Friday, November 30, 2007

Putting on a Play

A month or so ago Sam's had LED Christmas lights, so I grabbed a box, thinking one box would be enough (I desperately wanted to switch to LED lights last Christmas but the only place I found white ones (I'm not a fan of colored lights on trees) the price was insane, so I stuck w/ regular lights last year. But was excited to find white LED lights at Sam's when the Christmas stuff started coming out this year). Then we had the whole tree fiasco, and I finally last night, set up our borrowed tree, and I was 1 strand short :( So, today I went to Sam's (needed eggs anyway)to get another box of lights (figured I could use the other 2 strands outside or on the banister or something) and they don't have them anymore :( They have 1001 OTHER LED lighting options, snowflakes, icicles lights, stakes to stick in your yard . . . I'm not sure what all, but NOT plain old tree lights. So I stopped at Walmart, and didn't find ANY LED lights there (they had the colored ones last year, just not plain white). So I gave up and came home. We had put off decorating the tree entirely too long already (& I'm not at all hopeful at finding white LED lights at a price I'm willing to pay anyway, so why put it off). So . . . I went looking for the non-LED lights to use for the final strand. The box that had the lights in it, also had the Veggie Tales Nativity that my aunt & uncle gave the girls for Christmas last year and the girls were thrilled to find it. Last year they didn't really get "role playing" in the sense of using puppets or whatever to act out a story, but now they do, and they know the story enough to (sort of) tell it from memory. So they set up a bunch of other toys as the "audience" and just finished acting out the Christmas story with the Veggie Tales set.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Not reasons TO homeschool, but . . .

Everyone has their own reasons for homeschooling, or not homeschooling, for that matter. And while I know there are people who choose to homeschool because they are afraid to let their children out of their sight, for fear of what might happen, personally, I don't think fear should be the motivating factor in choosing to homeschool. That said, having already made our decision to homeschool, based on our children's personalities, etc. I can't help but occasionally reading about friends' experiences and thinking "wow, I'm glad we're homeschooling!".

Some are minor things, at the beginning of the school year a couple groups I'm on were discussing/comparing the supplies lists the schools send out. And the crunchy side of me cringed at some of the things on those lists and sighed in relief that, when my kids turn 5 they won't suddenly be smearing anti-bacterial chemicals on their hands umpteen times a day, but can continue to use vinegar & essential oils when we need to clean our hands w/o water. But those are minor.

Awhile back, an online acquaintance posted, abit freaked out, because her dd (late elementary school or early middle school, if I remember right. Older than my kids by quite abit, anyway) was stuck at school in a lockdown situation. It all turned out fine, and again, I had the "wow, that would freak me out! I'm glad that I'm not likely to be in that situation", in that case, because of the child being older, it didn't hit quite so close to home, and while I could certainly empathize with the mom for being scared for her dd, I didn't totally relate it to my kids.

But today, another friend was waiting with her dd for the (afternoon kindergarten bus) when she got word that there wouldn't be afternoon K today because the school was in lockdown. Everything turned out fine, but somehow this one, combined w/ my kids being closer to school age maybe, struck me more! Aside from MY fears for my child's safety in that situation, I also can't imagine how my particular children, especially A, would react to BEING LOCKED DOWN! A is the child who doesn't like unexpected change to her routines. She still "mourns" the car we got rid of over a year ago. Logically, she agrees that the minivan is better, she loves that she can open & close her own door and such, but she still mourns the "red car". She is a child who can be easily scared. When we got home to the smoke detectors malfunctioning, as I rushed around trying to figure out how to turn them OFF (for the record, hard wired smoke detectors w/ individual battery backups are a PAIN to turn off!) I suddenly realized that A was sitting in the kitchen shaking she was so afraid that there was an actual fire and we were all going to get burned up. I can't imagine how much it would freak her out to be told that she had to stay in the classroom for who knows how long and no, you may not go home like you were expecting to!

Now obviously, situations can happen anywhere, we could have a lock down situation in a store at some point, or whatever . . . but a teacher with a classroom full of kids this same age, all reacting in their own ways, isn't going to be able to focus as completely on my 2 kids, as I would be able to.

Just a typical day . . .

This morning the girls were playing outside. I will never understand why, when they are bouncing off the walls wanting to RUN when we're in the house, the second we go outside they gravitate toward non-movement activities, or at least low movement. Instead of riding bikes or running in circles or SOMETHING active, they took their babies for a walk, then sat on the curb across the cul de sac from our house for quite some time, then A managed to catch a grasshopper (she's caught them rather frequently lately, I'm going to assume that the cold makes them slow, since I can't quite fathom a 4 yr old being fast enough to consistently catch a grasshopper. Then again, personally, I can't fathom WANTING to catch a bug of any sort, but my children apparently didn't inherit my dislike of bugs). That poor grasshopper was WELL tortured, but more amusing to me, if I hadn't happened to notice, the girls were all set to leave the grasshopper, complete w/ grass to eat (I think) IN our mailbox!!! Our poor mailman, someday he's going to open our mailbox and have something fly out at him LOL.

We went to the library today & one of the books L chose was probably from the "very young" section, and each page of the whole book shows a picture of an animal and the words on that page just say what sound that animal says, so the first page shows a picture of a cat and says "cats purr". L was looking at that book on the way home from the library and started on that first page and sounded it out (she already knew cat, so just had to figure out purr, I helped her w/ what u says and she took it from there). That gave her the "concept" of the book, so some she could just figure out from looking at the pictures, but she did at least look at the first letter of each animal's name name and sound, so if it said something other then what she was expecting (it said "bears snore" and she was expecting "roar") she sounded the word out. Obviously needed some help since English is far from phonetic and this wasn't written as an early reader (to only have phonetic words), but overall she did amazingly well. I'm going to get some of the Bob Books back out (got them awhile back when they were showing interest in sight reading, but they just memorized what each page said based on the pictures and never looked at the words), and see if she wants to practice reading w/ those.

We got home and L put 3 Duplo blocks together to form a "video camera" and was videoing A giving some sort of lecture, watching them play provides me with endless amusement :)

Last weekend mom had some extra bananas that she gave us because I'd mentioned that I'd been wanting to make banana oatmeal cookies. When I asked the girls, while they were busy playing, if they wanted to help me make cookies, A told me, "no, you can make them by yourself, we'll just help eat them" hmmmm . . .

Hee hee, the girls are playing school in the kitchen. Apparently I'm the principal and for some reason they needed to sneak through "my office" (the family room). So they were "sneaking" across the family room while I sat on the sofa typing this entry. As they walked through the family room I suddenly yelled "boo"!!! It was PRICELESS!!! L literally jumped up into the air it startled her so bad, and A jumped back several inches. Of course they've now decided that this is a great game & think I should yell "boo" every few seconds and can't figure out why it doesn't work as well when they're waiting for me to do it LOL. And yes, this IS how I get my entertainment!

The ongoing Christmas Tree saga . . .

We apparently aren't supposed to actually get our Christmas tree up this year, at least not in my normal "right after Thanksgiving" timeframe. My parents did their part and delivered their tree to dh on Monday, but somehow between dh & I, we haven't managed to actually get the tree here & in the house yet (it was in dh's car Mon night but I didn't think to have him bring it in, then yesterday he got a nail in his tire, so he drove something else home last night until they could get the tire fixed in the car the tree is in, and of course, didn't think to x-fer the tree to the car he drove home, so even when I remembered to ask him about going out to get the tree, it was half an hour away, not here, so that didn't happen . . .)

Which was all fine, because my best guess of what happened to the top 2/3 of our tree is that it got mixed up w/ one of the Beginner SS trees at church, so I mentioned all this to the Beginners leader & she was planning to go to the church today to decorate the Beginners room for Christmas. Since my girls adore playing w/ her kids, and more hands make things go much quicker, I was going to meet her at the church, help her decorate the room, and at the same time, see if I could find my tree. SO . . . when dh said he'd forgotten the tree last night, I figured that worked out well, it gave me an excuse to put it off until after I checked at the church for my tree (because my tree is MUCH easier to set up, if i have all the pieces, than my parents' tree) but now that's not happening . . . .so we shall see . . . but we're still treeless, sigh . . .

