Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Maryland Zoo . . . Then and Now . . .

Monday we visited Maryland Zoo in Baltimore . . . We had a great visit in general, but part of the fun was taking pictures of the girls doing some of the same things they did when we visited the same zoo in 2007. Here's our fun comparisons :)





Wrapping Up the Last Few Weeks . . .

Wow! I haven't been keeping up well, have I?

Let's see . . . I think we need to go back to the last week of March.

I honestly have no recollection of what we did Sun-Tues of that week. I think we were just getting settled back in after being gone, and getting ready for birthdays . . .

Wednesday and Thursday were both pretty filled with Little Bit's Birthday

Friday was probably errands and such, and Sabbath started with Lexie and Ashlyn's Birthday, and finished with my grandmother's memorial.

Sunday we spent time at my parents' house with extended family who were still there. When I was a young adult, I gave each of my grandparents a blank journal and a jar of questions about their life. Over the next few years they answered the questions in the journals, leaving us with books that tell stories from their lives. My mom had the books out getting information for the memorial service so Lexie and Aunt Darla spent Sunday afternoon reading through part of Grandpa's book together.

We were planning to head home that afternoon, but Rodney met a client first, and that took longer than expected, so we ended up heading home Monday morning.

That week was spent with Lexie, Ashlyn, and me fighting colds (Little Bit had it over the weekend, then we got it), and getting food and house ready for Passover AND a belated birthday celebration with the grandparents.

Friday night marked the beginning of Passover with our Seder. I somehow didn't think to get any pictures, but it was fun to see Lina getting into it abit more. . .

Sabbath was potluck.

Sunday was our birthday celebration with the grandparents. That morning Lexie and Little Bit decorated Little Bit's cake. They put green (grass) and blue (water) frosting on it, with cookie crumb "sand" in between and then Little Bit carefully placed plastic animals in just the right pattern.

Lexie finally got to try a "recipe" she's been wanting to use for a long time . . . a pasta salad bar. Where she set out cold pasta and all different "fixings" and dressings for pasta salad and let everyone mix their own. It was an AWESOME idea! A wonderful, easy, adaptable to all different likes/dislikes meal.

Monday was GORGEOUS weather, and we got tons done outside, clearing out weeds and getting a start on raised beds for a garden this summer. SO nice to be outside finally!

Later in the week was rainy. I pulled out a recipe for "goop" to give Little Bit a fun change of pace . . . she wasn't so sure about it . . . ewww . . .this is gross!!! But she played with it off and on all day LOL.
We wrapped up our week with "Jeans Sabbath", including helping kids at the Boys and Girls Club do crafts, then playing outside, and in the gym with them.

I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but those are at least a few highlights from the last few weeks :) 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Today I'm blogging over at the SDA Homeschool Blog about teamwork and competition. Come check it out!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Belated Happy 12th (how is that possible?) Birthday to Ashlyn & Lexie!

Lexie and Ashlyn turned TWELVE! on Sabbath!! I'm really not sure how that's possible . . . They are most definitely not little girls anymore, sigh . . . 

The evidences of them not being little girls started the night before, when Lexie explained to Little Bit that, "on your birthday, you got to wake up, and wake us up, whenever YOU wanted . . . on MY birthday, I'm going to sleep in! You can't wake me up tomorrow morning." 

Little Bit grudgingly agreed . . . And came downstairs Sabbath morning wanting to do something to surprise her sisters. I humored her and got out some window markers I picked up on sale awhile back. She had a BLAST decorating the windows for them. And, being the good big sisters they are, they were properly surprised and appreciative :) 
They also humored me with the pictures, and Rainbow Bridge story and even wore the crocheted bead tiaras I'd made, though they were happy when I pointed out that they could later be worn as headbands, necklaces or bracelets. BUT the second I got the camera out they ran back upstairs to get dressed . . . no pictures till we look good :) 

Little Bit was happy to help with presents, and she gathered up all the playsilk wrappings when we were done :) 

After presents, we had a special birthday breakfast of crepes with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, YUM!!!

Beyond that, their birthday wasn't very . . . birthday-ish. My grandmother passed away the week before and the memorial service was Saturday afternoon. So the rest of our day was spent getting ready for, and driving to, and attending her memorial.

The girls have always loved hearing stories about people, and the memorial included a wide variety of stories, including some that made Lexie and I realize, for the first time, that Lexie has alot of her Great Grandmother in her :-)

When we got to my parents' house that evening, we discovered that my cousin and his wife, upon hearing that all 3 girls' birthdays were so close, had gotten them birthday presents, so that was a nice ending to their day.

We've talked about possibly having a "Lexie day" and, separately an "Ashlyn day" sometime in the next few weeks since their birthday, in addition to being shared, wasn't very much about them, but we shall see . . . April is shaping up to be pretty jam-packed already.

