's been going on in our schoolhouse!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What's going on here...

Wow!  It's been a week since I've written!  A lot has actually happened, which is one reason why I have not written.  It has been pretty busy around here.

Jimmy's mom and dad had left to go home to El Salvador in November to live there permanently.  They are residents of the US, and in order to keep their residency, and therefore their ability to travel back and forth from the US and El Salvador, they need to come to the US to visit once every 5 months.

Well, the five months is now up, and so we called them to see if they wanted to set up a time to get the plane tickets to come and visit or if they didn't want to come back and just wanted to let their residency expire.  Much to our surprise, Jimmy's sister answered the phone and told us that Jimmy's dad was planning on 'surprising' us by appearing on our doorstep and announcing that he was going to move back to the US and stay here 'permanently'.

My!  Well, then.  That would have been quite a surprise!  I am glad that we called.

So, in the end, it turned out that we found out on Sunday that both of them decided to come back to live in the US permanently, and their flight was coming in a 2AM on Friday.  That didn't leave us much time to prepare.

We had already talked with them about how when the left in November, we were going to take over the room that they were leaving and that we would not be able to empty it again since in reality we really needed that space anyway.  We are, after all, a family of 6 in only 2 bedrooms, and we sorely needed that extra space.

But then we come to the problem of where do they stay?  With no job and no money, exactly where could they go?  At first, they slept in Elizabeth's bed and she slept on the couch downstairs, then Jimmy's dad went to stay with a friend and his mom slept on Jo's bed and Jo and Elizabeth slept together in her bed, and finally,  after much prayer and obvious intervention from God, his mom moved down to stay with his dad at the friend's house.  It turns out that the family has 3 kids and their live-in nanny/housekeeper is leaving on vacation for a month, so Jimmy's mom is going to take her place while she is gone, and there is a possibility that she will not come back!  That means that Jimmy's mom could have a permanent job with them which includes room and board for both of them plus cash every week!  And they live right down Rt 1, so it is not too far, and there is easy bus access when they need it.

What a blessing!

Monday, March 11, 2013


I know I do a  lot of postings about sleep.  Maybe it's  because I dearly wish that my children would do it more regularly more often so that I could participate in this edifying activity more often myself.

But when they do actually finally give in to sweet slumber, it's a beautiful sight to behold!

Jesse with his new birthday teddy chosen by Daddy...

Gabriel with his current favorite book propped up on the bed and his pink shirt nearby...

And Jo, with her huggy bear and sock monkeys close and Peanut tucked under her arm...

 Dream on, little ones, dream on!

Friday, March 8, 2013

In the Player: Here Comes the Boom!

I seldom choose the movies that we watch since Jimmy is usually the one to go and actually rent the DVD, and we are very limited in that we can only choose the ones that are available to us at RedBox.  We are lucky to have a RedBox within walking distance, though, so we end up getting to watch a movie about once a week.  You can't beat the price at $1.26, and we often get discounts and free movie codes via e-mail and text.

This is one of the latest ones that we have watched:

Here Comes the Boom

At first glance, I wasn't sure that I was going to like this one.  It seemed kind of dumb.  You know, the whole idea of some lazy teacher becoming a fighter...

Anyway, I really liked this one.  It was about this lazy teacher (Kevin James) who had lost all of his passion for teaching who ended up standing up for an older music teacher who really loved his work and made a difference.  James ended up volunteering to raise the money needed to allow the older music teacher to keep his job and not have the music program cut from an underfunded school.  Part of the reason that James keeps on his mission is to impress a girl, but the guy/girl aspect of the movie was very sweet and clean with only one very sweet kissing scene toward the end.  Anyway, in order to make the money necessary, James decides to try his hand at fighting since he had been a wrestler in high school.  Needless to say, he was way out of shape and out of training and gets pummeled repeatedly.  But the students see him taking his knocks, find out it is for them, and begin to take note of him and respect him.  In turn, he begins to respect himself and turn himself around into a great teacher and better man.

I agree with the PG rating for the violence of the fights and for the gentle romance, but it is definitely a movie that I would let Elizabeth see.  I don't think that the little ones would get the point of it, though, and all they would take away from it would be the fighting, so I wouldn't choose it for them.

My call?  Thumbs up!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Jesse has finally discovered the joys of eating food other than what is fully pureed.  He loves Cheerios and will sometimes not eat anything but them!

We have this awesome counter in the kitchen that my brother made for us.  It has 2 shelves below it and the shelves are the perfect height to store the cereal boxes and other boxed pantry items.  When my brother was going to make it, I asked him if he could put doors on the shelves below, but to save space and weight, he decided not to.  He told me that we would not need them.

My brother does not have any children.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

When You See it Through Their Eyes

As I mentioned before, I had a rough day one day last week, but it was completely turned around by the touch of a friend.  There's more to this story, though.

Baby B was with us on Thursday, and he had an absolute blast all morning, and he peacefully drank his bottle and started to snuggle in for a nap.  But then, he realized that he really wanted more milk.  That was the one thing that would make him happy.  Sleep would come later, but he wanted milk, and he would actually have liked that milk now!

