Saturday, January 31, 2015

Good Week

We had a nice week this week. The weather wasn't as warm as last week but we stayed home a lot and got some school done. Definitely calmer when we're not rushing out the door. I did go to the dentist. Hillegonda came over and watched the kids celebrate National Puzzle Day a few days early. I didn't get a pic but I think the kids did every puzzle we own.
Girls enjoy dressing up for church. This was the first time Big Girl noticed that they matched- she looked at KG and said "there's two"

Kitchen Science at the library was fun

One of the many lego games the kids make and love to play

School reading time

K is really starting to enjoy piano playing 

KG getting ready for some roller blading
 We went to the NC zoo yesterday morning. We only saw 4 other families the whole time we were at the zoo. All day the kids said this is the best day at the zoo ever or "if Daddy was just here this was be our best zoo day." It really was a terrific zoo day. The temperature didn't get up to 45 but the animals were terrific. They were so active and easily seen and like one of the kids said "you can look at them as long as you want and still use your manners." :)
First stop- the arctic- seals, polar bears, and puffins! The seals and puffins put on quite the swimming show! The polar bear was a little shy but kept coming out to see everyone.  

The kids loved the play area especially since it wasn't crowded at all. 

What a cool spider web!

What do you call an insect who goes to church?

We have to get a new photo in this gazebo each time we go to the zoo since I always remember the pic from the super day with Kelly and kids there. 
We had a great time taking our time through the North America portion of the zoo and thought we'd take the tram ride back to the entrance. But the nice woman driving the train said she'd drive us to Africa and if the elephants were out then the other animals probably were too. One of the elephants was out so we decided to check it out. I'm so glad we did. The elephant came very close to us and we got to see him eat, drink, walk up close!
Then we filled up the helicopter! Last time in the helicopter we just had 3 boys!

The lion exhibit was another one of our favorites. The lionness gave birth to four cubs last summer and we got to watch mom and cubs eat and play together. Daddy wasn't around but it was super watching these five!

I hope my video works- the kids were all happy to tell them favorite parts of the zoo. (Big Girl was definitely not happy to have KG interrupt her time in the spotlight!) 

I thought this flower in the last exhibit we toured was a great way to end our beautiful day!

We all had a super time and the kids weren't even sad to leave since we were headed to Grandma's house instead of home! K spent a lot of time talking and carving with Pops Leon. We all enjoyed playing the NC trivia game that Grandma found from when Daddy and Uncle Brian were little. Pizza and Toy Story 3 were a great end to a super day! 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Whats Not Working...Thankful

So I woke up today and decided to write a post about what's not working. Both to be balanced and because I did way too much this morning. Yes, in some ways it was good- C, T, KG and I all cooked together, K and I sewed together- I helped him make a present for KG, and Big Girl had fun with each of her siblings. I could have taken pictures of all the food that is now made:
coleslaw, bean and bacon soup, cooked cabbage, french toast, french toast casserole, scones, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, 3 loaves of bread, breadsticks.

But right now, I am worn out and I have a kitchen that looks list this  After rereading those good words from Habakkkuk I'll just leave the kitchen mess to imagination :)

What a great example of how even good things can be not good if they are too much.
I really need to slow down. I keep thinking well if I'm cooking something and need to clean up, I might as well cook ten things and then clean up:) but as I'm learning everywhere more is not necessarily better.

But then I read my daily devotional (Moments Together for Couples) which said that 24 Jan is now officially "the most depressing day of the year. Hear again the words of a man who knew what to do with a January 24 kind of feeling: "Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation."

So instead of obsessing about what's not going well I can choose to be thankful. I have not been as good lately at writing in my thankful journal and I  really have tons to be thankful for. Here's a few:

1. KG isn't limping anymore. No swelling in her knee! So thankful!!
2. KG's eye appointment was terrific- her eyes look perfect. The doctor seems very knowledgable and wants to follow up to make sure her eyes stay good.
3. I have a friend who came over yesterday to watch the kids for KG and my doctor appointments. She brought groceries and dinner and did a Top Secret Surprise with the kids- I don't know what that was but it was the boys' high of the day. They were so excited.
4. I have another friend who is watching the kids for my dentist appointment Tuesday. and who knit the boys super cute aviator hats.
5. I have another friend who is giving me lots of baby stuff passed on from her son.
6. We have a super picnic after church every Sunday that the kids and I all enjoy.
7. We have potluck plans for Saturday nights which really helps the weekends with James away.
8. Homeschooling is going better. Kids are learning to be good helpers and really having a good time playing together.
9. We are driving distance to family which is great for visits and help!
10. James will be here in 50 days!!
and so much more!!!

Our little miracle is 9!

