Saturday, November 29, 2008

I think I'm playing Catch-up AGAIN . . .

How do the weeks fly by so quickly?

This past week we finished up our Benjamin Franklin book. The girls were excited by the mention of Washington & Jefferson in the book, to realize that we're approaching the American Revolution. And it was an AWESOME book, I learned lots I didn't know, or had forgotten, about Franklin too :)

We also finished listening to The Courage of Sarah Nobel on our way to Aunt Lynette & Uncle Dave's house for Thanksgiving. The girls really enjoyed that book, and enjoyed having it on tape so I got a break from reading LOL.

We'll start all new books this week. I also got "Meet Kaya" (from the American Girl books) from the library last week & am going to try to fit it in either during "school" time or at bedtime, or some of each. We're in the timeframe where Kaya's books fall chronologically now, though the curriculum had them being read during the American Indian studies at the beginning of the unit (we did a much abridged version of that part of the curriculum since I felt the study of the differences between all the different tribes and such would be above their head, so we did a quick overview, focusing on the fact that the Indians were here before Europeans and moved on, and skipped Kaya since chronologically she was so much later than pre-Europeans).

Thursday we went to dh's sister & her husband's house for Thanksgiving. Dh's mom and my parents came too, so it was a nice family day. The girls were excited to show off their reading skills to anyone who cared to listen LOL. And also had great fun "helping" Aunt Lynette shave Precious (our dog), hopefully didn't drive her too insane in the process LOL.

Thursday night we stayed in a nearby hotel, with an indoor pool so the girls were thrilled LOL. And visited friends in the area (sort of) on Friday. The girls warmed up quickly to dh's college friend, Kathryn, and on the way home, asked when we could visit these friends again, which I thought was pretty high praise hee hee.

Dh had been fighting a cold since Wed, but by Friday afternoon when we started home, he had a fever & was feeling worse. Slept most of the way home, I ran out for more cold meds once we got home, and he's pretty much been sleeping ever since. Hopefully he'll be feeling better soon, and the rest of us will avoid it, I've been dosing us all with echinachea (much to the girls' delight, I got some "gummy bear" echinacea last month from Frontier, they think they're quite yummy LOL) & keeping fingers crossed.

Random interesting observeration from L, while watching a TV show that touched on various languages, she said "in England they talk like this" and then gave her best attempt at an English accent (not so accurate, but different from us anyway). Then she asked, do you think in Mexico they speak spanish different than they do in "spanish", by which, I assume she meant Spain. Interesting observation for a 5 yr old eh?

Our plan was to go get a Christmas tree tomorrow, but between dh being sick & the weather report calling for rain all day tomorrow, I'm pretty sure it won't be happening. The girls and I will at least try to get the rest of the Christmas decorating done tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Productive Weekend

We had a busy, but productive weekend. While you wouldn't know it to look around the house right now, we made tons of progress! On Friday dh took a load of boxes to storage and went through the boxes & boxes of stuff I wasn't sure what to do with that had been sitting in the dining room since we moved in. The girls & I sorted through some of the baby clothes we brought back from my parents' house too. The girls loved that, exclaiming over the clothes :) I also had planned to collapse a ton of boxes that had also been accumulating in the dining room, but to make sure dh could find all of HIS boxes, I tossed all the empty boxes in the living room, on & around the sofa, and when the girls noticed it, they decided that was the ultimate playground! The picture's fuzzy (I was too lazy to go get the camera, just grabbed my phone) but you can see A waving from the midst of the tower of boxes. Once the dining room was cleared out we moved the bookcases to the other side of the room. We put them "temporarily" on one wall the day we moved in & they've been there ever since, because the wall they were supposed to be against had dh's boxes stacked there, and, over time, some of dh's stuff got stacked ON the bookcases to get it up off the floor. So, once they were in place I was finally able to unpack the rest of our books and put them on the shelf. The girls needed a distraction while I was unpacking books so I grabbed 2 of the biggest boxes and set one on each side of the dining room & put a kid in each box, told them they had the choice of staying in the box or sitting on the stairs until I was done (I was tired of refereeing). Only took them a couple minutes to decide the boxes were great fun (as I figured would be the case). They spent a good part of the evening, and more time yesterday & today, playing w/ those boxes LOL. Sat. night I collapsed the rest of the boxes (except those 2). Today we rearranged the basement, took the collapsed boxes up to the storage area. DH cleaned up the odds and ends that had accumulated on/around the porch. Then we set up my candle table in the basement and brought down the boxes & such from the storage area to at least set up the basics to make candles again. I still need to arrange everything down there, figure out a way to store things in the most organized way, and find a second extension cord for the heat gun (but I figure I can do that step upstairs until I get to that). So, while the site isn't back up or anything, I can at least make candles if I want to LOL.