But there was none to be had!  There were other yummy treats to be eaten like carrots and banana and squash, but only milk would do, and so there was sadness and tears.  Sucking his thumb wasn't cuttin' it.  He needed milk.  Well, in all honesty, he didn't need the milk.  He had just had some, and there was other food to be had, so it's not like he was starving, but he wanted the milk.  It's what he needed to hit his little warm comfy sleepy time spot.

So, I picked him up and held him.  And I looked into his little teary eyes, and he looked into mine, and there was communication.

I get it, Baby B.  It's what you need right now.  Even though you will get by without it, and you physically don't need it for survival, it's what will fulfill your desires and make you happy.  It's what will lift your spirits and calm your heart.  I get it.  Sometimes, we all just need what we don't need but what we want.

I get it.

So, I did the thing that I never do outside of an emergency.  I called Baby B's mom at work on the phone.  Not texted, called.  Like ring ring...hello?

It wasn't an emergency.

But it was.

It was Baby B's emergency, and I knew how he felt.  I knew that eventually, he would cry himself to sleep, and I knew that in the long run, it probably wouldn't have made much difference, but I also knew that if he were my little boy, I would want to know when he had a need like this.

This does not mean that his every little whim will be fulfilled, nor does it mean that I intend to call his mother at the drop of every cheerio, but what it does mean is that I understand that sometimes, there are just things that have to be done, needs that must be fulfilled.  Does Baby B understand what transpired?  Did our communication go to that level?  I would like to think that in some deep dark recess of his little brain, a synapse was connected and some sort of bond was formed.  A happy snuggle milk mommy caregiver bond so that his trust in me and mankind in general was strengthened just a little.

But maybe not.  Maybe he was just happy to see his mom and get some milk.  Whatever.  She came.  He smiled.  Happy baby.

But I would like to think that somewhere deep inside, he understood, and I hope his mom did, too.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Think it Needs a Name

This past weekend was a busy weekend.  After some time of trying to deal with two eating babies and only one high chair, I decided to cave and get another chair.  It's just too hard to try to feed one while holding him on your lap while feeding the other while he's sitting in the chair.  Or, if I feed one first, then I have to completely clean the whole chair before I can/want to stick the other one in, and sometimes, as you may know, a hungry little one will not allow you the luxury of that kind of time!

So, here we are!

I found one on craigslist, but it was all the way in Rockville, and it was only $10 less than a new one from Target, so we went with a new one instead.

We just have to be sure that the chairs are not close enough for one to swipe the food of the other!  (I'll let you figure who looks like the most likely swiper...and let me tell you, neither one is as innocent as he looks!) Funny that it's basically the exact same seat, only purchased five and a half years later than the first one!

But this, oh this was my biggest score of the weekend!

The Joovy Big Caboose Stand-On Tandem Triple Stroller!

I got this off craigslist, and I was so excited to get it!

I have a double stroller that is a side-by-side jogger, but it's just too wide to fit through doors and basically anywhere except for walks around a neighborhood or park on a sidewalk or wide path.  It's a perfect stroller that is super easy to use and very lightweight, but it's just too wide for what we need when we go places like the library or museum.

So, I was looking for a front to back double, but then I realized that a double would only hold Jesse and Baby B, and we often go for long walks around the lake or at Huntley Meadows, and Gabriel just can't keep up with the pace that I like to set.  As energetic as he is, he is NOT a quick walker!  He likes to creep along and look at everything and preferably poke it with a stick, if there's one handy which is great for exploration purposes, but really annoying for everything else!

I realized that what I really needed was a triple stroller, but I wasn't too keen on getting one that had 3 seats with trays in front of them because Gabriel likes to get in and out of the stroller as we cruise (usually to poke something with a stick), and that would just be a pain to lift him in and out of a seat all the time.

But when I typed in 'triple stroller' in craigslist, this Joovy is what came up.  I did some research and decided that this would be a good option for us.

It is very big (55" from front to back!), but it does exactly what we need it to!

We took it out on the road for the first time today.  We went to Walmart to get some milk (sometimes I wish we could just have a cow!  We drink so much milk!!!) and a birthday present for someone who will remain un-named here (even though she is so far behind in reading this that by the time she actually reads this she will be turning 20, not 15).

 Jo was mad because she didn't get to ride on it, (as pictured above) but she is really a bit big for it.  She is so tall that her head sticks way up if she standing on the platform and it doesn't fit under the sun shade if she is sitting down.  But I did take the strap off the jogger and put it on the handle of this one so she has a strap to hold on to for crossing streets.  The strap is supposed to be to put around your wrist so the stroller doesn't get away from you when you jog, but seeing as I don't jog, that's not likely to happen, so we have figured out another mode of employment for it.  I think that I will fashion another one from some sort of strap so that I can have one on both strollers instead of having to remember to switch it back and forth.