We ARE still having a birthday celebration with all the grandparents on Sunday, so we still have that to look forward to, as my babies begin their thirteenth year, sob!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Happy 6th Birthday Little Bit!!!

Yesterday was Little Bit's 6th Birthday!!! It's mind boggling to me that she's already as big as her sisters were when she was born!

She had a very busy schedule planned. In fact, so busy that it spilled over into the day before.

Normally Thursday is music lesson day but she didn't want to have to spend her birthday going grocery shopping and playing quietly while we waited for sisters SO our ever-accommodating music teacher agreed to let us switch music lessons to Wednesday this week.

After music lessons we were planning to meet friends at the "dragon playground" (a playground near our old house), but it was cold and rainy so we went to the friends' house instead. Little Bit had a great afternoon playing with K & T, and having blueberry muffin/cupcakes for snack.

Yesterday was all about Little Bit.

She woke up to a trail of pink hearts leading her downstairs, where more pink hearts decorate our big front windows. The table was decorated with a pink cloth, pink balloon, her presents and . . . because I still haven't forked over the money to buy a birthday ring, and I couldn't find any of our modeling clay to make one out of clay like I've done in the past, I made it out of tinfoil this year. Not ideal, but it worked . . . which reminds me, I need to find the clay TODAY or we'll be using the tinfoil again tomorrow morning for Lexie and Ashlyn. We read her "rainbow bridge story" (you can read last year's story here, for this year I added "When she was five years old she learned to write and draw and make scrambled eggs. . . . And now Little Bit is SIX years old! She loves giraffes and Frozen and playing with friends. . . ") and she blew out the candles. Then, for my sweetie whose love language is, without a doubt, "gifts", it was time for presents!!!!!

We continued the tradition of getting a tea cup each year.

She was very excited to get the Elsa doll she's been drooling over every time we go to Target (well, she's been drooling over the bigger dolls too, but Mommy has a limit on what she'll spend on silly, trendy, we'll be tired of it a month from now, toys), and she was happy with the little one.

When all the presents were done, she was pretty happy with her new Frozen stuff :)

At her request, we had ice cream for breakfast . . . then, also at her request, we went bowling.  But before we went bowling, she had to "put on makeup". When we were at K & T's house on Wednesday, they were playing dress-up and K had some of her mom's old makeup that she can use for play, so Little Bit got to try it out and now she's hooked LOL. We talked about how normally makeup is just for dress-up, but agreed that, for her birthday, she could wear some eye shadow (conveniently, of the colors I have, she wanted pink, which doesn't really show) and lip gloss.

I found it absurd that, in a practically empty bowling alley (being 11am on a Thursday), they put us sharing seating and ball return with someone else GRRR . . . they were in lane 1, we were given lane 2, the next lane in use was lane TEN, so I don't know why in the WORLD they didn't give us, oh, say . . . lane 5 (or 3 or 4 or 6 or 7 . . . ) Thankfully, after they finished the game they were in the middle of the boy wanted bumpers for their second game and for whatever reason lane 1 doesn't have bumpers so they moved to a different lane. It wasn't a huge deal, they ignored us, we ignored them, but struck me as odd. . . combined with the fact that she also spelled 2 of my daughters' names wrong DESPITE having them spelled to her as she was typing them (oddly enough, Ashlyn, who is typically spelled wrong (second n) or changed to Ashley, was the one she got right).

Little Bit had a few minutes of whining because she isn't as good as her sisters and daddy (which she noticed more this time, because, much to Ashlyn's excitement, she beat DADDY both games! (and Lexie tied him one of those games). So there was more focus on score then there had been when we went bowling for E's birthday last week. But a fun time was had by all.

A quick lunch out and we headed home, where Lexie attempted cake pops (they need some work, I love that she's all about experimenting in the kitchen! And keeps health in mind, even when making "treats") for the "tea party" that Little Bit had requested for snack time.

We had limeade (because Little Bit doesn't actually like tea) and cookies for tea, and I somehow didn't manage to get any pictures of that, grrrr . . . Little Bit was all decked out in her Anna costume too!

The rain stopped and it was WARM for the first time in forever so the kids rode scooters and worked on the garden and generally soaked up spring in the late afternoon/evening, before coming in for a quick supper before bedtime.

As we were doing bedtime stories, Little Bit asked "why was my birthday so much shorter than other days?" so we talked about how the time seems to go faster when we're having fun . . . I'll take that as a sign that it was most definitely a success :) And now she's SIX!!!!! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!?!?! And how did turning six make her suddenly look so BIG GIRL instead of my sweet cute LITTLE GIRL?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wrapping Up Last Week

Whew! Where DID this week go?

It feels like forever ago, but . . . let's talk about LAST week.

We started our week with a fun birthday party for Little Bit's friend, E.  Bowling and pizza with friends, what more can you ask for!

Monday was a busy day of getting ready for our trip to Pittsburgh, and, if memory serves, the girls all soaked up some spring-like weather that day.