Now my to do list for this week is to clean up all the odds and ends around here so that the house actually LOOKS like we made some progress LOL, and so that things are ready for us to get the tree and otherwise decorate for Christmas next weekend.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Playing Catch-up

Where does the time go?

Last weekend we went to my parents' house. We had a great time Thurs. afternoon visiting friends in the area, then enjoyed visiting w/ my aunt & uncle over the weekend.

Sunday a good part of the day was spent planning a "surprise party" for Papa's birthday. The surprise aspect would have been more effective if the girls hadn't gone running to Papa every 5 minutes to "make sure he doesn't suspect anything". But Papa played his part well. The girls & Mama made a cake, they started out to decorate wrapping paper (drawing pictures on a big roll of paper) but then decided they didn't want their artwork cut/wrinkled by actually wrapping it around the packages so the artwork became banners instead. They also blew up a whole bunch of balloons up in the loft over the dining room and pushed them all down on Papa when he came out to be "surprised" (THAT he wasn't expecting, at least LOL).

We also took time out from the party preparations to go visit my friend Vicki and see her new baby. The girls decided that a baby that sleeps all the time is BORING and are sure "their baby" will be much more interesting . . . Mom & I enjoyed cuddling a sleeping newborn and visiting with Vicki while the girls played in the basement w/ Vicki's husband & older daughter.

This week has been uneventful, though I'd convinced dh that I REALLY needed him home for a day (he tends to either work or go to his mom's on Fridays & Sundays) to help me move heavy stuff around and get through his "junk" that's been living in the dining room since we moved in (but needs to not live there for Christmas!) and he'd promised me this Friday, so I was busy all week getting things ready to utilize his help as much as possible :) And so far we've taken one load up to the storage building, brought one load (all the Christmas stuff) back down) and now he's busy going through the dining room stuff. As long as he gets through all of it & we make another trip to the storage building w/ all of that, and he helps me move the bookcases that belong in the dining room, I'll call today a success (in a perfect world we'll also get through stuff in the basement & maybe even get my candle table set up, but I'm not counting on that LOL.

Regardless that should leave me with plenty to keep busy this week putting books on the bookshelf & doing all the final shifting around so that NEXT Sunday we can (weather, and dh's schedule permitting) go get a Christmas tree!!! :) We also brought down a bunch of the babystuff (girls' old clothes, etc) from my parents' garage last weekend so if I get everything else situated I can start sorting through that & getting it more ready for baby. I've figured out the basics of what will go where as far as baby stuff, just need to sort through stuff & get it to that point (though the "where" for most of the baby clothes is in bins under the yet to be built co-sleeper, so they'll have to stack somewhere until right before baby's born when Dad'll build the cosleeper for me (want to put it off till near the end since once it's built I'll have to climb off the end of the bed instead of getting out of bed on my side).