Anyway, this thing is a beast!  It is beautiful!  It rolls well, handles as well as you can expect a stroller of this size to handle and folds down actually pretty small.  It was super hard to push on the way back, though, since we had filled the bottom with groceries, too.  It seems like it would be nice to have a longer bar in the back for more leverage to steer it.  Maybe some sort of handles that stick out the sides that you can fold down when you don't need them, or some sort of contraption to steer the front wheels from the back.  (Elizabeth and I toyed with the notion that all the tires should swivel like the carts at Ikea, but we quickly discarded that idea when we saw how quickly it would lose control and roll out into traffic when you strolled over a slanted driveway apron.)

So, I feel that a beauty such as this designed for long voyages deserves a name.

Any suggestions?

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Friend Indeed

One day last week was a hard day.  I don't know why, exactly.  I can't put my finger on it, but I just woke up 'on the wrong side of the bed' so to speak.  I felt growly and grumpy, and to make matters worse, I had to drop Elizabeth off for a morning babysitting job, which meant that I had all the kids all by myself for the whole day.

It was kind of warm outside yesterday, but not really, and everything was still wet from the rain the night before, so going to a playground was out, and I still don't have a good stroller to be able to go somewhere like Huntley Meadows with all 4 of them, so I was stuck and didn't know what to do.  I knew that the kids would feed off my bad mood and raise a ruckus if I just took them home to play, and I didn't want that to happen to make things go from bad to worse, and I was just at a loss.

On a whim, I called a friend of mine.  Her response?  Why don't you guys come over here and play?  I wasn't sure that I wanted to take her up on her offer.  I mean, she has one little girl, but if we all came, I would be bringing 4 kids to her house!  That's a lot for any small space to handle.  But, no, she insisted, and we all went to her house.

It was wonderful!

We had never been to her house even though she has come over to play at ours a few times.  We usually meet at the park between our neighborhoods, so it was a new experience for all of my kids, and they loved it!  There was a wide open space to play in the living room, and a few well thought out toys to play with in the playroom.  Perfect!  No overload of toys, no huge messes to be made, just right.  I got to watch the littlest ones crawl around on the floor and enjoy themselves, and the big ones all got to play together and my friend and I got to chat a bit between wiping up cracker crumbs and runny noses.

This was just what I needed, right when I needed it.  Without it, I would have survived, of course, but things would not have been nearly as enjoyable, and no one would have had as much fun.  Her offer of friendship immediately lifted my mood, cheered my heart and raised my spirits.  The whole day turned around and my grumps were gone.

My friends are important to me.  They make me happy and make my heart sing.  Earlier this week, a chat from a far away friend totally made my day, too, and women's Bible study warms my spirit.  Even when it's a call for help from someone else, it heartens me to think that this person thought of me when the were hurting or needed something.  They see me as a friend, too.  Give and take is a beautiful thing.

It got me to thinking.  Jo's AWANA verse this week is:

Colossians 1:3
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.

Do I?  Do I always thank God when I pray for my friends?  Beyond even that, do I even remember to pray for my friends when they don't 'need' it?  Do I pray for my friends just because?  Just because they are my friends and I am thankful for them?  Just because they are my friends and I want good things for them?

It was not necessary for my friend to invite us over yesterday.  In fact, she didn't even need to answer her phone when she saw me calling.  But she did, and I am thankful for it.  It was not necessary that my far away friend take the time out of their day to chat with me.  But they did, and I am thankful for it.

So, friend, thank you for being here.  Thank you for listening to me.  Thank you for trusting me with your needs and helping me meet mine.  Thank you for being my friend and letting me be yours.  And know that you are in my prayers because I do thank God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, for you.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Small

(Ok, so somehow I thought that this week's word was 'small' but it's not.  It's 'ordinary'.  But since I've already written for my 5 minutes, you get what I wrote, which is 'small', but never 'ordinary'!)

I was always been the smallest in my family growing up.  My dad is 6 feet tall, my mom 5'6", my sister 6'1" and my brother 6'3".  I was a mere 5'5".  (Now I'm 5'6" like my mom.  I grew a bit with each kid.  I used to figure how many kids I would have to have in order to reach my sister's height, but Jimmy wasn't going for it, so i gave up.)  I was (am) also the only one of us 3 kids who doesn't have red hair.  So, with my brother and my sister being very tall, older than me and having flaming red hair, you can see how I would end up being labelled as 'so and so's little sister'.  I used to want to scream 'I HAVE A NAME, YOU KNOW!!!!'

Anyway, I assume that happens with many younger siblings, but I felt it even more because I was just so darn short!

I used to equate height with both beauty and power because, well, my siblings were very 'beautiful' with their red hair, and, being older than me, they were also very powerful.

I remember that when I felt my best, I felt tall.  When I felt my worst, I felt small and shrimpy.

I am neither short nor shrimpy, but sometimes I still feel that way.

But the interesting thing is that not too long ago, maybe 5 years or so ago, my sister told me that while I was envious of her height, she was envious of my 'petite' size because I could go into any store and find any clothes or shoes to fit me whereas she could not.  She told me that she used to get upset to see how 'cute' I looked in any outfit because everything fit me well when she could not even find jeans that didn't look like highwaters on her.

The hair thing was never an issue with her.  She loves her red hair, but honestly, I'm pretty content with mine now, too.

Ok, well, so that was a five minute ramble, but hey, that's what it's all about, right?

Come on over and join us!

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