In an odd switch, I DO have our Christmas letter written, but was wanting to at least take a stab at getting the girls to sit in front of the tree for a picture to include, we'll see if that happens. I *have* decided that the whole "saving paper" ecological argument is a lovely argument for sending e-mail Christmas letters for those on my list who have e-mail addresses, so that will make the actual sending of the Christmas letters not take nearly as long as when I actually did them all by hand :) And I think the girls will enjoy helping to put stamps & such on the ones that I do mail.

Other Christmas decorating and such is kind of stalled waiting for the tree, since all the decorations are packed together and somehow getting the ornaments out before the tree is up strikes me as an overall recipe for disaster. But if it doesn't happen soon, I might at least have to go digging for our Christmas CDs (just thought of somewhere else that at least a couple might be), I think the girls are old enough to enjoy learning Christmas carols and I love Christmas music anyway :)

This summer I DID manage to find the sticker advent calendars that I got in an after Christmas sale when the girls were 9 mo old so we have those to use this year, and my mom gave the girls an advent calendar from where she works that has a small book that tells part of the Christmas story. The girls are excited about it and can't wait to start in on Sabbath. I had been wanting to pour a set of Advent candles to use this year, but I've been busy pouring candle orders and I think between the sticker calendar and the book calendar we'll just stick w/ that for this year. Next year I want to do the Advent candles, complete with daily readings or a Jesse tree, I have a year to decide which LOL.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Save Money, Save Your Health, Save the Earth

As many of you know, over the last few years I have been learning more and more about the dangers of many of the chemicals that we all use on a regular basis. Also as many of you know, frugality (which sounds so much nicer than "being cheap") has always been something that's important to me. And finally, as I've done additional research and reading about being healthier and saving money, I've also learned alot about conserving the earth's resources. . .

So, here's the thing. I often hear people say "I know it's better to buy ecological products/organics, but I just can't afford it". BUT I've found that in many cases, it's possible to be healthier, walk more gently on the earth, AND save money. So over the next while, I'm going to offer up some of those ideas for you. Sometimes it will save money from day one, sometimes there's an additional expenditure that will more than pay for itself over time, but all of these are ways that you can save money, do things in a way that is better for the earth, AND improve your family's health (ok, I suppose since I haven't sat down and made a list of what all I'll post, I can't say taht all will be both healthier & more ecological, but in general those 2 walk hand-in-hand).

And without further introduction, here's Tip #1:

Replace your cleaners with vinegar & baking soda!

I have no idea who first thought it was a good idea to use caustic, potentially carcinogenic chemicals to clean with, but it's been going on for long enough that today most of us think that's our only choice! It never occurs to us that we might not have to actually go out and buy a window cleaner, tub & tile cleaner, counter cleaner, carpet cleaner, disinfectant . . . etc.

But you know what? You can replace pretty much your entire cleaning cupboard with a few safe/inexpensive purchases. Here's what you need:
  • white vinegar (you can find it by the gallon at most grocery stores/discount stores, or in larger quantities at wholesale clubs)
  • the biggest container of baking soda you can find (a wholesale club is your best bet. I've also heard you can buy baking soda in bulk from feed stores, but haven't actually tried it, but if you don't have a wholesale club membership, just get hte biggest/cheapest box from the grocery store)
  • distilled water (after throwing out one too many clogged spray bottles, I will only use distilled water in my spray bottles. It runs about $0.70/gallon in the grocery stores here and a gallon lasts me quite awhile)
  • Some spray bottles (if money is a major consideration, as you empty your current windex, etc, rinse them out & re-use them. Personally, once I read about the dangers of these chemicals, I freecycled the cleaners I had and started over fresh. You can generally find spray bottles at the dollar store or, awhile back, I found a 3 pack of better quality spray bottles at Sam's for $3). How many you'll need will depend on how you clean. You could easily get by with 2 or 3, but I'm lazy, so I prefer to have more spray bottles so I don't have to carry them around the house. I have 3 under my kitchen sink (that covers the whole whole main floor) and 1 in each bathroom upstairs. If I dusted more often, I'd keep a spray bottle of dusting spray upstairs as well)
  • Rags of some sort. We'll discuss replacing paper towels in detail another time, but for now, let's just replace them for normal cleaning. Again, if money is tight, any rags will do, if you have a little extra money to spend, I'm a big fan of microfibre rags, I got a big pack of them in the automotive section of Sam's a year or so ago. I've also found them individually at the dollar store. And again, quantity will depend on how you clean. If you clean your whole house in a day &/or do laundry frequently, you won't need many, if you clean different rooms different days & only do laundry a couple times a week (or less LOL), you'll need more.
  • You might want some essential oils, these are pricey, but a little goes a long way. Rumor has it that Walmart now carries Tea Tree oil (I think in the medicine area, near rubbing alcohol and such), so if you're on a budget, that's what I'd go for. If you have a little more to spend, Lavender EO has many of the same properties as TTO and smells a lot better (IMO), sweet orange is nice for dusting, and is relatively inexpensive to just add a little to cut the vinegar smell for general cleaning. You'll find lavender & sweet orange EO at health food stores, or you can probably get them cheaper online through a co-op group (more on that another time too, but if you want to know enough to get your EOs that way, leave a comment, letting me know)
Ok, now you're set. Let's make some cleaners:

  • Window/glass cleaner: Fill a spray bottle with 50/50 vinegar & distilled water. If you'd like you can add a drop or two (seriously, 1-2 drops per spray bottle) of lavender EO or TTO, but unless you have children or pets who regularly lick your mirrors and windows, it's probably only necessary if you prefer the smell (also note that while cleaning w/ vinegar smells strongly of vinegar while you're cleaning, I find the smell dissipates quickly once your done)
  • Tub/tile cleaner: If you're using microfiber cloths, use the same spray you made for your glass, just spray it on and clean w/ a microfiber cloth, the microfiber will provide the "scrub" aspect of tub/tile cleaner. If you're using a regular rag, sprinkle the surface with a little baking soda, wet your rag, and let teh baking soda do the scrubbing. If needed you can follow up w/ a quick spray & wipe down with the vinegar/water (baking soda is great for scrubbing, but can leave a white film, the vinegar will get rid of that film instantly. Additionally, if it's a surface you feel the need to "disinfect" vinegar disinfects (so does TTO & Lavender EO) baking soda doesn't.
  • Toilet cleaner: Dump some baking soda in and use the brush to scrub it around. If you feel the need to disinfect, you can dump a little hydrogen peroxide (Sam's sells 2 bottles for under $2) in as well, OR after you finish scrubbing w/ the baking soda you can dump in a little straight vinegar (note that mixing vinegar & baking soda will cause it to fiz, and pretty much neutralize the baking soda, so make sure you get the "scrubbing power" out of the baking soda before adding the vinegar). Often I'll just scrub the toilet w/ baking soda, flush, and then pour a little hydrogen peroxide or vinegar over the toilet brush (while holding it over the toilet) afterwards, it disinfects the toilet brush and adds a little disinfecting power to the toilet as well, since it will theoretically sit in the toilet for awhile before the toilet gets used again.
  • Dinsinfecting spray (ie. Lysol cleaners): Same vinegar/water spray you made above (noticing a trend?) for extra disinfecting power add a few drops (3-4 at most) of TTO &/or Lavender EO.
  • Carpet/upholstry cleaner: This is the one thing I generally use straight vinegar spray for (also, in most cases in our house, carpet cleaning is required because a small child or a pet has peed/pooped on the carpet). Clean/blot up anything you can w/ just a rag (this is where having lots of rags comes in handy) then saturate the area w/ straight vinegar (or vinegar w/a couple drops of TTO added), blot it back up, if there's still a stain you can see, repeat. I've been amazed at how effective this is at cleaning up pee & poop stains, including the smell.
  • Mop the floor: I use a microfiber mop and use 50/50 vinegar water w/ some sweet orange EO added to make it smell better.
  • Soft scrub: Mix baking soda and liquid soap (dish soap or hand soap) to make the consistency of soft scrub. Let it sit on the stuck on food/stuff for a little while it and will wipe right up.
  • Furniture polish: honestly, I generally just use a microfiber duster dry (or lately the girls think it's great fun to use a feather duster), but if you want to use a dusting spray, you can make one by either just adding a couple drops of the EO of your choice to distilled water in a spray bottle, or by mixing 2 Tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil), 2 Tbsp white vinegar (or lemon juice, costs more, but smells better), and 1 qt water (can add a drop of lemon or sweet orange EO as well).
I'm probably forgetting something, but I think you get the idea. This means that my kids can help me clean (at age 4, I have no problem letting them spray vinegar/water on the counter or bathtub to help me clean, and they think it's great fun), our family isn't inhaling (or ingesting) dangerous chemical cleaners, and my main "cleaning spray" costs me less than $2/gallon. AND I have less bottles to keep track of.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A few changes/new things

I've been playing with my blog abit recently, and wanted to point out a few new features.