In school related stuff . . . things are going well. While we were at Mom & Dad's last weekend Mom found the first 3 readers in the SDA Dick & Jane series that *I* used to learn to read. So I brought those home with me. THOSE are what I've been looking for (the concept) ever since the girls started talking about wanting to learn to read. Simple, short stories with all phonetic words (or introducing one sight word that is repeated over & over so that by the end of the story they recognize it), that have enough PLOT for the girls to feel like they're reading "real" stories!!! A, especially, has really taken off with these, she's made it through the first book and most of the 2nd. L isn't AS gung ho (she still would be perfectly happy for the most part, to "read" by memorizing books & quoting them back, but is coming along w/ A on the whole learn to read journey just to not be left out), but has almost finished the first reader. Mom's checking the library where she works (where these books were printed eons ago) and also checking w/ the 1st grade teacher at the church school there to see if we can find, and borrow the rest of the first grade readers from that series to keep moving the girls forward with it. If not, I THINK I've figured out which would be the rest of the first grade readers in the secular series but they're 2003 reprints so I'm leary that they might just be excerpts and not the complete books (which would mean missing some of the new words that are intro'd. I also don't know if, other than the religious words that are added into the SDA readers, the 2 series intro the words in the same order or if, picking up w/ book 4 of the secular series would mean having it assume they knew words they hadn't encountered in the SDA series. So, fingers crossed that Mom can find the SDA series books for me :)

History is picking up interest as we get into the colonial period (which is MY favorite period of US history, and overall the period of history that the girls had shown interest in prior to this. The whole reason I had for doing this curriculum was so they'd get the chronology to comprehend where the bits & pieces of Colonial history fall into the grand scheme of things. Right now, one of the books we're reading (The Courage of Sarah Nobel), the library had as an unabridged book on CD, so I got that & we're letting someone else read it to us. Saves my voice LOL. Yesterday we were supposed to listen to one chapter & ended up listening to 6 chapters & the girls wanted to keep going (this is getting INTERESTING Mommy!!). I'm thinking we'll wrap up the other book (on Ben Franklin, also interesting enough that they are willing to listen longer than I'm willing to read in one sitting) next week and then listen to the rest of Sarah Nobel in the car on the way to Aunt Lynette's house for Thanksgiving next week.

At the end of our study of Plymouth, the pocket book activity included a recipe for Hasty Pudding (otherwise known as cornmeal mush LOL). I'd made cornmeal mush a time or two last winter and the girls hadn't liked it, but were anxious to try "hasty pudding", so I finally remembered to make it yesterday for breakfast. Both of them ate it and asked for seconds!! So hopefully that can fall into the rotation of breakfasts around here, we've fallen into a rut of eating way too much cold cereal (not the healthiest or cheapest option) just becuase it's easy & the girls will eat it. Especially now that it's cold out (this summer w/ trying to limit a/c use, hot breakfasts were even less appealing) I'd like to get back to hot breakfasts most mornings . . . we shall see . . .

It snowed most of yesterday, but didn't stick until late last night. This morning A woke me up (much earlier than I wanted to be awake, yawn) to tell me that "it's WHITE OUT THERE!!!" And L came in a few minutes later to make sure I'd heard the news. It's BARELY white out there, just a dusting on the grass, none on roads or sidwalks or under trees, but the girls have been outside most of the morning having great fun. No doubt they'll be soaking wet & cold & muddy to boot when they come in, but for the time being they're having great fun with their "snow" LOL.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Teachable Moments

This morning when I was hanging the laundry on the line and A was playing in the front yard, she suddenly stopped & said 'Mommy, what's that?!?!" I still can't figure out how she happened to spot it from the distance she was at, but there was a little ribbon snake sitting in the sun & dried leaves along the edge of our front flower bed (much closer to where I was than where she was and *I* certainly didn't see it!). I thought about getting the camera, but honestly, since I'm not one to get CLOSE to such critter, it would have been a "hidden picture" type deal, so I didn't bother. It stayed there while A went in the house and got L, and then, since they were concerned it might be dead (it hadn't moved at ALL) I got a VERY LONG stick and poked at it (logically, I was well aware that an itty bitty snake like that wasn't going to hurt me (it was maybe as big around as my little finger & a foot or two long (I never saw it completely on top of the leaves so hard to gauge length) but I still wasn't getting too close, plus I wanted to set an example of not getting close to snakes to the girls for obvious reasons). I expected that as soon as the stick got anywhere near it, it would be GONE, but it was much less afraid than I expected. And/or couldn't move quickly because of the cold, it was pretty chilly out there today. It really just kinda checked out the stick (sticking it's tongue in & out, which the girls thought was cool) and then lazily moved over against the bricks more, but still hadn't gone out of sight when we went in the house.