How did that happen so fast? I definitely agree with the saying that the days may be slow but the years are fast. I was talking with a friend tonight about C's first days and those were definitely long. The longest moments in my life might have been the few minutes between when I woke up after C-section waiting until they got a doctor to talk to me. Long scary moments. And those first few days were long scary days. But now it's gone so fast! Although I'd never heard of vasa previa before C's birth, I'll definitely never forget it. The link to C's story isn't working tonight but I hope it will be soon.

Birthday celebration #1 Grandma and Pops Leon brought cake and presents!
We are so blessed and so thankful to have our not so little boy. Over the years we've done different things to celebrate how thankful we are for our little blessing and to remember those families' who lost their little ones. We did not do a Sophie's Walk last year- maybe this week we will. I do like reading over the ones' we've done in the past like C's 5th birthday or several others over the years.

For C's birthday the last bunch of years we've been in the OBX. We would have loved to be back there this year but God had other plans for us this year :) We missed James and wished he could have been here but we had a good day. We had a "normal" morning- Bible reading and verses, morning chores, breakfast, math, rotations- then did some cleaning. Lunch, playtime, naps, and it was time to decorate and get ready. C filled the pinata, KG made potato salad, T and K iced the cake C made yesterday and all the kids put up Lego Star Wars decorations. Well Big Girl napped which was a great help!

At 3 the kids began their countdown until friends arrived- not a lot of friends. We usually do just family but told C he could invite a few boys over for his birthday this year. C was excited about the dinner menu and games posted it on the white board:

At 4:05 I thought I might have to text everyone to see where they were, but thankfully 4:06 someone arrived- so exciting! The other family arrived soon after and then we had lots of happy boys and one happy girl- well two if you count Big Girl nicely napping. Although it was cold out, the kids played outside until they were starving and then had dinner, cake, and presents.

C got a ton of lego star wars sets and no duplicates! He was so excited.

 After presents, pinata time.

 Then trading time- I didn't get a pic but all 8 boys and 2 sweet girls built legos and traded pinata goodies so nicely.
 I did get this pic of the menu K and C posted for the Star Wars party
 And a pic (yes it's dark) but they listed the games they wanted to play. But they had so much fun just playing with friends that they didn't do any of the games.
 They did spend a lot of time that night putting lots of legos together.

A super birthday party for my favorite 9 year old son!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Works for Me Wednesday

Of course, I'm writing this on a Thursday and who knows when I'll actually post it :)

but that's OK! It is so easy to get caught up in what's not going well and to not think much about what is going well. so I wanted to record something of the things that are going well for us!!

Rotating Morning Jobs- we don't do tons of chores and there are definitely lots of things left undone but it's been working well for us to rotate daily four main jobs- meal helper (I have several budding chefs!), bathroom cleaner (because we definitely need a lot of bathroom cleaning), car cleaner/ water bottle filler (we definitely need some work on it but at least we usually get the pear cores out and water bottles are almost always ready for our next great adventure), and Big Girl helper (definitely glad for this one- she and I always need lots of help- getting/ taking/ changing diapers, picking out clothes, helping play outside, ...) We all enjoy that this rotates daily as they definitely have jobs they prefer- somehow bathroom cleaner is never a favorite and car cleaner on 30 degree days not up there either. but knowing it's not every day helps.

and Morning Chat with Daddy for the car cleaner helps as well. When James first went to Korea, we passed the phone around when we got to talk to him but that's really hectic. I think we all enjoy better having some (mostly) uninterrupted time talking. And a good motivation to get morning chores done so you can talk to Daddy.

Morning Bible reading and verses with Daddy has been another good one. Yes, some days it's not so calm but it's great to start the day out with Bible and with Daddy. We've been reading through Proverbs- a Proverb each morning. We've also been using Scripture Box which I love- helps us memorize and keep memorized lots of verses.

Feingold Diet when we follow it- it's a big difference from when we don't.

A daily schedule- no, it doesn't always go as planned. sometimes because we plan to do something different, sometimes we go off on a rabbit trail to do something different, and sometimes because we need to work on character/ discipline things before continuing our day. But having a plan for our day definitely helps me to stay on track and it helps me have to decide fewer things during the day. Amazing how when I was in the Army I was sure stay at home moms ate bon-bons on the couch while watching TV all day :) I do a good bit of sitting on the couch but it's definitely not TV and bon-bons. And there's a ton of deciding stuff throughout the day- yes, it's little stuff- what to eat, what to read, what to... but it's still so good to have a plan that helps have lots of things already decided.

Planner- not a fancy one but my white 3 ring binder with document protectors in it helps me keep daily schedule, meal plan (if I get it done:), reading list, and lots more stuff together and used.