Small, random thing, as I think about it, I'll add other books that I've read in the past to the "books I've read" list, then when I'm bored, I'll write reviews of them, though probably not as detailed as when I write a review right after I finish a book LOL.

I also set up a separate blog for recipes I use, or want to try. I've learned a few times, the hard way, that just linking to recipes, etc. on other sites can sometimes be unreliable, so for recipes that I know I want to keep, I'll give credit, but include them, along with my notes, in the recipe blog. There's a link to it in the links section of this site.

And, my newest "toy", I discovered LibraryThing and I'm going to slowly add all our books into it. Yes, this will be a HUGE job! And I doubt I'll finish it anytime soon. But in the meantime, you can search my library if you're bored (and if I can figure out how to get it to configure correctly, I'll set it up to show a few random books from my library as well, but for now it's not configuring correctly, and troubleshooting html isn't my strong point) and feel free to ask if I can give a "review" of any books you see (but I don't guarantee to be able to give a review of every book in my library LOL).

Friday, November 23, 2007

Daddy's New Toys

A couple weeks ago, dh got some new "toys" in at Byrd Auto, where he works. They decided to start selling ATVs and Go Carts and such, and got their first shipment in. So when we went up to eat lunch w/ dh and my parents that week, I took the girls by Daddy's shop so they could see the new toys. They had great fun sitting on them and pretending to ride them. Of course all the guys at Daddy's shop were trying to convince dh that the girls actually NEED one of these, Mommy's not
convinced LOL. But I did think the pictures turned out cute. Here's all of them, and a couple cute ones from a random trip to the playground as well.

This week's wrap up

With Thanksgiving and such, we didn't do as much as I'd hoped. We did talk about Thanksgiving and what it means, but they weren't into the lapbook concept at this point, so we didn't do that. One of the books we read today, Snowflake Bentley is a VERY cool book! It's a true story about a man in the 1800's (I think, there was additional biographical information in the margins that I want to go back & read, but that wouldn't have kept the kids' interest) who was determined to figure out and photograph snowflakes, and eventually did. It was a cool story, and I think one that will capture the kids' interest on different levels each winter as they get older.

They continue to ask for multiple stories from the Bible we're using for our devotions.

Our nature table this unit is a "water" theme. We used a variety of shades of blue & white play silks (and some other cloths as well, like the dark blue clothes that we made potato prints of the moon phases on last unit) to look like water, and started out with just putting some shells on it. Then this week, I had some little stuffed sea creatures that I got last summer at Ikea when they were on clearance (& I knew we had the water unit coming up), so I've been slowly, and randomly adding them to the nature table. The girls are having great fun watching to see when/if a new one will appear, and while they're fairly certain that I'm putting them there, they haven't "caught" me yet, and I haven't confirmed or denied it, so it's abit of a fun mystery going on :) After the first one or two appeared, they also got more into 'decorating' this nature table then they had before, and went through their toys & puppets finding frogs and such to add in as well. And L pulled all the pieces out of a sea creature puzzle they have and they're all on the table as well.

I was going through the files in my "homeschool" folder on my hard drive (mostly stuff that I've found & downloaded for future use) and I discovered that I have a homeschool planning calendar that I hadn't looked at too closely since it's for the entire school year, but upon closer inspection, each page holds 6 weeks, which works out perfect since we do 6 week units w/ this curriculum. So, I've started using that to be able to see the whole unit on one page instead of just broken out into the 6 weeks like I've been using.

We didn't have Kindermusik this week because of the holiday.

Our plan was to put the Christmas tree up & decorate it today, but when I went to get it from the basement, somehow, I think we ended up getting part of teh tree switched w/ someone else's. Which is very baffling to me. VBS this summer borrowed/used a BUNCH of Christmas trees, and I know I said we'd be willing to loan ours, but neither dh or I remember actually loaning it. And the fact that the easel we DID loan them is still sitting in the garage because neither dh or I have bothered to carry it back to the basement, makes it seem unlikely that we'd have bothered to carry the Christmas tree to the basement, but not the easel. On the other hand, loaning it to VBS or similar seems like the logical explanation of how we'd end up with 1/2 of one tree & half of a different one. . . so I don't know. It's also minutely possible that we used our tree for Sabbath School the first quarter of 2007 (which was the last one before my kids moved on) and somehow it got mixed up when I brought it home from that. I just don't know . . . My friend, Angie is both the VBS director and was the SS leader who would have borrowed the tree if anyone did. She's working crazy hours this weekend, but next week I'm going to see if she has any recollection of using our tree and if so, who/how it might have gotten switched. In the meantime, mom had already said they weren't going to put a tree up this year, so we can borrow theirs for this year and if we haven't figured out what happened to ours by the time Christmas rolls around we can get one on clearance or off freecycle after Christmas this year. But it's sure baffling. And A, especially, was quite upset about not getting to decorate it today. She handled it well at the time, but had a rather major meltdown later in the afternoon that I think was indirectly caused by the stress of the tree plans being postponed till we can get the tree from my parents. Didn't help that she was tired (got up way too early this morning) and apparently hungry, since right after the meltdown, L said she was hungry so we came down for a snack and A ended up eating all of a big banana (I was fully expecting to eat at least half of it after she decided she was done, instead she ate the whole thing) and 2 good sized bowlfuls of the homemade applesauce grandma brought us yesterday (yum!). And then at supper she ate almost a full quesadilla plus part of my burrito, and then some crackers after that. . . so apparently the poor child was starving to death today LOL.

I think that's at least the highlights of homeschooling this week. Oh, we did the aluminum foil sculpture. L enjoyed it, A found it too imprecise a medium for her liking LOL. But she did eventually sculpt a fish she was happy with (I believe it is currently residing on the nature table as well, unless she moved it again).

With the cold weather, I've been drinking various herbal teas daily, but I never think to see if they want to watch the water change colors as it steeps until the tea kettle is whistling, and they're always involved in something else at that point, so we still haven't done that, despite being simple & quick LOL.

"I'm just waiting for my daughter"

Background info: My kids have the ability to spend a VERY long time going to the bathroom. So there have been several instances where I've stood for long periods of time in a public bathroom while one (or both) of my kids is in a stall). I've learned, from this, that there is absolutely NOWHERE to stand in a public restroom that doesn't give the appearance of being in line to use a stall. So, I end up standing there and, every time a person walks into the bathroom they "get in line" behind me, and I have to tell them, "go ahead, I'm just waiting for my daughter(s)"

So, at the moment in their imaginary play, A is the mommy & L is the "big girl". I'm not real clear where they "are" at the moment, but apparently somewhere in public, so that, when L needed to go to the bathroom, A walked her to our powder room and is now standing outside our powder room door telling imaginary people, every few seconds, "I'm just waiting for my daughter". It's probably a "gotta be here" kind of humor, but it is TOO funny!!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful day today with family, friends, and good food. We went to my parents' house to spend the day with my parents & grandparents. Mom decided to be ambitious and suprise Dad by making Kase Noodles (Cheese Dumplings) for dinner. They're a German dish Dad's grandmother used to make (similar to this, but with a sour cream & onion gravy over it instead of the cream & bread crumbs), and Dad's mother taught Mom how to make them, but she doesn't do it real often becuase it's alot of work. But the results are YUMMMMMMY!!! I asked dh, soon after we were married, if he liked them well enough that I should learn to make them, and he said no, and confirmed that again today, although he ate 4 of them, so he DOES like them LOL. He said they were comparable to macaroni & cheese but not as good as plain white rice & milk (which he rarely gets anymore, since brown rice is SOO much healthier, so that's all I've been buying). This is why I've never bothered to become a gormet chef, my husband prefers simple things, why mess with success LOL.