I wasn't sure what kind of snake it was so we spent some time looking it up online. The pictures it MOST resembled were actually the WESTERN ribbon snake, but since it seems illogical that we'd see a western ribbon snake in PA, I'm going to assume it was an EASTERN ribbon snake (which IS native to PA) and I just didn't notice/couldn't see the brownish belly that differentiates it from the Western variety. The girls were abit disturbed to hear that ribbon snakes eat frogs and toads, but decided our yard was big enough for a snake AND the toads they are hoping to entice into their toad house next year. I assurred them that this particular ribbon snake was small enough that it couldn't eat very big frogs/toads. And didn't bother to point out that there might be bigger snakes around too.

While we were watching it, I took the opportunity to discuss with the girls the fact that we NEVER go near snakes, even if we know what kind of snake it is, even non-poisonous snakes can bite, so it's just a general "stay away" rule. As is expected, A was much more "on board" with that rule than Miss Adventurous L.

I'm trying not to think about the fact that if mice can get into our house (which I assume they can, considering how many we caught earlier this fall, surely that many didn't live undetected in our house all summer), then a snake that size could VERY EASILY get in. I think I'll be stepping quite gingerly in the basement for awhile LOL.

Honestly, if I must see a snake in my yard, I'd just as soon see a nice healthy looking black snake. While I certainly don't want one too close to me, I like the comfort of knowing that black snakes & copperheads don't co-habitate so as long as black snakes are around, copperheads AREN'T!! And, as dh pointed out, snakes eat mice, which can be a good thing, but a black snake would be a better choice for that job than an itty bitty ribbon snake.

It added abit of excitment to our morning, and a nice science lesson to break things up since we're not doing any science right now :)

Monday, November 10, 2008


Might be one of those have to be there things, but this made me giggle today:

A just walked over to the big basket that normally holds throw blankets (most of those blankets have currently been repurposed to do who knows what around the room, I know one was a bear den earlier today, beyond that, I've lost track), set her doll in it, and told the doll "you get to be Baby Jesus", then as she walked away she said in a very bossy voice (still to the doll) "now CLOSE YOUR EYES!" something about telling a baby (real or pretend) to close it's eyes and expecting it to "Listen" struck me as funny, so I kind of snorted. Apparently that was all the encouragement the girls needed to decide this was the funniest joke ever, oh the laughter . . . I'm sure they had no idea WHY this was funny, but if mommy laughed it MUST be funny LOL.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

This Week's Wrap-Up

We had a good week getting back into the "groove" of being home. I was missing some of the books that we needed for history, so had to shift things around abit, but that's ok. L's in an "I don't want to do school" mode, so she didn't do as much as A this week.

Reading, we're still reviewing the rules we learned during the curriculum we were doing before the trip. We also started reading through McGuffey's Primer. A was very excited at how short the stories are, though she actually seems to be struggling with the fact that it's all short easy phonetic words right now LOL. L, who was struggling less with the longer easy reading books, declared the first story (only one she actually read this week) too short/boring.

We're really enjoying the History Pockets book we're working on. And A, especially is excited that she'll have a "book" full of things to "play with" LOL.

The books I need for history for this coming week were mostly in by Fri, so I thought it was going to be perfect, we'd run over pick up the books that were waiting for us, run other errands, and we'd be good to go come Monday morning. But for some reason that wasn't clear, the library was closed when we got there mid-day on Fri, sigh . . . so now we have to make another Library run tomorrow morning.