Tuesday we headed to Pittsburgh.

We spent all day Wednesday at Carnegie Science Center.

Thursday the girls and I stayed in the hotel all day. We did some school, and lots of swimming.

Awhile back, I'd found organic spaghetti-o's at Aldi, and, while being organic doesn't change junky convenience food into healthy whole foods, I figured that at least meant no GMOs and such, and our options are limited when we're in a hotel room with just a microwave and mini fridge (for longer trips I often take our crockpot to increase our options, but that means lugging more STUFF . . . so it's all trade-offs). And, I had some packets of instant potatoes that had been in our emergency bag, but were near/at expiration date so I'd rotated them out. So, that was our lunch . . . much to my amusement, my kids were NOT AT ALL impressed with either! I think the spaghetti-os amused me the most. They have never had anything remotely like them before. I haven't had them since I was a kid, and didn't remember them being so sweet, but the flavor did have a familiarity to them so I don't think these were noticably sweeter than the non-organic "name brand" variety I had as a kid. But all 3 girls could NOT figure out why ANYONE would make spaghetti SO SWEET.  Even my sweet tooth, would eat sugary stuff all day long, Little Bit, didn't like sweet spaghetti. She wouldn't eat it at all, the other girls ate it because it was what was available, but the vote was unanimous to NOT do that again. The instant potatoes were supposed to be a "cheese" flavor but were really just EXTREMELY salty, again, even my salt-loving Ashlyn declared them way too salty. Little Bit wouldn't eat them at all (we had other "snacks" in the room like applesauce packets and such so she didn't starve) and the big girls only ate it because of the limited options. So, while our overall diet is far from perfect, I was gratified to find that I was doing SOMETHING right if my kids so strongly disliked some of the "staples" of the standard american diet :)

Friday we dropped Rodney off at his class, went to Starbucks to waste time until the Children's Museum opened, and then spent a fun day there.  Our original plan was to check out of the hotel Fri morning and then, as soon as Rodney was out of class, head for home. BUT the weather report was rather strongly predicting snow, not out in Pittsburgh, but at home, and we decided on "better safe than sorry" especially with planning to travel late into the evening, and not risk bad roads. So we waited and drove home on Saturday.

It made for a more relaxed day on Friday, with more time at the pool for the kiddos.

Sabbath was also a relaxed day. The roads were fine but we definitely saw ever-increasing snow on the grass and trees as we traveled home. Sabbath's warmer temperatures meant that even our driveway had melted by the time we got home, just leaving the pretty of snow on the grass.

So that was our busy week! I was happy to find that Little Bit has still not outgrown her love of "sparkly tunnels" (the way the lights in the tunnels reflect off the white tile walls) :) As we were driving out there, I had, as always, packed a bag of small toys and snacks to give to her as "surprises" every half hour or so to keep the trip from dragging. When we drove through the first tunnel she got excited, as always and exclaimed "Mommy, is this one of my surprises?!?!?!" And in that instant, it became one of her surprises LOL.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Field Trips Galore: Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

On our last day in Pittsburgh we spent the day at the Children's Museum. It happened to be a free day (note to self, ALWAYS check for such things, and avoid if possible, although, I'm not sure how we'd have scheduled our week differently in this case) so it was definitely the most crowded we've ever seen it, mostly really little kids, since it was a week day. 

As we noticed with the science museum, Little Bit is finally old enough to really enjoy the experience instead of just getting dragged (drug?) along on her sisters' adventures. In this case, though, the older girls are starting to outgrow this museum, so we've reversed things at this museum . . . now the big girls get to tag along on Little Bit's adventures :) 

I think they did enjoy "helping" Little Bit and introducing her to their old favorites :) 

Little Bit really enjoyed the electricity exhibit. All kinds of little switches and lights and things, and then battery packs and wires to hook them all together and close the circuit so the switches, buzzers and lights would work. I told my dad they're all ready to help him with his next wiring project, hee hee.

Another favorite was a temporary exhibit that was just a big inflated tunnel the kids could run through.  I honestly don't understand how it was so exciting, but Little Bit it over, and over, and over . . . 

A long-time favorite is the art studio. All kinds of open-ended art, free for the making! This was the room where it's MUCH more fun when it's not so crowded, Ashlyn didn't even bother painting, she said the paint at all the easels was shades of brown because of so many little kids putting brushes in the wrong colors. Little Bit did make a rather autumn-looking sunset with the shades of brown LOL. And all 3 girls enjoyed the "comic art" part.  I was so tempted to take a picture of a random kid, but refrained. It was soo cute though . . . near the comic art station there was a carpeted area with big floor pillows and picture books. A little kid (probably 3 or 4) was snuggled up on the pillows fast asleep! Soooo sweet :) 

Little Bit and Ashlyn also had fun dropping parachutes and such in the "garage" and Little Bit was pretty fascinated with the optical illusion room that always gives me a headache :)