The girls spent time this morning drawing pictures & dictating "stories" to me, then we stapled them together to make books.

Tonight after the kids are in bed, dh & I will get the Christmas tree out and (hopefully) set up, so the girls can help decorate it tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cute conversation

While we were moving kids' toys around to vacuum today I figured we might as well figure out the Christmas tree placement at the same time (since we traditionally decorate for Christmas right after Thanksgiving). We've always put the tree in the corner that is "A's house" and honestly, I don't remember how we talked her into that last year, or the year before, for that matter, but I had a feeling she wouldn't take well to it this year . . . and I was right. Interestingly, L was ok with putting the tree in HER house, which while not what I would ideally choose, will work ok, and there's something to be said for keeping the peace LOL. So, we cleaned up L's toys more than usual in preparation for vacuuming. Then after I vacuumed, I asked them if they wanted to put L's playstand in 'A's house" or in the basement. A initially said the basement, until I pointed out that we could drape a silkscape over both playstands if we put them together in her house, then she was ok with it. And then they both got very into the concept of L "visiting" A's house. Hopefully that particular storyline will hold up for the next month LOL. But for the moment, both rocking chairs are side by side in A's house as are both doll highchairs. L had already decided her baby could nap on the floor, and sleep upstairs at night, so there was no need to move the doll's "bed" (box) into A's house and by putting all the toys that really belonged on the shared toy shelf, back on that shelf, the rest of L's toys actually DO fit in her toy basket, which sits on her playstand, so all is well. . .

but what was so cute was to listen to A explaining her "house rules" (her word) and the negotiation that went back and forth about keeping things tidy (which was totally logical, A is more of a packrat than L, but she keeps her things very tidy, and everything has it's place. L tends to be messier. So it makes sense that A would be concerned about that . . . but still was funny to listen to). All seems to be well for now, we'll see how things go over the next month . . .

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Recipe: Skillet Corn Bread

I got this recipe from a TLC show (I don't remember which one).

2 c buttermilk
1 c cornmeal
1 c whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
2 eggs
2 T butter

Melt butter in cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe skillet). Mix all ingredients together. Pour into skillet. Bake 1/2 hr at 425.

Sick Kid, and Papa's Birthday

Yesterday morning, L slept in until 8:30 (and even then, I think A woke her up) and was more subdued than normal, but said she was just tired. Partway through church, she told me her tummy hurt, so we went to the bathroom, but she said that didn't help, and that she wanted to leave. So we left. We got to my parents' house (today is Dad's birthday, so we went up yesterday to celebrate) and L laid down on the sofa for a little while, she'd looked up and somehow looked like she might throw up, so I asked if she needed to, and she didn't answer, I asked if she wanted to cuddle on my lap & she came over & crawled up on my lap, just in time to throw up all over me LOL. I have to say though, that dealing w/ kid throw up is much easier with dh & my mom around than when I'm alone w/ the kids. Mom brought me a bowl to catch the rest, and a towel to mop things up, dh got l some water to rinse her mouth out & such. So, all in all, it was an easy clean-up. we stripped her clothes off, except her tights, and she curled back up on teh sofa under a blanket and went to sleep. I blotted off what had gotten on me (but most, I'd managed to catch in my hand, and dump into the bowl), and all was well. L wanted orange juice to drink instead of water, so I added a LITTLE orange juice to the glass of water dh had brought (so it was very diluted), and that satisfied her, and she drank most of it. She slept for the next 1/2 hr or so while we got dinner ready and waited for my grandparents to get home from church. Then soon after we started eating, she asked for a clean shirt (so I went out & got the "emergency clothes" out of the car) & joined us at the table, asked for some pasta & alfredo sauce, and some juice, but didn't really eat/drink any of it. We decided to put off the cake & ice cream until suppertime (which works well anyway, since on Sabbath we generally have a very large meal after church, and then just "snacky stuff" (popcorn, fruit, etc) for supper, so we had more room for the cake after supper anyway) since L seemed to think she should eat dessert w/ the rest of us and we didn't really want to have to clean up chocolate cake if it came back up LOL. But all afternoon she was fine, played with A, ate 2 bowls of pasta & alfredo sauce over the course of the afternoon, rode her riding toy out to my grandparents' house w/ my mom & A . . . was totally herself. Didn't eat a ton at supper, but she'd been eating off and on during the afternoon, and so by then, she was able to eat cake & ice cream with the rest of us, which made her happy :)

My dad collects coins, and this year as the presidential dollar coins have come out, he's been teaching the girls the names of the presidents in order, it's worked well to get them interested in American history as well, they were interested to see old pictures of a trip we took when they were 2 1/2 when we went to G Washington's birthplace (among other things) and asked why there weren't any pictures inside (were all of them running around in the fields LOL) and I said they hadn't wanted to go inside, and they assured me that "NOW I'd want to see his house!" we've also talked about taking a trip to Mt Vernon, and they're excited at the idea of that, so we need to find time to do that sometime. Anyway, mom gave Dad the book to collect/display the presidential dollar coins in for his birthday, so last night the girls got to help Papa put the first 4 coins in the book, and added the 4th president to the list they can name (James Madison just came out last week).

So overall, a good day, despite the sickies. And L seems fine today.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-up

Another laid back week. We did do art one day, making big pictures by tracing various sizes of pots & pans onto big pieces of paper (we make frequent use of the end rolls of paper from the printing press where Mama & Papa work) and then adding decorations and such. We also had fun watching the oil swirl around when we made pasta. And finally last night, we borrowed Grandma's pot with a glass lid to make popcorn for supper and watching it pop. Not sure how much the girls enjoyed it, but I sure found it fascinating :)

The girls enjoyed Kindermusik this week, and when they played a game A doesn't enjoy, she calmly chose to sit on the sidelines instead of getting all upset about it, we have progress . . . :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Something that just crossed my mind . . . my children have been, for quite some time, desperate to "collect something" we've made random suggestions but nothing really stuck & most of their ideas were impractical (a leaf collection, while lovely in the fall, isn't really an ongoing kind of thing . . .) anyway, awhile back my mom, who has heard the "I wish *I* had a collection" lament many times, had a lovely brainstorm. Whenever mom & dad go on trips (since the girls have been old enough to notice & miss them) they've sent postcards to the girls while they are gone. And while I don't promise that we have ALL the postcards they've sent, most of them had been collecting in the girls' "baskets that hold random stuff" so, mom suggested that they could collect postcards, finally an idea that the girls liked! I took them shopping the next day & let them help pick out small photo albums (the kind that holds one picture per page) for them to keep their postcards in & we came home and put the ones they had into their new albums. And then when we were in FL, pretty much the only souvenir shopping we did was to let each girl choose a postcard from Sea World and one from Disneyworld. So . . . if you happen to travel to interesting places (or live in interesting places) and would like to send the girls postcards, I'm sure they'd be excited to add to their collection and we can have little geography lessons at the same time.

Things that make me giggle . . .

Just a couple little things that have tickled me the last couple days:

Awhile back in the dollar section at Target, we found Ariel & Princess "purses" that the girls had to have. I noticed a few days ago that A's (Ariel, for those who can't keep track of the obsessions) was full of, what looked to me to be random, wood blocks. Didn't think much of it, they often fill baskets, boxes, bags, backpacks with random stuff. So then later A was sitting on the sofa next to her purse & I glanced up to see her using one of the tall round blocks like lip balm. I asked what she was doing, and she got the cute, kind of embarrassed look that she so often does when I intrude on their imaginary play, but it was too cute!