This Sabbath was another craft/mission project afternoon for the Primary kids. It was very . . .chaotic this time (more kids than last time, and ummm . . . kids less used to following instruction or something . . . ) they were doing the bead crafts like last time AND making cards, so the girls did some of each. Also practiced singing the Christmas carols that we'll sing next month when we take the cards/crafts to pass out at the nursing home. They were mostly songs the girls didn't remember (A's comment . . . "when are we singing Jingle Bells?" LOL), so I'm thinking we'll start singing the religious Christmas songs as part of school time. DH glared at me when I told him the plan for next month is carolling at the nursing home, so we shall see . . . I figure when it gets closer I'll talk to the girls about what I think it will be like and leave the final decision up to them (and since dh's vote is to NOT go, if one kid wants to & the other doesn't he'll be more than happy to stay home with the "doesn't want to" kid).

This week is a quiet, but short week. Nothing really planned until the weekend, when we're going to do an early Thanksgiving at my parents' with my family. DH is going to have to drive down separately anyway (He has to be in MD for work on Monday) so I may head down early and spend the afternoon w/ some of our MD friends. Of course I thought of that (short week) AFTER I'd typed in this week's school schedule, so we won't get it all done but I'm too lazy to delete stuff just to re-type it next week LOL.

Random silly kid things: We were watching "Seventeen Kids and Counting" (the new TLC series about the Dugger family) and in the episode we were watching they were playing paint ball. A was so confused "does it hurt?" (yes), "why are they doing it if it hurts?" . . . etc. L, on the other hand, w/o bothering to ask for any additional information said "when can we do that?" Silly kid!

The favorite toy for a good part of this week was the dog's toys. They pulled out the whole basket (that normally lives under an end table in the living room) and were carrying it around and coming up w/ imaginative ways to play w/ the dog toys.

L informed me in her "why must I explain this to you?" tone, "when I say MOMMY, I'm talking to you, when I say MOM I'm talking to Ashlyn, we're PLAYING, it doesn't concern you!" So funny!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness

Just a little something that made my (and my kids') day today :) We were in the grocery store, I was preoccupied with something, I don't remember what, when an elderly gentleman came up to me and said something that I couldn't understand while handing me 2 $5 bills. When I asked him to repeat himself, he told me to use the money to let each of the girls pick out "something special" when I thanked him profusely, he just smiled and said "I love doing it". AWWWWW . . . each of the girls chose a small bag of candy (goodness knows we don't NEED candy around here with all the "loot" from trick-or-treating at Sea World, but still . . . ) and a donut, and we'll put the rest of the money in their piggy banks for future treats. They "gushed" about how nice the man was the ENTIRE time we were in the store, and all the way home. And frankly,while more quietly, I "gushed" too :) Not because we needed the money (or they needed the junk food) but because it's a reminder that there are people in the world who like to give just for the sake of giving, and not for what they will get in return (other than the knowledge that they made someone happy).

I'm reminded of a day when I was pregnant with the girls, I don't remember how far along I was, but far enough to be big and uncomfortable (which happens early w/ twins LOL). I'd stopped at the grocery store after work and that particular grocery store didn't have any cart returns in the parking lot & the whole parking lot was a rather steep hill. As I unloaded the groceries into my car I was dreading having to walk the cart all the way back down the hill to the store, and then walk all the way back UP the hill to my car (not a huge distance but when your feet and back and belly ache w/ any movement, it seems like 100 miles LOL). As I finished up a man came from a nearby car and offered to take the cart back for me. I thanked him, assuming he was going into the store to start shopping anyway, so, while a nice thing to do, it wasn't any extra "work" on his part. It wasn't until I was pulling out that I realized that, after returning my cart, he'd come back to his car, where his wife (I assume) was waiting, and was getting in, ready to leave. He'd been LEAVING not coming, and had taken the cart out of the goodness of his heart (no doubt realizing that at my size, the extra walking would be tiring). It was a small thing, but it meant the world to me, to the point that 6 years later, I still remember it.

