Tuesday, March 23, 2010

American Girl Experience

For the twins' 7th birthday (which is this coming Sunday), we promised them a trip to the American Girl store in New York City to pick out their American Girls dolls. Since hubby wasn't real interested in taking off work to spend a day at a doll store, and I wasn't ready to attempt NYC alone with all 3 girls, we invited Mama & Papa along. We drove up to Newark, then took the PATH train into the city & the subway to the store.

Note to self: do NOT go into NYC on St. Patricks Day! There was a huge parade right in front of the AG store, so we had to walk several extra blocks to get to it, but once we got there, the girls had a BLAST!! They'd already decided which dolls they wanted, A1 got "Kit" and A2 got "Josefina".

What they didn't know until we got there was that they also had spending money from all the grandparents to get accessories to go with their dolls. After much deliberation A1 got Josefina's weaving loom (even though she got Kit, she loves weaving so wanted the weaving loom) and Kit's bed. A2 got Josefina's oven and baking set (which she'd been saving her allowance for), her bed, and her doll.

When we first got to the store we stopped at the bathroom and a woman who worked at the store happened to come in and stopped to talk to Little Bit and A1 (A2 was in a stall). Later we saw her again and she was understandably shocked to see that there were "2 of you" when she saw A2 with A1. Then after we bought everything, we'd stopped at a bench to get the dolls out for the girls to bring with us to tea, and then check everything else at the coat check. The same woman happened to come by and stopped to talk to us again. She ended up spending more than half an hour with the girls, explaining to them how to take care of their dolls' hair & skin, and just talking to them. She found out we were there for their birthdays, and went and got them birthday stickers, doll-sized shopping bags (that are SOO CUTE!!), bookmarks, and some, no longer available paperdolls for their respective dolls. As she left, she gave me her business card, she's a personal shopper for the AG store, and had done an EXCELLENT job, even if we hadn't arranged for it, hee hee.

Next we went to the Cafe for an American Girl Tea. It was SO cute!! They had seats that clipped onto the table for the dolls, and insisted on bringing a Bitty Baby "loaner doll" for Little Bit too, even though she was too young to care, and just meant one more thing to keep her from grabbing, hee hee. They also brought tea cups and plates for the dolls, accomodated our being vegetarian, and were generally wonderful! The food was good too :o)

By the time we finished tea, my Dad wasn't feeling good (we later found out it was a kidney stone), so we had the challenge of figuring out how to get all of us and all the doll stuff back to the car when Dad could barely walk. I'm sure we made quite the picture, I had the diaper bag on my back (this is why I like a diaper bag that can be a backpack or a shoulder bag!) Little Bit in the wrap in a front carry, was carrying one huge shopping bag, and had A2 with me. I'd brought along a couple reusable shopping bags in case they were helpful in carrying stuff home, so we put some of the smaller items in one of those and A2 carried that the whole way. Mom was carrying 2 more huge shopping bags and A1 was "helping" her carry one of them, which I'm not sure was much help but at least kept A1 with us when we didn't have a hand to hold. And we made it! The girls were AWESOME about helping and following instructions and keeping up.

As we were driving home (Dad was in enough pain that I drove, you KNOW my dad's not feeling good if he lets someone else drive LOL), Dad decided he needed to go to the hospital, so I called hubby to meet us at the hospital (he was working late, was was literally next door to the hospital) so we could leave his car for my parents and he could ride home with us. And we left my parents at the ER. They were there all night, but eventually saw someone and confirmed that it was a kidney stone. So Mom & Dad were here an extra day or so, but got the kidney stone taken care of (hopefully, Dad's still having some pain, he has a follow-up appointment on Fri, when he'll be back up here for all 3 girls' birthday celebration (on Sabbath) anyway), and headed home.

So, things didn't go quite as planned, but the girls got their dolls and their tea party and their NYC experience LOL. I haven't downloaded pictures yet (and Little Bit is currently asleep on my lap) so I'll add pictures once I do, and I still need to get the pictures Dad took from him too.

The girls have been taking their dolls with them everywhere, were very sad when I suggested we NOT take the dolls, in teh rain, to the library yesterday LOL. And have rearranged their loft bed to make room for the dolls' beds, and such.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gratituesday: SPRING!!!

We had a lovely taste of spring last week, and then a cold, rainy weekend, just to remind us that it is only March . . .but today it's GORGEOUS out again!! My kids spent the morning outside! I have clothes hanging on the line . . . A1 is gung ho to start gardening!!! I LOVE this kind of weather!!!

See other Gratituesday posts here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Catching Up Again

We've been much too busy enjoying SPRING!! To bother with minor details like blogging! So I'll try to catch up, and scatter in a few pictures of our day at the park while I'm at it LOL.

The weather here has been AMAZING!!! Ok, not so much today . . . cold & rainy, but the past week or so has been perfectly beautiful spring weather! I think it's quite telling, that, a week or so ago, we were putting laundry away & A1 asked if she should put the gloves & hats (which I'd taken opportunity to wash after all their hard use this winter) in the out-of-season clothes bin in their closet. When I said, no, we might still need them, sometimes it snows in March, A2 said NOO!!!! I'm TIRED of snow! LOL! It's been a long winter . . .