This morning A came in after dh had left for work but before L & I had gotten up (L came into our bed sometime in the night/early morning, and went back to sleep). A got in bed with us for a little while but was wiggly enough that I decided she & I better get up before she woke L up. When we got up, I saw that she had brought all her babies (she carries FIVE dolls around these days, 3 in a basket and 2 in her arms) in with her & while the 3 in the basket were still in their basket, the other 2 (Pizza & Jean for those who are interested in their names) she'd laid on the foot of our bed and adjusted the duvet such that they were all "tucked in". It was really cute.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Book Review: Biblical Parenting

I've been wanting to read Biblical Parenting for the last several months since I re-discovered the forums at Gentle Christian Mother (I'd joined these forums a year or more ago, but then lost the link when my computer crashed and re-discovered it when the website sent me an e-mail saying I hadn't been activated in x amount of time & my account would be deleted LOL). ANYWAY . . . the parenting ideas of this book are reflected on the forums there and the author of the book is an active poster/moderator there. But the book isn't available at our local library and there aren't any on yet (except one for $60+ I'm not sure what's up with that LOL) and with all the books we are using for our curriculum right now, I hadn't found the budget to buy a book for me that wasn't $0.75+ shipping like most of the ones I can get on Anyway . . . last week, I found out that one of the women who order things from the co-ops I run, is a moderator on GCM, so it occurred to me that she might have the book, I asked, she did, and was willing to loan it to me (thanks Amy!!!). AND I had some stuff that she'd ordered & needed to pick up, so she dropped the book off when she picked her order up.

Ok, so book review, I'd still really like to get this book at some point, will certainly keep watching for a reasonably priced copy, or may use it at some point if I need to reach the free shipping threshold at amazon. The basics can be found on GCM, but the book does a better job of putting them all in one place. In a nutshell, it gives practical advice for parenting in accordance with God's way of dealing with us, His children. It explains why punative punishments are counterproductive in the long run and specifies the difference between discipline and punishment. I've been using the basic 5 steps from this book for the last while (when I remember) and the girls respond quite well to them. Obviously there's no "magic formula" to produce "perfect children" and anything new is a learning process for all of us, but this approach finally strikes the balance I've been trying to find between having determined that not only do I feel punative punishments are wrong, but they also don't work for my kids, even on the surface level that they would work with less spirited children, and feeling that while I can concur with the theory of some of the gentler parenting methods, I generally can't find a way to implement it with more than one child (and in fact, in one case, I found a question/answer where someone asked, how would I handle this if the conflict was between 2 of my children? and the author basically said, "you're not likely to ever be alone with your children where you would have to do that" HUH?!?!?! Come peak in on my world for a few minutes! On a GOOD week, I'm alone with my children for at least 50 hours.). This book addresses the fact that when 2 children are fighting you need to balance the needs of both of them. It recognizes that we don't live in a vacuum where other people's parenting methods and expectations don't affect us, and addresses how to function in group settings without disrespecting your child's needs. AND as the title implies, it does it all from a very sound Biblical basis. It addresses texts like Prov 13:24, that are often misinterpreted to support corporal punishment, and gives further interpretation of the original language to explain what is actually meant by the text (in a very brief nutshell, the word that is translated rod, is the word used to refer to a shepherd's rod, walking stick, or king's sceptor, all of which are used to guide, not to hit).

In summary, if you are only going to read one parenting book, I think this would be the one I would recommend (with Raising Your Spirited Child being a close second if there's any chance your child falls into the spirited category)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Just a note

I'm fully aware that the stuff on this week's "to do" list is way more than we're likely to do in one week. For one thing, the railroad museum's only open on weekends, so we'll have to do that on a weekend, additionally, some of the stuff carried over from last week. We're just going to go through things at whatever speed we go, but by adding an entire week from the curriculum at the beginning of each week it makes it easier for me LOL.

Weekend stuff

Friday when dh got home from work he took the girls & went to pick up Precious (our dog) from his mom's house. I had to laugh, mid-afternoon L asked if she could have candy (we still have candy from the Sea World Trick-or-Treating so they think they need that every time they say they're hungry) and I told her she'd had enough sweets that day, to which she replied, yeah and Daddy's taking us to Grandmom's so we'll have chocolate there. Anyway, they enjoyed their evening with Grandmom and are very happy to have their dog back to torture (I mean love) LOL. Of course having the dog back means I lose the bottom half of my size of the bed (how can a 20lb dog take up so much room?) but I guess her "crumb clean-up duties" make up for it LOL.

Yesterday started out with much fussing, L didn't like the breakfast choices and A didn't want to go to church (SS, yes, church, no) but after much discussion we got that all ironed out & even made it to church in time to be the first ones at SS (this would reflect more on the tardiness of everyone else than on our "on-time-ness" LOL). Now, all I'd told the girls was that I needed them to be quiet & polite in SS, that obviously participation is great, but if they chose note to, they needed to say "no thank you" not be ugly about it or scream about it (we've had some less than positive experiences in SS recently, that they haven't handled well), but either because they were in the mood or thought they were supposed to or something, they actually participated in SS more than they have in the past as well. I think one thing that helped alot is, since we were the first ones there, when Miss M (teacher) got there, she asked them to help her set up the craft, I think that somehow made them feel more comfortable around her, so they were more willing to go up front & such. Anyway, they happily went up front to sing with the other kids, not only drew their pictures for the thank-you chain, but took them up to Miss M, and then helped hold the chain during prayer. And L even volunteered to be part of acting out the Bible story. Church was very long (we left 15 min after it's supposed to be done & the speaker was still preaching) so they got antsy, but overall they did well. Yesterday afternoon we went to a nature center at the SDA summer camp nearby. We'd heard from many people that it was interesting and just never got around to going, so decided to go ahead & check it out. I have to admit, I prefer the Brookside Garden's Nature Center, at least for kids this age. The one at the camp is cool in that it has alot of taxidermied (not sure of the spelling) animals, including some really big ones (a rhino, and a huge Alaskan Grizzly Bear are the biggest), and a large collection of shells and such, but that's essentially all they have. They do have a few live animals, but they're kept in a locked room unless they do a program or something. The caretaker (who was my principal when I was in K & 1st grade) finally did let us into the room to see the live animals, but he didn't seem interested in telling the girls more about the animals, though after a little while he did take one of the ferrets out and let the girls hold it. The girls were as fascinated or more so by the cage full of bugs & worms (that were being "grown" to feed to the snakes & frogs and such) as they were by the other animals LOL. L declared the bugs to be "as cute as a bug in a rug" which is, of course, hard to argue with, but . . .

There's also an observation tower outside that the girls had great fun running up and down (& it's a TALL tower) so they got lots of exercise that way, but weren't overly interested in the "dead animals" inside LOL.

I'd asked my dad to help me out with the boat building project for homeschool, since he has all the tools and knows how to use them, and he decided it was easier to have the girls come out there to do it rather than bringing the tools down here, so since the girls have been asking for months, when our anniversary is going to be (because in some random conversation last summer I told them they would be staying at Mama & Papa's when we celebrate our anniversary (next month)) so they can have a sleepover, we decided this would be a good weekend for an extra sleepover. Mom & Dad took them home from the nature center (which is halfway between their house & ours) and they helped Dad build boats (that use a rubber band to be able to really go) last night, spent the night, and then mom & dad brought them home today before heading to the office. The girls are very proud of themselves that they used the power saw to cut the boats out, and the drill & hammer to assemble it. Mom said the closest they came to a meltdown was when it was time to leave mom & dad's house, they didn't want to come home LOL. And yes, they're already asking again how long till our anniversary so they can have another sleepover.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

This week's wrap up

Sundown snuck up on me last night. I think I mentioned most of our "homeschooling" as we did it this past week.

Friday the girls helped me take the sheets off their beds, L chose to put her "winter sheets" (flannel) on, A decided to stick with the ones she's had on. Typical of A to be more resistant to change, even with small things. Though I thought the purple snowmen on the flannel sheets might be an incentive.

Circle time, included several devotional stories again, the girls are really enjoying the Bible we're reading out of, and I'm really glad to be finally getting them a sense of Biblical chronology (have I mentioned how annoyed I am that the SS lessons are no longer chronological for the young kids? And add to that inconsistency in terminology, this quarter I've had to explain what a "believer" is and having finally figured that out, this past week's lesson switched the terminology to Christians). We also looked through "A Drop of Water" and talked more about water.