Morning Rotations- after the kids do Bible, math, handwriting, chores, devotion, hymns, ... we usually do morning rotations. I set the timer for 15 minutesish and the kids take turns doing Momschool, Alone time, computer time, Big Girl helper. Momschool is usually reading, piano lesson, cooking, ... Alone time- reading, puzzles, science kits, ... Computer is spanish or typing. And Big girl helper is bath, outside, playdough, something with Big Girl. Once a weekish the kids get to pick what they do for most of those. Again works for me!

Audio books- love these! We are listening to most of Ambleside Online Year Two books on librivox during meals right now. Yes, conversation is good and we have lots of opportunities for that since we're together almost all the time! but we are all enjoying most of the Ambleside books. Right now Pollyanna is the favorite. We also listen to them a lot in the car even though Big Girl prefers music.

Quiet time- one of my favorite parts of the day :) pretty much every day that we are home after lunch we have a little outside playtime and then quiet time for all. Big Girl naps and the rest of us appreciate a little quiet alone time. I definitely feel much better and more ready to see everyone after a little time apart. I've been reading Paul's letters and listening to Psalms then.

Afternoon readings. While Big Girl is still napping is a great time for us to do some more reading, other school stuff that's harder to do while she is up.

Afternoon playtime. We've enjoyed a week or so of amazing weather for winter and so the kids have gotten some good outside playtime!

I feel better after writing these down :) It really is easy to get caught up in what all is wrong and not appreciate what is write. Of course, there is more I could write both good and bad but another I know works for me is getting to bed at a decent time!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

School 2014-2015

I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving  after New Years.. I never wrote a post about our school starting so here are some pics.

LewCrew Christian Academy '14 pancakes

How'd they get big so fast?

Nature study and hiking!

Socialization and Swimming

History at the 82nd Airborne Museum with the BBs

Cool find on our nature hike

Even cooler find- we were so surprised to find this lake on our walk

More history at the Museum of the Cape Fear 

More swimming and socialization

Tennis at Mazarick Park

More socialization (aka birthday party)- look at this nice line   

Nature walk, hiking, and obstacle course
Soccer Fun

Easy science experiment- we brought a closed pinecone into the house to see if it would open up when it got warm. Look on day two- opened pine cone with seeds released into the box.

Fire station field trip- fire safety

I don't have pictures of math but the kids are doing really well. They are all using Math U See.  K is finishing up Epsilon, C is working on Delta, T plugging through Gamma, KG working on Alpha, and Big Girl is excited to have T's old Beta book. She wants to do math with everyone else- she does need some help though. :)

New Years' 2014

I love traditions. I love when the kids remember our tradition and are so excited about them. Even though James is away this year, we've tried to continue many of our traditions. New Years' included. I also like to be flexible (sometimes). We had friends who we really enjoy seeing who could have a park date New Years Eve so we decided to celebrate New Years Eve on New Years Day which is okay!

We got up and fixed pancakes- now I have several pancakes flippers and an egg scrambler so I mostly supervised. we went on our annual bike ride- although this one was very short since I had a flat tire. I sure do miss our wonderful bike repairman. After our bike ride we enjoyed Russian tea, homemade donuts, and oliboli (Hillegonda fixed oliboli- a Dutch New Years tradition- which Hannah brought  over New Years Eve- she and I caught up for a couple hours after the kids went to bed.) The kids played so nicely and it was nice outside so the kids skipped naptime (well Big Girl C napped but the rest had a great time outside.) I didn't have as great a time since I was trying to fix our toilet. I really mess our wonderful handyman, plumber, jack of all trades too.

Then we began fixing appetizers- a tradition we started four years ago. The kids get so excited to go the store (usually BJs) and select an appetizer to fix. These are usually heat and serve but they love choosing, fixing, and serving them. Once we got the appetizers going, it was game time. In years passed we've sometimes used envelopes or balloons with fun ideas listed. This time since James is away and Big Girl C is into everything, the kids and I came up with a list of fun things and I helped pick what we were doing by what Big Girl was up to. Some of our fun- Quirkle, LCR, Bananagrams, and more games. Our little one woke up "hunree" so we were all happy to start eating our yummy/ unhealthy appetizers. Each person served the appetizer they prepared and as they served the appetizer, they told their family member something they love about them. I loved some of the things they said they about each other: "I love playing football with you, i love playing lego with you, I love that you cook", .. but also I also "l love that you are kind, I love that you like to help others, ..."

After dinner, we had another favorite tradition- filling our and reading our time capsule. The kids really get a kick out of reading their past years responses. T cracked up that one year he wrote his name was train and was surprised to see that all four years he put he wants to be a policeman when he grows up. C laughed at how one year he wrote his answers by drawing. We played a few more games before the countdown and toasts (at 7:30). We were thankful that James could Facetime with us and everyone enjoyed the toast- sierra mist and pineapple juice.
We really missed James but were happy to have our traditions and Facetime to connect. We are looking forward to the New Year.