So, we've been reveling in the spring weather!! Last Sabbath we invited our pastor & his wife over for dinner, and went for a walk after lunch. It was still abit muddy and snow covered, and they had an afternoon appointment that meant they couldn't stay long, but it was still SOO nice to get out and walk and enjoy nature! They homeschooled their boys, now in college, and Linda was a pointing out all kinds of nature things to the girls and explaining them! I think we need to invite her over for frequent nature walks this summer!

Little Bit is enjoying getting to walk around outside. She found some snow still hanging on at the park (above) and was excited to feel it and taste it (I'm sticking to the "good clean dirt" theory based on the fact that a few days before we'd driven by the park and the whole area was still snow covered and didn't look particularly walked upon). She's not so sure about walking on grass, but loves exploring where there's hard surfaces to keep her from losing her balance.

One day this past week, we were all out on the patio and she finally decided to venture up those steps you see in this last picture. I made sure I was close enough to catch her if she fell, but just followed her, from there she toddled on up the sidewalk that leads to the barn. There are more steps at the top of the hill and something about the way the wind blows (I guess) dry leaves collect thickly at the bottom of those steps. She was hesitant to walk on those so turned around and reached up to be carried. I lifted her over the leaves & set her on the first step and she climbed up those steps, I didn't wait for her to ask for "help" at the top of the steps since they then take a STEEP step down onto the road, so I lifted her down onto the road and we kept following her (the big girls had come with us). She proceeded to walk up a very steep hill (steep enough that walking up it at a normal speed leaves me out of breath) she lost her balance a few times, but got up and kept going each time. And continued her trek, all the way to our neighbor, Judy's house. We regularly take walks up to Judy's house to visit Judy & let the kids and Judy's dogs try to wear each other out, and apparently Little Bit's learned the route after all those "sling rides". I still can't believe she walked that far (guesstimating it's around 2/10 of a mile!) especially when it's all pretty much straight up hill. After we visited with Judy for awhile, the big girls wanted me to let Little Bit walk home too, but combination of the fact that she was well past due for nap and the thought of her walking DOWN such a steep hill made me nervous, I opted to carry her home.

We've also taken advantage of the beautiful weather to do some schooling outside. Little Bit's not at a point where I'm comfortable trying to read to the girls and such while she runs around outside, so we've done the "together" part of school in the house, but then I've let them take my laptop (with the mp3s of the Little House books) and their copywork books and such out onto the patio to listen to their Little House chapters and do their copywork while I put Little Bit down for her nap (while we have the general rule that they can't play outside while I'm putting her down for nap (which I accomplish by taking a shower & letting the white noise of the shower put her to sleep) because I can't hear them as well, I do let them sit on the patio to do school work, figure there's not much chance of them getting hurt just sitting there LOL).

We've been studying Australia as our "extra" right now (I'll post a review once we finish it) and that's interesting for all of us.

I find it interesting how just a couple months can make all the difference in what will & won't hold their attention. Throughout the Prairie Primer curriculum there are recommended biographies to read from the "Sowers series" we've started into a couple others but they've just been a tad over the girls' heads and haven't kept their interest, I haven't pushed it because this IS a 3rd-6th grade curriculum we're using, so we're obviously not going to be able to use it all AND I want to do my best to encourage a LOVE of biographies, not make them a "chore" (I LOVE reading biographies & always have, I want to SHARE that love with them if at all possible!) So, when a biography of Fannie Crosby was recommended a month or so ago, I opted to use the "Your Story Hour" story of Fannie Crosby instead, and they loved it. Now we're on to "The Long Winter" and the recommended biography is on Samuel Morse. I did find a "book on tape" that includes it, but it was pricey. I also found a "younger" book (at least appeared to be) than the Sowers series one about Samuel Morse at the library but we're STILL waiting for it to come in, so this week I decided to have another go at the Sowers series, they whined when I stopped reading for the day, so I guess it's a hit LOL.

In other news, they are now reading American Girl books to themselves! We were at the library earlier this week (Tuesday, I think) and they decided to get the first book from the dolls they are respectively planning to get for their birthdays. A1 set right to work reading it, A2, at first insisted that it was "too hard" and she needed me to read it to her, but after I sat with her and had her read the first couple sentences to me, she realized she COULD do it, and has been working through it ever since. A1 is reading about a book a day, though now we're "stuck" until book 3 comes in at the library. A2 is still working on book 1, but in addition to the fact that she does tend to struggle more with reading, and I suspect is more of a "perfectionist" in this area as in other areas, and isn't as willing to skip over a word she doesn't know, her doll of choice is Josefina, so her books include Spanish words as well. I'm so thrilled to see them reading, and enjoying "real books".

They also continue to enjoy cooking & baking. A2 made brownies essentially by herself (just w/ me there to give guidance) earlier this week, and the 2 of them together made bar cookies today again with me just giving guidance.

And I think that about brings us up to date.