Anyway . . . Kindermusik went well overall. I'd told them after the last class that I would stay in the room but would sit on a chair along the side of the room, rather then in the circle with them. L especially was being too distracted by my being right there, so I explained that since they were paying attention to me, instead of Miss L when I was with them in the circle, I'd be sitting in the "chairs for mommies" from now on & if that still was distracting I'd sit in the hall w/ the other mommies. So, yesterday we tried with me sitting in a chair in the room. They did very well overall, they each had something that sent them back to my lap for awhile, in A's case they were playing a game and someone "tagged" A after she was where she was "safe", the game was actually over anyway, and A didn't have to be "it" but she still freaked. Ended up sitting on my lap for the next while, then finally joined back in. L got bumped somewhere along the line and was all dramatic about being "hurt", so spent awhile on my lap because of that. But overall, it went well.

Did I mention previously that we poured candles in sea shells? The girls had great fun being more actively involved in the candle process. Not surprisingly the candles are pink & purple, A chose rose, L chose strawberry for the scents. They were also very excited that there was extra wax so they each ended up with a tealight as well. Thurs night we lit one of L's candles while they went to sleep.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


For nature today, the curriculum recommended taking a walk along a stream and imagining we were following the stream to the river to the ocean. While we have a stream/creek right behind our house, the trees/brush along it's bank means it's hard to walk along it where you can actually SEE it, so instead we walked down to the bridge & stood on the bridge. Then we pretended we were fairies and could shrink ourselves down teenie tiny, then jumped on one of the big leaves that was on the bridge (big oak (?) leaves bigger than my hand! I wish I'd found them during our fall unit, we would have used them for some of the art stuff LOL. Of course w/ our weird weather they probably didn't start falling till our unit was done, sigh) and rode the leave down into the creek & floated on our leaf boat down the creek, once we got to the ocean we had great fun riding dolphins and whales & visiting with fish, all near the surface and then, since fairies can hold their breath for a VERY LONG TIME (gotta love mythical creatures that aren't bound by the laws of nature LOL) we dove down to the ocean floor where we visited with crabs, sting rays, and mermaids.

Then L decided we needed to go up on the sand so we rode a wave in to the beach where we visited w/ sand crabs, and toured a sand castle before calling a friendly sea gull to fly us back to the bridge behind our house where we made ourselves big again and headed home.

The girls had great fun with our imaginary adventure & L immediately asked when we can go on another "journey" LOL.

In other imaginary news, the girls have been planning a "feast" today, complete with figuring out the menu & guest list. It's going to be a "feast to celebrate God and creation" as best as I can tell.

Book Review: Power of a Praying Wife

Last night I finished reading The Power of a Praying Wife.

I would highly recommend this to any wife who would like to improve her prayer life and relationship with both God and her husband. The book is laid out with an "introduction" and then 30 chapters, each focusing on a different area of a husband's life in which he needs prayers. Some examples include, finances, friends, fears . . .

It talks about why/how a wife can pray for this area of her husband's life, usually including real life examples of women praying for this area of their husbands' lives and the results. Then gives a sample prayer for that "prayer focus" and ends with some Bible texts (in addition to those scattered throughout the discussion and prayer) related to that topic. The introduction suggests focusing on one chapter/prayer per day for a month.

I started right after our Indiana trip (took the book along to read on the trip, but then after reading the introduction, realized that it was something to use at home during my devotional time instead), and chose not to take it with me on our trip to Disney, so finished the 30th chapter last night. It really helped me to have a particular focus in my prayers each night in addition to that day's concerns and praises. I plan to continue using the 30 prayer focuses each month, using the "sample prayers" some of the time and just my own words other times.

The same author has also written The Power of a Praying Parent and The Power of a Praying Woman both of which I plan to get and use in the near future, either from or the library.

This week so far . . .

I meant to mention in my last post, but forgot. One day this week (Tues, I think, but days run together LOL) the girls essentially "made" lunch. We were having fried rice (from Trader Joe's super yummy frozen fried rice). I put the fried rice in a pan & had gotten as far as cracking the eggs into a bowl to stir up before putting them in a 2nd frying pan, when the girls decided they wanted to help. L stirred the fried rice while A used a fork to "whisk" the eggs prior to pouring them in the pan. Then A finished stirring the fried rice while L added her "whisking" and then poured the eggs into the pan and did the majority of the "scrambling" and watching them while they cooked. Obviously this all required very close supervision, but they had the steps down and did most of the "work" of it. Next time I make rice & beans I'm going to cook extra rice and the next day we'll try making our own fried rice with the leftover rice.

Overall it's been a very laid back week, school-wise. We did do circle time this morning. The Devotional reading this morning was all but the last of the 10 plagues of Egypt (though I think their math was messed up, they talked about sea to blood and frogs, then said there were "8 more plagues" then ended with a "cliff hanger" saying the Lord sent the 10th plague that Pharoah couldn't refuse. Now, the way I count, after frogs & before death of firstborn were only 7, but anyway . . . the girls didn't want to wait till tomorrow to find out what the last plague was, so we read another story, and another, and another . . . they also recognized the story of the manna as being one of their recent SS lesson stories.

Also during circle time, we pulled out the shells that my dad dug out of the garage for me (from my grandmother's stuff) and they were really interested in talking about them. There'd been brief mention at sea world about pearls in clam shells, so we had to discuss that in great depth and such. If the girls don't get too busy playing, later today we'll pour candles in some of the shells. I think we're also going to go ahead & change out the nature table but go for more of a "water" theme for now, I think the colors will lend themselves to transition into winter. So for now we'll put the shells that we don't turn into candles on the nature table.

I also set up new chore charts with daily and weekly chores for the girls to help with. I introduced that at circle time today as well. Today's "weekly" chores were helping me mop the kitchen floor (they did really well at working together to carry not only their chairs, but also their bench & table, and some of the big chairs, into the family room so they'd be out of the way. They also cleaned up the floor under/around their art table w/o the normal whining) and cleaning the oven door. We'll see how this goes, going forward . . .

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I LOVE this! Unfortunately, my kids, and husband aren't fans. But it's one of my go-to recipes to take to summer potlucks.

1 c bulgar wheat
1 c boiling water
1 sm onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cucumber, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 c fresh chopped mint
2 c fresh chopped parsley
1/4 c lemon juice
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt.

Pour boiling water (I usually boil it in my electric tea kettle), over bulgar wheat. Let sit 1/2 hr.  Combine all ingredients, stir, chill.  Other than using equal parts water and bulgar wheat, all ingredients are approximate.
The girls just asked me if we're going anywhere today. I told them I hadn't planned to (we also didn't go anywhere yesterday, I figure all 3 of us need some "down time" after last week LOL). To which L said, "Ahhhh, today & tomorrow (she meant yesterday) are the days that I've been wishing for for all the years, (big content sigh). . . I made my wish come true!" I think you kind of had to be there to get the inflections and such, but it was SOOO cute/funny! She HAS asked pretty frequently in the last few months for a day to just stay home, though generally in relation to not wanting to do quiet time in the car LOL.

Anyway, nice to know she appreciates the down time too.

We've done very little "school" this week. The girls have been doing lots of the imaginative play that they didn't have time for last week while we were gone. We did circle time yesterday, so did at least intro the new unit. And we planted the bulbs yesterday afternoon.

I've decided that since it still LOOKS very much like fall here, we'll hold off on switching to a winter nature table until the leaves are at least off the trees. Our unseasonably warm weather earlier in the fall has delayed things I think . . .

Monday, November 5, 2007

Starting a New Unit - Water in our World

Those who were paying close attention might have noticed that the "current homeschooling resources" list changed. We're beginning the first of our winter units this week. The theme is "Water in Our World". It occurred to me that I could get more use out of our celestial silk canopy by pretending it was water for this unit. So last night I made felt fish finger puppets that I slipped over the stars that are hanging down. Granted there are still stars & such on the upper canopy, but the girls should be happy with this.

Art emphasis is collage art. I have the recommended book, but will pick and choose since alot of it I don't think will interest the girls much.