So this is my reminder to all of us (including myself), to practice random acts of kindness!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I'm scrambling abit since we just got home, but here is, at least, a tentative menu for this week (see other links here)

We're Home!!

After almost a week and a half away, it's good to be home! We had a mostly good trip (dad's car being broken into in the hotel parking lot (didn't take much but broke a window, messed up the paint & leather seat, so it's a huge hassle to repair, and we had to drive home yesterday w/ cardboard covering the window) was definitely the "low point", though the girls were thrilled to have a couple extra hours to swim in the hotel pool while the guys vacuumed up all the glass and such).

We went to Jamestown, the most blatantly educational part of the trip LOL. I think it did help the girls picture what we've been learning about though.

Then spent a day at Busch Garden's Williamsburg. Then the LONG drive to FL. We got to our hotel early enough on Sunday to run over to Sea World and catch a Shamu show and let the kids ride a couple kiddie rides, and get some candy (Sea World does "trick or treating" on weekends in Oct, and Halloween). The rest of the week was long days at Disney or Sea World. We spent one day at Magic Kingdom, one day split between MGM (now called Hollywood something-or-other) and Epcot, 2 days at Sea World, and one day at Animal Kingdom.

Some highlights, in no particular order . . .
  • The sting rays were THE hit of Sea World. I don't even remember seeing this last year, not sure if we missed it or it wasn't there, but it's a tank full of sea rays that you can touch, or feed if you're willing to pay their prices LOL. The first day A refused to touch them, but L spent significant time with them. The second day we were there, A decided to touch them too, and then BOTH kids spent as long as we let them touching them and getting soaked w/ all the splashing LOL.
  • Animal Kingdom does a really cool "kid activity" (I don't remember what it's called) where each part of the park has a "station" where kids do an educational activity (scavanger hunt, puzzle, touch & identify, etc) and then get a "passport" type thing stamped, if they collect all 6 stamps they get another stamp & a little activity book, prize. (Epcot does a similar, but IMO, not nearly as well done, and non-educational, thing)
  • It was too cold all week for the girls to swim the evenings. But made for more pleasant weather in the parks.
  • Kids started the week thrilled to have fruit loops at the hotel breakfasts (not a breakfast cereal we buy around here, since it has ZERO nutritional value LOL), but after about 3 days, they must have gotten tired of them, and switched to eating waffles (still not overly healthy, especially w/ A having fake (as opposed to maple) syrup on hers every day), though L ate hers w/ just butter.
  • Mama (or Papa) had the brainstorm, one evening when the girls were bouncing off the walls in the hotel room, to bring in the quilt we had in the car & use it, draped over the table in their hotel room, to make a "tent" the girls had fun w/ that the rest of the week.
  • While I love the concept of Animal Kingdom overall, the main Disney movies/shows that are represented there all movies shows that the girls haven't seen (and for good reason, IMO). On the positive side, it meant we didn't have to schedule our day around a bunch of shows. Perhaps the most amusing aspect of the day for us grownups was when we saw Rikiki (sp?) from The Lion King, meeting kids, the girls didn't have any idea who he was, beyond "a monkey", but wanted their picture taken w/ him anyway. So, after hugging him and getting their picture taken w/ him, as they were walking away, L said "goodbye whoever you are!" he did a great job of pantomiming shock that they didn't "know" him, it was quite amusing LOL.
  • After meeting Pooh, Tigger & Eyore, we were walking out & Eyore was going on break or something so he ended up walking out of the meet and greet area, holding hands w/ one of my kids and another little girl.
  • I'm sure I'm forgetting things, I'll add them as I think of them LOL.
Now we're home, it's COLD! I have mountains of laundry waiting for me, but it's good to be home! I figure today will be spent w/ laundry & errands, and hopefully tomorrow we can get back into the "school" schedule.