We'll focus more on the handwork this unit since the majority of it is making Christmas gifts, which I think the girls will enjoy and can actually help with/do more than alot of the handwork projects in previous units. Near the end of the unit the handwork focus is on quilting, which we'll skip.

Nature emphasis is a combination of water-related things, container gardening, and snow (most of which will likely have to be postponed since we very rarely get snow in Nov/Dec.).

Religion will continue to be reading through the Read and Learn Bible I'm also intrigued by this suggestion for scripture memorization. For each unit up until now I've chosen a poem that coincides with the theme &/or season and read it daily as part of circle time. I noticed this past unit, that even though it was quite a long poem (previous units were generally only 3-4 lines) by the end the girls were quoting it along with my reading. So in addition to the weekly memory verse for church, we'll have a longer passage that we'll read each day during circle time throughout the unit (I'm thinking the Christmas story).

Circle time emphasis will be on Thanksgiving for this month.

Books for this unit:
The Seashore Book
Scuffy the Tugboat
The Popcorn Shop
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Little Cloud
Snowflake Bentley
The Snow Speaks
Sun Bread
The Water Hole
The Desert is Theirs
In the Small, Small Pond
A Cool Drink of Water
The Hermit and the Well
Blueberry Shoes
The Quiltmaker's Gift
Oma's Quilt
Here Are My Hands

ETA: Here are additional books that I'm adding to the unit:
An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott (not sure if they have the attention span for it, but would like to try it at least)
Winter Waits
Peter and Lotta's Christmas (will use this next month)
I also need to look in the girls' bookshelf upstairs, I THINK we have 1 or 2 children's books that tell the Thanksgiving story, so will use those, or get something from the library as well.

A funny

Sunday, November 4, 2007

We're home!!!!

Whew! Today went pretty well. Girls woke up early because of the time change, which gave us an earlier start. Drove straight through except for gas/bathroom break. Had a slight detour due to dh paying more attention the the football game on the radio than where he was going, but we made it :)

As I'd hoped the Magic Schoolbus, etc DVDs kept the girls entertained for most of the trip home. L even caught a short nap right before we got home.

Girls are glad to be home & back to their playing. Babies' clothes have all been changed, L has "borned" a baby . . . I suspect that there will be lots of play and not so much "school" this week as they make up for lost time LOL.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Halfway Home

Well, actually more then that, we decided to stay farther north this time since the "travel days" ended up being shorter than expected on the way down and we didn't want to stay in the "no internet unless you're lucky enough to be in the right room" hotel again anyway.

Anyway . . . girls started off the day really well. We decided since there wouldn't be a usable pool here tonight (it's outdoor and too cold for outdoor even in NC) but warned them that they could only go swimming if they promised to get out w/o a fight when we told them it was time to go. So, after b-fast dh took them out to swim while I finished packing. Gave the girls the option of helping load the car since they generally like to help with that, but since their other choice was swimming longer, they chose swimming. When I got back to the room after taking (almost) everything out to the car, my cell phone was ringing & it was dh telling me the girls had something to show me, so I went out to the pool & they had both mustered up the courage to stick their faces in the water & "swim" w/ their faces underwater. They were quite proud of themselves, although L assured me that she will still "always" need her floaty suit, since it's her favorite color LOL. Anyway, after being appropriately impressed about the new skill, I told them the car was loaded & it was time to go, went through then normal "warnings" and they got out w/o a fuss, got dried off, dressed and we left. Did have a major issue w/ A because some stuff was stacked in the backseat for the trip home (I happened to find mason jars at the walmart down there for less than they are at walmart at home PLUS I forgot to stock up before the walmarts at home took them off the shelf for the winter. And of course right AFTER I realized they were no longer on the shelf I got a couple big orders that depleted my "stock" so I was looking at probably having to buy them at the (higher priced) grocery store before next spring. So, when I found them at the FL walmart for even less, I stocked up! So the majority of the "back" of the minivan is stacked full of mason jars, meaning most of the "luggage" got moved to the back bench, which is generally A's babies' seat (and A carries 5 or 6 babies w/ her everywhere we go, so they take up the whole seat!). We finally got thing shifted around so that they could all still be buckled in (2 of the 3 seatbelts were accessible) so all was well again.

Drive today was so-so. Lots of minor tantrums (or at least tantrums over minor things). I'd gotten them each a keychain w/ their respective favorite character on it but then A decided she wanted to "wear" it which I wasn't willing to let her do w/ the shirt she was wearing (the way the clasp on the keychain is, plus the knit of the t-shirt I was afraid it would poke a hole) so we had meltdowns about that. And pretty much everything else that happened today. I'd expected them to be eager to watch movies on the way home since they really didn't watch any tv all week, but they didn't seem interested in any of the vidoes I'd brought for today, shrug. I assume tomorrow's (non-Sabbath) videos will keep their attention better, since I got some from the library of some of their favorite shows, but we shall see . . .

Tonight's hotel has internet, so that makes it better than the one on the trip down, but still not in my top 20 hotels I've ever stayed at . . .

After A refused to even consider sleeping anywhere but her Dora bed this entire trip TONIGHT she decided she wanted to sleep in a "high bed". We have a room w/ 2 double beds. So of course L said she wasn't sleeping w/ A. Then once I had L convinced that she had the choice of sleeping w/ A in the "high bed" or sleeping on the floor in the dora bed, A decided she didn't want to sleep alone OR with L (or in the Dora bed), so we're sleeping one of us w/ each kid. At least they agreed w/o a fight on which of us slept with who (L's w/ me, A's w/ dh). AND it's a step toward getting A comfortable sleeping off the floor. I don't care if she wants to keep her bed at home on the floor, but it would make traveling easier if we didn't have to deal w/ the dora beds places where there's another bed option &/or places that are only one night (like tonight). . .

Tomorrow should be a shorter day and then we'll be home!!! I think other than stuff we HAVE to do, like getting milk & returning the library videos, we'll be mostly "decompressing" this next week. I need it (couldn't figure out why I was SO exhausted, then realized that I have had ZERO alone time all week and as an introvert, being around people exhausts me . . . at home w/ the girls generally doesn't "count" as being around people since they do their own thing and actually don't WANT me to participate in their play most of the time) and so do the girls.

Odds & Ends

We decided to let the girls swim for abit this morning. So while I wait for them, some odds & ends about our trip in general that I'm not sure I mentioned in previous posts:

  • Comfort Suites, Orlando is a very nice hotel. Breakfast is beyond chaotic, but offers a better selection for the non-meat-eater than most of the "Savory Selections" breakfasts I've been to. Pool is wonderful! Our room was VERY conveniently located a few steps from the pool area AND breakfast. The room was nicely laid out, although they crammed a king bed into a "nook" designed for a queen, nobody bigger than a toothpick could get out on dh's side of the bed due to the a/c unit being there. But overall, if this hotel is still reasonable points next time we come (& we stay at a Choice Hotel) I would come here again.
  • Apparently in Europe men wear capris. The first man I saw wearing them, I thought he was just ummm . . . marching to the beat of his own drum. But over the course of our trip I've seen several men, all European (based on accent &/or the fact that I couldn't understand what they were saying LOL) wearing them, so apparently it's a European thing.
  • There is no way on this green earth I would let my children (or myself) have their hair done at the Disney "beauty spa" thingy-ma-bob!! I'd heard/read about it, where you pay outrageous amounts, bring along a "princess dress" (or buy one there), and have the stylists at DW turn your dd into a "princess" by doing their hair & make-up. Having seen many such little girls over the past week, NO WAY!!! The amount of teasing & hairspray just makes me CRINGE!! I can't imagine that you would EVER get all that out of their hair! I love how easy my girls' hair is to care for having not had any products in it (other than 100% natural stuff) since they were babies (and I didn't know better), I shudder to think of the permanent damage all that teasing & "gunk" would do to their hair.
  • The amount of money the average family spends in a day at Disney World continues to boggle my mind! While waiting for the girls to meet Jasmine & Alladin, I added up the cost of the "complete" Jasmine costume (mind you I saw MANY little girls running around DW decked out in a "complete" princess costume & I would suspect that Jasmine is one of the cheaper ones, though they may be all the same, but her "genie" outfit seems less elaborate than the deluxe princess gowns) and it was in the range of $150!! Food is, of course, overpriced, and then there's all the other stuff for sale there and people walking around w/ bags & bags & bags of it . . . I just can't fathom it! (I also can't fathom spending $60+ for a princess dress & then allowing my child to go on rides, eat ice cream, play on playgrounds, etc in it . . . my girls' clothes were FILTHY most days & my long skirts got caught on rides getting in & out plenty of times, I'd think these little girls in the long/huge dresses would get them caught on stuff & tear it!
  • There's more but my mind is blank & we need to be leaving . . .

Friday, November 2, 2007

Our Last Day in Florida

We went back to Disney World today. I have to say, after stressing all week about the rain, today's "perfect" weather made me appreciate the rain LOL. The sun was HOT!!!

We did a more relaxed day today. Based on discussion yesterday the only "new" stuff we still needed to hit were the Tiki Room (they've changed it, I'm not impressed, and will, in fact, try to talk the girls out of going there for the next few years if they say they want to go), Country Bear Jamboree, and "a Mickey show" (the girls' words, there's a musical Mickey show right now, so we went with it). So, we could pretty much stop & do whatever the girls wanted to do and still have plenty of time to hit those 3 things.

Of course A decided right off the bat that we needed to go through the Swiss Family Robinson's Treehouse again, sigh . . . now I know why my parents always insisted we didn't "have time" for that particular attraction, those are a LOT of stairs . . .especially after a solid week of lots of walking, carrying kids, etc.

A didn't want to go to the Tiki room, L did, so we split up for that and a few other things throughout the day.

Went on the Pooh ride again, I honestly think if they were to go on it w/ someone else they'd be shocked at what a boring ride it is, but it & the Peter Pan ride (L calls the Peter Pan ride the boat ride, btw, for those who are likely to get IRL (in real life) accounts of the trip) dh & I made a big deal about their "driving" the boat/honeypot and such and they pretty much laughed the whole way through.

Took us until today to figure out the Fast Pass things. They work well when you can plan out your whole day, not sure how well they would have worked on the earlier days when we were "winging it" more . . . I think when we come back in the future we'll be able to plan the days out in advance better since the girls will know what's there, so we can make more use of them.

We also gave the girls some "decompressing time" at the Pooh playground. We were there for over an hour and they would have happily stayed longer (but our fast pass time slot for Peter Pan came up, so we had to go to that. See the "downside" of the fast passes?).

And after a relatively treat-free trip (other than the halloween candy) we got the girls ice cream cones today. Last night we passed Mrs. Pott's Ice Cream shop & L wanted to know why Mrs. Pott's picture was on that store, so we told them what it was & they wanted ice cream but it was closed, so we did that today. And I figured if we're going to spend outrageous amounts on mediocre ice cream the girls might as well get exactly what they want, so they got CONES! Large soft serve cones, 4 yr olds (who I'm not sure have ever HAD a cone other than the teensy tiny ones we get at South Mtn Creamery, and even those we generally get a cup to "dump" them into as they melt), and 80 degree days = a total mess LOL. But the girls enjoyed them and we're heading home so the ice cream all over the shirts isn't a big deal, hopefully it'll wash out LOL.

A insisted we go back to Ariel's Grotto since she wasn't wearing her Ariel shirt the day we went & "I want to show Ariel my shirt", so, despite the est. 40 min wait we went. As we approached the front of the line (though it hadn't been 40 min, I'd say more like 20-25) A had to go potty & said she "thought" she could wait, but it wasn't a convincing "I think so". DH figured we had time, so A & I ran to the bathroom (it's close, thankfully) and just as we were leaving the bathroom dh called to say they were IN the grotto (they let people into the grotto in "groups" so there was still waiting time, but no way to "sneak" back into the line). I went to the exit and when the people who work in the grotto came to tell me I was in the wrong place I explained that A's sister was in there already and they wanted their pictures together but we'd had a bathroom emergency. Conveniently the girls were dressed the same today so I could say "her sister looks just like her only wearing a pink hat!" So . . . while I had to explain it to multiple people while we stood by the exit (various employees came to tell us we weren't supposed to be there LOL) we got in with no problem, Ariel noticed A's shirt right off the bat, all was well in mermaid land. . .

As we were waiting for the Mickey show this afternoon we asked the girls if there was anything else they wanted to do (show started at 4:40, not sure what time it was over) & neither of them could think of anything, so we suggested going back to the pool to swim & they agreed. They were both SO tired from all the walking & the heat by then, I think they were just DONE. So we came back & took them out to the pool for an hr & a half, where they made who knows how many new friends, had a BLAST, and threw a huge, twin tantrum when it was time to get out. We had minor tantrums throughout the evening (though PART of L's tantrum had to be a result of hunger, the 2 of them ate an entire box of mac & cheese, and L ate the majority of it!) but finally got them to sleep. . .

Now to survive the trip home LOL . . .

Pictures: I decided the album was SOOOO big, and most people probably only wanted to see the pictures of the kids anyway, but the girls get a kick out of seeing all the show pictures & such. So . . . I deleted all the pictures that didn't have the kids in them out of the Florida trip album. BUT if you really want to see a billion pictures of Beauty & the Beast, Small World, etc you can see ALL the pictures in this album which I'm hoping to set up so that the girls can click a link & go right to a slide show of it on their computer once we get home.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Four days down, one to go . . .

And thankfully today was the longest day & is BEHIND us!! That said, the girls had an AWESOME day!!! When I finally got around to looking online at the MGM shows I realized there's an Ariel show AND a Belle show there. So, we went to MGM this morning, went to the Beauty & the Beast show, L was in HEAVEN!!!! She was on my lap & kept saying "take a picture of THAT" which explains ALL the pictures of that show (I'll try to edit them down some before I post them).

Then we headed to the Ariel show. Had a moment of tantrum potential when they announced no flash photography but Daddy decided he could take pictures in the dark w/o a flash (and then gave up & handed me the camera), we didn't get tons of pictures, and murphy's law being what it is A tended to bump my hand with the "kodak moment" shots which doesn't work well w/ the long shutter times of photography in the dark), but hopefully enough to keep her happy.

When we left Ariel, JoJo & Goliath were doing photo ops and had a short line so we took pictures with them before heading back to Magic Kingdom.

The afternoon at Magic Kingdom went well, we re-did some rides, and did some new ones. I had a hard time talking them into Small World, but they were enthralled throughout it! L did amazingly well at recognizing the various countries too. We drove the race cars, note to self, letting a 4 yr old "drive" = a very jerky ride. And then L decided she wanted to go get pictures taken with the Princesses (the same place where we got pics with Goofy, Donald & Pluto on Tues, has a separate line for pictures with 3 Princesses). Line was LONG/SLOW and girls were RESTLESS but when we finally got to the front of the line they sent us in all by ourselves and the princesses not only took pictures with the girls, but took time to talk to them as well. Princesses were Cinderella, Belle & Aurora. I know they're paid to make each little girl feel special, but they seemed pretty tickled with the twins wearing princess shirts. L&A were in awe. As we were leaving Aurora (last one) Belle suggested that they do a picture of all 3 princesses with the girls, which I don't think they usually do, there was more "confusion" about setting it up than I would have expected if they always did that. The photographers were "pushier" than I've encountered before on this trip, so that made it hard for me to get decent pictures (& I'm way too cheap to buy their pictures LOL). But I did get some pictures.

The girls were EXHAUSTED tonight, we ended up carrying them most of the way back (which thankfully was just from train stop to train stop (took the train from Toontown to Main Street, carried kids from there to Monorail station, then from monorail station to tram stop and from tram stop to car). I think they were both asleep before we were out of the parking lot & didn't stir when we carried them in & put them to bed (which isn't at all unusual at home, but I wasn't sure how well they'd transfer to hotel beds).

DH doesn't think the girls would like Animal Kingdom as much as more time at Magic Kingdom, so we're just going to spend tomorrow at Magic Kingdom again, and then head home. Whew, I'm exhausted!!! DH said he doesn't know when he's ever walked this much LOL.

And now I'm off to add today's pictures to the same link I've been using all week (too lazy to look it up again at the moment).